The Atlantic Daily: When an American ISIS Fighter Wants to Come Home

Who should be responsible for Hoda Muthana? Plus the highs and lows of the 2019 Academy Awards, what Trump-Kim 2.0 might accomplish (or not), and more

Mike Blake / Reuters

What We’re Following

In 2014, an Alabama college student set off for Syria to join ISIS. Now, the woman, Hoda Muthana, says she wants to return to the U.S., but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared that Muthana never had U.S. citizenship to begin with, and has no legal basis to come back to the country with her 18-month-old son. Graeme Wood argues that that’s a shortsighted move, setting a potentially illegal precedent for Americans to be stripped of their citizenship without any sort of due process. Regardless of the potential legality, no matter how much Pompeo—urged by President Trump—wishes to disown Muthana, the U.S. can’t deny that she is a product of America, Wood writes, and so the country can’t shirk responsibility for her deeds.

Even without a host, the Oscars show on Sunday night was a lively affair. Perhaps the most memorable part of the event was Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s rendition of “Shallow,” a duet from the movie A Star Is Born. The performance was captivating in its un-Gaga-like simplicity, and it verged on uncomfortably intimate as they exuded a romance that seemed almost too real for two performers. Green Book captured the coveted prize of Best Picture, but the win only amplifies questions of the Academy’s irrelevance and tone-deafness, writes David Sims.

+ Green Book’s title pays homage to The Negro Motorist Green Book, a compendium of black businesses, hotels, and homes where African American travelers could find refuge during the Jim Crow era. Though the Oscar-winning film doesn’t do it justice, this new documentary shows just how important the guidebook was as a community-building tool.

Trump will meet for a second time with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, later this week. Trump is taking an “I alone can fix it” approach to the hermetic nation’s denuclearization, and that means the best shot at diplomacy is a high-stakes, one-on-one meeting between the two leaders. After their first meeting in June, Trump extracted concessions from the North Koreans—yet the country’s nuclear might still seems unchanged, or has perhaps grown more formidable since then. What’s clear heading into the Trump-Kim confab 2.0 is that the U.S. president is hungry to come home with any sort of victory he can claim, even if that means pushing denuclearization to the back burner.


The 2019 Oscars in Photos

(Mike Blake / Reuters)

Samuel L. Jackson embraces Spike Lee, the winner of the award for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. See other striking moments from the 2019 Oscars.

Evening Reads

The Chapel at the Border

(Jeremy Raff)

A white adobe chapel called La Lomita, wedged on the banks of the Rio Grande between the U.S. and Mexico, has welcomed parishioners since 1899. But now a looming border wall is putting its future in limbo:

“Customs and Border Protection maps from July 2017 showed that the agency planned to build a wall segment just yards from La Lomita, which means “little hill.” At best, the plan seemed to leave the chapel on the Mexico-facing side of the wall—a liminal “no-man’s-land” south of the wall, but north of the border itself. At worst, advocates feared that the chapel could be bulldozed. Then, on February 14, Congress funded 55 miles of new walls in the Rio Grande Valley, and wrote protections for the chapel into the bill. For a moment, La Lomita seemed safe. But then President Trump declared a national emergency to unlock more wall-building money than Congress had allowed.”

→ Read the rest.

+ Watch the accompanying short documentary.

The Atlantic Crossword

Have you tried your hand at our daily mini crossword (available on our website, here)? Monday is the perfect day to start—the puzzle gets bigger and more difficult throughout the week.

→ Challenge your friends, or try to beat your own solving time.

Click here for The Atlantic's free daily crossword

(Illustration: Araki Koman)

Dear Therapist

Dear Therapist column

(Bianca Bagnarelli)

Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. This week, Reginald from Keller, Texas, writes:

“Let me start by saying I’m not leaving my wife because of her illness. On the contrary, I’ve probably stayed way longer—we’ve been married nearly 14 years—than I should have because of it. We both could make a case for why we should have never gotten married. We broke up and got back together several times prior to marrying. I even married someone else (the marriage lasted approximately one year, and I could write a separate letter about that one!), and I was engaged to someone else before our paths crossed again and we married.

Two years later, after the birth of our only daughter together (I have an older child with another woman), my wife was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart), which doctors believe happened during her pregnancy.”

→ Read the rest, and Lori’s response. Have a question? Email Lori anytime at

Concerns, comments, questions, typos? Email newsletters editor Shan Wang at

Did you get this newsletter from a friend? Sign yourself up. We have other other free email newsletters on a variety of other topics, and at different frequencies. Find the full list here.