Protesters Take on Police in Zimbabwe
Just weeks after the political sniping and resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube (arch enemy of Robert Mugabe), there are signs that popular resistance to dictatorial rule in Zimbabwe can not be subdued.
Recently, that resistance manifested itself publicly against one huge symbol of the unchecked and corrupt power that rules Zimbabwe: The police. Zimbabwean police are famous for their brutality. So when an officer in the city of Harare demanded a taxi pick him up for a ludicrously low fare, it was no surprise to anyone in the crowd that gathered, when the policeman began to beat the driver. What was a surprise, however, was a voice from the throng screaming out, "This is a human right’s abuse!" A crowd formed to protect the driver and attacked the officer. When riot police were called in and the taxi driver was jailed, over five hundred people gathered in front of the abusive policeman’s precinct to protest.
This unexpectedly bold display by the public is the result of a new movement called "Restoration of Human Rights," started by two young Zimbabweans, one black and one white. Their organization is now 15,000 people strong and gaining momentum. The young founders tell citizens, "If you stand up alone you’re at risk; if five of you stand up, you’re at risk. But if we stand up in our thousands, they can’t do anything."
- Nicole Lebenson
Source: London Times
Beyond the Pale
In India, fairness has long been associated with beauty. Lighter skinner Indian women are more likely to get married younger, and to the most eligible bachelors. Beauty aisles in Indian stores are filled with competing brands of fairness creams and skin bleaches. Indian women begin purchasing these products when they are young with the hopes that daily use will make their skin fairer by the time they are ready to get married. International brands such as L’Oreal make and market skin bleaches in India, but the brand Fair & Lovely is advertised as India’s number one brand of fairness cream. On the box are five pictures of a woman’s face, her complexion growing progressively lighter in each take. The only picture in which she looks happy is the one in which her skin is unnaturally light.
In India, the desirability of a woman is based on her looks, but the eligibility of a man is based on his job, his family, and his character. Thus, women have long been the primary targets of fairness cream marketing campaigns – until now. Fair & Handsome, launched in 2005, is the first fairness cream ever created and marketed solely for men. A recent controversy has arisen in India over the Fair & Handsome cream. Actor Shahrukh Khan, one of Bollywood’s highest-paid, most attractive actors, is endorsing the cream. His commercial, a mere forty seconds, has had a huge impact on consumers both in India and around the world, as the magnitude of Khan’s fame extends to non-resident Indians around the globe. Anyone who follows Bollywood films recognizes Khan, and the commercial is filmed in true Bollywood style, with a song and dance sequence that recalls Khan’s celebrity.
Many Indians are outraged that Khan would lend his name to a product that resurrects age-old prejudices against darker-skinner Indians. Khan is famous for his looks and so the impact of his name is more powerful. Sunny Hundal, the editor of the website Asians in Media, explains the detrimental effect of Khan’s endorsement: "what [Khan] is essentially doing is confirming and promoting the condescending attitude that many Indians have towards dark-colored skin. His endorsement is completely immoral." In response, Manish Shah, a distributor for Fair & Handsome, says, "If people have an inferiority complex because of their skin color, then this product will really help. It does what it says. It makes you fair and handsome."
The consumer demand for fairness creams in India can be equated with the American interest in artificial tanning products. After long targeting women, Indian fairness companies are expanding their marketing focus to men. Is an American focus on men’s tanning creams and sprays far behind? How much would American men be swayed by the swarthy, tanned face of Matthew McConaughey, one arm around a beautiful woman and the other holding a bottle of spray-on tan?
- Krishna Sury
What is in Store for Montenegro’s Future?
The recently independent, yet little-known state of Montenegro is slowly gaining greater and greater popularity among the world’s millionaires, tycoons, and celebrities. The mountainous country full of wild beauty and glittering seacoasts, even saw a spectacular concert from legendary rock group, The Rolling Stones this past summer. The event drew in thousands of people from around the world and provided great advertisement for Zarko Radulovic (the owner of the hotel at which the Rolling Stones stayed). Yet even with the growing success of his hotel, (which Radulovic started up with his own money and not with the help of the mafia as is mostly the case in Montenegro), the hotel-owner is worried because of the recent explosions that have taken place within the hotel and the shooting of the investigator, and claims, “The local mafia did it because this was the first big investment here by people who were not part of any lobby, and had no ‘protection’…”
Yet even with the threat of the local mafia, foreign investors and businessmen are doing anything but shying away from Montenegro. Russians are the primary investors in Montenegro today, along with Canadian gold miner Peter Munk’s project on transforming a shipyard into a 75 million Euro marina-complex for yachts! But while Montenegro will someday become flashier than even Monte Carlo, there is another side to the story… As the leader of the opposition put it best, “On one side of the coin Montenegro is yachts, flashy cars, fancy villas, and the other side is destroyed industry, no jobs in the north, people moving to the coast for work. It’s unsustainable, we have 200 miles of coastline and you can’t build a luxury marina in every village.” So what is in store for Montenegro’s future? The only conclusion one can draw so far is that the elite and corrupt individuals will only benefit from Montenegro’s success, and that they will probably only ruin its natural beauty rather than make it even more splendid.
- Alisa Kolenovic
Source: The Guardian
Studying the Universe in Order to Figure Out God's Ways
For many centuries, it has been Christian heresy to believe in science instead of God and the church. Controversies of magnanimus proportions have errupted: creationism vs. evolution, God vs. The Big Bang, etc. While many Christians cling onto their faith, many of them are also accepting the answers provided by science.
Yes, it's true: as time goes on, it is becoming a more and more acceptable to believe in the results of scientific research. In an attempt to show people that it is not afraid of scientific studies, the Vatican is hosting a scientific conference for astronomers. In answering many of the lingering questions of the universe through mathematical means, the Vatican hopes to unravel the mystery of how God has created all of existence. For those grappling with the task of balancing spiritual faith with science, believing that science explains God's methods seems just the right compromise.
- Maria Rubio