Posts Tagged ‘Blood Diamond’

As most mobile phones contain coltan, it’s not too dramatic to say there’s blood on your cell phone – the blood of Congolese workers who are dying in their hundreds of thousands in a conflict that continues to claim many lives. There’s no doubt the demand for coltan is financing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and helping to promote the evil that is child/slave labor.

                                                             Cell phones in all their innocence.

Many tens of thousands of children in the DRC are employed as miners – oftentimes in coltan mines. The work is primitive, dirty and dangerous.

In a chapter headed Blood Minerals, we address this pressing issue in our book THE ORPHAN CONSPIRACIES: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy. Here’s an excerpt:

Workers dig large craters in riverbeds to access the coltan. They then mix water and mud in big tubs to encourage the heavy coltan to settle on the bottom – much like gold miners did panning and sluicing for gold in years gone by. The mines management calls it child labor and officially employs children as young as 12 for this work; the outside world views it as slave labor, which is exactly what it is of course.

Child labor = slave labor in the DRC.

In an October 31, 2010 article by the leading Pakistani media outlet The Express Tribune, columnist Fatima Najm asks if “Pakistan’s 100 million cell phone users know their devices may be soaked in Congolese blood”.

Najm says within each of those phones are small amounts of coltan that add up to a lucrative illegal trade. “The explosive growth in the wireless industry means that demand for these tin ores collectively results in the rape and torture of hundreds of thousands of innocent Congolese people a year”.

The columnist points out that Congo is resource-rich, and its mighty river system has the potential to power all of Africa’s electricity needs. “Experts say stability in Congo could translate into peace and progress for all of Africa, but at least five neighboring countries have proxy militias battling each other in Congo for control of valuable tin ores”.

Najm makes an interesting comparison between Congolese coltan and diamonds, advising it’s logical to assume that “given the widespread violence attributed to coltan…one would imagine it would be destined for the same sort of notoriety as blood diamonds”.

Alas, not so, it would seem. ‘Blood diamonds’ obviously sounds a whole lot sexier than ‘blood coltan’ to Western media, moviegoers and the general public.

Primary image for Blood Diamond Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond the movie and star Leonardo DiCaprio made blood diamonds “sexy”.

Predictably, smart phone manufacturers and the like have been quick to distance themselves from the whole murky business. Some publish disclaimers, denying that they source coltan from militia’s operating in the DRC; many claim the supply chain for coltan mined in the DRC is so complex it’s impossible to ascertain whether it has been legally or illegally mined and supplied.

To be fair, several high profile manufacturers in the US and elsewhere are sourcing their coltan from outside the DRC and, indeed, outside central Africa until such time as the legitimacy of mining operations there can be more clearly established. However, they’re in the minority.

Cell phone consumers and others have long been questioning the legitimacy of products. For the most part, it appears their questions are falling on deaf ears. Perhaps it’s time to ask more questions – and ask them louder.

There has been a campaign in recent years to try to force the big multinational companies to disclose whether or not they use Congolese conflict minerals. However, it’s often impossible to prove where such minerals come from.

Just as crafty banksters frequently transfer vast sums of money between various offshore tax havens to conceal their money trail, corporations that profit from ultra-cheap Congolese conflict minerals have middle men – usually warlords – who smuggle minerals from country to country so it’s extremely difficult to trace their origins.

Convoluted smuggling routes make source of conflict minerals hard to trace.

Of course, the problem of conflict minerals isn’t limited to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; it exists throughout much of the African continent. Equally, the problem isn’t limited to Africa.

Read more in The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy: http://www.amazon.com/The-Orphan-Conspiracies-Conspiracy-Theories-ebook/dp/B00J4MPFT6/

A book that’s for the common people…the 99%.

 

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oilandgaswells

Contrary to mainstream media reports, it is our firm belief that there is very little true scarcity in the world.

