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Sun, 28 Nov 2021
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'Twilight' Stands In For Religion for Some Teens

© Summit Entertainment
Rumors have flown about how the young adult novel Breaking Dawn (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008) will translate to the big screen. The book, part of the popular Twilight series, includes references to rough sex and bloody supernatural childbirth.
Twilight and other supernatural tales may give some non-religious teens a place to grapple with the big questions of life, according to a Danish researcher.

In Denmark, where religion is not a large part of daily life, teens seem to use media - often, American media - to explore questions of good and evil, life after death and destiny, Line Nybro Petersen of the University of Copenhagen's film and media studies department has found. The communal experiences of hardcore fans of the series can even echo religious communities.

"Being a Twilight fan allows the teenagers to engage in very intense emotional experiences," Petersen told LiveScience. "You can almost get the sense that these are transcendental emotions, the feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself in a semi-religious way."

Vampires and spirituality

Vampires may seem an odd icon in which to find spiritual experiences, but Twilight, True Blood and other supernatural series are part of a well-worn process of film and media turning old ideas into new stories. Media studies researchers call this process "mediatization."

For example, religious symbols such as the cross and holy water show up frequently in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but they're largely stripped of their Christian. Instead, they're simply weapons against vampires with little mention of theology.

Vampires undergo a similar transformation in Twilight. Instead of evaporating when they step into the sun, for example, they sparkle - a more effective convention for a romantic hero compared with turning into a pile of dust.

As part of her doctoral dissertation, Petersen surveyed and interviewed Danish teens with an interest in supernatural TV shows or movies, from Twilight to Ghost Whisperer, in which Jennifer Love Hewitt portrays a woman who can communicate with the dead. She found that while many of these teens rejected organized religion, they still grappled with the big questions of life.

"You don't have any clear answer to what happens [when you die], so perhaps when you read different things and watch different movies, then it gives you something," Katja, a young Twilight fan, or "fanpire," as these teens called themselves, told Petersen. "Perhaps not a clear answer, but more like, 'Oh, it happens like this,' and then you can choose to believe it."

Petersen reported these interviews in the journal Mediatization and Religion: Nordic Perspectives in 2012.


Michigan Grandmother Faces Murder Charges for Shooting Grandson 8 Times

Sandra Layne
Sandra Layne
A Michigan grandmother has pleaded not guilty after she was charged with murdering her 17-year-old grandson by shooting him the chest eight times.

Bloomfield Township Police Detective Brad Boulet testified on Monday that Jonathan Hoffman called 911 and begged them to help, saying he had been shot in the chest by 74-year-old Sandra Layne and was going to die. Hoffman screamed while on the phone with dispatchers and said he had been shot again, according to the Detroit Free Press.

When officers arrived on the scene, the grandmother came to the door holding .40-caliber Glock handgun in her right hand.

"While walking toward the officers, Ms. Layne exclaimed that she had just murdered her grandson," Boulet recalled.

It was not immediately clear what had triggered the shooting, but Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick suggested that Layne may not be competent to stand trial. Bloomfield Police Lt. Tim Diamond said that she had not yet talked to investigators.

In late March, police were called to the Layne's home over a dispute with her grandson. Hoffman was seen in the street screaming but no charges were filed at the time.


What Is Technology Doing to Kids?

Child with Computer
© Minyanville
Tech Tykes!
Last week, we dubbed theiPad the new babysitter. As of right now, 52% of kids between ages five and eight, 39% between two and four, and 10% of infants have figured out how to swipe and pinch their way through a variety of touch screen activities.

Obviously, parents and experts are starting to worry.

A recent article in the Wall Street Jounal points out that, while a certain amount of research has been done on the effects of television on children, the impact of devices like the iPad are still unclear. One reason for this may be that children have a much easier time engaging with tablets than TV screens. Studies have shown that young children are unsure of where on the TV to look.

On the one hand, touch screen devices have been shown to help young children learn. For example, one study showed significant improvements on vocabulary tests by children as young as three who used an educational iPod Touch app.


US Airways Flight Diverted Because 'Passenger Was Acting Suspiciously'

A flight from Paris bound for Charlotte was diverted to Maine on Tuesday after reports say a passenger claimed to be carrying a bomb inside her.

US Airways flight 787--which left Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time en route to Charlotte Douglas International--was rerouted to Bangor, Maine, shortly after noon ET, CNN reported. The Boeing 767 was carrying 179 passengers and a crew of nine, a spokesman for the airline said, confirming that there had been an unspecified "security issue."

A Homeland Security official told NBC News that the flight was diverted because a "passenger was acting suspiciously."

According to CNN, a French woman on board the flight handed a note to a flight attendant, claiming that she had a surgically implanted explosive inside of her. The woman was traveling alone, CNN said.

