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    News Round-Up: December 2, 2013

    Monday, December 2nd, 2013

    Amazon leads the way in the ultimate futuristic shopping experience; friends, family, and fans mourn the tragic deaths of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas; and a train flies off the tracks in the Bronx. Meanwhile, Tom Daley and Maria Bello both proudly come out about their homosexuality.

    -Sandy + Maura



    Amazon testing delivery by drone, CEO Bezos sayshttp://rtvote.com/1htdgaD
    Awesome, futuristic tech AND the perfect online shopping experience? If Amazon can pull this off, then “bravo!”. The commerce company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, said they are testing the delivery of packages using drones. The idea is to have small, unmanned aircrafts, dubbed octocopters, pick up packages at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and then deliver them to customers 30 minutes or less after they hit the “Buy” button. The service will be called Prime Air, and Bezos estimates it will take off in as little as three or four years.

    LA coroner can’t ID Paul Walker’s bodyhttp://rtvote.com/1fZuVXa
    Rest in peace, Paul and Roger. Our hearts and condolences go out to their friends and family. Paul Walker, 40, and Roger Rodas, 38, passed away Saturday in a tragic car accident. The friends took a Porsche out for a test-run after Rodas’s employees said there was something wrong with the stalling vehicle. While troubleshooting the car, it crashed and was so badly engulfed in flames that the coroner cannot ID Paul’s body without his dental records.

    New York train derails; “gravel came flying up,” survivor says,http://rtvote.com/IoLRIi
    A train derailed in the Bronx Sunday morning, killing four and injuring at least 67. About 150 people were on board, and many are traumatized from the violent incident. The train came off the tracks, twisted, and turned rubble and smoke into the passenger cars.

    Walmart’s Black Friday Going About As Badly As You’d Expect,http://rtvote.com/1fZDeC4
    People need to chill. It’s always sad to hear about people assaulting one another… but when they’re doing so over a discounted television, that’s when you know there’s something wrong. The Instagram videos in this article display some of the aggression that played out in Walmart stores during BlackFriday. And, believe it or not, they weren’t limited to just one Walmart!

    Obama’s solution helps bring peace to military conflict,http://rtvote.com/18VcyhK
    A new White House policy, which went into effect on November 15, allows the undocumented spouses, children, and parents of military personnel to be “paroled” into the United States. Once paroled, these relatives will be able to apply for green cards without having to first return to their home countries. Military officials approve the policy because they say it lessens the stress that combat personnel may experience when trying to balance serving their country and helping their relatives navigate the immigration system.



    Paul Walker’s Daughter Meadow “Still in Shock” Over Actor’s Death: How the 15-Year-Old Is Coping, http://rtvote.com/IFXwTj

    Tom Daley Comes Out in Video Revealing He Is in Gay Relationship,http://rtvote.com/1k2fKtq

    Maria Bello is Gay: Actress Reveals Longtime Relationship With a Woman, Writes That She Considers Herself a “Whatever,” http://rtvote.com/1c79SuD

    Zac Efron Skateboards in L.A. – See the First Pic Since Actor Broke His Jaw,http://rtvote.com/1jcztsO


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

    News Round-up: Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

    Protests kill 7 in Cairo; Mexican drug cartel leader captured; Juror from Zimmerman trial discusses verdict; freight trains to the U.S. border are more closely examined; Senate reaches tentative deal to avoid party-line vote; Virginia state officials move forward in restoring voting rights to nonviolent felons. Meanwhile, we can now find Carmen Sandiego, Prince Harry look-alike sneaks in to see Kate, and Carly Rae Jepsen proves no hand-eye coordination is necessary to sing.


    Egypt turmoil: Seven killed in Cairo clashes, http://rtvote.com/15ioEwQ

    Seven people have been killed in Cairo in overnight clashes between security forces and supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The clashes came as a senior US envoy visited Egypt and remarked that it had been given a “second chance” at democracy.

    Leader of Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel captured, http://rtvote.com/12D5y5X
    Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the notoriously brutal leader of the feared Zetas drug cartel was captured on Monday by Mexican Marines who intercepted a pickup truck with $2 million in cash. Trevino Morales was taken into custody along with a bodyguard, an accountant, and 8 guns. He is now charged with the kidnapping and killing of 265 migrants.

