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The Congo Tantalum Rush

michael posted about 13 years ago | from the le-voreux dept.

Technology 230

Logic Bomb writes: "The New York Times Magazine takes a look at the mining of a muddy substance called coltan. Once refined, it becomes tantalum, the crucial ingredient in capacitors. To put it simply, the modern high-tech world depends on this stuff. And while most of us have images of squeaky-clean chip factories and such -- in marked contrast to sleazy textile sweatshops -- it turns out that this industry has a dark side that takes a major toll on human lives. Definitely worth a read."

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Once we control the Tantalum Field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2110924)

We can kill the evil captain kirk, and we all move up in rank!

Africa is treated like trash again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2111090)

Africa, with all of its mineral riches, is used to feed other people pockets. I heard a story a while back about diamond mines in Africa. To keep people under control the crime bosses in the area randomly cut of body parts of the workers to keep them motivated. Many of the things "we" industrialized countries use are the result of someones suffering. We get rich off of the brow of those who dont have a word in the matter. But as someone else said... What are we going to do about it? The world is looking for an answer if anyone has one.

We have two options! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2111344)

We could let this continue to occur. This is most likely to happen. Or we could form a private army, funded and outfitted by all the major corporations that require chip tech including Lockheed Martin, Intel, Microsoft, et cetera, and march against the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We would seize it in an amazing tour de force and control the stream of Tantalum. We would be fair and benevolent leaders and our people would admire us. We would give them shiny baubles and bags of rice and they would treat us like gods.

Shell already did this in Africa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2128064)

A lot of the big oil companies have/had mercenary armies in Africa to 'secure' (ie, break up unions, blow up rebels) oil facilities.

The tantalum must flow! (4, Funny)

Giant Hairy Spider (467310) | about 13 years ago | (#2146237)

Now you know that would just cause the bushmen you believe to be sparse and to have long since integrated into society to adopt the son of one of the current industry representatives as their messiah, resulting in them taking over the world riding elephants, letting hurricanes into mid-west USA and central Asia with nuclear weapons, and shouting loud enough to crack stone floors.

You wouldn't happen to be a grossly obese man who floats around on suspensors, would you?

Re:The tantalum must flow! (1)

5foot2 (24971) | about 13 years ago | (#2146071)

I'm just now reading Dune. Thanks, you made my day.

Fifth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2111346)

Toast?

Yay. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2111347)

Now wait for Slashdotters to justify sacrifice that have to be made in the name of progress. And after all, it's just creating jobs where otherwise there would be none ..

Re:Yay. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146570)

Right. As if we westerners are responsible for turning miners into sleaze bags.

Blame it on the native government (2)

browser_war_pow (100778) | about 13 years ago | (#2112695)

Instead of blaming the corporations that exploit the workers, ask yourselves why the governments in the host countries like the Congo don't have any labor standards. Then ask yourself just how often are the governments in countries like the Congo actually willfully allowing stuff like this to happen. We import from China all the time because we have anti-robotics culture that would go nucking futz if many of our manufacturers used mostly robots on their assembly lines because that would "cost jobs." The reality is that we can't have both cheap goods and high standards in the lowest of the low jobs in industrial manufacturing. The only way in most cases to eliminate the need for cheap labor is to use robotics and of course the luddites in society (the majority of society?) are vehemently opposed to using robots for production even though it would often give us a freer society and cheaper goods and services.

Heard this story before (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2113832)

This paragraph from the article basically tells the whole story, all one has to do is change the decade and the name of the country. The U.S. overthrows yet another democratically elected country (Australia, Chile, Brazil etc. etc.), sets up support for the military dictator, chaos ensues:

In the 1960's, the Americans waded in. To fight Communism and secure access to cobalt and copper, the Central Intelligence Agency helped bring about the assassination of Congo's first democratically elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. That was followed by three decades of White House coddling of his successor, Mobutu Sese Seku, Africa's most famous billionaire dictator, who set a poisoned table for the chaos that followed his eventual overthrow in 1997.

Re:Heard this story before (2)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 13 years ago | (#2114129)

That statement is very misleading. Patrice Lumumba was hand-picked by the Belgians and heavily backed by them. He was no more a democratic leader than Lenin or Chaing Kai-Schek.

The fundamental problem with Africa is that the boundaries of "nations" were drawn up in French and English palaces and do not reflect reality in any way. Tribal warfare and a primitive society combined with foreign commercial interests results in a constant state of warfare.

Also, the US has never overthrown Australia. I'd suggest laying off the crack.

/.'s social conscience (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2119819)

Bah. Opinions from /.ers on social justice (where it doesn't directly affect Open Source Software) are as generally as relevant and informed as Barney the Dinosaur's opinion on the DMCA.

