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  • July 07, 2020 4:57 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The American Alliance of Museums

    Everyone is eager for a return to normal, which includes access to museums and other cultural venues. While countless people likely have been inspired and sustained by virtual museum tours these past few months, there is something very powerful about visiting galleries and venues and being in the presence of physical exhibits that many crave. Artist Maira Kalman says “a visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives,” and she advises us to “go to museums as often as you can.” What will museum visits be like as venues reopen in the context of the novel coronavirus and new public health safety guidelines? The answer might be found on your smartphone.

    Anyone who has been to a museum, zoo, aquarium, or other cultural venue in the last decade probably noticed the same thing: almost every visitor had a smartphone. According to the Pew Research Center, 93 percent of Millennials own a smartphone and other generations aren’t far behind. 90 percent of Gen Xers and 68 percent of Baby Boomers own one.

    This is good news for museums as they reopen and look for ways to keep visitors safe and engaged during the pandemic. Smartphones will enable visitors to maintain physical distance from others, avoid shared touchpoints, and increase accessibility.

    Enable Physical Distancing

    Maintaining physical distance from others and wearing masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But it can be difficult to hear others when they are far away and speaking behind a mask, especially if speakers are also competing with HVAC units and other background noises. Shouting can strain the speaker’s voice and is believed to increase risk of spreading the virus if speakers are infected.

    Audio-over-Wi-Fi systems enable museum visitors with smartphones and smart devices to practice safe physical distancing and hear clearly. Visitors simply download a free app and stream museum audio—it could be pre-recorded or live—from any venue audio source to their smart devices. Visitors experience clear sound directly to their ears via their Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids or personal earbuds and headphones. They can adjust volume to suit their needs and hear while staying safely away from others. No more crowding close together in groups to better hear a docent or video display, and no struggling to read lips or understand speech muffled behind a mask.

    Eliminate Shared Touchpoints

    In an effort to inform and engage visitors pre-pandemic, many museums offered interactive touchscreens, flipbooks, and pushbutton or other tactile displays. Some may have even reused programs and information guides designed to help visitors navigate the venue and optimize their visits. Unfortunately, each of these is a conduit for spreading germs and could increase exposure to the coronavirus. Smartphones and other personal smart devices that guests already have on hand can enable museums to eliminate shared touchpoints and deliver information to guests safely.

    One way museums can do this is with QR codes displayed throughout a venue. When visitors take a picture of the code with their smartphone, they are directed to a specific site that could feature information about the exhibits and artists. Similarly, museum-specific apps can provide visitor maps and programs as well as information about current and future exhibits and events. They also can link to visitor surveys that provide museums valuable insight about guest experiences. Apps featuring augmented reality (AR)—think Pokémon Go—are another way to engage visitors and add layers of detail and content to exhibits.

    Some innovative museums had already begun leveraging the ubiquity of smartphones and cloud technology to connect with visitors and eliminate shared touchpoints before they were forced to close in response to the pandemic.

    • Earlier this year, the Detroit Institute of Arts introduced a revolutionary mobile tour called Lumin that used AR and 3D mapping—as well as overlays, videos, photos, animations, and sounds—to provide guests more information about exhibits via their personal smart devices.
    • The Toledo Museum of Art offered visitors a free app for download that featured scavenger hunts, multimedia guides, and audio commentary.
    • The Deutsches Museum in Munich, one of the world’s oldest and largest museums of science and technology, began developing a program that would have guests use their smartphones to interact with exhibits and enable them to take measurements and conduct experiments.

    Expect more of these apps and creative uses for smart devices as museums reopen and look to engage with visitors while keeping them safe. These alternatives to touchscreens and tactile interactives foster engagement (visitors can easily access more information about displays on demand rather than waiting in queue for their turn at a crowded display) and reduce exposure to germs on shared surfaces.

    Increase Accessibility

    In addition to protecting guests by enabling them to practice physical distancing and reducing their exposure to shared interactives, smartphone technology eliminates the traditional barriers to accessibility. The inability to hear or see an exhibit or art display are no longer barriers to enjoying an experience. For people with disabilities, life-changing smartphone features include voice-control features to navigate the phone, apps that transcribe conversation, and apps that tell visually impaired users what the text in a photo says.

    When museums invest in Wi-Fi-connected audio systems, they enable visitors with smart devices to experience the exhibits, regardless of their ability to see or hear. They also eliminate language barriers.

    Museums that have tour guides and translators available can use Wi-Fi-connected audio and smartphone apps to deliver real-time translation to smartphones. Guests simply choose the channel for their preferred language and listen via headphones or earbuds. Another option is to select a system that translates recorded content and delivers it to guests’ smartphones. Some of these systems can provide translated content for more than thirty languages.

    Visitors with mobility challenges can benefit from GPS-triggered smartphone technology that lets them move about at their own pace and focus on what interests them most. Content is automatically delivered (no need to press a button or touch any shared surfaces) as visitors pass exhibits or reach a trigger point. When combined with powerful storytelling, this technology enables guests to engage more fully in their visit and get caught up in the cinematic story associated with what they are experiencing.

    The prevalence of smartphones may once have been considered immaterial or even a distraction in museums, zoos, aquariums, and other venues, but the benefits of smartphones in this new environment are clear. When museums reopen, smartphones will help keep guests safe and deliver an even better, more inclusive, and engaging experience. Imagine that—feeling closer and more connected than ever, while staying safely apart.

    See Original Post

  • July 07, 2020 4:52 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The New York Times

    In 2005, Lonnie G. Bunch III became the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. There was just one problem. The museum did not yet exist. There was no collection, no funding, no site and just one employee. Just over a decade later, the museum opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to rave reviews and huge crowds.

    Last year, Mr. Bunch became the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, overseeing the museum he founded, along with a few dozen other museums and libraries, and even the National Zoo.

    The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered those institutions for the time being, but Mr. Bunch has stayed busy. The Smithsonian is launching new digital tools intended to facilitate a dialogue about race, and Mr. Bunch is engaged in the debate about the removal of controversial statues and monuments.

    This conversation, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was part of a series of live Corner Office calls to discuss the pandemic and the protests. Visit timesevents.nytimes.com to join upcoming digital events.

    Where does the Smithsonian stand when it comes to reopening?

    The reality is that this is not business as usual. One of the great strengths of museums is they bring people together who don’t know each other to look at an artifact or explore an exhibition. Well, all that gets called into question this year. We will have to do something like timed passes to control the number of people. Because the one thing we don’t want is crowds of people standing outside, waiting to get in. That’s a recipe for disaster. But we’re also going to think carefully about how we social distance within the museum. We are going to have cleaning protocols. We’re going to expect everybody to wear a mask.

    Should museums wait until events are squarely in the past to confront them? Or is there a need for institutions like your own to engage with these issues in something closer to real time?

