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Thursday, May 2, 2013

  • As U.S. Moves to Arm Syrian Rebels, Questions Raised About Reports of Chemical Weapons Attack

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    The Obama administration is reportedly close to begin arming Syrian rebels with "lethal weaponry" in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. The Washington Post reports President Obama will make a final decision in the coming weeks on what one official described as "assistance that has a direct military purpose." Syrian rebels have already asked Western backers for anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles. This comes as Israel and U.S. sources have accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons. On Tuesday, President Obama said chemical-weapon use in Syria would be a "game changer." We speak to Tracey Shelton, a GlobalPost senior correspondent covering Syria. Her most recent article is "Syria: The Horrific Chemical Weapons Attack that Probably Wasn’t a Chemical Weapons Attack." Last month, Shelton won a George Polk Award for "communicating the human tragedy of the conflict in Syria in a way that is impossible to ignore or forget."

  • Punishing Vieques: Puerto Rico Struggles With Contamination 10 Years After Activists Expel U.S. Navy

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    On the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, thousands are commemorating the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Navy stopped using their home as a bombing range. Since the 1940s, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of the island for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions. The bombing stopped after campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, but the island continues to suffer. At the current cleanup rate, the Navy says, it will take until 2025 to remove all the environmental damage left by more than 60 years of target practice. A fisherman recently discovered a giant unexploded bomb underwater. The island of about 10,000 people also lacks a hospital to treat illnesses such as asthma and cancer that may be attributed to the military’s former bombing activity. "We believe the military is really not interested in cleaning up Vieques and rather interested in continuing to punish Vieques for having thrown the U.S. Navy out in 2003," says Robert Rabin of the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques. "This is a process that we believe is happening with no real supervision, no genuine community participation." We also speak to Rep. José Serrano of New York, a native Puerto Rican.

  • Rep. José Serrano: Critical Latino Vote Has Changed the Equation in Washington’s Immigration Debate

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    Tens of thousands of immigrants took to the streets Wednesday to join in May Day marches and call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. People held massive demonstrations from Los Angeles to Alabama, to Chicago, to here in New York City. The rallies come as the immigration reform bill proposed by the Senate’s bipartisan "Gang of 8" now makes its way through the House. A working group there has proposed a plan that includes a requirement for immigrants to appear in federal court and plead guilty to breaking U.S. immigration law before they can begin their application for citizenship — a process expected to take at least a decade. For his part, President Obama is testing whether he can take a more public role in the immigration reform debate, an issue that will factor into his trip this week to Mexico and Costa Rica. We’re joined by Democratic Rep. José Serrano of New York.

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