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.
The world’s richest man has some embarrassing friends.
Yesterday, the world got a look inside Elon Musk’s phone. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is currently in litigation with Twitter and trying to back out of his deal to buy the platform and take it private. As part of the discovery process related to this lawsuit, Delaware’s Court of Chancery released hundreds of text messages and emails sent to and from Musk. The 151-page redacted document is a remarkable, voyeuristic record of a few months in the life of the world’s richest (and most overexposed) man and a rare unvarnished glimpse into the overlapping worlds of Silicon Valley, media, and politics. The texts are juicy, but not because they are lurid, particularly offensive, or offer up some scandalous Muskian master plan—quite the opposite. What is so illuminating about the Musk messages is just how unimpressive, unimaginative, and sycophantic the powerful men in Musk’s contacts appear to be. Whoever said there are no bad ideas in brainstorming never had access to Elon Musk’s phone.
Recently, after a week in which 2,789 Americans died of COVID-19, President Joe Biden proclaimed that “the pandemic is over.” Anthony Fauci described the controversy around the proclamation as a matter of “semantics,” but the facts we are living with can speak for themselves. COVID still kills roughly as many Americans every week as died on 9/11. It is on track to kill at least 100,000 a year—triple the typical toll of the flu. Despite gross undercounting, more than 50,000 infections are being recorded every day. The CDC estimates that 19 million adults have long COVID. Things have undoubtedly improved since the peak of the crisis, but calling the pandemic “over” is like calling a fight “finished” because your opponent is punching you in the ribs instead of the face.
His baldly illegitimate claim to four Ukrainian provinces shows contempt for the global order—and his own subjects.
Vladimir Putin today announced his annexation of four provinces of Ukraine—four provinces that he does not fully control, that did not vote to join Russia, that have been the site of mass murder and mass deportation since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. With this statement, the Russian president is also declaring war. But this is not merely a war on Ukraine.
Putin’s war—Russia’s war—is also a war on a particular idea of world order and international law, an idea upheld not just by Europeans and North Americans, but by most of the rest of the world, indeed by the United Nations itself. One core principle of this world order is that larger countries should not be able to grab parts of smaller countries, that mass slaughter of whole populations is unacceptable, that borders have international significance and cannot be changed through violence or on one dictator’s whim. Putin already challenged this idea in 2014, when he annexed Crimea. At the time he also held a sham referendum, but he convinced many outsiders that it had some validity. Although some sanctions followed, the world largely gave him a pass. Commerce and diplomacy with Russia continued.
One of the great, bittersweet pleasures of life is finishing a title and thinking about how it might have affected you—if only you’d found it sooner.
Sometimes, a book falls into a reader’s hands at the wrong time. Think of one you’ve put aside because you were too busy to tackle an ambitious project; perhaps there’s another you ignored after misjudging its contents by its cover. Maybe a novel was inaccessible or hadn’t yet been published at the precise stage in your life when it would have resonated most. But these connections can still be made later: In fact, one of the great, bittersweet pleasures of life is finishing a title and thinking about how it might have affected you—if only you’d found it sooner. From our vantage in the present, we can’t truly know if, or how, a single piece of literature would have changed things for us. But we can appreciate its power, and we can recommend it to others. Below are seven novels our staffers wish they’d read when they were younger.
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Putin announced his attempt to lay claim to eastern Ukraine with his most unhinged speech yet, intending to terrify the rest of the world into submission. We should instead continue to show courage and steadfastness.
But first, here are three new stories from The Atlantic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech at a ceremony to incorporate partially Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation, finally and explicitly declared an end to more than seven decades of international order. During a meandering rant, Putin defended raw Russian imperialism while he spooled off about a number of topics, including the fall of the U.S.S.R., the power of Western hegemony, and the American use of nuclear weapons on Japan. But his underlying goal was to warn the rest of the world to cease its opposition to his war of conquest in Ukraine.
