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US pandemic aid program saved 51.1 million jobs, but wealthy and connected also benefited

first_imgA high-profile pandemic aid program protected about 51.1 million American jobs, the Trump administration said on Monday, as it revealed how US$521.4 billion in taxpayer cash was injected into small businesses but also into the pockets of the rich and famous. The data on the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) seemed to confirm worries among Democrats and watchdog groups that in addition to mom-and-pop shops, the funds went to well-heeled and politically-connected companies, some of which were approved for between $5 million and $10 million.Those include several firms that lobby on public policy, such as Wiley Rein LLP and APCO Worldwide, as well as prominent law firms like Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, which has represented President Donald Trump, and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. Aside from Kasowitz Benson Torres and Newsmax, the other companies and schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.“The initial data is revealing many recipients that are appropriately raising eyebrows, which was one of the many reasons we wanted it public,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.Detailed pictureThe colossal data set released by the United States Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA), after initial resistance, gives Americans their first full look at who got cash from the first-come-first-served PPP that has been dogged by technology, paperwork and fairness issues.To date, the SBA has released geographical distribution figures but the new data paints a much more detailed picture of which communities and sub-sectors received support. Senior administration officials hailed the program as a “wild success,” with the data showing it supported about 84 percent of all small business employees.The data includes information on 660,000 loans of $150,000 or more, including recipient name, address, lender, business type, jobs retained, and some demographic information. That accounts for roughly 73 percent of the dollars granted, but only 14 percent of the 4.9 million loans, according to a summary of data the agencies released on Monday.While the data does not say exactly how much money each borrower received, they are placed in one of five bands: $150,000-350,000; $350,000-1 million; $1-2 million; $2-5 million; and $5-10 million. More than 4,800 loans were issued in the top band, while the overall average loan size was $107,000, the data shows.Among those in the mix: the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, whose stated mission is to curb government spending. It was approved for a loan of between $150,000 and $350,000.Despite some eyebrow-raising recipients, the funds reached a wide swath of businesses – more than $67 billion for the healthcare and social assistance sector, $64 billion-plus for construction businesses, $54 billion for manufacturing and, at the smaller end, more than $7 billion for religious organizations, the data showed.Lingering questionsTreasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had initially refused to name any recipients, saying it could expose borrowers’ proprietary business information. But under pressure from lawmakers, he agreed to shine a light on large borrowers.Launched in April, the unprecedented program – which has been extended until Aug. 8 – allows small businesses hurt by the pandemic to apply for a forgivable government-backed loan from a lender.More than 5,000 US lenders participated in the program, with JPMorgan accounting for $29 billion in loans. JPMorgan, Bank of America, Truist Bank, PNC Bank and Wells Fargo originated 17 percent of total PPP loans, according to the data.In the scramble to distribute funds, the program was beset by technology glitches, documentation snags and revelations that some lenders prioritized their most profitable clients.Some investment firms, for example, were also on the list.That included Advent Capital Management LLC, a New York-based debt investor with $9 billion in assets; Metacapital Management LP, a New York-based fixed income investor with more than $1 billion in assets; and Semper Capital Management LP, which invests nearly $4 billion in mortgage-backed securities.Deepak Narula, the head of Metacapital, said his company decided it did not want the money and returned it “pretty quickly.” A spokesperson for Advent said the company explored but never completed an application and did not receive any funds. Semper did not respond to a request for comment.Monday’s data is likely to raise further questions over whether the most needy benefited from the program and whether more companies should have returned the cash.Roughly $30 billion in loans have already been returned or canceled, a senior administration official said. Those include loans taken by large or publicly listed companies which attracted fierce criticism for breaching the spirit of the rules, as well as loans issued to companies that decided they did not want or need the money after all.The data shows loans that have been approved, but it does not say how much was disbursed, nor which loans have been forgiven so far. The loans were largely dished out on a good-faith basis, with borrowers certifying to their eligibility and the accuracy of the data they provided, meaning the figures on how many jobs were retained have not been thoroughly vetted.Loans that appear to breach the letter or spirit of the rules may not be forgiven, and the Treasury plans to conduct a full review of loans of more than $2 million.The Department of Justice has already brought charges against several PPP borrowers for fraudulently seeking loans, while several federal and state regulators are also probing misuse of the funds.Topics : Kasowitz Benson Torres said the funding helped the law firm preserve hundreds of jobs at full salary at a time when federal courts and its offices were shut down.The gallery of well-connected names extended deeply into the world of America’s privileged and super famous.Sidwell Friends School, an exclusive private school which educated former President Barack Obama’s daughters, was approved for between $5 million and $10 million, as was Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, which – with tuition exceeding $50,000 per year – is attended by the children of hedge fund managers and celebrities.Newsmax Media Inc, the media company run by Trump donor Christopher Ruddy, got the nod for between $2 million and $5 million. So did billionaire rapper Kanye West’s Yeezy LLC clothing company. Newsmax said in a statement it was eligible for the program and did receive a loan, but declined to elaborate.last_img read more

