INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from the BBC
The latest issue of the jihadist group's online magazine One Ummah uses the iconic image of George Floyd's last moments and a painting by the graffiti artist Banksy to help deliver its message of unsolicited support to protesters on US streets.
The English-language issue, clearly aimed at a domestic US audience, predicts the imminent demise of the US and its political system as well its economy and society.
"Armed protests rage across America and a civil war appears to be in the offing," reads its commentary. One of its messages is that, "not even the Democrats can help you but we can".
Mina Al-Lami from BBC Monitoring says there is a contrast between the approaches of al-Qaeda and its main rival, the Islamic State group (IS). Whereas IS has simply been gloating at America's discomfort and predicting that the unrest will spread to other countries, al-Qaeda has been more subtle, reaching out and trying to convert Americans to its version of Islam and its cause, she says.
The magazine piece, our analyst suggests, has clearly been written by someone who has a good knowledge of what is going on in the US.
Al-Qaeda has largely been eclipsed in recent years by IS. But Dr Shiraz Maher, the Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, believes it is proactively trying to show it still has relevance on the world stage.
"It [the Black Lives Matter protests] is a huge current event... which is having a cascading effect across the globe and beyond the media and political sphere into the cultural and artistic realm," Dr Maher says. "So al-Qaeda is seeking to move into that space and trying to say, 'look here we are'."
There is a profound irony that a group with one of the most oppressive and bloodthirsty ideologies in the Middle East should now be presenting itself to angry Americans as champions of their cause against police brutality and systemic racism.
Al-Qaeda, which under the leadership of the late Osama Bin Laden, carried out the worst-ever terrorist attack in US history in September 2001, imposed a rule of such intolerance when it held sway in Iraq's Falluja province that it cut men's fingers off if it caught them smoking cigarettes.
It has since spawned violent offshoots all over the world, including IS.
Yet, despite occasional and isolated attack, such as the one by an al-Qaeda-inspired Saudi at Pensacola, Florida, in December 2019, both groups have until now largely failed to build significant support in the US population. This is in marked contrast to Europe whose cities have produced numerous hotbeds of jihadist sympathisers from the 1990s onwards.
For months Western intelligence chiefs have been warning that al-Qaeda has not gone away, it has simply been waiting for the right opportunities.
Already this year both al-Qaeda and IS have trumpeted the way Covid-19 has afflicted the US and the UK particularly badly, saying this is just retribution for these two countries' actions in the Middle East. Yet Iran currently has over 175,000 people infected and Egypt is now reportedly experiencing around 2,000 new infections daily.
Today the fugitive jihadist group is trying to make common cause with those in the US protesting against police brutality and racial discrimination, but urging them towards violent action.
Certainly their intervention, if it is noticed, is likely to be most unwelcome for protesters.
Al-Qaeda is a proscribed terrorist organisation that killed nearly 3,000 Americans in the 11 September attacks and has vowed to keep targeting Americans.
So how worried should US counter-terrorism officials be? Dr Shiraz Maher, who has spent the last 20 years studying the group and its ideology, believes this is all about exploiting opportunities.
"The nature of this type of propaganda is that it's always trying to cast the fishing net out there. They just need to hook in one person to say 'look how successful our campaign was'," Dr Maher says.
"And that's the great difficulty Western intelligence and law enforcement face when trying to mitigate this type of threat."
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Reposted from CNN
For more than a week Americans have flooded the streets of major metropolitan areas across the country in protest of racially-motivated police brutality sparked by George Floyd's death in police custody.
While most protests and marches have been peaceful, civil unrest has prompted looting and property damage in cities like New York.
Though most public gathering spaces like museums have been closed since March for social-distancing precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic, the civil unrest poses a unique security concern for those in charge of protecting the priceless art housed around the city.
There are 130 museums in the five boroughs of New York City, according to city data, including some renowned museums that house the work of world-famous artists.
Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night sits not far from Claude Monet's Water Lily Pond in the halls of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa). The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are both home to Pablo Picasso's paintings and other priceless collections.
And for many, museums are a cultural haven.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art alone sees more than 7 million visitors in a year.
"Many people in the city see museums as safe places for having meaningful conversation about difficult subjects. Art is sometimes a bridge to do that," Marianne Lamonaca told CNN.
Lamonaca is the associate gallery director and chief curator at the Bard Graduate Center in New York and the president of the board of trustees for the Association of Art Museum Curators.
Cultural institutions must have a plan and coordinate with local agencies including federal law enforcement to plan for potential emergencies, art protection expert Stevan Layne told CNN.
Layne, founding director of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, is one of the security experts working with cultural institutions across the country whose leaders are trying to protect their priceless but currently empty institutions.
