The White House confirms that Trump reassigned a senior National Security Council adviser after he disagreed with the president’s Latin American policy, and South Sudan becomes the first country in six years to announce a famine.
Trump Picks Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser
President Donald Trump named Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser on Monday. McMaster is a well-respected Army officer who is also known for his scholarly work. His 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty, examined former-President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Joint Chief of Staff’s missteps and indecisiveness during the Vietnam War. He was also a critic of the Iraq War, in which he served. He led the 2005 counterinsurgency in the north of Iraq to secure Tal Afar, and was instrumental to the strategy used by General David Patraeus and that was credited with turning around the war. Foreign Policy magazine called McMaster “the brain behind Patraeus.”
Last week, Trump’s first pick for the job, Michael Flynn, stepped down from the position after reports showed he had misled the vice president about the nature of a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador. Trump then offered the position to retired retired Navy Vice Admiral Robert Harward, who turned the position down, reportedly because of the chaos inside the White House. McMaster is widely respected with the military. Some of his work may serve him particularly well; he recently led a high-level panel on how the Army should respond to Russia’s new posture, Politico reports. And in Derelection of Duty, he criticized Johnson for being “profoundly insecure and distrustful of anyone but his closest civilian advisers,” a description critics have applied to the current president, as well.
The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, died in New York City on Monday a day before his 65th birthday. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador told the Associated Press that Churkin was ill and taken to the hospital, although the cause of the illness is not known at this time. Churkin has been envoy to the UN for more than a decade. He has been a fierce defender of Russia’s foreign policies, including the intensive bombing Syrian rebels in Aleppo last year.
Trump Dismisses a Senior NSC Advisor for Criticising Administration Policy
The White House confirmed on Monday that President Donald Trump reassigned a senior National Security Council (NSC) adviser after he criticized the administration’s Latin American policy. The advisor, Craig Deare, was removed and sent back to his former role, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Monday. Deare had been assigned to the NSC by the administration, and while at a private meeting hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, he harshly criticized the president and top aides like Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and complained of the dysfunction in the White House, POLITICOreported. Deare also allegedly recounted an embarrassing call Trump had with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Deare was appointed to the NSC by the Trump administration, and his release is just the latest example of the chaos being reported within the Trump White House. Last week, Trump dismissed his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after it was revealed he misled the vice president about the nature of his conversation with the Russian ambassador.
South Sudan Becomes the First Country in Six Years to Declare Famine
More than 100,000 people in South Sudan face starvation, and on Monday it became the first country in six years to declare a famine. An ethnic conflict, which started three years ago, has driven people from their homes in some northern parts of the country, and combined with a failing economy, and drought, it has led to severe food instability. The famine so far has been contained to the northern areas of the country, but it’s expected to grow much worse this summer, and could possibly impact 5.5 million people, or about half the country’s population. A famine is only declared when a certain criteria is met. It requires at least 20 percent of homes facing extreme food shortages, and malnutrition rates of more than 30 percent. There is no binding obligation from UN member countries, but declaring famine often rallies relief groups to help deliver aid and brings international attention. South Sudan is one of Africa’s most unstable countries. It broke off from Sudan in 2011, and after a couple years of peace, the country has erupted in violence, with thousands of rebel factions fighting one another, often putting civilians in the middle.
CEO Chris Licht felt he was on a mission to restore the network’s reputation for serious journalism. How did it all go wrong?
Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET on June 2, 2023.
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“How are we gonna cover Trump? That’s not something I stay up at night thinking about,” Chris Licht told me. “It’s very simple.”
It was the fall of 2022. This was the first of many on-the-record interviews that Licht had agreed to give me, and I wanted to know how CNN’s new leader planned to deal with another Donald Trump candidacy. Until recently Licht had been producing a successful late-night comedy show. Now, just a few months into his job running one of the world’s preeminent news organizations, he claimed to have a “simple” answer to the question that might very well come to define his legacy.
On a Wednesday afternoon in March, the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church, in Denver’s South Park Hill neighborhood, was packed. The local chapter of the progressive group Indivisible was sponsoring a mayoral-candidate forum. Five candidates had been invited to attend. The moderator asked the usual questions about crime and public safety, homelessness and guns. Then came a question comprehensible only to a close observer of Denver politics: “Do you support releasing the city-owned conservation easement on the Park Hill Golf Course to allow the currently proposed redevelopment of this site?”
Four candidates raised their hands, a couple only halfway, as if that sign of reluctance might lessen the coming disapproval. It didn’t. The crowd booed.
How has America slid into its current age of discord? Why has our trust in institutions collapsed, and why have our democratic norms unraveled?
All human societies experience recurrent waves of political crisis, such as the one we face today. My research team built a database of hundreds of societies across 10,000 yearsto try to find out what causes them. We examined dozens of variables, including population numbers, measures of well-being, forms of governance, and the frequency with which rulers are overthrown. We found that the precise mix of events that leads to crisis varies, but two drivers of instability loom large. The first is popular immiseration—when the economic fortunes of broad swaths of a population decline. The second, and more significant, is elite overproduction—when a society produces too many superrich and ultra-educated people, and not enough elite positions to satisfy their ambitions.