China steps up testing after virus cluster in major port city

first_imgThe port city of Dalian in Liaoning province has reported three cases in recent days after going nearly four months without any.The fresh outbreak has been linked to a seafood processing company that deals with imported products.On Friday, the Dalian health commission said the city had to “quickly enter wartime mode, go all-out, mobilize all people and resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic”.It announced strict new measures, including on-the-spot nucleic acid tests for everyone taking the subway line that passes the affected seafood company. Kindergartens and nurseries have been closed, and some communities have been placed under lockdown, according to state-run newspaper Global Times.City authorities said they would test more than 190,000 people, including employees at shopping malls, wholesale markets and warehouses.The outbreak comes as hundreds of football players from the Chinese Super League — which will kick off its much delayed season Saturday — are in a sealed-off hotel in the city.The league’s 16 teams have been split into two groups for the first games of the drastically rejigged season, with the others to be played in Suzhou, near Shanghai.The latest cluster has turned the spotlight on the country’s food supply chain, and China has banned imports from a number of overseas food producers involved in virus outbreaks.One Chinese importer told AFP that exporters had earlier been asked to guarantee their shipments were not contaminated.A document published Thursday by China’s State Council also warned that the country’s public health system should prepare for a possible second wave of the virus in the winter.At a press conference earlier this month, officials said samples taken from Whiteleg shrimp packaging in Dalian had tested positive for the virus.There were 21 coronavirus cases reported in China on Friday, including two of the three recent Dalian cases and 13 in the western region of Xinjiang.The other six were imported. Topics :center_img A Chinese city of nearly six million people will introduce a wave of coronavirus testing to stamp out a small cluster of cases, authorities said Friday, with state media reporting communities will be locked down.Since the virus first surfaced in the central city of Wuhan late last year, the country’s official number of infections has been restricted to a trickle, mainly among arrivals from abroad. All mass lockdowns have been lifted.But recent domestic outbreaks have proved the difficulty of stamping out the contagion entirely.last_img read more

Following Winter Storm, Wolf Administration Makes Emergency Declarations for Northeast PA Schools

