Monday, August 17, 2009

Two More Perspectives On Africa

While the TV outlets did a generally poor job of following Secretary Clinton's African trip (see above), there has been some good reporting from the news weeklies, including these two stories:

Before her trip began, Time magazine ran this piece about "blood computers", a play off the term "blood diamonds" - illegally-mined / illegally-sold rocks that helped fund the bloody, decades-long civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Now, according to Time, there's a new illicit trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (one of Sec. Clinton's stops) in rare minerals used in the manufacture of all the electronic goods we think we can't live without (cell phones, laptops, etc.). Building these devices requires some extremely rare minerals (found in big deposits in the DRC), so illegal mining operations of them are very lucrative, and an underlying cause of the fighting that has wracked the Congo for the past decade.

Meanwhile, Newsweek asked if South Africa had gone from a beacon of democracy to a 'rogue state'. Their story centered on the actions of President Jacob Zuma - his support for the oppressive regime of Robert Mugabe in neighboring Zimbabwe along with weapons sales to a host of questionable governments around the world. Newsweek goes on to ask if the US should really continue to seek a close relationship with South Africa, so long as Zuma seems to stray further and further from the path of respect for democracy and human rights laid down by former President Nelson Mandela.
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