Rumors Updated Part 1: Status of the Joe "Hurricane" Benson E-Waste Witchhunt

Finally getting ready to release some major developments in the case of Joseph "Hurricane" Benson, who was first interviewed for THIS BLOG back in 2013.  Unconfirmed rumors are that Benson was released some time ago, on a condition that he not speak to the press.

Benson's Ewaste Export case was profiled a series of blogs, Titled BULLYBOYS.

The term "BULLYBOYS" was Joe Benson's.  His friends, Jacques and Amadou, had contacted me through the blog. They arranged a meetings - before he was sentenced to 5 years in prison by the United Kingdom.

Since that time, study after study has confirmed what Joseph Benson told us. Africa's Tech Sector is normal and good.

The accusations against Benson were made by the UK Environmental Agency during the tenure of Lord Chris Smith.  I met Lord Chris Smith in Washington DC in May of 2010, at a meeting with EPA and Interpol.  Lord Smith introduced Interpol's cringeworthy-titled "Project Eden" and was followed by a keynote speaker from Ghana, Mike Anane, and Jim Puckett.  At the meeting, Puckett orally confirmed the later-gone-orphan statistic that 80% of the exports sent to Africa are not recycled, reused, or repaired, but are dumped, burned, and "pawed" by orphans.   That year, he penned an essay, "A Place Called Away", which described Agbogbloshie in Halloween Scale details.

"In these global waysides that we might only know as “away”, as in “we threw it -- away”, the questions beg answers from each of us, sitting comfortably (as I do now) from behind LCD screens, tapping our keyboards and touch-pads. They cry out ghoulishly from these bone yards where these fallen icons of our proud Information Age lie as rotting fruit, the progeny of centuries of technological advancement, the offspring of Newton, Einstein and Samuel Morse. Indeed, what have we wrought?
"Machines that could, just months before, process a billion instructions per second, send a message clear around the world with the stroke of a key, or hold a library of books in a palm-sized drive, have found their end as metal and plastic skeletons, in the world’s most sorrowfully poor communities to be subjected to hammer and fire, emitting deadly smoke and fume. Shouldn’t there be a law?"...
"It is here that the relics of the Information Age, with their miraculous microscopic circuits, transistors, capacitors and semi-conductors, are bludgeoned and torched with Stone Age technology. For the residents in this squalor and filth make their living, first by hauling and then by smashing, gutting and burning the televisions and computers in a most un-green form of “recycling” to recover metals — copper, steel and aluminium.
"This material made its arrival on African shores just some days earlier as cargo inside 40-foot intermodal corrugated containers — the shifting bricks of globalized trade turned techno-trash..." 
Jim Puckett, A Place Called Away, 2010

It's important to document the start of a witch hunt...

Puckett and Lord Chris Smith introduced Michael "Fishing as a Boy" Anane as a "journalist". Anane spent the session describing a place he said everyone calls "Sodom and Gomorrah" for its ewaste dump, the "largest on earth".  Anane described "millions of tons" of waste electronics he eyewitnessed being dumped, multiple full containerloads per day, on the "wetland" of Agbogbloshie.  Anane described it to the group of enforcement staff as a "former fishing village" where he had swam as a boy.  Anane gave the opening interview for the initial Agbogbloshie documentary... working title "Clean Hands".

As recently as 2015, Anane was filmed claiming that he had been swimming in the lagoon before the computers began to arrive "about ten years ago" [Anane]

Claim about Odaw Lagoon status sometime between 2000-2005 "teeming with fish"

I politely confronted Anane at that 2010 meeting (and blogged about it), but had not yet been to Ghana myself. But Benson was arrested and accused in the press in the years following, and Anane featured prominently in documentaries heralding TV Repairman Joe Benson's arrest.  Anane appears in the opening scene of a video which was going into production (originally to document Anane's claims), until the documentary filmmaker contacted me expressing curiousity... He was at Agbogbloshie for several days, he said, and never saw any sea container, or any evidence of millions of tons per year.  Could I enlighten them?

