mast safe? No guarantee - phone firm
January 25, 2003 14:09
A COMPANY behind plans to build a mobile phone mast
yards from a nursery school today admitted it could not guarantee it would
not be a health risk.
A spokesman for Hutchison 3G, which wants to build
the 10- metre mast in School Lane, Sprowston, told the Evening News: I
can't tell you one way or the other that it's 100 per cent safe.
It is the first time since the Evening News launched
its Put Masts on Hold campaign that a company has admitted electromagnetic
radiation from antenna might pose a health risk to people living nearby.
A petition is now being gathered by families whose
homes are near the proposed site and by parents and staff at School Lane
Pre-School which is just a few yards away.
Hutchison 3G was asked if it could allay people's fears
about a phone mast being placed close to a school which teaches 100 youngsters
aged from two-and-a-half to five. A spokesman said that while it would
meet guidelines on radiation levels, he could not definitely say there
would not be a health risk.
The reality is that you will never be able to say one
way or another whether anything is 100 per cent safe, he said.
When there is uncertainty, you have to have standards
in place. These standards are based on science and evidence. We work well
within these standards.
Beverley Whitbread, chairwoman of School Lane Pre-School,
said she would be organising a petition and would fight the application.
We are starting a big petition on Monday, she said.
We are not going to stand for it because we don't understand what the
health implications are.
Norwich North MP Ian Gibson said: It's absolutely diabolical
and ought to be stopped. However, it's interesting that the companies
are beginning to admit that there's a potential health hazard.
He called on people to attend a phone mast rally in
London on March 8. The rally, organised by pressure group Mast Sanity,
begins at midday in Hyde Park.
Hayley Ratcliffe, 23, from School Lane, said she was
disgusted with the mast plans and was worried for the safety of her four-
year-old daughter Roxie.
I got a letter from the council telling us about the
mast, but other people on the road didn't know until we told them, she
A spokesman for the city council said: The city council
has written to the immediate neighbours of the site as well as the parish
council and Broadland District Council.
We have also placed a notice by the site and published
the details of the application in the newspaper. All comments made about
this application will be accepted up to the time of the planning meeting
on February 6.
On Tuesday, the Green Party group will table radical
amendments to a motion submitted by its Labour counterparts.
If passed at the full council meeting, the amendment
would put pressure on the Government to allow planning committees to account
for potential health risks from masts. Currently, objections cannot be
lodged on health grounds alone.
Lisa Oldham, director of Mast Sanity, said: It is time
for the Government to take notice of the concerns of local communities.
This rally will demonstrate the real levels of concern.
and from the same informant:
New York-Cell phones prohibition
in public performances
For times when cell phone silence is golden
December 26, 2002
New York City has struck a needed blow for cell phone
etiquette. By an overwhelming 40-9 vote, the City Council approved an
ordinance prohibiting the use of cell phones at public performances.
The ban will include concerts, movies, plays, lectures,
dance performances, museums, libraries and galleries. Cell phone users
will still be permitted to jabber at sporting events, where boorish behavior
is already rather commonplace.
Critics say New York's cell phone restriction - which
carries a $50 fine, not only for talking on or listening to a wireless
phone, but also for having one ring in verboten places is unenforceable.
But that's beside the point, say supporters of the ban. They expect it
to be self-enforcing.
The cell phone ban is similar to the smoking ban California
imposed several years ago. While the actual prospect of being arrested
for smoking in a public place is remote, public vigilance deters would-be
scofflaws from lighting up.
It remains to be seen if other municipalities will
follow New York's lead in regulating cell phone use. So far it is the
only large city in the nation to impose such a ban.
But with the proliferation of cell phones there are
nearly 135 million wireless subscribers in the United States other cities
just may consider reining in uncontrolled phone use.
What amazes is that cell phones are a rather recent
innovation. Martin Cooper, a former general manager for the systems division
at Motorola, is considered the inventor of the modern portable handset.
He made the first call on a portable cell phone in 1973.
It wasn't until 1982 that the Federal Communications
Commission authorized commercial cell phone service. By 1985, 1 in 1,000
Americans had a mobile phone number. By 1995, it was 1 in 10. Today, it's
1 of 2.
