Breaking News! UK Court Sends Joe Benson Case Back for Retrial

Last summer I got to meet and interview Joseph Benson of BJ Electronics in London (Bullyboys Blogs).  He was the Nigerian TV repairman who was ridden out on a rail by UK Journalists, citing Basel Action Network "statistics", accusing Benson and others of "#wastecrime".

I just got word from a reliable source that Benson's appeal is successful, and the case will be sent back for retrial.   Benson has spent far more on attorney and court fees than he would have by paying off the fine.  While I don't have first hand knowledge of the case or UK law and have never traded with Benson nor exported TVs to Africa, he is putting his money where his mouth is, and that counts for something.

There is a lot of buzz about Africa and how the recycling can be "reformed".   I am still somewhat disgusted by environmentalists who jump on the "reform" bandwagon without first apologizing for racial profiling and exaggerating in the first place.

This blog tried to make a lot of noise over our research showing that Nigerian cities had 6.9 million households with television in 2007.  That's a dozen Vermonts.  Nigerian cities have dumps where old TVs go, just like New England had in the 1990s when I was tasked with establishing a recycling infrastructure with EPA and Massachusetts DEP.

See the television on the young man's head in Waste & Recycling News above?

It looks a lot more like musician Prince Nico Mbarga's 1977 television than it looks like anything filmed in Joe Benson's containers.

This racial profiling under the banner of "Environmental Justice" does tell a story of exploitation, but the exploitation is begin done by the NGOs.  They are raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in "E-Steward" licensing on the backs of men like Joe Benson, whose only crime is trying to build an infrastructure for mass-communication with used cell phones, used tvs, and used computers for internet.   The Africans aren't doing anything that people in poor neighborhoods in the USA wouldn't do - or don't do - when they cannot afford a $2000 television.  If you are shopping for a used one, you go to a wealthier neighborhood.

What Greenpeace saw.  Hotel TVs from London hotel upgrades?  Or "scary black people"?

Environmentalists, take heed, this is a powderkeg.  I have been writing a philosophical piece about "ManBearPig", the label people snicker at from South Park Studios classic throwup of environmental sanctimony.  I'm an environmentalist, I challenge anyone to compare the way they planned their lives to reduce impact on the world ecosystem.  I'm sensitive to the dangers of cynicism against green.

But all the more reason to nip our own mistakes in the bud.   The study of environmental health has to be a lot more like the study of human health, with fewer manbearpig bandwagons and more primum non nocere (do no harm, the Hippocratic Oath).

This isn't just about namecalling of Africans as "primitive recyclers", though there's far too much of that.  This Basel Action Network "e-waste" campaign has ruined the lives of Hurricane Benson, Hurricane Hamdy, Hurricane Chiu, and Hurricane Fung.  And it is wasting the valuable talents of good people, like Interpol's David Higgins, who could be chasing ivory and rhino and tiger poachers.   TV repair, and even wire burning, are examples of "useless lists of jobs beneath rich people", and arresting and eliminating those jobs just drives them into back alleys, making the problem worse.

I will stay tuned on the retrial of the UK Wastecrime case against Joe Benson.  And those of you who have donated to Fair Trade Recycling will have more reason to display your logos.

Coming up - Next week, Good Point Recycling is flying our head technician, Eric Prempeh of Vergennes, back to his home in Ghana for some research into the markets there.   Eric is smarter than a tree full of owls, and is saving jobs for other Vermonters by quadrupling the value of parts harvested from "Wii screens."   I'll be reporting on Eric's journey, where he will do downstream diligence on Ghana Tech Wahab Muhammed Odoi (who buys tested working devices we collect in other states - but not televisions.  Africans don't want NTSC.  If you don't know what NTSC is, ask Joseph Benson).

PS:   MY OPINION OF WHAT SHOULD BE ALLOWED IS NOT EVIDENCE THAT I DON'T FOLLOW CONTRACT PROCEDURE.   If you pay me to tie a ribbon on a TV and shred it, and I take that contract and that invoice, then that is what I will do.  I'll tell you it's a mistake, but my opinion of fair trade recycling is just that.

I have never exported TVs to Africa.  I am not married to a black person, but I'm mad as hell if Loving vs. Virginia makes it illegal for me to do so.  This is tangential from the partial release of the FOIA information which had been quashed by Vermont ANR (evaluation of bid documents, and discussions of the Independent Plan).  Vermont ANR made a partial release last week of the bid evaluation documents comparing Good Point to Casella.

Get this. Vermont ANR staff's bid evaluation for my company actually has discussions about whether my OPINIONS on fair trade recycling should lower my company's score.  My participation in the Vermont Fair Trade Recycling Summit shows up in the notes as a reason not to select Good Point Recycling to recycle televisions in Vermont.

That raises more questions.   VPIRG head Paul Burns is married to the ANR manager who signed the Casella contract.  VPIRG tried to get E-Steward rules (verbatum from E-Steward "semiknockdown" language) written into Vermont Procedures.

Had my company paid money to Basel Action Network, like Kuusokowski did, instead of paying for a Summit at Middlebury College, would the outcome of the Casella contract been different?

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