"We're saying it's not too late, but you have to have a plan. Police are overwhelmed, they can't be everywhere. They can't handle everything," he said.
Most major institutions have secure storage spaces often in another location entirely to protect the most valuable works, Layne said. Now the IFCPP is cautioning museums to remove exhibits from the main floor because it'd likely be the most at risk in the case of a break-in.
At least one museum in the city, The Whitney Museum of American Art, has boarded up their floor-to-ceiling windows.
Layne says he tells his colleagues to take these precautions if they can, but the cost is high. And for those institutions that rely on daily ticket revenue, they likely can't afford the resources because of coronavirus-related losses.
Controversial cultural installations in museums and public spaces have been at the center of debate in recent years.
"It's really always been an issue, what to do with monuments that are offensive to certain groups. This is no more different today than in Charlottesville in 2017," Margaret Holben Ellis, president and fellow of The American Institute for Conservation (AIC) told CNN.
Conservators are the ones to maintain cultural heritage installations but also repair them when they are damaged.
Some conservators have faced harassment recently for repairing damaged installations, Holben Ellis told CNN.
"We have received reports that conservators feel threatened -- or have been threatened -- when carrying out their professional duties to protect and preserve cultural heritage. We must keep our members, as well as the monuments, safe from harm and harassment. The professionalism required to make decisions also takes an emotional toll on conservators who must remain neutral as they perform their duties," Holben Ellis said.
Conservators operate under a code of ethics to preserve all cultural heritage, George Wheeler, an adjunct professor of historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN.
Conservators and directors might consider holding off on repairing installations in public places as protests continue nightly, Wheeler suggests.
"These things can be taken care of, but how and when do we deal with these issues."
Wheeler cautions against the hasty removal of public installations and monuments as politicians have done in some cities.
"The decision may affect the safety of the conservator, influence the perception by society and those certain sets of decision may not be easily reversed," Wheeler said.
"The conscious destruction of a monument because of its symbolism is also an option. That is the extreme on the spectrum of conservation -- from keeping something exactly as it is forever to destroying it," Wheeler said.
Both The Met and The Whitney declined to comment on their security protocols, but they and several other museums in New York have posted on their social media pages condemning the death of George Floyd in solidarity with protesters.
The Guggenheim Museum is promoting the work of African American artists who've addressed racial discrimination in their works.
The city's public design commission has similarly posted on Twitter promoting Black artists.
MoMa posted what they call an incomplete list of resources and organizations for fighting racism and supporting justice and equality.
"I would think museums want to step up in this time and communicate," Lamonaca told CNN.
The question for curators now, Lamonaca says, is "how do we use our voices, our position in the community to bring people together and have meaningful conversation to difficult subjects."
Reposted from Security Management Magazine
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) gave employers the green light to take employees' temperatures to try and ward off the spread of the coronavirus in guidance updated 18 March. But will taking temperatures really work?
"Generally, measuring an employee's body temperature is a medical examination," the EEOC stated. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, and have issued related precautions, "employers may measure employees' body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever," the agency stated. And some people with a fever do not have COVID-19.
In a National Employment Law Institute (NELI) webcast on March 12, David Fram, NELI's director of ADA services in Golden, Colorado, noted that if influenza is widespread in a community, temperature taking might be job-related and consistent with business necessity and therefore allowed.
But, he said, "be super careful about taking temperatures, in part because what does it really tell you? Plenty have contagion who do not have a [high] temperature."
Jeff Nowak, an attorney with Littler in Chicago, added that if employers want to take workers' temperatures, they should pay employees sent home for high temperatures to limit any legal risk, if they can afford to do so.
Employers also should consider what they'd do if employees refuse to have their temperatures taken. Would employers send these workers home without pay?
The temperature reading should be kept confidential, Nowak said, and the person administering the temperature check should be trained on the procedure. He expressed skepticism that a lawsuit would result from taking workers' temperatures.
"If it saves one life, it's worth it," he said.
But ensure that there is social distancing and keep people at least six feet apart when they are standing in line to have their temperatures measured. Bear in mind that taking temperatures may not be nearly as effective at preventing the spread of the coronavirus as sheltering in place, where possible.
Christine Walters, J.D., SHRM-SCP, an independent consultant with FiveL Co. in Westminster, Md., cautioned employers against using oral thermometers, which are more invasive than infrared digital thermometers.
Jonathan Segal, an attorney with Duane Morris in Philadelphia and New York City, said there may be an obligation to pay employees for time spent waiting to have their temperatures checked.
Ideally, employers would have a willing volunteer who takes others' temperatures, said Isaac Mamaysky, an attorney with Potomac Law Group in New York City.
With proper training, personal protective equipment, a no-touch thermometer, and an understanding of confidentiality considerations, a nonmedical professional can take temperatures and help keep the workplace safe, he said.
