Archive for June, 2010

Steve and Me

Last night, Steve Jobs made his first public statement on conflict minerals, following a Sunday column by Nick Kristof in the New York Times, which heavily featured our recent campaign:

A reader wrote Jobs:

Hi Steve,

I’d planned to buy a new iPhone tomorrow – my first upgrade since buying the very first version on the first day of its release – but I’m hesitant without knowing Apple’s position on sourcing the minerals in its products.

Are you currently making any effort to source conflict-free minerals? In particular, I’m concerned that Apple is getting tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold from Eastern Congo through its suppliers.

Looking forward to your response,

Jobs’ replied:

Yes. We require all of our suppliers to certify in writing that they use conflict few materials. But honestly there is no way for them to be sure. Until someone invents a way to chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it’s a very difficult problem.

I had sent a private email to Steve 2 weeks ago, requesting a meeting. I have now emailed Steve once more:

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your first public comments on conflict minerals. While I applaud your honest acknowledgment that the present certification system is not adequate, there is no question that minerals are, in fact, traceable and guaranteed conflict-free Apple products are possible. Apple has both the resources and capacity for innovation to help solve this problem.

I wrote you a few weeks ago as a loyal Apple consumer and leader of the recent grassroots outcry on conflict minerals (prior to the DC protest and NY Times piece) offering an in-person briefing with experts to learn about the human cost of conflict minerals and most importantly, solutions.  Will you please meet with us?

I look forward to working together as allies on this critical issue.  The human stakes simply could not be higher

On behalf of thousands of Congolese women and children, thank you for your consideration.


Lisa Shannon

Guest Blog: Gramma Ann’s Rebuttal #3 to Intel

Chuck Malloy’s statements on behalf of Intel to Oregon Public Broadcasting for the OPB article of June 2nd [] are telling:

  1. “Every step of the way in a 10 or 15 step process of a supply chain we back tracked and said, where do you get your material and how do you know that it’s clean…”
  2. “it’s been a very painstaking effort”;
  3. “At the end of the day if the political climate is such that that law gets past. [sic]  Our approach at least will get some sort of relief and we’ll be able to say to the smelters, that’s not from a conflict mine is it?  And they be able to say, no it’s not.” [sic]

The fact remains:  Intel, and all of the tech industry, need to be called to account here.  It cannot remain optional for them to continue to profit off the deadliest conflict since World War II and the worst sexual violence on the planet, particularly when HP itself put forward the estimated cost of implementation with full accountability measures in place at 1cent per product without a word of protest or argument from tech industry ranks.

When 45,000 people are dying every month, and up to 7 million have already died (5.4 million as of 2/2007, with 45,000 new deaths every month) as a result of the conflict mineral trade, more than a trivial effort, even some measure of difficulty and inconvenience, are warranted on behalf of importers.

As Malloy directly states, Intel’s goal is a system in which the importer need only to ask its smelters if the minerals used are clean. If the smelters say it’s clean, the importer is in the clear!  When no accountability or penalties are at stake, how effective will it be for smelters to be able say whatever serves their (and their importer’s) vested interest when ‘asked’ if their products contain conflict minerals?  Ummm… Let me guess…

10 or 15 steps? That is all that is involved?  How many steps and levels of complexity are involved in producing a computer or even a computer chip?  How many steps are involved in managing the development, manufacture, delivery, and marketing systems of any high quality line of computers and tech products?  What multi-billion dollar, multinational corporation is incapable of handling a 10 or 15 step process that costs 1cent per product?  And exactly how painstaking can those steps be if they only involve a 1cent per product cost?

The real question is why Intel and other tech companies are unwilling to undertake a 10 or 15 step process, even if every step actually were ‘painstaking’, when those steps are pivotal to reversing the tide of 7 million additional Congolese deaths in the decades to come if no accountability is put into place?

Intel’s and other tech industry brass, including Apple’s Steve Jobs, would do well to invest a day in eastern Congo, up-close-and-personal with conflict mineral trade victims.  It is an honor, one worth a little “painstaking” effort, for these companies (who have been profiting off of the unrelenting terror the Congolese have been subjected to for the past 14 years) to GUARANTEE CONFLICT FREE products.

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