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Platini: "It hurts," soccer star says of police questioning

After a day of police questioning centering on his former role as a top decision-maker in soccer, Michel Platini was released from custody without charge in the early hours of Wednesday and said he found the experience painful given "everything I've done" in the sport.
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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2020: See Olivia Culpo share the cover
The babe bible is back!
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nypost.com
Man fatally shot, three others hurt in shootings across NYC
A 20-year-old man was fatally shot inside a Brooklyn building — and at least three others were hurt as gunfire broke out across the city early Monday, according to police. The Brooklyn man was shot multiple times in the head and torso in the lobby of a building on Williams Avenue near Stanley Avenue in...
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nypost.com
Naya Rivera's 'Glee' co-stars are ‘not without hope’ for the missing actress
As the search continues for missing “Glee” actress Naya Rivera, two of her former co-stars spoke out on social media after seemingly being criticized over their silence. 
foxnews.com
Lady A singer says country band tried to use her ‘love of God’ to get her to give up rights
Anita “Lady A” White released a lengthy statement to explain her side of the lawsuit the country band has against her for the use of the name she’s performed under since 1987.
foxnews.com
Kelly Preston dies after 2-year battle with breast cancer
Actress Kelly Preston has died after a two-year battle with breast cancer. Her husband of nearly 29 years, actor John Travolta, broke the news to fans on Instagram. Preston began her career in the 1980s and went on to appear in popular movies, like "Jerry Maguire." She and Travolta last starred together in the 2018 film "Gotti." Preston was 57 years old.
cbsnews.com
25 Democratic senators endorse Atlanta reverend for Georgia seat
Warnock has served as the senior pastor at the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church​ in Atlanta, the former pulpit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for 14 years.
cbsnews.com
Working parents desperate to find childcare amid pandemic
CNN's Bianna Golodryga speaks to Eve Johnston, a mother and nurse who is struggling with going back to work because of closed daycare facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic.
edition.cnn.com
‘The Old Guard’ Kiss Is The LGBT Representation Action Movies Need
Take notes, Marvel.
nypost.com
Analog Devices to buy Maxim Integrated in $21B chipmaker deal
Analog Devices is buying rival chipmaker Maxim Integrated Products for about $21 billion, the companies announced Monday.
nypost.com
Kelly Preston, actress and wife to John Travolta dies at 57 after battling breast cancer
Kelly Preston, actress and wife to John Travolta has passed away at 57 years old after a two-year battle with breast cancer.        
usatoday.com
Review: Six can't-miss documentaries explore a camp classic, sexual abuse, Roy Cohn and more
Catch up with these top June documentaries: "You Don't Nomi," "Bully. Coward. Victim.," "Dads," "My Darling Vivian," "The Ghost of Peter Sellers" and "Athlete A."
latimes.com
Join the Vox Book Club to talk Rodham with author Curtis Sittenfeld, live on Zoom
Curtis Sittenfeld and Constance Grady. | Vox You can RSVP now. For my money, Curtis Sittenfeld has for years been one of the most exciting contemporary American authors out there. Like everyone else, I had my mind blown in 2005 by Prep, Sittenfeld’s achingly authentic debut novel about a young girl’s coming of age at an exclusive New England boarding school. And ever since, Sittenfeld has continued putting out thoughtful, tender novels about femininity, class, and American ambition. So I’m thrilled to announce that at the end of July, Sittenfeld will be joining the Vox Book Club live on Zoom to discuss her latest novel, Rodham. Rodham explores an alternate universe in which Hillary Rodham never married Bill Clinton. It’s a breezy, scandalous read that uses the Clintons as a way of thinking about power, gender, race, and the force of charisma in American politics. We’re spending July breaking it down here at the book club, and you can check out our latest post on how it fits into the murky, fascinating world of political fanfiction. Sittenfeld and I will be meeting on Zoom to discuss the book on Thursday, July 30, at 5 pm ET. We’ll talk until 5:45 pm, with the last 10 minutes reserved for questions from the audience, and at the end of the event, I’ll reveal our pick for next month’s book. We would love to see you there. RSVP now, and be sure to sign up for the Vox Book Club newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
vox.com
Countries abroad allow kids back to class and have mixed results
Some countries in Europe and Asia have allowed kids back to the classroom with new restrictions and safety measures, but as Holly Williams reports, looking for lessons abroad is tricky. Israel saw a spike in cases after allowing kids back to school, but Taiwan, enforcing strict new measures, has managed to keep cases low, and with summer break in session, it's too soon to tell what infection rates will look like when autumn sessions return.
