Weekly Update 2-8 Aug 21

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

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‘We’re back to panicking’: Moms are hit hardest with camps and day cares closing again

Parents of children under 12 are once again struggling to juggle work and child care. There’s concern about another mass resignation of moms.

By Heather Long, WashPost

Sarah Mordecai just got the phone call that no parent wants: Her son was exposed to covid at day care. She had to pick up her two children immediately and prepare to quarantine. Mordecai and her husband scrambled to swiftly rearrange their schedules to be home with their two kids, ages 1 and 3. They worry the entire rest of the year could be a series of emergencies like this where the kids get exposed and the whole family is back on lockdown. “We were starting to breathe a sigh of relief. Now we’re back to panicking,” said Mordecai, who works for a health insurer in Little Rock. “Given the low vaccination rate in our area, I can’t see how it doesn’t happen again.”

No, the Unvaccinated Aren’t All Just Being Difficult

By Bryce Covert, NYT

On a July day in downtown Lowell, Mass., the first sunny Saturday of the month, people began to line up for a block party. Food trucks offered everyone a free empanada or egg roll. A D.J. played music. There were kid-friendly activities, too, like a touch-a-truck station with a fire truck and an ambulance.
The party wasn’t just a way to have a good time. The real motivation was to get people in the community vaccinated against Covid-19. Nestled between the food trucks were ones offering Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Law professor sues George Mason University, challenging covid vaccine mandate

By Susan Svrluga, The Washington Post

A law-school professor filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging George Mason University’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, arguing it is unnecessarily coercive and unconstitutional. The nonprofit New Civil Liberties Alliance filed the case against George Mason’s president and some of its other leaders in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of Todd Zywicki, a professor at the university’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

What to Do With Our Covid Rage

By Sarah Smarsh, NYT

In the spring, I received my Covid-19 vaccination shots from county health workers in an old building on the main street of a tiny Kansas town. My first dose came from a quiet nurse wearing a plastic visor over his N-95 mask and a leather cowboy belt with ornate metal inlays. My second dose came from a smiling older woman who, when I reported with vague concern that I had experienced strong side effects from the first shot, patted me on the shoulder and said, “It’s better than a tube down your throat, hon.”
Fellow county residents waited their turn in muddy boots and faded work jackets while the April wind stirred their fields of early wheat. There was corn to plant, but they had found time to make long drives to what was then the only vaccination site in 500 square miles. Our ages, politics and backgrounds varied, but we were mostly white, rural people who wanted to live.

Most unvaccinated Americans believe coronavirus vaccine poses greater health risk than the disease, poll finds

By Adela Suliman, The Washington Post

More unvaccinated adults in the United States view the coronavirus vaccine as a greater risk to their health than the disease caused by the virus itself, a poll found. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey Wednesday that found there was a big split between unvaccinated and vaccinated adults in what they perceived as the bigger threat during the pandemic. Just over half of unvaccinated adults (53 percent) said they believed getting vaccinated posed a bigger risk to their health than getting infected with the coronavirus.

With the Delta variant running rampant, businesses look to reintroduce restrictions

Here’s how communicators are sharing messages about vaccination requirements, mask mandates and other safety measures with employees and customers.

By Ted Kitterman, PR Daily

Hope is wavering in the fight against a pandemic. As vaccination rates have stalled in the U.S. and the highly contagious Delta variant has put COVID-19 cases on the rise once more, many businesses are looking to reintroduce restrictions. Whether requiring vaccination for employees or reinstating mask rules for customers and workers, there has been a tipping point in the fight against COVID-19 in the U.S. in recent days. Meat packing company Tyson Foods has announced it will require all workers to get vaccinated. Employees must get fully vaccinated by an Oct. 1 deadline for office employees and a Nov. 1 deadline for plant workers.

Vaxed, waxed, but definitely not relaxed: Welcome to the pandemic swerve

By Maura Judkis, The Washington Post

Circus performer Kristen Teffeteller had finally gotten back onstage when the pandemic made her jump through yet another hoop. Her show at Skull’s Rainbow Room in Nashville, which had been shut down for more than a year, returned in early June to packed crowds of tourists. It felt great to be onstage. It felt great to be on a payroll. Well, for now. When Teffeteller saw that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reissuing mask recommendations for vaccinated people in certain circumstances — including being in a room with unvaccinated people, like her intimate performance venue — she began to wonder if her hoop act would go back into hibernation.

