The C.D.C. said on Monday that research indicated that people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to have asymptomatic infections and “potentially less likely to transmit the virus that causes Covid-19 to other people.” Still, the agency did not rule out the possibility that they may inadvertently transmit the virus.

There is also uncertainty about how well vaccines protect against new variants of the virus that are more transmissible and possibly more virulent, as well as about how long the vaccine protection lasts. Some of the variants carry mutations that seem to blunt the body’s immune response.

The C.D.C. advised that vaccinated Americans do not need to quarantine or get tested if they are exposed to the virus, unless they develop symptoms of infection. If they do so, they should isolate themselves, get tested if possible and speak with their doctors.

Vaccinated Americans should not gather with unvaccinated people from more than one household, and should continue avoiding large and medium-size gatherings. (The agency did not specify what size constitutes a large or medium-size gathering.)

The guidance is slightly different for fully vaccinated residents of group homes and incarcerated individuals, who should continue to quarantine for 14 days and be tested if they are exposed to the virus, because of the higher risk of transmission in such settings.

Vaccinated workers in high-density settings like meatpacking plants do not need to quarantine after an exposure to the coronavirus, but testing is still recommended.

The C.D.C. did not revise its travel recommendations, continuing to advise that all Americans stay home unless necessary. Dr. Walensky noted that virus cases had surged every time there had been an increase in travel.

“We are really trying to restrain travel,” she said. “And we’re hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.”

The new guidelines clearly detail the rewards of vaccination and are likely to motivate even more Americans to seek immunizations and curb lingering vaccine hesitancy, said Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, an assistant professor of global health and social medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

“You can resume an activity that many people are yearning for — to be in proximity with those they love, in small gatherings where you can see each other smile and give each other a hug,” Dr. Weintraub said.

“It’s been well studied that anticipation is a significant component of joy,” she added. “These guidelines help each person coming in for a vaccine anticipate future joy. As a physician and vaccinator, I’m thrilled.”

Noah Weiland contributed reporting.

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Warning: ‘Hundreds Of Thousands’ Of Microsoft Servers Hacked In Ongoing Attack

The Microsoft Exchange attacks could be a lot worse than initially thought, as reports suggest ‘hundreds of thousands’ servers have now been hacked globally. Here’s how to find out if yours is one of them.

Earlier this week, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center, Microsoft 365 Defender Threat Intelligence Team and Microsoft 365 Security issued a joint advisory warning that on-premises Exchange servers were being attacked. The nature of that attack, using no less than four zero-day exploits (for previously unreported vulnerabilities) meant that an out-of-band emergency patch had been released. Microsoft, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, advised everyone to update immediately. The DHS even went as far as to issue an emergency directive requiring federal civilian branch agencies to do so in short order.

Initially, Microsoft stated that the attack, attributed to Chinese nation-state threat actors known as HAFNIUM, was “limited and targeted”, but now reports are emerging that hundreds of thousands of servers have been compromised, with talk of an exploit rate in the region of 1,000 servers every hour. This attack has expanded way beyond the reach of those original nation-state players, it would seem, and it is now open season on Microsoft Exchange for cybercriminals.

Investigative cybersecurity journalist, Brian Krebs, has reported that, according to experts who have briefed U.S. national security advisors, hundreds of thousands of servers have been successfully hacked globally. In the U.S. alone, this number is said to be more than 30,000 compromised servers.

 

Given that the attacks are thought to have started on January 6, this might come as no great surprise. However, it would appear that the threat itself has changed gear this week, and there are now multiple campaigns compromising unpatched servers at a rate of knots.

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Writing at Wired, Andy Greenberg quotes a security researcher “with knowledge of the investigation,” saying that there are “thousands of servers compromised per hour” globally. This doesn’t mean that all of those organizations have been targeted by HAFNIUM, but rather these are likely the result of automated scans looking for unpatched machines.

Indeed, Microsoft has confirmed that it “continues to see increased use of these vulnerabilities in attacks targeting unpatched systems by multiple malicious actors beyond HAFNIUM.”

Obviously, the previously stated advice to update those on-premises Exchange servers now remains the best mitigation option. Even White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned, on March 5, that this should be done immediately. Microsoft has published interim mitigations for those unable to patch their Exchange servers here.

But what if your server has already been got at? Indeed, how can you tell?

Microsoft has released a Nmap script for checking your Exchange server for indicators of compromise of these exploits, and you can find it on GitHub. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has also published a list of tactics, techniques and procedures. Meanwhile, FireEye Mandiant researchers have a list of investigation tips, including indicators of compromise, here.

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How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media To Increase Donations And Boost Visibility

 

By Jacqueline Tabas

Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, nonprofit organizations have faced onerous financial burdens. There has been a high demand for their services, which taxes their resources, yet their ability to bring in volunteers and host in-person fundraising events has been limited.

Nonprofits rely on donations in order to survive, and during the pandemic, fundraising has become even more challenging. As a case in point, The Salvation Army reported in December that fundraising was down 18% compared to prior years.

However, thanks to the power of social media, there are strategies nonprofits can use to achieve their fundraising and marketing goals. As people become more comfortable with their digital devices during the pandemic, they provide nonprofits with a captive audience for engagement.

If you run a nonprofit, here is how to take advantage of the unique opportunities offered by social media to increase the success of your organization.

Benefits of social media marketing for nonprofit organizations

Social media is an effective marketing tool for a nonprofit organization. Some of the key benefits include:

 

  • Social media significantly increases an organization’s reach (billions of people use social media).
  • Social media spreads the word about an organization’s mission.

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  • Social media postings are free.
  • Social media attracts new donors and keeps existing donors engaged.
  • Social media assists in growing a network of volunteers.
  • Each social media posting can include a link to the organization’s donor page.
  • Interactive content posted to social media allows the audience to participate and feel more engaged.

Many well-known nonprofit organizations, have employed social media tactics in successful marketing campaigns:

World Wide Fund for Nature: The World Wide Fund for Nature created a successful interactive content campaign called Earth Hour. The annual Earth Hour campaign requests that people turn off their lights for one hour and uses the #EarthHour hashtag (among others) to invigorate followers. In 2020, 90 countries and territories took part in the event and it generated over 4.7 billion global social media impressions.

Make-A-Wish Foundation: The Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted wishes to a myriad of children since 1980. Reportedly, the Foundation’s efforts fulfill a child’s desire every 40 minutes in the United States. Make-A-Wish shares all its video wishes on its YouTube channel. Videos of the children receiving their wishes are also published on the foundation’s website as well as its Facebook and Twitter accounts. This strategy has increased Make-A-Wish’s interaction. You can view the success of their efforts here.

Save the Children: The goal of Save the Children is to improve the lives of children around the world. Notably, the organization targets children living in war zones. Save the Children created a video where a Western child was shown in a situation that a child living in a war zone would face. The footage helped donors better understand and empathize with these children and was responsible for a multitude of donations and video shares:

Amnesty International: Amnesty International uses Twitter to raise awareness of ongoing campaigns and current social issues. Its Twitter profile has 4.2 million followers and has posted nearly 33,000 tweets.

Wings of Rescue: Pet rescue organization Wings of Rescue transports at-risk shelter pets from disaster areas and overcrowded shelters to shelters with empty kennel space. The organization has done a great job posting videos on YouTube, images on Instagram, and posts on Facebook to bring in donations.

