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Weekly Update 05-11 Jul 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.


#Provisionproblemsolving 06 Jul 21

This weekend's Kaseya hack again reminds us of the need to be prepared...not just to operate, but to communicate in today's dynamic cyber environment.

Three Tips:

-Think...Regardless of your business, start thinking now about how you will discuss the impact of cyber intrusions on your brand and clientele.

-Plan...Decide where you will put communication resources should your brand be affected by a cyber attack

-Red cell...Conduct table top exercises with cyber and comms experts now in order to know how you will communicate if you fall victim to an attack


Top Clips

There’s a Specific Kind of Joy We’ve Been Missing

By Adam Grant, NYT, Dr. Grant is an organizational psychologist at Wharton focused on how people find motivation and meaning in daily life.

In late June, over 15,000 vaccinated people packed in to watch the Foo Fighters reopen Madison Square Garden. When the band brought the comedian Dave Chappelle onstage to sing the Radiohead song “Creep,” the audience erupted in the closest thing I’ve seen to rapture in a solid year and a half. No one cared that Mr. Chappelle was off key. They were all participating in an experience that was unimaginable just months earlier. One day they’ll tell their grandchildren about that night, when New York City came back to life and their favorite band performed another band’s song, and they tried to carry a tune with a legendary comic doing lead vocals.

Prosecuting assaults on journalists protects our democracy

Opinion by Laurence H. Tribe, Stuart M. Gerson and Dennis Aftergut, The Washington Post.

The Justice Department has begun arresting those who assaulted journalists during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol — a series of actions whose importance to our democracy is hard to overstate. Newspeople are front-line defenders of our republic, much as the Capitol Police and other law enforcement officials were on Jan. 6. While all who attacked the Capitol six months ago should be held accountable, prioritizing prosecution of individuals who assault the press or police is paramount. Without the work of both, our security and democracy are at existential risk.

Former President Donald Trump plans lawsuit against Facebook and Twitter

By Jill Colvin, Associated Press

Former President Donald Trump is expected to announce a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against three of the country's biggest tech companies: Facebook, Twitter and Google. Trump will serve as the lead plaintiff in the suit, claiming he has been wrongfully censored by the companies, according to a person familiar with the action. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to share details ahead of the announcement. Trump was suspended from Twitter and Facebook after his followers stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, with the companies citing concerns that he would incite further violence.

Does the Pentagon Take China Seriously?

Its leaders warn of the threat from Beijing, but their budgets suggest otherwise.

By Rep. Elaine Luria, (D-VA), The Wall Street Journal

U.S. defense leaders have a problem: What they say doesn’t line up with what they do. The mismatch is apparent in the latest Pentagon budget, and a “say-do” gap undermines the trust of Congress and the American people. Military leaders identify China as our No. 1 challenge, often calling Beijing “an increasingly capable strategic competitor,” as Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley has warned, or a “pacing” threat. Yet the budget request reduces the ability of the Navy and the Air Force—the services that would have outsize roles in any conflict in the Western Pacific—to respond to threats in that region.

CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Jul 10, 21] Episode 5…Avoiding Bankruptcy

By Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello of The Defense & Aerospace. Report This week we talk with noted naval experts, Bryan McGrath of the FerryBridge Group consultancy and Thomas Shugart, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security and founder of Archer Strategic Consulting, to get their take on the latest Navy budget battles and to learn if the service is indeed strategically bankrupt–as suggested in a recent War of the Rocks commentary.(GRADUALLY AND THEN SUDDENLY: EXPLAINING THE NAVY’S STRATEGIC BANKRUPTCY, Chris Dougherty) In our squawk box segment Cavas laments the year long wait for investigation finding and lessons learned from the largest in port disaster in recent memory…as he sounds off with “Remember the Bonhomme Richard!”

