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A company belonging to Kanye West received millions in loans from a federal coronavirus stimulus package, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest given the rapper’s ties to the Trump administration.
On Monday, the US Small Business Administration released data on more than 40,000 companies that received loans of $150,000 (approximately £120,000) or more under the payroll protection program (PPP). As first reported by the Daily Beast, Yeezy LLC, a company established in Delaware but operated in California, received between $2m and $5m.
PPP loans are available for companies with fewer than 500 employees. They are voided if companies spend the money on eligible costs and retain staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Loans are reduced if a company cuts full-time employees or pay by more than 25%. According to a survey by CNBC, only a small fraction of applications have been successful.
Thousands of people have demonstrated against the Serbian president’s announcement that a lockdown will be reintroduced after the Balkan country reported its highest single-day death toll.
Police fired teargas as the protesters, some chanting, “Resignation! Resignation!”, who had gathered in front of the parliament building in Belgrade. Some briefly managed to enter by force but were pushed back by riot police.
The protesters responded by throwing flares, stones, bottles and eggs at the police, the Associated Press has reported.
Earlier, the president, Aleksandar Vučić, called the virus situation in the Serbian capital of Belgrade “alarming and critical” as the city’s hospitals neared capacity.
He said the government would reimpose a curfew as of Friday. He said it will probably last from 6pm on Friday until 5am on Monday (CEST). He also said that groups of no more than five people will be allowed together.
Many blame the autocratic Serbian president for lifting the previous lockdown measures purely in order to cement his grip on power after the parliamentary elections. He has denied the claims.
Texas has reported more than 10,000 new cases in a single day, the greatest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic started, according to the state health department.
The southern US state, with 30 million residents, has reported more new daily cases than any European country had at the height of their outbreaks, according to a Reuters tally.
Death rates among immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa doubled in France and tripled in the Paris region at the height of France’s coronavirus outbreak, a study by the French government’s statistics agency has found.
The INSEE agency’s findings, published on Tuesday, are the closest France has come to acknowledging with numbers the disproportionate impact of the virus on the country’s black immigrants and members of other often overlooked minority groups.
Here the latest key developments at a glance:
- Brazil’s tough-guy president Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for Covid-19. He said he began feeling ill on Sunday and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against Covid-19.
- Washington has formally begun the process of leaving the World Health Organization. The US will withdraw on 6 July 2021 under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress, which also obliges Washington to pay financial support.
- Israel’s public health director has quit amid a spike in new coronavirus cases, saying the country had been too hasty to reopen its economy and had lost its way in dealing with the pandemic. Siegal Sadetzki, an epidemiologist, announced her resignation a day after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reimposed a series of restrictions, including the closure of bars, gyms and event halls.
- More than 200,000 people in Europe have died from coronavirus, according to analysis from the news agency AFP.
- Italy’s health minister has proposed “sectioning” people who refuse hospital treatment for Covid-19 and has suspended flights from Bangladesh.
- The Australian city of Melbourne is to re-enter Stage 3 lockdown after a record increase in cases. Victorian state premier Daniel Andrews said there was “simply no alternative” to reimposing stay at home restrictions in Australia’s second-biggest city.
- A New Zealand MP has confessed leaking private details of Covid-19 cases to reporters. Hamish Walker, an opposition politician from the centre-right National party, said he was the source of a list of private information about 18 active cases in the country.
US to leave WHO next year
The United States will leave the World Health Organization on 6 July 2021, the United Nations has said after receiving formal notification of the decision from Washington.
The US president Donald Trump had to give one year’s notice of for withdrawal from the Geneva-based UN agency under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress, which also obliges Washington to pay financial support. The United States currently owes the WHO more than $200m (approximately £160m) in assessed contributions, according to the WHO website.
After more than 70 years of membership, the United States moved to quit the WHO after Trump accused it of becoming a puppet of China amid the pandemic. The virus first emerged in China’s Wuhan city late last year. Stéphane Dujarric, a UN spokesman, said:
The secretary general … is in the process of verifying with the World Health Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.
Trump had halted US funding for the 194-member organisation in April, then demanded a series of reforms on 18 May, before announcing the decision to pull the US out less than two weeks later.
The WHO is an independent international body that works with the United Nations. The UN sSecretary general António Guterres has said the WHO is “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19”.
Trump has long scorned multilateralism as he focuses on an “America First” agenda. Since taking office, he has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. He has also cut funding for the UN population fund and the UN agency that aids Palestinian refugees.
The US and other countries could have had a stronger initial response to Covid-19 if China had been more forthcoming about key features of the virus, the White House task force response coordinator Dr Deborah Birx has said.
At a panel held by the Atlantic Council, a US think tank, Birx said the United States would have been more focused on identifying asymptomatic patients if China has shared relevant information.
I have to say if we had known about the level of asymptomatic spread, we would have all looked at this differently. That’s usually the initial countries’ responsibility … and I think that did delay across the board our ability to really see or look for this.
Birx said that public health officials had originally assumed that only 15 to 20% of patients are asymptomatic when in fact that number is thought to be at least 40%.
We were looking for people with symptoms. We should have looked for anyone who would have been exposed.
The US president Donald Trump has levelled blame at China for the outbreak, saying the country should have warned the world much sooner. Birx added that the recent uptick in US cases has been worsened by high rates of transmission among people between 18 and 35.
This is an age group that was so good and so disciplined in March and April, but when they saw people out and about on social media they all went out and about.
The United States saw a 27% increase in new cases in the week ended 5 July, compared with the previous seven days.
Talks between Portuguese and British authorities are underway ahead of the UK’s reevaluation of its decision to keep Portugal off its “travel corridor” list for restriction-free travel, the former’s prime minister Antonio Costa has said.
The foreign minister had a long conversation with his counterpart. It is very important we build a confident relationship.
The US has suffered 322 more deaths and registered 46,329 new cases in a day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said, taking the respective official totals to 130,133 and 2,932,596.