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Weekly Update 28 Dec - 03 Jan 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

Out with Old...In with the New

A look back at 2020 and then ahead to 2021 By Provision Advisors

If you are like us, this time of year used to be something you look forward to with great excitement. Family, friends, food...laughter, know, all the stuff we thought we could replicate over Zoom, but quickly realized wasn’t possible. There is nothing better than recounting the ups and downs of the past year -- who inspired you, surprised you or let you down. Equally enjoyable is making predictions and resolutions for the upcoming months over a bourbon or eggnog with friends. We can’t pour you a drink or buy you a beer or kibitz with you during the college football playoff, but we will share our individual looks back and forward as a way of salvaging some small part of this great tradition.

Americans Remain Distrustful of Mass Media

By Megan Brenan, Gallup

At a time when Americans are relying heavily on the media for information about the coronavirus pandemic, the presidential election and other momentous events, the public remains largely distrustful of the mass media. Four in 10 U.S. adults say they have "a great deal" (9%) or "a fair amount" (31%) of trust and confidence in the media to report the news "fully, accurately, and fairly," while six in 10 have "not very much" trust (27%) or "none at all" (33%).

Axios|SurveyMonkey poll: 2020 year-end survey

By Laura Wronski, Axios

Nearly half of people in the U.S. describe 2020 as “worrisome” (46%) and exhausting” (45%) in a new Axios|SurveyMonkey poll, with both words selected at about 1.5x the rate they were two years ago. “Chaotic” (34%) and hellish (21%) both about doubled in mentions from year-end 2018 to 2020. Fewer than one in 10 characterize 2020 as “great” (9%), or “awesome (6%), both down by about one-third from 2018.

A year-end office pool quiz: Place your bets for 2021

By David Ignatius, The Washington Post

After a dark and deadly year like 2020, who would dare make New Year’s predictions — especially in a fanciful multiple-choice quiz? But as the late, great Bill Safire, who created the year-end “Office Pool” in his New York Times column, once wrote: “The audacity of hope springs eternal.”

Defense & Aerospace Podcast [Washington Roundtable Dec 30, 2020] Looking Ahead to the New Year

We look ahead to 2021 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.

What we're watching in 2021

By Axios staff writers

A new phase in the battle against the coronavirus and the beginning of Joe Biden's presidency will dominate the news this year, but there will be plenty of other changes ahead that will shape our lives, too.

New Year’s Resolutions That Will Actually Lead to Happiness

Set goals to improve your well-being—not your wallet or your waistline

By Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic If you are someone who follows a traditional religion, you most likely have a day such as Yom Kippur, Ashura, or Ash Wednesday, dedicated to atoning for your sins and vowing to make improvements to your life. But if you are not religious, you might still practice a day of devotion and ritualistic vows of self-improvement each year on January 1. New Year’s Day rings in the month of January, dedicated by the ancient Romans to their god Janus. Religious Romans promised the two-faced god that they would be better in the new year than they had been in the past.

The Year in Charts

A tour of the major trends, from Covid-19 spread to political polarization, that affected Americans this year.

By Steven Rattner, The New York Time

If 2019 was the Year of Trump, then 2020 was the Year of Covid-19 and Trump. Only the most devastating pandemic in a century could have bumped our loudmouthed president into second place. That is, until Joe Biden also took him down a peg, in a free and fair election with an unambiguous result — except in the world of Trump. And oh yes, all of this occurred during the biggest recession since the Great Depression.

Five Books That Explain the World

The best of 2020, from a sweeping review of geopolitics to a satirical novel about Trumpland.

By James Stavridis, Special for Bloomberg

Every time I set out to visit a country in the NATO alliance when I was Supreme Allied Commander, I’d try to read a book that could help me understand the history, culture and zeitgeist of the place. It could be a novel by a native writer, a history or a work of historical fiction. Can you really understand France without reading Camus and Sartre? To comprehend Russia, including the mindset of Vladimir Putin, I’ve found more illumination in Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and above all Gogol than in most CIA reports, with all due respect to the agency. So as 2020 ends, I want to offer five books that have helped me make sense of a confusing world in the past year.

Is America Still the ‘Shining City on a Hill’?

