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Weekly Update 9-15 Nov 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

How Biden Could Steer a Divided Government...A pathway to a successful presidency.

By David Brooks, New York Times

It’s easy to imagine ways Joe Biden’s presidency might open very badly. Covid-19 may still be spiking. The economy could slip back into recession. Mitch McConnell might still control the Senate, blocking every major Biden proposal. Donald Trump will be unleashed as National Narrator blasting everything that happens.



The global establishment’s advice for Joe Biden

By David Ignatius, Washington Post

Two weeks after the defeat of a president who campaigned against globalization, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg will gather the Davos crowd for a virtual conference. The event next week is called the “New Economy Forum,” but a subtitle might be “Back to the Future.”



How Western media would cover the U.S. election if it happened in another country

By Karen Attiah, for The Washington Post

If we talked about the election in the United States the same way we talk about elections in a foreign country, here’s how Western media would cover it. Many of those quoted in the “story” below are fictional.



As if We Didn’t Have Enough to Worry About …Trump shuffles the Pentagon leadership, raising anxieties more.

By Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

A presidential transition can be a perilous time in the world. That’s particularly true when the departing president denies that he is departing and fires America’s top defense officials. President Trump dismissed Defense Secretary Mark Esper and several other top national security officials across the government. At the Pentagon, he has appointed four new top officials, one of them an extremist who had publicly called President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader.” Another hard-liner was installed at the National Security Agency over its director’s objections, and two senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security have been forced out.



The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse..A historian believes he has discovered iron laws that predict the rise and fall of societies. He has bad news.

By Graeme Wood, for The Atlantic

Peter Turchin, one of the world’s experts on pine beetles and possibly also on human beings, met me reluctantly this summer on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he teaches. Like many people during the pandemic, he preferred to limit his human contact. He also doubted whether human contact would have much value anyway, when his mathematical models could already tell me everything I needed to know.


Good Grief, the Pollsters Got It Wrong..Twice they’ve predicted Democratic landslides only to look like blockheads when the votes are counted.

By James A. Baker III, for the Wall Street Journal Too many opinion pollsters have come to resemble Lucy in the cartoon strip “Peanuts.” Ahead of the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, they held the political football in place to tee up certain Democratic victories. But at the last second, the ball was pulled away and the entire country landed flat on its back when the Republican candidate fared much better than expected.


Spotting political indicators without the polls

By Sara Fischer, Axios

With political polls looking close to useless, newsrooms are increasingly turning to internet trends, demographics and local news in an effort to crack America’s baffling political code. Why it matters: This election proved that polls aren't the only way to measure public opinion trends — and that other measures, like social media, may give us a window into enthusiasm among populations that polls are missing.


LISTEN: DEFAERO Andy Marshall Strategy Series–Using Polling to Develop Strategy w/ Dr Darrell Bricker [Nov 14, 2020]


Dr Darrell Bricker, the global CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, one of the world’s leading polling and analysis firms, discusses lessons from the 2016 and 2020 US elections, accuracy in polling, improving accuracy and more with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian. This conversation is part of a series on strategists and strategy devoted to the memory of one of the nation’s greatest national security strategists, Andy Marshall, the former director of the Pentagon’s office of net assessment and sponsored by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.



It’s been a year since covid-19 emerged. The world still isn’t ready for it.

By David Von Drehle, Washington Post

About this time a year ago, the earliest known Chinese patients were exposed to a new mutation of the SARS coronavirus. By December, enough of them had been hospitalized in the city of Wuhan to attract the attention of local health authorities. By the following month, the new virus was so widespread that the entire city of 11 million on the banks of the great Yangtze River was locked down in quarantine.



A fall coronavirus disaster is already here. We can’t wait until Inauguration Day to act.


Opinion by Richard Danzig, James Lawler and Thomas P. Bossert, Washington Post The last days have brought some good news in the United States’ fight against the coronavirus. President-elect Joe Biden is engaging experts likely to produce improved plans. Pfizer announced evidence that its vaccine is effective. The Trump administration may soon authorize emergency use of this vaccine.



In a pandemic, smart companies are hiring unflappable military veterans

By Virginia Backaitis, New York Post

It’s hard to throw Luis Penichet for a loop. The 27-year-old Marine Corps veteran acclimates to unusual situations quickly — he spent weeks sleeping in a 7-by-10-foot box in the African heat of Djibouti and led a logistical team in the freezing cold, snowy terrain of Norway during NATO exercises. But when the pandemic descended in March, he was rattled, not only because of COVID-19, but also because he feared that the job he had just lined up at JP Morgan, his first as a civilian, might be in jeopardy.

Military wary that shakeup could upend its apolitical nature

By Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press

The words spoken by America’s top military officer carried a familiar ring, but in the midst of a chaotic week at the Pentagon, they were particularly poignant.“We are unique among militaries,” said Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual.”Milley was speaking Wednesday at the dedication of an Army museum in a week that saw President Donald Trump fire Defense Secretary Mark Esper and install three staunch loyalists to senior Pentagon policy positions. The abrupt changes have raised fears about what Trump may try to do in his final two months of office — and whether the military’s long held apolitical nature could be upended.