"It's simply not practical or realistic to expect a medical professional to be available to every employer, especially in the midst of a pandemic in which professionals are in such high demand," Mamaysky said.
"Of course, if a company has an onsite nurse or EMT who can take temperatures, that's ideal," he added. "However, if that's not possible, employers can provide personal protective equipment and training so a nonmedical professional can safely take temperatures. For many employers, that's the only realistic option."
While the EEOC's guidance is clear, Christine Berger, an attorney in New Orleans, noted that it was silent on an important issue: how to take an employee's temperature. "It is not as simple as ordering an infrared thermometer off Amazon," she said.
"Before lining up your employees to scan their foreheads," she cautioned, "consider the safety, privacy, and employee relations concerns."
Berger recommended considering the following questions:
Once an employer has identified who will administer the scan, the employer should provide the administrator with protective clothing, Berger said. Protective clothing may include gloves, masks, eyewear, and a gown, she noted.
"These precautions are essential for both employer and employee protection and will appear less extreme in the event an employe's temperature reads in excess of 100 degrees," she said.
Employers should advise the administrator to read the thermometer's instructions and be available to answer any questions. Before beginning, the administrator should perform a test run on himself or herself to ensure he or she doesn't have a fever, Berger recommended.
While logistics may dictate taking an employees' temperature upon arrival at work, Berger said, privacy concerns suggest otherwise. She explained: "Employers should avoid employees lining up and waiting for their temperature to be taken." Instead, the administrator should take an employee's temperature as privately as possible and keep the identity of any employees with fevers confidential, she said.
But in 8 April guidance, the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) said, "Employers should measure the employee's temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility."
"Temperature checks are widely used as a public screen measure at international airports and in parts of Asia," said Joseph Deng, an attorney with Baker McKenzie in Los Angeles. "Temperature checks are an imperfect measure, however, and should be just one of a variety of tools that a company can use to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace."
He noted that other measures include asking employees and visitors if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, coughing, shortness of breath) or if they have any other high-risk factors as described by the CDC. Such factors include spending time in close quarters with a person with COVID-19 or having traveled to a high-risk area, as defined by the CDC, in the past 14 days.
Other employers may choose for employees to take their own temperatures before coming to work and require them not to come in if they have a fever.
During a pandemic, ADA-covered employers may ask employees who call in sick if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus, the EEOC said in its guidance. For COVID-19, these include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.
Fram asserted that the coronavirus arguably is not a disability covered by the ADA, but other respiratory conditions that last longer are. So while asking about coronavirus symptoms is permitted, don't ask about symptoms of other conditions, he cautioned.
When an employee returns to work, under the ADA employers can require a doctor's note certifying his or her fitness for duty, the EEOC said.
Such inquiries are permitted under the ADA either because they would not be disability-related or, in the case of a severe pandemic, because they would be justified under the ADA standards for disability-related inquiries of employees, the EEOC stated. As a practical matter, however, doctors and other health care professionals may be too busy during and immediately after a pandemic outbreak to provide fitness-for-duty documentation.
So, new approaches may be necessary, such as reliance on local clinics to provide a form, a stamp or an e-mail certifying that an individual does not have the pandemic virus, the EEOC stated.
"That's all well and good if someone can actually get tested," Fram said in an interview with SHRM Online. "Right now, that's a challenge." So, until more tests for coronavirus are available, if an employer can't get such alternative documentation, it will have to consider how much risk it's willing to take if the employee can't prove he or she is free of the virus, he said.
The EEOC guidance also provided that:
Reposted from ArtNews
As calls to defund the police intensify across the United States in the wake of countless incidents of killing and military-style violence by police, art museums are facing a reckoning over their relationships with local law enforcement. Arts workers nationwide are calling on cultural institutions to divest from police and to instead invest in communities—in particular Black communities—as part of the effort to support the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups.
It can be difficult to tell whether museums are directly invested in local police departments through contracts and other means because this information is often not made public. But, after two museums in Minneapolis (the city where police killed George Floyd) announced plans to cut ties with police departments this week, many in the art world have begun agitating for other major American institutions to follow suit.
Advocates for divesting argue that cutting any and all ties are one concrete way institutions can reaffirm their commitment to their communities, as opposed to releasing statements in support of Black Lives Matter, which have widely been interpreted as empty gestures. (As a means of taking greater action, some cultural institutions have begun opening their lobbies to protesters. One is New York’s Brooklyn Museum.)
At least two museums, both in Minneapolis—the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Art—have now publicly pledged to stop contracting with police officers for special events. In an interview with ARTnews, Walker Art Center director Mary Ceruti said that she made the decision to stop contracting the Minneapolis Police Department for public events last week after the University of Minnesota announced that it would undertake a similar measure.
