Under Armour Baltimore SWAT shoot
Uploaded on Dec 3, 2010
Helicopters, Armored Cars, Snipers, Smoke Bombs, and lots of Weapons.
OC shoots the Baltimore SWAT Team, one of the nation's most elite SWAT programs for Under Armour's Tactical Division.
As usual------Baltimore did not wait for the gun control laws to be installed through Federal and state government processes-----it simply moved to install the gun policy Johns Hopkins wrote. You will not hear in the news what this looks like but citizens in Baltimore are shouting----search and seizures in underserved communities are soaring and most are done illegally and bringing no results. People are having SWAT teams break down their doors because the police had a 'lead' on guns and what comes with that? PEOPLE ARE BEING KILLED BY POLICE LOOKING FOR GUNS. That is what Hopkins had in mind with these gun policies-----give police reasons to look for and seize guns.
THIS IS WHAT IS MEANT BY THE WAR ON DRUGS CRIMINALIZATION OF PEOPLE---THIS TIME IT IS FOR HAVING A GUN.
I spoke a few days ago of a young lady testifying at a justice rally against police brutality of watching police kill her boyfriend for no reason all on a tip about a gun. Baltimore is building the process that will make it impossible for anyone to legally own a gun and that is the goal of Hopkins' gun policy.
The Affordable Care Act created the conditions for mental health diagnosis to be subprimed------all you have to do is 'need help' according to an institution. That extends now to gun ownership as mental health issues under Hopkins precludes having the right to own a gun. Anything can assign this designation-----being caught in a fight outside a bar while drunk can get you assigned to a mental health category of not owning a gun.
Baltimore has had such criminalization over guns for decades when it uses zero tolerance and fines and fees attached to misdemeanors add up to making someone a felon. Baltimore simply arrests someone and then leaves that charge on someone's record even if there is no conviction ----just to make them a felon. Who cannot own guns? A FELON.
Below you see where International Economic Zone UnderArmour meets Baltimore City policing.
OH, they are simply going to keep the poor under control----OH, REALLY??? When extreme wealth and extreme poverty means only a 1% and their 2% have any money and 99% of American citizens are that poor----do not allow today's race and class blind us.
When a Wall Street Baltimore Development 'labor and justice' organization backs MASTER PLAN Foreign Economic Zone development in US cities like Baltimore---THEY KNOW THIS IS WHAT COMES WITH THAT! All of those smiling Baltimore City Hall pols and the farm team are all ready to install these ONE WORLD POLICIES----
Any organization or person pushing an establishment candidate for Mayor of Baltimore-----Warnock, Embry, Dixon, Stokes, Mosby, and Pugh====and yes, Joshua Harris and Gutierrez are farm team global Wall Street ----are working for ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNMENT ----far-right, authoritarian, militaristic, global corporate rule......LIBERTARIAN MARXISM.
Under Armour Baltimore SWAT shoot
Uploaded on Dec 3, 2010Helicopters, Armored Cars, Snipers, Smoke Bombs, and lots of Weapons.
OC shoots the Baltimore SWAT Team, one of the nation's most elite SWAT programs for Under Armour's Tactical Division.
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I was riding a Baltimore MTA bus when a black citizen gets aboard and proceeds to tell a mostly black lower-class ridership about this technology. She was speaking at the time of Freddie Gray protesting and riots and was trying to scare these citizens from their civil rights to protest ----we don't want riots but we certainly want protests by all population groups.
We watched TV these few decades with CSI and other high-tech crime solvers -----US citizens actually believed police had all those crime solving tools when they did not. Fear is what far-right authoritarian corporate wealth and power must use to keep 99% of citizens in deep poverty and without rights.
We have seen goals of warfare research as being just this technology so there is no doubt advancements of some sort. While we as a society would not want global Wall Street to have such a capability----since mass annihilation in this way should not be in ANYONE'S HANDS.
PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW PROPAGANDA CREATED TO MAKE PEOPLE FEARFUL TO PROTEST AND MARCH FOR THEIR RIGHTS TAKE HOLD-----THESE TECHNOLOGIES WILL NOT BE USED IN THE US IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
U.S. Air Force confirms Boeing’s electromagnetic pulse weapon
By Lulu Chang -- May 26, 2015 7:09 AM
For the last few years, the creative minds of Hollywood had seemingly outpaced the reality of technological and scientific advances in the weapons field. But no longer. Stepping out of the realm of science fiction and into reality is the joint U.S. Air Force and Boeing electromagnetic pulse weapon, capable of targeting and destroying electrical systems without the collateral damage often associated with traditional firepower. As Don Cheadle noted in the ever-relevant Ocean’s 11, this new weapon “is a bomb — but without the bomb.”
Known as the “CHAMP,” or Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, the American military project is an attempt to develop a device with all the power of a nuclear weapon but without the death and destruction to people and infrastructure that such a weapon causes. Theoretically, the new missile system would pinpoint buildings and knock out their electrical grids, plunging the target into darkness and general disconnectedness.
The project has been in the works for a few years now, and has met with significant success in preliminary trials. In 2012, it was reported that a CHAMP mission in Utah managed to hit and subsequently disable seven separate targets in one mission, demonstrating its accuracy and precision. Indeed, it is this capacity to target individual buildings and not cities at large that makes the new weapon so effective, as it would allow military members to cut off electricity supplies to enemy parties while keeping civilians out of the melee.
I am again sitting on an MTA bus in Baltimore when a white citizen literally rants---he is telling all of us there is no such thing as BEING EQUAL. He of course was using that term to describe how some people are short---some smarter than others---some healthy ----etc. Basically he was trying to create the impression that EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER LAW does not exist. It's true in Baltimore it does not.
Equal Protection under law is not the same as saying everyone is the same---it states as our US Constitution does that all citizens are protected equally under US laws and US Constitutional rights. It also does something more important---it ties our US Constitution and Bill of Rights to COMMON LAW which instills the rights of ordinary citizens to the same rights as royalty and rich---AND THIS IS WHAT THAT CITIZEN IS TRYING TO DISCLAIM.
White, black, or brown citizens need to educate and fight against what is this creep of extreme wealth and corporate power killing our US rights as citizens.
Any one population group that tries to deny another groups its rights WILL end up losing their rights as well. Global corporate campuses and global factories at $3-6 a day and white collar sweat shop employment at $20-30 a day will come to black, white, and brown----this is the ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNMENT EQUAL PROTECTION ----FAR-RIGHT LIBERTARIAN MARXISM.
Below we see an article from STANFORD UNIVERSITY ----right leaning neo-conservative university. As we read this interpretation of EQUAL PROTECTION we remember that a left-leaning interpretation will see things DIFFERENTLY and include DIFFERENT examples of precedent and rulings.
The Meaning of Equal Protection: Then, Now, and Tomorrow
Vol. 31 No. 6By Nathaniel Persily
Nathaniel Persily is James B. McClatchy Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, Stanford, California.
It is often said that a theory of constitutional interpretation is not much of a theory if it cannot account for Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the 60th anniversary of which we celebrate this year. Whether voiced by a judicial nominee, politician, law professor, or advocate, an argument that interprets the Equal Protection Clause as allowing official segregation is simply a nonstarter today. As momentous as that case was for starting the constitutional ball rolling toward full and equal citizenship for all Americans regardless of their race, Brown is now also a litmus test for what the Constitution, and especially the Equal Protection Clause, actually means.
As a result, anyone who proposes a unifying theory of the Constitution must either provide a “Brown exception” or explain why, of course, the Equal Protection Clause, despite its terms, does not tolerate “separate but equal.” Originalists, for example, need to explain why Brown was right (at least in result) despite the fact that at the time of its passage the Equal Protection Clause was not understood to prohibit segregation. Advocates of judicial restraint—that is, those fearful of judicial overreaching and policy making—also need to explain why Brown, which sometimes led to decades of intense judicial supervision of school integration efforts, presented a unique context where judicial activism should be embraced rather than feared.
