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    News Round-Up: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

    A Philadelphia high school drug ring is busted; violence escalates in South Sudan; and a man dealing fake art is arrested. Meanwhile, Lupita Nyong’o is named “Most Beautiful”; Drew Barrymore has her second child; and Justin Bieber gets in trouble for a seemingly honest mistake.

    - Veronica + Maura

    CRUCIAL

    Drug ring targeting top suburban Philly schools busted: http://rtvote.com/1lEO7Jd
    18-year-old Timothy Brooks and 25-year-old Neil Scott were caught Tuesday by the police along with eight other people. The business: selling drugs to students at some of the best high schools and colleges in the area. Brooks and Scott were the two at the center of the drug ring; Brooks supervised the eight “sub-dealers” who sold the drugs at school while Scott was in charge of shipping the drugs from California to Pennsylvania. The drug ring, allegedly dubbed the “Main Line Take-Over Project” (after affluent towns near Philadelphia, where the ring targeted), was responsible for selling marijuana, hash oil, cocaine, and ecstasy (or MDMA). The schools targeted included the Haverford School, Conestoga High School, Radnor High School, Harriton High School, and Lower Merion High School: all prestigious, wealthy schools with some of the highest standardized test scores in Pennsylvania.

    UN: South Sudan rebels separate residents by ethnicity, kill hundreds: http://rtvote.com/1iL2dsZ
    Rebels stormed the oil town Bentiu last week in South Sudan, separated the terrified citizens by ethnicity, and then killed at least 400 people. 200 were killed and 400 were wounded at one mosque alone. The attackers warned certain ethnic groups to leave town and that they should no longer stay in Bentiu. Men, women, and children were killed when they did not cheer and offer support for the rebel attackers. The conflict stems from an overarching power struggle between two South Sudanese ethnic groups: the Nuers and the Dinkas. The rebel leader, Riek Machar (Nuer) was accused by the existing President, Salva Kiir (Dinka), of trying to kick him out of power through a coup. Since the coup allegations, violence between military and civilians has dominated the nation.

    Indicted art dealer, painter were ‘masters of forgery and deceit’: http://rtvote.com/1tCgv3Y
    Jose Carlos Bergatiños Diaz, his brother, and other associates are accused of making $30 million by selling fake artwork for almost 20 years. Diaz and his associates convinced wealthy people and New York art galleries that he was selling real Rothkos and Pollocks paintings. In reality, the paintings sold were made by Pei Shen Qian, a Chinese painter found by Diaz on the Manhattan streets. The brothers were arrested in Spain and have been charged with conspiracy and money laundering. Qian, who authorities believe fled to China as the scheme began to fall apart, has been charged with lying to FBI agents and other conspiracy charges.

    Gun checks miss millions of fugitives: http://rtvote.com/1l1QiYH
    Law enforcement agencies who fail to provide the FBI and national fugitive databases with information on felons could enable those felons to access, purchase, and use guns. In 5 states alone, police forces failed to give the FBI information on more than 2.5 million people with arrest warrants. A large number of those unreported people are wanted for violent offences.  A possible reason for the lack of reporting is that most states do not want to spend the money to track fugitives across state lines. Most agencies therefore see no reason to report with the FBI (a national tracking database) because they have no intention of tracking the fugitives who have left the state.

    CULTURAL

    Lupita Nyong’o named People’s “Most Beautiful”: http://rtvote.com/Qy51zv

    Daniel Franzese (Damian from Mean Girls) comes out: http://rtvote.com/Ptxcym

    Drew Barrymore has her baby! Find out her adorable name! http://rtvote.com/1noPuQa

    Rehearsals for Pitch Perfect 2 have begun! http://rtvote.com/1hj8yvl

    Justin Bieber in hot water again- although this might have been an honest mistake: http://rtvote.com/1jB3QGv

    Veronica Barger
    Bio: Veronica is currently studying communications, law, economics, and government at American University in Washington, DC. Originally from New Jersey, she has held an interest in politics since the 2008 presidential election. Being a newly registered voter, she understands how important it is for young people to register to vote and have their voices heard. She looks to spread that message with Rock the Vote.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: Monday, January 27, 2014

    Monday, January 27th, 2014

    Multiple avalanches block a major road in Alaska; the motive behind Saturday’s Maryland mall shooting may be concealed in the shooter’s journal; a Congressman resigns; and a Penn State student is arrested on bomb charges. Meanwhile, the biggest night of music provided surprising wins, awesome fashion, and some awkward dance moves. Find out everything about the 2014 Grammy Awards right here!

