Daily Beast: Meet the Fake Lawyer Who Goes to War for Anti-Mask Restaurants

The Daily Beast: Meet the Fake Lawyer Who Goes to War for Anti-Mask Restaurants. “Rick Martin presented a formidable résumé. ‘Lawyer Rick Martin “The Judge Slayer,”‘ a biography on his website read. Billing himself as the head of the ‘Constitutional Law Group,’ (CLG), Martin advertised his legal services for businesses that defied anti-COVID-19 measures. ‘“I have put three District Judges, two District Attorneys, and countless law enforcement officers behind prison walls,’ he wrote. ‘We the People need to come together and take back our country from these unlawful criminals.’ But it was Martin and one of his clients who went to jail this month.”

ProPublica: How a Federal Agency Excluded Thousands of Viable Businesses From Pandemic Relief

ProPublica: How a Federal Agency Excluded Thousands of Viable Businesses From Pandemic Relief. “Like every other storefront in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, the Coffee House — a cavernous student hangout slinging espresso and decadent pastries since 1987 — saw its revenue dry up almost overnight last spring when the coronavirus pandemic made dining indoors a deadly risk. Unlike most, however, the business wouldn’t have access to the massive loan fund that Congress made available for small enterprises in late March.”

CBC: Facebook phishing scams target Indigenous artists’ business pages

CBC: Facebook phishing scams target Indigenous artists’ business pages. “In addition to [Tara] Kiwenzie, CBC News found dozens of other Indigenous artists and businesses across the United States and Canada had been affected by the same scam in recent weeks. The fake accounts were reported to Facebook, but Kiwenzie and others said they were initially told the accounts did not violate the social media platform’s community standards.”

Beer Here, Bouquets Next Door: How a Bar Defied the Pandemic (New York Times)

New York Times: Beer Here, Bouquets Next Door: How a Bar Defied the Pandemic. “On a recent Saturday, a masked bartender handed beer and tater tots out of a takeout window cut into the kitchen wall. Groups gathered around picnic tables on a patio that was previously a lane of traffic. A D.J. broadcast hip-hop onto the sidewalk. And a man on roller skates bounced to the music, drink in hand. The Hatch is alive, albeit as a different place. It is one of hundreds of thousands of bars and restaurants that have scraped by over the past year, finding ways to survive. Many have relied on government aid and donations, and nearly all of them have had to be creative and adapt.”

TechCrunch: America’s small businesses face the brunt of China’s Exchange server hacks

TechCrunch: America’s small businesses face the brunt of China’s Exchange server hacks. “Microsoft last week revealed a new hacking group it calls Hafnium, which operates in, and is backed by, China…. It’s not clear what Hafnium’s motives are. Some liken the activity to espionage — a nation-state gathering intelligence or industrial secrets from larger corporations and governments. But what makes this particular hacking campaign so damaging is not only the ease with which the flaws can be exploited, but also how many — and how widespread — the victims are.”

DCist: D.C. Lost At Least 375 Businesses Since Last March. Here’s How Those Closures Have Reshaped The City

DCist: D.C. Lost At Least 375 Businesses Since Last March. Here’s How Those Closures Have Reshaped The City. “At least 235 brick-and-mortar businesses have closed permanently in D.C. since the first known coronavirus case was reported on March 7, 2020, with 100 more shuttered temporarily, a count by DCist/WAMU found. (The status of another 40 is unknown.) As of December, more than 36,000 residents were unemployed — a 77% increase over the prior year.”

Business Insider: A mask-less Trader Joe’s customer in Texas had a meltdown after being denied entry – and it reveals how states’ new rules endanger workers

Business Insider: A mask-less Trader Joe’s customer in Texas had a meltdown after being denied entry – and it reveals how states’ new rules endanger workers. “A Trader Joe’s customer accused the grocer of violating Texas state law, after employees denied the man entry without a mask. The situation highlights how the state’s new rules have put many frontline workers in a vulnerable position, as they are forced to impose corporate rules without the support of the government.”

Poynter: Can a business make you wear a mask if the state doesn’t require it?

Poynter: Can a business make you wear a mask if the state doesn’t require it?. “Imagine you are a Texas and Mississippi business that wants employees and customers to wear masks this week, even though the state is no longer requiring them. It will be on you to enforce the restrictions … and good luck with that. Big retailers like Macy’s and Kroger say with or without state mandates if you want to shop in their stores, wear a mask. The Texas-based H-E-B stores require their workers to wear masks and ask customers to do the same, but do not make it a requirement.”

Washington Post: He put it all on the line opening his butcher shop a year ago. Then the pandemic hit.

Washington Post: He put it all on the line opening his butcher shop a year ago. Then the pandemic hit.. “He remembers the moment it came to him, about 10 years ago — his dream. It was when he really understood the marketplace and what people were willing to spend on something he always considered ordinary. ‘Growing up, my moms would spend $150 to fill the refrigerator and we would eat for weeks,’ Wendell Allsbrook said. And his big hands held an imaginary plate to illustrate his next point. ‘I just sold a family $150 of meat for one night. That was my wake-up call.’”

New York Times: When You’re a Small Business, E-Commerce Is Tougher Than It Looks

New York Times: When You’re a Small Business, E-Commerce Is Tougher Than It Looks. “On a ledger of pandemic winners and losers, Holiday Market is in the positive column thanks to online shopping, which helped push the store’s overall revenue up 20 percent in 2020 compared with 2019. In fact, e-commerce is what prevented a catastrophic year for U.S. retailing. Instead of ending in a deep trough of red, online shopping pushed overall retail sales up nearly 3.5 percent, to $5.6 trillion, compared with the previous year, according to the research firm eMarketer. E-commerce alone grew by 33.6 percent in 2020. But Holiday Market’s success is an outlier for small merchants — the boom mostly helped big business.”

‘It was horrific’: Houston restaurants brace for threats after sticking with masks (Houston Chronicle)

Houston Chronicle: ‘It was horrific’: Houston restaurants brace for threats after sticking with masks. “The past three days have been difficult for Monica Richards, a co-owner of Picos restaurant in Upper Kirby. After Gov. Greg Abbott announced he is reopening Texas on March 10, the restaurant told its customers its own COVID-19 restrictions will stay the same. Picos received many messages of support, but then it got ugly.”

Texas Tribune: Texas businesses must decide whether to require face masks. Some worry they could lose customers either way.

Texas Tribune: Texas businesses must decide whether to require face masks. Some worry they could lose customers either way.. “As small-business owners and managers across Texas went to work Wednesday morning, they faced yet another 2021 headache: deal with losing business from customers who don’t want to wear face masks during the pandemic or from patrons who will only frequent places that require them. The dilemma was abruptly thrust upon them after Gov. Greg Abbott announced yesterday afternoon that the state will lift its mask mandate and allow all businesses to operate at 100% capacity starting March 10.”

ProPublica: The Pandemic’s Existential Threat to Black-Owned Businesses

ProPublica: The Pandemic’s Existential Threat to Black-Owned Businesses. “There are disparities between American businesses owned by white people and those owned by all minority groups, but the widest ones are typically with Black entrepreneurs, who tend to have modest family wealth and thin professional networks to help recruit talent and cut deals. Although the number of Black-owned businesses has grown in recent years, the vast majority remain sole proprietorships. As of 2012 — the most recent data the Census Bureau has collected — average annual sales for a Black-owned business came to about $58,000, compared to nearly 10 times that amount for the average white-owned enterprise. Those years of compounding disadvantage have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”