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Britain’s First 5G Court Case and the People Won
United Kingdom Created: 17 Oct 2018
Mark Steele, a 5G campaigner, has been highlighting the dangers of a secret 5G rollout by Gateshead Council where residents are complaining of increased illness and Cancer in the affected area. There’s enough evidence to conclude the new smart 5G arrays on the top of new LED lampposts emit Class 1 Radiation frequencies and should be treated as a danger to the Public. Gateshead Council ignorantly rebutted clear evidence and created false allegations on social media posts and printed leaflets stating that Mark Steele is spreading Pseudo Science and that the arrays are not dangerous or 5G:

“Please be assured that there is no scientific basis or credible evidence for any of these scare stories about street lights causing cancer and other illnesses.”

They misused Police Powers to gag Mark Steele and yesterday he left a free man and Gateshead Council to fork out £11k of taxpayers money to cover the court cost amounting to woeful ignorance. In Court, none of the Council Officers could explain what 5G is; and their leading Government expert refused to attend the Court hearing. In conclusion, the Judge refused to gag Mark, stating:

“The public have a right to know.”

The secret 5G rollout issue in Gateshead is now officially of public interest and will be treated as a landmark case for other people to start using this Court’s ruling to challenge their Councils. We know Surrey, Westminster and Luton all have these toxic Microwave EMF arrays installed on their new LED streetlights. We now know even if these arrays are currently 2G, 3G or 4G they can be 5G enabled by fitting a ‘lens’ that ‘focuses’ the frequency.

The Judge declared Mark Steele as a credible expert and engineer on EMF and GSM technologies, which proves Gateshead Council are liable for corruption, misleading the public, making people ill and attempting to discredit Mark Steele and all others such as Smombie Gate fighting 5G rollouts.

Councils are struggling at the moment, over 50% are almost bankrupt because over half of their resources are being spent on the increase of Adult Social Care, so any supplier proposal with the promise of more revenue is irresistible.

Smart City companies are going into Councils with amazing futuristic presentations detailing the first step, which is to install the 5G infrastructure, i.e. the lampposts on streets and motorways.

The benefits will be 24/7 Police surveillance that sees through walls; smart road signs; 4k live streaming on the move; driverless vehicles and public transport; mobile virtual reality; mobile augmented reality; and a fast connection for Elon Musk’s new brain implant called the Neuralink giving people the Internet inside their mind. All these features are all a wet dream for Councils who will be the first ones to become Smart Counties because they will be able to increase taxes and the local economy in theory will thrive.

n reality, scientific evidence is mounting across the planet that EMF, RF, 3G, 4G, 5G, WiFI and WiGIG is causing Cancer, killing bees, driving out wildlife and lowering peoples quality of life. All because big business says it’s good for the people, and they’re continuing to mislead us all of the dangers of continuous use in close proximity and on the skin, let alone what 5G really is, which is an effective battlefield weapon.

We know that Gateshead isn’t the only Council who is misleading the public on the 5G rollout and it’s seemingly been going on for a few years. Luton, Surrey and Westminster are next along with all Councils that have installed these arrays that are being installed by particular companies (we’ll leave you to do your own work on how you think these companies are!).

Who is paying for these 5G rollouts? Who’s given consent on behalf of the People? Who has done research to prove the new infrastructure’s safety?

As usual, these important issues are being rubbished by the media and beneficiaries to big business. But they’ll soon see our wrath, as we now this ruling. All Hell is going to break loose in Great Britain and we’re going to take the fight to them. We will NOT be silenced, and you will not wilfully poison our bodies and our families bodies with Class 1 radiation – WE DO NOT CONSENT.

Mark Steele of https://www.saveusnow.org.uk has made this a big part of his life. It’s people like Mark and all of you who get involved that make a difference to our lives.

Please spread the word and get in touch with us if you want any advice in how to approach your Council. We’re going to be producing a simple Template Pack you can send to your Councils very soon.