Diamond Mining in Kono

If you take the time to do some digging will soon come to the realization that those running the oil and precious metals industries purposefully foster a belief that there’s a critical shortage of resources in the world; if you can’t spare the time at least take a peek at films like ‘The Formula’ and ‘Blood Diamond’, which are clever dramatizations of the global elite’s devious approach to managing those resources.

Primary image for Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond addresses a real problem.

Creating the illusion of scarcity is intrinsically linked with an excessive desire for profits – a desire that will stop at nothing. Not even the loss of human lives.

Unfortunately, it’s like that with everything in our world at present. We address this particular issue in our book THE ORPHAN CONSPIRACIES: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Such illusions are constantly being fed to us as if they are proven facts – the illusion that wars are unavoidable, that there’s not enough wealth to go around, that the Third World cannot organically sustain itself, that terrorists are everywhere…

As we covered in our “The price of a free media” chapter, mainstream media is a big part of this grand deception. This should come as no surprise considering the bulk of the world’s news outlets are owned by only a handful of media tycoons who all belong to secretive, elitist and unaccountable organizations such as the Bilderberg Group and the Council on Foreign Relations.

It’s becoming obvious to most that mainstream media is nothing but a megaphone for the global elite to present biased news that’s designed to align the masses with their agenda.

The Overpopulation Theory

Take the Overpopulation Theory – a pet hobbyhorse of virtually every powerful individual in the Establishment. The supposed need to depopulate the planet for the good of Mankind is a theory that has been peddled by every elitist from the Rockefellers, to Bill Gates and Ted Turner, to US Presidents like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, to Prince Charles HRH the Prince of Wales and other British Royals. The latter includes the Queen’s husband Prince Philip who once infamously remarked, “If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”

Let us also not forget Henry Kissinger’s aforementioned comment in the recently declassified National Security Memorandum 200 document in which he states, “Depopulation should bethe highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World,” to secure mineral resources for the US.

The motivations behind depopulation suggestions may actually be a desire to create a modern form of eugenics, albeit masquerading as something more benign. That may sound a rather extreme accusation, but keep in mind it was only a generation or two ago that the global elite were bona fide supporters of draconian eugenics programs.

How many remain adherents of this insidious science, but choose to keep their beliefs to themselves now that eugenics has been universally vilified?

A politically correct version of eugenics

Many independent researchers, ourselves included, believe the proposed global population control measures really are a politically correct version of the once government-sponsored eugenics programs.

In our opinion, racial hatred is the likely impetus behind this new version of eugenics. As Edwin Black reminds us in his book War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, “Eugenics was” a “pseudoscience,” and “In its extreme, racist form, this meant wiping away all human beings deemed ‘unfit,’ preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype”.

There are clues that would seem to confirm that domination of non-white races remains a part of the agenda. The biggest clues are the countries and peoples that are being singled out for supposedly propagating too fast.

Have you noticed how those powerful figures who promote the “urgent need” for depopulation are almost always, if not always, referring to Third World countries or developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America – and not countries like the UK, France, Germany, Russia or the US whose citizens are predominantly Caucasian?

Could it be that Mr. Kissinger is not the only elitist who fears the West will lose its stranglehold on the planet’s resources if certain developing nations grow too big and powerful?

A convenient coincidence

Remember, so-called experts have been suggesting the Earth must depopulate since the early 20th Century, which notably coincides with the exact same period that eugenics programs were first endorsed by governments.

By the 1960’s, when the planet’s total population was 3 billion, the overpopulation theory reached popular consciousness – aided no doubt by those influential figures who regularly trumpeted it in the media. The concept was always presented as if it was an absolute fact: the world could not handle many more people and humanity would soon cease to exist unless depopulation strategies were implemented immediately.

However, the world’s population is now over 7 billion and life goes on. In some respects, life’s a lot more complicated than it was back in the Hippy Era, but nevertheless Mother Earth continues to sustain life and, despite what some may tell us, she shows no immediate sign of exploding, imploding or otherwise wilting.