Arrow Up

Illegal File-Sharing Opens North Korea to World

Korean Girl Band
© SM Entertainment
Made in South Korea, popular in North Korea. The K-Pop group Girls Generation (SNSD).
North Korea's dictatorship has blocked its people from learning about the outside world for more than 60 years. But the wall of propaganda has begun to crack as North Koreans use real-life social networks to illegally share South Korean TV dramas and pop music on everything from DVDs to USB sticks.

Without open Internet access, North Koreans share South Korean dramas or "K-Pop" songs on physical devices with family, friends or trusted acquaintances, according to a U.S. report issued on May 9.

Such illegal file-sharing has had a huge impact beyond entertainment - North Korean defectors say it has forced the North Korean regime to abandon some propaganda claims about the outside world.

"I was told when I was young that South Koreans are very poor, but the South Korean dramas proved that just isn't the case," according to a 31-year-old male defector.

The InterMedia report commissioned by the U.S. State Department looked at surveys of hundreds of North Korean defectors who fled to South Korea through China. It found that North Koreans - especially the elite - often get the help of Chinese merchants to smuggle in South Korean TV dramas on DVDs, or USBs and MP3 players filled with K-Pop music. Some people in North Korea's border provinces illegally access foreign TV channels or radio broadcasts.


Pastor Delivers Anti-Gay Rant, Suggests Building Electric Fence Around 'Queers and Homosexuals'

A North Carolina pastor's disturbing anti-gay sermon has gone viral, and it's easy to see why.

In a rant delivered just days after President Barack Obama's historic public support for same-sex marriage, the pastor, Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., suggested rounding up all "queers and homosexuals" and quarantining them inside an electric fence.

"I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers," Worley told churchgoers on May 13. "Build a great big large fence - 50 or 100 mile long - put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can't get out. And you know what, in a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce!"

"It makes me pukin' sick to think about," Worley added. "Can you imagine kissing some man?"


Nato talks security and peace, Chicago has neither

© Andrzej Krauze
The paradox of such a city hosting this summit lays bare the brutal way in which inequality is globally maintained and locally replicated

On Friday morning in Brighton Park, a neighbourhood in southwest Chicago, around half a dozen Latina volunteers in luminous bibs patrolled the streets around Davis Elementary school. The school sits in the crossfire of three gangs; the Kings, the 2/6s and the SDs (Satan's Disciples). The trees and walls nearby are peppered with "tags" denoting territory and mourning fallen gang members. There is a shooting in the area every couple of weeks, explains Mariela Estrada of the Brighton Park Neighbourhood Council, which facilitates the volunteers.

That same evening, just a couple of blocks away, a 14-year-old, Alejandro Jaime, was shot dead while out riding his bike with his 11-year-old friend. According to witnesses, a car knocked them both off their bikes. They picked themselves up and ran. A man got out of the car and shot Alejandro in the back. "Although it's the city's job to provide public safety, we had to respond since our children are in danger and continue to face threats of gang violence," said Nancy Barraza, a Parent Patrol volunteer.


Amateur Video of Kelly Thomas' Brutal Murder Revives Case Against Fullerton Police

© Ron Thomas
On July 5 last year Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old schizophrenic homeless man, was so badly beaten and stun-gunned by Fullerton California police officers that he was left unrecognizable. He died 5 days later from blunt force trauma to the head.

Up to 5 police officers assault him with batons, tasers and fists. When the unconscious and bloodied body of Thomas was finally delivered to the local hospital, the doctors determined that he had suffered multiple broken bones in his face, several cracked ribs and a crushed thorax. Doctors also found that Thomas had choked on his own blood during the attack. He was on life support for 5 days before passing away.


Police pepper spray Montreal bar patrons

Incident during violent street protest caught on video

Montreal - A day after a violent protest ending in a series of street fires, police came under criticism Sunday over an altercation caught on video that shows patrons on a bar patio getting pepper sprayed.

Surveillance footage, played in a loop Sunday on one of Quebec's all-news stations, shows several people sprayed by riot police at close range. Customers are seen scrambling to get inside the bar as a police officer knocks over tables and chairs.


Teacher Threatens Student with Jail for 'Speaking Ill' of Obama

Last Monday, a high school student at North Rowan High School in Spencer, North Carolina, engaged his social studies teacher in a verbal fight about the two leading presidential candidates.

The argument started after the unnamed teacher presented her "fact of the day" about Mitt Romney being a bully back in high school. The unnamed male student then claimed that President Obama had also been a bully.

During the 10-minute verbal exchange, which was recorded (video below), the teacher accused the student of disrespecting President Obama and added that the boy could be jailed for speaking ill of the president.