Fuck you, you self-satisfied, self-important, self-obsessed twerps.

Opinions raised vary between "screw you jack, i'm all right" and "duh, why don't they just become more american".
Christ can't you people grasp that there are some more important issues than the price of components for your latest toys?

Can you not attribute any significance to injustices that *don't* directly affect you personally?

No wonder the rest of the world is sick to death of wealthy, white American technocrats. The *only* reason we keep swollowing your shit is because it's rammed down our throats.

Fuck you.

Re:/.'s social conscience (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2130849)

Rock on AC. Mod this up!

Alternatives (1)

dg1kjd (159535) | about 13 years ago | (#2123841)

Tantalum capacitors are to popular because of their high capacity and low equivalent series resistence (ESR). There are, however, some alternatives by now. A good candidate is the multi layer ceramic capacitor which reaches almost the same specific capacity values and same low series resistence characteristics. They are, however, still much more expensive then the tantalum capacitor types. They are more expensive though.

Americans..... (2, Insightful)

Remote (140616) | about 13 years ago | (#2125899)

If you were not so well armed, you USians would be the funniest breed in the world, even without Dennis Miller or Dana Carvey.

Ive been ther a few times, I lived there for a while. I was amazed when I saw someone on TV or at an University setting claiming that the U.S. should not do business (actually *buy* things) from nations that did not respect basic human rights. Though thats not what the article says, Id say it falls in the same broad category of narrow perspective.

Sweatshops? Is that what do you call a place where one has to work for more than 12 hours a day under pressure? Like a law firm in D.C. or some programming shops in CA? No matter these guys are working so as to be able to afford their condos or wine&dine twice a week, its still food and housing, only at first-world standards. Not too different from minework in Congo, given ones expectations. Thanks God I have to work only 8 hours a day, if I ever do more than that its because I want to.

How about human rights? Where I live an employee is entitled 30 days of vacation every 12 month period. Oh, you dont in the U.S., would that be a human right violation? Children are allowed to work here after they are 16, is that a HR violation? Whos to say? You think its fine to show a kids face on TV and screw him for the rest of his life if he has been charged with some felony even before conviction? You cant do it here even after conviction. You think you live in a free country? I never felt so oppressed and watched and under someones monitoring as I did while in the U.S.. Granted, I was living in D.C., but I think the average urban USian is yet to experiment real freedom. Maybe that would explain their behaviour when they come over... I could do this the whole day (even without mentioning U.S. foreign policy), but the point is: you have to broaden your horizons! Stop judging everyone under your values. They are good, very good indeed, but they dont work all over the world! Youll only profit from that.

dumbass (1)

Pope (17780) | about 13 years ago | (#2119365)

Sweatshops? Is that what do you call a place where one has to work for more than 12 hours a day under pressure? Like a law firm in D.C. or some programming shops in CA?

It's not the hours and the pressure: it's the wages for that labour combined with the preceding 2 factors. How many coders and lawyers do you know personally who work for US$5 a day?

None. I rest my case.

Re:Americans..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2119752)

A fucking tax auditor from a country where Police is hunting undesirable kids for elimination has spoken about freedom.
This is fucking too much for me, I better go now ...

Re:Americans..... (1)

Remote (140616) | about 13 years ago | (#2115750)

This fucking Tax Auditor is posting as AC in respect for other peoples threshold!

I see LA cops beating up black people on TV too. About the police in that fucking city, read the news, they have arrested 500 or so police officer in the last month because of these things.

Yeah, youd better go now.

Re:Americans..... (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2123613)

"Stop judging everyone under your values. "

You just wrote reasonably big rant judging US by your set of values and definitions.
Don't show our face here again.

MIMBLETON (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2117768)

You have contributed 6 comments on this topic with no sign of giving up, far more than anybody else.
What gives? Are you mining tantalum or something? You sure seem worked up about it.

R.

Re:MIMBLETON (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2118678)

I am waiting for my food which is late, and consequently I am somewhat pissed.

Re:Americans..... (1)

Remote (140616) | about 13 years ago | (#2144190)

Nope. Im not saying those things are right or wrong, Im stressing theyre different. The only judgement you can draw from my post (ok, maybe rant) is that narrow-mindness and ignorance hurt the narrow-minded ignorants. No offense intended, I also broadened my mind a lot living abroad. But in the case of the U.S., on a second thought, with all that steel and silicon so conveniently shaped to be of good use to millitary porposes, that may well hurt others too.

Is that "dont show your face here again" thing your sig?

Re:Americans..... (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2116466)

"narrow-mindness and ignorance hurt the narrow-minded ignorants"

Well, these characteristics are found all over this world and are not specific to US population.
On the other hand, people do adapt to existing conditions and US population relative lack if interest regarding issues abroad reflects stability and power of this country.

