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Move over, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella! Rejected Princesses likely to find place in Disney Movies

Rejected Princesses is incredibly popular, with nearly 200,000 followers.

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Hatshepsut, the second female pharaoh of ancient Egypt, as drawn by animator Jason Porath for his book, Rejected Princesses. VOA

Move over, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella!

Movie animator Jason Porath got tired of seeing the same fairy tale-princess type of character over and over on the big screen– beautiful, kind and lucky. His quest to find notable women outside that traditional mold led to a blog he calls Rejected Princesses. It is incredibly popular, with nearly 200,000 followers. Now, he’s collected stories about dozens of those extraordinary women who defined for themselves what it means to be a strong woman in a new book.

The Wrestling Princess

Once upon a time—more precisely in 1260 — a girl was born in Mongolia. She was the great granddaughter of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. Her name was Khutulun, and she became known as the Wrestling Princess.

Khutulun grew up with fourteen brothers and seemingly learned from an early age how to confront and beat them.

Khutulun grew up with fourteen brothers and seemingly learned from an early age how to confront and beat them.

“Khutulun had a single rule,” Porath explains. “This rule was simple and clear: if you wanted to marry her, you had to beat her in wrestling, but if you lost, you had to give her a hundred horses. She ended up unmarried with 10 thousand horses.”

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Khutulun is one of the women Porath includes in his book, Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics. He notes that her story has been told and re-told — and changed — throughout the years. “[Puccini’s] opera Turandot is loosely based on her, but instead of wrestling, she’s outwitting people in games of wit and chance. She shows up in the Netflix series Marco Polo, but she’s immediately roped into this Romeo and Juliet-style thing where she immediately falls in love, which is completely against her character and her history. She was a big, hefty wrestler woman in real life, but in the Marco Polo series, she’s thin.”

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Real Women

Khutulun exemplifies Porath’s vision for his blog and his book. From the very beginning, he says he wanted to meet these women where they were, without trying to make them look cuter or wiser or kinder.

“I’m trying to portray people in a more well-rounded manner, where they have actual character flaws as opposed to what you see in animated movies where the biggest flaw you could put on someone is maybe that they’re clumsy.”

Rejected Princesses, by Jason Porath, grew from his blog about amazing women in history.

Rejected Princesses, by Jason Porath, grew from his blog about amazing women in history.

Ada Lovelace, the 19th century English mathematician, had actual character flaws. “You only hear she was an amazing woman who invented computers before they existed, which is definitely true,” he notes. “She’s a first-class intellect super genius. But she also had a lot of downsides. She had a gambling problem. Same with Josephine Baker. She was the world’s biggest mega star, but she also kind of ended up hurting a lot of people. She had an enormously tough childhood. All these people were very complex, fleshed-out human beings. They are not presented as such in history books.”

The women in Porath’s book come from different times and different cultures. While some are mythological, most are historical figures: the 12th century spy queen of the Yoruba, Moremi Ajasoro, who married the leader of the tribe to help her village… deaf American scientist Annie Jump Cannon, who revolutionized astronomy in the 19th century… Phoolan Devi, India’s resilient “Bandit Queen,” who later was elected to the lower house of Parliament.

Women Warriors

Many of these women became icons because of the role they played in defending their countries. Josefina Guerrero became a spy for the Philippines resistance against the Japanese occupation during World War II. In the 17th century, Nzinga Mbande defended Ndono, now Angola, against the Portuguese occupation.

In a meeting with the Portuguese governor, when he had a chair and she did not, Nzinga Mbande had one of her assistants serve as a chair for her, to establish her equality with the Portuguese crown.

In a meeting with the Portuguese governor, when he had a chair and she did not, Nzinga Mbande had one of her assistants serve as a chair for her, to establish her equality with the Portuguese crown.

“She went off into the jungle for forty years where she conquered a tribe of cannibals and became the utterly ruthless ruthless warrior and disturbed the lines of trades and killed Portuguese people for about four decades until the Portuguese were like,’You can have it! We’re leaving your country, it’s yours!'” Porath says of Nzinga. “She’s celebrated all over Angola to this day. Tracking down what’s factual about that story is really difficult. There was a lot of propaganda that was put forward by the Europeans. Some of those (stories) actually were put forward by Nzinga herself because she wanted to be feared.”

