Peace prizes are given to those who fit in with the narrative

Obama and Malala are both together against the ‘medieval’ Taliban.

While not diminishing anything about the bravery of a girl taking a bullet to the head for her wish to go to school, lets make sure it doesn’t create blind-spots.

The prizes, attention and celebration is – whether they intend to be or not – a part of a very specific narrative and alternative ones are certainly possible – on the other side of the Taliban stands a violent force as well.

Malala and Nabila: worlds apart

What function does sex identification at birth actually serve?

German parents will no longer be legally obliged to register their newborn child as male or female, and will instead be officially allowed to assign the baby a “third gender” if the sex cannot be clearly identified at birth.The new law will come into force on November 1, on the back of a constitutional court decision which states that as long as a person “deeply feels” that they belong to a certain gender, they have a personal right to choose how they legally identify themselves.Parents of newborn infants will be allowed to leave the gender form on the child’s birth certificate completely blank if it is born with unusual physical characteristics making it impossible to determine the gender.The new law will apply to intersexuals, also known as hermaphrodites, rather than transsexuals. Hermaphrodites are people in possession of both female and male physical characteristics.

via Germany to become first European state to allow ‘third gender’ birth certificates — RT News.

So, thanks to the new judgement in Germany, parents whose children have “unusual physical characteristics” will no longer be forced to choose one or the other (which, according to other articles often leads to immediate surgery to “correct” genitalia according to the choice of the parents). However, this raises the broader question – why is sex determination at birth even required at all?

Just as we don’t (any more) require or think that “race” should be determined at birth (at least not as far as I know in most places), is there any real function of determining sex at birth (or even ever)? What is the real function of having sex programmed into our official records?

Is it medically helpful to know who has a uterus and who has testicles? Yes, perhaps. However, this could be data simply privy between the doctor and patient, to be used as and when specifically required.

Is it there so that government programs can be targeted? So that we can decide who gets what benefits? Maybe.

Does it help government to identify people? Perhaps, but there certainly are better ways.

Does it help individuals to “self identify”? Well, it’s certainly not a self-determination of sex – rather an enforced one, and even if we weren’t entertaining it in official records I am sure the individual could figure out how they wanted to identify themselves.

Does it enforce a gender binary and the power structures that come with it? Certainly.

Of course, changing or getting rid of this couldn’t be done overnight, but isn’t it long-term an idea worth considering? Do we, in fact, require a society where sex identification at birth or even later in life (in drivers licenses, passports, etc.) is ever required?

Every Move She Makes. They’ll Be Watching Her

There’s something rotten in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. And it seems the Kannada and Telugu news channels have identified the problem — girls gone wild, fuelled by alcohol. On 14 May, Karnataka’s leading regional news channel, TV9 Kannada, ran a programme, Olage Serideru Gundu literally, ‘once alcohol is inside’, a fine assortment of video nasties from across the country, showing the great evils of girls drinking — the ruckus on the street, clothes askew, clashes with cops.For some years now, the disapproving cultural policing of a class of girls — ones who can afford to go out to drink — has become a staple on regional news in both states. There is massive viewership, particularly of sleazy ‘true crime’ reports, and so editors and programming heads encourage reporters to follow women and young couples, to stake out pubs, nightclubs and make-out spots. A cursory search on YouTube reveals the many news reports with such eye-catching titles as ‘Drunk women causing hulchul’, ‘Drunk women causing hungama’, or ‘How to ban rave parties to save the youth’.“We show boys too, but a girl being daring on screen instantly catches the viewers’ attention,” says Shreeti Chakraborty, senior producer with a leading Kannada channel. One clip was of an altercation between four female students of NALSAR University of Law and reporters from the Telugu news channel ABN Andhra Jyothy, outside Rain pub in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills on the night of 11 April. Shruthi, Megha, Prachi and Adwitiya angrily confronted a drunk man filming them on his phone. The confrontation attracted a mob and reporters from ABN. Apparently, the drunk man was a reporter who had telephoned his colleagues. The footage was picked up by other news channels. Several of them branded the girls immoral, drunk and half-naked and even questioned the pub’s licence.Watching the ABN footage is instructive. The camera pans up and down the women’s bodies. It is exploitative; consent is not an option, probably not even worth a thought. The viewer is implicated by the camera’s roving eye, a fellow voyeur leering at barefoot girls in short dresses. The cameraman follows the girls to their taxi, thrusting his camera through the door, his taunts provoking the girls to shout insults. Their expressions of fury at being cornered were circulated on primetime news as the faces of unacceptable modernity, of aggressive young women out at night, women who must be checked.

via Every Move She Makes. They’ll Be Watching Her.

