Obama Taps Kerry to Try to Close the Deal With Russia

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 10 2013 4:51 PM

Slatest PM: Obama Taps Kerry to Try to Close the Deal With Russia

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John Kerry testifies on Syria before the House Armed Services Committee on September 10, 2013 in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

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

Final Negotiations? Associated Press: "A State Department official says President Barack Obama is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to Switzerland this week to discuss a possible deal on Syria's chemical weapons with Russia's foreign minister. The official said Kerry would meet with Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday to try to reach a deal on a U.N. Security Council resolution that would require Syria to give up its chemical weapons or face consequences. ... The last-minute trip reflects a flurry of developments that have occurred since Russia said Monday it would push Syria to get rid of its chemical weapons stockpiles and Syria agreed."

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The U.N. Hurdle: New York Times: "The decision to work through the United Nations came after President Obama spoke Tuesday morning with President François Hollande of France and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, the White House official said. ... France has already begun to share a draft Security Council resolution on Syria, which members of the council were consulting about on Tuesday afternoon. 'Discussions have just begun,' said a United Nations diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity. 'We’re looking at a process that will last a few days.' But Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that it opposed any resolution that would authorize the use of force. ... Instead, Russia will propose a presidential statement, which is far less binding, calling on the secretary general and the organization that oversees the Chemical Weapons Convention to carry out the proposal to put Syria’s arsenal under international control."

Not Without Its Risks: Washington Post: "Syria has signaled that it may be willing to accept a Russian proposal ... in exchange for the United States agreeing not to launch strikes. If it goes through, it would be great news: taking a dangerous weapon off the battlefield and away from civilians, upholding the norm against chemical weapons and allowing the United States to back down from strikes. ... On the other hand, it’s early in this process and there’s a still-real possibility of a worst-case outcome. It’s a bad one. Now that Assad knows he can always delay strikes by simply promising to give up his chemical weapons, he doesn’t actually have to give them up. He just has to convince the United States that he might. Worse, he could reasonably conclude that, since pledges to give up his chemical weapons are his best deterrent against the United States, actually giving them up is the worst thing he could do. Better to hold on to them forever, lest he lose his one real point of leverage, and just keep bluffing."

It's Tuesday, September 10th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at@JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @Slatest.

The NSA Admission: Politico: "National Security Agency personnel regularly searched call tracking data using thousands of numbers that had not been vetted in accordance with court-ordered procedures, according to previously secret legal filings and court opinions released by the Obama administration Tuesday. The agency also falsely certified to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that analysts and technicians were complying with the court’s insistence that searches only be done with numbers that had a 'reasonable, articulable suspicion' of terrorism, according to a senior intelligence official who briefed reporters prior to release of the documents Tuesday."

Could Still Face Charges: CBS News: "Police investigating a domestic dispute between George Zimmerman and his estranged wife say video from Shellie Zimmerman's iPad may be crucial evidence in determining whether any charges are filed. Lake Mary Police Department spokesman Zach Hudson said Tuesday that the iPad captured video of the dispute, but the mobile device was in pieces and needed to be examined in a lab."

The Golden iPhone: Wall Street Journal: "Apple Inc. introduced two new iPhones on Tuesday in an effort to expand the company's reach into new markets while solidifying its foothold in high-end smartphones. Apple's handset lineup will include a less-expensive model, called the iPhone 5C, at $99 for 16 gigabytes with a two-year wireless-service contract, as well as with a new high-end phone called the iPhone 5S, at $199 for 16 GB with a contract. Both phones can be purchased Sept. 20 in the U.S. and other countries, including China. Customers can order the 5C starting Friday. ... The iPhone 5S—in luxury-styled gold, silver and dark gray—will include a fingerprint scanner called Touch ID that allows users to unlock their phones or make purchases from Apple's iTunes store by touching the home button."

Freeing the Taliban: NBC News: "Pakistan is set to release the Afghan Taliban’s former second-in-command to help facilitate the peace process in neighboring Afghanistan, a Pakistani official told NBC News on Tuesday. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was close to the Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who gave him his nom de guerre 'Baradar' or 'brother.' He was captured in Pakistan in 2010. ... Seven members of the Afghan Taliban have been let go by the Pakistanis in the last week."

Four Convicted in Brutal Gang Rape/Murder: Reuters: "Four men were convicted on Tuesday of the 'cold-blooded' murder of a woman who was raped and tortured on a bus in New Delhi, a crime that shook India and forced the country to confront sexual violence in a society undergoing wrenching change. The four—a bus cleaner, gym instructor, fruit seller and an unemployed man—face hanging, the maximum penalty for murder. The trial judge will hear prosecution and defense arguments on sentencing on Wednesday, when he could deliver his ruling. The minimum sentence the men could get is life imprisonment, two defense lawyers said."

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