Music: Jacques Brel

"Moi je t'offrirai des perles de pluie venues de pays où il ne pleut pas"

It’s not a secret that I spent a lot of my life in France, as I moved there at an early age and grew up there, only moving away when I was well into my 20’s. It will always be the country I first and foremost call home, before England (although it has been a struggle to choose between the two at times). One of my favourite things on earth is literally sitting en terrasse with a café and a cigarette, watching the world go by, or with my head buried in a book or writing in my journal. I dream and think in French as much as I do in English and miss it so much at times that I feel like moving back (until I remind myself why I love New York so much and why I have made this city my home). I grew up surrounded by French music, even before we moved to France I already knew of and listened to some of the classic French singers, such as Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, France Gall, Juliette Gréco, but when I moved to France I discovered the infamous Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel.And fell completely in love.

You can read a pretty informative biography over on Wikipedia, as I am not going to use this space to rehash it (and wouldn’t be able to do such a good job seeing as I am very bad at paraphrasing content that has already been written… Probably a remnant of the excellent French education I received growing up). I just mainly want to say how much I love Jacques Brel. That voice, full of emotion and power, those beautiful lyrics… Multi-talented and so creative, he not only released 13 full-length studio albums and toured extensively for years, he also appeared as an actor in several films, directed others and adapted, translated, directed and played in a musical. I’m so happy that he recognized what an amazing array of talents he had and made the most of them, leaving us with so many wonderful songs and movies and soundtracks. I also have a secret crush on his Belgian accent, which is deeper and harsher than the French accent (those of you who speak French will probably laugh at this because everyone usually dislikes the Belgian French accent).

I wish I had been alive to see one of his wonderful performances. Sadly he died a few months after I was born, leaving me to just imagine what it was like. He wrote some of the most beautiful and heart-breaking love songs of all time. Enjoy.

Conflicting opinions on conflict minerals: Dodd-Frank Act

I've been reading a lot about this debate in the news lately, and there are many conflicting opinions that have been coming out. As I am getting more and more entrenched on finding out what the real truth is, and what is actually going to make life BETTER for the main population of the DRC, I have tried to gather up as many articles and opinions as I can to wade through. Hopefully this will be of some interest to others too.

The section relating to conflict materials and the DRC can be found here: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: page 838, section 1502.
Here's a quick summary of the main points (copied from the Wikipedia page - thanks to the person who did this work so I didn't have to!):

Disclosures on Conflict Materials in or Near the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

So, what does this actually mean for the people of the DRC? This can only be good, right? The point is to put an end to human right abuses during the mining and selling of minerals in the DRC, the profits of which continue to fund warlords, civil war, rape and death. In regulating this won't this ultimately allow for an open path towards regulating the mines and the miners rights?
But is this regulation also going to prevent people from earning the little money that they earned before to feed their families and survive? By technically boycotting the many mines in the DRC, are we not putting thousands of people out of work? How is this going to stop the warlords selling the minerals to countries who don't really care about how many people died to obtain them (yes China, I am referring to you)?

In theory I completely agree with the Act, and see it as a huge step in the right direction, and will continue to believe in this. However, it is only a STEP in my opinion, and we need to continue working on this, making sure that this does what it is supposed to: positively affect the individuals who up until now have been working under slave labour conditions so that we over here in the Western world can enjoy our laptops and cell phones.

It's NEVER OK for a child to be working in a mine, for any reason whatsoever, right? Just like it is NEVER OK for a child to carry a gun and to rape and kill people under command. We all agree on that - so why not all agree n doing something to help (see links below on what you can do).

Please read the following articles to gain more insight (and conflicting opinions and views) on the whole subject. Make sure to scroll down and read the comments too, as these are, in my opinion, the most important part in Sasha Lezhnev's article.

Insightful article on how the Act negatively affects the Congo:
David Aronson (new York Times): How Congress Devastated Congo

Enough Project's response in favour of the Act (read the comments too!):
Sasha Lezhnev (Huffington Post): What Conflict Materials Legislation Is Actually Accomplishing in Congo

Enough Project have been doing some amazing work in the DRC. Check out the website to see what you can do to help.
Raise Hope For Congo is Enough Project's campaign for Congo. Visit the site for more information.
And go HERE to contact your member of Congress and ask them to speak up about conflict mineral regulations.