    - Veronica + Maura 

    CRUCIAL

    Avalanches cut road travel to Valdez, Alaska: http://rtvote.com/M4WcdS
    Multiple avalanches have covered the only highway into Valdez, Alaska. Officials are urging residents to evacuate because water began to build up behind the debris and snow piles. A shelter has been created at a local high school for those who have chosen to evacuate their homes. The highway is expected to be closed for at least another week.

    Journal may reveal mall shooter’s motive: http://rtvote.com/1gjATmM
    The journal of 19-year-old Darion Marcus Aguilar, the gunman responsible for the Maryland mall shooting on Saturday, may provide details of his motive. The journal was taken from Aguilar’s home after police responded to a missing persons report: before his identity as the shooter had been confirmed. The journal was taken by a police officer who said it contained “enough disturbing information” to cause worry. The contents of the journal have not been released.

    Rep. Trey Radel to resign from Congress After Drug Plea: http://rtvote.com/1gjDnl6
    Representative Trey Radel, a Republican Congressman from Florida convicted of possessing cocaine in November, will resign from Congress. As a freshman congressman, Radel took time off to attend rehab and vowed to stay in office as he sought treatment. The House Ethics Committee, who was looking into Radel’s case to see if he had broken other laws, will lose jurisdiction over his case after his resignation. Many candidates have their eyes on potentially running for his seat, including state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and, possibly, former Representative Connie Mack.

    Penn State student arrested for constructing ‘weapons of mass destruction’: http://rtvote.com/1eaJkxA
    Eighteen year-old Vladislav Miftakhov was arrested when police, investigating his room for a marijuana-related claim, found two homemade bombs and bomb-making materials. The Russian college student was charged with “risking catastrophe” and “unlawful possession of weapons of mass destruction.” Miftakhov told authorities he intended to use the explosives at some point.

    CULTURAL

    The biggest night in music has come to an end: see the complete list of winners here! http://rtvote.com/1fhWCZk

    View photos of the Grammys biggest performances here: http://rtvote.com/1mOt9H7

    Who rocked the red carpet, and who hit a sour note; see the best and worst dressed stars from the 2014 Grammys: http://rtvote.com/LfHrF8

    Macklemore texts Kendrick Lamar after Grammy win: http://rtvote.com/1f2A91r

     

    Veronica Barger
    Bio: Veronica is currently studying communications, law, economics, and government at American University in Washington, DC. Originally from New Jersey, she has held an interest in politics since the 2008 presidential election. Being a newly registered voter, she understands how important it is for young people to register to vote and have their voices heard. She looks to spread that message with Rock the Vote.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: December 11, 2013

    Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

    The Nevada family that never returned from playing in the snow has been found and rescued; Senator Ted Cruz walks out on Cuban President Raul Castro’s speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service; and a family struggles to get people to help those with mental illnesses. Meanwhile, Demi Lovato talks about her struggles with cocaine addiction, and Kate Winslet gives birth to her first child!

    -Sandy + Maura

     

    CRUCIAL

    Meteor explodes over Arizona; big meteor shower begins,http://rtvote.com/IPLo1k
    A tremendous boom rattled the houses of residents in Tucson, Arizona. The largest meteor shower of the year, Geminid, seemed to be giving them a sneak preview. A dash cam caught the spectacular meteor on video. The Geminid meter shower officially starts Thursday.

    Senator’s chief of staff under investigation involving child porn allegations,http://rtvote.com/1jOt0od
    Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said Tuesday that law enforcement officials were searching the home of his chief of staff, Ryan Loskarn, regarding allegations involving child pornography. The Senator has placed Mr. Loskarn on administrative leave without pay. His office is fully cooperating with the investigation.