cbsnews.com
CDC's 'best estimate' is 40 percent COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic
In updated guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its "best estimate" is that 40 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.
foxnews.com
Kelly Preston, ‘Jerry Maguire’ and ‘What a Girl Wants’ Star, Dies at 57
The actress passed following a two-year battle with breast cancer.
nypost.com
The people who say they're not boarding an airplane until there's a Covid-19 vaccine
With airlines introducing new measures like face masks and intensive sanitization routines to reassure passengers, people have been cautiously returning to air travel even while the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the world.
edition.cnn.com
Florida sheriff, deputies will now 'pay tribute' to every fallen police officer in the US
A Florida sheriff says his deputies will “pay tribute to our fallen brothers or sisters” every time a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty in America. 
foxnews.com
Top prosecutor on Mueller team writing book on Russia investigation
The new book from Andrew Weissmann will hit shelves September 29.
cbsnews.com
Miami-Dade County Covid-19 ventilator use up 129%
edition.cnn.com
'I'm not flying until there's a Covid-19 vaccine'
Airlines are hoping new safety measures will reassure travelers enough to resume flying despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but some say they're staying on the ground until the crisis is well and truly over.
edition.cnn.com
Yankees' Clint Frazier vows to wear mask during at-bats
New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier said Sunday he will likely wear a mask or a face covering each time he steps to the plate this season.
foxnews.com
Brazil's hospitals ovewhelmed with coronavirus patients
The world's number 2 hotspot for coronavirus is nearing 2 million cases. CNN's Bill Weir reports.
edition.cnn.com
Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Breathe: Into The Shadows’ on Amazon Prime, A Promising Comeback for Abhishek Bachchan
This show sets up an intriguing cat-and-mouse game that could develop into a worthy character study.
nypost.com
Japanese officials "shocked" by COVID outbreak at U.S. military bases
Governor of Okinawa voices "serious doubts about U.S. measures against infections," as July 4th parties blamed locally for dozens of cases.
cbsnews.com
White House cites this interview in attempt to discredit Dr. Fauci
As coronavirus cases surge in the United States, the White House is taking aim at the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.
edition.cnn.com
Record heat and severe storms expected across the country
Twelve states this morning are under heat warnings and advisories from California to Florida.
abcnews.go.com
Dan Bongino on backlash to tweet by slain cop's daughter: 'We live in the dumbest of times'
“We live in the dumbest of times,” former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino told “Fox & Friends” on Monday.
foxnews.com
DC activists push ballot initiative to decriminalize 'magic' mushrooms
Activists in Washington, D.C. have collected more than 36,000 signatures in an effort to force a ballot initiative in November that would decriminalize “magic” mushrooms.
foxnews.com
I'm not flying until there's a vaccine
Although airplane travel is back on the rise, some travelers tell CNN why they aren't getting on a plane anytime soon
edition.cnn.com
"Glee" actress sent photo before disappearing, official says
Authorities said they believe Naya Rivera, 33, drowned in the lake. Her son was found the boat.
cbsnews.com
Is it time to refinance your mortgage?