first_imgFollowing Winter Storm, Wolf Administration Makes Emergency Declarations for Northeast PA Schools March 22, 2017 Education,  Press Release,  Weather Safety Harrisburg, PA – In response to several Pennsylvania counties grappling with the effects of winter storm Stella, Governor Tom Wolf announced his administration will make emergency declarations to provide schools in Northeast Pennsylvania that were forced to close last week with options to otherwise satisfy the 180-day requirement.“I understand the importance of keeping Pennsylvanians safe in times of emergency or in the case of a natural disaster, and this measure further extends those protections,” said Governor Wolf. “While recognizing the responsibility school administrators have to plan their calendars accordingly, this provides more flexibility in the face of unpredictable and unforeseen emergencies.”Last week, schools in a number of counties, including Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming, expressed concerns they may not meet the number of required instructional days after being hit by winter storm Stella. Governor Wolf asked Secretary Rivera to make the emergency declarations for schools in those counties in accordance with Act 4 of 2016, which serves as a last resort for schools that are having difficulty meeting attendance requirements due to unpredictable emergencies. School administrators still must include a sufficient number of “make up” or “snow” days into their school calendars.“School attendance impacts student achievement, and emergencies that require a school closing take away important instructional time,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “While the top priority must be student safety, the Department’s goal is to ensure that schools are meeting the academic needs of students while also recognizing that extenuating circumstances do sometimes occur.”Under Act 4, the Secretary of Education may issue a weather, safety, or health related emergency declaration at the request of a school or a charter school or on a county or statewide basis. The emergency declaration permits affected schools to institute options to otherwise satisfy the School Code’s 180 instructional day requirement.When the Secretary of Education issues an emergency declaration following approval of a request, a school can satisfy the School Code’s instructional day requirement by:1.    Meeting a minimum of 900 hours of instruction at the elementary level and 990 hours of instruction at the secondary level in lieu of 180 days.2.    Scheduling of additional instructional days on one Saturday per month to complete 180 instructional days, or 900 hours at the elementary level and 990 hours at the secondary level. Student excusals for certain reasons are included in this option.Both options must be approved by a majority vote of the school board or other governing body.The Department of Education also reminds schools in counties outside those included in the emergency declaration, that they can still request an emergency declaration through PDE’s Office of School Services. PDE will then evaluate a school’s request on a series of factors.For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, visit the Department of Education’s website at or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.center_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

Norwegian oil fund gives grants for portfolio, engaged ownership research

first_imgExamples include “portfolio choice in the presence of a time-varying investment opportunity set” and “the measurement of liquidity and optimal portfolio selection in the presence of differentially liquid assets”.The project will be led by Monika Piazzesi of NBER Research Associates; Joan Kenney, professor of economics at Stanford University; and Luis Viceira, George E Bates professor at Harvard Business School.Several aspects of the Government Pension Fund Global’s (GPFG) asset allocation are under review at the moment, but IPE understands that there is no direct link between this and the NBER project.The Norwegian government recently commissioned a review of the GPFG’s equity exposure, and it has before been urged to expand the fund’s remit to include infrastructure and a potential higher exposure to real estate.Effectiveness of engaged ownership A second funded project, to be carried out by London Business School (LBS), will investigate the effectiveness of engaged ownership.This will be done by analysing “the extent, impact and value of engaged ownership” by Standard Life Investments (SLI).Professors Marco Becht of the Université libre de Bruxelles, Julian Franks of LBS and Hannes Wagner of Bocconi University, Milan, will run the research, which will study the private and public actions of SLI based on data from 2004-14.SLI is understood to have been chosen because it is a leader in corporate governance and stewardship matters and has a wealth of data to which the researchers were given access.Norway’s oil fund is an active owner, and the LBS project is understood to tie in with its interest in moving to more data-focused research into engaged ownership and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment considerations.NBIM said the NFI research programme reflected Norges Bank’s “long-term commitment to strengthen the scientific foundation of the management of the fund”.Under the programme, Norges Bank is currently inviting submissions of research proposals on the financial economics of climate change. The deadline is 31 March. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has awarded two research grants, one for a project on portfolio choice for long-term investors and another for an investigation of the effectiveness of engaged ownership.The grants are for three years and were awarded as part of the Norwegian Finance Initiative’s (NFI) research programme.US-based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has been granted funding to carry out a series of research conferences on topics within long-term asset management. Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the Norwegian oil fund, said the NBER’s project would “support and disseminate research on central challenges facing long-term investors”.last_img read more

