Weekly Update 14-20 Jun 21
Updated: Jun 27
Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.
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By David Brooks, for the New York Times
In 1982, the economist Mancur Olson set out to explain a paradox. West Germany and Japan endured widespread devastation during World War II, yet in the years after the war both countries experienced miraculous economic growth. Britain, on the other hand, emerged victorious from the war, with its institutions more intact, and yet it immediately entered a period of slow economic growth that left it lagging other European democracies. What happened? In his book “The Rise and Decline of Nations,” Olson concluded that Germany and Japan enjoyed explosive growth precisely because their old arrangements had been disrupted. The devastation itself, and the forces of American occupation and reconstruction, dislodged the interest groups that had held back innovation. The old patterns that stifled experimentation were swept away. The disruption opened space for something new.
WashingtonPost - Video
Juneteenth has taken on a symbolic national reverence as the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas, but, in reality, the emancipation proclamation didn’t end slavery, and neither did the civil war. Reporter Nicole Ellis revisits Galveston, Tex., where Gen. Gordon Granger delivered an order that emancipated 250,000 enslaved people on June 19, 1865. Granger clarifying words on the value of Black life in America distinguishes Juneteenth as emancipation day. But our ability to live up to that ideal as a nation is best measured in the days, weeks and years that followed.
By Kate Masur, for the New York Times
For two and a half centuries, starting long before the establishment of the United States, people of African descent fought against slavery every way they could. Americans legally bought and sold Black people as property, and enslaved status passed through generations, from mothers to their children. It took a deadly civil war, at a cost of more than 650,000 lives, to rid the United States of that institution. To commemorate Juneteenth — now established as a national holiday on June 19 — is to recognize the importance of slavery in United States history, to remember the horrors of bondage and the jubilation of freedom.
This year’s Juneteenth commemorations must take a deeper look at the history of Black self-liberation to understand what emancipation really means—and how far the country still has to go.
By Daina Ramey Berry, for The Atlantic
Two centuries ago, a woman named Esther claimed her freedom. The enslaved woman filed a suit against her enslaver, Bernard H. Buckner, on behalf of herself and her two children in federal court. In 1827, Buckner had intended to move the family to his new home in the District of Columbia, but had neglected to heed a local law requiring him to relocate them within a year of establishing residency. It was a technicality, part of a law designed to stop the importation of enslaved people into the capital. But Esther knew the law, and kept track of each of the 365 days that needed to pass before her bondage would be invalidated. Esther acted swiftly and audaciously. She sued.
Jane and the host of ‘The Daily Show’ sit down to discuss the death of nuance, cancel culture and talking to people you disagree with.
Interview By Jane Coaston, NYT's The Arguement
I’m Jane Coaston, and this is a special bonus episode of The Argument.
Last month, I sat down with Trevor Noah to talk about a topic we both hate, cancel culture. Contrary to the theme of the show, this wasn’t an argument, more of a conversation. Trevor has been hosting The Daily Show for six years, and as a comedian, he has a lot of thoughts on how satire works, what makes political satire satisfying, and facing up to your old sometimes not so good and maybe very bad jokes.
There’s no way of knowing how bad things will get in the U.S. In a way, that’s a luxury.
By Sarah Zhang, for The Atlantic
This much is clear: The coronavirus is becoming more transmissible. Ever since the virus emerged in China, it has been gaining mutations that help it spread more easily among humans. The Alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom last year, is 50 percent more transmissible than the original version, and now the Delta variant, first detected in India, is at least 40 percent more transmissible than Alpha.
Reducing hours without reducing pay would reignite an essential but long-forgotten moral project: making American life less about work.
By Joe Pinsker, for The Atlantic
The 89 people who work at Buffer, a company that makes social-media management tools, are used to having an unconventional employer. Everyone’s salary, including the CEO’s, is public. All employees work remotely; their only office closed down six years ago. And as a perk, Buffer pays for any books employees want to buy for themselves.
A NEW GUIDE TO LIVING THROUGH CLIMATE CHANGE The Weekly Planet brings you big ideas and vital information to help you flourish on a changing planet. So perhaps it is unsurprising that last year, when the pandemic obliterated countless workers’ work-life balance and mental health, Buffer responded in a way that few other companies did: It gave employees an extra day off each week, without reducing pay—an experiment that’s still running a year later. “It has been such a godsend,” Essence Muhammad, a customer-support agent at Buffer, told me.
