TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mostly lower despite hopes for a gradual global recovery after the U.S. stimulus package passed the Senate over the weekend.
Heavy selling of shares in technology companies pulled benchmarks lower in Japan and South Korea. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 2.3% after China’s foreign minister made ominous comments about the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
The U.S. stimulus bill, which goes to the House again this week for final approval, provides direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans and extends emergency unemployment benefits. Worries that a strong recovery might push inflation higher and prompt central banks to raise their ultra-low interest rates, making borrowing more expensive, also are overshadowing the markets.
China tells Biden to reverse ‘dangerous practice’ on Taiwan
BEIJING (AP) — China’s foreign minister has warned the Biden administration to roll back former President Donald Trump’s “dangerous practice” of showing support for Taiwan, the island democracy Beijing claims as its own territory. China’s foreign minister said the Chinese claim to Taiwan, which split with the mainland in 1949, is an “insurmountable red line.”
The United States has no official relations with Taiwan’s democratically elected government but extensive informal ties. Trump, who left office in January, irked Beijing by sending Cabinet officials to visit Taiwan in a show of support.
Wang gave no indication how Beijing might react if Biden doesn’t change course, but the ruling Communist Party has threatened to invade if Taiwan declares formal independence or delays talks on uniting with the mainland.
The State Department later reiterated that the Biden administration’s support for Taiwan was rock-solid and that the U.S. stood with its regional friends and allies, including “deepening our unofficial ties with democratic Taiwan.”
Opponents suspect environmental racism in pipeline project
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A planned oil pipeline that would run through Memphis, Tennessee, and into north Mississippi is getting opposition from environmentalists, activists and local politicians.
Valero Energy and Plains All American Pipeline want to build an underground pipeline to carry crude oil through wetlands, over an aquifer that provides drinking water for more than 1 million people, and under predominantly Black neighborhoods in south Memphis.
Opponents suspect environmental racism — the practice of placing toxic factories, landfills and other polluters in minority neighborhoods and indigenous areas, where voiceless residents only realize the danger after people get sick. They say Boxtown, where homes had no running water or electricity as recently as the 1970s, was chosen because residents are Black and low income.
The Byhalia Connection would link the east-west Diamond Pipeline through the Valero refinery in Memphis to the north-south Capline Pipeline near Byhalia, Mississippi. Some fear a pipeline spill would endanger waterways and seep contaminants into the Memphis Sand Aquifer.
Australia ends defense cooperation with Myanmar over coup
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has suspended defense cooperation with Myanmar and is redirecting humanitarian aid because of the military coup and the detention of an Australian citizen.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australian diplomats only had access to economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice since he was detained in early February.
The defense training program being suspended already had been restricted to non-combat areas such as English-language training. Australian humanitarian aid will be directed away from Myanmar government and government-related entities. It will focus on the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and poor in Myanmar including the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities.
Claimed value of sleepy NY estate could come to haunt Trump
NEW YORK (AP) — A century-old estate that Donald Trump owns in suburban New York is subdued by the former president’s standards, but it could end up being one of his bigger legal nightmares.
Seven Springs is a 213-acre swath of nature surrounding a lavish mansion built by the late Washington Post publisher Eugene Meyer. It’s also a subject of a criminal probe by the Manhattan district attorney and a civil inquiry by New York’s attorney general.
Both investigations focus on whether Trump manipulated the property’s value to reap greater tax benefits. He bought Seven Springs in 1995 for $7.5 million with plans to turn it into a golf course. Trump hasn’t been there in more than four years.
MacKenzie Scott marries Seattle teacher after Bezos divorce
SEATTLE (AP) — MacKenzie Scott, philanthropist, author and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has married a Seattle science teacher.
Dan Jewett wrote in a letter to the website of the nonprofit organization the Giving Pledge on Saturday that he was grateful to be able to marry such a generous person and was ready to help her give away her wealth to help others.
Jewett has been a teacher for decades and most recently taught chemistry at the private Lakeside School, where Scott’s children attended. Scott donated $5.7 billion in 2020 by asking community leaders to help identify 512 organizations for seven- and eight-figure gifts, including food banks, human-service organizations, and racial-justice charities.