Update on the latest in business:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

Asian shares fall as caution sets in on coronavirus worries

UNDATED (AP) — Asian shares are falling as caution set in among investors following another wobbly day of trading on Wall Street. Benchmarks fell in Japan, China, and South Korea, as well as Australia, although the decline was minor.

Worries remain in the region about the regulatory crackdown in China, as well the coronavirus cases rising not only in China but in other Asian nations.

Tokyo and the nation of Japan overall are reaching record highs in reported COVID-19 cases. Vaccination rollouts have been slow in some parts of Asia, and worries are growing about new variants. Wall Street shares closed mostly higher.

TYSON SPILL SETTLEMENT

Alabama AG announces $3M settlement with Tyson over spill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s Attorney General says the state has reached a $3 million settlement with Tyson Farms over a wastewater spill that killed an estimated 175,000 fish. It was one of the largest recorded fish kills in Alabama history.

The lawsuit alleged the meat company illegally discharged thousands of gallons of partially treated wastewater in May and June of 2019 that ended up in the state’s waters after a pipe failed.

The spill angered local residents in northern Alabama as waves of dead and decomposing fish washed down the river for days.

The settlement, valued at $3,025,000, directs money to the affected communities for specific projects and requires that Tyson take steps to lessen the possibility of such a spill happening again.

VOTING COMPANY LAWSUIT

Judge rules Dominion case can proceed against Trump allies

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has cleared the way for a defamation case by Dominion Voting Systems to proceed against Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Lindell, allies of former President Donald Trump who had all falsely accused the company of rigging the 2020 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols handed down a ruling Wednesday that found there was no blanket protection on political speech. He also denied an argument from two of the defendants that the federal court in Washington wasn’t the proper venue for the case.

The ruling came just a day after the vote-counting machine maker filed defamation lawsuits against right-wing broadcasters and another Trump ally.

In allowing the lawsuit to go forward, Nichols said Dominion had adequately proved that Powell made statements that could lead to a lawsuit “because a reasonable juror could conclude that they were either statements of fact or statements of opinion that implied or relied upon facts that are provably false.”

Dominion has sought $1.3 billion in damages from the trio.

CYBERSECURITY-ACCENTURE-RANSOMWARE

Accenture claims ‘no impact’ in apparent ransomware attack

BOSTON (AP) — Cybercriminals have breached Accenture in an apparent ransomware attack but the global consulting giant says the incident was immediately contained with no impact on it or its systems.

The LockBit ransomware gang announced the attack Tuesday night on its dark web leak site. It set a deadline of Thursday evening for payment.

Accenture says that it “identified irregular activity,” and immediately contained and isolated the affected servers. Accenture said it has fully restored the affected systems from backups, with neither it nor its clients’ systems impacted.

LockBit is a Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate that does not target former Soviet countries. It is one of the most efficient ransomware variants around, according to the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft. Active since September 2019, it has attacked thousands of organizations.

WEST VIRGINA-PLANT-JOBS

Plant owner in talks with WVU to transfer shuttered facility

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s governor says the owner of a shuttered pharmaceutical plant that recently idled hundreds of workers has entered into talks to potentially transfer the facility to West Virginia University.

Gov. Jim Justice says the university and drugmaker Viatris are in negotiations for the facility in Morgantown.

Viatris announced in December it would lay off the workers at the end of July.

Justice said if the negotiations pan out, WVU would work with the state Department of Economic Development to find potential companies to use the facility. West Virginia has been scrambling to lure new industries and uplift a stagnant economy once dominated by the coal industry.

COLORADO RIVER-DROUGHT-FARMERS

First water cuts in US West supply to hammer Arizona farmers

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) — The Colorado River has been a go-to source of water for cities, tribes and farmers in the U.S. West for decades. But climate change, drought and increased demand are taking a toll.

Next week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to declare the first-ever mandatory cuts from the river for 2022 as key reservoirs fall to historic lows. The projection will hit farmers in central Arizona the hardest because of longstanding priority systems.

Pinal County is Arizona’s top producer of cotton, barley and livestock. Farmers there have been finding ways to use water more efficiently but increasingly will turn to pumping groundwater.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-AUSTRALIA

Australian capital locks down after 1 infection

UNDATED (AP) — Australia’s capital will go into lockdown for a week from today after a single case of COVID-19 was detected and the virus was found in wastewater.

Canberra joins Sydney, Melbourne and several cities in New South Wales state that are locked down due to the delta variant. Canberra residents can only leave home for essential reasons from 5 p.m. local time today, general retail stores will be closed and hospitality venues will only to able to sell takeout.

An Australian Capital Territory government statement also says that schools will be open to students who cannot stay at home. The infection is the first locally-acquired case in the city of 460,000 since July 10 last year.

CHINA-CANADA

China dismisses Canadian protests over cases tied to Huawei

BEIJING (AP) — China has dismissed Canada’s protests of the harsh sentences Chinese courts handed to Canadians whose cases are seen as linked to the arrest of a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei.

The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Canada accused Ottawa of making unwarranted, groundless accusations that “grossly interfered in China’s judicial sovereignty.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier had called the sentencing of Michael Spavor “absolutely unacceptable and unjust” and that his trial did not follow the standards of international law. Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig were detained soon after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in 2018 at the request of the U.S., where she faces charges related to possible sanctions violations.

SOUTH KOREA-SAMSUNG

Samsung’s Lee appears at trial ahead of parole release

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A day before he is released on parole, Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong has appeared in a South Korean court for another trial. It’s a reminder of his looming legal risks even as he leaves prison.

Lee is among some 800 prisoners being released before a national holiday. Lee had a year left on a 30-month sentence for embezzling corporate funds to bribe South Korea’s previous president. He was separately charged with financial crimes related to a 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates that tightened his control over the corporate empire.

Lee’s lawyers say he’s a victim of presidential abuse of power and the 2015 deal was part of normal business activity.

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