    Juror: ‘No doubt’ that George Zimmerman feared for his life, http://rtvote.com/15ipZnr
    One of the female jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman, identified in CNN’s interview as Juror B37, is the first juror to speak publically about the case. She said she believes Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place” the night he shot Trayvon Martin, but that he didn’t use “good judgment” in confronting the Florida teen.

    In Mexico, rails are risky crossing for a new wave of Central American migrants, http://rtvote.com/12D7hYZ
    Central Americans have been catching freight trains to the U.S. border for years, risking injury or worse for a free ride and a path clear of Mexican government checkpoints. Although illegal immigration to the U.S. is at its lowest point in four decades, the number of Central Americans going north has soared, placing new attention on the rail system taking thousands to the boarder each year.

    Senate reaches tentative deal on nuclear option, http://rtvote.com/15iDTWy
    Senators have reached a tentative deal to avert the “nuclear option” on filibuster rules. The proposal is not yet agreed upon by the White House but Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said, “ it is a compromise.”

    In VA, Bid to Restore Rights to Nonviolent Felons, http://rtvote.com/15irQIX
    “For past offenders, our goal is to grant civil rights back to as many as possible” said Governor Bob McDonnell. On Monday, state officials in VA outlined steps for thousands of nonviolent felons to regain their right to vote.  Myrna Perez, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center for Justice, said the move by VA is part of a national trend as states recognize that the denial of basic rights to offenders serves little societal good.


    Carly Rae Jepsen’s Hilariously Bad First Pitch- Watch!, http://rtvote.com/15iBuvd

    Prince Harry Look-Alike (and a Bear!) Visit Kate Middleton’s Hospital Ahead of Royal Baby’s Birth, http://rtvote.com/12Djddp

    ‘Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?’ Returning To PBS?, http://rtvote.com/15iD14d

    Tom Cruise’s upcoming sci-fi film gets a Comic-Com panel and a new title, http://rtvote.com/190Qkf1

    Dave Matthews hitchhikes to his own concert, http://rtvote.com/190QsuR


    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: July 11, 2013

    Thursday, July 11th, 2013

    Judge in the Zimmerman case holds hearing to decide if jurors should consider lesser charges; Mohamed Morsi is still in an unknown location; Pope Francis responds to UN on child abuse; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleads not guilty in Boston Marathon bombings; missing people presumed dead in Canada train crash; and House Republicans are resistant to immigrating reform legislation. Meanwhile, the media is already setting up for Kate Middleton to give birth; Randy Travis is out of surgery; Adam Lambert does Glee; and John Mayer buys guitar for a fan.


    Judge Considers lesser charges in Zimmerman case
    , http://rtvote.com/12oNnB7
    This Thursday morning, state prosecutors are asking the judge in the Trayvon Martin murder case to instruct jurors to consider lesser charges, like aggravated assault or manslaughter, when they begin deliberations. Zimmerman is currently being tried for second-degree murder.  Zimmerman’s attorneys have objected and the judge is holding a hearing to decide.

    A week after the coup, Egyptians ask: ‘Where is Morsi?’, http://rtvote.com/18PImp4
    It has been one week and nobody knows where former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is located. Authorities promise he is in a “safe place” and have also issued warrants for hundreds of other Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters. The warrants target Senior Islamist officials accused of provoking the violence that led to the fatal shooting of more than 50 pro-Morsi demonstrators on Monday.
    Pope Expands Sex Abuse Laws in Response to U.N. Criticisms, http://rtvote.com/155qgKd
    Pope Francis is finally complying with the United Nation’s Commission for the Rights of the Child about the Vatican’s poor record on child abuse.  The Holy See was given until January to submit a detailed report to the United Nations that answers specific questions and hands over confidential files about the movement of “predatory priests” between dioceses.

    Boston bomb suspect pleads not guilty, http://rtvote.com/12oYzxB
    Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faced more than 2 dozen survivors of that attack Wednesday as he pleaded not guilty to killing four people and wounding more than 200. He is charged with 30 federal counts stemming from the April 15 attack.

    Body count rises in Canada train crash, http://rtvote.com/155um53

    The official death toll from Saturday’s train crash in Quebec has reached 50. On Wednesday evening officials said that 20 bodies were found in the area following a crash of a runway oil train in Canada’s deadliest railway tragedy in almost 150 years. Authorities informed grieving families that the dozens of people still missing are now presumed dead.


