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Congolese workers load a truck with sacks of cobalt at the Musompo market. Photo: Sebastian Meyer/Contributor/Corbis News/Getty

Two new articles highlight the challenge of ethically sourcing cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Why it matters: Cobalt is a key material for batteries for EVs and other uses, and the DRC provides over half the world's supply.

What they're saying: Writing in Foreign Policy, Antony Loewenstein takes a skeptical view of Blackwater founder Erik Prince's new project to invest in the development of natural resources for EV batteries in the Congo and elsewhere.

  • The piece notes that the Prince wants to create more ethical mining for the material, which is now reportedly often mined under hazardous conditions and with child labor.
  • But, but, but: "Prince’s record in conflict zones provides little reason to believe he has either the inclination or ability to mitigate violence in Congo or Afghanistan," Loewenstein writes.

A separate weekend piece in the New York Times looks in detail at cobalt and copper mining in the DRC in the context of the region's tragic conflicts and corruption.

  • "The mineral riches that should make the country wealthy have funded governments whose corruption has undermined the young democracy and left its people desperately poor," writes Michael J. Kavanagh.
  • "The copper and cobalt boom has brought Congo steady economic growth, yet its per capita income remains among the lowest in the world."

Go deeper: A push for a battery leap to eliminate "blood cobalt"

Go deeper

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Image: Loon

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, one of its "moonshots," which aimed to deliver internet service via high-altitude balloons.

Why it matters: The effort was one of several approaches designed to get high-speed connectivity to some of the world's most remote spots and proved useful in the aftermath of disasters that shut down traditional infrastructure.

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Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.

Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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