Earth’s immense problems unediable

None of this counter-argument should be misconstrued as ignoring the Earth’s immense problems. Yes people are dying of malnutrition, thirst and disease; yes nations are fighting over resources; yes there is an ever-widening gap between rich and poor; and yes much of our planet is disgustingly polluted.

However, these problems, or tragedies, need to be assessed in the context of that which is being withheld. For every Yes there’s a No.

No the world’s most advanced technologies have not been released; no there is not fair and proper distribution of wealth and resources; no we haven’t progressed beyond the strong dominating the weak through wars and the like; no the financial system has not been cleansed of corrupt bankers and economic hitmen.

When you balance the No’s against the Yes’s it becomes obvious that if we lived in a fairer world – especially one where there is greater equality and where no technology or information is ever suppressed – the planet could sustain an even bigger population. Perhaps much bigger.

The daily struggle of many for food, water and other basic necessities is more about greed and unfair political and economic systems than population levels.

What if…

For example, if half of Africa’s population was wiped out tomorrow, millions of people would still be left scavenging for bare essentials due to the fact that very little of the continent’s abundant resources (that are mined, drilled or otherwise extracted) remain in Africa for the benefit of Africans. So the problem is one of imperialism, or expansionism, rather than there being too many mouths to feed.

Yoko Ono summarized this issue well during her appearance on The Dick Cavett Show on September 11, 1971, when she said, “I think the problem is not overpopulation, as people believe to be, but it’s more of the balance of things … Like food. Some parts of the world there’s wastage of food, in some parts nobody has food. And that kind of a balance, if that is solved, I don’t think we’d be worried so much about overpopulation.”

The big question is: why is anyone still suggesting depopulation? And why is the media still giving such suggestions airtime?

Unless outlawed eugenics programs are revived or certain elitists get their way with nefarious strategies such as mass sterilizations or forced abortions, depopulation is hardly likely in this day and age. Except of course where it’s an inevitable consequence of wars, genocide or natural disasters.

The sensible solution

It would make more sense to seek solutions for the world’s current and projected populations than trying to take away or limit people’s basic right to procreate. China’s one-child policyaside, procreation is something Man has always done freely and without thought.

Releasing classified or suppressed scientific inventions would likely be a good start. Especially technologies that have the potential to combat the world’s most pressing issues, such as pollution and its effects on climate, whatever those effects may be.

It’s worth noting that throughout history, population growth has usually spurred technological advances. This was true during the Industrial Revolution, the post-WW2 years and the Space Age era; and we are witnessing it again with the explosion of computer and mobile phone technologies, which can barely keep pace with worldwide consumer demands for those products.

We’ve already acknowledged that pollution is an urgent problem. However, a few hundred million less people less – which is all strict population controls could hope to achieve in the near future – wouldn’t decrease pollution levels that much.

And who is to say higher populations won’t actually make it easier to develop pollutant-free and clean energy technologies in the same way they created the necessary demand, infrastructure and labour force to spark other inventions of bygone years? We are not saying higher populations would necessarily achieve this, but at present there has been zero public debate as to the potential benefits of the planet’s increasing numbers of people.

Many cities are undoubtedly overpopulated, but much of this is to do with poor economicmanagement and a lack of environmental and geographic planning. For example, rural-dwellers are often so impoverished they have no choice but to move to cities for work. With a greater and fairer distribution of wealth, governments could provide incentives for citizens to remain in rural areas or relocate to emerging cities or even build new cities.

To be continued…  

Read more in The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy: http://www.amazon.com/The-Orphan-Conspiracies-Conspiracy-Theories-ebook/dp/B00J4MPFT6/

A book that’s for the common people...the 99%.

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Ongoing conflicts had made exploitation of coltan ore problematic, and much of it was mined illegally and smuggled out of the country by militias from Rwanda and other neighboring countries. As a result, Congolese coltan represented only about a tenth of the world’s total production even though the DRC was believed to have seventy percent of known coltan reserves. The Orphan Uprising

 

The DRC…rich in minerals yet one of the poorest nations on earth.

