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Vox Sentences: A fight over a pin — and war crimes

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer resigns; Iran protests are making their way online after the government ends a national shutdown.

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Trump official resigns in dispute over Navy SEAL

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked for Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s resignation on Sunday. Esper said he’d lost confidence in Spencer over a deal he allegedly struck that would have seen Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher face military discipline while also ensuring President Donald Trump received the outcome he desired in Gallagher’s case. [AP News / Robert Burns]
  • Gallagher was acquitted of the majority of war crime charges against him in July, but was demoted after being found guilty of posing with ISIS captive’s dead body in a photo. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • Trump took interest in Gallagher’s case; he ordered his rank be restored and tweeted that the Navy should halt a review into whether the SEAL ought to be removed from the elite unit. [New York Times / Helene Copper and Thomas Gibbons-Neff]
  • This led to concerns Trump was improperly interfering with Navy discipline, and Spencer reportedly threatened to resign if the president forced military leaders to forgo the review. (Spencer later claimed these reports were false.) [Defense News / Joe Gould and Carl Prine]
  • Ultimately, Spencer resigned — or was asked to resign — making whether he threatened to quit moot; Esper claims he asked for Spencer’s resignation because, without informing Esper, the former secretary promised the White House Gallagher would be allowed to remain a SEAL (and to keep his coveted gold Trident pin) if Trump allowed the review to continue. [NPR / Vanessa Romo]
  • Spencer claims he resigned because he had been given “an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and he felt he could not comply with the request to nix the review. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • And Trump said Gallagher was only one factor in his desire to dismiss Spencer — he claims Esper fired him for a failure to keep naval spending under control. [Washington Post / Ashley Parker and Dan Lamothe]
  • Despite these differing narratives, Spencer is out as navy secretary. Trump says he will nominate the ambassador to Norway, Rear Adm. Ken Braithwaite, to replace him. Gallagher will remain a SEAL and retain his pin, but congressional Democrats have signaled they would like to investigate both Trump’s meddling in Gallagher’s case and Spencer’s ouster. [Vox / Alex Ward]

Iranian protest footage makes its way online

  • Violent videos of Iranians protesting a 50 percent increase in gas prices are surfacing as Iran comes back online after a government-mandated internet shutdown. [ABC News / Jon Gambrell]
  • In an attempt to limit the protests and to keep documentary evidence of what transpired during them under wraps, the Iranian government shut off internet access nationally last week after protests erupted in cities all over the country. [Vox / Hannah Brown]
  • Amnesty International estimates that over 100 Iranians died during the protests, and that around 1,000 were arrested in demonstrations that left vehicles burned and buildings destroyed. [Los Angeles Times / Melissa Etehad and Ramin Mostaghim]
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed foreign powers, such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US for the protests: “The Iranian people have again succeeded in an historic test and shown they will not let enemies benefit from the situation, even though they might have complaints about the country’s management,” Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting. [BBC]


  • The iconic balloons of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade might not float down the streets of New York this year. A forecast of strong winds is to blame. [CNN / Allison Chinchar and Haley Brink]
  • Food grown for foreign countries’ animals by Nile Delta farmers is damaging the river, and the region’s prospects for self-sustainability. [Wall Street Journal / Justin Scheck and Scott Patterson]
  • How charitable are American billionaires? One economist created a chart to lay out their contributions. Several of the richest appear to give .01 percent of their wealth each year. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • Anti-government protesters in Lebanon skirmished with Shiite groups supporting Hezbollah and Amal. [Reuters]
  • Our dogs might not be as smart as we think they are, but they do have an incredible capacity for love. [New York Times / James Gorman]


“We’re on the front line of what is happening with sea-level rise. It has now changed how we live life down here. We haven’t come to grips with where we are and where we’re headed.” [Key Largo resident George Smyth on the danger that the now near-constant flooding of the Florida Keys poses]

Watch this: Brazil’s indigenous land is being invaded

Brazil’s indigenous land is in danger — from the country’s president. [YouTube / Sam Ellis]

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