*SNIP* visit the source link below to view the videos...
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Source: Smombie Gate, 12 Oct. 2018

‘Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss
Australia Created: 16 Oct 2018
Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

Related news:
Aug 2017, USA: Where have all the insects gone?

In 2014, an international team of biologists estimated that, in the past 35 years, the abundance of invertebrates such as beetles and bees had decreased by 45 percent. In places where long-term insect data are available, mainly in Europe, insect numbers are plummeting. A study last year showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the past few decades in German nature preserves.

The latest report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that this startling loss of insect abundance extends to the Americas. The study’s authors implicate climate change in the loss of tropical invertebrates….SNIP

https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2018/10/15/hyperalarming-study-shows-massive-insect-loss/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7be60195b27c

NOTE: When I checked on the location of the “pristine national forest” in Puerto Rico, mentioned in the article, I found that it is located approximately 50 miles from Cayey Puerto Rico, the home to the WSR-88 Doppler Radar which is one of the most powerful and advanced weather surveillance doppler radars in the world, transmitting at 750,000 watts. Cayey is a mountain municipality in central Puerto Rico with the radar facility located on the central mountain. Wether or not this has anything to do with the decline in insects of the national forest is an interesting question. Perhaps not so pristine after all…..
Don
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Source: EMFacts, Don Maisch PhD, 15 Oct 2018

Mobile usage: Brain cancer on rise, people going deaf, says Mumbai IIT Prof
India Created: 4 Oct 2018
New Delhi, Sep 30 (UNI) There is no doubt that while on one hand cellphones have made our lives way easier by bringing the world on our fingertips, but lack of knowledge regarding proper usage of mobile handsets in India and worse, the dangerous electromagnetic radiation emitted from the mobile towers is much more than set international standard.

As a result, hundreds of people are paying the price of this 'technical advancement' every year.

Findings of a new study point towards something even more sinister. According to the latest research, using cellphones for more than half an hour daily can double the risk of brain tumour in the next 10 years.

The crusader initiating a fight against radiation, Dr Girish Kumar -- professor in the department of Electrical Engineering of IIT Mumbai -- told UNI, 'I recently interacted with many renowned ENT specialists from different parts of the country and I have reached the conclusion that the cases of brain tumours and hearing loss are on the rise. All the contacted specialists have agreed to one common fact: that number of brain tumours and hearing loss cases are increasing day by day. I have published this report in my magazine."

The professor who has been working on hazards of microwave radiation for more than a decade, says, 'In my recent survey, most of the people have agreed to the fact that after talking on their cellphones for a longer duration of time they feel heat sensation in their ears. According to the reports, if we use cellphone for 20 to 30 minutes continuously, the radiations penetrate our body and the blood in our earlobes gets heated due to excessive radiation and heat emitted from cellphones. After that our blood temperature rise by one degree centigrade and thus our body temperature reaches 100.2 Fahrenheit. Apart from this, talking on the cellphone for more than half an hour daily can lead to a persistent headache issue and further final stage of brain tumour comes to the fore."

The former research associate in the Electrical Engineering Department, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada says, "we are extremely addicted to our cellphones and there are some serious repercussions of this habit. To make matters worse, we are constantly living under the threat of mobile towers and Wi-Fi which is the main reason behind the rise in brain tumour and other serious diseases. The number of cancer cases in India have been on the rise since 2003."

He further adds that a team of international scientists had conducted an 'inter-phone study' in which they had studied 5,117 cases of brain tumour. The final report of the study had come out in 2012 which concluded that talking on cellphones within the set limit of four minutes a day did not cause any trouble but spending 30 minutes or more talking can potentially double the risk of cancer after 10 years.

'We are addicted to cellphones and due to radiation from mobiles, Wi-Fi and cell tower, we are 24x7 exposed to dangerous electromagnetic radiation. Number of cancer cases are on increase since the year 2003,'he adds.
A team of international scientists conducted an inter phone study on 5,117 cases of brain tumours in 2000 and found that cellphone usage exceeding half hour upped our chances of developing cancer 100 per cent. It is on the basis of these findings that the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared electromagnetic radiation as "possible carcinogenic (cancerous) 2 B".

