• U.S.

    As Millions Suffer From Unemployment, The Catholic Church Gets $1.4 Billion In Relief Funds

    The U.S. Roman Catholic Church successfully lobbied government officials to make an exception from federal rules to include the church in the Paycheck Protection Program, despite not meeting specific requirements. Because of this exemption, at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid has been awarded to the church. And, there is reason to believe that the total payout may have exceeded $3.5 billion, making the global religious institution one of the biggest recipients in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts. According to an analysis of federal data conducted by the Associated Press, millions of dollars are “going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.” Data shows that the majority of the church’s money was approved during the loan program’s first two weeks. However, in that same time, many local businesses were unable to receive loans from the initial $349 billion funding to the program because it was first-come, first-served. In total, nearly 500 loans exceeding $1 million each were approved for Catholic entities. At least eight reached the maximum payout range of $5-10 million. Among the listed recipients are the offices of bishops, major churches, headquarters of leading religious orders, schools, and chapters of catholic charities. Faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration, reports the Boston Globe. When the coronavirus hit and millions became unemployed, Congress made an exception to let faith groups and other nonprofits apply for the Paycheck Protection Program under the same parameters as other businesses. The PPP’s 500-employee cap qualification for applicants would have otherwise meant that many Catholic dioceses would have been ineligible; however, religious groups reportedly lobbied the Trump administration for an exception. The Archdiocese of New York, for example, received 15 loans totaling at least $28 million that just goes toward its top executive offices. Forty dioceses that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past few years paying settlements to those coming forward about their experiences of sexual abuse in the church. The AP’s review found that these dioceses were collectively approved for about $200 million, though the total could be higher because the government’s data – released after multiple news outlets sued Congress – didn’t name recipients of loans under $150,000.The exact amounts are difficult to quantify because the government released only ranges of loan amounts. The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference reported that about 9,000 Catholic entities received loans. That is nearly three times the number of entities AP could identify, reports the Boston Globe. AP’s analysis showed that 407,900 jobs within the Catholic church and its affiliated organizations were retained with money awarded through the loan program.“The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a king of structural favoritism,” Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor who studied the Paycheck Protection Program told the AP. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.” The PPP was open to all religious groups, and many applied, including evangelical advisers to President Donald Trump and many big-name churches.At the same time, the U.S. Department of Labor reported unemployment claims have surpassed 44 million since the start of the coronavirus shutdowns. A study conducted by a Columbia University professor estimated that homelessness in the United States could grow as much as 45% in the next year as a result of the coronavirus and its crippling effect on the economy. Upon the news breaking, some publicly criticized the payouts claiming that scores of dioceses faced self-inflicted financial pressure as a result of hiding rampant sexual misconduct.  AP: After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4B in virus aid with much of it going to ones who’ve filed bankruptcy to protect themselves from sexual abuse settlements 🤯🤬🤮 https://t.co/K2RVLAzpwp — Bobby Berk (@bobbyberk) July 10, 2020 BREAKING: The Roman Catholic Church in the US received a staggering $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, according to the AP. Why are those who don’t pay taxes getting to raid the bank that was built by taxpayers? Imagine if our schools got this money instead. — Mrs. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) July 10, 2020 Millions of struggling Americans have lost their jobs, lost their health insurance, can’t get a Covid test, can’t go to school, and can’t pay their rent, and we’re spending billions of dollars to support the multi-billion-dollar Catholic Church.https://t.co/rDdBuljHvv — Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) July 10, 2020It is difficult to ascertain the total wealth of the Catholic church, but reported estimates and investigations estimate that just within the United States, the entity is valued at tens of billions. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Here’s When All The COVID-19 Relief Measures EndHow Teachers Benefit From The Education BailoutCelebrities Who Got A PPP Loan From The Government

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  • Celebrity

    Red Table Talk: Jada Pinkett Smith Confirms She Had a Romantic Relationship With August Alsina

    On Red Table Talk Friday, Jada Pinkett Smith broke her silence, confirming rumors of a romantic relationship between herself and singer August Alsina. At the top of the episode, which also featured the actress/host's husband Will Smith (embedded below), Pinkett Smith confirmed she got into "a different kind of entanglement" with Alsina. Smith then clarified […]

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  • Lifestyle

    Jenna tried the avocado hack that's taking the internet by storm – does it work?

