Cross Cultural Training in Ewaste #2: IRS FORM 13909

Two NGOs take opposing positions on trade w/ "Third world" aka "emerging markets". What's Tech? What's Scrap? Who decides? Which is a "watchdog"? Which is registered as a "charity"? Who beats up other non-profits?

Ten years ago, the mission of dba Fair Trade Recycling was to vet exporters. And by that we meant to identify USA companies it was safe to export FROM, and not foreign companies it was safe to export TO.

To me, it's an amazingly simple explanation, but it takes weeks sometimes to get it through to journalists and documentary makers.

If you begin with the assumption that the Tech Sector in an emerging market enlists the very best and brightest, the valedictorians, and assume they are flying to purchase something from the Scrap Sector in the wealthy nation - as I did - then the purpose of a civil contract between the two parties is to increase efficient and fair trade.

Earlier this decade [post WR3A California Compromise] we realized that before we could broker loads, we had to first serve the Tech Sector by advocating on their behalf against a very strongly funded defamation campaign. To complicate matters, that campaign was being promoted by "the Left", people who were quite self-certain that they didn't have a single racist idea in their minds.  People who championed "environmental justice" were in fact committing "environmental malpractice", but that was a hard message to deliver.

If I can't fundraise to pay the WR3A credit card bills, maybe we can do the next best thing and "level the playing field". Basel Action Network is registered as a 501-c(3) charity - an organization that attests it does not advocate for legislation, does not perform work to benefit any private business or organization, and provides charitable services.  If reporters are looking for a story, we got another one for you....

In the age of sensitivity to "cultural appropriation", WR3A has to tread lightly, and so we act mainly in REACTION to other organizations' appropriations (especially images of kids). If we are a watchdog, we are mainly watching out for FALSE CLAIMS.

Joseph "Hurricane" Benson is just an example, a martyr. He had been doing his role, sourcing working and repairable equipment for Africa's Tech Sector for 25 years when Raphael "MyInjustice" Rowe took a non-profit's GPS tracker, cut a wire inside a TV, dropped it off at Benson's business, and then announced he was saving Africa. Which the BBC must have thought was quite lovely since Rowe is a minority... no need to examine the story. Benson was arrested and sentenced to FIVE YEARS in prison. Benson's word - that he had purchased the TVs and had paid far more to ship them than they were worth in scrap - was ignored. It gave "criminal justice" a whole new meaning.

Twitter Shaming Raphael Rowe as some kind of Justine Sacco wasn't going to be effective, though the framing and testimony ("common knowledge") about Africa's Tech Sector was far worse than a stupid AIDS tweet. What Fair Trade Recycling was forced to do instead has been to educate the next generation of journalists in Cross Culture... by blog, by tweet, by university research, by film testimony, etc. Raphael Rowe's and Cahil Milmo (The Independent) created damage to African reputations that is still not undone. I personally reached out to them quite civilly I think on several occasions. I also ridiculed their reporting via this blog.  The latter however was not to change their minds, but to generate controversy in European and American universities, which resulted in professional studies being done.  Those studies completely discredited the "80% dumping" brokered for cash between Basel Action Network, Greenpeace and Big Shred.  But Dr. Graham Pickren's thesis (covered here in 2013 and 2014) is difficult reading for a liberal journalist looking for a hot story.
 At issue is not whether certifications simplify reality, which all acts of representation do, but rather of interest are the specific kinds of economic activities, practices, and places that are stabilized by particular representations..."
"... Both e-Stewards and R2 target these informal recyclers as the beneficiaries of their activities, yet no actors from developing countries were involved in the development of either certification. E-recycling is improved on their behalf but not with their participation. " - Dr. Graham Pickren 
While Pickren is halfway there, even he conflates - through the word "informal" - the differences between the Scrap Sector and Tech Sector in these emerging markets. Having killed the fake statistic about exports, our organization now finds itself giving journalists training in what black and brown people do for a living in the "global south". Without this basic premise, a GPS tracker is tracked to a city in a country with massive internet, cell phone, TV and telecommunications platforms, and yet is assumed to have wound up in a "rice paddy" or "shantytown" or "swamp" or "fishing village".

