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Column: Joe Biden had this impeachment thing that was bleepin’ golden, but Hunter Biden messes it up

Isn’t it odd that Joe Biden and the Democrats have somehow forgotten to use their ultimate weapon against President Donald Trump in this campaign? How to describe this super weapon? A Chicago Democratic political crook pardoned by Trump might say Joe has thing and it’s bleepin’ golden: Trump’s impeachment in December 2019, making him only…

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Column: Joe Biden had this impeachment thing that was bleepin’ golden, but Hunter Biden messes it up

Isn’t it odd that Joe Biden and the Democrats have somehow forgotten to use their ultimate weapon against President Donald Trump in this campaign?

How to describe this super weapon? A Chicago Democratic political crook pardoned by Trump might say Joe has thing and it’s bleepin’ golden:

Trump’s impeachment in December 2019, making him only the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached by House vote. Wouldn’t you think Biden and the Democrats would be raising that issue, relentlessly, in the battle for Trump’s reelection?

Yet you hardly hear of it anymore.

Democrats accused Trump of a quid pro quo — that he threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless it investigated various Biden family dealings there.

It was a terrible move by Trump to leverage aid for a political favor, on the verge of criminal. But I didn’t think it rose to the level of removal from office.

Cable news, all the news sites and social media were full of speculation 24/7. Though the Democrats didn’t have the votes to convict in the Republican-controlled Senate, they bragged that they’d use that impeachment stick and whomp Trump good in the campaign.

I had the feeling the impeachment was like an ax handle and they’d whomp him like some rabid critter you might find in your shed.

Yet now they don’t use it, one of the more curious features of this rather curious campaign.

So, what happened to the ultimate weapon?

He had met business officials in foreign countries while traveling with his father, then Vice President Joe Biden. In Ukraine, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma Holdings, a large natural gas company serving that country, and records showed he began raking in more than $50,000 a month though he had little-to-no experience in the field.

Joe Biden says he never discussed business with his son. He wasn’t involved with Burisma. Joe didn’t know anything.

Now Hunter’s made news again, with the The New York Post reporting about emails purporting to be evidence of a meeting between Joe Biden, Hunter and a Burisma adviser in 2015.

What makes it more controversial is that Facebook announced it would limit distribution of the Hunter Biden story on its platform until everything gets checked out with its reliable, and probably completely, absolutely, 100% politically-unbiased fact-checkers.

The Post reported that the meeting was revealed in an email from Vadym Pozharskyi, “an adviser to the board of Burisma” a year after Hunter began receiving Burisma cash.

According to the Post, the email reads:

“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”

Is the story real? I don’t know. The emails were allegedly found on an old hard drive by a computer repairman in Delaware and delivered to the Post by Trump henchman Rudy Giuliani. Was the repairman’s name Vladimir Putin?

Whether the Post story stands up or not, the fact is that Biden is staying away from using Trump’s impeachment because of his son’s questionable business dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere.

What we do know is that there were many news stories insisting that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton that turned out not to be true.

I suppose that in this strange 2020 campaign, some of you might still be searching for virtue in politicians. But since I was born in Chicago and spent my life covering politics, I stopped looking for virtue in them long ago.

That would be like searching for magic pixies that’ll happily scrub your bathroom, even the toilets, without complaint.

Either way, what we do know is that Hunter Biden, without experience in the oil and natural gas business, picked up loads of cash from that Burisma deal. Biden’s dealings got more scrutiny after a trip to China with his father in 2013 where Biden, we later learned, was looking to form a Chinese equity fund.

Call it a Chicago Way thing: the kid shows up with the dad with supreme government clout, and those who want the dad to play nice cut the kid in on deals.

Trump got into trouble when asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden. But it was Joe Biden bragging on video, to the Council on Foreign Relations, that he threatened withholding a billion dollars in U.S. loan guarantees unless Ukraine fired a prosecutor.

That prosecutor was investigating Burisma.

“I said … I’m leaving in six hours,” Biden bragged on that video. “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a b—-. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

Is that on the edge of criminality, or just politics?

If Joe Biden were running for mayor of Chicago — or for mayor of New York, San Francisco or Scranton — you can bet that good-government reformers and pundits would be investigating the deals his son got.

But Joe’s just running for president, and the impeachment inquiry, if raised, would make him have to address those deals.

So just shut up about the ultimate weapon, and hope he doesn’t become angry and threaten to kill us with pushups.

