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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia's President Vladimir Putin will have plenty to talk about when they meet Saturday — thanks in no small part to U.S. President Donald Trump. The two will meet at the German government's guest house outside Berlin and will give short statements beforehand but aren't planning a news conference, German officials have said. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert has said that topics will include the civil war in Syria, the conflict in Ukraine, and energy questions. Putin is facing the possibility of more U.S. sanctions on Russia imposed by Trump, and has an interest in softening or heading off any European support for them. Meanwhile, while both countries want to move ahead with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline — roundly criticized by Trump as a form of Russian control over Germany.
  • Asian shares made moderate gains early Friday after U.S. stocks jumped on news China is preparing to resume trade discussions with the U.S., the first negotiations in more than a month. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.4 percent to 22,275.67, while the Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.4 percent to 2,694.52. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 0.6 percent to 27,254.14 and in South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.3 percent to 2,246.79. Australia's S&P ASX 200 picked up 0.2 percent to 6,339.30. Shares were higher in Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore. WALL STREET: Energy and metals prices and shares of industrial companies turned higher. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.8 percent to 2,840.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.6 percent to 25,558.73 as Walmart and Boeing made big gains. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 percent to 7,806.52 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 0.9 percent to 1,685.75. CHINA TRADE: China will send a trade envoy to Washington later this month in a fresh attempt to end the trade dispute before it causes major damage to the global economy. The two sides haven't talked since early June. After the latest round of talks failed to produce much progress, both countries put taxes on $34 billion in each other's imports. Those tariffs are set to rise next week, and both countries have threatened even larger increases as early as September. QUOTABLE: 'It's hard to get too excited about the 'low level' trade talks taking place next week,' Chris Weston of IG said in a commentary. He said investors should ask 'whether we are really going to get a breakthrough in the trade tensions from these players?' ENERGY: Oil prices were steady after a sharp drop a day earlier. U.S. crude inched up 0.7 percent to settle at $65.46 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, picked up 0.9 percent to $71.43 per barrel. CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 110.85 yen from 110.89 yen. The euro was flat at $1.1379. ____ AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay
  • Electric car maker Tesla's CEO Elon Musk admitted to The New York Times that stress is taking a heavy toll on him personally in what he calls an 'excruciating' year. The newspaper said Musk alternated between laughter and tears during the interview in which he said he was working up to 120 hours a week and sometimes takes Ambien to get to sleep. 'This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,' he said. 'It was excruciating.' The interview published Friday offered rare insights into Musk's personal life and thinking. He stood by his tweet last week saying he might take Tesla private and that he had secured the funding to do so. Asked if he regretted it, he said, 'Why would I?' Musk has a reputation for being an eccentric visionary. But his out-of-the-blue announcement of a potential $72 billion buyout of the publicly held company raised a huge ruckus and pushed Tesla's shares up 11 percent in a day, raising the company's value by $6 billion. They've fallen back but remain elevated. The Wall Street Journal reported that government regulators have subpoenaed Tesla as they dig deeper into his disclosure of the potential buyout. That signals regulators are investigating if Musk was truthful in the tweet about having the financing set for a deal that analysts have estimated would require $25 billion to $50 billion. The company did not comment on that report, but it did say it was forming a special committee to evaluate proposals to take the company private. The newspaper said that in response to questions for its article on the interview, Tesla issued a statement from its board, excluding Musk, that said 'We would like to make it clear that Elon's commitment and dedication to Tesla is obvious.' In the interview with The New York Times, Musk said he fired off the tweet while on his way to the airport. He said his reference to having secured funding referred to a potential investment by Saudi Arabia's government investment fund. Musk, 47, said sometimes he did not leave the Tesla factory for three or four days straight, and that he had not taken off more than a week at a time since he was sick with malaria in 2001. Musk's social media antics have raised eyebrows as he berated analysts and falsely accused a cave diver of being a pedophile after the man was skeptical about a mini-submarine that Musk sent to possibly help rescue young soccer players from a flooded cave in Thailand. He later apologized for that remark. The report cited people familiar with the situation as saying Tesla has been trying to find another top level executive to help relieve some of the pressure on Musk. Musk said he did not intend to give up his roles as chairman and CEO but that if there was someone who could do the job better, 'They can have the reins right now.' In a separate report, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that securities regulators have been investigating if Tesla misled investors about production problems for its Model 3 car. The company could face sanctions if regulators find it misled investors about production delays.
