Showing posts with label Congo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Congo. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All the stuff we can't live without

Gotta have me an iPhone.

Ooh! Ooh! And an iPad.

And a smart phone! And an iPod! And a digital camera . . . and a laptop, too!

There's a lot of stuff we can't live without today -- despite the fact that we of a certain age all lived quite nicely without every single bit of it just 30 years ago.

TROUBLE IS, says Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column, lots of people in the Congo can't live in peace -- or at all -- because of all the stuff we can't live without:
I’ve never reported on a war more barbaric than Congo’s, and it haunts me. In Congo, I’ve seen women who have been mutilated, children who have been forced to eat their parents’ flesh, girls who have been subjected to rapes that destroyed their insides. Warlords finance their predations in part through the sale of mineral ore containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. For example, tantalum from Congo is used to make electrical capacitors that go into phones, computers and gaming devices.

Electronics manufacturers have tried to hush all this up. They want you to look at a gadget and think “sleek,” not “blood.”

Yet now there’s a grass-roots movement pressuring companies to keep these “conflict minerals” out of high-tech supply chains. Using Facebook and YouTube, activists are harassing companies like Apple, Intel and Research in Motion (which makes the BlackBerry) to get them to lean on their suppliers and ensure the use of, say, Australian tantalum rather than tantalum peddled by a Congolese militia.

A humorous new video taunting Apple and PC computers alike goes online this weekend on YouTube, with hopes that it will go viral. Put together by a group of Hollywood actors, it’s a spoof on the famous “I’m a Mac”/”I’m a PC” ad and suggests that both are sometimes built from conflict minerals.

“Guess we have some things in common after all,” Mac admits.

Protesters demonstrated outside the grand opening of Apple’s new store in Washington, demanding that the company commit to using only clean minerals. Last month, activists blanketed Intel’s Facebook page with calls to support tough legislation to curb trade in conflict minerals. For a time, Intel disabled comments — creating a stink that called more attention to blood minerals than human rights campaigners ever could.
AS I contemplate this, and reflect on how complicated and pampered our Western lives have become, I'm thinking of Maude. Yeah, Bea Arthur's character in the '70s Norman Lear sitcom.

Whenever her husband, Walter, did something to irk her, she always rolled out what became her catchphrase:
"God's gonna get you for that, Walter."

We're Walter.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ooooooooh eeeeeh ooh ah ahhhh!
Ting! Tang! Wallawalla bing-bang

They're not your father's head shrinkers.

AND, ACCORDING to Reuters, Congolese men say it's not just short tempers that plague them, thanks to those dadgum sorcerers:

Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said.

"But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'," he said.
THERE ARE REASONS Kinshasa is not projected to become the next New York City, London or Tokyo.