After What President Trump and Congress Did on the Friday Before Christmas, the Government Is (Partially) Shutting Down. Here's What That Really Means

Less than two weeks ago, President Trump warned he’d shut down the U.S. Government if he didn’t get $5 billion for his border wall with Mexico in the new budget.

Democrats called his bluff; Trump didn’t blink. And so, a partial shutdown began at midnight.

So, what does it mean in practical terms to have a partial shutdown, which Trump himself predicted could go on for a “very long time?”

1.    About 75 percent of the government stays open.

Let’s start with the fact that it’s just a “partial” shutdown. There are some agencies that will be hit much harder than others, but most of the truly essential functions of government will continue.

Among these, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Health and Human Services are already funded through 2019, so they shouldn’t be affected.

2.    But about 38 percent of employees will be hit.

There are 2.1 million federal employees. Of them, about 400,000 will be sent home without pay, and another 400,000 will be required to come to work, but won’t be paid.

Some of the affected departments here include Homeland Security, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury. As an example, all 60,000 employees of the Customs and Border Protection would be required to go to work without pay. 

This also includes Transportation Security Administration officials — so airports should remain open and more or less unaffected. It also includes the Border Patrol — ironic, since Border Patrol officers will have to work without pay, in a dispute over funding a border wall.

Also, “air-traffic controllers, prison guards, weather-service forecasters and food-safety inspectors, and would continue coming to work. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Forest Service firefighters” have to work, according to the Journal.

3.    The National Parks stay open

This is interesting — in earlier shutdowns, the spectacle of National Parks closing became big symbols of government ineptitude in a shutdown. But this time, the Parks Service is keeping most of its facilities open, even as about 80 percent of its employees will be furloughed.

On the National Mall for example, you’ll still be able to tour the monuments, but there won’t be Park Rangers available to offer information and assistance. The Smithsonian museums will remain open, too– at least through Jan. 1.

4.    It’s a good time to cheat on your taxes.

That’s because nine out of 10 IRS employees will be furloughed, so far fewer audits and return exams. That also means less chance of being able to call the IRS to ask for help on a tax issue.

5.    The Mueller investigation continues.

About 85 percent of Justice Department employees still have to go to work, even if they don’t get paid. The special counsel investigating possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election however, will continue apace. That office’s funding is guaranteed.

6.    You can get your passport (probably) and the mail will still be delivered.

The Postal Service basically continues unaffected too, “because the Postal Service funds its operations through its own sales rather than tax dollars.”

7.    We sort of get a four-day repreive.

The shutdown began at midnight on Saturday December 22, which also happens to be the first of a four-day weekend for the government, since next Tuesday is Christmas.

All of which means that many of the 800,000 employees who won’t be paid, weren’t planning to work anyway the next four days. (In most past shutdowns, they ultimately got back pay when the government reopened.)

So, next Wednesday is that day when people will really start to notice — and then, if it lasts long enough, into the day after New Year’s Day.

8.    Weirdly, many workers have to come in, only to be told to go home.

Acording to the Post: Some will have to — briefly, anyway.

“This is what’s known as an “orderly shutdown,” during which employees who are furloughed can be allowed up to come in for up to four hours to preserve their work, finish timecards or turn in their government-issued phones. … What can we tell you? The federal government is a quirky enterprise.”

9.    Meat will be okay

At the Agriculture Department, the government will still inspect meat and other food. And support programs like food stamps will keep going.

10.    Sandwiches will be free. 

This is mostly for Washington DC area employees anyway, but if they’re affected by the shutdown, celebrity chef Jose Andres says his restaurants will offer free lunch sandwiches

China watchdog flags video game approvals; Tencent shares jump

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings Ltd’s shares surged on Friday after a local regulatory official said some new video games had been cleared for sale, ending a lengthy freeze in approvals that has spooked players in the world’s largest gaming market.

FILE PHOTO: A Tencent sign is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, Dec. 4, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

Feng Shixin, a senior official of the ruling Communist Party’s Propaganda department, said in a speech at a gaming conference in the southern city of Haikou that a first batch of approvals for games had been completed, according to a transcript of the speech and the organizers of the event.

That helped propel Tencent’s shares up by as much as 4.6 percent, putting the gaming-to-social media giant on course for its steepest daily share price jump in over a month.

China stopped approving new titles from March amid a regulatory overhaul triggered by growing criticism of video games for being violent and leading to myopia as well as addiction among young users.

The freeze on new approvals has pressured gaming-related stocks and clouded the outlook for mobile games, rattling industry leader Tencent and peers like NetEase Inc.

“We hope through new system design and strong implementation we could guide game companies to better present mainstream values, strengthen a cultural sense of duty and mission, and better satisfy the public need for a better life,” Feng said.