  • Saudi Arabia said early on Friday that it has contributed $100 million to northeast Syria for 'stabilization projects' in areas once held by the Islamic State group and now controlled by U.S.-backed forces. The Saudi Embassy in Washington said the money 'will save lives, help facilitate the return of displaced Syrians and help ensure that ISIS cannot reemerge to threaten Syria, its neighbors, or plan attacks against the international community.' ISIS is an alternate acronym for the militant group. The money will go toward agriculture, education, roadworks, rubble removal and water service for the region, which is now largely held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. 'This substantial contribution will play a critical role in the coalition's efforts to revitalize communities, such as Raqqa, that have been devastated by ISIS terrorists,' the embassy said in a statement. The Syrian city of Raqqa was the seat of the Islamic State group's self-proclaimed 'caliphate' until it was liberated by the U.S.-backed forces last year. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council is the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces. In May, Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened to attack areas held by the U.S.-backed forces. Saudi Arabia long has opposed Assad's government, funding and arming rebels who challenged his rule as the country's 2011 Arab Spring protests devolved into a civil war and then a regional proxy battlefield. The U.S. military operates air bases and outposts in the Kurdish-administered region. The Saudi Embassy described the $100 million as part of a pledge made by Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during a U.S.-sponsored conference in Brussels about the Islamic State group in July at NATO headquarters.
  • More than a thousand Google employees have signed a letter protesting the company's secretive plan to build a search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship. The letter calls on executives to review ethics and transparency at the company. The letter's contents were confirmed by a Google employee who helped organize it but who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the debate. The letter says employees lack the information required 'to make ethically informed decisions about our work' and complains that most employees only found out about the project — nicknamed Dragonfly — through media reports. The letter is similar to one thousands of employees had signed in protest of Project Maven, a U.S. military contract that Google decided in June not to renew.
  • Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump's attacks on 'fake news' with a coordinated series of editorials in defense of a free press on Thursday — and, not surprisingly, Trump didn't take it silently. The campaign was set in motion by an editor at the Boston Globe, which argued in its own editorial that Trump's label of the media as the enemy of the people 'is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.' Trump denounced the effort on Twitter, saying the Globe was in collusion with other newspapers. 'There is nothing that I would want more for our country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS,' the president typed. 'The fact is that the press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people.' Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a resolution with no objections stating that 'the press is not the enemy of the people.' Cognizant of heated feelings on the issue, the Globe hired extra security on Thursday, said Jane Bowman, newspaper spokeswoman. 'Journalistic outlets have had threats throughout time but it's the president's rhetoric that gives us the most concern,' Bowman said. It was not clear how many newspapers participated. Marjorie Pritchard, the editor who launched the campaign, said earlier in the week that some 350 news organizations indicated they would, but she did not immediately return messages on Thursday. Even with the coordinated effort, there was some significant blowback from newspapers that wrote to say they would not participate. The Radio Television Digital News Association called on broadcasters and web sites to express support. Since Monday, there have been 2,240 mentions of either 'First Amendment' or 'free press' by broadcasters across the country, said Dan Shelley, the group's executive director. One TV station, WPSD in Paducah, Kentucky, showed a copy of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of the press on its screen before every commercial during newscasts, he said. 'It has been a big source of conversation all across the country,' Shelley said. 'Just because people are talking about it, it's a victory in my book.' Editorial boards at the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and many places in between weighed in to support the effort. 'The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger,' wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa. In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists 'the truest of patriots.' The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense. The Fayetteville (North Carolina) Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, 'but we're not holding our breath.' The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant of the people. 'Like any true friend, we don't always tell you what you want to hear,' the Morning News said. 'Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness.' The New York Times encouraged readers to subscribe to a local newspaper. 'We're all in this together,' the Times said. That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel and the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch, contained editorials or columns explaining why they weren't joining the Globe's effort. Some worried that it played into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him. The idea of a coordinated campaign simply left others cold, with one newspaper referencing a longtime rivalry. 'We prize our independence, both from government and from other media outlets,' the New York Daily News wrote. 'Coordination, especially with Boston, isn't in our nature.' There was also some scolding of the press — from the press — for letting distaste for Trump show up where it shouldn't in news stories. 'Just as his lack of restraint has often been the president's self-inflicted wound, the bias of some of the press has hurt journalism, at the very moment when it is most needed to save itself,' said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 'It is time for a truce.' It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump's election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010. At the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five staff members were killed by a gunman in June, editors said Thursday they were not participating in the effort because they care more about what the community thinks than the president. But Trump can do some good by giving a Presidential Medal of Freedom to one of the slain employees, Wendi Winters, who had tried to stop the gunman by charging at him before being killed, they said. 'The president could use the occasion of presenting the medal to Wendi's family as a moment of change in his approach toward those whose job it is to question his presidency,' the newspaper's editorial board wrote. 'He could honor her work by expressing his belief in the importance of journalism to our country — even when he feels unfairly treated.' ___ Associated Press correspondents Ted Anthony, Alanna Durkin Richer, Hannah Fingerhut, Skip Foreman, Amanda Kell, Jack Jones, Herb McCann, David Runk and Juliet Williams contributed to this report.
