Weekly Update 26Apr-02 May 21
Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.
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American presidents have long vied to echo John Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you.” The spirit of service, declared Ronald Reagan, “flows like a deep and mighty river through the history of our nation.” Bill Clinton created AmeriCorps. George H.W. Bush likened volunteer organizations to “a thousand points of light.” George W. Bush created the USA Freedom Corps. Barack Obama called on Americans to “ground our politics in the notion of a common good.” Their arguments are all the more compelling today, in a bitterly divided America struggling with a pandemic.
By George F. Will, The Washington Post
The wary and partial revival of earmarks by congressional Republicans is, on balance, welcome. This is so partly because it illustrates how coping with the transaction costs of democracy is often a matter of balancing the admirable with the regrettable. For those of you who sometimes forget things that once seemed unforgettable, long ago — about a decade ago — many in Congress, especially conservatives, decided that earmarks were a scandal, the elimination of which would make a mighty improvement in national governance. Earmarks are spending items directed by individual members of Congress to particular state or local projects.
By Anna Sale, NYT Ms. Sale is the host of the podcast “Death, Sex & Money” and the author of the forthcoming book, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things,” from which this essay is adapted.
We’ve forgotten how to talk to people. For more than a year, we have mostly been apart. We’ve learned to put a premium on efficiency, whether in masked exchanges on street corners or on work calls between distractions. We talk fast and abruptly shift from greetings to agenda-driven updates. Then we replay it when we’re back in isolation. Our entire social lives have become a middle school dance: unrealistic expectations in the lead-up, self-conscious regrets in the aftermath.
When the social floodgates open, not everyone will want to use their newfound freedom in the same way.
By Julie Beck, Amanda Mull & Katherine Wu, The Atlantic Once, we had a wide world of socializing opportunities: crowded bars and intimate dinner parties, stadiums full of strangers and weddings full of everyone we loved most. The coronavirus pandemic made many of those things dangerous or impossible, and shrank our social worlds dramatically. Now, as vaccination rates go up, the floodgates of social life are poised to reopen. But not everyone will want to use this newfound freedom in the same way. Even before the pandemic, introverts and extroverts disagreed on the optimal size and frequency of gatherings. Post-vaccine life may breed some misunderstandings between the extroverts who want to dive headfirst into a sea of other people and the introverts who are excited to see their friends but don’t want to pack their schedules so full that they have no time to just be.
The internet has decided that Pfizer is significantly cooler than Moderna—but why? By Kaitlyn Tiffany I hope we can all agree that “vaccine culture” is a bit depressing. The idea of wearing an evening gown to a COVID-19-vaccine appointment is objectively sad, and speaking from personal experience, taking an hour-long bus ride to a CVS at the dead center of Staten Island, New York, for medical treatment is not fun or exciting except by dramatic contrast to events prior. And when vaccine culture isn’t dismal, it can get extremely weird. At the moment, the internet is full of jokes about all the things you still can’t do after you’ve gotten vaccinated—like taking my hand and dragging me headfirst, which is part of a Taylor Swift song from 2008; removing the green ribbon from around your neck, a reference to a disturbing children’s story in which a woman named Jenny does that and then her head falls off; or emerging “from the soil after 17 years to shed your outer cuticular layer & scream into the ether in unison,” which is a subtweet of cicadas. I’m laughing, but what are we talking about?
By David Ignatius, The Washington Post
Joe Biden doesn’t look so sleepy anymore. He proposed Wednesday night what amounts to a revision of America’s social contract, giving the country something closer to the social safety net that most of the world’s advanced democracies have. The cost is enormous: President Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan would be added to his $2.2 trillion, eight-year infrastructure proposal and his already enacted $1.9 trillion stimulus package. And let’s be honest: The inflationary danger of shooting this firehose of money into the U.S. economy is obvious, no matter what Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell says.
By Ross Douthat, NYT Recently, James Carville, the unfrozen Clintonite of Democratic politics, stirred a predictable controversy by complaining about “wokeness” in an interview with Sean Illing of Vox. Everyone has a different definition of the term, but Carville’s was one you hear a lot from strategically minded Democrats: Wokeness is “faculty lounge” rhetoric, the language of elite hyper-educated progressivism, entering into mass politics in a way that turns a lot of normal people off.
Biden and Scott put forth their visions at a time when Americans may be reconsidering theirs.
By Peggy Noonan, WSJ Those were two very different speeches Wednesday night, but both were effective and each will have an afterlife. President Biden’s address, with its distancing, masks and half-empty audience, at first didn’t feel like the convening of a great nation’s Congress. It felt insubstantial and goofy, like they were playacting Pandemic Theatre.
