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    News Round-Up: Friday, January 17, 2014

    Friday, January 17th, 2014

    President Obama addresses the nation on NSA spying programs; the $1.1T spending bill will head to the White House; and a harsh Pennsylvania voter ID law is struck down by a state court judge. Meanwhile, FLOTUS turns 50 and fabulous!; Kim K flashes new photos of baby North; and the 2014 Sundance Film Festival commences.

    - Maura

    CRUCIAL

    Obama calls for significant changes in collection of phone records of U.S. citizens, http://rtvote.com/1adj0Ug 
    Addressing the nation Friday morning from the Department of Justice, President Obama called for new reforms to NSA spying programs on U.S. citizens. After a six-month controversy, the president has ordered significant changes to the way the NSA collects & uses telephone records of U.S. citizens. He also advocated to end eavesdropping on many foreign leaders and allies of our country in order to rebuild their trust in the U.S. intelligence community.

    With Senate’s OK, $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Heads to Obama,http://rtvote.com/1hywNEt
    The massive $1.1 trillion spending bill will now head to President Obama’s desk for a signature. The bill will prevent any gaps in government funding and provide a less harsh effect on automatic spending cuts. The Senate voted 72-26 to pass the spending legislation and reduce the likelihood of a government shutdown, at least for the upcoming election season.

    Putin: Gay people will be safe at Olympics if they ‘leave kids alone’http://rtvote.com/KnCoRK
    During a question and answer session Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, offered a statement that was apparently meant to be a reassuring answer for visitors to the Games. After being asked about Russia’s attitude toward gays, a controversial subject surround the upcoming events, Putin said that “one can feel calm and at ease. Just leave the kids alone.” Unfortunately Mr. Putin, I don’t think that’s the reassuring answer that most people were hoping for…

    Members of Congress Introduce New Fix For Voting Rights Act,http://rtvote.com/1m9ngUq
    Last summer the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when they released their ruling to the Shelby County v. Holder case. This ruling made it much easier for states with a history of discriminatory voting laws to enact new restrictive laws without federal supervision. Yesterday, the first bi-partisan solution was offered when legislation was introduced to help strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

    Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Struck Down, http://rtvote.com/19zLsPB
    Judge Bernard L. McGinley, a state court judge, struck down a controversial voter ID law in Pennsylvania Friday morning. After a twelve-day trial last summer debating the law, Judge McGinley ruled that the law placed an unreasonable burden on people trying to exercise their fundamental right to vote. 

    CULTURAL

    Kim Kardashian Shares New Pics of Baby North West, Talks Summer Wedding With Kanye West, http://rtvote.com/1avSIqX

    Michelle Obama Proudly Shows Off Her AARP Card on 50th Birthday,http://rtvote.com/1fFFqzJ

    Drake, Nina Dobrev, and More Degrassi Alums: Where are they now?,http://rtvote.com/1adbmcs

    Melissa McCarthy Returning to Host Saturday Night Live on February 1,http://rtvote.com/1jbj4GI

    Sundance 2014: Miles Teller Talks Divergent, Getting Naked in That Awkward Moment and His Rock Band Past, http://rtvote.com/KnzLzi

    Michelle Obama Turns 50! Let’s Look Back at FLOTUS’ Best Fashions So Far, http://rtvote.com/1jbjKvL

    Maura
    Bio: Maura graduated from the University of Dayton in 2011 with a BA in International Studies and French. During the course of her studies she was elected Student Body Vice President where she worked to make student activity funding more affordable & fair to the campus community. Following graduation, Maura joined the 2012 Obama Campaign as grassroots Field Organizer in Ohio (the battleground of all battleground states). She now continues her passion of engaging and building political power for young people with Rock the Vote.

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



    Update: North Carolina Voter ID Bill Passed

    Monday, July 29th, 2013

    Update from RTV Political Director, Amanda Brown on NC Bill:
    (see last week’s blog post for more information. )

    North Carolina’s uber controversial Voter ID Bill passed late Thursday night, becoming the first state in the nation to enact voting law changes without having prior approval from the federal government since the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act.

    The bill could potentially disenfranchise more than 300,000 North Carolina residents — by cutting a week off of early voting, eliminating same-day registration, reducing the types of IDs allowed to government-issued IDs only, and much more.The legislation is now on its way to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.

    Vote Suppressors – 1
    Voters – 0
    Maura
    Bio: Maura graduated from the University of Dayton in 2011 with a BA in International Studies and French. During the course of her studies she was elected Student Body Vice President where she worked to make student activity funding more affordable & fair to the campus community. Following graduation, Maura joined the 2012 Obama Campaign as grassroots Field Organizer in Ohio (the battleground of all battleground states). She now continues her passion of engaging and building political power for young people with Rock the Vote.

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



    Liberia’s Runoff Election

    Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

    In Liberia, the winner of an election is only determined if the candidate has been chosen by 50% plus one of the voting population. If none of the candidates are able to obtain this absolute majority then a runoff election is held soon after.

    On October 11, 2011, Liberia’s presidential election was held, yet neither Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf nor Ambassador Winston Tubman was able to obtain 50% plus one of the vote. As a result, a runoff election was held November 8, 2011.

    When the runoff was announced, the CDC, which is the political party of Ambassador Winston Tubman, refused to acknowledge it. Instead, the party told its supporters to boycott the runoff in the hopes that it would not take place. The CDC claimed the runoff was unfair, unnecessary and marred by irregularities, and that the results of the original election had been incorrectly tallied due to voter fraud.

    Despite there being no solid evidence of voter fraud, the CDC decided to take to the streets and protest the runoff this past Monday. Even though the election’s campaigning period had already ended, Tubman and his party advocated for the protest, asking its supporters to peacefully demonstrate. Yet, the demonstration turned ugly when protestors began throwing stones, petrol bombs and insults at pedestrians who were going about their daily business as the protest took place around them. The demonstrators also tried to protest at incumbent Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s home and when police intervened, even more chaos ensued. As a result, three people were found dead and several were wounded.

    This is troubling news for a country that was destroyed after a fourteen yearlong civil war. In my opinion, controversial legal issues should be handled through Liberia’s legal system, which is in place to resolve issues fairly and peacefully. As we saw this week, literally fighting for rights without filing a formal complaint just adds to the issue’s chaos. In the case of this protest, the only thing it caused was death and a reminder of Liberia’s bloody past.

    Despite the CDC’s protesting, the runoff still took place on Tuesday. I am glad my country has risen above this week’s bout of violence and continued with the election. For those who do not find it necessary to physically demonstrate, it is a symbolic showing that we believe in our country’s election system. After all, we must stay true to Liberia’s old saying that we are a “country of laws and not men.”

    isatu@rockthevote.com
    Bio: Isatu Ville has worked with the Liberian Council of Churches Youth Desk (LCCYD) and Federation of Liberia Youths (FLY) and is the current head the National Student Christian Council(NSCC). She is temporarily working at Rock the Vote before returning to Liberia.

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