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Weekly Update 31 May-06 Jun 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

Opinion: Joe Biden: My trip to Europe is about America rallying the world’s democracies

By President Joe Biden, for The Washington Post On Wednesday, I depart for Europe on the first foreign travel of my presidency. It is a trip stacked with meetings with many of our closest democratic partners — including the Group of Seven nations, our NATO allies and the leadership of the European Union — before concluding by meeting with Vladimir Putin. In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age.

Washington has been asleep on cybersecurity. It's time to wake up.

It's clear that the U.S. is not well prepared for defending against cybersecurity attacks. It's time to create comprehensive plans for safety.

By Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Admiral Dennis Blair, USA Today.

For far too long, Washington has been asleep on cybersecurity. America’s vulnerabilities have been exposed and bemoaned, but not seriously addressed, much less fixed. While hackers grow bolder and more skilled, government policies and public and private funding lag behind the need. Cybersecurity continues to be a largely technical afterthought rather than a vital and integral part of the design and modernization of major systems on which the well-being and safety of Americans depend. Until the Colonial Pipeline attack, neither major infrastructure proposal from the Biden administration or Republicans in Congress even mentioned the word “cybersecurity” or “hacking.”

FBI Director Compares Ransomware Challenge to 9/11

By Aruna Viswanatha and Dustin Volz, for the Wall Street Journal FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency was investigating about 100 different types of ransomware, many tracing back to hackers in Russia, and compared the current spate of cyberattacks with the challenge posed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “There are a lot of parallels, there’s a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention,” Mr. Wray said in an interview Thursday. “There’s a shared responsibility, not just across government agencies but across the private sector and even the average American.”

The Colonial Pipeline CEO Explains The Decision To Pay Hackers A $4.4 Million Ransom

By Mary Louise Kelly, Jason Fuller and Justine Kenin, NPR.

Colonial Pipeline CEO Joe Blount says that paying a multi-million dollar ransom to get a large portion of the East Coast's fuel supply back online was "the right decision to make for the country." Last month, a cyberattack on the company Colonial Pipeline, which operates a pipeline providing nearly half the East Coast's fuel supply, triggered a massive shutdown. Hackers infiltrated its computer network and demanded more than $4 million in ransom; the company shut down the pipeline. Colonial Pipeline made the decision to pay the ransom on the same day, and it took 6 days to restart the pipeline. In the interim, several governors in affected states declared states of emergency and urged the public not to hoard gas, but panic-buying led to temporary outages in 11 states and Washington, D.C.

New York subway system was targeted by Chinese-linked hackers in April

By Jordan Williams, The Hill

New York’s subway system was targeted by hackers with links to the Chinese government in April, according to an MTA document reported on by The New York Times. Officials with the MTA said that on April 20, the FBI, Cybersecurity Infrastructure Agency and the National Security Agency issued a joint alert that there was a zero day vulnerability — meaning no one knew the hack occurred at the time it happened. CISA issued recommendations for fixes and patches, which the MTA implemented by the morning of April 21. MTA further said it engaged with IBM and Mandiant to perform a forensic audit.

Loss of Iranian Navy Ship Mutes Tehran’s Global Ambitions, 3rd Warship Lost Since 2018

By H I Sutton, USNI News

New satellite images released Thursday show the sunken hull of what earlier this week was one of Iran’s largest warship, IRIS Kharg an Ol-class replenishment oiler, caught fire on the evening of June 1. The crew battled the fire with only 33 injured and no deaths but could not save the ship. In the end only the sea could extinguish the flames. Kharg burned for hours before slowly listing to starboard and sinking stern-first, within sight of the Iranian port of Jask, according to imagery provided to USNI News by Maxar.

Osaka Fallout: Are Press Conferences Still the Answer?