Progressive advocates of a “Living Constitution,” however, are also not spared the explanatory burdens that Brown requires. They, too, must have a theory that begins “if Brown, then. . . .” Brown itself based its conclusion about the inherent inequality of segregated schools on contestable social science concerning racial stigma and the psychology of school children. Does the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause turn on best available social science? Brown also emphasized the uniqueness of public education—both as an interpretative matter given the quite different character of public schools at the time of the drafting of the Equal Protection Clause and as a practical point to suggest that children and public education might present different dangers of stigma than segregation of adults in other arenas of public accommodation. Can the principle of Brown be so cabined—not just to public schools but even to race? And if the Equal Protection Clause becomes untied from the history of slavery and the Civil War that motivated its passage, is there no stopping point (or controlling principle) to judicial social engineering in the name of a term so amorphous as “equality”?
Indeed, here is where we find ourselves in the debate over Equal Protection 60 years after Brown: To whom is the Constitution’s obligation of equal treatment owed? Because law by its nature discriminates (consider the tax code, for example), in that it treats groups differently, which groups deserve the right to object when they suffer unique impacts? No one now doubts the special claim that racial minorities have under the clause. Nor do most casual or expert observers see an equivalent claim that should be lodged, for example, by opticians when the law treats them differently than optometrists (See Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U.S. 483 (1955)). But in between those two extremes, the debate is complicated and ever-changing.
Although the beginning of modern Equal Protection might be easy to identify, an end point is not. (In fairness, perhaps the same could be said for most clauses of the Constitution.) The trajectory of Equal Protection jurisprudence points toward an ever-expanding universe of groups with constitutional claims for “heightened scrutiny” against laws that intentionally discriminate against them. The “story” of Equal Protection since Brown is one where doctrinal and litigation approaches developed to handle the special case of African Americans have expanded to include other racial minorities, women, and now, imminently, gays and lesbians.
From Class to Classification
Even that description of the doctrinal development, though, does not quite capture one of the important and often overlooked dynamics at work in modern Equal Protection. For the U.S. Supreme Court has done more than simply incorporate groups, moving along some continuum of perceived disadvantage or history of discrimination. Instead, it has refocused analysis under the clause to focus on suspect classifications, rather than suspect classes. Whereas a “class-based” approach would reserve heightened Equal Protection scrutiny for certain groups, such as African Americans or women, a focus on classifications considers, for example, race and gender as inherently suspicious categories for government allocations of costs and benefits. The class approach views Equal Protection as protecting identifiable groups; the classification approach focuses on the bases for discrimination.
This seemingly semantic difference can make all the practical difference in the world. Affirmative action provides the most glaring example. Those who view the Equal Protection Clause primarily in terms of its anti-subordination purpose—that is, to protect historically disadvantaged and powerless groups from more privileged and powerful ones—would not treat discrimination against whites the same as discrimination against African Americans. On the other hand, those who read into the Equal Protection Clause a rule of colorblindness consider any racial classification—regardless of the race of the plaintiff—to be inherently suspect and only justifiable by the most important rationales.
To a large extent the classification-based approach has won out. Although the Court has left open the door for some forms of affirmative action, given the importance of promoting diversity and targeted compensation for past discrimination, it has reiterated the rule that the constitutional standard should not vary based on the racial group benefited or burdened by the classification. And while this approach is often seen as the conservative approach to Equal Protection, it was none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as a lawyer for the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who strategically brought cases to the Court on behalf of men to highlight the irrationality of gender-based classifications. Nevertheless, from time to time, and perhaps especially in recent years, we also see the Court’s concern for certain classes of people peeking through. The concerns that the Court has expressed for children of illegal immigrants, people with disabilities, or for gays and lesbians have arisen from particular concerns about laws imposing unique and irrational costs on discrete groups of people.
