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    News Round-Up: Friday, March 28, 2014

    Friday, March 28th, 2014

    A new CDC study underscores major increases in cases of Autism; appeals court upholds challenged parts of major TX abortion law; Microsoft releases Office products for iPad…finally; and voting rights activists are noticing some positive changes in 2014. Meanwhile, Selena Gomez is allegedly served legal papers in regards to Bieber’s recent troubles; The Colbert Report is under fire on Twitter with a #CancelColbert hashtag; and James Van Der Beek admits to doing something illegal for Justin Timberlake.

    Shameless Plug Alert: Congratulations to the Dayton Flyers (my alma mater) on making it to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament! First time in 30 years. Way to go Flyers!

    -Maura 

    CRUCIAL 

    Autism rates soar, now affects 1 in 68 children, http://rtvote.com/1myqmpv
    Between 2008 and 2010, Autism rates have climbed nearly 30 percent and have more than doubles since the turn of the century according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new study. The study also points out that Autism is now believed to affect 1 of every 68 eight-year-olds—a dramatic increase. What is driving this increase still remains unknown. Some believe it’s a rise in awareness of the disease while other speculate on environmental reasons.

    Appeals court upholds challenged parts of Texas abortion law, http://rtvote.com/1gJFJtd
    On Thursday, a federal appeals court upheld parts of a Texas abortion law which requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away. Planned Parenthood, which led the lawsuit against the bill, claims the law will cause clinics to shut down because hospitals would refuse doctors admitting privileges. This particular legislation, House Bill No.2, first garnered national attention when Senator Wendy Davis (now gubernatorial candidate), led a 13 hour filibuster to try and prevent the bill’s passage. The ruling of this appeal is considered a victory for anti-abortion activists.

    Obama looks to win back Saudi confidence, http://rtvote.com/1pBw6vO
    Continuing on with his diplomatic duties, President Obama is visiting Saudi Arabia to reassure Arab allies that despite troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and greater energy independence, the United States is not abandoning the Arab world. On his overnight trip there are only two items on his public schedule: a meeting and dinner with King Abdullah at his desert camp.

    Microsoft to Offer Office for iPad, Maybe a Bit Late, http://rtvote.com/QnF8CJ
    It’s finally here! Microsoft introduced the long-awaited suite of applications to the iPad which includes Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. The company’s new chief executive, Satya Nadella, announced a commitment to make the software work on all major computing devices, including those made by its competitors. Microsoft’s decision to bring Office to the Apple device comes after years of development and debate inside the company over implications that could occur against their own technology developments.

    VOTING RIGHTS

    Voting Rights Fight Takes New Direction, http://rtvote.com/P1u5hq
    The primary election season is just around the corner, and voting rights activists are identifying some notable changes in relation to laws and restrictions around voting.  Although there have been a flurry of new rules, like the party-line vote for the elimination of a week of early voting in Ohio last month, some activists are noticing fewer restrictions and even some bipartisanship progress. Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University remarked that there has been “a lot of real momentum in 2014, thus far, towards improving our elections both at the states and nationally.” On that note, don’t forget to register to vote ! 

    CULTURAL

    Selena Gomez Served With Legal Papers, http://rtvote.com/1rKLNVD

    The Colbert Report Tweets Racist Joke, Twitter Users Rally to #CancelColbert, http://rtvote.com/1jYCXy1

    Beyoncé Breaks Down in Tears During Final Carter Show Concert: “I’m Giving Y’all an Ugly Cry!”, http://rtvote.com/1maROGX

    Lady Gaga Celebrates 28th Birthday With Macabre “27 Club” Joke, http://rtvote.com/1pijgVc

    James Van Der Beek Let Underage Justin Timberlake Use His ID in the 90’s, http://rtvote.com/1fsBKfb

    Seth Meyers: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me, http://rtvote.com/P1jwLm

    Maura
    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: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

    The biggest snowstorm of the winter season covers the Northeast; two shootings occur on two college campuses; countries receive Olympic terror threats; and President Obama’s Commission on Election Administration releases a report offering solutions to shorten voter lines & modernize the registration process. Meanwhile, TV is taking over the entertainment headlines today as a Seattle Seahawks player goes on a postgame rant and The Bachelor’s ratings remain steady regardless of Juan Pablo’s controversial remarks.

