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    News Round-Up: Monday, February 3, 2014

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    A man was arrested for threatening a former President; a Super Bowl commercial sparks controversy; a convicted murderer escapes a Michigan prison, a man lost at sea for over a year is found; and a new report sheds light on the controversial Keystone Pipeline. Meanwhile, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his NYC apartment; J.K. Rowling drops a Harry Potter bombshell; and the Super Bowl spawned some decent commercials and social media moments.

    - Veronica + Maura 


    Man arrested after allegedly threatening to kill George W. Bush: http://rtvote.com/LrGlW4
    A New York man threatened to kill former President George W. Bush on Friday. Allegedly, the man, Benjamin Smith, had an interest in one of Bush’s daughters, Barbara. Smith’s mother alerted police after she found a note discussing his plans and discovered that a rifle was missing from their home. Police found Smith in Manhattan with a loaded rifle, ammunition boxes, gasoline, and a machete and arrested him.

    Coca-Cola “America” ad sparks strong reactions: http://rtvote.com/1gGGPqa
    The Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in eight different languages has sparked controversy around the Internet. People took to Twitter and Facebook to express their opinions. Some criticized the linguistic diversity, saying basically that “in America, we speak English.” Others, however, praised the commercial, saying it was an accurate portrayal of American diversity. Coca-Cola plans to air a longer version of the commercial during the Sochi Olympics. 

    Killer escapes Michigan prison, briefly abducts woman: http://rtvote.com/1ekLPPv
    A search that began in Michigan has become nationwide after a Michigan prisoner had escaped on Sunday. The man, 40-year-old Michael David Elliot allegedly escaped from Iona Correctional Facility by escaping through a hole in the fence. He then kidnapped a woman; she escaped and called police when he stopped to buy gas.

    Marshall Islands castaway details fishing trip gone awry: http://rtvote.com/1nIT1as
    Jose Salvador Alvarenga was found on the Marshall Islands a year after his disappearance. He said after his rescue that he and his traveling partner were blown off course when the fishing boat they were in lost engine power. His traveling companion starved to death after four months, but Alvarenga survived on fish, rainwater, and turtles, among other things. Police are trying to confirm his story while he seeks medical attention.

    Report: Keystone pipeline would have minimal environmental impact: http://rtvote.com/1lx7B6x
    According to a new State Department report, the highly controversial Keystone Pipeline will not have significant environmental effects. This could cause more pressure for President Obama to approve it. Republicans and moderate Democrats are excited, calling on the President to approve the pipeline for the jobs it could create. Environmentalists and Democrats, however, say that the report has failed to recognize the environmental impact of the initial oil extraction. If President Obama approves the pipeline, he could garner more support from the GOP House.


    The 10 best social media moments from Super Bowl XLVIII: http://rtvote.com/1dmjzpl

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, dead at age 46: http://rtvote.com/1eN7FpJ

    J.K. Rowling drops a Harry Potter bombshell: http://rtvote.com/1esTf1A

    Super Bowl recap- see the best commercials here: http://rtvote.com/1k49yWi

    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


    Thursday, March 1st, 2012

    Britain has removed its embassy from Damascus while rebels retreat from another Syrian city; states will work to drug test welfare recipients; the oldest couple ever gets married; a federal judge is caught sending a racist joke to friends about President Obama; and a court will announce its decision on a Florida voting rights case today. Additionally, President Obama claims he has known about Jeremy Lin’s talents for a while; Andrew Breitbart dies; and Tim Tebow goes on a date with Taylor Swift.


    Syrian rebels reportedly retreat from Bab Amr in face of army onslaught http://wapo.st/yRzEgP
    Syrian resistance fighters are staging a tactical retreat from the Bab Amr area. After heavy shelling from Assad forces, the rebels have decided it was not in the citizens’ best interest for them to remain in the area. The
    region lacks food, medicine, and weapons needed for protection. Also, Britain has closed its embassy in Damascus in order to protect their employees there. However, they will continue to pressure the Assad regime to end the current spat of violence.

