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Weekly Update 11-18 Apr 21

Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.

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Top Clips

Wisdom Isn’t What You Think It Is

It’s more about listening than talking.

By David Brooks, NYT Morrie Schwartz was a Brandeis sociology professor who died of A.L.S. in 1995. While he was dying, he had a couple of conversations with Ted Koppel on “Nightline” and a bunch with his former student Mitch Albom, who wrote a book, “Tuesdays With Morrie,” which sold over 15 million copies. For a few years, Schwartz was the national epitome of the wise person, the gentle mentor we all long for. But when you look at Schwartz’s piercing insights … well, they’re not that special: “Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.” Schwartz’s genius was the quality of attention he brought to life. We all know we’re supposed to live in the present and savor the fullness of each passing moment, but Schwartz actually did it — dancing with wild abandon before his diagnosis, being fully present with all those who made the pilgrimage to him after it.

Data Is Power

Washington Needs to Craft New Rules for the Digital Age

By Matthew Slaughter and David McCormick, Foreign Affairs Data is now at the center of global trade. For decades, international trade in goods and services set the pace of globalization. After the global financial crisis, however, growth in trade plateaued, and in its place came an explosion of cross-border data flows. Measured by bandwidth, cross-border data flows grew roughly 112 times over from 2008 to 2020. The global economy has become a perpetual motion machine of data: it consumes it, processes it, and produces ever more quantities of it. Digital technologies trafficking in data now enable, and in some cases have replaced, traditional trade in goods and services. Movies, once sold primarily as DVDs, now stream on digital platforms, and news, books, and research papers are consumed online. Even physical goods come laden with digital components. Cars are no longer merely chassis built around internal combustion engines; they also house complex electronics and software capturing massive amounts of data. Trade in physical goods also comes with digital enablers, such as devices and programs that track shipping containers, and these likewise generate data and improve efficiency. And now, COVID-19 has sped up the digital transformation of businesses, pushing even more commerce into the cloud.

Immigration is a defining asset of the United States. Here’s how to restore confidence in our system.

Opinion by George W. Bush, for Wash Post Next week, I’m proud to publish a new collection of my paintings, entitled “Out of Many, One.” The book may not set the art world stirring — hopefully, the critics won’t call it “One Too Many.” I set out to accomplish two things: to share some portraits of immigrants, each with a remarkable story I try to tell, and to humanize the debate on immigration and reform. I hope that these faces, and the stories that accompany them, serve as a reminder that immigration isn’t just a part of our heritage. New Americans are just as much a force for good now, with their energy, idealism and love of country, as they have always been.

‘Pause’ for Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine over reports of blood clots could jeopardize rollout of vaccines worldwide

By Zeke Miller, Lauren Neergaard and Matthew Perrone, Associated Press

The U.S. on Tuesday recommended a “pause” in use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots, setting off a chain reaction worldwide and dealing a setback to the global vaccination campaign. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced that they were investigating unusual clots in six women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person died. The acting FDA commissioner expected the pause to last only a matter of days. But the decision triggered swift action in Europe and elsewhere as the drugmaker and regulators moved to halt the use of the J&J vaccine, at least for now. Hundreds of thousands of doses were due to arrive in European countries, where vaccinations have been plagued by supply shortages, logistical problems and concerns over blood clots in a small number of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet cleared for use in the U.S.

The Rural Pandemic Isn’t Ending

Public-health leaders in rural America are turning toward the next and more difficult stage of the nationwide vaccination campaign: persuasion.

By Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic

Americans will soon begin to fall back into the rhythms of pre-pandemic life—attending sunny summer weddings, squishing into booths at chain restaurants, laughing together at movies on the big screen—and it will feel like a victory over the coronavirus. But the virus might not actually be gone. In pockets of the country, vaccination rates could stay low, creating little islands where the coronavirus survives and thrives—sickening and killing people for months after the pandemic has ebbed elsewhere. In a worst-case scenario, the virus could mutate, becoming a highly transmissible and much more lethal version of itself. Eventually, the new variant could leak from these islands and spread into the broader population, posing a threat to already-vaccinated people.

