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    News Round-Up: Friday, January 31, 2014

    Friday, January 31st, 2014

    Amanda Knox is convicted of murder in an Italian court…again; U.S. is seeking the death penalty against the Boston Marathon Bombings suspect; and Ukraine’s president signs an amnesty agreement after protests become extremely violent and deadly. Meanwhile, one of the NYC Real Housewives gets a divorce; The Amazing Spider-Man 2 teaser trailer is released; and Miley gives some advice to Bieber on getting in trouble.

    - Maura 

    CRUCIAL 

    Amanda Knox: ‘I Will Never Willingly Go Back’, http://rtvote.com/1dSsHCb
    After 11 hours of deliberation, Italian jurors came down with a guilty verdict for American Amanda Knox (26 years old) and Italian born Raffaele Sollecito (29 years old), for the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2007. This is the fourth ruling in the case and the second time that the court has decided to convict them of murder. In an emotional interview Friday, Knox said that she did not expect the verdict and vowed that she would never “willingly go back” to Italy.

    U.S. Is Seeking Death Penalty in Boston Case, http://rtvote.com/1hXDNdD
    On Thursday The Justice Department announced that it would seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tzarnaev, the man accused of killing and maiming participants and spectators at the Boston Marathon last April. Citing that Tsarnaev showed no remorse for the attacks and that the youngest victim was 8 years-old, prosecutors argued that the death penalty was warranted.

    Dow Tumbles: Stock Roller Coaster in Dive Mode, http://rtvote.com/1iTViPx
    New worries about the economy emerge as stocks fall sharply on Wall Street wrapping up the month of January. For the first time since 2010 the S&P 500’s might close in the negatives—a poor start that history says could be a bad omen for the rest of the year. When the first month of the year is negative the chances of finishing the full year in the plus column drop to 50-50 according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac. I guess only time will tell!

    Ukraine Activist Says He was Abducted and Tortured, http://rtvote.com/LhRbhj
    After Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a trade deal in November with the EU in favor of closer economic ties with Russia, protests against the president spilled into the streets. But, since January 22, protests have turned violent with at least 3 protesters and 3 police officers dead and a leading Ukraine activist who says he was abducted, tortured, and left to die in the cold. Today, President Yanukovych has signed an amnesty for protestors and the repeal of harsh anti-protest-laws.
     

    CULTURAL

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Super Bowl Teaser Trailer, http://rtvote.com/1bdTVqc

    Zac Efron Was on a Six-Week Liquid Food Diet After Breaking His Jaw, http://rtvote.com/1edNlTp

    Ramona Singer Slams Jill Zarin: She’s Using My Divorce to “Try to Make Herself Relevant”, http://rtvote.com/1aMSkKi

    Miley Cyrus Gives Justin Bieber Advice: “Pay People to Make Sure You Don’t Get In Trouble”, http://rtvote.com/1kkXtd5

    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



    News Round-Up: November 8, 2013

    Friday, November 8th, 2013

    October tells a surprisingly positive story of job growth; the strongest tropical cyclone in history hits the Philippines; and Toronto mayor Rob Ford keeps finding himself in trouble. Meanwhile, Johnny Galecki finally spills on the secret relationship he shared with Kaley Cuoco, and Renee Zellweger shoots down anorexic rumors like a boss.

    -Sandy + Maura

     

    CRUCIAL

    U.S. added surprisingly strong 204,000 jobs in October, http://rtvote.com/1bieyPr
    Despite the 16-day government shutdown, the U.S. economy added 204,000 jobs in October. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose from 7.2% to 7.3% in September, but that was most likely due to the temporarily furloughed federal workers. October’s surprising job growth was an encouraging sign that many companies just shrugged off the shutdown and continued to accelerate their activity.

    Obama says he is sorry for ‘You can keep it’ declaration, http://rtvote.com/HD0GWV
    In a NBC interview Thursday, President Obama apologized that some Americans were forced to lose their current healthcare plan as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Previously, the president assured Americans that they could keep their current plans if they did not change since the passing of the ACA. After receiving heavy criticism for that statement, Obama reminded us that those whose plans would be cancelled will be receiving much better healthcare policies at the same or cheaper rates.