    Cultural institutions, regardless of the subject matter, have to be as much about today and tomorrow as they are about yesterday. And that really means that one of the jobs of cultural institutions is to collect today for tomorrow. We have people out collecting during the different protests. We have people around the country sending us the videos that they shoot on their cameras. But collecting isn’t enough. So we’ve created a major initiative that looks at race, community and our shared future. It’s an opportunity for the Smithsonian to say, “How do we help stimulate local conversations around race?”

    Many people say that this moment feels different, that it feels like there’s the potential for real change. As a Black man yourself, who is not only a student of history, but a steward of history, does it feel different to you?

    I am hopeful, but not always optimistic. I’m hopeful because I see how often African-Americans believed in an America that didn’t believe in them, how often they dreamed a world that wasn’t there yet, and then worked strategically with allies to make that happen. Who would have believed in 1820 that there would be no slavery? Who would’ve believed in 1920 that there would be no legal segregation? And so in a way, the opportunity to believe that change is possible is part of what is embedded in African-American history. But on the other hand, we also recognize the limits of that change.

    On the surface, this is a different moment. I am taken by the diversity of people that are in the streets. I’m taken by the number of people throughout Europe saying Black Lives Matter. I’m taken by the fact that some police chiefs and some police officers are recognizing that their institution has to change, because it has reflected a kind of systematic racism where the police are considered not the friends of a community, but an enemy of the community. So all of that suggests that this just may be a time of transformation.

    What I worry about is that after the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act, we also saw a law-and-order backlash. We saw people turning their attention away from finding fairness and dealing with racial justice to trying to bring law and order to control what they thought was an out-of-control community. And that led to mass incarceration. That led to people turning their attention away from what was the major point of the day. So I do worry a little bit that this could turn into that as well.

    In your memoir, you recalled when President Trump visited the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. And you shared this detail that the president didn’t want to see anything “difficult.” I feel like that story is emblematic of this broader tendency in American culture where many people, again, simply don’t want to confront the reality of some of the things that have happened in this country. How do we get people to engage with these difficult chapters in our history, especially when the legacy of some of these incidents is still very much with us today?

    Americans in some ways want to romanticize history. They want selective history. As the great John Hope Franklin used to say, you need to use African-American history as a corrective, to help people understand the fullness, the complexity, the nuance of their history. I know that’s hard. I remember receiving a letter once that said, “Don’t you understand that America’s greatest strength is its ability to forget?” And there’s something powerful about that. But people are now thirsty to understand history. I hear people all the time saying, “I didn’t know about Juneteenth. Help me understand about the Tulsa riots.”

    History often teaches us to embrace ambiguity, to understand there aren’t simple answers to complex questions, and Americans tend to like simple answers to complex questions. So the challenge is to use history to help the public feel comfortable with nuance and complexity.

    This is of course playing out right now in real time with the nationwide debate around taking down some statues and monuments. How do you think about what is appropriate?

    The notion of simply pulling down statues means that you’re not really bringing historical insight. What you really want to do is use the statues as teachable moments. Some of these need to go. But others need to be taken into a park, into a museum, into a warehouse, and interpreted for people, because they’re part of our history. What is crucially important about this is that removing statues is not about erasing history. Removing statues in many ways is about finding a more accurate history, a history that is more keeping with the best scholarship that we have out there. So for me, it is about making sure we don’t forget what those statues symbolize. It’s about pruning them, removing some, contextualizing others and recognizing that there is nothing wrong with a country recognizing that its identity is evolving over time. And as this identity evolves, so does what it remembers. So it does what it celebrates.

    So much of our history isn’t memorialized in that way. How many statues around this country deal with women? How many statues deal with African-American women who have changed this country?

    For years there was a view that museums were sort of temples, places where artifacts could be collected and preserved and perhaps interpreted in a scholarly way, and that was about it. That has changed over the years, and many now argue that museums are really places for public gathering, for dialogue and that it is appropriate for museums to really engage in the issues of the day and perhaps even take a point of view. Where do you fall on that?

    I believe very strongly that museums have a social justice role to play, that museums have an opportunity to not become community centers, but to be at the center of their community, to help the community grapple with the challenges they face, to use history, to use science, to use education, to give the public tools to grapple with this. Museums always take a point of view by what they choose to exhibit and what they decide not to exhibit.

    I’m not expecting museums to engage in partisan politics. What I’m expecting museums to be is driven by scholarship and the community. I want museums to be a place that gives the public not just what it wants, but what it needs. And if that means that museums have to take a little more risk, if museums have to recognize that they’ve got to do a better job of explaining to government officials, funders, why they do the work they do, then so be it. I would rather the museum be a place that takes a little risk to make the country better than a place where history and science go to die.

    Who becomes the arbiter of what is appropriate to display in a museum? How are they making those decisions about how to present history?

    It’s crucially important to recognize that in museums, you need to have people who care about a variety of subjects in positions of influence, like curatorial positions. That means that it’s crucially important to have a diversity, not just of race or ethnicity, but of ideas, to be able to sort of make sure that cultural institution is grappling with interesting questions that help the public. But I want to be candid. Twenty years ago, I wrote an article about the lack of diversity at museums. Today there is more diversity than ever before, but it’s still lagging behind corporate America, for example, which I never thought I’d say. So the challenge is for museums to live up to what they say they are, which are places that should model and reflect the best of what they expect from other Americans.

    See Original Post

  • July 07, 2020 4:48 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Artnet News

    It was 10:00 a.m., and the director and staff of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Saint-Étienne were both excited and nervous as they unlocked the institution’s front doors for the first time in months. At two minutes past the hour, three women who had travelled there from the neighboring city of Lyon came bursting in.

    “We were so pleased,” said Aurélie Voltz, who personally greeted the visitors. “People had really waited for this moment.” Voltz said the museum received 100 visitors that day, a significant departure from the usual 1,000 during peak season.

    Across the country, French museums are finally reopening en masse. The Louvre reopens on July 6 after 16 weeks; the Centre Pompidou opened on Wednesday, July 1, with a highly anticipated show dedicated to Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Others, like the Musée Picasso, have opted to open later in the month.

    The joy of reopening, however, is clouded by the serious losses suffered during lockdown and the ongoing need for crowd control. The Saint Étienne institution, which is showing a historic survey of early works by American sculptor Robbert Morris, lost €100,000 ($112,300) in income (out of a $5 million budget) and an estimated 28,000 visitors during its closure. And while it hopes the Morris show, which boasts loans from the Guggenheim and Tate, will draw visitors, it must cap attendance at 470 at any given time for the foreseeable future.

    Loss on Top of Losses

    Larger museums have seen even bigger shortfalls. In Paris, the Centre Pompidou incurred a loss of €1.2 million ($1.35 million) per month in ticket sales, not to mention lost revenue from gift shop and book sales.

