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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

    Liberia’s Runoff Election

    Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

    In Liberia, the winner of an election is only determined if the candidate has been chosen by 50% plus one of the voting population. If none of the candidates are able to obtain this absolute majority then a runoff election is held soon after.

    On October 11, 2011, Liberia’s presidential election was held, yet neither Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf nor Ambassador Winston Tubman was able to obtain 50% plus one of the vote. As a result, a runoff election was held November 8, 2011.

    When the runoff was announced, the CDC, which is the political party of Ambassador Winston Tubman, refused to acknowledge it. Instead, the party told its supporters to boycott the runoff in the hopes that it would not take place. The CDC claimed the runoff was unfair, unnecessary and marred by irregularities, and that the results of the original election had been incorrectly tallied due to voter fraud.

    Despite there being no solid evidence of voter fraud, the CDC decided to take to the streets and protest the runoff this past Monday. Even though the election’s campaigning period had already ended, Tubman and his party advocated for the protest, asking its supporters to peacefully demonstrate. Yet, the demonstration turned ugly when protestors began throwing stones, petrol bombs and insults at pedestrians who were going about their daily business as the protest took place around them. The demonstrators also tried to protest at incumbent Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s home and when police intervened, even more chaos ensued. As a result, three people were found dead and several were wounded.

    This is troubling news for a country that was destroyed after a fourteen yearlong civil war. In my opinion, controversial legal issues should be handled through Liberia’s legal system, which is in place to resolve issues fairly and peacefully. As we saw this week, literally fighting for rights without filing a formal complaint just adds to the issue’s chaos. In the case of this protest, the only thing it caused was death and a reminder of Liberia’s bloody past.

    Despite the CDC’s protesting, the runoff still took place on Tuesday. I am glad my country has risen above this week’s bout of violence and continued with the election. For those who do not find it necessary to physically demonstrate, it is a symbolic showing that we believe in our country’s election system. After all, we must stay true to Liberia’s old saying that we are a “country of laws and not men.”

    Bio: Isatu Ville has worked with the Liberian Council of Churches Youth Desk (LCCYD) and Federation of Liberia Youths (FLY) and is the current head the National Student Christian Council(NSCC). She is temporarily working at Rock the Vote before returning to Liberia.

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