    - Veronica + Maura

    CRUCIAL

    Northeast buried under heavy snow: http://rtvote.com/1msuR0A
    The heaviest snowfall of the season pummeled the Northeastern United States and was accompanied by plunging temperatures. Cities like Philadelphia, Washington, and New York will see temperatures in the single digits and have wind chill numbers in the negatives. Meanwhile, states like New Jersey, Delaware, and New York are declaring states of emergency based on weather conditions. Thousands of flights have been canceled as travelers try to change their travel plans. The kicker? It’s currently warmer in Alaska!

    Two universities rocked by shootings: http://rtvote.com/1ezw7gN
    Two colleges were affected by shootings this weekend. At Purdue University, a student shot and killed another student before surrendering to police on Tuesday. The shooter has been identified as 23-year-old Cody Cousins. The victim, 21-year-old Andrew Boldt, was a teaching assistant at the school. This shooting followed up reports of another school shooting at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania (a city outside of Philadelphia) where the victim is in critical condition, and the shooter is still at large.

    Countries receive terrorist threats for Olympics: http://rtvote.com/1hLAaYS
    Hungary is the latest country to receive terroristic threats towards their Olympic athletes. The message, formatted as an email, is threatening the Hungarian athletes with violence if they attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next month. The nation’s security forces have been informed, as have Sochi organizers. However, officials believe that the message is random and contains no threat, something that is common before every Olympics.

    N.Y. 8-year-old saved 6 in fire, died trying to save 7th: http://rtvote.com/1ins77l
    An 8-year-old boy saved six of his family members after the trailer they were sleeping in caught on fire. The boy, identified as 8-year-old Tyler Doohan, then ran back into the home to rescue a disabled relative. The two of them were found dead in a back bedroom, and a third relative was found in a front room. Doohan warned his family about the fire and died trying to help everyone else escape.

    Cuccinelli: Chris Christie should step down from RGA post: http://rtvote.com/1in6vrP
    Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli said Tuesday that New Jersey governor Chris Christie should step down from chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Cuccinelli believes that the investigations and scandals surrounding Christie are preventing the Republican Party from focusing on their election year goals. The scandals include the now-infamous “Bridgegate” incident and the latest from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who claims Christie’s administration threatened to not provide Hurricane Sandy relief money to Hoboken unless she agreed to a real estate deal.

    Presidential Commission Offers Ways to Shorten Voting Lines: http://rtvote.com/19NYHMK
    After long lines continued at the polls during the 2012 election, President Obama announced the launch of a bi-partsian panel of election and management experts following his State of the Union speech last year. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration released their report & findings to President Obama and Vice President Biden today with recommendations on how to shorten voting lines and modernize the voter registration system. Rock the Vote is proud to announce their support of the Commission’s recommendations & their role in providing testimony and technology highlighted in the report. This is a big win for American voters!

    CULTURAL

    Seattle Seahawks corner Richard Sherman loses his cool in a pre-Super Bowl interview: http://rtvote.com/1kXQb2q

    Juan Pablo Galavis’s remarks don’t dent The Bachelor‘s ratings: http://rtvote.com/1kXQDh6

    Murder, She Wrote reboot scrapped by NBC: http://rtvote.com/19NNCeB

    Jersey Shore‘s former cast member Jenni “JWoww” Farley is having a girl: http://rtvote.com/1msKDIW

    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



    Meet Carina

    Friday, October 25th, 2013

    We’re currently obsessed with Carina. She’s a first generation student at Old Dominion University and one of our esteemed Fellows working to Get Out the Vote in Virginia! If you’ve lost faith in the Millennial generation, it’s only because you haven’t met Carina yet. Shall we introduce you?

    • Give us a little background. Who are you? Where did you come from? Where do you go to college? What are you studying?

    My name is Carina Wicker. I’m was born in Norfolk, Virginia, but raised in Lynchburg, Virginia. I am a proud representative from both locations. Lynchburg and Norfolk have both made me who I am today. Right now I am a sophomore at Old Dominion University double majoring in Political Science and International Studies.

    • How did you first get involved with Rock the Vote?

    I got involved with Rock the Vote because I am currently the Director of Legislative and Diversity Affairs for the Student Government Association at Old Dominion University. Sam Menefee-Libey contacted me, and told me about Rock the Vote because of the work I have done in Student Government. I was incredibly excited about the opportunity because Rock the Vote sounded exactly what I was passionate about.

    • Tell us a little bit about your work as a RTV/CEEP fellow. What have you been doing to register voters? Do you have any cool stories to share? 