    Republicans in House Resist Overhaul for Immigration, http://rtvote.com/18PIrc6

    On Wednesday, House Republicans came down overwhelmingly against a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, putting in jeopardy the future of sweeping legislation that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  Speaker Boehner warned about the consequences if they do nothing to answer the immigration measure passed by the Senate last month.

    Cameras Line Up Weeks Early at Kate Middleton’s Hospital, http://rtvote.com/155wiKV

    Randy Travis Out of Surgery, Remains in Critical Condition, http://rtvote.com/12p0zpx

    ‘Glee’: Adam Lambert to Appear in Season 5, http://rtvote.com/12p0O3S

    John Mayer Buys Guitar for Girl, Makes Her Biggest Fan Ever, http://rtvote.com/155xfmo

    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

    The Senate Immigration Bill and its Implications

    Thursday, June 27th, 2013

    **Update by a vote of 68-32, the US Senate just voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

    Between the SCOTUS decisions and the immigration bill being hotly debated in the Senate, there is no question that it has been a busy week in the nation’s capitol. The immigration bill will be voted on Thursday afternoon, after Senators voted 68-32 to end debate on the bill. As Congress hurtles towards a decision on this bill, we need to take a look at its content and what it means for the immigrants already in the United States and those preparing to enter.

    The measure calls for comprehensive reform across several factors: border security, path to citizenship, visa criteria for high and low skilled workers, family immigrant policies, and employment verification. It has called for 100% surveillance of the US-Mexico border, and aims to intercept and turn back 90% of the people who cross. The Department of Homeland Security must develop measures to fulfill these objectives, through an increase of 3,500 border agents, (controversial) use of drones and improved border fencing. Perhaps the part of the bill of most interest to Americans is the path to citizenship for current and potential immigrants. It proposes that the 11 million undocumented immigrants could obtain “registered provisional immigrant status” six months after the bill goes into effect. This status means that immigrants could travel and work within the United States but would not be eligible for most federal benefits such as health care and welfare. They must have arrived in the U.S. before December 31, 2011 and can not have more than 3 misdemeanors. This status can be renewed every 6 years but after 10 they are eligible to apply for a green card if they have paid taxes and pay a $1000 fine.

    Visa requirements for high and low skilled workers will also change. The cap for highly skilled worker visas in the H-1b program, which allows foreign workers in specialized fields to work in the U.S., will increase from 65,000 to 110,000. Immigrants with highly specialized skills or education such as athletes, executives, and researchers would be exempt from green card limit laws. The U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which randomly allots 55,000 visas to a country with low numbers of immigrants to the U.S., will be abolished in favor of a merit-based system which rewards visas based on education and employment. 200,000 low skilled workers will be allowed to obtain visas every year. The policies for immigrants in agriculture will be updated to allow those who have worked for at least 2 years to qualify for a green card after 5 years provided that they stay in the field. Family immigration rules will also be reformed to continue to allow families with U.S. citizenship to sponsor their spouses and children, but it will be prohibited to sponsor siblings. Immigrants with married children may only sponsor them if they are under 31. The bill eliminates the limit of legal permanent residents who can sponsor spouses and children.

    A new program called E-verify is proposed in the immigration bill. This requires employers to electronically verify the legal status of their employees. Non-citizens will be required to show a photo ID that matches an existing photo in the E-verify system.

    It is important to note that this will be one sweeping piece of legislation. Many opponents of the bill believe that tackling immigration using a piecemeal approach is more effective. Opponents also argue that the bill prioritizes legalization over border security. In an effort to compromise, the proponents of the bill included the increased border security section to attract more support from the Republicans. Today’s vote in the Senate is expected to pass with bipartisan support. However, prominent House members including Representative Paul Ryan have expressed that they do not believe the bill in its current form in the Senate will be accepted and voted on in the House but that they will likely vote on their own version of the bill.

    Whatever the outcome, this bill will be a radical and bold change for immigration policy. The Senate will prepare to vote at 4 pm ET today on this landmark piece of legislation. The futures of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, will be changed by the decisions on Capitol Hill.

    Bio: My name is Jen Yam and I am a rising senior at Duke University pursuing a public policy major and neuroscience minor. I am a New York native and love music (both playing and listening) and reading. I am working in the political department here at Rock the Vote for the summer.

