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Why the Islamic State (or ISIS, or QSIS, or ISIL) has so many names

Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta, which the Guardian describes as “a wing of the Egyptian justice ministry .


. . [and] a source of religious authority both inside and outside Egypt,” says that it’s not appropriate to refer to the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” that’s currently fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Instead, according to Dar al-Ifta, we should call them “al-Qaida Separatists in Iraq and Syria,” or alternately QSIS. You can learn more by following the group’s “Call it QS not IS” social media campaign.

It makes a lot of sense that Dar al-Ifta doesn’t want the generic term “Islamic State” applied to a terrorist group. But I don’t really see “QSIS” gaining traction given that governments and the media still haven’t reached a consensus about which of the group’s (at least) four previous names to use.

Slate’s style is to refer to the group as ISIS, for the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” This is as much for the sake of consistency as anything else: It’s what we were calling them before they became a household name in the United States. During its initial rise, the group was often referred to in the U.S. media simply as “al-Qaida” or “al-Qaida-linked,” though that hasn’t been accurate since at least February.

According to Poynter, The New York Times, L.A. Times, ABC News, CBS News and NBC News all use “ISIS.” However, the U.S. government, including President Barack Obama, the Pentagon, and the State Department, uses “ISIL,” for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The group’s full Arabic name until recently was Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham — but there’s some confusion over what exactly “al-Sham” refers to. It’s a regional term for Syria, or “Greater Syria,” that given the group’s territorial ambitions, could potentially refer to the entire Levant region, including Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Lebanon.

Then, in June, the group declared a caliphate and rebranded itself as simply the “Islamic State,” reflecting more global ambitions. This presented a dilemma to news organizations. The Associated Press, which had been using ISIL, switched to Islamic State, as did The Washington Post, which had been using ISIS. Reuters seems to use ISIS and Islamic State interchangeably.

Among people in the region, including senior government officials, the group is often referred to as Da’ash, its Arabic acronym. This name is usually used by the group’s opponents and, according to some reports, saying it can be punishable by 80 lashes in ISIS-controlled areas.

Terrorist groups think about branding as much as any other type of organization. Documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound show that he considered changing the name of his network from the generic-sounding al-Qaida (“the base”). The new names he pondered included the Monotheism and Jihad Group, the Monotheism and Defending Islam Group, the Restoration of the Caliphate Group, and the Muslim Unity Group. None of these stuck.

Often, terrorist organizations don’t get to decide what they’re called. “Boko Haram” started as a local nickname for a group whose full name translates as “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.” (Boko Haram also doesn’t exactly mean “western education is a sin,” as it’s usually translated. According to scholars of the Hausa language, boko can also mean “fraud” or “inauthenticity.”)

For ISIS and others, this much is clear: It’s not easy to control the message when the people you’ve sworn to kill are going to be the ones delivering it.

Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international news, social science and related topics. He was previously an editor at Foreign Policy magazine.

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United Sweets of America: A dessert for every state

Thankfully for our collective culture, if not our blood sugar levels, America is a land of desserts.


Drive across the country, and you’ll find pralines and cookies in every gas station, pies and cakes in every diner. More than oil, more than sports, more than meat, even, sugar is the fuel that keeps America running.

And so it is clear that each state ought to claim its own dessert, even as we all praise apple pie as the ultimate symbol of Americana. Surprisingly, only eight states have an official dessert (along with 15 that have recognized state cookies, state candies, and other dessert subcategories). I see this as an enormous oversight and a trenchant example of the failure of bureaucracy to meet citizens’ needs. And so I decided to assign a dessert to every one of these blessed United States.

Such a formidable task requires some ground rules:

1. No two states can have the same dessert. Once a dessert is assigned to one state, no other state can lay claim to it. This rule will no doubt chagrin many readers who believe their state deserves banana pudding, but, as we all learned in childhood, we can’t always have banana pudding when we want it.

2. Brands are not desserts. For the purposes of this map, a dessert is a treat that can be made in your kitchen, not a trademarked secret recipe. There are lots of dessert brands closely associated with states — Ben and Jerry’s in Vermont, MoonPie in Tennessee, Pepperidge Farm in Connecticut, and Hershey’s in Pennsylvania, for instance — but you won’t find any of them on this map. (I did make a single exception for a certain brand name that has become synonymous with gelatin desserts of all stripes.)

3. No state gets apple pie — or chocolate chip cookies. Assigning apple pie to a single state would be tantamount to declaring that state more American than the others. We wouldn’t want to be responsible for sparking a second civil war, and so we’ve decided to take apple pie off the table, so to speak.

Chocolate chip cookies aren’t quite as emblematic as apple pie, and unlike apple pie they have a clear place of birth: the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. But chocolate chip cookies have since spread across the nation like an invasive species, taking root in the hearts of all Americans. It wouldn’t be fair to let one state lay claim to such a universal favorite. (Besides, Massachusetts already has a bunch of great desserts to choose from.)

This map was difficult to compile, given that so many desserts are regional rather than local in origin, and it will no doubt draw complaints from, say, Louisianans who think they should have gotten red velvet cake. But remember: Even if your state didn’t get your favorite dessert, you’re still allowed to eat it.

Alabama: Lane cake

Also known as Alabama Lane cake, Lane cake is one of those boozy, eggy, dried-fruit-filled confections we don’t eat enough of these days. Invented by Emma Rylander Lane in the 1890s, a Lane cake is a sponge cake layered with a raisin-bourbon filling and frosted with a marshmallow-y “boiled white frosting.” Lane cake is also to Harper Lee what the madeleine is to Marcel Proust: The baked good makes several appearances in the Alabama-set “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Alaska: Baked Alaska

OK, fine, so the baked Alaska was not invented in Alaska. It wasn’t even invented by someone who had been to Alaska. Cakes topped with ice cream and encased with meringue were served for decades before Alaska became a state, under names like “omelette surprise” and “omelette à la norvégienne” (Norwegian omelette, probably an allusion to Norway’s cold climate). But it was the name popularized in the 1870s by Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York — a tribute to the newly purchased Department of Alaska — that stuck. It’s easy to see why the visually apt name caught on: The white, mounded dessert bears more than a passing resemblance to the snow-capped Mount McKinley.