Earlier this month, state media reported that Chinese regulators had set up an online video games ethics committee, raising hopes the government was preparing to resume an approval process that has been frozen for most of this year.

“This is clearly exciting news for China’s gaming industry,” a Tencent spokesman said in written comments.

“We’re confident that after the publishing license approval, we will provide more compliant, high-quality cultural works to society and the public.”

The gaming freeze in China has dragged down Tencent’s shares this year and wiped billions of dollars off its market value. The firm’s stock is down more than 20 percent in 2018.

According to a Hainan propaganda department official at the gaming event, a new pilot approval mechanism is set to be rolled out in the tropical province, which would include positive and negative lists, combining artificial intelligence audits and expert censorship.

Some industry insiders, however, said they remained cautious to see what the new mechanism would look like in action.

“While there is no clear legislation on video game regulation, it’s up to the regulator to decide what they pass and what they don’t. There is still a lot of uncertainty,” said an executive at Tencent’s game division, asking not to be named.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan and Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and Pei Li in BEIJING; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing

An online battle for 900 million hearts and minds: India braces for election

JAIPUR/TONK, India (Reuters) – When India votes in a general election next year, it will be the world’s largest democratic exercise, and the biggest ever test of the role of social media in an election.

Volunteers of India’s main opposition Congress party monitor TV news channels and social media inside their war room which was setup for a state assembly election, in Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan, December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Aditya Kalra

As the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) readies for battle with the newly energized Congress party-led opposition in the election that must be held by May, the role of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp could be crucial in deciding who wins.

India already has close to 900 million eligible voters, and an estimated half-a-billion have access to the Internet. The country has 300 million Facebook (FB.O) users and 200 million on Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service – more than any other democracy. Millions use Twitter (TWTR.N).

“Social media and data analytics will be the main actors in the upcoming India elections. Their use would be unprecedented as both parties now use social media,” said Usha M. Rodrigues, a communications professor at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, whose research has focused on social media and Indian politics.

The potential for abuse is also immense, with incendiary news and videos capable of fanning violence in the sprawling multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation.

Fake news and messages circulated on social media have led to more than 30 deaths since last year, data portal IndiaSpend says, mostly rumors about child kidnapping gangs.

Political differences have in the past been no less deadly.

“Social media discourse, already bitter, will turn bilious,” Milan Vaishnav, a senior research fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said of the coming campaign for the general election.

“It will be no-holds barred on social media given that the opposition smells blood and the ruling party has its back against the wall.”

Both the main parties accuse each other of propagating fake news while denying they do so themselves.

Nevertheless, the battlelines between them are clearly drawn. Congress has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policies and his party’s Hindu nationalist ideology, while the BJP dismisses the Congress as incompetent liberals out of touch with the people.

This month, Congress won elections in three major states that have been the bastion of the BJP, setting the stage for a tight contest in 2019. Helping the opposition party was a revamped social media strategy.

WAR ROOMS

At the last election in 2014, Congress was crushed by the techno-savvy Modi and his array of social media weapons, including a flurry of Tweets from his personal account, a BJP campaign on Facebook and holographic displays of Modi in remote villages.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi got a Twitter account only in 2015. But the opposition party is catching up and the playing field has gotten a lot bigger.

India now has 450 million smartphone owners against 155 million at the last election in 2014, according to Counterpoint Research. That’s more than the entire population of the United States, the crucible for election campaigns on social media.

Reuters visited one of the hubs of Congress’s online operations in Rajasthan, one of the three states it won this month – a drab three-bedroom apartment up a dimly lit staircase in the city of Jaipur.

Inside, party workers tracked news channels and social media posts on a wall of television screens. A three-member team of audio, video and graphic experts designed campaign material that was posted to public websites, while other volunteers used WhatsApp to send instructions to party workers.

“We were kids back then, but we are going to outmaneuver them now,” said Manish Sood, 45, who runs his own social media marketing business and was managing the Congress volunteers at the Jaipur war room.

Still, fighting Modi online isn’t easy. With 43 million followers on Facebook and 45 million on Twitter globally, he is among the world’s most followed politicians. Congress’s Gandhi still only has 8.1 million followers on Twitter and 2.2 million on Facebook.

A request by Reuters to visit the BJP’s social media center in Jaipur was declined, but a member of the party’s Rajasthan state IT unit, Mayank Jain, said it ran similar social media operations from two city apartments.

“Congress understands social media a bit now, but they do not have the volunteer manpower,” Jain said in an interview, showing dozens of BJP WhatsApp groups on his phone, one of which was named “BJP RAJASTHAN’S Warriors”.

RISE OF WHATSAPP

While Twitter and Facebook were embraced by Indian politicians – mainly in the BJP – in 2014, it’s WhatsApp that has now become the social media tool of choice.

