Intercon Sentencing, Defamation, and Charity vs Charity Grudge Match

Chicago's Hall of Mirror Balls

Several people heard a "whoosh" sound while reading the April Fools Day Blog.  The BAN vs ERA of Canada - two recognized tax charities - defamation lawsuit was dropped about the same time.  But ERA's leader Bojan Paduh (a refugee of Bosnia during the 1990s civil war) is someone I got to know as a result of the lawsuit.  His anger at BAN is absolutely seething in a way I have not heard since Brian Brundage sued the NGO 6 years ago. (For April Fool reference, see email from BAN at bottom).

I told Bojan that I had indeed, more than once, considered a defamation lawsuit against BAN. Brian Brundage (like Bojan) had asked if I was interested in joining class action (shared legal cost) approach.  I spoke to an attorney about it in 2012, when Basel Action Network told a Chicago Newspaper that I was "lying through my teeth" and that the "state of the art" reuse and recycling facilities I had visited and eyewitnessed in Asia were a "myth". According to the reporter, BAN warned him against even listening to me, stating I was mentally ill and that everyone in the recycling community knew it.
"Most libel cases are filed by private citizens. There are reasons for that. Private citizens have a much lower bar to hurdle. They have to prove that the statement was factually wrong, that it was published, that it referred to them and damaged their reputation—and that somebody is responsible for it. That the person who made the statements was negligent." - Guy Bergstrom, "To Sue or Not to Sue: Libel"
Now BAN has learned a thing or two from their experience paying attorneys to defend them in defamation and liable lawsuits.  The 2012 attack on me was certainly explicit and personal, not against a company and not a vague "opinion".  They explicitly warned a reporter not to talk to me, and gave reasons why I was not credible.  Because BAN had to take the unusual step of apologizing and retracting their statements, I get contacted a lot for advice from others wanting to sue BAN. But they have learned to be a little more cautious in some cases (like using the term "likely illegal" against ERA, instead of "illegal", as they claimed in 2012).

Instead of suing, I accepted BAN's apology, which was run in the same Chicago Patch newspaper. I was not really satisfied with the apology, because it did not remove the insult or racial profiling I originally objected to. I was not the person being defamed, it was the Tech Sector overseas, the poor people who make a lot more money repairing rich peoples stuff than they can make repairing poor peoples stuff.

Garrison vs American Retroworks

The landlord of the Closed Loop Recycling (CLRR) certainly has a mess to clean up.

We will be submitting a claim in the near future ourselves. Unfortunately, our attorneys don't want us to make the case in the papers, yet.

But the headlines already generated calls from our clients.  So here are a few points of fact that need to be considered in any story.

NGO Bravely Intervenes in Seattle Laptop Donation

[April 1, 2019  Seattle, Washington]  It was a close call for a local Seattle charity, which nearly received a dozen working laptops from a Canadian reuse organization last month.

Fortunately, Basel Action Network was quick to intervene, notifying the charity by email that the working laptops - while free -  were, in fact, used goods.

"We try to sabotage these before they are handed out," said Executive Director Jim Phuckett. "Had these gotten into the hands of a needy person, they might have gone for years using the device, not even realizing they were accessing the internet and typing term papers using 'e-waste'!"

A Word from The Recycling Industry that Sponsors Us

This blog is supported by international trade and recycling markets, which for centuries saved forests  and canyons and coral islands from the mining and forestry it takes to produce consumer goods from virgin material.

An excellent framing of today's so-called 'recycling crisis' is available today on Twitter. Follow @AdamMinter for decades of perspective.

This isn't to say there are not winners and losers. Buyers and Sellers markets always create those, and we don't want to discount the pain from those who have lost pay, or their recycling jobs. But the only way to truly lose is to stop recycling.

Certification and Racketeering 5: Analysis of Seven GPS Tracking Studies

2018 GreenTrack Report found only 5% export, including export to OECD countries DWE
In the next blogs of this series "Certification and Racketeering", we look at a chart comparing 6 actual and 1 hypothetical use of GPS Tracking Devices to follow largely unwitting and unwilling subjects.  We compare methods of placement, tracking, and financial involvement of lead investigators. From there, we will delve into whether the study acts as "Environmental Watchdog" or merely protects the claims of being an authority when those claims are threatened. If, for example, a GPS tracking study specifically seeks to discredit or scandalize someone who has a beef with the Investigator, does that influence the mechanics of the study?

In the 7th hypothetical GPS Tracking study, I've deliberately created a clearcut "Racketeering" use (using the tracking study to offer a solution to a problem that would not otherwise exist without the financial interest of the investigator). The hypothetical would clearly be a matter for the American Civil Liberties Union, or EFF, or Interpol or Bob Mueller to decide. We then correlate the studies to see which ones have more in common with the Racketeering Hypothesis.  Then we look at quotes and behavior of the lead investigator.

