White Supremacist Groups Planned To Use Coronavirus As A Bioweapon


A weekly intelligence brief distributed in February showed white supremacist organizations have discussed plans to weaponize coronavirus through saliva and other methods.

According to BET, federal investigators appeared to be monitoring white nationalists’ communications on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app that has become popular with neo-Nazis. The conversations pointed to white supremacists targeting law enforcement and “nonwhite” people with attacks designed to infect them with the coronavirus.

“Violent extremists continue to make bioterrorism a popular topic among themselves,” the intelligence brief written by the Federal Protective Service stated. “White Racially Motivated Violent Extremists have recently commented on the coronavirus stating that it is an ‘OBLIGATION’ to spread it should any of them contract the virus.”

An intelligence briefing marked for official use only, noted white supremacists have “suggested targeting … law enforcement and minority communities, with some mention of public places in general.”

According to the document, the extremists discussed a number of methods for coronavirus attacks. They included spending time in public with perceived enemies, leaving “saliva on door handles” at local FBI offices and spreading coronavirus germs in “nonwhite neighborhoods.”

The briefing also showed that white supremacist organizations were taking the threat of coronavirus seriously when some in government were downplaying the threat as a hoax.

“There is a big concern right now — including from people who work in counterterrorism — that it’s an opportune time for these accelerationist groups to strike,” said Nick Martin, the editor of the Informant, a newsletter focused on hate and extremist groups told Yahoo News.

Martin added a growing number of white supremacists have also expressed interest in “accelerationism,” which involves advocating for extremist attacks with the express goal of provoking a larger societal conflict.

Last year, there was a significant rise in the number of fake profiles on social media acting as African Americans in a disinformation effort to prop up Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. The coronavirus outbreak has already affected minorities as jobs and hours are being cut in response to the virus.

Republicans Are Pushing for $1,200 Coronavirus Checks. Do You Qualify?

coronavirus checks

During his two-year presidential run, Andrew Yang warned the country about the inevitable automation evolution that would put thousands of Americans out of work. He called for a universal basic income (UBI) policy that would provide adults over 18 with a $1,000 monthly government check. His Freedom Dividend proposal, however, was dismissed by Republicans critics as radical and unrealistic.

Now, just weeks after Yang dropped out the Democratic primary race, his vision to send Americans direct cash payments will likely become a reality.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled a plan to mail checks to Americans to offset the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal, which was announced days after the White House contacted Yang to help design a plan to give Americans free cash, is part of a larger $1.2 trillion stimulus package. Under the proposal, certain individuals would receive a check of up to $1,200 in a one-time payment based on their income. However, wealthier Americans and poor people would not be as fortunate.

Here’s a breakdown of the GOP proposal:

  • Individuals earning up to $75,000 a year would be eligible for a $1,200 check from the federal government.
  • Married couples who file their taxes jointly and make less than $150,000 would receive $2,400.
  • For individuals who earn more than $75,000, the sum of their payment would fall by $5 for each $100 earned over $75,000.
  • Individuals with little or no tax liability, but at least $2,500 in qualifying income, would receive a minimum of $600 in payment.
  • Married couples with little or no income tax liability would receive a minimum of $1,200.
  • The payment would phase out entirely for individuals making more than $99,000 annually. As a result, they would not get any money from the government.
  • For married couples earning more than $150,000, the payment would also decline gradually, and it would phase out completely for couples making more than $198,000.
  • Individuals and couples with children would be eligible for an additional $500 per each child.

Decisions about who qualifies for the checks would be based on 2018 tax returns, according to the proposal.

The Trump administration aims to start distributing checks within two weeks of signing the stimulus measure into law. Qualifying Americans would likely be able to receive a check by direct deposit or in the mail.

“These recommendations would blunt the impact for most Americans and limit the damage to the U.S. economy,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. “These recommendations won’t be the end of the congressional response to the coronavirus.”




A NYC Sex Work Exhibit Aims To Shatter Stigma Around The World’s Oldest Profession

The colorful pop-up museum, located in Greenwich Village, aims to reframe dialogue around sex work and advocate for its practitioners.

R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Involving New Accuser

Federal prosecutors say even more charges against the alleged serial sexual abuser and disgraced R&B singer are upcoming.

Report: U.S. Right-Wing Extremists Killed 330 People In Last Decade

A new Anti-Defamation League report also finds that an anti-Latino massacre at a Walmart made 2019 the sixth-deadliest for extremist-related violence since 1970.

NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson Dies At Age 101

Her calculations helped the first American to orbit the Earth and inspired the movie “Hidden Figures.”

3 Things to Never Ask a Military Veteran in the Workplace


Veterans Law Attorney cites critical questions to avoid when interviewing a military veteran for hire—and engaging with those already on-staff—to avoid legal landmines and foster military-friendly employer status

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in August 2019 the 3.4% veteran unemployment rate represented the 12th consecutive month this metric was lower than the non-veteran unemployment rate (at 3.6%)—an indication that the hiring of veterans is going strong. Considering NCSL.org estimates that there are 18.8 million veterans living in America today, representing 7.6% of the country’s population, this is a robust, trained and skilled employee pool that can make a significant impact on U.S. industry and, in turn, the global economy at large.

