(TMU) — Small family-owned businesses have struggled mightily to remain open as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the country, with many struggling to pay employees’ sick pay or even continuing operating at limited capacity.
Such has been the case for one steakhouse in Arkansas which found itself receiving a tip its owners and staff will never forget.
The Colonial Steakhouse in Pine Bluff had been weathering the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic and state efforts to curb the deadly disease by maintaining a skeleton crew of four employees to offer curbside pickup for three days out fo the week.
General manager Allison Hall, whose parents own the steakhouse, told KARK:
“Things have been barely getting by but we are making it, though.”
But one day, some regulars stopped by to pick up a to-go order and tearfully made one of the kindest gestures imaginable for the restaurant staff—a massive tip of $1,200, equivalent to the customer’s entire stimulus check issued by the federal government to offer limited relief to qualifying taxpayers.
Steakhouse owner Dana Gateley said:
“She was just sobbing and saying it was their whole stimulus.”
“We just started crying and thanking God because it came at a time that most of our staff really needed it.”
According to Gateley, the tip was enough to distribute $100 to every employee, including those who aren’t working.
Like many restaurants across the U.S. forced to offer only delivery and pick-up service, Colonial Steakhouse has been forced to cut its staff from 12 to only four people.
However, Hall has no intention of letting the restaurant become the latest victim of the spiraling economic crisis that has come in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hall said:
“We’ve been open for a very long time, nearly 50 years, so we’re stubborn and we aren’t giving up. We are not going to give up.”
According to KATV, many Arkansas restaurants have struggled to remain afloat since Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced strict measures ordering all non-essential operations to shut down, including dine-in at restaurants and bars.
While some restaurants and bars have been able to stay afloat through carryout, curbside pick-up, and delivery, others have had to rethink their entire business model.
Some restaurants have even turned their dining rooms into makeshift boutique grocery spaces and even miniature farmer’s markets where locally-grown foods are sold, reports KTHV.
Other less fortunate restaurants and bars have temporarily closed, with some feeling that it is more important for their employees to file for unemployment amid the unprecedented health crisis than to stay open.
However, on Monday Gov. Hutchinson signaled that some restrictions put in place during the outbreak would begin being lifted beginning May 4. The lifting of restrictions should offer some relief to small businesses and restaurants in the region, but the governor signaled that any worsening of conditions would lead to the return of restrictions.
Hall and the crew at the Colonial Steakhouse are rearing to welcome their customers back. Until then, however, they are more than happy to have been graced by their regular customers with such a warm and heartfelt gesture.
After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb
The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.
When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.
Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”
Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.
According to the Times:
In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.
John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.
Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.
“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”
And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.
“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time.
While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.
Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”
“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.
Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons
Cliffhanger: Mountain Biker Saved From “Imminent Death” After Falling Into Canyon
A Southern California mountain biker is likely counting his blessings after he was rescued from what authorities describe as “imminent death”” after falling from the side of a cliff in the Angeles National Forest.
The mountain biker, described as an older man, fell into the canyon at Mt. Wilson on Thursday morning and was dangling hundreds of feet above the ground before his fellow bikers, and eventually a special team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, rescued him.
For some time the man dangled by a thin cord around his ankle that was tied to his bicycle while hanging on for dear life “like a cat,” Capt. Tom Giandomenico of the LASD special enforcement bureau told the Los Angeles Times.
“He knew he was in such a precarious situation. He was just scared to even rotate his head to look at us. He just didn’t want to move a muscle,” LASD Deputy Richard Thomsen told CBSLA.
Additionally, when the helicopter team arrived it wasn’t just a matter of simply hoisting the man to safety, as the air generated by the helicopter’s rotor would have sent the man plummeting to “imminent death,” Giandomenico added.
“Because he was head-down on the rock face there, that dropped probably a good 40 feet before it hit some soft dirt and a boulder,” Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Helbring said. “And beyond that was hundreds of feet down to the bottom of the canyon.”
Instead, one of the members of the special enforcement team composed of former SWAT officers devised a plan to rappel down to the man and move him to a ledge below, from which the two could be airlifted to safety.
However, due to a lack of boulders or trees, there was nothing to tie a rope to – and thus no way to rappel down to anything.
So instead, the special enforcement team used the man’s brother and another friend to be their anchor, a plan that ultimately succeeded.
Giandomenico called the rescue “one of the more significant, courageous maneuvers I’ve seen.”
“Heroic, in my opinion,” he added.
Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever
Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.
Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.
In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.
At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.
“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.
“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”
The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.
Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.