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    News Round-Up: Thursday, April 3, 2014

    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

    Another shooting hits Fort Hood Military Base; a major aftershock in Chile causes massive evacuations; the US allegedly tried to undermine the Cuban government through the creation of a fake social media account; and a woman in Australia goes missing after being “taken” by a shark. Meanwhile, James Franco allegedly tried to meet up with a teenager via Instagram; a man arrested for trespassing on Selena Gomez’s property is sentenced; and Sarah Palin and “Vladimir Putin” have a phone conversation.

    - Veronica + Maura


    Fort Hood shooting spree: ‘Texans’ hearts are once again very heavy’: http://rtvote.com/1otWpcb
    Specialist Ivan Lopez went on a shooting spree Wednesday at Fort Hood Military Base in Killeen, Texas, wounding 16 and killing four others (including himself). All were army personnel. Lopez had had a history of depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. After his 4-month tour in Iraq, Lopez began to undergo treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Lopez used his own gun in the shooting; it was not registered to the base, making it against the rules to have it on the base. In contrast to the 2010 Fort Hood shooting, authorities do not suspect that terrorism was the driving force behind Lopez’s actions.

    New evacuations in Chile after major aftershock: http://rtvote.com/PmTToC
    A 7.2 magnitude aftershock rocked the northern coast of Chile Wednesday night, just days after an 8.2 magnitude earthquake caused tsunamis and six deaths. After the 7.2 aftershock, the Chilean Emergency Office issued new tsunami warnings and subsequent evacuations of the entire Chilean coast, driving 900,000 people from their homes. Fortunately, no damage, deaths, or injuries have been reported after the aftershock, which is one of over a dozen that have hit Chile over the past few days. The aftershock was felt in Peru as well, once again leaving no damage or injuries in its wake.

    Crowd beats driver who stopped after hitting boy, 11: http://rtvote.com/1lqM7Fd
    On the East Side of Detroit, Michigan, a crowd beat a driver who hit an 11-year-old boy. The child was struck by the driver of a truck while trying to cross an intersection. The driver then got out of the car to check on the boy, at which point a crowd of approximately 30 people came to assist the child. Some members of the crowd then beat the driver, who sustained serious head injuries that could be life-threatening. The boy’s condition has not been released. Both the driver and the child were taken to the hospital.

    US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest: http://rtvote.com/1k3eXhG
    US government official Joe McSpedon, a team of technology contractors, and the Agency for International Development had been planning to undermine the communist government in Cuba by creating a fake social media website. The “Cuban Twitter,” or ZunZuneo, would have breached the information restrictions and bans put in place by the Cuban government. At its peak, the account reached thousands of Cuban citizens, giving many access to information that had previously been denied to them. Due to the financing being linked to a Cayman Islands account, the United State’s name was never connected with the project’s development. Whether the program is legal or not is unclear.

    Woman ‘taken’ by large shark in Australia: http://rtvote.com/1mDUf57
    63-year-old lifeguard Christine Armstrong was swimming in Tathra, Australia with her husband and fellow lifeguards when she disappeared. She headed off to shore alone, leaving her friends in the water, but appeared to never make it. A witness told police that he saw an 11-foot shark attacking something in the water that looked like a swimmer. After an investigation, neither Armstrong nor the shark could be found. Armstrong’s husband and friends who were with her that day are being given counseling to cope.


    British Olympic diver Tom Daley discusses his sexuality: http://rtvote.com/1fOPOzE

    It’s Amanda Bynes’ birthday! Take a look back through her career: http://rtvote.com/1scN1cd 

    James Franco tried to pick up a teenage girl on Instagram: http://rtvote.com/1gqOpyG

    Get the latest details about the guy arrested for trespassing at Selena Gomez’s house: http://rtvote.com/1hkyi5W

    Sarah Palin and “Vladimir Putin” talk: see the video! http://rtvote.com/QIBT8Z

    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, February 3, 2014

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    A man was arrested for threatening a former President; a Super Bowl commercial sparks controversy; a convicted murderer escapes a Michigan prison, a man lost at sea for over a year is found; and a new report sheds light on the controversial Keystone Pipeline. Meanwhile, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his NYC apartment; J.K. Rowling drops a Harry Potter bombshell; and the Super Bowl spawned some decent commercials and social media moments.