In book three of The Orphan Trilogy, Nine (aka Sebastian) has reason to cross Zambia’s northern border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – previously and variously known as the Belgian Congo, Congo Free State, Congo-Leopoldville, Congo-Kinshasa and Zaire – in central Africa.

Nine’s target is a coltan refinery owned and operated by American conglomerate Carmel Corporation. The corporation is a fictitious entity, but the precious metallic ore known as coltan – official name columbite-tantalite – is very real.

This precious ore is found in large quantities in the DRC’s disputed eastern regions. When refined, the result is metallic tantalum, a heat-resistant powder capable of holding a high electrical charge – properties that are essential for the creation of electronic elements known as capacitors.

These capacitors are included in the manufacture of mobile phones, digital cameras, laptop computers and in communications technology generally, making coltan an indispensable part of the burgeoning and extraordinarily profitable communications and technology sectors. Hence its value.

 

DRC’s estimated mineral wealth US$24 trillion

Marange diamond panners

African diamond miners at work (above). The end result of their labors (below).

Blue diamond unearthed at the Cullinan mine

As chance would have it, the DRC is believed to have seventy to eighty per cent of known coltan reserves worldwide. It also has around one third of the world’s known diamond reserves and is rich in other precious metals, too. With reserves of untapped mineral deposits estimated at US$24 trillion, it’s little wonder the DRC is considered by some to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, if not the wealthiest, in terms of natural resources.

Now here’s the rub: the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been beset by war and is one of the most violent, unstable and poverty stricken nations on the planet.

In an article on the All Africa online news site dated November 21, 2013, the Congolese war (which incorporates the back-to-back First and Second Congo Wars) is said to have “killed over six million people since 1996,” and “is the deadliest conflict in the world since the Second World War. If you add the number of deaths in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Rwanda over the same period, it would still not equal the millions who have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

An anti-foreigners protest in Reiger Park. Xenophobic violence exploded in South Africa in 2008 and scores of people were killed and more than 100,000 people displaced. Photo/REUTERS

Scenes like this all too common throughout the African continent.

Fatalities are just one side of the conflict, however, with rape also being used as a “weapon of war”, the article goes on to mention. Women and young girls raped during the conflict are estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands.

It’s a sad truth that conflict over control of the DRC’s mineral wealth accounts for much of the violence. Hence the term conflict minerals used to describe coltan, diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt and other precious minerals in the DRC and, indeed, throughout much of Africa.

Gold miners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Digging for gold in the Congo.

 

To Nine’s way of thinking, the problems surrounding the exploitation of coltan in the DRC epitomized the problems the entire African continent faced in capitalizing on the huge untapped wealth that lay beneath its surface. Corruption, political unrest and outside interference from non-African countries ensured the continent that should be the world’s wealthiest remained the poorest. The Orphan Uprising

 

A plethora of rebel militias

In the DRC, the link between its vast mineral resources and financing the various militia groups running riot is impossible to ignore. And coltan plays a key role in this never-ending conundrum.

Ongoing conflicts have made exploitation of the DRC’s coltan ore problematic to put it mildly. As a result, Congolese coltan represents only about a tenth of the world’s total production even though it has the lion’s share of the precious metal within its borders.

A UN Security Council report leaves no doubt much of the country’s coltan is mined illegally and smuggled out by rebel militias from neighboring Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Monies earned by these forces finance the ongoing conflict.

So who are these militia groups who are holding the DRC to ransom?

According to South African investigative site Daily Maverick there’s a plethora of rebel militias “all of whom are capable of causing varying degrees of chaos” in the eastern DRC.

In a report on the main rebel factions operating there, Daily Maverick states: “The M23 rebel movement has been the strongest in recent years, closely followed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a motley but dangerous band of Rwandan refugees (some on the run from their role in the Rwandan genocide) and ethnic Hutus, dedicated to their own survival and the eventual overthrow of the Rwandan government”.