    Super Typhoon Haiyan, perhaps strongest ever, plows across Philippineshttp://rtvote.com/1cIzKTT
    Super Typhoon Haiyan is a Category 5 hurricane that first hit Samar, Philippines, at 4:30 AM Friday. It may be the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in recorded history. Officials are trying to determine the extent of the damage Haiyan has done thus far, but what they do know for sure is that Haiyan poses a very real danger. Three people have been reported dead, and seven are injured. Among the most vulnerable are people living in tents on the island of Bohol, where a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit last month. As Haiyan continues on its path, Rock the Vote sends its warmest wishes to those being affected by the storm. Stay safe, everyone.

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in video murder ranthttp://rtvote.com/18diPkJ
    And it just keeps getting worse. A video has been leaked, showing infamous mayor Rob Ford making threats to murder an unknown person. Ford has apologized, but this latest incident comes after he admitted to smoking crack cocaine earlier this week. On Sunday, he acknowledged on his radio show that he has a drinking problem. Nonetheless, he will not step down from office; councilors are increasing their calls for Ford to resign.

    Satellite falling to Earthhttp://rtvote.com/17jsT0T
    Watch where you’re going! A European satellite has run out of fuel, and fragments of the disintegrating, 2000-pound spacecraft will strike Earth’s surface within the next few days. The only problem? Nobody really knows where or when they will hit. The European Space Agency said the parts are likely to hit the ocean or unpopulated areas. In case they’re wrong, I would advise you to keep an eye out for any objects hurdling through the sky this weekend (and get out of the way).

     

    CULTURAL

    Johnny Galecki Talks About Secret Romance With Kaley Cuoco: “She’s Part of My Life,”http://rtvote.com/1fp4sz0

    Renee Zellweger Is Not Anorexic, Goes to the Gym to Keep Her “Sanity,” http://rtvote.com/16N2aHC

    Selena Gomez Says She’s Single and Having the “Best Year” Ever, http://rtvote.com/16N2hTB

    Justin Bieber Filmed Sleeping in Bed by Brazilian Girl, http://rtvote.com/1acCULt

    sandywu
    Bio:

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



    Issue Analysis: College Affordability and the Growing Cost of Education

    Thursday, August 29th, 2013

    The problem of college affordability is not a new preoccupation in America. In fact, scholars have been tracing this growing issue since the late 1990s. Today the major components of the problem remain the same, concerns about: the growing cost of education, student indebtedness and the financialization of higher education.

    The Growing Cost of Education:

    It is impossible to deny that the cost of education has increased over the years. According to the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of attending a 4-year, either public or private, institution doubled between 1990 and 2010. And according to the research, the cost also doubled for the same data set between 1980 and 1990. The difference between the 1990s and now, however, is context. Over the last decade our economy has suffered through a national terror attack, two wars, numerous natural disasters, labor outsourcing via globalization, a housing market collapse, a recession, and we finally became cognizant of corporate deregulation and the extent to which corporations were extracting economic rents from our economy. These events, especially the latter ones, have directly contributed to the ever-growing income divide in our nation, which compounds the college affordably question, including the lower and middle class’ ability to pay.

    Institutions claim that the cost of education is rising because state and federal governments have slashed spending on higher education and as a result, that cost has been transferred to students. While this is true in most places across America, there are other factors that subscribe to rising costs. Athletic programs, extravagant recreational facilities, and specialized food services have all contributed to growing costs. Moreover, basic economic theory tells us that colleges have an incentive to limit access to their universities by keeping costs high. When a product, like higher education, is costly, demand is higher than universities that are not as expensive. In this way, universities can use an economic factor, like cost, to increase their selectivity.

    Additionally, non-classroom costs, like administrative overhead and payrolls, have ballooned, adding another line item to student’s college bills. Professor salaries have not increased with administrative salaries and higher college costs, which makes us question a university’s intent and, what appears to be, unbalanced fiscal allocations.

    From a policy standpoint, Congress needs to take steps to ensure that colleges are held accountable for their soaring costs. The value-add of an expensive college should be palpable immediately after a student graduates from the institution in the form of transferable skills, job prospects, and career guidance. But, instead, universities are spending on ostentatious dining and athletic facilities for the student’s in-residence use, a venture that has marginal impact on a student’s return on investment post-graduation. Policymakers can financially incentivize universities to tie their costs to their post-graduates’ success levels. This will 1) hold colleges accountable for their costs and 2) improve college effectiveness with emphasis on post-graduate opportunities.