    As a RTV/CEEP fellow my main goal was to always inform the students about the true significance of voting. My co-fellow and I have worked endlessly with emails and tabling. We have tabled in the Old Dominion Student Union Center, or Webb Center, and grabbed students’ attention if only for five seconds to tell them about the power they could potentially have if they voted. We have reached out to different organizations and first year students to make sure all of them were ready for the Election Day. We had the awesome opportunity to work for the Lieutenant Governor Candidate Debate at Old Dominion. There we were recognized during the debate and then recognized by different news channels that recorded the debate. In my opinion, if I had gotten only one person registered or helped one person see how powerful their voice is, I feel like that is a successful run.

    • Tell us something inspiring about yourself

    Something inspiring about myself… Well, I am a first generation college student. I barely got any financial aid, and most defiantly did not have money coming out of pocket for school. I did not receive much help going towards college, so I completely relied on myself and God. I work two jobs, I have this fellowship, and I am a proud director of the Legislative and Diversity Committee at Old Dominion’s Student Government Association. I also work with Virginia 21, an organization where I represent the voice of students my age to leaders in government. Not to mention I am a full-time, double major student. I feel like opportunities only come when you are willing to work hard for it. I do not take no for an answer, and there are no such things as excuses, only solutions. My favorite quote that motivates me is “If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you will be successful.” -Eric Thomas. In life I want to inspire people to keep going forward, and even when you are exhausted, keep fighting. To the first generation college students who barely have any help, you can do it. Keep working and don’t allow yourself to make excuses. Do not take no for an answer, make your opportunities, and always remember that you CAN do it. 

    • Name one person who you think is changing the world.

    I believe that my generation is persistently working to change the world. I think a lot of people have goals to make this planet a little better than it is now. Those people who dedicate hours upon hours, work vigorously, and do not take no for an answer for their cause are the people who are changing the world.

    • What is the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever been to?

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to an “embarrassing” concert. I’m always so engaged in the music that even if something embarrassing happened to the performer I would not mind. My first concert was M83 then Twenty-One Pilots which both were a dream come true. I absolutely love them, and I’m actually listening to them right now as I type this. They inspire me greatly, and one day I hope to tell them both how incredible I actually think they are.  

    • Do you have any unique talents? 

    My unique talents would have to be that I can play the violin and I’m really good with a camera in my hand. I’ve played violin for nine years. The ability to make music is a blessing for me. I have shot photography for only five years, but I am passionate about it. Beauty sometimes is only a glimpse, and when I can catch that glimpse I get thrilled. 

    • If you had the attention of the entire population of American youth for 15 seconds, what would you say? 

    If I had the attention of the entire population of the American youth I would have to tell them how great life is. God gave you a great life, so live it. In life you need a passion, and when you have that passion work until you’re exhausted for it. That is when you will find happiness. Life isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Meet Summer

    Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

    What’s the coolest job you can think of? Flight attendant? National Geographic photographer? How about Voter Advocate?

    Rock the Vote — in partnership with the Campus Election Engagement Project — has recruited a team of fellows across Virginia that are working on college campuses to register voters and educate their peers about the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election. It’s the dream, I know.

    The media have us pegged as lazy, self-centered punks who can’t care about politics — but that’s only because they haven’t met any of our fellows. These fellows are the best of the best. They’re smart, they’re dedicated, they’re passionate, and we love them like family. Over the next few weeks we’re going to highlight some of our fellows and take a few minutes to brag about how cool they are.

    So why don’t we start by introducing you to Summer?

    • Give us a little background. Who are you? Where did you come from? Where do you go to college? What are you studying? 

    My name is Summer Gupta, most know me as Summer Siddiqui. I am from Woodbridge, Virginia. I go to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia , and I am a sophomore. My major is Political Science and my Minor is International Studies.

    • How did you first get involved with Rock the Vote?

    My best friend told me about it, she saw an email from Rock The Vote and the CEEP. She said she thought it was something I would be interested in so I took a look at the program and loved it so I applied to it!

    • Tell us a little bit about your work as a Rock the Vote fellow. What have you been doing to register voters? Do you have any cool stories to share?

    I have been setting up tabling events, doing class raps, canvassing, and a lot of visibility activities to get Rock The Vote’s name out there. My team and I have gotten several people to register and pledge. We are having a big Halloween party for those have volunteered, registered, or pledged with us here at Old Dominion University. It has been a pleasure working with Rock the Vote at our campus. We have several wonderful volunteers and professors who are engaging and stressing the importance of Voting.