To Provide and Maintain a Navy: Understanding the Business of Navy Shipbuilding

By Senators Jack Reed and Jim Inhofe, Proceedings

As we noted in Proceedings last year, leaders in the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill, and in industry all agree: We must accelerate innovative research and development, acquire new capabilities faster, and transform the way the U.S. military fights in order to implement our defense strategy. Before major changes to Navy shipbuilding are proposed, all stakeholders should have a fulsome discussion of the business of Navy shipbuilding and implications of big changes.

Former Navy football player Cameron Kinley approved to pursue pro football, delay active duty service

By Bill Wagner, Capital Gazette

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has approved Naval Academy graduate Cameron Kinley’s request to delay his active duty service to pursue professional football. Kinley, who is back at the academy serving on temporary assignment duty, posted the news to his Twitter feed late Tuesday afternoon. “Today I was informed the Secretary of Defense will be allowing me to continue my journey with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Kinley said. “I am extremely appreciative of Secretary Austin’s decision and I am excited to represent our fine military in the National Football League.”

An American Force Structure for the 21st Century

By Bruce Held and Brad Martin, War on the Rocks.

The United States is unprepared for its current strategic challenges. Since the end of the Cold War, no nation could seriously threaten the territorial or political integrity of America or its allies. But that has changed, and U.S. policymakers now consider the United States to be engaged in strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China, which is developing its military to contest the United States for dominance in the Western Pacific and beyond. In addition, Russia has revitalized and modernized enough of its military to pose a threat on NATO’s eastern flank and has also demonstrated a willingness to take territory from neighboring nations.

Biden says U.S. war in Afghanistan will end August 31

By the Associated Press

President Joe Biden on Thursday said the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on Aug. 31, saying “speed is safety” as the United States seeks to end the nearly 20-year war. “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build,” Biden said in a speech to update his administration’s ongoing efforts to wind down the U.S. war in Afghanistan. “Afghan leaders have to come together and drive toward a future.” Biden also amplified the justification of his decision to end U.S. military operations even as the Taliban make rapid advances in significant swaths of the country.

The People We Leave Behind in Afghanistan

By Farah Stockman, NYT

The message popped up on my cellphone last week, just as I was about to drive my daughter to a play date: “The situation here in Afghanistan is getting worse day by day,” it read. “The Taliban know that i was cooperating with you people, so if its possible to talk with your respected organization to take me to USA.” I hadn’t heard from Fareed in years. I’d hired him in 2007 to take me to the Afghan city of Gardez for a story about a warlord there. He loved hip-hop — “Do you know 50 Cents?” he’d asked me. We’d gotten caught in a hailstorm. He’d stayed calm as his car fishtailed on a mountain pass. Outside the car window, nomads in colorful clothing huddled with their camels in the storm. His message brought back other memories: The old farmhouse we visited with salty meat hanging from the rafters. Little boys in vests hawking bicycle tires. I’d worn a burqa to the market but a crowd had formed around me anyway. Fareed had covered his face with a T-shirt so that nobody would recognize him as the one who’d brought the American. He must have known, even then, that the Taliban could come back.

Beijing Eyes New Military Bases Across the Indo-Pacific

Tanzania, Cambodia, and the UAE are on China’s wish list—and now Kiribati, within striking distance of Hawaii.

By Craig Singleton, Foreign Policy On a small, sandy atoll smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean lies a rundown airstrip that served as a critical U.S. staging and supply hub during World War II. Today, this 6,000-foot runway in the Pacific island country of Kiribati is once again on the front lines. This time, China has its eyes on this prized piece of geopolitical real estate—one located around 1,800 miles from sensitive U.S. military installations in Hawaii. Beijing is hardly content to limit its military basing pursuits to the South Pacific. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is already making serious headway securing new bases in Cambodia, Tanzania, and the United Arab Emirates, among other locales. Whether or not Washington can derail Beijing’s plans is anyone’s guess. Either way, U.S. policymakers and military brass could soon wake up to a changed world, where the PLA can project its power far beyond the tense Taiwan Strait.