However, while the copious benefits of hiring military vets have been well-reported and it appears U.S. employers are taking heed, there are a number of critical considerations business owners and managers must keep top-of-mind—and impart to their staffers—relative to what’s considered inappropriate dialogue with a person who has served in the military. There are also legal landmines to avoid when interviewing a veteran for any kind of employment opportunity, whether full or part-time, contract, freelance, or any other.

What not to ask veterans in the workplace

According to retired Army Lt. Col. John Berry of Berry Law Firm, you can improve your veteran hiring and retention by making small changes to your interview process. Berry, whose law firm became the first to ever receive the Department of Labor’s HIREVets Platinum Medallion, has filled his staff with veterans by following a few simple rules. Among them is a list of questions to NEVER ask, including:

  • Do you have PTSD? – First, in an interview situation, it’s illegal to ask this mental health question before a job offer has been made under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and even after unless certain conditions are met. So, avoid this line of questioning (even after a hiring decision has been made) or risk exposing the company to legal repercussions. Second, it’s just disrespectful. The veteran will likely think they’re being stigmatized and labeled as “damaged goods” in some way or regarded as a stereotypical “unstable veteran,” which will make it difficult to establish trust, a healthy rapport and a sustainable professional relationship ongoing.
  • Have you ever killed anyone? – Most veterans who served in combat don’t want to discuss the details of their military service with a civilian, whether it be a boss or workplace counterpart. This question can be offensive, disconcerting, or generally uncomfortable to the veteran who did, in fact, have to take a life in the defense of his or her country—and can be equally objectionable for veterans who made many sacrifices but did not have to take the life of another. The notion of taking another human being’s life in the line of duty is a highly sensitive and emotion-evoking topic that demands the utmost courtesy of privacy.
  • Have you ever been shot? – While the veteran may not have a current disability from an injury, you don’t want to take the chance of touching on what could be deep-seated emotional wounds and traumatic memories of physical distress that may have been difficult to come to terms with. Furthermore, the veteran who was not in combat is likely proud of his or her accomplishments in the military, and, whether or not they’ve engaged in gunfire and/or been hit, may perceive the comment as belittling.

In a DiversityInc.com workplace article, Army veteran Ryan Kules stated, “Far too often, people assume a level of familiarity with former military that not only breaches proper office conduct but also invades one’s ‘personal space’.” With that in mind, according to a Military.com article, here are a few other things one should avoid asking military veterans in a job interview or any other form of conversation:

  • Is it hard to get back to real life after being in the military?
  • How could you leave your family for so long?
  • What’s the worst thing that happened to you?
  • Were you raped?

What to keep in mind 

There are also a few key concerns owners and managers should bear in mind when managing veterans who are already on the payroll as formal hires. According to Berry, here are top-line things to avoid:

  • Don’t make combat references or analogies. It’s bad form to tell a veteran that dealing with a competitor or other professional foe is like “hand-to-hand combat” or that you’re taking “friendly fire.” Relating these kinds of serious phrases in the mind and heart of a veteran to civilian experiences can be distasteful at best and even deemed utterly reprehensible.
  • Don’t make fun of any military branch if you didn’t serve. It’s generally accepted for veterans to lightheartedly make fun of the other branches of service with and among fellow veterans. You might hear a vet refer to Marines as “crayon eaters,” joke about the Air Force “not really being military,” and other such tongue-in-cheek remarks. However, veterans greatly frown upon a person who has never served making fun of their branch of service or any other.
  • Don’t bad-mouth military conflicts. You may think you are showing empathy by talking about “unnecessary” wars and deployments and that our veterans should not have had to make sacrifices. Political views aside, you may be speaking to a veteran who is proud to have served in that conflict and, irrespective of all, respects the governmental decisions made to go that route. Don’t risk degrading the veteran’s actual service—and choice to throw themselves into the fray—because you disagree with the nature of the conflict.

Take a look at these conversation starters

Also as reported on Military.com, as part of American coffee company Starbucks’ growing commitment to empowering military veterans, it advises civilians to: “Get to know somebody and take it slowly, just like you would with anyone else. Ask questions about who they are, where they’re from, and what they like to do.” Conversation starters included on Starbucks’ list include:

  • How long did you serve?
  • What did you do (in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, Guard, or Reserves)?
  • Why did you choose that branch?
  • Do you come from a military family?
  • Did you visit any other countries?
  • Where was your favorite place you lived?

“Veterans are some of the hardest working, dedicated and loyal employees you could ever hope to hire … I know, because I have hired dozens of them on my team,” Berry notes. “In fact, they are the most important asset in my company. If you get the chance to hire a veteran, don’t mess up what can be a hugely fruitful and rewarding engagement by saying something distasteful—or downright stupid. As a hiring manager or a colleague, you can establish camaraderie with veteran coworkers by being [a] mindful and respectful person, and the vet will undoubtedly ‘cover your six’ no matter what challenges come your way.”