  • Google has revised an erroneous description on its website of how its 'Location History' setting works, clarifying that it continues to track users even if they've disabled the setting. The change came three days after an Associated Press investigation revealed that several Google apps and websites store user location even if users have turned off Location History. Google has not changed its location-tracking practice in that regard. But its help page for the Location History setting now states: 'This setting does not affect other location services on your device.' It also acknowledges that 'some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.' Previously, the page stated: 'With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.' The AP observed that the change occurred midday Thursday, a finding confirmed by Internet Archive snapshots taken earlier in the day. The AP investigation found that even with Location History turned off, Google stores user location when, for instance, the Google Maps app is opened, or when users conduct Google searches that aren't related to location. Automated searches of the local weather on some Android phones also store the phone's whereabouts. In a Thursday statement to the AP, Google said: 'We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers.' The statement contrasted with a statement Google sent to the AP several days ago that said in part, 'We provide clear descriptions of these tools.' Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission's enforcement bureau, said the wording change was a step in the right direction. But it doesn't fix the underlying confusion Google created by storing location information in multiple ways, he said. 'The notion of having two distinct ways in which you control how your location data is stored is inherently confusing,' he said Thursday. 'I can't think off the top of my head of any major online service that architected their location privacy settings in a similar way.' K. Shankari, a UC Berkeley graduate researcher whose findings initially alerted the AP to the issue, said Thursday the change was a 'good step forward,' but added 'they can make it better.' For one thing, she said, the page still makes no mention of another setting called 'Web & App Activity.' Turning that setting off that would in fact stop recording location data. Huge tech companies are under increasing scrutiny over their data practices, following a series of privacy scandals at Facebook and new data-privacy rules recently adopted by the European Union. Last year, the business news site Quartz found that Google was tracking Android users by collecting the addresses of nearby cellphone towers even if all location services were off. Google changed the practice and insisted it never recorded the data anyway. Critics say Google's insistence on tracking its users' locations stems from its drive to boost advertising revenue. It can charge advertisers more if they want to narrow ad delivery to people who've visited certain locations. Several observers also noted that Google is still bound by a 20-year agreement it struck with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011. That consent decree requires Google to not misrepresent to consumers how they can protect their privacy. Google agreed to that order in response to an FTC investigation of its now-defunct social networking service Google Buzz, which the agency accused of publicly revealing users' most frequent Gmail contacts. A year later, Google was fined $22.5 million for breaking the agreement after it served some users of Apple's Safari browser so-called tracking cookies in violation of settings that were meant to prevent that. The FTC has declined to say whether it had begun investigating Google for how it has described Location History.
  • U.S. health officials on Thursday approved a new generic version of EpiPen, the emergency allergy medication that triggered a public backlash due to its rising price tag. The new version from Teva Pharmaceuticals is the first that will be interchangeable with the original penlike injector sold by Mylan. The Food and Drug Administration announced the approval in a statement. EpiPen injections are stocked by schools and parents nationwide to treat children with severe allergies. They are used in emergencies to stop potentially fatal allergic reactions to insect bites and stings and foods like nuts and eggs. EpiPen maker Mylan has dominated the $1 billion market for the shots for two decades. Several other companies sell competing shots containing the drug epinephrine, but they aren't heavily marketed or prescribed by doctors. In 2016, Congress blasted Mylan in letters and hearings for raising EpiPen's to $600 for a two-pack, a five-fold increase over nearly a decade. The company responded by launching its own lower-cost generic version for $300. Mylan continues to sell both versions at those prices, according to data from Elsevier's Gold Standard Drug Database. Teva's generic shot will be the first version that pharmacists can substitute even when doctors prescribe the original EpiPen. A Teva spokeswoman declined to comment on the drug's price but said it would launch 'in the coming months.' Generic drugs can be priced as much as 80 percent lower than the original product. But those price cuts usually appear after several companies have launched competing versions. Teva's bid to sell a generic EpiPen faced multiple setbacks at the FDA, which rejected the company's initial application in 2016. While epinephrine is a decades-old generic drug, Teva and other would-be competitors struggled to replicate the EpiPen's auto-injector device.
  • The Latest on news that the United States and China are resuming trade talks, raising hopes for the resolution of a dispute between the world's two biggest economies (all times local): ___ 1:42 p.m. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says the Chinese economy 'looks terrible.' Asked by President Donald Trump to assess China's prospects at a cabinet meeting, Kudlow on Thursday asserted that 'their economy is just heading south. Business investment is just collapsing.' China's economy decelerated from April through June as Beijing tightened credit policy to combat a big rise in debt. The International Monetary Fund expects Chinese growth to slow to 6.6 percent this year from 6.9 percent in 2017. The Chinese currency has fallen more than 9 percent since mid-April. 'People are selling their currency... investors are moving out of China because they don't like the economy, and they're coming to the USA because they like our economy,' Kudlow said.
  • The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency, said Thursday that a White House official called to talk about a proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Tribune Media Co. Ajit Pai told a Senate panel that Don McGahn, the White House counsel, called for a 'status update' on the agency's action on the deal. He said McGahn 'saw something in the news and wanted to know what our decision was,' but did not express an opinion. The call came July 16 or 17, Pai said. Pai on July 16 had expressed 'serious concerns' about the merger. A White House official on Thursday confirmed that the call took place, but would not discuss substance of the call. Tribune scrapped the deal on Aug. 9. President Donald Trump tweeted that FCC's 'disgraceful' action scuttled what would have been a 'much needed' conservative voice among the 'fake news' media.