    - Veronica + Maura 


    Man arrested after allegedly threatening to kill George W. Bush: http://rtvote.com/LrGlW4
    A New York man threatened to kill former President George W. Bush on Friday. Allegedly, the man, Benjamin Smith, had an interest in one of Bush’s daughters, Barbara. Smith’s mother alerted police after she found a note discussing his plans and discovered that a rifle was missing from their home. Police found Smith in Manhattan with a loaded rifle, ammunition boxes, gasoline, and a machete and arrested him.

    Coca-Cola “America” ad sparks strong reactions: http://rtvote.com/1gGGPqa
    The Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in eight different languages has sparked controversy around the Internet. People took to Twitter and Facebook to express their opinions. Some criticized the linguistic diversity, saying basically that “in America, we speak English.” Others, however, praised the commercial, saying it was an accurate portrayal of American diversity. Coca-Cola plans to air a longer version of the commercial during the Sochi Olympics. 

    Killer escapes Michigan prison, briefly abducts woman: http://rtvote.com/1ekLPPv
    A search that began in Michigan has become nationwide after a Michigan prisoner had escaped on Sunday. The man, 40-year-old Michael David Elliot allegedly escaped from Iona Correctional Facility by escaping through a hole in the fence. He then kidnapped a woman; she escaped and called police when he stopped to buy gas.

    Marshall Islands castaway details fishing trip gone awry: http://rtvote.com/1nIT1as
    Jose Salvador Alvarenga was found on the Marshall Islands a year after his disappearance. He said after his rescue that he and his traveling partner were blown off course when the fishing boat they were in lost engine power. His traveling companion starved to death after four months, but Alvarenga survived on fish, rainwater, and turtles, among other things. Police are trying to confirm his story while he seeks medical attention.

    Report: Keystone pipeline would have minimal environmental impact: http://rtvote.com/1lx7B6x
    According to a new State Department report, the highly controversial Keystone Pipeline will not have significant environmental effects. This could cause more pressure for President Obama to approve it. Republicans and moderate Democrats are excited, calling on the President to approve the pipeline for the jobs it could create. Environmentalists and Democrats, however, say that the report has failed to recognize the environmental impact of the initial oil extraction. If President Obama approves the pipeline, he could garner more support from the GOP House.


    The 10 best social media moments from Super Bowl XLVIII: http://rtvote.com/1dmjzpl

    Philip Seymour Hoffman, dead at age 46: http://rtvote.com/1eN7FpJ

    J.K. Rowling drops a Harry Potter bombshell: http://rtvote.com/1esTf1A

    Super Bowl recap- see the best commercials here: http://rtvote.com/1k49yWi

    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

    Digital Media: Platform for Democracy

    Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

    Youth in America spend more time using social media sites than any other form of media. Whether through tablets, smartphones or computers, my generation is certainly wired and ready to engage. What else can we do as we wait for that lolcats page to load except “like,” share, and “reteweet”? Well to start, we can build the political power and strength of our generation, one network at a time.

    This was the discussion surrounding South by Southwest’s (SXSW) kickoff Interactive panel “Socializing the Presidency” last Sunday, March 11th. PBS brought together several leaders in the digital and youth spaces, including Rock the Vote’s President Heather Smith, PBS NewsHour moderator Christina Bellantoni, radio host and political commentator Mary Katharine Ham, Founding Executive Director of Voto Latino Maria Teresa Kumar, and Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark. And despite the early morning start on a Sunday (not to mention the annoyance of Daylight Saving Time) and pouring rain, the panel’s room was packed. To Smith, the large audience and their thoughtful questions suggest that “there is a lot of great faith in social media innovators changing the presidential election.”

    Discussion on the panel ranged from candidates’ authentically interacting with others through social media, to “fact checking” the news through the digital gauntlet, to brand building, to how features on Facebook and Twitter can be used effectively to organize, and how grassroots initiatives may rely more on peer-to-peer networks in the future. Each panelist brought a dynamic perspective. Newmark noted, as a self-described nerd, less so political commentator, that he knows technological trends can accelerate and protect movements and that the concept of viral social media can only expand the effectiveness of grassroots activism. Ham said that, in her experience as a commentator, she has seen how authentic engagement and storytelling through social media has provided candidates a communications platform that significantly contributes to election wins.

