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    News Round-Up: Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

    The SCOTUS comes to a decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case; a powerful earthquake strikes off the coast of Chile; Muriel Bowser defeats incumbent in DC mayoral primary; and bombings hit Cairo University in Egypt. Meanwhile, the Broadway cast of The Lion King does an epic rendition of the “Circle of Life” in an unexpected place; Michael Strahan shares some big news with the TV world; and Anna Kendrick preps for her SNL appearance.

    -Veronica + Maura

    CRUCIAL

    DEVELOPING STORY: Justices strike down political donor limits: http://rtvote.com/1dN6htc
    The Supreme Court of the United States has determined the outcome of the McCutcheon v. FEC case.  With a vote of 5-4, individuals are no longer faced with a limit on how much they can donate to political campaigns. The winning argument determined that individual donor limits and regulations violated the First Amendment rights of the donor.

    Powerful earthquake strikes off Chile, triggers tsunami: http://rtvote.com/1pL0c20
    A massive, 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck directly off the coast of Chile on Tuesday. Fortunately, damage was minimal; landslides wiped out roads in some places and phone and power lines were also knocked out. Tsunami warnings were also in effect as tsunamis hit at various beaches, generating 6 to 7 foot waves. Five people died: two had heart attacks while the others were crushed by debris. People fled to higher ground as soon as the quake was felt, creating some traffic jams. Some are still without any source of power or phones, not knowing if they are able to return to their homes. There is no danger for the United States coastline.

    Muriel Bowser defeats Gray in DC mayoral primary: http://rtvote.com/1hhuFO7
    DC Councilmember Muriel Bowser defeated incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray in yesterday’s mayoral primary. Gray had been hit with scandals and a federal investigation relating to potential monetary felonies that helped him get elected in 2010. The Democratic primary winner has won every official election in Washington because 75% of registered voters in the district are Democrats; however, the Republican challenger, David Catania, is a definite contender. Despite Bowser’s win, many voters were discouraged with the candidates running and the election experienced a low voter turnout.

    Regulators did not properly track complaints on GM switches, inspector general says: http://rtvote.com/1oqcDTM
    According to the Department of Transportation’s inspector general Calvin L. Scovel III, “federal auto safety regulators lacked effective procedures for tracking consumer complaints” about the flaw in the ignition: the issue that has spurred the recall and resulted in thirteen deaths. General Motors’ Chief Executive, Mary T. Barra, says she was unaware of the issue until this year and did not answer questions relating to GM’s failure to fix the flaw. GM has recalled 2.6 million Chevy Cobalts deemed at risk for the ignition switch flaw. According to lawmakers, the ignition switch problem could have been solved by GM for a cost of .57 cents per vehicle.

    Bombings rock area near Cairo University: http://rtvote.com/1mKyRhw
    Two bombs planted outside of Cairo University in Egypt exploded, killing an Egyptian police officer and wounding five other security officers. Violence like this has been prevalent since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi last year, and is expected to escalate as Election Day grows closer. The current Egyptian leader, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is expected to win with almost no contest, as the Muslim Brotherhood, the political party behind Morsi, and Egypt’s most organized party, have been banned. No one has claimed responsibility for this attack, although people speculate that Islamic militants are responsible. 

    CULTURAL

    The Lion King Broadway cast gives an impromptu performance: watch the awesome video! http://rtvote.com/1ft6eRL

    Anna Kendrick’s SNL promos are a thing of beauty & hilarity: http://rtvote.com/1mKFekZ  

    Michael Strahan has some big news: http://rtvote.com/1pQYSc5

    Miley Cyrus grieving over dog’s death: http://rtvote.com/1go46Xp

    Two people debate the How I Met Your Mother finale: http://rtvote.com/1oqkwbV

    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



    The Supreme Court and the Affirmative Action Ruling

    Monday, June 24th, 2013

    The Supreme Court has ruled on the affirmative action case of Fisher v. University of Texas today, and the result is not earth-shattering, but important nonetheless: the Justices have sent the case back down to the lower courts to be reevaluated. The purpose of this move was to allow the lower courts to scrutinize the University of Texas use of the affirmative action policy and decide whether the University was using these policies to solely as a last resort to create a diverse student body. Although no major decision was made today, and universities will be allowed to continue their affirmative action policies for the time being, the implications of today’s decision mean that colleges will need to be much more cautious in their justification for their use of affirmative action. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the decision that public universities may only employ affirmative action if “no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the benefits of educational diversity.” The Supreme Court did not produce a ruling on whether University of Texas adhered to these criteria, and this case is far from over. The girl who is responsible for bringing the case against the university is Abigail Fisher, a 23 year old who had applied to the University of Texas in 2008 but was rejected. She claims that many people in her class who were less qualified were admitted on the basis of race, and that the University discriminated against her simply because she was not a minority. Fisher did not initially decide to sue the University, but was recruited by Edward Blum, the head of a non-profit called Project on Fair Representation. He had been looking for someone to be the face of a case against race-based admissions policies at the University of Texas, and Fisher fit the description. The University of Texas is a special case because they have a policy that allows students in the top 10% of the class automatic admission. It voted to reinstate affirmative action in 2007. However, Blum argued that the university had been able to meet its goal of academic diversity without affirmative action, and the addition of further race-based decision making was unnecessary and discriminatory. The future of affirmative action is uncertain, but what is definite is that whatever the decision, it will change the way universities assess any admissions decisions based on race.

    jen.y@rockthevote.com
    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



    It’s a new year…

    Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

    Which means more politics and more fun.

    What’s 2010 going to be like? Any predictions? We’ve certainly started out with a bang:

    And on and on and on….. I’m excited for 2010, it’s going to be a wild ride and promises to be interesting. Besides, who doesn’t love living in a country that can produce videos like this:

    Cat’s acting like humans…..always funny.

    Here’s to 2010!

    ~Mary

    Mary
    Bio:
    @Rockthevote
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Pass it on

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

    Some of you know the feeling of not having health insurance all too well. It sucks and our buddy below is finding out the hard way. Watch, and send to everyone who cares about reforming a broken system.

    Also, it’s a big day in the long fight for health care reform…the Senate Finance Committee is voting on various ‘public option’ amendments. Right now the bill is in that committee but in general ALL of our Senators need to hear from us on why health care reform is so important.

    Will you call your Senators and tell them you care about reform? Just call 1-888-743-4385 and you’ll be connected to their office. All you have to say is, ‘Hi, my name is _______ and as a young person I wanted to let the Senator know that I care about creating a health care system that gives me quality care and is affordable’.

    Every call counts. So, to recap, two actions today:

    1) Watch the video and send it on
    2) Call your Senator.

    Thanks,
    Mary

    Mary
    Bio:
    @Rockthevote
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com