Heard of Virunga? It’s Africa’s oldest national park, and a treasured World Heritage Site.
Rainforests, volcanoes, rare and beautiful wildlife – Virunga has it all. People who live and work there know it’s a very special place.
But Virunga is at risk of becoming Africa’s newest oil field. When we heard UK oil company Soco might explore for oil inside Virunga, we had to draw the line. Some places are just too precious to exploit. Find out more about Virunga and the oil threat.
Virunga national park is the size of a small country, straddling the equator in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It’s got more than its share of wonderful wildlife – not just huge numbers of unique birds, but African icons like lions, elephants, hippos, chimps and the remarkable okapi. And some very very rare gorillas.
Soco’s plan to explore for oil isn’t the only threat to Virunga – civil unrest and wars have put pressure on local people, wildlife and resources on-and-off for years. But we believe oil exploration would bring a new and unacceptable level of risk for Virunga’s environment and communities.
Some people say local communities in Virunga will benefit from oil exploitation. We think it’s unlikely. We’ve seen how oil exploration can have serious negative impacts on wildlife, habitats and people in many places.
From the initial aerial surveys, to road-building, pipeline-laying, and of course the potential oil spills and pollution of land and water. (Lake Edward, in Virunga’s internationally important wetlands, is crucial for local livelihoods and food.)
Africa’s third-largest country in terms of area, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire) lies northeast of Angola. With 68 million people, it is the continent’s fourth most populous country, the 18th most populous in the world. The DRC is home to over 200 different African ethnic groups, the average life expectancy is 54 years, and 1.1 million Congolese have AIDS. Located in Central Africa and straddling the equator, the DRC holds the promise of enormous wealth for its people with its abundance of natural resources, including cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, hydropower, and timber. However, a conflict that began in August 1998 that involved seven foreign armies devastated the country and drastically reduced national output, revenue, and foreign investment, leaving the DRC with the lowest GDP in the world according to the International Monetary Fund. What has been called Africa’s World War has caused the deaths of 5.4 million people from violence, famine, and disease; sexual violence is also widely employed as a tool of war. Although a peace accord was negotiated in 2003, the violence continues in eastern DRC.
More than 100 years ago, Belgian colonialists, under the order of King Leopold, who had set up “Congo Free State”—a personal fiefdom he privately controlled through a dummy nongovernment organization—began cutting the hands off of local workers who didn’t meet rubber collection quotas.
Years later, after the fall of the infamous US-backed dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in May 1997, eastern Congo devolved into a seemingly endless cycle of conflict, most of it over its rich natural resources. Numerous militias have rampaged through the east (and still do), funded by businessmen who reap enormous profits in the uncontrolled trade of minerals including cobalt, copper, tin, gold, diamonds, and coltan. Coltan is a key mineral that, once refined, becomes tantalum—a significant ingredient of capacitors, which are used in an expansive array of small electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, pagers, and other electronic devices.
Eighty percent of the world’s supply of coltan lies in DRC. The recent conflict there has been referred to as “The PlayStation War,” with the activist website “Towards Freedom” claiming “millions of dollars worth of coltan was stolen from the DRC to satisfy the West’s insatiable appetite for personal technology,” with Rwandan troops and rebels using prisoners of war and children to mine for the “black gold.”
In addition, there have been incursions into eastern Congo by its neighbors—Angola, Uganda, and Rwanda—and the dense forests provide shelter for numerous and notorious psychopaths, including Uganda’s Joseph Koney (Lord’s Resistance Army). In roughly a decade, Congo’s conflicts have killed an estimated four million—more than any other since World War Two—displaced millions more, and given rise to commonplace massacres, forced abductions, child soldiers, and rape as a weapon of war. On the fringe, the Mai Mai—a witch doctor militia that is a hybrid mafia local constabulary—perpetrate routine slaughter, rape, and abductions.
Coltan or columbite-tantalite is a metallic ore that that is highly essential in electronics today. Once refined coltan becomes a heat-resistant powder, called metallic tantalum, capable of holding a high electrical charge. Because of these properties coltan is used to create the tantalum capacitors used in pretty much all cell phones, tablets, laptops and other electronics.
What is Coltan used for?
