You see Congo is a major source of Coltan. Coltan as explained by Wikipedia.
Coltan is the colloquial African name for columbite-tantalite, a metallic ore used to produce the elements niobium and tantalum. Mineral concentrates containing tantalum are usually referred to as 'tantalite'. In appearance, coltan is a dull black mineral. The exportation of coltan helped fuel the war in the Congo, a crisis that has resulted in approximately 5.4 million deaths since 1998 – making it the world’s deadliest documented conflict since WW II. Coltan is the ore for tantalum used in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, and computers.
The Congo is a politically unstable area. The Rwandan occupation in the east of the Congo has meant the DRC has been unable to exploit the resource for its own benefit. A recent UN Security Council report charged that a great deal of the ore is mined illegally and smuggled over the country's eastern borders by militias from neighbouring Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
Coltan smuggling has also been implicated as a major source of income for the military occupation of Congo. To many, this raises ethical questions akin to those of conflict diamonds. Owing to the difficulty of distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate mining operations, several electronics manufacturers have decided to forgo central African coltan altogether, relying on other sources. The high-tech industry's demand for tantalum clearly has fueled an increase in coltan mining worldwide - including in the Congo region.
Coltan is the raw ore that is used to make Tantalum. Without Tantalum, your cell phones, and personal computers would not work. It's only found in 3 places in world in mineable quatities. Chile, Australia, and Congo. The majority of us often pay attention to oil because we visibly have to fill our gas tanks once a week, and while doing it we have nothing else to do but look at the price display. Also the the success of the oil cartel OPEC in making the relatively low population Persian Gulf wealthy, makes it a higher profile "conflict resource". Blood diamonds rose to international attention (in my opinion) for a similar reason, the consumer has to directly see the product every day. But Coltran is inside of electronic devices, hidden from view. Consumers don't purchase Coltran, they buy computers, cell phones, etc.
All three countries named by the United Nations as smugglers of coltan have denied being involved. Austrian journalist Klaus Werner has documented links between multi-national companies like Bayer and the illegal coltan traffic. Likewise has Johann Hari written on the connections between coltan resources and the genocide in Congo. A United Nations committee investigating the plunder of gems and minerals in the Congo listed in its final report approximately 125 companies and individuals involved in business activities breaching international norms. Companies accused of unresponsible corporate behavior are for example Cabot Corporation, Eagle Wings Resources International, George Forrest Group and OM Group.
Not only have 5.4 million people died due to a mineral as important to the modern war as oil. But the people exploiting it are using rape as a weapon. Even places like Sierra Leone, and Rwanda talk about at "least they are not living in a place as brutal as Congo!
Rape Used as a Weapon in Congo's Civil War
There are reports that mutinous soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo raped women Bukavu after seizing the city earlier this month. Rape has been a part of earlier conflicts as well. During Congo's civil war, which officially ended in 2002, rape and the fear of rape often kept women from working in the fields. Crops failed as a result, and many children died of malnutrition.
The reasons behind this long civil war, rebellions, and infighting are complex beyond almost beyond imagination. But no one has suffered more from the exploitation of this mineral than Congo's woman and girls. Adam Hochschild in his great book: Rape of Congo documents much of this.
As if eastern Congo had not already suffered enough, seven years ago Nature dealt it a stunning blow. The volcano whose blue-green bulk looms above the dusty, lakeside city of Goma, Mount Nyiragongo, erupted, sending a smoking river of lava several hundred yards wide through the center of town and sizzling into the waters of Lake Kivu. More than 10,000 homes were engulfed. Parts of the city, which is packed with displaced people, are still covered by a layer of purplish rock up to twelve feet thick.
Far greater destruction has come from more than a decade of a bewilderingly complex civil war in which millions have died. First, neighboring Uganda and Rwanda supported a rebel force under Laurent Kabila that overthrew longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. Soon after, Kabila fell out with his backers, and later Uganda and Rwanda fell out with each other. Before long, they and five other nearby nations had troops on Congo’s soil, in alliance either with the shaky national government in Kinshasa or with a mushrooming number of rival ethnic warlords, particularly here in the mineral-rich east. Those foreign soldiers are almost all gone now, but some fighting between the government and remaining rebel groups continues. For two weeks in June, I had the chance to observe the war’s effects, with the best of possible traveling companions: Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, whose reports have been an authoritative source of information on the country for years.