“It did initially feel like a little bit of a hollow statement to make, given the limited nature of our contracting with police, but as days went on and I had conversations with staff, artists, and other people in our community, I recognized it is a powerful statement to make,” Ceruti told ARTnews. “The goal [in] making such a statement public is to compel change.”
The Walker has worked with MPD for at least seven years, a spokesperson told ARTnews, hiring officers for annual events including the Walker’s gala and outdoor music festival Rock the Garden. The museum worked with MPD’s police captain to arrange off-duty police coverage for events, and each officer was paid on an hourly basis as an independent contractor. The spokesperson declined to share how much the museum has spent on these services but said that police are used one to three times a year “based on need.”
Ceruti hesitated to say whether the statement is meant to urge other art museums to follow suit. “I’m not going to presume to understand the specifics of different institutions and their relationships with their police departments—I think that can be specific and localized,” Ceruti said. “But as a field we are all acknowledging that we need to do more, and we have to accelerate the change within our own institutions.” One policy the museum has decided to implement this week: eliminating unpaid internships, positions widely viewed as employment barriers that undermine diversity efforts.
Some have called the Walker’s pledge inadequate, questioning why the museum stopped short of permanently ending its relationship with MPD. (The Minneapolis City Council has since announced that it is considering disbanding the MPD and building new community-oriented public safety measures.) Ceruti said she considered the fact that the city’s police chief, Medaria Arradondo, committed to systemic change within his department, and she added that his immediate termination of the four police involved in Floyd’s murder following the wide circulation of direct video footage was “pretty extraordinary.”
“Obviously that doesn’t bring justice,” she said. “But I think it is something that should be acknowledged—that maybe it’s a signal that there is potential for change.” In the meantime, the museum will be looking to hire a private security firm to provide services—a local one, potentially, that is “perhaps run by Black, Indigenous, or people of color,” Ceruti said.
The concerns about art institutions’ ties to the police extend far beyond Minneapolis. A public spreadsheet published online this week by anonymous cultural workers is currently crowdsourcing user-submitted information about arts and cultural organizations that may contract the services of local police. Anyone is able to fill in details on the nature of existing contracts and add notes on internal or external efforts to dissolve them; major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles are listed.
“This is a concrete step that museums and cultural organizations can and should take,” a spokesperson for the project, titled Arts for Abolition, told ARTnews. “The spreadsheet is a tool to support communities and staff as they mount a local call for divestment. We hope it will be useful for existing and future divestment campaigns to have details about contracts at peer institutions.”
Police reform, abolition, and overhaul of the entire criminal justice system have been ongoing struggles spearheaded by Black activists, whose communities disproportionately suffer from police violence. These issues have received unprecedented support following recent police killings including those of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Tony McDade in Florida, and Dreasjon “Sean” Reed in Indiana that have sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racial injustices in all 50 states. The campaign for art museums to sever ties with law enforcement aligns with similar calls aimed at cities, schools, and other organizations.
But because police involvement in art museums can be irregular, the nature of these relationships is complicated to define by outside sources, and it has received little public scrutiny in the past.
“Many people were not aware, up until very recently, that these institutions had contracts with the police,” the Arts for Abolition spokesperson said. “Smaller institutions are unlikely to contract the services of police due to their size. At larger (especially private) institutions, the existence or nonexistence of contracts is very difficult to ascertain, and we have been surprised by the impediments to getting information. Many curatorial, education, and programming staff do not have access to the relevant documents and are internally calling on senior leadership to provide more transparency.”
Now, the effects of these debates are being felt in cities around the country. In Chicago—where grassroots groups like Assata’s Daughters and Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings have led abolitionist efforts for years—city residents are demanding that the Museum of Contemporary Art cut its ties with the Chicago Police Department. The calls have been led by members of its youth development program, Teen Creative Agency, which consists of local teenagers—mostly people of color—who initiate projects at the museum, including the annual festival 21Minus, which had been slated for June 15.
In a widely circulated petition that has received close to 2,300 signatures, TCA called onthe MCA to break all relationships with CPD and be fully transparent about the extent of its involvement with the police system. On Thursday, it met with deputy director Lisa Key, chief curator Michael Darling, and associate director of learning Billy McGuinness to discuss the museum’s ties with CPD as well as begin to develop a public response to recent world events.
“Certain things did become clearer—for example, we understand that the ties with CPD were not as deep as previously thought, though still present—but most of the meeting fell short in TCA’s eyes,” the group told ARTnews. “Especially as there was no solid plan laid out.”
“TCA as a diverse and radical workforce is obviously appalled by the state of our country and our city,” its members added. “Simply put, we cannot support the mass death of POC and Black people and anyone or institution that plays into the systematic oppression that is far too prevalent in America.”