Most popular social media platforms for nonprofits

While there are many social media platforms out there, here are the most popular ones used by nonprofits:

Facebook

With over 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook continues to be the most popular social media channel.

Facebook success strategies:

  • Most successful posts on Facebook are short because people generally do not like to read lengthy paragraphs. If you write a long post and the action link is at the end, there is a chance the viewer may never see the donation link. Ideally put the donation link at the beginning of your posts, followed by brief copy.
  • Including hashtags on Facebook posts helps popularize your nonprofit’s content and helps you gain more followers. If you utilize the hashtags that potential donors typically use, this will improve the page’s visibility and hopefully generate more donations.
  • Another way to gain more followers on a Facebook page or Facebook group is to run ads on Facebook. The Facebook Lookalike Audience tool helps you target people similar to your supporters and donors to increase engagement.
  • Share live events on Facebook. Live events allow supporters to see real-time updates of a fundraising event and inspires them to donate within the moment.
  • Consider generating a Facebook survey to boost engagement and followers.
  • Ask followers to share their connection to your organization by posting on their status section with a tag to your nonprofit.

YouTube

With over 2 billion monthly active users, the online video-sharing platform owned by Google is extremely popular. Many businesses, nonprofits, and influencers use YouTube to market their products and services.

Video content is more expensive and time-consuming to create than articles or images, but this type of content has the biggest engagement among audiences. With your nonprofit, you can set simple, yet stylized ways to shoot content, even from your office (or home office).

YouTube success strategies:

  • A YouTube channel is an essential component of a social media marketing program. Your nonprofit should have an established, central channel that is search engine optimized. You might even make money from your YouTube channel if it becomes popular.
  • Educational videos and content create awareness of the issues of importance to your nonprofit and are good ways to make your brand visible on YouTube.
  • Sign up for a free Google for Nonprofits account at google.com/nonprofits and click on the “Get Started” button. To create a channel and find an ID, click here. With a Google for Nonprofits account, you can raise money via YouTube without requiring donors to go to outside sources. YouTube has also implemented various features to help nonprofits raise money, such as:
  • Fundraisers, which resemble Facebook fundraisers. They display a donate button next to the video or livestream.
  • Community Fundraisers are when multiple YouTubers target the same cause to raise money on various channels.
  • Campaign matching is when other businesses or YouTubers show their matching pledges during fundraisers or community fundraisers.
  • Super Chat allows users to pay to have their messages emphasized during a live chat with numerous participants. Super chats are popular forms of advertising during fundraisers and community fundraisers.

Additionally, Google covers all of the starter fees, so that nonprofits will receive the maximum funds raised.

Instagram

With over one billion monthly active users, Instagram is a video and photo-sharing app owned by Facebook. It is popular among 18 to 34-year-olds.

Instagram success strategies:

  • Hashtags are vital on Instagram and use them liberally when publishing content. Hashtags help build a following because people search for content and accounts by searching hashtags related to their interests.
  • Instagram offers the option to host a live event. Nonprofits can specifically use Instagram live events to share fundraising events, allowing followers to participate actively in donating.
  • Gain more followers by hosting interactive question and answer sessions through your Instagram stories.
  • Stories, in general, are viewed more than regular Instagram posts. People are more likely to look at stories rather than scroll through an entire Instagram feed. Highlighting your best stories will increase followers and inspire donations.
  • You can easily add donation stickers to your Instagram stories to inspire others to donate. In addition, by sharing your Instagram stories on Facebook, you allow Facebook followers to take advantage of the donation sticker too.
  • In your stories and posts, you can increase engagement and visibility by tagging other organizations or individuals whom you work with. Also when you create a story or post, Instagram has a feature that allows you to post your location, which gives your content a broader reach and further establishes your credibility. There are also ways to apply these same features to Facebook stories and posts, and you can publish the same content shared on Instagram to linked social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Reach out to influencers who may be interested in supporting your nonprofit, asking if they would be kind enough to include a mention of your organization in their content.

Twitter

With over 330 million monthly active users, Twitter is a site where users post and interact with other users via mini-messages called “tweets.” Many businesses have used Twitter to increase their visibility and engagement with consumers.

Twitter success strategies: 

  • It is vital that your message/bio in the “About” section of your Twitter profile contains a cohesive and clear message for people learning about you for the first time. Donors need to understand and care about your organization if they are going to donate.
  • A simple way to gain more followers on Twitter is to advertise your Twitter account on other social media channels. Connecting other channels in some form draws more followers and helps grow an account.
  • Always be concise in your wording, and if possible, support your tweets with images or videos.
  • Post often or daily to Twitter. Frequent posting with hashtags offers a greater opportunity for people to discover your organization’s content and account and provides more opportunities for engagement.
  • Increase your number of followers by engaging with other Twitter accounts. Social media is primarily about instantaneous communication. Vital social media thrives on reciprocity and interacting in the moment; engaging with related accounts inspires reciprocal engagement. When you interact with other users on Twitter, there’s a chance that those accounts will share your nonprofit’s account and content with their followers, which can lead to even more followers for you.
  • Live tweeting allows supporters to watch real-time updates of a fundraising event, increasing followers and donations. Similar to Facebook Live events, this could inspire people to donate instantly.
  • The Twitter Poll is an excellent tool to use. It allows you to create your own poll and immediately see the results. A poll inspires more engagement because it requires more effort than reading text or watching a video. Also, if people enjoy voting, there is a high likelihood they will share the poll amongst their followers, hopefully helping your charity gain more followers and boost engagement.

Pinterest

With over 469 million active monthly users, Pinterest is a platform for promoting, saving, and finding information via visual content, and has evolved as a way to showcase a brand, a business, or a nonprofit. It provides an optimal outlet to showcase strong visual content and can serve as an additional engagement tool to drive traffic to a nonprofit’s website.

According to Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, “Pinterest is a place where people get inspired and then take action. Leveraging the platform gives nonprofits a unique, impactful way to share their causes and encourage people to support them.”

Pinterest success strategies: 

  • Infographics perform well on Pinterest. Posting infographics that share relevant and vital data about your organization eliminates the need for users to click on your website.
  • Pinterest is effective for collecting donations and even selling goods. You can use Pinterest to sell items related to your work, even if you already have a store on your website. Link your donation page to Pinterest images.
  • Archive donation landing pages from previous fundraisers. “Pin captions” can showcase past fundraising events. If a user is impressed with a pin that advertises the cause’s past success, the Pin could refer them to future, pertinent fundraising occasions.
  • Utilize Pinterest for networking purposes by following related accounts who may be interested in donating or following your organization. You can also connect with influencers who are passionate about your cause; influencers can promote the charity on their personal Pinterest accounts.
  • Promoting pins, especially donation-focused ones, is also crucial. Boosting such pins around important gift-giving-oriented holidays when people are more cheerful and generous is wise, especially since people browse Pinterest for gift inspiration.

LinkedIn

With over 310 million active monthly users and 740+ million registered professionals, LinkedIn is the leading employment networking platform.

Nonprofits can use LinkedIn to contact professionals involved in social responsibility or philanthropy. Large corporations have senior employees coordinating donations and partnerships with nonprofits, and these employees all have a presence on LinkedIn. You can use the platform to network with these individuals and develop advocates for your cause.