No one has been harder hit than Congo’s women, for almost all the warring factions have used rape as a calculated method of sowing terror. An hour and a half southwest of Goma on bone-jolting roads stand several low buildings of planks and adobe; small bleating goats wander about and a cooking fire burns on one dirt floor. There is no electricity. A sign reads Maison d’Écoute (Listening House). The office of the forty-two-year-old director, whom I will call Rebecca Kamate, extends from the side of one of the buildings; its other three walls are of thin green tarpaulin with a UNICEF emblem, through which daylight filters. The floor is gravel. Kamate pulls out a hand-written ledger to show to Anneke, her colleague Ida Sawyer, and me. Ruled columns spread across the page: date, name, age of the victim, and details—almost all are gang rapes, by three to five armed men. Since the center started, it has registered 5,973 cases of rape. The ages of the victims just since January range from two to sixty-five. On the ledger’s most recent page, the perpetrators listed include three different armed rebel groups—plus the Congolese national army.
What pushed me into this work," says Kamate, speaking softly in a mixture of Swahili and hesitant French, "is that I am also one who was raped." This happened a decade ago; the rapists were from the now-defunct militia of a local warlord backed by Uganda. "Their main purpose was to kill my husband. They took everything. They cut up his body like you would cut up meat, with knives. He was alive. They began cutting off his fingers. Then they cut off his sex. They opened his stomach and took out his intestines. When they poked his heart, he died. They were holding a gun to my head." She fought her captors, and shows a scar across the left side of her face that was the result. "They ordered me to collect all his body parts and to lie on top of them and there they raped me—twelve soldiers. I lost consciousness. Then I heard someone cry out in the next room and I realized they were raping my daughters."
The daughters, the two oldest of four girls, were twelve and fifteen. Kamate spent some months in the hospital and temporarily lost her short-term memory. "When I got out I found these two daughters were pregnant. Then they explained. I fainted. After this, the family [of her husband] chased me away. They sold my house and land, because I had had no male children." From time to time Kamate stops, her wide, worn face crinkles into a sob, and she dabs her eyes with a corner of her apron.
But Sierra Leone also should give us hope. Thanks to people who cared, the amount of blood diamonds went from 10-15% of world wide sales to less then 2%. Pressure on companies, and raising awareness can helpd stop this bloody coltan from being used. I have included a link to an organization that is trying to raise awareness on this issue.
WE CAN STOP THIS!
Friends of the Congo
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1
Today's spotlight is on Ben Montgomery.
Benjamin Montgomery was born into slavery in 1819 in Loudon County, Virginia. He was sold to Joseph E. Davis, a Mississippi planter. Davis was the older brother of Jefferson Davis who would later serve as the President of the Confederate States of America. After a period time, Davis could see great talent within Montgomery and assigned to him the responsibility of running his general store on the Davis Bend plantation. Montgomery, who by this time had learned to read and write (he was taught by the Davis children), excelled at running the store and served both white customers and slaves who could trade poultry and other items in return for dry goods. Impressed with his knowledge and abilities to run the store, Davis placed Montgomery in charge of overseeing the entirety of his purchasing and shipping operations on the plantation.
In addition to being able to read and write, Montgomery also learned a number of other difficult tasks, including land surveying, techniques for flood control and the drafting of architectural plans. He was also a skilled mechanic and a born inventor. At the time commerce often flowed through the rivers connecting counties and states. With differences in the depths of water in different spots throughout the river, navigation could become difficult. If a steamboat were to run adrift, the merchandise would be delayed for days, if not weeks.
Davis decided to address the problem and created a propellor that could cut into the water at different angles, thus allowing the boat to navigate more easily though shallow water. Joseph Davis attempted to patent the device but the patent was denied on June 10, 1858, on the basis that Ben, as a slave, was not a citizen of the United States, and thus could not apply for a patent in his name.....Read More
This Weeks News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
RIP to a true hero. Commercial Appeal: Civil rights icon Benjamin Hooks dies
"He is a legend. Ben Hooks was one of the tallest trees in the forest of social justice and a key to transforming our nation. ... His civil rights work preceded Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.)’s work and continued long after Dr. King’s death," Jackson said.
The life of Dr. Hooks, who in World War II guarded prisoners of war as an Army soldier, was marked with firsts. Appointed to the Tennessee Criminal Court in 1965, he became the first African-American judge in the South since Reconstruction. President Richard Nixon tapped Hooks to become the first black member of the Federal Communications Commission, where he served for five years before resigning to take over the NAACP – which he would lead from 1977 to 1992, pulling it from the brink of bankruptcy.
The man who worked with Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement -- and sat on his balcony overlooking the Mississippi River to talk to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama -- spent a busy life fighting for social justice and compassion for his fellow man. From a boy who grew up at his father's photography business on Beale Street dreaming of working at The Peabody, Hooks transformed himself into one of the most accomplished, respected and honored men in the city’s history.
