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Big Businesses Sucked Up Initial PPP Funding, But More Is in the Works

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  • Reports show that publicly traded companies received $243.4 million of the total $349 billion of funding in the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed for small businesses struggling as a result of the coronavirus.
  • Some chain restaurants were also able to get their hands on as much as $20 million while mom and pop shops across the country were left with nothing during the first round of funding distribution.
  • The Senate has approved a second round of PPP funding, with some specifically set aside for community vendors. The House is expected to vote on the funds Thursday.

Big Businesses Get Big Bucks

New reports indicate that public companies received $243.4 million of the total $349 billion in federal funding meant to go to small businesses struggling as a result of the coronavirus. 

The figures come from CNBC’s analysis of research from Morgan Stanley. In the report, CNBC compiled the biggest public companies receiving and accepting money from the Paycheck Protection Program. While the program was designed for small businesses to get funding, many were actually left empty-handed when funding went dry in under two weeks. 

Still, bigger businesses ended up getting a decent share. The biggest company on CNBC’s list was DMC Global, which has a market cap of $405 million and received $6.7 million from the PPP loan. Several other companies with market caps over 200 million also received funding. 

While not on CNBC’s list, two of the companies who ended up with the most money were restaurant chains Ruth’s Chris and Fogo De Chao, both of which took home $20 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, PPP loans were generally capped at $10 million, but Ruth’s Hospitality Group, which owns Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse was able to qualify for $20 million by seeking separate loans for each of its two subsidiaries. Fogo De Chao used the same strategy. 

Frustrations With PPP Funding

Consumers are not pleased with big companies taking money from a fund that could be helping mom and pop shops in higher need. There is a petition on Change.org with over 220,000 signatures demanding that Ruth’s Chris return its $20 million.

“Many small businesses are now being told there is no money left for them, and they cannot pay their employees, and may have to close forever,” the petition says. “This is a travesty, and a disgusting display of corporate greed during a time of disaster.”

Consumers are not alone with their frustrations. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), the House Small Business Committee Chairwoman, said that the PPP needs more “transparency and safeguards” so small businesses are protected.

New Wave of PPP Funding

More funding for small businesses is in the works. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a $484 billion interim coronavirus funding bill. $310 billion of this is set to replenish the PPP, and $60 billion of that is going to small lenders and community banks.

Another $75 billion is going to hospitals, and $25 billion is going to testing expansions. There will also be $60 billion set aside for emergency disaster loan grants that will help communities in underserved areas. The House is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday. 

The biggest concern small business owners have about this second wave of funding is the possibility of it running out just as quickly as the first round. According to Forbes, that is a strong possibility. 

During the first wave of funding, 1.6 million applicants were approved. The Treasury Department said that the Small Business Association “processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days.”

It is unclear how many businesses applied or attempted to apply, but it can be assumed that many more are going to try. Forbes says that there are roughly 30 million small businesses in the country and they employ close to half of the country’s workforce. 

See what others are saying: (NPR) (GQ) (The Hill)

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Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem

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Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.


Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg

In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism. 

Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.

“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.

Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice

“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.

According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject. 

Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out. 

Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.

See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)

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Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids

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The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.


DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.

The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.

In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.” 

Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.

In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”

Labor Market Implications

The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.

Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.

According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.

“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”

It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.

The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.

That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (ABC News)

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Mom Charged for Hosting Secret Teen Parties, Pressuring Kids To Drink and Engage in Sex Acts

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Investigators said some of the sex acts between teens were non-consensual and at times took place while the mother stood by laughing.


Mother Hit With Dozens of Charges

A California mother is facing 39 criminal charges after hosting a series of illegal parties for her teenage son and his mostly 14- and 15-year-old friends that regularly led to dangerous accidents and sexual assaults.

The mother, 47-year-old Shannon O’Connor, also known as Shannon Bruga, is currently awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County. According to The Mercury News, she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her property in Los Gatos that is currently on the market.

Her criminal charges include 12 felony counts and 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.

“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release regarding the case. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”

What Happened During the Parties?

Investigators claim O’Connor organized the functions, attended by as many as 20 teens, via text message and Snapchat. She would then allegedly supply the teens with alcohol and push them to binge drink, often to the point of illness or unconsciousness.

The harm that resulted from their intoxication included one teen breaking a finger and another almost drowning in a hot tub, among other serious situations.

In another instance, O’Connor let an unlicensed drunk teen drive her car. Her son and another one of his friends then hung off the back while it was moving, which caused the friend to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious for 30 seconds. He was later diagnosed with a concussion after spending the night vomiting.

O’Connor is additionally accused of manipulating and encouraging drunk teens to participate in sex acts with one another, which were sometimes non-consensual or carried out while she watched. In some cases, she allegedly laughed while the sexual acts happened or when assault victims asked her why she didn’t step in to help.

Investigators added that O’Connor required teens who attended her parties to keep them a secret. She’s even accused of helping them sneak out of their homes so she could drive them to her events. Authorities said she was found to have bullied at least one teen who she suspected of breaking the secret.

“Everyone should feel relieved this woman’s not on the street,” the parents of one assault victim told The Mercury News. “She was grooming these kids, setting them up for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and doing this to her own child. … I’ve been racking my brain trying to think what was in it for her.

See what others are saying: (The Mercury News) (ABC 7) (CBS San Francisco)

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