The MCA enlists the services of the private contractor Securitas, one of the largest security companies in the world, that also works with museums such as the National Gallery in London. (British economist Guy Standing described the firm in his recent book Plunder of the Commons as “a security company with no institutional knowledge of culture or art services.”) The firm provides MCA with unarmed security officers in its galleries and may hire police for special museum events. “The MCA maintains a business relationship with the CPD and the 18th District in particular as any organization or business does,” director Madeleine Grynsztejn said in a letter from Wednesday that was posted as part of the Change.org petition. “Moving forward, we will ask Securitas to alert me should the need arise to work with CPD in any capacity other than normal business procedures.”
MCA’s involvement with CPD came to the forefront early this week when TCA brought attention to a photograph of CPD officers receiving a check in the presence of MCA staff. MCA clarified that the $1,200 donation—the equivalent value of a pair of Nike shoes—was made by Securitas for an 18th District fundraiser, following an exclusive Nike sneaker drop tied to its blockbuster Virgil Abloh exhibition last year. “Nike insisted that we consult with the CPD to ensure a safe environment for people to pick up their new shoes,” Grynsztejn wrote in the letter. “Our Security Department worked with CPD on a plan for a security presence around the pick up of shoes that met Nike’s expectations.”
ARTnews asked the MCA how frequently Securitas hires police for events and whether the MCA will continue contracting the firm or amend any of its current security measures. The museum shared the following statement in response: “We stand united against racial injustice alongside those who are using their voices to hold authorities and institutions accountable for their actions. While the MCA is not currently engaged in any current or ongoing contracts, special services, or funding of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), we pledge not to engage in future contracts with CPD until we see meaningful changes that respect Black Communities implemented in our city.”
TCA told ARTnews that the statement, a version of which now appears on MCA social media accounts, is disappointing but not surprising. “We expected to be able to give our input, but the response they gave let our expectations down. While we want to support the museum in its efforts to grow and improve, we haven’t completed any concrete plan in doing so yet.” After consulting with participating artists, the group has decided to postpone 21Minus indefinitely until more productive meetings with MCA higher-ups happen.
Some have criticized museums for outsourcing security to firms that will pay its staff lower wages in an already low-wage field. Stronger safety solutions might lie not only in in-house security (which, though more expensive, can be better trained for the job and develop company loyalty), but also in the form of alternative emergency response programs and restorative justice efforts.
“Security needs to be more community-driven,” a spokesperson for the Cultural Labor Research Unit, a group that focuses on labor issues in the Chicago art community told ARTnews. “Staff who come in contact with [visitors] need to be trained in conflict resolution and de-escalation … , and in working with different groups of people who may or may not enter the museum with a full understanding of the often confusing boundaries put up in terms of rules and security.”
CLRU, which consists of anonymous museum and cultural workers, launched this week and is intending to serve as a safe platform for arts workers to voice concerns about any labor issues without fear of retaliation. At the core of its mission is the belief that power is held and funds are controlled by a select few who do not necessarily act in the best interest of the institution’s communities.
“The current board model really only serves the donor class and insiders of the art world,” the spokesperson said. “Museums also need a community board that is as powerful as the board of directors—one that is democratically composed, of folks of all demographics and economic strata, and museums will benefit from their voices.”
For many museums, joining the nationwide effort to defund police could be as simple as speaking out. Many museums in New York City, for instance, are part of the Cultural Institutions Group, which offers its members city support in the form of security and maintenance. This means the institutions may not have a direct relationship with the New York Police Department, but they can still leverage the city to slash the NYPD budget, which is reportedly $6 billion per year. Hundreds of arts workers citywide have already signed an open letter calling on leaders to redirect funds away from the NYPD towards BIPOC communities.
“Museums that receive public funding from the CIG can pressure the mayor to defund the Police Department, whose proposed budget remains intact amid citywide cuts related to Covid-19,” Thomas J. Lax, MoMA curator of media and performance, wrote in an Instagram post. “Any other work—acquiring black artists’ art or organizing conversations—is at best a delay, and at worst entrenches the status quo.”
Reposted from Forbes
Not every employee who’s been working from home feels anxiety about returning to the office. There are more than a few who see the chance to work in an office as a welcome respite from being trapped in the house with kids, spouses and more.
But many employees are anxious about returning to the office. And if bosses don’t assess and address those anxieties, the resulting discomfort could show up in absenteeism, decreased productivity and even OSHA complaints.
How can a leader accurately assess their employees’ particular anxieties? By asking, preferably in a one-on-one conversation. I’m going to show you a series of questions that every leader should ask each employee individually. You can put these questions into a survey and they’ll work okay. But while a survey can suffice, it’s nowhere near as powerful as asking these questions in a one-on-one conversation.