LinkedIn success strategies: 

  • Business professionals use LinkedIn for networking; thus, connecting with a donor, especially during the pandemic, is the best virtual alternative to an in-person meeting.
  • Many nonprofits have had success using LinkedIn to acquire talent. LinkedIn can help you discover new team members, board members, and volunteers.
  • LinkedIn also has a “status” feature. Use the status update line to push relevant facts and ask supporters for donations.
  • Take advantage of the “groups” feature to join several groups closely related to your mission. Try to frequently post in these groups to create more visibility and gain more connections.
  • Post articles to LinkedIn. 

TikTok

With over 1.1 billion active monthly users, TikTok is a video-sharing social platform for short-form videos. It has become enormously popular with Generation Z.

With TikTok, you can create videos tied to emotional music, and intertwine the video with a trending hashtag. Inputting emotion and having a trending hashtag has helped TikTok videos go viral and garner more followers.

TikTok success strategies: 

  • When the Oregon Zoo posted a video of an adorable elephant swimming to a heartwarming song and affiliated it with an Earth Day hashtag, the video received 4.7 million views, 861,000 likes, and 2,561 comments.

Oregon Zoo TikTok campaign video

  • Dance challenges are popular on TikTok and a great way to inspire donations. The American Heart Association conducted a “Keep the Beat Challenge.” Supporters created videos of themselves dancing to “Keep their Beat.” The challenge promoted the American Heart Association while raising money and awareness for American Heart Month.

American Heart Association TikTok campaign video

  • Use TikTok to inspire involvement and donating through storytelling. The Save the Music Foundation shared videos of young, ambitious musicians playing their music, and used text overlays in the video to tell viewers their inspiring life stories as the video played. This allowed viewers to listen to each musician perform while being able to read how Save the Music impacted the person’s life.

Save the Music Foundation TikTok campaign video

  • Charities can take advantage of informative content as a means to spread awareness. For their National Walking Day Campaign, United Way produced a short video of two people walking while highlighting the health statistics of walking frequently and the safety measures to consider during Covid-19.

National Walking Day TikTok campaign video

More social media tips for nonprofits

Here are some general tips to keep in mind no matter what platform you use:

  • Postings should be regular and continuous. Organizations that are successful with social media will post once a day or more. An occasional posting does not successfully build an engaged audience.
  • Optimize your organization’s profile on each social media site with a clear mission statement, bio, and image.
  • Use relevant hashtags, such as #dogrescue or #cancercure. People on social media use hashtags to find content and accounts pertaining to their interests. Be careful not to overuse hashtags because this makes the content of the post less relevant or visible than the hashtags themselves.
  • Consider scheduling regular postings with software tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer.
  • Monitoring the analytics of your postings is important to enhance your marketing strategy. For example, you can monitor the number of follows, likes, comments, and the traffic to your website from your social media postings.
  • Use interesting visual content.
  • Ensure that each post links to your organization’s website and particularly to the donor page.
  • Use call-to-action words in postings, such as “please help,” “please like,” “please retweet,” and other such phrasing.
  • Invest in videos—videos can result in 12 times more “shares” than text and images.
  • Make sure that your website promotes social media icons on every page.
  • Use humor and funny images when appropriate.
  • Tread lightly on controversial subjects.
  • Be prompt when engaging with your audience, answering questions, replying to comments, and responding to messages.

Additional marketing strategies for nonprofits

Consider the following marketing strategies to supplement your social media program:

  • Crowdfunding. Your nonprofit can fundraise virtually via crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is an excellent way to attract a large group of people to donate small quantities in unison, and there are many ways to share crowdfunding goals on social media channels.

For example, GoFundMe.com reported that a five-year-old boy wanted to help less fortunate children during the holidays. He led a 20-minute meditation session and then asked his attendees to donate to the Coalition for the Homeless in his name; he raised $30,000.

  • Email newsletters. Consider emailing a weekly newsletter to subscribers. This is a great way to keep your nonprofit at the forefront of people’s minds. Newsletters can include news updates, new images, new videos, references to the nonprofit on social media, links to donation pages, information about upcoming events, and much more.

You can then build up your newsletter subscriber list, which becomes a valuable asset to maintain engagement with clients or donors.

  • Content marketing. Employ content marketing strategies by creating articles for your website and other business sites. Stories should have links back to your website and especially to your donation page. These posts can help drive traffic and Google ranking. Nonprofits should employ content marketing strategies by creating articles for their website and other sites such as Medium.com or AllBusiness.com.

Social media—a cost-effective strategy

A nonprofit organization can use social media to increase donations and improve its visibility by successfully employing a comprehensive social media marketing strategy. Starting and implementing a coherent strategy may take a lot of time and effort, but it has been shown to be an extremely cost-effective marketing method for many organizations.

RELATED: 7 Rules for More Effective Social Media Marketing

About the Author

Jacqueline Tabas is a content marketer and social media manager based in San Francisco. Jacqueline has extensive experience in content marketing, content development, blogging, copywriting, posting, and conducting analytics for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media sites. She has been an advisor on social media marketing to many organizations, including nonprofits, technology companies, retail companies, and fashion brands. Connect with Jacqueline on LinkedIn.

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Astronomers May Have Found The First Evidence For Tectonic Activity On An Exoplanet


On Earth, the heat generated from the radioactive decay of elements in Earth’s mantle drives convection currents, pushing and dragging large plates of Earth’s crust around. When the plates collide, mountains form, and parts of Earth’s crust are recycled into the mantle. When the plates are pushed apart, the partially molten mantle rises upward to fill the gap. Plate tectonics is an essential part of the cycle that brings material from the planet’s interior to the surface and the atmosphere, and then transports it back beneath the Earth’s crust. Tectonics thus has a vital influence on the energy and matter transfer that ultimately makes Earth habitable.

Until now, researchers have found no evidence of global tectonic activity on planets outside our solar system. A team of researchers led by Tobias Meier from the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern and with the participation of ETH Zurich, the University of Oxford, and the National Center of Competence in Research NCCR PlanetS has now found evidence of the flow patterns inside a planet, located 45 light-years from Earth: LHS 3844b. Their results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

LHS 3844b is an exoplanet orbiting the red dwarf star LHS 3844, discovered using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. It orbits its parent star once every 11 hours, and its radius is 1.32 times that of Earth. It has a low albedo, indicating that its surface may resemble that of the Moon or Mercury.

“Observing signs of tectonic activity is very difficult, because they are usually hidden beneath an atmosphere”, Meier explains. However, recent results suggested that LHS 3844b probably does not have an atmosphere. Slightly larger than Earth and likely similarly rocky, it orbits around its star so closely that one side of the planet is gravitationally locked towards its sun. One hemisphere of the planet is in constant daylight and the other in permanent night. With no atmosphere shielding it from the intense radiation, the surface gets blisteringly hot: it can reach up to 800 degrees Celsius on the dayside. Common rocks, like granite and basalt, melt at temperatures of 900 to 1,200 degrees Celsius. The night side, on the other hand, is freezing. Temperatures there might fall below minus 250 degrees Celsius. “We thought that this severe temperature contrast might affect material flow in the planet’s interior”, Meier recalls.

Cool rocks are brittle and tend to break, becoming much more liquid-like as they heat up. The team ran computer simulations with different strengths of material and internal heating sources, such as heat from the planet’s core and the decay of radioactive elements. The simulations also included the large temperature contrast on the surface imposed by the host star.

