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    News Round-Up: Friday, January 18, 2013

    Friday, January 18th, 2013

    Algerian special forces have freed 650 of the hostages seized by Islamists; Lance Armstrong admits to doping in an interview with Oprah; and speculation surrounds Notre Dame football star Manti Te’O and his fake girlfriend. Meanwhile, the Onion will release an “autobiography” on Vice President Biden, and Michelle Obama debuts a new haircut.

    Caitlin + Liza


    650 hostages freed by Algerian special forces, http://bit.ly/Xhf5In
    Algerian special forces have freed 650 hostages taken by Islamists after attacking a gas field in eastern Algeria on Wednesday. Over half of the 132 foreign workers taken hostage have been freed. 10 to 20 Americans are being evacuated, while some remain unaccounted for. U.S. officials have not specified the exact number of Americans involved in the attack. “This incident will be resolved–we hope–with a minimum loss of life. But when you deal with these relentless terrorists, life is not in any way precious to them,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

    Lance Armstrong Confession: Cyclist Admits Doping During Oprah Interview, http://huff.to/13Kj8CW
    Lance Armstrong opened up about doping Thursday night in the first installment of a two-part interview with Oprah Winfrey. Armstrong openly admitted to using banned substances in all seven of his Tour de France victories. Earlier on Thursday, he was stripped of his bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics. Armstrong noted that he was committed to restoring his reputation. “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and trying to apologize to people…for the rest of my life,” he said.

    Behind Manti Te’O hoax about girlfriend lies a deep desire to believe, http://wapo.st/XinJqA
    Following a Deadspin.com report published Wednesday, questions are circulating about the dead girlfriend of Manti Te’O, the star linebacker and Heisman Trophy runner-up who helped lead Notre Dame to the BCS Champion Bowl. Te’O's supposed girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who was said to have died of leukemia, was a media fixation central to his personal story. Te’O claims the pair carried out their relationship online, and now says he was the victim of an online prank. However, controversy remains over whether the fake girlfriend may have been a publicity stunt created by Te’O himself.

    ‘Obama for America’ to morph into ‘Organizing for Action’, http://bit.ly/13LRSFd
    President Obama’s “Obama for America” re-election campaign will be relaunched as “Organizing for Action”, a non-profit organization with a mission to advocate for his second-term agenda. Organizing for Action will push for agreements on the president’s priority issues by using powerful tools from the re-election campaign including grassroots organization, social media outreach, and a large voter database. Jim Messina, who directed the 2012 campaign, will chair Organizing for Action.

    One to beam up: NASA uses a laser to send Mona Lisa to the moon, http://nbcnews.to/XimYxX
    NASA will use a laser-tracking system to make the Mona Lisa the first digital image to be transmitted via laser to the moon. NASA has previously sent laser pulses and strings of numbers to its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the laser-tracking system that has been circling the moon for the past three and a half years, but this is the first time they will transmit a far more visual painting. NASA said this type of laser communication could serve in the future as a backup for the radio communication currently used by satellites, potentially allowing higher data rates of communication.


    Biden Getting an Autobiography From the Onion (Whether He Wants It or Not), http://nyti.ms/WL5Tfh

    New ‘Do Alert: Michelle Obama Debuts Bangs, http://bit.ly/XeucCi

    Selena Gomez Talks Justin Bieber Pre-Split and Taylor Swift Friendship, http://eonli.ne/XjhJ0j

    “Django Unchained” Slave Toys Discontinued, http://tmz.me/VOHz0m

    Jennifer Lawrence: I Should Have Been in “Zero Dark Thirty”!, http://eonli.ne/SJmBAC 



    Liza Dee

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


    Monday, May 7th, 2012

    Nicolas Sarkozy loses to French Socialist Francois Hollande in France’s presidential run-off; Al-Qaeda releases a video of American hostage Warren Weinstein; Vladimir Putin returns to the Russian presidency; Biden speaks on gay marriage; and registration for black and Hispanic voters drops. Meanwhile, Jay-Z is spoiling his new daughter; Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Dictator’ threatens Matt Lauer’s family; and Mark Ruffalo’s Twitter account is hacked.

