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Weekly Update 30 Aug - 05 Sep 20

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

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

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Top Clips

Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’

By Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Trump Losing Military And Veterans

By Guy Snodgrass, for Forbes

Call this one the “September Surprise.”

Jeffrey Goldberg’s scathing article in The Atlantic on Thursday rapidly trended to become the nation’s leading story heading into the Labor Day Weekend, claiming that President Trump called WWI veterans ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’ when canceling a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery during a 2018 state visit to France.

Nobody can predict this election. Here’s why.

By David Byler, Washington Post

By almost any measure, 2020 is a very different kind of election.

A pandemic. A recession. Social protests in multiple cities that are entering their fourth month. Record numbers out of work, and record highs in the stock market. Social distancing in offices, restaurants, even in some homes. The oldest nominee in history. A president talking about ignoring the results.

What Will You Do if Trump Doesn’t Leave?

By David Brooks, NYT

If Trump claims a victory that is not rightly his, a few marches in the streets will not be an adequate response. There may have to be a sustained campaign of civic action, as in Hong Kong and Belarus, to rally the majority that wants to preserve democracy, that isolates those who would undo it.

A First Step Toward Loving Our Enemies

By John C. Danforth and Matt Malone, for WSJ

Today a growing number of Americans regard their political opponents not as fellow citizens with whom they disagree but as enemies; as politically, socially and even morally irredeemable. Millions of Americans consume news in echo chambers, while countless numbers have lost friends or even turned away from family over political disagreements.

Biden’s first test could be the tensest U.S. moment since the Cuban missile crisis

By George Will, for the Washington Post

The U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding Taiwan has become untenable, as has Joe Biden’s 2001 stance. President George W. Bush, asked that year whether the country has an obligation to defend Taiwan against an attack by China, said: “Yes, we do, and the Chinese must understand that.” Bush was asked, “With the full force of the American military?” He answered: “Whatever it took.” Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said “the Taiwan Relations Act makes very clear that the U.S. has an obligation that Taiwan’s peaceful way of life is not upset by force.”

Chaos scenarios drive gatekeepers' election prep

By Kyle DalyStef W. KightSara Fischer, Axios

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Reddit are holding regular meetings with one another, with federal law enforcement — and with intelligence agencies — to discuss potential threats to election integrity. The unprecedented 2020 war games show how the Bay Area tech giants are worried that the government doesn't have the COVID election under control, and are trying to protect their platforms against sinister efforts to game the outcome.

Mark Zuckerberg Is the Most Powerful Unelected Man in America

By Charlie Warzel

On Thursday, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the company’s “New Steps to Protect the U.S. Elections.” They include blocking new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day and attaching labels to posts containing misinformation, specifically related to the coronavirus and posts from politicians declaring victory before all the results are counted.

The Ideology Delusion

America’s Competition With China Is Not About Doctrine

By Elbridge Colby and Robert D. Kaplan

Bipartisanship is exotic these days in the United States, but the two parties do share something: a deep concern about China. Asked in February at the Munich Security Conference whether she agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump’s China policy, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi remarked dryly but tellingly: “We have agreement in that regard.” Legislation supporting Hong Kong and Taiwan and sanctioning Chinese officials easily passed Congress this year. Unlike in the past, today China has few—if any—friends in the corridors of power in Washington.

Trump promised a 350-ship Navy. China actually built it.

By Josh Rogin, Washington Post

President Trump has been publicly promising to build a 350-ship U.S. Navy since his 2016 campaign and he’s still campaigning on it. He will end his first term failing to achieve that goal. But according to the Pentagon, China did it — on Trump’s watch.

The Pentagon is terrified of talking to reporters again

By Jeff Schogol, Task and Purpose

With each passing day, it increasingly looks as if Pentagon officials are trying to hide from the press until the presidential election is over. We seem to be back to the bad old days when then-Defense Secretary James Mattis’ relationship with President Donald Trump became so strained that Mattis and other top Pentagon leaders were wary of saying anything at all to avoid antagonizing the president. Now current Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who publicly broke with Trump in June about the need to use active-duty troops in response to protests and riots across the country, is also reportedly at odds with the president. And it appears that Esper wants to fly under the radar as long as possible.

Coronavirus dashboard


  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 26,709,458 — Total deaths: 876,400 — Total recoveries: 17,778,605 .