When you engage directly with an individual employee, not only do you get valuable data that’s more nuanced and detailed than any survey, but you also demonstrate caring and empathy. And especially these days, demonstrating empathy will earn you a lot of loyalty from your employees.
Question #1: How do you feel about coming back to the office?
The purpose of this question is first to gauge your employee’s overall anxiety (or excitement) about coming back into the office. But the secondary purpose of the question is to demonstrate that you really do care about how they’re feeling.
You may well be able to pull out a policy binder and tell employees that “fear of contracting Covid-19 is generally not a legal reason to refuse coming to work.” However, you’re much better off if you can evidence some empathy and surface any concerns long before you get to the point of having to quote corporate policies.
Question #2: What concerns you about coming back to the office?
The first question set the stage for you to now identify any particular concerns your employees might have about returning to the office. They might worry about social distancing or safety procedures in the company cafeteria. They could also be worried about a lack of safe child-care, family health concerns or even about taking public busses to get to the office.
The point is that your employees’ concerns will vary wildly from person to person. If you don’t ask, you won’t discover their particular stressors. And that means you won’t be able to help solve them.
Question #3: If needed, how effectively could you maintain your work from home situation for the next six months?
One of the key strategies in developing a back-to-the-office plan is identifying how to phase-in your employees. Simply having all employees rush back to the office is a recipe for trouble (imagine the social distancing problems with a crowd of employees all entering your lobby simultaneously).
Knowing that you’ve got employees who can both perform their jobs remotely and handle the emotional rigors gives you lots of flexibility to create a phased plan. Not every employee can take another six months of working remotely. But if you’ve got a group of employees who can, you don’t have to make them rush back to the office, and you can methodically test and refine your plan.
Question #4: What are your biggest challenges working from home?
For any employees who are going to continue working from home, you want to make that experience as pleasant and productive as possible. And that means assessing and addressing any impediments they’re currently experiencing while working remotely.
There’s another reason for asking this question; it’s within the realm of possibility that there’s a second wave of the pandemic that requires a quick return to working remotely. If that were to happen, you certainly don’t want it to feel as chaotic as it did a few months ago. By assessing and addressing any remote-working challenges now, you’re essentially developing a contingency plan for future crises.
How To Respond To Your Employees
The most important lesson for leaders when your employees start answering your questions is to be empathic. Unfortunately, across the thousands of people who’ve taken the free online test “Do You Know How To Listen With Empathy?” about a third of respondents failed pretty badly. And only about 20% of people achieved perfect scores. So empathy is easier said than done.
But here’s one trick that will help you out. Researchers at UCLA conducted a study in which subjects were asked to write an essay describing a time a boss had treated them unfairly. Believing that another person was reading their essay (it was really just the researchers), one group of subjects was told that the reader said, “I tried to take their perspective, but I just couldn’t put myself in their shoes.” The other group was told the reader said, “I tried to take their perspective, and I could really put myself in their shoes.”
When people heard that the reader could really put themselves in their shoes, they liked that person 19% more. And they felt 78% more empathy towards them. So as a starting point, memorize the phrase “I can really put myself in your shoes” and use it liberally. And then, of course, take the empathic listening test and make sure that every leader in your company can pass it.
You undoubtedly have some employees feeling anxious about returning to the office. Ignoring those fears won’t dissipate them. But if you can empathically assess and address their concerns, you’ll not only have less fearful and more productive employees, you’ll earn lots of goodwill as well.
Reposted from Politico
Anarchist and militia extremists could try to exploit the recent nationwide protests spurred by the death of George Floyd, the Department of Homeland Security warned in an intelligence note sent to law enforcement officials around the country.
Floyd, a black man who pleaded that he couldn't breathe while a police officer held him down and pressed his knee into his neck for nearly 9 minutes, was killed in Minnesota on May 25. The officer responsible has been charged with murder and manslaughter.
It also reveals, citing the FBI, that on May 27, two days after Floyd’s death, “a white supremacist extremist Telegram channel incited followers to engage in violence and start the ‘boogaloo ’— a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd.” One Telegram message encouraged potential shooters to “frame the crowd around you” for the violence, the document said.
And on May 29, “suspected anarchist extremists and militia extremists allegedly planned to storm and burn the Minnesota State Capitol,” the memo reads, citing FBI information.
The body of the memo says the plans about the state capitol were made in 2019, but a footnote describing the FBI’s information says twice that the plans were made in 2020. Spokespersons for DHS and the FBI did not respond to requests for clarification on the dates, but a source familiar with the report said 2019 was a typo, and the plans were made in 2020.