Learning all about the process will help you make an educated decision as to whether a refinance right now makes sense for you.
edition.cnn.com
California officials rolling back reopenings as coronavirus surge creates new crisis
The state has seen coronavirus cases and hospitalizations skyrocket in the last month as the economy reopened and residents returned to socializing.
latimes.com
This day in sports: Carroll Rosenbloom trades Colts franchise for Rams
A look at some of the greatest moments in sports history to have occurred on July 13.
latimes.com
San Gabriel Mission fire provokes pain and grief — for various reasons
In the pain and grief over San Gabriel Mission fire, several narratives emerge
latimes.com
L.A.'s corruption probe involves developers, a councilman — and his 80-year-old mom
Federal prosecutors have alleged, without mentioning her by name, that L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar's mother helped him launder bribe money.
latimes.com
Bankruptcy forced this California city to defund police. Here's how it changed public safety
After the California city went bankrupt, Stockton cut its police department by nearly a quarter. Eight years later, it's a lesson on what fewer police can and can't do.
latimes.com
Pour by phone: Coca-Cola introduces contactless technology to pour your beverage
Coca Cola is launching the contactless Freestyle dispenser, which allows customers to choose and pour drinks from their phones via QR code.       
usatoday.com
Inside the NBA bubble: What is life like for the media on the Disney World campus?
USA TODAY Sports' Mark Medina chronicles his first days inside the NBA campus bubble in Orlando and how reporters are settling in at Disney World.        
usatoday.com
Urgent deadline approaches for international college students fighting to stay in U.S.
The UC, California State and Community Colleges systems join the fight to stop U.S. officials from barring international students if classes are online.
latimes.com
'We're just overwhelmed': The view from inside hospitals as coronavirus surge hits
Coronavirus hospitalizations in California are at an all-time high. Doctors and nurses at some hospitals say their long-feared nightmare has arrived.
latimes.com
A Deeply Provincial View of Free Speech
As protests against racist violence continue around the country during a deadly pandemic, a group of journalists, authors, artists, and academics has taken a stand against “a “stifling atmosphere [that] will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time.”In an open letter published on the Harper’s website last week, 153 figures, including J. K. Rowling, Fareed Zakaria, and Malcolm Gladwell, condemned the rise of a culture characterized by “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” The short manifesto argued that the “forces of illiberalism” are gaining strength across the political spectrum, beyond the radical right and the supporters of Donald Trump, as writers and thinkers face severe professional consequences for “perceived transgressions of speech and thought.” Several of my colleagues at The Atlantic signed the letter, which echoes the sentiment of other recent pieces from prominent writers, including the Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi, the New York magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan, and the Johns Hopkins professor and Atlantic contributor Yascha Mounk. All of these statements contend that the democratic ideal of open debate is under siege at a time when it is most needed.[Read: What a direct attack on free speech looks like]The Harper’s letter’s ostensible message championing the “free exchange of information and ideas” is easy enough to agree with, especially at a time when the president of the United States has made himself an enemy of the First Amendment and a free press. And yet the letter has led to a charged debate in the current fraught media climate. In recent years, defenses of “free speech” have often been wielded by people in positions of power in response to critics who want to hold them accountable for the real-life harm their words might cause. Many of these public figures frame any such consequences for their ideas as “cancel culture,” a phrase both hazy and incendiary that is broadly applied and often used defensively, the way someone might describe an article they don’t like as “clickbait,” simply to dismiss it.The letter in Harper’s vaguely alludes to instances of alleged silencing that sparked complicated discussions, very often about institutional racism. “Whatever the arguments around each particular incident,” the letter concludes, “the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal.” (At least two of the signatories have since distanced themselves from the statement, and on Friday another group of writers and academics published a lengthy counterletter that originated in a Slack channel called Journalists of Color.)That the signatories of a letter denouncing a perceived constriction of public speech are among their industries’ highest-paid and most widely published figures is a large and obvious irony. Many of the writers who signed their name have been employed or commissioned by outlets including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vox, The Washington Post, and this magazine. Several have received lucrative book deals; others—like Rowling, Salman Rushdie, and Wynton Marsalis—are global icons. The educators on the list are affiliated with universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Columbia.There’s something darkly comical about the fretfulness of these elite petitioners. It’s telling that the censoriousness they identify as a national plague isn’t the racism that keeps Black journalists from reporting on political issues, or the transphobia that threatens their colleagues’ lives. The letter denounces “the restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society,” strategically blurring the line between these two forces. But the letter’s chief concern is not journalists living under hostile governments, despite the fact that countries around the world impose draconian limits on press freedom.Across the globe, the challenge facing journalists and