There's a humanitarian atrocity taking place in eastern Congo, and your gadgets are probably helping to fuel it, says Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. The brutal killing — 5.4 million deaths since April 2007, and counting — and widespread rape, torture and mutilation is financed in part by "conflict minerals" like tantalum and tungsten that are needed to make smartphones, PCs, and digital cameras. Apple, Intel, and other gadget makers can't end the conflict, but they can start getting their components from humane sources, he says. Here's an excerpt:
"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. ...
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.'"