THIS IS MY CRACK: Internet Printing Press in "Good Enough" Markets

Is it possible that Guiyu, China, has just as many noble reuse jobs (reuse of boards at the chip level) as it does "primitive wire burning" jobs?

Is it possible that more of the -e-scrap in Guiyu comes from huge cities than from imports? (metro Shenzhen-Guangzhou-HongKong has the population of JAPAN)

Is it possible that most of the scrap in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, comes from twice-reused goods, and not straight out of sea containers?

Is it possible that the Basel Convention, in Annex IX B1110, explicitly makes import of display devices for re-manufacturing and reuse legal?

Is it possible that Indonesia has huge, contract-manufacturing factories with hundreds of employees refurbishing PCs and displays for white-box sales to places like India and Egypt?

Is it possible that the Arab Spring or green revolution would never have happened without USA and European exports of cell phones and monitors for repair and reuse?

Is it possible that none of the E-Stewards recyclers is even coming close to the NGO's goals of supplying those markets with "fully functional, tested working" equipment?

Is it possible that innocent Geeks of Color, techs in Jakarta, Cairo, Lima and Nairobi, are being racially profiled as "criminal enterprises" because they prefer to work on Stuff thrown out by rich neighborhoods, rather than poor?

A journalist like Michael Rey, Nichole Young, Solly Granatstein, Ben Elgin, Brian Grow, Terri Gross, Scott Pelley, or John Stossel (all of whom have done "gotcha" stories on e-waste recycling) hasn't really done their job if they don't check these boxes, i.e., at least ASK the questions.  When they do visit the alleged ewaste import sites and ask these questions of the alleged "criminals", reporters tend produce more nuanced stories, like those written by Ingrid Lobet, Tom Knudson, Adam Minter, Klaus Neimann and Brian X. Chen.

Journalists aren't experts, and they cannot succumb to the temptation of posing as experts.  What they can do is apply Socratic Method to a dispute or exaggerated claim.  The latter, claims by "recyclers" who were actually exporting most of their equipment, seemed like an easy thing to test without going very deep into the developing world.  But they should have found one of the 3 billion people earning $3K per year, and asked them more questions.  Like, how they are getting online and communicating, when they can't afford a new PC?  Then they should ask them where the good ones went (to doctors offices, internet cafes, and college dorms) before photographing leftovers on the ground, and printing "80% waste" baloney.

A journalist is not an expert in repair, technology, or reuse.  But what about understanding the very roots of journalism itself?  Can't a journalist be an expert in literature and journalism?

What about Ben Franklin, and the printing press?  Would the journalists have asked the question if someone in London accused Franklin of being a criminal exporter?  He was accused of being a criminal by the Crown.  When he was buying used printing presses from London surplus and upgrades, buying leaded font letters out of use in Kensington or Birmingham, he was buying something toxic... something with lead in it.

And he was using it to communicate ideas.   You don't have to be a technician or a geek to write this story, and report on it correctly.   What is happening now in the internet is what I'm doing right now... blogging... producing... writing... communicating... it's about ideas, and they are the same kind of ideas that Journalism and literature themselves were founded on.   Some journalists have given themselves the excuse of "not technical" to explain a trade which mirrors not the history of science, but the history of publication.

File:AlicesAdventuresInWonderlandTitlePage.jpgIt's Sunday.... follow me down the rabbit hole.
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Why does England have such a rich history of literature?

Because England had printing presses.

We focus on the brilliance of writers like Dickens, and the traditions carried into the West by Hawthorne, Poe, and Twain.  But without an affordable printing press, or affordable paper mills, the ideas in Twain's head would be gone into the carbon.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (there's a resurgence of readership because it's free on the Kindle) is in part the story of an entrepreneur in the printing and publishing business, who goes back and forth to England and makes deals on surplus printing equipment until he can buy brand new.

In the past, if you want to have a nation with no history of literature, you needed two things:

No printing presses or paper.

An authoritarian, censorship regime.

Today, you still need the latter.  But to squelch modern distribution of ideas by radicals like Franklin, you need a ban on affordable computers... i.e. a prohibition on "e-waste".

Gee, where do you see the fewest affordable used computer sales, and the fewest bloggers?  How about in nations that ban the importation of computers "less than 3 years from date of manufacture" (read:  Impossibly expensive)?  How about in regimes that seize tested working pentium 4s at the port?


How about Jim Puckett of BAN applauding Egypt for this policy at an Interpol Meeting in 2010?

I'm sitting in the audience, having recently visited my friend in Egypt who had seen 3 containerloads of working Pentium 4s and monitors seized in Alexandria, costing him and his Palestinian brother about $80,000 just before the "busy season".   We'd been quietly discussing how Egypt's dictator Mubarak seemed unable to make a transition despite his advancing age.   Months later, it was like Neil Young's Ohio in Tahir Square, and the Arab Spring was ablaze in green.

