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    News Round-Up: Thursday, April 24, 2014

    Thursday, April 24th, 2014

    Almost 1,600 veterans are forced to wait for care from a doctor; a new Georgia law allows guns in school districts, bars; and lawmakers threaten to pull funding from public universities. Meanwhile, Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis welcome their new son; a teen with terminal cancer raises over $1,000,000 for charity; and a runway model criticizes thin-shaming.

    -Veronica + Maura


    A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital’s secret list: http://rtvote.com/ROzEle
    Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix, Arizona created a scheme to hide the fact that between 1,400 and 1,600 sick veterans had no choice but to wait for months for doctoral care. At least 40 of those veterans suffered and died because they could not get care. What’s worse? The management at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix knew about and defended the waiting list. A former doctor at the hospital said there were two lists the hospital used: one that was shown to Washington that proves that people were getting care (the “sham” list) and the other that showed how veterans had to wait for up to a year: the “real” list. The hospital also did not preserve records and could make it seem as though a person never came in for an appointment. After the allegations came to a head, Congress has ordered all records to be preserved.

    Georgia law allows guns in some schools, bars, churches: http://rtvote.com/1k9l9lb
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill Wednesday that would allow guns to be carried into previously gun-free zones: like bars, churches, school zones, airports, and government buildings. The Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 (or the “guns everywhere bill” as dubbed by opponents) was lobbied for by GeorgiaCarry, a pro-gun rights organization and will go into effect on July 1st of this year. 5% of Georgia’s population has passed background checks necessary to own a gun, and Deal says that this legislation “gives added protection to those who have played by the rules.” Some people, like members of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, refuse to allow guns in their sanctuary. Others regard the law as ridiculous because the state has refused to expand healthcare and accept Obamacare but allows its citizens to own guns. However, the Safe Carry Protection Act has garnered wide support from members of the NRA and other supporters of the right to carry.

    Lawmakers pressure universities with threat to pull funds: http://rtvote.com/1f7AGTC
    States are threatening to pull funding from universities based on the information they teach, the things professors say, and the organizations partnered with the schools. For example, in South Carolina, funding is threatened at two different universities because students were asked to read a book discussing homosexuality. In Kansas, lawmakers threatened to “withhold appropriations” after a professor tweeted anti-NRA rhetoric. Some states have also banned universities from sending money to organizations that support things like unionization and boycotts that the state did not support. Colleges and lawmakers are trying to work together to find common ground.

    Ukraine tense as Russia launches military drills, activists die in clashes: http://rtvote.com/ROW3yJ
    After Russian forces practiced military drills near the Russian-Ukraine border, Ukrainian officials claim that they killed five pro-Russian militant activists. The deaths occurred as the Ukrainian military attempted to remove barricades from around Slavyansk, a Ukrainian city occupied by pro-Russian activists. Russian Vladimir Putin was quick to respond, saying: “If the Kiev regime has started to use the army against the population inside the country, it, beyond any doubt, is a very serious crime.” He also threatened “consequences” to the Ukrainians. Foreign nations, like the United States and countries represented in NATO, have expressed worry at the 40,000 Russian troops that have gathered at the border and have asked Russian forces to back down.


    Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis welcome baby Otis! http://rtvote.com/1k9D1MJ

    The Bachelorette contestant Eric Hill tragically dies in freak accident: http://rtvote.com/1gUsLnK

    Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, loses her brother in accident: http://rtvote.com/1hq099r

    Jodie Foster is married! Congrats! http://rtvote.com/1nscIF1

    Terminally ill teen raises over $1,000,000 for charity: http://rtvote.com/1ptSRXQ

    Runway model: “If you can feel beautiful for being big, I can feel beautiful about being small”: http://rtvote.com/1lJpkbh

    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

    News Round-Up: Monday, April 14th, 2014

    Monday, April 14th, 2014

    The man responsible for yesterday’s shooting in Kansas has been arrested; a Utah mom has been arrested after authorities found seven dead babies in her garage; a bus blast in Nigeria kills over 70 people; and President Obama gives his opinion on voter ID laws. Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio busts a move at Coachella; the top 5 moments from the MTV Movie Awards have been selected; and a college student’s mispronunciation costs him big time!