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“Most simulations showed that there was only upwards flow on one side of the planet and downwards flow on the other. Material therefore flowed from one hemisphere to the other”, Meier reports. Surprisingly, the direction was not always the same. “Based on what we are used to from Earth, you would expect the material on the hot dayside to be lighter and therefore flow upwards and vice versa”, co-author Dan Bower at the University of Bern and the NCCR PlanetS explains. Yet, some of the teams’ simulations also showed the opposite flow direction. “This initially counter-intuitive result is due to the change in viscosity with temperature: cold material is stiffer and therefore doesn’t want to bend, break or subduct into the interior. Warm material, however, is less viscous – so even solid rock becomes more mobile when heated – and can readily flow towards the planet’s interior”, Bower elaborates. Either way, these results show how a planetary surface and interior can exchange material under conditions very different from those on Earth.

As a result, the researchers suggest that LHS 3844b could have one entire hemisphere covered in volcanoes comparable to terrestrial volcanism as found in Hawaii and Iceland. Here mantle-plumes form very hot lava with low viscosity.

“Our simulations show how such patterns could manifest, but it would require more detailed observations to verify,” says Meier.

“For example, with a higher-resolution map of surface temperature that could point to enhanced outgassing from volcanism, or detection of volcanic gases. This is something we hope future research will help us to understand.”

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Growing Up In The Barrens: Hits And Misses In The New ‘Hearthstone’ Expansion


The popular digital card game Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion, Forged in the Barrens, will launch the game’s three-expansion Year of the Gryphon; update everything from Battlegrounds to the new player experience; and launch Mercenaries, a new game mode.

The release date for the new expansion hasn’t been set yet. Traditionally the first Hearthstone expansion of each year is in April, but the team had barely begun development on Barrens before being sent home for the COVID pandemic.

We caught up with Hearthstone game designers Liv Breeden and Joe Killion to chat about how Blizzard Entertainment came up with the ideas for the expansion, its mechanics and its cards. And, as always, we talk about what was just too awful to make the cut and was mercifully removed.

Heather Newman:  What led you to the core theme of this expansion?

Joe Killion: When we first started working on this set, we started discussing the concept of another year-long narrative, kind of like we did with Descent of Dragons. Something that everyone was excited about was going back to that classic Warcraft experience of experiencing the world as a newbie, who knows nothing about it and is super low level, and then becoming this great hero.

The Barrens was a super iconic starting zone, especially for Horde players. So it was something that we could tap into for a lot of that nostalgia that players, and us on the development team, had.

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Liv Breeden: So whose story are we going to tell, right? We have these 10 characters, there’s one legendary in each class, these 10 mercenaries. These are the iconic characters that you’ve probably like played, or at least seen played, in World of Warcraft.

So there’s the Orc warrior, there’s the Troll and there’s the Tauren druid; there’s the Human paladin and the Forsaken warlock. We’ve got such a huge cast of characters, but they’re ones you probably identify with. For me one of the big things is getting excited about telling this year long narrative of these 10 characters as they level up from zero to hero.

Newman: How much does that theme drive the original mechanics of the new expansion?

Breeden: Early on in exploration, when we said we wanted to do a year-long narrative, we asked do we also want to do a year-long a mechanic as well? In the Year of the Dragon we had Lackeys. Every expansion we added a new Lackey, so the interactions that you dealt with were a little bit different every time.

We explored a couple of different directions, but we didn’t find any that resonated with us, that really felt like we could build upon over the course of the whole year. So we focused more on the narrative side.

Newman: How did that play out in the mechanic you chose for the Barrens expansion?

Breeden: If you look at the characters themselves, they’ll be seen throughout all of the expansions. But what their mechanics are will change as the year goes on. There’s also the, “Hey, I’m a new shaman hanging out in the Barrens. I just went from Chain Lightening I to Chain Lightning II. I just ranked that spell up.” We wanted to make sure we captured those things.

So there’s Chain Lightning, rank one. When you reach five mana, it goes to rank two, and it deals one more damage. When you reach 10 mana, it deals four damage at rank three. It’s kind of a, a cool, fun story for people who have played World of Warcraft.

Newman: What didn’t make the cut?

Breeden: We tried something, we’ll call it “champion.” There’s a second hero next to you, and your opponent would choose to attack you or attack the hero. They had a hero power. It was kind of cool — there’s a lot of like interesting decisions there. But it was really complex, and suddenly, I didn’t know how to play Hearthstone anymore.

I’m sure we’ll revisit some iteration of that. But it was a lot of extra complexity and the gameplay that came out of it was pretty bad-feeling, because if you’re behind, you fall further behind, because now they have this thing that you can’t destroy.

Killion: Another thing we explored was introducing a new minion type. But with our minion types, like elementals or Murlocs, we really want them to have a distinct feeling in the game.

As we iterated on that, spell schools was something that we landed on. We’re tagging a lot of spells throughout the game with seven iconic spell schools in Warcraft.

Newman: How does that spell school tag play out in game?

Killion: One of the best examples is Bru’kan, the Legendary shaman mercenary. His power is Nature spell damage +3. It works really well with Chain Lightning, because that’s a Nature smell.

Newman: How did you decide which spells got which tags? What those spells were like in WoW? Other factors?

Breeden: I think it’s about leaning into the class fantasy, what they do best.

Killion: We spent a lot of time talking about the different schools that we wanted and what we would name them. We had a few extra schools that we didn’t put in just because they didn’t really fit with the theme.

Once we landed on these seven, we started looking at the cards. We spent a lot of time looking at the art. Does it have like lots of fire in it, or does it make sense visually, and also in the name? Sometimes it is exactly what the mechanics are doing.

Breeden: There are some that are like, well, it was a Shadow spell [in Warcraft], but in our game it looks like a Fel spell. There are some that are on the fence, that we decided to go with what’s best for Hearthstone. It’s harder going backward and typing stuff in the past than going forward.

Newman: So what were some of the spell types that didn’t make it through?

Killion: The big one that we didn’t add in was a Physical spell type. Rogue and Warrior don’t tend to do a lot of stuff with spells that are in like a specific school. So we had explored a Physical spell school that could focus more on weapons and armor. But as we played with it, we found that it wasn’t the most exciting; and it also added an extra layer of complexity to those classes that we didn’t feel was necessary.

It makes their game play a little bit more diverse than the other classes, which I think is a good thing.

Newman: Are there any card interactions you feel are especially exciting to play?

Breeden: I think Blademaster Samuro is a really interesting one because some classes don’t have access to a lot of like board clears. [Blademaster is a 1/6 neutral card with Rush and Frenzy, which does his attack power in damage to all enemy minions if he takes damage and survives.]

But those classes do have access to Samuro, and then they also have buffs. He works pretty well if you buff him up and then run him in.

Killion: A card that’s pretty interesting to me is Druid of the Plains. It’s a Druid card with Rush. It’s a 7/6 that has a Frenzy transform into a 6/7 with Taunt. So you have this card that gets on the board, maybe you have some ways to buff it up, but then when it gets that Frenzy, it flips over to a taunt minion.

You get this really good benefit of lots of damage and then a pretty big protective minion for you.

Newman: How has development changed on Hearthstone over the years?

Breeden: Hearthstone is unique for game development because we put out three expansions every year. We ship 135 [cards in an expansion], but we probably make closer to 500 that don’t make it. A lot of those might be really bad, a lot of them are pretty decent, and some are really good, and we keep those. People gain a lot of skills very quickly.

By having a lot of different projects that they can work on, they don’t feel quite as restricted. If they’re excited about something, we have a lot of room to move around. Maybe an initial designer goes to the final design team for a little bit. Maybe they go to the Tavern Brawl team. We have a lot of outlets.

