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Daily News Flash with Robert Jensen on Syria Elections, US-Russia Relations, and Seattle’s Minimum Wage Raise

Uprising’s guest expert Robert Jensen, an author and professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, analyzes today’s news headlines:

Today is also election day in war-torn Syria with voting taking place only in government controlled areas. President Bashar Al Assad is expected to win by a wide margin, despite three years of harrowing violence in a conflict that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands. Assad’s campaign for reelection has been bolstered by international support from nations like Russia and Iran. The election takes place even as government forces continue to crack down hard against the rebellion. People in rebel controlled areas and refugees that have fled to neighboring countries without official papers, are not being allowed to vote. The press is reporting that the vote is being called a “blood election,” and a “farce.” Click here for an Al Jazeera America article about the story.

While Russia has played a huge role in fueling the Assad regime’s militarism, the US seems to be doing its level best to antagonize Russia in what many are calling a Cold War redux. President Barack Obama is in Eastern Europe for a four-day tour where he is reiterating US support for common national security interests. The New York Times is reporting that he plans to “ask Congress for $1 billion for a ‘European reassurance initiative’ that would increase the American troop presence in Eastern Europe with additional exercises and training, and would send American Navy ships more often to the Baltic and Black seas.” He also plans to meet with newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Click here for a New York Times article about the story.

Here in the US, Seattle’s City Council voted yesterday to pass a bill raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The city will now have, according to the LA Times, “the highest municipal minimum of any metropolis in the country and the rallying cry of fast-food workers and union organizers nationwide.” There are plenty of caveats to the law, including a lengthy phase-in period, and a last-minute addition allowing employers to pay lower so-called “training wages” to teens. Click here for an LA Times article about the story.