Asian stocks mostly fall on Wall Street slide, trade fears
TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower today after another round of selling on Wall Street amid investor worries about a trade war.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dropped 0.4%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.8% and South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.5%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.9%.
On Wall Street, overnight, the S&P 500 index fell 19.37 points, or 0.7%, to 2,783.02. The index had been down 1.3% earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 221.36 points, or 0.9%, to 25,126.41. It had tumbled 409 points. The Nasdaq composite slid 60.04 points, or 0.8%, to 7,547.31. The Russell 2000 index of small companies dropped 14.07 points, or 0.9%, to 1,489.95.
With two more trading days left in May, the S&P 500 is heading for a loss of 5.5%. That would be its first monthly loss since December.
China dangles a potentially harmful new threat in trade war
WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing new trade sanctions and a U.S. clampdown on its top telecommunications company, China issued a pointed reminder Wednesday that it has yet to unleash all its weapons in its trade war with the Trump administration.
Chinese state media warned that Beijing could cut America off from exotic minerals that are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones. The threat to use China’s rich supply of so-called rare earths as leverage in the conflict has contributed to sharp losses in U.S. stocks and sliding long-term bond yields.
For months, the world’s two biggest economies have been locked in a standoff over allegations that China deploys predatory tactics — including stealing trade secrets and forcing foreign companies to hand over technology — in a drive to supplant U.S. technological dominance.
The Trump administration has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and is planning to tax the $300 billion in imports that have so far been spared. And it escalated the stakes this month by putting the Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist that effectively bars U.S. companies from supplying it with computer chips, software and other components without government approval.
The U.S. claims Huawei is legally beholden to China’s ruling Communist Party, which could order it to spy on their behalf. Washington has offered no evidence that the Huawei has done that, however.
Huawei is trying to beat back one punitive U.S. measure in federal court. In a motion filed late Tuesday in eastern Texas, the company argued that a 2018 law that bars it from selling telecom gear to U.S. government agencies and contractors should be struck down as unconstitutional.
Mahathir urges US to talk with China, accept its greatness
TOKYO (AP) — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is calling for talks to resolve ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing and is urging the world to accept China’s technological prowess.
Mahathir says the U.S. cannot expect to always be at the top in technology, and countries need to talk to deal with a powerful China.
Speaking at a conference in Tokyo today, Mahathir referred to the Chinese telecom giant Huawei and said nations with differing ideologies must be able to get along.
For months, the world’s two biggest economies have been locked in a standoff over trade balances and technology, including allegations that China uses unfair tactics, such as stealing trade secrets.
Mahathir has a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.
California Assembly votes to cap rent increases
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Assembly voted Wednesday to cap rent increases for many tenants as America’s most populous state faces a housing crunch.
A bill, which now goes to the state Senate, would prohibit landlords from raising rent more than 7% plus inflation over the course of a year. The bill would not apply to newer housing or to landlords with fewer than 10 single-family homes and it would expire in 2023.
The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu, said the measure will protect tenants from what he called rent gouging.
But the bill faced persistent opposition, including from Realtors, prompting some last-minute concessions narrowing the bill to win over critics.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called on lawmakers in his State of the State Address this year to pass legislation protecting tenants.
Pelosi slams Facebook for not removing altered video
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Facebook on Wednesday for not removing a doctored video that has spread widely on the social network in which she appears to slur her words.
The altered video had been slowed down, giving the false appearance that Pelosi was drunk, ill or otherwise impaired. Facebook did not respond to messages seeking comment.
In an interview last week with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Facebook’s Head of Product Policy and Counterterrorism Monika Bickert defended the company’s decision, noting that users are being told that the video is false when they view or share it.
Pelosi said in San Francisco that she is no longer giving Facebook the benefit of doubt that it is “unwittingly” spreading false information. She said Facebook is serving an accomplice and enabler of false information and Russian elections interference.
Facebook does not prohibit false information from being shared on its service. Instead, the company says it “downranks” such material to make it less prominent in people’s news feeds and more difficult to find. It also employs outside fact-checkers, including The Associated Press, to determine the veracity of questionable material. It includes such fact checks around the disputed articles and videos but does not directly label them as false.
Tech industry trade group NetChoice, whose members include Facebook, called Pelosi’s comments “hyperbole” that makes it hard to identify the “real bad actors.”
^HOME GROW MARIJUANA
Illinois advances legalized pot after home growing settled
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers working to legalize recreational marijuana hit a snag that other states have wrestled with: whether to allow people to grow a few pot plants for personal use.
The 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana have different “home grow” rules, with Michigan allowing individuals to grow as many as 12 plants and Washington state not allowing them to grow any.