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

    News Round-Up: Monday, June 17, 2013

    Monday, June 17th, 2013

    The DNI denies claim that NSA analysts were able to listen to domestic phone calls without warrants; Turkey threatens to send army out to stop protesters; IRS supervisor in D.C. admits to targeting conservatives; many residents have returned home after being evacuated due to fires in Colorado; a Chinese dissident claims that China pressured NYU to ask him to leave; Miss Connecticut was crowned Miss USA; and the Supreme Court decision regarding DOMA could greatly impact immigration reform. Meanwhile, Jeff Garlin is arrested for beating in a car window, and Rihanna’s song ‘Stay’ enters AC Top 10.

    Maura + Alexis


    DNI denies NSA analysts can tap calls without a warrant, http://bit.ly/14EJPL5
    The U.S. intelligence community shot down claims that NSA analysts were able to listen to domestic phone conversations without warrants. According to a statement released by the office of the Director of National Intelligence, “Members have been briefed on the implementation of Section 702, that it targets foreigners located overseas for a valid foreign intelligence purpose, and that it cannot be used to target Americans anywhere in the world.”

    Turkey threatens to deploy army to end unrest, http://aje.me/18Q0hN0
    The Turkish deputy prime minister has informed the public that the army may be asked to intervene to stop ongoing protests if the police fail to restore order. The threat arose in response to a one-day strike held by two union federations over the forced evictions of protesters – a group of about 800,000 workers.

    AP: IRS official in D.C. reviewed tea party applications, http://cbsn.ws/12CEQvc
    An IRS supervisor admits to being personally involved in the agency’s targeting of tea party groups. She says that some of the requests for tax-exempt statuses were held for more than a year without action. Holly Paz, a supervisor in Washington, D.C., contradicts the original claims by the agency that only small groups of agents working out of Cincinnati were responsible for the so-called “targeting” of applications based on party affiliation. Paz has given no evidence, however, to support the suspicion that senior IRS officials ordered agents to target these groups.

    Residents return home after destructive Colorado blaze, http://usat.ly/11RoEEu
    While the cause of the fire is still unkown, Colorado officials stated Sunday that the fire has burned about 21,000 acres of the state, and firefighters are working hard to contain the fire that is now approaching Colorado Springs. The fire is currently 65 percent contained. Many residents were able to return to their homes Sunday. Two people have been found dead, but all people have been accounted for.

    China pressured U.S. university to make him leave, dissident says, http://reut.rs/10oSfqK
    A Chinese dissident who fled China to become a visiting scholar at NYU accused the institution Sunday of pressuring him to leave. He attributes the school’s interest in asking him to leave to “unrelenting pressure” from China. NYU has denied the claim, and has explained that Chen Guangcheng’s fellowship was only meant to last a year and was expected to end this summer.

    Miss USA Crown Goes to Connecticut Contestant, http://abcn.ws/17gh9Mc
    Miss Connecticut has been crowned Miss USA. Erin Brady will leave her job as an accountant behind as she pursues the duties associated with her new title. One of Brady’s goals moving forward is to dispel negative attitudes some hold about pageants.

    Supreme Court DOMA Ruling Looms Over Immigration Overhaul, http://abcn.ws/ZXzM22
    While a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill would address same-sex couples, the Supreme Court just might beat them to it. The Supreme Court is currently ruling on the DOMA case. If DOMA is struck down, the question of whether the immigration law can apply to same-sex couples will no longer be a question. If DOMA is upheld on the other hand, legal uncertainty will continue for gay couples.


    Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ Enters Adult Contemporary Top 10, A First For The Singer, http://huff.to/14dmqhQ

    ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Trailer: Martin Scorsese Likes ‘Yeezus’ Too? (Or At Least Paramount’s Marketing Team Does), http://huff.to/19Jc5zV

    No Loki In ‘Avengers 2′? Joss Whedon Says Tom Hiddleston Won’t Return For Sequel, http://huff.to/10qq5LT

    Girl Meets World Officially Picked Up by Disney Channel: Find Out What Cory and Topanga Are Up To!, http://eonli.ne/1640WFh

    ‘Curb’ Star Jeff Garlin Arrested For Alleged Window Rage, http://tmz.me/ZTYsbK

    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