Operationalizing Equal Protection
This preference for classifications over classes is characteristic of a set of similar judgments in which the Court operationalizes its interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause. (Professor Mitchell Berman of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law describes these as “constitutional decision rules.”) The now well accepted approach to limit Equal Protection to intentional discrimination is of a similar type. Nothing in the wording of the Equal Protection Clause would suggest such a limit. The Court could have gone in a very different direction in a series of cases in the 1970s and developed rules for prohibited discrimination that did not rely, in effect, on reading the minds of decision makers responsible for discriminatory state action. Indeed, Congress went in such a direction when it enacted and then amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to establish a system of burden shifting when certain policies have a discriminatory impact, regardless of purpose.
The same could be said with regard to the “tiers of scrutiny” that every introductory Constitutional Law student learns and that the Court has developed, by necessity if without textual or originalist support, as a way of distinguishing discrimination claims according to their seriousness. When students first confront this regime, they often view the constitutional game as one where the goal is to push one’s favored groups up the tiers of scrutiny until they “arrive” at the gold standard—strict scrutiny—in which such classifications can only be justified by compelling state interests and with means that are narrowly tailored to achieve those interests. Groups “at the bottom,” for whom rational basis review only requires legitimate state justifications and rationally related means, are seen as losing out, while those in the middle, requiring intermediate scrutiny (requiring means “substantially related” to “important” governmental interests), are considered in purgatory, waiting to be called up to the big leagues.
At a certain point in such a course, students hold their head in their hands, exasperated to learn that Equal Protection inquiries cannot be divided into three formulas with predicable outcomes. The categories start disintegrating as students consider the possibility that while race-based discrimination requires strict scrutiny, which is notoriously “strict in theory and fatal in fact” (as Stanford Law School Professor Gerald Gunther put it), affirmative action seems to require something like “strict scrutiny minus.” And while the Court has said it was applying rational basis review in the context of discrimination against gays and lesbians or people with disabilities—thereby treating such laws, deferentially, just as it would discrimination against opticians—the suspiciousness of the motives behind such laws leads to something like “rationality with bite.” And when it comes to gender discrimination, occupying as it does the netherworld of intermediate scrutiny, each modern case seems to students like an effort to analogize gender to race but without formally placing them in the same “tier.”
Some students then resign themselves to the “it’s all political” or “whatever the judge ate for breakfast” approach to Equal Protection. What I try to teach them is that Constitutional Law is, in fact and to their surprise, a species of law. As such, the precedents and history from the founding to the present are tools to be used to develop the law even further. The Equal Protection case law illustrates that fact more than almost any other area of “constitutional common law.” Each seeming innovation to grant a group full and equal citizenship feeds into arguments from others—“if them, why not us?”--with the limits determined more by the pace of evolution in society’s views about what is fair as by new insights that lawyers and judges have about the words on the Constitution’s page.
The Evolution of Voting Rights
This evolution and concomitant change of Equal Protection’s meaning goes even further than a listing of protected groups, however; it extends to rights as well. In the area of law in which I specialize—voting rights and election law—the changing meaning of Equal Protection could not be more important. We rightly think of Equal Protection as the clause in the 14th Amendment primarily concerned about discrimination, whereas the Due Process Clause (of Roe v. Wade fame) is the fount of rights—some specified, others implicit or “penumbral”—against the states. But virtually all constitutional voting rights litigation occurs under the Equal Protection Clause, in what has now been established as the “fundamental rights prong,” as opposed to the “suspect classification prong,” of Equal Protection.
The judicial creation of the right to vote in the Equal Protection Clause illustrates the mechanisms of contemporary constitutional change perhaps better than any other context. Most are surprised to learn that no right to vote exists in the U.S. Constitution, unlike the constitutions of most other democracies. Indeed, the absence of a generalized right to vote could not be more clearly demonstrated by the Constitution’s text, which was amended six times concerning voting. The prohibitions of race and gender discrimination in voting in the 15th and 19th Amendments, for example, were necessary because the 14th Amendment does not contain a generalized right to vote. Indeed, the relatively high rate of amendments to deal with issues of the political process, as opposed to other areas of public policy, stands as the best advertisement for the intended process for constitutional change appearing in civics textbooks. The explicit amendments that protect against discrimination in voting rights with respect to race, sex, the poor (through the 24th Amendment’s abolition of poll taxes in federal election), and age for those as young as 18 (in the 26th Amendment) are constitutional anomalies. We have become much more accustomed to constitutional change through the courts, as opposed to that through the cumbersome process of proposals and ratification of amendments by democratically accountable branches of government.
