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Weekly Update 21-27 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

By Peter Wehner, NYT

“Get used to different.” That line comes from a marvelous new TV series on Jesus’ life, “The Chosen,” in which Jesus, played by Jonathan Roumie, invites Matthew to become one of his disciples. Simon Peter, already a disciple, registers his fierce objection. Matthew is a tax collector, who were viewed as tools of Roman authorities, often dishonest and abusive. They were therefore treated as traitors and outcasts by other Jews.

By David Ignatius, The Washington Post

Not to be alarmist, but we should recognize that the United States will be in the danger zone until the formal certification of Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, because potential domestic and foreign turmoil could give President Trump an excuse to cling to power.

By Peggy Noonan, WSJ Twenty twenty defies summation. All of us tried; no words ever seemed to capture the whole. But three things are true: You’ll tell your grandchildren about this year, you’ll never forget this year, and your life changed this year, though it may be some time before you know in exactly what way and how much.

Several say the pandemic helped them develop closer relationships with their children and become better parents.

It was Thanksgiving morning when Serena, 7, announced: “2020 was a good year.” Her mother, Hallie Palladino, was taken aback. For Palladino — and most parents — 2020 was starting to feel like a long, exhausting layover with no connecting flight.

By Anne Helen Petersen, NYT

There’s a common refrain among people who’ve been marooned in their homes this year, trying to manage their jobs and their children’s distance learning, always fighting the losing battle against the dishes, the laundry, the dog hair, the grocery list. “I cannot wait to get back to the office,” they say. The future of work is flexibility.

By Justin Ocean, Bloomberg

There’s nothing quite like a once-in-a-century pandemic to really help put things in perspective. By now, most of us have sworn to never again take for granted the everyday ups and downs of pre-Covid life. Dinner parties, music festivals, even holiday weekends scrambling through packed airports. How we yearn for some semblance of regular movement.

By Laura Meckler, Moriah Balingit and Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

Teachers, fearful of returning to classrooms during the pandemic, are facing new encouragement — and new pressure — to go back, raising the prospect that in-person school could resume in many communities before the school year is out. The Centers for Disease Control recommended Sunday that states prioritize teachers as part of the second group of people eligible for the coronavirus vaccines. Two days later, Congress cleared a coronavirus aid package with $54 billion for K-12 schools, which, if the president signs it, is expected to help pay expenses associated with in-person education. That could include protective equipment such as masks and plexiglass dividers, upgrades to ventilation systems and additional staffing.

All these credentials haven’t led to better results. By Jennifer Senior, NYT

Over the last few decades, Congress has diversified in important ways. It has gotten less white, less male, less straight — all positive developments. But as I was staring at one of the many recent Senate hearings, filled with the usual magisterial blustering and self-important yada yada, it dawned on me that there’s a way that Congress has moved in a wrong direction, and become quite brazenly unrepresentative.

Foreign Affairs editors’ top picks from print and web.

2020 in review…the good, the bad, the notable and under reported with guests Dov Zakheim, PhD, former DoD comptroller, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Gordon Adams, PhD, Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute, Michael Herson, President and CEO, American Defense International, and Byron Callan of the independent equity research firm Capital Alpha Partners.

By Daniel Immerwahr, Washington Post Is the United States the world’s greatest country? When asked that question eight years ago, 70 percent of American citizens surveyed said yes. Now, a recent study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that only 54 percent answer affirmatively. Democrats are likelier to see their country as normal and Republicans are likelier to see it as uniquely great, but the decline is bipartisan. It’s also age-based: A similar Pew study found that respondents under 30 were markedly less enamored of their country than those over 50. Across the board, U.S. exceptionalism is faltering.

By Paresh Dave, Jeffrey Dastin, Reuters

Alphabet Inc’s Google this year moved to tighten control over its scientists’ papers by launching a “sensitive topics” review, and in at least three cases requested authors refrain from casting its technology in a negative light, according to internal communications and interviews with researchers involved in the work. Google’s new review procedure asks that researchers consult with legal, policy and public relations teams before pursuing topics such as face and sentiment analysis and categorizations of race, gender or political affiliation, according to internal webpages explaining the policy.

By Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor

Experts say the intrusions into government agencies and businesses have been alarming, but could have done far more damage. Lessons learned could prove critical in fending off future attacks. The cyberattack appears to be one of the worst in U.S. history. Hackers – likely linked to Russian intelligence – last spring broke into computer networks at a half-dozen or so American government agencies and hundreds of private companies via clever malware that carves secret “back doors” into systems, according to elected officials and private cybersecurity firms.

