How to Categorize Part 2: Derivatives of Martin Luther King Jr

Yesteday's post wasn't well edited (I added some clarifiers this morning from my room in Salzburg, Austria).  But I was happy writing it, because I felt something was coming together somehow, it felt like something crystallized.  Sometimes those are the worst submissions, sometimes the best.  But in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday in the USA, I hope that it channels Reverend King's letter written from Birgmingham prison, with pen and paper.  No backspaces, no click and delete.

Someone I met and admire here in Europe stayed up with me last night (we arrived on the same flight), arguing and pontificating about Trump's election, e-Waste policy, economics, and family.  It was a broad enough discussion, lasted well past midnight.  He and I don't always agree, though he's reasonable enough that I hope he'll be able to look back and see the fallacies in the EU position in hindsight (or I will - I had to come back to my room and research some stuff when we left).

The next day, it all seemed to fit in 140 characters.  Second, below the first 'pinned' tweet below.

Criticism of method or regulation isn't "attacking" the regulator.  It is defending the innocent from unjust prosecution.  And a regulator or prosecutor who persists in using methods or enforcement proven to be constructed on false premises is liable for environmental malpractice.

< That's boiled down to 140 characters at left.

Shouldn't we try to get along?  Or is the false consensus built upon white privilege, and we need to represent the Geeks of Color, whose comments were ignored in PACE Initiative?

The discussion came in response to Jim Puckett's constant claim that this is an "attack blog" and that I am "insulting" or "attacking" his poor non-profit organization.  This has been Jim's go-to response for several years now, since I wrote a guest editorial "We Shouldn't Have to Make That Choice" in Resource Recycling in 2009.  It was one of the first blogs turned editorial, and it was cited by Grahm Pickren in his 2014 thesis, Political Ecologies of Electronic Waste: Uncertainty and Legitimacy in the Governance of E-Waste Geographies.

The editors of Resource Recycling liked it, thought it was nuanced.  But Jim Puckett, in emails to me personally and to the editors (demanding a right to response, which they gave him) called it an "attack" which he could not let stand.  In that email, he threatened to go after me personally, and my business and employees, if I did not refrain from criticizing his policy.

Jim followed up with a response editorial which said, among other things, that "fair trade recycling" was illegal, and directly said "Poisoning people is not fair trade".

I then got a lot of "friends" calling and emailing me asking if I was somehow reckless or crazy or applauding me for "poking the watchdog" as if it was all some kind of Junior High School dare.  I decided to respond with humor, and posted my first "April Fools" blog.  Written as a press release (before the term #fakenews caught on), it announced I had been bought out, hired by BAN, on condition that I stop speaking English.  The inside joke was the quote from the Ayatollah of E-Waste that it was cheaper to buy me out than put me out of business.

That blog led to an angry comment section exchange with Don Summers, then employed by BAN.  Don later let drop the total attack on Fair Trade Recycling in Chicago Patch.  Puckett distances himself from the personal attacks on me (as crazy and "lying through my teeth") but did not approach the central debate in both the "Shouldn't have to Make that Choice" that Summers attacked.  That the high tech, modern, honorable recycling and refurbishing facilities overseas were "a Myth".

In this case, Jim succeeded in getting Chicago Patch to "disappear" the article quoting Summers (the attack), but Patch left in the Apology.

In any case, what brings this history back up now is that the IERC Conference decided to put Jim and I on the same panel in 2 days, with no prepared presentation.  My pal I stayed up arguing with is very much a supporter of Jim, who said he wished Europe had a Jim Puckett.  (His salary is project funded, EU money to research the E-Waste crisis).

Anyway, in mid discussion the EU pal from Netherlands said that he and others had the impression that Americans like to personally attack each other, and compared the published dialog between Jim Puckett and Robin Ingenthron to Donald J. Trump's campaign of snotty insulting labels and gross exaggerations of American muslims - dancing on the rooftops during 9/11. I will never forgive Trump for that sinister claim of eyewitness, because many Americans weren't born then and will live the rest of their lives believing upon it - see yesterday's blog.

Let me wrap this up in this way.

Fair Trade Recycling is an anti-Defamation organization.  Like other Anti-Defamation leagues, we focus on laws and regulations, and criticize laws and policies influenced by people who call our dear friends "a Myth", and who say that 80% of our overseas friends are somehow an embarrassment to trade with.   The theme of Loving Vs. Virginia and Martin Luther King Jr. is strong here, though there are certainly differences (non-OECD is hardly a "minority").