Furthermore, Alaska is the only state name that describes a dessert not merely as a modifier, but as a noun. To omit this singular sweet from a list of pseudo-official state desserts would be a dereliction of my duties.

Arizona: Sopaipilla

Sopaipillas are similar to frybread — invented by Arizona’s original residents, the Navajo — which is to say that they’re deep-fried circles or squares of leavened dough. While frybread can be served with sweet or savory fillings, sopaipillas are more commonly served drizzled with honey as a dessert food. Some dessert experts see sopaipillas as more of a New Mexico thing, but it’s not fair for New Mexico to hog all of the American Southwest’s desserts.

Arkansas: Red velvet cake

Red velvet cake is having a moment, according to the New York Times, which insists that the scarlet-hued cake was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, “though some Southern cake historians believe that story is more legend than fact.” Whatever its true history, red velvet cake is firmly situated in the public imagination as a creation of the South: Who can forget the armadillo-shaped groom’s cake in Steel Magnolias? Granted, Steel Magnolias is technically set in Louisiana, but that’s not far from Arkansas (which doesn’t have any state dessert specialties to speak of). Plus, red velvet cake is colored cardinal and white — the official colors of the University of Arkansas.

California: Meyer lemon cake

Meyer lemons, a cross between lemons and oranges, grow easily in California’s temperate climate, so it’s no wonder Alice Waters’ crew at Chez Panisse seized on them when they were inventing California cuisine in the 1960s. Nowadays, elegant, not-too-sweet Meyer lemon cake is ubiquitous on West Coast restaurant menus.

Colorado: Pot candy

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado at the beginning of this year opened the floodgates to a vigorous and controversial edibles industry. It was never any question that Colorado’s state dessert would be laced with THC — the question was, what kind of sweet edible should get the crown? Cookies? Brownies? Gummy bears?

Thankfully, Maureen Dowd recently settled matters in an instant-classic column describing a “caramel-chocolate flavored candy bar” that made her “convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.” If you’d like to make weed-laced caramel-chocolate bars at home in Dowd’s honor, here is one of many recipes available online.

Connecticut: Spice cookies

Connecticut is known as the Nutmeg State not because nutmeg grows there (it doesn’t), but because “its early inhabitants had the reputation of being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs” — in other words, they were able to pass off fake nutmegs as real ones. It’s a bit of a convoluted origin story, and one that doesn’t speak well of the state’s integrity. But it does make a certain amount of sense: Connecticut’s earliest settlers were Dutch, and the Dutch are big on baking spices. Spice cookies aren’t quite as popular in Connecticut as they are in the Old World, but it’s hard to find fault with the soft, aromatic New England variety.

Delaware: Strawberry shortcake

Strawberries were declared the official state fruit of Delaware in 2010, and you can’t argue with House Bill No. 203 (“Whereas, strawberries are an important product of Delaware’s agricultural industry; and whereas children and adults love to pick their own strawberries; and whereas strawberries can be a refreshing part of everyone’s diet …”). Strawberry shortcake is indubitably the best strawberry dessert, so this one was easy.

Florida: Key lime pie

Key lime pie is the official state pie of Florida. There is an annual Key lime pie festival in Cape Canaveral. Florida media outlets specialize in lists of the best Key lime pies served in the state. And the limes in Key lime pie are named after the Florida Keys. This choice was easy as pie.

Georgia: Peach cobbler

The Georgia Peach Council might have the slickest website of any American agricultural association. Not only is the design eye-catching, with accents of aquamarine and, well, peach, but you can also win an iPad if you share your “Georgia Peach experiences.” Point being, Georgia peach growers know that peach is practically synonymous with Georgia, and they’re milking it for all its worth.

Georgia has its pick of peach desserts, so why did I assign it peach cobbler instead of the more obvious peach pie? The Georgia Peach Council offers two cobbler recipes but no pie recipes. Surprising, yes, but I’m not about to argue with professionals.

Hawaii: Shave ice

Does the phrase “shave ice” make your grammatically fastidious brain hurt? You clearly have never had real Hawaiian shave ice, which is so good it’s been known to cure pedantry. Made from large blocks of ice shaved into the finest flakes imaginable, drenched with whatever fruit-flavored syrup your heart desires, and sometimes drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, shave ice might be Hawaii’s most important contribution to American culture. Case in point: America’s first Hawaiian president almost always stops in for some when he’s back in his home state.

Idaho: Huckleberry pie

Did you think Idaho’s state dessert was going to be a potato cake? Come on, now. OK, fine, potato cake exists — but it’s hardly the regional treat huckleberry pie is.

If you’ve never eaten a huckleberry, it’s probably because agricultural scientists haven’t yet figured out how to domesticate them — they only grow in the wild. If you have eaten a huckleberry, you probably live in the vicinity of northern Idaho. Or you’re a black bear. Or both. Either way, you probably like the sweet-tart goodness of huckleberry pie.

Illinois: Brownies

Brownies made their debut at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, so I thought it was only fair to credit Chicago for one of the world’s favorite baked goods. After all, the original recipe, which contains a pound of chocolate and a pound of butter, is a good one.

Indiana: Sugar cream pie

According to the Indiana Foodways Alliance, “Indiana’s contribution to the nation’s pie mythology is sugar cream.” What is a sugar cream pie? The name is pretty literal: It’s a pie whose filling contains cream, flour, sugar, and vanilla — no eggs. It’s also sometimes called Hoosier sugar cream pie, just in case any other state wanted for some reason to take credit for it.

Iowa: Cherry pie

As a famous gourmand once said, “tastes so good, makes a grown man cry.” Every year at the annual fundraiser known as Veishea, Iowa State students sell thousands of cherry pies to raise money for the Veishea Cherry Pie Scholarship Fund. This bake sale tradition has been going on since 1920.

Kansas: Dirt cake

A chilled concoction of instant pudding, imitation whipped cream, and crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, Kansas dirt cake is the most prominent dessert named in honor of Kansas. (I promise, I looked for other ones, but this was it.) Kansas dirt cake is not to be confused with Mississippi mud pie, which is a totally different soil-themed dessert.

Kentucky: Bread pudding

The home of bourbon deserves a bourbon-flavored state dessert, and the very best bourbon-flavored dessert is bread pudding with bourbon sauce. Granted, a bunch of Southern states (notably Louisiana) lay claim to bread pudding, but given that none of those states would be able to make decent bread pudding without bourbon, I’m giving this one to Kentucky.