    States consider drug testing welfare recipients http://usat.ly/zArJnV
    Florida has put in place a law to drug test every person attempting to receive welfare, while Missouri and Arizona have passed laws that will allow them to test people who they are suspicious of using drugs. The bills would require individuals to pay for the drug test and if they pass, they would be reimbursed for the costs. The idea is that these laws would prevent drug use and welfare fraud. Opponents of these bills feel they are unnecessary intrusions into the personal lives of the poor. Additionally, this would set the precedent of drug testing others who receive government funds such as soldiers and college students.

    Ben Bernanke strikes cautious tone amid signs economic recovery accelerating http://wapo.st/yGJMRO
    Chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, is impressed with the growth and stability of the US economy as of late. Right now, the recovery is accelerating, European markets are starting to settle and the jobless rateis dropping. However, other indicators show that this may not be permanent.Local governments are laying off workers, it is still hard to get credit, the housing market has yet to fully recover and the prices of gasoline are rapidly increasing. The Fed has predicted that by 2014 the unemployment rate might fall to under 7 percent.

    Elderly couple’s wedding may be one for the record books http://usat.ly/zZCxKF
    A 98 year-old man married his 95 year-old beau on Wednesday. The couple, who tied the knot on leap day, are probably the oldest couple ever to be married, surpassing a French couple by about two years. The California couple, a widow and a widower, met 18 years ago on Yom Kippur. They never intended on getting married but after almost two decades of “living in sin” they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. After the two minute civil ceremony, the newlyweds celebrated by grabbing lunch at a nearby International House of Pancakes.

    Egypt’s rulers face backlash after lifting travel ban on Americans http://bit.ly/zrE63p
    Egyptians are not happy that their government has reneged on their plans to prosecute Americans and limit their travels. Previously, the Egyptian government filed charges against several foreign NGOs, accusing them of being American agents and then banning their travel outside of the nation. But since that decision, America has placed a ton of pressure on the current rulers. It has threatened to pull its more than $1 billion in aid to the Egyptian Army. Egyptian citizens are disappointed and feel that this shows that the new rulers are no more independent than Mubarak’s regime.

    Federal judge forwards racially charged email about Obama http://bit.ly/wf2sKb
    Chief US Judge Richard Cebull admitted to forwarding a racist joke about President Obama to several friends. Some of those friends then forwarded the e-mail on and did not take off Cebull’s name from the e-mail. The judge who was initially appointed by George W. Bush apologized for the e-mail. Additionally, he said that he did not forward the e-mail because of its racist nature but because it was anti-Obama. Critics of the e-mail feel that it puts into question whether Cebull can rule fairly on issues of race.

    Romney Sets Off Furor on Contraception Bill http://nyti.ms/z0jt58
    Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney came out against a Senate Bill that would allow employers to limit coverage if they have a moral or religious objective to the procedures. This bill is a cause many conservatives are behind and this stance would probably put Romney’s conservative credentials further into question. But when re-asked about the issue, Romney and his aides then said he was in favor of it. Critics of this bill feel that it would infringe on individual rights while supporters feel it protects religious rights.

    Cuba drills for oil, but U.S. unprepared for spill http://wapo.st/zqBIaE
    Cuba has enlisted companies from several nations to look into drilling for oil on its coast in the Atlantic Ocean. This is a frightening development for American environmentalists. The two nations are very close to each other
    and if a spill occurs during Cuban drilling then the Florida coast would be affected. Further complicating this issue is that the US embargo on Cuba is still going strong. Therefore, US officials are not allowed to formally talk to Cuban officials to make sure that the drilling is smart and safe.

    Florida voter restrictions challenged http://politi.co/zQXTot 
    Rock the Vote and other civic groups are challenging a Florida bill in court. The bill places onerous restrictions on third-party community registration. Attorney General Eric Holder has specifically criticized the Florida bill for its intentions to limit the vote.

    After Many Tough Choices, the Choice to Quit http://nyti.ms/xqs5or
    The New York Times has investigated Olympia Snowe’s decision to not seek re-election. Snowe, a moderate Republican who is a known supporter of women’s issues, has found her job in the US Senate increasingly stressful. The Maine Republican party has moved farther to the right, with the Governor’s office now occupied by a Tea Party member. Members of the Tea Party have harassed Snowe at home and national Republicans have pressured her in Washington to the point where she no longer desired to be a senator.


