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    News Round-Up: Thursday, October 17, 2013

    Thursday, October 17th, 2013

    Cory Booker, wins NJ Senate seat; a 16-day government shutdown ends; and Facebook loosens privacy rules for young teenagers. Meanwhile, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees are discussed, and Glee will be ending after season six.

    -Maura + Veronica

    CRUCIAL

    Shutdown Over, Government Slowly Gets Back to Normal, http://rtvote.com/1fFojwF
    After a 16-day shutdown, the United States government is back to work as of Thursday morning.  The political standoff ended shortly before the midnight deadline that would have frozen the country’s ability to borrow money.  This agreement will fund the government until January 15, 2014 and opens the doors to further budget negotiations in the weeks ahead.

    How Members of Congress Voted to End the Shutdownhttp://rtvote.com/1etRL5C
    The House voted last night to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling in a final tally of 285-144. A webpage published by the Washington Post allows citizens to easily view the results of the vote. Which way did your representative vote? 

    Slavery Still Grips Tens of Millions Worldwide, Report Says, http://rtvote.com/1etOrYj
    Slavery still exists worldwide and new reports highlights just how severe and widespread it is. In total, it is estimated that 29.8 million people are enslaved around the world. A revolutionary report on this issue, called the Global Slavery Index 2013, was just released. The report found that there are 162 countries with slavery, including the United States, Canada, and Western European nations.

    Facebook Eases Privacy Rules for Teenagers, http://rtvote.com/1gn5yz7
    Amid high profile debates over child bullying and sexual predators, Facebook announced Wednesday that it is loosening its privacy rules for teenagers on its site. Facebook described these changes (which allow post statuses, videos, and images to be seen by anyone) as giving more choices to 13-17 year olds. Others argue that Facebook’s requirement for people to post under their true identity places larger scale risks for young people using the website.

    2013 ELECTIONS
    New Jersey

    Cory Booker Wins Special Senate Electionhttp://rtvote.com/1fFqoIL
    Two-term New Jersey mayor Cory Booker was announced as a winner in the NJ Special Senate election late Wednesday evening.  With a 55%-44% lead and 99% precincts reporting, Republican opponent Steve Lonegan conceded. With an endorsement from President Obama and 1.5 million Twitter followers, Mr. Booker was a projected winner early on in the race. In his victory speech he declared: “If you voted for me, I will make you proud. If you didn’t vote for me, I will work every single day to earn your trust.”

    CULTURAL

    Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, LL Cool J among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees, http://rtvote.com/1etVccy

    Veteran character actor Ed Lauter dies at age 74, http://rtvote.com/1etV3FZ

    Kerry Washington To Host ‘SNL’ For The First Time Nov. 2, http://rtvote.com/19aHQzP

    Ryan Murphy: Glee Ending After Next Season, Series Finale Will “Honor” Cory Monteith”,http://rtvote.com/1fFu9hu

    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



    Want to Prevent the Next Shutdown? Register to Vote

    Friday, October 11th, 2013

    Walking home from the King Street, Alexandria metro station the other night, I passed a chalkboard street menu bearing the words “Special Deal for Members of Congress: 2X Entire Bill.” This is no anomaly – signs like this are sprouting up all over. I admit they are funny, but there’s no denying the brewing frustration with our government. I mean, come on—Americans currently prefer cockroaches, potholes, toenail fungus, and hipsters to our current Congress (although Congress still trumps Miley Cyrus. Way to go, America. Good job.).

    And yet I remain optimistic that our democracy will recover – even as #furloughbeards approach the tipping point of appropriate public hygiene.

    In just a few weeks, Virginians will head to the polls to elect a new Governor, and much more. The impact of this election will be huge: as chief executive of the commonwealth, the Governor of Virginia will oversee policies and programs from healthcare, to education, to transportation. And the three lucky fellas vying for your vote are Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, and Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis (all listed in alphabetical order by last name to avoid preference).

    But even if you haven’t been closely following this election, the timing of the Virginia gubernatorial could not be better. This is one of our country’s first major elections since the government shutdown, and the outcome could set a precedent for 2014.

    Our democracy was constructed to respond to the will of the people, and when the public gets agitated, our leaders get nervous (and let’s be honest, we’re more than a little peeved). When we stand united, We the People have a voice—and given the state of politics these days, I think it’s about time we use it. Now, more than ever, we need to remember the importance of civic participation, and the consequences of a government that doesn’t act in the interest of the American people.