If the eyes of all people are upon America now, they are not witnessing an edifying spectacle. By David Frum, The Atlantic A shining city on a hill. Ronald Reagan loved the phrase. He used it over and over again, perhaps most notably in his 1989 presidential farewell address. I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still. Reagan usually clarified that he had not originated the “city on a hill” phrase, that it derived from a 17th-century Puritan sermon. But Reagan made the phrase his own, imbuing it with his vision of America as an example to the world.

Religion, Abortion, Guns And Race. Just The Start Of A New Supreme Court Menu

By Nina Totenberg, NPR

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court embarks on the second half of a term with a fortified 6-to-3 conservative majority. But unlike the first half of the term, there will be no norm-busting President Trump often railing at the court's election decisions. In tone, President Biden probably will be the functional opposite, but his policies are likely to be greeted with more skepticism. For decades, the court's five-justice conservative majority was split between those who wanted to move slowly in a more conservative direction and others who wanted to move more aggressively.

The Navy Has Problems and Must Be Bold to Fix Them

Bryan McGrath, for CDR Salamander's Blog Coming as it has on the heels of scandal, tragedy, leadership failure, and pandemic, recent news of plans for a dramatically larger Navy seemed to be a lifeline to an organization that has had a few difficult years. That this planned Navy comes after a year of intense scrutiny from the then Secretary of Defense (who rose to that job came through Army service and the Army Secretary position) and has been buttressed by the support of a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (who had previously been Chief of Staff of the Army), seemed to add to the sense of certainty.

The Navy Should Make Hard Choices To Implement Its New Strategy

By Bryan Clark, Forbes Contributor After a year punctuated by mishaps, readiness shortfalls, and a lack of future vision, U.S. Navy leaders are hoping a flurry of activity during the Trump administration’s waning days will move the service in a more positive direction. In the last few weeks the Pentagon released a long-delayed force structure requirement and shipbuilding plan; Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard chiefs published a new Tri-Service Maritime Strategy; and Congress bumped up ship construction and other Navy procurement by $4 billion in the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill.

How to Think About Cybersecurity in 2021

By Michael Speca and Jessica Lawrence, Ardalyst.

2020 has been full of challenges. Organizations were forced to accelerate changes that had been coming for some time due to a variety of external pressures. The Wall Street Journal recently summarized the changes brought on by the COVID pandemic. Remote work is the new normal in many industries, and there is ample evidence that “work from anywhere” is here to stay. Many buying experiences have moved almost entirely online with either home/office delivery or curbside pickup as the means to distribute goods to the end buyer. Many organizations are permanently shutting down offices, intending to maintain partially remote workforces even after pandemic is brought under control.

The New China Scare

Why America Shouldn’t Panic About Its Latest Challenger

By Fareed Zakaria, Foreign Affairs

In February 1947, U.S. President Harry Truman huddled with his most senior foreign policy advisers, George Marshall and Dean Acheson, and a handful of congressional leaders. The topic was the administration’s plan to aid the Greek government in its fight against a communist insurgency. Marshall and Acheson presented their case for the plan. Arthur Vandenberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, listened closely and then offered his support with a caveat. “The only way you are going to get what you want,” he reportedly told the president, “is to make a speech and scare the hell out of the country.”

US strengthens ban on investment in Chinese ‘military' firms

By Jon Grevatt, Janes Defence

The US government has firmed up a directive issued in November that bars US investors from acquiring stocks and securities issued by Chinese firms deemed to be linked to the Chinese military. The US Treasury said in guidance published on 28 December that the ‘executive order 13959’ applies to the subsidiaries of identified Chinese firms and that investments in such companies covers a range of financial instruments including index and mutual funds.

Private schools pull students away from public schools

By Erica Pandey, for Axios

Private institutions are attracting wealthy families who are frustrated with public schools' flip-flopping on remote and in-person learning. Why it matters: The trend is weakening public schools, which will lose funding as they lose students, and deepening the divide between how rich and poor kids are educated.

Investment banking from home thrived under COVID-19, but some fear losing their touch

By David French, Matt Scuffham, Krystal Hu, Imani Moise, Reuters

Reuters interviews with more than two-dozen investment bankers show that many shifts in their business brought about by the pandemic, such as remote due diligence and smaller office footprints, are here to stay even once COVID-19 vaccines have been successfully rolled out.