"Brotherhood is perhaps the greatest theme in the life and character of Dr. Benjamin Hooks," President Bush said when honoring him in 2007. "The man has always had what his friend, Dr. King, called the strength to love. As a civil rights activist, public servant, and minister of the Gospel, Dr. Hooks has extended the hand of fellowship throughout his years. It was not an always easy thing to do. But it was always the right thing to do."
black voices news: NAACP Names Cicely Tyson 95th Spingarn Medalist
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People National Board of Directors announced that actress Cicely Tyson will be honored with the Association’s Spingarn Medal, the NAACP's highest honor. Tyson will become the 95th recipient of the award, and will be honored during the NAACP National Convention in Kansas City July 15 at the annual Spingarn Dinner.
The Spingarn Medal, instituted in 1914 by then- NAACP Chairman Joel E. Spingarn, is awarded for outstanding and noble achievement by an American of African descent during the preceding years.
"Cicely Tyson’s contributions to African American arts and culture in both acting and modeling are unprecedented and inspiring. Not only was Ms. Tyson a brilliant and groundbreaking actress but she was a stalwart supporter of human and civil rights for all Americans," said NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. "Her portrayals in masterpieces such as the Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Roots, and King, among others, were simply dynamic, and the role she has played as a human rights leader and trailblazer in the arts is invaluable."
This is such a great story! Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Refugees from Africa piece together American culture as they quilt.
An extraordinary quilting bee takes place Saturday mornings at the Young Men and Women's African Heritage Association on the North Side. In a sunlit room, women from Burundi who came here as refugees seeking asylum are learning the craft of African-American quilt-making.
The women from the East African nation came to quilting through a local nonprofit organization called AJAPO, for Acculturation, Justice, Access and Peace Outreach. Its purpose is to help refugees from Africa and the Caribbean make their way through a new culture.
With local quilters, the Burundi women intend to create a cottage industry making quilts to sell. As they quilt and talk, they will get to what Janice Parks, director of the heritage association, calls the heart of the issue.
"We, as African-Americans, are the end of a long line," Ms. Parks said.
This a new modern low, not only were the Black employees harassed, but White employees who tried to stop it were fired. Black workers at East Texas plant were harassed with nooses, death threats, federal officials find.
Federal officials in Dallas have found that a group of black employees at a Paris, Texas, pipe factory were harassed with nooses, Confederate flags and death threats while white employees who refused to participate in the abuse were fired.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's finding, issued late last month, requires that the employees and their attorneys sit down with management of Turner Industries to reach a settlement on the matter. If that stalls, the employees have the option of filing a civil rights lawsuit.
This is a change that needs to be spread to many more states. Washington Post: Maryland changes how prisoners are counted in census
Maryland will become the first state in the country to redraw districts by counting prisoners in their home towns instead of their cells, a change that is expected to help Baltimore avoid losing political power.
Civil rights advocates praised the No Representation Without Population Act signed Tuesday by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). The National Urban League and the ACLU are among groups that have called for an end to "prison-based gerrymandering," and similar changes have been considered by at least seven other states.
"The vast majority will be going back to where they came from, and what this will do is count them where they live," said Hilary O. Shelton, head of the Washington office of the NAACP.
But opponents, primarily lawmakers from rural areas with prison facilities, consider the change a power grab that could cost them federal funds down the road.
CNN: NAACP drops lawsuit against Wells Fargo
"Wells Fargo and the NAACP have agreed to work constructively on ways to improve fair credit access, sustainable home ownership and financial literacy for communities of color and other historically disadvantaged communities," Wells Fargo and the NAACP said in a joint press release.
The NAACP said that Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) is just one of 14 financial institutions that it has sued since 2007 over allegations that these companies violated the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity acts. The other firms include JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Citibank (C, Fortune 500) and HSBC.
IPS: Disorganised Diaspora on Fringe of Post-Quake Decisions.
For years, Haitians living overseas have been the lifeline of the troubled country, sending billions of dollars to relatives back home.
But now, as the international community debates and pledges aid in the aftermath of the earthquake, many Haitians in the United States are feeling left out of the decision-making process.
Nowhere was this more evident than last week as delegates from more than 140 countries convened at the United Nations for a conference to raise money for the reconstruction of Haiti. At the end of the day, roughly 9.9 billion dollars had been pledged over 10 years. Of that amount 5.26, billion is for the first 18 months, according to U.N. officials.
Still, scepticism remains as to whether and how the money will be used to truly repair Haiti's destroyed buildings and roads.