    “The reopening yesterday was a very intense and moving moment,” a Pompidou spokesperson told Artnet News. “The first visitors were warmly welcomed by a round of applause.” The opening also included a memorial service to the late artist Christo, who died in May, before he could see what would have been his final exhibition open to the public.

    “The total attendance yesterday was about 3,000 visitors—not bad,” added the Pompidou’s spokesperson—around 2,000 less than a usual day. The museum estimates it can accommodate around 30 percent of normal visitor levels for the rest of the year, racking up losses of up to €20 million ($22.4 million) by December.

    “The crisis has hit the cultural world very hard,” Laurence des Cars, the head of the Musée d’Orsay, told the Jakarta Post upon its opening at the end of June. The museum usually attracts 15,000 people, but it will be capping attendance at 5,000 per day. “The financial loss is still hard to encompass,” a spokesperson told Artnet News. They expect the losses to be into the dozens millions of euros.

    Exhibition of Christo’s show at Centre Pompidou. Photo: Audrey Laurans.The most hotly anticipated reopening comes on Monday, July 6, when the Louvre opens its doors. The museum’s president Jean-Luc Martinez recently told the New York Times that it had incurred losses of €40 million ($45 million) during the shutdown. Only 70 percent of the galleries will be accessible upon reopening.

    The calculus will continue to evolve as travel restrictions are lifted. “If Europe’s borders with the rest of the world are not opened this summer, we will see an 80 percent drop in visitors,” Martinez told the newspaper two weeks ago. Since then, Europe has lifted bans on Australia, Canada, Japan, Algeria, Georgia, and other countries. American tourists will not be allowed in and Chinese travelers, only provisionally. Martinez estimates it could take three years to get back to normal visitor levels.

    The Only Thing to Count on Is Change

    The experience of walking through museums has certainly changed in France as it heads into what is usually its peak tourist season, but so has the political climate. Museums with colonial-era collections are under the microscope now more than ever. A few weeks ago in Paris, five activists were arrested for seizing a historic African funerary object from the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, saying it had been looted.

    Museums can count on some financial support from the government as they work to adapt and cover financial shortfalls. Several museums would not disclose the exact number they received in support but, since March, the federal government has provided €5 billion ($5.6 billion) in relief to the cultural sector (which includes the media industry as well as the arts).

    Last week, the French government, which has been leading the way beside Germany with relief aid for the creative fields, announced that it would make available another €20 million ($22.5 million) to help the cultural sector reboot with what the French ministry is calling a “Summer of Culture.”

    Aurélie Voltz from Saint-Étienne said that while this year has already been turbulent, 2021 may prove even more difficult. “This year, I think we can make it. We had to change the program around at least 10 times but we managed not to cancel any projects,” she said. Looking ahead, however, she is concerned about a major drop in funding. “When it comes to next year, I am really not sure,” she said. “I am not very positive.”

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  • July 07, 2020 4:44 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Forbes

    There is nothing ordinary about the amount of disruption that will impact our lives moving forward as countries and states reopen following the coronavirus pandemic. In the context of the cloud, disruptions caused by COVID-19 have opened the door to another type of virus: cybersecurity threats. Today we are witnessing a rapid rise of opportunistic cybercriminal activity taking advantage of the chaos created by COVID-19.

    Focal concerns about economic recovery and a potential second wave of human infection are abounding. Still, the concern for many companies should also include heightened cybersecurity threats that can easily break companies before they have a chance to relaunch. For the many companies that are already fighting to remain afloat due to challenges faced during COVID-19, a cybersecurity breach could quickly mean the end. As businesses navigate this “new normal,” they must address weaknesses in their IT strategies exposed by COVID-19 and consider implementing a better preparedness plan to avoid long-term damage. 

    New Workforce Scenarios Expose Gaps

    Remote work has hastily spread everywhere, making IT departments justifiably cautious, even scared, as their users work in new environments with new tools including:

    • Video ConferencesVideo Conferences
    • File SharingFile Sharing
    • Virtual DesktopsVirtual Desktops
    • Group ChatGroup Chat
    • VPNVPN
    • CollaborationCollaboration
    • Web-Based Applications and ToolsWeb-Based Applications and Tools

    Incorrect use or misconfigurations create new cyberthreat opportunities to lurking bad actors. A missed certificate, a wrong setting, insufficient management, or unmanaged user training are all open windows for cybercriminals to sneak through.

    Rapid Rise Of Major Security Incidents During the COVID-19 Crisis 

    The pace of major security incidents will continue to increase in the near future. While not uncommon, an increased frequency of ransomware, breaches, and exploits could be a harbinger of things to come. The month of May, for example, saw a staggering number of security breach reports:

    • A significant data breach at UK airline EasyJet led to the loss of information on more than nine million customers to “highly sophisticated” hackers, including credit card details of more than 2,000 customers. A significant data breach at UK airline EasyJet led to the loss of information on more than nine million customers to “highly sophisticated” hackers, including credit card details of more than 2,000 customers. 
    • The FBI issued a warning about a credit card skimming exploit that takes advantage of a plugin in the thoroughly used e-commerce platform Magento. As many as 1,700 sites may have been affected.The FBI issued a warning about a credit card skimming exploit that takes advantage of a plugin in the thoroughly used e-commerce platform Magento. As many as 1,700 sites may have been affected.
    • Bank of America reported an application data leak on a test server associated with customer Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loansBank of America reported an application data leak on a test server associated with customer Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans
    • Industry reports indicated continued unsecured cloud storage components and security struggles with ever-more complicated clouds. Industry reports indicated continued unsecured cloud storage components and security struggles with ever-more complicated clouds. 
    • report focused on small businesses (SMB) showed how they are facing the same spectrum of security and attack threats as large companies. News of remote takeover vulnerabilities on network-attached storage (NAS) devices to emerging ransomware infections amplify these concerns, with as many as half of all cyberattacks targeting small businesses. report focused on small businesses (SMB) showed how they are facing the same spectrum of security and attack threats as large companies. News of remote takeover vulnerabilities on network-attached storage (NAS) devices to emerging ransomware infections amplify these concerns, with as many as half of all cyberattacks targeting small businesses. 

    An Age of Scams

    Uncertainty, particularly in the early days of the pandemic, has resulted in a media blitz and information overload. Unfortunately, with too much information out there, misinformation, distrust and additional openings are ripe realities for cybercriminals to explore and leverage digital scams, such as: 

    • COVID-19 and Health ScamsCOVID-19 and Health Scams
    • Unemployment ScamsUnemployment Scams
    • Stimulus Fund ScamsStimulus Fund Scams
    • Government Business Loan ScamsGovernment Business Loan Scams
    • Lawsuit ScamsLawsuit Scams
    • Fake Mask ScamsFake Mask Scams

    Uncertain Times Produce Organizational Threats

    The managed chaos of cyber-threats is an everyday reality, but in times of challenge, chaos escalates exponentially. Scammers scale up attacks such as phishing, hoping to trick employees into releasing or transferring funds, improperly changing bank routing information, and installing malicious software. They try to get employees to give up credentials, click on ransomware in emails and more. Hackers know that users are prone to using the same password across multiple logins, which could also lead to breaches across other platforms. 