intellectuals is not the pain of Twitter scorn; the Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that at least 250 journalists were imprisoned worldwide last year for their reporting. In the U.S., the Trump administration continues to threaten reporters’ safety and undermine the belief that journalists play a valuable role in a democracy. The country is moving deeper into an economic recession, decimating industries including journalism and academia. And yet the suddenly unemployed people the Harper’s statement references clearly lost their jobs not because of a pandemic or government pressure, but for actions criticized as potentially harming marginalized groups. This small group includes James Bennet, the former opinions editor of The New York Times (and a former editor in chief of this magazine), who was forced to resign after the op-ed page he supervised published an article by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton that endorsed state violence.To meaningfully acknowledge the political threat that many journalists face worldwide, or to name the violence and economic insecurity that disproportionately affect certain groups working in media, would require conceding that critical tweets are not censorship. But the passively worded Harper’s statement is damaging in large part because of the issues it doesn’t name—but which are apparent through the work of its signatories. Rowling, Jesse Singal, and Katie Herzog, for example, have all attracted criticism in recent years for their writing and public comments about transgender people. Many activists, scientists, and other experts on gender identity have argued that these writers’ work actively contributes to circumstances in which trans people suffer disproportionately high rates of violence, unemployment, and suicide. In response to such challenges, writers like Singal frequently invoke the importance of “open debate” and “freedom of speech”—all while continuing to enjoy the privilege of writing cover stories for national publications like The Atlantic.This subtext isn’t explained in the letter. But as the writer Gabrielle Bellot (who also contributes to The Atlantic) pointed out in an essay for LitHub, these signatories’ refusal to seriously weigh their own frustrations against others’ experiences effectively sidelines entire groups of public thinkers, especially transgender people, who have often been the subject of their writing: “The largest issue seemed clear to me, in part because I was accustomed to it: that the letter, at core, was at once a theoretical defense of intellectual freedom and a carefully veiled invitation to use dehumanizing rhetoric under the bastion of ‘the free exchange of ideas.’”In addition, the Harper’s letter tacitly conflates the president’s raft of anti-media practices and open disdain for the press with the signatories’ own irritation at the prospect of being ratioed on Twitter or fired because of the “woke” brigade. The author Thomas Chatterton Williams, who spearheaded the letter, told The New York Times that some of the events that inspired the statement echoed the actions of Donald Trump, whom he dubbed the “Canceler in Chief.” But Trump would more accurately be described as a violent demagogue and a mendacious racist. He is not, as Williams seems to suggest, dangerous simply because of his interest in stifling free expression. Even this comparison is revelatory. Amid a worsening pandemic and ongoing protests against lethal state violence, using glib internet-speak to describe the president of the United States betrays a deep detachment from the carnage wrought by his policies and ideology. It is important to remember: The president is not merely a Twitter troll, but the leader of an awesomely powerful government security apparatus.[Read: Civility is overrated]Therein lies the central paradox of calls to return to an (always unspecified) era of civil discourse: What is the value of a debate that considers some human lives mainly as theoretical quandaries? Statements like the Harper’s letter rely on a key assumption—that the romanticized concept of “open debate” is inherently democratic or even “open” at all. (Such arguments dovetail neatly with the media’s industry-wide obsession with mythic objectivity.) But public discourse is always governed by some set of implicit guidelines or barriers. Too often, the people who wax poetic about free speech from safely behind a MacBook Air somewhere on the Upper West Side have not historically faced prohibitive obstacles to advancing their ideas.Any good-faith understanding of principles such as free speech and due process requires acknowledging some basic truths: Facing widespread criticism on Twitter, undergoing an internal workplace review, or having one’s book panned does not, in fact, erode one’s constitutional rights or endanger a liberal society. (And for that matter, even authors who have received powerful social-media backlash have continued to find support with other prominent publishers and media outlets.) As the writer Osita Nwanevu recently argued in The New Republic, “When a speaker is denied or when staffers at a publication argue that something should not have been published, the rights of the parties in question haven’t been violated in any way.”A forceful and sweeping case for free speech—again, a constitutional principle, not one governing private institutions or Twitter feeds—would require engaging with the history of discrimination in journalism, academia, and literature. But the brief and ambiguous Harper’s letter does not convey the complexity of the forces shaping open discourse today. Who has most often shared their ideas with impunity? Who is discouraged, even banned, from doing so? Who cannot afford to enter the field at all, because legacy publications such as Harper’s still do not pay their interns? Serious grappling with these issues, instead of virtue signaling, would actually help foster the conditions for more vibrant public dialogue. Instead, in their rush to fetishize civil disagreement, the would-be defenders of free speech reproduce the same circular logic that has powered elite circles for generations. Nobody needed an open letter to be reminded of that.
