What else we're reading

Madonna in Malawi, the war on children, cat poop affects babies' sex and more!

Published October 12, 2006 10:46PM (EDT)

Reuters: Despite protestations to the contrary, it seems Madonna may be following in the footsteps of St. Angelina and adopting a 1-year-old boy from Malawi. Today Reuters reported that she received an interim order to adopt a child. Although it's hard not to view anything the pop star does as unconnected to her well-burnished image, this is an act that has no downside. The AIDS-afflicted country, which has a total population of around 13 million, has an estimated 900,000 orphans. If Madonna can make supporting the world's most deprived children into a trend, more power to her.

Reuters, again: The U.N. reports that violence against children is a worldwide norm. Examples range from physical punishment in the schools of 106 countries around the world to ongoing traditions of female genital mutilation and forced marriages. And the U.S. isn't exempt -- as the New York Times recently reminded us, in many states and counties across the U.S., principals paddling children is still the norm.

The Guardian: Having a boy? Thank (or blame) your cat. Scientists in the Czech Republic analyzed medical records of 1,803 newborn babies, and discovered that mothers with antibodies suggesting a strong infection of toxoplasma, a disease commonly caught through contact with cat feces, were far more likely to deliver boys. Does it mean the disease influences sex development, though? Not necessarily -- the researchers are guessing the infection may just increase the likelihood that male embryos survive.

Eagle Tribune, via Scanner: Do mixed-sex sports promote equality, or just injuries? An Eagle Tribune editorial spilled some ink over the broken finger of one Gloucester High School field hockey player, who suffered the wound at the hands of the lone male on the team. Sure, there are sports that would be safer if kept separated by gender, but one broken finger is hardly a reason to revoke Title IX. After all, it never promised a safe playing field, just a level one.

This story has been corrected since it was first published.

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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