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Kristina Vragovic

Kristina Vragovic graduated from Indiana University in May 2012 with a B.A. in English. A Hoosier at heart, she cries when she thinks about the 2011-12 season and will rail on Purdue even when nobody from said school is in the immediate vicinity. Aside from writing, Kristina enjoys correcting people's grammar (for money, or by calling them out on Twitter) as well as collecting classic rock LPs, watching superhero movies and online shopping.

Hostess shutting down operations after strikes

Hostess, of the beloved Twinkies and Wonder Bread, plans to shut down and sell its bread and snack brands


Hang on to your Ho Hos, kids. Hostess Brands, Inc., has moved to liquidate all of its assets, selling off its famous Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Wonder Bread and Nature’s Pride brand snacks and breads.

Hostess workers on strike were told Wednesday that the company could no longer sustain the national strike. Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn told workers in a statement that “if sufficient employees do not return to work by 5 p.m., EST, on Thursday to restore normal operations, we will be forced to immediately move to liquidate the entire company, which will result in the loss of nearly 18,000 jobs.” Workers did not capitulate by the 5 p.m. deadline, and this morning, Hostess asked the federal bankruptcy court for permission to shut down all operations, which could start by November 20. Snacks and breads that have already been baked will be sold at Hostess retailers until they run out; whether or not the beloved treats will continue to exist under new ownership remains to be seen.

The strike began last week, when the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union pushed back against a contract Hostess introduced in September that lowered wages by 8 percent and benefits by almost a third. About 30 percent of Hostess’s work force was unionized, and the company was forced to close three plants this week in the wake of the strike.

Hostess is the No. 2 bread maker in the country and received $2.5 billion in sales every year. But even if workers had had a change of heart and come back to work, Rayburn said, it would have been too late to save the company from financial ruin. Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, the second time the company had done so since 2004.

Jamie Foxx in talks to play Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Jamie Foxx and director Marc Webb fuel Electro rumors with cryptic tweets and sly comments


When asked if Jamie Foxx was slated to play Electro in the next Spider-Man flick, director Marc Webb only said, “He’s electrifying.” Jamie Foxx himself tweeted earlier this week that he dressed up as Electro for Halloween, and that the “costume fits well.” While neither party has confirmed that Foxx will be taking the part of Electro in the sequel, neither has done much to deny it, either, and rumors are swirling that Foxx is close to confirming his involvement in the film.

If he indeed takes the part of Electro, Jamie Foxx would join Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in what is rapidly growing into an all-star cast for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. “He’s such a great character actor,” Webb said of Foxx in a press conference. “He’s a really brilliant guy and I would love to work with him, so you’ll be hearing more on that shortly, I’m sure.”

Electro is one of the Sinister Six and a major villain in the Spider-Man comics. In the comics, Electro is created when, while working on a power line, engineer Maxwell Dillon is struck by lightning, initiating a mutagenetic change that allows him to control electricity. Electro also makes appearances in the X-Men comics, when supervillain Magneto attempts to recruit him for the Brotherhood of Mutants, as well as in the Daredevil and Fantastic Four comic series. Electro is not usually depicted as being African American, but then again, neither is Heimdall in the Thor comics (played by Idris Elba in the film) or Perry White (played by Laurence Fishburne in Man of Steel). Foxx would actually be following a trend of comic book movies being noticeably more colorblind than their print counterparts.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is slated to hit theaters May 2, 2014.

Housewife raised by monkeys wrote book about experience

U.K. housewife Marina Chapman says she was raised by capuchin monkeys in Colombia


A British housewife claims she was raised by monkeys after a failed kidnapping left her stranded in the jungles of Colombia. Marina Chapman, who thinks she is in her 50s but can’t be sure, has written a book about her experience being raised by monkeys, which is called The Girl With No Name and is set to be released in Britain in April. It will also reportedly be made into a TV documentary.

The housewife raised by monkeys, which will probably be Marina Chapman’s epithet for the rest of time, reportedly spent five years in the Colombian jungle trapping small animals with her bare hands and becoming part of a family of capuchins “by following them and copying what they ate and drank, their social activities, their language,” according to a press release for the book.

This was Marina Chapman’s life until hunters rescued her. Not quite rescued, actually, because they sold her to a brothel. The price? A parrot.

After escaping from the brothel, the housewife raised by monkeys became a maid for a Colombian family and acquired the name Marina Luz. She met her husband, John Chapman, when she accompanied the family on a trip to Bradford, West Yorkshire, and they were married a few months later. Her children report that they sometimes had to make noises for their food and grew up listening to bedtime stories about their mother’s time living in the jungle. “We didn’t think it odd – it was just Mum telling her life. So in a way it was nothing special having a mother like that,” said James Chapman, son of Marina Chapman.