"Is that "dont show your face here again" thing your sig? "

It wrong paste , originally destined to end up in other post.

"Clean rooms" in this country killed people too (4, Informative)

jyoull (512280) | about 13 years ago | (#2130021)

High incidence of cancer, sick kids, etc...

"... Today, the valley is home to more EPA Superfund sites (29) than any other county in the nation, with the most notorious of those sites -- from a leaking tank at a Fairchild Semiconductor fabrication plant -- poisoning a well that served the south San Jose neighborhood of Los Paseos. A subsequent study by the state's Department of Health Services found 2.5 to three times the expected rate of miscarriages and birth defects among pregnant women exposed to the contaminated drinking water, leading to a lawsuit and multimillion-dollar settlement in 1986 with over 250 claimants...."

Full two-part story at Salon, 7/30/01 and 7/31/01:

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/07/30/almad en1/index.html [salon.com]

Global response ain't too hot either... (2, Interesting)

neutralstone (121350) | about 13 years ago | (#2130740)

From the last few paragraphs of the article....
When progress is being made, it often involves the mixed blessing of coltan. In eastern Congo, two mining entrepreneurs, Edouard Mwangachuchu, a Congolese Tutsi, and his American partner, Robert Sussman, a physician from Baltimore, are struggling to build a legitimate business in an illegitimate state.

They run a company that even their competitors say treats miners fairly. It supplies shovels and picks to about a thousand men who operate as independent contractors in mines located far from national parks, protected forests and endangered gorillas.

...But then the UN and the Motorolas and Nokias of the world see the dead primate photos, their PR departments go apeshit, and then:
Last year, Sussman and Mwangachuchu shipped their ore to Europe on Sabena airlines. That airline now refuses their business, and they are scrambling to find another shipper. They fear that a corporate embargo could cripple their business and idle miners who have come to depend on them.

''We don't understand why they are doing this,'' Mwangachuchu told me. ''The Congolese have a right to make business in their own country.''

...And so it seems that not all corporations are evil ones, and that some good was about to be done for the community, and that a hasty implementation of morality is, at least in this case, limiting the welfare of the people of the Congo.

I think we can all agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2133902)

that these "sweatshop" workers need to pick up the slack! Hell, they're allowed five minute breaks! And clothes! All I know is that I still have to pay $120 for a motherboard. These natives need to have their asses kicked into gear. By America!

She is into High Tech now? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2138441)

like her or not, Kathy Lee Gifford is a remarkably robust person

what dark side??? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2138744)

as far as i see, both sides are benefiting from this.
congo and it's people provide the goods that the high tech industry wants, and they get richly awarded(by their standards, anyway) for it.
To me, i see no losers in this exchange.

And don't forget the consumer, who benefit from the better technology and cheaper prices.
Everybody is happy.

Yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2145936)

Like when the spanish first got to the americas and "exchanged" their substandard goods for the natives gold.

Re:Yeah right (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2113616)

Substandard ?
Obviously locals were very willing to exchange their gold and that is all what mattered there.

Third World Countries and Exploitation (1)

Doodhwala (13342) | about 13 years ago | (#2142288)

Before everyone (esp in the USA) start talking about how the Congo government should do more to stop this and how the Congonese people should care about the environment, give a thought to the actual condition of the country.

Rocked by internal problems (civil war in this case), these countries simply don't have money! Neither the people or the government. Before you blast them, think about WHICH countries in the western hemisphere are driving this. Its going to take some time for third world countries to rise. Change doesn't happen overnight so give these people a chance.

Re:Third World Countries and Exploitation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2133904)

"Before you blast them, think about WHICH countries in the western hemisphere are driving this"

Blacks were always used by every culture they happened to be in contact with.
It is obvious that these people lack skills to create any sort of organized society and this basic fact was exploited by countless others ( Europeans, Arabs )
Don't like that ? Too bad ...

Re:Third World Countries and Exploitation (1)

h4x0r-3l337 (219532) | about 13 years ago | (#2143192)

Blacks were always used by every culture they happened to be in contact with
It is obvious that these people lack skills to create any sort of organized society

Racism: [dictionary.com]
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Yup, you're a racist alright...

Re:Third World Countries and Exploitation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2142019)

Hehehe.
Well, many studies in US proved that Blacks do posses lesser IQ ...
I do not believe in IQ measuring but looks like these studies were correct.
One has to only take look at history of Africa to see that Blacks are unable to compete with other races.
You might not like this but it is true and calling others racist is not going to change that.

Not exceptional... (3, Insightful)

Mike Schiraldi (18296) | about 13 years ago | (#2142439)

Sure, the story sounds appaling -- notably the way Mama D. exploits her workers. But do you really think any other business is different? You like having a car, right? Hundreds if not thousands of Mama D.'s went into the production of it. They're called entrepreneurs, and we'd all be living in the dirt without them.

