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    News Round-Up: December 4, 2013

    Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

    A Hezbollah commander is gunned down; a truck carrying dangerous radioactive substances is stolen in Mexico; and a man survives at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for 3 days. Meanwhile, Kris Jenner and Ben Flajnik enjoy a date night, and Olympian Tom Daley reveals the identity of his 39-year-old, Oscar-winning boyfriend.

    -Sandy + Maura



    Hezbollah commander ‘assassinated’ outside Beirut homehttp://rtvote.com/1izefrb
    Gunmen shot and killed a senior Hezbollah commander on Wednesday, and the Iranian-backed group is blaming Israel for the attack. The commander, Hassan al-Laqis, held some of Hezbollah’s most sensitive portfolios and was close to leader Nasrallah. Israeli officials are denying any involvement. 

    Bill Beckwith, host of HGTV’s ‘Curb Appeal,’ killed in crashhttp://rtvote.com/1jlm4yK
    Just days after Paul Walker died in a tragic auto accident, we lose yet another celebrity in a similar situation. Bill Beckwith, host of HGTV’s ‘Curb Appeal’, passed away Monday night in a motorcycle accident, where his bike collided with another vehicle in San Francisco.  Beckwith was only 38 years old. Rest in peace, Bill. You will be missed.

    Mexican truck with radioactive load stolenhttp://rtvote.com/18CvQe2
    The International Atomic Energy Agency says a truck carrying an extremely dangerous radioactive substance has been stolen in Tepojaco, Mexico. The truck was carrying cobalt-60, which is used for radiotherapy treatment to combat cancer. The U.N. nuclear agency warns that the load will be “extremely dangerous” if damaged or removed from its protective shielding.

    Police: Teacher flees U.S. after sex abuse allegationshttp://rtvote.com/1azdhBj
    Yee Tak Sharon Kui, 25, taught at The Frost School, a private education school for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Police began investigating sex abuse allegations against Kui, and they believe she was texting a 15-year-old autistic boy and had sex with him twice. Kui, facing charges, has fled to China to avoid prosecution; Montgomery County police are requesting Kui’s extradition by Chinese authorities.

    Nigerian man survives 3 days at bottom of Atlantichttp://rtvote.com/189IOPK
    At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, divers were pulling corpses out of a sunken tugboat – and then a hand suddenly grabbed one of the divers. Harrison Odjegba Okene, the boat’s Nigerian cook, survived for three days by breathing the oxygen in a small air pocket. The temperature dropped to freezing, and Okene was dressed only in boxer shorts. None of the other 11 crewmembers survived.



    Kris Jenner and Ben Flajnik Have “Date Night” at Nobu, Beyonce Concert, http://rtvote.com/18lXlmj

    Olympian Tom Daley’s Oscar-Winning Boyfriend Revealed: Find Out Who He Is, http://rtvote.com/18lXEgR

    Keira Knightley Wears Her Chanel Haute Couture Wedding Dress on the Red Carpet for the Second Time,http://rtvote.com/1kaTRIv

    Jason Biggs: Paul Walker-Inspired Tip Jars at Coffee Bean Seem “Exploitive” and “in Poor Taste,”http://rtvote.com/190Ubbi


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

    News Round-Up: October 29, 2013

    Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

    Hawaii is up next to legalize gay marriage; an official review on NSA programs is underway; and social media sites criticize tasteless blackface and Trayvon Martin costumes. Meanwhile, the Jonas Brothers break up, and Julianne Hough receives some intense criticism for her offensive Halloween costume.

    -Sandy + Maura


    Hawaii governor expects gay marriage bill to pass ‘within week’,http://rtvote.com/1f1FWUw
    Hawaii’s legislature is expected to pass a bill legalizing gay marriage “within a week or so.” The state’s House of Representatives will pass the bill on Thursday if it passes Senate; both chambers have Democratic majorities. Governor Neil Abercrombie stated that he hopes the bill will pass before January, at the very latest.

    White House: Review will address global NSA concernshttp://rtvote.com/1gXYp8Q
    As more nations become enraged by NSA’s spying programs, the White House has assured the public that the collection of data on allies will not continue. A review of these programs is currently in the works, and a report on the review will be due by the end of the year. Spain is the latest country that has joined in on protests against the U.S.’s surveillance tactics; others include Germany, France, Brazil, and Mexico.

    Trick-or-treating takes a tasteless turnhttp://rtvote.com/1g9uU2E
    Halloween is right around the corner, and so are some of the most offensive costumes in Halloween history. Some of the more tasteless trick-or-treaters are donning Ariel Castro costumes, blackface costumes, and even Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman costumes. There has been a backlash on social media sites (rightfully so) against such getups, and the Utah Jazz and Julianne Hough have received such criticism.