It seems as if among Andhra journalists there are quite a few Backpfeifengesicht. Google that.

What is even sadder is, that these kids need to defend themselves – with petitions, imagery proof, statements of which time girls left (11! not past 12) – not only against their parents, neighbors or sexual abusers in their midst, but also against journalists with cameras.

Certainly these are upper middle class kids with a sense that they have the right to drink if they want, so they can fight back… Just think about what this kind of exploitative misogyny means for people without that sense of right or entitlement.

Narendra Modi lands in Uttarakhand, flies out with 15,000 Gujaratis – Times Of India

DEHRADUN: In the two days that NarendraModi has been in Uttarakhand, he has managed to completely rile not just the Congress government of Vijay Bahuguna but also the administrative staff involved in rescue operations at Kedarnath, Badrinath and Uttarkashi. But above all, he has also managed to bring home some 15,000 stranded Gujarati pilgrims.

The Gujarat CM, who flew in on Friday evening, held a meeting till 1am with his crack rescue team of five IAS, one IPS, one IFS and two GAS (Gujarat Administrative Service) officers. Two DSPs and five police inspectors were also part of his delegation. They sat again with the nitty-gritty of evacuation in a huddle that a senior BJP leader said lasted till 1am on Sunday.

Around 80 Toyota Innovas have been requisitioned to ferry Gujaratis to safer places in Dehradun as have four Boeings. On Saturday, 25 luxury buses transported a bunch of grateful people to Delhi. The efforts are being coordinated by two of the senior-most IAS officers of Gujarat, one currently stationed in Delhi and another in Uttarakhand.

via Narendra Modi lands in Uttarakhand, flies out with 15,000 Gujaratis – Times Of India.


No need to change the title. It is ludicrous enough as it is. Ignoring for one minute the stupidity of a CM flying in (most likely disturbing existing resuce operation) in order to save “his own people”, lets do some math.

  1. Luxury buses, 25 buses, times 60 people, times max 2 trips per 24 hour span = 3000 people
  2. Innovas, 80 cars, times 7 people, times 3 trips per day (in flood prone areas, I am being optimistic) = 1680 people
  3. Boeings, 4 planes, time 200 people, times 3 trips per day = 2400 people

So, even using wholly unrealistic assumptions on capacity and number of times per day, it seems that he would have quite some difficulty getting more than 7,000 people out in a day  (lets ignore the issue of gathering all these people in one place at once for boarding the Boeings or busses) … a far cry from 15,000 certainly.

But of course, kindergarden maths is not what this is about, so for some more intellectually fleshy thinking about it read it all on Kafila.

Oh, and in recent news: Plants talk



Both competitive and facilitative interactions between species play a fundamental role in shaping natural communities. A recent study showed that competitive interactions between plants can be mediated by some alternative signalling channel, extending beyond those channels studied so far (i.e. chemicals, contact and light). Here, we tested whether such alternative pathway also enables facilitative interactions between neighbouring plant species. Specifically, we examined whether the presence of a ‘good’ neighbouring plant like basil positively influenced the germination of chilli seeds when all known signals were blocked. For this purpose, we used a custom-designed experimental set-up that prevented above- and below-ground contact and blocked chemical and light-mediated signals normally exchange by plants.


We found that seed germination was positively enhanced by the presence of a ‘good’ neighbour, even when the known signalling modalities were blocked, indicating that light, touch or chemical signals may not be indispensible for different plant species to sense each other’s presence.


We propose that this alternative signalling modality operates as a general indicator of the presence of heterospecifics, enabling seeds to detect and identify a neighbour prior to engaging in a more finely-tuned, but potentially more costly, response.

via BMC Ecology | Abstract | Love thy neighbour: facilitation through an alternative signalling modality in plants.

Breaking News: Wombs of Women on Birth Control Embedded with Dead Babies

Swanson: I’m beginning to get some evidence from certain doctors and certain scientists that have done research on women’s wombs after they’ve gone through the surgery, and they’ve compared the wombs of women who were on the birth control pill to those who were not on the birth control pill. And they have found that with women who are on the birth control pill, there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb. They’re just like dead babies. They’re on the inside of the womb. And these wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.

via Swanson: Wombs of Women on Birth Control Embedded with Dead Babies | Right Wing Watch.