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Inspiring Women To Become Sustainability Leaders In Engineering: The Yewande Akinola Vision


Growing up in Ibadan, Nigeria, Yewande Akinola spent her time building models of her ideal home with whatever materials she could find. But it wasn’t until her mother, an artist, made a suggestion about her university studies that she considered pursuing a career in engineering over one in architecture. Also crucial in her decision was finding an engineering degree at Warwick University in the U.K. that focused on developing countries—using little resources and lots of creativity. The rest, as they say, is herstory.

Fast-forward three decades, and the 36-year-old Akinola has built skyscrapers in China and researched the involvement of women engineers in the construction of London’s Waterloo Bridge for the BBC. She has received the Member of the Order of the British Empire honor from the Queen for her services to engineering innovation and to diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—the fields collectively known as STEM—and she was recently appointed the U.K. ambassador for clean growth and infrastructure under the country’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Akinola’s success story remains an exception rather than the rule in the world of engineering. In the U.K., only 12% of engineers are women. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a focus of Akinola’s diversity-in-STEM efforts as a member of the steering committee of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s GCRF Africa Catalyst program, the figure is estimated to be less than 10%.

With World Engineering Day (March 4) and International Women’s Day (March 8) just a few days apart, this is as good a time as any to inspire women to enter the male-dominated field of engineering and make an impact on their countries’ progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Starting On The Engineering Path

Engineering is a vast field with many specialities, and the choice can be overwhelming for students. For those interested in sustainability, Akinola has no doubt that the best focus is in energy engineering because it’s the basis for all other sustainability activities, whether in construction or agriculture. 

Geography can also shape an engineer’s focus. Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, has a diversity not just of languages, landscapes and cultures but also of energy needs and opportunities. Countries like Akinola’s native Nigeria, where oil has determined the fortunes of many, have yet to show a full commitment to a post-oil future. Elsewhere, the picture is different. “Where there isn’t that much oil, you can see solar panel farms popping up, wind turbine farms, and there’s that accelerated renewable response because of a lack of a natural resource,” Akinola points out. 

To those who doubt engineering would suit them, Akinola suggests looking beyond its reputation as a difficult, math-heavy subject. “The artist’s impression is what we always start off with,” she says; the rest is just “using maths and physics as a tool for creating that creative stroke.” 

Another issue that deters prospective engineers is visibility. “I’ve seen young people say, ‘Actually, I don’t think I can do this because I don’t see many people like myself,’” Akinola says. But she has seen the impact that grants—like those managed by the GCRF Africa Catalyst program, which has awarded $4.8 million across 37 projects in 14 countries since 2016—can have. The Higher Education Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa Programme, working with Institution of Engineers Rwanda, helped to increase the proportion of female internship applicants from 5% in 2018 to 25% in 2019. 

Akinola says you can see the growing confidence of those who receive that support and think, “If I’m receiving this amount in grants, it’s because somebody believes in me—somebody thinks that I have a role to play in ensuring that engineering can become the tool for that economic development in my country.”

Believe In Yourself

Embarking on a career path where women, and especially women of color, are still a rarity comes with its own challenges. Akinola has developed a useful mantra to deal with those who doubt her skills because of their own biases.

“Early on in my career, I had to be comfortable with who I was, as a person,” she says, “and through that journey, I’ve met people who recognize a level of authenticity.” She acknowledges that it takes conscious effort to remember to appreciate those experiences that make you unique, but they will pay off in the end, she says. 

“It’s not easy,” she says, “and I have to remind myself all the time, but at least it’s my fallback.” 

On the flip side of the visibility issue in male- and white-dominated environments is the issue of tokenism—feeling like you’ve been hired or offered an opportunity just to tick a diversity box. That, too, is something that Akinola is familiar with.

“Sometimes you leave some of those sessions or events or panels a bit upset because you figure out that they just wanted you to be a face there,” she says. Akinola is nonetheless motivated by the thought that her time and words can cause a ripple effect and make someone else feel empowered. 

“Of course, sometimes you have to give yourself a bit of a break,” she says, “because a lot of women, as we always do, we take on the responsibility of fixing the world. And it’s not quite 100% our responsibility. We need our allies, and sometimes it gets tiring, so it’s a balance. We have to take care of ourselves and step back and know that actually we’re doing it on our own terms.”

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First Natural Foodware Brand Can Wrap A Burger And Restore The Oceans


Next time you grab a burger, have some fries, drink a soda or a milkshake, think of all the waste that is generated by packaging, straws and cutlery. Now, multiply that by the 85 million people who in the US alone consumed fast food on any given day, according to a survey published in 2018. 

Despite the ban on single-use plastic, waste from the fast food industry is a huge concern in Europe too. France has banned restaurants from using disposable tableware for meals and drinks consumed in the premises from 2023. Toys and gadgets made of plastic in kids menus will be banned as of next year. 

More and more fast food chains are then embracing sustainable alternatives. The burger joint Shake Shack has announced that it will introduce sustainable AirCarbon cutlery and straws from Restore Foodware at select restaurants in the US. 

AirCarbon is a new technology developed by Newlight Technologies, the parent company of Restore Foodware. Research to develop this new material started in 2007 and after ten years of development, the company was able to produce a cost-effective and carbon-negative biomaterial. 

“What makes AirCarbon special is that it is a natural material made by life: that means it contains no synthetic plastic, degrades if it ends up in the environment, and, like growing a leaf, is made in a naturally-occurring process that reduces rather than adds carbon to the air,” says Mark Herrema, CEO at Newlight Technologies. 

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The pandemic has accelerated the need to find sustainable packaging solutions as more and more restaurants can only be open for delivery and takeaway. Restore says their AirCarbon foodware stands up in hot and cold conditions, never gets soggy, and is dishwasher safe for reuse. It feels like plastic, but it degrades naturally if it ends up in the environment. 

The material is produced by replicating what already happens naturally in the ocean. Microorganisms consume air and greenhouse gas dissolved in saltwater to produce something called PHB that can be used as a replacement for plastic, fiber and leather.  

“Our mission is to help end the flow of plastics into the ocean for this generation by replacing them with materials that work for both people and the planet,” Herrema says.

Certified carbon-negative by Carbon Trust and SCS Global, AirCarbon is currently produced in Southern California, but Newlight is planning on expanding their operations to Europe. 

Meanwhile, Shake Shack is also testing aluminium water bottles to replace plastic water bottles at a few of their locations. 

Together, food and packaging containers account for almost 45% of the materials landfilled in the United States. To counter this issue, we are finding ways to get better,” says Jeffrey Amoscato, SVP Supply Chain & Menu Innovation at Shake Shack. 

We’re always looking at how we can create a more sustainable supply chain, from evaluating our packaging program to seeking out more sustainable solutions, which has enabled us to reduce our overall use of plastic across operations and delivery by 40% year-over-year,” he adds.

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For International Women’s Day – 5 Things I Learned When I Built A Diverse Team

By Stephanie Nashawaty | Chief Customer Innovation Officer, SAP North America

The business benefits of diversity are undeniable. Research suggests a diverse work environment boosts profitability, productivity, creativity, inclusivity, innovation, and much, much more. Many will also point out — rightly — that diversity isn’t just a business imperative; it’s a moral one.

But what are we talking about when we tout our “diversity”? Do we know the scope of what “diversity” can entail? Do we know what forming a “diverse team” really means? Do we know what it actually looks like to be a “diverse company”?

