By Anchita Kaushik, Grade 10
As the demand for electronics like smartphones, MP3’s, iPods, and cell phones increases, so does the number of consumers who inquire about the sources of metals like tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the eye of the storm for these “conflict minerals.”
Congo is a resource-rich country inhabited by 70 million people. It has already suffered decades of military conflicts, and the riches presently being extracted only make the problems faced by its citizens worse. Mines located in eastern Congo are found in isolated regions, smack-dab in the middle of armed guerillas who have claimed the areas as their own. The results are brutal. Rape and violence are commonplace. Miners, many of whom are children, work for up to 48 hours straight, under the risk of mudslides and tunnel collapses.
By: Jenny Ho, Grade 12
On August 9th, flight attendant of JetBlue Airlines, Steven Slater, was engaged in a conflict with a female passenger. Slater claims that she was trying to remove her belongings from the overhead compartment. He asked her to remain in her seat for safety reasons. However, as she continued to remove the bag, it struck him in the head. When he asked for an apology, the passenger rudely swore at Slater. Soon after, Slater spoke over the plane’s public address system with profanity. Soon after, he activated the aircraft’s emergency inflatable slide. Before sliding down and reportedly running into his car and driving home, he grabbed two beers from the plane.
Overnight, he became an internet phenomenon. He was on the top of many search engines, and has a dedicated Facebook fan page with over 200,000 people who “liked” the page (myself included). Many of those fans fantasize how they wish they could walk out on their employer like Slater. Also, Slater has been offered a reality TV series, and a free one-year gym membership. Despite his newfound fame, he still faces criminal charges. He was arrested at his home in Belle Harbour, Queens, with charges of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. Many fans on the Facebook page will raise money, in the case of a lawsuit.
How did the public react to this bizarre incident? To many, he is seen as a working class hero, standing up to ungrateful and rude customers. In a time where unemployment levels are so high, some people will take on any job they can find. However, some employers believe that all employees are desperate, and overwork them for very little pay. To make matters worse, the ideology that the “customer is always right” has taken its toll on many people. Workers can totally relate to this; particularly those employed in the customer service industry. All that stress builds up over time, and is what lead to this blow up on JetBlue. The minority of people see him as an ungrateful, rude employee. Some passengers claim that he was already drunk before the incident, and was the one initiating the argument.
What do I think? He was doing his job, protecting the wellbeing of other passengers. The female passenger, who remains unnamed the entire time, should be arrested. She was engaged in risky activities, which could potentially injure other customers. We might not know until later if Slater will have any post-injury issues. We should all be grateful that he took a less disastrous exit out of his job, than to take a gun to work and shoot people, as seen in many other cases.
In a time where jobs are sacred, I’m glad that someone finally had the guts to take a stand. He represents millions of people, who are fed up with rude customers and less than ideal working conditions, and all they dream about is to have an emergency slide somewhere at work.