    This novel climate is a perfect storm for cybercrime activity. Post-COVID-19, businesses cannot afford to be compromised in this fragile world where any resource can serve as an attack source. If there was ever a time for hackers to open their cybercrime toolbox, the time is now. Please stay safe by exercising proper online security hygiene. If you are not sure, or if this is not your company’s competence, this is the time to ask for help from experts.

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  • July 07, 2020 4:13 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Artnet News

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has responded to internal demands for reform by unveiling an institution-wide, 13-point anti-racism and diversity plan.

    “We have learned much in these past weeks and held many important conversations,” director Max Hollein and president and CEO Daniel H. Weiss wrote in a blog post on the museum website. “Today, we are sharing a series of commitments as a next step towards creating a more open, welcoming, and equitable institution.”

    The Met’s new plan includes “new approaches to how we hire, train, support, and retain staff, to how we build, study, and oversee our collection and program, and how we structure our governance and engage our community,” Weiss and Hollein wrote.

    The initiative promised anti-racism training for all staff in the next 180 days (60 days for senior leadership); the hiring of a chief diversity officer within the next four months; an expansion of the museum’s paid internship program to include all interns by 2022; and the creation of a $3 million to $5 million fund “to support initiatives, exhibitions, and acquisitions in the area of diverse art histories.”

    Within the next 12 months, the museum has also promised to “establish specified acquisition endowments with a total value of $10 million to increase the amount of works by BIPOC artists in our 20th- and 21st-century collections.”

    “As the leaders of the Met, we are responsible for the wellbeing of our community, and we are accountable for realizing these commitments,” Hollein and Weiss wrote. “Our efforts, and this list, will not change the museum overnight, but they will move the Met forward in evolving the museum on a path towards greater fairness, opportunity, and service to the public and each other.”

    This plan “addresses many of the demands we have,” For the Culture 2020, an organization dedicated to pushing New York City museums to address systemic racism, said in response to the initiative. “Although we see this as a small victory for our group and museum workers, these commitments must be accompanied by public reports to ensure this is not more lip service, as has been the case when past commitments were made.”

    “If you review pay data for any BIPOC, you will see that we are paid less than a white employee in the same position,” a representative from For the Culture told Artnet News. “Museums must be taken to task for these injustices, which perpetuate the wealth gap in this country.”

    The Met’s plan was released after an anonymous group of museum employees, organized as the Collective Action Working Group, released an open letter to museum leadership on June 26 demanding institutional changes.

    In the letter, the group said its members have “personally experienced dismissal, silencing, or erasure by speaking up about structural racism and/or individual racial, accessibility, gender, and sexual bias,” despite the museum having developed a formal diversity and inclusion strategy in 2017.

    Some 150 current and former Met employees are among the 900 signatories from local institutions have signed For the Culture’s open letter “to express our outrage and discontent of consistent exploitation and unfair treatment of Black/Brown people at these cultural institutions.”

    “During this time of racial reckoning, these cultural institutions offered performative allyship with tone-deaf messaging,” said For the Culture. “The blatant hypocrisy of leadership from these institutions of claiming #blacklivesmatter but oppressing and silencing their BIPOC employees made it impossible to not call them out on it.”

    One employee, Xiaoxi Chen Laurent, who was hired as an exhibition designer and worked on blockbusters such as “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” and “Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera” alleged publicly that she was mistreated by the museum.

    “I’ve completed over 20 projects, including the museum’s largest and most publicized shows, but was always kept on a precarious contract with no job security,” Chen Laurent wrote on Instagram. “I was passed over three times for a full-time position by a white candidate with either less design or museum experience.”

    Chen Laurent says that her contract is not being renewed, but that a new full-time exhibition designer, who is white, and has “little or no museum experience,” she said, is starting this week.

    “We’ve seen this before, time and time again. The practice of hiring a less experienced white person simply maintains the status quo and the white supremacy ideals these institutions were founded upon,” said For the Culture, praising Chen Laurent’s bravery in speaking out. “That is the exact opposite of the Met’s new so-called commitment to diversity.”

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  • July 07, 2020 4:09 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from BBC News

    A Russian hacking group is launching ransomware attacks against a number of US companies, targeting employees who are working from home due to Covid-19.

    Evil Corp hackers have tried to access at least 31 organisations' networks in order to cripple systems and demand millions of dollars in ransom.

    The group's two alleged leaders were indicted by the US Justice Department in December 2019.

    There are concerns that US voting systems could also be targeted.

    Last year, US authorities filed charges against Evil Corp's alleged leaders Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, accusing them of using malware to steal millions of dollars from groups including schools and religious organisations in over 40 countries.

    Officials announced a $5m reward for information leading to their arrest, which they said was the largest amount ever offered for a cyber criminal. Both men are still at large.

    The threat comes as the majority of Americans have been working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic - 62% according to a Gallup poll.

    The US presidential election is also just months away, and federal and local officials have been working to put measures in place to protect voter records as well as manage safe voting practices amid the pandemic.

    What do we know about the attack?

    Symantec Corporation, a firm that monitors corporate and government networks released a notice warning of the threat it identified on Thursday night.

    The attacks used what Symantec described as a relatively new type of ransomware called WastedLocker, which has been attributed to Evil Corp. Ransomware are computer viruses that threaten to delete files unless the ransom is paid. The WastedLocker ransomware virus demands ransoms of $500,000 to $1m to unlock computer files it seizes. 

    Symantec said the "vast majority of targets are major corporations, including many household names", and eight targets were Fortune 500 companies. All are US-owned but one, which is a US-based subsidiary.

    Most targeted companies were in the manufacturing, information technology and media sectors.

    Symantec said the hackers had breached the networks of these companies and were "laying the groundwork" for future ransomware attacks that would let them block access to data and demand millions of dollars.

    Symantec technical director Eric Chien told the New York Times the hackers take advantage of employees now using virtual private networks (VPNs) to access work systems.

    They use VPNs to identify which company a user works for, and then infect the user's computer when they visit a public or commercial site. When the user next connects to their employer's system, the hackers can attack.

    What's the context?

    There have been a number of recent cyber-attacks on local governments across the US.

    Cities and towns in Louisiana, Oregon, Maryland, Georgia, Texas and Florida were hit by ransomware attacks last year. 

