Vermont #RightToRepair S.180 Bill - Wall Chargers, Ink Cartridges in Chamber 35

The session on Vermont S.180 was crammed into one hour and fifteen minutes. I sat on a cushioned wall shelf in chamber room number 35.  Twelve committee members and staff. Three witnesses in favor of the Right To Repair Bill (VPIRG's Dan Brown, EFF's Kit Walsh by phone, and Michael Duplessis, of SunCommon, Apple repair guru). I was a wallflower.

You wouldn't think that the most important e-waste legislation in the United States was being discussed here, unless you counted the manufacturing lobbyists.  Not that the 3 anti-S.180 witnesses were over the top. They'd travelled to talk against a bill that was already defanged. Neutered. Eviscerated.  VPIRG told me it was effectively killed in the previous chamber.

The remaining "debate" is whether the Vermont Legislature should even form a task force or committee to further review the Right To Repair.  The lobbyists were there to strongly advocate not to have any discussions about it.

A lobbyist for the medical equipment manufacturers seemed to insinuate that people could die if finely tuned medical instruments are improperly reused.  A lobbyist for farm equipment dealerships said the line had to be drawn below dealerships.  His members were currently satisfied. (One legislator correctly pointed out the Ag Dealerships were protected by similar legislation when manufacturers prevented them from servicing multiple brands some years ago.... the lobbyist nodded, yes, that's where to draw the line)

The strategy of industry in opposition to discussion of the Fair Repair Act is obfuscation.  They left the impression that the Task Force would have to cover a pandora's box of questions.  The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development Chairman, Bill Botzow (D-Bennington), was genuinely daunted.  "Which bite of the cake do we eat first?"

How about the icing?   15 U.S.C. § 2301  Because this cake was already baked 40 years ago.  The debate was held between 1972 and 1975, all the cautions were weighed and balanced.  This is an act to establish a Task Force to review an old law and see how it can be updated.  Easy peasy...

Ask about the wall chargers.  Europe already passed rules making them universal, and no airplanes fell out of the sky.

By Evan-Amos - Own work, Public Domain,

CryptoCurrencyBall: Tinkerer's Blessing Moneyball Takes on E-Waste

The previous post basically took MIT SustainAble City Labs and E-Stewards to task for the ill-conceived GPS tracking study that succeeded, mostly, in elevating negative stereotypes about both scrappers and tech sector workers in emerging markets. 

Basel Action Network is trying to monetize tracking of unwitting, unwilling subjects.  I just hope MIT will eventually do the right thing and apologize for its role in using undergraduate students to place tracked devices, disguised as repairable (and in some cases WERE repaired), and associating legitimate overseas technicians with "rice paddies" and "shantytowns".

Now for the positive, forward looking alternative, the Fair Trade Recycling vision.
"Your goal shouldn't be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins... I believe there is a championship team that we can afford, because everyone else undervalues them." Peter Brand, Moneyball
We are working to fly 2 of the brightest LED/LCD/Plasma display techincians I have met in Ghana over the past 4 years to Middlebury, Vermont, to train and interract with Good Point Recycling staff. We sent 2 student interns to work with one of those technicians under the Fair Trade Recycling "e-Waste Ambassadors" program last summer (Middlebury College and U of Florida).

We are going to be card counters at the blackjack table...

And here is a paid Fair Trade Recycling Internship post to bring us there (please repost).

I call it CryptoCurrencyBall...

FRAMED: GPS Tracking System For Ca$h!! Non-Profit For Hire Egg Hunt!


Environmental NGO Basel Action Network released an Opinion piece in E-Scrap News that may have put too fine a point on their offer to shakedown competitors.
"Responsible recycling companies can be plagued with downstream vendors that cheat on their no-export commitments. For this reason, BAN encourages all electronics recyclers to contact BAN to privately contract for our tracking services. We are ready and willing to help all recyclers and enterprise companies to audit their downstream partners."

"Responsible"... You'll be "responsible" all right.  Because if you read the agreement disclaimer, you'll find you could be held responsible if the NGO gets sued for defamation.

Here's our April Fool's Day Prank - How to use an MIT-inspired GPS tracker to make ANYONE look bad.  And the fun part is, you can do it for Ca$h!

Reversing ER#3: J-School Background Checks on E-Waste - Benson Released, Rowe Fired?

Here's an interesting statistic on "e-waste" (like most, made up on the spot).  Four out of five journalists who contact me beforehand decide not to run the story on "e-waste" at all.

Reporters are initially attracted to the Basel Action Network's press release or photo opportunity (exotic brown child perched on familiar looking old electronics).  That BAN press release has, for 15 years, triggered interest in reporters and college researchers. An easy story to write, as BAN served "facts" up on a platter.

But Jim Puckett is no Upton Sinclair. He wrote about Agbogbloshie in chilling text - before admitting to me he had never been there at all. He had never even read a peer reviewed article.

The "ewastehoax" says junk in cities across the globe is the fault of "sham recyclers"... if only we use a USA recycling company that pays dividends to Jim Puckett, we will quickly clean these places up.

The Ewastehoax promises a moral lesson of "environmental injustice", and triggers three Steven Pinker-esque cognitive biases:

1. Nurture. We actually care about the poor child.
2. Greed. We suspect someone else's actions were driven by it.
3. Fear.  We are afraid of our own liability for our "stuff".

It's an easy recipe.  BAN isn't the only organization to use it. Annie Leonard, Blacksmith Institute, StEP, R2 (SERI), E-Stewards, CBS 60 Minutes, The Guardian, etc. all followed the trail on these instincts.

If you are a good photographer, that is all you need to put some guy like Joseph "Hurricane" Benson of BJ Electronics behind prison bars.  You can be the reporter that made him sell his house, that cost him his business and his retirement.

You are so cool.  You no doubt picked up all kinds of dates interested in your brave reporting.  Did you tell them about Joe Benson, the Nigerian TV repairman who shipped a TV with a GPS tracker to Ghana? Did you describe the satisfaction of Benson going to jail, like Raphael Rowe of BBC's Panorama did?

Oh, wait.  News flash.  Raphael Rowe got fired? (According to this article, "Pushed Out", but there's still some uncertainty as I research this, he's still on BBC 2 local).  And Interpol has pulled the plug on Project Eden.  All since Fair Trade Recycling's 2015 trip to Agbogbloshie, where we saw a city slum near a dump full of tires, cars, and junk appliances - all once owned by Africans, from a thriving city of millions of consumers.  Even the dozens (not thousands) of (adult) orphans there all carry cell phones, and can send photos of where they collected the scrap... at Accra homes and businesses, which had millions of TVs in the mid 1990s.

Benson may have the last laugh on Raphael Rowe. Though he has suffered, journalism students once attracted to "environmental justice" stories are increasingly documenting "environmental malpractice", "friendly fire", and "collateral damage" to Africa's Tech Sector.

Whether or not Raphael Rowe stays on at BBC, he's still know for having been racially profiled.  As will be Joseph "Hurricane" Benson.  As Rowe said in an interview "bitterness never leaves you".