WTF Friday, 8/19/11

Deja vu! Rachel Weisz playing a “gutsy truth seeker” in an upcoming film. When will she break this typecast and play a cowardly lie finder?

Hahaha “soft adventure.” This does sound lovely, though. And “exotic.” And “magical.” And you get to watch “minorities trade their goods.” Sick.

I think this is the only article on the Internet that refers to the DRC as the “African Congo.” Anyway I’m really looking forward to the match.

WTF Friday, 7/29/11

Props to Hugo Chavez for his Yul Brynner reference. No props for saying he’s gonna rule for another 20 years. Give it a rest, dude.

Medvedev planning to rap about the budget.

Somalis can apparently now thank members of the Kenyan government for putting al-Shabaab between them and their samosas (perhaps inadvertently).

Is My Cell Phone Full of Rape, Redux

A bunch of y’all asked me what I thought of The Atlantic’s “Is Your Cell Phone Fueling Civil War in the Congo” article on Monday. To which I reply: About the same thing I’ve thought every other time an article with a virtually identical title has popped up in my “rape and lions” Google News Alert over the last couple of years.

Seriously guys, it’s like déjà vu all over again. The article begins:

“Pick up any household electronic — a phone, a remote, or a laptop — and it could contain minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country where armed rebel groups connected with crimes of rape and murder profit from trade of these minerals.”

Sound at all familiar? No? Let’s take a little trip back in time…

The day:  June 26, 2010.  The man: The Kristof.  The paper:  The New York Times.  The article:  “Death by Gadget in the Congo”:

“An ugly paradox of the 21st century is that some of our elegant symbols of modernity — smartphones, laptops and digital cameras — are built from minerals that seem to be fueling mass slaughter and rape in Congo.”

Oh come off it, you might be thinking. Two pieces on the same topic beginning with similar words does not a federal case make.

And you may have a point, but then again, there’s:

The Hawaii Independent in December 2010: “Is your new mobile phone made with conflict minerals?“;
The Guardian in August 2010: “‘Conflict minerals’ finance gang rape in Africa“;
The Washington City Paper, in June 2010: “Does Your Ipod Support Rape in the Congo?“;
CNN, December 2009: “Rape and murder, funded by cell phones“;
The Star (Canada) in June 2009: “Rape, war and your cell phone“;
Huffington Post in April 2009: “Congo Violence Fueled By Common Material In Cell Phones, Laptops“; and
The Telegraph in November of 2008: “How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo.”

And that’s just the results of a quick 5 minutes of googling. So if the Atlantic article is the first intimation you’ve had that your cell phone might not have been completely honest with you about its past, congratulations on coming out of that coma / returning safely from that space mission / escaping that underground bunker.

I just don’t have much to add to what I, Amanda, and others have said on this subject previously, but I suppose I’ll say it again anyway:

Yes, armed groups operating in the eastern Congo fund their activities in part through the sale of minerals that are used in the manufacture of consumer electronics. And yes, those armed groups are implicated in horrific atrocities against the civilian population of the region. But so are armed groups that aren’t heavily involved in the mineral trade. There’s no evidence that attacks on civilians are either more intense or more concentrated in areas associated with mining or supply routes. And I remain unconvinced that competition over mineral wealth is a primary driver of the violence. The roots of this conflict lie in contested claims over land and citizenship rights, which have become further entrenched by the impact of regional geopolitics. So yes, we would all prefer that our shiny new gadgets arrived free of associations with bloodshed and sexual violence, but we shouldn’t expect that removing our link to it will have much effect on the conflict itself.

Man, even I’m sick of hearing me talk about this…

WTF Friday, 4/29/11

Uh, not exactly great timing, dude.

Invitations to the royal wedding appear arbitrary, but the feelings hurt are not!
Say it ain’t so, Egypt. Just when I thought I knew you guys…
This dudelaughs” at immunity deal for Saleh. This is such lazy journalism. Was it a belly-laugh, a snigger, a guffaw? The people have a right to know.

WTF Friday 4/15/11

Dude wtf is a “sex ratio“? Don’t even try to pull that “trust me I’m a doctor” bull.

So Gbagbo got “got“. But why ruin a perfectly good dining room? At least they left the big screen in tact. Football season’s only like 5 months away!

Classic Kristof: “As for the argument that we’re inconsistent in our interventions: of course we’re inconsistent, but would you rather we consistently save no one?” You know what this one is about, but it’s the timelessness, the endless applicability of the statement that really gives it that Kristof shine. Furthermore, nothing beats a well placed “save”.

WTF Friday (Should I Just Change it to Saturday?), 2/26/2011

This one had to sting a little bit. Just when you think you know who your friends are…

Has Gaddafi ever heard of the 60s? Of course the protesters are on hallucinogenic drugs!

FP this week had a lifestyle slide show for Equatorial Guinea’s first son, Teodorin Obiang. He dated Eve?!? Damn, I guess “Love is Blind” to nepotism, human rights abuses, and questionable spending. Well, she’s not the only one

WTF Friday (Err, Saturday), 2/19/11

Voting going pretty well in Uganda. Oh, except for this little incident. Gotta admit that is a pretty good prank, though.

Oxymoron of the week: “CNN interviews Bahrain’s special envoy to the U.S., Abdul Latif bin Rashid al Zayani, who says ‘we need to have dialogue … we need to calm down.’ He also said Bahrain’s king is ‘committed to democracy.'”

Somebody’s got a bday coming up! The folks from Reporters without Borders are definitely not getting invited: “The time when Zimbabwe was southern Africa’s breadbasket is long gone. No matter. Monday is his birthday. Like a boy, that’s all he can think about right now.” 87 and young at heart. What a guy.

WTF Friday 2/11/11

All this revolution stuff has got Joe Biden “fired up” to bring us a piping fresh, hot metaphor: “All of this began when a fruit vendor in Tunisia, fed up with an indignity of a corrupt government and a stagnant economy literally set himself on fire, and in doing so ignited the passions of millions and millions of people throughout that region.” Keep bringin the heat, guys.

For all you gossip-hounds, here are some autocrats that America is chill with.

Uh, thanks but no thanks, China. Clearly I’m not the only one who prefers my tomato paste garden-fresh.

WTF Friday, 1/21/11

Raise your hand if you thought this was about an actual volcano in Southern Sudan. Seriously though that’s a hot metaphor.

The title says it all: “Babies, the dead on voters roll.” People born in 1897 and lil babies born yesterday (well, 2007) are all ready to vote in Zimbabwe’s general election this year. This gives me an idea for a PSA, kind of a mix between Night of the Living Dead and Gummo warning about the dangers of voter fraud.
So apparently Baby Doc’s return to Haiti was more than just a nostalgic visit. He was actually trying to unlock a Swiss bank account worth $5.7 million. Guess he left his pin number on the nightstand? This gives me a good idea for Ocean’s Fourteen.

WTF Friday, 1/7/11

With the South Sudan referendum fast-approaching, George Clooney’s “Not On Our Watch” is funding commercial sattelites to monitor possible conflict in the country. Clooney has described it as “the best use of his celebrity.” Kinda just seems like he’s trying to recruit a mercenary for Ocean’s Fourteen.

The Dominican Republic has again begun deporting illegal immigrants from Haiti after suspending this practice in the wake of last year’s earthquake. Alright, looks like everything’s back to normal.

Al Shabaab has arrested regional leaders for stealing $10,000 in aid intended for drought-affected areas. If they just kicked out the remaining aid agencies they wouldn’t have to worry about this kind of embarrassment…