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When Will Illinois Gig Workers Get Unemployment Checks

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Gig workers and other self-employed, independent contractors in Illinois cannot look forward to getting unemployment checks anytime soon — despite a new federal law intended to help them out financially.

The $2 trillion federal stimulus bill that was approved on March 27 cleared the way to expand jobless benefits to many workers who had not previously been eligible, including the vast ranks of drivers for Uber, Lyft and other rideshare apps.

But nearly two weeks later, the officials who run the unemployment system for Illinois have not come up with a process to accept applications from such workers, much less get the promised money into their pockets.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says it’s still too busy dealing with the record number of unemployment claims from other workers who are eligible for benefits under existing programs.

In a statement posted Tuesday on the department’s website, officials told gig workers not to bother applying at this point — and to refrain from calling to ask about the matter.

The new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act sets aside federal funding for benefits to “independent contractors and self-proprietors” who once could not get benefits “but have become unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19,” officials said.

It’s not clear, though, when the state unemployment agency will be ready to start turning the funding from Congress into reality in Illinois. The U.S. Labor Department issued instructions to states on Sunday.

“Please do not call to inquire about these new federal programs,” according to the statement on the IDES website. “Our employees are processing applications for current benefits. Further details about the new federal programs and how to apply will be made available once they have been finalized.”

In a statement to WBEZ on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for IDES did not say how long the delay will last.

“The stimulus package will take time to implement,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Cisco.

She said state employees are fully occupied trying to field the “large increase in claims for regular unemployment benefits” since a stay-at-home order went into effect on March 20. Last week, for the second straight week, Illinois officials reported fielding a record number of new jobless claims.

It’s yet another blow to many working people who were having trouble making ends meet even before the pandemic, said Lenny Sanchez, a long-time Uber and Lyft driver who lives in Des Plaines.

“It’s a punch in the gut when you hear information like that or a response like that,” said Sanchez, 40, of the statement from IDES officials. “It’s like, ‘Hang on tight. We’ll give it to you whenever it’s ready.’ ”

Sanchez — who’s also an organizer and co-founder with an activist group called Gig Workers Matter — said many rideshare drivers were euphoric when the federal law was approved.

“Some drivers went ahead and started applying as soon as the news came out,” he said. “I’m definitely happy that gig workers were included.”

But he and other advocates for rideshare drivers said tens of thousands of families are suffering deeply because the new system has not been implemented yet in Illinois.

“Rideshare drivers are desperate right now, and they are scrambling to pay bills, pay mortgages,” said Bryant Greening, a lawyer with the LegalRideshare LLC. “It’s really a devastating and trying time for them.”

And it’s not just rideshare drivers who are eager to see the state get their unemployment checks in the mail.

Morgan Ione Yeager, a freelance photographer in Highland Park, said she was “appalled and disgusted” by the delays in implementing the aspects of the CARES Act designed expressly for workers like her.

“They’re really handling it poorly,” she said of the state’s response. “There’s no reason why it needs to be this difficult.”

Yeager said she has lost a lot of jobs with clients in the food, beverage, travel and hospitality industries after the pandemic prompted Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the governors of most other states to issue stay-at-home orders.

“All of my shoots have been cancelled for March and April at least,” she said. “I don’t really know when I’ll be able to start making money again.”

She said Illinois officials here should at least be able to provide some idea of when everybody covered by the federal stimulus bill will get what they were promised.

“There’s no timeline,” Yeager said. “There’s just no answers and no communication. It doesn’t seem like anybody in my situation is being taken care of at all.”

Dan Mihalopoulos is a reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.

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Chrissy Teigen gets hair and makeup done for speaking gig while on bed rest for high-risk pregnancy

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Chrissy Teigen gets hair and makeup done for speaking gig while on bed rest for ‘high-risk’ third pregnancy

Chrissy Teigen may be under strict bed rest orders due to a ‘high-risk’ third pregnancy, but that’s not stopping her from handling business.

The 34-year-old entrepreneur took to social media to show a team of people helping her with hair and makeup ahead of a speaking gig for INBOUND on Tuesday. 

Chrissy shared the ‘good news’ with her millions of followers that she was back on the ticket for the global marketing workshop which features esteemed speakers, including Bob Iger, Van Jones, Kerry Washington and John Legend.

All work: Chrissy Teigen may be under strict bed rest orders due to a 'high-risk' third pregnancy, but that's not stopping her from handling business

All work: Chrissy Teigen may be under strict bed rest orders due to a ‘high-risk’ third pregnancy, but that’s not stopping her from handling business

Sitting in her bed while wearing a nude nursing bra, Chrissy updated her 31million fans on Instagram.  

