Intercon Solutions vs. Charity Conjecture Complex NGO

Last week I had a brief telephone interview with Brian Brundage, CEO of Intercon Solutions.  Brian had texted me about his lawsuit vs. Basel Action Network, the NGO in Seattle which accused Intercon Solutions of illegally exporting toxic computer scrap to China.

I've written about Intercon before.  I don't really claim to know the facts of the case.  But I do know very well the modus operendi of the NGO in Seattle.  From Oxford dictionary...

con·jec·ture  ( kənˈjekCHər/) noun
  1. an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information. "conjectures about the newcomer were many and varied"
speculation, guesswork, surmise, fancy, presumption, assumption,theory, postulation, supposition;

  1. form an opinion or supposition about (something) on the basis of incomplete information. "he conjectured the existence of an otherwise unknown feature"

guess, speculate, surmise, infer, fancy, imagine, believe, think,suspect, presume, assume, hypothesize, suppose

"I conjectured that the game was over"

In several direct cases I am personally aware of, Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network defamed businesspeople on little evidence and lots of assumptions and a dollop of chutzpa.  PT Imtech in Semarang, Indonesia was one.  He was the primary source of the "80% of used electronics are junk" faux statistic, according to everyone from Terry Gross (Fresh Air) to Peter Essick (National Geographic) to the new generation of photojournalists (Benito, McElvaney, Hugo, etc.)

The photos of Agbo don't generate money for orphans or recyclers.  They generate money for journos, NGOs, lawyers and defamation cases.

At the EScrap Conference, held by Resource Recycling in Orlando for the last couple of years, Jim spoke to an audience that was shown direct evidence that Agbogbloshie never received a sea container of junk electronics.  Ever.  Not even accessible.  Two professional experts born and raised in Ghana (Grace Akese and Emmanuel Nyalete) were there with him in the audience, telling him that Agbogbloshie was a scrap automobile yard, and that the VCRs and computers delivered there are collected house to house in a metropolis of 4 million people who have had electricity for decades (Accra proper is about 2.5M, but the city has expanded. Agbogbloshie is a slum and market near the city center).

Jim went on to speculate that while the sea containers arrive hours away, that the junk electronics were distributed to shops throughout the city, and then collected by pushcart.  Effectively, Jim was accusing people like Joe Benson, Africa's Tech Sector, of being incapable of sourcing 95% good computers, unable to repair them, but somehow stupidly were laundering "millions of tons" of junk electronics... for free.  No, not for free.  That they pay for these junk pieces, paying typically ten times more than the copper is worth when it reaches Agbogbloshie.

Kevin McElvaney, the German photojournalist, was at the conference as a speaker and also in the audience.  The following day, McElvaney inserted himself to answer a question directed initially to Grace Akese, the Memorial University Ph.D. researcher from Ghana.  McElvaney basically gave Jim's version, that the junk is distributed through repair shops and secondary markets.  His evidence was not in any of the Secretariat of Basel Convention funded studies... it was based on what he knows... photography.

Here is a picture I took of junk TVs at several of these shops.

Here is  a picture of the TVs at Tema, where the imports go.

Do the photos support Jim Puckett and Kevin McElvaney's representation?  Or do they support Grace Akese's and Eric Emmanuel Nyalete's?  Note that when I take a photo for evidentiary use, I don't pose a child on top.

Accra has had television stations for decades - since before McElvaney or Grace Akese or Nyalete were born. Eventually, they do reach end of life.   And they do, eventually, wind up in Agbogbloshie.  Decades later.  If not where did they go?  BBC and Al Jazeera of all people should know about broadcasting and viewership in African cities!   (in the upcoming report, I have interviews with retired British TV station engineer who lived for 3 decades in Africa).

Conjecture that the goods in the pile at the dump came via containers at the port of Tema serves one purpose - bias confirmation.

None of this is about Intercon Solutions or Brian Brundage.  Not directly.  But look at BAN's press release about the "dismissal" of the defamation case.  Now read the actual judgment.  And look how BAN is funded.  Charitable Industrial Complexes can be expensive to maintain, and the "collateral damage" (Puckett's phrase) can be high.

Brian said that although he was winning, that BAN's lawyers had bled him dry.  He estimated that both sides had spent a cumulative million dollars on the case, and that if Intercon won, BAN could not have paid a judgement that covered those costs.  He said his attorney and BAN's attorney had decided, mutually, to quash the case.

"With prejudice", which BAN's press release implied is based on a finding of fact that Intercon was guilty, simply means both sides agree not to retry the case.  It's an agreement to close all suits and countersuits arising from the original filings.

Brian said "why Jim does that, puts out a press release implying victory in a mutually dismissed case, is a mystery to me".

But it does fit a pattern, doesn't it?

An industry of conjecture, impugnment, and racially charged photography.  In Intercon's case, it was about money and reputation.  In Joe Benson's case, it's about freedom and family.

Let's see if BAN is willing to sue me.

Jim said on film he did not know the name "Joe Benson".  But he does, and I have proof he does. It's proof that Jim will say something to a reporter which he knows specifically is a lie.  And he is damaging people.  Whatever the facts behind Intercon's case, Jim is lucky that Africans and Indonesians and Malaysian technicians don't have the resources to sue his NGO for defamation.

His lies are floating all over the internet, and like stubborn pieces of plastic litter, they aren't going away.  And a generation of students in college are meeting African and Asian exchange students, they are visiting places like Cairo and Lagos and Jakarta and Guangzhou, and they are seeing for themselves the number of 1980s CRT televisions and VCRs are in the closets and garages in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

And they don't like being lied to.

I wonder what Donald Summers thinks about the organization he used to consult for.  I never sued them for what Donald said about me personally.  The lies about me (which Donald called and apologized to me for) were in a story by Chris Paicely (Chicago Patch) on Intercon.  Donald told the reporters that the professional refurbishing factories I described and gave photos of did not exist.

I didn't tell the Patch reporter I knew Intercon shipped to those factories.  I said I didn't know, but the fact some used CRTs are exported to Asia does not prove dumping, that the percentage of waste BAN claimed was in the containers was conjecture.

On behalf of BAN, Donald said things which impugned the contract manufacturers and even the recyclers overseas.  I didn't sue, but not because I'm afraid of BAN.  And in answer to Brian's question, why BAN would issue a release claiming fact finding by the judge and evidence of dumping, I think I know the answer.

Basel Action Network is a bullyboy.  They survive on our fears.  They thrive on liability, and conjecture, in order to shake recyclers down for "certification".  I think there are other words besides conjecture.  And some of them may be subject matter for criminal attorneys, not for civil lawyers.

Poverty porn and pics of kids at dumps.  The gift that keeps on taking.  If the outrage is questioned, just look at the lengths of conjecture and libel and defamation some NGOs will go to.

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