The Power of a Diverse Team

I have the privilege of leading a large and varied team of technical experts. This team proves every single day the power of unique perspectives and expertise as they help our customers navigate strategic business transformations. Over the course of my 25 years in the technology industry, I have led and been a part of many teams that have shaped my approach to inclusive leadership today.

One experience I often think back on was in my early days with SAP, about a year after joining the company.  

In 2017, Nicole Pisklo, SAP global sales lead, and I set out to support a leading media and entertainment company based in California. The customer we were working with had embraced diversity in its leadership team much earlier than other companies, especially across its technology leadership, as reflected by female representation and diversity of sexual orientation.

Diverse Equals Trust and Empathy

Over the course of the next three years, we solidified a strong and collaborative relationship with the client based on empathy and trust. I attribute much of that success to the diverse team that we built which in turn reflected the organization that we were working with much better than our previous sales motion.  And we learned a lot along the way.

In this blog, I have synthesized the five most important lessons on diversity that I learned while building this team.

1) Broaden Your Definitions

Expanding your perspective on the definition of “diversity” is where any conversation around the topic must start.

Are you talking about racial diversity? Gender diversity? Ethnic diversity? Economic diversity? Religious diversity? Diversity of thought? Diversity of location? All of these things?

Clearly, having diversity is far more than a simple “binary yes or no.”

Look at how often companies tout their interview and hiring practices that claim to improve diversity. Perhaps, they’re bringing in more diverse groups of people, but do those people want to stay there once they are hired?

Are companies sending potential employees through revolving doors because they don’t know how to support and manage different types of people?

When we began to work on the project for our media and entertainment customer, Nicole was quick to point out that assembling a team of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives is a good start.

But fostering an environment where each team member feels free to be their true self is the only way to unleash, cultivate, and amplify the full potential of every member of that team.

2) Find People That Don’t Fit

This may sound counterintuitive but think about it: You don’t want your team to be a homogenous bubble.

As the leader, if everyone agrees with me, then what do I need the team for? With great difference comes great power, and while it’s a challenging thing to learn as a manager (and it took me many years to realize), it promises to give your team a distinct edge.

You’ll be able to push the boundaries of your organization to make it truly stretch and flourish. However, this stretching does come with an enhanced level of initial friction amongst the team, as people who think differently by definition must convince others of their point of view and learn to find a middle ground or alternative approach.

Sacrificing your opinion to the collective perspective of a group is an art form.

As a leader, I’ve found that my role is not to manage people or groups, but to set the vision, provide the resources and “guiding principles”, and then be comfortable with letting teams flail a bit as they find their way forward. It can slow down decision making, but ultimately results in a stronger foundation.

Real diversity doesn’t just make everyone the best version of themselves; it makes the entire team far greater than the sum of its parts.

When Nicole and I built our account team, we focused on these values — taking what we called an “All Team” instead of an “All Star” approach.

In the end, everyone was engaged, purpose-driven, and passionate about the customer’s success above all else. Without that focus and ambition, we couldn’t have built the successful partnership we have today.

3) Inspect What You Expect

Contrary to many companies’ glowing press releases, diversity doesn’t just happen by saying several important-sounding words. Building a diverse and inclusive organization takes continued focus and determination.

And while companies shouldn’t adhere to strict quotas or look to “check off” required diversity to-dos, we should have goals and targets — around gender and racial equity, for example — that we aim toward directionally.

Without intentionality, the truisms are all meaningless. You need easy access to data to spot worrisome trends or to be able to recognize and praise true progress.

There’s no space for wiggle room when it comes to equity and justice in the business world. We must constantly measure and track ourselves and our results to ensure we’re routinely snuffing out problems — and consistently moving in the right direction.

The organizations that do this the best also have a zero-tolerance policy for any type of behavior that indicates bias or discrimination.   

4) Pull People Up with You

“You can’t be what you can’t see.” And I, for one, would have never come to work at SAP if I hadn’t witnessed the brilliant and strong women in executive leadership roles throughout the sales organization.

Frankly, I didn’t even know how much I had missed being surrounded by women my previous 25 years in software until I was working with and for so many talented women again. I loved the focus on listening, collaboration, empathy, and trust.  

As leaders, therefore, it’s so important that we bring people along with us as we move up during our careers. If we work to lift others up, we can build companies that actually look like the country and world around us.

When Nicole and I began working together on our project, I wanted to take the opportunity to coach and mentor her as she learned the software industry and the intricacies of leading a sales team.

I wanted to share what I’d learned in my more than two decades in technology and sales, while learning from her expertise in the media and consulting fields. This ability and willingness to both be self-aware and honest about what we didn’t know enabled us to build a perfect partnership.

It’s incumbent upon us to foster the next generation of leaders so you can well imagine how gratified I was to hear Nicole say that strong leadership and mentorship are essential to building a more equitable world.

Sharing our knowledge, experiences, and strengths allows us to equip and empower more individuals to succeed — and go on to accomplish even greater things.

This is more important than ever amidst the COVID-19 crisis, as countless women are considering down-shifting or sacrificing their careers due to the pandemic’s effects. I recently had an open leadership position that I was sure several qualified women at the company would apply for. However, only a few of them did.

I reached out to ask why they didn’t “put their hat in the ring” and was told that they were juggling young children at home or assisting elderly parents and could not take on the demands of a larger role at this time.

The downstream impact of women losing this year for promotions, or even some that have chosen to leave the workforce or go to part-time, will set back so much of the progress women have fought so hard for over the last decade, particularly in the software industry.

5) All Must Be Allies

This is a brief point, but it’s essential.

A lot of talk these days centers on being a good “ally.” But it’s important to remember that we don’t become allies by default.  

We all need to step up in this moment and work to habitually recognize and hire talent, wherever it comes from. And we must be willing to ask those around us where our blind spots are — and listen to their responses.

It’s easy to support people whose opinions match your own. You must dig deeper to sponsor people whose opinions and lifestyles are divergent from your own.

I recall a conversation with Nicole during which she pointed out how, for a long time, women were coached to be like their male counterparts – who by the way received similar coaching from their peers – in order to succeed in the fast-paced business world.

But this kind of simplistic thinking just puts people in boxes and serves to limit us from embracing our most powerful tools, tools that we can use to create meaningful and lasting change.

The Everlasting Equation

All of these lessons were absolutely integral to building the team we needed for our work as we pursued a deeper relationship with the media and entertainment company I mentioned earlier.

We knew we could never have built a relationship with a highly valued strategic client like that without building our team on the strength of its diversity. Our success with them was possible because of our focus on empathy and authenticity. It reflected our care, our awareness, and our understanding of where they were, what they needed, and how we could make a difference.

In other words, we learned that a team built to embrace challenges and opportunities internally was one built to do so externally. We learned that being able to listen to and understand each other made it easier to listen to and understand our clients. And we learned that diversity — in all its forms — doesn’t just drive success for our business; it drives success for our customers, too.

I invite you to explore more about how SAP can help you make your commitment to diversity a reality

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China’s Long March To Technological Preeminence Threatens U.S. Security

The Biden administration, with broad, bipartisan support in Congress, is poised to launch an all-of-government effort to meet the commercial and security challenges presented by China’s relentless pursuit of global technological preeminence. Advanced technology can be used to spy, extort, sabotage, and conduct warfare, and that makes China’s technological capabilities matters of U.S. national security.

