Slatest PM: Our Latest Look at George W. Bush's Artwork

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 27 2013 4:48 PM

Slatest PM: New George W. Bush Cat Paintings! (and Some News From Syria)

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Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a immigration naturalization ceremony held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on July 10, 2013 in Dallas

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

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

You'll Get Your W. Paintings in a Minute, But First: Reuters: "Western forces could attack Syria within days, the United States and its allies have told rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, opening up new risks in a war that is spreading hatreds across the Middle East. Participants at a meeting in Istanbul told Reuters that U.S. and other diplomats warned Syrian opposition leaders on Monday to expect action that would punish Assad for poison gas attack—and to be ready to negotiate if his government sues for peace. The United States said its forces in the region were 'ready to go', but the White House insisted President Barack Obama was still considering various options, not just military force, and was not intent on bringing about 'regime change' in Damascus."

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Ready to Strike: Associated Press: "U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said U.S. military forces stand ready to strike Syria at once if President Barack Obama gives the order.... If Obama decides to order an attack against Syria, it would most likely involve sea-launched cruise missile attacks on Syrian military and communications targets. Hagel said the U.S. Navy had four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea positioned within range of targets inside Syria. U.S. warplanes were also in the region, he told BBC television during a visit to the southeast Asian nation of Brunei."

Legal Justification: Washington Post: "The administration is also debating an international legal justification for the attack, which is not likely to be approved by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia and China have vetoed several Syria-related resolutions. The NATO-led coalition air attack on Libya in 2011 had a U.N. mandate, but the 1999 NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia did not. NATO agreement is by consensus, following a request for action from a member state. Thus far, there has been no request from any of the alliance’s 28 members. ... The action contemplated would be calculated to meet U.S. and international legal tests without ending the civil war in Syria or forcing Assad from power, administration and congressional officials said."

Selling it to Americans: Politico: "As the White House weighs its options in Syria, Obama confronts the grim prospect of asking voters to grit their teeth and support yet another military engagement in a far-off Mideast nation, at a moment when the country seems anything but warm to the notion. The polls have been remarkable in their consistency, from one foreign conflict to the next: Americans don’t want to engage. They are suspicious of overseas entanglements, whether in the form of military action or funding for foreign aid. A big slice of the country — perhaps even a majority — wants the rest of the world to deal with its own problems. The most dramatic example of voters recoiling from a foreign war is related to Afghanistan: In June, less than 3 in 10 Americans told an ABC/Washington Post poll that the Afghan war had been worth fighting."

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It's Tuesday, August 27, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at@JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @Slatest.

Hasan Stays Silent: Associated Press: "The Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at Fort Hood decided not to call witnesses or testify Tuesday during his trial's penalty phase, which is his last chance to plead for his life before the jury begins deliberating whether to sentence him to death. Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is acting as his own attorney, told the judge he was resting his case without submitting evidence, calling witnesses or testifying in his own defense. ... [S]hortly after the jury left the courtroom, the judge asked Hasan more than two dozen questions in rapid fire, affirming that he knew what he was doing. His answers were succinct and just as rapid. 'It is my personal decision,' he said. 'It is free and voluntary.' ... [Judge Col. Tara Osborn] said closing arguments would begin Wednesday. Whether Hasan will address jurors then remains unclear."

Facebook's Transparency Report: Washington Post: "Facebook fielded requests from 74 countries for data on at least 38,000 users in the first half of 2013, the company said in its first report detailing the scale and scope of data requests it receives from governments around the world. The report, released Tuesday, covers every request the company has received from every government from January through June 30. Facebook said the report includes requests made for security reasons and for criminal cases. In the latter, the company may be asked, for example, to supply information to help authorities in robbery or kidnapping cases. ... The United States, by far, has sought the most user information from Facebook — from 11,000 to 12,000 requests for access to more than 20,000 accounts. Facebook said that it supplied data in roughly 79 percent of those cases."

Yosemite Wildfire Rages On: Los Angeles Times: "The massive Rim fire on Tuesday became the seventh-largest wildfire in California's history, and remained 20% contained as it burned in and around Yosemite National Park. According to an update from Cal Fire on Tuesday, the Rim fire had grown to roughly 179,500 acres, or 280 square miles, and more than 3,700 fire crews were fighting the blaze. The fire, which has already destroyed at least 23 structures and threatens two groves of giant sequoias, is now the seventh largest wildfire in "California's recorded history," according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. As of Monday evening, the Rim fire was already the 11th-largest wildfire in recent California history at nearly 161,000 acres. The new distinction came on Day 11 of the massive blaze. U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dick Fleishman said crews expected much of the same on the frontlines Tuesday. An overnight inversion layer once again kept smoke thick and low."

Into the Wild Suicide: USA Today: "An Arizona teenager found dead near his abandoned SUV in the woods of southern Oregon had been intrigued with the movie Into the Wild about a young man who goes into the wilderness, according to his father. The body of Johnathan Croom, 18, was found Monday about 1,000 feet from where his vehicle was found last week in Riddle, a town of 1,200 people just off the state's main north-south thoroughfare, Interstate 5, Douglas County sheriff's spokesman Dwes Hutson said in a statement. His death is being investigated as a suicide, the statement said."

The Battle of the Sexes: SI.com:" Billie Jean King has hit back at claims made in an ESPN report that her historic 1973 match against Bobby Riggs, known as 'The Battle of the Sexes,' was fixed. In the report, which aired Sunday on Outside the Lines, Hank Shaw, who served as an assistant golf pro in Tampa, Fla., 40 years ago, told ESPN that he overheard well-connected members of the mafia discussing a plan for Riggs to tank the match in order to satisfy a gambling debt. Shaw said he’s decided to come forward to get the story off his chest. 'This story is just ridiculous,' King said in a statement. 'I was on the court with Bobby and I know he was not tanking the match. I could see in his eyes and body language he wanted to win.'"

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