NEW YORK (AP) — The check has arrived and beleaguered restaurant owners across America are looking down on their empty wallets.
Government covronavirus loans in the spring helped eating establishments rehire laid-off employees and ride out the pandemic’s initial surge and wave of shutdown orders.
But that Paycheck Protection Program money has now been spent at many restaurants, leaving them in the same precarious position they were in during outbreak’s early days: Thousands of restaurants are being forced to close down again on mandates from state and local officials combating the virus’s resurgence, particularly in the South and West.
And even in parts of the country where the outbreak appears contained, restaurants’ revenue is far below normal because social distancing requirements — and wary diners — mean fewer tables, fewer customers and limited hours.
John Pepper used a PPP loan to pay employees and reopen four of his eight Boloco restaurants when Massachusetts lifted its shutdown order in early May. But with the money spent and business at the restaurants down as much as 70%, Pepper had to again close two locations. The staff of 125 he had before the virus outbreak is down to 50.
“A lot of this is out of our hands at this point,” Pepper says. “At this moment, I don’t see getting my full payroll back.”
Congress is debating another relief bill that potentially will have more help for small businesses, but even with more loan or grant money, restaurants will remain at the mercy of the virus that has decimated their business.
The virus’s resurgence has prompted officials in California, Texas, Florida and other states to order restaurants shut again. In the Northeast and other parts of the country where infection rates appear more stable, no one expects limits on inside dining to be lifted anytime soon.
Restaurants generally have a low profit margin, between 5% and 6%, and they achieve that only if they have a full house virtually every day, says Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for the trade group National Restaurant Association. They also tend to have only about two weeks of cash on hand, making them highly vulnerable when their sales are down.
“They aren’t designed to have an on-off switch. They’re designed to be used seven days a week, 14 to 15 hours a day at 100% of capacity,” Kennedy says.
Gerry Cea was forced to shut his Miami restaurant, Cafe Prima Pasta, from March into May when the outbreak first began. Now, he has again closed the dining room as local officials try to contain the virus; the Miami/Dade area is one of Florida’s hit hardest by the virus.
Cea is still able to serve customers outside, but the intense South Florida heat and frequent summer rains are limiting him to about 40 diners a night instead of the hundreds he served before the pandemic hit. And Cea is mindful that the peak hurricane season is still to come.
“With the PPP money we received, we were able to pay 48 employees but that has run out now, so we are left with very few alternatives” for funding, Cea says. He’s hoping for more help from the government, even if it’s a loan that must be repaid.
In the meantime, Cea says, “the only reason we are pretty much surviving is because we own the building,” he says.
The pandemic has devastated an industry that expected to have nearly $900 billion in sales this year. Before the outbreak, the Labor Department counted 12 million workers in restaurants and bars, and nearly two-thirds worked at small businesses with fewer than 500 workers. In April, employment in restaurants and bars of all sizes had been cut by nearly half as establishments across the country were closed.
Restaurants were among the small businesses the Paycheck Protection Program was intended to help, but some owners say it was of limited use.
The program so far has given about $42 billion in loans to restaurants, bars and lodging companies. But many restaurants burned through loans quickly because the original terms of the program required them to use the money within eight weeks in order to get loan forgiveness. Many establishments couldn’t reopen but paid staffers not to work anyway. Then when they reopened with revenue limited by social distancing, they couldn’t afford their full payrolls. Congress changed the spending requirement to 24 weeks in early June, but that was too late for many restaurants.
It’s not yet known what small business help will be in any upcoming relief package, although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has mentioned the possibility that small businesses with big revenue declines could get a second PPP loan.
But restaurants need a long-term solution that addresses their particular needs, Kennedy says. For example, allowing families that get food stamp assistance to use their benefits in restaurants.
“We’re going to be limping along or shutting down altogether” without long-term help, Kennedy says.
Stephanie Williams still hasn’t fully reopened two of her Bennu Coffee shops in Austin, Texas, and continues to operate with curbside service and delivery only; a third location that opened over the weekend does have socially distanced seating. Williams has spent the PPP money she got in early May — she had recalled furloughed workers but with revenue at one store down by half and the other by nearly two-thirds, Williams had to let 20 staffers go again.
“We assumed at the end of eight weeks, this will be over. But here in Texas, things are drastically worse than when we shut down in March,” Williams says. Like other states where the virus is resurgent, Texas saw cases increase after it ended shutdown orders in early May.
Even in areas where the virus appears stable and restaurants can have inside dining, they’re struggling. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, a Columbus, Ohio, restaurant and brewery, has had to close its dining room and return to takeout and delivery, having used its PPP money and not having enough revenue due to social distancing.
“What the PPP did was put us in a position where we brought people back before we had enough business to support them,” co-founder Bob Szuter says. He’s trying to figure out new ways to bring in revenue, focusing more on the brewery side of the business until it’s safe to have a full dining room.
Jason Brauner’s restaurant, Bourbon Bistro, exhausted its PPP loan, is operating at 50% of capacity and not making enough to cover its expenses. Brauner is worried that the virus’s resurgence will force the Louisville, Kentucky, establishment to close; he had shut completely for two weeks in March before switching to curbside service and then gradually reopened. He’s paid his full staff throughout.
Brauner is hoping to get a grant from the city and he’d welcome another PPP loan. A separate economic injury disaster loan from the SBA give him some breathing room, but also presents a dilemma. Like many restaurant owners, Brauner worries about carrying long-term debt when the future is uncertain.
“I’m almost tempted to give it back,” he says. “We just have to see how it all plays out.”
How Social Media’s Fixation with Scale Supercharged Disinformation
The attack on the U.S. Capitol building was the culmination of years of disinformation and conspiracy theories that had been weaponized on social media networks. Could that weaponization have been prevented? Perhaps. The dominant business model of these platforms, which emphasized scale over other considerations, made them particularly vulnerable to disinformation networks and related backlash…
The attack on the U.S. Capitol building was the conclusion of years of disinformation and conspiracy theories that had actually been weaponized on social media networks. The dominant service design of these platforms, which emphasized scale over other factors to consider, made them particularly vulnerable to disinformation networks and related reaction against those networks– both the loss of infrastructure support, as in the case of Parler, and the threat of regulative crackdown, as in the case of Facebook and Twitter.
Over the last four years, disinformation has actually ended up being a global watchword. After Russian meddling on social networks during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, experts expressed issues that social media would continue to be weaponized– cautions that were typically dismissed as hyperbolic.
But the January 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol developing shows simply how effective a networked conspiracy can be when it’s magnified through social media. The attack was the conclusion of years of disinformation from President Trump, which increase after Biden was stated the president-elect– and largely the item of social networks business’ inability to control the weaponization of their items.
Throughout the years, we’ve experienced various approaches to weaponization take shape. While Russian meddling showed the potential for well-placed disinformation to spread out across social networks, the 2017 “Join the Right” event in Charlottesville, Va. demonstrated how a group of white supremacists might use social media to plan a violent rally. The Capitol siege had components of both– it included a larger ideological spectrum than Charlottesville, and individuals had actually not just collaborated over social networks, however had been combined through it. The insurrectionists were unified by their support for Donald Trump and their false belief that the election had actually been stolen from him. At the peak of the moment, Trump used social networks to message to the rabid crowd in actual time from his smart phone at a safe get rid of.
This has actually raised fundamental questions about the future of the platforms where this all played out.
But in order to understand what comes next, we require to ask: How did social networks become a disinformation device? And how do business designs of these tech business explain how that occurred?
Whatever open will be made use of.
For more than a years, business design for today’s social media giants, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter has been to pursue scale. Excellent ideas, such as the video sharing platform Vine, were left in this pursuit, while investor KPIs were pegged to broadening the user base. This technique has a considerable weak point: When a platform’s growth depends on openness, it’s more susceptible to malicious usage. As we can now see, this open company model can leave companies exposed in manner ins which these businesses are now are being required to consider.
There have been a few crucial phases that lead to this minute. Each, in its own method, highlighted how the vulnerability of the open, scale-centric business model of social media platforms might be exploited.
Relatively early on, the focus on growth set the conditions for the advancement of a shadow industry of phony fans and synthetic engagement According to insiders, this was well-known, but social media companies avoided conversations about the abuse of their items
When internet marketing was turned into a political tool, however, the field of bad stars expanded significantly– as did the possible damage they could do. The connection between social media and political occasions such as Brexit and Trump’s win became clear after Carole Cadwalladr broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The occurrence offered a case research study in how information gathered from social networks might be repurposed to target specific audiences with material that irritated political stress and fractured coalitions, not to discuss plant scrap news and normally make mayhem and confusion reign.
Rising from the ashes of the Pizzagate conspiracy, which declared Hilary Clinton was part of a child-exploitation network in D.C., a strange account named “Q” started publishing cryptic missives on a message board understood for memes, anime porn, and white supremacist arranging. While comprehensive, the core story of QAnon was that Trump was privately engaged in a war with the “deep state” to arrest Clinton and stop a Democrat-run cabal of Satan worshiping pedophiles engaged in massive human trafficking.
With QAnon, the fringe transferred to the mainstream, with Q discussion threads turning up on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. The platforms’ growth model indicated content and groups that produced high engagement were rewarded with greater priority in recommendations. In other words, QAnon communities delivered the kind of material that social networks reward and benefited appropriately. A couple of specific events, like the arrest of Jeffery Epstein and the Las Vegas mass shooting, generated bursts of brand-new interest in Q’s posts and analysis of them. Q networks likewise included the development of Covid-19, launching a scam declaring the pandemic was a Democratic plot versus Trump and arranged several protests to this end.
Belatedly, some tech business reacted. Facebook and Twitter took some action to get rid of Q networks on their items this summer Reddit did not have the same issues because they acted early to remove Q online forums, and the conspiracy theory never acquired a strong foothold on the platform. But by the time Twitter and Facebook took action, Q communities had actually currently prepared for deplatforming, producing redundant networks on other apps with smaller sized networks, like Gab and Parler.
With the election of Joe Biden in November, the impacts of these trends became clear. The outcome of the election was disconcerting to those who were filled by these conspiracy theories. The sensation of being pushed away politically, while also isolated during a pandemic, had fired up numerous Q followers to the point where Trump only required to light the match on social media to spread out election conspiracies like digital wildfire.
In every circumstances leading up to January 6, the moral task was to minimize the scale and pay more attention to the quality of viral material. We saw the cost of stopping working to do so.
Where we go from here.
In his book Anti-Social Media, Siva Vaidhyanathan writes, “If a global advertising company leverages its vast variety of files on its two billion users to restrict competition and welcome antidemocratic forces to infest its channels with disinformation, democratic states must move to break it up and to limit what companies can discover and utilize about residents.” In the wake of the attack on the Capitol, we’re seeing a growing interest in doing just that.
As we, as a society, think about next actions, we need to remember that emphasizing scale has a trade off with security. In addition, failing to act upon disinformation and viral conspiracy does not imply they will ultimately simply disappear; in fact, the reverse holds true. Since social media seems to move the fringe to the mainstream, by connecting people with similar interests from the mundane to the utterly bizarre, tech business need to develop a prepare for content curation and community small amounts that reflects a more human scale.
Tech companies, consisting of start-ups wary of overreach, and VCs must start to prepare model policies for regulators to consider, remembering that openness and scale pose considerable threats not only to earnings, however to democracies.
