Certification and Racketeering 5: Analysis of Seven GPS Tracking Studies

2018 GreenTrack Report found only 5% export, including export to OECD countries grntrac.com 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 BAN.org

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?

Our comparison of seven 'ewaste' GPS tracking reports starts with the BBC Panorama / Greenpeace / SWEEEP / Joe Benson tracking of 2010, and ends with 2 newly released studies.  BAN's latest GPS tracking report for Europe, released Feb 2019, is compared to a new Green Tracking Service Report report by Dennis Ward Enterprises [http://www.dwecommunications.com] released March 7. They both found the same thing - almost too little exported. But they 'depict' it in different ways.

BAN issued a press release that their EU study had confirmed an export crime / problem, but BAN only found 6% of the devices they deployed were exported. DWE found 5%... for such a small sample, that's basically 100% agreement.

BAN claims that 6% is evidence of "leakage" - i.e. a problem.  DWE does not judge the 5%.   In the BAN study, the ONLY evidence that the 6% of exports were "bad" is their own claim to have secretly sabotaged those 6%. And their report contrasts SHARPLY against their previous claims of 80% dumping, and their claims that studies predicting ~5% were flawed. If they are trying to bend the truth, truth is being a little  That will be compared to the hypothetical case of pure racketeering. (ed note: INTERPOL has a job to do to clean up the mess Solly Granatstein and David Higgins created by giving this "charity NGO" such a high profile). 

Here are the 7 GPS Tracking Studies we are addressing in the Good Point Ideas Blog.


* Note on study consolidation:  Since this report omits some of BAN's reports, this footnote is intended to document the omissions and offers explanation. A 2017 and a 2018 Report by BAN use the same data as 2016, but calls out specific companies BAN solicited payment from in 2016. The separately published MIT "MoniTour" report also uses the same 2016 data. When this blog objected to BAN hiding data on Hong Kong "EcoPark", BAN waited 2 years and then published a critical report on one of the EcoPark tenants. An Australia report is ignored because it sent so few devices (35) and BAN's claims of "findings" are unclear. BAN also claimed in that report to have tracked LCD computer monitors to a factory in Thailand where they claimed "crude smelting practices" - this blog reported that the boards were not being "smelted" at all, and the chips were being removed at professional downdraft tables for reuse in Thailand. BAN is being investigated for defamation in more than one of these cases. The pattern revealed is that Basel Action Network uses data from a very small portion of a very small sample to release multiple reports, creating an impression that more GPS tracking studies exist than are available to analyze.

This analysis takes time, and I'm currently up to my elbows with my Vermont and Massachusetts company.  I needed to review not only the March 2019 Green Tracking Service Report, but re-evaluate several BAN studies.

For each study, I'm documenting Yes / No / Unknown whether the study triggers and of the questions raised about RACKETEERING - is the study itself part of a conspiracy meeting the Definition:   RACKETEERS OFFER A DECEITFUL SERVICE TO FIX A PROBLEM THAT OTHERWISE WOULDN'T EXIST.

This is a work in progress, so I'm sharing the analysis in real time via a public link on Google Docs. I'd like to invite comments and collaboration.  I don't claim to be a non-biased reporter myself... I've long since been outraged by the cringeworthy racial profiling of the best and brightest in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and can no longer pretend to be anything but their advocate.

For now, I've selected these criteria (may edit the spreadsheet in the future).  Many of these criteria were selected from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's ombudsman webpage, showing guidelines for research, especially on "unwitting and unwilling subjects", or involving active participation by a research member with financial exposure to the outcome.  Another "tell" for bias is whether the Researcher has already made a claim that their hypothesis is fact, in which case the report should be read carefully to expose any steps that might be omitted or committed in order to re-bolster confidence in the reputation of the researcher.

Each Ewaste Tracking Study published above is being reviewed for the following "tells" about the involvement of the lead researcher.

Advance Claims of "Problem Outcome" By Researcher

If at least one or more claim about the outcome was made by the head investigator prior to the study.
Financially Involved Researcher

If the head investigator has a financial stake, or reputation, or other stake in the outcome of the study.
Financially Involved Downstream

If some of the subjects involved in tracking have a financial relationship (e.g. ESteward clients) with the investigator.
Advance Notice of GPS Deployment

If at least one or more subjects admit to or claim to have been given direct information before, during, or prior to publication of the study.

