Mast Sanity Newsletter January 2010

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Feb 8, 2010, 11:46:37 AM2/8/10
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From Iris Atzmon 

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Subject: Mast Sanity Newsletter January 2010

Firstly, apologies for the delay. This should have been circulated in January, but technical problems intervened. As ever, this newsletter has been compiled and edited by Frank Plowright. If you have any comments or corrections please e-mail to newsl...@mastsanity.org.

NEWS

In December considerable press was given to University of Bristol’s Professor Denis Henshaw’s comments regarding the dangers of letting children have mobile phones. He warned that the government is ignoring safety advice, and there is a clear danger to children’s developing skulls. Generally sympathetically reported, this Daily Mirror story is representative. It was followed-up by a story noting shops were happy to sell mobiles to children as young as ten. Meanwhile the Sunday Mirror ran a story on t! he emission rates of various popular phones, noting some emitted three times more radiation than others.

Hackers have decoded the algorithms used to ensure privacy on 80% of the world’s mobile phones, leaving them vulnerable to eavesdropping from relatively cheap equipment. While the hackers were not malicious, the news that it could be done has caused consternation in the phone industry. According to the Financial Times one option being considered is changing all base stations used for older networks.

The electro-sensitive and those concerned about health risks should avoid from Swindon in the near future. The town is promoting itself as the first full wi-fi town. The population of 186,000 will have full access to free wi-fi no matter where they are in the town boundaries. Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch wrote a powerful piece for the Daily Mail explaining the dangers and pointing out that as much as 5% of the population may already be suffering from the proliferation of electro-magnetic fields.

This is old news, 34 years old to be precise, pre-dating mobile phone technology, but extremely relevant to EHS sufferers. In 1976 Time Magazine ran a story about the US embassy in Moscow being bombarded with microwave radiation to block monitoring signals. Staff returning from Moscow were suffering from ailments ranging from headaches to heavy menstrual flow, and several former staff died of cancer. The article does point out this is not necessarily connected. Given this story appeared in 1976, it renders current phone company denials regarding health extremely hollow.

 

STUDIES AND REPORTS

Pre-publication reports on the international Interphone study continue to appear. This one in the Daily Mail is typical in highlighting a significantly increased risk of children developing tumours from mobile phone use, while The Times is more ambivalent. As yet, the Interphone study remains unpublished. It’s also cited in a major article in February’s GQ magazine.

Having delayed a response to the SAGE Report into low electro-magnetic fields for over two years, the government apparently intends to ignore all the recommendations in the report that it asked for. More disturbingly, Powerwatch also report that the science behind the recommendations was seemingly not understood.

A grand sounding report titled The Precautionary Principle in the Context of Mobile Phone and Base Station Radiofrequency Exposures was published in September advising that the Precautionary Principle is not required with regard to mobile phones. It concludes “conservative exposure standards, technical features that minimize unnecessary exposures, ongoing research, regular review of standards, and availability of consumer information make mobile communications inherently precautionary. Commonsense measures can be adopted by individuals, governments, and industry to address public concern while ensuring that mobile networks are developed for the benefit of society." Why, one might think representatives of the mobile phone industry were responsible for the report. Oh, they are. Mike Dolan represents the Mobile Operators Association and Jack Rowley is employe! d by global phone industry group the GSMA.

One of the strangest stories over the last three months is the release of data from studies by the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Centre. It appears mice genetically bred to develop Alzheimers regularly dosed with electro-magnetic radiation for two daily periods of an hour found their cognitive abilities protected. Furthermore, there was no damage to the internal organs of the mice either.

There is continuing concern that instead of taking on board the fears of health campaigners regarding wireless technology, this government is intent on ignoring them completely. The latest worry is the advice BECTA, a government advisory group set up to promote technology, has given encouraging mobile phone use in school lessons. Thankfully teachers union Voice immediately condemned the idea.