Beijing has been contesting U.S. primacy by funneling hundreds of billions of dollars per year into research, development, and production. It has been underwriting efforts to conduct technology theft on a grand scale. It has been extorting technology and other assets from U.S. businesses, as the price of entry into the Chinese market. And it has been using technology for repressive and other nefarious purposes, including to aggrandize and project its power abroad.

Beijing’s commitment to technological self-sufficiency became apparent during the George W. Bush administration, triggering a rift with the United States that has been widening ever since. China’s “indigenous innovation” policies, compulsory technology transfer requirements, state-sponsored intellectual property theft, discriminatory treatment of “uncooperative” foreign firms, and massive subsidies to technology research, development, and commercialization elicited complaints and demands for resolution from U.S. officials going back to 2006.

A document published that year by China’s State Council titled “The National Medium‐and Long‐Term Program for Science and Technology Development” presented a road map for transforming the Chinese economy into a major innovation leader by obtaining western intellectual property by all means and measures necessary. The blueprint included the goal of dramatically reducing China’s use of foreign technology by promoting indigenous innovation, which would be achieved by giving preferences to companies with products containing intellectual property registered in China, and by developing new technology standards.

As the baton was passed from Bush to Obama in 2009, Beijing unveiled its “Indigenous Innovation Product Accreditation” system, which required companies to be accredited as indigenous innovators or to share their technology in order to participate in China’s procurement market. A chorus of objections from U.S. officials prompted Chinese President Hu Jintao, in 2011, to retract the policy, but analysts were certain Beijing’s commitment to indigenous innovation and technological preeminence would live on through other programs.

In 2014, Beijing published its Guidelines to Promote the National Integrated Circuit Industry, which established a national goal of developing a completely indigenous, vertically integrated semiconductor industry. In May 2015, the Chinese government published a new 10‐​year plan called “Made in China 2025,” which is a detailed road map for developing and enhancing China’s technological innovation capacity and followed up with a $160 billion investment to develop the domestic semiconductor industry.

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In reaction to Beijing’s aggressive technology policies, the Obama administration and Congress began to consider stricter measures to keep U.S. technology out of the hands of Chinese entities. Reports published in early 2017 from the Government Accountability Office and the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology led to the 2018 passage of legislation to broaden export controls and tighten the rules governing foreign acquisitions of U.S. technology and technology companies. Both the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) and the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) passed by overwhelming margins in both chambers of Congress.

Xi Jinping and party officials insist that China’s model of state-directed nurturing of the technology sector is consistent with its rights as a sovereign nation, and that U.S. insistence on changing those policies is evidence of America’s interest in containing China and suppressing her rise. Of course, China can choose its own policies. And since it sees technological preeminence as paramount to its objectives, the tactics deployed in service to that goal are not especially surprising. But when China’s policies threaten other countries’ interests or violate international treaties, Beijing should expect consequences.

By enshrining the goal of self-sufficiency in semiconductors and other technologies, and by sanctifying all measures deployed in service to that goal, China long ago committed itself to a course of action that disregards its trade obligations and prioritizes “decoupling” from the United States.

From Technology Race to Cold War

For several years now, Beijing has been unabashed about its objectives and unapologetic about its tactics. But, in fairness, what government wouldn’t pursue technological primacy if it were a realistic possibility? Being king of the technological hill confers all sorts of strategic advantages—commercial, cybersecurity, intelligence, and military—including, perhaps most importantly, a head start in the race to develop the next generation of technology.

For the same reasons, why should Washington be faulted for trying to prevent or slow Beijing’s progress? The United States has in place a system of export controls to reduce the likelihood that fissile materials get into the hands of actors who may wish us ill. Lockheed Martin is prohibited from selling F-35 fighter jets to China. Certain technology in the wrong hands presents threats, too.

Staying ahead of China in the technology race—or getting ahead as the case may be with respect to 5G and 6G—is simply a U.S. national security imperative and must be treated as such. Primacy in the next generation of technology could lock in advantages with very serious security implications for years and decades to come. Preeminence in space technology, for example, may be necessary to protect and ensure the operability of satellite systems, which enable global communications, weapons guidance, and electronic warfare capabilities.

But some seem to focus only on the costs of these defensive U.S. measures. Restricting exports of semiconductors and chipmaking equipment, they assert, will result in lost revenues, declining market share, higher unit costs, and a hastening of the pace of China’s pursuit of self-sufficiency. Yes, those costs are real. But we live in an imperfect world which requires us to account for risk. Security isn’t free.

Policy choices are about tradeoffs—weighing the costs and benefits of the alternatives. When choosing among alternatives, the optimal policy is the one that maximizes the expected net benefits (expected benefits minus expected costs). Analysis that considers only the costs is not especially helpful when seeking to determine the best policy.

It is reasonable to expect this technological decoupling to lead to broader economic, financial, and cultural decoupling, as Beijing and Washington descend more deeply into an adversarial relationship owing to the sanctions and other restrictions that require producers to find new suppliers and new customers. Taken to its logical conclusion, the relationship could easily devolve into conditions best described as a cold war—a characterization that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to those who regard the term as self-fulfilling, consider the historical parallels inapt, worry it offers a new excuse for endless defense spending, or fear that adopting type-casted terminology will inhibit the creative thinking needed to find a durable solution.

A cold war doesn’t mean a replay of the Cold War with its proxy wars and political assassinations. But Cold War parallels are in abundance. As with the arms race with the Soviets, technological breakthroughs—being first—confer important strategic advantages. As in the Cold War, today the United States and China are trying to win the allegiances of other governments. Both have and will continue to use carrots (loans, market access, infrastructure investment, etc.) and sticks (sanctions, threats of sanctions, tariffs, etc.) to try to convince third countries where their best interests lie. Recall U.S. threats to stop sharing intelligence with governments that wouldn’t agree to rid their telecommunications networks of Huawei gear. Consider China’s full court press against Australian exports for Canberra’s audacity to suggest a formal inquiry into the chronology of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the bilateral relationship is already characterized in cold war terms by media and policy analysts who keep score of which countries trade and invest more with China versus the United States, which capital—Washington or Beijing—is making deeper inroads through trade agreements or infrastructure finance projects, who is signing long-term energy deals with whom, and so on.

The recently agreed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in Asia and China’s Belt and Road Initiative are rightly portrayed as evidence of China’s strategic use of soft power to cultivate and deepen ties with other governments. Whether the United States or China is first to accede to the CPTPP (the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership after U.S. withdrawal) is a question frequently discussed through the lens of this inevitable competition.

The Trump administration committed many errors in its conduct of trade policy, probably none more significant than its disregard for the utility of soft power in advancing U.S. interests. By pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, hitting most of the world with tariffs on steel and aluminum, and then waging a trade war with China, the blindness to the necessity of alliances couldn’t have been made any clearer.

As Biden attempts to repair that damage, rebuild frayed alliances, and perhaps assert its interest in closer ties with African governments, it necessarily will be reinforcing divisions with China and creating new fronts in the cold war. A United States offering preferential trade deals, granting export credits to governments in Latin America to build telecommunications and transportation infrastructure, approving acquisitions of U.S. companies by businesses headquartered in favored countries, and revoking preferential treatment of imports from countries whose governments are considered too cozy with Beijing is how this cold war will be waged.