Pension funds to soak up £120m fine for Thames Water [updated]

first_imgA spokesman for PGGM, PFZW’s asset manager, said it had been engaged with Thames Water regarding its 2% stake in the utility group, focusing on “network management and reduction of leakages”.“Company management is working with shareholders to execute an improvement programme to diminish the amount of leakages, which means considerable investments are needed,” the spokesman added. “As a shareholder PGGM accepts the agreed compensation for the clients of Thames Water.”Last year, USS bought an 11% holding of Kemble Water Holdings, the parent company of Thames Water Utilities, which is the UK’s biggest water company.At the time, Michael Powell, head of private markets group at USS Investment Management, said he looked forward to “developing a long-term relationship with the management team [of Thames Water] and continuing to strengthen our relationship with Ofwat and other stakeholders”.The BT Pension Scheme took a 13% stake in Thames Water in 2012, which had subsequently been reduced to 8.7% by May this year, according to information published by Ofwat. Hermes Investment Management, the BT scheme’s in-house asset manager, is also a shareholder.Other major Kemble Water shareholders that also face paying a proportion of the bill include Infinity Investments, a wholly owned subsidiary of the $828bn (€600bn) Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Canadian pension fund investors British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and the Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System.In total, Thames Water is owned by 11 shareholders, a large majority of which are pension funds with long-term investment horizons, a spokesperson for Thames Water said. The shareholders would “help pay and share the cost, rather than be it borne by customers”, the company added. Ofwat moved to impose the fine following Thames Water’s failure “in tackling leakage”.“The measures we’ve announced today illustrate the scale of the company’s shortcomings and how seriously we take them,” said Rachel Fletcher, CEO of Ofwat.“High leakage creates unnecessary strain on the environment, excess costs for customers and increased risk of water shortages. A well-run water company will have a good understanding of the condition of its pipes and will be able to reduce leakage over time.”In a statement yesterday Steve Robertson, Thames Water CEO, admitted that the group’s recent performance “has not been good enough”.“We have taken more control of how we manage the network and are investing significantly more in people and resources to tackle leakage, get back on track and then go beyond,” he said. “Thanks to these changes already in place, our current leakage repair performance is our best ever at around 1,000 a week. Our focus is to restore customers’ trust and confidence in Thames Water.”USS declined to comment. APG, which manages the assets of ABP, did not respond to a request for comment.This story was updated to include a statement from PGGM. Four of Europe’s biggest pension funds will foot the bill after a UK water company was hit with a £120m (€136m) fine.UK water regulator Ofwat this week fined Thames Water for failing to reduce the level of leaks in its pipe system.The decision has landed its shareholders – which include Dutch civil service scheme ABP, healthcare sector fund PFZW, the BT Pension Scheme and the UK’s University Superannuation Scheme (USS) – with a portion of the bill.Under the terms of the penalty imposed by the regulator, Thames Water will pay back £65m to customers in addition to an automatic £55m levy for “missing the commitment it made to customers to cut leaks”, Ofwat said. In total the fines reach £120m, all of which will be “borne by shareholders”, according to the regulator.last_img read more

​Swedish lobby group calls for government to match contributions

first_imgMajor Swedish pension providers including Folksam and Länsförsäkringar are supporting a proposal by Insurance Sweden for the government to encourage private pension saving by partially matching contributions.The providers proposed that the government match individuals’ payments up to 20% of their contributions.Eva Erlandsson, senior economist at industry group Insurance Sweden, said: “The insurance industry proposes that the state introduce incentives for private pension savings through matching in order to give more people a concrete opportunity to be able to save for their pension.”The lobby group said Sweden was currently one of the few EU and OECD countries that did not support private pension savings in this way. The proposal was aimed particularly at low and middle income earners, it said.Under the pensions matching idea, pension savings made from taxed income in a pension account would attract a 20% contribution from the government, up to a ceiling for individuals of SEK12,000 (€1,152), according to Insurance Sweden.The state top-up would have no connection to tax paid, the group said, adding that it would be an advantage for low and middle income earners who did not earn as much on tax incentives as high income earners.The plan also involved a starting ‘bonus’ for those who began saving before the age of 25, as a way of getting young people interested in their pension, the organisation said.This bonus should amount to at least SEK200 per month for five consecutive years, the group said.As part of Insurance Sweden’s plan, the state should require that individuals did not withdraw savings before, for example, the age of 61, it said, and that the pension plan was taken out for a longer period, preferably at least five years.Jens Henriksson, chief executive of Folksam, and Fredrik Bergström, chief executive of Länsförsäkringar – along with the heads of Danica Pension, Swedbank Försäkring, Nordea, Handelsbanken Liv and SEB Pension och Försäkring – all put their names to an article outlining the pensions matching proposal in Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri on Sunday.last_img read more

