I was listening to a podcast from NPR’s Planet Money and they were doing a report on living on $2.00 a day. According to the World Bank, 2.5 billion people live on $2.00 a day, or roughly 40% of the global population. That is an astonishing number, especially when you probably spend about $2.00 a day on coffee alone, nevermind spending it on dinner, water, or for shelter. Not only do they make only $2.00 a day, but this is a figure averaged out over time so that they may go weeks without pay forcing them to depend on high interest loans/ credit.
The World Bank uses Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) which they define as an international dollar having the same purchasing power over Gross National Income (GNI) as a U.S. dollar has in the United States. Economists at the World Bank figure out the cost of living and impact of inflation in the given country to determine the value of PPP.
Meanwhile in China, the worst riots since Tiananmen Square occured at the start of the week in Xinjiang province. The BBC reported that there were 184 deaths: 137 are Han Chinese and 46 were from the indigenous Uighur community according to officials in China. The riots were triggered by a brawl at a toy factory in Guangdong Province on June 25 where Han Chinese killed two Uighurs who were falsely accused of raping a local girl. Here’s is a timeline of the riots.
The Uighurs staged a protest on July 5 in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, and they began violently venting their frustration on Han Chinese living in the city. Scores of innocent Han Chinese were killed or beaten. According to the Economist, one girl’s leg was sawed off and Uighurs were smashing heads of Han Chinese into the ground with rocks.
The following day, Han Chinese gathered on their own and began retaliating with make shift clubs with spikes and screwdrivers attached to them as shown in the Globe’s Big Picture.
There are incredible images from the riots and a number of gruesome ones of the violence.
The police seem to allow the Han Chinese to take justice in their own hands. Here are a few quotes from the latest Economist issue: “This is no longer an issue for the government,” said one man with a club in his hand. “This is now an ethnic struggle between Uighur and Han. It will not end soon.” Packs of 20-200 Han Chinese roamed the streets shouting “Kill Uighurs!”, “Smash Uighurs!”, and “Don’t smash things, smash Uighurs!”
The Economist also reports that the government fearful of what happened in Iran with Twitter, turned off internet access across Xinjiang within hours of the riots. “International telephone calls were blocked. Within 48 hours text-messaging services were also suspended.”
The anger seems to come from the Uighur’s frustrated by their lack of economic opportunity and the sense of being looked down upon by the Han Chinese. Hmmm, poverty and economic injustice seem like common ingredients in riots.
Lastly, the BBC has reported that the International Red Cross has been asked by the Sri Lankan government to leave. This is worrying news as they are an independent NGO who would be able to report any human rights violations in the Tamil refugee camps. The Red Cross are like the parents of the area and the bullies won’t be able to have their way if the parent’s eyes are fixated on the camps.
Keep the faith folks. I know it can be discouraging, but we do make a difference.