Republican sources say McConnell is thinking about a vote to found guilty Trump and expel him from the United States federal government forever
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote to convict President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial, Republican sources told Insider. “He’s seriously entertaining it,” said one GOP source familiar with the Kentucky Republican’s thinking. “He wants to hear it out.” Convicting Trump and removing him from office isn’t the end game here since…
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote to convict President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial, Republican sources told Expert.
- ” He’s seriously entertaining it,” stated one GOP source knowledgeable about the Kentucky Republican politician’s thinking. “He wishes to hear it out.”
- Convicting Trump and removing him from office isn’t completion game here considering that the impeachment trial likely will not begin in earnest up until after his term is up. The Senate would next vote to ban Trump from ever holding a federal government position again, and a simple bulk is all that’s required to make that take place.
- McConnell understands Trump is at his most vulnerable today as he prepares to leave office while facing a raft of prospective criminal charges, according to Republicans close to the bulk leader and the White Home.
- ” It’s the time to shiv him and after that brace for the fallout,” said one GOP source with ties to the Trump White House.
- See Organization Insider’s homepage for more stories
McConnell is stated to be enraged at Trump for directing the heavily-armed mob that swarmed the Capitol in protest of Congress licensing President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 election success. He now sees the Democrat-led Home effort that culminated Wednesday with a bipartisan 232-197 vote to impeach the president as a prospective opportunity to rid his party and American politics once and for all of Trump.
McConnell is attempting to drum up the essential 17 Republican votes needed to assist convict the president at a Senate trial, according to a source close to the Trump White Home.
And the president has actually currently been prohibited from the potent social media networks that helped fuel his political increase, damaging his capability to speak straight to his advocates and influence some of the fence-sitting GOP senators who have the power to end Trump’s profession.
” Now is the time,” a source close to the White House said of McConnell’s potential relocation.
Getting to 17 Senate Republican politician votes
Moderate Republicans like Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mitt Romney of Utah are extensively seen as possible yes votes to found guilty Trump at an impeachment trial. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the president’s adult boys, also threatened main obstacles versus any Republicans who didn’t support their dad’s effort to overturn Biden’s election.
Maybe the most engaging reason Republicans have to back Trump’s conviction is what would come right after the impeachment trial.
Trump by all accounts is likely to wage war versus any GOP defectors. It’s how he reacted to Romney when the celebration’s 2012 presidential candidate broke ranks last February as the only Senate Republican to support Trump’s conviction on one count following the last impeachment trial. The GOP sources state McConnell acknowledges the dangers if it suggests say goodbye to Trump.
” It’s going to be a short-term blood bath,” the source near to the White House said. “He’ll most likely go on the warpath against all the senators and attempt to get them gotten rid of from workplace and all that. I believe the much better thing, they believe, is to knock him out than let him remain.”
‘ If McConnell comes out in favor of conviction, then he has the votes’
McConnell isn’t stating yet how he will vote throughout an impeachment trial.
” While journalism has had plenty of speculation, I have actually not made a decision on how I will vote and I mean to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” the majority leader composed in a letter sent out Wednesday afternoon to his GOP coworkers.
The Republican leader likewise has no plans to bring the Senate back into session till January 19 th, a day prior to Biden’s inauguration. That implies a trial to hear the House’s proof arguing in favor of Trump’s removal due to the “insurrection” from the riots likely will not occur up until after he’s already out of office and with Senate Democrats taking over the bulk for the brand-new Congress.
Republicans viewing McConnell’s movements say that his group’s decision to leakage word he would think about voting to found guilty Trump should be of alarm to the president. McConnell is a master tactician who wouldn’t let that signal head out without having a reason.
” I believe if McConnell comes out in favor of conviction, then he has the votes,” stated one previous Senate Republican politician staffer. Other Republicans near to McConnell and the Senate Republican conference echoed that sentiment: McConnell would not be floating Trump’s conviction if he didn’t already have the votes lined up.