    The Department of Homeland Security is looking into safeguarding voter registration databases ahead of November 3's general election. In February, the agency's head of cyber-security said this was a key election security concern.

    These attacks by foreign cyber-criminals are far from a new threat.

    During the impeachment inquiry last year, former White House security adviser and Russia expert Fiona Hill testified that "Russia's security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election".

    In 2018, the justice department charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 US elections, using spear phishing emails and malicious software. 

    The hackers also stole data on half a million voters from a state election board site. Moscow has said there is no evidence linking the 12 to military intelligence or hacking.

    See Original Post

  • July 07, 2020 4:05 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management Magazine

    Imagine this scenario: You apply for your dream corporate security job, a senior leadership position at a reputable company. You’re confident. You have more than a dec­ade’s worth of security management experience, plus an impressive array of degrees and certifications.

    You get to the final stage of the hiring process, and HR informs you that you are one step away from an offer. All you need to do is answer one question within 30 seconds: Find the next number in the sequence: 2, 7, 28, 63, 126, ___.

    Did your heart just skip a beat? Wel­come to the new world of hiring, in which assessments matter and objective reviews of prospective candidates rule over subjective evaluations and opinions.

    Until recently, attempts to move up the corporate ladder into a senior management role as a security professional were typically very competitive but straightforward. Often, they followed a four-stage process: learn about the job opening, submit a detailed résumé and cover letter, participate in interviews with HR and the hiring manager, and receive a job offer, if selected.

    Arguably, some senior security roles were filled based more on who you know rather than what you know, so references and recommendations could also be crucial.

    But the world has changed, and few reputable companies still use the old format. Many have added more difficult steps, including challenging personality and cognitive ability assessments, which can catch even the most competent security professional off guard.

    Why the Assessments?

    In terms of qualifications, many of today’s organizations want their senior security leaders to have executive presence, proven leadership skills, and the aptitude to manage people, programs, and budgets as efficiently and effectively as the leaders in every other department of the company.

    But now, a candidate’s performance on a formal assessment is another component to be evaluated during the hiring process. In general, an employer will give more weight to the results of formal assessments if the organization is hiring someone to actively lead change across the entire enterprise, rather than a caretaker manager who will mainly keep watch over the security department.

    In part, this is because change agent managers will be working in a dynamic and sometimes tumultuous environment, and assessments can help measure if applicants can think on their feet and meet unexpected challenges. Employers do not want to hire someone who has topped out at their current level and who does not have the motivation to excel in a more demanding role. Nor do they want someone who cannot handle stress and accept feedback or who does not collaborate well with others.

    A major reason that applicants for senior roles face more challenges is because human resource leaders know that about 80 percent of hiring mistakes are due to “inaccurate” interviews—interviews that failed to effectively assess if the candidate would be a good fit for the position. In addition, training and research firm Leadership IQ found that 46 percent of all new hires fail within 18 months.

    As a result, human resource professionals have turned to assessments to provide more key data points. Not scoring well on these assessments, in contrast to the candidate’s professional accomplishments, will send a mixed signal that applicants want to avoid. But high assessment scores, complemented by an impressive résumé and strong interviews, will offer further confirmation that the applicant is the right person for the job.

    Hurdles in the New Hiring

    To identify the right candidate for hire, many companies have expanded the previously mentioned straightforward four-stage system into a longer and more grueling process. This expanded hiring process varies depending on the organization and role, but if an applicant prepares for the worst-case scenario, a process with fewer stages will only be easier.

    This new formula starts with the traditional, easily prepared for interviews. But later in the process lies a potentially fatal trap, which will bring an unprepared applicant’s journey to an abrupt halt with no second chance. The trap consists of a battery of assessment tests that the candidate must perform well on to proceed.

    Regardless, the initial interview stages of many hiring processes often include a screening interview with a gatekeeper from human resources. This is usually followed by interviews with the hiring manager and the candidate’s potential peers. Many companies use formal interview protocols with specific questions that can be scored, although some still use conversational interviews and subjective grading.

    The middle stages of the hiring pro­cess often include interviews with senior leaders, such as the general counsel and other key executives. After this middle stage, but before the final stage, the candidate is sometimes invited to take an array of online assessments and discuss the results with a psychologist.

    This is a critical step. For the applicant, the good news here is that simply making it to this stage indicates strong interest, since the company is willing to pay for third-party assessments. The bad news is that failure to perform average to above-average on the assessments will end the process altogether.

    One important disclaimer: applicants should know that while surviving the assessment stage usually means they have cleared all major hurdles, this will not hold if they have lied on their résumé or about their accomplishments. Many companies have a final process stage, and discovering false representations in it can cause issues. This last stage often includes providing professional references, including ones from supervisors, peers, and direct reports, as well as reviews of your job history, criminal record, and credit report.

    Another recent change here is that many companies no longer request generic professional references from people who can attest that the applicant is a great person, but who cannot provide specific examples that confirm accomplishments stated on the résumé, nor specifically attest as to why the applicant would do well in the prospective job.

    If it seems possible that the résumé and interview answers could crumple under scrutiny during targeted interviews with references, the applicant should take the time to ensure accuracy before applying. Common problem areas here include misrepresented or exaggerated numbers of direct reports, overstated numbers in budgets managed, or taking direct credit for an accomplishment that should seemingly be easy for a reference to confirm, but the reference cannot. Here, the general rule is to make sure that all embellishments are avoided.

    Another potential area of concern is a candidate’s online presence. Social media and LinkedIn profiles should align with the candidate’s résumé to minimize the possibility of misunderstandings. One of the quickest ways to get ghosted is when an HR professional discovers a misrepresentation within the applicant’s social media presence.

    In sum, the days of simply believing an applicant’s résumé and making a hiring decision based on a strong interview and intuition are over. But just knowing the new landscape and giving oneself time to prepare is likely to give the applicant a tactical advantage.

    Assessment Specifics: What to Expect

    Personality assessments do not evaluate experience, education, technical knowledge, or accomplishments. What they do measure are personality traits that influence how a candidate thinks, feels, and acts. They are also designed to assess cognitive skills and abilities that influence learning, problem solving, and decision making. Taken as a whole, these assessments are part of the employer’s strategy of identifying the right candidate and avoiding a bad hiring decision.

    Companies often use more than one survey to assess different aspects of the candidate’s personality and cognitive abilities. Some of the test questions will overlap, but this allows the tester to look at trends across surveys, which can provide a more accurate picture of the candidate. Overall, these tests are scored based on the number of right and wrong answers, and the overall results are compared with a large candidate norm group.

