Weekly Update 03-09 May 21
Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.
At Provision Advisors, we prepare your team for the challenges, and 'what-ifs' you never thought you'd encounter--specializing in strategic communication planning, crisis communication, and media coaching for senior-level leaders and communicators. We look forward to hearing from you.
--Bashon Mann, Chris Servello, John Schofield
For more information on how we can help your team email us or click here.
Now’s the Time Know What’s in the Software Sausage
By John Cofrancesco, Fortress Information Security
Knowing exactly what’s in the software that runs and interacts with key national security platforms or sources of data is more important than ever. What is in the sausage?’ This simple question has been the cause of great controversy and consternation over the years. For many of us the response is reflexively, “I don’t want to know,” but for others the fascination is just too much, and they are keen to learn about every gory detail. Fortunately, for those of us in the ‘I don’t want to know’ camp, we enjoy the comfort of knowing the sausage, and for the most part, our larger food chain, is safe regardless of what they put in it. The same cannot be said for our technical and industrial supply chains. Since Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was released in 1905, the U.S. has built a regulatory regime and correspondingly robust ‘farm to table’ supply chain that ensures everything we eat is largely safe for consumption.
Ransomware attack leads to shutdown of major U.S. pipeline system
The attack on top U.S. operator Colonial Pipeline appears to have been carried out by an Eastern European-based criminal gang
By Ellen Nakashima, Yeganeh Torbati and Will Englund, Washington Post
A ransomware attack led one of the nation’s biggest fuel pipeline operators to shut down its entire network on Friday, according to the company and two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. While it is not expected to have an immediate impact on fuel supply or prices, the attack on Colonial Pipeline, which carries almost half of the gasoline, diesel and other fuels used on the East Coast, underscores the potential vulnerability of industrial sectors to the expanding threat of ransomware strikes.
Bank of America Tech Chief Says Cyber Attacks Have Surged ‘Dramatically’
By Lananh Nguyen, Bloomberg
Bank of America Corp. is devoting more resources to fighting cyberattacks after seeing a jump in threats amid the pandemic. The company’s centralized global information-security unit has boosted spending in recent years to about $1 billion annually, according to chief operations and technology officer Cathy Bessant. That’s mostly allocated to staff and technology to bolster cyber defenses. The lender is constantly assessing threats from individuals, groups and governments, and is also scanning the horizon to protect itself against an “Armageddon scenario,” she said.
6 Questions for the Boss Who Wants You Back in Your Cubicle
By Rachel Gutman, The Atlantic
Lidia Morawska has been working in her office for months. You might think that’s because she’s an aerosols expert, and her work is crucial for helping bring the pandemic to heel. But really, it’s because she’s an aerosols expert at Queensland University of Technology, in Australia. The country has recorded only three cases of community transmission of the coronavirus in the past week. Although Australian offices and classrooms have lowered their maximum capacities and are still observing social-distancing guidelines, Morawska told me, no one wears a mask to work, except in the rare case of a local outbreak. “Basically, life is back to normal,” she said.
NYC Mayor Faces PR Backlash as City Employees Return to Office
By Sophie Maerowitz, PR News
About 80,000 New York City workers returned to the office May 3, per a decision from Mayor Bill de Blasio, but many are unhappy with the mandate. The Mayor faces a communication reckoning around the City's return-to-work policy, signaling that corporate leaders and communicators will face similar issues as employees return to work in person. A grassroots group, City Workers For Justice, says the move is inequitable, particularly for those unable to secure childcare during work hours. Hundreds of city workers and supporters attended a May Day rally where speakers detailed fears about workplace safety, while arguing that a remote workplace is a productive one.
Think twice before choosing a blue logo. Here’s why
Color is fundamental to building an iconic brand. Here are 5 tips for thinking differently about color.