In Jaipur city and the nearby rural town of Tonk, where traditional methods like public speeches and poster campaigns were widely used during the state poll, Congress and BJP party workers showed a Reuters reporter dozens of WhatsApp groups they were part of and used for campaigning.

Congress said its volunteers managed 90,000 WhatsApp groups in Rajasthan, while the BJP said it controlled 15,000 WhatsApp groups directly, with its workers campaigning through roughly another 100,000 groups.

But WhatsApp has been at the center of controversy. After the false child kidnap messages were spread on the platform in India, it was flooded with falsehoods and conspiracy theories ahead of the October election in Brazil.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption allows groups of hundreds of users to exchange texts, photos and video beyond the purview of authorities, independent fact checkers or even the platform itself.

“WhatsApp is the biggest challenge for us right now on the social media front,” said Nitin Deep Blaggan, a senior police officer in charge of monitoring online content in Jaipur.

WhatsApp has limited the number of messages a user can forward in one go to 20 but in India specifically the ceiling was fixed at five. The company blocked “hundreds of thousands” of accounts in Brazil during the election period, and the same was expected ahead of India polls, a source aware of the company’s thinking said this month.

“We have engaged with political organizers to inform them that we will take action against accounts that are sending automated unwanted messages,” Carl Woog, WhatsApp’s head of communications, told Reuters in a statement. He did not name any parties.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was “committed to maintaining elections integrity” and making efforts to “weed out false news”. Twitter said it had made efforts to protect the electoral process and better detect and stop malicious activity.

During the Rajasthan election, police ran a 10-man social media monitoring unit, tracking tweets and Facebook posts related to the state polls. Inside the monitoring room, the posts were shown on wall-mounted screens and automatically filtered into neutral, positive or negative sections.

The negative posts received special attention – they were manually checked and, sometimes flagged to senior police officers for further investigation and action.

An officer looks at computer screens inside a police war room setup to monitor social media posts in Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan, December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Aditya Kalra

The sole aim, members of the monitoring team said, was to ensure that no online post spilled into violence.

One of the posts flagged by police when Reuters visited was a video from a Congress leader’s rally where people appeared to be shouting slogans in favor of Pakistan, India’s old enemy.

Congress’ nearby war room had already debunked the video they said was doctored. Within hours, party workers posted what they said was an “original” video, that showed that nobody shouted such slogans at the rally.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra in Jaipur; Editing by Martin Howell and Raju Gopalakrishnan

How To Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life

In his bookOutwitting the DevilNapoleon Hill discusses a moment in which he met his “other self” — the side of him that wasn’t indecisive and unclear about the future. This “other self” operated entirely out of faith and definiteness of purpose.

After several months of deep depression, when Hill was at a personal rock bottom, he reached a point where enough was enough.

He got to the point where he no longer cared what other people thought of him.

He heard the voice in his head — his “other self” — and he decided to follow that voice with complete obedience, regardless of how ridiculous or seemingly crazy it was.

He had nothing to lose, and only to gain.

He listened with exactness and acted immediately — regardless of the uncertainty and regardless of the potential consequences. He didn’t allow himself even a second to question himself or hesitate.

As the ancient philosopher, Cato said, “He who hesitates is lost.”

Research done at Yale University has shown that, if you hesitate for even a few seconds when you feel inspired to do something — like help someone — that your chances of doing it drop DRAMATICALLY even after 2-4 seconds.

If you feel inspired to do something, you must act IMMEDIATELY. Every second counts.

Hence, Hill decided to act with complete obedience, immediately, no matter what his other self told him to do.

A Life Without Hesitation

This voice told him who to seek for financial aid in publishing his books. It told him to book world-class suites at hotels when he didn’t have the money to pay for it. It gave him brilliant business ideas which he acted upon immediately.

At a personal and profession rock bottom, Hill entered a mental state with infinite power. Having spent over 25 years interviewing the most successful people of his era, he had heard others talk of this mentality, yet he had never experienced it himself. Now, he was having an experience that validated everything he had learned.

Many others have been gripped by their “other self.” Tony Robbins explains this notion as a 3-part process:

  1. Make a decision while in a passionate or peak state
  2. Committing to that decision by removing everything in your environment that conflicts, and by creating multiple accountability mechanisms
  3. Resolve within yourself that what you have decided is finished. It will happen.

Make Big Decisions While In A Peak State

It is your responsibility to put yourself into a peak state, every single day. Why would you want to live any other way? Why would you want to drag yourself through the day and through your life?

Upgrade your standards for yourself. Upgrade your standards for the day. Put yourself into a heightened state and then make some profound and committed decisions to move forward.