The workers are thrilled to make $80 a day -- it's 400 times what they'd make otherwise. They're overjoyed to trade some muck they dug up for whores and antibiotics and beer and cash. Nobody's forcing them to do it -- they can always go back to whatever they used to do. Without someone "exploiting" them, they'd be bored and poor.

If you're really concerned about this kind of thing, how about asking the guy who cleans the the toilets at work how much he gets paid to do it. Or the people who pick the oranges so you can have a morning glass of OJ. Or just about anything else you enjoy.

Average Congolese annual income is $110 US (3, Interesting)

Chirs (87576) | about 13 years ago | (#2143190)

I lived in what is now the DRC for three years, and the standard of living there is such that few North Americans can actually conceive what it is like.

The average annual income is $110 US and most families have to have a garden otherwise they wouldn't be able to eat. People think nothing of walking 10-20 miles a day to work and back. If you can afford a small scooter then you're considered a wealthy man. In villages, it is considered sheer luxury to have a tin roof on your mud hut. For most families any kind of vehicle other than an old bicycle is completely out of the question, and running water is something to dream about.

In such living conditions, any work (even nasty, hard work) that pays well can be a real relief when you have a dozen mouths at home (wife, kids, cousins, parents, etc). I'm not saying that its great, and I think that things could definately be improved, but its definately better than some of the other options that they have

Death merchants funded by US Military (2)

small_dick (127697) | about 13 years ago | (#2143191)

The US Military and CIA are funding the drug and tantalum murders, providing weaponry and equipment for guerrillas throughout Latin America, as well as electronic monitoring equipment that allows right wing candidates to monitor their opponents.

Link to CIA/Military involvment [publicintegrity.org] on The Center for Public Integrity [publicintegrity.org] .

All your tantalum mines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2144693)

...are belong to U.S!

If this were in the USA... (1)

geojaz (11691) | about 13 years ago | (#2144695)

Ugandan soldiers used to come here, I was told, to force miners to buy beer and cigarettes.
Hey isn't that illegal?!

Not exactly news (2, Informative)

JoeF (6782) | about 13 years ago | (#2145664)

This is not exactly news anymore. The Industry Standard had an article about the topic on June 11: Guns, Money and Cell Phones [thestandard.com]

No surprise there (5, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | about 13 years ago | (#2146030)

You'be been living in a dream world if you ever thought that the computer industry was squeaky clean. Silicon Valley has the highest density of EPA Superfund sites in the USA. Check out this lovely map of Silicon Valley pollution [svtc.org] . If you live in this neighborhood [svtc.org] , you'll get cancer for sure. Computer production has never been clean. In fact, it's nearly as dirty as the military. The manufacturers have simply been able to put on a "clean" face for the world.

French (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146092)

Toast

......Has it been 20 seconds yet?

you make me puke. (-1)

FuckYourAss (462542) | about 13 years ago | (#2133900)

Mmm.. Dirty nigga prostitutes for a kilo of tantalum.. Best Jon Katz ever got..

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146094)

first post

ninth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146325)

ninth post

f1rst post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146327)

john katz likes dicks

Re:f1rst post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2111345)

no jon katz is a dick

That's just unnecessary. (2, Funny)

Giant Hairy Spider (467310) | about 13 years ago | (#2146424)

One thing puzzles me: why do the cafeterias for the coltan mines always have a drink machine that doesn't work and a counter staff that takes off lunch at the same time as the rest of the workers?

This is news? (2, Funny)

Giant Hairy Spider (467310) | about 13 years ago | (#2146598)

A rare and expensive commodity is mined from central Africa and there are unsafe working conditions in the mines and violence over access to the deposits?

Gee, I'm surprised.

not the only option (2, Interesting)

Takahashi (409381) | about 13 years ago | (#2146603)

Tantalum caps are only one of the seemingly thousands or varieties of capacitors around. If they all went away today we could easily replace them with other varieties of capacitors. Sure tantalum caps are one of my favorite varieties because of their long life and their low leakage current but there not that essential and if you look at a lot of newer electronics you won't find any tantalums any way because there so dam expensive.

Re:not the only option (1)

mamba-mamba (445365) | about 13 years ago | (#2112773)

I design single-board computers for CompactPCI backplanes. For us there is no substitute for tantalum cap's. I am not saying that no substitute could possibly be produced by the companies that make capacitors, but as of now, there is no substitute.

MM
----

Re:not the only option (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 13 years ago | (#2146107)

No, they're not the only option, but they are amazingly good at storing electrical charge. Most of the other caps have lower capacitance, which would lead to larger unit size, which would be deemed "unacceptable" by the market.