Regularly putting the entire economy at risk is in no way “fiscally responsible.”
By now the scenario is familiar, but at the time it was unprecedented: House Republicans, having recently won a majority in the midterm elections, threatened to force the United States to default on its debt unless a Democratic president acceded to their demands.
The year was 1995, and I was serving as secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton. Raising the debt limit to avoid default, which had previously been a perfunctory matter, was now a catalyst for crisis. For months, Speaker Newt Gingrich threatened to plunge the country into default unless Clinton signed the House Republicans’ budget bill.
Having come from the financial industry, and being relatively new to Washington, I remember being surprised. I knew the legislative process was messy, and that hostage-taking was frequently part of it. Still, the notion that the government of the United States would, for political reasons, not meet its financial obligations seemed outside the realm of possibility.
We need a cultural and philosophical movement to meet the rise of artificial superintelligence.
On July 13, 1833, during a visit to the Cabinet of Natural History at the Jardin des Plantes, in Paris, Ralph Waldo Emerson had an epiphany. Peering at the museum’s specimens—butterflies, hunks of amber and marble, carved seashells—he felt overwhelmed by the interconnectedness of nature, and humankind’s place within it.
The experience inspired him to write “The Uses of Natural History,” and to articulate a philosophy that put naturalism at the center of intellectual life in a technologically chaotic age—guiding him, along with the collective of writers and radical thinkers known as transcendentalists, to a new spiritual belief system. Through empirical observation of the natural world, Emerson believed, anyone could become “a definer and map-maker of the latitudes and longitudes of our condition”—finding agency, individuality, and wonder in a mechanized age.
America has paid a steep price for devoting too much space to storing cars.
When you’re driving around and around the same block and seething because there’s nowhere to put your car, any suggestion that the United States devotes too much acreage to parking might seem preposterous. But consider this: In a typical year, the country builds more three-car garages than one-bedroom apartments. Even the densest cities reserve a great deal of street space to store private vehicles. And local laws across the country require house and apartment builders to provide off-street parking, regardless of whether residents need it. Step back to assess the result, as the Slate staff writer Henry Grabar does in his lively new book, Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World, and it’s sobering: “More square footage is dedicated to parking each car than to housing each person.”
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Today’s special guest is Emma Sarappo, an associate editor on The Atlantic’s Books team. Emma is also a frequent contributor to our Books Briefing newsletter, having recently written about books for a changing planet and making sense of the divide between technology and humanity. Right now Emma is looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime cross-country concert trip, scratching her brain with the Two Dots smartphone puzzle game, and gearing up for the 60th-anniversary special of Doctor Who.
The ultimate performative politician doesn’t seem to enjoy the in-person performance of politics.
Real-life Ron DeSantis was here, finally. In the fidgety flesh; in Iowa, South Carolina, and, in this case, New Hampshire. Not some distant Sunshine State of potential or idealized Donald Trump alternative or voice in the far-off static of Twitter Spaces. But an actual human being interacting with other human beings, some 200 of them, packed into an American Legion hall in the town of Rochester.
“Okay, smile, close-up,” an older woman told the Florida governor, trying to pull him in for another photo. DeSantis and his wife, Casey, had just finished a midday campaign event, and the governor was now working a quick rope line—emphasis on quick and double emphasis on working. The fast-talking first lady is much better suited to this than her halting husband. He smiled for the camera like the dentist had just asked him to bite down on a blob of putty; like he was trying to make a mold, or to fit one. It was more of a cringe than a grin.
A new collection of Charles Portis’s work makes the case for his place in the American canon.
A punch-drunk love of American language swells throughout the Coen brothers’ films: the rapid-fire New York dialogue in The Hudsucker Proxy, the nasal timbre of the upper Plains in Fargo, the California dude-speak in The Big Lebowski. In 2010, that passion drew them to reprise True Grit, based on the novelist Charles Portis’s tour de force about a teenage girl’s quest to avenge her father’s death. Set in 1870s Arkansas and the Choctaw lands of present-day Oklahoma, the book brims with colloquialisms and cadences that are best read aloud.
Many Americans don’t realize that True Grit was originally a novel, published in 1968. Though often framed as a Western (probably because of John Wayne’s swaggering performance in the first screen adaption), it fits within Portis’s broader oeuvre—one that is inexorably southern in its evocation of a particular place and people, and in its command of the vernacular. Library of America’s newly released Charles Portis: Collected Works bundles his five novels with select stories, essays, and journalism, elevating him to the level of some of his better-known peers: Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy. The retrospective reveals a consummate humorist and sharp-eyed chronicler of human flaws—those deeply embedded racial, religious, and socioeconomic prejudices Portis observed in the American South, a region that he saw as a microcosm for the country as a whole.
The terms of friendship are both voluntary and vague—yet people often find themselves disappointed by unmet expectations. In this episode of How to Talk to People, we explore how to have the difficult conversations that can make our friendships richer and how to set expectations in a relationship defined by choice.
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