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    News Round-Up: Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

    Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

    President Obama intends to discuss raising the minimum wage for some Federal workers in his State of the Union Address tonight; John W. Warner surprises many by endorsing his Democratic successor Mark Warner; and peace talks in the Middle East have led to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreeing to a three year transition period. Meanwhile, legendary folk singer Pete Seeger passed away today and ‘How I Met Your Mother’ will premiere its 200th episode tonight!

    -Gianna & Maura

    Obama to raise minimum wage for some Federal Workers, http://rtvote.com/MpuoSk
    In tonight’s State of the Union Address, President Obama plans to announce his intention of using an executive order to raise the minimum wage for some federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The White House released a statement saying,“The President is using his executive authority to lead by example, and will continue to work with Congress to finish the job for all Americans by passing the (congressional) bill.” The State of the Union Address will air tonight at 9PM EST.

     Ex-GOP Sen. John Warner Endorses Dem, http://rtvote.com/M9K5MN
    Former Republican Senator John Warner has earned a reputation as a party maverick for bucking conservatives who won control of the GOP during his 30 year tenure in the US Senate. The former senator praised Democrat Mark Warner in his interview with the Associated Press as being a politician who understands the importance of bipartisan solutions. Mark Warner is grateful for his former opponent’s support and lauded John Warner as “The Gold Standard of Virginia”.

    Colorado High School Student Sets Self on fire in Cafeteria, http://rtvote.com/M9OpeJ
    A student at a local Denver high school set himself on fire in the school cafeteria. The unnamed 16 year-old student remains in critical condition as family, friends, school faculty, and police attempt to figure out what led the student to set himself on fire. Yesterday was the latest incident to affect the Denver area school community in recent weeks.

    Bill to Offer an Option to Give Vouchers, http://rtvote.com/1mRTtzT
    Senator Lamar Alexander, who served as Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush, is planning to introduce a bill sometime today that would give federal money to the parents of 11 million children from low income families to spend on any type of schooling, as long as it is an accredited institution. Under this legislation, states would be given the option to opt in to the voucher program. About a third of states have already taken steps to redefine public education with a network of vouchers and scholarships. The rollout of Senator Alexander’s bill is seen as being a rallying point for Republicans as they approach mid-term election season.

    Palestinian President Says He Can Accept a 3 year transition period, http://rtvote.com/1dL3U2Z
    President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said in an interview that he can accept an Israeli military presence in the West Bank for three years as part of a peace deal. Mr. Mahmoud said,“We are willing to allow a third party to take Israel’s place during and after a withdrawal in order to soothe our concerns and Israel’s.”

    Pete Seeger, American Folk singer and songwriter dies at 94- http://rtvote.com/1e4voqq
    Rosie O’Donnell returning to The View as a guest seven years after bitter exit- http://rtvote.com/1hITkOm
    Kate Middleton will be attending The National Portrait Gala- http://rtvote.com/1f7MhOY
    ‘How I Met Your Mother’ will air the 200th episode tonight- http://rtvote.com/1iGUj5j

    Gianna Judkins
    Bio: My name is Gianna Judkins& I'm a proud Angeleno. I'm also a Political Science Major at Howard University. I pride myself in being Michelle Obama's biggest fan and always being "FLOTUS Inspired”! As a Political Science major, my ultimate goal is to one day call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue my office. I'm a very determined young woman who understands the power of education and value of hard work while striving to achieve my goal of being one of the nation's next great leaders. I'm not that serious all the time though, for fun I enjoying singing in the choir and hanging out with friends.

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

    Do you think we can make college more affordable?

    Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

    This week we started a dialogue about college affordability. Today the president kicked off a bus tour launching his” A Better Bargain for the Middle Class” campaign and as I watched the president unveil his plan to Make College More Affordable”, I thought to myself what does this mean? what will this reform really look like? As many of you stated on our Facebook page, we’re tired of talk- we want ACTION!

    The truth is, there is no quick fix to this problem BUT we are finally having a substantive discussion about student debt and college affordability. A college education is the ticket to upward mobility in our society yet today students graduate with more than $26,000 in debt so we can’t go about business as usual.

    Here’s a breakdown of the major points of President Obama’s Plan:

    1) Rating colleges- the idea of creating a better value for students and providing a ranking based on opportunities and outcomes

    2) New competition between colleges- the goal is to drive down costs, and making college more affordable

    3) Ways to manage and afford debt- making sure borrowers can afford their federal student loans

    For more information about the President’s plan, join us on a call with the White House to discuss this plan and get your questions answered.

