Asian shares turn lower as virus caseloads surge
MITO, Japan (AP) — Shares were mostly lower in Asia today, as governments in the region reported surging numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.6% while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 0.6%. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.2%.
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The S&P ASX/200 in Australia skidded 1.3%. Shares rose in Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta but fell in Singapore and Bangkok.
Yesterday on Wall Street, shares edged higher despite a late stumble that nearly wiped out the market’s gains for the day. The S&P 500 added 0.2% to 3,257.30 for a third straight gain.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6%, to 26,840.40, while the Nasdaq tumbled 0.8%, to 10,680.36, a day after notching its best day since the end of April and its latest all-time high.
Small company stocks surged, driving the Russell 2000 index up 1.3% to 1,487.51.
GOP splits as virus aid package could swell past $1 trillion
WASHINGTON (AP) — The price tag for the next COVID-19 aid package could quickly swell above $1 trillion.
At stake are funds to reopen schools, prop up small businesses, boost virus testing and keep cash flowing to Americans as the virus crisis worsens.
White House negotiators fanned out across Capitol Hill on Tuesday to launch talks with Republicans and Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a new round of direct payments to Americans.
President Donald Trump insists on a payroll tax holiday for workers. Democrats want billions to outfit schools and shore up local governments, and Republicans are divided over big spending.
After touting virus drop, SKorea sees cases rise
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Just days after South Korean officials hopefully declared the country’s COVID-19 epidemic was coming under control, health authorities reported 63 new cases following a dual rise in local transmissions and imported infections.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said at least 36 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country’s 51 million people live.
The KCDC didn’t immediately confirm whether the numbers included a new cluster of infections discovered at a front-line army unit north of Seoul, where at least 13 troops have reportedly tested positive.
The KCDC said 29 of the new cases were local transmissions and tied the other 34 to international arrivals as the virus continues to spread in Asia, the United States and beyond.
CLEAN WATER RULE-LAWSUIT
21 state attorneys general sue over new Trump water rule
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday, alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders.
They say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30 years giving state governments the authority to review, block or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.
President Donald Trump in April 2019 issued an executive order directing the change that critics said could make it harder for states to block pipelines and other projects over concerns that they could impair water quality.
The EPA declined direct comment on pending legislation, but said in a statement that it acted because its water quality certification regulations were nearly 50 years old. The Resources Defense Council said the rule “eviscerates” states’ ability to influence hundreds of projects each year.
FACEBOOK-VOTING LABELS CONFUSION
Facebook’s voting labels on candidate posts sow confusion
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Facebook has started adding informational labels to all posts about voting by federal elected officials and candidates in the U.S., as it said it would do. But the move appears to be sowing confusion rather than dispelling it.
This week, the social network applied labels to posts by President Donald Trump and by Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, among others. The simple labels read “get official voting info” and direct people to a hub with information from authoritative election sources such as state and local officials.
The intention, as Facebook laid it out in late June, was to provide links to unbiased information about when and how to vote on election-related posts. Instead, though, they’re being misinterpreted — in some cases as an endorsement of misleading or false claims.
US BANK TOWER SOLD
LA’s U.S. Bank Tower sold to World Trade Center developer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. Bank Tower, one of the tallest buildings west of the Mississippi River and a landmark in downtown Los Angeles, will be sold to the developer of the new World Trade Center in New York.
Singapore real estate company OUE said it will sell the 73-story skyscraper to Manhattan-based Silverstein Properties at a discount after stay-at-home orders to combat the coronavirus reduced its leasing revenues.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the price of $430 million was knocked down 34% from OUE’s valuation of the building in its annual report last year. The deal will close in September.The cylindrical tower with its distinctive glass-paneled crown opened in 1989. According to the Times, more than a fifth of the U.S. Bank Tower’s square footage isn’t leased to tenants.
Suit: North Dakota refinery developer owes workers wages
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Some current and former employees of a company developing an oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota filed a lawsuit claiming they are owed wages and bonuses.
Meridian Energy Group first proposed the refinery just 3 miles from the park in 2016, with the goal of having it operating by next year. However, the project has been beset by funding and legal setbacks. Last year, CEO William Prentice told The Associated Press that the company had delayed the refinery’s startup until 2022.
The employees’ lawsuit, filed last week in Texas, says that starting in spring 2018, Meridian “began to sporadically defer payment of weekly payroll to employees due to alleged financial woes.”
Twitter says it’s cracking down on QAnon conspiracy theory
HONG KONG (AP) — Twitter says it will crack down on accounts and content related to QAnon, the far-right U.S. conspiracy theory popular among supporters of President Donald Trump.
It will ban accounts associated with QAnon content and block sharing of associated URLs. Twitter also will stop highlighting and recommending tweets associated with QAnon.
The company says it’s taking action against online behavior that could lead to offline harm.
The QAnon conspiracy theory is centered on the baseless belief that Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the “deep state.” Trump has retweeted QAnon-promoting accounts and its followers flock to the president’s rallies wearing clothes and hats with QAnon symbols and slogans.
ELECTION 2020-CLOSED BREWERY
Brewery says it never authorized Trump event, closes for day
FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — The owners of a Maine brewery say they’re shutting down for a day today after feeling misled about an event in support of President Donald Trump.
Stars and Stripes Brewing Company in Freeport was listed in an advisory as a planned Wednesday stop for the Women for Trump tour. That’s what the Portland Press Herald reported. But the brewery’s owners said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that the gathering was an “unauthorized political event” and the company will instead stay closed all day.
The brewery said in its Facebook post that it was initially asked “if a group of women who support a political agenda could enjoy a beer at our brewery.” The firm says it does not endorse any political party or view.
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