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    News Round-Up: Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

    Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

    Tensions between Ukraine, Russia, and Western powers continue to escalate; a NJ student suing her parents loses first court battle; Pope Francis says that he could potentially accept civil unions; and a 10-year-old boy is suspended after pointing his fingers in the shape of a gun. Meanwhile, John Travolta speaks out about his Idina Menzel flub on Oscar Night; an emoji version of “Drunk in Love” is taking over the web; and you can see the Oscar selfie that broke Twitter and has the Twitter record for the most retweets ever! 

    - Veronica + Maura

    CRUCIAL

    Ukraine crisis: Western leaders pile pressure on Russia: http://rtvote.com/1ga99e8
    Western governmental powers have begun to threaten Russia with sanctions if their military presence in Ukraine does not decrease. In retaliation, Russia has begun drafting a law that “would allow Russia to confiscate assets belonging to the U.S. and European companies if sanctions are slapped on Moscow.” The European Union will meet Thursday in Brussels, and US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian equivalent to Kerry’s position, in Paris. This conflict stems from the removal of the Russian-allied government and the increase in tension in the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, where a heavy Russian population resides.

    Student’s lawsuit against parents for support loses first round in court: http://rtvote.com/1lyMnEg
    18-year-old New Jersey resident Rachel Canning made news this week for suing her own parents to make them pay for varying expenses: her final semester at her private high school, her living expenses, her legal fees, and her college tuition. Canning says her parents forced her out of her home and made her live on her own and was subject to mental and physical abuse, while her parents say she left of her own accord because she “didn’t want to obey their rules.” A judge refused to hear the request of payment for both the high school and living expenses, but in April, another hearing will be held for other issues presented in the lawsuit.

    Ohio student points finger like gun, is suspended: http://rtvote.com/1fHONbj
    A 10-year-old boy who pointed his finger like a gun and pointed it at another student’s head was suspended by his principal. The other student didn’t see it, but a teacher did and reported it to the school’s administration. The boy, who said he was “just playing around,” had been warned before by the school, Devonshire Alternative Elementary, about pretending to play with guns, as have all the other students; they were also told of potential consequences if they were caught participating in this behavior. 

    Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions: http://rtvote.com/1hMh1X0
    On Wednesday, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage (“marriage is between a man and a woman”), but also hinted at the possible acceptance of civil unions. Pope Francis is the first Pope to even hint at an acceptance of civil unions and is one of the most “gay-friendly” popes in history. Possible changes to the church regarding the women’s role and the contraception ban could also be in the works as the Pope’s first year comes to a close.

    Three children pulled to safety after woman drives van into ocean: http://rtvote.com/1kyfwiB
    A pregnant South Carolina woman, driving a minivan with three children inside, drove into the ocean in Florida. Rescuers said that they heard the children screaming that their mother was trying to kill them. People worked frantically to remove the children and the mother from the waterlogged vehicle. The children, aged 3, 9, and 10, were carried to shore and examined at a hospital before being declared “okay”. The mother walked to shore, dazed, and has refused to talk about the incident.

    CULTURAL

    See the now-infamous selfie that broke Twitter on Oscar Night! http://rtvote.com/1hLqDBZ

    John Travolta’s response to his Idina Menzel flub: http://rtvote.com/1cuhUoa

    The best and worst moments from the Oscars are in! http://rtvote.com/1gakNpt

    An emoji version of Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love”? http://rtvote.com/1e1MWP0

    Dancing with the Stars just announced its latest cast: http://rtvote.com/1l14Y8T

    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



    For Young Voters, Money Muzzles Free Speech

    Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

    Written by RTV guest blogger, Steven Aldridge (see bio below)

    When money is voice in politics, American youth can only whisper in a shouting match.

    As a college student, I can easily get involved with politics. I can vote. I can campaign for the candidates I support and join protests. All Americans have these rights under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, billionaires, huge corporations and special interests are looking to use the First Amendment against people like me, who don’t have millions of dollars to throw into politics.

    In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments for McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Alabama millionaire Shaun McCutcheon is arguing that limits on direct individual political contributions are unconstitutional, after the floodgates on indirect political contributions have already been lifted following Citizens United and related cases.McCutcheon is yet another case poised to muffle the voices of American youth in the political arena.

    The effects of Citizens United have already been devastating. A recent Political Science Quarterly study showed what we’ve all assumed for a while – that politicians are more responsive to big donors than to their constituents. In fact, most Americans feel that politicians care more about the people lining their pockets than their own constituents.

    No matter how hard I protest or campaign for the candidate of my choice, those billionaires and huge corporate interests can quickly drown me out with television ad after television ad. It is hardly surprising that many young Americans see the political system as a hopeless means to accomplishing something.

    Individuals are already able to directly contribute up to $123,200—an amount that is unfathomable to your average American family, let alone a college student living on a steady diet of jumbo slices.  Shaun McCutcheon is claiming that big donors are not allowed to give nearly enough, which is hard to believe after the 2012 election finished with a $7 billion price tag.

    Big money is fighting to become even bigger money, and the youth in America will be the first voices silenced. With record-high student loan debt and tripling interest rates, the campaign donations race is not a strength competition that the youth can win. However, we outmatch corporations in our passion and in our persistence.

    Those in favor of removing limits on individual contribution often state that limits set on contributions are restricting free speech. However, the people actually having their First Amendment rights restricted are those that cannot compete with large donors to have their voices heard. If we are truly concerned with maintaining a democracy where the voices of the youth are just as valuable as the older and deep-pocketed, the Court must side with the people the Constitution was written to protect rather than wealthy interests represented by Mr. McCutcheon.

    We have been highly effective at organizing and energizing our peers around issues we were passionate about in the past. From online privacy, to the Arab Spring and the Defense of Marriage Act, we have been able to use social media and other methods to engage members of our generation.

    We must revitalize ourselves again around the issue of money in politics.  Wealth should not be equated with clout in our political system, and we may prevent this comparison from being strengthened any further if we join together. Join us at https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/5259-stop-big-money-in-mccutcheon and let your voice be heard.

    - Steven AldridgeSteven Aldridge is a student at the University of Maryland and plans to graduate in May 2014 with a degree in Government and Politics. Outside of school, he has researched a variety of political issues with the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, managed online communications for Cause: The Philanthropub, and advocated for LGBT youth with The DC Center.  
    Guest
    Bio: This is a guest blog account. Have a blog you want to share with the RTV community? E-mail us at streetteam@rockthevote.com and we'll go from there!

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