The Daily Fix: Syria Holds Elections Amid Chaos, Nigeria Lifts Ban on #BringBackOurGirls Protests, and What the NSA Really Knows
In the areas of Syria that remain under government control, citizens went to the polls Tuesday to cast a ballot in what's being called a "blood election" by those opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
The vote is expected to give Assad another seven-year term, despite three years of chaos and bloodshed wrought by an insurgency and the subsequent government crackdown, The New York Times reported.
Voters reported feeling intimidated into casting a ballot at one of the more than 9,000 polling stations. State employees were bussed to the ballot box and ordered to vote. "Government warplanes whooshed over the city, and shelling and airstrikes could be heard from some rebel-held suburbs," the Times reported. No deaths were reported.
Citizens voted in the country's first election in more than five decades in which more than one candidate was on the ballot. Assad's opponents were little-known figures vetted by his government apparatus, "but both have praised him," the Times reported.
Though the outcome is a foregone conclusion, countless ballots won't be dropped in the box. Namely, those from the 160,000 who died in armed conflict over the past few years and the millions who have fled the country and live as refugees.
In other news...
- European Spending Spree: Instability in the Ukraine means America is pushing to shore up its allegiances in Europe amid tensions with Russia, so President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he’ll spend up to $1 billion to bolster NATO security. (via National Public Radio)
- #BringBackOurGirls Is Back: Nigerian officials are allowing peaceful rallies demanding the release of nearly 300 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Islamic militant group Boko Haram on April 14. The protests had been banned because police officials said they posed a “serious security threat.” (via BBC World Service)
- Climate Change Reality Check: GOP lawmakers have been citing a study challenging President Barack Obama’s new EPA rule, but the study is off-base, according to a fact-check by The Washington Post.
- Mystery Illness Kills Nearly 300: Saudi officials are raising the death toll of those killed by the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, to 282, which is about 100 more than initially thought. (via BBC World Service)
- NSA and Your Face: Want to know what the National Security Agency can do with the Internet photos it has been collecting? Ars Technica has a breakdown of all that domestic surveillance capability.
- Boosters of Vaccine Hysteria: There's no party affiliation when it comes to people who don't believe in administering childhood vaccines. (via Mother Jones)
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