That's why cell phones are so ubiquitous, as Union-Tribune
business writers Jeff McDonald and Jennifer Davies chronicled in their
recent series, "Talk Culture."
"They turn up," the reporters related, "at
movies and malls, in airplanes and automobiles, on the street and in public
dining rooms, pervasive and at the ready."
Of course, there's no stopping a technology whose time
has come, as was learned more than a century ago with the advent of the
telephone and, more recently, with the television and personal computer.
And much as the phone, the TV and the PC can be used
as instruments for both good and bad, the same is the case with the cell
phone. That's why it is understandable that lawmakers in New York City
are taking measures to discourage inconsiderate, if not downright antisocial,
public use of cell phones.
Advisory Panels Stacked, Scientists
By J.R. Pegg
WASHINGTON, DC, January 23, 2003 (ENS) - American scientists
are growing increasingly worried that the Bush administration is manipulating
scientific advisory committees in order to further its political agenda.
The federal government relies on hundreds of these
committees to provide agencies with unbiased advice based on the best
science available as well as to peer review grant proposals for scientific
The Bush administration, many scientists fear, has
distorted this process by putting committee members through political
litmus tests, eliminating committees whose findings looked likely to disagree
with its policies, and stacking committees with individuals who have a
vested interest in steering conclusions to benefit effected industries.
"We've seen a consistent pattern of putting people
in who will ensure that the administration hears what it wants to hear,"
said Dr. David Michaels, a research professor in the Department of Environmental
and Occupational Health at George Washington University's School of Public
Health. Addressing reporters at a press briefing today in Washington,
Dr. Michaels said, "That doesn't help science, and it doesn't help
The Bush administration says it is doing what every
other administration has done in the past, but many scientists take issue
with this defense.
"The Clinton administration did not do this,"
said Dr. Lynn Goldman, a pediatrician and professor at the Bloomberg School
of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. "They did not exclude
people based on some sort of litmus test." Pediatrician Dr. Lynn
Goldman was assistant administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides
and Toxic Substances of the U.S. EPA under the Clinton administration.
"These are not just the concerns of a few scientists
or members of the public health community but of a broad array of people
across the country," added Kelly O'Brien, associate executive director
of public affairs for the American Public Health Association (APHA).
The role of these committees is not to tell the administration
what they want to hear, Michaels argues, but to tell them what science
has concluded about the issue under discussion.
"You hire political appointees to move your political
agenda forward," he observes. "But the role of scientific advisory
committees is quite different. It is to give advice to the agencies and
to the public on what is the best science."
"This is a threat to the fundamental principles
that we want to make decisions based on the best available science,"
Americans may be unfamiliar with the role of scientific
advisory committees, but the impact of the advice they give is extensive.
Rules and regulations that govern clean air, clean water, food safety
and pesticide use, among others, have been devised with scientific advice
from such committees.
The growing concern from American scientists comes
from a slew of examples. Members of the Center for Disease Control's (CDC)
Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention were replaced
last year with individuals with close ties to the lead industry, including
Dr. William Banner, who has provided written testimony on behalf of lead
industry defendants in a lawsuit in Rhode Island.
Banner is on record as believing that lead is only
harmful in levels that are seven to 10 times higher than the current CDC
blood lead levels. The CDC estimates some 890,000 U.S. children ages one
to five have elevated levels of lead in their blood.
Fifteen of the 18 members of the Advisory Committee
to the Director of the National Health Center for Environmental Health
were replaced last year. This committee assesses the health impact of
exposure to environmental chemicals. Among the new members is the former
president of the Chemical Industry Institute for Toxicology.
Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS), dissolved a committee charged with analyzing
the federal system for protecting human research subjects. A committee
tasked with giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advice on oversight
of the genetics testing industry was similarly disbanded.
A respected scientist nominated to serve on an HHS
peer review study section, which is charged with reviewing research grant
proposals submitted to the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health, was rejected for her support of an ergonomics rule overturned
by the Bush administration last year.
A consultant to the Army Science Board was disapproved
for full membership on the committee because, he was told, he contributed
to Senator John McCain's campaign, an allegation that was false.