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Release of PPP loan recipients reveal troubling patterns

Sweeping data released by the Small Business Administration on who benefited from pandemic relief programs raises questions about the equitability and distribution of loans intended for small businesses, an initial analysis by NBC News shows.The analysis found that properties owned by the Trump Organization as well as the Kushner Companies, owned by the family of…

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Release of PPP loan recipients reveal troubling patterns

Sweeping data released by the Small Business Administration on who benefited from pandemic relief programs raises questions about the equitability and distribution of loans intended for small businesses, an initial analysis by NBC News shows.

The analysis found that properties owned by the Trump Organization as well as the Kushner Companies, owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, profited from the program.

After months of litigation, the SBA released the dataset Tuesday night on every small business that received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) loan.

The data reveals the most complete accounting to date of the more than $700 billion in forgivable loans Congress and the Trump administration introduced in the spring for allowable expenses, including payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest payments.

The analysis by NBC News, one of 11 newsrooms that sued for the release of data, also shows:

  • Over 25 PPP loans worth more than $3.65 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties, paying rent to those owners. Fifteen of the properties self-reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all.
  • The loans to Trump and Kushner properties included a $2,164,543 loan to the Triomphe Restaurant Corp., at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company reported the money didn’t go to keeping any jobs. It later closed.
  • A company called LB City Inc, which is at Kushner’s Bungalow Hotel in Long Branch, New Jersey, received a loan for $505,552.50 that it used to keep 155 jobs.
  • Two tenants at 725 5th Avenue, Trump Tower, received more than $100,000 and kept only three jobs.
  • Four tenants at the Kushner-owned 666 5th Avenue combined received more than $204,000, and retained only six jobs.

There were also some troubling signs of mismanagement revealed in the data. Over 100 loans were made to companies where no business name was listed, were listed as “no name available” or showed potential data entry errors, such as names that appeared to be dates or phone numbers. More than 300 companies appear to have each gotten more than $10 million in loans through their subsidiaries. Businesses were not supposed to receive more than $10 million per entity, except for those in the food, hospitality or hotels industries.

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The findings immediately raised concerns with government accountability groups.

“Many months and broken promises later, the court-ordered release of this crucial data while the Trump administration is one foot out the door is a shameful dereliction of duty and flagrant mismanagement of a program that millions of workers and small businesses needed to get through this pandemic,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, an accountability watchdog, said in a statement.

Original intent

The PPP programs’ original stated intent by officials was to help with payroll for small businesses struggling under the effects of coronavirus lockdown measures. The loans aimed to provide a bridge through the summer for what was hoped to be an improved economic and health climate in the fall.

But almost from the start, the programs, particularly PPP, drew criticism for how they were administered and messaged, and whether it was equitable.

Large national banks initially gave loans only to customers with whom they had pre-existing lending relationships. Businesses owned by people of color without strong banking relationships found themselves with limited access and forced them to find other routes for funding. There was also the persistent question of what defined a “small business,” after lobbying by the hotel and restaurant industry ballooned the maximum number of employees allowable to 500, even though over 98 percent of the small businesses in America have fewer than 100 employees.

The administration tried to address the complaints, such as setting aside a day just for smaller community banks to apply for loans. But even that overwhelmed SBA computer systems. These controversies all increased the pressure for transparency.

But in contrast to previous government bailout programs, the agency previously released less detailed versions that it said for privacy reasons omitted the business names and addresses of borrowers who borrowed less than $150,000. And instead of specific loan amounts, loans were listed in ranges.

Mixed responses

The SBA defended its handling of the program when it released its data on Tuesday evening.

“SBA’s historically successful Covid relief loan programs have helped millions of small businesses and tens of millions of American workers when they needed it most,” an SBA spokesman said in a statement accompanying the release.

But as government accountability groups sifted through the data late into the night and uploaded them to publicly searchable databases like SearchPPP.com, they expressed regret about what has happened to so many small businesses partly from mismanagement of the loan program.

“Only now — after its hand has been forced, hundreds of thousands of small businesses have gone under, and millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted — has this administration pulled back the curtains to reveal the malpractice going on behind the scenes,” Herrig said. “Americans deserved an open, transparent small business aid program when this pandemic started, and any new small business relief program must take a lesson from the abject failures of this one.”

Ben Popken

Ben Popken is a senior business reporter for NBC News.