A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said he was unable to confirm or deny the report for security reasons. A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment. After publication, a DHS spokesperson flagged a tweet from DHS Secretary Chad Wolf. In the tweet, Wolf confirmed that DHS had reported that domestic terrorists were trying to exploit the protests.
News of the report comes as the Trump administration has touted its ambition to crack down on Antifa, a cohort of far-left activists who often destroy private property and use violent tactics.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have blamed Antifa radicals for inciting violence at the protests, and Barr on Sunday said the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces would coordinate federal, state, and local efforts to find violent perpetrators.
“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” Barr said. Trump also tweeted that he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization––a move he does not have the legal authority to make.
The document also defines “anarchist extremists” as people who use violence to change the government and society because they oppose capitalism and globalization, and believe government institutions are unnecessary and harmful––hallmarks of the far left.
The DHS intelligence note is at least the fifth the department has sent out to law enforcement officials in the last two months warning of the mobilization of domestic terrorists and violent extremists in the context of a national crisis.
On April 23, as so-called Liberate protesters began demonstrating outside several states' capitol buildings demanding an end to the coronavirus lockdowns, DHS warned that the pandemic was “driving violent actors — both non-ideologically and ideologically motivated — to threaten violence” and “serving as the impetus for some domestic terrorist plots.”
In remarks to the Security Industry Association on Monday, DHS’ assistant director for Infrastructure Security, Brian Harrell, said the department had been “touched by this violence,” too. He cited the murder of a Federal Protective Service contract officer on Friday as he and his partner, who was wounded, monitored protests, as well as assaults on Secret Service officers that evening and over the weekend.
“As Americans, we should all support peaceful demonstrations and exercising our constitutional rights,” Harrell said. “However, violence, destruction, and bloodshed in the streets is never the answer. DHS, as the nation’s largest law enforcement organization, will continue to support our state and local police and first responder agencies, to bring a quick, safe, and peaceful ending to the disorderly violence in the streets.”
Reposted from Fox News
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge shares his thoughts on the coronavirus response across the nation.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told "Your World" Thursday that coronavirus has become a "permanent risk" for all Americans and state and federal officials will have to "learn how to manage it."
Ridge, who spent more than six years as Pennsylvania's governor, told host Neil Cavuto that state chief executives of both parties "by and large ... have done a very good job" despite what he described as "challenges associated with inconsistent messages, perhaps from Washington, and the availability or unavailability of some basic equipment."
When asked for his thoughts on how quickly states should reopen their economies, Ridge said, "I think, writ large, if we follow the science and the experts and move back into our economy in a gradual, incremental basis, I think we will put this thing hopefully behind us. It is not as if we are going to eliminate COVID-19. It has now become a part of Mother Nature’s infrastructure."
Ridge has previously criticized lockdown protesters in his home state, characterizing them as "self-absorbed and selfish."
"[They] complain they are irritated, anxious, bored, upset [and] unhappy that their lives have been affected by this temporary restraint on their freedoms," he wrote in a USA Today opinion column last month. "Some have even gotten into confrontations with nurses and other front-line health care workers who believe now is not the time to resume normality,"
"Of course, our First Amendment gives them the right to protest," he added. "Our veterans helped ensure it. But ... it is impossible to characterize the actions of those who are protesting orders to stay at home as 'courageous' or 'heroic.'"
"We do have to worry about a resurgence," Ridge said Thursday. "At the same time, we ought to understand it’s going to be a permanent risk. We have to learn how to manage it: [That] means you have to go from a steady stop, which we've done basically to a lot of the economy, and we have to gradually move back in and put people back to work."
Ridge added that officials must "be smart and adopt some common sense into mitigating the risk and understanding their risk and managing the risk.
"One of those risks is the reoccurrence of not only COVID-19, but Mother Nature may [throw] COVID-24 or -25 at us."
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
After squad cars briefly occupied the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri last week, its director has denied the local police permission to use museum property as a staging area for dealing with protests against racial injustice.
The director and chief executive, Julián Zugazagoitia, said today that museum security employees granted the police permission on Friday evening to park at the museum, within blocks of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, without his being aware of it. As soon as he learned of the presence of the squad cars, he adds, he contacted the police and asked them to leave, and the cars departed.
An outcry nonetheless ensued on social media, with commenters questioning the museum’s commitment to racial justice and diversity.
“I reacted instinctively and said, ‘This is the wrong time and the wrong place," Zugazagoitia said of the police presence in an interview. He said that he was as chagrined by the sight of the police cars in the museum parking lot as the commenters were. “Our actions speak loudly,” the director said. “With the hurt that society is going through here, the time that the police were there hurts.”