By Max Ottignon, Fast Company Coke. McDonald’s. Cadbury. Starbucks. In the hypercompetitive junk food market, these brands are all immediately identifiable by their color alone. In an undifferentiated category, that represents a significant commercial advantage. Tiffany & Co. goes one better. It literally owns the color. As a registered trademark, it’s more valuable as an asset than its logotype—both in terms of recognition, and the meaning it conveys.
Joint Chiefs chairman urges greater racial diversity in the military
Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
The U.S. military must widen opportunity and improve advancement for Black service members, who remain vastly underrepresented in some areas, including among Air Force pilots and in the most senior ranks, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday. Army Gen. Mark Milley told a Howard University ROTC commissioning ceremony that diversity is an important strength of the military but is still inadequate. “We must get better,” he said.
Elaine Luria Says Navy Needs to Build ‘Battle Force 2025’ Instead of Divesting to Prepare for a 2045 Fight
By Megan Eckstein, USNI
The vice-chair of the House Armed Services Committee does not support the Navy’s “divest to invest” strategy of ridding the fleet of aging and expensive-to-maintain ships and systems to free up money for the development of unmanned platforms and other new technology, saying the sea service needs to focus on getting ready for a near-term battle instead of looking too far out into the future. When the Navy began planning its future force design in 2019 and into 2020, it was looking at a 2030 timeframe – what the threat from China and other actors might be, and what kind of a fleet would be needed to deter a fight or win if one broke out. The Pentagon stepped in and forced the service to change gears, creating a Battle Force 2045 plan that aimed to look at where China might go in a longer timeline and ensure the Navy could get well ahead of the threat. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), who sits on the seapower and projection forces subcommittee, told USNI News that the Navy instead needs to focus on what threat China could pose this decade.
Biden Must Boost 2022 Budget To Counter China
By Thomas Spoehr, Breaking Defense
The Army and Air Force are locked in battle over missions and the dollars that go with them. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs — an Army guy — has predicted a “bloodletting” with the Army the likely loser as the country grapples with how to manage the growing rivalries with China and Russia. Stopping the rivalries and unifying the country behind the need for a strong military will require both a White House willing to negotiate a higher defense budget with Republicans in Congress, and Pentagon leaders willing to articulate the need for sufficient resources and tamp down infighting.
Opinion: In the South China Sea, Beijing’s claims to power signal danger ahead
By David Von Drehle, Washington Post
“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography,” wrote Ambrose Bierce, whose bitter insights were shaped in large part by a terrible war. As a soldier in the Civil War, Bierce witnessed scenes of slaughter over what was, in important ways, a fight to control rivers. You can read it in the names of the great Union armies: the Army of the Ohio, the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Tennessee, the Army of the Cumberland. The battle over slavery was also a battle to preserve free commerce from east to west on the Ohio River and from north to south on the Mississippi.
China and Russia’s Dangerous Convergence
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor and David Shullman for Foreign Affairs On March 23, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, sat down for an auspiciously timed meeting. The high-level talks came just a day after an unusually heated public exchange between senior U.S. and Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska, and in sharp contrast, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers struck an amicable tone. Together, they rejected Western criticism of their human rights records and issued a joint statement offering an alternative vision for global governance. The U.S.-led international order, Lavrov said, “does not represent the will of the international community.” The meeting was noteworthy for more than its rhetoric, however. Within days of it, Russia began amassing troops along Ukraine’s border—the largest number since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Simultaneously, China began conducting highly publicized amphibious assault exercises and air incursions into Taiwan’s so-called air defense identification zone at the highest frequency in nearly 25 years. These military moves have reignited concerns in Washington about the potential depth of Chinese-Russian coordination.
Paparo takes helm as U.S. Pacific Fleet commander
By U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
Adm. Samuel J. Paparo assumed command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, May 5. He relieved Adm. John C. Aquilino, who became the 26th commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith in Halawa in a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam's Kilo Pier, April 30. Paparo, a native of Morton, Pennsylvania, comes to the historic Pearl Harbor headquarters from Manama, Bahrain, as Aquilino did in May 2018. Both commanded U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. Fifth Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces immediately before arriving in Hawaii.
