The Tiny Tips column from the April 2010 issue of the Socialist Standard
Most of today’s African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they’re predators. That’s why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo’s rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means:
Megamansions. With an estimated billion-dollar cost, Mukesh Ambani’s under-construction 27-story Mumbai skyscraper eclipses previous records for the world’s most expensive homes. No two floor plans for the inside of the lavish tower—known as Antilla–are alike and each space uses different materials, such as one bathroom’s Gingko-leaf sinks with stems guiding the running water into their leaf basins. In the U.K., Russian-Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev owns the Palladio, an extravagant 17,000-square-foot manor outside London, which he bought for $65 million in January 2008. (That works out to $3,824 per square foot.) The home has a bulletproof front door, a goldplated pool, an indoor cinema and a hair salon for good measure:
It takes more than 4,000 gallons of water to make a $20 bag of pet food. Researchers predict the end of cheap water around the corner:
A record number of people contacted a debt charity last year but about 160,000 of them were so poor they could not be helped:
It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions—aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100m; the toll is higher now.
The World Health Organisation has estimated that around the globe up to 2.6 billion people – or a third of the world’s population – do not have access to proper toilet facilities. More than half live in China and India. The UN’s target for providing proper facilities for all people is 2015. Up to half a million people in India are engaged in what is termed “manual scavenging”: cleaning toilets that have no sewage system and carrying away waste or “night soil” on their heads or in carts. The practice has been officially outlawed but persists because in many places there are no alternatives:
20+ African countries are selling or leasing land for intensive agriculture on a shocking scale in what may be the greatest change of ownership since the colonial era: