2012: InterCon Takes On Basel Action Network

Word came in Friday's E-Scrap News that Intercon Solutions is suing Basel Action Network - for defamation.

E-Stewards asked to Co-Defame (Herbert Block 1950)
BAN's "E-Steward" business model looks to many people like selling insurance against their own defamation campaign.  Whether Intercon Solutions wins, loses, or settles, we should note that they are not alone.  Unfortunately, most of the people being tarred as "primitives", "polluters", "criminals" and "exporters" don't have the wherewithal to sue Basel Action Network.

Eleven months ago, BAN's accusations vs. Intercon Solutions of Chicago Heights domineered the "e-scrap" and "e-waste" news.   My company had traded in a fair amount of "focus materials" with Intercon - CRT Tubes.   We knew that Intercon was passing the CRT Glass Test, which Basel Action Network agreed with us (in 2004) is the #1 indicator of bad behavior.  People called here to warn me that maybe the CRT tubes were going to China.  It was mathematically ridiculous.

Unfortunately, BAN seemed to have forgotten that lesson.   Rather than do Intercon the courtesy of saying that they passed 80/20 rules for focus material, BAN made it all about a single mysterious container which they photographed and tracked from the Intercon yard to a destination in Hong Kong.   BAN focused on whether a literally anecdotal percentage of Intercon's material was sold to - a person of color.  The story was not about what the material was - cell phones for repair?  laptop batteries?  LCDs? Nor about the capability of the person buying it.   It was about whether the containerload originated at Intercon, and what nationality the buyers were.  The only important thing was whether 1% of something was sold to a person in China.

If Intercon had passed the CRT Glass Test and printed circuit board test, etc., and it was a small number of devices, why didn't Basel Action Network try to resolve it with a phone call?  Why wasn't Intercon offered the opportunity to "see the light"?

BAN has forgiven even serious questions about the CRT Glass Test.   BAN blasted Dlubak's pile of CRT glass in Arizona, but never mentioned that most of the pile came from a paying E-Steward.  BAN blasted Advanced Global, but never takes action when their largest E-Steward had sold 7 Million pounds to the same place.  Does BAN do its homework?
"BAN has not had a chance to review the complaint from Intercon Solutions. However we stand by our statements and are very confident in them," said Puckett,
BAN will try to make this about a scary word "toxics", juxtaposed with pictures of little children.

If BAN prevails, it will mean that even a very tiny amount of a company's scrap could topple the entire company.

Perhaps BAN can try to make this a legal question, whether Intercon had misinformed them or committed some fraud in their paperwork, and not about the significance of the small percentage they identified in a sea container going to Hong Kong.

Normally, however BAN's "paperwork error debates" (e.g. over "elective upgrade") and technical positions are adorned with ten year old photos of horribly sad looking brown children.

Was Intercon innocent of what was inside this particular load?  I don't know.  Is BAN in the business of defamation?  100%   That is all they do.  It's 100%.

We informed BAN that the factory they tried to shut down in Semarang Indonesia was NOT a "primitive wire burning" operation but a major contract manufacturer which took back warranty as well as non-warranty product for repair and refurbishment.  The factory had just put in CRT glass-to-glass washing (a major investment, which would have helped Indonesia solve its own domestic-generation ewaste problem).  Jim Puckett at BAN said that it was a paperwork technicality, that even if the Semarang Indonesia factory was NOT poisoning anyone, that trans-boundary-movement of Annex III materials had occured and it was up to the Indonesians whether they were "released", or whether the load was exempt under Annex IX.  But the only news anyone remembers is the press release about BAN shutting down primitive toxic dirty brown people from importing "e-waste".  BAN's close friends at Takeback continu to run an article saying that PT Imtech and Advanced Global Recovery were polluters, adorning the press release with the same suffering child photos BAN used.

BAN also advised Interpol in their horrendously defaming piece calling African importers, who are stationed in Europe to test and PREVENT shipment of bad product as "toxics along for the ride" as "criminal enterprises".  BAN invented a word, "e-waste", to represent all repairable, fixable, clean recyclable metal, all jobs separating screws from aluminum and steel, and made all electronic recyclers feel dirty for selling product to Geeks of Color.

Whether or not Intercon is a villain or a hero, I'm going to consider filing a friend of court briefing because BAN is reckless, incompetent, unable to admit fault, and willing to close one eye as geeks of color are rounded up in a sting which uses their skin color and language as "good enough" evidence to accuse them of primitive and environmental crimes.  As Jim's quote above says, they are confident of their position, whether they have read the facts or not.
  • BAN accused Intercon.
  • BAN accused PT Imtech of Semarang, Indonesia (Innocent)
  • BAN accused the Scrap Boys of Agbogbloshie of importing 80% or the scrap they were burning (no, it was 85% domestic used up product from Africa).
  • BAN accused Geeks from Africa, testing and inspecting goods in the EU, or being "organized crime" and exporting 80-90% waste (no, they exported 85% reuse).
  • In E-Scrap News, BAN's described "fair trade recycling" as "poisoning people".
BAN has taken an immature industry - environmentalism - from a background of grass-roots activism, and tried to make it more corporate with its "E-Stewards" certification.  The result is negative marketing and smear campaigning, and their financial model is based on their ability to control that negative campaigning.  It's really the same model as the Red Scare.   Let's hope that the lawsuit from Intercon goes ahead and is not settled quietly.   We as environmentalists need to air out this dirty laundry.  We need to ask ourselves for a shred of decency.

Jim once tried to get me to change my blog by saying to me, "We don't want to have to come after you."  That is the truth and if Jim denies saying that to me, he's a liar.  I said I would welcome it and he knew it.  My point?  At the time he said it, he knew NOTHING about my operation.   The intent was to intimidate me from writing posts critical of his organization, and the clear insinuation was that targeting a recycler was a weapon, a threat, a tactic... and that he knew his influence came from getting reporters to mis-report the stories about the geeks of color.

BAN is the Senator Joe McCarthy in this story.  Tail gunner Joe was an American war hero, who defended the USA from attack, but after being elected to office made it his business to prosecute people like Pete Seeger.   It took awhile for Americans to realize that McCarthy was an alcoholic in the business of defaming celebrities as "communists".   Environmentalists need to learn that we are not somehow innately immune from the mistakes of our fathers.

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