    Call Information
    Today, August 22nd at 5:00 PM EST. 

    Register for the Conference call here.  (You will receive the conference line after registering)


    What are your thoughts? Do you think we can make college more affordable? Share your comments below!




    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: Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

    President Obama discusses college costs; an apparent chemical attack strikes Syria; and Bradley Manning reveals his plan to become a woman. Meanwhile, James Franco set to star in his own show; Prince George turns 1…month; and Law and Order SVU tackles the Paula Deen scandal.

    -Maura + Ally


    Images of Death in Syria, but No Proof of Chemical Attack, http://rtvote.com/1aviwY8
    Many Syrian men, women, and children were killed yesterday in a likely chemical weapon attack. Though cause of death is not confirmed, the victims have no signs of visible injury, and puffs of smoke were spotted above the affected areas. The scale of this attack could change the global attitude on chemical weapons and be the tipping point for increased Western involvement on the issue.

    ‘I am Chelsea’: Read Manning’s full statement, http://rtvote.com/175VC4q
    Bradley Manning announced on the TODAY show today that he will begin hormone therapy to live the rest of his life as a woman, ‘Chelsea Manning.’ This comes shortly after his indictment for leaking classified military information.

    San Diego Mayor Bob Filner reaches mediation deal, city attorney says, http://rtvote.com/175VLVs
    Weeks after Mayor Filner admitted to inappropriate relations with 18 women and underwent 2 weeks of rehab, an agreement has been reached between the Mayor and the city. The content of the mediation will not be released until Friday, but the result could be as extreme as resignation.

    Maria Sharapova withdraws from the U.S. Openhttp://rtvote.com/175Wkid
    Due to a shoulder injury sustained from the French Open in May, Sharapova withdrew her spot in the U.S. Open to give herself time to heal. She is simultaneously working to promote her new line of gummy candies, called “Sugarpova.

    Obama’s Plan Aims to Lower Cost of Collegehttp://rtvote.com/175XTwG
    President Obama spoke to students in Buffalo Thursday morning, addressing the rising cost of college. He proposed a ranking system of a colleges’ affordability, state funding tied to success of students, and ensuring students receiving federal aid actually complete school. The President will continue to discuss this topic as he continues a bus tour throughout New York and Pennsylvania today and tomorrow.


    James Franco Gets TV Show Starring James Franco Called James Franco Presents About James Franco’s Life, http://rtvote.com/175JIHG

    Prince George Is 1 Month Old Already: Here’s What the Royal Baby Has Been Up To, http://rtvote.com/1av0LIC

    Wentworth Miller Comes Out: ‘Prison Break’ Star Reveals He’s Gay, http://rtvote.com/1av2eP8

    ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Tackling Paula Deen Controversy With Cybill Shepherd, http://rtvote.com/1av2ltZ

    Brandy Performs to Empty Stadium in South Africa, http://rtvote.com/1av34LN

    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

    A Visit to the White House: Signing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act into Law

    Monday, August 12th, 2013

    On Friday, I accompanied the National Political Director of Rock the Vote, Amanda Brown, to the White House to watch President Obama sign the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act into law. We arrived at the White House in the early afternoon, swiftly moved through security, and proceeded to the West Wing where we were cordially greeted by White House staff. After giving up our cell phones, we were ushered into the Roosevelt room, where we mingled with Senators, advocates, and students who supported the bill.  Along with meeting Senators Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Angus King (Maine), I had the pleasure of meeting my own homestate Senator, Dick Durban (Illinois). After chatting it up with the group, the White House staff directed us into a small corridor that connected the Roosevelt room to the President’s office. There, we waited for the President to open the door and welcome us into the Oval Office. He greeted us with a pleasant “Hello there!” and shook each of our hands as we introduced ourselves. Thereafter, we surrounded the desk and watched the President sign his name on the bill, one pen at a time. Over the cacophony of cameras snapping photos, the President made jokes mentioning that it felt really good to sign a bipartisan bill. It isn’t something he’s done in a while, “hint, hint,” he urged. We concluded our visit by taking a photo with the President and doing an interview with White House staff.

    The student loan bill is a bipartisan bill that links student loan rates to the market’s interest rates. As the economy improves, the present rates which are 3.9% for undergraduates and 5.4% for graduate students, will also increase but will be capped at 8.25%. When Congress failed to come to a consensus in late July, student loan rates doubled to more than 6% with no foresight on what the interest rate forecast would look like in coming years.