Louisiana: Bananas Foster

Louisiana has an unfair number of desserts it could plausibly assert ownership of. There’s king cake, which seems too Mardi Gras — specific to represent the Creole State year round. There’s bread pudding, which I gave to Kentucky on a bourbon-related technicality. There are beignets, which are usually eaten more for breakfast or a snack than for dessert.

Then there’s bananas Foster: invented in New Orleans, adequately boozy, easy to set on fire. Both festive enough for Louisiana’s pre-Lenten revelries and simple enough to make any other time of the year. Yes, bananas Foster will do quite nicely.

Maine: Blueberry pie

Maine is the country’s leading producer of lowbush or “wild” blueberries, which tend to be smaller, brighter, and more intensely flavored than the commercially viable highbush blueberries. Predictably, Mainers won’t shut up about their blueberries, and every Mainer you meet probably has a prized wild-blueberry pie recipe to sell you on. The Maine state Legislature’s designation of blueberry pie as the official state dessert in 2011 was a foregone conclusion.

Maryland: Smith Island cake

Smith Island is a tiny community of a few hundred people on the Chesapeake Bay. When they’re not catching soft-shell crabs, Smith Islanders spend their time making absurdly exacting cakes of six to 12 layers interspersed with chocolate icing. The Smith Island Baking Company, the only bakery on Smith Island, has proclaimed itself “the #1 Dessert Company in the World,” and assuming they’re judging on a scale of arduousness, I have to agree. Even though Smith Island cakes aren’t commonly made in the rest of Maryland, they became the official state dessert in 2008 — a testament to Smith Island’s PR power (and to the paucity of other Maryland dessert specialties).

Massachusetts: Boston cream pie

The Parker House Hotel alleges that its chef invented the Boston cream pie — a sponge cake layered with pastry cream and topped with a chocolate fondant — in 1856. History blogger Tori Avey takes issue with that origin story, explaining that “cream pie” was a common 19th-century term for round cakes layered with pastry cream, that the chocolate topping came into play later, and that people only started calling this dessert “Boston cream pie” because there was already a well-known dessert called “Boston cream cake,” which was in fact not a cake but a cream puff. (Got all that?) Regardless, the name stuck, Bostonians embraced it, and no less a distinguished Massachusetts family than the Kennedys championed the dessert as a symbol of the commonwealth. Sometimes, the myth is more important than the reality; this is one of those times.

Michigan: Fudge

Anyone with milk, butter, sugar, and chocolate can make fudge. But the residents of Mackinac Island, Michigan have taken fudge to another level, building an entire tourist industry around it and claiming to have “perfected” it. Michiganders aren’t the only ones who think this: In the history and recipe book “Oh Fudge! A Celebration of America’s Favorite Candy,” author Lee Edwards Benning calls Mackinac Island both “the fudge capital of the United States” and “the fudge capital of the world.” And when “the fudge king of Mackinac Island” died in 1996, he got an obituary in the New York Times, the ultimate endorsement of the importance of one’s life’s work.

Minnesota: Seven-layer bars

Page 4 of “You Know You’re in Minnesota When …” states “a potluck isn’t a potluck without bars.” The best bars for a potluck or any other occasion are seven-layer bars, so called because they contain butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts, shredded coconut, and sweetened condensed milk, in that order.

Mississippi: Mississippi mud pie

Mississippi mud pie is a relatively dignified affair compared to its thematic cousin, Kansas dirt cake. And it’s a relatively straightforward affair compared to Boston cream pie, in that it’s actually a pie, not a cake, and it contains one or more elements that resemble mud. Depending on the baker, Mississippi mud pie might contain a chocolate crumb crust or a traditional pie crust, which might be filled with chocolate pudding or chocolate cake or brownie batter, which might be topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Two things are certain: It will contain chocolate, and it will be just about the richest thing you ever tasted.

Missouri: Gooey butter cake

Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis curiosity that seems to defy description (despite the seemingly specific nature of its name). It falls somewhere between a sheet cake and a bar: It starts with a layer of thick, extra-buttery yellow cake (doctored from a cake mix box, usually), but the gooey part comes from a filling made of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and eggs. Like most great regional specialties, it comes with a host of contradictory origin stories, all of which place its birth somewhere in the 1930s or 1940s.

This map generally takes a skeptical eye toward breakfast food, but it will make an exception for gooey butter cake: Although many sources identify it as a snack or breakfast dish, I cannot condone eating such a sweet and rich course before sunset.

Montana: S’mores

The s’more was not invented in Montana, but hear me out: Montana is one of the best hiking destinations in the country. It’s home to Glacier National Park and part of Yellowstone; its name means “mountain,” for crying out loud. And anyone who plans a hike, camping trip, or other mountain-based recreational activity without bringing graham crackers, milk chocolate, and marshmallows is a fool. QED.

Nebraska: Popcorn balls

Nebraska is the country’s leading popcorn producer, growing about one-quarter of our national supply. According to legend, popcorn balls were invented during a day of wonky Nebraska weather: First heavy rains sent syrup flowing from sorghum grass into the cornfields, then extreme heat caused the corn to pop, and finally a tornado swept the sugar-coated popcorn into clusters. Climate change makes this story seem actually kind of plausible, but the folktale gives short shrift to whoever really invented candy-coated popcorn spheres, Nebraska’s homegrown contribution to the nation’s dessert menu.

Nevada: Chocolate fondue

The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest chocolate fondue fountain, which is reason enough to award melted chocolate dip to this state. But the extravagance of Las Vegas isn’t the only relevant factor here: The Silver State is the most mountainous state in the country, according to the National Park Service, and its superficial resemblance to the Swiss Alps lends a nice congruency to the pairing of Nevada with this alpine treat.

New Hampshire: Whoopie pie

New Hampshire, Maine, and Pennsylvania have all claimed ownership of the whoopie pie, which raises a question: Why haven’t any of these states come up with a less cringe-y name for it? (Some people call them “gobs.” Keep working on it!)

Whoopie pies are not pies: They’re chocolate cake disks sandwiched around vanilla frosting or marshmallow fluff. And while the Pennsylvania Amish and Mainers both have strong, proprietary feelings for whoopie pies, Yankee magazine has proclaimed that the best pies are made at a bakery in the Granite State.