As the companies look to bring their workers back to the office, communications will play a crucial role.
By Colleen Moffitt, PR Daily
With an increasing number of Americans getting vaccinated and many cities easing their social distancing guidelines, more businesses are announcing plans for employees to return to the office. Some companies are even accelerating their plans. Uber, as reported by NPR, has moved up its back-to-the-office plan from Sept. 13, 2021 to April 3, on a voluntary basis. According to the article, “the ride-share company said only up to 20% of employees can opt to work from the office.” But are we ready? When I read the NPR article on Uber’s plans, my anxiety started building. What will returning to the office be like? How do we return to the office in a safe manner? It seems I am not alone in these worries. The New York Times recently reported on this emotional impact in the article “Returning to the Office Sparks Anxiety and Dread for Some.”
As the pandemic clouds lift, the percentage of Americans leaving employers for new opportunities is at its highest level in more than two decades
By Evan Jenkins, The Wall Street Journal
More U.S. workers are quitting their jobs than at any time in at least two decades, signaling optimism among many professionals while also adding to the struggle companies face trying to keep up with the economic recovery. The wave of resignations marks a sharp turn from the darkest days of the pandemic, when workers craved job security while weathering a national health and economic crisis. In April, the share of U.S. workers leaving jobs was 2.7%, according to the Labor Department, a jump from 1.6% a year earlier to the highest level since at least 2000.
On this Washington Roundtable episode of the Defense & Aerospace Report Podcast, sponsored by Bell, our guests are Dov Zakheim, PhD, former DoD comptroller, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Bob Hale, former Pentagon comptroller, Dr. Patrick Cronin of the Hudson Institute, Michael Herson, President and CEO, American Defense International and Jim Townsend, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO who is now with the Center for a New American Security.
“They may think they’re making efforts for transparency. They’re not.”
By Haley Britzky, Task and Purpose
The Army has a communications problem. In at least three recent documented instances, the Army was either extremely reluctant to speak with the media on a high-profile issue, allegedly suppressed and withheld facts, and in one case provided blatantly false information. For this story, three active duty public affairs officers spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about issues they see in their field. They said the three instances are symptomatic of a larger problem: that commanders fail to recognize the importance of transparency, which results in an Army that doesn’t prioritize communicating with the public. “The public affairs motto is strength through truth,” a field grade public affairs officer told Task & Purpose. “I think we need to remember that, and remember that we’re told that transparency is key to trust, whereas it seems like we prefer not to be transparent through fear.”
By The Defense & Aerospace Report
Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello. A weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world. This week…US Navy leaders in Washington begin to defend the fiscal 2022 budget on Capitol Hill as the annual round of Senate and House hearings begin. So far – the people in the big chairs are not at all happy with what they’re hearing. And the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan was finally sent to Congress — without a 30-year plan. We discuss. And there’s talk of creating some sort of international naval task force to patrol the South China Sea. But is that really needed – or even a good idea? We’ll talk about it. But first a look at naval developments around the world.
Opinion by By Andrew Odell, The Wall Street Journal
James D. Hornfischer, a historian of the U.S. Navy, died June 2 at 55. The costs borne by Navy sailors in World War II seldom receive prime billing in history courses, but amid so much fresh attention on the Pacific, more Americans should thumb through Hornfischer’s work about the Navy’s “finest hour,” off the coast of Samar on an October morning in 1944. Hornfischer’s “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” (2004) is dedicated to about two hours of action in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, mostly on “tin cans,” the Navy term of endearment for destroyers.
Don’t Start Another Cold War
By Bernie Sanders, Foreign Affairs The unprecedented global challenges that the United States faces today—climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, massive economic inequality, terrorism, corruption, authoritarianism—are shared global challenges. They cannot be solved by any one country acting alone. They require increased international cooperation—including with China, the most populous country on earth. It is distressing and dangerous, therefore, that a fast-growing consensus is emerging in Washington that views the U.S.-Chinese relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle. The prevalence of this view will create a political environment in which the cooperation that the world desperately needs will be increasingly difficult to achieve.
