Asian shares mostly lower as pandemic saps buying momentum
TOKYO (AP) — Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Wednesday as uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic sapped the buying enthusiasm that has been driving prices higher.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.7% in afternoon trading, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 1.5%. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.1% after fluctuating during much of the day, while the Shanghai Composite bounced higher, adding 1.0%
Yesterday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 1.1% to 3,145.32 after spending most of the day in the red.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.5%, to 25,890.18. Big technology stocks helped drive early gains for the Nasdaq, but they faded by afternoon. The index came off an all-time high, losing 0.9%, to 10,343.89.
Small company stocks took the heaviest losses. The Russell 2000 index slid 1.9% to 1,416.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SMALL BUSINESS LOANS-CONGRESS
Data: Congress created virus aid, then reaped the benefits
WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly released government data show at least a dozen lawmakers have ties to organizations that received federal coronavirus aid.
Among businesses that received money was a California hotel partially owned by the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as a shipping business started by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Car dealerships owned by Republican Reps. Roger Williams of Texas and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, and fast-food franchises owned by Republican Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, also received money through the Paycheck Protection Program.
DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE
Judge rejects Dakota Access request for emergency order
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a request for an emergency order to delay the process of shutting down the Dakota Access pipeline while attorneys appeal a ruling to shutter the pipeline during the course of an environmental review.
Pipeline attorneys filed the motion — along with a notice of appeal — late Monday after U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled to stop the flow of oil by Aug. 5.
In denying the request for an expedited ruling, Boasberg said Tuesday that he has scheduled a status hearing to discuss scheduling when he receives the Dakota Access motion to keep the pipeline running.
Dakota Access attorney William Scherman said in his motion filed Monday that shutting down the pipeline requires a number of time-consuming and expensive steps that would take ”well more” than 30 days.
Civil rights groups denounce Facebook over hate speech
UNDATED (AP) — Facebook keeps telling critics that it is doing everything it can to rid its service of hate, abuse and misinformation. And the company’s detractors are still not buying it.
On Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg met with a group of civil rights leaders, including the organizers of a growing advertising boycott over hate speech on Facebook. One of those leaders, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, said Facebook’s executives offered little but cheap talk that skirted major commitments to new rules or actions that would curb racism and misinformation on its platform.
The NAACP was one of several groups that sent Facebook a list of 10 demands for policy change. Those included hiring a civil rights executive; banning private groups that promote white supremacy, vaccine misinformation or violent conspiracy theories; and ending an exemption that allows politicians to post voting misinformation.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand to charge patient who went shopping
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand authorities say they will press charges against a coronavirus patient who escaped quarantine in Auckland and went shopping at a supermarket.
Officials say the 32-year-old man escaped through a fence at the Stamford Plaza hotel and was gone for just over an hour before returning. The man later tested positive for the virus. He is a New Zealand citizen who’d recently returned from India. New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the virus and is trying to contain cases at the border by placing new arrivals into a 14-day quarantine at various hotels.
Depending on exactly what charges are brought, the man could face a fine or a maximum of six months in jail if found guilty.
PALM OIL-FORCED LABOR
Malaysian palm oil giant hit with forced labor allegations
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An anti-trafficking organization has filed a petition to ban the importation of palm oil produced by one of the world’s largest suppliers. The group says it found evidence of child and forced labor on plantations that supply American food and cosmetics companies.
The petition against Malaysia-based Sime Darby Berhad was filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection by the nonprofit group Liberty Shared. The Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits entry to goods that arrive at U.S. ports if there is reason to believe they contain materials made with forced labor.
In addition to child and forced labor — including deception during the recruitment process, threats and intimidation, the retention of passports, withholding of wages, and inadequate living conditions — Liberty Shared found that Sime Darby had taken few concrete steps to prevent abuses.
Would-be travelers in Taiwan live out dreams of flying again
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Like almost every region, Taiwan has been hit hard by restrictions on international travel imposed because of the coronavirus. Some residents have found comfort in boarding a flight that didn’t take off, just to revisit some memories and plan for the day when they can fly again.
The fantasy flight was organized by Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration to raise awareness of coronavirus prevention and control procedures to follow when passing through customs and boarding a plane at Taipei International Airport. Participants won a lucky draw held online, with each allowed to bring a guest, putting the total number who boarded at 66. As with normal flights, they had to check in, obtain boarding passes and go through immigration and security procedures before being allowed on the plane.
After taking their seats, the passengers — all wearing masks — were served food and drinks, participated in a pop quiz and were treated to a good luck salute from fire engines that sprayed water. After they exited without the plane having left the ground, passengers were given a demonstration about security by customs officials accompanied by a sniffer dog.
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