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World champion runner, Caster Semenya, found to be intersexed, judges unsure what to do

Secret of Semenya's sex stripped bare - Sport - smh.com.au The issue here is that she has testes inside her body that are pumping out way more testosterone that women runners usually have. Is this an unfair advantage? Should intersexed people (whom we used to call hermaphrodites) not be allowed to compete? The judges are baffled. [Note: Our comments section has been temporarily disabled due to massive bugs.]
THE world champion 800m runner Caster Semenya has been revealed to have male and female sexual organs, posing an ethical and political quandary for the sport's ruling body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, and her home nation, South Africa. Extensive physical examinations of Semenya, who is just 18 and from a remote village in the country's far north, has shown the athlete is technically a hermaphrodite. Medical reports indicate she has no ovaries, but rather has internal male testes, which are producing large amounts of testosterone. The presence of both male and female characteristics will come as a devastating blow to Semenya, who has fought off snide remarks about her masculine appearance for much of her life.

American student arrested at airport for having Arabic flashcards

Dave Davies: Student air passenger handcuffed to echoes of 9/11 fears | Philadelphia Daily News | 09/11/2009
. . . When they looked though his bag, George said, they found his Arabic/English flash cards, and escorted him to a side screening area. He figures it didn't help that his passport had stamps from Jordan, where he'd studied a semester, and Egypt and Sudan, where he'd gone backpacking. And among his 200 flash cards were words like "terrorist" and "explosion." He was learning to translate the Arabic-language news network Al Jazeera. "I understand I might warrant a second look," George told me. "They should have taken me aside, seen I had a legitimate explanation and a student ID and that I was carrying nothing illegal, and waved me on." They didn't. . . . "Do you know who did 9/11?" he said that the woman asked. George said that he told her that it was Osama bin Laden, and that she responded smugly, "Do you know what language Osama bin Laden spoke?" . . .

The longest known judicial oath

Longest Known Judicial Oath - Lowering the Bar From 19th century Burma comes this oath that witnesses had to give before speaking at a trial.
"I will speak the truth. If I speak not the truth, may it be through the influence of the laws of demerit, viz., passion, anger, folly, pride, false opinion, immodesty, hard heartedness, and scepticism, so that when I and my relations are on land, land animals, as tigers, elephants, buffaloes, poisonous serpents, scorpions, &c, shall seize, crush, and bite us, so that we shall certainly die. Let the calamities occasioned by fire, water, rulers, thieves, and enemies oppress and destroy us, till we perish and come to utter destruction. Let us be subject to all the calamities that are within the body, and all that are without the body. "May we be seized with madness, dumbness, blindness, deafness, leprosy and hydrophobia. May we be struck with thunderbolts and lightning, and come to sudden death. In the midst of not speaking truth, may I be taken with vomiting clotted black blood, and suddenly die before the assembled people. When I am going by water, may the water Nats [spirits] assault me, the boat be upset, and the property lost; and may alligators, porpoises, sharks, or other sea monsters, seize and crush me to death; and when I change worlds, may I not arrive among men or Nats, but suffer unmixed punishment and regret, in the utmost wretchedness, among the four states of punishment, Hell, Prita, Beasts and Athurakai." I would not be too concerned about the porpoises, but the rest of that seems fairly nasty. Just in case the oath itself was not enough, the court also got into the act, praying that false witnesses "die of bad diseases, be bitten by crocodiles, [and] be drowned. . . . May they be killed with swords, lances and every sort of weapon. May they be precipitated into the eight great hells and the 120 smaller ones . . . May they be changed into dogs," and, worst of all, "may everyone ill-treat them and raise lawsuits against them."

September 10, 2009

Forbes ranks the world's happiest cities

In Pictures: The World's Happiest Cities - 7. San Francisco, U.S. - Forbes.com The only American city on the list is San Francisco at number 7. I can't disagree. Number one is Rio de Janeiro and number two is Sydney. Barcelona is number three, and if I had to live anywhere in Europe, it might be here.
7. San Francisco, U.S. The lone American metropolis, San Francisco makes the list because it's perceived by foreigners as the "most fun" of America's major cities. "It's associated with gay pride," says Anholt. "That's a happy image unless you're a raging homophobe."