    Many people love eating avocados, but one thing no one likes is how the creamy green fruit quickly turns brown after it's been cut. While there are many ways to keep avocados from spoiling, a new video on Tik Tok is wowing viewers with its simplicity. Shared by Tik Tok user @kmag1, the hack isn't new, but it doesn't require any fancy storage devices or tangy citrus fruits.

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  • Politics
    The Wrap

    Why Hasn’t Anthony Fauci Been on TV? Doc Says It’s Because He’s ‘Speaking the Truth at All Times’

    Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said the reason why he hasn’t been on TV much lately might be because of his “reputation” for “speaking the truth at all times.”“I have a reputation, as you probably have figured out, of speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things,” he said in a Friday interview with the Financial Times. “And that may be one of the reasons why I haven’t been on television very much lately.”Fauci, who used to be a fixture during the White House coronavirus task force’s daily press briefings, told FT that he hasn’t seen the president since June 2. In late June, Fauci did make an appearance at a press briefing to warn Americans, and particularly those who are younger, that they have a “societal responsibility” to avoid getting infected with COVID-19, but his TV appearances have notably been less frequent since early May.Also Read: Anthony Fauci: 'You Have a Societal Responsibility' to Avoid Getting Infected With COVID-19In his interview with FT, Fauci also countered the president’s claim during a July 4 speech that 99% of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.““I’m trying to figure out where the president got that number,” Fauci said. “What I think happened is that someone told him that the general mortality is about 1 percent. And he interpreted, therefore, that 99 percent is not a problem, when that’s obviously not the case.”He also stressed how severe an impact the coronavirus had. “I have never seen a virus or any pathogen that has such a broad range of manifestations,” Fauci said. “Even if it doesn’t kill you, even if it doesn’t put you in the hospital, it can make you seriously ill.”Read original story Why Hasn’t Anthony Fauci Been on TV? Doc Says It’s Because He’s ‘Speaking the Truth at All Times’ At TheWrap

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  • Science

    Australian Scientist Films Mosquitoes Drinking His Blood Until They Burst

    Female mosquitoes guzzled human blood until their abdomens burst during an experiment conducted earlier this year by a researcher in Melbourne, Australia.Close-up footage posted by Dr Perran Stott-Ross on March 19 shows the insects as they consumed blood from his arm.This video accompanied an article about an experiment which tested the hypothesis that blood ingestion in mosquitoes is regulated by “abdominal stretch receptors” that prevent the insects from drinking themselves to death.Writing in Entomology Today, Stott-Ross said he first immobilized the insects by putting them in the fridge and crushed their receptors using “a forceps.” The next day he let the bugs feed on his arm, which he said is “a common procedure.”Stott-Ross said the mosquitoes drank far beyond their fair share of blood and were unable to fly or even walk, while some drank so much that they eventually burst. Other mosquitoes continued to feed long after their abdomen ruptured.Even though he confirmed the hypothesis, Stott-Ross conceded that performing surgery on individual mosquitos was not an effective way to “control mosquito populations or reduce the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases.”The video has since received millions of views on Reddit and Twitter.Stott-Ross is a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne. His research is concerned with investigating ways to control insect pest and disease vectors. Credit: Perran Stott-Ross via Storyful

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  • U.S.
    The Telegraph

    Robert De Niro cuts estranged wife's card expenses as actor claims fortune hit by coronavirus

    Actor Robert De Niro has claimed the coronavirus has decimated his finances and he “may only make” $7.5 million (£6m) this year, as he fought in court to limit his estranged wife’s expenses. The Irishman star’s former partner, Grace Hightower, has claimed in divorce proceedings taking place in Manhattan, New York, that De Niro “unfairly” cut her monthly credit card allowance from $100,000 to $50,000. Lawyers for De Niro, 76, say he reduced Ms Hightower’s American Express card limit because he has taken a huge financial hit as Nobu and Greenwich Hotel, two restaurant chains he has stakes in, were forced to close or partially close during the Covid-19 lockdown. He also says he has been limited in his acting work by the virus. Caroline Krauss, his attorney, said a film project that he was scheduled to begin filming this summer in Oklahoma has been put on hold. Ms Hightower, 64, a singer and actress, also alleged that she and their children had been banned from an upstate New York estate where De Niro is staying during the pandemic.

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