April 10, 2020

A federal disaster loan program offering up to $2 million in relief is now capping out at $15,000 — and is leaving some borrowers wondering if they'll even get that.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, an offshoot of the Small Business Administration's emergency funds system, has faced an unprecedented number of requests amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and is having trouble keeping up and following through with promised loan amounts, The New York Times reports.

Several applicants reportedly said SBA representatives told them funding for the program was running out. Deb Wood-Schade, a chiropractic wellness business owner, told the Times she had been approved for a nearly $25,000 loan, but was given documents on Wednesday telling her the loan had been cut to less than a third of that amount.

As part of the $2 trillion relief bill signed by President Trump last month, applicants to the program were also supposed to be made eligible for a $10,000 advance in the form of a grant that would not have to be repaid, and the money was reportedly supposed to be distributed within three days of applying. According to the Times, that money has yet to be dispensed.

"I'm afraid I won't see a penny," Virginia Warnken Kelsey, an opera singer who applied on March 29, told the Times.

The sudden onslaught of requests caused by the virus has handed the SBA a "historic influx of loan applications," The Washington Post reports, leading to a major applicant backlog. The $10 billion in federal funding provided by the CARES act would cover the $10,000 advances of around one million businesses. But in three days, the program reportedly received more than three million applicants.

Lawmakers in Washington are still negotiating over a bill that would inject more money to small businesses, with Democrats blocking the latest attempt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and demanding double the amount. Marianne Dodson

4:14 p.m.

Despite reports and footage suggesting otherwise, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday that police "peaceably" cleared protesters Monday from Lafayette Square before President Trump passed through the area so he could pose for photos in front of nearby St. John's Church.

In response to a question from CNN's Jim Acosta about whether the White House would take a do-over on the methods of crowd dispersement, McEnany said officers acted appropriately, noting that there were no fatalities or serious injuries. She also claimed officers had a right to defend themselves because they were under threat from demonstrators hurling bricks and frozen water bottles at them, alongside reports of caches of various potential weapons like baseball bats and glass bottles "hidden along the streets."

But video from Monday shows officers forcibly moving both protesters — most of whom reporters described as peaceful — and media out of the way, indicating that McEnany may have set a pretty low bar for what she considers peaceable. Tim O'Donnell

3:54 p.m.

President Trump's Bible photo op may go down in the history books — but probably not for the reason his press secretary thinks.

On Monday, police and secret service agents used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters from the streets surrounding the White House, all so Trump walk across the street and take a photo at St. John's Episcopal Church. Religious leaders have decried Trump's "tone-deaf" stunt, but to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, it was a "message of resilience" akin to Winston Churchill's World War II leadership.

"The president wanted to send a very powerful message that we will not be overcome by looting, by burning, by rioting," McEnany said in a Wednesday press conference. Trump's awkward Bible hold-up will be remembered as a historic "leadership moment," not unlike when "we saw" former U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill "inspecting the bombing damage" in World War II, former President George W. Bush "throwing out the ceremonial first pitch after 9/11," and former President Jimmy Carter "putting on a sweater to encourage energy savings," McEnany continued.

So far, to religious leaders and even Trump's own defense secretary, that's not how the moment has gone down. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:33 p.m.

Three former police officers are reportedly being hit with charges in connection with the death of George Floyd, and another ex-cop's charges have been upgraded.

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd said he couldn't breathe, last week was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. On Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will elevate the charges to second-degree murder.

Additionally, the three other officers who were are at the scene, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, are being charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, according to the Star Tribune.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) heralded the news in a tweet, writing, "This is another important step for justice." CNN on Wednesday afternoon cited court records confirming the other officers have been charged.

This development comes after attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Floyd family, said he expected the other three officers seen in videos of Floyd's death to be arrested "before we have the memorial here in Minneapolis tomorrow," calling them "just as guilty for the death of George Floyd as Officer Chauvin." Crump released a statement to the Star Tribune on Wednesday saying "this is a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd's body was laid to rest." Brendan Morrow

2:56 p.m.

Every U.S. has state has seen protests against police brutality. And in several of them, police have arrested protesters for breaking curfews, failing to disperse, and, in some cases, for violent behavior.

