Biden targets small businesses with PPP changes
The distribution of pandemic relief money to more than 2,900 restaurant businesses owned by women, veterans and disadvantaged people was halted last week following lawsuits by several White business owners.
Restaurants in Tennessee and Texas alleged discrimination by the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The program – which has delivered about $27 billion in relief funds to more than 100,000 restaurants – included a three-week period in May during which the Small Business Administration prioritized processing and funding requests from minority-owned businesses.
Under the program, food and beverage providers are eligible to receive grants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, with a maximum of $10 million per business and $5 million per location.
But a conservative legal group founded by Stephen Miller and Mark Meadows, aides to former President Donald Trump, filed a lawsuit in Texas on behalf of the owners of the restaurant Blessed Cajuns, arguing the Biden administration’s attempt to prioritize aid based on gender and race is unconstitutional, according to Reuters.
The White House has countered that it’s trying to prioritize relief for minority- and women-owned restaurants because relief efforts by the Trump administration overlooked those businesses.
A preliminary injunction issued by a court in Texas states that the SBA may continue approving funds for non-priority applicants, but cannot give aid to 2,965 “priority” applicants.
“The SBA is not able to pay 2,965 priority applicants — including yourself — who were previously approved and notified of their approval,” the agency said in a letter to affected applicants, a copy of which was obtained by the Nation’s Restaurant News. “The SBA will not pay these claims because the legal conclusions in these court rulings would preclude payment.”
A separate lawsuit was brought forward by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on behalf of Jake’s Bar and Grill in Harriman, Tennessee, which is owned by Antonio Vitolo.
“Given the limited pot of funds, this puts white male applicants at significant risk that, by the time their applications are processed, the money will be gone,” Vitolo, who is White, argued in the lawsuit.
The fund launched May 3, and for the first 21 days, was only open to applicants from women, individuals who are economically or socially disadvantaged and veterans. By May 15, the SBA said it had received 147,000 applications from “priority” businesses seeking $29 billion in relief funds.
“While we cannot comment on the specifics of the litigation, it is the north star of the U.S. Small Business Administration to assist underserved small businesses, and we’ll continue to do so,” an SBA spokesperson said in a statement. “We remain committed to doing everything we can to support disadvantaged businesses in getting the help they need to recover from this historic pandemic and restore livelihoods.”
Although the $28.6 billion fund has been depleted, businesses may have a second shot to apply for aid. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would add an additional $60 billion to the fund.
NRH moves to ease bed shortage by ordering 71 new beds – Solomon Business Magazine
The management of the National Referral Hospital (NRH) and the Ministry of Health today announced immediate measures including the creation of additional bed spaces at the hospital with plans in place for 71 potential additional beds.
There was outrage after pictures of patients sleeping on the floor went viral on social media and the public is demanding answers for the problem.
Today the top echelon of the NRH leadership and the Permanent Secretary of Health Pauline McNeil faced barrage of questions from the media as they outlined their plans to address the problem.
They acknowledged that bed shortage is a chronic problem that has not been dealt with over past years but they have vowed to take serious steps to address it though it will be a huge challenge.
CEO Dr George Malefoasi in his presentation admits that the currently the demand for hospital admittance has increased and though the level of basic resources has doubled over the years it is not enough to meet “our needs and we don’t have sophisticated resources to contain the depth or burden of the disease.”
“What is needed is innovation and change and this is something that we have been trying to encourage at the NRH and the ministry as a whole,” he told journalists.
The NRH currently has around 293 beds however the number of those demanding admittance has outnumbered the beds.
“We see sick people coming up in numbers at Outpatients. We also have seen persons who are not very sick who should be seen at the clinics. That’s where the difficulty comes.
“Emergency is overworked, overload and crowded. It is always worst during weekends and public holidays sometimes they reach 40, 60 and recently 86 patients,” Dr Malefoasi said.
Even with high numbers, the Outpatient has only 20 beds.
Dr Malefoasi said at least they can manage about 40 patients at one at the time but when it goes beyond that it is really difficult for his team.
“We always think that one of the reasons is HCC (Honiara City Council) clinics are closed during weekends and public holidays so it makes life really difficult for NRH and when patients come they remain in hospital for more than 24 hours because of the severity of their illness so it leads to access block.
“Access block is something that is blocking the flow of patients in the ward,” he said.
Dr Malefoasi says despite that – the Emergency Department (ED) has already made a target in the Triage and they ensure that they have 3 categories of patients that they needed to deal with before two hours to immediately less than 2 hours.