    The key to understanding the growing cost of education is internalizing that higher education is a business that provides a specific, and in most cases, covenanted product. Like all consumer products the government and the citizenry should hold educational enterprises accountable for the effectiveness of their product.

    Amanda Hall
    Bio: Amanda earned a B.A. in Classics and a minor in International Studies from Dartmouth College. After graduating, Amanda joined the Teach For America New York Corps and concurrently earned an M.A in Education at Fordham University. She taught 6th-8th grade Special Education in the South Bronx. From this experience, Amanda became deeply invested not only in education equality but also income equality and civic engagement. This summer Amanda is working closely with the National Political Director of Rock the Vote. In the Fall, she will begin a dual Master’s degree in International and World History at Columbia University and the London School of Economics.
    @amandajoycehall
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    A Visit to the White House: Signing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act into Law

    Monday, August 12th, 2013

    On Friday, I accompanied the National Political Director of Rock the Vote, Amanda Brown, to the White House to watch President Obama sign the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act into law. We arrived at the White House in the early afternoon, swiftly moved through security, and proceeded to the West Wing where we were cordially greeted by White House staff. After giving up our cell phones, we were ushered into the Roosevelt room, where we mingled with Senators, advocates, and students who supported the bill.  Along with meeting Senators Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Angus King (Maine), I had the pleasure of meeting my own homestate Senator, Dick Durban (Illinois). After chatting it up with the group, the White House staff directed us into a small corridor that connected the Roosevelt room to the President’s office. There, we waited for the President to open the door and welcome us into the Oval Office. He greeted us with a pleasant “Hello there!” and shook each of our hands as we introduced ourselves. Thereafter, we surrounded the desk and watched the President sign his name on the bill, one pen at a time. Over the cacophony of cameras snapping photos, the President made jokes mentioning that it felt really good to sign a bipartisan bill. It isn’t something he’s done in a while, “hint, hint,” he urged. We concluded our visit by taking a photo with the President and doing an interview with White House staff.

    The student loan bill is a bipartisan bill that links student loan rates to the market’s interest rates. As the economy improves, the present rates which are 3.9% for undergraduates and 5.4% for graduate students, will also increase but will be capped at 8.25%. When Congress failed to come to a consensus in late July, student loan rates doubled to more than 6% with no foresight on what the interest rate forecast would look like in coming years.

    As a graduate student with undergraduate and graduate loans, the outcome of this bill and subsequent congressional conversations directly affect me. This bill is not ideal – as a self-interested student, I want the lowest interest rate possible. As the economy starts improving, my rates will increase and that’s unsettling! An interest rate increase only becomes warranted when the job market shows the same improvement that economy shows. And in the last few months we haven’t seen that correlation. Instead, what we’ve seen is an increase in economic growth and recovery coupled with relative stagnation in the job market. Fortunately, the interest cap is helpful because it allows students like me to envision our worst-case loan-debt scenario and make risk-adjusted financial decisions accordingly. From a historical perspective the student loan bill is symbolic for two reasons: First, it creates a space for long overdue conversations about the student debt crisis, college affordability, and educational equality. Second, this example of bipartisan support and congressional collaboration represents a glimmer of hope for citizens who have found themselves disenchanted with the democratic process because of partisanship and months of gridlock on the Hill.

    Amanda Hall
    Bio: Amanda earned a B.A. in Classics and a minor in International Studies from Dartmouth College. After graduating, Amanda joined the Teach For America New York Corps and concurrently earned an M.A in Education at Fordham University. She taught 6th-8th grade Special Education in the South Bronx. From this experience, Amanda became deeply invested not only in education equality but also income equality and civic engagement. This summer Amanda is working closely with the National Political Director of Rock the Vote. In the Fall, she will begin a dual Master’s degree in International and World History at Columbia University and the London School of Economics.
    @amandajoycehall
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: Friday, June 7, 2013

    Friday, June 7th, 2013

    The U.S. declassifies phone program details; the U.S. economy adds 175K jobs; Prince Philip enters hospital for surgery; the U.S. mines data from 9 domestic internet companies; Turkey’s Prime Minister says protests need to stop; the president of France calls for the release of two French journalists in Syria; the U.S. and China meet in California for an informal summit; and immigration reform could provide economic growth according to the National Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Meanwhile, Mel Brooks is honored with the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, and Justin Bieber cancels tour stop in Venezuela.