Told him to check Anane's credentials. Is there a Newspaper he's a "journalist" for?  Anane told me the newspaper was "Triumph". I know a Triumph newspaper in Kano, Nigeria. Couldn't find one in Accra. It's 3 national borders away, about 1600 kilometers from Accra. Also suggested to Jacopo Ottaviana do a thorough background check of Anane-facts in 2015.

But how much does Jim Puckett and Basel Action Network depend upon their expert witness?  (Sarah Westervelt told me in 2010 that Anane was a source for BAN, Anane told me BAN was his own source for the 80% statistic.  Ottaviana told me Anane said it was from "his own independent research", but could not provide any evidence of it, other than a collection of plastic with asset tags and OEM logos).

Here is a chestnut from the person that filmed "Digital Dump" produced by Seattle filmmaker Len Davis in 2011, reliving the 2005 Digital Dump with Jim Puckett, in Nigeria, in 2011. A ponytailed white savior, clearly delighted at the reception by the lynch mob.  Note Puckett's claim "That film has changed the world".   So, is the entire witch-hunt based on photojournalism and circular references to abandoned 80% statistics?  Is this what Joe Benson's prosecutor referred to as "common knowledge"?

After several discussions, the group Palm and Play put the Clean Hands documentary on hold and agreed to do more background research and film other people, including Joe Benson, who had received his UK PRISON sentence for reusing electronics.  They are getting ready to release it under a new title, "Blame Game".

Through this blog, I have cajoled photojournalists who participated in the run up to the lynch mob.  It is gratifying that Fair Trade Recycling, and others (including 
Robin Nagle @rznagle) were able to make what Jim Puckett personally called "Collateral Damage" visible to the world. Particularly to Africans.   I believe we have now killed more stories from even running in the past 5 years than have appeared in the press.
So in this new series, I'll be sharing what we know, who has changed their story, and how the "Charitable Industrial Complex" of Planned Obsolescence, Big Shred, Strategic Minerals, and White Savior NGOs are avoiding responsibility for creating the Agbogbloshie Myth in the first place.

It is not good enough for Blacksmith Institute to claim they "transformed Agbogbloshie" or for Basel Action Network to say that the plethora of studies disproving their false claims are a "sign of improvements" the watchdog created.

An Environmentalist NGO has accidentally set in motion a race baiting lynch mob.  Rather than retract its statistics, or be held accountable, it is stalking the people who call them out.  Like so many characters in Huckleberry Finn and A Scarlett Letter and To Kill a Mockingbird, environmentalists just cannot stop looking in the mirror and seeing themselves for their intent - to save poor Africans from toxic pollution - rather than for the stains they made profiling Geeks of Color.

I'm far past my half-life.  Will be leaving the planet without ever saving species or coral reefs.  All I can hope to do is to stop the "freindly fire" and "collateral damage", the "environmental malpractice" committed in the name of Environmental Justice.  It could be frustrating to have your life summed up by curtailed mistakes.  But that is the history of the study of human health, and I just hope it plays out in the future study of environmental health.  Primum Non Nocere, "first, do no harm".

Interpol, ENGOs, recycling industry, original equipment manufacturers, etc. can't just go to sleep knowing that Joe Benson is no longer in prison.  They need to know that when they innocently or accidentally validate a claim by an NGO with no scruples, engaged in an extortionist shakedown of OEMs and recyclers, that they will get mud on their shirts.

The next blog has been written with a razor.  When the NGO, having made millions of dollars from pulling a fake and shocking "percentage of dumping" and "international law" out of its underpants, stays silent while people like Benson fall, a counter-wave of Integrity will rebound.  Rumors Updated, Part 2.

The takeaway is that if you see a lynch mob mentality, or racial profiling, or other crossfire hurricane of photo-journalism button pushing, that could blow back and wreck collateral damage on people you know will be impugned, start documenting it (blog, journal, tweet) at the time you notice. It may take you years (as it has for me) to put together a critical mass of fact checkers.  But when the charitable industrial complex starts to attack you by name, and intimidate you from documenting, it may turn out you are more important than you realize.

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