So what are they going to do?
A statement issued earlier today by the hospital detailed that for the first time, NRH now has a Bed and Patient Taskforce Committee established with the purpose of managing the bed and patient flow within the hospital to ensure minimal time as much as possible from initial examination at ED, to admittance to the wards and discharge. Their tasks involve obtaining overnight the number of patients that needs to be admitted and check all wards for the beds. They also help various departments within the hospital identify beds and help to ensure smooth and swift discharges from the hospital to allow movement and transfer of patients into the wards.
The NRH medical laboratory is now operating on 24 hours basis to enable the doctors to make the diagnosis early and make a plan for medical management of the patients. In that case, a patient can be discharged early, if fit to do so.
A customer patient care service is in place and ready for roll out at the AED. There will be additional staff both nursing and non- skilled staff to help coordinate patient and non- patient movements at the department. They will basically direct patients to their appropriate clinics, and ensure they are seen by their doctors in a timely manner and help with their comforts on wheel chairs and beds.
All departments are also requested to develop their inpatient protocol, which involves accepted length of stay at the hospital wards for a particular sickness in lines with the principles of managed care. Reasons for any extended stay at the hospital will be flagged to the doctors and nurses. Patient discharges will be done no later than 10am each day with clear discharge, medication and follow up plan. Reducing the length of stay of the patients will not only ensure bed availability but also ensure that there are less chances of hospital acquired infections which could further prolong the stay of the people.
Stringent measures to control overcrowding at the AED will be implemented to prevent people from just walking in as always is the case, making it difficult for doctors and nurses to manage patients with diligent and care with duress.
With discharged patients, there is also delays due to waiting on beds for take home medication and transport. This will soon change as two areas have been identified and will be secured and cordoned for patients straight after their discharge.
Other internal short term measures include, creation of additional bed spaces at the hospital with plans in place for 71 potential additional beds. In the long -run, a new hospital to be built as per the NRH business case which is also in progress.
With regards to external measures, the ministry will be consulting with the Honiara City Council (HCC) and Guadalcanal Province for HCC and Guadalcanal clinics to be opened at the weekends to prevent influx of people to the NRH emergency during the weekend which cause crowding in the hospital especially during the weekend.
As part of our efforts to restrict the patients coming into the NRH, they have strengthened Good Samaritan Hospital and X-Rays can now be done there, a laboratory will be functional very soon and talks are ongoing with the hospital to provide isolation beds at the GSH.
The patient flow has also increased because of closure of Kukum clinic and talks are ongoing with the HCC to identify alternate health facility to attend the patients after clinic hours. Work on Naha birthing centre is in progress.
With this, the Ministry is urging the public to minimize as much as possible visitors to the hospital including caregivers to care for the sick. Space is vital in the operations of the hospital especially with the discharge of duties of doctors and nurses. Whilst we work on sorting out waiting area for discharged patients, we kindly request that patients prepare well in advance transport after being notified of the time they will be discharged so beds can be freed up as soon as possible. The patients are also advised to seek medical care early to prevent hospitalization, adhere to other good habits to prevent disease and seek hospital care only if they need it.
Eli Manning rejoins New York Giants in business operations, fan engagement role
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants legend Eli Manning is officially back with the organization in a business operations and fan engagement role. He also will work on original content development, which includes a new lifestyle series that premieres this fall.
Manning, 40, retired after the 2019 season following a franchise-record 16 seasons as Giants quarterback.
“I’m willing to do anything. But I’m focused on the business side with corporate partners and on community relations, which was always so important to me while I was playing here and is something I’ve placed a high priority on throughout my life,” Manning said. “I’m looking forward to seeing where I can make the most impact in helping the Giants achieve their business and community goals.”
.@EliManning on new chapter of his life and returning to the Giants organization in a new position
Full video ⤵️
— New York Giants (@Giants)
It’s good to be back with the G-Men. I even have my own office!! I’ve never had an office before. https://t.co/p7gIqqkn8r
— Eli Manning (@EliManning)
Manning also has been working on Eli’s Places, an ESPN+ show that will highlight historic moments, places and figures in college football history.
The Giants also announced that Manning’s No. 10 jersey will be retired during a special halftime ceremony in a Week 3 game on Sept. 26 against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and MVP will also be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
Manning played in 236 regular-season games with the Giants. He made four Pro Bowls and owns almost every franchise passing record.