During the discussions, the Haitian Diaspora played a minor role. Unless members of the community organise, they are destined to remain on the sidelines, even as they continue to send remittances to poverty-stricken families in Haiti.
News 24: Jackson preaches hope in Paris
Samuel L Jackson met young people in a poor Paris suburb on Tuesday, spotlighting deprived areas that France's mainstream cinema is accused, like its politicians, of neglecting.
Jackson broke off his holidays to visit Bondy, an eastern suburb that was among many largely immigrant districts hit in 2005 by a violent wave of protests sparked by tensions between police and youths.
Jackson, 61, a black actor who grew up in the southern state of Tennessee in the time of racial segregation, encouraged local youths to make the most of education and said that "of course" one day France could, like the US, have a black president.
"I never believed that in my lifetime there would be an African-American president," he told a gathering of young people and local officials.
"That was made possible because young people found out that their voice meant something," he added. "You are a voting bloc. You have the energy, the power to change the laws that need changing."
Based on his voting record the last 2 cycles, and his behavior of late, I think Mr. Davis is risking his political future. Tuscaloosa News: Davis seen as snubbing black leaders
A congressman trying to become Alabama’s first black governor said Wednesday he won’t participate in the endorsement screenings for three predominantly black political groups, a move viewed by black leaders as a costly snub.
"As much as I admire the legacy of these groups and their cur-rent contributions, the African-American voters who will participate in the primary need no permission, and no sample ballots, to decide who they favor in this governor’s race," Davis said.
U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Birmingham said black voters need no permission from the political organizations and no sample ballots to decide whom to support for governor.
Black political leaders, shocked by the announcement, said it could be a game-changer in a Democratic primary where nearly half of the voters are traditionally black.
"It’s arrogant to say, ‘I will not be screened by these organizations.’ This is thumbing his nose at people who make up his base," said Hank Sanders, president emeritus of the Alabama New South Coalition.
Sophia Nelson as the Roots primary Black Conservative voice often defends Republican actions we all should find distasteful that's why this article caught my eye. The Root: Haley Barbour Is the True Face of the New GOP.
Is anyone really surprised that Mississippi's Republican governor, Haley Barbour, dismissed the importance of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's proclamation in honor of Confederate History Month that conveniently forgot to mention slavery? Barbour told CNN's Candy Crowley that for people outside Dixie, the old times there should be forgotten. Asked if Gov. McDonnell's omission of slavery in his proclamation was a mistake, Barbour responded: "Well, I don't think so ... I don't know what you would say about slavery, but anyone who thinks that you have to explain to people that slavery is a bad thing--I think it goes without saying ... to me it's a sort of feeling that it's just a nit. That it is not significant. It's trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn't matter for diddly."
I'm not surprised. From my first contact with Barbour as a young black Republican in 1994, it's clear to me that he has always had a big problem dealing with race. After all, this is the Haley Barbour who attended a rally sponsored by the Council of Conservative Citizens (a 21st-century update of the "White Citizens Councils" of the Jim Crow era) during his 2003 run for governor to support segregated "academies," set up so white children would not have to attend integrated schools. This is the same Haley Barbour who proudly proclaimed last week that he is a "fat redneck" with "an accent." This is the same Haley Barbour who wore the emblem of the Mississippi confederate flag on his lapel when his state legislature contemplated changing it.
I first met Barbour in the hallways of the Republican National Committee when I was an intern in the Office of General Counsel and he was chairman of the Republican National Committee. I was an idealistic law student at the time and was there to write a paper about the GOP's somewhat surprising role in promoting and supporting the gerrymandered districts that ultimately led to their huge congressional victory in 1994. I wrote Barbour a nice note and asked to have coffee with him sometime to discuss how we could attract more blacks to our party. Mark Acton, who was a deputy counsel at RNC, pulled me aside and told me I was not to do such a thing ever again--apparently Michael Hess, the RNC's general counsel at the time, was angry that I went "over his head" by sending the chairman a note. I am not sure what Barbour thought, but he never met with me after encouraging me to do so.
I learned more about how he dealt with black folks and black issues later that year, when I was a young staff counsel for Gov. Christie Whitman of New Jersey. I was asked to call the RNC's chief counsel on behalf of my boss, New Jersey's secretary of state (who was a black woman). Barbour told me again through his assistant that if I or my boss had any questions he could speak directly with Gov. Whitman and not us.
 UPDATED: John Derbyshire tells black law students they are inferior by DowneastDem
 Indians 101: Indians & Race in the South After The Civil War by Ojibwa
 In Honor of those Formerly Enslaved: Olaudah Equiano by vmm918
FRIDAY'S WAKE-UP MUSIC
I Try by Angela Bofill
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