Women Rule

The book covers also introduces women who ruled empires, like Empress Myeongseong of Korea in the 19th century, and Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor who lived and ruled in the 8th century. Centuries before that, around 1478 BCE, Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt, the second woman to become Pharoah.

“She reigned for basically 22 years by herself and it was a golden age, with a boom in architecture and art. She engaged in a trip to a land called Punt, which historians believe is Ethiopia. To Egyptians of that time, that was like going to the moon. It was a tremendous achievement. After she died, the following pharaohs systematically tried to remove her name from pretty much everything. But she had made such an enormous quantity of stuff that despite of generations-long attempts to erase her from history, almost every single major museum in the world has a number of artifacts from her reign.”

Jason Porath continues to search for exceptional women for his blog and says there’s no problem finding them. (VOA)

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Will Pakistan listen to USA and Stop Harboring Taliban and other terrorist groups?

Pakistan said that Afghan Terror groups don't need hideouts or sanctuaries in Pakistan

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A Pakistani border security guard stands alert at Pakistan-Afghanistan border post
A Pakistani border security guard stands alert at Pakistan-Afghanistan border post. VOA
  • America have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time Pakistan is housing the very terrorists they are fighting
  • Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network
  • Top leaders of both groups-Taliban and the Haqqani network enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan

Washington, USA, September 2, 2017: In his South Asia strategy speech last week, President Donald Trump publicly puts Pakistan on notice that it must stop providing sanctuaries to armed groups that are fighting in Afghanistan.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” said Trump, laying out his “condition-based approach” to defeating terrorism in Afghanistan.

“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting. But that will have to change and that will change immediately,” he vowed.

Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

Analysts charge that sanctuaries in Pakistan have helped the militants sustain a bloody insurgency in Afghanistan against the Western-backed Afghan government.

“Top leaders of both groups [Taliban and the Haqqani network] enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan — mainly Baluchistan province, but also some of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” Michel Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, told VOA.

“It is not just the leaderships of these groups that enjoy Pakistani largesse; it’s the fighters, too,” he added.

Also Read: The US Designates Hizbul Mujahideen as Foreign Terrorist Organization

Where are the sanctuaries?

Afghan Taliban’s leadership council, known as the Quetta Shura, is reportedly based in the Pakistani southwestern city of Quetta, which shares a border with Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, the traditional stronghold of the Afghan Taliban.

The Haqqani network, one of the most notorious terror groups in the region, is reportedly based in Miram Shah, a town in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northern Pakistan. The group, which has been blamed for numerous deadly attacks inside Afghanistan against U.S.-led NATO forces and the Afghan government, is reportedly operating with impunity from across the border.

The Afghan government charges that militant sanctuaries are the main reason behind the country’s instability.

“Neighbor countries have been a major part of the problem in Afghanistan. Terrorists’ safe havens and sanctuaries are out of Afghanistan, where they get support, training, and equipment,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a defense liaison at the Afghan embassy in Washington, told VOA.

Pakistan’s response

Pakistan maintains that the Afghan Taliban controls large swaths of territory inside Afghanistan and does not need to have sanctuaries inside Pakistan.

“They don’t need hideouts or sanctuaries in Pakistan. They have vast territory [under their control], which is beyond Kabul’s writ, at their disposal. Why would they come to Pakistan for sanctuaries?” Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said over the weekend.

Following Trump’s speech, Pakistan denied the allegations that it harbors militants and cited its sacrifices in the ongoing war against terror as an example of how the country itself has been a victim of terrorism.

In an effort to illustrate its displeasure at the U.S president’s speech, Pakistan postponed Asif’s planned trip to Washington and also delayed a planned visit to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells to Islamabad.

Could the U.S. take unilateral action?

As the administration is weighing its options to deal with the issue of sanctuaries in Pakistan, some analysts doubt Pakistan will take action against militants operating from its soil unless more rigorous pressure is applied on the country.

