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White supremacists encouraging their members to spread coronavirus to cops, Jews, FBI says

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iStock(NEW YORK) — Racist extremist groups, including neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, are encouraging members who contract novel coronavirus disease to spread the contagion to cops and Jews, according to intelligence gathered by the FBI.

In an alert obtained by ABC News, the FBI’s New York office reports that “members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions.”

The FBI alert, which went out on Thursday, told local police agencies that extremists want their followers to try to use spray bottles to spread bodily fluids to cops on the street. The extremists are also directing followers to spread the disease to Jews by going “any place they may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses and places of worship.”

“Anti-government folks in America love to target law enforcement as a symbol of America’s authority,” said Don Mihalek, the executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation and an ABC News contributor. “It’s just sad that that’s their focus at a time of crisis in the nation.”

Organizations that monitor the internet for white supremacist messaging have been seeing chatter for weeks that blames Jews and Jewish leaders for both the coronavirus and the global response, including the shut down of all but essential government functions in places like New York, New Jersey and California.

“From pushing the idea that Jews created the coronavirus virus to sell vaccines to encouraging infected followers to try to spread the illness to the Jewish community and law enforcement, as the coronavirus has spread, we have observed how white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have used this to drive their own conspiracy theories, spread disinformation and incite violence on their online platforms,” said Michael Masters, the head of Secure Communities Network, an umbrella group that coordinates security for Jewish organizations and synagogues around the country.

“While the world faces a deadly pandemic, it’s a stark reminder that certain groups – notably the Jewish community and law enforcement – must also continue the battle against those who wish to hurt or kill them,” Masters continued. “As the economic situation remains fragile and civil society disrupted, the potential for the followers of hate to act becomes more likely … and more deadly.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Virtual tip jars are helping workers in one of the hardest hit industries in the country

No Comments National News

iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Service industry workers have been economically devastated as bars and restaurant close, and people practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

In response, some have gotten creative in providing continued sources of income for service workers, including the use of virtual tip jars.

Sam Schutte, an entrepreneur and the CEO of Unstoppable Software, said he had originally created a virtual tip jar for himself so he could pay the people whose restaurants and bars he frequented.

He said his virtual tip jar is a low-tech solution, using Google Forms and Google Sheets. It is basically online spreadsheets, containing service workers’ names and where they were employed along with their PayPal or Venmo information so you can directly pay them.

“It just breaks my heart to see all these hardworking people that we depend on to take care of us and provide quality service and now they’re facing this apocalypse,” Schutte told ABC News. “If people want to still support them and thank them for the service they’ve provided it’s a way to connect the dots – otherwise how can you find someone else’s Venmo information? Venmo and PayPal are also pretty secure.”

In fact, creating a virtual tip jar is so easy to copy that someone with no tech background did it independently. Emily Gibson, a server at a bar in Los Angeles, had a friend who was posting virtual tip jars for different areas. She was surprised there wasn’t one for L.A.

“I thought, ‘I can figure this out,'” she told ABC News. She taught herself Google Sheets and Google Forms and then became more creative.

“I tried to get the word out — a virtual happy hour idea — so, you can hang out with your friends at Zoom, virtually visit a city you’ve never been to, pick a person and a bar and then tip the server at that establishment,” Gibson explained. “A lot of us can’t file for unemployment and our income has been shut down.”

Other people in the service industry have pivoted to ways to keep money coming in for their employees. Alex Eusebio, a former contestant on Top Chef, owns two restaurants in Toluca Lake, California. One is a Mexican restaurant, Cascabel, and the other is a neighborhood restaurant, Sweetsalt.

He turned Sweetsalt into a marketplace and shuttered Cascabel.

“This reminds me of 9/11,” the New York native said, adding that while it has the same apocalyptic feeling, it also has a silver lining, adding, “Everyone is coming together in the past few days.”

“We offer food, toilet paper — and have donated it — alcohol, raw and cooked products, honestly anything,” Eusebio said.

People can call in, place their order, they put it in a box, and it can be picked up and taken home.