    • Tell us something inspiring about yourself

    I have came along way in my life, with the support my two very amazing parents. they have been my role models, my motivation, and my strength for the past 19 years. I am who I am today because of my parents. My mother has a political and Law based background, I am following her footsteps. I wish to become a very successful political figure in the United States of America.

    • Name one person who you think is changing the world

    I cannot name one person, I believe that there are several people who are taking the stand and changing the world for the better in several different ways.

    • What is the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever been to?

    I took my little cousin to go watch the Sesame Street concert last year, and I knew every word to every song..that was probably the most embarrassing. 

    • Do you have any unique talents?

    I have major stage fright but when it comes to Indian dance, I forget anyone is watching and just do what I want. It is my ultimate stress reliever and it makes me really happy and feel positive about everything.

    • If you had the attention of the entire population of American youth for 15 seconds, what would you say?

    Do not take your life for granted, make something big out of yourselves. Education is the most beautiful gift you can give yourself. Do something with your life by giving others what they don’t have in their lives. Love, Respect, and Treasure your family, And most importantly, exercise every right you are given.

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Want to Prevent the Next Shutdown? Register to Vote

    Friday, October 11th, 2013

    Walking home from the King Street, Alexandria metro station the other night, I passed a chalkboard street menu bearing the words “Special Deal for Members of Congress: 2X Entire Bill.” This is no anomaly – signs like this are sprouting up all over. I admit they are funny, but there’s no denying the brewing frustration with our government. I mean, come on—Americans currently prefer cockroaches, potholes, toenail fungus, and hipsters to our current Congress (although Congress still trumps Miley Cyrus. Way to go, America. Good job.).

    And yet I remain optimistic that our democracy will recover – even as #furloughbeards approach the tipping point of appropriate public hygiene.

    In just a few weeks, Virginians will head to the polls to elect a new Governor, and much more. The impact of this election will be huge: as chief executive of the commonwealth, the Governor of Virginia will oversee policies and programs from healthcare, to education, to transportation. And the three lucky fellas vying for your vote are Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, and Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis (all listed in alphabetical order by last name to avoid preference).

    But even if you haven’t been closely following this election, the timing of the Virginia gubernatorial could not be better. This is one of our country’s first major elections since the government shutdown, and the outcome could set a precedent for 2014.

    Our democracy was constructed to respond to the will of the people, and when the public gets agitated, our leaders get nervous (and let’s be honest, we’re more than a little peeved). When we stand united, We the People have a voice—and given the state of politics these days, I think it’s about time we use it. Now, more than ever, we need to remember the importance of civic participation, and the consequences of a government that doesn’t act in the interest of the American people.

    In times like these, young Americans are poised to motivate a substantial shift in the attitude of our elected officials—particularly in Virginia. Currently, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 make up 20% of the electorate. That’s one out of every five eligible voters. Right now, thousands of young people across the Commonwealth are registering their friends, knocking on doors, picking up phones. There is power in those numbers, and when we organize, our leaders get scared (Don’t believe me? Remember Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, KONY 2012, SOPA, The Human Rights Campaign….that list goes on).

    All this is to say that we Millennials have power and, given the right spark, we can set the world on fire (credit to the band Fun. for that line).

    Mission Impossible movies also come to mind. You know when Tom Cruise receives his assignment: “Your mission… should you choose to accept it….” I admit (though it’s hard), I’m no Tom Cruise, but we Millennials have the tools to organize. We have a reason to rally. This is our spark. And the final step is to accept the mission at hand and take action.

    So here’s your mission… should you choose to accept it.

    1) Register to vote (Deadline is Tuesday, Oct 15th. Don’t procrastinate with this one. It takes five minutes)

    2) Register your friends to vote (share this post on twitter or Facebook)

    3) Vote on November 5th (need a reminder? We got your back)

    No matter who you are or who you vote for, this fact remains: we will not have a voice in government unless we raise our voices now. The name of Virginia’s next governor is irrelevant if we don’t hold him accountable and pressure him to serve our interests. Regardless of political affiliation or campaign platform, we want to send the next governor into office with a clear mandate: don’t fuck around with Millennials.

    Our government isn’t exactly working for us right now (or anyone for that matter). How about we change that? Register to vote by Tuesday and join me at the polls on November 5th.

    (This post originally appeared on PolicyMic)

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com