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Pandemic relief fraud report says online financial company CEOs, family got rich

Paycheck protection program

A congressional subcommittee issued its final report Thursday about financial fraud supercharged by online lending during the pandemic, which alleged executives and their families enriched themselves through government relief programs.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, focused much of the 130-page report on Womply and Blueacorn, both of which emerged as major players that fused tech and financing to speed up lending through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Womply had no lending experience before COVID-19 and Blueacorn did not exist, yet together the companies captured more than $3 billion in fees – eclipsing their direct competitors.

The startups are not banks but worked as middlemen, marketing to struggling businesses and quickly approving loans with partner banks, backed by the Small Business Administration. The companies make their money through a government-paid fee for facilitating the loans.


Ford recalls 634,000 vehicles worldwide over fire risks

Ford recallFord Motor Co (F.N) is recalling 634,000 sport utility vehicles (SUVs) worldwide over fire risks from possible cracked fuel injectors and will urge owners to have their cars inspected, it said on Thursday.

America's No.2 automaker by sales said the recall covers 2020-2023 model year Bronco Sport and Escape SUVs with 3 cylinder, 1.5 liter engines, including many also recalled in April because an oil separator housing could crack and develop a leak that could cause an engine fire. Vehicles repaired under the earlier recall will still need the new recall fix, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.


Georgia Supreme Court Reinstates Abortion Ban

Georgia Court reinstates abortionThe Georgia Supreme Court Wednesday reinstated the state’s ban on abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy.

The high court put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled on November 15 that the state’s abortion ban was invalid because when it was signed into law in 2019, U.S. Supreme Court precedent under Roe. v. Wade and another ruling allowed abortion well past six weeks.

The decision immediately prohibited enforcement of the abortion ban statewide. Abortion providers had resumed performing the procedure past six weeks.


Crypto exchange FTX files for bankruptcy amid $8 billion shortfall

FTX files for bankruptsy

FTX Trading on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, capping a sudden and startling downfall for one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried also resigned from the company, which appointed John J. Ray III as its new chief executive. Bankman-Fried plans to stay with FTX while it works through the bankruptcy process, according to a statement on Friday.

"The immediate relief of Chapter 11 is appropriate to provide the FTX Group the opportunity to assess its situation and develop a process to maximize recoveries for stakeholders," Ray said in the statement.


The big reveal: New laws require companies to disclose pay ranges on job postings.

New laws require employers to list salary range

Trey Ditto remembers the moment when the salary ranges for his company's positions were revealed. Ditto runs the New York-based firm Ditto PR, which has a few dozen employees, and he published salary ranges on his website. He said the second the information went live, it felt like riding a roller coaster. "You know it's gonna be a little bumpy, but you know it's gonna be alright."

New York City has joined a handful of places, including Colorado, Washington State and Rhode Island, which require some form of salary transparency. In the case of New York City, companies are required to include a salary range when they post a job opening.

Ditto PR was ahead of the curve – Ditto posted company salaries about six months ago. Most New York City companies were not ready for the roller coaster of salary transparency. Although the laws were set to go into effect in the spring, New York companies pushed for more time. The law was pushed back until Nov. 1.


Elon Musk plans to cut 75% of Twitter staff if he takes over company

Elon Musk

Elon Musk told prospective investors that he plans to eliminate nearly 75% of Twitter’s staff as part of his deal to take over the social media company, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Job cuts are expected in the coming months no matter who owns the company, according to the report, which cited interviews and documents.

The news of Musks’s plans, should he ultimately take over the business, come at a difficult moment for Twitter. The company said in July that it had already “significantly slowed hiring” amid a wider economic downturn the tech industry, where many companies have announced recent hiring freezes and layoff.

On Thursday night, Bloomberg reported that an internal memo circulated by Twitter said there were ‘no plans for any company-wide layoffs”.


Social Security inflation adjustment to boost benefits by 8.7% in 2023, biggest since 1981

Soc. Soc. increasesSocial Security benefits are set to rise by 8.7% next year – the fourth-biggest increase since automatic inflation adjustments were introduced in 1975.

This cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will boost the average monthly checks retirees receive in January by $146 to $1,827, the Social Security Administration said Thursday. That builds on last year’s 5.9% COLA increase, which was the largest bump since 1982. Before then, COLA increased by an average of 1.7% annually from 2010 to 2020.

The government bases its COLA adjustment on average annual increases in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers from July through September. That index largely reflects the broad index that the Labor Department releases each month.

The index rose to 8.5% in September, the Labor Department announced Thursday.


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