    In times like these, young Americans are poised to motivate a substantial shift in the attitude of our elected officials—particularly in Virginia. Currently, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 make up 20% of the electorate. That’s one out of every five eligible voters. Right now, thousands of young people across the Commonwealth are registering their friends, knocking on doors, picking up phones. There is power in those numbers, and when we organize, our leaders get scared (Don’t believe me? Remember Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, KONY 2012, SOPA, The Human Rights Campaign….that list goes on).

    All this is to say that we Millennials have power and, given the right spark, we can set the world on fire (credit to the band Fun. for that line).

    Mission Impossible movies also come to mind. You know when Tom Cruise receives his assignment: “Your mission… should you choose to accept it….” I admit (though it’s hard), I’m no Tom Cruise, but we Millennials have the tools to organize. We have a reason to rally. This is our spark. And the final step is to accept the mission at hand and take action.

    So here’s your mission… should you choose to accept it.

    1) Register to vote (Deadline is Tuesday, Oct 15th. Don’t procrastinate with this one. It takes five minutes)

    2) Register your friends to vote (share this post on twitter or Facebook)

    3) Vote on November 5th (need a reminder? We got your back)

    No matter who you are or who you vote for, this fact remains: we will not have a voice in government unless we raise our voices now. The name of Virginia’s next governor is irrelevant if we don’t hold him accountable and pressure him to serve our interests. Regardless of political affiliation or campaign platform, we want to send the next governor into office with a clear mandate: don’t fuck around with Millennials.

    Our government isn’t exactly working for us right now (or anyone for that matter). How about we change that? Register to vote by Tuesday and join me at the polls on November 5th.

    (This post originally appeared on PolicyMic)

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

    Reflection & remembrance unfold on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; President Obama addresses the nation on Syria; new Apple iPhone price stirs concerns; and the NYC Democratic primary declares Bill de Blasio as the winner. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus gets naked; Emily Blunt is expecting her first child; and celebrities step out for the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.

    -Maura

    NEWS

    9/11 anniversary a time of remembrance, reflection, http://rtvote.com/17WQe4d
    Today the United States steps back from the brink of conflict with Syria to reflect and remember the nearly 3,000 victims from the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  In New York, hundreds of friends and families of the victims stood silently as bagpipes played in the background. President Obama marked the anniversary with a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.

    The Story of an Unsung 9/11 Hero, http://rtvote.com/17WQRe0
    On the anniversary of 9/11 the country is taking time to reflect on the many heroes that emerged from the crowd on that terrible day. One of those heroes was Benjamin Cark, a chef who saved hundreds of lives in the South Tower.

    Planned as Call to Act, Obama’s Speech Became a Plea for Time, http://rtvote.com/1ei7sQP
    President Obama addressed the nation on Tuesday evening from the East Room of the White House to discuss the U.S. response to the crisis in Syria. In his speech he postponed a vote in Congress that would have decided whether or not the U.S. takes military action in Syria. This delay was announced in order to allow more time to pursue diplomatic options.

    Apple falls on concern about iPhone pricing, http://rtvote.com/1ei6t2P
    Apple revealed two new iPhones on Tuesday that will cost a cool $549 without a two-year cell phone contract. Apple shares dropped more than 5% in afternoon trading on Wednesday over concerns that the new iPhone 5c is priced too high.  Analysts believe that it is too pricy to have appeal in emerging markets.

    ELECTIONS
    New York City

    DeBlasio tops NYC mayoral race; Spitzer loses, http://rtvote.com/15kl1JH
    With 98 percent of precincts reporting, de Blasio had 40.2 percent of the vote with former Comptroller Bill Thompson in second place at 26.2 percent. He easily topped his field of competitors in the Democratic primary to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    ENTERTAINMENT

    Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball Breaks Record for VEVO’s Most View Video, http://rtvote.com/17WNBz7

    Emily Blunt Pregnant, Expecting First Child With John Krasinski, http://rtvote.com/1ehZjM4

    2013 Toronto Film Festival: Star Sightings, http://rtvote.com/1ehZzL9

    Prince Harry and Prince William Broker 25 Billion Euro Deal During Fundraiser, http://rtvote.com/1ei09sh

    Sharon Osbourne Reveals Pre-Ozzy Fling With…Jay Leno, http://rtvote.com/17WPLyN

    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



    Why Voting Rights Aren’t Just for Old People

    Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

    By RTV Guest Blogger Dale Ho, ACLU Voting Rights Project (see bio below)

    In a continuation of trends from previous elections, voters under the age of 30 turned out in record numbers in last year’s election, leading many analysts to suggest that they played a decisive role in the presidential race.  But many of those young voters might not have been able to participate at all if the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down a crucial part of the federal Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) had been in effect last year.