Andrew W. Lehren

Andrew W. Lehren is a senior editor with the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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‘Moonlighter’ Evaluation– Delve Dungeons, Develop a Company, and Discover History

Moonlighter ($11.99). A store, a story, a legacy, a game. First announced on mobile at GDC last year, it has finally been released. Part dungeon crawler, part shop manager, it is entirely fun. Players follow Will, proprieter of the Moonlighter, as he gathers materials for his shop, crafts weapons, potions and enchantments, and enters dungeons…

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Moonlighter($1199) A shop, a story, a legacy, a video game. First announced on mobile at GDC in 2015, it has actually lastly been launched. Part dungeon crawler, part shop supervisor, it is completely enjoyable. Gamers follow Will, proprieter of the Moonlighter, as he gathers products for his store, crafts weapons, potions and magics, and enters dungeons to discover popularity, fortune, and just perhaps find out a bit more about them.

While a store simulator and a dungeon spider are noticeably various, they are both RPGs, and it isn’t unexpected that they mix together well.

Store management games, on the other hand, have to get their product someplace. Most of the time basic materials are just … conjured up from the base code to be turned into beneficial products. Once in a while, however, you can purchase rare or fascinating components from travelers for a lot more expensive products. The question, nevertheless, is what if you integrated these two categories? What if you could crawl dungeons for materials to craft, therefore have a little action; then, when you go back to town, what if you could create the helpful items– weapons, armour, potions, magics and such– and offer the scrap? Well, then you would have Moonlighter

While the video game is called after the store, the balance in between handling the Moonlighter and trawling dungeons for loot and boss fights is quite reasonable. That stated … it is simple to spend excessive time doing one thing, focusing on one part of the video game, that makes the unavoidable return to doing whatever you were avoiding a lot more uncomfortable. Battering monsters is fun, for instance, but if you aren’t aware of which materials are worth selling later, which ones are required for much better devices, and which ones can safely be consumed for gold to leave the dungeon, sorting everything later when customers are piling through your front door can be rather stressful. If all you want to do is offer loot, you’re going to run out quite quickly. Balance is essential.

Disregarding all that, though, the dungeon crawling is rather fun, if easy. There are only so lots of enemy types in each dungeon, and it doesn’t take a strategic genius to figure out how to securely clear a space without taking damage.

After you’ve tired of beating up on mobs, or after a guardian has connected your sword in knots and tossed you out, it’s time to offer all the stuff accumulating in your backpack. Too far above the ideal variety, however, and not only will the product not offer, anyone who takes an appearance at the item will get upset, leave early, and considerably hurt the Moonlighter’s track record.

While the story isn’t exactly a heartrending tale of loss and love, betrayal and found friendships … it isn’t boring either. Other than a quick intro and routine chats with Zenon, your old mentor, narrative is delivered via notes discovered on dungeon floors and journal entries from Crazy Pete, an adventurer obsessed with finding a much deeper meaning in the depths.

A lot more excellent is the art and music. Creatively, Moonlighter utilizes a mix of colourful pixel art for gameplay and something a bit more stylish for cutscenes and such. Each dungeon provides a distinct visual, with a special soundtrack for that little extra something. The mix is delightful, and I completely enjoy it. I do, nevertheless, have but one problem: The caution animation on opponents. You see, it isn’t constant. Sometimes attacks trigger prior to the yellow flash, other times during it, and still others instantly after. It doesn’t even always seem to be consistent amongst enemies of the same type– I’ve been hit by attacks that I had simply dodged due to the fact that the timing had actually changed! It’s really rather frustrating, and I can’t help however believe it’s a bug.

Despite that, it is extremely enjoyable to play. In addition, there are buttons to switch weapons, an unique attack, potions, stock, a map, and a pendant to escape the dungeon spread along the edges of the screen.

I said it in the past, and I meant it: Moonlighter is a great game. It is a fascinating blend of dungeon crawler and shopkeep simulator, something not really delivered by other games that I have discovered.

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Business closures, partial reopenings due to COVID-19 might cost the United States $3-5 trillion in GDP over 2 years

Credit: CC0 Public Domain The COVID-19 pandemic could result in net losses from $3.2 trillion and up to $4.8 trillion in U.S. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the course of two years, a new USC study finds. The pandemic’s economic impact depends on factors such as the duration and extent of the business closures,…

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Business closures, partial reopenings due to COVID-19 might cost the United States $3-5 trillion in GDP over 2 years
economy
Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

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The COVID-19 pandemic could result in bottom lines from $3.2 trillion and approximately $4.8 trillion in U.S. Genuine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the course of 2 years, a brand-new USC research study discovers.