What Commitment Really Means

Making a commitment means you’re seeing it through to the end. It means you are leaving yourself no escape routes. You are burning any bridges that might lead to lesser paths of distraction. Your decision has been made. There’s no going back. You’ve passed your point of no return.

Where decisions are made in a single moment, commitment is seeing those decisions into the future. Especially when life gets difficult.

Resolving Within Yourself That The Decision Is “Final”

Resolve means it’s done,” said Robbins. It’s done inside [your heart], therefore it’s done [in the real world.] When you are resolved, there is no question whatsoever. To quote his Air-ness, Sir Michael Jordan, Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.

When you resolve within yourself that “it’s done,” then it’s done. It doesn’t matter that the path to your goal is uncertain — come hell or high water — you’re going to get what you want.

There are two people in the world: those who 1) get the results they want and 2) those with excuses for why they didn’t get the results.

As Yoda said, There is no try. Only do or do not.”

Are you doing, or not doing?

Seriously?

Are you committed and resolved?

Is it done in your mind?

Or are you still unsure?

Most People Want Certainty

Most people will not act on their dreams because those dreams don’t have certain outcomes.

People would prefer external security over inner freedom.

However, when you have inner freedom, you are completely fine embracing the uncertainty of pursuing your dreams. You don’t need the outcomes to be certain. You already know within yourself that if you really want something, you’ll get it. You know God will help you. You know that when you set goals and dreams, and follow the process of transforming yourself into a person who can have those goals, that nothing is impossible to you.

Resolve Means You Know Your Goals Are Already Yours

When you resolve within yourself — it means that you already know it’s going to happen. You believe it. Every day you cause yourself to believe it even more by affirming to yourself that what you want is already true. Hence, Neville Goddard has said, Assume the feeling of your wish fulfilled.

When you’re resolved, nothing can stop you. You don’t react to situations, you impact and alter them. All doubt and disbelieve have left your mind.

You’re committed.

Few People Have Confidence

Most people have an incredibly weak relationship with commitment. People break commitments to themselves all the time. They perpetually lie to themselves. As a result, few people have genuine confidence.

Confidence is not something you can fake. It’s a reflection of your relationship with yourself. And if you aren’t consistent with yourself, then you don’t love yourself.

When you can’t trust yourself to do what you tell yourself you’re going to do, you’re not going to make any real decisions. Rather, you’ll dwell in a state of indecision, which is a weak and powerless state.

Most people are too afraid to commit to anything because they already know they’re going to break their commitment.

A Challenge to Anyone Hearing Something Deeper From this Message

If you are feeling something inside of you wanting to be more in your life, I have a personal challenge for you.

Make a decision today. Something you’ve wanted to do or have been planning to do for a long time.

Commit to doing that thing.

Right now. Do SOMETHING. Create action, right now. The moment you begin moving forward, you alter your trajectory and identity.

Act now, or forever hold your peace.

Resolve within yourself that you already have it in you. If you didn’t, it wouldn’t have been gnawing at you all this time.

For example, one study found that people who made a public commitment to recycling were far more likely to do so than those who didn’t make a public commitment.

When you make a commitment, you develop a self-concept that lines-up with your new behavior. This perceptual shift is your cognitions, values, and attitudes aligning with your new behavior. Hence, your desire to be viewed as consistent — firstly to others and then eventually to yourself — shifts how you see yourself.

You begin to see yourself based on the commitment you’ve made. Eventually, if your behavior matches your commitment for a long enough period of time(this study argues it takes around 4 months), your attitudes will also change.

Fake it until you make it?

Make the decision you want to. Eventually, you grow into that decision through your commitment and personal resolve.

This isn’t faking anything.

It’s living with intention.

It’s living with definiteness of purpose.

So what’s the challenge?

Publicly commit to something to TODAY. Don’t be rash or impulsive about this. Think about it for a moment. Make a plan! That plan doesn’t need to be elaborate. In the least, consider the goal you have and a few sub-goals that would be required to achieving your larger goal.

Don’t put the cart before the horse.

But make a decision.

Make it highly public.

Blythe Masters steps down as CEO of blockchain startup Digital Asset

(Reuters) – Blockchain startup Digital Asset’s chief executive officer and one of the most prominent supporters of the distributed ledger technology on Wall Street, Blythe Masters, is stepping down after about four years in the role, the company said on Tuesday.

AG Gangadhar, a former Uber executive who joined Digital Asset’s board in April, has been appointed as the chairman and will serve as the acting CEO while the company looks for a new chief executive, it said bit.ly/2BvQuNI.

Blockchain, which first emerged as the software underpinning cryptocurrency bitcoin, is a shared record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet.

Masters, a former JPMorgan banker, led Digital Asset through its global expansion and helped it raise millions of dollars including from some of the world’s largest banks.