Some primate experts are critical of the story of the housewife raised by monkeys, according to news.com.au, mostly because of the size difference between humans and the comparatively small capuchin monkeys (for reference, the monkey in the Pirates of the Caribbean films is a capuchin). “I could imagine a young child learning certain skills from capuchins, especially from those primates which have grown up in areas populated by humans, but it stretches the imagination to think of a child becoming a part of a capuchin family,” one expert told the Australian news source.

Marina Chapman reportedly wrote her book to highlight human trafficking and child kidnapping, and part of the proceeds of the book will go to charities in Colombia fighting these problems.

Is James Blunt quitting music forever?

British singer James Blunt, of smash hit ‘You’re Beautiful,’ has no plans to write more songs


Mix CDs to high school sweethearts will never be the same without James Blunt coming up with more saccharine falsetto declarations of physical beauty and heartbreak. While it’s still unclear whether James Blunt is leaving the music world forever, he’s definitely taking some time off, so it’s back to fishing off the Juno soundtrack for all the lovebirds out there.

At the opening of Barbarella, a nightclub in London, James Blunt told the Daily Mail that he is taking “some time out for myself. I haven’t got any plans to do more songwriting.” The duration of his musical hermitage was not discussed.

 “I have been chilling out since I finished my world tour and I’ve spent a lot of time in Ibiza, where I have a villa,” Blunt added. “[My girlfriend] Sofia and I had a great time hanging out with friends on my yacht but we partied as well.”

Grammy-nominated James Blunt has been busy since his 2005 album Back to Bedlam, which includes popular singles “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye My Lover” and earned him those five noms. He came out with two more albums, All the Lost Souls in 2007 and Some Kind of Trouble in 2010, and was back from a world tour when he dropped the bomb of his hiatus. 

Native American activist Russell Means dies at 72

Means, an actor and outspoken advocate for Native American rights and independence, died at his ranch in South Dakota


Russell Means, the Native American activist and actor who helped lead the Wounded Knee uprising in 1973, died earlier today at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D. Means, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, was 72.

Younger generations might remember Russell Means as the character Chingachgook in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans, in which he acted alongside Daniel Day-Lewis, or as the voice of Powhatan in the Disney movie Pocahontas. But Means’ legacy extends far beyond Hollywood. He was the leader of the American Indian Movement, or AIM, which was founded in the late 60s to advocate for Native American rights and to demand that the U.S. government honor its treaties with tribes. He also led the seizing and occupying of Wounded Knee in 1973 in protest of the government’s treatment of Native Americans, and he founded the Republic of Lakotah in 2007.

Russell Means also entered the political arena by submitting an unsuccessful bid to run for president in 1988 as a Libertarian. He was previously a vice presidential candidate on the Larry Flynt ticket in 1984.

Means had announced in August 2011 that he was diagnosed with throat cancer, but that he would be pursuing traditional Native American treatments for the disease rather than more mainstream alternatives. His death was announced earlier today by Oglala Sioux Tribe spokeswoman Donna Solomon. 

Jennifer Esposito written off show after medical leave for Celiac disease

CBS writes off Jennifer Esposito’s character on ‘Blue Bloods’ after the actress collapses on set


Jennifer Esposito has been written off of the CBS show ‘Blue Bloods’ after requesting and being denied a reduced schedule to help cope with her Celiac disease. In a string of tweets, Esposito accused CBS of thinking she was not “truly ill” and that she was simply using Celiac disease as an excuse to get a raise. The network has not let Esposito out of her contract and is not allowing her to work on any other production, suggesting that this might only be a temporary leave of absence.  

CBS said in a statement that since Esposito is “only available to work on a very limited part-time schedule,” she would be “unable to perform the demands of her role.” The network added that Esposito is very talented and that it would be great if she came back in the future — but Esposito’s anger at the network makes it unlikely that she will return to her role as Detective Jackie Curatola, at least not anytime soon. Esposito called the network’s dismissal of her “shameful.”

Celiac disease is a condition of the small intestine; people with Celiac can’t absorb as many nutrients from their food because of a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Because they can’t absorb nutrients as well, people with Celiac disease might not get enough vitamins for proper functioning of the brain, nervous system and other organs, according to the Mayo clinic. Jennifer Esposito had collapsed on the set of ‘Blue Bloods’ before being written off, perhaps because of these symptoms of the disease.

Esposito’s lawyer denied that Esposito “created a scene” when she discovered from the script that she was being written off the show, the New York Post reports.

U.S. Olympian killed in car accident

Member of U.S. Olympic BMX team Kyle Bennett dies in single-car crash

Kyle Bennett, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic BMX team, died Sunday morning in a single-car accident. The cyclist was 33.

The accident occurred near Kyle Bennett’s home on Conroe, Texas, at about 2:15 a.m. Sunday. According to the Montgomery County Police Reporter, Bennett was driving at high speed in response to a call from his fiancée that her car had been broken into, and he drove off the road and into a ditch, hitting an iron gate. Kyle Bennett was reportedly not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kyle Bennett was a three-time world champion of BMX and held numerous other championship titles, as well as being part of the first-ever U.S. Olympic BMX team. He is survived by his fiancée and his 4-year-old daughter, Kylie.