At the White House, Trump and his fast-depleting personnel have not begun preparing an impeachment defense. Sources near the White Home state the president’s team remains in mayhem after recently’s riot. They likewise don’t think McConnell has the votes to convict him, according to another Republican close to the White Home.
In an interview on Tuesday, law teacher Alan Dershowitz told Insider he had actually not been asked to protect Trump in an impeachment trial and most likely would not do so.
Trump released a declaration on Wednesday just before the House voted to impeach him advising his advocates against dedicating acts of violence at Biden’s inauguration next week.
Republicans tracking McConnell’s moves warned that it’s still no assurance that the 17 GOP votes will ultimately emerge to found guilty Trump.
Facebook hesitates of apps that can replace WhatsApp
- Signal and Telegram provide the exact same end-to-end encryption as WhatsApp and deal with iPhone and Android.
- Facebook now informs clients that it’s WhatsApp company and commerce features that will result in data sharing with Facebook.
Facebook validated a few days ago that it’s about to destroy WhatsApp, as users discovered triggers on Android and iPhone telling them the chat app would start sharing personal data with Facebook. The choice to start getting information from WhatsApp users is likewise controversial, thinking about that the only alternative to opt out is to leave WhatsApp completely. Millions of users have actually reacted to WhatsApp’s notice by flocking to competing apps that offer comparable services.
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The reason WhatsApp is so popular is rather easy. The app uses end-to-end encryption, much like iMessage and works on both iPhone and Android. It’s the perfect app on your phone, tablet, and desktop to stay connected with all your family and friends, no matter what gadgets they may use. WhatsApp isn’t the only chat app that can do that
Signal and Telegram both support end-to-end file encryption and work on iPhone and Android. Like WhatsApp and iMessage, they likewise use the same features you ‘d expect from an immediate messaging client, including file-sharing, call, emoji, and a lot of the bells and whistles you ‘d want from an iMessage option.
Both Signal and Telegram have actually seen enormous rises in downloads because the WhatsApp privacy timely hit phones, with millions of people flocking to download the apps. WhatsApp’s dominance isn’t likely to be threatened anytime soon.
We wish to deal with some reports and be 100%clear we continue to secure your personal messages with end-to-end file encryption. pic.twitter.com/6qDnzQ98 MP
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021
Facebook is already addressing the privacy problem it developed, showing it’s really aware of the reaction. The business published a FAQ area that discusses exactly what WhatsApp information Facebook will not be able to gather from users and shared the infographic above on social networks.
That was never ever a concern, as Facebook doesn’t mean to remove end-to-end file encryption from the app. Facebook also states that WhatsApp will not keep messaging and calling logs and will not see shared location data. WhatsApp will not share contacts, and groups will stay personal.
These are all good things, naturally. But Facebook doesn’t include in the infographic the data WhatsApp will show Facebook, even though the Frequently Asked Question area does contain more details about the brand-new WhatsApp privacy update.
” We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or household in any way. Rather, this update includes modifications related to messaging an organization on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides more transparency about how we collect and utilize information,” the page checks out.
Facebook discusses that WhatsApp users who choose to interact with companies will have a few of their data shared with those business. “Whether you interact with an organization by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re stating and may utilize that details for its own marketing functions, which might consist of advertising on Facebook,” the Frequently Asked Question area checks out
” If you pick to interact with Shops, your shopping activity can be utilized to individualize your Shops experience and the ads you see on Facebook and Instagram, the FAQ states. “Features like this are optional, and when you use them, we will tell you in the app how your information is being shown Facebook.”
Finding companies on Facebook and after that contacting them via WhatsApp could also lead to more data tracking. “If you have WhatsApp set up on your phone, you’ll have the alternative to message that business,” the page checks out. “Facebook may use the way you connect with these advertisements to personalize the ads you see on Facebook.
Chris Smith began writing about devices as a pastime, and prior to he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world.
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