    In practical terms, the assessments are usually divided into two groups—
    timed tests and untimed tests. The timed tests typically allow five to 20 minutes for completion, and they focus on verbal comprehension and reasoning, as well as numerical ability and reasoning. The tests cover both verbal and math exercises, which are excellent predictors of analytical and problem-solving skills, offering multiple opportunities for a candidate to demonstrate skill. They can also be considered critical thinking tests, which look at a candidate’s ability to correctly infer, recognize assumptions, evaluate arguments, make deductions, and come to well-reasoned conclusions.

    In general, verbal tests assess a candidate’s ability to comprehend written passages. While it is possible that a numerical reasoning test could involve complex math, it is more likely that the numerical exercises for a sec­urity leadership position will focus on evaluating numerical information, understanding patterns and trends in data, and making sensible conclusions and judgments.

    The untimed tests are usually intended to take between 15 and 30 minutes to complete. It is critical for candidates to not rush through these assessments; they should assume that every answer matters. If time allows, candidates may want to go back over all the questions multiple times to catch any obvious mistakes in their initial responses. Some applicants may wonder why they must answer questions about fractions and parallelograms, which seem unrelated to security, but there is a method to the madness, so it is best to stay positive.

    The untimed tests may include questions from established assessment tools such as Critical Thinking Appraisals (also known as Watson-Glaser), Leadership Personality Tests (such as those used in Wealth Dynamics, John Maxwell, DISC profile, and Strength Finder tests), the Hogan Development Survey, and various personality assessments—such as the Personality Research Form, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Winslow, Holtzman, Hexaco, and the Neo Pi-R test.

    At many companies, the candidate will meet with a psychologist after completing the tests. These sessions will often feature open-ended questions by the psychologist, which are designed to assess how candidates see themselves, and how they think others see them. The way candidates articulate how they view themselves in their own words helps the experts interpret the survey data more accurately. To ensure accuracy, most companies require the testing vendor to have two different psychology professionals review the results.

    Preparation

    How to prepare for the assessments? Those administering the aforementioned tests often give generic preparation advice, like to get plenty of rest, take the tests somewhere free of distractions, and break up the tests into multiple sessions if possible. They will also encourage the candidate to answer all personality questions honestly and candidly, assuring that there are no wrong or right answers.

    That is sound advice, but more can be done. It’s generally a safe assumption that fulfilling day-to-day responsibilities in the candidate’s current security position will not serve as adequate preparation for many of the assessment subjects. Thus, it is not advisable for applicants to take the tests cold. The bottom line is that assessments in some form are now part of the process and need to be taken seriously. Applicants should spend as much time preparing for assessments as they would creating a résumé and preparing for interviews.

    The number one way to prepare for the assessments is to practice answering similar questions. If a candidate’s HR contact does not volunteer the actual names of the timed assessment tests, the candidate can request the names of the tests in advance. Then through online research, practice tests can be found and taken.

    Internet searches will yield both free practice tests and tests that are offered for a fee. There are numerous smartphone apps available; Pocket Aptitude, for instance, has sample questions and answers for 24 different categories that represent content on various quantitative aptitude exams.

    One suggested option is to treat the IQ and personality apps like games, and by enjoying them just a few minutes per day, a candidate will increase his or her skills. This preparation should be treated like a marathon, not a sprint; over time, each aptitude skill added to the toolbox will make the professional more competitive.

    Let’s look at some sample questions to give potential candidates a better idea of what they might come across in an actual test.

    Questions

    1. Find the next number: 2, 7, 28, 63, 126, ___.

    2. You bought 10 pencils for $5 and sold them for $6. What is your percentage gain?

    3. Anne is 5 years older than Brian who is 4 years older than Charlie. The sum of their ages is 61. How old is Brian?

    4. How would you answer the following true or false questions?

    a. I am easily irritated.
    b. I am afraid of what awaits me in the future.
    c. I get nervous talking to people I don’t know.
    d. I find it hard to trust people.

    5. How would you answer the following true or false questions?

    a. I usually believe what people tell me.
    b. I am always honest.
    c. Trusting someone comes easily to me.
    d. I have no reason to doubt people who tell me something.

    6. I enjoy making detailed plans.

    Choose: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree.

    7. My goals in life are clear.

    Choose: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree.

    8. I don’t like unexpected responsibilities.

    Choose: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree.

    Answers and Feedback

    1. 215. The sequence is 13+1, 23–1, 33+1, 43–1, 53+1, 63–1. Notice that the increase starts slow, then increases sharply. This is a clue that it is an exponential increase.

    2. 20 percent. This can be arrived at through straightforward calculation.

    3. 20 years old. This can be arrived at through straightforward calculation.

    4. If you answered mostly true, you may score highly for having apprehensive, fearful, and nervous personality traits. An employer may avoid candidates deemed too apprehensive, or who cannot handle pressure. Strong candidates show they can effectively manage workplace anxiety and demonstrate resilience and emotional stability.

    The question also raises another point relevant to preparation. Some applicants try to answer based on what they think the employer wants to hear, and not based on the most accurate reflection of their true personality. However, true or false questions often do not capture shades of gray, so the test-taker may be confused as to which answer is most representative.

    To address this issue, an applicant can take practice tests that provide feedback. Keeping an open mind will be educational in how nuanced human traits can be best expressed through multiple choice answers.

    For example, let’s say an applicant is confident but not arrogant. Very little bothers her, but she does have a few pet peeves. By taking practice tests, the applicant will learn what combination of answers best projects who she is as a person, even if it does so imperfectly.

    5. These are testing for trust. Those who project low levels of trust and struggle to receive information as accurate are often perceived as weak candidates. In contrast, strong candidates come across as trusting but cautious. The ability to show a certain level of respect and trust in what someone has said or done is key to managing a healthy work environment. It is a safe assumption that one will be tested on trust for a security leadership role, so taking sample tests on this topic is advisable.

    Moreover, trust is a two-way street. A candidate should pay attention during interviews to gauge the way trust is perceived, and the extent to which company’s leaders trust information they obtain from others. This can provide clues about the company’s culture. Remember, an applicant being interviewed is simultaneously interviewing the employer too, and the process provides the candidate with subjective and objective data to make an informed decision.

    6 through 8. These types of personality assessment questions focus on suitability for role, and employers can choose from more than 30 scales to compare the applicant’s results to the profile they desire.

    Two popular scales for security professional leadership positions are ones on confidence and achievement drive. With the former, the questions measure confidence in one’s own ability to succeed. Generally, self-confidence is an important indicator for success as a security professional, whereas a lack of confidence makes one less suitable for a security role.

    Because personality tests are given after the interviews, the interviews themselves—especially with individuals in the chain of command—may be used to assess company leaders’ confidence levels. This is usually a good indicator of what those leaders consider unsuitable, suitable, and very suitable in terms of confidence level, and it is another good indicator of company culture.

    The latter scale, achievement drive, assumes hiring managers are interested in applicants who have an ambition to excel in what they do. Suitable and very suitable candidates will come across as professionals with inner drive who will do their best to achieve goals and positive outcomes.