Masters will remain as a board member, strategic advisor and shareholder, Digital Asset said.

Reporting by Bhanu Pratap in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri

Micron sales, profit miss estimates as chip glut hurts prices

(Reuters) – U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) gave on Tuesday quarterly sales and profit forecasts well below Wall Street estimates, citing a market glut of memory chips as consumer and business demand for phones and computers is weakening.

Memory chip parts of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology are pictured at their fair booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

Micron said it expected industry output, including from South Korean rivals Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and SK Hynix (000660.KS), to outstrip demand from the makers of phones, PCs and servers, pushing down Micron chip prices.

Samsung had already warned of a slowdown in demand and drop in chip prices, flagging an end to a two-year boom in memory chips as global demand for mobile and other electronics devices wanes and fresh supplies from Hynix and Toshiba Corp (6502.T) hit the market. Hynix has also offered a downbeat outlook.

Micron Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra told investors on a conference call on Tuesday that the company was taking “decisive actions in terms of reducing our production output” to hold the line on prices.

“We are always reviewing how to best align our output with market demand to focus on delivering healthy profitability,” Mehrotra said in an interview.

But the glut will hammer Micron in the short term, with the company estimating revenue of $5.7 billion to $6.3 billion for its fiscal second quarter and gross margins of 50 to 53 percent, compared to analysts’ estimates of $7.3 billion and 55 percent, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

Shares of the Boise, Idaho-based company fell as much as 8.5 percent in extended trading after the forecast, before paring losses to 2.8 percent.

Asked about Micron’s comments, Hynix told Reuters that in the short term, the memory chip sector would struggle through a period of relatively low growth due to weak demand in the smartphone and PC markets, but the outlook would brighten in the long term.

Hynix shares were down 1.6 percent in late morning trading in South Korea. Samsung shares were up slightly.

“The worse may not be over yet if the end-market demand weakens further,” said analyst Kinngai Chan of Summit Insights Group.

Micron is responding to the oversupply of DRAM and NAND memory chips by investing more in its next generation of chips. Major suppliers to smartphone makers such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) have lowered their sales forecasts, citing weak demand from device makers.

Data centers, which have been a boon for Micron as cloud computing providers like Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) Amazon Web Services have become massive businesses, were a weak spot in Micron’s earnings. On the post-earnings call, Mehrotra cited “inventory adjustments” at data centers for the pressure on revenue.

Several chipmakers have cited strong demand in the months before U.S. tariffs were imposed on some Chinese goods, leaving analysts wondering if data center owners had tried to get in orders ahead of the levies.

“We expect this headwind will persist for a couple of quarters. We are seeing some cloud customers go through a digestion period following very strong growth over the last two years,” Mehrotra said.

Stifel analyst Kevin Cassidy said Micron was making the right move by slashing output instead of cutting prices to gain market share as it had in the past.

“We see today’s announcements as prioritizing profitability over market share gains,” he said.

Micron’s gross margin was 59 percent for the fiscal first quarter, and executives said U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods cut its gross margins by about half a percentage point, at the lower end of the negative impact it told investors in September.

Micron is ahead of schedule in addressing the expected impact of U.S. tariffs on its products, Manish Bhatia, Micron’s executive vice president of global operations, said in an interview.

“We made very good progress across multiple sites in our (factory) network taking the products that were being made in China and destined for the United States and quickly transferring them to other sites outside of China,” he said.

Net sales rose 16 percent to $7.91 billion, short of analysts’ expectations of $8.02 billion.

Excluding items, Micron earned $2.97 per share, narrowly beating the analyst average estimate of $2.96, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; additional reporting by Heekyong Yang in SEOUL; Editing by Richard Chang and Muralikumar Anantharaman

If Your Business Strategy Looks Too Complicated, It Probably Is. Here's Why

Once a year, I spend two days with my client companies developing their annual plan. While we continuously review strategy throughout the year, the annual plan is a chance to do a deeper dive into the internal and external factors that inform how to go to market.

Getting this strategy right, and keeping it right, is key to long-term growth and success. However, many teams get it wrong. They don’t get it wrong because the strategy they develop won’t work, but because it’s impossible to explain it in simple terms. If it’s not easy to explain, it will be impossible to execute.

Your employees, your partners, and your customers are the ones who will actually be implementing your strategy. If it’s too complicated to understand, they won’t understand it.

After you’ve decided on all of angles you’re going to play and all of the moves you’re going to make, set to work developing a simple, clear, and effective way to communicate it to everyone on the team. Here are three things every strategy must communicate easily and effectively to all stakeholders.

1. Set a clear (and limited) set of focused priorities.

In essence, strategy is about choice. And the first objective is to set a clear and decisive set of priorities for the organization. The fewer the better. These need to be above and beyond the day-to-day work and focused on long-term goals and key moves needed to get there.