Many European countries, including France and Spain, have banned the use of cellphones for children below the age of 12 years whereas in India we treat these phones as toys and hand them out to even toddlers. A team of international scientists has submitted a report that concluded that radiation has a dangerous effect on the tender brain membrane of infants. In fact, it is even more dangerous for the baby in mother's womb.

Author of three books, Prof Kumar states, 'If the cellphone is put in the pocket of our trouser pants, the chances of becoming impotent become very high for both men and women. Case in point is how more youth are increasingly opting for in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The cell towers are emitting radiation 24 hours a day and people living in close proximity complain of irritation, loss of memory and cognitive powers, cancer, Alzheimers, impotency, high BP and depression.'
The professor who has written more than 270 papers in the international and national journals and hass also filed five patents, stresssd that cellphone users must comply with guidelines which warn of use it from distance. The cellphone was introduced in 1985 and arrived in India exactly after ten years in 1995, and it could be said for mobile phones that "it came, it saw and it conquered."

He explains how in 2003 when incoming calls became free of cost and later the call rate became Re one a minute and mobile data could be accessed at dirt cheap rates, usage of mobile and other devices exploded.
Dr Kumar, who is also an active social activist and has written several reports and given presentations at various forums on the topic related to cellphones and tower radiation hazards and their solutions, informs,'we are completely trapped in the invisible spectrum. We were already under high radiation after the cellphone data became cheap and thanks to free access to Wi-Fi at various places, the situation has gone worse. A cellphone which was ideally meant to be used only in case of an emergency, is now being used for unlimited talking (remember, unlimited talk time plans?) and small kids have been given laptops, tablets and mobile phones to play with.'

Excess use of data, mushrooming of cell towers and the process of making towers more powerful, it's hard to imagine the condition of our children and youth in the next 10 years. Chairman of 'Wilcom Technologies Pvt Ltd', Prof Kumar informed, 'gradually we are heading towards the 'cursed dawn' where our children will be facing difficulty in becoming parents and the coming generations might never become grandparents.'

He also questions that by taking precautions while using mobile phones and other devices, we might be able to save ourselves from the radiation of cellphones but what about the radiation of cell tower which is far more injurious to health? Pointing out the dos and dont's we must follow while using cellphones, he says that we must use a mobile phone that has specific absorption rate value (SAR) less than 1.66W/kg. As a rule of thumb, the lower the SAR value, the better it is.

This happens because SAR is the direct measure of radiations, hence a lower SAR value should always be preferred. In order to know the SAR value of your device, simply type *#07# and dial. We must use handsfree and keep the phone on speaker mode if possible. It must be kept in mind that even while taking the above-mentioned precautions, the device should lay on a table or kept inside a bag, otherwise the radiations could penetrate our body through our hands. Additionally, the Wi-Fi set should be kept at an isolated place or somewhere in our home where we spend less time.

It is advisable to switch off the WiFi whenever it is not in use. While most of us are in the habit of snoozing off with our mobile phones in our hands or under the pillow, it must be noted that they should be kept at least at one hand distance while sleeping. Mobile data should be turned off while going out and it is even better to keep the phone on flight mode. One must not use cellphones in vehicles, lifts or when the battery is less because, in these circumstances, mobile phones emit even more radiation than usual. Every six seconds your cellphone sends one pulse to the tower signalling its location. It basically means that cellphones work non-stop. While typing the message we are not in a direct contact with radiation but when we hit the button, radiation penetrates through our fingers.