Biden talks tough to adversaries even as he shrinks the Pentagon.
By The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal
President Biden is telling the world in Europe this week that “America is back” as the leader of global democracies. Sounds good. But China, Iran and Vladimir Putin would be more impressed if Mr. Biden wasn’t cutting America’s defense even as he rightly stresses the challenge from the world’s authoritarians. Unremarked in the White House spending deluge is that its trillions for “infrastructure” include little new for defense. Mr. Biden’s $715 billion Pentagon budget for fiscal 2022 is a 1.6% increase over last year. Adjusted for inflation, this is a cut. The bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission and other experts say the Pentagon needs steady 3% to 5% real increases annually to address threats from “near peers” such as China and Russia.
By Megan Eckstein, Defense News
A prediction last year that China could attempt to invade Taiwan in the next six years has put increased pressure on talks between lawmakers and U.S. Navy leadership over how to prioritize fiscal 2022 spending needs. In addition, the apparent preference of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., to not increase Defense Department top-line spending and instead find cuts within the department to offset any additional needs is now creating another layer of complexity. The budget tension was on full display during a June 15 HASC hearing with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger and Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker.
By Brent D. Sadler, Defense One
The Navy budget proposal released last month seems an exercise in cognitive dissonance. Not only does it fail to acknowledge the obvious dangers of the present day, it further defers making good on long-overdue commitments to meet the threats of tomorrow. Take a look around. Russia recently conducted large naval drills around Ukraine. Chinese aircraft and warships are busily trying to intimidate Taiwan and bully Philippine fishermen in the South China Sea. All the while, Beijing assiduously has been expanding its navy at breakneck pace.
The embattled lingerie giant is attempting the most extreme brand turnaround in recent memory: an effort to redefine not just itself but also the very idea of what “sexy” is.
The Victoria’s Secret Angels, those avatars of Barbie bodies and playboy reverie, are gone. Their wings, fluttery confections of rhinestones and feathers that could weigh almost 30 pounds, are gathering dust in storage. The “Fantasy Bra,” dangling real diamonds and other gems, is no more. In their place are seven women famous for their achievements and not their proportions. They include Megan Rapinoe, the 35-year-old pink-haired soccer star and gender equity campaigner; Eileen Gu, a 17-year-old Chinese American freestyle skier and soon-to-be Olympian; the 29-year-old biracial model and inclusivity advocate Paloma Elsesser, who was the rare size 14 woman on the cover of Vogue; and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a 38-year-old Indian actor and tech investor.
By Jason Hennessey, CEO Entrepreneur
Public relations — all brands and businesses need it. Most have it. Only some use it correctly. To be fair, there’s a certain level of fear that comes with PR collaboration. You’re entrusting a person or agency to be your sounding board and craft sounds that others enjoy listening to. Big deal? Yes. Important for growth? Double yes.
By Sophie Maerowitz, PR News
Facebook is criticized on many fronts. Still, its importance for brands seems solid. Unexpectedly, nearly 80 percent of consumers choose it as their go-to vehicle for following brands, according to a Sprout Social survey detailing consumer and marketer trends on social media. In addition, Facebook tops the charts as consumers' most-used platform (87 percent). These findings serve as a reminder to social media communicators to revisit Facebook as a platform for driving business, despite a groundswell of buzz for newer platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse. When consumers follow a brand on social, 91 percent say they are likely to visit its website or app. This high level of conversion is surprising, given social platforms' (particularly Facebook) aim of keeping social media users on-platform.
By Thomas Moore, The Hill
Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily printed 500,000 copies on Friday, five times more than usual, a day after Chinese authorities arrested five editors and executives for allegedly conspiring with foreign governments to endanger national security, according to The Associated Press. The front page prominently featured images of the editors and executives handcuffed and led away by police. Members of other media outlets were invited to watch the Friday edition roll off the presses, and Hong Kong residents stood in line to buy the pro-democracy paper, some specifically to protest the arrests.
