Inside Politics

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Lew: Matter of time before Assad falls

President Obama’s chief of staff says it’s only a matter of time before the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad collapses.

Jacob Lew says the U.S. and its allies have brought “serious financial pressure” on Syria and that Mr. Assad’s government is “feeling it.”

While the violence continues as rebels try to topple Mr. Assad, Mr. Lew says the transition “from tyranny to democracy is very hard.” Mr. Lew says the Syrian people “have to handle this in a way that works in Syria.”

Mr. Lew told “Fox News Sunday” that “the brutality of the Assad regime is unacceptable and has to end.” He says the U.S. is pursuing “all avenues that we can” and that “there is no question that this regime will come to an end. The only question is when.”


Navy names ship after Arizona’s Giffords

Gabrielle Giffords, the recently retired congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in an assassination attempt 13 months ago, returned to Washington on Friday for double honors. The Navy named a ship after her, and she saw President Obama sign into law the last piece of legislation she wrote.

In a ceremony at the Pentagon, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus unveiled an artist’s rendering of the USS Gabrielle Giffords, a littoral combat ship. The craft is among the Navy’s most versatile and can operate in shallower coastal waters than larger ships.

“God bless the USS Gabrielle Giffords and all who sail in her,” Mr. Mabus said at the ceremony.

Ms. Giffords was shot in the head in January 2011 as she met with constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz. Twelve others also were wounded in the rampage that left six dead, including a federal judge, a Giffords aide and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who had an interest in government and politics and wanted to hear Ms. Giffords speak.

At Friday’s ceremony, Mr. Mabus announced that Christina Taylor’s mother, Roxanna, is the ship’s “sponsor.” Green’s initials will be welded into the ship’s keel.

In the months since she was shot, Ms. Giffords, 41, has been treated in Houston as well as Arizona as she re-learned how to walk and speak. Her progress had seemed remarkable, but she resigned from Congress last month to concentrate on her recovery. Giffords stepped down on the day the House passed her bill by a vote of 428-0.

The legislation Mr. Obama signed Friday increases the penalties for using ultralight aircraft when smuggling drugs into the country. The small, single-seat planes are an increasingly favored tool smugglers use to fly at night and then release their haul without detection.

Mr. Obama said he told Ms. Giffords he expected to see more of her in the months and years to come.

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