Aug 7, 2017

USDA reportedly avoiding term "climate change"

Nati Harnik / AP

Emails obtained by The Guardian show U.S. Department of Agriculture staff discussing efforts to replace terms like "climate change" with alternatives, like "weather extremes." One February 16 email, reportedly from a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employee, outlined words to avoid and their replacements.

Dos and don'ts: "Climate change adaption" becomes "resilience to weather extremes" while "reduce greenhouse gases" becomes "build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency."

NRCS Public Affairs Director Kaveh Sadeghzadeh said the NRCS "has not received direction from USDA or the Administration to modify its communications on climate change or any other topic," while the USDA said it the NRCS had been giving the new administration room "to review policy-related statements."

Why it matters: The Trump administration has taken aggressive steps to reverse Obama-era climate policies, and while the EPA has been the most visible part of that effort, these emails seem to show other agencies are tip-toeing around the issue of climate change.

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Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.