New Jersey: Salt water taffy

Atlantic City, New Jersey, has made a number of lasting contributions to Americana: Monopoly, the Miss America pageant, that Bruce Springsteen song and, most importantly, those color-coded candy cylinders that, despite their name, contain no salt water.

New Mexico: Bizcochito

New Mexico became the first state to adopt a state cookie in 1989, when it made things official with this traditional anise-and-orange-scented sugar biscuit. The fact that New Mexico went out of its way to declare a state cookie before anyone else did speaks to a serious-mindedness that this map would be remiss not to respect.

New York: Cheesecake

New York state is much more than New York City — but New York City’s signature dessert has acquired such mythic proportions that it overshadows the rest of the state’s sweets. In fact, New York-style cheesecake, with its impossibly tall and dense layer of cream-cheese filling, has eclipsed all other styles of cheesecake to become America’s definitive cheesecake style.

“In a city of constant ethnic flux, cheesecake is itself a constant, offering something for everyone,” wrote a New York Times reporter in 2004, and the statement still rings true today. The Big Apple has seen its share of culinary fads, but ranking the best slices of cheesecake in the city remains an ever-popular pastime.

North Carolina: Sweet potato pie

Sweet potato pie is one of those pan-Southern desserts, a mainstay of soul food with roots in slave cooking. So why does North Carolina get it, instead of, say, Georgia, Virginia, or Mississippi? Tar Heels grow more sweet potatoes than residents of any other state, which gives them dibs on the tuber’s most illustrious dish.

North Dakota: Krumkake

I must confess that I’ve never been to North Dakota, but I’m nonetheless pretty confident about my choice of krumkake as this state’s dessert. Krumkake is not a crumbcake: It’s a thin, rolled up Norwegian cookie, somewhere between a pizzelle and a waffle cone. And it’s pronounced kroom-cacka.

Here’s why I feel it’s the right choice for North Dakota: The Roughrider State’s official tourism site includes two krumkake mentions on its list of “6 ways to experience ‘home for the holidays’ in North Dakota.” A blog post by one Kaitlin Ring of Williston called “Things North Dakotans Like” lists “krumkake as one North Dakotans’ favorite ethnic foods. (“Ethnic for us is German and Norwegian,” Ring explains.) But what sealed the deal for me was a recipe for krumkake on NorthDakotaKitchen南宁桑拿网,, presented without comment, as though the reasons for its inclusion were obvious to any North Dakotan worth her salt.

Ohio: Buckeye candy

Buckeye candy is so called for its resemblance to the nut of the buckeye, the state tree of Ohio and nickname for its residents. Like a cross between peanut butter fudge and peanut butter cups, Buckeye candies consist of a ball of sweet peanut butter dough dipped in melted chocolate. Congratulations to Ohio for producing a confection that actually looks like the thing it’s supposed to look like, and that’s delicious to boot.

Oklahoma: Fried pie

“It was an abnormally cold winter in the year 1893.” So begins the rather dramatic origin story of Oklahoma’s oldest fried pie company. The tale continues, “The different ranchers in the Arbuckle Mountains had their ranch hands go out into the midst of the inclement weather to tend to the cattle …”

Long story short, the ranchers were miserable that winter until one resourceful woman started making them fried pies. That woman’s granddaughter, Nancy Fulton, is now known as “the Fried Pie Lady,” and she has turned her inherited knowledge of fried pies — fruit-filled turnovers, basically — into a miniature empire that’s extended its tentacles into Texas and Arkansas.

Oregon: Blackberry cobbler

Blackberries grow like weeds in the Pacific Northwest, and Oregon is the top producing state. Fresh blackberries are pretty good raw, but they’re even better cooked into a sweet, buttery batter — try this gorgeous recipe.

Pennsylvania: Banana split

Thanks in part to the sugar-loving Pennsylvania Dutch, the Keystone State lays claim to loads of desserts: apple dumplings, shoofly pie, whoopie pies, etc. But the United Sweets of America can choose only one, and it’s a classic of the dessert canon. In 1904, a young soda jerk named David “Doc” Strickler halved a banana lengthwise, nestled some scoops of ice cream in between the two halves, added some whipped cream and flavored syrups, and made history in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

If this provenance weren’t enough, the chocolate sauce that’s a required topping on all banana splits provides a nice nod to one of Pennsylvania’s most famous brands.

Rhode Island: Frozen lemonade

Rhode Island was a tough one: It boasts two iconic sweet substances, coffee milk and frozen lemonade. After a lot of reflection, I decided coffee milk qualifies primarily as a beverage, not a dessert. (It’s literally just milk sweetened with coffee-flavored syrup.) Frozen lemonade also possesses beveragelike qualities, but at the moment it’s served, this tart, granita-like slushy is thick enough to eat with a spoon, which makes it a dessert in my book. The most famous purveyor of frozen lemonade in Rhode Island is Del’s, which has been cooling palates since 1948.

South Carolina: Coconut cake

Many bakers make coconut cakes, but only one baker has trademarked the phrase “Ultimate Coconut Cake.” The creation of pastry chef Claire Chapman, the pastry chef at the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, the Ultimate Coconut Cake® has been fêted by the likes of Martha Stewart and Bobby Stewart. New York Times tastemaker Florence Fabricant describes it thusly: “Coconut-infused butter cream is slathered between six layers of golden poundcake made with coconut milk in the batter. … In Charleston, some brides are ordering it as wedding cake.” The state that has taken coconut cake to its overelaborate zenith is the state that gets coconut cake as its official state dessert.

South Dakota: Kuchen

Like North Dakota, South Dakota has a fair amount of inhabitants of German and Scandinavian extraction. Kuchen just means cake in German, and in South Dakota it can refer to a number of different types of cake, but the type recognized as the official state dessert, according to the 2011 South Dakota Legislative Manual, is “a sweet dough crust filled with custard, which is served plain or studded with fruit, such as prunes, peaches, blueberries and apples.” To get a better sense of how kuchen is made, check out these pictures from last year’s Kuchen Festival in Delmont, South Dakota, or start making reservations for this year’s festival.