By Nicole Schuman, PR News

Tennis fans and media pundits woke up to quite the surprise Monday morning (May 31) when No. 1-ranked player Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open. Before that The French Open fined Osaka $15,000 and threatened her with disqualification for refusing to appear at a post-match press conference. Osaka released a statement on Twitter. In it she revealed bouts of depression and social anxiety caused her to skip the presser. While Osaka’s not the first athlete to avoid the press (see Marshawn Lynch), she is one of the first to offer complete honesty and openness regarding her mental health issues during press conferences, coming fresh out of Mental Health Awareness Month no less.

By Tom Hanks, for The New York Times Mr. Hanks is an actor and filmmaker whose projects include historical works like “Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific” and “John Adams” and documentaries about America from the 1960s to the 2000s.

I consider myself a lay historian who talks way too much at dinner parties, leading with questions like, “Do you know that the Erie Canal is the reason Manhattan became the economic center of America?” Some of the work I do is making historically based entertainment. Did you know our second president once defended in court British soldiers who fired on and killed colonial Bostonians — and got most of them off?

NFL pledges to halt ‘race-norming,’ review Black claims

By MaryClaire Dale, Associated Press

The NFL on Wednesday pledged to halt the use of “race-norming” — which assumed Black players started out with lower cognitive function — in the $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims and review past scores for any potential race bias. The practice made it harder for Black retirees to show a deficit and qualify for an award. The standards were created in the 1990s in hopes of offering more appropriate treatment to dementia patients, but critics faulted the way they were used to determine payouts in the NFL concussion case.

The Economic Recovery Is Here. It’s Unlike Anything You’ve Seen.

By Gwynn Guilford and Sarah Chaney Cambon, WSJ

The U.S. economic recovery is unlike any in recent history, powered by consumers with trillions in extra savings, businesses eager to hire and enormous policy support. Businesses and workers are poised to emerge from the downturn with far less permanent damage than occurred after recent recessions, particularly the 2007-09 downturn. New businesses are popping up at the fastest pace on record. The rate at which workers quit their jobs—a proxy for confidence in the labor market—matches the highest going back at least to 2000. American household debt-service burdens, as a share of after-tax income, are near their lowest levels since 1980, when records began. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up nearly 18% from its pre-pandemic peak in February 2020. Home prices nationwide are nearly 14% higher since that time.

$7M in PPP Loans Went to Fake Businesses Mostly Registered As Farms Across US: Study

By Benjamin Fearnow, Newsweek

Hundreds of fake businesses across the country reportedly cashed in on more than $7 million through Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, with faux farming operations being one of the most common registrations. An investigative report from ProPublica this week shows bogus businesses with names like "Ritter Wheat Club" and "Deely Nuts" obtained the $20,833 maximum amount available for sole proprietorships. In New Jersey, the address listed in PPP loan filings for a fake cattle ranch, "Beefy King," is actually the home address for Long Beach Township Mayor Joe Mancini. Numerous business owners brought complaints to the publication after they received loans through the Kabbage online lending platform, which prompted the ProPublica investigation.

If words matter so much, let’s find better ones

By Bill Novelli, PR Daily

In grad school ages ago, we studied something called the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis —the concept that the language people use determines their thoughts and actions. Today, psychologists have added more nuance, and it is accepted that language does, indeed, influence how we think and act. Most communications professionals would agree, since words are the lifeblood of the industry. That brings us to today’s political and social discourse. Current President Joe Biden, as a candidate, called then-President Donald Trump a clown and an SOB. Trump recently called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a son of a bitch and a stone-cold loser. Nancy Pelosi called McConnell “Moscow Mitch.” Congresswoman Rashid Tlaib said of Trump, “We’re going to impeach the mother f….er.” Much of today’s political language is nasty and raw. As a result, it influences actions that threaten our democracy.

Mike Krzyzewski made college basketball history by never making excuses

By John Feinstein, WashPost

I first met Mike Krzyzewski in 1976 when he was the coach at Army and I was a Duke undergraduate. He and Jim Valvano — then the coach at Iona — thought I did a pretty good Dean Smith imitation. Little did either of them know how important Smith would become in their lives. Little did I know how important they would become in mine. With Krzyzewski set to retire next season after 42 years as Duke’s basketball coach, my most vivid memory is from March 1983, when very few people thought he was going to end up becoming one of college basketball’s iconic figures, with five national championships and a record 1,170 victories. It was a miserable, rainy night in Atlanta, and Duke had lost to Virginia, 109-66, in the ACC tournament to finish 11-17 and bring Krzyzewski’s three-season mark with the Blue Devils to 38-47.

