Donald Trump has now purged several top-tier civilian officials at the Pentagon and replaced them with a handful of bootlicking loyalists. None of Trump’s new minions are up to the jobs they now hold and these abrupt personnel changes are as destabilizing to the Pentagon as they should be deeply concerning to the country. Here are the Cliff’s Notes on the personnel changes. Newly installedActing Defense Secretary: Christopher Miller, a combat veteran turned right-wing talkerChief of Staff: Kash Patel, a former Devin Nunes staffer who was part of the White House National Security Counsel (NSC) and worked to discredit the Russia investigationActing Undersecretary of Policy: Retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, whose appointment to DOD was yanked earlier this year after he was exposed as a racist Obama-hating conspiracy theoristUndersecretary of Defense for Intelligence: Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Michael Flynn ally and former NSC staffer who allegedly supplied Rep. Nunes with information that Trump’s communications were incidentally swept up by U.S. intelligence agencies conducting foreign surveillanceGeneral Counsel, National Security Agency: Michael Ellis, also a former Nunes and NSC staffer (he allegedly joined Cohen-Watnick in supplying intel to Nunes and later moved Trump’s Ukraine call to the super secret server) who will now hold one of the most powerful legal positions in the U.S. Intelligence Community- Advertisement – Resigned/Forced outDefense Secretary: Mark EsperUndersecretary of Defense for Intelligence: Joseph KernanActing Undersecretary of Policy: James AndersonIt’s unclear what Trump intends to do with his newly installed team of reality-adjacent loyalists and disinformation specialists, but nothing good can come of it. One theory—and again, it’s a theory—is that some sort of cover up is underway. Nunes coupled with abuse/mishandling of intelligence and intimate knowledge of what happened at the NSC throughout Trump’s tenure are central to so many of these players. And whatever happened with Trump, Russia, Flynn, and Nunes, the other chief intelligence agencies (CIA/FBI) likely know far more than what has been publicly disclosed. Something simply doesn’t feel right about all of those Nunes/NSC insiders being deployed to powerful positions at the last second.Another possibility that seems equally as far-fetched and yet not out of the realm for the era is that Trump is trying to orchestrate a coup of some sort. Retired four-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey told MSNBC Wednesday he had every confidence that the military leadership would never go along with any unconstitutional orders they were given, but he also said that Trump’s intentions are very worrisome. – Advertisement – “If I was a CIA officer trying to understand what was going on in a third-world country, and I saw this pattern of behavior, I would say, the strongman is trying to take over the government and defy an election,” McCaffrey said. “And I think they’re playing with that idea inside the White House.”This is all pure conjecture, but Trump’s erratic moves at these uncertain times warrant the type of conjecture that under usual circumstances would serve no purpose. In this case, we all need to keep a watchful eye on Trump’s next moves, as we may have only seen the tip of the iceberg.As McCaffrey said, “I have been shot at a lot and nearly killed a bunch of times. I’m not an alarmist. I stay cool under pressure. Mark me down as alarmed.”- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
However, the ministry acknowledged six provinces experienced rice supply shortages last month, including Riau, Riau Islands, Bangka Belitung Islands and North Maluku, whose stocks were over 25 percent less than demand.“If there is a province facing shortages, we have to be careful and pay utmost attention, reminding ourselves about the distribution amid the COVID-19 outbreak,” Syahrul, a Nasdem Party politician, said in an online briefing on Tuesday.The Agriculture Ministry and the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), the government body tasked with securing national staple food stocks, has since addressed the shortages by distributing products from provinces with excess supplies to those facing shortages.However, on top of the looming risk of drought, the country’s food supply chain currently faces logistical disruption caused by the social restrictions to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Some 30 percent of the country’s regions face a worse-than-usual dry season this year, said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Tuesday, referring to data from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).The President, therefore, instructed the government to store rainwater and start filling reservoirs, retention ponds and other artificial water-storage places.“Water supply in centers of agricultural production is key,” Jokowi said in an online briefing on Tuesday. “We have to make use of the remaining rain right now, ensure farmers continue harvesting while complying with the health protocols.”To ensure enough stocks of garlic, beef and sugar until June, the Food Security Agency reported that it would expedite imports.The Coordinating Economic Minister, Airlangga Hartarto, reported on Tuesday that firms had procured 94,000 tons of garlic from China in April and estimated they would import 78,000 tons more this month.As a result, the average price of garlic declined by 5 percent to Rp 42,650 (US$2.62) per kilogram last month compared with the price in March.In late April, the President also stated that 30 provinces faced shortages of sugar and 31 provinces faced shortages of garlic, which resulted in soaring prices.The average price of sugar rose by 9.6 percent to Rp 18,250 per kg between March and April, way above the government’s price ceiling of Rp 12,500 per kg, data from the Information Center for Strategic Food Prices (PIHPS) show.In response to the anticipated dry season, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Indonesia office (FAO Indonesia) has discouraged people from stockpiling food at home and buying too much fresh food at one time as products may spoil.Topics : Facing the possibility of a prolonged dry season, the government has pledged to maintain the supply of staple foods and the stability of food prices.On Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo stated that the national stock of 11 key food products, including rice, would be sufficient to meet the nationwide demand until June.The rice stock is expected to stand at 14 million tons between April and June, exceeding the estimated consumption of 7.6 million tons within those three months.