False News of The Vegas Attack Spread on Google, Facebook

False news that erroneously named a suspect in the deadly Las Vegas mass shooting on Sunday spread on Google and Facebook before the services removed the posts in question, the two companies acknowledged Monday. Erroneous posts on both services — one highlighted by Google’s “Top Stories” search results, the other circulated by Facebook users — falsely identified the shooter as an apparently uninvolved person.Las Vegas police say Stephen Craig Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada, fired down on concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino hotel, killing at least 59 people and wounding more than 500 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Paddock killed himself as authorities closed in.

But a story by the pro-Trump political website “The Gateway Pundit” named a different person as the shooter, citing a Facebook page to claim the individual was “a far left loon” and “a Democrat who liked (MSNBC host) Rachel Maddow.” Posters on the anonymous, anarchic 4chan.org forum likewise trumpeted supposed findings that the same individual was both the shooter and a “social democrat.” BuzzFeed saved screenshots of the stories, which no longer turn up on either Gateway Pundit or 4chan. Google said in a statement that it highlighted 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” message board, where the incorrect posts appeared, for several hours before its search algorithm replaced it with more relevant results. The 4chan result only appeared if users entered the erroneous name as a query, Google said. The listing did not appear in Google News.

“This should not have appeared for any queries,” a Google spokesperson said, adding that the company would aim to prevent it from happening again. Facebook said its security team removed Gateway Pundit results and other similar posts from its social network, some within minutes. But because that removal was “delayed,” the company said, images of the incorrect story were captured and circulated online. “We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. Both companies are under fire from lawmakers for promoting false stories in the lead-up to last year’s election, and have been invited to testify at a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the race.

China has tools to pressure Kim but worries of consequences

BEIJING (AP) — China has the economic tools to pressure North Korea but fears pushing Kim Jong Un’s government so hard it collapses.

Though China has long been the North’s main trading partner and diplomatic protector, Kim’s nuclear and missile tests have alienated Chinese leaders, who supported last month’s U.N. sanctions that slash North Korean revenue by banning sales of coal and iron ore. President Donald Trump and others have called on China to use its leverage to do more to halt the North’s nuclear development.

Beijing tried to head off the latest nuclear test, conducted Sunday, by warning Pyongyang that such an event would lead to even more painful penalties.

Still, Chinese leaders worry about instability on the Korean Peninsula if Kim’s regime collapses, which would eliminate a buffer between China and South Korea, a heavily armed U.S. ally with American troops on its soil. Some of the options China has used or could and why other options are unlikely:

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TRADE CHINA ALREADY HAS CUT

Beijing stopped importing North Korean coal in February, depriving Kim’s government of its biggest single source of revenue to pay for imports. Controls that take effect Tuesday under U.N. Security Council sanctions approved Aug. 4 formalize the coal ban and bar imports of iron and lead ores as well as seafood. North Korean companies operating in China also have been banned from launching new ventures that might generate additional revenue.

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TRADE IT MIGHT CUT

Oil is Beijing’s most powerful potential weapon. China accounts for 90 percent of the North’s supplies. Oil shipments were suspended for three days in 2003 to express Chinese anger after a North Korean missile test. “Cutting this flow would likely have an immediate and costly impact on North Korea’s economy,” said Eurasia Group in a report. However, such a painful step could rupture relations, wiping out any influence Beijing has over Pyongyang, according to Myong-hyun Go of South Korea’s Asan Institute. Beijing also has the option of banning imports of North Korean-made clothing — the biggest remaining source of export revenue. That would hurt Chinese companies that are part of that supply chain and a North Korean export industry that Chinese leaders are eager to see develop as way to make the country more prosperous and stable.

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TRADE CHINA IS UNLIKELY TO CUT

China is the biggest foreign food supplier to North Korea, which has limited farmland and relies on imports to fill the gap. Chinese scholars say Beijing will reject pressure to cut off food supplies for fear of causing widespread hunger and possibly setting off a flood of refugees into China’s northeast. The end of Soviet subsidies contributed to a massive famine blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths in the 1990s, bringing the economy to the brink of collapse.

Global Markets: Europe shakes off latest North Korea jitters

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s financial markets appeared on Tuesday to have already shaken off the jitters prompted by North Korea’s latest nuclear test, with stocks pushing higher and investors reversing out of bonds, gold and other safe-haven assets.

As with many political risks over the past couple of years, traders showed again that there is now a reluctance to price in the tail risks on every possible bad outcome and are instead focusing on the more prosaic but upbeat global economic picture.

Confirmation that euro zone business activity remained robust last month helped the pan-European STOXX 600 to claw back most of the 0.5 percent it had lost on Monday amid international condemnation of North Korea’s nuclear test.

The euro also tiptoed higher as risk appetite tentatively returned and the data, which also showed rising inflation pressures, put the focus back on Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting.

European government bond yields also crept up and gold – the traditional go-to for traders when geopolitical concerns escalate – eased off a 1-year high, dropping for the first time in four days.

“What the recent episodes have shown is that you should not really try to follow these things as they tend to fade quickly,” said ING’s chief EMEA FX and rates strategist, Petr Krpata.

“It is less and less surprising for markets every time, so for us it is not a reason to change our constructive view on carry currencies.”

ASIA SUBDUED

Overnight China’s Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI), a forward-looking economic indicator, rose to 52.7 in August, the highest reading in three months.

The market reaction to that was muted, however, with sentiment in Asian equity markets still subdued. Chinese bourses eked out small 0.2-0.3 percent gains but Seoul and Tokyo remained red.

Speaking at a summit of the world’s biggest emerging economies in China, Russian President Vladimir Putin again warned that imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea and threatening military action could trigger “a global catastrophe”.

“Russia condemns North Korea’s exercises, we consider that they are a provocation … (But) ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good,” he told reporters.

In commodity markets, U.S. WTI oil prices edged higher, while U.S. gasoline prices slumped to pre-Hurricane Harvey levels, as oil refineries and pipelines in the U.S. Gulf Coast slowly resumed activity, easing supply concerns.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures ticked up 0.2 percent to trade at $47.38 per barrel, though global benchmark Brent prices barely budged at $52.37.

The earlier reassuring China PMI data helped copper hit its latest three-year high in industrial metals markets, and nickel, which is used in stainless steel, also hovered near a 14-month peak.

Elsewhere, bitcoin dropped further from Saturday’s all-time high of $4,979.9 to trade at $4,012.

China said on Monday it was banning the practice of raising funds through launches of token-based digital currencies, or so-called initial coin offerings (ICO).