Program Note: Tune in tonight for an exclusive AC360º dispatch to watch Anderson Cooper's full report on the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/08/11/congo.rape/art.congo2.sq.jpg" caption="The United Nations estimates that 200,000 women and girls have been raped in the Congo."]
from Oxfam International
The five-year war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which involved the armies of five other countries, officially ended in 2003 and democratic elections were held in 2006. However, fighting involving a plethora of armed groups continues, especially in the east of this mineral-rich country. Throughout all this conflict it is the civilians who continue to suffer the most.
The DRC has the world's largest peacekeeping force, totaling some 17,000 personnel. But they struggle to maintain security in a country the size of Western Europe with a population of 60 million.
Fighting was fuelled by the DRC’s tremendous mineral resources and by the flow of small arms into the country.
– Humanitarian crisis –
Since the war started in 1997, an estimated 4 million people have died from violence, hunger and disease as a result of the conflict, and 2.5 million have been made homeless – 1.5 million displaced within the DRC’s borders and one million forced to flee to neighboring countries.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/08/11/congo.rape/art.congo1.sq.jpg" caption="The young girl on the right says she was raped by Congolese soldiers. She was just 9 when it happened."]
The young girl whispered in a hushed tone. She looked down as she spoke, only glancing up from her dark round eyes every now and then. She wanted to tell more, but she was too ashamed. She was just 9 years old when, she says, Congolese soldiers gang-raped her on her way to school.
"These two soldiers nabbed her, put a bag over her head and pulled her into the bushes. She explains it as, 'They got me,' " says Sherrlyn Borkgren, who spent a month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo late last year.
Borkgren, a wedding photographer and freelance journalist, traveled to the war-torn region of eastern Congo after being awarded the ShootQ Grant, a $10,000 award to free photographers from everyday life to pursue a project that raises awareness of an important global issue.
Borkgren pauses when she speaks of meeting the girl. "She was obviously very traumatized to repeat this out loud, and I don't think she had repeated it to anyone." The young girl lied to her about her age when they first spoke.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/08/11/clinton.congo/art.hillary.clinton.cape.town.afp.gi.jpg" caption="After Congo, the secretary of state will travel to Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde."]
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought an offer of help Tuesday for victims, especially victims of sexual violence, of Africa's longest war, a regional conflict that's dragged on for more than a decade.
Clinton on Monday delivered a blunt message to Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito of the Democratic Republic of Congo when he hosted a dinner in her honor.
"There must be an end to widespread financial corruption and abuses of human rights and women's rights," she said. "There must be an improvement in governance and the respect for the rule of law."
She also called for "changes in the business climate, changes in the rules and regulations that involve contracts and the protection of property" to promote foreign investment.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/biztech/10/01/volt.car.nascar/art.volt.cnn.jpg" caption="GM reveals its first electric car, the Chevy Volt."]
CNN Financial News Producer
General Motor' says its Chevrolet Volt, the electric-drive car that's expected to go on sale in late 2010, is projected to get an estimated 230 miles per gallon in city driving.
That exceptionally-high government mileage rating could give the Volt a major boost. For the first time, car buyers will easily be able to compare electric cars with ordinary gas-powered cars.
"Having a car that gets triple-digit fuel economy can and will be a game changer for us," GM CEO Fritz Henderson said this morning at a press conference showing off the ‘Volt.’
Determining fuel economy for what is primarily an electric car is a tricky matter, and General Motors has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency for years on the issue.
Basically, you will be able to drive the Volt for about 40 miles using its lithium-ion batteries. For those driving less than that, gas mileage is essentially unlimited. It is only after 40 miles that the Volt will start using gasoline.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/11/art.whitehouse.healthcare.jpg" caption="The White House is taking the fight for health care reform online."]
Citing what it calls "a troubling trend" of "wild rumors and scare tactics," the White House Monday announced the launch of http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/, a new Web page that "focuses on what reform really means for you and your family" and "debunks some common myths along the way." White House New Media Director Macon Phillips wrote on the official White House blog.
Visit the Web page here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/24/lkl.emanuel/art.rahm.emanuel.afp.gi.jpg" Caption="White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel doesn't often show his softer side."]
"I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once told a CNN producer when asked about potential Executive Orders. He is a person most are not likely to envision reading to kids sitting on bean bags but that's exactly what "Rahm-bo" did Monday in Washington.
Emanuel took part in the Department of Education's summer reading initiative, "Read to the Top," an effort by the government to keep kids reading when school is on break. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council joined Emanuel outside to read to elementary students from D.C.
Emanuel read, "Duck for President," by Doreen Cronin, a story about a farm duck who runs for farmer, governor, and then eventually President. In the tale, the Duck noticed all the farm animals registering to vote in the barn, to which Emanuel quipped, "It's obviously not in Chicago."
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/10/art.whhcreality0810.wh.jpg caption="The White House launched a new Web page Monday."]
AC360° Associate Producer
President Obama hits the road and heads to New Hampshire today for the first time since he campaigned there during the election season. He’ll be speaking at a town hall in Portsmouth on health insurance reform. Will he encounter the same protests members of Congress have seen over the past week at these public meetings? We’ll be watching closely.
Meanwhile, in response to what it calls “wild rumors and scare tactics” circulating about plans for health care reform, the White House launched a new site that apparently debunks some common myths about the reform proposals. Does it make this complex issue easier to understand? We’ll dig deeper on the issues tonight.
Sen. Arlen Specter is holding two town halls in his home state of Pennsylvania today. Demonstrators from the Independence Hall Tea Party Association were planning on attending the event to express their opposition to some of the Democratic proposals. Tempers were already flaring at the first one this morning, but it seemed a bit calmer than the public meeting the Senator held last week when he and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were drowned out by boos and catcalls. Gary Tuchman will be at Specter’s second town hall this afternoon. He’ll bring us the latest on the concerns of people in that state.