Tennessee: Banana pudding

Many states — perhaps all the states — wanted banana pudding as their state sweet. The layered concoction of sliced bananas, vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers, and whipped cream is an honest-to-God American treasure. And Tennessee is the state that has developed a festival worthy of banana pudding’s charms: The National Banana Pudding Festival and Cook-Off has been running for five years in Hickman County, Tennessee. In addition to naming “the best maker of banana pudding in the United States,” the festival crowns a Miss Banana Pudding, a ritual of retrograde sexism that is forgivable only because it’s done for the greater glory of banana pudding.

Texas: Pecan pie

The pecan tree is Texas’ official state tree, the native pecan is Texas’ official state nut, and San Saba, Texas, is the self-proclaimed “pecan capital of the world.” Does it surprise you that the Texas House of Representatives recently named pecan pie the official state pie? It should not. Texas has covered all its bases where it comes to pecans, and to give this Thanksgiving dessert to any other state would just be wrongheaded. (It would also probably qualify as “messing with Texas.”)

Utah: Jell-O

Utah is the only state whose dessert is the same as its meat. (Come to think of it, Jell-O is one of the only desserts that is made out of meat.) There’s a reason the so-called “Mormon Corridor” is also known as the “Jell-O Belt” — Zell-O is the most potent symbol of Latter-day Saint culture and cuisine. (Literally the most potent — remember, Mormons don’t consume coffee, tea, or alcohol.)

Vermont: Maple candy

The Pieces of Vermont store, “Your Vermont maple candy and maple wedding favors specialists,” isn’t the only place you can buy maple candy — a magical confection that is made from pure, concentrated, whipped maple syrup — but it is the most aptly named.

Virginia: Chess pie

Chess pie (the name is possibly a corruption of “chest pie” or “cheese pie”) is filled with a custard containing eggs, butter, flour, sugar, and usually cornmeal. Chess pie is awarded to Virginia because the very first written recipe for such a pie, hiding under the alias “transparent pudding,” appeared in The Virginia House-wife in 1825.

Washington: Nanaimo bars

Yes, Nanaimo bars get their name from Nanaimo, British Columbia, and they are indubitably Canadian by birth. But it’s unsurprising that these sweets, which consist of a layer of graham cracker and nut crust, a layer of pudding or buttercream frosting, and a layer of chocolate, gained popularity south of the Canadian border as well. And it was Seattle-based behemoth Starbucks, which has sold Nanaimo bars seasonally, that introduced them to the rest of America.

Washington, D.C.: Cupcakes

The cupcake craze of the early 21st century did not begin in Washington, D.C., but it ended there. Our nation’s capital is home to several independent cupcake bakeries, including Georgetown Cupcake, which rose to prominence on the TLC reality show “D.C. Cupcakes” — the program that forever linked the District of Columbia with cupcakes in the nation’s imagination. No one tell D.C. that macarons, pie, whoopie pies,and doughnuts are the new cupcake.

West Virginia: Shoofly pie

Shoofly pie is a colorful name for molasses pie. It seems to have been invented, like so many other desserts, by the Pennsylvania Dutch, but molasses is a beloved ingredient throughout Appalachia, as evidenced by the West Virginia Molasses Festival, held annually in Arnoldsburg, West Virginia, since 1967.

Wisconsin: Kringle

What is a kringle, you ask? Why, just head over to kringle广西桑拿,, which tells you everything you need to know: The home page bears several photographs of the ring-shaped, fruit-filled, streudel-like pastries and a large insignia reading “Official State Pastry of Wisconsin.” Wisconsinites know that the best kringles are found in Racine County, whose Danish immigrants have made it “America’s Kringle Capital.”

Wyoming: Cowboy cookies

The connection between cowboys and cowboy cookies is unclear, unless it’s just that cowboys, like the rest of us, enjoy oatmeal cookies packed with chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut. Regardless, as the state with the most enduring cowboy cred, Wyoming gets cowboy cookies.

Anderson edits Slate’s food and drink sections and writes the recipe column You’re Doing It Wrong. Follow her on Twitter: @lv_anderson.

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Mentors encourage refugee kids to apply for university places

For many migrant teenage boys university is a pretty foreign concept; they’re either new to Australia, having come here as a refugee, or they’re the first in their family to contemplate higher education.


It was no surprise then that the Year 10 students at Blacktown Boys High School were full of questions: what courses do Australian universities teach?

What marks would they need? What was the point of going to university? And how else could they get there if their marks fell short?

Enter the mentors: Macquarie University runs a program where students give up their Friday afternoons to set their young counterparts straight.

Omar Samadi was there for the first time. The fourth-year Law and Commerce student knows the impact mentoring can have. He’s a former refugee who was inspired to apply for university after being mentored himself, when he was 15.

“The person who mentored me was a medical student from the University of Sydney and the persona that he gave off just blew away all my stereotypes and pre-conceived notions that I had of medical students,” he said.

“I thought they were all socially awkward”.

“Geeks, but this guy was over six foot tall, he seemed to have a good grasp on life, he seemed to be very physically fit, very approachable, very sociable. He introduced himself, sat me down and said ‘so what do you know about uni?’. I said ‘I don’t know much about uni’ so he was someone I could look up to at that time. He told me about the extra-curricular life and the added benefits of going. Not just academically, but socially and personally because you learn so much that’s got nothing to do with academics and a career, but about you as a person.”

So if you’re the doctor who studied at Sydney Uni about a decade ago and inspired Omar with your non-geekiness and tales of cool university life, take a bow.


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Nail polish that ‘detects date-rape’ drugs stirs a storm

Four North Carolina State University students have dreamed up a striking way to detect date rape drugs that’s getting some major media buzz.


It’s also generating a backlash from people who say it doesn’t get at the root causes of rape.

The idea: nail polish formulated to change color if you dip your finger in a drink spiked with one of the incapacitating drugs, such as GBH, Rohypnol or Xanax.

This simple approach fired the imaginations of journalists around the world this week, just as the college fall semester was getting under way.

It also has caught the eye of at least one local investor, who has reportedly pumped $100,000 into the project. It won $11,250 this past spring in the university’s Lulu eGames, a contest sponsored by Lulu广西桑拿, and the university’s Entrepreneurship Initiative that’s aimed at encouraging students to develop solutions to real-world challenges.

The startup is called Undercover Colors, and its slogan is “The First Fashion Company Empowering Women to Prevent Sexual Assault.”

