Tamerlan's militant connections probed, Obama's still having first-term problems, and more from the Slatest PM.

Slatest PM: The Company Tamerlan Kept

Slatest PM: The Company Tamerlan Kept

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April 30 2013 4:36 PM

Slatest PM: The Company Tamerlan Kept

Tamerlan Tsamaev (L) fights Lamar Fenner (R) during the 201-pound division boxing match during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions May 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah

Photo by Glenn DePriest

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

New Term, Same Problems: Washington Post: "President Obama’s appearance before the media Tuesday highlighted how much his second and final term remains consumed by the unfinished business of his first. From his policy toward Syria to health care legislation to his inability to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Obama faced many of the same questions from journalists that have defined his time in office. He used long, sometimes defensive answers to portray himself as undaunted by the unresolved challenges, yet also limited in his ability to secure the changes he has sought for years because of his continuing confrontation with a divided Congress."


The Prisoners Dilemma: Reuters: "President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday to make a new push to close the Guantanamo detention center, where about 100 inmates are on hunger strike, saying it was damaging to U.S. interests to keep holding prisoners there in legal limbo. ... Obama, who repeatedly vowed to close the camp, which now holds 166 detainees, when he was campaigning for a first term and when he first took office in 2009, said he would re-engage with lawmakers to find a way to shut the facility and make good on an unkept promise. However, he offered no new path to overcoming congressional, political and legal obstacles that blocked his earlier efforts to close Guantanamo, where many of the prisoners have been held for more than a decade without being tried or charged."

(Re)Defining Red Lines: New York Times: "Deadly bombings hit the center of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and a major Syria border crossing into Turkey on Tuesday as President Obama strongly suggested that he would not be rushed into military entanglements in the Syria conflict, where evidence of chemical weapons use has raised the possibility of an American intervention. ... In Washington, Mr. Obama told reporters ... that despite an American intelligence assessment last week that there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the evidence had not yet surpassed his 'red line' for a change of American strategy regarding the conflict, in which President Bashar al-Assad is fighting to stay in power against an increasingly violent insurgency. If investigations prove that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in the conflict, Mr. Obama said, 'we would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us'."


Happy Tuesday and welcome back to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

The Company Tamerlan Kept: ABC News: "Accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have been in touch with suspected militants before and during his visit last year to southern Russia, according to a U.S. official and sources in the region. American officials are investigating whether Tsarnaev had been in contact over the internet with a man named William Plotnikov, a Russian-Canadian and a fellow boxer, who had converted to Islam and joined the militant insurgency in the North Caucasus. Authorities also want to know what Tsarnaev was doing with a known militant recruiter in the region named Mansur Mukhamed Nidal with whom Tsarnaev was repeatedly seen leaving a controversial mosque in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan."

More on the Canadian Boxer: CBS News: "A young Canadian boxer who died in Dagestan, allegedly fighting in the name of Islam, is drawing parallels to the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two suspected brothers in the Boston Marathon bombings. Both were teenagers when their families left Russia and the apparently faced similar experiences, according to what investigators know about 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and an account of 23-year-old William Plotnikov's life reported by Canadian broadcaster CBC, which recently interviewed his father. The two young men seemingly had difficulty integrating in Western society, and both excelled in boxing, each winning many competitions. Like Tamerlan, William seemed 'Westernized' when he arrived in what would become his new country by citizenship. ... William's father, like Tamerlan's friends, says William's change and radicalization almost seemed to happen overnight. ... William fled to Dagestan while his parents were on vacation in Florida, according to multiple reports. They came home to a note from him saying he was celebrating Ramadan in France, but they heard from friends that he had by then made his way to Russia."


Zimmerman Puts Fate in Hands of Jury, Not Judge: Associated Press: "The former neighborhood watch leader charged with fatally shooting a Florida teenager told a judge Tuesday that he agrees with his defense attorneys' decision not to seek an immunity hearing under the state's 'Stand Your Ground' self-defense law. Under questioning from Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, George Zimmerman repeatedly said 'yes' to a series of questions asking if he was aware he was giving up the right to a hearing before his second-degree murder trial in June. A judge would have sole discretion in an immunity hearing to decide if Zimmerman is exempt from culpability in the shooting. A jury would make the determination in the murder trial. ... [Defense attorney Mark] O'Mara, told the judge Tuesday there was nothing in the law that required the immunity hearing to take place before Zimmerman's trial and could be requested after prosecutors have presented their case. 'We'd much rather have the jury address the issue of criminal liability or lack thereof,' O'Mara said."

Apple's Share Buyback: Wall Street Journal: "Apple Inc. is selling $17 billion of bonds Tuesday, a record amount for a U.S. investment-grade corporate offering, according to investors familiar with the deal. The offering generated more than $50 billion in new orders, people familiar with the offering said. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the timing or specifics of the sale, other than to say that the company wants to return $100 billion to shareholders by the end of 2015 and is issuing debt to help fund that plan. Apple has a huge cash stockpile, but much of that cash is overseas. Raising money in the debt market would help Apple avoid the big tax bill that would come from bringing the cash back to the U.S., executives said last week. The largest investment-grade corporate-bond deal previously sold in the U.S. was a $16.5 billion offering in February 2009 from Roche Holdings Inc."

Congressional Spellcheck: Associated Press: "The tale of the missing 's' is about to end. The Senate and House moved on Tuesday to restore the missing letter to the word 'accounts' in a bill that will allow the Federal Aviation Administration to withdraw its furloughs of air traffic controllers. Lawmakers had rushed to pass the bill last week before lawmakers left town for their weeklong break. The typo had held up the bill and President Barack Obama was unable to sign it."

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