Asian shares climb on Wall Street rally, stimulus hopes
TOKYO (AP) – Asian shares are mostly higher on hopes for additional economic stimulus after the U.S. Congress confirmed Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 2.4% to close at 28,139.03 Friday, its highest finish in more than 30 years, as the government’s declaration of a state of emergency, meant to curb surging coronavirus cases, did little to dampen market optimism.
South Korean and Australian shares rose. Hong Kong’s index gained but Shanghai shares fell. Wall Street rallied to more record highs as investors hope the Democratic sweep of Washington means help is likely for American businesses.
Hiring likely weakened in December amid resurgent virus
WASHINGTON (AP) – America’s employers likely cut back again on hiring last month – and might even have shed jobs – with the economy under pressure from a resurgent virus that has led many consumers to reduce spending and states and cities to reimpose business restrictions.
Economists have forecast that employers added just 105,000 jobs in December. That would mark the sixth straight month that hiring has slowed from the previous month and the lowest job gain since May. It would also leave the economy 9.8 million jobs short of the number it had before the pandemic intensified in March.
The unemployment rate is projected to rise from 6.7% to 6.8%, which would be the first increase since April.
Boeing will pay $2.5 billion to settle charge over 737 Max
UNDATED (AP) – Boeing will pay $2.5 billion to settle a criminal charge related to its troubled 737 Max jetliner. The Justice Department announced the settlement Thursday, nearly two years after the second of two crashes that killed 346 people in all.
Boeing is agreeing to pay money for crash victims’ families, airline customers and airlines, as well as a fine.
The 737 Max entered service in 2017. The first crash occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia, and a second occurred five months later in Ethiopia.
In both cases, an automated system pushed the noses of the planes down, and pilots were unable to regain control.
Head of Chinese bank behind foreign building spree jailed
BEIJING (AP) – The former chairman of the main Chinese state bank behind Beijing’s initiative to build railways and ports across dozens of Asian countries has been sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges.
A court says Hu Huaibang was convicted of taking $13.2 million in bribes between 2009 and 2019. It says he used his post to help others obtain jobs and loans.
China Development Bank is the main lender behind the Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building railways, highways, ports, airports, power plants.
The initiative has prompted complaints some countries are left with debts they cannot repay. There was no indication Hu’s prosecution was connected to the BRI.
Judge blocks strike over railroad’s virus safety precautions
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A federal judge has blocked one of Union Pacific’s main unions from going on strike over its concerns about the railroad efforts to protect employees from the coronavirus.
The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division last month threatened to strike because it wants the Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad to strengthen its virus safety precautions in the workplace. It also wants Union Pacific to offer its more than 30,000 employees full pay if they have to quarantine themselves.
The Judge ruled that the union must address its concerns through contract talks with the railroad and it doesn’t have the right to strike now.
Union officials say they haven’t decided whether to fight Thursday’s ruling in court, but they will continue to press for safety improvements at the railroad. They have similar concerns about virus precautions at the other major railroads, but they decided to press the issue first with Union Pacific.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-IOWA TESTING
Iowa governor, aides appear in PR video for no-bid vendor
UNDATED (AP) – Iowa’s governor and four aides helped make a marketing video for a Utah company that was awarded no-bid contracts for work on the coronavirus pandemic, a move that has raised allegations of favoritism and improper use of public resources.
Domo Inc.’s video featured interviews with Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, and the aids portraying their COVID-19 management as a success for Iowa and the software vendor.
The appearances go against long-standing guidance to avoid any hint of preferential treatment in relationships with contractors. The video put a positive spin on their response to the virus, which has caused more cases and deaths per capita in Iowa than most other states.
Domo’s website removed the video and other Iowa-based marketing materials on Thursday, hours after The Associated Press reported on them.
China city offers rewards to root out untested
UNDATED (AP) – A city in northern China is offering rewards of $77 for anyone who reports on a resident who has not taken a coronavirus test. The offer from the government of Nangong comes as millions in the city and the surrounding province of Hebei are being tested as part of efforts to control China’s most serious recent outbreak of infections.
The offering of rewards for information on political or social nonconformists has a long history in China.
China has largely controlled local transmission of the virus through the use of measures considered by some to be extreme and highly intrusive, including lockdowns of entire cities, close electronic monitoring of people’s movements and bans on traveling to and from parts of the country.
SOUTH KOREA-JAPAN-SEX SLAVES
Seoul court orders Japan to compensate 12 Korean sex slaves
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – A South Korean court has ordered Japan to financially compensate 12 South Korean women forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II. Japan immediately protested the ruling to South Korea’s ambassador to Japan.
Tokyo maintains that all wartime compensation issues were resolved under a 1965 treaty that normalized their ties.
Observers say it is unlikely to pay.
The Seoul Central District Court ruled the Japanese government must give $91,360 each to the women who sued.
The verdict will likely rekindle animosities between the countries.
Publisher drops book by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley
NEW YORK (AP) – A planned book by Sen. Josh Hawley has been canceled by its publisher in the wake of this week’s siege of the Capitol in Washington by a mob of pro-Trump supporters. The Missouri Republican is calling the decision “Orwellian” and vowed to fight it in court.
Hawley is a leading backer of President Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen and that he prevailed over Democrat Joseph Biden.
Hawley has often been cited as possible future presidential candidate and his book, scheduled to come out in June, was an intended forum for a favorite theme – the undue power of Google, Facebook and other internet giants.
In a statement Thursday, Simon & Schuster announced that “After witnessing the disturbing, deadly insurrection that took place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C, Simon & Schuster has decided to cancel publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s forthcoming book, ‘The Tyranny of Big Tech.’