Hence, handsets must be kept on the table while pressing send. Last but not least, when the cellphone rings -- due to call or messages --the radiation is much more powerful as the wave passes through several towers and switchboard. In this case, one should not immediately put the cellphone to the ear but must wait for a few seconds after pressing the green button, and then say "hello" to the "radiation", the professor chuckles.
He avers that by making awareness and using safety norms, cellphone radiation could be controlled to some extent but the “tale of towers” is terrifying. In our country, we have implemented the standard of radiation of towers at our own convenience and simply ignored the norms of International commission on non-ionising radiation protection which is recommended by the United Nations itself. The range of radiation exposure suggested by the norms is six-minute per day, but we have applied the same for one hour.

On September 1, 2012, the range of radiation was fixed for 450 milliwatts per square metre which are valued for one hour. Even if the range of radiation is one milliwatt per square metre in our houses, several health hazards could start manifesting within five years.

There is more radiation in the main beam of an antenna and because of this, the periphery of 100 to 300 metres is also not safe from radiation. However, this applies to towers with just one antenna, which is a rare sight these days. Nowadays, towers carry at least two to ten antenna.

He explains, "I have toured Delhi for about 30 times since 2010 and have submitted reports of health hazards related to cellphone and cell tower to various departments and committees including the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). My constant endeavours were successful to some extent as in 2012 the radiation range was reduced by one-tenth of the earlier value, meaning it was now 450 milliwatts per square metre from 4050 milliwatts per square metre and was permissible only for an hour.
Expressing dismay, Dr Kumar says, "It was in December 2014 that I had submitted my presentation on the radiation to the concerned authority and after that my appointment is not being fixed with any of the entities dealing with radiation hazards.
'International scientists say that to remain safe during our whole an of life cellphone tower radiation should be within the range of 0.1 milliwatts per square meter, whereas our demand is that the govt must reduce the radiation range of 450 to 10 milliwatt per square mette. In the urban areas of America, one antenna has the capacity of one watt whereas in India a single antenna has the capacity of 20 watts. I have sent a report to the government in which I have suggested solutions to the hazards of radiation.

"Right now, there are around five to six lakh cell towers in India. First of all, the capacity of antennas should be reduced to one watt and after that almost six lakh new towers should be installed. One antenna costs around Rs 20 lakh but keeping the health of citizen's in mind, money has to be spent without a second thought. The Supreme Court of India understands the hazards of radiation very well, this is why it has accepted the pleas of film star Juhi Chawla and several others in this regard. It will hear their case in November,' explains Dr Kumar.

'Cellphone has not just wreaked havoc on our health, but it has also marred the very social fabric. if I ever happen to see anyone without cellphones in their hands, I appreciate them."
The professor sums up, 'This has been said a lot of times on different platforms that there are no health hazards from the cellphone tower but the vanishing of sparrows, butterflies and bees -- who are on the verge of extinction -- is the living proof of the adverse effect of radiation. It is affecting the tree and plants, equally."

Sharing an eye-opening anecdote he says, "During my survey, I met one the owner of a farmhouse in Gurugram. He shared an appalling story. The owner said that before the installation of cellphone tower the lemon tree right in front of the antenna used to bear almost a hundred lemons, but now it bears only two lemons."

A pensive Dr Kumar warns that today we are surrounded with the radiation of cellphones, cell towers, Wi-Fi, microwave oven, computers, and laptops but then it is the younger generation which is more prone to the radiation as it has completely gone "online".
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Source: United News of India, Dr Asha Mishra Upadhyay, 30 Sep 2018

Internet, social media use and device ownership plateaues in U.S.
USA Created: 1 Oct 2018
The use of digital technology has had a long stretch of rapid growth in the United States, but the share of Americans who go online, use social media or own key devices has remained stable the past two years, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center data.

The shares of U.S. adults who say they use the internet, use social media, own a smartphone or own a tablet computer are all nearly identical to the shares who said so in 2016. The share who say they have broadband internet service at home currently stands at 65% – nearly identical to the 67% who said this in a survey conducted in summer 2015. And when it comes to desktop or laptop ownership, there has actually been a small dip in the overall numbers over the last two years – from 78% in 2016 to 73% today.