Certain MIT students, when they get older, may want to come forward and disclose specific methods used to drop specific devices at specific places. I can promise anonymity and cover your costs. I can also put you in touch with MIT's own attorney, who took over correspondence after MIT Senseable City Lab excused themselves from further collaboration with

Fair Trade Recycling Geek in Tamale, Ghana
Later, we will visit ("Take Your Pic") the use of cringy photos to jolt emotions when the actual statistical findings are not doing the trick. The art of a deal "selling" an unnecessary service, deceitful or otherwise, involves provocative / race-baiting imagery.

In the DWE tracking study, Dennis Ward    @dward_dennis gives us charts. In report by BAN, we have constant tear-jerking imagery evocative of our worst fears and perceptions of their so-called "Third World". But let's first focus on the methodology in 7 separate GPS Tracking Reports.

GPS trackers show exchange of products between two consenting parties.  There is not a single case of direct dumping of used electronics at foreign landfills. Who are we guilty of doing business with? And what makes our partnership suspicious?

Racketeering and Certification 4: "Framing" the Export Market

In the first blog in this series on Racketeering and Certification, we looked at actual problems in Africa (assassination of a journalist who reported on Racketeering). We then looked at the monetization of a so-called "charity" which claims to similarly expose problems -- for cash.  Pay for #EarthEye / "EarthEye"  and they will track your competitors, Pay for E-Steward Certification and get advance information about the same trackers. We looked at the charity's practice of sabotaging used devices (creating a problem) in order to gin up sales from paying clients (including commission-based profits, normally disqualifying for 501-c(3) "charities").

In part 4, let's look closer how this tracking works.  Do Basel Action Network's services cross the line from "watchdog" and become simple extortion, or racketeering? Is the problem they purport to solve one of their own making?

Jim Puckett "Frames" Africa

If a single computer monitor from this African Tech Sector shop went to Agbogbloshie days after Jim Puckett photographed it, we will bet it is the very one that Jim sabotaged. How more cringy can this "charity" get while "framing" the story?

Racketeering and Certification #3: Targeted Collateral Damage!?

How does Basel Action Network define Africa's Tech Sector, who purchase affordable solid state electronics for import, as a "Problem"?

First, look at their words.
Primitive. Pawing. Ghoulish. Skeletal. Rice Paddy. Shantytown. Swamp. Third World. Orphan. Toxic Soup, Witches' Brew, Cadavres...
Next, look at their claims.
80% of all ewaste is exported... Stuff at dumps mported days before... Children and teenagers... Most die within 5 years... Illegal under Basel Ban Amendment... 
Published in UNU Report 2015
And we can't look away from their photos.

At first glance, these are meant, like a tear-jerking Humane Society sad-dog-trick ad, to appeal to retiree church ladies or college PIRG fundraisers.

That is not who funds these ads. The poor kids herding goats at African landfills do not benefit.

Part II assessed BAN's service technique of selling a sabotaged (but nice looking) computer or TV with a GPS tracker inside to someone who does business with Africa or Asia's Tech Sector. Through a "Tracker" service they sell for money, you can investigate a competitor's sales. To legitimize the spy-ware (literally "ware") they try to make it about pollution and children.  They send reporters, like BBC Raphael Rowe, to a dump in a city that has had TV stations and electricity for a half century, and tell the reporter it used to be a lush paradise until bad, bad African repairmen imported waste to burn on it. But usually, they just send the reporter pictures, fake stats, and halloweeny words.

Racketeering often involves a conspiracy, a complicated system of money laundering, even through charities (USAToday). If the IRS investigates this NGO, through a complaint form 13909, there might be a domino effect. If billionaire corporations are privately benefiting from false claims, they could wind up at the sharp end of the Lanham Act. And million dollar settlements may ensue.

Take a look at the photos (below) Jim is taking now....

Certification and Racketeering: Part 2 The Guardian Deceit


"We don't want to have to go after you." - JP to yours truly during California Compromise negotiations in 2010.

"I'm not hiding anything, and don't think much of your threats" - My response.

Basel Action Network "goes after" people through the press. This week, The Guardian's environmental desk proves just how easy that is.  Sandra Laville's headline "UK worst offender in Europe for electronic waste exports - report" diligently puts out the hit, failing to interview a single African or Asian technician or importer.

Free Joe "Hurricane" Benson, much?

Mistaking Africa's Tech Sector (importers) for Africa's Scrap Sector (city wheelbarrow scrap collectors) is like mistaking a surgeon for a janitor because he's black.  The only proof BAN provides is a photo of a janitor.  