    Obama: “I heard about Jeremy Lin early on,” http://usat.ly/wojqIb

    Davy Jones Dead: ‘Monkees’ Star Was 66, http://abcn.ws/yhpUNw

    Andrew Breitbart dead at 43, http://fxn.ws/wzHCPg

    Justin Bieber gets $100,000 hybrid car for 18th birthday, http://on.msnbc.com/wxA2o7

    Target pulls greeting card poking fun at Whitney Houston, http://bit.ly/zIRAHb

    Tim Tebow Had A “Dinner Date” With Taylor Swift, http://deadsp.in/ADgMVj

    Aaron Ghitelman

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

    News Round-Up: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

    President Barack Obama announces his plans for Afghanistan tonight at 8 PM, Jacob Zuma tells Michelle Obama he is too busy to meet with her, Gore accuses Obama of failing to address climate issues, and the House will vote on President Obama’s war powers.

    Furthermore, student loans are detrimental to students with health problems, and Wisconsin is expected to defund much of its family planning services. Also, Google gets 1 billion unique visitors, and Hulu may be for sale.

    Caitlin, Katie, + Perry


    (via POLITICO Breaking News)
    President Barack Obama is expected to announce his intention to withdraw 33,000 U.S. troops sent to Afghanistan as part of a surge in U.S. forces by the end of 2012, with at least 5,000 personnel due to leave by the end of this year, according to administration officials. Obama, who has yet to determine the precise pace of withdrawal, will make the announcement Wednesday night at 8 in a televised address from the White House.

    Jacob Zuma snubs Michelle Obama during First Lady’s South Africa visit, http://tgr.ph/jLZ4fe

    Michelle Obama is visiting South Africa this week, and the country’s president, Jacob Zuma has said he is too busy to meet her. The visit comes after Zuma criticized the way the US and UN have acted towards Libya. The first lady and her daughters met with former president Nelson Mandela.

    Obama has failed to lead on climate: Gore,

    Al Gore says he understand the difficulties of getting anything through congress, but warns that failing to address climate changes puts “the survival of our civilization” at risk. He notes that President Obama has failed to push the issue, even though 9 of the hottest years in recorded history were in the last 13.

    House to vote on President Obama’s war powers, http://politi.co/mvtcag

    The Obama Administration has insisted that actions in Libya do not qualify as war, meaning the War Powers Act does not apply and he does not need congressional approval to continue the mission. Some House Republicans and Democrats disagree and are introducing resolutions calling for an end to hostilities.

    Illness or injury can cause ‘ruinous’ consequences for those with student loan debt, http://usat.ly/iU3ZTy

    With severe medical aliments, student loans can seem impossible to pay off.  Two ill students, highlighted in the article, are what the author calls, “indentured educated citizen[s],” as they both have top college educations but will forever be attempting to pay off their school and medical loans.

    Wisconsin Set To Defund Planned Parenthood, Slash Family Planning, http://huff.to/jiOm4f

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign a new state budget that eliminates all state and federal funding for nine of the Planned Parenthood centers in the state. The budget also cuts men out of BadgerCare (a Medicaid-funded family planning program).

    Google Notches One Billion Unique Visitors Per Month,

    More than one billion people used Google last month out of the 6.7 billion people on the planet. Despite this being the most of any company, advertisers are shifting focus from simple page views to time spent on websites. Facebook is best in that category with users spending 250 billion minutes on the social networking site.

    AP Sources: Hulu mulls putting itself up for sale, http://onforb.es/km5v67

    After a large offer to takeover Hulu, the online video service is considering putting itself up for sale and is seeking other bids.


    George Clooney and Elisabetta Canalis Split, http://bit.ly/mBGuDd

    Harry Potter to live on in internet treasure hunt game, http://bit.ly/janGgo

    Pink’s Daughter Willow Sage’s First Photo, http://bit.ly/igzO9e

    HBO in ring with ‘Brick’, http://bit.ly/igdPJN

    Jimmy Henchman Pleads Not Guilty; Denied Bail, Vows to Fight, http://bit.ly/jWiIdH

    Katie Scholick
    Bio: Duke University, Class of 2013 Majoring in Psychology, Certificate in Markets and Management.