‘Good news,’ she said ‘I am back on for Inbound. Still on bed rest, so it will be from bed, but I’m going to honor this commitment.’

Teigen sipped on a smoothie from local Los Angeles favorite, Kreation, as she chatted with her followers.

Talk about it: Chrissy shared the 'good news' with her millions of followers that she was back on the ticket for the global marketing workshop which features esteemed speakers, including Bob Iger, Van Jones, Kerry Washington and John Legend

Talk about it: Chrissy shared the ‘good news’ with her millions of followers that she was back on the ticket for the global marketing workshop which features esteemed speakers, including Bob Iger, Van Jones, Kerry Washington and John Legend

Nourishment: Teigen sipped on a smoothie from local Los Angeles favorite, Kreation, as she chatted with her followers

Nourishment: Teigen sipped on a smoothie from local Los Angeles favorite, Kreation, as she chatted with her followers

She tagged Irinel de León for hair and Kristine Studden for makeup, both of which were on hand to style her September Marie Claire cover.

Last week, the Cravings author let it slip that she’s expecting a baby boy, her third child with husband John Legend.

As she detailed issues with her placenta (similar to problems she faced during her pregnancies with Luna and Miles), she assured her followers not to worry about the baby and ‘he’s big.’

Helping hands: She tagged Irinel de Leo¿n for hair and Kristine Studden for makeup, both of which were on hand to style her September Marie Claire cover

Helping hands: She tagged Irinel de León for hair and Kristine Studden for makeup, both of which were on hand to style her September Marie Claire cover

Oh boy! As she detailed issues with her placenta (similar to problems she faced during her pregnancies with Luna and Miles), she assured her followers not to worry about the baby and 'he's big'

Oh boy! As she detailed issues with her placenta (similar to problems she faced during her pregnancies with Luna and Miles), she assured her followers not to worry about the baby and ‘he’s big’

‘Oops! I’m stupid … anyway,’ she said. ‘Its growing beautifully, everything’s good. I’m feeling really good, but my placenta’s really, really weak and it’s causing me to really bleed a lot. 

‘Basically it’s just pretty high-risk and, you know, it’s just this poor thing has been through so much already.’ 

Her doctors ordered her on strict bed rest last week due to her ‘difficult pregnancy.’ 

‘I didn’t really know that bed rest was, like, in bed,’ she admitted online. ‘I honestly thought bed rest was you have to really really really relax, stay home; I thought it could be couch rest.’  

Yum! Hoping to lift her spirits, Chrissy showed off an adorable #bedrest donut arrangement with unicorn sweets made by celebrity favorite, Blinkie's Donuts, from her friend Lauren Makk

Yum! Hoping to lift her spirits, Chrissy showed off an adorable #bedrest donut arrangement with unicorn sweets made by celebrity favorite, Blinkie’s Donuts, from her friend Lauren Makk

Luna to the rescue! Her four-year-old daughter has taken great care of her mother

Luna to the rescue! Her four-year-old daughter has taken great care of her mother

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With ‘Gig 2,’ Virgin Media sees way to double broadband speeds

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After a successful first gig, most groups start planning a second.



Virgin Media has already switched on a gigabit-speed service for about 3.7 million UK homes. Technicians at the British cable operator now see a way to double those speeds in what they are calling “Gig 2.”



Trials carried out in the town of Thatcham in the south of England, and announced today, delivered a service of 2.2 Gbit/s to homes over the DOCSIS 3.1 technology that Virgin Media is using. That is about 34 times the country’s average connection speed.



It would instantly catapult the UK to the top of most broadband league tables if it became widely available. And Virgin Media reckons a Gig 2 upgrade could be done without breaking the bank.


Virgin Media reckons it can avoid these digs when upgrading to higher speeds.

Virgin Media reckons it can avoid these digs when upgrading to higher speeds.




Speeds were effectively doubled by fattening the signal. In technical parlance, that meant activating a second OFDM block on DOCSIS 3.1, says Neil Geary, Virgin’s director of network evolution (OFDM stands for orthogonal frequency division multiplexing and is a widely used digital communications system).



For its Gig 1 deployment, Virgin uses half an OFDM block and bonds this with its older DOCSIS 3.0 technology. Adding the second block on DOCSIS 3.1 “grows the pool of capacity,” Geary tells Light Reading. “That is a new thing we’ve been configuring and testing.”



It appears to give Virgin a big advantage over BT, the UK telecom incumbent, which must dig up roads and install fiber when upgrading from the copper-based broadband technologies that still serve most homes.