Black Geek Speaks #Europe2018

In Part 3, I'm going to dissect just one of our communications lessons to some German journalists this week. I hope that it is something that will earn support from our readers. Financial support would be great.  I have been funding all of my travel, and our Tech Sector reps and Scrap Sector reps communications, off a personal credit card that seems to have reached over $26,000 in unpaid balances.  I don't mind, I will keep doing it. It has been pretty efficient, especially since we now get the Tech Sector to tell its own story.

Surely however, I'm not the only person to see the millions of dollars contributed to an organization (Basel Action Network) which festoons its webpage with pictures of poor children - yet does not accurately describe what they are doing, what they are doing it to, and how it got there.  And more acutely - does not share a dollar with the people they have photographed.  It is shockingly racist.  As a journalist, you are not a racist for reporting or covering their GPS tracking system, but you have an obligation to listen to the Joe Bensons in the Tech Sector and to give them the benefit of the doubt.

If anyone belongs in prison, it should be under the False Claims Act, and for violating IRS deduction rules for 501-c(3) charities.  I happen to know some people circulating this IRS link, and think its a fine idea.

If you are a 501-c(3) charity, among other things, you aren't supposed to be advocating for legislation - as this BAN Board member did - much less so if you are providing false "80% waste export" testimony.

Now if I was a journalist, I'd find this a pretty interesting turn of events.  Not the least because most of the victims of Basel Action Networks flawed GPS methodology are themselves CHARITIES.

BAN made a very public deal out of shaming GOODWILL INDUSTRIES, which has a long tradition of supplying used goods and parts to poor people, and creating jobs in the bargain. In fact, as a onetime consultant to NRC and Dell I introduced them to the way Massachusetts DEP was working with Goodwill and Salvation Army to create an infrastructure for "ewaste" reuse, recycling and collection.

BAN similarly attacked the Canadian charity ERA this summer, placing 14% of all their allegedly "randomly" distributed, allegedly "unrepairable" electronics, at the door of Bojan Paduh's organization... not disclosing the lawsuit BAN engaged in with Paduh (a geek and refugee of Bosnia's civil war, a country well versed in the value of used goods imported from Europe and America).  My son is attending United World College in Mostar, Bosnia, and I talked to Paduh when we were both on family holiday in the former Yugoslavia in August 2018.

BAN "charity" attacks people for NOT BOYCOTTING Geeks of Color

BAN similarly attacked Earthworm Recycling, hand picking their corporate office for a fictious reuse drop off.  BAN accidentally disclosed that they had chosen Earthworm - which has no signs or public drop off point, they rang a doorbell and took the printer in an elevator - based on information on the charity's website that they worked with us in Vermont.

BAN has of course accused me personally as being a big supporter of "poisoning the poor". While WR3A / Fair Trade Recycling is a non-profit, unlike BAN we did not register as a charitable non-profit because we take a position on legislation, such as ratification of Basel Convention (good) and Jim's Basel Ban Amendment (awful).  Not to mention USA BIS public commentary on the proposed Thompson-Greene Bill inspired ID BIS-2018-0022-001 which attempts to label reused and remanufacturing as "counterfeiting", a massive stick in the eye to proponents of the Right to Repair Act, another legislative piece that is on both ("Charity") BAN and (tax paying NGO)'s agenda.

So that's quite a bit of homework.

If you are a reporter, this is the controversy.

Compare our two organizations - Basel Action Network vs Fair Trade Recycling.

So stay tuned to this blog for Part 3, where I will show, blow by blow, how we are educating professional journalists BEFORE they put on their parachutes.  If the Organized Christian Churches had done this before they fund-raised for sent off to the colonies, perhaps we wouldn't be in this "exotic reporting" and white-guilt collateral damage trap.

Someone, at some time in history, had to deliver the message to the pharmaceutical industry that while mercury was a great laxative (removing "waste" from constipated elk-eating explorers), that they had to stop selling it.  Not doubting that took a lot of negotiation.  I wonder if shaming played a bigger role in marketing or in de-marketing the practice... and does anyone remember if one position was considered "charitable"?


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