Consider going back to the 'luggable' portable computer, or the 'breeze-block' mobile phone, for example.

OTOH, if something new came along that did have such useful dielectric properties, and didn't screw the environment/people, the 'market' would move pretty quickly, I reckon.

Simon

Not just hi-tech (3, Insightful)

Sawbones (176430) | about 13 years ago | (#2146613)

To put it simply, the modern high-tech world depends on this stuff. And while most of us have images of squeaky-clean chip factories and such -- in marked contrast to sleazy textile sweatshops -- it turns out that this industry has a dark side that takes a major toll on human lives

The sad thing is I think you would be hard pressed to find ANY industry that doesn't depend on some "sleazy textile sweatshop" at some point. I would wager that most of us are wearing at least one piece of clothing produced under less than ideal conditions.

Lets also not forget that caps have been around for a hell of a lot longer than the "modern hi-tech industry".

Re:Not just hi-tech (5, Funny)

KupekKupoppo (266229) | about 13 years ago | (#2146033)

...most of us are wearing at least one piece of clothing produced under less than ideal conditions.

I'm naked, but I guess you still might be right right. I was probably produced under less than ideal conditions.

[sigh]

What a waste..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146614)

One of my dreams in life is to visit the congo, but I think by the time I get out of college and am able to afford it there will be nothing left, sigh.

Why why why do people have to destroy the environment? They are only killing themselves in the end, what a waste.


Well, back to the grind

-AC

Re:What a waste..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2143187)

Guess what? Your own back yard would be an exotic wilderness if it hadn't been chopped down and paved over. You like nature? Then live in a poor country. Want to afford college? Start those bulldozers.

Re:What a waste..... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2145663)

It's easy for some college boy to bitch about other people destroying the environment. All the damage you cuase is distant from you. You think all the luxuries of a first world country come at no cost to the environment?

Re:What a waste..... (2, Flamebait)

fireweaver (182346) | about 13 years ago | (#2124185)

All right, AC. Please tell the crowd here just how -you- personally have altered your lifestyle in order to minimise the impact on the environment. I hope that you do not drive a car, live in a house with lights and air conditioning, use a computer or eat food that you have not grown and processed yourself, because if you do, you are impacting the environment.

Re:What a waste..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2133905)

Did who hear me crying about damage to the environment?

Re:What a waste..... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146032)

What a waste of a dream.

If you want to see monkeys go to the fucking zoo.

Bleeding heart faggot.

Major Toll? (0, Offtopic)

quadra (2289) | about 13 years ago | (#2146615)

"has a dark side that takes a major toll on human lives. "

I'd think the lack of a job and money would take a greater toll on human lives than dangerous/risky work. I imagine it still beats starvation.

Re:Major Toll? (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about 13 years ago | (#2138741)

Not necessarily. Now instead of starving this year in a lush environment, they will starve next year in a ruined environment.

Re:Major Toll? (-1)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | about 13 years ago | (#2146139)

At least we gave them one good year.

Hello, Ignorant Moron. (3, Informative)

small_dick (127697) | about 13 years ago | (#2146062)

If you had bother reading the article, you would know that innocent farmers are being murdered so rebel gangs can gain access to their tantalum rich land.

These rebel gangs then sell the product to American and European corporations.

Sounds like a major toll to me. But you're right, none of those farmers are starving now. Enjoy your electronic devices.

Re:Hello, Ignorant Moron. (1)

mamba-mamba (445365) | about 13 years ago | (#2143193)

You are a bit hasty in your pronouncement, and you obviously did not read the entire article either.

For example, consider this excerpt:
Terese Hart, an American botanist who helped create the Okapi Faunal Reserve and has worked there since the early 1980's, supports neither an embargo on coltan nor a quick pullout of Ugandan forces from northeast Congo.

''The world wants to intervene from a distance and pull the strings on the puppet,'' said Hart, who works for the Wildlife Conservation Society. ''The problem is that the strings are not connected to anything. When outsiders struggle to find solutions for Congo, they often assume there is some kind of government. There is no government. There is nothing.''

As for coltan mining, Hart said it is silly for the outside world to try to squeeze one of the few ways for poor people to make a bit of money.

''Outside the reserve, I think that coltan mining is the lesser evil of the types of exploitation that occur when there is no government,'' Hart said. ''I prefer mining to logging. Cutting timber in the rain forest is part of an irreversible ecological process. I don't think coltan mining does as much permanent damage. The miner will not get much, but at least he will continue to live.''
Hope that clears things up.
MM
--

annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146616)

For a website so obsessed with privacy, you'd think it would not link to articles that require free registration for no legitimate reason.

Re:annoying (1)

fifthchild (443035) | about 13 years ago | (#2144696)

You could actually register.