There are several other really really simple things to find on the internet which should have given The Guardian's editors pause. I'll tick them off briefly, but stick to the point. BAN has created a problem that wouldn't otherwise exist (false reporting, sabotaged equipment, fake statistics) for the purpose of generating millions of dollars from BAN E-Stewards. BAN not only threatens companies that don't pay them, but makes examples out of those of us who defend the Geeks of Color. It is the valedictorians in the Tech Sector who suffer the worst consequences of BAN's sabotage.

BAN doesn't just sabotage their equipment. It sabotages their reputation, and the reputation of anyone with the courage to trade with them, rather than boycott them. (In Part III, we'll look at who finances this sabotage).

Certification and Racketeering: Part 1 Ahmed Hussein Suale RIP

International Crime does take place.

"Racketeers offer a deceitful service to fix a problem that otherwise wouldn't exist."
Let that definition sink in.

"On 16 January, Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a Ghanaian investigative journalist who had collaborated with the BBC, was shot dead near his family home in Accra. Ghanaian police believe he was assassinated because of his work." - BBC

His work exposed bad calls from African referees, paid bribes to control the outcome of soccer matches. It's a textbook racketeering case, with a deceitful service (bad calls) sold to change the play that had occured on the field. People were convicted, resigned, or fired as the truth spread. And Africans who had watched the matches on TV and seen the bad calls with their own eyes, grew to esteem the Tiger Eye Team of Hussein-Suale and Anas Aremeya Anas.

Apology From Craig Lorch and Jeff Zirkle - Entrapped By BAN

Last week, E-Scrap News and Recycling Today ran an Op-Ed Letter and story about the upcoming sentencing of two electronics recycling company owners from Seattle, Washington.

Craig Lorch and Jeff Zirkle's letter starts with their background as young freon recovery do-gooders, who got into fluorescent lamp recycling, and then into "E-Waste", becoming the largest TV, computer, and electronics scrap recycling company in the NW USA.

Open Letter: Learn from Total Reclaim’s mistakes

Got a call from Craig a few days before the letter, and we had a pretty long talk about the situation. Had a shorter exchange with Jeff just afterwards. Around New Years, I had talked to Charles Brennick, another Seattle area electronics guy spiked by the GPS tracking scandal in Washington. And I've been in regular contact with Bojan Paduh, founder of Canada's ERA, who is in a defamation lawsuit against Basel Action Network for their report describing GPS device trackers they put into electronics dropped off at his site in Canada.  I was a paid expert witness for a fraud case on e-waste recycling in Chicago last summer.  So I have a lot of perspective to share.

It is an ugly business to grandstand, or use a friend's painful prison sentence news story as a soapbox to pontificate on environmental policy.  But in some of these cases, I've been given a green light.

Let's start by acknowledging that fraud is bad.

Let's finish by talking about Total Reclaim's biggest mistake.

10 Years Of Good Point Recycling Blogs: What's Been Learned?

Ten years ago, most of the mainstream press in Europe and the USA had accepted the cartoon thesis that if electronic waste is expensive to recycle, that shipments of used electronics to Asia, Africa and South America were to avoid those expenses. At least, 80% of the time.

We took that on here, before anyone else would touch the controversy with a 10 meter pole. Here's a retrospective on what was, and still is, relevant in the Good Point Recycling Blog.

When poor people are paying for something (including transportation), it is not "because" the rich are willing to ship it.

We demonstrated that with the "Big Secret Factories" and 60 Wasted Minutes blogs. The sea containers of CRT monitors headed for Asia were never, ever full of large CRT televisions, even though large CRT TVs had more copper and costed more to recycle. In fact, the purchase orders did even accept Sony Trinitron 17" desktop monitors or screen-burned desktop CRTs or pre-VGA.  When someone is paying you $10 each for something specific, and refusing to accept other similar CRTs even if you pay them, it probably has nothing to do with (ahem) "rice paddies".

Brad Collis [CC BY 2.0]

Bombshell Interview with Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network - leaked!

Let's start the 2019 Blog off with a BANG.

I have gotten a copy of the ~10 minute interview Jim Puckett did with a documentary filmmaker from Spain, on the subject of Agbogbloshie, Ghana. At the end of the video, Jim evidently didn't like his answers, whips off the mic, and leaves, saying he refused to authorize the use of his video.

He repeatedly used the term "biased questions". As is, is the percentage of bad material imported to Africa 15% or 80%? But my favorite "biased question" is...

"Do you know the name Joe Benson?"

No. That is a biased question....?


Someone asks you the name (John Smith, Mary Johnson?) and if you don't know them, is it a "biased question"?

Jim got his wish, and none of his interview made it to the documentary. But I have managed to get a very bad raw copy of it from an online upload site. The clips were uploaded in the USA (en route to Europe), and I have a copy of what the European documentary maker received (but did not use). If anyone is sued, I can testify that I obtained this directly from a third party cameraman hired from Florida, and not from the Europeans.

I will try to get some of this video out this weekend.