 

VICTORIES

It was under-reported at the time, but in Spring 2009 residents of Ridgewood near Uckfield in East Sussex finally saw off plans for new Orange and Vodafone phone masts in their area. Orange made the initial mast application in 2006, when an effective campaign persuaded Wealden Council to refuse permission, requesting Orange consider alternative sites. In early 2007 Orange instead made a successful written appeal against the decision to the Planning Inspectorate. On reading the Inspectorate’s decision, Ridgewood residents noted substantial factual inaccuracies, not least seemingly ignoring Orange’s failure to consider alternative sites. They raised a high court case that eventually went uncontested. At the! end of 2008 the High Court duly delivered an order quashing the Planning Inspectorate’s decision, requiring the Inspectorate to hear the appeal again. After strong representations that this be in public, Orange withdrew their second appeal in Spring 2009. Meanwhile Vodafone had applied for a mast 200 yards away from Orange’s proposed site, also rejected by Wealden Council after opposition, and also taken to appeal by Vodafone. Local MP Charles Hendry received an assurance from the Planning Inspectorate that, given the errors with Orange, Vodafone’s appeal would be held in public. Shortly after this,! Vodafone withdrew their appeal. Local resident Steve Colvin n! otes “As a group of residents we are not anti mobile phones. The issue here is that we are already surrounded by masts, and the operators have a duty to consider sharing existing locations before erecting yet more masts in our community†.

PHONE COMPANIES INGNORING THE PRECUATIONARY PRINCIPLE

Despite the official advice that a precautionary principle is applied with regard to children, phone companies continue to ignore this in their hunger for profit. Both T-Mobile and Orange have applied for masts near schools in Redbridge. Vodafone and 02 have targeted a site less than 200 metres from a Timperley school.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Following the news that the French Senate will vote on banning mobile phones in schools, a class of Parisian students have targeted a 58 year old teacher who insists all mobiles are turned off during her lessons. The students all signed a letter demanding a change of teacher and citing her policy on phone use as the reason. Since it has been rejected by the school there have been threats and thefts, affecting the teacher’s health.

The Italian Parliament is currently considering proposed legislation enshrining protection for those with environmentally caused disabilities, including electrosensitivity. Meanwhile, in Brescia a labour tribunal has found in favour of a plaintiff who claimed his brain tumour was caused by excessive mobile phone use in connection with his job.

Previous newsletters have mentioned the September 2009 US Senate hearings into possible danger from cellphones, and Franz Adlkofer’s summary of the hearings can be read here. Alternatively, watch a short video here, with links to longer video.

Following the news that the French Senate will vote on banning mobile phones in schools, a class of Parisian students have targeted a 58 year old teacher who insists all mobiles are turned off during her lessons. The students all signed a letter demanding a change of teacher and citing her policy on phone use as the reason. Since it has been rejected by the school there have been threats and thefts, affecting the teacher’s health.

There is considerable recent concern in Auckland about the proliferation of mobile phone masts. The New Zealand National Environmental Society features a considerable amount of cell tower news and information on their web pages.

In the USA an organisation called The People’s Initiative has been set up to demand safety labelling on cellphone packaging in the form of The Children’s Wireless Protection Act. Their homepage features a wealth of information and an informative video. Both the state of Maine and the city of San Francisco are preparing legislation along these lines.

The last newsletter mentioned Liechtenstein proposing to lower mobile phone mast output levels to those recommended by the Biointiative Report. There was a referendum in December, and 57% of the voters wanted the levels at 6 v/m, the same as in neighbouring Switzerland, but ten times the Bioinitiative recommended levels. A report in German can be found here. The World Health Organisation’s recommended upper limit is 41 V/m, so while the Swiss output level is among the lowest in Europe, this is not the result campaigners might have hoped for. On the other hand 16 towns in France from the 238 that volunteered have now been selected to participate in an experiment where output levels are lowered to Bioinitiative recommended levels.

 

GREEDY CHURCHES

St Lawrence’s, Biddulph, Staffs is the sole offender this time, taking money for a mast despite opposition. Are you sick and tired of the greedy church in your area erecting a mast? Well in the USA there’s been a warning that the income some churches are getting from masts is threatening their tax-exempt status. Why not check if the same holds true in the UK? It’s not all bad new from churches, though. St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London has updated their traditional ceremony of blessing fa! rm implements to bring luck during the coming year. Moving with the times, and appreciating the professions of those in the parish these days, mobiles and laptops were also blessed this January.