A contributing factor behind this slowing growth is that parts of the population have reached near-saturation levels of adoption of some technologies. Put simply, in some instances there just aren’t many non-users left. For example, nine-in-ten or more adults younger than 50 say they go online or own a smartphone. And a similar share of those in higher-income households have laptops or desktops.

Still, there are noteworthy numbers of non-users of various technologies. Surveys conducted by the Center over the years highlight how these non-adopters of various technologies often face substantial and multifaceted barriers.

In some cases, Americans who would like to take advantage of new technologies are simply unable to do so because of financial restrictions. In a 2015 survey, 43% of non-broadband adopters cited cost (either the cost of a computer, or the cost of the broadband subscription itself) as the primary reason they did not have broadband service at home. For other Americans, technology adoption may differ by where they live. A survey conducted earlier this year found that roughly six-in-ten Americans living in rural areas say that access to high speed internet is a problem in their local community. That compares with 43% of those in urban areas and 36% living in suburbs.

In other instances, non-users say they do not see the value of learning how to use new technologies. In a 2013 survey, the Center found that 34% of non-internet users did not go online because they had no interest in doing so, or did not think the internet was relevant to their lives.

In addition, certain groups of Americans – most notably, older adults – face their own unique challenges when it comes to using and adopting new technologies. In a 2015 survey, 34% of internet users ages 65 and older said they had little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks, while 48% of older adults said the statement, “When I get a new electronic device, I usually need someone else to set it up or show me how to use it” describes them very well. And a substantial share of seniors reports they have chronic health condition, disability or other type of physical limitation that might prevent them from fully utilizing a variety of devices.

While many long-standing measures of technology adoption have steadied the past two years, the ways that people get connected and use digital platforms are constantly shifting and evolving. For instance, Pew Research Center surveys have shown that the number of people who are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone but do not have traditional home broadband service – has grown from 12% in 2016 to 20% this year.

And although the shares of Americans who use certain social media platforms have changed little in recent years, that has not been true with every site. The percent of adults using Instagram, for example, has grown from 28% in 2016 to 35% this year. And looking beyond the adult population, the social media environment of today’s teenagers looks remarkably different than it did just a few years prior.

Meanwhile, new connected devices continue to emerge. Consumer surveys show that the use of smart TVs and wearable devices has grown in recent years. Nearly half of Americans (46%) use digital voice assistants on smartphones or devices like Amazon Echo, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. A host of items collectively called “the Internet of Things” – ranging from household thermostats and security systems to “smart city” transportation systems – are also coming on the market.

Ultimately, the method for tracking certain adoption metrics may need to change. A canvassing of experts by the Center suggested that it might make sense in the near future to stop asking people if they “use the internet” because it will be so ubiquitous. Those experts predicted that the internet would become “like electricity” – almost invisible to users, yet more deeply embedded in their lives.
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Source: Pew Research, Paul Hitlin, 28 Sep 2018

ICNIRP Finds NTP & Ramazzini RF–Animal Studies Unconvincing
USA Created: 24 Sep 2018
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has determined that the two recent animal studies pointing to a cancer risk from cell phone radiation are not convincing and should not be used to revise current exposure standards.

Related news:
Aug 2018, USA: Former ICNIRP commission member: NTP shows clear RF cancer risk, guidelines obsolete

In a “note” published today, the 12-member group states that the studies by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the Ramazzini Institute “do not provide a consistent, reliable and generalizable body of evidence.” “Both studies have inconsistencies and limitations that affect the usefulness of their results for setting exposure guidelines,” according to ICNIRP.

*SNIP* read the entire article via the source link below...
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Source: Microwave News, Louis Slesin PhD, 04 Sep 2018

Our phones and gadgets are now endangering the planet
United Kingdom Created: 24 Sep 2018
The energy used in our digital consumption is set to have a bigger impact on global warming than the entire aviation industry.

