Asian stocks sink after China coronavirus resurgence
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets have retreated after a resurgence of coronavirus infections in China and a rise in cases in Southeast Asia. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Australia declined. South Korea advanced.
Thursday on Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index ended up less than 0.1% at 3,853.07 after a day of chopping trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost less than 0.1% to 31,176.01.
Judge says Amazon won’t have to restore Parler web service
UNDATED (AP) — Amazon won’t be forced to immediately restore web service to Parler after a federal judge ruled Thursday against a plea to reinstate the fast-growing social media app favored by followers of former President Donald Trump.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle said she wasn’t dismissing Parler’s “substantive underlying claims” against Amazon but said it fell short in demonstrating the need for an injunction forcing it back online.
Amazon kicked Parler off its web-hosting service last week, and in court filings said the suspension was a “last resort” to block it from harboring violent plans to disrupt the presidential transition.
Ontario leader blames Pfizer for COVID-19 vaccine delays
TORONTO (AP) — The leader of Canada’s most populous province says he isn’t buying the excuse from Pfizer about why Pfizer deferred all its COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Canada next week.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says it’s unacceptable that other countries are getting the doses and Canada is not. Pfizer announced a temporary reduction in deliveries last Friday so it could upscale its Puurs, Belgium, plant, which supplies all shots delivered outside the United States. Ford says Pfizer is messing up.
Biden revokes Trump order banning some diversity training
WASHINGTON (AP) — Civil rights groups are celebrating President Joe Biden’s swift revocation of a Trump administration order that had banned federal agencies, contractors and recipients of federal funding from conducting certain diversity training.
The order had targeted workplace trainings that explored systemic racism and privilege, which former President Donald Trump had deemed “un-American” and harmful to white workers. The Department of Labor had already suspended enforcement of the order after a California federal court granted a preliminary injunction.
Biden halts border wall building after Trump’s final surge
SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Joe Biden has ordered a “pause” on all border wall construction, one of 17 executive orders issued his first full day in office. The move leaves billions of dollars in unfinished work under contract after his predecessor, Donald Trump, worked feverishly to successfully to build 450 miles.
A Senate aide tells The Associated Press that the government has spent $6.1 billion of $10.8 billion under contract. The full amount under contract would have extended Trump’s wall to 664 miles.
The Biden administration will negotiate cancellation fees and look into whether what’s left can be spent elsewhere.
Iran, pressured by blackouts and pollution, targets Bitcoin
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Social media in Iran has been gripped by speculation that Bitcoin is to blame for a series of recent power blackouts across the country.
The government launched a major crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which use immense amounts of electricity and are a huge burden on the power grid. Cryptocurrency has surged in popularity in Iran after former President Donald Trump withdrew America in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers and re-imposed economic sanctions.
Anonymous transactions made in cryptocurrencies allow individuals and companies to bypass banking sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. Bitcoin miners say they’re being targeted unfairly and that the blackouts are rooted in government mismanagement.
Google threatens to pull search engine in Australia
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Google is threatening to make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government proceeds with plans to make tech giants pay for news content. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly hit back, saying it doesn’t respond to threats.
Morrison’s comments came after Mel Silva, the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate inquiry into the bill that the new rules would be unworkable. She said Google was willing to pay a wide and diverse group of news publishers for the value they added, but not under the rules as proposed.
The mandatory code of conduct proposed by the government aims to make Google and Facebook pay Australian media companies fairly for using news content they siphon from news sites.
ExxonMobil becomes latest sponsor to sever Iditarod ties
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Iditarod, the world’s most famous sled dog race, has lost another major sponsor as it prepares for a scaled back version of this year’s race because of the pandemic.
ExxonMobil confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that the oil giant will drop its sponsorship of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race after the 2021 running. The move comes after ExxonMobil, which has been a race sponsor since 1978, received pressure from one of its shareholders and the race’s biggest critic, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
This year’s race has been shortened to 860 miles. The race will start on March 7 and end near Anchorage and not run to Nome as usual.
RANCHING STANDOFF-GRAZING PERMIT
Trump gives permit to ranchers whose case led to occupation
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the final days of the Trump administration issued a grazing permit to Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment sparked the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt restored Dwight and Steven Hammond’s grazing permit, which lasts for 10 years. The Hammonds had it revoked after a jury convicted them in 2012 for arson on public lands.
The men went to prison, served time and were released, but the U.S. Department of Justice later ordered them back to prison to finish the mandatory minimum five-year sentence. That kicked off the 41-day armed occupation of the national wildlife refuge.