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

    News Round-Up: Friday, April 22, 2011

    Friday, April 22nd, 2011

    John McCain took a trip to Libya to assess the situation on the ground following the decision to use armed drones in the country, 9/11 responders will be checked for any terrorist affiliations, and the 2012 election will heat up shortly with the announcement of candidates coming soon. Meanwhile, Amazon experienced server outages that affected a number of sites across the web, and Gaga cries over being accused of copying Madonna.


    What’s John McCain Doing in Libya?, http://bit.ly/hhFARv

    McCain made a one day trip to Libya to show support for the rebels and meet with members of the National Transitional Council. With the new allowance to use armed American drones in Libya, McCain is evaluating the situation on the ground.

    9/11 Responders to be Warned They Will Be Screened by FBI’s Terrorism Watch List, http://huff.to/dYykPk

    9/11 responders, including policemen and firefighters, will have their names run through and FBI database to find any links to terrorism. Anyone who comes up will no longer be eligible for medical care for problems caused by the 9/11 attacks. Congressman Stearns said “this amendment was adopted in the full Energy and Commerce Committee without opposition and it merely requires that the names of those receiving health benefits be cross-checked with the terrorist watch list to ensure that no terrorists get these benefits.”

    As Consumers Cut Spending, Green Products Lose Allure, http://nyti.ms/gyqq4U

    While large sales of green products may have seemed like an environmental revolution, it turns out that in a less than favorable economy green is one of the things to go. Cost comes first in a recession and many green products cost more than others on the market.

    Amazon Failure Takes Down Sites Across Internet, http://yhoo.it/hp58EB

    Many of the sites that use Amazon run servers experienced outages after a problem yesterday, including Foursquare and Reddit. Netflix, which is also run by Amazon, did not experience outages.

    Here is Your First Electoral College Projection Map of 2012, Go Nuts, Nerds!
    , http://huff.to/eBaKCK

    With 18 months to the Presidential election, this map lays out the most important states for candidates to win over, as well as which states are firmly Republican and Democratic.

    Race for the Republican Presidential Nomination Begins, http://politi.co/e0mN8N

    Potential GOP candidates who are on the fence, including Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour, will make their decisions about running very soon. Furthermore, the debates are scheduled to start soon with Fox holding one on May 5th.

    Amina Khan on why swearing may not be so bad, http://lat.ms/hinS74


    Lady Gaga in tears after being questioned about copying Madonna: http://bit.ly/ftJukh

    Sheen gets a police escort: http://wapo.st/dWZQCj

    James Franco keeps getting smarter: http://eonli.ne/gaOONw

    Jessica Simpson loves being a business woman, http://bit.ly/hJY3GM

    Oprah tries to save soap operas: http://bit.ly/h6bOuU

    Kristin Andrews
    Bio: Kristin is Rock the Vote's Communications Intern

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

    Declare Your Energy Independence

    Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

    We have a feeling that you don’t need a reminder that today is Earth Day.

    If you are like us, you have grown up with yearly celebrations in your schools and communities. Over the years, you have probably cleaned up parks and

    streams, written letters to Congress about the environment, planted trees, and maybe even committed yourself to a greener lifestyle. In fact, today is the 40th time we have celebrated Earth Day – in ways big and small – across the planet.

    But this Earth Day could be different than all the rest. It is the first time we have marked Earth Day with a real chance of passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. We expect a bipartisan bill to be introduced in the U.S. Senate next week. After years of stalling and false starts, this could be it. It is a big deal.

    So today we hope you’ll join us in declaring your energy independence and signing the petition demanding action on climate legislation.
    Let’s be honest: despite incredible progress on environmental protection, America still has a failing energy policy that continues to reward polluters, undermines the health of the American people, threatens our national and economic security and keeps us dependent on energy sources from overseas. No more delays or obstruction. We need to get this done.
    Please read the declaration here and sign today. Together with our friends — community groups, environmentalists, veterans, youth, businesses, people of faith, conservationists, and more — we will deliver the message that the time is now.
    Happy Earth Day!

    P.S. Looking for ways to get involved on Earth Day? Click here to find service events in your area, send us photos of how you are spending Earth Day to earth@mozes.com, or show your support for the environment by using your profile picture to spread the message of Earth Day. 


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