Why You Need a ‘Challenge Network’ | Knowledge@Wharton

In 2000 Pixar was on fire. Their teams had used computers to rethink animation in their first blockbuster, Toy Story, and they were fresh off of two more smash hits. Yet the company’s founders weren’t content to rest on their laurels. They recruited an outside director named Brad Bird to shake things up. Brad had just released his debut film, which was well-reviewed but flopped in the box office, so he was itching to do something big and bold. When he pitched his vision, the technical leadership at Pixar said it was impossible: They would need a decade and $500 million to make it.

Brad wasn’t ready to give up. He sought out the biggest misfits at Pixar for his project — people who were disagreeable, disgruntled, and dissatisfied.

Source: Why You Need a ‘Challenge Network’ – Knowledge@Wharton

Leading Through Hard Times: Lessons From 9/11 | Knowledge@Wharton


COVID-19 disrupted organizations, scattering members to remote locations or, in the case of others such as hospital workers, packing them into prolonged and intense proximity. For weeks, more Americans died daily from the virus than died in the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11 and, in total, more than in all American wars combined. Collateral damage continues to mount, and social and political unrest have threatened to tear the country apart.

Source: Leading Through Hard Times: Lessons From 9/11 – Knowledge@Wharton

RAND Receives $417M DOD Policy Research Support Contract | GovCon Wire

The RAND Corp. will conduct policy research and analysis work for the Department of Defense’s acquisition and sustainment office under a potential five-year, $417 million contract from the Washington Headquarters Services.

DOD said Friday the nonprofit think tank’s federally funded National Defense Research Institute will study policies in the topic areas of acquisition and technology; forces and resources; cyber and intelligence; international security and defense; and U.S. Navy and Marine forces.

The Pentagon sought assistance from RAND to help inform national security decision-making at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of the Navy and unified combatant commands.

Source: RAND Receives $417M DOD Policy Research Support Contract – GovCon Wire

It’s Time to Take Biodiversity Threats More Seriously


Given these stakes, it’s certainly front-page news that President Joe Biden has called climate change a top-tier U.S. national security threat. What’s more, he has also already scheduled an Earth Day summit to press for greater emissions reductions, committed to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050, and appointed a climate czar, Gina McCarthy, to mainstream climate policy across the U.S. government, and a special climate envoy, John Kerry, to serve as his global emissary.

However, climate change is not the only environmental emergency confronting the planet. The world is also experiencing a historic collapse of global biodiversity that merits far more attention. Its leading cause is not climate change—at least not yet—but intensive land use. Rampant pollution, invasive species and the unsustainable exploitation of living organisms are also contributing to the degradation of nature.

Collectively, these forces threaten the extinction of 1 million species, out of an estimated 8 million to 9 million in total worldwide. They also threaten the continued destruction of terrestrial and marine ecosystems that provide humanity with innumerable benefits, among them the air we breathe, the water we drink, the insects that pollinate our crops, the fisheries that feed us, the microorganisms that enrich our soils, the genetic riches that underpin new medicines, and so much more. Such “ecosystem services” rarely appear on countries’ current accounts or corporations’ balance sheets. Yet the World Economic Forum estimates that half of all global GDP is “moderately or highly dependent” on such “natural capital” assets. The fact that COVID-19 is a zoonosis—a disease produced by a virus or other pathogen that has jumped from an animal to humans, in this case from bats, by all accounts—only reinforces the intimate link between human and environmental health.

Source: It’s Time to Take Biodiversity Threats More Seriously

DARPA Taps L3Harris for Distributed Communications Tech R&D | ExecutiveBiz

L3Harris Technologies has won a $10 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to study, develop and demonstrate distributed coherent communications.

The award under the first phase of the Resilient Networked Distributed Mosaic Communications program aims to deliver a bi-directional mosaic element system that can operate with the military’s existing radio waveforms, the Department of Defense said Friday.

Source: DARPA Taps L3Harris for Distributed Communications Tech R&D | ExecutiveBiz

The news media bargaining code could backfire if small media outlets aren’t protected: an economist explains


Economic analysis showed the merged entity would have the incentive to raise the price of certain TV channels, such as the Fox broadcast network and Fox sports channels, that were sold to rival pay-TV distribution platforms and cable companies such as Comcast.

To counteract this anti-competitive harm, we developed what is known as the FCC arbitration mechanism if firms could not agree on a price for a channel.

Our mission is to share knowledge and inform decisions.

This is the same mechanism the Morrison government’s news media bargaining code would impose on Facebook and Google in Australia to force them to compensate Australian media companies for linking to and using their content.

Source: The news media bargaining code could backfire if small media outlets aren’t protected: an economist explains

Major brands owe billions to apparel factories, whose workers bear the brunt | Vox


The garment industry employs 40 million people worldwide — 60 percent of whom are in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the International Labour Organization — and yet A-ya and Marline’s stories are far from unique. Though the pandemic has upended the fashion industry, it’s the workers who can least afford it who are bearing the brunt of the pain that began nearly a year ago, when the Covid-19 outbreak was first declared a pandemic and Western retailers suddenly pumped the brakes on thousands of in-progress or finished orders. The preemptive cost-cutting move, though ethically murky, was perfectly legal due to a “force majeure” contract clause that let brands skirt any liability: The pandemic was tantamount to an “act of God” and, therefore, beyond their control.

Source: Major brands owe billions to apparel factories, whose workers bear the brunt – Vox

The $15 minimum wage could be the first major test of Democratic unity  | Vox


Once the Covid-19 relief bill heads to the Senate, the $15 minimum wage will face two big tests: one procedural, and one political.

On the procedural front, Democrats need to convince the Senate parliamentarian — an in-house expert who advises on the rules of the upper chamber — that the $15 minimum wage has a significant enough effect on the budget that it can be part of the reconciliation process. Because of a practice known as the Byrd Rule, any policy that’s not seen as sufficiently budget-related can be flagged for removal by the parliamentarian. (Democrats don’t have to abide by this decision, but there have been few breaks with such guidance in the past.)

Source: The $15 minimum wage could be the first major test of Democratic unity  – Vox

Reps. Pressley and Tlaib’s BREATHE Act aims to reduce police violence against Black Americans | Vox


Police killings remain all too common as well. They spurred last summer’s worldwide racial justice protests, but in the months since, hundreds have lost their lives at the hands of police. In January alone, 70 people were killed by police, according to the Washington Post, a number that February appears on track to match. And Black people continue to be killed at a disproportionate rate: Of the police victims for whom race is known, at least 14 of those killed in January were Black — or at least 20 percent, although Black Americans make up only 13 percent of the population. According to Mapping Police Violence, police killed 233 Black Americans in 2020, slightly down from the 277 Black Americans killed in 2019.

Source: Reps. Pressley and Tlaib’s BREATHE Act aims to reduce police violence against Black Americans – Vox

Exceptionalism is dead: for tech, Texas and America | POLITICO

Take a step back from the major political disruptions of the first two months of 2020, and a connection emerges between the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection, the continued global pandemic, the power and water outages of Texas, and the backlash to Facebook shutting off news across an entire continent.

Individually they each showcase bitter political divisions, but together they show that in today’s global systems — economic, political, informational, ecological — the arguments for Texas exceptionalism, for tech exceptionalism (against regulation), and American exceptionalism no longer hold. Our interconnection forms a new type of political gravity that we’re only beginning to understand.

Source: Global Translations – POLITICO