Re:annoying (3, Informative)

J'raxis (248192) | about 13 years ago | (#2146031)

Change 'www' to 'archive' and have a nice day.

Re:annoying (1)

DankNinja (241851) | about 13 years ago | (#2117765)

That will get you nothing but a 404 error. Try actually logging out and do it.

Re:annoying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2142293)

But don't do it after you tried the www version. I think they have some m@d 1337 referrer checking. Change the URL first, then load the page. If you screwed up, close the browser and try again.

~~~

Re:annoying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2146185)

In case you didn't notice slashdot itself requires registration if you plan on actually posting above 0.

And the point is? (3, Interesting)

The Angry Clam (442606) | about 13 years ago | (#2146618)

Now, I know that I'll probably be flamed to a crisp for this one, but I really have to say "Who cares?" After all, most people who read /. (I assume) come from the industrialized European countries and the United States. Let's all remember that the standard and style of living enjoyed in those countries is NOT the typical condition of existence for the majority of humanity EVER. Even at the height of Dynastic China and Imperial Rome, two of the most advanced ancient societies, the vast majority of the people lived in absolute squalor and filth, not knowing where their next meal was coming from, if there even was a next meal, etc. Slavery, robbery and murder were all common. Now here comes my admittedly controversial point: the vast majority of the world is still like that. The Congo basin is still like that. The evil greedy capitalist colonial corporations have nothing to do with it. There are all kinds of funky diseases, famines, and ethnic infighting in the area. If anything, the establishment of mining and factories will add stability to the region, since the companies want to protect their money and investment. In short, the next time you feel like whining about the plight of people in the third world, ask yourself "Do I want to live like that?" I suspect the answer is no, and if it is no, please don't stop the wheels of progress from helping them escape.

Re:And the point is? (3, Insightful)

lemox (126382) | about 13 years ago | (#2114127)

The crux of the matter is that when you talk about the poor conditions in just about any region of Africa (aside from the extreme north), almost all o fthose poor conditions did not exist until industrialized European countries and the United States decided to change them into colonies or banana republics to benefited their own economy at the expense of the African ones.

Re:And the point is? (1)

5foot2 (24971) | about 13 years ago | (#2133906)

almost all o fthose poor conditions did not exist until industrialized European countries and the United States decided to change them into colonies

Africa was being used/abused by european powers long before the US was the US. If we're going to toss blame around, toss it in the right direction.

Lets not forget the US was a colony, under the control of a colonial power. The French, English, Dutch and Spanish hold the blame for most of the colonization. Do you people not remeber what was meant by the "British Empire"? Now I have no problem with the pratice of colonization, it opened up the world through it's exploration and moved modern (I.E. western) civilazation to the hights it now enjoys.

I also see this as largely an issue of evolution. The third world is evolving, some things will die off, others will be made stronger. Nothing wrong with that.

Re:And the point is? (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2135421)

What a piece of bullshit.

Sure, they had no "problems" with lack of running water, sanitation, adequate medical care and other basic services. They weren't even aware things like that existed.

They did not fight over natural resources or diamonds for the simple reason they had no need for these.

"at the expense of the African ones."
There were no African economies. Wherever Europeans showed they found bunch of people living exactly the same way for thousands of years. Any sort of infrastructure these people have is leftover from colonial times.
Harsh but true.

Re:And the point is? (2, Informative)

Ridge2001 (306010) | about 13 years ago | (#2144242)

Harsh but true.

Racist and false.

You haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about. None. You are a typical uneducated spoiled pampered suburban neoliberal slob with no knowledge of history other than the occasional tidbits you manage to pick up from Hollywood movies.

Here's a bibliography [uct.ac.za] for you. Go read some of the works cited, if you can find any that don't exceed your reading level. Then come back and express an informed opinion.

Re:And the point is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2127050)

You haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about. None. You are a typical uneducated spoiled pampered suburban neoliberal slob with no knowledge of history other than the occasional tidbits you manage to pick up from Hollywood movies.

The truth hurts. Yelling won't change that.

Re:And the point is? (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2143186)

Oh so natives managed to make a spear and couple of roughly processed pieces of metal ?
Where is bibliography regarding existence of advanced, European level industry ?
Do you even have a fucking idea which age are talking about here ?
Does the fact that natives had absolutely no chance in even attempting to oppose European conquest mean anything to you ?

Re:And the point is? (1)

Ridge2001 (306010) | about 13 years ago | (#2118325)

In the space of a few minutes you've gone from saying "There were no African economies" to saying the "natives had absolutely no chance in even attempting to oppose European conquest". So you've abandoned your original argument and moved on to merely stating the obvious -- that Africa was simply conquered at gunpoint. I rest my case.

Re:And the point is? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2144692)

except for the Ethiopians successfully resisting Italian colonial efforts. You have to hand it to them- the only 19th century colonial power to FAIL.

Re:And the point is? (2)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 13 years ago | (#2146118)

Wow.

Pull your head out of your ass and think for a minute.

When Europeans started colonizing Africa, many Europeans lived in a condition of squalor similar to conditions in African cities today. Ever read Charles Dickens?

Africa has been a poor place for a long time. A burgeoning population combined with a lack of water and arable land are the source of poverty in many regions of Africa.

In other regions, like Kenya and the former colony of Rhodesia more political factors come to play. The theft and abuse perpetrated by dictators who took advantage of the vacuum created during the pullout of colonial government set the stage for decades of warlords and conflict.

Pull YOUR head out of your ass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2117766)

When Europeans started colonizing Africa, many Europeans lived in a condition of squalor similar to conditions in African cities today. Ever read Charles Dickens?