“The Trump administration will need to deploy new forms of pressure. Previous forms of pressure — threats, aid conditionalities and aid cuts — have not worked. The administration will need to step up its actions and make them much more draconian — and this is clearly already under consideration,” Kugelman, of the Woodrow Wilson Center, told VOA.

Meanwhile, David Des Roches, an associate professor at the National Defense University in Washington, believes that while it is unlikely that the Pakistanis would back down publicly, it “is quite possible that they will facilitate enhanced American action against militants in Pakistan.”

What seems unclear so far is to what lengths the U.S. is willing to go as far as tackling the issue of safe havens in Pakistan.

While talking to reporters at the State Department last week, U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted that the U.S. would target terrorists “wherever they live” without elaborating further.

“There’s been an erosion of trust because we have witnessed terrorist organizations being given safe haven inside of Pakistan to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. servicemen, U.S. officials, disrupting peace efforts inside of Afghanistan,” Tillerson said.

Also Read: ‘Blood Stained Hands’ Plan to Take Over Pakistan’s Political Reigns as Terrorist Organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Prepares to Enter Politics

Sanctions

Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, told VOA that the U.S. should target Taliban and Haqqani network sanctuaries inside Pakistan and push Islamabad “out of its comfort zone.”

“Pakistan has become comfortable with its dual policy; receives U.S. assistance and works to defeat the U.S. in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.

He advocated for sanctions against senior military and intelligence officers who support extremist groups.

“Take Pakistan off the list of the major non-NATO ally, which provides the opportunity to receive significant security assistance; suspend assistance program; push IMF, World Bank, and Asian and European allies to suspend assistance programs,” Khalilzad added.

“If America imposes sanctions, Pakistan will probably be unable to receive assistance from IMF and the World Bank, and international companies will not be willing to invest in Pakistan,” Saad Mohammad Khan, a retired Pakistani military leader, told VOA. (VOA)

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US President Donald Trump’s Tough Stand Against Pakistan and more Highlights from his Speech

Donald Trump on wanting cooperation from India for reconstruction of Afghanistan

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US President Donald Trump during speech
US President Donald Trump during speech. Wikimedia
  • We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America
  • The new policy by Trump will allow the military to observe the conditions on the ground before they take a decision on if they want to attack or withdraw
  • We have been paying Pakistan  billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting

Virginia, USA, August 23, 2017: US President Donald Trump in his speech at Arlington, Virginia on August 21, 2017, divulged details on his new policy for Afghanistan and South Asia. He made it clear in his speech that American troops will continue to fight the war between US and Afghanistan, the longest war in US history which has been continuing for 17 years.

Trump made it a point to announce that he’s not just rearranging the Afghanistan policy. He also spoke against Pakistan and criticized them for harboring the terrorists and said that the US would want India’s help and contribution to restore the stability of Afghanistan.

Trump said, “In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear. We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, and we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world for that matter.”

Trump listed out the factors that would lead to a change in Afghanistan and South Asia policy in the coming years:

  • Donald Trump criticized Barack Obama
    Trump, many times during his presidential campaign has criticized former US President Barack Obama “for announcing a date by which American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan.” He said that it allowed Taliban and others like them to reassemble and lay waiting for them to do so.
  • The new policy by Trump will allow the military to observe the conditions on the ground before they take a decision on if they want to attack or withdraw. Though it seems like a wise decision, it also means that the US troops are likely to be in Afghanistan for few more years, by taking into consideration how long this war has continued. The US President stressed upon, “A shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions.”

ALSO READ: US Senate Confirms Three Indian Americans picked by President Donald Trump to Key Governmental Posts

  • Trump talked of a successful outcome

America will focus on their interests first, Donald Trump said, “The integration of all instruments of American power – diplomatic, economic, and military – toward a successful outcome.”  Trump said that America has spent a lot of time, money and soldier’s lives to try and rebuild countries in its own image. He expressed that a future political solution in Afghanistan might even include the Taliban, but it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take that decision. “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” he said.

  • On Pakistan

Trump said, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat.” Trump made some strong remarks about Pakistan, a country that has apparently been an American ally for decades, but was also often accused of taking funds from USA and using them to “take part in an arms race with India”, instead of using that money to fight the terror organizations which were often nurtured by them. Trump said, “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.”

