Rumor Mongering: Is Jim Puckett Ousted at BAN?

For the past year, independent studies have piled up overwhelmingly demonstrating what this blog has maintained since 2007.  Basel Action Network does not know what it's talking about, and is making it up as they go along.  Whether they are told politely, or humorously, or angrily that their fiction is hurting the environment and developing nations, they ignore it.

E-Waste Watchdog "Basel Action" Re-Publishes Discredited Data

Or so far they have.   But rumors this month suggest that the Basel Action Network's Board of Directors may finally be listening.   Bad statistics are disappearing from the website.   And in their latest press release, Jim Puckett's name and phone number is missing (Mike Enberg and Sarah Westervelt are listed as the contacts).

Is Puckett just taking a leisurely break following the latest COP (Conference of Parties) at the annual Basel Convention get-together?  Or has the board of directors finally started to listen to environmentalists and development professionals who told them their poster child campaign has gone too far?

Is Jim Puckett Ousted at BAN?, cont.

Perhaps it was the Intercon Solutions lawsuit vs. Basel Action Network that finally got the attention of BAN's board.   Perhaps it was the Mike Daisey fraud (NPR's This American Life) which showed the turning tide.   Perhaps it was Jim Puckett's fan and consultant, Donald Summers, who had to call and apologize to me for telling reporters I was "lying through my teeth".  Perhaps it's the letter from Burkina Faso attorney Fred Somda, suggesting that African importers are the real victims of defamation.  Or perhaps created a way for "e-Steward" companies like Sims to step away from BAN control.
Journalists are waking up.  Articles like Eveyn Hartford's "Documentation of Poverty for Profit", and NPR's  "Education and Exploitation", show a sophisticated turn away from the "gotcha" reporting.  Flying to exotic cities (Rio, Lagos, Cairo, Guangzhou), and visiting their landfills and dumps, you can always photograph children scavenging for recyclable metal.   But hysterically claiming it was "stack and pack" from a USA e-waste event - well, THAT just won't fly.

Maybe my personal meeting in Vegas six months ago (I shared long talk with Jim, and a cab ride with Mr. Enberg) foreshadowed a thaw.  Maybe the "Environmental Malpractice" blogs I wrote on my return, putting faces on Hurricane Benson, Hurricane Hamdy, and Hurricane Gordon.  The original title of Malpractice #6 was "Please Fire Jim Puckett".

Or maybe it was the recruitment of the University of Washington... they have plenty of smart people there, many students from "non-OECD" nations.   I've made my battleground the minds of people who know geography and history, who can distinguish between a Tinkerer Blessing and a Resource Curse.

E-Stewards and BAN have crafted an incredible shakedown.   Big Shred companies pay BAN a portion of their annual income to be "certified".  The benefit of certification?  That your company will not be attacked by BAN.  This won't work forever.  Just maybe, maybe, their organization recognizes that Puckett's playbook will force them to attack more innocent people, and the warnings from their defamation lawsuit attorneys are affecting donors.

Now that UNEP, StEP, Basel Secretariat, MIT, Memorial University, US International Trade Office, and others have published reports showing that BAN is wrong (even BAN's own study from Kenya students agrees that 90% of used goods imported to Africa are reused), the Executive Director, the Ayatollah of E-Waste, the Emporer New Clothes himself, may be out of steam.

A colleague from another company told me I was taking a big risk by backing the Fair Trade Recycling Summit in Middlebury last month.  He said that BAN would retaliate, that they would organize student protesters.   Nope.  BAN did not accept our invitation (to Donald Summers) to attend the Summit, did not release a comment, and did not respond to the Summit.  Not a peep.

There are just too many people for BAN to attack.  The old method of attacking people who disagree with them (see "Wall of Shame") had been effective in moving votes at the Basel Convention COP in the past.  They hit groups like R2 Solutions so swiftly with allegations of pollution that R2 was left flat footed.  They smeared ISRI, they crucified EPA, they did a drive-by hit on Eric Williams and Ramzy Kahhat for questioning their export ban in Discovery.    But the data keeps coming out.   And their "poverty porn" campaign is running out of steam.

I don't know if Jim is out.   I've had dinner with him, I enjoy talking to him at gatherings.  He means well.  He's a good man, the same way my racist Arkansas family members were good church-going people in the 1960s.   I respect and love them, and cherish their memories, to this day.

They were afraid of African Americans because they weren't exposed enough to them, weren't exposed to the African Americans who were quietly avoiding conflict and trouble.  The only African Americans my relatives were exposing themselves to were those bold young men who thumbed their noses.  The read crime reports, but didn't meet the people, like them, who were farmers.  Most of my family wasn't racist.  In fact, I still think those of us in the south who were exposed to more people are in many ways more comfortable than the self-assured liberals here at my new hillbilly home (Vermont).

The members of my family who were apologists for segregationism in the 1960s were good people.  They were just really wrong about that.  In the same way, BAN and other anti-export groups are wrong to have set in motion an Interpol campaign to arrests and impugn technicians who trade between rich nations that buy newer flatter screens, and 3B3K nations (three billion people earning 3K per year) who are getting online at ten times the rate of growth of OECD internet.  They bought CRTs that work for 20 years.  They paid for them, they tested them, and no, they didn't burn them for copper in primitive conditions.

I found a way to close the discussion with my hillbilly relatives.  When I described the lives of the Cameroonians who cared for me, who looked out for me, and how they worked and fixed things and made do, and the amount of time I spent listening to my grandparents stories about life in the Ozarks, the more connections we made.   I married a non-American, and they loved her almost more than I did.

BAN and the Anti-Globalists have fallen into the same trap as my "accidental racist" red-state kin-folk did in the 60s and 70s.  They isolate and chase away import-export businesses.  I'll conclude here with the conclusion I wrote in April 2011, in the Motherboard article.   Chasing away geeks of color works like a cultural lobotomy.   It's easier to agree with your racist friends when your racist friends have scared away or segregated away every opportunity to learn otherwise.

Like Star Trek, with it's cooperative "Office" of Vulcans, Klingons, and interracial team of humans, I find that international cooperation and trade makes my recycling company a better place to work.
"Anti-export groups might be right about one thing… maybe it is all about money after all. For the millions of dollars they raised using photos of children on piles of scrap, not a dime goes to the child who stirs the pot of white guilt. The money goes to pay salaries of NGOs who club geeks in Egypt to death like baby seals, and to the shredding companies that put the internet out of reach of a technician in Ghana. They are making fair trade between geeks illegal, and it works like a cultural lobotomy, making us think brown people are primitive because they never visit us anymore in our “recycling stewardship” factories.
 As Walt Kelly’s Pogo said, in a strip that ran sometime around the first Earth Day in 1970, “We have met the Enemy, and He is Us”.

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