Those amendments indicate widespread agreement as to both the original and, at least until the 1960s, historical understanding of the Equal Protection Clause: It did not guarantee the right to vote. The country would need to add words to the Constitution, not reinterpret old ones, if it wished to prevent states from limiting the right to vote to select classes of people. Nevertheless, in a series of Warren Court–era cases the Court read into the Equal Protection Clause a more generalized prohibition against discrimination with respect to the right to vote, admitting quite openly in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966), for example, that “the Equal Protection Clause is not shackled to the political theory of a particular era.” This logic extended not merely to historically suspect classes, or even to classes (such as the poor) on the frontier of Equal Protection, but went so far as to guarantee the right to vote of a 31-year-old, single stockbroker who lived with his parents but wanted to vote in school board elections that restricted participation only to property owners and parents of school children (See Kramer v. Union Free School District No. 15, 395 U.S. 621 (1969)).
Not only did this constitutional protection extend to the mere act of voting, but it began to include the power of one’s vote as well. In the “one-person, one-vote” cases, the Court did an extraordinary and ambitious thing: Despite the absence of a suspect class or classification in such cases, it nevertheless found that legislative districts with radically different numbers of people in them violated Equal Protection. It issued such a ruling despite the fact that widespread malapportionment of districts existed from the time of the 14th Amendment’s passage up to the very day the Court handed down its decision. Nothing in the minds of those who crafted the Equal Protection Clause or those who designed the redistricting plans for every state at the time indicated that the Constitution prohibited districts of unequal size. Indeed, the existence of the U.S. Senate, with equal representation by state regardless of population size, seems to give a constitutional blessing to representation on a basis other than one person, one vote.
NOT TRUE-----THE TWO HOUSES OF CONGRESS WERE CREATED TO PROVIDE A SENATE GIVING EQUAL PROTECTION TO EACH STATE AND A HOUSE GIVING CITIZENS ONE PERSON ONE VOTE.
What was at stake for the Court in the one-person, one-vote cases was more than some abstract anti-discrimination norm. Rather, those cases highlight better than any others the function of the Equal Protection Clause in promoting a healthy democracy. As the Founders recognized, democracies are always at risk of succumbing either to majoritarian tyranny or self-interested manipulation of the electoral process by insiders against outsiders. The Equal Protection Clause, because it has been read, naturally, to protect “discrete and insular” minorities, prevents the majority from exacting costs on powerless minorities that the majority would be unwilling to bear itself. Similarly, by reading the Equal Protection Clause to require equality in voting rights, the Court has helped protect (admittedly with mixed success) outsiders from the moves of self-interested incumbents intended to prevent their replacement—what John Hart Ely described in Democracy and Distrust (1980) as “clearing the channels of political change.”
In his memoirs, Chief Justice Earl Warren described the one-person, one-vote cases as the most important cases handed down by his Court. Given the place of Brown v. Board of Education in the constitutional firmament, this conclusion might have seemed peculiar. But Warren thought that if the Court could ensure political equality, then social and economic equality would follow. The Court’s lack of democratic accountability and life tenure for the Justices, usually viewed as institutional drawbacks, would be critical when it came to policing the political process. All representative institutions of government, such as Congress or state legislatures, had a conflict of interest when it came to dealing with laws that might affect the fate of their own membership.