  • On wanting cooperation from India

Donald Trump then talked about India and said: “Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India – the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States.  We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.  We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.”

Trump called for India’s helping hand- He wants India to play a much larger role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, particularly in the areas like development and economic assistance. This came as positive news to New Delhi, and the Ministry of External Affairs was ready to welcome the statement with open arms. The spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs said “We welcome President Trump’s determination to enhance efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan and confronting issues of safe havens and other forms of cross-border support enjoyed by terrorists. India shares these concerns and objectives.”

ALSO READ: US President Donald Trump Needs to Do Better than Tweeting, to Deal with North Korea

But Donald Trump’s framing of the issue has a problem in it – this seems transactional (like a business deal) and the narrative put forward by the US President saying that Afghan reconstruction is mainly an American effort only. Trump said, “But India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States,” he said this as if he wants to say that this should be the reason due to which New Delhi should do what Washington asks from it. Though India’s trade relations with the US shouldn’t be the reason for which India would take a bigger role in Afghanistan reconstruction. Instead, it is because of India’s personal interests in wanting to see Afghanistan as a stable, peaceful and terror-free region which leads it to move in the direction of forming a partnership with Kabul. Journalist Bobby Ghosh said, “One of the strengths of India’s involvement in Afghanistan is that it is seen unambiguously as Indian involvement.”

The real hindrance to a much larger involvement of India in Afghanistan is the danger of Pakistan taking revenge and they have been more than willing to use their weapons of terror against India in the past. This is where Trump’s strict stand on Pakistan is welcome and much needed.hat we don’t know is how much of Trump’s words will turn into action in the coming years. In the past also, American leaders have vowed to be strict with Pakistan, but they caved into demands of the country’s military. Now, Trump has talked about a “dramatically changed” approach, and these have been the most direct remarks coming from a US president regarding Pakistan till now. Now, only time will tell how much change can this bring.

What we don’t know is how much of Trump’s words will turn into action in the coming years. In the past also, American leaders have vowed to be strict with Pakistan, but they caved into demands of the country’s military. Now, Trump has talked about a “dramatically changed” approach, and these have been the most direct remarks coming from a US president regarding Pakistan till now. Now, only time will tell how much change can this bring.


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What it takes to be a Wonder Woman of Bodybuilding and Weightlifting

Equality of men and women in different fields has been questioned, but bodybuilding women barely make it to the mainstream discussions and debates

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Wonder Women in bodybuilding
More women are preparing for bodybuilding and weightlifting competition. Wikimedia
  • Many of the competitive bodybuilders and weightlifters in the US are women
  • At a competition called OCB Presidential Cup, three-quarters of the total participants were women
  • This breaks stereotypical views revolving around weight lifting that make it a man’s business

Washington, August 20, 2017: The Washington state is hosting the OCB Presidential Cup, a competition for bodybuilding and weightlifting. But unlike most competitions, this one has three-quarters of the total competitors as women.

Out of 45 total competitors to showcase their impressive and aesthetic bodies, 30 were women while 15 were men.

Also Read: 21-Year-Old Bhumika Sharma Wins Miss World Body building Title in Venice, Breaks Gender Stereotypes

We come across many stereotypes where women are supposed to be the softer and fragile gender while men pump weights. However, this scenario is rapidly changing, especially in the United States.

More and more women are stepping into the gym with the hopes of having a body of their dreams without raising societal questions.

These women in Washington’s OCB Presidential Cup explain that it is their passion at the end of the day and it is really all that matters. However, they do hope to inspire others with this distinct challenge that they have taken.

Equality of men and women in different fields has been questioned, but bodybuilding women barely make it to the mainstream discussions and debates.

A weightlifting and bodybuilding competition requires a whole lot of commitment, dedication as well as preparation. Months of training goes into it. And this training includes an astonishingly exhaustive workout coupled with the austere diet regime and nutrient intake.

Moreover, living such a lifestyle helps men and women alike to improve their well-being and reduce chances of illness and health problems.

The competition is drug-free and the competitors go through a polygraph test before they are accepted to participate.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.