Actually, I have, and he makes precisely the point you seem to be denying: rich people fuck over poor people. Was your version from CliffNotes® perhaps?

The simple fact is colonialism destroyed every native society it touched. Your gross apologism for the atrocities that allow you your creature comforts simply shows how great a corporate citizen you are. Better them than you, right?

Rock on, Extropian! Fall into the Gap--and strangle yourself with a Martha Stewart tablecloth while you're there...

Re:Pull YOUR head out of your ass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2114863)

"every native society it touched"

You mean bunch of niggers hanging around on some trees hoping to catch something to eat before it is too late ?

Re:And the point is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2147239)

Yeah, that's it. The white people are to blame for the malaria swamps, Ebola and other funky diseases, and the fact that the area is poor. I suppose the dirt poor Amazonian tribes who've supposedly never had outside contact are the victims of capitalist colonization too.

Re:And the point is? (4, Insightful)

Logic Bomb (122875) | about 13 years ago | (#2115913)

Your argument is a fairly standard one against those who bitch and moan about the horrors of globalization. (I think it's basically a good argument.) This is not a typical case of globalization though, because "the wheels of progress" are not turning in the Congo. The mining is not an organized commercial operation at the lowest levels, like a factory. The reason fully organized commercial operations are beneficial is because they a) build infrastructure, and b) educate the population in at least some capacity, whether it be through pure technical skills or through low-level management. The mining does neither. In fact, it destroys the potential for future infrastructure by wrecking the environment. And people digging around in holes for buckets of mud is hardly an educating process.

This process is not an example of globalization at work. It is advanced-industrialized countries extracting resources from poorer countries and leaving little in return. Though I am not attempting to place a value judgement upon it in this comment, I must point out that arguments which attempt to defend globalization are not valid here.

Mod this back up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2123611)

This comment was up to 4 and got modded back down to 2. It should at least be at 3. Someone with points make things right. :-)

Re:And the point is? (5, Informative)

Some Dumbass... (192298) | about 13 years ago | (#2135418)

Well first of all, if you have the flu, the measles and the chicken pox all at once, you don't say "Hey, who cares if I catch pneumonia!" Just because you have lots of problems doesn't mean that it;s okay to have more.


If anything, the establishment of mining and factories will add stability to the region, since the companies want to protect their money and investment.

Secondly, did you actually read the article? There are no companies. There are no factories. And those mines are holes in the ground dug by people (roughly organized into "camps"). It's still anarchy, not good financial planning.

Besides, you only get to mine your natural resources once, then they're gone. The article says that the money from coltan mining is not going into infrastructure like schools and roads. So what happens when the coltan is gone? Evenyone's actually worse off than they started, because there's no more money to be made by mining, and you've gained nothing that can increase the country's wealth in the long run (like schools!) in return.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the Congo been mined for diamonds for 100+ years now? Has it done any good? Why do you think the coltan situation will be different?

Re:And the point is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2143188)

100+ years? Hardly. Diamonds are basically an invention of 20th century marketing.

Re:And the point is? (1, Insightful)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2146063)

Whose fault is that?
After all, if it weren't for Europeans these people wouldn't even know they had valuable resources.

Bzzzzzt! Wrong! (3, Insightful)

Robber Baron (112304) | about 13 years ago | (#2146283)

Now here comes my admittedly controversial point: the vast majority of the world is still like that. The Congo basin is still like that. The evil greedy capitalist colonial corporations have nothing to do with it. There are all kinds of funky diseases, famines, and ethnic infighting in the area. If anything, the establishment of mining and factories will add stability to the region, since the companies want to protect their money and investment.

With all due respect, you are out to lunch on this one.
From the Article:

In the 1960's, the Americans waded in. To fight Communism and secure access to cobalt and copper, the Central Intelligence Agency helped bring about the assassination of Congo's first democratically elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. That was followed by three decades of White House coddling of his successor, Mobutu Sese Seku, Africa's most famous billionaire dictator, who set a poisoned table for the chaos that followed his eventual overthrow in 1997.

The evil greedy capitalist colonial corporations are NOT helping the situation. Sure, they'll give them the bare minimum to keep them digging or to keep churning out Nike's but they will never allow them to achieve the stability that will allow them to choose not to be exploited.

Ding! Right! (2)

frknfrk (127417) | about 13 years ago | (#2124187)

Absolutely right. If those with power wish to keep that power at any price, they will until their power is taken away from them. In the case of corporations, this has to come from the shareholders deciding that they won't support any company which does these kinds of things. Obviously, that is not going to happen, there will always be a lot of people who, if given the option, will be glad to profit from the misfortunes of others. It has always been, and sadly will always be. So that leaves the government. This has to come from our votes. We have to vote for people who will not allow corporations to make slaves of the third world, or be slave masters themselves. And while we're at it, can we lock up the executives of companies for human rights violations? That's a decent deterrant for the CEO of Intel or Nike. No more sweatshops or you will go to prison.

Re:Ding! Right! (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2140722)

Sure, no more sweatshops ..
What the hell do you think will happen? These companies will start paying US level wages?
No, they will pull out and people over there will lose everything.
Yeah, but at least they will be dying of hunger with their heads high ...

What about you? (2)

mangu (126918) | about 13 years ago | (#2147295)

Sure, they'll give them the bare minimum to keep them digging or to keep churning out Nike's

When you bought your computer, did you give the maufacturer the bare minumum to keep them selling computers, or did you pay an extra fee to help the copper and tantalum diggers?

Re:What about you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2140417)

Ooh. Nice capitalist toadyism. I give it +3, Insightful.