Any good defense lawyer must attack the false witness.  Basel Action Network has built an entire organization and certification program based on false statistics (80% of exports being shameful), such that all they claim now (Senseable City MoniTour, e.g.) is that export by itself, transboundary movement, is sufficient to demonstrate crime and shame.  If I sold something used and it went overseas, journalists are told to assume it will be processed in the way BAN photographs or leads photographers to take the photos.

BAN obscured data in Monitour which we showed could have been used to track an LCD to EcoPark and to eventual reuse in a restaurant (apparently) at Tin Shui Wai.  When I printed that, BAN made a deft attack on me, as if I had claimed a device MY company sent to Chicago (we did not export) had gone to the Modern and reputable facility.

As if by showing a device they can track to me proves that everyone overseas with modern, high tech, or reputable refurbishing, etc., is still, in BAN's words, "the myth".

I am attacking the false witness against Jaleel, Fung, Jinex, Hamdy, Wahab, Vicki, etc., all the Fair Trade Recycling WR3A members we represent.   And so BAN attacks me, personally, my clients and employees by name.  As if we ever claimed to have anything to do with the $550M expansion at Hong Kong's Eco-Park, and the hundreds of thousands of tons of import licenses for non-hazardous e-scrap (which Hong Kong EPD classified printer scrap as being) which came out when the new Modern High Tech Recycling facilities were announced.

In my case, the people who showed me the import licenses and the public announcements of the high tech facilities - and the R2 certifications to prove it - let us down or at least couldn't complete the play... it was too early perhaps.  And I admit I feel I should have known that - but you see, the USA modern high tech facility we were sending printer scrap to the previous month cancelled our bookings that month.  I made the space by sending stacked apparently refurbishable laser printers to the Chicago company we use regularly for copy machine refurbishing (we also admit we sent scrap ones to, but the one BAN sent us wasn't or the GPS would have been destroyed in our process).

But ultimately if Atticus Finch is a bad person and a hypocrite and a "big supporter of dumping on the poor", that does not mean that the false witness we cross examine is guilty, or deserves more scrutiny, or a curtailment of rights given them under Basel Convention Annex IX, B1110.  That annex gives the Tech Sector in non-OECD countries the right to trade and import for reuse - and even for proper recycling of circuit boards.

EU took bad data during the PACE initiative - the 80% Insult - and altered rights under Basel Annex IX.  The defenders of EU WEEE interpretation now say it is in support of the Circular Economy.

Which I'm all in favor of.

But, I told him, it's a lie that Africans are throwing away or primitively processing the circuit boards, whether they receive them 10 years after secondhand material was reused, or promptly following 10% accidental breakage.  They aren't burning circuit boards.  The eyewitness never even showed that, the BAN organization merely shows black faces with junk electronics and leaves us to assume something bad is going to happen.

The circuit boards are now being processed in Nigeria, under the oversight of Chinese chip buyers, who then send the circuit boards (stripped of high end IC chips) to Dowa in Japan.

And no, I won't tell you how I know that.  Because they are presumed innocent, and the organization that says otherwise, however well respected their intentions may be, has the burden of proof.


I think that has already happened, and that he was given a gag order as condition of early release.  But an apology, or a Dylan "Hurricane" tune, is still in order.

To quote from Martin Luther King Junior's letter from Birmingham Alabama prison, when he was accused in the press of being an outsider (rendering suspicious his protests in Birmingham when he lived in Atlanta):

If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of "outsiders coming in"
I am in Birmingham because injustice is here ...I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider ...
I'm just expanding on this... to include the Tech Sector, the NOT "primitive" recyclers, and the Geeks of Color, outside the USA and outside the EU and outside the sphere of Great White Privilege.  We cannot establish a "circular economy" that doesn't allow Africa and China and Japan to play a role in the circle.  And if the useful lifespan of the appliance is increased in the process, or its value used to create Offset / Takeback incentives in urban emerging markets, we should oppose anything else.

The circular economy includes the whole world.

And if you think "primitives in rice paddies" are 80% of the problem, you have been persuaded by your own myths, stereotypes, and false premises.  And your best intentions and sincerest beliefs that you were donating to the holiest actors have no more legitimacy than the Catholic Bishop who set afire to Montezuma's Aztec library scrolls.

Whoops, you are doing it again.

submitted without edit, in the spirit of the Birmingham Jail Letter.

Robin Ingenthron

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