The Taiwan Temptation - Why Beijing Might Resort to Force

By Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign Affairs

For more than 70 years, China and Taiwan have avoided coming to blows. The two entities have been separated since 1949, when the Chinese Civil War, which had begun in 1927, ended with the Communists’ victory and the Nationalists’ retreat to Taiwan. Ever since, the strait separating Taiwan from mainland China—81 miles wide at its narrowest—has been the site of habitual crises and everlasting tensions, but never outright war. For the past decade and a half, cross-strait relations have been relatively stable. In the hopes of persuading the Taiwanese people of the benefits to be gained through a long-overdue unification, China largely pursued its long-standing policy of “peaceful reunification,” enhancing its economic, cultural, and social ties with the island.

Taiwan's fate may be decided in Ukraine

By Herman Pirchner Jr and Alexander B. Gray Russian President Vladimir Putin recently surged nearly 100,000 troops, along with significant numbers of aircraft and equipment, to his country’s common border with Ukraine. His message was clear: the continued existence of a vibrant, democratic, and independent Ukraine will always be threatened by Moscow’s whims. With barely disguised Russian proxies occupying significant portions of Eastern Ukraine, as well as the Crimean Peninsula, it is a message to be taken seriously.

Facebook wanted to escape the Trump trap. So much for that.

By Cristiano Lima, Politico

Facebook has spent years inventing ways to dodge making judgments on posts by global leaders, with former President Donald Trump chief among them. Now that strategy is in peril. The social media giant on Friday announced it may give Trump a way back onto its platforms after serving a two-year suspension, just in time for another potential White House run in 2024. That means that one way or another, Facebook will again have to make a politically hazardous call on whether Trump’s posts pose a threat to the U.S. in the run-up to a key election.

Google and MIT prove social media can slow the spread of fake news

Jigsaw and MIT have published a new study that proves sharing misinformation can be thwarted with a simple UX fix.

By Mark Wilson, Fast Company During the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has been battling a whole other threat: what U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has called a “pandemic of misinformation.” Misleading propaganda and other fake news is easily shareable on social networks, which is threatening public health. As many as one in four adults has claimed they will not get the vaccine. And so while we finally have enough doses to reach herd immunity in the United States, too many people are worried about the vaccines (or skeptical that COVID-19 is even a dangerous disease) to reach that threshold.

Opinion: Biden’s anti-corruption plan appears to have some teeth. Here’s hoping they bite.

By David Ignatius, Washington Post

Corruption is the global reality of our time. The power of the nation-state wasn’t replaced by terrorist groups, or corporations, or international organizations flying black helicopters, as people have variously theorized. It was supplanted by the anarchic rule of oligarchs and crooks who have created a transnational empire of thievery. President Biden introduced a big idea into the global debate Thursday when he declared that combating corruption is a “core U.S. national security interest” and “essential to the preservation of our democracy.” He directed every agency of the U.S. government to mobilize for this battle against the kleptocrats — including the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Treasury Department and the military.

Why PR’s Survival Depends on Partnering with the Press

By Nicole Rodrigues, PRNews

Similar to many parts of PR, the relationship between media members and communicators is constantly evolving. Moreover, this relationship is crucial to the survival of our industry—you could argue that PR pros need media members more than they need us. Unfortunately, media personnel are finding increasingly less value coming through their inbox from PR pros. If nothing changes, publishers, editors and journalists will simply turn off the tap. As a result, it’s our responsibility to give media members what they need: a less-is-more, powerful pitch approach. To contextualize why it’s the PR pro's duty to proactively equip media members with fitting, fleshed-out, valuable stories, we need merely look at journalism's landscape.

And Finally...

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