Salvation Army slams Street’s euthanasia bill

first_img3 News 27 March 2012The Salvation Army has spoken out against Labour MP Maryan Street’s intention to introduce a Private Member’s Bill legalising voluntary euthanasia. The Nelson Mail reported that Ms Street plans to introduce an ‘End of Life Choice’ Bill, which will give terminally ill people the right to physician-assisted death at a time of their choosing. Two previous attempts at passing legislation on legalised euthanasia – from Michael Laws in 1995, and Peter Brown in 2003 – failed to get through Parliament. Ms Street says the legislation would offer protection to family members and medical staff who had been asked by a terminally ill patient to help them end their life, but the Salvation Army says it could put pressure on the terminally ill to “choose an ‘early exit’”. The organisation, which believes euthanasia and assisted suicide are morally wrong regardless of illness or age, said in a statement that legalising voluntary euthanasia would “see New Zealand take steps towards non-voluntary euthanasia for those of limited mental capacity”. more open to euthanasia – MPTVNZ 27 March 2012A growing number of Kiwis support euthanasia and a fresh national discussion is needed on the subject, the MP at the heart of new debate around assisted suicide says. Labour list MP Maryan Street, who is working on a private member’s bill that would legalise some end-of-life options, told TV ONE’s Breakfast that the public attitude about euthanasia has changed. “I think more people now have seen loved ones in agonising situations at the end of their lives,” she said. read more

Nearly half of GPs back euthanasia – survey

first_img3News 20 February 2015Nearly half of Kiwi doctors are in favour of euthanasia, or physician-assisted dying (PAD), according to a survey covered in the New Zealand Medical Journal today.This lags well behind public support for PAD, which was measured at 82 percent in January by researchers at the University of Auckland.But the survey’s validity is being questioned by the NZMJ’s editors, who say it does “relatively little to further our knowledge”.According to a letter to the NZMJ from Voluntary Euthanasia Society chairman Dr Jack Havill, 200 GPs in the Waikato District Health Board area were sent letters presenting three different scenarios concerning PAD. The survey’s results were based on 78 responses.The first question asked: “Given adequate safeguards against abuse, do you support the passing of a law to allow a medical practitioner to give assistance to die, on request from a competent patient, 18 years and older, where the patient has end stage terminal disease (eg cancer), or is suffering from irreversible unbearable suffering (eg motor neurone disease, end stage respiratory failure)?”Thirty-seven GPs (47.3 percent) said they support PAD in this situation. An equal number oppose it, and four are unsure.The second question posed a similar scenario, except this time the patient – while still able to do so –writes a directive authorising PAD in the event they become incompetent.The same number of GPs – 47.3 percent backed PAD in this circumstance, with fewer opposed (43.6 percent) and more unsure (9 percent).The third question asked doctors if they would support PAD in the following scenario, provided the patient had given approval while still competent: “If I develop severe dementia resulting from Alzheimer’s disease, or degenerative brain disease due to arterial disease or other agency, where my mental competence has deteriorated to the extent that I am no longer able to recognise close relatives or friends, and am totally dependent on others for basic physical needs e.g. eating food and drinking fluids, spoon feeding, toileting for incontinence, dressing, I would request that I be given medical assistance to die.”Only 31 of the 78 doctors said they’d support PAD in this case (39.5 percent), with half opposed and the rest unsure.Dr Havill says the results show nearly half of GPs “support or would probably support” euthanasia in certain circumstances, and that it is “reasonably certain” that New Zealand will adopt some form of PAD law in the next few years.“Hopefully our professional medical and nursing bodies can take part in the framing of the law and regulations as this happens.”But the study’s methodology has been questioned by editors of the NZMJ, who say the survey’s response rate was “poor”, and it is likely that “only those GPs with firm views, supportive or otherwise, who bothered to reply”.“But nonetheless, that about 40 Waikato GPs would be willing to hasten the deaths of their patients, even if they are mentally incompetent, is noteworthy,” writes Assoc Prof Sandy Macleod of the Health Sciences Centre at the University of Canterbury.“We certainly need to manage the dying better. We need good research, wise expert opinion and fair legislation. We lack these. Dying is not invariably easy, and clumsy medicine can aggravate it.“But is it best to give up and terminate life by the violence of non-physiological pharmacology?”—survey-2015021913#axzz3S7VtQB6alast_img read more