    5 killed in Dallas-area shootings; suspect arrestedhttp://rtvote.com/1f1LVZx
    Police have arrested Charles Everett Brownlow, Jr., 36, for killing five people in a shooting spree in the small town of Terrell, Texas. The murders started at 5 PM Monday, and Brownlow was captured and arrested early Tuesday. The victims have not been officially identified.

    Report: White House knew plans would be canceled under ACA,http://rtvote.com/1gY57eY
    About 50%-75% of 14 million consumers who buy health insurance individually will have their plans cancelled in the next year because their current policies fail to meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act. Initially, the White House said that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010, could be kept even if they did not meet the requirements of the new healthcare law. The Department of Health and Human Services later narrowed that provision. NBC News reports that the Obama administration has known for three years that people’s insurance would be canceled. The White House has responded that those whose policies are voided will be automatically shifted to plans with better protections. Additionally, they claim that nothing in the Affordable Care Act forces people out of their plans, but the failure of some plans to meet the new minimum standards should be expected.


    George Clooney and John Prendergast discuss what should be done to stop the chaos in Sudan in “Sudan could become a second Syria,” http://rtvote.com/1f1Puij

    Errol Louis talks about Banksy’s insensitive slam against New Yorkers and Americans in “Banksy’s insult shows he’s clueless about New York,” http://rtvote.com/19PKcV9


    Julianne Hough Goes Blackface as Orange is the New Black Character for Halloween Costume, http://rtvote.com/1gY8ouS

    Jonas Brothers Break Up: “It was a Unanimous Decision,” http://rtvote.com/1gY8H8U

    Dax Shepard Doesn’t Have a Wedding Ring, Says It Cost Him $142 to Marry Kristen Bell,http://rtvote.com/1gY9t63

    Adam Levine Says Fiancée Behati Prinsloo Made Him Believe in Marriage,http://rtvote.com/1gY9R4i


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

    News Round-Up: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

    Edward Snowden possibly allowed to leave airport: NSA seeks to fight anti-surveillance amendment in top-secret meeting; 22 killed in Mexican clashes; Anthony Weiner asks for another chance; guns allowed in North Carolina bars; and gay couple in Cincinnati may be buried together. Meanwhile, the royal baby has left the building; Selena Gomez takes a shot; and The Sandlot crew meets at the field once again.

    Maura + Meron



    Snowden ‘allowed to leave airport’, http://rtvote.com/19i2kZG
    Fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has been given an official pass to leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, Russian airport officials say. However, Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said his client had not received the documents and would stay in the airport.

    NSA holds emergency hearing to fight off anti-surveillance amendment in Congress, http://rtvote.com/15ISWct
    The National Security Agency has invited certain members of Congress to a top secret, invitation only meeting to discuss a proposed amendment that could end the NSA’s ability to conduct dragnet surveillance on millions of Americans.

    Clashes in Mexico’s Michoacan state leave 22 dead, http://rtvote.com/19i34xX
    At least 20 gang members have died in clashes with police in Mexico’s western Michoacan state, officials say.

    Anthony Weiner: “Give me another chance”, http://rtvote.com/15IXS10
    The sex scandal that led to his 2011 resignation from Congress has become an issue during his mayoral campaign, as a series of lewd texts and photos revealed Tuesday has forced Weiner to ask New Yorkers to “give him another chance.”

    N.C. lawmakers pass sweeping changes to gun laws, http://rtvote.com/1351bAY
    North Carolina lawmakers approved a bill that allows concealed-carry permit holders to take firearms into bars and restaurants.

    Cincinnati gay couple wins fight to be buried together, http://rtvote.com/1353yDX
    A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Cincinnati gay couple can be buried together, recognizing a marriage in Maryland that is not legal in Ohio.



    Royal baby boy, Kate Middleton and Prince William leave Kensington Palace, http://rtvote.com/19i9Rrs

    Selena Gomez talks 21st birthday: “I had a shot of Jack”, http://rtvote.com/15J1XlA

    Rihanna breaks down in tears during concert, http://rtvote.com/15J2DHF

    The Sandlot cast reunites at their old field, http://rtvote.com/19ia1yX




    Bio: My name is Meron Werkneh and I am a rising senior at Duke University. I study English and Political Science, and plan to go into entertainment law as my career. I'm from Washington D.C. and love books, oldies soul music, and getting closer to God every day! I'm excited to become a part of the Rock the Vote team.

    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: Friday, May 31, 2013

    Friday, May 31st, 2013

    A U.S. woman is freed from Mexican jail; a Texas man becomes person of interest in ricin-letter investigation; Arvind Mahankali wins the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee; Defense Secretary Hagal talks cyber-security; video shows Boston bombings suspects at a gym three days before attacks; more storms hit the midwest; a woolly mammoth carcass is found in Russia; a Michigan woman is reported dead in Syria; and Obama pushed Congress to do something about student loan interest rates by July 1. Meanwhile, a park employee pleads not guilty to a dry ice blast at Disneyland, and Philip Seymour Hoffman enters rehab for narcotic abuse.

