Weekly Update 12-18 Jul 21

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

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The American Identity Crisis

By David Brooks, NYTimes (Opinion)

For most of the past century, human dignity had a friend — the United States of America. We are a deeply flawed and error-prone nation, like any other, but America helped defeat fascism and communism and helped set the context for European peace, Asian prosperity and the spread of democracy. Then came Iraq and Afghanistan, and America lost faith in itself and its global role — like a pitcher who has been shelled and no longer has confidence in his own stuff. On the left, many now reject the idea that America can be or is a global champion of democracy, and they find phrases like “the indispensable nation” or the “last best hope of the earth” ridiculous. On the right the wall-building caucus has given up on the idea that the rest of the world is even worth engaging.

Can the Black Rifle Coffee Company Become the Starbucks of the Right?

The company doubled its sales last year by leaning into America’s culture war. It’s also trying to distance itself from some of its new customers.

By Jason Zengerle, The New York Times

Like most Americans, Evan Hafer experienced the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol from a distance, watching it unfold on his television and his iPhone from Salt Lake City. What he saw did not surprise him. Hafer, who is 44, voted for Donald Trump. He was even open at first to the possibility that Trump’s claims of sweeping voter fraud were legitimate, until William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, declared in early December that he could find no evidence that such fraud occurred. Still, Hafer told me recently, “you’re told by the commander in chief for months that the election was stolen, so you’re going to have a group of people that are really pissed.”

‘This is a really bittersweet day’: Jury finds Capital Gazette gunman criminally responsible in Annapolis newsroom shooting

By Alex Mann and Lilly Price, Capital Gazette

Three years and 17 days after the mass shooting, an Anne Arundel County jury ruled Thursday the man who killed five Capital Gazette employees was sane during the attack that shocked the tightknit town of Annapolis and therefore culpable for his crimes. Their verdict brings closer to a conclusion the legal case stemming from the June 28, 2018, murders of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. Six people survived the attack, billed as the deadliest ever on an American newsroom. Now, Jarrod Ramos, 41, will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison.

Why People Are So Awful Online

By Roxane Gay, NYT

When I joined Twitter 14 years ago, I was living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, attending graduate school. I lived in a town of around 4,000 people, with few Black people or other people of color, not many queer people and not many writers. Online is where I found a community beyond my graduate school peers. I followed and met other emerging writers, many of whom remain my truest friends. I got to share opinions, join in on memes, celebrate people’s personal joys, process the news with others and partake in the collective effervescence of watching awards shows with thousands of strangers.
Something fundamental has changed since then. I don’t enjoy most social media anymore. I’ve felt this way for a while, but I’m loath to admit it.

Different Cultures Define Happiness Differently

By Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, “How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness.

Everyone knows where the happiest people in the world live—the United Nations tells us every single year. For the past several years, Finland has been ranked No. 1, sitting atop the pack of Nordic countries, which are all considered very happy. And since they’ve cracked the happiness code, as my colleague Joe Pinsker wrote recently, many of the rest of us are tempted to mimic Nordic habits. Live like a Finn—take a short walk in the forest, go ice swimming—and all will be well, right?

What can Generation X add to American foreign policy?

Does Ben Rhodes represent my generation? Whatever, dude.

Daniel W. Drezner, The Washington Post

A running joke of those Americans defined as being part of Generation X is how, to the extent that generations are a thing, the rest of the country forgets that Gen X exists. There has yet to be a Generation X president, and the chances are good that the White House will pass directly from a boomer to a millennial. Because our generation is smaller than either the boomers or the millennials, we have been ignored. Generation X has responded by resenting the lack of attention while at the same time displaying studied indifference to that lack of attention. What is interesting is that even as Generation X disappears from mainstream media coverage, its prominence in the foreign policy arena persists. 

‘They’re Killing People’? Biden Isn’t Quite Right, but He’s Not Wrong.

By Kara Swisher, NYT

It was a stunning thing to say, even if it is in many ways true.
“They’re killing people,” President Biden said loudly enough to be heard under the roar of his Marine One helicopter idling on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.
He was talking not about terrorists or leaders of rogue nations or even gun manufacturers. He was talking Silicon Valley tech moguls, most specifically people like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the top two leaders of Facebook, and their platform’s role in allowing dangerous misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines to spread far and wide.

Disinformation is coming for your business

By Ina Fried, Axios

Ransomware may be the threat everyone is talking about right now, but businesses also face another growing risk: becoming a disinformation campaign’s direct target or collateral damage. Ransomware’s damage is immediate and unavoidable, but the attack takes skill and planning, while disinformation attacks are often cheaper to launch and harder to protect against. “You’ve either been the target of a disinformation attack or you are about to be,” former U.S. cybersecurity head Chris Krebs told Axios.

China drafts new cyber-security industry plan.

By Reuters

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said today it has issued a draft three-year action plan to develop the country’s cyber-security industry, estimating the sector may be worth more than 250 billion yuan ($38.6 billion) by 2023. The draft comes as Chinese authorities step up efforts to draft regulations to better govern data storage, data transfer, and personal data privacy. Over the weekend, the Cyberspace Administration of China proposed draft rules calling for all data-rich tech companies with over 1 million users to undergo security reviews before listing overseas.

CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Jul 17, 21] Episode 6…Good Intentions or Simply a Stick in the Eye?

By The Defense & Aerospace Report

Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello…a weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world.

This week… a spate of articles and reports critical of the Navy’s management and culture appeared in media and on Capitol Hill, including a piece on fighting culture that has prompted a fair share of controversy…we discuss.

In this Week’s Squawk Chris Servello responds to the Montgomery and Schmidle Report…what happens next and for how long?

Opinion: Civilized nations’ efforts to deter Russia and China are starting to add up

Opinion by George F. Will, Washington Post

The British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender recently broke away from the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group to conduct a Black Sea mission that triggered Russia’s reflexive dishonesty. This was one episode among several lately that demonstrate increasing resistance to Russian and Chinese assaults on a rules-based international order.

How supply-chain innovation can bolster U.S. security.

By Alan Estevez, Peter Heron & Kelly Marchese for Deloitte, Fast Company. 

The mandate for military and defense organizations to invest in advancing supply chains is more urgent every day. In its 2021 National Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community,1 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported, “Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang have demonstrated the capability and intent to advance their interests at the expense of the United States and its allies, despite the pandemic.” 

Maryland House speaker supports 2022 vote on marijuana legalization

By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

The effort to fully legalize marijuana got a boost Friday, with the speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates announcing her support for allowing voters to decide in 2022. House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones issued a statement saying that a referendum should decide whether to legalize the drug, which is currently allowed only for medical use. She also formed a bipartisan work group to work out the myriad details that such legalization would entail, from changes to criminal laws to the taxing structure. “While I have personal concerns about encouraging marijuana use, particularly among children and young adults, the disparate criminal justice impact leads me to believe that the voters should have a say in the future of legalization,” the Baltimore County Democrat said in a statement.

Why Your Leisure Time Is in Danger

Stop treating your time off as a productivity hack.

By Krzysztof Pelc, The Atlantic

As Europe was recovering from the Second World War, the philosopher Josef Pieper was wondering about leisure. “A time like the present,” he admitted, “seems, of all times, not to be a time to speak of leisure. We are engaged in the re-building of a house, and our hands are full.” But such periods of recovery, Pieper argued, were also an opportunity for societies to reconsider their collective ends—the type of house they wanted to build together.

Stephen A. Smith Brings ESPN Crisis, Yet Again

By Nicole Schuman, PR News

Stephen A. Smith continues to harm ESPN’s reputation. Broadcast media sure looks different from the days of only three networks, which delivered news reports and refrained from opinion. These days viewers can watch or listen to a wide array of stations and programs, many of which cater to the personal leanings of the audience. Therein lies a challenge for networks balancing profit, audience happiness and what many might still call journalism. Can a TV network deliver what people want and maintain brand reputation, while allowing talent to deliver personal punditry? Many media personalities may want to do further research or consider the public temperature before sounding off.

Mask mandate back on in Los Angeles as virus cases rise

By Christopher Weber And John Antczak, AP

Los Angeles County residents will again be required to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, while the University of California system said that students, faculty and staff must be inoculated against the coronavirus to return to campuses. The announcements Thursday came amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, most of them the highly transmissible delta variant that has proliferated since California fully reopened its economy on June 15 and did away with capacity limits and social distancing. The vast majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people. The rapid and sustained increase in cases in Los Angeles County requires restoring an indoor mask mandate, said Dr. Muntu Davis, public health officer for the county’s 10 million people. The public health order will go into effect just before midnight Saturday.

Goldman Says Pandemic Is Shaping a More Productive U.S. Economy

By Enda Curran, Bloomberg

The Covid-19 pandemic is fueling a productivity boost for the U.S. economy by speeding up workplace digitization, according to an analysis by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Since the crisis began, annualized growth in output per hour has risen 3.1%, compared with 1.4% in the previous business cycle, Goldman economists wrote in a note. “Stronger productivity growth has been one of the silver linings of the pandemic,” they said.

Podcast: Ransomware, Hacks & Supply Chain Vulnerability

By Defense & Aerospace Report

On this week’s Cyber Report, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, Dmitri Alperovich, the co-founder and former CTO of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike who is now the cofounder and executive chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, John Cofrancesco of Fortress Information Security, and Justin Sherman of Wired Magazine and the Atlantic Council think tank who just authored a new paper “Reassessing RuNet: Russian internet isolation and implications for Russian cyber behavior,” discuss the largest ransomware attacks on record by Russia’s ReVil group, what the Biden administration must do next to better either deter Moscow or force it to crack down on domestic cyber criminal groups, improving defenses against ransomware attacks, and authoritarian states and the internet with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian.

Podcast: Are economic sanctions against Russia effective?

By The Economist

Are economic sanctions against Russia a good idea? Anne McElvoy asks the Prime Minister of Estonia whether sanctions really punish Vladimir Putin, and why she thinks dialogue with the Kremlin shows weakness. Are all NATO members spending enough on defence? Estonia’s first female PM explains why she looks to Angela Merkel for lessons in leadership and what the golf course taught her about life.