As U.S. troops exit Afghanistan, 'leave no one behind' must include military interpreters
In Iraq, I witnessed our former interpreters, their families, and other allies in a fight for their lives.
By Steve Miska, for USA Today
Last month President Biden announced plans to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan ahead of the 20th Anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Reasonable people can and have disagreed about the wisdom of the withdrawal. What isn't up for debate, however, is this: as the United States brings its sons and daughters home from Afghanistan, we have a moral and practical obligation to protect the thousands of Afghan interpreters and other critical allies who’ve supported our military and diplomatic efforts there.
Why did you get out of the military? Let's hear it.
By Haley Britzky, Task and Purpose
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston posed a question on social media over the weekend that started quite a bit of discussion: What were some of the most preventable reasons you’ve seen a soldier leave the Army over? The conversation carried over to the unofficial Army Reddit page where former soldiers said they got out over the Army treating injuries “with Motrin and indifference” or pointed to unnecessary red tape and outdated height and weight standards. One reason people frequently, and unsurprisingly, highlighted was bad leadership. Finances, sexual assault, racism, relationship problems, and family instability also made more than one appearance in the responses. For others it was the incessant push for readiness — “There are some fundamental issues with our culture and how hard we try to work people into an early grave,” one person said on Reddit — and the seemingly never-ending conflict in the Middle East.
Trump Copes With Facebook, Twitter Ban by Relying on Email, Media Interviews
Cut off from social media, the former president pursues other ways to get his message out
By Alex Leary, The Wall Street Journal
In the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump said, “I’m just not a believer in email.” Since he was banned from social media earlier this year, it has been his go-to communication tool. Unable since January to tweet, put videos on YouTube or post to Facebook —whose oversight board upheld the ban on Wednesday and gave the company six months to determine whether Mr. Trump should be permanently banned—the former president has been blast emailing statements to comment on daily news developments, endorse candidates and target critics. He continues to claim in emailed statements and in private gatherings with supporters that the election was rigged. There is no evidence there was widespread fraud in the election, and Mr. Trump’s campaign and his allies failed in dozens of court challenges to the results.
The U.S. Birthrate Has Dropped Again. The Pandemic May Be Accelerating the Decline.
Over all, the birthrate declined by 4 percent in 2020. Births were down most sharply in December, when babies conceived at the start of the health crisis would have been born.
By Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times
The birthrate declined for the sixth straight year in 2020, the federal government reported on Wednesday, early evidence that the coronavirus pandemic accelerated a trend among American women of delaying pregnancy. Early in the pandemic, there was speculation that the major changes in the life of American families could lead to a recovery in the birthrate, as couples hunkered down together. In fact, they appeared to have had the opposite effect: Births were down most sharply at the end of the year, when babies conceived at the start of the pandemic would have been born.
‘Horrible’ weeks ahead as India’s virus catastrophe worsens
By Aniruddha Ghosal, Associated Press
COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis and a top expert warning that the coming weeks in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people will be “horrible.” India’s official count of coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially have passed 220,000. Staggering as those numbers are, the true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health care system. The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals and funeral pyres lighting up the night sky.
You Really Shouldn’t Care About a President’s First 100 Days
By Greg Weiner, for The New York Times Mr. Weiner is a political scientist who served as a senior Senate aide to Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska. On July 8, 1815, Louis XVIII returned to Paris less than four months after Napoleon’s daring escape from exile drove the French king from the city. In that astonishingly brief time, Napoleon reclaimed his power, led French troops into the field against the united powers of Europe and was defeated, finally, at Waterloo. The French call this frantic interval Les Cent Jours, the 100 days.
The Supply-Side Jobs Slowdown
By The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board An economy doesn’t live by demand alone. There is no clearer evidence of that dictum than Friday’s surprising jobs report for April, which undershot the expectations of economists by more than 700,000. Welcome to the supply-side jobs slowdown. Employers added a net 266,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 6.1%. Payrolls for March and February were revised down a combined 78,000, and 48,000 of the new jobs in April were in government, mostly local education as schools reopened.