~~~

Re:Bzzzzzt! Wrong! (1)

5foot2 (24971) | about 13 years ago | (#2147296)

but they will never allow them to achieve the stability that will allow them to choose not to be exploited.

The same could've been said of colonial America in the days prior to the revolution.

Re:And the point is? (4, Insightful)

H310iSe (249662) | about 13 years ago | (#2146363)

The funny thing is I usually find myself argueing postions similar to yours, only in this case I think you're wrong. In the olden times (say, Rome) they lacked the ability to raise living standards for a majority of the people to a decent level. Technology, etc. (maybe even capitalism...), has provided this ability to our age for what is probably the first time in history (sure,you could create small utopias in the past but nothing large scale). Therefore since we have the ability to achieve this, we might also have a moral obligation to pursue this end. This addresses your next point, that the 'wheels of progress' will pull these people out of thier current state. This is the typical arguement for global capitalization (vs. the anti-WTO crew) and it has some merrit. Just extend it logically - take a sweat shop making Nikes. If you pay the workers $.50 a day and this is twice as much as they'd make otherwise and applaud yourself for it, why not continue and give 'em a dollar or two? See, the wheels of progress tend to weigh human suffering and profit margins rather peculiarly, giving *way* too much weight to profit margins. They're important, but maybe, say, equally important as alleviating (sp?) suffering.

Now your point about how farked up the place is before 'we' got there and how 'we're' a stabalizing influence, well taken. It's true that many places would be content to screw themselves for eternity and capi-colonialism stepping in simply changes the dynamic somewhat but doesn't nesc. create any *more* suffering (different, sure, but not more). People like killing other people. Still, the point is we *could* do better so maybe we *should*. Not just leave, but intervene more positviely. ...

Its called divide and conquer.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2147240)

and it's exactly the result of colonialism.. You know the story, you want to subjucate a land so create a few internal conflicts that were n't there before. Now that everyone is fighting each other you can stroll in and no one will notice or have time to do anything about it.

Regardless, if you are of European origin then you can be pretty sure that you're oh-so-comfortable life has been subsidised by the suffering of other people.

The reason these people have n't been able to progress is because these conflicts that were induced by outside powers are still going on. I wonder how much progress the US would have achieved if the civil war was still continuing or if the native indians had n't been wiped all but wiped out and were still on a war footing.

And as for progress, when the first British explorers went to Africa they commented on how the women hardly wore anything and therefore their race must somehow be un-civilised. Now go and have a look at how some women dress during summer in the "civilized" world.

Re:Its called divide and conquer.. (1)

mimbleton (467957) | about 13 years ago | (#2145953)

"The reason these people haven't been able to progress is because these conflicts that were induced by outside powers are still going on. "

Yeaah, right. Every time we "discovered" new tribe or culture most of these people weren't at all interested in any sort of progress and happily continued to lead their existence they way they had done for thousands of years.
But now, sure, it is our fault they cannot progress ...

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