    Lost Nevada family warmed rocks by fire to survive snow for 2 days,http://rtvote.com/18C9iV8
    The Nevada family that went out to play in the snow and never returned has finally been found and rescued. James Glanton, 34, and his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, remained calm after their jeep overturned and slid down an embankment, trapping them in the cold weather. Glanton and McIntee cleverly warmed rocks to start a fire to keep the children, 3 to 10, warm at night. The hospital says they are stable with no frostbite, just some exposure issues.

    Sen. Cruz walks out on Castro speech at Mandela memorial,http://rtvote.com/18mkKcz
    Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, part of a Congressional delegation at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, walked out of the service when Cuban President Raul Castro took to the stage and delivered his speech. A spokesperson for Cruz stated they he hopes that Castro can learn from the lessons of Mandela by releasing his political prisoners and holding free elections for the Cuban people. Before eulogizing Mandela, President Obama shook Raul Castro’s hand – a remarkable gesture between the leaders of two nations that have not shared diplomacy in over half a century.

    ‘My Son is Mentally Ill’ So Listen Uphttp://rtvote.com/1iXk16p
    Stephanie Escamilla and her 14-year-old son tell their powerful story of having a family member who has a mental illness. They urge this nation and its people to stop neglecting those who are mentally ill. 1 in 4 American adults suffer from mental illness; 1 in 5 children have a mental disorder. Something has to be done for those who are oftentimes bullied, ignored, and marginalized in society for their condition.

     

    CULTURAL

    LeAnn Rimes Breaks Down in Tears Singing at American Country Awards,http://rtvote.com/1iXmKwx

    Demi Lovato Talks Past Drug Use: “I Couldn’t Go 30 Minutes to an Hour Without Cocaine,” http://rtvote.com/1gpHuev

    Kate Winslet Gives Birth to a Baby Boy, Her First child With Husband Ned Rocknroll, http://rtvote.com/1h0kjot

    Katy Perry: Russell Brand Wanted Me to Have Children as a Way of Control,http://rtvote.com/18mnd6H

    sandywu
    Bio:

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: November 6, 2013

    Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

    Results from the 2013 elections are analyzed after victors are announced—with wins by Christie, McAuliffe, and De Blasio capturing the headlines; talks of gay marriage being legal in Illinois emerge; and the mayor of Toronto publically admits to smoking crack. Meanwhile, excitement brews around the 2013 CMA’s and a Hunger Games star cuts off their hair (can you guess who?).

    - Sandy + Maura
    CRUCIAL

    Christie wins re-election; seen as prelude to 2016http://rtvote.com/1cEFYEh
    Last night, Republican incumbent Chris Christie won re-election in New Jersey’s governor race with the help of female and Hispanic voters, beating out Democratic Senator Barbara Buono with over 60% of the total votes. This sets Governor Christie up as a very possible Republican candidate to run for president in 2016. However, Christie has yet to reveal his plans for a presidential candidacy.

    De Blasio Is Elected New York City Mayor in Landslidehttp://rtvote.com/1cEG0fz
    Bill de Blasio won NYC’s mayoral race, defeating his opponent, Joseph J. Lhota, by a margin of 49 percentage points, with 99 percent of the votes counted. De Blasio, a supporter of very liberal change, won over many New Yorkers by acknowledging rising frustrations with income inequality, aggressive policing tactics, and lack of affordable housing. The new mayor will become the first Democrat to lead NY in a generation.

    Why Terry McAuliffe barely wonhttp://rtvote.com/19DNkV2
    In the days leading up to Election Day, public opinion polls showed that Democrat Terry McAuliffe had a very good lead on Republican Ken Cuccinelli for Virginia’s governor race. The final results pegged McAuliffe as the winner, but only by less than 3 percentage points leaving the race much closer than expected.

    Lawmakers approve gay marriage in Illinoishttp://rtvote.com/1hNol4Q
    Will Illinois be the 15th state to legalize gay marriage? It sure seems like it! Lawmakers approved a bill that extended the right to wed to same-sex couples yesterday. Governor Pat Quinn plans to sign the bill, which would go into effect on June 1, 2014.