A look at the grim scenarios—and the U.S. playbook for each
Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET on June 21, 2022
The 12th Main Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Defense operates a dozen central storage facilities for nuclear weapons. Known as “Object S” sites and scattered across the Russian Federation, they contain thousands of nuclear warheads and hydrogen bombs with a wide variety of explosive yields. For the past three months, President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have been ominously threatening to use nuclear weapons in the war against Ukraine. According to Pavel Podvig, the director of the Russian Nuclear Forces Project and a former research fellow at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, now based in Geneva, the long-range ballistic missiles deployed on land and on submarines are Russia’s only nuclear weapons available for immediate use. If Putin decides to attack Ukraine with shorter-range, “tactical” nuclear weapons, they will have to be removed from an Object S site—such as Belgorod-22, just 25 miles from the Ukrainian border—and transported to military bases. It will take hours for the weapons to be made combat-ready, for warheads to be mated with cruise missiles or ballistic missiles, for hydrogen bombs to be loaded on planes. The United States will most likely observe the movement of these weapons in real time: by means of satellite surveillance, cameras hidden beside the road, local agents with binoculars. And that will raise a question of existential importance: What should the United States do?
Given that education has become polarized and politicized, it makes sense that educators feel misunderstood and underappreciated.
This is Work in Progress, a newsletter by Derek Thompson about work, technology, and how to solve some of America’s biggest problems. Sign up here to get it every week.
Last week, I asked readers to tell me what people don’t get about their job. In an economy with thousands of occupations and hundreds of sectors, and where many people within the same large company have no idea what their colleagues do all day, I thought hearing from dozens of people about the reality of their work would be valuable.
I received several hundred replies—from opera singers, TV screenwriters, chefs, neuroscientists, and more. However, no category of workers wrote back more than teachers and professors. Given that education has become polarized and politicized, it makes sense that educators feel misunderstood and underappreciated.
The former president tried to sell his preferred version of himself, but said much more than he intended.
“Can you believe these are my customers?” Donald Trump once asked while surveying the crowd in the Taj Mahal casino’s poker room. “Look at those losers,” he said to his consultant Tom O’Neil, of people spending money on the floor of the Trump Plaza casino. Visiting the Iowa State Fair as a presidential candidate in 2015, he was astounded that locals fell in line to support him because of a few free rides in his branded helicopter. In the White House, he was sometimes stunned at his own backers’ fervor, telling aides, “They’re fucking crazy.” Yet they loved him and wanted to own a piece of him, and that was what mattered most.
Almost immediately after his defeat in 2020, Trump began fundraising off his claims of fraud, turning to his ardent fans for support. Plenty of people donated small amounts of money to continue a fight he swore was valid and building toward action. It was difficult to discern, though, whether Trump actually believed what he was saying about the election.
The beloved Hubble observatory could get the SpaceX treatment.
The Hubble Space Telescope is falling.
Not imminently, but it’s happening. The beloved observatory, which has spent decades revealing cosmic wonders from its perch a few hundred miles above Earth, does not have a propulsion system to maintain its altitude. According to NASA’s latest projections, the observatory could reenter Earth’s atmosphere as early as 2037—a grim fate that the agency has been anticipating for many years. When the last crew of astronauts visited Hubble for repairs, in 2009, they installed a special piece of hardware on its exterior so that, when that time came, a spacecraft could come up, clip on, and guide the telescope to a safe reentry through the atmosphere. On its way down, Hubble would streak through the skies like a meteor and then fall into the sea.
At his Pennsylvania rally, the former president gave exactly the narcissistic display his Democratic nemesis tried to provoke.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton warned that Donald Trump was a fool who could be baited with a tweet. This past Thursday night, in Philadelphia, Joe Biden upped the ante by asking, in effect: What idiot thing might the former president do if baited with a whole speech? On Saturday night, the world got its answer.
For the 2022 election cycle, smart Republicans had a clear and simple plan: Don’t let the election be about Trump. Make it about gas prices, or crime, or the border, or race, or sex education, or anything—anything but Trump. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016. He lost control of the House in 2018. He lost the presidency in 2020. He lost both Senate seats in Georgia in 2021. Republicans had good reason to dread the havoc he’d create if he joined the fight in 2022.