Strategic moves include things like creating new products or services, developing new capabilities, entering new markets, scaling up capacity, or even researching technology. While all of these might help the organization, trying to do all of them at once won’t. Pick three to five for the year, max.

Another trick I often employ is to list all of the strategy options that the team  eliminated or de-prioritized. By publishing these strategies as well, you’re making specifically clear what you’re NOT doing in the coming year.

2. Set a clear definition of success and a timeline.

Beyond direction, a good strategy needs a clear desired outcome and definition of success. Too many strategies stop at big ideas without nailing down specifics. The devil lies in the details. Too often, I see a team of people agree to a high level strategic priority, only to discover they are on vastly different pages when the details are fleshed out.

For each strategic direction, create a set of specific goals that are both measurable and time bound. It should be clear to everyone what constitutes completion, and it ideally should include a handful of objective criteria. I generally suggest a simple checklist or short description of the outcome or product.

3. Create a compelling vision of future success.

Now that you have a clear set of priorities and a definition of success, it’s time to paint a vivid picture of success. As humans we’re wired to be compelled by stories and visual images. Turn the goals you’ve selected into a narrative  explaining why you’ve chosen these objectives, why they are the most important ones, and how achieving these will lead to organizational success.

If someone on your team has a creative bent, try illustrating your desired future with photos and illustrations. If you’re developing a new product or service, find images that reflect the impact you want to create on your customer. If you’re expanding into a new geography, create a slideshow highlighting the city or region and explain why it’s such an attractive market.

Having a strategy with a clear set of priorities and objectives with actionable outcomes will increase your stakeholder alignment. By creating a rich vision for future success you’ll drive engagement and motivation. When in doubt, keep it simple, clear, and compelling. A basic strategy, well-executed, will always beat a brilliant one whiffed.

Amnesty Report: Twitter Abuse Toward Women Is Rampant

For many women, especially journalists, politicians, and other public figures, Twitter is something to endure. Many have accounts out of professional necessity, but the cost of their participation in Twitter discourse is often abuse, threats, and harassment. Women learn to block, mute, report, and ignore their mentions. Some tweet directly at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, frustrated that he seems never to take the problem of abuse against women on the site seriously. He rarely answers them directly.

Amnesty International considers online abuse against women a human-rights issue, and has repeatedly called on Twitter to release “meaningful information about reports of violence and abuse against women, as well as other groups, on the platform, and how they respond to it.” Twitter refused. So, Amnesty took matters into its own hands. On Tuesday, it launches an interactive website detailing the results of a crowdsourced study into harassment against women on Twitter, which it undertook in partnership with Element AI, an artificial intelligence company.

“We have built the world’s largest crowdsourced dataset about online abuse against women,” Milena Marin, senior advisor for tactical research at Amnesty International, said in a statement announcing the study. “We have the data to back up what women have long been telling us—that Twitter is a place where racism, misogyny and homophobia are allowed to flourish basically unchecked.”

The study looked at 778 women journalists and politicians in the US and UK, and found that 7.1 percent of tweets sent to them last year were abusive or problematic. The journalists and politicians received abuse at similar rates, and women were targeted on both the right and the left. Women of color in the study were 34 percent more likely to be the targets of harassment than white women. Black women were targeted most of all: one in every 10 tweets sent to them was abusive or problematic, whereas for white women it was one in 15.

“We found that, although abuse is targeted at women across the political spectrum, women of color were much more likely to be impacted, and black women are disproportionately targeted. Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices,” said Marin.

“Abuse, malicious automation, and manipulation detract from the health of Twitter,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Legal, Policy, and Trust and Safety lead, wrote in a response to Amnesty, which was provided to WIRED. “We are committed to holding ourselves publicly accountable towards progress in this regard.”

Amnesty’s Troll Patrol project relied on a combination of crowdsourcing and machine learning. More than 6,500 volunteers from 150 countries helped label a subset of 288,000 tweets (out of 14.5 million) that had been sent to the 778 women between January and December of 2017. The volunteers were trained to spot abusive tweets—tweets that promote violence against or threats to people based on their identification with a group, like race or gender, which violates Twitter’s TOS—and problematic tweets, which Amnesty defines as “hurtful or hostile content,” like negative stereotyping, that does “not necessarily meet the threshold of abuse.” Three experts also analyzed a smaller sample of 1,000 tweets.

Element AI then used the expert and crowdsourced data to extrapolate how much abuse the 778 women faced on Twitter overall. Their model estimated that of the 14.5 million tweets mentioning the women, 1.1 million were abusive or problematic. That’s a problematic or abusive tweet every 30 seconds.