Virginia’s governor has ordered an investigation into racism at his alma mater, but he acknowledges that the bigotry at Virginia Military Institute didn’t register when he was a cadet
By Ian Shapira, The Washington Post
Darren McDew felt the sting of racial slurs as soon as he arrived at the nearly all-White Virginia Military Institute in 1978. Three of his White classmates, he said, freely slung around the n-word. Same for the racist insults “jigaboo” and “spear chucker.” It got so bad that McDew — a future four-star Air Force general — confronted them and demanded they stop. “I was shocked at how often they used the terms in my presence,” said McDew, now 60 and one of VMI’s most prominent Black alumni.
By Hope Hodge Seck, Military.com
It's been almost a week since the Crucible, the legendary two-and-a-half-day physical and mental torture fest that culminates in recruits earning the coveted title of Marines. Here at the Marines' West Coast boot camp, Lima Company is now in Fourth Phase, a more laid-back period of training, instruction and mentorship intended to give newly minted Marines a taste of life in the fleet before graduation. In the barracks at Lima's Platoon 3241, the first platoon of female recruits ever to train at San Diego, it's "like a hive," as Recruit Training Regiment Commander Col. Matt Palma put it -- quiet but buzzing with activity as platoon members scrub down the shared bathroom facilities, starch and iron their utility covers to stiff perfection, and polish black boots until they gleam.
Comms pros have a dizzying array of tools from which to choose, and few of them have dominant market positions.
By Tony Silber, PR Daily
The global pandemic and the widespread move to remote work brought with it technological changes that might not have become common for years. It would have been hard to predict 15 months ago how ubiquitous Zoom (and Teams, and Google Meet, etc.) meetings have become, and how facile even tech novices have become. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The pace of technological change moved into hyperdrive in 2020, especially in the area of virtual communications, and there’s no going back. That has revolutionized the task of communicators, as they seek to effectively leverage new tools to enable virtual communications, enable measurement of their efforts, improve efficiency, and encourage engagement across the workforce.
By CDRSalamander, USNI Blog Quick, what do you think is our top national security threat? A nation like the People’s Republic of China? A tactic like terror? What if it were a culture? Not an external culture … but an internal one? What if it were something in our control to change? Today in the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services there was a hearing on the Department of Defense’s management challenges and opportunities. We are all busy people and not everyone has time to watch all of it, so as a friend did for me earlier, let me just pull a bit for you.
To meet challenges from China, the rule of thirds must be broken.
By Blake Herzinger, for Foreign Policy Since 2001, the United States has spent nearly $2 trillion trying to reform the graveyard of empires, Afghanistan, into a rose garden of democracy, and now it’s leaving. Even after major U.S. combat operations concluded, the United States spent around $45 billion annually to maintain its training, advising, and special operations footprint in the country. But now the name of the game is great-power competition—and Americans need to have a serious discussion about the defense budget.
By Geoff Ziezulewicz, Navy Times
The Freedom-class littoral combat ship Detroit sails through the Caribbean Sea. Detroit suffered a casualty to its propulsion system last year and later had to be towed back to its homeport. (Navy)
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday and acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker praised the perennially problematic littoral combat ship during congressional testimony Thursday. “We’re very bullish on LCS and where we’re headed,” Gilday said of the vessels, which have overrun budgets and failed to perform their promised missions for nearly 20 years. Gilday praised the work of the ships in recent missions in the west Pacific and in U.S. Southern Command, where a ship is now helping out with counter-narcotics missions.
By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Vice
The IRS is looking for help to break into cryptocurrency hardware wallets, according to a document posted on the agency website in March of this year. Many cryptocurrency investors store their cryptographic keys, which confer ownership of their funds, with the exchange they use to transact or on a personal device. Some folks, however, want a little more security and use hardware wallets—small physical drives which store a user's keys securely, unconnected to the internet.
“Lost Trust and Confidence” — How the Military Covers Up Officer Misconduct and Why That’s Harmful to Democracy
By Thomas J. Brennan, War on the Rocks
On a warm summer day, as Capt. Paul Gainey drove home from a weekend camping trip to the Grand Canyon, his cell phone chimed. “You can’t tell anyone,” Gainey said a U.S. Marine wrote in a text message. “The battalion commander of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion is being relieved because of domestic violence.” The following morning, May 7, 2019, Gainey drove to his office on Camp Margarita, a small section of Camp Pendleton, a sprawling Marine Corps base in southern California. He met privately with one of the most senior officers in the 1st Marine Division. An investigation had found “credible” evidence that the senior leader of one of the Corps’ most decorated infantry units had physically assaulted his wife for years, the colonel told Gainey. The commanding general had endorsed the investigation days earlier.
By Dan Brahmy, PR News
The intentional spread of false information is more prevalent than PR pros might think. It’s not a secret that 2020 saw increased engagement with disinformation online. But where much of the country’s attention is on fake news around politics and vaccines, it's easy for companies to forget the detrimental effects disinformation can have on products, services and reputation. In February, we saw boycotts against well-known consumer brands, ranging from Sephora to Publix, gain traction on social media. As companies face mounting scrutiny, they may get caught up in reactionary crisis management. To get ahead of potential crises, companies must integrate disinformation and consumer-sentiment monitoring into their communication strategies. Educating the public and employees is key.