“It’s a great honor and just an unbelievable feeling,” Manning said. “I don’t know what the emotions will be that day. I know they’ll be high, though. To have that feeling and that final goodbye, a true goodbye to the fans, and to thank them for supporting me during my 16 seasons here, it’s going to be special. I think it’s an opportunity for me to thank everybody here — teammates, coaches and the organization — for believing in me, for bringing me to New York and for giving me a chance to have success.
“It’ll be an awesome day to be here and a great celebration.”
It was always Manning’s plan to take a year off while deciding what was next in his career. Co-owner John Mara had mentioned the door was open for a potential return.
But the coronavirus pandemic kept Manning away from the team facility and stadium last year. Always one of the most respected individuals in the building, the Giants are ecstatic to have him back as part of their team.
“For 16 seasons, Eli represented and defined what it meant to be a Giant, and we are excited for him to join the business side of our front office,” Mara said. “Eli is one of the most beloved players in Giants history. We had a mutual interest in him returning to the organization and we’re thrilled to welcome him back.”
Giants chairman and executive vice president Steve Tisch added: “We are proud Eli was our quarterback for so many years and now look forward to his next chapter as a Giant. Eli is the ultimate team player and will be a huge addition to the organization as we continue to elevate and strengthen our business operation.”
The New Business of Woke Corporate Consulting
In 2017, Nandini Jammi helped launch a company called Sleeping Giants to pressure corporate advertisers into boycotting conservative media.
With little more than a Twitter account, a Facebook group, and a gift for incendiary rhetoric, the company reportedly prompted a range of corporations, from Pfizer to Walmart, to pull advertising from Fox News and other right-leaning outlets.
Now, with boycotts becoming a fixed tactic, including secondary boycotts targeting states with new Republican-backed voting laws, Jammi has transitioned from aggressor to protector: advising companies on how to avoid becoming targets.
Her new enterprise, “Check My Ads,” says it provides “brand safety training that empowers marketers to protect their brands … We help you identify where your ad dollars are going and to align your media buy with your values.”
Jammi is part of what some see as a sensible evolution in which corporations behave in a socially responsible manner while shoring up their businesses against market disruptions in a bewildering time of cultural conflict. But critics see the shift as a pure protection racket: a growing field of progressive groups and personalities exploiting cancel culture for both political gain and personal profit.
Disney, under its “Stories Matter” initiative, has convened a council of nearly a dozen such groups to advise its executives and content managers in monthly video conferences on how to handle racially insensitive material from its vast archive.
Academic and author Ibram X. Kendi and other leading proponents of Marxist-inspired critical race theory have received millions of dollars from corporations looking to stay in the good graces of progressive activists.
Such check-writing echoes what’s long been seen in academia. For example, when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey personally donated $10 million to Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University and Purdue University paid “whiteness studies” scholar Robin DiAngelo $7,000 for a two-hour virtual event.
In the business world, the political pressure and corporate defensiveness have no shortage of critics. Dan Granger, CEO of Oxford Road, an ad agency that launched Hulu, Lyft, Dollar Shave Club, and other notable brands, faults the approach of left-wing media monitors like Media Matters and Sleeping Giants as partisan and “all stick, no carrot.”
“And I think that they’re making the problem of polarization in this country worse, whether or not there is merit behind the claims that they make,” he adds.
With many consumers opposed to corporations becoming political, some companies are starting to push back against the woke agenda.
The CEO of the software company Basecamp recently announced it would no longer push political messaging on customers, prompting a number of resignations among employees.
Even Disney, home of amusement parks billed as the “happiest place on Earth,” has become deeply politicized over the company’s embrace of racial politics, City Journal reported last week, drawing on a trove of whistleblower documents.
But many major corporations seem increasingly willing to be goaded by activists to participate in boycotts.
Last year, after Sleeping Giants, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Color Of Change, and other left-leaning advocacy groups urged a boycott of Facebook ads, over 1,000 companies, including Verizon and Coca-Cola, joined the effort.
The boycott campaign came shortly after CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the social media company’s decision not to censor posts from then-President Donald Trump criticizing the violent riots sweeping the country in response to the police killing of George Floyd. Later the president would find himself banished from the platform entirely.
“Advertising boycotts can be very effective,” says Sharyl Attkisson, a former investigative reporter for CBS News who is now a Sinclair Broadcasting correspondent and media critic. “We’ve seen where the news has become an almost entirely managed commodity, that the special interests and propagandists have successfully been able to co-opt in the past 15, 20 years—and particularly using the internet in the past four to five years in a way that that has not been done before.
“I think we’re in an information war and people want to be sure to control what others say and think and do,” she adds.