    Toronto Mayor Admits Crack Use, as Wild Ride in Office Continueshttp://rtvote.com/1baaqkI
    Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, 44, is no stranger to public acts of drunken belligerence and other inappropriate behavior. In May, Ford denied smoking crack cocaine when questioned, but yesterday he officially admitted to using the drug. However, don’t expect him to be stepping down anytime soon. Up until this point, his right-of-center, suburban supporters have remained loyal. However, this most recent scandal may have been too much for his core constituency.

    CULTURAL

    Jennifer Lawrence Cuts Off Hair—See Pixie Cut on Hunger Games Star, http://rtvote.com/18ZxEHe

    Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz Tour Kicks Off on Valentine’s Day 2014, http://rtvote.com/17F8UtU

    CMA Awards Ballot: Who should/will win?, http://rtvote.com/HxFMIB

    Lady Gaga to Sing In Space in 2015, http://rtvote.com/1arWPT8

    Kris Jenner Celebrates 58th Birthday with Family, Given Cake with Her Face on it, http://rtvote.com/17N1zGz

    sandywu
    Bio:

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: November 1, 2013

    Friday, November 1st, 2013

    Food stamp cuts set in; a super-sophisticated secret underground tunnel used for smuggling drugs from Mexico to the U.S. is discovered; and the iPad Air makes its debut. Meanwhile, Heidi Klum officially wins the Most Awesome Celebrity award for her Halloween costume, and Kristin Stewart reunites with Robert Pattinson.

    -Sandy + Maura
     

    CRUCIAL

    Families brace as billions in food stamp cuts set inhttp://rtvote.com/1ahKIba
    Benefit cuts to food stamp recipients begin today. This comes from Congress’s decision to cut $5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in exchange for increased education funding and school nutrition programs. An increased number of needy Americans will turn to organizations that already provide meals to hungry citizens, like food pantries and the Campaign Against Hunger.

    US discovers huge hi-tech Mexican drug-smuggling tunnelhttp://rtvote.com/1hzxE8o
    Authorities have discovered one of the most sophisticated drug smuggling passages, running from warehouses in Tijuana to San Diego. The secret underground tunnel is the length of almost six football fields and is equipped with lighting, ventilation, and an electric rail system. Upon discovery, authorities found 8.5 tons of marijuana and 327 pounds of cocaine.

    Trick or treat? Canada seizes three cocaine-filled pumpkins at airporthttp://rtvote.com/1f8kcX6
    Canadian officials seized three pumpkins at the Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport. Cocaine-filled pumpkins, that is. Authorities found them while searching through a female traveler’s luggage. An investigation is currently underway.

    Internal notes show paltry initial enrollment in Obamacarehttp://rtvote.com/16SO7x0
    Notes from a “war room” meeting at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance revealed that only six Americans successfully enrolled in the federal health care exchange on the first day of the rollout. This number has been gradually increasing, and Joanne Peters, a Health and Human Services spokeswoman, is confident that the pace of enrollment will pick up.

    Best Deals for iPad Airhttp://rtvote.com/HsZRQG
    The new iPad Air debuts today – but before you whip out your wallet, make sure you read through this. Find out where and how to get the best deals on Apple’s latest gimmick.
     

    PUNDITS

    Senator Bernie Sanders discusses how our healthcare system could be more cost-effective without sacrificing programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in “Don’t cut the big benefit programs,”http://rtvote.com/1h614NS

    Facebook users and USA Today readers weigh in on HHS Secretary Sebelius’s apology at Wednesday’s congressional hearing in “Should Sebelius step down for Obamacare woes?” http://rtvote.com/17xwg4F

    CULTURAL

    Heidi Klum goes geriatric for Halloween, http://rtvote.com/1hzs7Pq

    Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Sue YouTube Cofounder Over Leaked Proposal Footage,http://rtvote.com/1bJBE1x

    Kristen Stewart Spends Time With Robert Pattinson at His House: All the Details and New Photos,http://rtvote.com/17BSr7D

    Pamela Anderson Chops Off Hair, Is Unrecognizable With New Pixie Cut, http://rtvote.com/16SVUuS

    sandywu
    Bio:

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com