By Alan Suderman, AP
A cyber-espionage campaign blamed on China was more sweeping than previously known, with suspected state-backed hackers exploiting a device meant to boost internet security to penetrate the computers of critical U.S. entities. Among the suspected targets was the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people and operates some of the largest treatment plants in the world. The hack of Pulse Connect Secure networking devices came to light in April, but its scope is starting to become clear only now. The Associated Press has learned that the hackers targeted telecommunications giant Verizon, and security analysts say dozens of other high-value entities that have not yet been named were also targeted as part of the breach of Pulse Secure, which is used by many companies and governments for secure remote access to their networks. Los Angeles Times
By Tom O’Connor and Naveed Jamali, Newsweek
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking an agreement from his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden in order to rein in global cyberwarfare. Moscow sees the effort as critical in stemming an already raging 21st-century digital arms race and avoiding a miscalculation that could spark a conflict between the two top military powers. Such an inadvertent conflagration becomes especially dangerous in the absence of "red lines" not yet established among nations and non-state actors, who are also quickly honing potentially devastating cyber capabilities.
I “have it all,” but I don’t have margin
By Hope Hodge Seck, Reporter, Editor, Mom, Inspiring woman @ Military.com
The tense call from my husband came when I was on a break between panels during a US Special Operations conference in Washington, DC. My three-month-old daughter had gone on strike against the milk I’d taken great pains to pump late at night and store in the freezer. She hadn’t had a drop since I’d left the house seven hours before, and had now missed two feedings. I drove home in agony and sobbed as I nursed her, my hot tears falling on her fuzzy head. It was the first of many clashes between my new dual identities as mother and full-time professional. I’d never let my baby suffer, but I also recoiled at the idea of giving anything less than my best effort to my reporting job. Something had to give, and in this case it was my resistance to store-bought formula. My emotional distress notwithstanding, I was back at work the next day to cover the rest of the conference.
By Karli Goldenberg, Military.com
Lt. Cmdr. Kayla Barron, one of the first women to serve on a Navy submarine, is now one step closer to being one of the first women to walk on the Moon. Barron, 33, who commissioned as a Navy officer in 2010, was selected by NASA out of a pool of approximately 18,000 people to join the 2017 astronaut candidate class. Barron is no stranger to firsts. When the Navy first began the process of integrating women into submarine crews in 2010, during her senior year at the Naval Academy, Barron became a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community. "I think I've been lucky to be in the right place at the right time for some of these big changes, the submarine force being a great example. They opened the community to women during my senior year at the Naval Academy, allowing me to volunteer to serve in that community," Barron said.
By Rick Hutzell, Editor at The Capital Gazette
I came to The Capital in October 1987, and promptly told Managing Editor Tom Marquardt I planned to stay for two years and then join the Associated Press and see the world. One love of my life, Chara, two kids, two houses, four dogs, two convertibles and one Pulitzer Prize later, it’s clear I had no idea what I was talking about. I wish I could say it’s all been grand, and I’m headed off to retirement. But it hasn’t, and I’m not.The murder of my five friends, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith, changed me. I always
By Bob Harig, ESPN
Phil Mickelson's quest to complete the career Grand Slam was not aided Thursday by the numerous instances in which he was distracted by spectators who did not switch their cell phone cameras off during the first round of the U.S. Open. Mickelson was visibly and audibly irritated during one instance on the 13th hole -- his fourth -- in which he three times backed off a shot from just off the fairway to ask that a cell camera be switched off.
By Patricia Kime, Military.com
Cameron Kinley, an ensign and president of his graduating class at the Naval Academy, will not be allowed to appeal a decision that he start serving immediately in the Navy rather than play in the National Football League. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker told Congress Tuesday that he, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, reviewed Kinley's request to defer his military service so he could play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but decided to deny it. Instead, Kinley, who signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent, must report immediately for duty, according to the May 25 final decision.
By Jason Gay, WSJ
Father’s Day is nearly here, and these two children who live in my home keep asking me what I would like to do for the holiday, because, apparently, I am their father. That’s what they’re saying, at least. They have offered to serve me breakfast in bed, “a day of relaxation,” as if two small children are constitutionally capable of offering that, and they’ve even asked me if I’d like a “special gift.” I said sure, Your father would like a 1970 Ford Bronco, in reef aqua, low mileage, original interior, let’s see what you can do. The kids seem perplexed. They’re 8 and 6. I’m not sure if they’ve got the scratch.