The report continues: “Their existence is thought to be a major factor in Rwanda’s involvement in the conflict in the eastern DRC (that and the region’s vast, lucrative mineral supplies, of course) and the group has a horrendous record when it comes to respect for human rights”.

As for the amount of money at stake, the Rwandan Army was rumored to have raised around US$250,000,000 from illegal coltan sales in just 18 months. The Rwandans have denied this of course.

Government troops or armed militia…it’s not always obvious in Africa.

 

“The continent that contains the most poverty also contains the most wealth.” –Bono, from a speech given at the G8 summit held in Chicago, IL, in May 2012.

 

An unnecessary war

It has been widely acknowledged that the brutal war in the DRC is primarily and directly related to the massive demand in the developed world’s countries for the minerals required for their military and electronic industries.

Coltan reserves are not abundant around the world like many other precious metals are. For instance, no coltan mining is undertaken in the US, which is totally reliant on imports of the precious material. The DRC is by far the easiest and cheapest place for the US to import coltan from.

Coltan mining is declining in Canada. And although China has some coltan, it has nowhere near enough to provide for its own high demand for the commodity. Both countries are in a very similar position to the US in this regard.

If the likes of North America and China dealt with alternative coltan suppliers – such as Australia – that would prove far less profitable than dealing with the DRC whose Third World conditions and lack of protections in place guarantee coltan can be sourced at rock bottom prices.

As mentioned in Chapter 16, fleecing the Third World has been a reality for decades if not centuries. Mineral-abundant Third World nations, which should be some of the richest on Earth, are all too often among the poorest. Many argue that the poverty of these nations can usually be blamed on wars strategically engineered by developed nations and Superpowers – wars that are also armed and funded by the developed world.

There is no greater example of this ugly phenomenon than in Africa, and the DRC has regularly been referred to as the poorest country in the world by international aid agencies.

As well as engineered wars that last for many years, the DRC is also raped financially over and over again. The World Bank loans the country billions annually and special clauses in the loan agreements allow for multinational companies to take virtually all the DRC’s enormous mineral resources for a pittance.

Meanwhile, the DRC is left indentured to the World Bank, forever attempting to pay off crippling interest rates. Almost none of the nation’s mineral wealth flows back to its people.

Mining coltan in the Congo (above). These ordinary looking rocks (below) are coltan.

 

Child labor

To add to the problem, many tens of thousands of children in the DRC are employed as miners – oftentimes in coltan mines. The work is primitive, dirty and dangerous.

Workers dig large craters in riverbeds to access the coltan. They then mix water and mud in big tubs to encourage the heavy coltan to settle on the bottom – much like gold miners did panning and sluicing for gold in years gone by. The mines management calls it child labor and officially employs children as young as 12 for this work; the outside world views it as slave labor, which is exactly what it is of course.

Child labor = slave labor in the DRC.

As most mobile phones contain coltan, it’s not too dramatic to say there’s blood on your cell phone – the blood of Congolese workers who are dying in their hundreds of thousands in a conflict that continues to claim many lives. There’s no doubt the demand for coltan is financing the conflict in the DRC and helping to promote the evil that is child/slave labor.

In an October 31, 2010 article by the leading Pakistani media outlet The Express Tribune, columnist Fatima Najm asks if “Pakistan’s 100 million cell phone users know their devices may be soaked in Congolese blood”.

Najm says within each of those phones are small amounts of coltan that add up to a lucrative illegal trade. “The explosive growth in the wireless industry means that demand for these tin ores collectively results in the rape and torture of hundreds of thousands of innocent Congolese people a year”.

The columnist points out that Congo is resource-rich, and its mighty river system has the potential to power all of Africa’s electricity needs. “Experts say stability in Congo could translate into peace and progress for all of Africa, but at least five neighboring countries have proxy militias battling each other in Congo for control of valuable tin ores”.

Is there blood on your cell phone…Probably.