The pandemic’s financial impact depends on elements such as the period and level of business closures, the progressive resuming process, infection rates and casualties, avoiding public places, and suppressed customer need, according to the research study by the USC Center for Threat and Financial Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE).

Genuine GDP is a step, adjusted for inflation, that shows the value and the amount of last goods and services produced by a country’s economy in a given year.

” In a best-case situation, we would see containment steps, such as masks and social distancing end up being more prevalent, and possibly even a vaccine by next year, and after that services and institutions would be able to reopen at a sped up speed,” said Adam Rose, research study group leader who is the director of CREATE and a research study teacher at the USC Price School of Public Law.

” However in a worst-case situation, these countermeasures would not materialize, and reopenings would occur gradually, especially since we would continue to see waves of infection,” he said. More people would likely lose their jobs, and the impacts of this catastrophe would continue to install.”

The researchers discovered that the necessary closures and partial reopenings alone might lead to a 22%loss of U.S. GDP in just one year and an even higher loss of GDP over 2 years. Other crucial factors, however, will influence how dreadful the losses may be, they noted.

The research study team kept in mind that China has not continual such losses due to aggressive containment measures resulting in a shorter lockdown period. They predict that in a worst-case scenario, the U.S. GDP loss due to COVID will more than quadruple that of China.

The study was published on Nov. 30 in the journal Economics of Catastrophes and Climate Modification

In early March, numerous states responded to a rise in COVID-19 cases by buying the closures of non-essential companies such as dining establishments, bars, salons and retailers. Many likewise stopped or decreased civil services to restrict the spread.

Scientists at CREATE who are specialists on modeling financial repercussions of disasters evaluated the capacity economic effect in three situations ranging from moderate to disastrous.

Using a computerized economic model, the scientists represented these other factors in the 3 circumstances. They differed the decrease in the workforce due to workers becoming ill with or passing away of the virus, workers adopting new behaviors like staying at home to prevent infection, increased demand for COVID healthcare, prospective resilience through telework, increased need for communication services, and increased bottled-up consumer demand

The scientists conducted a synthesis of the literature of projections on the severity and possible duration of the pandemic.

Anywhere from 365,000 to as numerous as 2.5 million COVID patients might end up in the ICU, while another 860,000 to nearly 6 million clients may be hospitalized however not dealt with in the ICU. The forecasted number of individuals who will be dealt with for COVID as outpatients might differ from about 2.6 million to 18 million.

To name a few highlights of the research study, the scientists projected:

  • 54 million to 367 million work days would be lost due to individuals getting ill or die from COVID
  • 2 million to almost 15 million work days would be lost due to employees staying home to care for sick enjoyed ones.
  • Job losses might vary from 14.7%to 23.8%, and in the worst case affect an estimated 36.5 million employees.
  • A loss in need for some services– such as the use of public transit and school presence, dining establishment dining and travel– as individuals prevent public places and services to minimize their threat of exposure.

    A boost in pent-up need will occur since customers are unable to invest cash on big-ticket items such as vehicles, along with on travel, restaurants, hotels, product, fitness, sporting events and shows throughout the closures, and, to a lower extent, throughout the phased reopenings.

    While the scientists have actually discovered that the necessary closures and re-openings are the most prominent consider the economy’s decline, customer avoidance habits also has a significant result.

    For the research study, the scientists presumed that various individuals prevented work, did not go to in-person classes at schools, and stopped going to dining establishments, activities and social gatherings to lower their risk of infection.

    ” Due to the fact that people have actually had to prevent activities, this has had a significant effect on economic losses,” said Dan Wei, a CREATE research fellow and research associate professor at the USC Cost School for Public Policy.

    The economic losses from closures and avoidance behavior could be partially balanced out by increased customer costs after reopening, the researchers stated.

    ” Bottled-up need is one of the most influential aspects for the economy in this pandemic. While the obligatory closures and partial reopenings drive the majority of the economic decrease, the degree to which pent-up demand results in an increase in consumption after resuming, can be crucial to the economic recovery,” said Terrie Walmsley, a USC CREATE research study fellow and an adjunct assistant professor of practice in economics at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

    ” The crucial question is: When will we see a total reopening throughout this country? We simply can not predict that, particularly due to the fact that we have actually not acquired control of the spread of the disease,” Rose said.



    Citation:.
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