The Pace of Change
As we acknowledge the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, we should also recognize the anniversary of an equally significant case handed down ten years earlier. While this year marks 60 years of court-ordered school desegregation, it also marks 70 years since the Court upheld the internment of Japanese Americans in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944). This case is now widely regarded, along with Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), and Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), as part of the “anti-canon” of constitutional law—much reviled and discredited cases that are cited only as warnings and never with approval. In just ten years’ time, the Court moved from condoning widespread race-based deprivations of civil liberties to forcing school integration to avert the stigmatizing effect of segregation on African American schoolchildren. Perhaps ironically, the seeds of extreme constitutional skepticism for racial discrimination were sown in Korematsu, which established “strict scrutiny” for racial classifications, even while letting one of the nation’s most grievous race-based wrongs slip through.
Nevertheless, this pair of anniversaries highlights—with relevance to our own time—how quickly constitutional change can occur. As the Supreme Court appears poised to take the next step in the march of Equal Protection with the impending same-sex marriage cases, we should pause to recognize how utterly unthinkable the concept of marriage equality seemed just 15 years ago. In many ways, this rapid revolution in attitudes and accompanying plausibility of interpretations of the Constitution seems unprecedented. At the same time, the history of Equal Protection case law is filled with fits and starts, as well as with long-term social movements that find their expression in constitutional change. Although the unpredictable future definition of “Equal Protection of the Laws” will be declared by judges and lawyers, the meaning of that constitutional phrase will be determined as much by ordinary citizens outside the courthouse, whose notions of equality and fairness are shaped by all the same forces that shape history itself.
Another day I am on the Baltimore MTA bus and another citizen is shouting---THEY ARE KILLING US WITH THE FOOD WE EAT. Well, he is right and his warnings were good. When we have people tied to long-term working poor with citizens yelling all these issues ------we are asking our low-income citizens to EDUCATE. Please do not become apathetic because being a citizen within a captured system not working is better than being global human capital. If someone talks of public policy listen and verify----and when we verify we access many information sources across all political stances.
We have discussed often the goal of controlling global food and energy----Monsanto is of course this global food control. Here we see what is a Monsanto geared towards growing food now being allowed to buy global food corporations -----THAT IS HOW ONE WORLD CONTROLS GLOBAL FOOD. Clinton/Bush/Obama are global Monsanto protected by global Blackwater/XE military corporation.
Please open this posting to see how CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA are taking global control of our food sources.
Printable List of Monsanto Owned “Food” Producers
Compiled here is a list of companies owned by Monsanto that consumers should avoid if they are concerned about their health. It's print friendly so tack it to you fridge or your notice board and remind yourself of the companies you need to stay away from.
There are several reasons that people are opposed to Monsanto, but among the top two are their involvement with GMOs and their corruption of the U.S. government.
Sponsored by Revcontent
One of the more outrageous schemes they pulled off in recent years was to ensure the passing of the “Monsanto Protection Act” that essentially prevented courts from prosecuting Monsanto over GMO-related health issues and was allegedly partly written by the company itself. Though the Act was only in effect for six months, similar bills have been signed into law that protect companies over consumers.
As for GMOs, many studies have suggested that genetically-modified food products can drastically alter the health of consumers in a negative way. The number of Americans with chronic illnesses has doubled since the mass production of GMOs began and animals given only a GMO diet have shown to develop organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. GMOs have also show to cross-pollinate and last forever, meaning that the number of non-GMO products is decreasing and could ruin the health of future generations.
Though many of the products below may not contain GMOs themselves, the objective of a product boycott is to lessen the profit for Monsanto to show them that consumers are rejecting their practices and that we will not stand for their pollution or corruption.
Every 1% Wall Street global player is now shouting WE MUST HAVE A TECHNOLOGY ECONOMY-----when this is exactly what they are promoting. The US must get rid of this national economic capture by global finance and technology ----we want DIVERSITY OF INDUSTRIES ----and our local economies need to be filled with the ordinary products we need in daily living.
We don't have to be competitive globally---we need to rebuild small business local economic competition.
When Obama and Clinton neo-liberals sell propaganda that battery technology is GREEN---and they sell the idea all these are green energy jobs-----sales of US real estate to global mining corporations are already creating these JOBS here in the US.