theatlantic.com
Want boldly made-up eyes above your mask? Here’s how to get the look while staying safe.
Wash your hands, don’t share products and, for emphasis, consider an eyelash curler and colored mascara.
washingtonpost.com
America’s plan to save small business in the pandemic was flawed from the start
Matt “Kush” Kusher stands outside his restaurant KUSH in Miami, on April 29. Kusher and other restaurant owners are struggling after being denied funds from the first Paycheck Protection Program, and need help from a second rollout to keep their businesses open. | Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images The PPP worked how it was supposed to. That’s the problem. Months after Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in an attempt to support small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, people are still confused, and even angry, over the ambitious, unprecedented experiment. Take what happened with Mark Fisher Fitness (MFF), an LGBTQ-friendly boutique fitness studio based in New York. Because it got a PPP loan in April, it was able to rehire the 28 employees it laid off in March as the coronavirus crisis set in and its locations shuttered. But for the loan to be forgivable, MFF had to spend the money in two months, mostly on payroll. “It did give us the ability to retain the whole staff for a period of eight weeks and keep that sense of community and of continuing our grand unicorn experiment to bring health and hotness to the masses,” said Andrew Cole, chief people officer at MFF. But the reprieve the PPP loan offered didn’t last long. Even though MFF has pivoted to online classes for the foreseeable future, it’s once again had to lay off most of its staff and is closing one location permanently. Still, compared to other small businesses that applied for PPP, it was lucky to get a loan at all. Many small business owners — particularly minority-owned businesses — say they were denied loans for even a few thousand dollars, while larger enterprises like the Los Angeles Lakers and Shake Shack were awarded millions in loans. (Facing public backlash, several of these larger businesses eventually returned the money.) Others say the loan amounts they received were too small to help at all. And a lack of transparency with the program has fueled misconceptions about what PPP was supposed to accomplish in the first place. The controversy surrounding the PPP, which supports businesses with 500 employees or fewer, has a lot to do with a disconnect between the program’s design and how Americans think about business. The real goal of the PPP was to keep American workers on payroll, not to simply keep small businesses going. And so the majority of the money was disbursed to businesses with more employees, rather than to tiny ones with small staffs. That’s why a program widely perceived as being meant to boost the United States’ most vulnerable small businesses ended up prioritizing businesses that aren’t actually that small. As the program nears a close — the last day for applications was extended from June 30 to August 8 — and it’s unclear whether there will be another round of loans, Recode examined the successes and failures of the PPP, as well as why the program ended up being so controversial. The good, the bad, and the ugly of focusing on payrolls In May, the progressive pollster Data for Progress conducted a poll on behalf of Recode in an effort to gauge public perception of the PPP and how Americans feel about it. It surveyed 1,235 likely voters online. The poll revealed some dissonance in how Americans think about small business and who is and isn’t deserving of help. When asked whether all businesses should get help to keep workers paid, 70 percent of respondents said yes. But then when asked whether support should be capped at businesses with 500 employees, 76 percent said yes. And when asked about whether the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, which got a loan and then returned it after public outcry, should have given the money back, 75 percent said it was the right thing to do. When asked what the goal of federal assistance to businesses should be, 58 percent of respondents said it should be to keep workers paid, while 24 percent said it should be to keep businesses afloat — and that explains, at least partly, why the program has attracted controversy. It hasn’t been possible for many businesses to accomplish both of these goals at the same time, so they didn’t get what they needed to truly survive the pandemic, especially sole proprietorships or ones with just a few employees. Yes, covering paychecks is important. So is paying utilities and rent. “The design was to help companies fund their payroll. One can step back and say, ‘gosh, is that the design we wanted to have?’” said Michael Minnis, an accounting professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “It wasn’t called the small business protection program