It was just another moment in this long, increasingly strange summer. I was on a train home from Paddington station, and the carriage’s air-conditioning was just about fighting off the heat outside. Most people seemed to be staring at their phones – in many cases, they were trying to stream a World Cup match, as the 4G signal came and went, and Great Western Railway’s onboard wifi proved to be maddeningly erratic. The trebly chatter of headphone leakage was constant. And thousands of miles and a few time zones away in Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the world’s largest concentrations of computing power was playing its part in keeping everything I saw ticking over, as data from around the world passed back and forth from its vast buildings.

Most of us communicate with this small and wealthy corner of the US every day. Thanks to a combination of factors – its proximity to Washington DC, competitive electricity prices, and its low susceptibility to natural disasters – the county is the home of data centres used by about 3,000 tech companies: huge agglomerations of circuitry, cables and cooling systems that sit in corners of the world most of us rarely see, but that are now at the core of how we live. About 70% of the world’s online traffic is reckoned to pass through Loudoun County.

But there is a big problem, centred on a power company called Dominion, which supplies the vast majority of Loudoun County’s electricity. According to a 2017 Greenpeace report, only 1% of Dominion’s total electricity comes from credibly renewable sources: 2% originates in hydroelectric plants, and the rest is split evenly between coal, gas and nuclear power. Dominion is also in the middle of a huge regional controversy about a proposed pipeline that will carry fracked gas to its power plants, which it says is partly driven by data centres’ insatiable appetite for electricity. Clearly, then, the video streams, digital photographs and messaging that pour out of all those servers come with a price.

I was reminded of all this by the recently published book New Dark Age, by the British writer James Bridle. He cites a study in Japan that suggests that by 2030, the power requirements of digital services will outstrip the nation’s entire current generation capacity. He quotes an American report from 2013 – ironically enough, commissioned by coal industry lobbyists – that pointed out that using either a tablet or smartphone to wirelessly watch an hour of video a week used roughly the same amount of electricity (largely consumed at the data-centre end of the process) as two new domestic fridges.

If you worry about climate change and a cause celebre such as the expansion of Heathrow airport, it is worth considering that data centres are set to soon have a bigger carbon footprint than the entire aviation industry. Yet as Bridle points out, even that statistic doesn’t quite do justice to some huge potential problems. He mentions the vast amounts of electricity consumed by the operations of the online currency Bitcoin – which, at the height of the speculative frenzies earlier this year, was set to produce an annual amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to 1m transatlantic flights. And he’s anxious about what will happen next: “In response to vast increases in data storage and computational capacity in the last decade, the amount of energy used by data centres has doubled every four years, and is expected to triple in the next 10 years.”

These changes are partly being driven by the so-called internet of things: the increasing array of everyday devices – from TVs, through domestic security devices, to lighting systems, and countless modes of transport – that constantly emit and receive data. If driverless cars ever arrive in our lives, those same flows will increase hugely. At the same time, the accelerating rollout of the internet and its associated technologies in the developing world will add to the load.

About a decade ago, we were being told to fight climate change by switching off our TVs and stereos. If the battle is now even more urgent, how does it fit with a world in which router lights constantly flicker, and all the devices we own will be in constant, energy-intensive communication with distant mega-computers?

But some good news. Whatever its other ethical contortions, Silicon Valley has an environmental conscience. Facebook has pledged to, sooner or later, power its operations using “100% clean and renewable energy”. Google says it has already achieved that goal. So does Apple. Yet even if you factor in efficiency improvements, beneath many of these claims lies a reality in which the vast and constant demand for power means such companies inevitably use energy generated by fossil fuels, and then atone for it using the often questionable practice of carbon offsetting.

And among the big tech corporations, there is one big focus of worry: Amazon, whose ever-expanding cloud computing wing, Amazon Web Services, offers “the on-demand delivery of computer power, database storage … and other IT resources” and provides most of the computing power behind Netflix. This sits at the heart of data centres’ relentless expansion. Green campaigners bemoan the fact that the details of AWS’s electricity consumption and its carbon footprint remain under wraps; on its corporate website, the story of its use of renewable energy suddenly stops in 2016.

