Canada and Britain Join School-Shootings Club

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From blue jeans and rock 'n' roll to gangsta rap and back-to-front baseball caps, each new American teenage fad has been widely mimicked throughout the world. Add a troubling new trend: school shootings. British police on Thursday arrested two 16-year-old boy after three shots were fired into a classroom at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Technology, a specialized high school in southwestern England. There were no injuries in the British shooting, in which the weapon was an air gun, but two Canadian students weren't as lucky Wednesday. A 14-year-old boy walked into W. R. Myers High School in Alberta with a .22 caliber rifle and shot dead one student and wounded another before being wrestled to the ground by a teacher.

No doubt commentators will conclude that the irresistible allure of Hollywood's images of unbridled freedom and consumption has internationalized American youth culture, which CNN, MTV and the Internet transmit globally in real time. Like the Oscars and the Grammys, the nihilistic carnage of Littleton played out not only in America's living rooms, but also on TV sets from Belgrade to Baghdad, Johannesburg to Jakarta. "For the marginalized, paranoid kids who perpetrate these shootings, CNN coverage offers the ultimate recognition," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "And that resonates with similarly troubled kids elsewhere. They are also able to connect through the Internet and reinforce each other's perceptions. A frightening number of messages applauding the Columbine killings was posted to various Internet news groups." With high school shootings now established as an American trend, this week's international copycats may not be the last.

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