  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 6,232,889 — Total deaths: 188,252 — Total recoveries: 2,283,454 — Total tests: 81,293,103 .

  3. Politics: How to prepare for an election facing unprecedented threats.

  4. World: Pope to take first trip since coronavirus lockdown — Pandemic is erasing a decade of global progress in child mortality rates — China calls for U.S. visitors to show negative COVID-19 tests.

  5. Sports: 77 of 130 major college football teams to play this season.

  6. World: India surpasses 4 million coronavirus cases.

The U.S. is facing a crisis of confidence in our government scientists

By Leana S. Wen, for the Washington Post

Eight months into the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes, the United States is facing a related crisis: one of confidence in our federal government’s top scientific institutions.

The Three Rules of Coronavirus Communication

Video by Sanya Dosani and Chai Dingari, NYT

While the United States was creating confusion with its virus messaging, the rest of the world got creative.

Blaming college students for Covid outbreaks is unfair

Dr. Richard Chung and Dr. Charlene Wong for USA Today

During COVID-19, college students' risk-taking and ingenuity could become productive in curbing the virus and reopening, so encourage them.

Ho, Ho, Hum: Struggling Retailers Brace for a Muted Holiday Season

By Sapna Masheshwari and Gillian Friedman, NYT

In August, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales in the United States rose 1.2 percent in July, the third straight month of growth. But the increase slowed noticeably from June, and the way Americans are shopping has changed significantly. Customers have moved online in greater numbers, hoping to avoid crowds at stores, and retailers are already adjusting their holiday plans accordingly.

University Investigates Claim That White Professor Pretended to Be Black

By Michael Levenson and Jennifer Schuessler, NYT George Washington University said on Thursday that it was looking into a blog post, written under the name of an associate professor of history, saying she had engaged in a yearslong deception by assuming various Black identities even though she is white.

The Few, the Proud, the White: The Marine Corps Balks at Promoting Generals of Color

By Helene Cooper, NYT

All things being equal, Col. Anthony Henderson has the military background that the Marine Corps says it prizes in a general: multiple combat tours, leadership experience and the respect of those he commanded and most who commanded him.

John Boyega Is Right About Star Wars

By Angela Watercutter, Wired

The actor's criticism of how the franchise treated characters of color is obvious to those who watched the trilogy. He's just calling it out.

Americans See Skepticism of News Media as Healthy, Say Public Trust in the Institution Can Improve

Pew Research Center

72% of U.S. adults say news organizations do an insufficient job telling their audiences where their money comes from

How social media is pushing us toward 1984

By Maelle Gavet, for Fast Company

Social media platforms are manipulating users and distorting our sense of reality—just as George Orwell predicted.

How Boards Can Plan for the Disasters That No One Wants to Think About

By Seymour Burchman and Blair Jones, for Harvard Business Review

It’s tempting to call the Covid-19 pandemic a black swan — an event so unexpected and devastating that companies could not have prepared for it. But experts have been predicting global pandemics for years, and in January 2020, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report cited infectious diseases as a potential threat. Yet very few companies included a global pandemic in their highest risk categories.

Crisis management for founders: Overreact rather than underreact

By Maynard Webb, for Fast Company

Act quickly,Problems don’t get better with age.

Commentary: Let's show appreciation for all our front line workers

By Frank Baker, Boston City Councilman - Dorchester Reporter

It’s hard to believe that we have entered the sixth full month of Covid-19 paralyzing our city and our lives. I have previously written here about the solutions we all need to deliver in order to maintain our civility and society during these incredibly difficult times. I have called for support of our police as they dedicated themselves to our safety amidst a global pandemic. I have asked for support of Black Lives Matter. And I have asked for support of our city budget, one that considered the transformational effects the virus has had on our economy and funds services that help all of our residents with affordable housing, schools, and public health initiatives.

A new way to measure sports

By Sara FischerKendall Baker, Axios

As sports begin to trickle back, the way they are measured will start to look a little bit different. The changes could help boost TV network viewership numbers substantially for sports and other types of programming typically viewed outside of the home — including bars, restaurants and workplaces.

Navy’s class president is a football player who has eyes on another presidency

By Kareem Copeland

Kinley was in fourth grade when Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president of the United States. The nomination had enormous meaning to minority communities that only saw white men as commander in chief, and it planted a seed in the mind of the young Black kid in Memphis, Tenn.


And Finally...

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