    The trick with both scales is how to convey confidence and a high-achiever mind-set without coming across as extreme, like someone who would knock down anyone who seems to be standing in their path. If an applicant chooses “strongly disagree” or “strongly agree” to virtually all of these types of personality questions, their score may suggest unsuitability for the security leadership role. Again, taking a few practice personality tests online will provide insights on how to best align your answers with your personality.

    Be Lincolnesque

    When Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare and someday my chance will come,” he likely was not foreshadowing how a qualified security professional could achieve his or her dream job. Still, his words remind us that there is no time like the present to prepare for future opportunities.

    A security applicant interacting with a prospective employer would be wise to assume that every step of the interaction is specifically designed to help HR and the hiring manager answer these questions: Can the candidate do the job? Will the candidate do the job? And how will the candidate do the job? Assessments help answer these questions, and so they are now commonly part of the professional advancement journey.

    Let’s say that you succeeded in securing that dream job, and one of your duties will be to serve as a hiring security manager. Keep an open mind about using personality assessments as a valid data point in your next hiring decision.

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  • July 07, 2020 3:59 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Tech Republic

    Smart security teams have updated incident response plans in place before a security breach happens.

    Companies that don't take the time to develop a security incident response plan pay a high price when the inevitable breach happens. 

    According to IBM, organizations with incident response teams and plans spend about $1.2 million less on data breaches than companies without preparations in place. 

    However, in IBM's recent report "The 2020 Cyber Resilient Organization Study," the company found that about 51% of companies have only an informal response plan that is often applied inconsistently.

    Building an incident response plan and testing it is an investment of time and effort that will reduce stress and costs. 

    What to include in a incident response plan

    IBM security experts recommend that security teams take time to understand the top threats in their industries and prepare detailed response plans to a specific kind of attack.

    Establishing a clear communication strategy is a must for any incident response policy. Daniel Eliot, director of education and strategic initiatives at the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), said clear and comprehensive communication should be a top priority during all security breaches.
     
    "Without a clearly articulated chain of command and both an internal and external communications strategy that brings all the right people to the table, the quality of the response gets diminished," he said.

    Jerry Ray, chief operations officer at SecureAge, said incident response plans need to take into account how to allocate resources depending on the criticality of the infrastructure components affected by the breach. This could mean prioritizing immediate remediation of the attack or restoration of a mission critical server or forensic analysis of the mechanism of the attack. 

    "The order and allocation will be entirely dependent on the attack vector, the system(s) attacked, the data exfiltrated, the IT staff available either in-house or on contract, and the general industry or business line of the victim," he said.

    Prepare for the aftermath

    Often incident response policies focus on what to do before and during a breach, but it should also include steps for what to do after an incident.

    For example, Eliot said that documentation often gets neglected in the aftermath of a breach/.

    "Document the lessons learned, and then develop and implement a strategy to reinforce these learnings across the enterprise," he said. "If you don't learn from your mistakes, you're bound to repeat them."

    Eliot said companies recovering from a security breach should answer these questions:

    • What went wrong in our response? 
    • What went right in our response? 
    • How can we reduce the chances of this happening again? 

    Ray added that another important follow-up task is to do a total review of all the tools, policies, and settings within the system that suffered the breach. 

    "Typically, the single point of failure is somehow revisited and shored up or patched as if that was the only weakness," he said. "In reality, the entire security blanket needs to be unwoven, as the ineffective components may have led to or created that point of vulnerability, which on its own may not have been vulnerable."

    Eliot also recommended that IT teams loop in legal counsel after an attack to understand any applicable reporting and notification responsibilities under national and international data breach laws.

    TechRepublic Premium's Incident response policy will help your company set a plan for immediate action as well as develop follow-up tasks after a security breach. The policy includes guidance on assembling a response team and the responsibilities of every person on that team.

    This Incident response policy gives you a comprehensive start on a plan and allows you to customize it to fit your company's particular needs.

    See Original Post

  • July 07, 2020 3:53 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The New York Times

    On any given day, somewhere in the United States, someone is going to wake up, leave the house and get in a huge argument with a stranger about wearing masks.

    Grocery store managers are training staff on how to handle screaming customers. Fistfights are breaking out at convenience stores. Some restaurants even say they’d rather close than face the wrath of various Americans who believe that masks, which help prevent the spread of coronavirus, impinge on their freedom.

    Joe Rogers, 47, a resident of Dallas, said that just last week, he had gotten in a physical fight over masks.

    In line at a Mini-Mart, he spotted a customer behind him not wearing a mask, he said, and he shook his head. The man asked why Mr. Rogers had been looking at him and Mr. Rogers, again, shook his head.

    “I wear a full face guard, the mask that they use when they spray pesticides,” he said. “He reached for my mask and tried to pull it off.” Mr. Rogers said his “natural instinct” came out and he put his hand up and knocked the man to the floor.

    In Dallas, beginning June 19, businesses were required to ensure customers and staff wore masks. Mr. Rogers said that though he had not hit another person in “a decade or so” this was not the first altercation he’d had over masks.

    “I’ve already been in several,” he said. “I’ve been in shouting matches with people at CVS. People just don’t understand it. If everyone just wore a mask, this would be over.”

    Mr. Rogers’s brother, Jason Rogers, a Democratic candidate in Texas’ 57th House District, said that he was aware of the confrontation and expressed support for his brother. “This is Texas, you know,” he said. “Stand your ground.”

    Masks were already a political flash point, and months of mixed messages about their usefulness have contributed to the confusion. Now, they’re also fodder for viral videos.

    A surge of reported cases of coronavirus in states like California, Texas and Florida has led authorities in those states to issue new guidance on masks. Evidence suggests masks can help prevent transmission of the virus even when worn by seemingly healthy people.

    Early in the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several times that those without symptoms did not have to wear masks. On April 3, the agency shifted, saying that masks should be worn in public.

    But President Trump, announcing the new guidance, said, “Somehow, I don’t see it for myself” and has continued to appear in public without a mask. On Sunday, after months of shunning a mask himself, Vice President Mike Pence urged Americans to wear them.

    Orders regarding masks that carry the force of law have been left to individual states. And in states where altercations over masks have been reported, those orders have recently changed.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom of California ordered the mandatory wearing of masks in public on June 18. A little more than a week later, Hugo’s Tacos, a taqueria with two locations in the Los Angeles area, announced that it would close temporarily because its staff was “exhausted by the constant conflicts over guests refusing to wear masks.”

    The chief executive of Hugo’s, Bill Kohne, said that it was only in the last few weeks that the encounters had become so vitriolic. His staff had been confronted with racist language, he said, and he was concerned for their safety. Recently, one of Mr. Kohne’s facility managers supervising one of the storefronts observed five confrontations over masks in a single hour.