The idea isn’t entirely new. There were already startups promoting date rape detectors built into drinking straws, coasters, drinking glasses, lip gloss and a small device you dip into your drink. Another company also claimed to be developing a similar nail polish, called Dip Tip, this spring.

Few seem to have actually reached the market, but interest in them has been high, and all generated media splashes.

And now it’s Undercover Colors’ turn. Stories on the fledgling company have appeared this week in the Daily Mail and The Guardian in Great Britain, Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Reddit广西桑拿,, Salon广西桑拿,, USA Today and Buzz Feed, among others.

It’s unclear how far along in development the nail polish is, or when it might come to market. The students who started the company, all of them men in the materials science and engineering department, are declining interviews.

“At this point, we are early in the development of our product and are not taking interviews or doing stories,” wrote Stephen Gray, a spokesman for the group, in an emailed statement.

Even so, they have not only got a whirlwind taste of the startup world with the wave of attention and investment, they also stepped into a societal minefield: the politics of sexual assault.

So many men applauding anti-rape #nailpolish makes me realize that, for most part, they’re still unaware of how much women do to “stay safe”

— Soraya Chemaly (@schemaly) August 27, 2014

One question about the nail polish is precisely how big a problem it seeks to solve.

Susan R.B. Weiss, associate director for scientific affairs for the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, said that data on the subject is sparse, but that the use of date rape drugs is probably not common. Alcohol is by far the drug most likely to be involved in rape, Weiss said.

For various reasons, it may never be clear just how common it is for surreptitiously planted drugs to be used in rapes. In part that’s because most rapes aren’t reported and when they are, it’s often after any trace of drugs has worked its way out of a victim’s system.

There is at least some data, though.

A 2007 study of college students by RTI International in Research Triangle Park supports the notion that alcohol is the drug most linked to rape. The researchers found that 11.1 percent of undergraduate women had been sexually assaulted while incapacitated, and the large majority reported that what had knocked them out was alcohol.

“We need to think critically about why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on women.” 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/9Yy1bOTZSp

— Sen Raj (@senthorun) August 26, 2014

Only about 0.6 percent reported being certain that their sexual assault occurred after they were given a drug without their knowledge or consent. Others thought they had been drugged but weren’t sure.

“Clearly, undergraduate women are at much greater risk of sexual assault that occurs in the context of voluntary consumption of alcohol and/or drugs or that is physically forced than sexual assault that is drug facilitated,” concluded the researchers, who were funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Anti-rape activists have begun voicing objections to the nail polish.

The fact that date rape drugs aren’t a major factor in sexual assaults is one issue, said Rebecca Nagle, co-director of a group based in Baltimore called FORCE.

“These four young men took an approach based on some pretty popular mainstream views about how sexual assault happens and who it affects,” Nagle said. “We need to have conversations about how sexual assault really happens, and we have to be talking about it accurately, because basing our fears on assumptions actually doesn’t get us very far.”

she wasn’t wearing her anti rape nail polish!!!! she was askin for it!

— ceilidh joy (@lilmixedhunny) August 28, 2014

Rape is an epidemic in the United States, Nagle said, and one factor that allows that is victim blaming.

The nail polish would perpetuate that, she said. Suddenly, it would be a woman’s responsibility to use the polish. Otherwise, if you become a victim of assault, then some would say that the rape was your fault because you didn’t test your drink.

It would simply put another burden on women when the real causes of rape are elsewhere, she said.

“Yes, we need to take steps toward ending rape and preventing rape, and it’s really not the responsibility of people who might be raped to do that. It’s actually the responsibility of two groups of people,” she said. “One is the perpetrators. People need to stop raping people. And then it’s also the responsibility of communities and our country.”

So apparently it’s easier to make an anti-rape nail polish, than it is to stop rapists. What a time to be alive.

— (@Jamesgoodall4L) August 28, 2014

On Tuesday, Undercover Colors co-founder and CEO Tyler Confrey-Maloney posted what appeared to be a reaction to the backlash on the company Facebook page:

“We are grateful for and encouraged by the support we’ve received over the past few days … We hope this future product will be able to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators, creating a risk that they might actually start to get caught.

However, we are not the only ones working to stop this crime. We are taking just one angle among many to combat this problem. Organizations across the country need your support in raising awareness, fundraising, and education.”

Among those Undercover Colors recommends, he wrote, were: The Rape Abuse Incest National Network; Men Can Stop Rape; and Raleigh-based InterAct.

© The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) 2014. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


What do you think about the nail polish?


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Video games as spectator sport on Twitch

Video games have been a spectator sport since teenagers crowded around arcade machines to watch friends play Pac-Man.


And for decades, kids have gathered in living rooms to marvel at how others master games like Street Fighter II and Super Mario Bros.

But today there’s Twitch, the online network that attracts millions of visitors, most of whom watch live and recorded footage of other people playing video games – in much the same way that football fans tune in to ESPN.

Twitch’s 55 million monthly users viewed over 15 billion minutes of content on the service in July, making one of the world’s biggest sources of internet traffic.

According to network services company Sandvine, Twitch generates more traffic in the US than HBO Go, the streaming service that’s home to popular shows such as Game of Thrones and Girls.

Fans watch for the same reasons ancient Romans flocked to the Colosseum: to witness extraordinary displays of agility and skill.

Jacob Malinowski, a 16-year-old Twitch fan who lives outside of Milwaukee, admits that some may question the entertainment value of Twitch’s content.

“(But) I think it’s interesting because you get to watch someone who’s probably better at the game than you are,” he says.

“You can see what they do and copy what they do and get better.”

Amazon’s commitment to purchase Twitch for nearly $US1 billion ($A1.08 billion) this week is an acknowledgement that the service’s loyal fan base and revenue streams from ads and channel subscriptions present enormous opportunity.

Most Twitch viewers are gamers themselves who not only see the live and recorded video sessions as a way to sharpen their abilities, but also as a way to interact with star players in chatrooms or simply be entertained.

Sorah Devlin, a 31-year-old mother of two from Geneva, New York, says she watches Twitch with her seven-year-old son and four-year-old daughter and enjoys it more than children’s television programming.

Their game of choice is Minecraft, which lets players build – or break – things out of cubes and explore a blocky 3-D world around them.

Devlin and her kids watch popular Minecraft players who go by names such as iBallisticSquid and SuperChache show their skills.