Financially Involved Party Involved in Deployment

If at least one or more subjects actually provides the electronics being tracked and advises investigators which to place where.

Randomly Selected Device

If no major portion of e-waste stream (e.g. large CRT and projection TVs) is tracked at all, or attractive devices are more likely to be tracked.

Randomly Selected Upstream

If at least one or more initial placements occurred at a specific target, such as a non-public drop off with no external signs or collections.

Randomly Selected Target Recycler

If at least one or more initial placements was influenced by advance knowledge by the investigator of which recycler would receive it.

Ability to Influence Downstream in Real Time

If financially involved investigators and clients had the ability to cancel dock appointments in order to prevent legitimate recycling.

Consultation after GPS was found

If at least one or more financially involved subjects was approached and briefed by the investigator prior to publication of the study.

Statistically Significant Data Set

If the initial number of devices was randomly selected in a large enough number to provide statistically significant outcomes.

Unwitting / Unwilling Participants

If at least one or more 'participants' in the study were unwitting, unwilling, and publicly shamed.
Advertising for Donations in Press Release

If the lead investigator solicits income either for general support or for specific placement of GPS devices as sponsors direction.

Claims knowledge of the motivation of subjects

If the lead investigator makes public claims about the motivation of the unwitting subjects based on his hypothesis, without study or review.

The last 2020 Retroworks Racketeering Hypothesis is a dummy, not an actual study. It refers to the hypothesis in Certification and Racketeering 5. It is by design intended to make a big red mark against each of the ombudsperson's questions above.

2020 RR Hypothesis:  Suppose a NEW OEM A is making and selling BRAND NEW computers, but outsourcing the LCD DISPLAYS (with small mercury backlights) from MALAYSIA ISLAND CONTRACT MANUFACTURER.  Suppose that NEW OEM A has a competitor, NEW OEM B, who hires GPS NGO to pull out an LCD from MALAYSIA ISLAND CONTRACT MANUFACTURER inventory.  The GPS NGO removes a monitor from the box, unloosens its case, breaks the CCFL backlights (in a manner not visible), puts the monitor back together in the original sealed box, with a tracker inside. 
NEW OEM B is kept in the loop as the device is tracked to NIGERIA BIG PETROLEUM CORP, which buys millions of dollars of new computers per year from either NEW OEM A or NEW OEM B. The NGO then releases a report claiming that NIGERIA cannot legally import the devices (false), that the devices are "waste" (not non-waste), that NIGERIA has signed the Bamanko Convention (false), and that NEW OEM A has "participated in a chain of export" resulting in a "scandalous dumping of toxic waste pawed by primitive orphans in ghoulish conditions" (to paraphrase the "Away is a Place Essay" Jim re-credits himself for in his personally signed Introduction of his 2018 EU report.
In other words, exactly second hand electronics recyclers interact with BAN GPS devices in the BAN reports, but with 'first hand', new devices.  Does the methodology hold water?

Imagine that a "non profit watchdog" actually sold - for money - the services in the Retroworks Racketeering Hypothesis to NEW OEM B, in an explicit attempt to discredit non-paying NEW OEM A, and issued a press release, covered by The Guardian, The Economist, PBS, CNN, BBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, etc etc.

To "sell" the "scandal", Jim can't really actually point to numbers.  In study after study, despite his "efforts" to avoid tracking CRT and projection TVs (50% of ewaste, almost never purchased by export markets). His last EU study basically finds the same export - 6% - as found by Dennis Ward in his March report (5%), which is the same as Reed Miller found in his report at MIT in 2013, and smaller than the number found by Secretariat of Basel Convention studies in Nigeria and Ghana in 2012.

Despite cherry picking which apples to poison, despite joysticking his interns to deposit the devices at unmarked, non-public sites like Earthworm Recycling in Somerville, and despite apparently warning domestic recyclers in real-time not to accept shipments he'd prefer to see exported, Jim winds up with 6% exports - not 80 to 90%.

In Part 6 and 7, we will concentrate specifically show Jim making an advance claim of a problem, the money his organization receives from "fixing" that problem, and his situation in 2015 - the year before his organization's first repor.  BAN was spending a lot of time dissing studies that showed the 80% dumping problem BAN had spread misinformation about was a problem which apparently didn't exist.  As part of that review, we will look specifically (Robert Mueller-like) at the behavior of the investigators, to explore their motives, or other "tells".


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