    - Veronica + Maura


    Police arrest ‘raging anti-Semite’ in Kansas Jewish center shootings: http://rtvote.com/Rikm7U
    Three people were shot and killed yesterday at a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement community in Kansas. The shooter, Frazier Glenn Miller (or Frazier Glenn Cross) is in custody. Miller is a life-long anti-Semitist and both the founder and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan party called the Carolina Knights and the White Patriot Party. He also had an online presence and advocated for the killing of Jews. The 73-year-old perpetrator is being charged with premeditated first degree murder. The victims were an elderly woman at the retirement community and a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather. The boy, Reat Griffin Underwood, was going to the community center to audition for a singing competition. His grandfather, Dr. William Lewis Corporon, was driving him there.

    7 dead babies found in Utah mom’s garage: http://rtvote.com/1eqe14n
    The estranged husband of 39-year-old Megan Huntsman was cleaning out his garage when he found the remains of a baby. The police investigated and found the remains of six more, deposited in cardboard boxes. The children had been born between 1996 and 2006. However, no one knew Huntsman was pregnant, despite living with three daughters. The husband also appeared to not know anything about the killings and is not a person of interest. Neighbors never suspected anything, allowing Huntsman to babysit their children and describing her and her family as an average family. One neighbor said “We enjoyed having them as a neighbor. This has just blown us away.” Huntsman is being charged with six counts of murder.

    Nigeria violence: More than 70 killed in Abuja bus blast: http://rtvote.com/1iNlIgW
    A massive explosion occurred at a bus station on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, as passengers began to board busses and taxis to get to their jobs in the city. Authorities believe that the attack was carried out by the Boko Haram Islamist militant group. It has staged attacks in Abuja before, but most of its attacks have been in the northeastern part of the country, where poverty is rampant. The Abuja Emergency Relief Agency has confirmed that 71 people are dead and 124 are injured. More than 30 vehicles were destroyed and a 4-foot crater was left in the ground. The bomb is suspected to have been located in a vehicle. The police are on “red alert” and are increasing surveillance at possible targets. Boko Haram has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack; if they do, the Nigerian government worries that it means that the militants are expanding their areas of operation.

    Obama says voter rights threatened from ID laws: http://rtvote.com/1gwdxIQ
    On Friday, President Obama addressed voting rights in a speech to a rights group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton called the National Action Network. The president said that the right to vote is threatened by increased legislation making it difficult for people to vote, particularly through the voter ID requirement states are passing. The Justice Department has sued both Texas and North Carolina for their voter ID laws, saying that they are discriminatory towards people who don’t have ID’s, particularly minorities. The increase in voting laws are a direct consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Currently, a bipartisan measure is being passed through the House and Senate that would require states who want to change their voting laws to have their new laws approved by the federal government.


    Celeb Coachella sightings! http://rtvote.com/1iND11p

    Watch Leonardo DiCaprio bust a move at Coachella: http://rtvote.com/1hO29nI

    The biggest televised epic fail ever…Wheel of Fortune-style: http://rtvote.com/1iOkFyH

    The top 5 moments from the MTV Movie Awards: http://rtvote.com/1t0OxP8

    The Red Carpet arrivals from the MTV Movie Awards: http://rtvote.com/P0zRPK

    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

    News Round-Up: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

    Jimmy Fallon rocked The Tonight Show stage; Saudi Arabia appointed its first female editor-in-chief of a national newspaper; and Venezuela expels three U.S. diplomats. Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith walk us through the evolution of hip hop dancing; new godmother, Kate Middleton, and Prince George attend a christening; and the U.S.A. wins the first ever gold medal in ice dancing.

    - Gianna + Maura



    First night a hit for ‘Tonight’ host Jimmy Fallon: http://rtvote.com/1e3Kp6b
    Last night, Jimmy Fallon transitioned from his hit show “Late Night” to NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and made a splash with viewers. Mr. Fallon proved once again that he’s a natural host and he excited the audience with his witty humor on topics like Sochi & hip hop. The “Tonight Show” made its first return to New York City in almost 40 years and that was the most exciting part of the evening. In the theme of celebration, Mr. Fallon introduced his parents to viewers and ended the show with a performance by U2.

    School’s Arab Mascot Draws Fire in California Valley That Prizes Dates: http://rtvote.com/1h0ulW4
    This past Friday, Riverside county in California held its National Date Festival, an annual tribute to a local industry that began in the Middle East. Riverside County has held the festival intermittently since 1921 and since the 1940s the county has decided to honor the history of the date and the culture of its Arabian origin. Unfortunately the festival sparked backlash from Coachella Valley High School’s Arab mascot. Although the mascot has been in existence since the 1930s, the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee has deemed the mascot a “gross stereotype” and the high school is currently seeking other mascot options as a result of the Committee’s petition.

