NGO Needle in Haystack #3: Logic of BAN on Interracial Marriage

Re-Release of Paused Blog #3
"Well Robin, you might have a nice biracial marriage.  I'm just worried about your future children, they seem to me to be the victims.  Don't you worry they'll be rejected by both races and won't fit in anywhere?  And the fact your marriage works out doesn't mean that most interracial marriages will". 
My first fiance (1980) was non-white, and I heard that kind of crap where I grew up in the Ozarks.  I vividly remember arguments about the Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court decision, which ruled Virginia law against interracial marriages unconstitutional. It was completely illogical, driven by ignorance and fear.  There were no facts in the argument against my engagement announcement.  It was completely based on conjecture and speculation.

The NGO crusade against the overseas Tech and Repair Sector, or "Repair and Overhaul" (R and O) not only reminds me of the segregation logic, but also smacks of environmental malpractice.    For several years, people in the Recycling community have said to me:
"Robin, I would prefer that you not export anything for reuse.  Even if you know the people that you are selling displays to - and I don't doubt they are good people - the fact is that I've read 80% of the waste is burned by children under primitive conditions."
Now the people who said the quote at the top about interracial marriage were good, church going people (family).  They really were.  Really, really, good people.  And the people who said the second quote, too, are outstanding environmentalists.  But the fact is that, in the second case, for too long I walked around satisified that people trusted ME to export but believed that most of the export market was bad.  And I knew the SKD markets and RandO was misrepresented.  I did try harder, I'm sure, than others to screen the exports.  But the racist imagery just bugs the hell out of me, and we have to do something about it.  Like ask, "what the hell is MIT's Senseable Media Lab doing hooking up with Basel Action Network??  Didn't they read the Travis Reed Miller thesis?

From the banner atop the NGO's web page (screenshot), we have the 1970s Prince Nico Mbarga white Magnavox TV.  No doubt imported used, originally.  And absolutely no doubt it was imported more than a decade before the photo was taken.  If the NGO planted a GPS tracker in that old white TV today, the chances of it winding up in Agbogbloshie or Hong Kong are zero.

But the propaganda continues, despite the fallacy and illogic.  I could run a photo of the Lovings in their 70s and imply that their aging was a result of the marriage, and it would make as much sense as running a photo of a TV in Agbogbloshie now which was imported in 1977.

Will PBS repeat the mistake it made in Frontline?

@KCTS9 Here's what the NGO should actually be saying

NGO Basel Action Network has announced PBS will air its local Seattle affiliate's coverage of its investigation of LCD reuse markets (incorrectly identified as "recycling" markets) through exports to Hong Kong.  I'm rushing these blogs a bit to get them out in advance, so hopefully someone in the PBS background research office can spare them a "Ira Glass presents Mike Daisy" moment.

In Part I and Part II we examined the photos BAN released - no CRTs, no VCRs, nothing but LCDs - and looked at the "Base Rate Fallacy".

Before this story airs, I have one more nugget. Jim Puckett told some recyclers in advance about the GPS devices!  They may be going after Total Reclaim, their own E-Steward, in order to obscure this fact.  But it's the third major problem with this "Investigation".
  • They mischaracterize Hong Kong as a "primitive" place
  • They hide devices not in printers, or CRTs, or 95% of the stuff that Hong Kong would never import, but only in devices where Hong Kong has a known core competency... flat screen reuse.
  • Some recyclers know in advance that tracking devices are being implanted, some don't
How do I know the 3rd?  Well, because Jim Puckett told me personally in 2014.  If he told me, I have no doubt he told others.  He only told me about tracking devices, not the type of e-scrap he was putting it in.  Since my company exports less than 6% (only for reuse), we weren't worried except that testing for repair is a potential human error problem.  We assumed they'd place the trackers randomly in the type of waste we normally get, not all 200 of them in the one thing Hong Kong buys.

Anyone who did know in advance should come forward and disclose they knew in advance, because if it comes out in court testimony, knowing and keeping it secret is potentially an SEC violation.  Hopefully someone at PBS is looking into this, or at least asks Jim on camera if its true that some recyclers or some people outside of his organization knew about the methodology.  If they did, PBS and BAN can't disclose anything about companies who "failed" the test (as they've already done to Total Reclaim).  They should air it as "entertainment" or "speculation", not as evidence of BAN's contention that most exports are bad and repair should be illegal.

1977 Nigeria album had the white TV from BAN banner
Below is more data to support yesterday's "Baseline Fallacy Bingo".  But I cannot resist one more analogy.

Imagine I sold a "certification" for University Admissions Offices, and claimed there was a "dirty little secret" that most were doing a bad job of screening candidates for admission.  To prove it, I send in fake high school transcripts and cheated-on SAT scores.  I send 200 "false valedictorians", unqualified applicants. to the University Admissions Offices (telling some, but not all, that some applications are rigged).  Now I claim, voila, how many of the boneheads were admitted, and to which colleges.  Conclusion, colleges need to pay for my certification program!

Cutting wires and planting GPS trackers only in the candidate "e-waste" with repair competency in Hong Kong, or in nice looking CRTs purchased by Africa's tech sector #freejoebenson doesn't prove anything is wrong.  It's at best and opening argument, and PBS will owe the export for repair market a chance to respond.

In the meantime, be warned KCTS9 Leaders (Rob Donlop, April Collier, Carlos Espinoza, Michelle Pihl, and Jabran Soubeih), you may need to follow Ira Glass's example.  An NGO sending a press release out with 15 year old photos of Asian children (implying that the LCD refurbishment and parts markets are endangering kids) is just kind of ... um... bigot-y.  Someone at PBS should come out of retirement and explain the "Senator Joe McCarthy" campaign, or the arguments for laws against biracial marriage.

Here's a link to where we showed BAN still issuing press releases containing the very data they claimed "never, ever" to have provided in 2013.  That's the kind of company @KCTS0 finds itself in.  I love PBS, as much as I love environmentalists and love my family.  But if you really love someone, you gotta tell them when they are being accidental bigots.

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