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My latest on Congo and Conflict Minerals, in The Huffington Post:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nation plagued by war and civil strife for decades, possesses an estimated $24 Trillion in rare mineral and natural resource wealth. The highest rates of sexual violence in recorded history, child slavery and populations held captive to warlords and a government struggling towards relevance and justice.

Every electronic device contains rare earth minerals, or more appropriately ‘blood minerals.” First world problems revolve around optimizing download speeds, racing to upgrade apps, a general irritation with Mark Zuckerberg for changing Facebook’s layout, and wondering what lucky girl will marry Mashable’s Pete Cashmore. Economists, politicians, and hacks of all trades continuously argue about potential solutions for America’s “China” problem.

The solutions consistently lack innovation and entirely focus on the retail side of the problem. Prices at WalMart and CostCo will only dip so far.  China’s state-owned businesses for energy are a spreading influence. Money talks. And they are the only major player paying attention to the “back of the house.”  Every successful restaurateur will tell you profit is made behind the scenes. How much are your staples? Reducing overhead and man hours. Building an efficient workspace. Comprehensive employee training.  It’s not how many tables you have, it’s how many times a day you can turn those tables and send every customer away satisfied that matters.

The US Congress and the President, partisan affiliations are interchangeable here, clearly understand very little about how to run an operation on such a large scale. Our nation’s desire to conserve energy, build smarter energy grids in our localities, and be more responsible begins not here – but at the Federal level.  China is WalMart to America’s Target Superstore. Sure, the quality at Target is better but if WalMart beats the price every time…

China understands this. They have multiple partnerships in Congo.  They acquire gold, tin, tantalum, tungsten, cobalt and carbonatite at the lowest prices in the world. Every dime they spend allows, even fuels, the catastrophic violence in Congo. Every day this continues, they grow increasingly influential. They maximize their leverage over the United States and other Western nations. China doesn’t ask questions about labor conditions or environmental impact. China could care less if the second largest rainforest in the world is on the brink of destruction, as long as the timber and minerals flow.

China doesn’t ask about the 1,152 women and girls, aged 15-49, that are brutally raped there ever day. China doesn’t ask about the rapes of all children, or of men. China only needs to know the minerals will be delivered. China is the ultimate honeybadger.

Please read the rest HERE.

—Media Lizzy

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