The question in Illinois was settled Wednesday night when the Senate approved recreational use of marijuana after universal home cultivation of the plant was replaced by a provision allowing only medical-marijuana patients to grow their own.
The differences in home grow regulations reflect how states view the competing arguments about home cultivation: Opponents say it fuels the black market sale of the drug while proponents argue that if businesses can sell it, they should be able to grow it.
Legalization legislation from two Chicago Democrats — state Sen. Heather Steans and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy — got off to a much better start this year than in the past because of the November election of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who campaigned on legalizing recreational marijuana.
But pushback over policing homegrown pot forced Steans to jettison her original plan allowing cultivation for personal use before Wednesday’s Senate OK.
Cuba legalizes private Wi-Fi, importation of routers
HAVANA (AP) — Cuba announced Wednesday that it is legalizing private Wi-Fi networks and the importation of equipment like routers, eliminating one of the world’s tightest restrictions on internet use.
The measure announced by state media provides a legal status to thousands of Cubans who created homemade digital networks with smuggled equipment that was illegal but generally tolerated by authorities in recent years. It also appears to allow private businesses to provide internet to customers, the potential start in Cuba of internet cafes, so far virtually unknown here.
While the new regulation permits citizens to connect to the internet with their own equipment and share the signal with others, it does not loosen state control of the internet itself. Cuba’s telecoms monopoly, Etecsa, remains the only internet provider on the island. The new rules go into effect on July 29.
The government says operators of private networks will not be allowed to charge for the service, although it is unclear how that will be enforced.
Until 2015, the only legal internet on the island could be found in government computer centers and hotels frequented mostly by tourists. That changed with the activation of dozens of government routers mounted in parks and on street corners. Cubans could log on to the routers with scratch-off cards bought from the government for several dollars per hour of internet. That cost has declined to $1 an hour.
In order to enjoy the internet at home, Cubans smuggled in powerful antennas that picked up the signal from nearby government routers and piped into their bedrooms and living rooms. They still needed government scratch-off cards to access the internet itself.
^PERSONAL FLYING VEHICLE
Hydrogen-power electric flying vehicle: Long road to liftoff
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A transportation company is betting its sleek new hydrogen-powered electric flying vehicles will someday serve as taxis, cargo carriers and ambulances of the sky, but experts say they will have to clear a number of regulatory hurdles before being approved for takeoff years in the future.
With six rotors on the roof and seats inside for five people, a passenger model of the Skai (pronounced “sky”) unveiled Wednesday near Los Angeles resembles an oversized drone crossed with a luxury SUV.
Like a drone, the vehicle from Alaka’i Technologies takes off and lands vertically. It’s one of many similar electric flying crafts in production, including prototypes from Boeing and Airbus that made successful test flights this year, according to Vertical Flight Society, an industry group.
Most are powered by batteries, which can add a lot of weight. The Skai instead uses very light hydrogen fuel cells to run its rotors, giving it a range of 400 miles (644 kilometers) and the capacity to carry 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) in people or freight, the company says.
^DISNEYLAND-STAR WARS-GALAXY’S EDGE
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge offers new world at Disneyland
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is on the same land as Disneyland, but stepping into the new attraction shows an entirely different world.
The theme park offered media a glimpse into Galaxy’s Edge on Wednesday. The exclusive tour included a Star Wars-themed food tasting, a stroll through the Black Spire Outpost marketplace and four-minute ride on the Millennium Falcon.
A firsthand look took place a couple days before Galaxy’s Edge opens at the California theme park on Friday. That’s when guests with a pre-reservation can experience the largest single-themed land created in a Disney park.
Disney officials said it took more the five years to develop and finish the attraction.
Galaxy’s Edge is an adventure through the grungy planet Batuu, a remote world in the newest “Star Wars” trilogy, and the fight between the Resistance and the evil First Order. The sprawling 14-acre land has three different areas including the Resistance, First Order and the Village.
Guests can build their own droids and lightsabers and interact with aliens. They can also step into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, the exact replica of the ship from the films, measuring more than 100 feet long. The interactive experience allows a team of six people to operate the spacecraft during the interactive experience.
Some familiar faces including Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren and fan-favorite Chewbacca will be a part of the adventure as visitors explore the immersive world.
Union vote next month at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The United Auto Workers union will hold a vote next month on its representation of all hourly workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The union said the National Labor Relations Board decided Wednesday that the vote will take place June 12, 13 and 14. The board dismissed a previous petition for a vote on a technicality.
Volkswagen has said it is neutral on the issue of unionization. But it steadfastly refused to bargain with UAW after the union won representation of maintenance workers at the plant in 2015. The German auto maker has argued the bargaining unit needed to include production workers as well.
According to the union, the proposed new bargaining unit would encompass about 1,700 workers at the plant.