Time's Up: E-Waste News Develops Faster than Blog

I have about 30 pages of blogs composed this summer, but the challenge is to update them as fast as the news changes.

Sometimes it's easier to point back at past predictions...
In the past year or so (not in order, and some still "breaking" news).

1.  BAN denies "80% waste" statistic (denies ever saying it).
2.  Peer reviewed studies from USITC, MIT, Memorial U, ASU, UNEP, etc. show 85-91% reuse.
3.  Benson is reportedly released early #freehurricanebenson
4.  Lord Chris Smith (UK Environmental Agency director) is replaced.
5.  Vermont ANR terminates contract with CRT-landfill operation early.
6.  Payment refused to local governments may be released.
7.  Interpol may have hit the "pause" button on Project Enigma / Eden (unconfirmed)
8.  A stampede of Europeans emerging from the trenches in Agbogbloshie to testify...


"Do not know what they are talking about.  Making it up as they go along."

Cultural Gulf Travels: History Videos are about People

Saw this in the Atlantic Online, via Quartz (qa.com)

It shows how intelligent rural people are attracted to culture, or simply shows urbanization, depending on your take.  It's a little tough to distinguish the two.   But the printing press, during this time, was a city device, and until the internet, literacy was correlated with printing presses, and printing presses were in cities.

In my experience in "emerging markets", aka the "developing world", electricity and internet remain urban magnets.   As aspiring people move to Accra or Lagos (see "cultural gulfs in developing markets" series), they need "good enough" display devices to do things like access the internet and watch World Cup matches and local news broadcasts.

DELTA: IMF, Botswana, Bullyboys, Tinkerers and Liberal Bubble-heads

One my flight back from the EU, I had the good luck to find myself seated next to a young woman from Botswana.  I learn she's a student of economics (probably) returning for her sophomore year at a very selective small women's liberal arts college in Massachusetts.

BotswanaAs my twins are just starting college life, we had a lot to chat about in the beginning, about the cost of USA tuitions and fees, financial aid, and jobs.  My wife teaches at Middlebury, and (I'll call her Mosta, a pseudonym) knew the Cameroon program my wife set up and was considering applying for next year.  Mosta described her father as a retired road construction engineer, and her mother ran a nursing program at a Botswana hospital.

Botswana Africa is considered one of the most democratic and least corrupt countries in the sub-sahara, though Mosta and I quickly agreed that it was a low bar.  She knew the term "resource curse".  Botswana is home to diamond mining (and not much else), and reliant on raw materials contracts.  She understood and agreed with my "development" theory.   Nations whose path to wealth was mainly tied to being somehow related to someone with the sharpest elbows inside a bureaucracy which controlled foreign access to those raw materials.  The curse of natural resources lies in the bullyboy culture within the governments who find themselves awash in cash from resource contracts but don't have much of a private sector in other home businesses.

From the Front Lines: African Technicians Jailed in England

On my way to Lyon, France, home of Interpol.   Lots of blogging in the draft folders.  But let's keep things simple.  Joe Benson of BJ Electronics was a technician of color accused by BBC and Skynet and Lord Chris Smith of the EA of wastecrime.   He was sentenced after years of appeals (which cost him more than paying the fine, I'm told).   And now he's in jail.   White environmentalists can sleep easier, knowing the black geeks aren't burning their iPhones in "witches brews" of e-waste toxics stirred by children.

What does Africa see?

1.  Teeming cities in the emerging markets generate tens of thousands of tons of municipal solid waste.  e.g. Economist 2.2014  "Nigeria’s sprawling megacity, Lagos, with a population of 21m or so, disgorges 10,000 metric tonnes of waste a day."

2.  Cities in Africa and China have had CRT televisions and monitors for decades and decades.  World Bank 2006 statistics show Nigeria already had 6.9M households with TV.

3. The cost of shipping a containerload of used CRT televisions from England to Africa costs, per television, more than four times the value of the copper that can be recovered from the TV.   A trader to Africa loses money on every junk TV shipped.

4.  Plastic shrink wrap does not have any significant effect on the damage to CRTs shipped to Africa.  It's purely cosmetic.

5.  Independent EU and African consultants examined hundreds of the sea containers with used electronics seized in African ports and during a 2 year study funded by the UN, found 91% reuse, better than brand new product.

6.  Greenpeace and Skynet had to pay 20 times scrap value to get their television with the tracking device back out of the African market.

7.  Arrest and imprisonment of THEIR Michael Dell, Simon Lin, Terry Gou... the same tinkerer-refurbishing economy that built Singapore, Shenzhen, Taiwan and Inchion is "forbidden fruit" to Africa under "Project Eden".

I have the documentation used to convict and sentence Hurricane Joe Benson to 16 months is prison.  They did NOT test his TVs, did NOT allow repair to be considered.

My thesis is that there is no evidence to justify Benson's experience except the following.

A.  Basel Action Network made up a hoax statistic that 80% of the electronics exported were scrapped by "primitive" Africans.
B.  Interpol in 2009 accepted BAN's statistic, reprinted it as an official guidance document despite 0 evidence of the statistic.
C.  Interpol did discover (expressing surprise) that the shipments were not paid for by EU waste companies to avoid disposal costs, but that the electronics were purchased by Africans ("waste tourists") for far more than the value of the scrap, that the Africans refused to buy most of the electronics they could have purchased, and that after purchasing the electronics for more than scrap value, the Africans paid shipping and customs duties on each piece.  Interpol's Emile Lindemulder described the trade as "organized" and (see A) therefore "organized crime".