    As a graduate student with undergraduate and graduate loans, the outcome of this bill and subsequent congressional conversations directly affect me. This bill is not ideal – as a self-interested student, I want the lowest interest rate possible. As the economy starts improving, my rates will increase and that’s unsettling! An interest rate increase only becomes warranted when the job market shows the same improvement that economy shows. And in the last few months we haven’t seen that correlation. Instead, what we’ve seen is an increase in economic growth and recovery coupled with relative stagnation in the job market. Fortunately, the interest cap is helpful because it allows students like me to envision our worst-case loan-debt scenario and make risk-adjusted financial decisions accordingly. From a historical perspective the student loan bill is symbolic for two reasons: First, it creates a space for long overdue conversations about the student debt crisis, college affordability, and educational equality. Second, this example of bipartisan support and congressional collaboration represents a glimmer of hope for citizens who have found themselves disenchanted with the democratic process because of partisanship and months of gridlock on the Hill.

    Amanda Hall
    Bio: Amanda earned a B.A. in Classics and a minor in International Studies from Dartmouth College. After graduating, Amanda joined the Teach For America New York Corps and concurrently earned an M.A in Education at Fordham University. She taught 6th-8th grade Special Education in the South Bronx. From this experience, Amanda became deeply invested not only in education equality but also income equality and civic engagement. This summer Amanda is working closely with the National Political Director of Rock the Vote. In the Fall, she will begin a dual Master’s degree in International and World History at Columbia University and the London School of Economics.
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    News Round-Up: Monday, July 29, 2013

    Monday, July 29th, 2013

    Obama set to back student loan deal; Israel-Palestine peace talks to resume; 51 are dead in Iraqi car bombings; and Pope Francis says he will not judge gay priests. Meanwhile, Diane Lane to play Hillary Clinton in new miniseries; and Johnny Depp discusses ending acting career.

    -Ally + Maura


    At least 51 dead in Iraq car bombingshttp://rtvote.com/15ZvrvV

    Monday morning rush hour saw a series of car bombings in central and southern Iraq. The attacks were reportedly led by “insurgents determined to undermine the government.” Since April of this year, similar events have killed over 3,000, reviving fear from the violence of the last decade.

    Thief Gets Away With Estimated $50 Million in Jewelry at a French Riviera Hotel, http://rtvote.com/15Zw5JQ

    An armed thief stirred the Carlton InterContinental Hotel in Cannes on Sunday, following the escape of an imprisoned member of the Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves in Switzerland. The jewels were exhibited in the hotel by the Leviev diamond house.

    Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set to resume Monday, http://rtvote.com/15ZwewB

    The U.S. State Department has announced that peace talks will resume this evening, with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho representing Israel, and Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh for Palestine. In anticipation of the talks, Israel released 104 Palestinian prisoners. These actions suggest hope for fruitful negotiations.

    Pope Francis says he won’t ‘judge’ gay priests, http://rtvote.com/13gRu2z

    Following a visit to Brazil’s World Youth Day, his first foreign trip as Pope, Francis says he will not judge gay priests. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” This view is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

    White House Muted in Response to New Mass Killing of Egyptian Protesters, http://rtvote.com/19sN24y 

    Sunday marked the second mass killing of Egyptians in three weeks. The Obama administration remains quiet on the event, while Western diplomats work to calm tensions. The event revives the question as to whether Congress should suspend its aid to Egypt.

    Obama backs student loan bill, http://rtvote.com/13gUZpE

    After the Senate passed a bipartisan agreement to reverse the immediate doubling of student loan rates, linking rates to the interest rates, the bill will be brought to vote today in the House. The House is also expected to pass the bill, and President Obama signaled he would follow suit.


    Diane Lane to Play Hillary Clinton in NBC Miniseries, http://rtvote.com/13gYiNJ

    Johnny Depp to Quit Acting? “It’s Probably Not Too Far Away,” http://rtvote.com/13gXR5S

    Box office report: ‘The Wolverine’ earns $55 million; Plus ‘Despicable Me 2’ crosses $300 million mark, http://rtvote.com/19sO9Ba

    Lady Gaga Unveils ‘Applause’ Single Name, Artwork, http://rtvote.com/13gXaJR

    Michael Jackson & Freddie Mercury Duets To Reportedly See Release This Fall, http://rtvote.com/15ZEcWM

    Bio: My name is Ally Filler and I am a Field Intern at RTV this summer! I recently graduated from McGill University where I studied Linguistics. In addition to marveling at the linguistic hotspot that is Montreal and eating many croissants, I assisted hundreds of American students in their quest to vote from abroad. I'm excited to be a part of such an amazing team here at Rock the Vote!

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