In that information war, woke corporate consulting is a more recent tactic. Jammi, a 32-year-old graduate of the University of Maryland business school, sells her Check My Ads service under the rubric of “values,” but seems to equate ethics with partisan politics. Last year, Jammi released a “whitelist”—a spreadsheet of 51 media outlets she deemed safe to advertise on.
The list is composed of liberal publications, such as The Atlantic, Vox.com, and The New Yorker. Not a single conservative news organization made the cut—not even The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper with the largest print circulation in the country, and a well-regarded independent news operation, complemented by its influential conservative editorial pages.
So far, Check My Ads hasn’t publicly touted its work with any major corporate clients, though one of Jammi’s newsletters last year discussed advising the CEO of an ecommerce company, Headphones.com, to make sure he didn’t advertise with outlets she found politically untenable.
Jammi did not respond to a request for comment.
The Business of Boycotts
Boycotts are not a new phenomenon, but political and technological changes have recast them, giving them more immediacy and a sharper edge.
Decades ago, serious boycott threats were often the domain of the religious right; starting in the 1990s, the Southern Baptist Convention encouraged a yearslong boycott of Disney over the company’s stance on homosexuality. Some issue-oriented organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, often urged boycotts of large organizations to draw attention to their causes.
Jammi and Sleeping Giants reflect how boycotts are increasingly used by the left to pressure targets to accept, if not actively promote, controversial progressive views and policies related to everything from transgenderism to defunding the police.
Social media technology has empowered such progressive boycott efforts, by making it easy for consumers to communicate directly with companies and brands. Any perceived misstep by a company can become a national news story by the mere fact the issue is trending on social media.
Social media also allows activists to identify and target companies whose business models offend them. Julián Villanueva, a professor who teaches digital marketing at IESE Business School in Spain, has written that the website ethicalconsumer.org often targets mammoth companies for specific practices.
“The site contains a list of initiatives to persuade ‘ethical consumers’ to stop purchasing from brands like Air France for shipping monkeys to laboratories; Amazon, for avoiding taxes; Bluefin Tuna, for fishing endangered species; or Caterpillar, for selling bulldozers to Israel, as these will be used to destroy Palestinian houses,” Villanueva wrote in Forbes last year. “All of these are accusations that might have to be proven, but that many people believe instantly.”
Villanueva wrote that the intensity of the current boycotts makes it hard for most brands to emerge unscathed. He cited the popular footwear brand TOMS, whose business model was to reinvest the profits from selling its wares to wealthy Westerners to provide shoes to the world’s poor. To this day, the company pledges one-third of its profits to global relief efforts.
It said “TOMS’ environment rating is ‘very poor’ [because] it does not publish sufficient relevant information about its environmental policies. … Its labor rating is ‘not good enough’ [because] there is no evidence it has worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint.”
Good on You makes money by driving traffic to specific retailers and partnering with certain clothing brands to promote them. Its economic incentives, and how those incentives might shape its approach to rating other companies, aren’t transparent. Good on You also offers undisclosed “marketing and data services” to brands that partner with it. Both Good on You and TOMS declined to comment on the fairness of Good on You’s ratings.
Villanueva faults the self-described consumer watchdogs and boycott activists for their lack of transparency.
“Some of these organizations, maybe they are blackmailing somehow,” he said. “[They say,] ‘You are on this bad list, and maybe you want to be off this list. So hire my consulting activities now.’ There has to be more scrutiny and education at the consumer level and society at large.”
Destroying the News Industry
When their efforts began hurting favored outlets, boycott advocates, including Jammi, belatedly expressed worry that they were inadvertently hurting the ad-dependent news industry by creating a climate of fear among corporations and their agents that prompts them to preemptively steer ads away from any news content that might be perceived as controversial.
Online advertising is often placed by automated systems, giving companies little control over where their copy might appear. Concerned that they might suffer a backlash if their ads simply appear next to content that might be deemed controversial, companies employ “keyword blacklists” to avoid such ad placement.
Terms such as “shootings,” “plane crashes,” “raising the minimum wage,” “Trump,” “Lesbians,” and “blood” are red flags. The Guardian reported in January of last year that keyword blacklists are “ballooning in some cases to as many as 3,000 or 4,000 words, blocking ads from many different stories.”
For the news industry, the financial impact of blocking ads alongside “controversial” content turns out to be staggering. Soon after The Guardian’s January 2020 report, advertisers started adding “coronavirus,” “COVID,” and “virus” to their keyword blacklists.