By Paul R. Kolbe, NYT

There is indignant howling over what is surely Russia’s role in infiltrating, again, the networks of the U.S. government and corporations — this time through a tainted software update by the company SolarWinds. Politicians of both parties have called it a virtual act of war. “America must retaliate, and not just with sanctions,” Senator Marco Rubio said. This recalls Shakespeare’s line in “Hamlet” about the lady protesting too much.

The government is increasingly using the app to monitor and suppress dissenting views

By Jing Yang, WSJ

China’s do-everything app, WeChat, has become one of the most powerful tools in Beijing’s arsenal for monitoring the public, censoring speech and punishing people who voice discontent with the government. Authorities are increasingly using the app from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to justify arrests or issue threats, say dissidents, consumers and security researchers. Wang Shengsheng, a labor and women’s rights lawyer, said authorities were monitoring her WeChat and text messages earlier this year so they could gather evidence to thwart her legal career.

The revelations — and the academy’s handling of them — have prompted a debate about integrity, rehabilitation, and what it means to be a cadet.

By Mihir Zaveri and Dave Philipps, NYT

It is engraved in a stone monument on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” But this week, a cheating scandal involving dozens of cadets has ignited a fierce backlash over the academy’s decision to allow many of those involved to enter a rehabilitation program. The ensuing debate has forced the elite institution’s alumni, instructors and families to wrestle with questions of integrity, responsibility and honor — principles at the very heart of West Point’s identity.

By Dan Lamothe, The Washington Post

Black members of the Air Force are treated differently than their White counterparts when it comes to job placement, leadership opportunities, educational options, criminal investigations and administrative discipline, according to the findings of a months-long investigation by the service’s independent watchdog.

By Larry Tye, NYT

Major League Baseball keeps vowing to redress its racist past, but its half-steps only reinforce the elusiveness of that goal, for it and the rest of America. The league’s latest push, unveiled with fanfare last week, was to formally recognize the most prominent of the Negro leagues as equal to the American and National leagues.

By Elise James Decruise, Fast Company

After the year we’ve had, it should come as no surprise that the number of chief diversity and inclusion officers (CDIOs) in the U.S. and around the world is on the rise. The sudden and rapid elevation of diversity, inclusion, and discrimination issues in nearly every aspect of our lives resulted in more visibility and increased demand for the role of CDIOs across the business world.

By Provision Advisors

The Provision Advisors team has been talking about the “Three Cs” for the entirety of 2020. And if there were ever a year when communicators and leaders needed to be mindful of their Communication Points, Cosmetics and Control, it was 2020. We coach our clients to use the Three Cs in everything they do, but adherence to these tenets during a crisis is particularly important. Some crises hit fast and fade fast. Some crises – like Covid 19 – last an extended period of time and test the very best leaders ability to maintain communications discipline throughout the lifespan of said crises.

By Lilly Price, Capital Gazette

Ahead of a hearing next week to determine whether restaurants can serve patrons inside or offer carryout only, restaurant owners and staff announced a new coalition that will lobby for food service workers to “have the right to earn an income.” Titan Hospitality owner James King, a plaintiff in a lawsuit against County Executive Steuart Pittman’s executive order restricting restaurants to carryout and delivery, gathered with servers, bartenders and small business suppliers outside his Gambrills restaurant Blackwell Barn and Lodge Wednesday. King is a co-founder of the Maryland Restaurant Coalition they announced Monday to advocate for the industry. The group, which has filed for nonprofit trade organization status, has hired experts to testify in the upcoming legal hearing and conduct polls to demonstrate public support for dining on-site.

By Rachel Chason, The Washington Post

After a 12-hour hearing, a Maryland judge upheld a ban on indoor dining in Montgomery County late Wednesday night, agreeing with a judge in neighboring Prince George’s County who made a similar ruling earlier in the day. Their verdicts came as coronavirus cases continued to surge across the region and Democratic lawmakers and officials urged Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to tap reserve funds for pandemic relief. “The county council, the county executive are trying to protect this community from death and from the virus,” Montgomery County Circuit Judge James A. Bonifant said in his concluding remarks. “I believe that standard is clear, and I believe that they are doing the best they can.”

By Joe Berkowitz, Fast Company

Sometimes, memes are just joke competitions about whatever just happened. Sometimes, they’re much more.

And Finally...

Happy Holidays!

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