A long article but one that will explain what 1% Wall Street global pols see as green energy jobs for American citizens.
The cobalt pipeline
Tracing the path from deadly hand-dug mines in Congo to consumers’ phones and laptops
Story by Todd C. Frankel Photos by Michael Robinson Chavez Video editing by Jorge Ribas
September 30, 2016
The sun was rising over one of the richest mineral deposits on Earth, in one of the poorest countries, as Sidiki Mayamba got ready for work.
Mayamba is a cobalt miner. And the red-dirt savanna stretching outside his door contains such an astonishing wealth of cobalt and other minerals that a geologist once described it as a “scandale geologique.”
This remote landscape in southern Africa lies at the heart of the world’s mad scramble for cheap cobalt, a mineral essential to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles made by companies such as Apple, Samsung and major automakers.
But Mayamba, 35, knew nothing about his role in this sprawling global supply chain. He grabbed his metal shovel and broken-headed hammer from a corner of the room he shares with his wife and child. He pulled on a dust-stained jacket. A proud man, he likes to wear a button-down shirt even to mine. And he planned to mine by hand all day and through the night. He would nap in the underground tunnels. No industrial tools. Not even a hard hat. The risk of a cave-in is constant.
“Do you have enough money to buy flour today?” he asked his wife.
She did. But now a debt collector stood at the door. The family owed money for salt. Flour would have to wait.
Mayamba tried to reassure his wife. He said goodbye to his son. Then he slung his shovel over his shoulder. It was time.
The world’s soaring demand for cobalt is at times met by workers, including children, who labor in harsh and dangerous conditions. An estimated 100,000 cobalt miners in Congo use hand tools to dig hundreds of feet underground with little oversight and few safety measures, according to workers, government officials and evidence found by The Washington Post during visits to remote mines. Deaths and injuries are common. And the mining activity exposes local communities to levels of toxic metals that appear to be linked to ailments that include breathing problems and birth defects, health officials say.
The Post traced this cobalt pipeline and, for the first time, showed how cobalt mined in these harsh conditions ends up in popular consumer products. It moves from small-scale Congolese mines to a single Chinese company — Congo DongFang International Mining, part of one of the world’s biggest cobalt producers, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt — that for years has supplied some of the world’s largest battery makers. They, in turn, have produced the batteries found inside products such as Apple’s iPhones — a finding that calls into question corporate assertions that they are capable of monitoring their supply chains for human rights abuses or child labor.
Mobile power, human tollThe world has grown reliant on lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric cars. But the desperate search for the ingredients carries a steep cost.
Cobalt in Congo
Graphite in China
Apple, in response to questions from The Post, acknowledged that this cobalt has made its way into its batteries. The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant said that an estimated 20 percent of the cobalt it uses comes from Huayou Cobalt. Paula Pyers, a senior director at Apple in charge of supply-chain social responsibility, said the company plans to increase scrutiny of how all its cobalt is obtained. Pyers also said Apple is committed to working with Huayou Cobalt to clean up the supply chain and to addressing the underlying issues, such as extreme poverty, that result in harsh work conditions and child labor.
Another Huayou customer, LG Chem, one of the world’s leading battery makers, told The Post it stopped buying Congo-sourced minerals late last year. Samsung SDI, another large battery maker, said that it is conducting an internal investigation but that “to the best of our knowledge,” while the company does use cobalt mined in Congo, it does not come from Huayou.
Few companies regularly track where their cobalt comes from. Following the path from mine to finished product is difficult but possible, The Post discovered. Armed guards block access to many of Congo’s mines. The cobalt then passes through several companies and travels thousands of miles.
Yet 60 percent of the world’s cobalt originates in Congo — a chaotic country rife with corruption and a long history of foreign exploitation of its natural resources. A century ago, companies plundered Congo’s rubber sap and elephant tusks while the country was a Belgian colony. Today, more than five decades after Congo gained its independence, it is minerals that attract foreign companies.