According to a report from Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore, stories about the coronavirus pandemic accounted for one-third of all page views for news websites between February 2020 and June 2020. The report concluded during that same five-month period, keyword blacklisting on stories about the coronavirus pandemic cost publications $1.3 billion in lost ad revenue.
Since stalwart liberal outlets such as CBS News, The Boston Globe, and Vox were adversely impacted, Jammi realized that her boycott efforts might be harming favored entities.
“As keyword blacklisting ‘coronavirus’ continues to decimate the news industry, I have had the sinking feeling that Sleeping Giants (a campaign which I co-run) has something to do with it,” Jammi wrote last April, before leaving in an acrimonious split with her co-founder.
“When Sleeping Giants started tweeting at companies asking them to take their ads off Breitbart,” she continued, “we thought we made it pretty clear why: Breitbart was a media outlet promoting hate speech and bigotry, and advertisers’ dollars were funding it. What we never imagined was that brands would turn off the tap on all ‘NEWS & CURRENT EVENTS’ too.”
Large traditional companies like the bank Capitol One would not just pull their advertisements from right-leaning outlets like Fox News, but all cable news networks.
Capital One!!!! Oh no. https://t.co/2IiJCJdUrk
— JSColejr (@ColejrJs)
In that April newsletter Jammi also complained about the rise of “brand safety” services whose pitch she described as: “You don’t want a campaign like Sleeping Giants to get you in trouble? Then buy our stuff”—for protection.
In other words, Jammi, whose own Check My Ads business is dedicated to telling companies where to advertise in order to avoid controversy, is upset that other advertising companies are offering the same advisory services. However, these new services aren’t motivated by political activism—they’re trying to protect companies from getting caught up in the toxic advertising environment Jammi helped create.
Granger, the CEO of Oxford Road, warns that the businesses that continually respond to short-term panics about “brand safety” run the risk of creating bigger and more lasting damage if they aren’t careful. The more business cedes to boycott pressure, the more consumers will start to think companies are obligated to influence what media report. Granger notes this is a problem for business, because the media is a far more polarizing and less credible institution.
“According to the Edelman Trust Barometer that came out this year, business is the only institution that is seen as both competent and trustworthy,” Granger said in an interview with RealClearInvestigations. “Government is not seen as competent or trustworthy and the media is not seen as competent or trustworthy. And the dirty little secret is that business pays for media. It is business that is trusted, which is sponsoring media, which is untrusted.”
Granger says he’s having a tough time getting advertisers to think about the long-term implications of weighing in on a never-ending series of social media-driven controversies. Once powerful arguments are less effective, including appeals to free speech rights and analytics showing that there’s no lasting harm from ignoring social media-driven boycotts driven by small groups of activists. That’s because the calls to respond to ad boycotts are starting to come from politically motivated employees.
“When it is employees of the company who are concerned that the company they signed on for is not adhering to the value system that they purport to have, and they feel that there’s hypocrisy there, that’s when things really start to change,” says Granger.
The polarization has so firmly taken hold in both the media and business that Granger has founded an organization called Media Roundtable.
The organization offers resources to help advertisers and media take up approaches “different than keyword blocking, public shaming, and reactive boycotts that drive people further apart” and are instead “based on proactive, direct, and collaborative engagement between brands, creators, networks, and platforms. We aim to shift the incentive structure away from supporting outrage, accusation, and vilification and toward media that fosters truth and civility in journalism.”
Granger also hosts a Media Roundtable podcast where he discusses the tensions between media and business with guests across the political spectrum.
Despite growing recognition that the lack of civility and good-faith understanding is breaking the advertising business and hurting media revenue, the boycott tactics are escalating. The NAACP recently wrote a letter to the National Football League asking the league not to strike a broadcast deal with the Fox TV network over corporate ties to Fox News. Politicians too are getting in on the act.
Two Democratic members of Congress have sent letters to the presidents of Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Dish, and other cable and satellite companies suggesting they should stop carrying Fox News and upstart conservative cable networks such as Newsmax or pressure them to change their coverage—egged on in part by outlets such as CNN.
Granger warns that the media climate could still get much uglier than it is now.
“I’ve gotten in multiple debates about the value of some of these third parties and the one-sidedness of the accountability measures that are being applied,” he says. “Now, just wait a few years and watch for a right-wing version [of the boycotts]. There have been attempts, but they haven’t been well executed, but when that happens, then it’s just mutually assured destruction. I don’t think that’s a winning strategy for anyone.”
Originally published by RealClearInvestigations
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