Facebook says Iranian hackers used it to lure defense company employees

By Kevin Collier, NBC News

Iranian hackers used Facebook to create elaborate personas to try to get Americans in the defense and aerospace industries to fall for phishing schemes, the company said Thursday. The campaign, which began last year and used around 200 fake accounts, highlights the breadth and depth of efforts by Iranian and other state-affiliated cyber spies to hack into high-value targets like defense companies. The personas were “designed to look like things people would engage with,” said Mike Dvilyanski, Facebook’s head of cyber-espionage investigations, including “attractive young women posing as professionals, sometimes pretending to be recruiters for particular companies or industries.”

3 PR lessons from the run up to the Tokyo Olympics

The media efforts and crisis comms around the big sports event reveal how the pandemic still drives important messages, even if parts of the globe are starting to make a return.

By Kathryn Arnold, PR Daily

When faced with a crisis, the clarity, consistency, accuracy, and speed of your messaging is paramount. When applied on a massive scale, like an international, globally-televised sporting event, in the midst of the all-consuming Covid-19 pandemic and its news cycle, that is even more true. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers have unfortunately demonstrated how not to manage a highly-publicized crisis in the 14 months leading up to the Games. As a Bloomberg reporter with an up-close view of the chaos noted, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics team has repeatedly “bungled their messaging time and again.”

Win or lose, Black European soccer players can’t escape racism

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho would have been heroes if the English had won but were attacked instead

By Martenzie Johnson, The Undefeated

Bukayo Saka stood alone. Alone, in front of Italy’s stalwart goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, 60,000 trophy-starved English fans in Wembley Stadium, and billions more watching around the world. The son of economic migrants from Nigeria had made it to the very pinnacle – standing on the pitch with the Three Lions patch emblazoned across his chest during the football-crazed nation’s most pivotal moment since 1966. If he scored, Saka would keep his nation’s hope of securing its first Euro 2020 championship trophy alive, and be celebrated among its football heroes.

Former Navy baseball pitcher Charlie Connolly drafted in 20th round of 2021 MLB draft by Los Angeles Dodgers

By Bill Wagner, Capital Gazette

Former Navy baseball player Charlie Connolly recently decided he wanted to be an officer instead of a professional player. Given an opportunity to pursue professional baseball at the price of his commission, Connolly chose to continue serving as an ensign. He is currently on temporary assignment duty at the Naval Academy. That did not dissuade the Los Angeles Dodgers from selecting Connolly with the final pick of the 2021 MLB draft. The Naval Academy graduate was taken at the end of the 20th round with the 612th overall pick, making him the MLB version of “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Trey Mancini’s Remarkable Return

The Orioles first baseman and Home Run Derby invitee is the most magical story of the 2021 season — just by being part of it at all.

By Kevin Van Valkenberg, ESPN

The little boy loved the way the bat felt in his hands. He liked playing catch, liked running the bases, but nothing in the world made Trey Mancini happier than hitting. Even when he was 3 years old, Mancini would beg his father to pitch to him as long as there was daylight, the hours running together on the white sand beaches of Florida. By the time he was 5, all those swings had hardened into an obsession: He was going to hit home runs. He hadn’t yet graduated T-ball, but he believed in his swing — the fierce, repeatable pop of it — and he burned to go deep. Every time he failed to do so, it enraged him. Sometimes, he’d return to the dugout on the verge of tears.

Why Tennis Stars Are Saying No to the Tokyo Olympics

The sport’s biggest names are withdrawing from the Games left and right. Even Novak Djokovic is on the fence during his historic season.

By Joshua Robinson, WSJ

Novak Djokovic entered the tennis season aiming to pull off something no man has ever managed in the sport: a sweep of all four major tournaments, plus a gold medal in the Olympic singles tournament. And after dominating Wimbledon earlier this month, he’s now most of the way there. Yet even with history on the line, Djokovic is having second thoughts about making the trip to Tokyo. So are plenty of others in the tennis world with far less to play for. There are no rankings points or prize money on offer and these summer Olympics are set to be the most restrictive in history due to pandemic regulations.

Olympians Should Respect the US Flag and Protest Elsewhere, Top Athletes Say

By Scott McDonald, Newsweek

The Tokyo Summer Olympics scheduled for 2020 will kick off in one week, but not without one year’s worth of pandemic, controversy and social justice issues that preceded it. Even though the Games will still happen one year later, some things still lurk in society from 2020. There will be no fans allowed at this year’s Tokyo Games—foreign or domestic—because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Another is the ongoing social justice protests that could be carried out by athletes. The International Olympic Committee still doesn’t want demonstrations like the 1968 Mexico City Summer Games when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists for Black power while standing upon the medal podium after the 200-meter dash.

Biz Markie, New York rapper known as ‘clown prince of hip-hop,’ dies at 57

By Harrison Smith, WashPost

Biz Markie, a New York rapper, DJ and human beatbox who became known as the “clown prince of hip-hop” for his playful style and joyous charm, and who climbed the music charts in 1989 with his crossover hit “Just a Friend,” died July 16 in Baltimore. He was 57.