Besides, for all their power, even the most enlightened US giants obviously command only part of a global industry. To quote from that Greenpeace report: “Among emerging Chinese internet giants such as Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, the silence on energy performance still remains. Neither the public nor customers are able to obtain any information about their electricity use and CO2 target.” Irrespective of the good work carried out by some tech giants, and whether or not you take seriously projections that the entire communication technology industry could account for up to 14% of carbon emissions by 2040, one stark fact remains: the vast majority of electricity used in the world’s data centres comes from non-renewable sources, and as their numbers rapidly increase, there are no guarantees that this will change.

On the fringes of the industry, a few voices have been heard describing the kind of future at which most of us – expecting everything streamed as a right – would balk. They talk about eventually rationing internet use, insisting that people send black and white images, or forcibly pushing them away from binge-streaming videos. Their basic point, it seems, chimes with those occasions when the smartphone in your pocket starts to suddenly heat up: a metaphor for our warming planet, and the fact that even the most well-intentioned corporations may yet find that their supposedly unlimited digital delights are, in the dictionary definition of the term, unsustainable.

John Harris is a Guardian columnist
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Source: The Guardian, John Harris, 17 Jul 2018

Poor mental health at work 'widespread'
United Kingdom Created: 12 Sep 2018
Poor mental health affects half of all employees, according to a survey of 44,000 people carried out by the mental health charity Mind.

Only half of those who had experienced problems with stress, anxiety or low mood had talked to their employer about it.

That's something that must change, says Mind.

Fear, shame and job insecurity are some of the reasons people may choose to hide their worries.

Natalie Hunt, 34, from Salford, got her first job at 18. That role was working in a department store, serving customers, but she found it extremely stressful.

"It was dealing with complaints and helping people with queries. I'd had anxiety and depression as a teenager and the full-time job made me really anxious. I began to get shy and withdrawn, going more and more into myself, and I was worried about having a panic attack at work.

"Colleagues started to notice and eventually my boss wanted a word."

Under pressure
Natalie says that at the time, her employer didn't really understand or know what to do. There was no support. She then left the workplace altogether and took up an art course at college.

She now teaches art classes to people with mental health problems, and at a homeless shelter. She also works part-time in an office, even though sometimes she can go through stages of poor mental health.

Natalie says it makes a huge difference when the workplace is supportive - they have flexible hours and regular catch-ups.

"I first started back in the workplace with a bit of voluntary work in a charity shop, which was great. Because it was voluntary and part-time, I didn't feel pressured and it helped me regain some confidence. That was when I was 20.

"Now I run my own art classes for people with mental health conditions. It's lovely to be making a difference."

Mind says around 300,000 people lose their job each year due to a mental health problem.

The charity - along with The Royal Foundation, Heads Together and 11 other organisations - has created an online resource for employers and employees with information, advice, resources and training that workplaces can use to improve wellbeing.

A recent poll by the Institute of Directors found less than one in five firms offered mental health training for managers.

Poor relationships with line managers, along with workload, have the biggest negative impact on employees' mental health, the survey found - closely followed by poor relationships with colleagues.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: BBC News, 11 Sep 2018

Sperm Count Zero
USA Created: 12 Sep 2018
A strange thing has happened to men over the past few decades: We’ve become increasingly infertile, so much so that within a generation we may lose the ability to reproduce entirely. What’s causing this mysterious drop in sperm counts—and is there any way to reverse it before it’s too late?

Men are doomed. Everybody knows this. We're obviously all doomed, the women too, everybody in general, just a waiting game until one or another of the stupid things our stupid species is up to finally gets us. But as it turns out, no surprise: men first. Second instance of no surprise: We're going to take the women down with us.