    Saudi Arabia’s first female editor of national newspaper appointed:http://rtvote.com/1bhDJqj
    For the first time ever in Saudi history, a female journalist, Somayya Jabarti, was named editor-in-chief of a national newspaper. When reporters asked about her views on this historic appointment, Jabarti said, “There’s a crack that has been made in the glass ceiling. And I’m hoping it will be made into a door”. She continued by saying, “Being the first Saudi woman [editor-in-chief] is going to be double the responsibility … One’s actions will reflect upon my fellow Saudi women.”

    Oklahoma pharmacy won’t provide drug for Missouri execution:http://rtvote.com/1cljrdA
    The Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa, according to court documents, will not provide drugs for use in the execution of Michael Taylor that is scheduled for this month. Michael Taylor currently sits on death row for the brutal rape, murder, and kidnapping of a southeast Kansas girl. In this court case, Taylor argued that in several recent executions in which the compounded pentobarbital was used, showed it would likely cause him “severe, unnecessary, lingering, and ultimately inhumane pain.” 

    Venezuela raids opposition party office, expels three U.S. diplomats:http://rtvote.com/1c0Ltrw
    Late last evening, Venezuelan Security Forces raided the headquarters of an opposition party accused of being the driving force behind recent violent protests. While raiding the headquarters, the Venezuelan national government also expelled three U.S. diplomats on charges of conspiring with demonstrators. The U.S. State Department has called the charges against the U.S. diplomats, false and baseless.


    Kate Middleton Is a Godmother, Attends Friend’s Baby Christening with Prince George, http://rtvote.com/1jO6zRW

    Pete Wentz Expecting Baby With Girlfriend Meagan Camper, http://rtvote.com/1jCbzGj

    Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith Perform “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” on The Tonight Show—Watch Now!: http://rtvote.com/1f9kSi1

    BAFTA Party Sightings: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Oprah Winfrey and More!: http://rtvote.com/1fduWVI

    Winter Olympics 2014: Meryl Davis and Charlie White Win First Ever U.S. Gold in Ice Dance: http://rtvote.com/1kRJo9I

    Gianna Judkins
    Bio: My name is Gianna Judkins& I'm a proud Angeleno. I'm also a Political Science Major at Howard University. I pride myself in being Michelle Obama's biggest fan and always being "FLOTUS Inspired”! As a Political Science major, my ultimate goal is to one day call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue my office. I'm a very determined young woman who understands the power of education and value of hard work while striving to achieve my goal of being one of the nation's next great leaders. I'm not that serious all the time though, for fun I enjoying singing in the choir and hanging out with friends.

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

    War on Voting: Week(s) End Update

    Friday, August 12th, 2011

    It has been a while since we surveyed the battlefield in the war on voting, so here are some odds and ends from the states. I’m doing this alphabetically, I hope:

    Kansas: Earlier this year, Kansas enacted new photo ID and proof of citizenship requirements for voting. Under the new law, these requirements would go into effect in 2013. Not good enough, says Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He wants to get those bad boys implemented for the 2012 elections – an idea rejected by the state Senate when it decided to go with the 2013 implementation. Kobach may try to do it anyway. Good luck with that.

    Maine: This week, the Protect Maine Votes coalition submitted more than 68,000 signatures to halt the elimination of Election Day registration by placing a People’s Veto on the ballot in November. Earlier this year, the Maine legislature overturned a 38-year old practice that nearly 70,000 people used to register and cast their ballots during the last two elections. The good news: Maine voters – not self-interested politicians – will get to decide whether we will continue to be able to register to vote at the polls.

    For more information on the campaign to protect Election Day registration, go to www.ProtectMaineVotes.com.

    New Hampshire: It looks like the state legislature is going to try to override the Governor’s veto of the strict photo ID legislation in early September. Nine state Senators will need to vote to uphold the Governor’s veto; right now there are only seven or eight votes to sustain the veto. We’ll see what happens.

    North Carolina: The state House failed to override the Governor’s veto last month, but the legislative leadership is still holding out the possibility that they will try again at a later date.

    The latest twist in the state is that nine people are being prosecuted for double voting in the 2008 election. To that I say, “GOOD! Fraudulent voting is ILLEGAL and should be punished.”

    Of course, proponents of photo ID have jumped on this. As the Raleigh News & Observer wrote, the state Republican Party sent out an “I-told-you-so news release,” which said: “The reason why Republicans have fought to promote proper voter-identification laws is to prevent fraud like this from happening.”

