Friday, March 22, 2019

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND Remember Mosque ATTACK Victims, One Week Later

Last week, the city of Christchurch in New Zealand experienced a sort of tragedy that felt different from their past woes of deadly earthquakes. The source of death this time around was man, and the targets were of the country’s Muslim community. March 15 had seen armed assailants strike at two Christchurch mosques, resulting in 50 people killed and more wounded. The New Zealand government with the Prime Minister at their head condemned the atrocity which has been labeled a terrorist attack, a sentiment that was shared around the world. This Friday, a week later, the country gathered to remember.
CNN reports that the following Friday after March 15 was designated by New Zealand as a “Day of Reflection” for the nation to consider the heinous armed attack against Muslim worshippers at the Linwood and Noor Mosques in Christchurch last week. While fatalities of the incident have already started getting buried earlier this week, an official moment to remember the fallen was scheduled after noon, beginning with a national television broadcast of the Islamic call to prayer around 1:30 PM, minutes before the first shooting took place at Al Noor, 1:40. The call was followed by two minutes of silence.
Gatherings of remembrance took place near the Mosques, which have thus far been cordoned off for security reasons, as well as the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Not far from Noor, at Hagley Park, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed mourners and sympathizers at an outdoor Islamic memorial service. She quoted from the Quran a sermon by Muhammad about how a group of believers are like a single body; and any harm upon some of the believers causes pain felt by everyone else. She concluded her speech with an assurance for Muslims in the country: “New Zealand mourns with you; we are one.”
Surrounding the assembly of Muslim worshippers was a large crowd of non-Muslims who have joined the service in a spirit of solidarity. For instance, Prime Minister Ardern and many of the women present wore headscarves in respect. The main sermon of the afternoon was delivered by Noor Mosque’s imam, Gamal Fouda, who survived the carnage last Friday.
Speaking of the terror attacks’ perpetrators he said, “This terrorist sought to divide our nation apart with an evil ideology, that has torn the world apart, but instead we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable, and that the world can see in us an example of love and unity. We are brokenhearted, but we are not broken. We are alive. We are together. We are determined to not let anyone divide us.”
Of the wounded in the double shootings, 27 are still in the hospital. Five of them, including a girl only aged 4, are in critical condition and in intensive care.
Image from The Daily Star

K-POP Singer’s ARREST Signals Industry TROUBLE with VOYEURISM, Illicit VIDEO-SHARING

The success of the “Korean Wave,” or the wide spread of South Korean pop culture such as music around the world, has been attributed to the strict and regimented lifestyle imposed by that country’s talent agencies on their talents. With K-Pop idols and groups being picked out from auditions, subjected to intense music and dance training and then kept in line by rigid contract regulations, the usual image the world has of Korean music stars is that of a mostly squeaky-clean and straight-arrow reputation. But recent developments in the industry coupled by the recent arrest of a top-profile idol looks to cast a shadow of controversy over the Korean Wave.
K-Pop is pushed further to the brink as on Thursday, March 21, singer Jung Joon-young was arrested by South Korean police according to USA Today. Jung had earlier admitted in a public hearing that he had been sharing voyeur videos of women in sexually explicit situations taken without their consent. The Seoul Central District Court then sent a warrant for Jung’s arrest over allegations that he secretly recorded his intimate relationships with various women, distributing them over online group chats.
A similar story revolves around Seungri of Big Bang, currently on extended hiatus while its members undergo mandatory South Korean military service. Seungri ran publicity for the Seoul nightclub “Burning Sun,” closed last February following charges that it arranged for prostitutes to be given to VIP guests. The singer was suspected of involvement in these arrangements, causing him to retire from Big Bang. On a larger scale, hidden cameras on South Korea’s public toilets and motel rooms have captured clandestine footage of mostly females, 1,600 in all, and live-streamed on pay-only video sites. These developments have caused indignation among South Korean women and painted the country’s normally unstoppable music industry in a bad light internationally.
These recent scandals with big-name K-Pop celebrities attached has been seen by South Korean government officials as a contemporary form of a longtime facet of the country’s patriarchal culture where men grow to view women as anything from subservient to mere objects of gratification. Their Minister of Gender Equality and Family Jin Sun-mee has called out the current controversy for its blatant display of toxic masculinity. It proves to be an uphill battle however, with some recording labels allegedly protecting their talents to maintain their baby-faced public image by paying off or intimidating potential lawsuits.
Image courtesy of Fox News


There are so many hits in exclusive original content on the global streaming juggernaut Netflix that draw viewers to their platform. One of these exclusive series, which has been nominated multiple times in various award-giving bodies, is the quirkily scary but still kid-friendly sci-fi horror show “Stranger Things.” The series is extremely popular for many factors, from its effective cast to its nostalgic 1980s period setting, as well as it driving narrative involving a supernatural alternate dimension and how it might affect our world. Two seasons have told the story with a one-year time-skip in between, and a third is on its way this July, with a new trailer revealed.
The Hollywood Reporter has it that Netflix put up a trailer for season 3 of “Stranger Things” on Wednesday, March 20. As of this writing the trailer is number 45 trending on YouTube, and it is no secret why so many are watching. Not only does it drop heavy hints as to what new challenging mystery awaits the young heroes of Hawkins, Indiana, it also steeps the setting anew in some beloved eighties references in pop culture. That last one has a double meaning in terms of what the Duffers, Eleven and their friends are going through now: growing up.
“We’re not kids anymore,” notes Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) at one point. Nowhere is that true in how the young cast looks now. The backing song from Motley Crue pegs the timeframe in 1985, or a year after season 2’s 1984. The onset of puberty among the characters also causes the first significant interpersonal friction between them, between playing games and moving on to things like school dances and part-time jobs. While Hawkins is marching with progress, that is matched in turn by the encroaching corruption from the Upside Down.
“Stranger Things” also has some in-universe and real-world synergy in the time period. The third season premieres in the Fourth of July, and the occasion is also prominent in the plot from what we see in the trailer. Here is where some of the potential menaces are framed against: a gunman stalking the hall of mirrors at a Hawkins fair, and ultimately an eldritch monster from the Upside Down appearing in the mall. Initial season details revealed also mention that the first “Back to the Future” movie is still popular during the season’s time. Whatever significance that might have will only be revealed when “Stranger Things” resumes July on Netflix.
Image courtesy of E! News