 

IGNORING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

Phone companies continue to ignore official advice that a precautionary principle should be applied where children are concerned and persist in throwing up phone masts near schools. Vodafone and O2 have applied for a site near Heyes Lane infants school in Timperley, and another in Stapeley near Crewe where campaigners have been blocking the site. A site near two Redbridge schools has ! been targeted by Orange and T-Mobile.

Some good news is that Cardiff Council stood up to O2’s claim of permitted development rights near a local school on a technicality. O2 were informed the Council would take legal action to prevent development, and agreed to look for an alternative site.

In addition to applying for sites near schools, play areas have also been targeted. As no-one lives within the 60ft perimeter required for notification, residents of Inverness have only just discovered about a 50ft O2 mast planned to go up near a scout hut. In West Hampstead, Vodafone have applied for a site near a recently refurbished playground.

 

CAMPAIGNS

Residents of Darras Hall in Northumberland have been fighting a particularly effective campaign to prevent an O2 mast going up near Darras Hall First School. Previous newsletters have detailed how planning department incompetence in missing the 56 day deadline for decisions led to permission by default. Their continuing campaign has involved radiation expert Barrie Trower, local councillors going to the press to inform people they oppose the mast, and the local MP calling a meeting with O2.

Mention should also be made of the protesters in Melton, who have spent 11 months living in caravans near a site where Vodafone want to put up a mast, determined to prevent any work going ahead.

 

 

SNIPPETS

Don’t be taken in by Vodafone’s re-branding of Femtocell technology (last mentioned in the March 2008 newsletter) as Sure Signal. Considerable advertising highlights the system that guarantees a phone signal in any home, and ties in with the company’s iphone package. What is kept fare quieter is that the system is, in effect, a miniature mobile phone mast in your house.

There is continuing concern that instead of taking on board the fears of health campaigners regarding wireless technology, this government is intent on ignoring them completely. The latest worry is the advice BECTA, a government advisory group set up to promote technology, has given encouraging mobile phone use in school lessons. Thankfully teachers union Voice immediately condemned the idea.

In case you’ve not seen the promotion, it’s worth investigating Full Signal site. Following the path of other cinema highlighted environmental issues, the documentary is a full length film completed last year. The website features several short advice videos, and while as yet Full Signal has only been screened in the USA it’s already won a Best Documentary award at the Myrtle Beach Film Festival.

The February US edition of GQ magazine features a sizeable article comparing the current attitude of phone companies with that of tobacco companies in the 1950s and 1960s in suppressing the dangers of their product for profit. Read it here, and listen to an audio interview with article author Christopher Ketcham here. Presumably without any sense of irony, closing down the GQ page after reading the article produces a pop-up advertising the GQ phone ap!

The Next-Up Organisation have created a questionnaire for people suffering poor health that they believe is connected to proximity to a mobile phone mast. The data is to be collated and submitted for analysis and publication. If you’d like to participate go here and click on the English button.

The second episode of the new Rab C. Nesbitt series featured Ran and his Govan mates protesting against the ill health linked with a phone mast. It’s both funny and informative, and can be seen for a while on BBC iPlayer.

Despite the government trying to assure us they’ll be essential in curbing greenhouse gasses, the tone of reporting regarding smart meters has been very downbeat from the start, even if very few articles focus on the wi-fi dangers. Unusually for new technology, opinion is also divided on the BBC comments page. Disturbingly, one smart meter installed in Bakersfield, California exploded.

While Vodafone continue to expose the public to mobile phone radiation, have a look at the health and safety warning their Australian site gives to workers. If you’d like to check Vodafone UK’s health pages they can be found under ‘responsibility’.

The Airwave wireless system used by emergency services has been branded safe for years by the Health and Safety Executive, despite police officers reporting health problems since it was introduced. Now officers in Lancashire are taking advice on legal action.





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