The players, she says, have a sense of humour and are good at keeping the content “at most PG” so she is comfortable watching them with the kids.

“He likes being able to ask questions and it made him open up more,” she says of her son.

As for Amazon’s purchase, Devlin says she was “kind of surprised, but I think they are starting to realise that gamers are much more of an enterprise than they thought.”

Indeed, Twitch fans are the stuff of advertisers’ dreams.

They are mostly male and between the ages of 18 and 49, an important demographic for advertisers.

Twitch’s so-called user engagement is high. Nearly half of visitors spend 20 or more hours a week watching Twitch video, according to the company.

“You’ve got a hyper-growth platform with a niche audience,” says Nathaniel Perez, global head of social media at advertising firm SapientNitro.

“It’s basically the best you can get, from an advertisers’ perspective.”

As a result, Twitch commands premium prices from advertisers.

The company’s cost per thousand views, or the amount an advertiser pays to run one video ad 1000 times, is $US16.84 in the US, according to video ad-buying software company TubeMogul.

That’s well above the average $US9.11 per thousand advertisers typically pay for video ads placed on other sites.

Twitch can be lucrative for talented gamers too.

The site allows some gamers who set up channels – what the company calls “broadcasters” – to charge $US5 monthly subscription fees to viewers. Plus Twitch gives a portion of all ad revenue to broadcasters.

Twitch didn’t start out as a video game-focused company. The company, based in San Francisco, spun out of, a quirky service that revolved around a video feed tracking the daily activities of co-founder Justin Kan. The focus shifted to live video for gamers in 2011.

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‘Brangelina’ marry in secret in France

Hollywood power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have finally tied the knot after nine years together at a secret wedding in the south of France.


Described as a “family affair” with their six children, the A-list Oscar winners were married by a US judge on Saturday in a small chapel at Chateau Miraval, in the picturesque village of Correns, a spokeswoman for the couple said.

George Clooney was among the celebrity friends to congratulate them. “I’m really happy for Brad and Angie and their whole family,” said the 53-year-old veteran bachelor, who announced his own engagement in April.

Jolie was walked down the aisle by her eldest sons Maddox and Pax. Daughters Zahara and Vivienne threw petals, while the couple’s other two children, Shiloh and Knox, were the ring bearers.

“It was very much a family affair,” the spokeswoman said in a statement on Thursday.

Pitt, 50, and Jolie, 39, obtained a marriage licence in California from a local US judge who travelled to France to conduct the wedding, which was described as a “non-denominational civil ceremony”.

Pitt was photographed on Thursday wearing a gold band on his left ring finger during an event in Britain to promote his new World War II film Fury, in which he plays a battle-hardened army sergeant.

He and Jolie fell in love on the set of 2005 action film Mr & Mrs Smith – spawning the media phenomenon of “Brangelina” that has dominated celebrity journalism and the tabloids ever since.

Earlier this year, Jolie told People Magazine that she and Pitt were “not really in a rush” to get married, adding: “We’re just waiting for it to be the right time with the kids, with work, when it feels right.”

Jolie – the daughter of Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight – will be hoping to make it third time lucky: she was previously married to actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton.

The actress revealed last year that she had had a double mastectomy to reduce her high risk of breast cancer, garnering widespread support and praise.

Pitt was previously married to Friends star Jennifer Aniston – a Hollywood super-pairing that fizzled out about the same time as Pitt met Jolie.

The supercouple are now working on By the Sea, their first on-screen appearance together since Mr & Mrs Smith. The movie is to be filmed in Malta.

Their children are Maddox, 13; Pax, 11; Zahara, 9; Shiloh, 8; and six-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne. Maddox, Pax and Zahara are adopted.

Pop culture expert Robert Thompson said the couple were just cementing their role as a Hollywood super couple. “It should be called Brand-gelina,” he said, adding: “They are in a category of their own.”

Jolie once delighted gossip columnists by declarations of bisexuality and quirky behaviour such as wearing a vial of Thornton’s blood around her neck during their 2000-03 marriage.

The red carpet darling is now however better known for her humanitarian work than for her tabloid-ready comments.

Jolie long served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In 2012, she was promoted to special envoy and has visited refugees around the world, from Syria to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

More recently, she has been a vocal advocate for victims of sexual violence in war zones, co-hosting a global summit on conflict rape in June in London.

Of her life with Pitt and their children, Jolie told People in May: “We’ve been through so much, we’ve gotten a lot closer, which I think naturally happens with raising a family together.

“You have this person you live with who really knows you, and you know them so well. You’re not lovers or boyfriend and girlfriend as much as you are a family,” she added.

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Judiciary could decide Souths dilemma

The NRL match review committee could solve what South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has termed a “very good” dilemma ahead of their crunch final round clash with arch rivals the Sydney Roosters.


Captain John Sutton is set to return from a knee injury for the round 26 match with the premiers on Thursday, leaving Maguire with a headache over his halves pairing following Adam Reynolds’ and Luke Keary’s match winning efforts in the 21-14 win over Canterbury.

But with Reynolds facing a dangerous throw charge, emanating from a second half tackle on Moses Mbye, the choice could be made for Maguire.

Issac Luke faces scrutiny too after also being placed on report early in the match for lashing out at Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis in the play the ball.

Maguire described Sutton as “touch and go” to take the field against the world champions.

“He has been training well,” he said.

“It was a significant injury. It’s mending really well.”

When asked about his halves dilemma, Maguire said: “it’s a very good one (to have)”.

Stand-in skipper Greg Inglis (hip) and Sam Burgess (hip/knee) both battled through injuries to complete the win over the Dogs, which lifted Souths to the competition lead, but are expected to be fit to meet the Roosters.

But Burgess said he was unlikely to train fully in the lead-up.

“It’s not a matter of not being fit, it is a matter of managing things,” Burgess said.

“I’m feeling busted up, but a lot of players are like that this time of year and I’m not looking for any sympathy.

“The knee, the knee cap is the biggest problem at the moment, it is not loose and it is not fractured it is just a bit sore.

“We’ve got a big game against the Roosters and I’ll just be concentrating on getting it right for that.”

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Vic mum jailed for torture with daughter

A Melbourne woman who teamed up with her daughter and others to torture a man, which included carving “dog” into his forehead and hacking him with a meat cleaver, has been jailed.