Is it legal?: Law professor explains legality of Hogan’s new COVID-19 vaccine policy

By Kim Dacey, WBAL (NBC) Baltimore

Gov. Larry Hogan’s new COVID-19 vaccine policy is one that private companies are starting to adopt: Either get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. But is that legal? WBAL-TV 11 News spoke to a legal expert Thursday and the short answer is yes. Employers can mandate these requirements even while the vaccines are under emergency use authorization. “You’ve got to decide how important your job is to you, I guess, because I think they can do it. That’s sort of the bottom line,” said Michael Hayes, professor at University of Baltimore School of Law.

Beware Free Wi-Fi: Government Urges Workers to Avoid Public Networks

The National Security Agency warned government employees that hackers could take advantage of the public Wi-Fi in coffee shops, airports and hotel rooms.

By David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes, The New York Times

The Biden administration would like you to get a vaccine and wear a mask. Oh, and one more thing: It has just proclaimed that it’s time for government employees and contractors to get off public Wi-Fi, where they can pick up another kind of virus. In a warning to all federal employees, leading defense contractors and the 3.4 million uniformed, civilian and reserve personnel serving in the military, the National Security Agency issued an unusually specific admonition late last week that logging on to public Wi-Fi “may be convenient to catch up on work or check email,” but it is also an invitation to attackers.

Ransomware poses threat to vulnerable local governments

By Karina Elwood, WashPost

Ransomware is the invisible threat that’s sweeping the nation. President Biden publicly committed aggressive action on cybersecurity and defending American infrastructure. Recent high-profile attacks left people panic-buying gas along the East Coast and debilitated hundreds of institutions around the globe. But underneath the big attacks, in the metropolitan area surrounding the nation’s capital where security is a top priority, local government agencies such as school districts, city halls and police departments are among the most vulnerable to ransomware attacks, experts say.

Senators highlight national security threats from China during rare public hearing

By Maggie Miller, The Hill

The Senate Intelligence Committee held a rare public hearing Wednesday afternoon to stress increasing threats posed by China to U.S. national security, with one top senator describing the situation as a “horror show.” The threats, according to the officials, include Chinese counterintelligence activities such as cyberattacks against U.S. companies and critical organizations, malign influence and stealing billions of dollars in U.S. intellectual property. “The Intelligence Committee … doesn’t normally hold open hearings, but Vice Chairman [Marco] Rubio [R-Fla.] and I believe this story needs to get out to the American public,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) testified at a committee hearing on Chinese threats Wednesday.

The Right Way to Split China and Russia

Washington Should Help Moscow Leave a Bad Marriage

By Charles A. Kupchan, Foreign Affairs
As Washington searches for an effective strategy to manage China’s rise, U.S. President Joe Biden is right to lean heavily on one of the United States’ clearest advantages: its global network of alliances. But even as Biden builds a coalition to tame Beijing, he also needs to work the other side of the equation by weakening China’s own international partnerships. He can’t stop China’s rise, but he can limit its influence by trying to lure away from China its main collaborator: Russia.
The Chinese-Russian partnership significantly augments the challenge that China’s rise poses to the United States. Teamwork between Beijing and Moscow amplifies China’s ambition and reach in many regions of the world, in the battle for control of global institutions, and in the worldwide contest between democracy and illiberal alternatives. Piggybacking on China’s growing power allows Russia to punch above its weight on the global stage and energizes Moscow’s campaign to subvert democratic governance in Europe and the United States.

Tips for Getting the Most SEO Value from Your PR Placements

By Jonathan Epstein, PR News

The role of PR is changing rapidly, particularly in digital channels. One change augurs well for PR, if communicators can speak the language of SEO. SEO is a zero-sum game: 88 percent of clicks on non-ad (organic) results go to those on the first search-results page. 90 percent of all sites receive no organic clicks. Regardless, SEO is a game worth playing. Organic clicks have 2x the volume of paid ad clicks, which are increasing in cost again. Typically, PR pros emphasize their work’s long-term value for branding and positioning.

Peter Doocy and Jen Psaki’s daily clashes have become a White House briefing room ritual

By Paul Farhi, The Washington Post

The White House press briefing room hasn’t been quite the same since Donald Trump left office. No more presidential promotions of dubious covid-19 remedies. No more lectures to the gathered reporters from Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, punctuated by a crisp snap of her binder and a dramatic exit from the podium. But there’s a new miniseries playing out in the briefing room: the daily thrust and parry between Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy and President Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki. Doocy, the son of longtime “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy, tends to come at Psaki with questions from Fox’s ever-lengthening list of culture-war issues. He can be aggressive in his questioning, sometimes interrupting Psaki mid-answer to make another query.

Can Kamala Harris Solve the Vice-President Paradox?

The vice president needs to win over the voters who approve of Biden, but not of her performance.

By Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic

Vice President Kamala Harris is in a difficult position at the White House. “I think it’s okay if we shake hands,” Kamala Harris told me last week. The vice president came out from behind her West Wing desk to greet me, her eyes smiling above her face mask. The last time I was in this particular office, the occupant was Mike Pence. And had it not been for a few state election officials who withstood the pressure to ignore the results, Harris’s desk would still belong to him. Donald Trump’s most extreme supporters hold out hope that the election results will somehow be overturned, and that Trump will resume office this month. 

CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Aug 07, 21] Episode 9…Industry Abhors a Vacuum

By 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…strategy and concepts. Speeches and presentation panels. Ships and aircraft and radars and missiles and drones and sensors and torpedoes and well, you get the picture. We talk about the just-concluded Navy League Sea-Air-Space exposition with two great guests, Sam Lagrone of US Naval Institute News and the never-reticent Vago Muradian. But first, a quick roundup of naval news around the world.
In this Week’s Squawk Chris Servello shares some thoughts on Admiral Mike Gilday’s remarks at Sea, Air and Space.

9/11 families to President Biden: Don’t come to our memorial events

Nearly 1,800 victims’ relatives, first responders and survivors are calling on Biden to refrain from attending any memorials over his refusal to release Sept. 11 documents.

By Courtney Kube, NBC News

Nearly 1,800 Americans directly affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are opposing President Joe Biden’s participation in any memorial events this year unless he upholds his pledge to declassify U.S. government evidence that they believe may show a link between Saudi Arabian leaders and the attacks. The victims’ family members, first responders and survivors will release a statement Friday calling on Biden to skip 20th-anniversary events in New York and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon unless he releases the documents, which they believe implicate Saudi officials in supporting the acts of terrorism.

A Near Press Blackout in Afghanistan

The war that Americans forgot is ending in chaos and secrecy.

By Megan K. Stack, The New Yorker

The exit of the last American commander from Afghanistan was marked by a strange and sombre ceremony. Standing outside the military headquarters in Kabul, among flagpoles left bare by nations that had already pulled down their banners and gone home, Austin Scott Miller, the longest-serving general of America’s longest foreign war, spoke to a smattering of Afghan and U.S. officials and a handful of journalists. He gave no declaration of victory, nor promise of return. The brief, formal event sounded, at times, like a eulogy. “Our job now is just not to forget,” Miller said. 

The United States closed out its run to win gold — its fourth in a row.

By Andrew Keh, NYTimes

It was not always pretty, but in the end, the United States men’s basketball team ascended to the heights they were always expected to reach. Overcoming a slow start to the Olympic tournament, the Americans dispatched France, 87-82, with relative comfort in the final game on Saturday morning at Saitama Super Arena to win their 16th gold medal in the event. In front of a sizable crowd — not of fans, but of national team staff, Olympic volunteers and journalists — the United States looked far more cohesive and confident than when they lost to France in the opening game of competition. That contest had exposed some of their early issues as a team — namely, a lack of familiarity as a group. But they had none of those problems on Saturday morning.

Edelman Bolsters Public-Affairs Unit as Companies Cater to Consumers

The firm is launching an agency focused on advising clients on issues related to social justice and doing business in places like China

By Alexandra Bruell, WSJ

Edelman is planning to invest at least $10 million to bolster its public affairs business, the public-relations giant said, as businesses increasingly seek support in government relations, crisis management and social responsibility work. It is spinning off its public affairs function to launch a “boutique” called the Edelman Global Advisory, or EGA, the company said. Daniel J. Edelman Holdings Inc.—the holding company that encompasses the namesake PR agency—has acquired the small, D.C.-based public affairs shop Basilinna to jump-start the effort. Basilinna’s co-founder and CEO, Deborah Lehr, will lead EGA as CEO and managing partner.

Letter from President Biden in support of Capital Gazette, free and open media

By Capital Gazette

President Joe Biden sent a letter to The Capital dated Aug. 3 in support of the Capital Gazette and the freedom of the press in the aftermath of the June 2018 office shooting and the recent trial verdict. Here is the text of the letter: Three years ago, a tragic mass shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom took the lives of five innocent Americans. Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, and John McNamara were sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, colleagues and friends. Our Nation will never forget them or the survivors of this tragedy. Their loved ones remain in my prayers as they keep alive the memories of those they lost. As we reflect on their legacy of courageous dedication to a free and independent press, we also remain ever vigilant against those working to undermine the rights, principles, and freedoms that define America. We stand with truth-tellers across our Nation who refuse to be intimidated, often at great personal risk, including the colleagues of the five we lost that day, who — even under the most tragic of circumstances — continued to do their jobs as journalists. A free and open media is vital to the function of our democracy, and as President, I am committed to countering any threats to American journalists.