 

Blood coltan not as sexy as blood diamonds

Najm makes an interesting comparison between Congolese coltan and diamonds, advising it’s logical to assume that “given the widespread violence attributed to coltan…one would imagine it would be destined for the same sort of notoriety as blood diamonds”.

Alas, not so, it would seem. ‘Blood diamonds’ obviously sounds a whole lot sexier than ‘blood coltan’ to Western media, moviegoers and the general public.

Primary image for Blood Diamond       Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond the movie and star Leonardo DiCaprio made blood diamonds “sexy”.

Predictably, smart phone manufacturers and the like have been quick to distance themselves from the whole murky business. Some publish disclaimers, denying that they source coltan from militia’s operating in the DRC; many claim the supply chain for coltan mined in the DRC is so complex it’s impossible to ascertain whether it has been legally or illegally mined and supplied.

To be fair, several high profile manufacturers in the US and elsewhere are sourcing their coltan from outside the DRC and, indeed, outside central Africa until such time as the legitimacy of mining operations there can be more clearly established. However, they’re in the minority.

Cell phone consumers and others have long been questioning the legitimacy of products. For the most part, it appears their questions are falling on deaf ears. Perhaps it’s time to ask more questions – and ask them louder.

There has been a campaign in recent years to try to force the big multinational companies to disclose whether or not they use Congolese conflict minerals. However, it’s often impossible to prove where such minerals come from.

Just as crafty banksters frequently transfer vast sums of money between various offshore tax havens to conceal their money trail, corporations that profit from ultra-cheap Congolese conflict minerals have middle men – usually warlords – who smuggle minerals from country to country so it’s extremely difficult to trace their origins.

Convoluted smuggling routes make source of conflict minerals hard to trace.

Of course, the problem of conflict minerals isn’t limited to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; it exists throughout much of the African continent. Equally, the problem isn’t limited to Africa.

Perhaps the last word on this vexing issue should go to The Guardian contributor Zobel Behalal, a peace and conflict advocacy officer, who reminds us that in Burma the mining industry was militarized for several decades, with the national army controlling mining sites, business operations and exportation, while in Colombia tantalum, wolframite and gold mines as well as their respective business concerns are controlled and taxed by armed groups.

Writing in The Guardian, Behalal says, “Products that have funded conflicts can only reach the international market with participation of the businesses that buy and use them. Bloomberg revealed that BMW’s, Ferraris, Porches and Volkswagens contain tungsten and wolframite that come from businesses under the control of the FARC Colombian rebels”.

Behalal insists these aren’t isolated cases.

“The trade of natural resources continues at the expense of violence and human rights violations. There is an urgent need to create a win-win contract between the economic factors and the local populations in order to create real and sustainable development in countries rich in natural resources.

“Due diligence must be enforced as a mandatory requirement throughout the supply chain of natural resources.”

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Laborers toil at Burma’s famed Hpakangyi jade mine. 

 

Nine was aware the continued siphoning of coltan, as well as cobalt and diamonds, from the eastern Congo was part of a wider conspiracy to destabilize the country. The Orphan Uprising

 

It’s our contention governments, big corporations, industries and business moguls of the West and elsewhere in the developed world are very aware of what’s going on in Third World countries like the DRC. At best they pay lip service to the need to stamp out the conflict minerals business; at worst they knowingly encourage the trade in conflict minerals.

There does seem to be enough evidence – anecdotal and otherwise – surrounding the trade of coltan sourced in the DRC to suggest most are content to turn a blind eye to the exploitation of natural resources and the human cost of the conflict minerals business. To our eyes at least, this evidence is overwhelming. So overwhelming that, of the 29 conspiracy theories highlighted in The Orphan Trilogy, the blood minerals conspiracy is probably among those most likely to be true.

But hey, what do we know?

 

Read more in The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy – available now via Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Orphan-Conspiracies-Conspiracy-Theories-ebook/dp/B00J4MPFT6/

A book that’s for the common people.

 

Not all is what it seems! –James & Lance

 

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