The Troll Patrol’s findings on race stand out most. Of the 778 journalists and politicians, black women were 84 percent more likely to be targets of abusive tweets than white women, and 60 percent more likely to receive problematic tweets. Asian women were the most likely to receive threats mentioning ethnic, racial, and religious slurs. Latinx women were slightly less likely to receive any abusive or problematic tweets than white women, but the abuse they received was 81 percent more likely to be physically and specifically threatening. (More details on the study’s methodology are available online.)

The study also found that the left-leaning politicians analyzed in both the US and the UK faced 23 percent more abusive and problematic tweets than politicians from parties on the right. The opposite was true for the media. “Journalists working for right leaning media groups like Daily Mail, the Sun or Breitbart were mentioned in 64 percent more problematic and abusive tweets than journalists working at left leaning organisations like New York Times or the Guardian,” the study says.

The study isn’t a perfect encapsulation of the harassment women face online. The authors note that the specific findings only apply to this group of women, and “would likely differ if applied to other professions, countries or the wider population.” The study also categorized the women’s race based on publicly available information, which the authors admit is “crude” and “not necessarily a reflection of how each of the 778 women self-identify.” A similar caveat applies to political affiliation, which was based on each woman’s party for politicians, or for journalists, her news outlet as rated by a media bias group.

The study also relied on the public Twitter data available to download from the platform in March 2018. Any tweets that were deleted or flagged as abusive prior to Troll Patrol gathering them from Twitter’s firehose on that date would not have been included in the analysis. As such, the authors say, the rates of abusive tweets are likely higher.

Twitter’s Gadde also took issue with the way Amnesty defined “problematic” tweets, writing, “We would welcome further discussion about how you have defined ‘problematic’ as part of this research in accordance with the need to protect free expression and ensure policies are clearly and narrowly drafted.” The report does acknowledge that “problematic tweets may qualify as legitimate speech and would not necessarily be subject to removal from the platform,” adding, “We included problematic tweets because it is important to highlight the breadth and depth of toxicity on Twitter in its various forms and to recognize the cumulative effect that problematic content may have on the ability of women to freely expressing themselves on the platform.”

What is abundantly clear is the sheer scale of the abuse against women on Twitter. Over the past year, Twitter has pledged to improve the health of its platform, although progress on that front has been uneven so far. Amnesty hopes the dataset can be used to help social media platforms, including Twitter, develop better tools to protect women.

The point of the study is not only to put hard data behind what women have been saying for years about their experiences on Twitter, but also to demonstrate the power and limitations of AI in online content moderation. On Tuesday, Amnesty and Element AI also unveiled a machine-learning tool, trained on the project data, which tries to automatically identify abusive tweets. The automated content moderation tool works pretty well, the researchers say, but it’s not perfect. “It still achieves about a 50-percent accuracy level when compared to the judgement of our experts,” the report states, “meaning it identifies 2 in every 14 tweets as abusive or problematic, whereas our experts identified 1 in every 14 tweets as abusive or problematic.” That overcorrection points out the risks of censorship inherent in even the most state-of-the-art automated moderation.

“Amnesty International and Element AI’s experience using machine learning to detect online abuse against women highlights the risks of leaving it to algorithms to determine what constitutes abuse,” the report concludes. Though automation plays a role, Amnesty recommends that platforms like Twitter must use it in combination with human review, and stresses the importance of transparency.

“We remain committed to expanding our transparency reporting to better inform people about the actions we take under the Twitter rules,” Gadde wrote in her response, dated December 12. “We are grateful for the feedback Amnesty shared on what this should include.”

Twitter released its latest transparency report that day, with a new section covering enforcement of the platform’s rules. But it still doesn’t provide all the information Amnesty seeks, which Twitter acknowledges: “While we are not able to provide some granular breakdowns because Twitter does not collect the data from account holders,” Gadde wrote to Amnesty, “we hope to continue to evolve the data we share to better inform the wider public debate.”

For now, Amnesty’s crowdsourcing is the most revealing data available for a problem that so many people know about but haven’t been able to quantify.


More Great WIRED Stories

Foxconn not in settlement talks with Qualcomm in Apple battle: attorney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The lead attorney for the group of Apple Inc device assemblers seeking at least $9 billion in damages from Qualcomm Inc said on Sunday the contract manufacturers are not in settlement talks with the mobile chip supplier and are “gearing up and heading toward the trial” in April.

FILE PHOTO: A motorcyclist rides past the logo of Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, in Taipei, Taiwan March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

The conflict is but one aspect of the global legal battle between regulators, Apple and Qualcomm, which supplies modem chips that help phones connect to wireless data networks.

Last week, Qualcomm secured a preliminary victory in a patent lawsuit in China that would have banned sales of some Apple iPhones there. Apple later said it believed it was already in compliance but would change its software “to address any possible concern” about its compliance.