“The whole point is you don’t have to stay in line at a grocery store — it’s like a combination of Amazon and your local supermarket — instead of delivery, you come and pick it up,” he said. “You pay by phone. I have the resources that others don’t have. I’m just passing along what I have. We are not up-charging.”

When he closed Cascabel, he had to let go of 30 employees.

“I didn’t have a choice, I wish I did. It’s paycheck-to-paycheck,” he said. “A lot of people are struggling with that, including me.”

He bought his out-of-work employees 3 pounds of rice, beans and meat and told them to call him when they run out.

H has held onto 17 employees. His baker just had a baby last week and “is freaking out.” He has friends who call him crying, saying they have lost their jobs.

His response, “Hey, I have food for you.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Snow, rain and wind on the way to parts of the Northeast

No Comments National News

iStock(NEW YORK) — A new storm is developing this morning in the Southern U.S. while rain is moving across parts of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast stretching northward to Missouri. There are a couple of stronger thunderstorms in the rain which could also lead to some gusty winds.

This storm will quickly move off to the north and east and begin to interact with cold air. As a result, some snow is possible across the Great Lakes on Sunday evening into early Monday. Some snow will also move into parts of the Northeast early Monday.

Meanwhile, a coastal low will develop off the Carolina coastline and begin to slide northward, interacting with the main storm system over the Great Lakes.

On Monday, as the coastal low deepens, snow will overspread parts of the Northeast, especially interior New England, including western Massachusetts and much of Central New York.

Closer to the major cities, from Philadelphia to Boston, several rounds of heavy rain will be possible. Additionally, winds will increase potentially over 30 mph in spots.

Locally, over 6 inches of snow will be possible, especially in the higher elevations of interior New England. An estimated 3 to 6 inches of snow will be possible in the northern edge of the lower Hudson valley all the way to Springfield, Massachusetts. One to two inches of rain will be possible across parts of the Philadelphia and New York City metropolitan areas and some flooding will be possible.

It is important to remember that the sun angle, recent mild weather and lack of significant cold air support will limit what actually is able to accumulate on the ground, especially non-grassy surfaces.

Meanwhile, a storm will slide into California today, the latest in a string of storms that have been impacting the area.

Locally, heavy rain could cause some flooding in Los Angeles on Sunday and, by late Sunday and early Monday, some of the heavy rain will make it to Las Vegas with some possible localized flooding as well.

This storm quickly races off into the intermountain west and beings to interact with a boundary that forms in the southern Plains. On Monday night, a small area of decent instability along with some wind shear and a strengthening low level jet could produce some scattered severe storms in the plains.

Strong winds, large hail and brief tornadoes will be possible from northern Texas through Oklahoma and into southern Kansas. The time frame will be very late Monday night into Early Tuesday.

The storm will quickly move towards the Tennessee Valley by Tuesday and the risk for severe weather will slide eastward with more strong winds, large hail and brief tornadoes possible including parts of the Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, areas.

It is important to note that parts of central Tennessee were devastated by destructive tornadoes just a short few weeks ago and that parts of the Southern U.S. have been well above average with rainfall so far this year.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus live updates: US now 3rd highest globally in COVID-19 total cases

No Comments National News

iStock(NEW YORK) — The United States now has 26,747 diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus, the third highest total globally, while the number of deaths around the world has now surpassed 13,000.

As the number of confirmed cases increases, some states are acting quickly by ordering variations of stay-at-home orders for residents. Oregon issued such an order on Friday night, joining states that include California, Illinois and New York.

The respiratory virus, known officially as COVID-19, has reached every continent except Antarctica, and every state in America since emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

Globally, there are at least 311,000 diagnosed cases and at least 13,407 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. More than 93,000 people have recovered worldwide.

Today’s biggest developments:
-Italy reports 793 more deaths
-Economic stimulus may exceed $2 trillion, up from $1 trillion
-Pence tests negative
-U.S. now has third highest total of COVID-19 cases globally
-New York declared ‘major disaster’

Here’s how the news is unfolding today. All times Eastern.