    The panelists also talked about solutions for voter discouragement, namely in states that have recently adopted restrictive voter ID laws. Kumar is aware that Latino voters are especially at risk of disenfranchisement because of these laws. Smith points out that there are several barriers to voter participation that can be cured through social media. First, social media can help promote awareness about the voting process. “People don’t automatically know to fill out a form and send it in 28 days before an election,” Smith said, adding that educating and promoting through social media is a “huge service” for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.

    Obtaining the correct voter ID causes the inconvenience of extra steps in the voting process. However, digital tools can help combat this: “We have to use our power of communication and peer-to-peer networks to let people know about the barriers before they show up to the polls unprepared,” Smith said. Lastly, she believes that online conversations and demonstrations can remind voters that their voice has influence. Citing overwhelmingly effective reactions to the Stop Online Piracy Act and Komen’s decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, Smith sees the digital world as a platform for democracy and individual collection. “There is this one belief permeating youth culture that politics in D.C. is dysfunctional, that the influence of big money corrupts the political process and trumps the power of voters. But we know that the only way to fight against these things, which will only grow, is to increase participation. If we have fuller participation, we would outweigh the influence of power and money. Social media helps get that message out and demonstrates people getting together for collective action.”

    New technologies are providing exciting opportunities to communicate and act. For example, Smith sported Rock the Vote’s new “Scan to Vote” t-shirt at the panel. The tee allows a registrant to scan the shirt’s QR-code with his or her smartphone, bringing them to a mobile page with voter information videos, social media pages, and Rock the Vote’s online voter registration tool. Through scanning a code or simply “following” a Twitter handle, social media participation defines the youth movement. Smith says “this young generation is one out of four voters in the electorate and growing. Like it or not, they will define the culture in our country and with luck, they will shape the future of our democracy. Through social media we are encouraging them from simply being consumers of media, to being creators of our democracy.”

    Kelly Holleran

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

    News Round-Up: Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Thursday, July 21st, 2011

    In today’s news, Obama considers a short-term hike in the debt ceiling, nearly half of the U.S. population is facing extreme heat, some non-News Corp tabloids may have utilized phone hacking, Al-Qaeda is planning an animated film to recruit kids, and Quiznos may be going out of business. Also, student body presidents speak out on the debt, social media use may haunt job applicants, the space shuttle Atlantis is on the verge of its final landing, and Anonymous claims a breach of NATO security.

    Caitlin, Katie, + Perry


    As Debt Talks Intensify, Obama Opens Door to Short-Term Hike in Debt Ceiling,
    President Obama is considering a short-term debt deal if it will ultimately lead to a larger, more long-term plan. Obama’s willingness to bargain stems from Republicans’ continuous refusal to raise taxes. With no debt deal in sight, Wall Street has started planning for a debt default.

    Nearly Half of U.S. Population Facing Extreme Heat,
    It’s no news that it’s hot outside. However, some may be unaware that the triple digit temperatures are due to a deadly heat wave already responsible for 22 deaths. The heat wave has caused it to be 129 degrees in Iowa and 123 in Minnesota. It’s moving East this weekend, with heat advisories already in effect.

    In Court, Suggestions of Hacking Beyond the News of the World,
    More phone hacking incidents may have occurred, and this time it seems News Corp is not responsible. Former reporters from British tabloids, “The People” and “The Sunday Mirror,” have come out saying their respective papers used phone hacking and private detectives to dig up dirt on subjects.

    Al-Qaeda Plans Cartoon Recruiting Film for Kids,
    Al-Qaeda is working on a “Disney-like” animated film to recruit children to join the terrorist group. The film would depict boys taking part in killings and terror plots. Some believe the propaganda may fail, as adults could disapprove of the blatant attempt to recruit their children.

    House Dems say state voter-ID laws a GOP plan to suppress minority votes,
    While Republicans support voter-identification laws as a way of ensuring that only legal U.S. citizens vote, several House Democrats are arguing that these laws are a coordinated attempt to suppress minority and elderly votes.

    (via POLITICO Playbook)
    FIRST LOOK – National Press Club, 1:30 p.m., “Student Body Presidents Speak Out on Debt: 116 Student Body Presidents representing nearly 2 million college students from 40 states”: “A coalition of nearly 120 collegiate student body presidents [will release] a letter today calling on President Obama and Congressional leaders to reach a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling … The student-led initiative … began on Georgetown University’s campus last week.”

    Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle,
    Social Intelligence, a year-old start-up, provides companies with a detailed report of potential employees’ past social media activity. Proving background checks may be a thing of a past, Social Intelligence scours job applicants’ Facebooks, Twitters, Tumblrs, and Myspaces, reporting any scandalous pictures or opinions to potential employers.

    Space Shuttle on Verge of Final Landing,
    The U.S. space shuttle, Atlantis has made its final landing at Kennedy Space Center today. The landing marks the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, which launched 135 shuttles and 355 astronauts into space.

    Anonymous Hacking Group Claims Breach of NATO Security, Access to Restricted Material, http://wapo.st/qEF4zo
    The hacking group, Anonymous has hacked NATO’s cyber system. The group announced on Twitter that it would be “irresponsioble [sic]” to post any of the confidential information. However, the group seems to have had a change of heart as it has just announced it will post some of the restricted files in the coming days.


    Sarah Palin Is Going to Be a Grandmother Again, http://gaw.kr/rhOaPD

    Sofia Vergara’s next role: Politician’s wife? http://bit.ly/nu2lI2

    Lindsay Lohan Facing New Lawsuit — Assault & Battery, http://bit.ly/r2DG5m

    Bruno Mars Tweets Excitement About VMA Nominations, http://on.mtv.com/ot1Wnt

    Katie Scholick
    Bio: Duke University, Class of 2013 Majoring in Psychology, Certificate in Markets and Management.

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

    News Round-Up: Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Thursday, April 28th, 2011

    Storms tear across the country, tragically leaving almost 200 dead, some early Facebook investors try to get out, President Obama’s decision to confront the birthers head on points to the changes in strategy that social media have brought, and Jessica Simpson claims her wedding dress will beat Kate Middleton’s!


    Severe Storms Continue to Rip Through the South, Causing Multiple Fatalities, http://huff.to/jsq07r

    Storm spanning across the nation left at least 194 people dead in four states, with 128 of those deaths in Alabama which was hit the hardest.

    A New Era of Accusation and Innuendo, http://politi.co/kFtl40
    Obama’s decision to directly confront the birthers by releasing his birth certificate and speaking to the American public contrasts with previous presidents decisions to keep quiet and let the rumors swirl. With the rapid rise of social media leading to increased speed of news, Obama’s advisers said it was necessary to address the rumors head on.

    Syria Crackdown: Hundreds Resign From Ba’ath Party, http://bit.ly/kHOkGM
    With more than 500 democracy supporters killed, many members of the Syrian president’s party have resigned. The UN security council remains divided on how to handle the violence in Syria, and not international intervention has been made. 
    As Facebook Values Soar, Early Investors Seek to Cash Out, http://bit.ly/ks9jm8

    Investors have grown wary that the value of Facebook cannot continue to rise at its current rate, with one group trying to drop $90 billion worth of shares. Its worth in 2011 was said to be about $50 billion dollars.

    For Students, What is the “Facebook Effect” on Grades?, http://on.mash.to/mseBdF

    Social media has many positive and negative effects on the lives of students, ranging from feeling more connected to students and peers, to lower grades. Mashable outlines these pros and cons in a chart, finding the results to be inconclusive.

    Obama on Oprah: Birth Certificate Issue Raised During Interview, http://huff.to/kapdu0

    President Obama explains to Oprah that he asked the state of Hawaii to allow the disclosure of his birth certificate in hopes that the birther controversies would stop. The episode will air on May 2nd.

    Jessica Simpson: My Wedding Dress Will ‘Out-Do’ Kate Middleton’s: http://yhoo.it/kF9i2e
    MTV launches ‘Geordie Shore,’ Britain’s version of ‘Jersey Shore’: http://bit.ly/l3sPSy
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Trailer Is Here: http://eonli.ne/kvyDSi
    Justin Bieber, Mark Wahlberg Eying Basketball Movie: http://aol.it/krUKl5
    Summer Movie Sneak Preview: http://bit.ly/hCDvKu
    Taylor Swift’s $3.5 Million Beverly Hills Digs: http://bit.ly/es4Vsm

    Kristin Andrews
    Bio: Kristin is Rock the Vote's Communications Intern

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