As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist, and futurist. As a prolific branding and marketplace trends pundit, Merilee spotlights noteworthy industry innovators, change-makers, movers and shakers. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations, and events across all categories. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews / Twitter www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor / Facebook www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern


Amazon Raises Pan-African Flag at Seattle HQ to Celebrate Black History Month


A 40-foot Pan-African Flag was raised last week on Amazon’s headquarters in downtown Seattle as a symbol of the tech giant’s commitment to diversity.

The Black Employee Network (BEN), one of Amazon’s 10 employee affinity groups, organized the flag display and a corresponding event on Feb. 13 as part of Amazon’s Black History Month programming. In addition to commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment, which granted African Americans the right to vote, the event was held to shine a light on black Amazon workers.

“For black and African members of the Amazon community, we hope that this flag tells you that we see you, that we value you and that we’re in it with you as we make progress together,” said Ian Wilson, the vice president of Human Resources at Amazon Web Services, reports The Seattle Times.

“And for other Amazonians, we hope that this flag is a reminder to learn and be curious about black history,” Wilson added. “Black history is too often smoothed over in U.S. history books and in U.S. education, and it’s critical to acknowledge more historic perspectives and the role that black leaders have played in the development of our country and our culture and our companies.”

Pan-African Flag

Brian Olsavsky, Amazon CFO, and Angelina Howard, Sr. Product Manager and President of BEN (Photo credit: Carlos Imani)

The Pan-African flag was designed in 1920 by activist and black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey to represent people of the African Diaspora in response to the infamous 1900 song “Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon.”

“Show me the race or the nation without a flag, and I will show you a race of people without any pride. Aye! In song and mimicry they have said, ‘Every race has a flag but the coon.’ How true! Aye! But that was said of us four years ago. They can’t say it now,” Garvey was quoted saying in 1921 in the Negro World weekly newspaper.

Each color in the tri-colored flag has a symbolic meaning: red represents the blood that unites all people of black African ancestry and was shed for liberation; black symbolizes black people; and green stands for the abundant natural wealth of Africa.

“Black History Month is a very important element of our understanding of American history, and something that we need to find a way to better incorporate into the way we talk about our country’s history,” said Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services and BEN Executive Sponsor, in a statement sent to BLACK ENTERPRISE. “I see the opportunity here at Amazon for sharing stories, celebrating, and promoting the accomplishments of black people throughout our great history.”

Although Amazon has flown the rainbow Pride flag from its headquarters during Pride Month since 2016 and long celebrated Black History Month, this is the first time the company has flown the Pan-African flag. Nevertheless, Amazon executives acknowledge that the company needs to do more on diversity and inclusion, reports The Seattle Times. According to Amazon’s most recent disclosures, 24.5% of its U.S. employees identified as black from the end of 2018, but only 7.2% of black employees are managers. This is an increase from 2014 when white Amazon employees constituted 71% of all managerial roles, while black and Hispanic employees were only 4%.


Serena Williams Joins Startup That’s Helping Working Moms Get Jobs

Serena Williams

Tennis and entrepreneurial great Serena Williams has joined forces with The Mom ProjectWilliams will serve as the company’s new strategic advisor.

The Mom Project is the leading career destination connecting moms with world-class companies. The Mom Project, which launched in 2016, serves a growing community of over 200,000 professionals by connecting them to over $50 million in economic opportunity.

“I’m calling on CEOs, Heads of People and Business Leaders big and small. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a team of 1 or 100,000; if you’re hiring, are you considering hiring moms? Together, we can influence how work gets done and build a better workplace for the future,” said Williams, a wife and mother, in a statement.

The Mom Project has partnerships with some prestigious organizations including Facebook, Nike, Invesco, Etsy, JLL, Gap, Delta, Uber, Twitter, Apple, and Georgia-Pacific.

“It is a dream to welcome Serena to our team; she is truly the embodiment of The Mom Project’s mission and what we aspire to. Serena is a role model to so many moms, reminding us that when we recognize our own strength—we are unstoppable. By joining forces, we will be able to accelerate change for moms in America and champion the support needed in the workplace and through public policy to ensure they can thrive,” said Allison Robinson, CEO, and founder of The Mom Project.

  • According to the Center for American Progress, 41 percent of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners for their families, earning at least half of their total household income. This includes single working mothers and married mothers who out-earn their husbands.
  • Despite increased family financial responsibility and significant educational gains, 43 percent of women still choose to leave the workforce after becoming mothers with most of the gap in female workforce participation attributable to motherhood and time away from the paid workforce for caregiving reasons.
  • The economic potential in solving this problem is immense; The United States could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP in 2025 if women attain full gender equality, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. report.

The Mom Project, with a community of over 200,000 talented professionals and more than 2,000 companies, is committed to building a better workplace for mothers and the businesses they support by harnessing the often overlooked intellectual workplace power of moms. In 2019, the Chicago-based company launched MP Labs, a research and insights division that works with companies to build a better workplace from within.



Supercut Shows Wild Differences Between Obama And Trump’s National Prayer Breakfasts

Jimmy Kimmel’s montage shows how Trump’s speeches differ from those given by his predecessor.