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Weekly Update 14-20 Dec 20


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

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Top Clips


The World Is Full of Challenges. Here’s How Biden Can Meet Them.

By Robert M. Gates, for the New York Times

President-elect Joe Biden appears to be framing his foreign policy around three themes: re-engaging with America’s friends and allies, renewing our participation in international organizations and relying more heavily on nonmilitary instruments of power. Considering the challenges posed by China and other countries, as well as transnational threats that range from pandemics to climate change, these are, in my view, the correct priorities. (Though, of course, unparalleled military power must remain the backdrop for America’s relations with the world.)



The great acceleration...The virus isn’t transforming us. It’s speeding up the changes already underway.

By Carlos Lozada, for the Washington Post It is a sign of Americans’ endless desire for reinvention — or maybe just our chronic navel-gazing — that from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been wondering not just when it would end but how it would change us. We can’t experience the trauma of lockdowns, job losses and school closings, let alone the unfathomable tragedy of 300,000 deaths so far in the United States and multiples more worldwide, without coming out remade on the other side. How and where we live, work, heal, mourn, learn and communicate — surely everything will be different after this, right?


Suspected Russian Hack Said to Have Gone Undetected for Months

The hack of U.S. agencies and firms was met with alarm by current and former intelligence officials and others


By Dustin Volz and Robert McMillan, Wall Street Journal

A suspected Russian hack of U.S. government agencies and private businesses across the globe festered for months, going largely undetected by the Trump administration and cybersecurity firms until the past week, according to people familiar with the matter. The Russian operation was disclosed Sunday and was met with alarm by current and former intelligence officials, security experts and lawmakers, some of whom said they were stunned an apparently widespread attack appeared to have evaded recognition for so long.



Defense & Aerospace Daily Podcast [Dec 17, 2020] Responding to the Latest Russian Hack


Dr. Jim Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Michael Kofman of the Center for Naval Analyses discuss Russia’s massive penetration of US government, military and industrial computer networks and how the incoming Biden administration should respond with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian.



I Was the Homeland Security Adviser to Trump. We’re Being Hacked.

By Thomas P. Bossert, for the New York Times

At the worst possible time, when the United States is at its most vulnerable — during a presidential transition and a devastating public health crisis — the networks of the federal government and much of corporate America are compromised by a foreign nation. We need to understand the scale and significance of what is happening.



Competition With China Could Be Short and Sharp

By Michael Beckley and Hal Brands, for Foreign Affairs In foreign policy circles, it has become conventional wisdom that the United States and China are running a “superpower marathon” that may last a century. But the sharpest phase of that competition will be a decadelong sprint. The Sino-American contest for supremacy won’t be settled anytime soon. Yet history and China’s recent trajectory suggest that the moment of maximum danger is just a few years away.



Was It Worth It? \

By Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic

People who work for President Donald Trump typically meet one of two fates. They fail to show the unthinking loyalty he demands and get fired. Or, maybe worse, they don’t get fired—they endure the tantrums and turmoil and survive another day, binding themselves even closer to perhaps history’s most divisive president. Anyone who went to work for Trump inside or outside the government surely knew the terms of the bargain. They’d be answering to an untested and impulsive president. They weren’t getting Dwight Eisenhower as a boss—they were getting Dwight Schrute.


20 good things that happened in 2020

By the Washington Post Editorial Board When we began listing good things that happened in the year to match the year’s number — 16 good things in 2016, 17 good things in 2017, and so on — we knew the exercise would grow more challenging as the century wore on. To be honest, though, we didn’t think it would get this hard, this fast. The year 2020 turned out to be a difficult one to love. Still, good things did happen. Perhaps more than usual, our list this year includes silver linings — "Yes, a terrible plague struck humankind, but...” We don’t apologize for that; finding the silver linings is how we all make it through. And we’re sure this list is far from exhaustive; we’d love to hear from you. What good things happened in 2020 that we’ve omitted here?


What Makes You Think 2021 Will Be Better?

By Wajahat Ali, NYT

I’m not a Debbie Downer. Far from it. I’m usually an optimist who pushes for hope in the most dire of circumstances. However, when I hear friends talk about how the new year and Joe Biden’s presidency will answer our collective prayers and cleanse our collective palate from 2020’s unrelenting onslaught of pain and misery, I can’t help but feel skeptical. “What makes you think 2021 will be any better?” I ask them.


No Labels, Planning Centrist Push in New Congress, Taps Larry Hogan


By Luke Broadwater, New York Times

The bipartisan political organization No Labels plans to announce on Tuesday that it has named Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, as its new national co-chairman as it pushes lawmakers to embrace centrist policies in a new Congress. Mr. Hogan, who is trying to play a larger role in national politics as his second term as governor of a solidly Democratic state draws to an end in 2022, will join former Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, in leading the organization, which supports the 50-member House Problem Solvers Caucus and a smaller group of eight centrist senators.


Should companies require employees to take the vaccine?


By Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times

Depending on the poll you read, 40% to 50% of Americans say they will not get a coronavirus vaccine when it first becomes available to them. In a survey of firefighters in New York City, who are essential workers at high risk of infection, 55% said they do not intend to take a vaccine if offered by their departments. The possibility that large swaths of the population may refuse — or simply delay — getting vaccinated presents a perilous challenge to the health of the nation and the economy.


Co-Working Volatility Is Making the Office Market More Precarious

Vacancies are starting to soar, as many companies work remotely


By Konrad Putzier, Wall Street Journal

Empty co-working spaces are helping push office vacancies in big cities to levels not seen in decades, threatening the commercial-property sector’s reputation as a haven for investors. Office buildings are often considered relatively protected from economic shocks because most tenants are locked into long-term leases of five years and often more. Landlords could count on steady income even at times when corporate profits are down.


The Marines’ Missile Imperative

By WSJ The Editorial Board Next year’s Pentagon budget will total about $700 billion, but Congress could harm America’s defense against China if it misallocates some $100 million for missiles in the looming military appropriations bill.



Series: Bad Ideas in National Security


By Todd Harrison, Nicholas Harrington, Defense 360

Bad Ideas in National Security series features short articles from CSIS and outside scholars on recently considered and not too obvious bad ideas in the defense and foreign policy space.



Capital Gazette journalist Wendi Winters posthumously awarded Carnegie Medal for heroism during newsroom shooting


By Lilly Price, Capital Gazette

The Capital journalist Wendi Winters has been posthumously awarded the highest honor for civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission announced Monday. Survivors credit Winters for saving their lives when she picked up a trash can and recycling bin and charged a gunman who blasted through the glass doors of The Capital’s office on June 28, 2018. Winters was shot and killed trying to protect her colleagues. Four other employees were killed in the shooting: Rebecca Smith, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara.


Stop the Misinformation, I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?

By Bashon Mann, Provision Advisors

A fabled Renaissance Age “swordsman” once drunkenly pontificated to himself that he must go “back to the beginning,” for this was where he was told (by Vizzini), “...if the job goes wrong, you go back to the beginning.” One might say, this was his moment of clarity.



NYT returns Peabody after finding "significant falsehoods" in podcast

By Sara Fischer, Gigi Sukin, Axios

The New York Times on Friday said it would return its 2018 Peabody Award for its "Caliphate" podcast, hours after the paper conceded that large parts of the audio series didn't meet its editorial standards. It's an embarrassing error for The Times, which invested significant resources in the project since 2018. It's also a grim reminder to the journalism industry that even big, well-funded institutions can make costly mistakes.



Train Troops to Use Social Media More Effectively.

It’s a tool, like any other. We may as well know how to use it.

By Madison Sargeant, Defense One

No less for the military than for the rest of American society, social media has proven a double-edged sword. It creates operational security risks and gives a bullhorn to the boneheaded. But to argue, as Task & Purpose’s Jeff Schogol did recently, that social media is too dangerous to allow troops to use it, is to miss the ways the military could make better use of these new tools. In particular, the military should think harder about, and better train its members in, using social media to better connect the military to the larger society it serves.


Employee Monitoring Vs. Workplace Trust In An Age Of Remote Working


By Anna Shields, Forbes This year, as communities came together to fight Covid-19, millions of employees packed up their desks and headed for their study, kitchen, or shed. Technology responded, supporting teams to find new ways to collaborate through digital channels. But this connected virtual workplace brought friction too.


For U.S. Legal Pot Industry In 2021, Expect To See National Brands And $24 Billion In Sales, Says Top Researcher

By Iris Dorbian, Forbes

In the history books, 2020 is sure to be described for posterity as a "year like no other." Yet, as unrelentingly cruel and turbulent the year has been in terms of the pandemic and social unrest, it was highly momentous for the legal cannabis industry. From cannabis being deemed “essential” at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak last March to legalization measures passing in all five states that had them on their ballots in November, the space scored major wins. What does 2021 look like for the industry? Roy Bingham, co-founder and chairman of BDSA, a top cannabis market research firm, shares his findings.


Native American sports mascots turned real people into flimsy props. Good riddance to them all.


By Sally Jenkins, Washington Post

“Before the white man can relate to others, he must forgo the pleasure of defining them,” the great Native American author and historian Vine Deloria Jr. wrote. The trouble with an Indian mascot is that it does more than just define others, crudely and cheaply. It turns them into petty collectibles, dime-store stuff to be pinned on a wall or worn on a cap, and therefore it makes them less real, less human. The Cleveland baseball team’s decision to drop the name Indians after 105 years of use is a welcome admission that we have to quit this souveniring of people.



MLB reclassifies Negro Leagues as major league

By Associated Press

Willie Mays will add some hits to his record, Monte Irvin’s big league batting average should climb over .300 and Satchel Paige may add nearly 150 victories to his total. Josh Gibson, the greatest of all Negro League sluggers, might just wind up with a major league record, too. The statistics and records of greats like Gibson, Paige and roughly 3,400 other players are set to join Major League Baseball’s books after MLB announced Wednesday it is reclassifying the Negro Leagues as a major league.


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