Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "'To stay is to be killed'," Nov. 29, 2008

The Mormon church donated $20 million to help pass Prop 8, and an estimated 10,000 people in New York City marched outside the Mormon Temple Nov. 12. Similar demonstrations occurred at Mormon properties in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

"This is an outrage," said Prison Fellowship director Chuck Colson in a Nov. 13 commentary. "What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us! How dare they threaten and attack political opponents? We live a democratic country, not a banana republic ruled by thugs."

Wildfires on campus

Investigators say a smoldering bonfire ignited a blaze Nov. 13 in Santa Barbara, Calif., that burned 2,500 acres, destroyed more than 200 homes, and inflicted heavy damage on Westmont College, a 1,300-student Christian liberal arts school. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the fire resulted from carelessness after 10 young adults failed to extinguish sufficiently a fire they had built on a mountain ridge near the Christian liberal arts college. Authorities believe Santa Ana--type winds reignited the coals and sparked the fast-moving fire. According to the campus newspaper, flames destroyed the math, physics, and psychology buildings, more than 30 dorm rooms, and 14 faculty homes on the 135-acre campus. A silver lining: Three of the destroyed buildings were slated for future demolition. Students vacated the campus Nov. 17 and school officials said classes are scheduled to resume Dec. 1.

Changing of the guard

`0 Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens lost his bid for an eighth term in the U.S. Senate in an extended vote count announced Nov. 18, the day the embattled lawmaker, who has been convicted of fraud, turned 85. Victory for Anchorage mayor Mark Begich gives Democrats a 58-42 majority in the Senate. With it the old guard of the GOP has all but disappeared, given the retirements of Pete Domenici, Trent Lott, Larry Craig, and John Warner and the defeat of Elizabeth Dole. Only nine GOP senators were elected before 1990. Dick Lugar and Orrin Hatch are now the Senate's most senior Republicans.

Hollywood gets real

The Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature publicized Nov. 18 had two glaring omissions-Bill Maher's Religulous and Ben Stein's Expelled. The Academy, perhaps wanting to avoid the controversies of both films and their self-aware stars, opted instead for adventures from the high wire to the South Pole-nominating Man on Wire, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), and Encounters at the End of the World, among others, from a year when documentaries became box-office favorites.

TV turnoff

Teens who frequently watch sexualized sitcoms and dramas such as "That '70s Show" and "Friends" are twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy as adolescents with limited exposure, according to a new study by the RAND Corporation. The study, published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics, asked teens about their viewing habits and sexual behavior. Broadcasters should include in their programming more realistic depictions of sex and its consequences, such as pregnancy and disease, RAND researchers said. Also, parents should consider limiting children's access to sexualized television content and spend more time watching programs with their children so they can explain the consequences of sex.

The findings of RAND, a nonsectarian, nonprofit research group, echo the longtime warnings of pro-family groups such as the Parents Television Council and Family Research Council (FRC). "Sex education-or the lack of it-starts at home," wrote FRC president Tony Perkins in a November newsletter.

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