Polish activists fight against anti-LGBT movement

This past Sunday, hundreds of far-right nationalists gathered at the gates of the University of Warsaw in Poland. They rallied against “LGBT aggression” and chanted taunts about a well-known activist known as Margot. Another group countered them, rainbow flags in hand, while a massive police presence kept them apart.

Margot — Małgorzata Szutowicz — a 25-year-old nonbinary person who uses female pronouns, runs a radical, queer collective in Warsaw called Stop Bzdurom, or Stop the Nonsense, with her partner, Łania Madej, 21.

The collective, and particularly Margot, have become the face of the LGBT rights movement in Poland in recent days. Margot is currently being held in two-month, pretrial detention for assault and property damage charges after a dispute with a van driver from an organization spreading anti-LGBT messages.

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Why it’s hard to ban the menstrual shed

 

Photo credit Sajana Shrestha for NPR

Every year in Nepal, women die while sleeping in a shed outside their home because they are on their period. The cause of death is often smoke inhalation from lighting a fire to stay warm.

The practice, called chaupadi, is linked to Hindu beliefs around religious purity and the idea that menstruation is spiritually polluting. In much of the country, this means that a woman who is menstruating will avoid temples, prayer rooms and kitchens — places important to keep pure in the Hindu religion.

In parts of the remote west, an extreme version means nights sleeping outside in a hut or shed.

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Report: Global warming could melt at least a third of Himalayan glaciers

The forecast is dire for the glaciers of the Himalayas.

According to a report released Monday, a third or more of them could be gone by 2100 — melted because of earth’s warming climate. And that could have disastrous effects on the water resources of some 240 million people.

Representing five years of work by more than 350 researchers and policy makers from 22 different countries, the Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment analyzes studies from across the region. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a Nepal-based intergovernmental organization, pulled together the 210 scientists who authored the report in the hopes that better coordination between scientists and national governments can make the evidence more clear and lead to solutions.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region spans eight countries from Afghanistan to Myanmar and includes some of the world’s tallest mountains, including Everest and K2. The glaciers sit atop these mountains, and the water that runs down from them feeds the agriculture that nearly two billion people depend upon.

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Nepalese rice farmers boost yields by sowing fewer plants and cutting water

Apsara Bharati and her neighbors are spread across a small bit of land in Kavre, about 20 miles outside Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. The women bend to plant rice seedlings in mud up to their calves in Bharati’s field.

“One by one,” Bharati instructs the women, who are used to placing several plants at once. Bharati is practicing SRI, or the system of rice intensification. The technique, which was developed in Madagascar in the 1980s by French Jesuit priest Henri de Laulanié, involves several practices that seem counterintuitive to increasing production, such as planting fewer seedlings, planting them younger and using less water. But small farmers across the world have reported massive gains in yield that they attribute to the process.

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Survivor of acid attack helps bring change to Nepal’s criminal code

Photo credit Sajana Shrestha

Three years ago early on a February morning, 16-year-old Sangita Magar had just arrived at a prep class for her high school exams in Kathmandu. Her friend Seema Basnet was asking Magar for help with an accounting problem when the door flung open and someone threw liquid in Magar’s face, splashing Basnet too.

Magar later learned that her attacker, Jiwan B.K., was a tenant in the apartment building where she lived with her family. According to Magar, B.K. had gotten into a fight with her brother about the shared bathroom in the building and took it out on Magar by attacking her with acid.

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One-third of Everest deaths are Sherpa climbers

The autographs of people who have stood atop the world’s highest mountain line the walls of the Rum Doodle Bar and Restaurant in Kathmandu. The best known is the late Edmund Hillary, half of the two-person team that first reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953. His climbing partner, the late Tenzing Norgay, was a member of Nepal’s Sherpa ethnic group.

Near a photo of Norgay, draped with a red Buddhist scarf, are signatures of Apa Sherpa, Lhakpa Ghelu Sherpa and Babu Chiri Sherpa — who have set records, respectively, for the most number of summits, fastest summit and most hours spent on the top.

Most Sherpa climbers work on the mountain. They guide foreigners to the top, set ropes and ladders, and carry everything from food to tents and oxygen canisters up. These jobs have brought money and development to their communities, but little glory for the Sherpas.

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A nation with some of the world’s highest mountains is finally starting to ski

The Himalayan village of Kalinchowk, sitting at an altitude of about 12,000 feet in eastern Nepal and known for its temple to the Hindu goddess Kali, gets snow every year. After a recent storm, the town’s young people flock to wooden lodges and dance around campfires.

Utsav Pathak is determined to get some of them on skis.

“In Nepal, nobody skis, I think,” says Pathak.

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People in Nepal used to think vultures were bad luck. Not anymore

Three boys walk through a community forest in the village of Pithauli in southern Nepal. One kicks a soccer ball, the other two carry a goat leg in each hand.

They’re on their way to feed white-rumped vulture chicks orphaned after a recent hailstorm.

Vulture “restaurants” have sprung up in Nepal over the past decade to offer safe food to the endangered birds, which lost more than 99 percent of their species population across South Asia over about a decade.

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Law in Nepal sets penalties for forcing a woman into a menstrual shed

Nepal’s government has enacted a new law aimed at stopping the practice of forcing a woman who is menstruating, or has just given birth, to sleep outside their home, in a hut or shed.

According to the law, any family member who forces a woman to practice “chaupadi” — the Nepali term used for menstrual isolation — can be punished with a jail sentence of 3 months and/or a fine of 3,000 rupees (about $30).

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