Biden administration officials haven’t been shy about their hopes of working with allies to present a unified front against China, but the depth of receptivity to Biden’s overtures remains to be seen, as most governments don’t want to have to choose sides. Indeed, at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in January, Xi Jinping warned of the consequences of any U.S.-lead alliances against China. Arguably, every official overture and rebuke in the diplomatic realm, and every trade and investment decision will be viewed through the prism of the cold war.

Where to for U.S. Policy?

Despite the clarity of China’s unwavering commitment to achieving technological preeminence and the abundant evidence that Beijing uses technology to aggrandize its power and repress all dissent in perpetuity, some policy commentators see no cause for alarm. Others see it as a lost cause—there is nothing the United States can do now. China’s behavior, they contend, is a natural expression of its increasing weight. It is asserting itself as other powers would.

Of course, that is true, but then aren’t U.S. measures to prevent erosion of its advantages also justified? America is not without leverage and this is not about trying to suppress China’s inevitable rise. This is about Americans’ expectations of security. It’s about the responsibility of the U.S. government to protect its citizens and not foolishly squander the advantages the United States has accumulated over the years through diligence, determination, and dumb luck. It would be a dereliction of duty of the greatest magnitude if the U.S. government—presiding over the richest, most powerful country in history—failed to muster the wherewithal to at least try to secure essential U.S. technological advantages and protect the U.S. position because it didn’t take the threat seriously or appreciate the implications of ceding leadership. That cannot be the U.S. policy that yields the highest expected net benefits.

Like a successful business that reinvests to fortify its incumbent advantages, U.S. policymakers must do what is necessary to preserve and augment advantages that contribute to the relative strength and security of the United States. That doesn’t mean reaching for sledgehammers. U.S. technology policy toward China should aim to achieve its objectives as surgically as possible. That may call for a mix of export controls and investment restrictions. It may necessitate the blacklisting of certain Chinese entities. It may require tightening loopholes in those restrictions by working with like-minded allies. And it may require measures to prevent U.S. firms and domestic research and development from being chased from the market by Beijing’s market distorting practices. Ultimately, the goal should be to raise the costs to Beijing enough to persuade it to abandon its beggar-thy-neighbor technology policies.

There are no easy answers when a country with the economic and demographic heft of China commits itself to a course of action that generates significant, negative externalities. There really are no solutions, just tradeoffs. More transparency would ensure greater awareness of the costs of those tradeoffs and would encourage policies that are more precise and more effective. And that would be more likely to lead Beijing to reassess the pros and cons of its own technology policies, which is necessary if we hope to leave open the door to eventual rapprochement.

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Scott Baio And Patton Oswalt Feuding On Social Media Should Serve As Warning Of How Not To Act


It may have the makings of a “buddy comedy,” where two polar opposites see past their differences and become close friends, but it is unlikely comedian/actors Patton Oswalt and Scott Baio will be mending any fences. Instead the two have engaged on a very public, and at times quite hostile, showdown on Twitter that began on Thursday.

This is just the latest celebrity quarrel to go public on social media, and unlike past feuds involving stars and starlets it is all the easier for fans to join in the fray.

It began when Oswalt took to Twitter on Thursday to mock those who believed that President Donald Trump would be inaugurated for a second term. The comedian called out Baio, a noted Trump supporter, directly.

“Guys, I’m at the DuPont Circle Pinkberry for the #TrumpInauguration. I’m here with four Proud Boys, their moms and Scott Baio. Did we get the address wrong? Help me out, this Minuteman costume is super-itchy.”

The humor was shared by others, including consumer advocate Erin Brockovich (@ErinBrockovich), who added “Patton it’s at Pinkberry Landcaping in Roslyn”

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However, Scott Baio (@ScottBaio) then responded and took fire at Oswalt, “Poor Oswalt needs 2 prescriptions. One for his TDS and one for his STD itch!”

Oswalt fired back, “Oh YIKES. I didn’t even ‘@’ this guy. Poor sap searches his name on Twitter. No one dunk on him, this is really depressing. BUGSY MALONE’s still a great movie, right?”

Fan Mockery

It didn’t take long for both celebrities to be trending on social media.

Some users also noted that in the initial exchange it wasn’t actually directed @ScottBaio, and suggested the actor was looking for tweets with his name in them. Supporters of Oswalt noted “he has career” while others compared the number of followers of the two celebrities.

A common theme in the discussions was that few under 30 years of age would even know who Baio was, while some joked that could be true of those under 45! However, Baio seemed to take it in stride.

“Do I need to be on TV…… #Nope #Blessed” the actor posted.

However, even then many on social media continued to mock the actor with memes and further insults.

But one user, Jeff Harper (@realJeffHarper) stood by Baio, “The revenge is living well. Kudos, my good sir. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. God Bless.”

Bad Role Models

This latest spat on social media is another example of our deep nationwide divide and further demonstrates how difficult “unity” could truly be as it is now so easy to publicly mock another person. Social media has also allowed what were once low key feuds to become quite heated, but it has also allowed everyone to take sides.

“The filters are off and things get personal real quick online,” explained technology industry analyst Josh Crandall of Netpop Research. “Celebrities are people and when arguments get personal, people tend to get nasty. It’s in our DNA to defend ourselves and that leads to saying things that we’ll regret later.”

Celebrity feuds have certainly become more extreme thanks to social media.

“Celebrity flare-ups on Twitter typically follow a couple of courses,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “Some are personal brand-building efforts, which aim to draw attention to someone who believes the spotlight is passing them over by theatrically taking on someone with a far higher profile. Others seem more ethically-aimed, like historian Kevin M. Kruse’s takedowns of historical falsehoods that various public figures claim are true. Over time, such exchanges mostly follow highly predictable courses though the verbal slap-downs seem to keep people coming back. If it worked for Don Rickles, maybe Scott Baio can make a go of it.”

While it is unlikely the careers of either Oswalt or Baio will suffer – and in some ways they could end up getting a moment in the spotlight – the same may not be true for the rest of us. Heated words posted on social media live forever, and as the platforms have become a broadcast medium even something meant for a small audience now has a truly global reach.

“There’s going to be some moment during the day when we get caught in an anxious or frustrated moment,” added Crandall. “Humans aren’t perfect. We will lose sight of what’s best for us in those stressed out moments and simply respond with a flame and further incite tension online. So, we need to think about our online commentary the same way we would when writing a difficult letter to a boss or a family member. Often, the best course of action is to write the note and not send it for at least a couple of hours. Many times after re-reading what we’ve written after the fog of stress lifts, we will tone it down a bit.”

It is also ever common for the fans to take sides, and that is why these have become so heated.

“There are certainly celebrity Twitter users who are targeted by individuals and groups that disagree with them,” added King. “When the target in question takes criticism and complaints too seriously, he or she provides attackers exactly what they hope to achieve. Alex Baldwin is a good example of this dynamic. Others have a more adult and nuanced approach. For example, the Twitter account of bestselling sci-fi novelist John SCalzi (@scalzi) is headlined with a pinned Tweet that explains how he uses the service and what followers can expect, including being muted, blocked or reported. I believe his is the most practical and adult approach.”

Celebrities have publicists and other handlers who help manage such situations and even defuse situations. While this exchange wasn’t exactly between Hollywood A-listers, it is still possible there are those mending fences behind the scenes. Again, this isn’t a luxury most people would have, which is why this feud should be seen not for the humor but as a cautionary tale.

“We all need to be better ‘handlers’ of ourselves today,” said Crandall. “Communications are instantaneous and frequently public. It’s more important than ever to take a step back, breathe and think about what you are saying online.”

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