Washingtonian staff goes on publishing strike after CEO’s op-ed about remote work
By Elahe Izadi, WashPost
Washingtonian magazine staffers launched a day-long protest on Friday in response to an op-ed written by their boss, who warned that continuing to work from home as the pandemic subsides could make employees less valuable and easier to “let go.” Cathy Merrill, chief executive of the D.C.-centered magazine, shared her concerns about the popularity of remote work in a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday, originally titled: “As a CEO, I want my employees to understand the risks of not returning to work in the office.”
Opinion: What my 80 years have taught me
By George F. Will, The Washington Post Not necessarily. Surrendering to repetition is optional. Among the abundant pleasures of turning 80, in addition to being well beyond the danger of dying young, is this: Having become skillful at ignoring the merely recurring things, you have more brain cells to devote to other things worth noticing and trying.
See Fewer People. Take Fewer Showers.
Some people said they started bathing less during the pandemic. As long as no one complains, they say they plan to keep the new habit.
By Maria Cramer, New York Times “It’s what you did,” she said. But when the coronavirus pandemic forced her indoors and away from the general public, she started showering once a week. The new practice felt environmentally virtuous, practical and freeing. And it has stuck. “Don’t get me wrong,” said Ms. Harper, 43, who has returned to work. “I like showers. But it’s one thing off my plate. I’m a mom. I work full-time, and it’s one less thing I have to do.”
Duquesne empowers athletes by hiring ‘personal brand coach’
The new position will teach athletes how to capitalize on their name, image and likeness
By Jesse Washington, The Undefeated
Get ready for the latest fast break in the empowerment of college athletes: Duquesne University has hired a “personal brand coach” to teach its basketball players how to profit from social media. Duquesne, which competes in the mid-major Atlantic 10 Conference, announced Monday that Jordon Rooney will work with student-athletes to navigate upcoming NCAA rule changes that will allow them to earn money from their name, image and likeness, also known as NIL. Athletes will soon be able to be paid for things such as endorsing products, appearing in commercials or signing autographs. Duquesne’s move, which it calls the first of its kind, is designed to get ahead of these changes and help athletes use social media for more than just cashing in on their Instagram followers.
With No-Hitter, John Means Opens Up a World of Possibilities
By Tyler Kepner, The New York Times
Throwing a no-hitter, you could say, is like lassoing the moon. You can see the distant glow, beckoning and teasing all at once. Can you really get there? Probably not. But you can dream. On Aug. 13, 1969, in Oakland, Jim Palmer made the giant leap for the Baltimore Orioles with nine no-hit innings against the Athletics. It was the same day that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins glided up Broadway and down Michigan Avenue for ticker-tape parades in New York and Chicago, followed by a state dinner with President Richard M. Nixon in Los Angeles. Palmer, now 75, has never been to the moon, of course. But the no-hitter broadened his universe in a way no other Oriole had experienced until Wednesday, when John Means became the first Baltimore pitcher since Palmer to toss a complete-game no-hitter.
NFL hires Katie Hill, former Barack Obama communications director, as senior V.P. of communications
By Mike Florio, NBCSports
The NFL has hired another former political operative to help shape, preserve, and promote the league’s image. Katie Hill, who served as Barack Obama’s Communications Director in the four years since his presidency ended, became the NFL’s senior V.P. of communications on May 3.
The Athletic Halts Merger Talks With Axios, Eyes New York Times
By Benjamin Mullin, Wall Street Journal
Sports-media outlet the Athletic is no longer in merger talks with news publisher Axios, people familiar with the situation said, but the company is continuing to pursue a deal that could expand its subscription-oriented business. The Athletic views the New York Times Co. as a leading contender for a merger tie-up, the people said. Such a deal would bring the Athletic’s more than one million paying subscribers to the Times, which has seen digital-news subscriptions slow since former President Donald Trump left office.