The delta variant is sending the world a warning

Opinion by Megan McArdle, The Washington Post

Don’t panic, but recent news makes it clear that the novel coronavirus isn’t done with us yet. It’s finding ways to become even more novel, and more deadly. New data from Israel suggest the effectiveness of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine declines sharply when it’s pitted against the hyperinfectious delta variant. Last week, more than half of all covid-19 cases in Israel reportedly occurred in people who were vaccinated; the vaccine appears to prevent only about two-thirds of symptomatic cases, compared with preventing almost 100 percent among older variants. To reiterate: If you’re vaccinated, there’s no need to panic.

Proposal would push VA leaders to address issue of extremism in the veterans community

By Leo Shane III, Military Times

House lawmakers want Veterans Affairs officials to start talking to veterans about misinformation and extremism online. Included in the House Appropriations Committee’s proposal for more than $270 billion in department funding next fiscal year is language focused on “the unique vulnerabilities that veterans face online,” to include targeting of veterans by extremist organizations and groups focused on sowing division in the military community. “Efforts to spread extremist views and conspiracy theories among the veteran community have had severely damaging effects, such as spreading conspiracies that may have motivated participation in the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6,” a report on the budget proposal states.

TikTok wants to be LinkedIn for Gen Z, launches TikTok Resumes for video job applications

By Hannah Towey, Business insider

TikTok launched the pilot program "TikTok Resumes" on Wednesday, hoping to connect Gen Z to job openings at major companies like Chipotle, Shopify, Target, and Alo Yoga. The program is only accepting video resumes for a limited time, with applications open through July 31. As of this year, there are more Gen Z users on TikTok than on Instagram— over half of the app's user base is younger than 24 years old. Comparatively, only 19.3% of Linkedin users belong to Gen Z.

Critical Race Theory Is Making Both Parties Flip-Flop

The battle over teaching race in North Carolina schools prompts an ideological role reversal on both antidiscrimination and speech.

By Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

Among the dozens of bills filed by Republicans to restrict how educators teach about race, perhaps none was more carefully written than the one in North Carolina. And therein lies the larger problem with such bills: The downside of even the most cautious efforts likely outweighs their benefits. In numerous other states, legislators purporting to target critical race theory or “divisive concepts” have packaged sensible reforms—including prohibitions on requiring students to proclaim particular points of view—together with irresponsible clauses that are highly likely to discourage valuable instruction.

Pressure grows on Biden to curb ransomware attacks

By Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post

A massive ransomware attack last week has intensified pressure on the Biden administration to demonstrate it is working to curb the threat, with top national security officials set to brief the president Wednesday on how the government can counter the costly and increasingly brazen assaults by Russia-based hackers. While intelligence officials have not publicly attributed the latest attack, a group known as REvil, which U.S. officials say privately operates largely from Russia, has taken responsibility for striking up to 1,500 companies in the United States, Europe and Asia. It was, experts say, the single largest such cyberattack to date.

Handling ‘Bad Facts:’ UNC, ESPN and the Ad Industry

By Seth Arenstein, PR News

Begging James Madison’s pardon, we’ll revise his famous quote to read: ‘If organizations and their people were angels, PR pros would have much less to do.’ Some days it seems everywhere one looks there are examples of companies and organizations bungling things. They say the wrong things, move too slowly, fail to ‘read the room’ or accept­­­­ awful behavior. In turn, these ‘bad facts’ sometimes grow, like fungus, into a PR crisis, or at least a PR issue that may influence sales, share prices, financing, reputation and recruiting. Often, communicators must clean the mess. Examples seem ubiquitous.

There are only losers in Maryland’s dysfunction over highway expansion

Opinion by the Editorial Board, The Washington Post

The paralysis in Maryland over Gov. Larry Hogan’s push to expand parts of two key important transportation arteries, the Beltway and Interstate 270, is a triumph of partisanship, myopia and parochialism that poses a threat to the Washington region’s long-term welfare. There are no victors in Maryland’s dysfunction, but the losers are obvious: commuters hoping to avert a future of increasingly nightmarish highway congestion. Mr. Hogan is a Republican; virtually every elected official now impeding his signature transportation proposal is a Democrat.