By The Washington Post Editorial Board
VLADIMIR PUTIN’S troop buildup along the border with Ukraine this spring garnered considerable international attention — which might have been his main objective. Less noticed has been a series of incremental escalations by Chinese forces in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. Both Mr. Putin and the regime of Xi Jinping are testing the Biden administration in its opening months. The difference is that while Mr. Putin is probably in it for the show, China is substantially advancing a strategy for establishing its dominance in East Asia and forcing Taiwan’s surrender.
By Associated Press
Activity by U.S. military ships and surveillance planes directed at China has increased significantly under President Joe Biden’s administration, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry said Thursday. As an example, Wu Qian said the Navy destroyer USS Mustin recently conducted close-in observation of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its battle group.
By Lieutenant Davis Vickery, April 2021 Proceedings
In this era of great power competition, countering China’s control of the information space will be central to pursuing strategic goals while avoiding global conflict. If the United States wants to remain dominant in the competition, it must recognize the changes in the operational environment and the very nature of war. This shift is marked by a stark rise in information warfare (IW) operations in the form of cyber warfare, psychological operations, and information campaigns as China aims to control the information space while continuing its economic rise.
The Case for Reconsidering U.S. Commitments in East Asia
By Charles L. Glaser, Foreign Affairs On China, U.S. policymakers have reached a near consensus: the country is a greater threat than it seemed a decade ago, and so it must now be met with increasingly competitive policies. What little debate does exist focuses on questions about how to enhance U.S. credibility, what role U.S. allies should play in balancing against China, and whether it is possible to blunt Beijing’s economic coercion. But the most consequential question has been largely overlooked: Should the United States trim its East Asian commitments to reduce the odds of going to war with China?
At least 44 killed, 150 wounded during stampede blamed on a slippery walkway at massive ultra-Orthodox event to celebrate Lag B’Omer; children said among the victims
By Times of Israel
For the tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews who gathered in Mount Meron on Thursday, this was supposed to be a joyous occasion. It was the first major public gathering allowed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and an event commemorating the end of another plague, some 2,000 years ago. Instead, it ended with one of the greatest peacetime disasters in Israel’s history, with at least 44 people, including small children, crushed to death and dozens injured.
By Pamela Wood, Baltimore Sun
Marylanders no longer need to wear face coverings in most outdoor settings, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday, though he “strongly encouraged” those who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus to continue to mask up. Masks still are required in Maryland at “large ticketed venues” that are outdoors, such as stadiums, as well as at indoor businesses and on public transit. Hogan’s announcement, which took effect immediately, followed guidance the federal government issued Tuesday that said fully vaccinated people need not wear masks in most outdoor settings because the risk of transmitting the coronavirus is low. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated people still should wear masks in outdoor settings with crowds, such as stadiums and concerts.
A civilian cybersecurity reserve corps is needed for the Pentagon and DHS, lawmakers from both parties say.
By Rachel S. Cohen, Defense News.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing to create a civilian reserve corps of cybersecurity experts to help defend national security interests, amid concerns about growing digital threats to public and private networks and infrastructure. The Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve pilot program would bolster the workforces at the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security by bringing in former federal employees and military veterans who are trained in the field and could respond to emergencies. Civilian reservists could give the federal government a fresh tool in its arsenal to protect networks and root out bad actors in cases like last year’s SolarWinds breach, in which Russian intelligence is suspected of compromising about 100 companies and about a dozen government agencies.
By Luciana Paulise, Forbes
The Covid-19 crisis exposed gaps in companies' strategies, and one of the most impacted areas was the employee experience. A recent survey held by isolved, a human capital management (HCM) platform, interviewed 500 HR leaders and found out that 92% confirmed employee experience is a top priority in 2021.
By Benjamin Fearnow, Newsweek
The Florida legislature is set to pass a restaurant industry–backed bill which would extend the practice of allowing alcoholic beverages in "to-go" orders, a rule initially put in place as a means of helping struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Michael Laris, Washington Post
Following a collision, derailment and red-light overruns in Metro rail yards, investigators with the transit system’s independent oversight body say they have identified persistent communication gaps and other hazards for workers. The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission found spotty or nonexistent radio links between safety personnel in rail yard towers and shop workers and others on the ground, according to a report released Friday. Some of those communication problems have been known for two years but remain uncorrected, the commission said.
From Augusta Free Press
Internal communication (IC) is any communication within an organization. Its goal is to encourage employees to stay connected, informed, and cooperate. The main resource of any business is people. Sooner or later, all managers come to this statement. And a powerful internal communication strategy yield benefits to you by making your employees feel involved in work and valued.