or the microbusiness protection program. Companies in the 100 to 500 employee range have more payroll dollars than companies in the under 100 employees range. That’s just math.” According to a June report from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the average PPP loan size is $107,000, and the administration claims the program has supported 51 million jobs and as much as 84 percent of all people employed by small businesses. All of this adds some nuance to the controversies about big companies that got loans. If the point of the PPP loans is to keep people employed, then what does it matter how many total employees a loan-receiving company has? Minnis pointed out that in criticizing bigger companies for getting loans, it’s important to recognize the counterfactual. What if, after the Lakers returned the money, they immediately laid off all their concession workers? (This hasn’t actually happened.) Or take the case of car retailer AutoNation. The company furloughed 7,000 workers in early April. It applied to the program and received a $77 million loan, which it said it would use to rehire those workers. But amid controversy, it wound up returning the loan. The focus on payrolls has caused other wrinkles as well. At the outset of the program, businesses had to spend 75 percent of loans on payroll within eight weeks in order for it to be forgivable. Amid feedback from the business community that they have other expenses and that the crisis is lasting more than eight weeks, Congress changed the parameters of the loans in mid-June to require 60 percent be spent on payroll over a period of 24 weeks. But for many businesses, it was too little, too late. “The problem is these businesses are in week six or seven of their loan, so they’ve already used 80 percent of the money that was available, and they were paying people who weren’t working for them,” said Daniel Rafeedie, CEO of payroll company PaySteady. That’s what happened with Mark Fisher Fitness. “I’m extremely happy for other small businesses that have the ability to let that money last longer, but it did sting a little bit,” Cole said. And just because a business got a loan doesn’t mean it was enough, even to cover its payroll. Emilie Aries, the founder of Denver-based training services company Bossed Up, had only her salary on her 2019 payroll, which was used to calculate her PPP loan amount. It didn’t take into consideration the two new employees she’d hired this year, so she only got $9,000. “I feel like we fell through a loophole,” she said. “I hired my employees on January 1 and March 1, and the whole point of this program is to protect employees, right? It did not do that for me.” She wound up taking a 50 percent pay cut and using her existing line of credit with the bank to take out another loan to stay afloat. “We were able to pivot successfully,” she said, “but I still have $15,000 in debt I wouldn’t have.” For some businesses, even if PPP only offered a small loan, it still helped keep their businesses going. Caleb Benoit, who runs Connect Roasters, a small coffee company in Illinois, had a relatively easy time getting a PPP loan from his small local bank. He only got $2,500, and while that doesn’t make a huge difference in his ability to stay afloat, he considers it a helpful boost while he rejiggered his business. “The truth is, we’re okay financially; we’re going to make it,” he said. “We’re still small and pretty lean, we don’t have a lot of overhead, so we’re better suited to weather the storm.” The problem with sticking to market-based solutions is that the market is kind of broken The PPP was designed to work within the current US economic system — one that is already imbalanced and stacks the odds against smaller competitors and minorities. And so the PPP has replicated those same flaws. KB Brown runs Wolfpack Promotionals, one of only two Black-owned printing shops in Minnesota. He estimates business has dropped by more than 90 percent since the onset of the pandemic, and he’s had to lay off all of his employees, so now only he and his wife are running the Minneapolis-based business. The only requests they’re getting are George Floyd-related shirts, but he feels strange about commercializing someone else’s pain and prefers not to do them. “We don’t do the profiting off of other people’s misery and death thing,” he said. Brown has been trying for months to get an $8,000 PPP loan, first applying through Wells Fargo and then with Square. He hasn’t had any luck. “It’s bullshit,” he said. “I don’t think the loans are exactly designed for minorities.” His assessment isn’t wrong: The majority of small businesses owned by people of color have been shut out of the loans altogether, and some of those who received them got less than they asked for. This is especially concerning because four out of every 10 Black-owned small businesses in the US aren’t expected to survive the current crisis. The pandemic