Scrutiny is heightened for a few of these minerals. A 2010 U.S. law requires American companies to attempt to verify that any tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold they use is obtained from mines free of militia control in the Congo region. The result is a system widely seen as preventing human rights abuses. Some say cobalt should be added to the conflict-minerals list, even if cobalt mines are not thought to be funding war. Apple told The Post that it now supports including cobalt in the law.
Congo’s cobalt trade has been the target of criticism for nearly a decade, mostly from advocacy groups. Even U.S. trade groups have acknowledged the problem. The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition — whose members include companies such as Apple — raised concerns in 2010 about the potential for human rights abuses in the mining of minerals, including cobalt, and the difficulty in tracking supply chains. The U.S. Labor Department lists Congolese cobalt as a product it has reason to think is produced by child labor.
Concern about how cobalt is mined “comes to the fore every now and again,” said Guy Darby, a veteran cobalt analyst with Darton Commodities in London. “And it’s met with much muttering and shaking of the head and tuttering — and goes away again.”
In the past year, a Dutch advocacy group called the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations, known as SOMO, and Amnesty International have put out reports alleging improprieties including forced relocations of villages and water pollution. Amnesty’s report, which accused Congo DongFang of buying materials mined by children, prompted a fresh wave of companies to promise that their cobalt connections were being vetted.
But the problems remained starkly evident when Post journalists visited mining operations in Congo this summer.
In September, Chen Hongliang, the president of Congo DongFang parent Huayou Cobalt, told The Post that his company had never questioned how its minerals were obtained, despite operating in Congo and cities such as Kolwezi for a decade.
“That is our shortcoming,” Chen said in an interview in Seattle, in his first public comments on the topic. “We didn’t realize.”
Chen said Huayou planned to change how it buys cobalt, had hired an outside company to oversee the process and was working with customers such as Apple to create a system for preventing abuse.
But how such serious problems could persist for so long — despite frequent warning signs — illustrates what can happen in hard-to-decipher supply chains when they are mostly unregulated, low price is paramount and the trouble occurs in a distant, tumultuous part of the world.
Amount of cobalt in different devices
5 to 10 grams
(as heavy as 2 to 4 pennies)
(a slice of bread)
Typical electric car
10 to 20 pounds
(2 to 3 gallons of milk)
Lithium-ion batteries were supposed to be different from the dirty, toxic technologies of the past. Lighter and packing more energy than conventional lead-acid batteries, these cobalt-rich batteries are seen as “green.” They are essential to plans for one day moving beyond smog-belching gasoline engines. Already these batteries have defined the world’s tech devices.
Smartphones would not fit in pockets without them. Laptops would not fit on laps. Electric vehicles would be impractical. In many ways, the current Silicon Valley gold rush — from mobile devices to driverless cars — is built on the power of lithium-ion batteries.
But this comes at an exceptional cost.
“It is true, there are children in these mines,” provincial governor Richard Muyej, the highest-ranking government official in Kolwezi, said in an interview. He also acknowledged problems with mining-related deaths and pollution.
But, he said, his government is too poor to tackle these issues alone.
“The government is not a beggar,” Muyej said. “These companies have an obligation to create wealth in the area where they operate.”
Companies are unlikely to abandon Congo, for a simple reason: The world needs what Congo has.
Chen said he expected controversy surrounding how cobalt is mined in Congo to ripple far beyond Huayou Cobalt.
“This issue, I believe, we are not the only ones,” he said. “We believe there are many companies in similar situations as us.”
‘Lungs of the Congo’
The worst conditions affect Congo’s “artisanal” miners — a too-quaint name for the impoverished workers who mine without pneumatic drills or diesel draglines.
This informal army is big business, responsible for an estimated 10 to 25 percent of the world’s cobalt production and about 17 to 40 percent of production in Congo. Artisanal miners alone are responsible for more cobalt than any nation other than Congo, ranking behind only Congo’s industrial mines.
The industry should be a boon for a country that the United Nations ranks among the least developed. But it hasn’t worked out that way.
“We are challenged by the paradox of having so many resource riches, but the population is very poor,” Muyej said.