DOJ: Quarantine laws applied fairly

first_img“It just so happens that a greater number of those arrested came from the lower-income groups and that’s simply because they were the ones caught on the streets,” he added. MANILA – Community quarantine policies to stop spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were fairly applied to the poor and the rich, including public officials, the Department of Justice (DOJ) maintained Thursday. The government drew flak for its supposed inconsistencies over the application of COVID-19 policies as some government officials continue to hold office despite violations. Guevarra also said that quarantine violators who belong to “upper-income groups or people who are known in society” are also charged and prosecuted despite public criticism of supposed double standards. “It’s really a matter of perception. Greater number ‘yung mga tao sa masasabi natin na nasa lower income levels, ‘yung mga matatawag nating mahihirap na nahuhuli sa mga violations, but it doesn’t mean at all that there is an unfair application of the law,” Guevarra said. “We apply this as uniformly as possible.” “There is an inconsistent application of the rule of law,” DOJ secretary Menardo Gueverra reiterated, saying the government applies the law “as uniformly as possible.” Among those who were not charged were Metro Manila Police chief Major General Debold Sinas for having his birthday mañanita while Luzon was on lockdown and Sen. Koko Pimentel, who went to Makati Medical Center despite being under quarantine./PNlast_img read more

Shelley Lynn (Love) Mathews

first_imgShelley Lynn Mathews, 61 of Milan and formerly of Dillsboro, passed away Monday November 20, 2017 at Margaret Mary Health at Batesville.  Shelley was born Wednesday February 8, 1956 in Batesville the daughter of Carroll Estal and Alma June (Elkin) Love. She was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church at Dillsboro.  Shelley worked as a self-employed cleaner and being a caregiver for many.  She enjoyed playing cards with friends, classic rock music and just being around her family and people she cared about.  She was a lady full of love.Shelley is survived by sons Bryan Lee (Cassie) Mathews of  Hebron, Ky; Carroll Taft (Hollie) Mathews of  Milan; grandchildren Jordan Lyn, Gemma Rose and Izaiah Taft Mathews; brothers Steven, Russell (Esther), Ron, Mark (Diane), Matthew, and Joseph Love and sister Vickie Wahler, several nieces, nephews, and a host of friends.  She was preceded in death by parents and grandparents.Funeral services will be at 11Saturday November 25 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 9901 Central Avenue,  Dillsboro with Pastor Richard Kolaskey officiating.  Burial will follow in Oakdale Cemetery at Dillsboro.  Visitation will be 5-8PM Friday November 24 at Filter-DeVries-Moore Funeral Home and one hour prior to services at the church on Saturday.  Memorials may be made either to Trinity Lutheran Church or the Shelley Mathews Memorial Fund.  Filter-DeVries-Moore Funeral Home, Dillsboro entrusted with arrangements, 12887 Lenover St, Box 146, (812) 432-5480.  Go to filterdevriesmoore funeral home to leave and online condolence message for the family.last_img read more