has already hit Black and brown communities in the US the hardest, in terms of both health and financial impacts. “This is a program that relies on financial institutions as intermediaries,” said Ashley Harrington, federal advocacy director at the Center for Responsible Lending. “That poses a problem for business owners of color, given the history of financial exclusion by the financial mainstream in this country.” People of color have, throughout America’s history, been shut out of financial systems and put at an economic disadvantage — which means the PPP’s design renders this outcome almost inevitable. “This is a program that relies on financial institutions as intermediaries. That poses a problem for business owners of color, given the history of financial exclusion by the financial mainstream in this country” Many banks approving PPP loans accepted applications only from existing customers as a default. That left out many minority-owned businesses, which often have weak relationships with banks as a result of years of systemic exclusion. Moreover, because banks can collect bigger fees for bigger loans, that further incentivized bigger businesses to be prioritized over smaller ones. And the processes for getting the loan and for having it forgiven are complicated. Sole proprietorships (businesses owned and run by one person), independent contractors, and tiny businesses with just a handful of employees are low on resources to begin with. They don’t have a team of accountants and human resources personnel to help them navigate the paperwork. “Reflexively, we rely on market mechanisms to solve problems,” said Felicia Wong, president and CEO of progressive think tank the Roosevelt Institute, in an interview earlier this year about PPP. “We chose this way to do this that is market-driven and market-mediated, and it’s hugely problematic.” The government could have set up a system to give money directly to workers or to businesses. Instead, it put financial institutions in the mix, and they brought with them the flaws and biases of the private market. The $500 billion question that might never be fully answered Beyond the controversies about who did and didn’t get loans and how the program was implemented, there’s another problem with it: a lack of transparency. A total of $521 billion in loans was given out through the PPP, and we might never know where all the money ended up. The federal government initially resisted calls for more transparency into who’s receiving PPP loans, saying that the information is “proprietary” and “confidential.” After intense public pressure, the government relented and released information in July on nearly 700,000 PPP loans of $150,000 or higher. Among the recipients: businesses connected to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Kanye West’s fashion brand, Yeezy. “Reflexively, we rely on market mechanisms to solve problems. We chose this way to do this that is market-driven and market-mediated, and it’s hugely problematic” As the Washington Post notes, the data release is just 15 percent of all of the loans issued and leaves out the majority of sole proprietorships and independent contractors. And the data released was riddled with errors — some businesses listed as receiving loans hadn’t actually gotten them, and some amounts were incorrectly reported. “The fact that we are not getting the same level of transparency for the … program is that much more problematic given the Small Business Administration knows how to do this and lenders know how to do this,” Harrington said. And so going forward, lawmakers, think tanks, and academics are going to be working with incomplete information as they assess how the program worked and where the money wound up. A recent tracker developed to collect data on the US’s Covid-19 economic response paints an initial picture that isn’t particularly positive. It found the PPP didn’t have a “meaningful effect” on unemployment at small businesses at least through mid-May. Other plans to support small businesses have formed in Congress that their proponents say would be better approaches than the PPP. House Democrats are leaning into proposals that expand the program to more businesses, get rid of banks as intermediaries, and turn loans into grants. Whether there’s an appetite for such a program from Republicans in the Senate is an open question, as is what else should be done to help businesses. Politico reports that Congress is hesitant to give out future aid without tighter restrictions, given the uproar over the program. “We really need to think beyond this. This one-size-fits-all approach does not work for all businesses, and because we know that — what other relief is needed?” Harrington said. “What other programs should be created to provide direct grants from the federal government to businesses?” Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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