Leaders in those cities, as well as Attorney General William Barr, have often blamed non-peaceful actions on "outside agitators" with an apparent agenda of their own. But as cities start to share arrest data, the numbers don't add up.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, where protests kicked off after George Floyd was allegedly murdered in police custody, initially declared protesters "are coming from outside the city, from outside the region." People from other states were arrested in Friday night protests, but two local news channels reported between 84 and 86 percent of them were from the Minneapolis area. The same statistics have been reflected in Dallas, where 172 of 185 weekend arrests were of people from the area; Columbus, Ohio, where 84 of 89 people arrested over the weekend were from central Ohio; and many, many other cities.

Howard University law professor Justin Hansford described "outside agitator" as a "racial term" that means "protests are somehow less legitimate," in an interview with Vox. "Not only do you delegitimize the protest itself, but you also delegitimize the activists as not being skillful enough, or clever enough, to do this on their own," Hansford said.

Rapper and filmmaker Boots Riley meanwhile had his own assessment of the term. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:52 p.m.

The NBA's board of governors is expected to ratify the league's return-to-play proposal Thursday, ESPN reports.

Like most professional sports around the world, the NBA went into a prolonged hiatus in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it looks like it'll become the first major U.S. league to return to action. It's not exactly right around the corner, however; players won't be back on the court until sometime in July when 22 teams will be invited to begin training in Orlando, Florida.

Once the actual games restart at the Walt Disney World Resort, the proposal has teams playing eight more regular season games to determine playoff seeding, followed by a play-in tournament between the No. 8 and No. 9-seeds in the Eastern and Western Conference (if the No. 9 seeds are within four games of the playoffs.) The postseason will then reportedly consist of the usual seven-game series in each round.

In terms of health and safety, the league is planning to have daily coronavirus testing for everyone involved in the Orlando operations. If a player tests positive, he will have to enter quarantine, but his teammates will continue to play.

The news has sparked excitement, but there's some skepticism, as well, both in terms of the format and safety.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the sports universe, Major League Baseball has hit another snag in its negotiations to begin its long-delayed season. Tim O'Donnell

2:36 p.m.

Snapchat has joined Twitter in taking action against President Trump.

The company announced Wednesday it will not promote Trump's Snapchat account on Discover anymore, with a spokesperson for Snap telling The New York Times, "We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover."

This decision, Snap said, was based on Trump's Saturday tweets in which he wrote that if protesters at the White House had come "close to breaching the fence," they "would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen." Trump didn't make the remarks on Snapchat itself, the Times reports. His account isn't being removed, Axios notes, but it won't be promoted on Snapchat's Discover page.

This comes after Trump tweeted last week in reference to the Minneapolis protests that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," leading Twitter to slap this post with a warning saying it violated its rules against glorifying violence. Twitter hasn't posted this warning on the "vicious dogs" tweet referenced by Snapchat.

Meanwhile, Facebook is under fire for its hands-off approach with Trump, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg opted not to take any action against the same posts Twitter flagged. After a virtual employee walkout, Zuckerberg defended his approach in an internal meeting on Tuesday, calling it the "right decision." Brendan Morrow

1:39 p.m.

The Force was with John Boyega this week as he gave a powerful speech to Black Lives Matter protesters.

The actor, who played Finn in the new Star Wars trilogy, on Wednesday attended a protest in London sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, using a megaphone to emotionally speak to the crowd.

"This is very important," Boyega said. "This is very vital. Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded, regardless. And now is the time!"

Boyega choked up as he spoke on "how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing," calling the crowd a "physical representation of our support" for George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, and Mark Duggan, reflecting on how "we don't know" what they "could have achieved." He also stressed the importance of keeping the protests sparked by Floyd's killing as "peaceful as possible."

"Because you know what, guys?" he said. "They want us to mess up. They want us to be disorganized. But not today!"

Boyega has been vocal on Twitter in recent days amid the outrage over Floyd's death, and at the protest, he referenced potential career repercussions for speaking out — namely, his lack of concern about them.

"Look, I don't know if I'm going to have a career after this," he said. "But f-- that." Brendan Morrow

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