    The problem, as the article points out: “None of the cases would have been prevented if the voters had been required to show photo identification…” Exactly right. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, the man prosecuting the double voters, noted: “I don’t think voter ID had anything to do with this – just people voting twice, not using another person’s name or dead Aunt Betty.”

    Read the whole story here.

    Ohio: Voting rights organizations, lead by former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, are taking steps to put the new election “reform” bill on the ballot in 2012 so voters can decide if they want to implement the law. Highlights of the bill: shortens the early voting period, eliminates the “golden week” when voters could go to the polls to register and vote at the same time, and eliminates the requirement that poll workers tell you if you are in the wrong polling place. (We’ve written about its non-awesomeness here.)

    What’s cool about this approach is that if enough signatures are collected to put a referendum on the ballot, the law itself cannot be implemented until after the 2012 elections.

    Tennessee: The state government is trying to help people get photo IDs before the new law kicks into effect in 2012. That’s nice. Read about it here.

    Texas: The Texas Tribune did a short write-up about how the new Texas law, which still needs to be cleared by the Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act, compares with other states’ laws. Conclusion: it is one of the strictest. You can read the primer here.

    Wisconsin: Some potentially good news on the photo ID front on Wisconsin campuses. You may recall that the new photo ID law in the Badger State allows for student IDs to be used at the polls provided they have a photo, a signature and expire every two years. Of course, no student ID at any college or university in the state met those requirements. Now word is coming out that several schools are working to solve the problem by making changes to student IDs.

    We pick up the story in Platteville:

    Students at University of Wisconsin-Platteville might see these changes this fall. Officials said that they’ve remade the identification cards.

    “We had to come up with a different way to look at a different ID card or something to modify our ID card,” said Jim Mueller, of UW-Platteville auxiliary services.

    The current IDs at Platteville only have a photo and no expiration date. Instead of changing all the IDs, the school will create a special card for voting.

    “If we change it to our whole student ID card, there would be 8,000 cards we’d have to issue immediately. Then, about every year because of the expiration date, it would be about 2,000 every year, Mueller said.

    Instead of the 2,000 some out-of-state students could get a voter ID card and the rest could use their state driver’s license.

    “We just want to make sure that our students can vote, and to make it as easy for them as possible so they can be part of the democratic process,” Mueller said.

    The story also notes that UW-Lacrosse is considering a similar plan of issuing “voting IDs” to out-of-state students and UW-Madison is looking at changing the actual student ID to be compliant.

    Thomas Bates
    Bio: Thomas is Rock the Vote's Vice President of Civic Engagement.
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    #Winning Our March Madness Bracket

    Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

    I grew up in Kentucky, where if my parents were allowed to arrange my marriage, my spouse would be chosen not based on political party, religious background, or level of income, but rather on basketball team affiliation. I would be completely disowned if I were to marry a Louisville fan instead of a UK fan. While fans across the country might not be quite as extreme in their dedication as my fellow Wildcats, everyone is just as dedicated to their basketball teams winning it all during March Madness.

    To celebrate this great time of year, Rock the Vote sponsored our own March Madness tournament to offer our mobile subscribers the chance to predict the winner of the NCAA tournament, with one correct texter winning an awesome Rock the Vote prize pack.

    In total, 291 people voted for a team, with votes clearly divided between logical guesses and pure school spirit.

    People were cheering for 30 different schools to take the number one spot, with the most votes going to Ohio State (71), Kansas (45), Duke (41), and Texas (18). Like many presidential campaigns, early front runners quickly lost pace, and each of these teams lost before making it to the championship game.

    A few voters managed to select one of the Final Four teams to win it all, but those votes were by far a minority. Nobody chose VCU, 3 chose Butler, 7 chose Kentucky, and 7 chose the ultimate victor, Connecticut. Of the much larger 5.8 million brackets submitted on ESPN, there were only two people to correctly select these top four teams, but zero to have a completely accurate bracket.

    Jake Diliegro, from Denton, Texas, was our lucky winner. His reasoning behind choosing UConn was that “they’ve always been one of my favorite teams and I just had a feeling they would go all the way this year.” Maybe next year I’ll ask him for some advice on who to choose for my number one pick, but I can tell you now that if it’s not Kentucky, I will probably ignore his sage wisdom.

    If you want to be a part of future mobile contests and election reminders, text VOTE to RTVOTE (788683).

    Aubrey Vaughan
    Bio: Aubrey is a field intern at Rock the Vote.
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com