And here was Jim Puckett, standing in front of a group of EPA and Europol and Interpol investigators, with a slide of Egypt's Rule against imports of computers (that's 3 years after manufacture, i.e. from the date it's still on the Foxconn assembly line in China, hasn't even been sold or distributed to the USA and the clock is ticking - on display devices that work for 20 years).  And he's getting applause.

And people think I'm weird and a bad communicator and that I'm in some kind of pissing match with BAN.

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All right then, I'll go to hell.  The USA press has barely risen to see how messed up this poster child campaign is.  It's sick.  It's totally and absolutely outrageous.

It's outrageous, immoral, and wrong.  But not only will BAN not admit it, they are working to shut my business down here in Vermont, and to censor my blog.  They are attacking my sources, saying that the Indonesia refurbishing factory was DIRECT QUOTE  "Poisoning People".  It wasn't just that they are liars. They help the dictators cast their nets in the fields for the runaway Kunta Kintes and Jims and Black Benjamin Franklins.  This will stunt journalism and literature in the developing world, the same as a ban on trade of used print type and presses would have stopped Thomas Paine, the Adams Brothers, and the Franklins in the colonies.

These brown writers would have composed great works.   The environmental movement, including Grist and Treehugger and others, is going out on their horses, sightseeing.  They print the pictures of brown children whose parents at tinkering and refurbishing factories are being noosed on trees.

I tried being friends with BAN, provided them a lot of information over five years, taught them a lot about the trade.  But it wasn't enough to get them to lay off of Samsung Corning when they converted from mined lead silica to recycling CRT cullet, and it wasn't enough for them to stop the executioner in Semarang Indonesia where the Printing Press of the Arab Spring - the computer display - was being affordably manufactured.   No one is asking the questions at the top of this blog... when they do, when journalists and reporters start asking those questions, when their eyes "adjust to the dark" skin of the geeks, they may feel a shiver...


Conclusion:   This is a war on information, not a cover-up of toxic ewaste.  Look at how my own blog has been attacked by SOPA-emulating NGOs and do gooders.  I use photos posted by non-profits which are allegedly showing a "pollution crime", and put them in very small one-inch squares to critique what they allege to show evidence of.  They notify Google of a violation of Fair Use.
 In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. The term fair use originated in the United States.

Greenpeace and BAN have had google yank photos of burning monitors... a single burning monitor on a barren landscape.  They yank photos of black Africans unloading sea containers - even when the Africans themselves are the ones accused.

Pelley and Pucket circle a major city:  Hong Kong
Using a Greenpeace photo to defend the person IN THE PHOTO, whose purchase has been misrepresented, who has been labelled a "criminal" by Europol and Interpol, has been attacked and my blog ranking has suffered.

But ask yourself, as a journalist, when someone like me uses a photo of a black man accused of committing a crime to prove the man innocent of the crime... if THAT is not Fair Use, then what is?  An NGO, or even a photographer like Pieter Hugo, has their photos pulled from this blog (see gaping absense of photo)... is it because I'm profiting from the photo?  Obviously and clearly not.

This is journalism, journalism under attack by SOPA, down and dirty, in the trenches, photos of Africans falsely accused of "primitive" recycling as they get the only internet "printing press" they can ever afford.  Africans accused by dictatorships of "e-waste" crimes when they have spent tens of thousands of dollars to fly and buy, to pick out only the best from European WEEE collections.  The fact they spent money is written as evidence of an e-waste "organized crime", and even respected trade journalists like Henry Lienweber or Jerry Powell fall for it and report the "criminal" headline without a single interview of a single one of the accused.

I tried to defend them with my own photos, but also with photos from the accuser.  And that's being yanked from fair use.

Wake up, reporters.  There is a crime occurring.  You just haven't figured out who the criminals are yet.  They are posing as environmentalists, and they are slandering factory owners who takeback their own product for reuse and refurbishment.   It's an outrage and I have not been loud enough or written nearly enough about it.  Make no mistake, I'm going Terminator, I'm going Huck Finn, and my dream is to be the guy on the right side who stood up to billionaires like Michael Dell and Wendy Neu and make them be honest about Geeks of Color who are caught in the crossfire of their extended copyright and planned obsolescence industrial complex.

I get high on this.  Standing up for wrongfully accused geeks, who represent the opposite of the resource curse, the people I dreamed my African Peace Corps students would grow up to become, tinkerers and value adding a whole cell phone tower and internet cafe infrastructure from Western Wastes... THIS IS MY CRACK.

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