“There is no civil engineering work required with this,” says Geary. “We have a network pathway beyond 1 gig to make sure we keep ahead of customer demand.”



No commercial thunder

And yet Virgin Media is not about to activate a 2Gbit/s service commercially.



Across a network that now reaches more than 15 million premises, most homes have no gigabit-speed option.



That will change next year, when Virgin is due to complete its Gig 1 upgrade for every single household. But Gig 2 is for the “years to come,” says Geary. “We have to see how the Gig 1 approach goes.”



The absence of civil engineering work does not mean upgrades are easy for the cable operator, a part of the Liberty Global empire.



Geary reels off a list of technical challenges. TV encoders need adjusting so that Virgin’s TV service consumes smaller amounts of spectrum, freeing up OFDM blocks for broadband. Analog network equipment needs to be upgraded.



Some cables must also be replaced. “It has been quite a journey,” says Geary.



Just like BT, Virgin is also building anew. While it can boast a speed advantage over its main rival, its network remains unavailable in many parts of the UK. Virgin is working to extend coverage through an investment program it calls Project Lightning.



First announced in early 2015, the plan was to reach an additional 4 million premises by this year, giving Virgin access to nearly 17 million in total.



But Lightning has clearly fallen well short of the original expectations. So far, Virgin has been able to add about 2.3 million premises to its footprint, including 93,000 in the April-to-June quarter.



In the meantime, Lightning has gobbled up much of the roughly £1 billion ($1.3 billion) that Virgin invests in capital expenditure every year.



Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.


Even so, if consumers genuinely care about connection speed, Virgin now has an enticing offer in areas where it competes against BT and resellers of the BT service. Geary also plays down any suggestion that cable might struggle on the uplink.



“I am pretty comfortable with a 10:1 ratio with a residential use case,” he says, pointing out that most traffic growth has been on the downlink side in the Netflix era.



A gigabit-speed service gives Virgin a generous 100 Mbit/s on the uplink. During the Thatcham trials, it achieved uplink speeds of 214 Mbit/s.



Whether Gig 1 upgrades carried out so far have brought commercial benefits for the operator is unclear.



As in mobile, there has been little evidence of a correlation between faster speeds and higher customer spending. Many subscribers care more about good levels of customer service, technical reliability and extra features.



Yet Virgin did pick up another 24,000 cable customers in its recent second quarter, giving it nearly 6 million in total.



That compared with a loss of about 6,000 subscribers a year earlier and was Virgin’s best quarterly performance since 2016.



An improvement in those numbers during the Gig 1 rollout would be an encouraging signal indeed.



Related posts:

— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading



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“Was Hoping I Got the Gig”: Serena Williams and Alexander Zverev Indulge in a Funny Conversation

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Alexander Zverev‘s funny banter with Serena Williams caught everyone’s attention recently. After a heartbreaking loss to Dominic Thiem in the finals of the US Open, Zverev will aim to reach the latter rounds at Roland Garros.

The German withdrew from the Italian Open after an exhausting run at the US Open. Hence, he will have little to no clay practice before heading to Paris.

Recently, Zverev uploaded an Instagram post welcoming former World No.3 David Ferrer as his coach. The duo started working in July this year, as the Spaniard’s work ethic had always impressed Zverev. Ferrer retired in May 2019 and won 27 titles in his career, despite the era being dominated by the Big-3.

Serena Williams jokes with Alexander Zverev

“Grind season just around the corner. So found just the right guy for it. Welcome @davidferrer1982, wrote Zverev in the caption.

Interestingly, the 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams commented on Zverev’s Instagram post. Williams wrote a funny comment saying that she was hoping to get the job and will have to wait for the next time.

“Nice but I was hoping I got the gig…next time,” commented Williams on the post.

Serena Williams at US open 2020
Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Serena Williams of the United States reacts against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the women’s singles semifinals match on day eleven of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Zverev came up with a cheeky response to Williams’ comment and said that he will have to win a few Grand Slam titles before asking Williams to become his coach. Zverev also referred to the American as the GOAT.

Alexander Zverev and David Ferrer Partnership

Alexander Zverev at US Open 2020
Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Alexander Zverev of Germany returns the ball against Dominic Thiem of Austria in the men’s singles final match on day 14 of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The duo made a solid start to their partnership as Zverev reached his maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open 2020. Although Zverev earlier spoke about their partnership being on a trial period, it seems that Ferrer has been welcomed as a full-time coach.

It will be intriguing to witness the way the World No.7 performs at the French Open, considering Ferrer was a 2013 Finalist at Roland Garros. Zverev has not gone beyond the quarterfinal stage at the clay-court Grand Slam.



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