Our Work-from-Anywhere Future..Best practices for all-remote organizations by


By Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury, for The Harvard Business Review Before 2020 a movement was brewing within knowledge-work organizations. Personal technology and digital connectivity had advanced so far and so fast that people had begun to ask, “Do we really need to be together, in an office, to do our work?” We got our answer during the pandemic lockdowns. We learned that a great many of us don’t in fact need to be colocated with colleagues on-site to do our jobs. Individuals, teams, entire workforces, can perform well while being entirely distributed—and they have. So now we face new questions: Are all-remote or majority-remote organizations the future of knowledge work? Is work from anywhere (WFA) here to stay?



“Data Trusts” Could Be the Key to Better AI

By George Zarkadakis, for The Harvard Business Review

One of the challenges in developing AI applications is obtaining the vast amount of data that’s required. Making matters worse, regulations and privacy issues pose obstacles to firms’ sharing their data. A possible solution is for firms to form a “data trust.” that serves as a fiduciary for the data providers and governs their data’s proper use. Willis Towers Watson recently piloted a data trust together with several of its clients. This article shared what they learned about how to create such a trust.



The ‘Coded Bias’ documentary is ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for Big Tech algorithms

By KC Ifeanyi for Fast Company There’s been no shortage of documentaries covering the perils of Big Tech. Most recently, Netflix’s The Social Dilemma made waves, for better or worse, as it leaned on insiders to unpack the manipulative designs of social media algorithms. Now filmmaker Shalini Kantayya is digging deeper into how social media and Big Tech’s algorithms are impacting society’s most marginalized groups in her new doc Coded Bias.


Tips for Building a Media List from Scratch and Avoiding Spray and Pray

By Steve Smith, PR News

The past two decades have brought a tremendous amount of innovation and efficiency to PR, making certain aspects of the job more efficient. Media-list development is one such task. Formerly, it involved combing through Bacon’s Books and countless print copies of newspapers and magazines to find the right target reporter.



A Look at Less-Publicized PR Crisis Communication Tips

By Jack Holmes, PR News

Several facets of crisis management get a lot of attention, including having a crisis readiness plan and practicing it periodically.  There are less-heralded components of crisis, though. In this interview with veteran PR pro and educator Terry Hemeyer, we explore the crisis pro's demeanor, pivoting from a plan and handling false narratives.


Biden is right: Let's listen to each other in a spirit of healing


By Boston City Councilman Frank Baker, Special for the Dorchester Reporter

On Saturday night, President-elect Joe Biden said something profound as he addressed the nation after being declared the winner of the election. “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” he said. “And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.” Alluding to Scripture, he added: “This is the time to heal in America.” And I say “amen” to that. We need to re-calibrate. We need to take a breath and find solutions together. Together means Ds and Rs collaborating, compromising, listening. Progressives and conservatives. Atheists and religious. People of all colors and distinctions. To loosely quote John Lennon, we need “a brotherhood of man.”



Black Woman, for First Time, Will Lead Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy

By John Ismay, New York Times

Sydney Barber will break one of the final leadership barriers in the Annapolis, Md., school’s 175-year history. Students at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., have never been led by a Black woman in the school’s 175-year history, but that will change after the holiday break when Midshipman First Class Sydney Barber takes charge as brigade commander for the spring semester.



'We are at war with this virus’: Anne Arundel sets coronavirus social gathering limits, reduces restaurant capacity and cancels rec league sports


By Brooks DuBose, Capital Gazette

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced Thursday new social gathering limits, reductions on bars and restaurant capacity and the cancellation of recreation and park youth sports as coronavirus cases surge. These restrictions have been staggered. Starting Friday, social gatherings in Anne Arundel County will be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Bars and restaurants will be scaled back to 25% capacity, though Pittman encouraged all residents to pursue take-out and “tip generously."



Kim Ng’s hire doesn’t solve gender inequity, but it takes ‘unprecedented’ to ‘possible’

By Sally Jenkins, Washington Post

When a woman becomes the “first” to do anything, it’s always the triumphant end of something, too. When Kim Ng was named the first female general manager in Major League Baseball, she terminated once and for all the idea that sports leadership requires some tribal-magic inner maleness, some secret passcode acquired from having “played the game.” Henceforth, women execs won’t be seen as incursions but as deservedly promoted.



Trey Mancini hopeful to rejoin Orioles, continue colon cancer advocacy in 2021: ‘Back to being myself’


By Nathan Ruiz

On the bad days over the past eight months, Trey Mancini always tried to take walks, an effort to keep in motion even as the cancer-killing chemicals left his body preferring to simply lie around all day. He didn’t want to stop moving forward. His completion of chemotherapy in September, paired with those walks and the half-hour workouts he mixed in throughout his six-month treatment for Stage III colon cancer, have Mancini confident he’ll be ready to resume his baseball career when the Orioles begin spring training in a few months. On a Zoom call Wednesday, Mancini said his recent blood work has shown no traces of tumor DNA or cancer.



Through the Groundskeepers, Virginia football team aims for lasting change in Charlottesville


By Andrea Adelson, ESPN

Charles Snowden steeled himself for the walk he helped map out with a group of his Virginia teammates, feeling its gravity the moment he looked up at the street sign that read, "Heather Heyer Way." The walk had to start here, where Heyer was killed three years earlier while protesting a white supremacist rally that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia. Snowden and two teammates followed the 3-mile route down Main Street toward campus, in silence. His mind raced, asking, "How could an innocent person lose their life protesting in the city where I go to school?" while grappling with the fear, pain and anguish that remains today, in this town and in so many others across the country.


And Finally...



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