The Blood-Clot Problem Is Multiplying

So are theories to explain it.

By Roxanne Khamsi, The Atlantic For weeks, Americans looked on as other countries grappled with case reports of rare, sometimes fatal blood abnormalities among those who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. That vaccine has not yet been authorized by the FDA, so restrictions on its use throughout Europe did not get that much attention in the United States. But Americans experienced a rude awakening this week when public-health officials called for a pause on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after a few cases of the same, unusual blood-clotting syndrome turned up among the millions of people in the country who have received it.

J&J Vaccine News Showcases Crucial Time for Communicators, Media

By Nicole Schuman, PR News

Communicators are facing a critical situation to get the vaccine narrative right. The FDA and CDC released a statement today (April 13) recommending a temporary pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. This follows reports of six cases of a "rare and severe" blood clot among more than 6.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) also released a statement. In it, the company used phrases such as “extremely rare” and “open communication” not to minimize anything, but to demonstrate it is working with proper channels to find answers.

Deep Cleaning Isn’t a Victimless Crime

The CDC has finally said what scientists have been screaming for months: The coronavirus is overwhelmingly spread through the air, not via surfaces. By Derek Thompson, The Atlantic Last week, the CDC acknowledged what many of us have been saying for almost nine months about cleaning surfaces to prevent transmission by touch of the coronavirus: It’s pure hygiene theater. “Based on available epidemiological data and studies of environmental transmission factors,” the CDC concluded, “surface transmission is not the main route by which SARS-CoV-2 spreads, and the risk is considered to be low.” In other words: You can put away the bleach, cancel your recurring Amazon subscription for disinfectant wipes, and stop punishing every square inch of classroom floor, restaurant table, and train seat with high-tech antimicrobial blasts. COVID-19 is airborne: It spreads through tiny aerosolized droplets that linger in the air in unventilated spaces. Touching stuff just doesn’t carry much risk, and more people should say so, very loudly.

Rosie Could Be a Riveter Only Because of a Care Economy. Where Is Ours?

The men and women who went to work and war during World War II were backed by a care economy. We need one too.

By Anne-Marie Slaughter, N YT

I have spent the past two weeks reading about the infrastructure debate with mounting rage. When a reporter asked me recently why I felt so strongly, I sputtered, groping for the words. Ultimately, however, the answer is simple. Insisting that there is actually a fixed definition of what infrastructure is — bridges, but not baby care — perfectly encapsulates the ways in which the world is still shaped by men. Not just conservative men, but men across the political spectrum. Men today, that is: Three-quarters of a century ago, the Greatest Generation recognized that both forms of infrastructure were essential to the war effort.

A Bad Day for Vladimir Putin

Joe Biden’s sanctions will bite, and they come at the right time. By The WSJ Editorial Board China poses the greatest threat to U.S. national security, but that doesn’t mean other adversaries should get a pass. Credit then to President Biden for imposing costs on Russia over a wide range of malfeasance. Sanctions are often a half-measure, but some of the retaliatory actions announced by the Biden Administration Thursday will have serious consequences. Most important is a ban on American financial institutions purchasing new bonds from the Russian finance ministry, central bank or sovereign-wealth fund after June 14. The executive order also allows the U.S. government to sanction any part of the Russian economy, which will make U.S. firms think twice about doing business in Russia. The weakness of the plan is that U.S. traders will still be able to access Russian debt in secondary bond markets.

Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021

By Missy Ryan and Karen DeYoung, The Washington Post

President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, U.S. officials said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that drew the United States into its longest war. The decision, which Biden is expected to announce Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Tuesday under rules of anonymity set by the White House.

With Militants Gaining New Footholds, Afghanistan No Longer Central to Counterterrorism Fight

By Yaroslav Trofimov and Jessica Donati, Wall Street Journal

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 because that is where al Qaeda plotted its attack on America. Then, for nearly two decades, denying terrorists an Afghan foothold served as a key justification for what has become America’s longest war.

Biden Ditches the Generals, Finally

Another casualty in the graveyard of empires.

By Maureen Dowd, NYT

Afghanistan has a complicated relationship with time. And America has a complicated relationship with revenge. Between these two truths, tragedy blossomed. Awash in grief and anger, we invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 to hunt down Osama bin Laden and punish the Taliban for letting him turn a maze of caves into a launching pad to attack America. But, despite the lessons the Soviets learned in 10 hard years there fighting ghostly warriors who disappeared into the mountains, American officials and generals never absorbed this simple fact: Even the battles we won, we lost in a way. As we grasped for our own revenge, what kind of revenge quest did we inspire in those who watched daisy cutter bombs rain hellfire or a wedding party disintegrate in a flash from an American airstrike? How many enemies have we spawned trying to help Afghanistan? Taliban leaders say Americans have all the clocks, but they have all the time.

What the West Gets Wrong About China

Three fundamental misconceptions

By Rana Mitter and Elsbeth Johnson, for The Harvard Business Review When we first traveled to China, in the early 1990s, it was very different from what we see today. Even in Beijing many people wore Mao suits and cycled everywhere; only senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials used cars. In the countryside life retained many of its traditional elements. But over the next 30 years, thanks to policies aimed at developing the economy and increasing capital investment, China emerged as a global power, with the second-largest economy in the world and a burgeoning middle class eager to spend.

The Strategic Challenges of Decoupling

Navigating your company’s future in China

By J. Stewart Black and Allen J. Morrison, for The Harvard Business Review

For U.S. politicians and the public, shortages of N95 masks and other key medical equipment at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis highlighted just how dependent the United States had become on production in China. The Trump administration’s aggressive policy toward China was broadly popular, despite potential negative side effects. In the first 10 months of 2020 the exact phrase “decouple from China” or “decoupling from China” appeared in three times as many articles as in the previous three years combined. But most business executives don’t want to decouple, and it’s easy to understand why. As one told us, “We spent 13 years getting into China. It’s impossible for us to just pull out.” That view is common: No executives we’ve met want to see the time, effort, and investment they’ve put into developing a presence in China go to waste.

How the Quad Can Match the Hype

It’s the Best Hope for Balancing China in the Indo-Pacific

By Dhruva Jaishankar and Tanvi Madan Last month, a once obscure diplomatic grouping suddenly took center stage in the defining geopolitical competition of this century. When the leaders of the Quad—a coalition among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States—met virtually on March 12, its members proclaimed a new chapter in Indo-Pacific competition. The four leaders called the gathering a “spark of hope to light the path ahead” and promised collaboration on everything from COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and maritime security to climate change and infrastructure investment. The logic behind such an effort is clear. A more assertive China is extending its influence across the Indo-Pacific and around the world. Existing alliances and institutions aren’t up to the task of addressing the consequences, and domestic politics across the region mean that an “Asian NATO” is off the table. That’s where the Quad comes in: as its members increasingly find themselves at loggerheads with Beijing,

Games States Play in Cyberspace

By Zhanna Malekos Smith, CSIS

Indictments can be a useful signaling mechanism to states and foreign hackers working on their behalf. But if the time it takes for hackers to be publicly charged exceeds a year, does that diminish the value of indictments in promoting responsible state behavior in cyberspace? Put differently, understanding that state hackers could potentially face a timeline of a year or longer before being indicted by the United States, could that incentivize states to take more aggressive action? As a creative scaffold for understanding the strategic geopolitical value of indictments, consider Walter Mischel’s famous willpower experiment at Stanford University in the 1960s —the so-called Marshmallow Test. In the test, preschool-aged children were offered one marshmallow to eat immediately, but if they could refrain from eating it for 15 minutes, they would then be rewarded with two.