Ink jet printers
Airbag protection systems
Ignition and motor control modules, GPS, ABS systems in automobiles
Game consoles such as playstation, xbox and nintendo
Digital still cameras
Chemical process equipment
Cathodic protection systems for steel structures such as bridges, water tanks
Prosthetic devices for humans – hips, plates in the skull, also mesh to repair bone removed after damage by cancer
The Democratic Republic of Congo is suffering what is almost certainly the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. In their 2007 study of mortality rates in the DRC the International Rescue Committee estimated that, as a result of the war, “5.4 million excess deaths have occurred between August 1998 and April 2007.” The IRC report also estimated that the “DR Congo’s national crude mortality rate (CMR) of 2.2 deaths per 1,000 per month is 57 percent higher than the average rate for sub-Saharan Africa”, and in eastern provinces, which are the most violent, the CMR is “2.6 deaths per 1,000 per month, a rate that is 85 percent higher than the sub-Saharan average.” The charity “Raise Hope for Congo” reports that “45,000 people die each month [in Eastern Congo], mostly from hunger and disease resulting from the ongoing conflict, and over 1 million people have been displaced.” That is approximately 1,500 deaths a day, 62 deaths an hour and a death every minute. If you take the figure of 45,000 deaths a month as constant then at the time of writing (November 2009), 1,350,000 people have died as a result of the war in Eastern Congo since the IRC published its study. That would put the total amount of excess deaths at 6,750,000 (6.75 million).
According to the British charity Save the Congo, “You could take all lives lost in Bosnia, Rwanda 1994 [sic] and Darfur then add the 2005 Asian tsunami, then add a 9-11 every single day for 356 days and then go through Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Put all of those together, multiply by 2 and you still don’t reach the number of lives that has been lost in the Congo since the war started.” They also say that “[hundreds of thousands] of women and young girls have been brutally gang raped and around 40% of all adult women have been made widows.”
All over Eastern Congo there are wards “full of women who have been gang-raped and then shot in the vagina.” According to Dr Denis Mukwege, “Around ten percent of the gang-rape victims have had this happen to them”. This means that tens of thousands of women have been raped and shot in the vagina. And this affects of women of all ages, from 3 year olds to old ladies.
The Congolese people live in abject poverty. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the highest proportion of starving people in the world, according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index, which ranked the Congo as a 42.7. That is an increase from 25.5 (which is still ranked as “alarming”) in 1990. Women often have to carry “more than their own body-weight in wood or coal or sand, all day, every day” just to make enough money to survive.
see the rest of the article at anarchismToday…it’s an amazingly exhaustive, detailed, lengthy article…
In a zoo in the Czech Republic, two lions killed a white tigress; five white tigers in a Chinese zoo had become fearful of the live chickens offered them as food; and in China’s Hubei province, a gang of macaques trained in kung-fu turned on their human master. Male Campbell’s monkeys, in combining and altering their six basic alert calls (boom, hok, krak, krak-oo, kok-oo, and wak-oo), were deemed to exhibit sophisticated proto-syntax. Rhino poaching was on the rise, though Nepal’s greater one-horned rhinos were flourishing because they are protected by guards on elephantback. Wasps were observed to kidnap ladybugs for use as incubators for their eggs, and the ladybugs were observed ultimately to be unharmed by the experience. Male bedbugs were found to emit an anti-predator pheromone to discourage other males from mounting them; males with blocked pheromone glands are mounted for longer than are other males and suffer more grievous abdominal stab wounds from the mounters’ penises. Boys who were exposed in the womb to phthalates—chemicals widely found in cosmetics, vinyl upholstery, and sex toys—are less likely to play rough. Studies of birds and mammals showed that males have more consistent personalities.
Daily Bleed Saint 2003, NICOLA SACCO Italian-American anarchist executed with partner Bartolomeo Vanzetti, wrote stunning letters from prison.
On Aug. 23, 1977 Beloved & Respected Comrade Leader Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis proclaims “Nicola Sacco & Bartolomeo Vanzetti Day” on the 50th anniversary of their death.
Sacco’s friend & associate, Bartolomeo Vanzetti, strapped into the electric chair, said,
“I wish to tell you that I am an innocent man. I never committed any crime but sometimes some sin. I wish to forgive some people for what they are now doing to me.”
They both spoke nobly at the end, left a great heritage of love, devotion, faith, & courage, believing the time would come that no human being should be humiliated or be made abject.
Vanzetti further noted that for him, as for both, if it had not been for “these thing” he might have lived out his life talking at street corners to scorning men, died unmarked, unknown, a failure…
“Now, we are not a failure.
This is our career & our triumph.
Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man’s understanding of man as now we do by accident. Our words — our lives — our pains — nothing! The taking of our lives — lives of a good shoemaker & a poor fish peddler — all!
That last moment belongs to us — that agony is our triumph.”
1932 — Germany: Emma Goldman arrives back in Berlin, where she learns that CBS has canceled her planned radio broadcast, fearing that it will be interpreted as an effort on her part to reenter the “Land of the Free.”
Can’t have that. In Nazi Germany America this is extolled as a “Free Press.”
1944 — US: Sit-in by 200 blacks results in desegregation of restaurants in Washington, D.C.
1963 — US: (F)Redism: Secretary of State Rusk states that South Vietnam, under Diem, was “steadily moving toward a constitutional system resting upon popular consent.”
Six months later, South Vietnamese generals, charging Diem had “trampled on the people’s rights,” seizes power in a coup “encouraged” by the US.
Today the government & the ruling class of Brazil wants to celebrate the 500 year anniversary of its “discovery” by Europeans come to dominate & exploit the resources & people of the land, imposing expansionist & mercantile value.
Globo network, Brazil’s largest entertainment corporation, has been the main promoter of this celebration. For years, Globo has put on events promoting this celebration, & has built big clocks in all the state capitals of Brazil.
But during the week ending today, there has been a large mobilization of indigenous people, students, landless & others to demonstrate against the nationalist & capitalist ideals behind the celebration.
In the largest mobilization of indigenous people ever known in Brazil, people going to Porto Seguro — where the Portuguese arrived in 1500 & where the official celebrations are to take place today — went through Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, where they shot their arrows at the Globo clock until they stopped it.
One of them managed to enter the national congress & pass through security with an arrow in his hand pointing at one of the most powerful men in Brazil, Senator ACM, the “emperor” of the state of Bahia.
•Researchers trained dogs to recognize pictures of dogs, found that young chimpanzees have better photographic memory than adult humans and established that male macaques will pay to look at pictures of female macaques’ buttocks and of dominant male macaques’ faces, but must be paid to look at the faces of females or of subordinate males.
•It was discovered that women are less likely to marry poor men when men are plentiful.
•Scientists created autistic mice.
•Scientists observed that obesity increases the risk of gingivitis and that sugary drinks increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
•Studies of dolphin culture revealed that male dolphins that woo potential mates with gifts are more likely to be successful.
•Researchers found that sex makes people happier than money does and that it makes rich people happier than poor people.
1902 — Philippines: Surrender of the last resistance to US intervention. Apparently the benevolent US occupying forces left a few resisters alive despite a policy of genocide, with orders to kill every man, woman, & child above the age of 10.
1917 — The 296th Regiment are the first to refuse to advance on the German Hindenburg Line in a mutiny that will embrace more than half a million conscript soldiers of the French Army. ‘Calendar Riots’
1918 — US: Prince Hopkins arrested, indicted by federal grand jury in Los Angeles for violating the Espionage Act; released on $25,000bail. On August 30, he pleads guilty & is fined $27,000.
Emma Goldman‘s last act before entering prison for her draft resistance work is organizing & funding the Political Prisoners’ Amnesty League. During the war, thousands of dissenters were sentenced to long prison terms.
At Angel Island, a concentration camp for dissidents, many are systematically tortured. At the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, prisoners are hung by their wrists for weeks at a time.
Involved, among others, in the formation of the Political Prisoners’ Amnesty League were Leonard D. Abbott, Dr. C. Andrews, Prince Hopkins, Lillian Brown, Lucy & Bob Robbins. Prince Hopkins was chosen permanent chairman, with Leonard as treasurer.
1943 — Second synthesis of LSD leads to accident & Swiss Chemist Albert Hoffman recorded his experiences — its psychedelic effect. On the 19th he will purposely take a strong dosage.
“I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense kaleidoscopic play of colors.”
But Hoffman didn’t know about breakfast cereal. According to one researcher large doses of bran cereal may produce the same types of experiences.
You see, he explains, LSD is produced by ergot, a common fungal infestation of wheat, & may in some cases survive food processing. Therefore, under such conditions a high bran diet could result in a consumption of 100 micrograms of LSD — more than enough to produce an effect on an inexperienced user.
The professed concern for freedom of the press in the West is not very persuasive in the light of … the actual performance of the media in serving the powerful & privileged as an agency of manipulation, indoctrination, & control.