    Kelly + Caitlin


    Al-Qaeda Releases Video of American Hostage, http://ti.me/KCOn70
    Al-Qaeda released a video Sunday that shows American hostage Warren Weinstein saying he will be murdered unless President Obama agrees to the terrorist group’s demands. Weinstein has been a hostage since August when he was abducted in Lahore, Pakistan after his security guards were fooled and gunmen broke into his home. Weinstein, 70, is from Rockville, Md., and works as a country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a firm that advises Pakistani businesses and government groups. Leaders of the al-Qaeda group are demanding that U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen stop, and for all al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects around the world to be released. So far the White House has provided no comment on the situation.

    Flashy, fiery Sarkozy fades from French scene, http://bit.ly/KOHrX3
    Nicolas Sarkozy lost to French Socialist Francois Hollande in France’s presidential run-off election on Sunday. Sarkozy has become the first French one-term president since 1981. Many political strategists attributed Sarkozy’s light and sometimes sarcastic attitude as unappealing to voters who had been hit hard by the economy. Sarkozy’s inability to fulfill his 2007 campaign promises to shrink joblessness was also an issue since France’s unemployment rate is close to 10 percent right. S&P had also demoted France’s state debt rating from its top standing in January.

    (via MSNBC) 400 protesters arrested hours before Vladimir Putin’s return to Russian presidency: Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia’s president at a glittering ceremony on Monday, hours after clashes between police and thousands of protesters in the country’s capital laid bare the deep divisions over his return to the Kremlin for six more years. In the latest demonstrations on Sunday, police detained more than 400 people, including three opposition leaders, after tensions boiled over at a rally attended by about 20,000 people across the Moscow river from the Kremlin. Police hit protesters on the head with batons as they tried to stop demonstrators advancing towards them, carrying metal crowd barriers and throwing objects. The crowd fought back with flagpoles before the police eventually restored order. Months of protests have polarized Russia and left Putin facing a battle to reassert himself or risk being sidelined by the powerful business and political elites whose backing is vital, http://on.msnbc.com/K5w9jB

    Syrians vote for new parliament amid boycott calls, http://bbc.in/IxJTQ4
    Despite continuing violence, Syrian authorities are holding parliamentary elections promised by President Bashar al-Assad. The elections are the first in four decades not to guarantee a majority win for the Baath Party already in power. Opposition groups are dismissing the election as a sham and a distraction from the government’s heavy-handed reaction to dissent. Nine new parties were created and seven candidates are running, compared to a total of 7,195 candidates that were registered to contest the 250-seat People’s Assembly. A total of 14.8 million Syrians are eligible to vote at 12,152 polling stations.

    A Scramble as Biden Backs Same-Sex Marriage, http://nyti.ms/LujWW8
    In an interview on NBC’S “Meet the Press” this Sunday, Vice President Joseph Biden said that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages and approved of the issue’s growing acceptance across the country. The White House is now fretting to clarify that Biden’s views do no indicate that the administration is advocating for an official change in policy. The blogosphere went wild, noting that Biden’s remarks make him the highest-ranking White House official to express acceptance of same-sex marriage. The Obama administration has only endorsed civil unions so far.

    Voter registration down among Hispanics, blacks, http://wapo.st/IP3jyf
    According to the Census Bureau, the number of black and Hispanic voters has fallen by 7 and 5 percent, respectively, across the country. Factoring in that voter registration reduces in non-presidential election years, and that white voter registration fell as well, it is the first time in 40 years that registered Hispanic voters has dropped this significantly. In some swing states, the fall-out is much higher. In New Mexico, Hispanic voter registration dropped by over 28 percent and in Florida by 10 percent.


    Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock Pays Tribute To Adam Yauch, http://on.mtv.com/J7zVWZ

    Jay-Z Can’t Help Spoiling Blue Ivy, http://bit.ly/LuJGSa

    Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Dictator’ threatens Matt Lauer’s family, promotes film, http://on.msnbc.com/K6bCvk

    Justin Bieber: Meet My Clean-Cut Mentor … Floyd Mayweather! http://bit.ly/IwslUC

    Nationals’ Jayson Werth breaks left wrist, ‘out for a while,’ http://lat.ms/JbAn4E

    The Avengers Star Mark Ruffalo’s Twitter Account Hacked, http://eonli.ne/IF0mpw

    ‘Avengers’ Opening Weekend Shatters Box Office Records, http://on.mtv.com/ICaLxm

    Kelly Holleran

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