    “The one that we most viscerally remember is that a customer at the pickup window who was asked to wear a mask literally threw a cup of water through the window at the clerk,” Mr. Kohne said.

    He provided The New York Times with an email from a customer that he said was representative of many customers’ attitudes.

    “Why is it the responsibility of a taco stand to dictate to its customers a personal freedom of choosing to wear or not wear a mask!” it said, concluding: “Go to hell taco man. Close permanently! Do us all a favor!”

    (The person who sent the email did not respond to a request for comment from The Times.)

    Public fights over masks have occurred with extraordinary frequency, service workers say, and far exceed the large number of those already captured by smartphones in viral videos.

    Confrontations are taking place even in states that have been more consistent in guidance about masks. Massachusetts required that residents wear masks in grocery stores starting in early May. Still, Alli Milliken, 20, who returned to her job at a grocery store chain in the state several weeks ago, has already seen a conflict. She said that recently a customer wearing a mask called out another customer who was not.

    “The unmasked guy shrugged at him and was like, ‘It’s a free country. The virus isn’t real. I can do what I want,’” Ms. Milliken said. “The masked guy then says, ‘I work in a hospital. I’ll be seeing you soon, buddy.’”

    Ms. Milliken said that she had not been given any training or direct instruction on de-escalating conflict between customers.

    “I don’t know how to go about saying, ‘Oh you should be wearing a mask,’” she said. “I don’t know what my place is.”

    The conflicts over masks have been particularly difficult for essential workers, who have been working long shifts and dealing with frazzled and frenzied customers throughout the pandemic.

    Londyn Robinson, 26, a medical student in Minnesota, said that her mother, a manager at a big box store in South Florida, was now having to instruct her staff on how to defuse tense situations, along with working long shifts and sanitizing the store.

    “I never in a million years would have thought that working in a grocery store would have been considered a high-risk job,” she said. “It breaks my heart.”

    Ms. Robinson’s mother, who asked to be kept anonymous for fear of losing her job, said that in the last two to three weeks, fights over masks had become astonishingly frequent. It was not uncommon for the police to be called to her store three to four times a day, she said.

    “We’ve had shoppers go after each other,” she said. “Pushing matches, running carts into each other, running over people’s feet, ankles.”

    She said that many of the staff members she supervised were already working 12 to 14 hour days and had been doing so since March. (There were physical conflicts with shoppers then, too; Ms. Robinson’s mother said she was slapped in the back of a neck by a customer who was frustrated that the store had run out of toilet paper.)

    Even offering masks to customers did not work, she said: “They’ll outright decline or they’ll show you a fraudulent card that says, ‘You can’t ask me to do this.’”

    The fighting between customers creates a tension that does not dissipate once the altercation has ended, she said. She no longer feels comfortable walking to her car alone after the store closes, concerned that an aggravated customer may be waiting for her there.

    “Now we go two to three employees at a time,” she said.

    In Florida, where cases of the virus have been rising rapidly, the state had not issued any official rules on masks as of Tuesday morning, leaving the decision in the hands of counties, localities and small businesses. (The state’s department of health issued a public advisory on June 20 recommending masks.)

    Chris McArthur runs Black and Brew coffee in Lakeland, Fla., which is in a county where Mr. Trump won 55 percent of the vote in 2016. Mr. McArthur decided on Monday to begin requiring customers to wear masks at the business’s two locations.

    “We had actually been mulling it over for a couple of weeks,” he said. “We were hoping that our city commission would pass an ordinance that would require it locally. Our fear was that if we went out on a limb, because it wasn’t the norm, we would receive a lot of backlash from our customers.”

    Still, Mr. McArthur made the decision. “We felt like if we did that, other businesses might follow our lead and our customers might appreciate the extra precautionary measures that we were taking,” he said.

    He said that he hoped that conflicts would not arise. But he expects them to, and has coached staff on how to respond. If a customer becomes belligerent, he said, “We would have to call the nonemergency line and hope that the police are available to come help us out.”

    See Original Post

  • June 30, 2020 3:36 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the Gothamist

    The Metropolitan Museum Of Art and The New-York Historical Society both announced today that they are planning to reopen in August, making them the first major museums in New York City to announce reopening plans since the coronavirus shutdowns began.

    The Met is planning to reopen on August 29th with new social distancing guidelines in place, which will be revealed closer to the reopen date.

    “The safety of our staff and visitors remains our greatest concern," said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met. "We are eagerly awaiting our reopening as, perhaps now more than ever, the Museum can serve as a reminder of the power of the human spirit and the capacity of art to bring comfort, inspire resilience, and help us better understand each other and the world around us.” 

    The Met Cloisters in Washington Heights is also planning to reopen shortly after the main branch; The Met Breuer on the Upper East Side will not be reopening however, and the space will be taken over by the Frick Collection.

    The Met is expected to reopen with shorter hours and fewer days per week, and all tours, talks, concerts, and events will be canceled through the rest of 2020. They hope to resume all those activities in 2021, including the Met Gala, which has been officially canceled for 2020; and they plan to have a belated celebration of the institution's 150th anniversary next year as well.

    When visits do resume, the museum has a few exhibits it's planning to debut, including: Making The Met, 1870-2020, the signature exhibition of the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration; The Roof Garden Commission: Héctor Zamora, Lattice Detour, the latest in a series of annual presentations of a site-specific work on the open-aired roof garden; and The Costume Institute’s About Time: Fashion and Duration exhibition, which was going to be the theme of this year's Met Gala, is scheduled to open on October 29th, 2020.

    The Met, which officially closed on March 13th, has projected at least a $100 million loss in revenue because of the pandemic and the shutdown (and that figure was based on estimates that the museum would be able to reopen in July). As a result, it has laid off 81 staff members so far.

    Before COVID-19, The Met had previously closed for two days on only two occasions: after 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.

    The New-York Historical Society is planning to reopen in stages starting August 14th, pending approval from officials. They will start with a special free outdoor exhibition called Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine, which documents the experiences of New Yorkers during the height of the pandemic.

    Curated by writer Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman, the exhibit features more than 50 photographs taken by Hickman along with 12 audio interviews with the photographs’ subjects conducted by Powell and his team between April 8th and 9th. It will take place outdoors in New-York Historical’s rear courtyard; admission will be free, but access will be limited and face coverings will be required for entry, with social distancing enforced through timed-entry tickets and on-site safety measures.

    Then on September 11th, the museum plans to reopen indoors with safety protocols for visitors and staff. “We are eager to welcome visitors back to the New-York Historical Society,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “While so much has changed over the past several months, our mission of ‘Making History Matter’ remains vital, now more than ever before.”

    More details about the reopening protocols will be announced soon. The museum, which also closed to the public on March 13th, has been collecting items from the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests in the city in recent months.

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