Hedge Fund Bids for Control of Tribune

Alden Global Capital, which is already Tribune’s biggest shareholder, valued the company at about $520.6 million.

By Michael J. de la Merced, The New York Times

Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that has amassed a newspaper empire, said on Thursday that it is bidding for full control of Tribune Publishing, the parent of publications like The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun. In a letter to Tribune’s board, Alden — which is already the publisher’s biggest shareholder, with a nearly 32 percent stake — said that it was willing to buy the remaining shares that it does not already own for $14.25 a share. That represents an 11 percent premium to Tribune’s closing price on Wednesday.

D.C. is becoming a protest battleground. In a polarized nation, experts say that’s unlikely to change.

By Marissa J. Lang, The Washington Post For years, West Coast cities have borne the brunt of violent confrontations between far-right extremists and counterprotesters who come to meet them.

Donald Trump, Michelle Obama Most Admired in 2020

By Jeffrey Jones, Gallup Americans are most likely to name President Donald Trump and Michelle Obama as most admired man and woman in 2020. Trump tied former President Barack Obama for the honor last year but edged out his predecessor this year. Trump's first-place finish ends a 12-year run as most admired man for Obama, tied with Dwight Eisenhower for the most ever.

Bosses: Consider Caring a Bit

Workplace activism is here to stay. You might as well embrace it. By Jessica Powell, The New York Times

Hey managers, I know what you’re thinking: Now that we are getting a new president, will your employees finally pipe down? Your staff has been on constant edge these past four years, at one another’s throats over one employee’s MAGA hat or another employee’s Black Lives Matter T-shirt — and at you for not seeming to care about either of those things.

This chart shows 2020 had a chance to break box office records, but Covid caused lowest haul in decades

By Sarah Whitten, CNBC

With just a few days before the end of the year, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the film industry in 2020 is clear and devastating. Ticket sales crumpled 80% to $2.28 billion, a far cry from the second-best box office haul ever of $11.4 billion in 2019, according to data from Comscore.

10 essential facts about influencer marketing for 2020

By Ted Kitterman, PR Daily

How are you planning on using influencers this year? Here are some stats to help inform the skeptics about influencer campaigns. A backlash to influencer marketing could be brewing as brand managers weigh the positives and negatives of working with these online personalities.

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka on Why Cobra Kai Is the Best Medicine on TV

Before the debut of Cobra Kai Season Three, Macchio and Zabka discussed fatherhood, Pat Morita, and Van Halen, dude. By Brady Langmann, Esquire The thing about Cobra Kai is that it’s really good. The Netflix show picks up Karate Kid nearly 35 years after the crane kick that defined a generation. Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso is a family man with a string of successful car dealerships in southern California; William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence has an estranged son, a dependence on Coors Banquet, and a life in free fall—until he meets Miguel, a bullied teenager who inspires him to reopen Cobra Kai, the karate dojo famous for “no mercy.” When the lives of Daniel and Johnny collide again, you’re not sure whom to root for. With season three hitting Netflix on January 1, Esquire Zoomed with Macchio, 59, and Zabka, 55, from their homes on Long Island and in Los Angeles, respectively. Zabka arrived in—what else—shades fit for Johnny Lawrence.

Dwayne Haskins failed Washington, but they failed him too

Haskins has a lot of growing up to do, but that doesn’t mean we get to label him.

By James Dator, SB Nation

There is no excusing Dwayne Haskins’ actions off the football field this season. There are few things dumber than partying, without a mask, with a bunch of strangers, in the middle of a pandemic. It put himself, his team, and the entire league at risk — including individuals far beyond his personal bubble, including the family and friends of people in the NFL. Haskins was punished, and rightfully so, being fined $40,000 for the incident.

Texas Firing Tom Herman Underscores the Hypocrisy of College Football Inc.

Texas firing Tom Herman is the latest example that the football beast must be fed ever-increasing amounts, even when college athletics is navigating a financial crisis.

By Pat Forde, Sports Illustrated A long time ago, way back in mid-December 2020, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte issued a statement saying that Tom Herman is the coach of the Longhorns football program. As shows of support go, this was the bare minimum. Now we know why.

And Finally...

Happy New Year!

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