    Maura + Alexis

    CRUCIAL:

    US Declassifies Phone Program Details After Uproar, http://apne.ws/13pev1y
    Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denounced Thursday the leaks of highly classified documents that revealed the programs and warned that America’s security will suffer. He claimed, “The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.” He said that this clandestine practice would alter the behavior of U.S. enemies and make it more difficult to understand their intentions.

    US Employers add 175K Jobs, Rate up to 7.6 pct.,
    http://bit.ly/16PpLsV
    The U.S. economy was responsible for adding 175,000 jobs in May. Despite spending cuts and higher taxes, the job market maintains a healthy outlook. Unemployment rose from 7.5 percent to 7.6 percent in April, according to the records of the Labor Department; however, the increase in unemployment was due to the fact that more people have begun looking for work – a good sign.

    Prince Philip Enters Hospital in London for Surgery,
    http://nyti.ms/15Rw5wl
    Just a day after attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace, Prince Philip was admitted to a hospital in London Friday for surgery. Reports say the 92-year-old prince is in “very good health,” and that the surgery was planned long in advance.

    U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program, http://wapo.st/1888aNr
    The National Security Agency as well as the FBI are tapping into the central servers of nine, big, U.S. internet companies. The program, provided with the code name “PRISM”, is just now being made public. The program was launched from the remains of President George W. Bush’s domestic surveillance program in 2007. The approved program works primarily with foreign communications traffic that frequently flows through U.S. servers.

    Turkey’s Erdogan says he won’t yield ground to protesters,
    http://wapo.st/189LnRi
    Turkey’s Prime Minister returned Friday from his trip to Africa and immediately addressed his people saying that he has no tolerance for the protests going on and that they all must stop. He has promised to move forward with plans to raze Gezi Park despite all objections.

    French president urges release of 2 journalists believed at risk in Syria,  http://fxn.ws/11oufPq
    French President Francois Hollande called Friday for the release of two French journalists that went missing in Syria. Hollande is visiting Tokyo on a state visit, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to help him resolve the crisis and bring the journalists home safely.

    US-Chinese summit aimed at building a ‘new type of great power relationship’,
    http://nbcnews.to/18SUPFC
    President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Friday and Saturday at Sunnylands, a retreat in California, for an informal summit to promote U.S.-China relations. The summit is meant to be informal so that issues of protocol do not get in the way. President Xi’s willingness to forgo formality shows the relaxed style that he has subscribed to since becoming head of state in March. The summit is expected to be “groundbreaking in U.S.-China relations.”

    Awaiting Immigration Reform, http://nyti.ms/192OREK
    According to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, immigration reform has the potential to benefit the real estate and mortgage markets in the U.S. If Congress approves legislation that would grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants, it is expected that the number of homebuyers will increase by three million. This increase in home purchases would generate about $500 billion in new mortgages. This change would be expected over the next 5 to 10 years.

    CULTURAL:

    Paris Jackson: Prince Michael Steps Out in Wake of Sister’s Alleged Suicide Attempt as Marilyn Manson Dedicates Song to Her, http://eonli.ne/19P9TW8

    Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban Perform “Highway Don’t Care” at CMA Fest 2013—Watch Now, http://eonli.ne/15H3JnE

    Mel Brooks Honored With AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, http://eonli.ne/19OXbH2

    Child Stars Who Quit Acting, http://huff.to/12veRae

    Justin Bieber’s Venezuelan Fans Upset Over Tour Snub, http://huff.to/12wpABx

    alexis.m@rockthevote.com
    Bio: My name is Alexis Macdermott and I will be starting my third year at Duke University this fall. I am currently pursuing a major in psychology and a minor in economics. I am a native of Southwest Florida and am an avid runner and film enthusiast. I look forward to joining the Marketing and Communications team for the summer here at RTV!

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