A new member of the Food and Drug Administration's
Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee, Dr. David Hager, helped
the Christian Medical Association lobby for a safety review of a drug
the committee approved two years ago. The announcement that Hager, who
has very few research credits, had been put on the committee was released
on Christmas Eve.
The trouble with this politicization of the process
by which scientists advise the government, Michaels explained, is that
they will directly impact the government's willingness to act. "I
don't think there is really any danger of a committee coming out and making
a statement so far out of the mainstream that it takes us in a different
direction," he explained. "What these committees will do, and
I think this is what the administration wants, is to essentially throw
their hands up and say there is too much uncertainty. That sort of paralysis
The trust the public has in science, and in the scientific
advice offered by the government for public health issues, could be gravely
affected by these developments, said Dr. Martin Apple, president of the
Council of Scientific Society Presidents.
"Public trust is like Humpty Dumpty," Apple
said. "It is difficult to establish, easy to lose and nearly impossible
It is not that anyone expects scientific advisory committee
members to be completely unbiased, Goldman said. Rather, it is critical
that these committees are focused only on the science, leaving political,
economic and religious bias out of the equation.
"If you attempt to predetermine the outcome of
the scientific discussion by selecting certain people for science committees
or by constructing a consensus before you bring the group together, then
you are distorting the process," Goldman added. "For the past
several months, again and again with this current administration, we've
seen evidence of this occurring."
Goldman, who served as the assistant administrator
for the Office of Prevention, Pesticide and Toxic Substances within the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1993 to 1998, has firsthand
experience with the Bush administration's policy on scientific advisory
committees. Goldman and two other experts on the effects of pesticides
on children were invited to speak at an EPA funded conference that was
scheduled for September 2002.
In July 2002, representatives from the pesticides industry
wrote to the EPA to protest the conference and specifically the participation
of Goldman and the other two scientists at the event. The EPA then rescheduled
the conference for June 2003 and has not re invited any of the three.
The overarching concern, Goldman said, is the apparent
influence of the pesticide industry on the EPA.
California Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat,
agreed and sent EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman a letter on December
20, 2002 asking for an explanation by January 6, 2003.
Waxman's spokesperson Karen Lightfoot told ENS that
the Congressman has not received any response from the EPA.
In late October 2002, Waxman and 11 other members of
Congress sent a letter to HHS Secretary Thompson, detailing concern with
"a pattern of events suggesting that scientific decision making is
being subverted by ideology and that scientific information that does
not fit the administration's political agenda is being suppressed."
HHS did reply to Waxman and his colleagues, but their
explanations did not satisfy the letter writers. A subsequent letter asking
for more detailed information was sent on December 18, 2002.
Lightfoot said there has been no response to the December
18 letter, but added that Congressman Waxman will closely monitor "this
trend of putting ideology before science."
Groups like the American Public Health Association,
which has some 50,000 members, are calling on Congress to further explore
just what the Bush administration is doing with scientific advisory committees.
APHA drafted a series of recommendations, including the reevaluation of
newly reconstituted advisory panels and the creation of criteria to guide
the selection of members on public health advisory committees and peer
review research committees at all levels of government - federal, state
There is concern that if the process continues forward
without serious review that many qualified scientists will decline to
involve themselves with future committees.
"Scientists and the federal government in the
United States have established an effective system of providing expert
advice," Apple said. "But the best scientists are only willing
to serve on such advisory groups when they believe that they are unbiased
and will produce scientifically sound results. Once this currency is debased,
the best scientists will decline to take the time out from their lives
to participate, and the government will lose an irreplaceable resource."
"This will cause severe and last damage to the national interest
and should be actively prevented," Apple urged.
There is "no glory" for scientists to take
part in the vast majority of scientific advisory committees, Michaels
said. They are only compensated for travel and accommodations, and the
work is often long and tedious.
"It is quite possible that these are isolated,
anecdotal incidents," Goldman suggested. "But then why hasn't
there been an attempt to rectify them?"
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2003. All
Informant: Don Maisch
FTW URGENT BULLETIN
U.S. - IRAQ INVASION LIKELY
TO BEGIN WITH STATE of the UNION, Tuesday
Michael C. Ruppert
January 24, 2003, 1930 PST (FTW) - Serious international
developments are indicating that the first stages of the U.S. invasion
of Iraq will begin unilaterally no later than next Wednesday and most
likely as the President delivers his State of the Union address to Congress
on Tuesday night.