8:39 a.m.: FEMA begins shipping masks from national stockpile

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor said on ABC’s This Week, that medical masks began shipping yesterday from the national stockpile.

Gaynor could not provide an exact number of masks or a timeline as to when they will reach individual states.

“All those supplies to all the demands, all the asks, all the governance, every day, we are — we’re prepared to go to zero in the stockpile to meet demand,” Gaynor said.

7:49 a.m.: Miami shuts down marinas following Saturday night boat parties

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez ordered that all boat ramps and marinas in the city would be closed for recreational use after images and videos of boat parties in the area circulated online Saturday night.

Gimenez chastised organizers and partygoers for violating the city’s orders that limit crowds to 10 or fewer.

“We are in a state of emergency, and I cannot stress enough the need for personal responsibility,” he said in a statement.

Only fishing boats will be able to use the docks and sail into the waters under the new order, which will be enforced by police boats, Gimenez said.

6:57 a.m.: Russia’s military is sending medical aid to Italy

Russia’s military is sending medical aid to Italy to help in its fight against the coronavirus epidemic, including disinfection vehicles and military virologists.

Russia’s defense ministry in a statement announced military transport planes will be delivering eight mobile brigades of military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy, starting from Sunday.

It followed a phone conversation between President Vladimir Putin and Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, during which Putin offered help.

The move obviously highlights the EU’s relative failure so far to aid Italy in the epidemic and follows China sending a plane-load of medics to help. The authoritarian governments see this as a diplomatic and PR opportunity. Italy was already one of the friendliest countries to Russia in the EU and this obviously won’t go unremembered.

Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

5:29 a.m.: Saudi Arabia suspends domestic flights, buses and taxis for at least two weeks

Saudi Arabia announced 48 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 392, with five of the new infections being healthcare workers in Riyadh, according to a health ministry spokesman.

All domestic flights, buses, taxis and trains in the Kingdom have been suspended for at least 14 days to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, an Interior Ministry official told the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

5:17 a.m. Turkey imposes partial curfew and bans picnics and barbecues as cases have doubled each day in the past week

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan early on Sunday did his best to reassure his people about the nation’s efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic, saying Turkey is doing its duty to protect citizens. “I hope we will get over these difficult times together. Just follow the rules and guidance and also continue staying at homes,” Erdogan posted on Twitter while reiterating that those older than 65 and anyone with a chronic disease should not go outside.

Turkey imposed a partial curfew on Saturday for senior citizens and those with chronic diseases, but stopped short of a blanket curfew. Earlier on Saturday, Turkey suspended flights from 46 additional countries and banned picnics and barbecues, as the number of cases has roughly doubled every day for the past week.

Turkey now has 947 confirmed cases of the virus, with 21 deaths.

2:49 a.m.: Amazon hiring for 100,000 new roles while raising wages for hourly workers

Posting on his Instagram account Saturday night, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos wrote a letter to all Amazon employees announcing that Amazon will be hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for hourly workers while also detailing how the company plans on working through the crisis.

2:24 a.m.: Audible offering free streaming of children’s stories

On Saturday night, Audible started offering free streaming of children’s stories in 6 different languages to help parents as long schools are closed.

10:47 p.m.: DJ D-Nice brings party to Instagram

This is the largest crowd the Bronx-born DJ has attracted since launching the “parties” on Wednesday.

Some of the users tuning in Saturday: Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and countless other celebs, singers and athletes.

9:30 p.m.: NY ATC Center, LGA tower will be closed overnight for sanitization

The New York Air Route Traffic Control Center and New York’s LaGuardia Control Tower will now be closed overnight for sanitization, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

During this time other air traffic facilities will provide needed key services and some flights will be rerouted around the airspace, but the FAA expects a minimal impact on traffic since the volume during these hours is low.

Flights were briefly suspended at New York City and Philadelphia airports Saturday afternoon when an air traffic controller trainee at New York Air Route Traffic Control Center in Ronkonkoma, New York, tested positive for coronavirus.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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