Taylor Momsen naked in Pretty Reckless video

Gossip Girls’ Taylor Momsen forgoes clothing for her band’s new video


Taylor Momsen, of Gossip Girl fame, went for straight-up shock value in a video released today by her rock band, The Pretty Reckless. Apparently attempting to defy any and all expectations, the video actually features no music, instead opting for a voiceover of Taylor Momsen reciting a verse from the band’s song “Under the Water.”

Oh, and by the way, 19-year-old Taylor Momsen is completely naked in the video, which consists of black-and-white close-ups of various body parts before ending on one final full-body shot. The amount of eyeliner Momsen is wearing, though, is almost enough to distract from other, er, distracting features.

The Pretty Reckless is a straight-up hard rock band produced by Kato Khandwala, who has also been a producer for Blondie, Paramore and Breaking Benjamin. On the band’s website, Taylor Momsen lists her influences as “Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Audioslave, Soundgarden, Oasis and Nirvana. That’s what I listened to. My rock idols are all men.” Well, it’s safe to say Taylor Momsen is most definitely female.

The new video is part of a series called “The Words” by Amp Rock TV, available to watch on its YouTube channel.

Study: Girls don’t go wild after getting HPV vaccine

HPV vaccine doesn’t increase sexual activity in pre-teen and teenage girls, according to Emory study


Getting the HPV vaccine doesn’t necessarily lead to sexual activity, despite the concerns of worried parents and abstinence-only sex education programs everywhere.

A study at Emory University in Atlanta found that teenage girls who received the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12 didn’t engage in sexual activity any more so than their peers who did not receive the vaccine. The study could help dispel a widely held belief among parents that their daughters will be more likely to have sex if they get the vaccine, a belief that was revealed in previous surveys.

Some strains of HPV, or genital warts, can cause cervical cancer—a major concern, since it is also the most common sexually transmitted infection. At some point in their lives, about 50% of people contract the virus, which is why physicians and gynecologists have been recommending the vaccine to girls and women since 2006, when the shot Gardasil came out.

In the first 18 months that Gardasil was available, researchers at Emory gave the vaccine to about 500 girls age 11 or 12 and gave an unrelated adolescent vaccine to another 900 girls of the same age. They followed the girls for the next three years and tracked how many exhibited outward signs of sexual activity, such as contraception counseling, STI diagnoses or pregnancy.

“We couldn’t directly look at sexual activity, so we looked at external outcomes that would suggest sexual activity,” said Dr. Robert Bednarczyk, one of the study’s lead authors.

The results? Only 10% of the participants showed signs of sexytime, and there was no significant difference between the vaccinated and unvaccinated girls. Whether this study will increase the number of girls who get the HPV vaccine remains to be seen; as of 2010, not even half of eligible girls got the Gardasil shot. Cost and inconvenience, though, are likely factors in addition to parental concerns.

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier, survives

The 43-year-old daredevil fell more than 24 miles and 800 mph, faster than speed of sound


Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, successfully broke the sound barrier yesterday, becoming the first human to do so in nothing but a well-designed spacesuit.

Felix Baumgartner’s space jump lasted more than four minutes as he fell from more than 24 miles above the ground, and he reached a maximum speed of 833.9 miles per hour — or Mach 1.24, faster than the speed of sound. He ascended via a helium balloon, and when doubts about his safety arose because his helmet was fogging during the ascent, Felix Baumgartner simply started making plans to make the jump blind. As he started tumbling in the thin air of the stratosphere, Baumgartner was able to smooth out his descent and land safely in the New Mexico desert.

“In that situation, when you spin around, it’s like hell and you don’t know if you can get out of that spin or not,” 43-year-old Baumgartner said. “Of course it was terrifying. I was fighting all the way down because I knew that there must be a moment where I can handle it.”

Besides the dangers of the fall itself, the Red Bull Stratos team—the project was funded by the energy drink company—had concerns about Baumgartner’s suit. “There are so many things that could go wrong here that we’re pushing the technical envelope,” said Dr. Jonathan Clark, the team’s medical director. If the suit had touched the ascent capsule during the jump, it would have torn and exposed Baumgartner to zero oxygen and temperatures of negative 70 degrees.

Joe Kittinger, who attempted to break the speed of sound in 1960 but only jumped from 19.5 miles up, was part of Felix Baumgartner’s team during the space jump. Kittinger talked Baumgartner through the ascent, giving him pep talks and assurances. Kittinger continues to hold the record for longest free fall, at five and a half minutes, even though Baumgartner shattered the records for height and max speed.

Baumgartner says it’s impossible to feel the sensation of traveling faster than the speed of sound because there are no reference points for such speed. He also could not hear the loud noise he made when he broke the sound barrier.