The Associated Press reported today, in a story little
noticed by mainstream American press, that the Japanese government had
today urged all Japanese citizens to leave Iraq as soon as possible. Japan
has large numbers of its nationals working in Iraq in various trade and
oil-related business ventures. According to a second report today on CNN
Headline News the Japanese advisory was specific that all Japanese citizens
should be out of the country by next Wednesday at the latest.
The Japanese alert was followed by a simultaneous advisory
from the U.S. State Department issuing a worldwide alert to all Americans
traveling overseas. According to another AP story, State Department officials
tried to downplay the significance of the warning, "but officials
were unable to say when the last such advisory had been issued."
A worldwide alert for U.S. citizens is extremely rare and suggests that
the administration is concerned about a global backlash against Americans
traveling overseas. Cautionary advisories are normally isolated to specific
countries or geographic regions.
The invasion of Iraq will most likely commence with
a massive aerial campaign in which the U.N. and many military analysts
have predicted widespread collateral damage with heavy civilian casualties.
One recent UN estimate suggested that the total Iraqi casualty count for
the entire operation could exceed 500,000.
This decision should not be taken as a surprise. In
recent weeks support for the obvious U.S. intentions, both worldwide and
at home, has been declining rapidly. At the time this story was written
a contemporaneous CNN poll showed that 62% of those responding believed
that the United States should not attack Iraq without UN approval. Politically,
the Bush administration has seen that this situation is not going to improve.
Every delay in an attack to which the administration has already committed
not only risks greater military, political and economic opposition but
also increases the risk that U.S. ground forces will be engaged in desert
fighting in hot summer weather. Recent moves by both the French and Russian
governments to approve new trade and development agreements with the Hussein
government might also weaken U.S. economic control in a post-Saddam regime.
With crude oil prices at two-year highs and with U.S.
oil reserves at 27-year lows the signs of a crumbling U.S. economy made
themselves felt again today with a more than 200 point drop in the Dow
Jones Industrial average. The Bush administration has apparently decided
to roll the dice now in a go-for-broke imperial conquest that has as its
primary objective the immediate control of 11 per cent of the world's
In many previous stories FTW has documented how the
Iraqi invasion is but the first in a series of sequential worldwide military
campaigns to which the United States has committed. All of these are based
upon globally dwindling oil supplies and the pending economic and human
consequences of that reality. On January 21st, CNN Headline News acknowledged,
for the first time, the reality of Peak Oil and accurately stated that
"all the cheap oil there is has been found." The story also
acknowledged that there was only enough oil left to sustain the planet
for thirty to forty years and that what oil remained was going to become
increasingly more expensive to produce and deliver.
It is likely that the resiliency of Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez, in his effort to resist U.S.-inspired strikes by wealthy
Venezuelan industrialists, has had an impact on this decision by the Bush
administration. Venezuela, which is the third largest foreign importer
of oil to the U.S., has seen its U.S. deliveries cut to a fraction of
normal levels in recent weeks. Within the last week oil analysts have
been predicting shortages and price spikes similar to those of 1973-4
if U.S. oil stocks were not replenished quickly. The administration's
apparent decision to launch the attacks against Iraq appears to be at
least a partial acknowledgement that Chavez is successfully resisting
U.S. pressure to oust him.
Chavez angered multinational investors and financiers
recently by moving to increase the share of oil profits retained in Venezuela
for the benefit of its people.
Today's announcements signal that the world is entering
a period of danger not seen for forty years. That the announcements from
the Japanese government and the State Department came on the same day
that the Department of Homeland Security became active and its Secretary
Tom Ridge was sworn in seems an unlikely coincidence. Previous reporting
from FTW had indicated that even massive protests and non-violent global
resistance would prove ineffective in preventing an Iraqi invasion. And
our predictions that the Bush junta had prepared for all the worst-case
scenarios, including domestic unrest and worldwide opposition appear to
The administration has clearly issued a statement to
the world. "Screw you. We're going to play this game any way you
want to play it. And we're ready for anything that comes."
Only time will tell if they are correct.
Informant: Gerd Ernst Zesar
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