Lorraine Howard, 44, was one of a group of drug addicts who brutally tortured the man, wrongly believing he had stolen cash and jewellery from her Cranbourne home.

Victorian County Court Judge Christopher Ryan described the man’s attackers as vigilantes operating in the “milieu of the drug world”.

He said while Howard did not strike a blow against the man, she was present and complicit in the torture session, which left the man with a permanent brain injury.

The man was bound, beaten, slashed and stabbed with knives, spat on, hacked at with a cleaver and set alight by the group, which included Howard, her partner and her 20-year-old daughter.

As the group interrogated the man about a burglary he did not commit, they also threatened to slice his genitals and carved the word “dog” into his forehead.

Howard later told police that during the assault, her partner had kicked the man’s head “like he was kicking a football”.

On Friday, Judge Ryan jailed Howard for two years and six months, saying he would have imprisoned her for seven years had she not pleaded guilty and agreed to give evidence against her co-accused.

The group dumped the man at his parents’ house after the March 2012 attack and Judge Ryan said they would be forever traumatised by memories of finding their son drenched in blood.

“They now live a nightmare,” he said.

“He will live the rest of his life reminded of your offending against him, as will his parents.”

Judge Ryan said the man now suffered from depression and a brain injury.

He said Howard’s drug problems stretched back to the age of 12, and were behind her 140 prior court convictions.

Howard must serve a minimum 18 months before she is eligible for parole.

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Qantas at risk of ratings downgrade

Qantas will need to come good on its promise to improve its earnings and lower debt in the next six months if it is to avoid another downgrade to its credit rating.


Ratings agency Moody’s has reaffirmed its Ba1 credit rating for Qantas, which is one step below investment grade, but says the outlook remains negative.

A further downgrade to its credit rating could push up the airline’s borrowing costs.

Qantas on Thursday posted a record $2.8 billion loss but chief executive Alan Joyce expects to return the airline to profitability in the first six months of 2014/15.

If the airline fails to do that, Moody’s senior analyst Matthew Moore says it can expect to see its rating downgraded.

“We will continue to closely monitor the carriers plans to execute on its cost reduction initiatives, improve profitability in its core domestic business and gain traction in returning its mainline international operations to profitability”, he said in a statement.

“We expect to see improvements in earnings and leverage level, and any lack of progress in this area over the next six months would likely lead to a rating downgrade.”

Moody’s downgraded the carrier’s credit rating to junk status in January after the airline flagged a sharp decline in its earnings and a large first half loss.

But Mr Moore said the agency could change the ratings outlook to stable if Qantas was able to restore both its domestic and international businesses to profitability.

Qantas haemorrhaged more than $7 million a day in the past year, largely because of its profit-draining battle with rival Virgin and a poor performing international division.

But the net loss figure was skewed by a $2.6 billion writedown to the value of the airline’s international fleet.

Excluding that and other one-offs, the airline’s underlying pre-tax loss of $646 million was better than expected and saw Qantas shares rally on Thursday.

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The plight of women in Kim Jong-un’s North Korea

Three key ingredients go into being a ‘good woman’ in North Korea.


First, she must be a homemaker, second, a bread-winner but above all, she should not talk back to her master.

In fact, she should respect her lowly status in the presence of men in general.

“You are not allowed to talk back to your husband or father. You need to be subordinate. Quiet and docile all the time.”

That’s the conclusion Professor Seok Hyang Kim drew, after visiting the clandestine Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as part of a South Korean delegation.

Professor Kim works with the Ministry of Unification, an executive department of the South Korean government responsible for working towards the reunification of Korea.

“You are a mere woman. How can you be your master? You have to have a man, right?”

How a woman held such a position was puzzling to those she met in North Korea, Professor Kim, from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, told an audience at The Australian National University.

“North Korean people think, ‘She is a representative, how come? She is just a woman. How can she hold that important a position?'”

They assumed a powerful man was backing her.

When they discovered her father was a retired pastor with little power, they wanted to know who her husband was.

It was beyond belief she wasn’t married, Professor Kim said.

Likewise, the charismatic academic struggled to accept comments by the more than 100 men and women she met in the DPRK.

“They were saying a woman has to be the bread-winner for her own family,” she says.

“So she has to make all the money the family needs. But she cannot be her own master.”

When she questioned why women were not allowed to be in control of their own lives, the answer was always the same.

“You are a mere woman. How can you be your master? You have to have a man, right?”

At the same time, those she interviewed generally didn’t feel discriminated against, although Professor Kim believes some may have rethought their views after their discussions.

In the 1940s, just after Korea was divided into North and South, Chosun Neosung, the only woman’s magazine in Korea, bragged ‘gender equality’ and ‘women’s rights’ were celebrated realities in the North.

The most progressive change in the traditional position of women was the Law on Sex Equality, announced on 30 July, 1946. It ended arranged marriages, polygamy, concubinage, the buying and selling of women, and prostitution.

It also enabled equal rights to inherit property, and to share property in case of divorce.

During the 1980s, Chosun Neosung upheld women only achieved such ‘rights’, because of the compassionate policies of North Korea’s founder and then leader, Kim Il-sung.

Come the 1990s, the concept of women’s rights was replaced with women’s duty and loyalty to the Kim family.

In the noughties, Chosun Neosung ceased to mention ‘women’s rights’ altogether, choosing instead to focus on women’s ‘enthusiastic and selfless work’ as a sign of their loyalty to the Kim family.

Professor Kim suggests the gradual replacement of state socialism with grassroots capitalism since the early 1990s has given rise to the number of women earning a living outside the home.

Many do so through selling goods on the black market, to avoid forfeiting some of their earnings back to the state.

As Professor Kim maintains, women are less likely to get caught out taking part in illegal activities than men.

“If you are a woman, North Korean authorities assume you are powerless, and not important.”

“If you are a man, doing that type of business, in front of the North Korean government, you will be targeted soon,” she says.

“You will be approached at any moment.

“But if you are a woman, North Korean authorities assume you are powerless, and not important.”

Not every woman has a lowly status.

The country upholds two women in particular as ideal role models for its citizens.

They are Kang Ban Sok, the deceased mother of former leader Kim Il Sung; and Kim Jong Suk, his deceased wife.

Their birthdays have been commemorated since the 1960s.

Belinda Cranston is a writer at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

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