LISTEN: DEFAERO Report Daily Podcast [April 15, 21] U.S. Navy Commitment

On this episode of the DefAero Report Daily Podcast, sponsored by Bell, Defense & Aerospace Report’s own contributing editor Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello, a founder of Provision Advisors (and Defense and Aerospace producer) discuss Cavas’ recent article “A Problem of Commitment,” the Biden Administration’s “skinny budget” and Navy Messaging in the era of great power competition.

Sen. Duckworth Calls For DOJ Probe of 'Brazenly Violent' Police Treatment of Black Army Officer

By Steve Beynon,

A retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Senate is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate whether there is an "unlawful pattern or practice of conduct" at the police department in Windsor, Virginia after officers held a uniformed Guard officer at gunpoint and doused him in pepper spray. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking DOJ to investigate whether Windsor police regularly engage in searches and arrests that violate the Fourth Amendment, and if officers regularly conduct discriminatory policing.

Lawmakers praise Biden nominees Inglis and Easterly for cyber expertise, leadership

April 13, 2021 - By Sara Friedman, Inside Cybersecurity

The nominations of Chris Inglis for National Cyber Director and Jen Easterly to lead CISA are generating positive reactions from lawmakers, who are eager to see President Biden’s team fully fleshed out as the administration works to bolster the government’s commitment to cybersecurity initiatives and partnerships. The four congressional members of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission praised the Biden administration’s decision to hire Inglis, a former National Security Agency deputy director and member of the commission. The lawmakers are Solarium Commission co-chairs Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and commission members Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).

Surveys Show Pandemic Burnout Hitting TV Journalists and Advertising

By Sophie Maerowitz, PR Newswire

Researchers at College of Social Work (CoSW) Self-Care Lab at the University of Kentucky conducted a national survey of nearly 2,000 broadcast journalists’ self-care practices as COVID-19 has come to dominate lead stories they work on, in addition to their personal lives. In a survey of over 1,300 marketing, PR and advertising employees and a subsequent report, market research firm Bastion db5 in partnership with agency vet Tim Anderson, found top stressors included work-life balance, job security, ageism and fair pay. The CoSW journalist survey focused specifically on pandemic-caused burnout, while Bastion db5 and Anderson’s research honed in on more long-term employee dissatisfaction in the advertising industry.

3 tips for building better relationships with reporters

By investing in the stories that matter for reporters, you can become an essential partner and trusted resource.

By Kristina Corso, PR Daily

To have real success in the world of media relations, it’s essential to pay attention to a timeless classic: building relationships. Building mutually beneficial relationships with journalists based on trust, transparency and professional courtesy will get you a lot further than any specific pitching technique or trend ever will. We all need a little extra empathy these days, and we all want to work with people we like and trust. That’s human nature. So how can we as communications professionals build those relationships?

DoD’s New Pushback Against Chinese Money In US Defense Industry

By Paul McLeary, Breaking Defense

Faced with a massive spike in Chinese companies burrowing into the US defense manufacturing base, a new Pentagon effort has approved more than $311 million in potential partnerships between US venture capital firms and small tech firms since January in an attempt to keep Chinese money — and influence — out. In recent years, Chinese investment in small US tech and manufacturing firms has increased by a staggering 420% according to one analysis, an avalanche of money that could directly impact national security if that spigot were turned off in a time of crisis.

American, Georgetown universities join growing list of campuses to require coronavirus vaccines

By Lauren Lumpkin, WashPost As vaccine eligibility expands and schools come closer to reopening for the fall, at least a dozen campuses have shared plans to mandate vaccines. Some, including Georgetown and AU, are also considering requirements for faculty and staff.

Md. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford says he won’t run for governor in 2022

By Erin Cox, Wash Post

Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) has decided not to seek the state’s top job when Gov. Larry Hogan leaves office under term limits in 2022, creating a wide-open GOP primary and leaving Hogan’s extensive political operation without an heir apparent. Rutherford, 64, had been mulling a run but amassed less than $25,000 to finance it as of January, dramatically less than other potential contenders. Known as a wonky administrator who relishes the operational aspects of government, Rutherford has not won public office outside of his partnership with Hogan.

And Finally...

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