Singles Return to In-Person Dating. And It’s Extra Awkward.

People emerging from romantic hibernation are discovering their flirting skills are out of practice and new protocols are murky; ‘I forgot how to talk to a waiter’

By Anne Marie Chaker, The Wall Street Journal

After putting her love life on hold during the pandemic, Emma Maxwell recently started dating again. She discovered her small-talk skills were rusty. “I’ve had at least four different conversations about cicadas,” says the 24-year- old in Washington, D.C. And ordering food was awkward: “I forgot how to talk to a waiter,” she says. Navigating romance amid changing mask etiquette has also been tricky. Would-be mates often arrive with masks, then take them off to eat. “It’s kind of a big reveal,” Ms. Maxwell says. After dinner, she carries her mask around waiting to see whether the other person puts his back on. She fumbled recently trying to put hers on at the bus stop and say goodbye to her date.

How communicators can maximize crowdfunding efforts

New research reveals messaging tactics that spark generosity and keep donations freely flowing.

By Holly Ober, PR News

Why do some crowdfunding campaigns hit or exceed their goals quickly while others languish? The answer often has to do with what finance experts call “herding,” where people follow the crowd and invest wherever everyone else is investing. Effective use of crowdfunding platforms’ communication tools can influence herding behavior to maximize a campaign’s success, finds the first study on this topic. Updates and comments on backer compliments encourage new backers, while constant pleas for more donations or bungled discussions of logistical difficulties can backfire.

After collapse, Surfside condo board taps PR firm that claims to ‘fix the impossible’

By Michael Wilner, Ben Wieder, and Antonio Maria Delgado, Miami Herald

Within days of the catastrophic collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, as a search and rescue operation expanded with over 150 people unaccounted for, the building’s condo association retained a crisis public relations firm based in Washington, D.C., that claims to “fix the impossible.” The association’s work with Levick Strategic Communications began as details first emerged of infighting within the association over repeated warnings, dating back to 2018, that the building was in a dangerous state of disrepair. The Champlain Towers South Condominium Association now faces several lawsuits from residents claiming the group knew or should have known of the building’s structural flaws leading up to the disaster, and failed to act.

At Many Companies, Changes From Covid-19 Are Now Permanent

By Joyce M. Rosenberg, AP

The vending machine outside Pinch Spice Market dispensing packets of herbs and seasonings isn’t a sales gimmick — it helped cater to customers as the company struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic. Meaghan Thomas, co-owner of the Louisville, Kentucky, firm and her partner, Thomas McGee, never expected a stream of shoppers at their tiny factory during the pandemic. But people were cooking more at home and wanted to support local businesses. They’d show up while the owners, the only employees, were trying to fill online orders. There was little or no time to also take care of in-person customers. “The vending machine gave them a contactless way to shop, and it also attracted new customers who happened to be walking by our factory,” Thomas says.

How Covid Affected Employee Perks And What They Will Look Like Post-Pandemic

By Samantha Todd, Forbes

Businesses are substituting employee perks like free in-office lunches and stocked fridges for subscriptions to mental health apps, working from home stipends and now, even Peloton memberships. The exercise equipment company recently launched a corporate wellness program that allows employers to offer workers subsidized access to Peloton’s digital fitness membership, its cycles and treadmills. The Covid-19 pandemic forced many employers to rethink how they use perks to engage and reward their workers. Flexibility, once a selling point, became the norm overnight. Those snack-filled pantries lay empty. But now the debate around employee perks mirrors many of the conversations around how people are likely to work when the pandemic is over. Peloton's announcement, for one, is a sign that many employers believe some form of remote working is here to stay.

And Finally...

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