But Qualcomm was also handed a setback in an antitrust lawsuit brought against it by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission when a judge said it will not be able to mention that Apple ditched Qualcomm chips for competing ones from Intel Corp when the case goes to trial next month.

Qualcomm representatives did not immediately return a request for comment on Sunday outside of U.S. business hours.

The group of contract manufacturers – which includes Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, Pegatron Corp, Wistron Corp and Compal Electronics Inc – became embroiled in the dispute between Apple and Qualcomm last year.

In the supply chain for electronics, contract manufacturers buy Qualcomm chips and pay royalties when they build phones, and are in turn reimbursed by companies like Apple. Qualcomm sued the group last year, alleging they had stopped paying royalties related to Apple products, and Apple joined their defense.

The contract manufacturers have since filed claims of their own against Qualcomm, alleging the San Diego company’s practice of charging money for chips but then also asking for a cut of the adjusted selling price of a mobile phone as a patent royalty payment constitutes an anticompetitive business practice.

They are seeking $9 billion in damages from Qualcomm for royalties they allege were illegal. That figure could triple if the manufacturers succeed on their antitrust claims.

Ted Boutrous, a high-profile partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP who is representing the contract manufacturers, told Reuters that statements from Qualcomm executives suggesting there were meaningful settlement talks with the contract manufacturers were “false.”

“To the extent Qualcomm has indicated there have been licensing discussions with the contract manufacturers, they’ve basically made the same sort of unreasonable demands that got them to where they are right now, which impose significant preconditions to even discuss a new arrangement,” Boutrous said.

In July, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf told investors on the company’s quarterly earnings call that Qualcomm and Apple itself were in talks to resolve the litigation.

At a hearing in the case in San Diego on Nov. 30, one of Apple’s attorneys disputed that notion, saying there had not been “talks in a number of months. So the parties are at loggerheads and are going … to have to go into trial.”

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Reese and Himani Sarkar

Quantum Computers Threaten the Web’s Security. We Must Take Action Now.

Inside the stark and sweeping Eero Saarinen-styled exterior of the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, IBM’s blue jeans-wearing boffins are assembling a new generation of super-powered computers built on quantum mechanical principles. These otherworldly machines dangle from sturdy, metal frames, looking like golden chandeliers, or robotic beehives. The devices perform their magical-seeming operations inside vacuum-sealed, super-cooled refrigerator encasements. It’s a technology that combines both brains and beauty.

Future iterations of these quantum computers will be able to solve mathematical problems ordinary computers have no hope of computing. They will vastly speed up classical calculations, accurately model complex natural phenomena like chemical reactions, and open as yet unexplored frontiers for scientific inquiry. Despite seeming arcane, machines like these will touch every aspect of our lives—from drug discovery to digital security.

IBM scientists examine quantum computing hardware.

IBM scientists examine quantum computing hardware.

Courtesy of IBM.

This latter area presents significant challenges. One advantage quantum computers have over traditional ones is a knack for factoring large numbers, an operation so difficult for present-day computers that it has become the foundation for almost all today’s encryption schemes. A sufficiently advanced quantum computer, on the other hand, can chew through these math problems with the destructive force of that metal-melting Xenomorph blood in the Alien film franchise. The prospect of quantum computing necessitates a complete rethinking of cryptography.

Today’s encryption may be rendered obsolete sooner than most people anticipate. As Adam Langley, a senior software engineer at Google, has pointed out in a recent blog post, some experts predict this latter-day Y2K could occur within the decade. Michele Mosca, cofounder of the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Ontario, has estimated a 1-in-7 chance that quantum breakthroughs will defeat RSA-2048, a common encryption standard, by 2026. If that’s true, then the time to begin reengineering our digital defenses is now. As Langley writes, waiting around for guidance on standards “seems dangerous”; there’s no time to lose.

Buttressing Langley’s view is a recent paper out of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The research organization determined that, while the advent of an encryption-busting quantum computer is unlikely within the decade, preparations to defend against one must be undertaken as soon as possible. Since web standards take more than a decade to implement, a press release accompanying the paper warned, developing new, attack-resistant algorithms “is critical now.”

The era of quantum computation fast approaches. Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Intel, are plugging away on the tech alongside smaller startups, like Calif.-based Rigetti. Nation states like China are, meanwhile, dumping billions of dollars into research and development. Whichever entity achieves so-called quantum supremacy first will find itself in possession of unprecedented power—the equivalent of X-Ray goggles for the Internet.

That is, unless we act with urgency to armor up.

A version of this article first appeared in Cyber Saturday, the weekend edition of Fortune’s tech newsletter Data Sheet. Sign up here.