Grouchy Marxist Defamation or Groucho Marx Defense?

Groucho Marx
“I have nothing but respect for you -- and not much of that.”
― Groucho Marx

My company, Good Point Recycling, used to charge residents $10-20 per TV, which most people were willing to pay every 10 years when they threw one away.  Here is a 2006 article (Burlington Free Press) praising us for the process and markets we used,..  

Interestingly, it's reposted on the wall of Basel Action Network.  It was posted in 2006', in happier days when BAN called me regularly to help them "certify" Pledge signers (like "Tom", in the article), before their consultants accused me of lying about the factories described in the article, which BAN chose to post on its website.

So, the article goes into detail about the distinction between "unknown" export markets and the use of legitimate export refurbishing factories.  BAN not only posted this article about the distinction, but BAN has also inserted language into their E-Stewards program describing "semiknockdown" factories, with instructions that any parts which may be electively upgraded or replaced must be removed in the USA before the CRT is exported.  

BAN also negotiated for the same terms in our "California Compromise" agreement, which fell flat in 2010.

Groucho Marx
“Are you going to believe me, or what you see with your own eyes?”
― Groucho Marx

To finesse the obvious differences between factories (like the one in Indonesia, at left) and the dirty recycling in Guiyu China, Jim Puckett, the Chief Executive at BAN, wrote in an Op-Ed piece that the disposal of parts replaced (common in an elective upgrade at the contract manufacturing factories) would be illegal, and speculated that the "discarded parts" would be "poisoning people", ergo "fair trade" was not possible.

In my emails to BAN over the years, I have offered to prove or certify that any electively replaced parts could be shipped for recycling to a place BAN approved, such as Japan or Belgium, which would solve that dilemma.

In responding for BAN, Jim said that he was aware of that option but that he did not want to promote it, because he distrusted and resisted globalization.  He said that no matter how hard we tried, that the nature of "exporting jobs" to poor countries meant exploitation.  In other words, whether or not I found a way that Basel Convention said was legal, that he objected based on his philosophy, that rich people who employ less rich people are exploiting them... something Karl Marx would say.

I told Jim that the "tested working" and "fully functional" and "accidental breakage" would require the same downstream diligence, that trading with poorer people, if inherently unfair, would extend to other trade, including sale of new devices, purchase of new devices, and certainly the mining of metals to make new devices.   Jim actually said he objected to those things too, but they were outside the scope of "waste" and therefore outside of his mission statement in Basle.   He didn't buy my suggestion that the big factories which certified the recycling of breakage, returns, and parts would be very valuable in the countries they were in. In fact, one WR3A member factory became a licensed take-back program for CRTs generated in that country.  If BAN killed them, and the majority of the e-waste disposed of in those countries originated there (See Williams/Kahhat study, referenced below), he'd be making e-waste worse...

So my point here is not to delve back into the specific arguments over the Basel Convention Annex IX, which explicitly says that export for repair is LEGAL... I'm just trying to demonstrate what Donald Summers, the BAN consultant, was referring to when he described "the genuine policy debate at issue" with personal attacks.  The general policy debate was about globalization and Marxist economics, not about whether contract manufacturing (e.g. Foxconn factories which make all IPhones and IPads) were mythical.

In the BAN web page articles above, on BAN's own website, BAN admits these factories are refurbishing.   And BAN negotiated terms for the semiknockdown factories with me, and BAN met some of the factory executives via Skype at E-Scrap 2010.   And BAN chose to support language allowing Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Samsung, etc. to continue to use the factories (which take warranty returns, for example) in the language of HR2284, the Responsible Recycling Act.  The factories are NOT MYTHS.

So Basel Action Network obviously knows these factories exist, and is willing to let OEMs use them, and is willing to let E-Steward Recyclers use them if certain parts are removed (like bad capacitors). BAN says nothing if the devices these SKD factories buy are tested working (in which case the parts are removed anyway) and sold to a middleman (but not directly to the factory).  If this is obvious and proven and not disputed, why do so many people I meet think that the genuine policy debate between R2 Certification and E-Stewards standard is about POISONING CHILDREN??????

Or is it about rape, murder, and arson?  (See BAN's depiction of ASU Professor Eric Williams below)...

Groucho Marx
“Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.”
― Groucho Marx

The reason for a libel lawsuit is to expose this dichotomy, this contradiction over product remanufacturing, recycling of upgraded parts, etc., and the doe eyed children photographed in cesspools of toxic filth.

THERE WERE NO CRT MONITORS AT ALL in Guiyu, yet CBS 60 Minutes won a journalism award for "following the trail". reporter Chris Paicely reviewed that and reported on it rather fairly.  The exposure that CRT monitors were going to the "Big Secret Factories" which BAN clearly knew about in 2006 makes Donald Summer and BAN not credible.  Here again is what BAN's representative said to the reporter working on the Intercon Defamation Lawsuit article:
Summers then criticized Ingenthron and Cade for promoting the "myth that there are all these wonderful high-tech facilities in China,' adding more harsh comments about Ingenthron's character.
"They will lie right through their teeth," Summers said. "It's amazing — I've seen it. Robin Ingenthron is known as a really crazy guy — sorry, I don't like dissing folks, but he is a huge outlier."
Summers went on to refer to Ingenthron and Cade as "green-washers," which are companies that falsely portray themselves as environmentally friendly. 

He's saying the factories are myths, they don't exist, that we are "greenwashing".  (If you want to see the whole series, go to Google News and search "INGENTHRON + TEETH" as in "lying through").

BAN or its representative apologized.
"In the heat of the moment, regarding an issue about which there are strong passions on both sides, I made improper comments about Willie Cade and Robin Ingenthron," Summer said. "I completely withdrawal these comments about their character, apologize publicly to both gentleman,  and regret confusing the genuine policy debate at issue here with inappropriate and stupid personal attacks."
He does not acknowledge the existence of the factories, which are described on BAN's website and in the E-Stewards Program.

The argument therefore for me to file suit against Basel Action Network is to expose that the organization knew all about the factories called "myths".   I have to weigh that against the currency I lose by being "less agreeable".  One attorney counseled me to "fight fire with fire".   If they are being disagreeable, then I perhaps have a moral obligation to sue.

BAN distances itself from Summers statement.

BAN disassociates itself completely with all statements made to you by our business consultant Mr. Donald Summers.We did not and would never authorize such statements and do not hold them to be true. Donald has apologized to all affected parties for his statements.
However, neither Donald NOR BAN has in fact apologized to "all affected parties."



THERE HAS BEEN NO APOLOGY TO THE GEEKS OF COLOR the "most affected" parties by BAN misstatements and ommissions.

BAN has not apologized for leading Interpol to issue a bogus paper on illegal exports (Interpol took BAN's figure of 80% illegal exports and then traced "the real killer" to the Africans who purchase the computers, calling the African immigrants, like Mr. Benson, "Organized Crime").

Groucho Marx
“I've got a good mind to go out and join a club and beat you over the head with it.”
― Groucho Marx

Oh, and finally here is another chestnut from Basel Action Network's own website...  It's an attack on Professor Eric Williams, then of Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, who wrote an opinion piece in Discovery News "3 Reasons Why a Ban on E-Waste Exports is Wrong"  making the following arguement:
But contrary to popular belief, banning electronic waste is not the answer, and here are three big reasons why:
1. Trade bans have negative economic and social impacts by cutting jobs in the refurbishment sector and reducing supply to used markets.2. Trade bans push the backyard recycling towards the black market.3. Within a decade, more e-waste will be generated in the developing world compared to the developed, waste that without other interventions will be recycled with high environmental impacts.

Puckett's response to Professor Williams:
'We don’t get to reduce our garbage bill by throwing trash out our car window. And we shouldn’t be able to irresponsibly reduce our toxic waste bill by dumping the hazard on to poor people in developing countries. But that is what Prof. Williams seemingly advocates."
Or try this:

Professor Williams’ logic here is suspect. The argument that laws to prevent harmful activity are a bad idea simply because they are poorly enforced is an argument against all laws. We also have a problem with drunken driving in the United States. Do we therefore repeal DUI laws as thousands are killed on our highways each year? How about all the other laws that are hard to enforce: those against murder, rape, and arson?
And Jim Puckett's conclusion:
But why should they be sacrificed as the dumping ground for all of the world’s e-waste? Because they are poor? Because their lack of environmental and worker protection laws makes it cheaper to dump waste on them? This is what Prof. Williams shamefully advocates. Follow Prof. Williams’ thinking, and all the rich neighborhoods in the US should send their trash to poor neighborhoods. 
Dumping on the poor is a horror. It violates the principle of environmental justice, a policy embraced in this country under Republican and Democratic administrations alike. This principle rightly declares that no peoples, simply due to their economic, gender, racial or other status should bear a disproportionate burden of harm from environmental impacts.
In Prof. Williams’ world, does environmental justice mean anything?

(Interestingly, BAN fails to mention the co-author or the ASU study, Ramzy Kahhat, of the most credentialed university in Peru.  I wonder why they'd miss the chance to insert a photo of a Lima street urchin to describe Kahhat's "crimes" in the research arguing against bans on exports of e-waste).

Putting pictures of poor children taken at the city dump in Accra or Shenzhen, and telling everyone that the photo is representative of the Africans or Chinese who purchase used goods in the USA and Europe, that's defamation far more serious than anything I've suffered or Intercon has suffered.  It's a horrible, obnoxious, racially tinged campaign which does indeed appeal to environmental justice.  But like a false case of sexual harassment, misstating the causes and culprits of the "externalization of harm" ultimately hurts the people it claims to help.

This is not an "ad hominem" attack.  I apologized in April for using the term "ayatollah of e-waste" - and my apology was equally directed to our geeks of color buyers in Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan as it was to Basel Action Network.

I'm working on another post about ad hominem attacks and other fallacies.   I don't know how many people are logic nerds.  I was raised in a logic-nerdish family in Arkansas, and went on to become a high school debate team stud.  The nerdy post, if you want to study ahead, is based on this interesting website "Logical Fallacy Bingo"

Unreasonable?  Crazy?  An outlier?

The conclusion...

I know how Basel Action reacts when criticized or attacked, and I need a lawsuit like I need a ball and chain.   But I do not see any of the movement promised to disabuse the press of the arrogant portrayal of interested parties like Nigerian Joseph Benson or Advanced Global Recycling or PT Imtech of Indonesia.  Those are clear examples of the "affected parties".

I've introduced clear evidence that Basel Action Network knows that there are non-mythical contract manufacturing factories, often the original manufacturers or assemblers of the electronics, and that when BAN said to CBS that they were "following the trail" of the monitors they circled in Hong Kong in the CBS 60 Minutes segment, they were doing basically the same thing as Donald Summers was doing to reporter Chris Paicely.

BAN needs to make its case why the contract manufacturing factories which originally made and assembled the computer monitors in the 1990s should not be part of the "computer takeback" program.   I know what their argument against Basel Convention Annex IX is.  That, perhaps, is what Donald Summers means by "genuine policy debate".

Groucho Marx
“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”
― Groucho Marx

Article from  FAIR USE

A consultant for the Basel Action Network was fired up after reading a Patch story about exporting hazardous materials to foreign countries.
Donald Summers said he helped BAN set up the E-Stewards Certification, raise money and recruit businesses, and took exception to the final installment of Patch's five-part examination of the conflict between InterconSolutions and the Basel Action Network. In particular, Summers disagreed with what recycling business owners Robin Ingenthron and Willie Cade had to say about exporting and the Basel Convention.
Read Ingenthron's and Cade's comments on exporting recyclables in last week's article "Where E-Waste Lands: Laws, Stigmas and Truths."
Summers sent an email to Patch calling Ingenthron and Cade huge supporters of "dumping on poor people."
Rather than making any division between BAN and Intercon, Summers made the split between BAN's E-Stewards Certification and the older R2 Certification:
Here's how I look at it: we've got two sides, each saying the other is wrong. So, then you take it to the next level: who has the most credibility?
The E-Stewards Certification has the endorsements of over 70 (environmental) groups, major corporations such as Samsung and Alcoa, cities like Seattle and San Jose, and it has all the largest recycling companies, the ones with the capital to invest in the expensive equipment to do it right.
On the other side, you've got R2, which is backed by the trade association. You need to understand that e-waste recyclers are basically junkyard operators.  So many of them are these little tiny shops that are OK with dumping — they aren't sophisticated. And they are represented by a trade association, ISRI, that, like every other trade association, fights for the lowest common denominator. Recall how the tobacco industry used its trade association and it all becomes clear.
Summers then criticized Ingenthron and Cade for promoting the "myth that there are all these wonderful high-tech facilities in China,' adding more harsh comments about Ingenthron's character.
"They will lie right through their teeth," Summers said. "It's amazing — I've seen it. Robin Ingenthron is known as a really crazy guy — sorry, I don't like dissing folks, but he is a huge outlier."
Donald Summers issues apology.
Summers went on to refer to Ingenthron and Cade as "green-washers," which are companies that falsely portray themselves as environmentally friendly.
Read Patch's series about the 2011 accusation that has slowly killed Chicago Heights-based recycling company Intercon Solutions.

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