    The Supreme Court in the Shelby County case, however, eliminated that crucial protection.  The Court declared that the part of the VRA that determines which states are subject to the preclearance requirement is out-of-date, and therefore unconstitutional, striking down the law. First, some background.  Earlier this week, the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder struck down a key provision of the VRA.  The provision of the VRA in question related to what’s known as federal “preclearance” of voting laws: the VRA required certain states and counties that have a history of voting discrimination – places like Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida – to get approval or preclearance from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws.  Over the past three decades, this provision of the VRA blocked over 700 discriminatory voting laws from going into effect.

    That decision could prove devastating for the voting rights of all citizens, particularly young voters. In last year’s presidential election alone, the VRA’s preclearance requirement enabled thousands of voters to cast a ballot free from discrimination or other interference.  For example, in one case being litigated by the ACLU, Texas attempted to implement a law that would have, among other things, prohibited voters from using student ID cards to verify their identities at the polls (but would have permitted the use of concealed handgun licenses).

    Thankfully, the VRA blocked that discriminatory law, and several others, in advance of the election.  But had the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County been in effect, an estimated 600,000 registered voters in Texas – who do not own the type of ID that Texas demanded at the polls – could have been denied their right to vote.  In addition to young voters, poor and elderly voters – who are less generally less likely to own a car (and thus, a driver’s license) – would also have been disproportionately affected.

    So why did the Supreme Court strike down this essential provision of the VRA?  The plaintiff in the case, Shelby County, Alabama, argued that it is unfair to require some states but not others to seek approval from the federal government before changing their voting laws.  A majority of the Court agreed.

    But that’s hardly a reason for scrapping a law that has and continues to do so much good.  If anything, the last election showed that we need more, rather than fewer, protections for our right to vote.  And, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted during the oral argument in Shelby County, the state of Alabama was found to have violated the Voting Rights Act over 100 times since 1982.  The fact that other states like Ohio or Pennsylvania have also engaged in bad behavior hardly seems like a reason for giving Alabama a free pass.

    Moreover, what was crucial about the VRA is that it blocked discriminatory voting laws before they went into effect.  Outside of the voting context, most anti-discrimination laws operate after discrimination has already occurred – say, if your employer pays you less because you’re a woman or you’re gay, you often sue afterwards, and then, if you prove your case, you then get awarded backpay.

    But that kind of process doesn’t work in the elections context – you can’t re-do a discriminatory election after the fact,  which is why it is so crucial to prevent discriminatory voting laws before they are implemented.  But now, after the Supreme Court’s decision, voters who suffer discrimination will generally only be able to sue after their voting rights have been infringed – and, even if they prove their case, we all will still have to live with the results of an unfair and unlawful election.

    The Supreme Court ignored that fact.  It also ignored its own precedent, as the Court had previously upheld the preclearance requirement as constitutional in four separate decisions spanning four decades.  And, the Court ignored the fact that strong bipartisan majorities in Congress – voted in favor of Section 5 and its geographic scope in 2006.  Young voters – like all Americans – have expressed profound disappointment about the inability of Democrats and Republicans to come together in Washington, but the near-unanimity about the continuing need for the VRA from both sides is remarkable.  In determining what to do next, we hope Congress will approach this issue with the same bipartisan spirit that it did when it last reauthorized the VRA seven years ago.

    Safeguarding the fundamental right to vote of all Americans – young and old alike – demands no less.

    Mr. Dale Ho’s Biography: Dale Ho is the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, where he supervises the ACLU’s docket of voting rights litigation. His work includes litigation under the Voting Rights Act; combating barriers to voter registration and ballot access; and expanding access to the franchise. Dale has testified on election reforms in various state legislatures around the country, and is a frequent commentator on voting rights issues, appearing on television programs including Hardball with Chris Matthews, Up with Chris Hayes, and ViewPoint with Elliot Spitzer. He is an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School, and has published over half a dozen academic articles in law reviews including the Florida Law Review, the Richmond Law Review, the Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal, and the Stanford Law & Policy Review. Prior to joining the ACLU, he was Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP; and a judicial law clerk, first to Judge Barbara S. Jones, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and then to Judge Robert S. Smith, New York Court of Appeals. Dale is a graduate of Yale Law School and Princeton University.
    Guest
    Bio: This is a guest blog account. Have a blog you want to share with the RTV community? E-mail us at streetteam@rockthevote.com and we'll go from there!

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