    Maura + Alexis


    U.S. woman held in Mexico on drug smuggling charge freed, http://cbsn.ws/Zi9V4y
    An Arizona woman was freed from a Mexico jail after spending a week there on a suspected drug smuggling charge. Thanks to security footage from the bus, she was proven not guilty and was let go. Yanira Maldonado was arrested by the Mexican military last week after they found 12 pounds of pot under her bus seat at a security checkpoint. Maldonado was released from prison late Thursday night.

    Ricin-letter investigation identifies Texas man as person of interest, http://cbsn.ws/13oXaEW
    A Texas man was identified as a suspect Thursday in the case of ricin-laced threat letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and to President Obama. Police have not yet arrested him. The man is merely being questioned by the FBI at this point.

    Arvind Mahankali Wins The 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, http://huff.to/ZhV1v6
    Arvind Mahankali, a 13-year-oldl from Queens, N.Y., wins the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee. He won the spelling bee with the word “knaidel,” a German derived Yiddish word that means a small mass of dough, like a dumpling. Mahankali had tied for ninth in 2010, tied for third in 2011, finished third in 2012 and finally won in 2013.

    Cyber threats pose ‘stealthy, insidious’ danger: defense chief, http://reut.rs/18CPAtm
    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke today about cyber threats and their ability to pose a “quiet, stealthy, insidious” danger to the US and other nations. Hagel said that he would address the topic in his speech on Saturday to the Shangri-La Security Dialogue in Singapore. He also expressed that the issue would likely become a talking point in a brief meeting with Chinese delegates on the margins of the conference. He finished with a call to action that included creating “rules of the road” between the US and every other nation with regard to cyber conflict.

    Video shows Boston bombing suspects at gym days before attack, http://bit.ly/116PDrc
    A video shows that just three days before the Boston Marathon bombings, suspects Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev were working out at local gym. The footage shows the brothers arriving at the Wai Kru mixed marital arts center just before 2:45 p.m. April 12. The manager of the gym noticed a distinct change in Tamerlan’s appearance – no more bushy beard. Looking back, the manager wonders if the shaving of his beard may have been part of an Islamic purification ritual that takes place before death.

    More Heavy Storms on Tap for the Midwest; 3 Dead, http://abcn.ws/13q7z39
    Up to a dozen tornados hit Arkansas on Thursday as well as one in Illinois and three in Oklahoma. Nine people were injured, and at least three were killed as a result of the storms in the region. Forecasters warn that large hail and more tornados are possible today.

    Russians Find Mammoth Carcass With Liquid Blood, http://bit.ly/10D2QN5
    Russian scientists uncovered a perfectly preserved woolly mammoth carcass with liquid blood on Thursday. The animal carcass was found on a remote Arctic island. Scientists are excited at the prospects of cloning the Ice Age animal. The blood found was very dark but still in its liquid form. The blood of woolly mammoths apparently did not freeze in even extremely cold temperatures in order to keep the animals warm. The animal’s muscle tissue was also found in perfect condition.

    US State Department Probes Report of Michigan Woman Killed in Syria, http://abcn.ws/15oPEuZ
    The US State Department is currently investigating reports that a US woman has been killed in Syria. Syrian state television has reported that an American woman from Michigan had been killed by government forces while fighting alongside the opposition in Idlib province. The State Department told ABC News that it is aware of what is going on and it is seeking more information through Czech protecting power. Monday, Sen. John McCain crossed the Syrian border to meet with rebel forces.

    Obama pushes Congress on student loans, http://wapo.st/11sMVMA
    President Obama urged Congress on Friday to pass a student-loan bill by July 1. Obama said “If Congress doesn’t act by July 1, federal student loan rates are set to double.” He equated this increase in loan rates to an average of $1,000 per student of additional debt. Obama was also quoted saying, “The House bill isn’t smart, and it’s not fair, so I’m asking young people [...] to make their voices heard once again.” The rates will rise automatically to 6.8% if Congress does not pass a bill by the end of the month to extend lower rates.


    Disneyland Explosion: Park Employee Pleads Not Guilty to Dry Ice Blast, http://eonli.ne/19t6axo

    Billy Joel Gives Surprise Master Class for NYC High School Students, http://eonli.ne/19tfcKE

    Philip Seymour Hoffman Entered Detox for Narcotic Abuse, http://tmz.me/1169Mh7

    Boston Strong: Donnie Wahlberg, Jason Aldean, Jimmy Buffett and More Stars Come Together for Concert, http://eonli.ne/15otEjQ

    Lincoln Bell Shepard: See Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s 2-Month-Old Baby Girl!, http://eonli.ne/15mkx3j

    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