Zugazagoitia emphasised that the museum had worked hard to expand its outreach to every sector of the Kansas City community and to promote inclusion during his 10-year tenure. (He was previously the director of El Museo del Barrio in New York.)
“We’ve been strong partners,” he said. “We’ve been sponsoring festivals that reflect diversity. We side with Black Life Matters. The image [of police cars] that we saw in the media posed the question, ‘What happened there?’ This means that we will double down and re-establish the trust that has been fragile-ised.’’
The museum has been closed to the public since 14 March in response to the coronavirus outbreak, although its grounds remain open to the public.
The art world has been faulted by some critics for responding slowly to Lloyd’s death after a police officer applied prolonged intense pressure to his neck, and of a tepid response to the wave of protests that have since unfolded across the United States.
On Monday, Zugazagoitia released a statement on Instagram expressing the museum's regret over the police presence on Friday night. “The Nelson-Atkins Museum joins in solidarity with the pain and outrage over the murder of George Floyd,” he wrote, adding, “We feel the hurt of the nation.”
Reposted from Reuters
Video conferencing provider Zoom plans to strengthen encryption of video calls hosted by paying clients and institutions such as schools, but not by users of its free consumer accounts, a company official said on Friday.
The company, whose business has boomed with the coronavirus pandemic, discussed the move on a call with civil liberties groups and child-sex abuse fighters on Thursday, and Zoom security consultant Alex Stamos confirmed it on Friday.
In an interview, Stamos said the plan was subject to change and it was not yet clear which, if any, nonprofits or other users, such as political dissidents, might qualify for accounts allowing more secure video meetings.
He added that a combination of technological, safety and business factors went into the plan, which drew mixed reactions from privacy advocates.
Zoom has attracted millions of free and paying customers amid the pandemic, in part because users could join a meeting - something that now happens 300 million times a day - without registering.
But that has allowed opportunities for troublemakers to slip into meetings, sometimes after pretending to be invitees.
Gennie Gebhart, a researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who was on Thursday’s call, said she hoped Zoom would change course and offer protected video more widely.
But Jon Callas, a technology fellow of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the strategy seemed a reasonable compromise.
Safety experts and law enforcement have warned that sexual predators and other criminals are increasingly using encrypted communications to avoid detection.
“Those of us who are doing secure communication believe we need to do things about the real horrible stuff,” said Callas, who previously sold paid encryption services.
“Charging money for end-to-end encryption is a way to get rid of the riff-raff,” including spammers and other malicious users who take advantage of free services.
Zoom hired Stamos and other experts after a series of security failures led some institutions to ban its use. Last week Zoom released a technical paper on its encryption plans, without saying how widely they would reach.
“At the same time that Zoom is trying to improve security, they are also significantly upgrading their trust and safety,” said Stamos, a former chief security officer at Facebook.
“The CEO is looking at different arguments. The current plan is paid customers plus enterprise accounts where the company knows who they are.”
Full encryption for every meeting would leave Zoom’s trust and safety team unable to add itself as a participant in gatherings to tackle abuse in real time, Stamos added.
An end-to-end model, which means no one but the participants and their devices can see and hear what is happening, would also have to exclude people who call in from a telephone line.
From a business perspective, it is hard to earn money when offering a sophisticated and expensive encryption service for free. Facebook is planning to fully encrypt Messenger, but it earns enormous sums from its other services.
Other providers of encrypted communication either charge business users or act as nonprofits, such as the makers of Signal.
Zoom is also dealing with regulators such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which is looking into its previous claims about encryption that have been criticized as exaggerated or false, said Stamos and another person familiar with the matter.
With the Justice Department and some members of Congress condemning strong encryption, Zoom could draw unwanted new attention through a major expansion in that area, privacy experts said.
An outside spokesman for Zoom, Nate Johnson, said its encryption was “a work in progress,” including the engineering design and “which customers it would apply to.”
Reposted from Oklahoma's News 4
A popular museum in Oklahoma City is making changes to ensure that seniors are protected when they visit the artwork.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum announced that it will begin setting aside the first hour of business for senior visitors during the ‘Elder Hour.’
Organizers say the museum will open one hour early for senior guests before the museum opens to the general public, beginning on Monday, June 8.
“Elder Hour is meant to provide our Senior visitors with the unique opportunity to come to explore The Cowboy at their own pace, especially those wanting to avoid the crowds during regular hours,” said Museum President & CEO Natalie Shirley. “The Cowboy also offers a clean and safe walking environment out of the weather, away from traffic and under the watchful eyes of Museum security for those wanting to get their steps in and beat the heat.”
‘Elder Hour’ participants will be able to explore the many temporary exhibitions, the permanent collections, and the museum’s new outdoor expansion.
The museum will open at 9 a.m., Monday to Friday, for senior visitors.
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