There has always been evidence that men, throughout life, are at higher risk of early death—from the beginning, a higher male incidence of Death by Mastodon Stomping, a higher incidence of Spiked Club to the Brainpan, a statistically significant disparity between how many men and how many women die of Accidentally Shooting Themselves in the Face or Getting Really Fat and Having a Heart Attack. The male of the species dies younger than the female—about five years on average. Divide a population into groups by birth year, and by the time each cohort reaches 85, there are two women left for every man alive. In fact, the male wins every age class: Baby boys die more often than baby girls; little boys die more often than little girls; teenage boys; young men; middle-aged men. Death champions across the board.

Now it seems that early death isn't enough for us—we're on track instead to void the species entirely. Last summer a group of researchers from Hebrew University and Mount Sinai medical school published a study showing that sperm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by more than 50 percent over the past four decades. (They judged data from the rest of the world to be insufficient to draw conclusions from, but there are studies suggesting that the trend could be worldwide.) That is to say: We are producing half the sperm our grandfathers did. We are half as fertile.

The Hebrew University/Mount Sinai paper was a meta-analysis by a team of epidemiologists, clinicians, and researchers that culled data from 185 studies, which examined semen from almost 43,000 men. It showed that the human race is apparently on a trend line toward becoming unable to reproduce itself. Sperm counts went from 99 million sperm per milliliter of semen in 1973 to 47 million per milliliter in 2011, and the decline has been accelerating. Would 40 more years—or fewer—bring us all the way to zero?

I called Shanna H. Swan, a reproductive epidemiologist at Mount Sinai and one of the lead authors of the study, to ask if there was any good news hiding behind those brutal numbers. Were we really at risk of extinction? She failed to comfort me. “The What Does It Mean question means extrapolating beyond your data,” Swan said, “which is always a tricky thing. But you can ask, ‘What does it take? When is a species in danger? When is a species threatened?’ And we are definitely on that path.” That path, in its darkest reaches, leads to no more naturally conceived babies and potentially to no babies at all—and the final generation of Homo sapiens will roam the earth knowing they will be the last of their kind.

If we are half as fertile as the generation before us, why haven't we noticed? One answer is that there is a lot of redundancy built into reproduction: You don't need 200 million sperm to fertilize an egg, but that's how many the average man might devote to the job. Most men can still conceive a child naturally with a depressed sperm count, and those who can't have a booming fertility-treatment industry ready to help them. And though lower sperm counts probably have led to a small decrease in the number of children being conceived, that decline has been masked by sociological changes driving birth rates down even faster: People in the developed world are choosing to have fewer children, and they are having them later.

The problem has been debated among fertility scientists for decades now—studies suggesting that sperm counts are declining have been appearing since the '70s—but until Swan and her colleagues' meta-analysis, the results have always been judged incomplete or preliminary. Swan herself had conducted smaller studies on declining sperm counts, but in 2015 she decided it was time for a definitive answer. She teamed up with Hagai Levine, an Israeli epidemiologist, and Niels Jørgensen, a Danish endocrinologist, and along with five others, they set about performing a systematic review and meta-regression analysis—that is, a kind of statistical synthesis of the data. “Hagai is a very good scientist, and he also used to be the head of epidemiology for the Israeli armed forces,” Swan told me. “So he's very good at organizing.” They spent a year working with the data.

The results, when they came in, were clear. Not only were sperm counts per milliliter of semen down by more than 50 percent since 1973, but total sperm counts were down by almost 60 percent: We are producing less semen, and that semen has fewer sperm cells in it. This time around, even scientists who had been skeptical of past analyses had to admit that the study was all but unassailable. Jørgensen, in Copenhagen, told me that when he saw the results, he'd said aloud, “No, it cannot be true.” He had expected to see a past decline and then a leveling off. But he couldn't argue when the team ran the numbers again and again. The downward slope was unwavering.

Almost all the scientists I talked to stressed that not only were low sperm counts alarming for what they said about the reproductive future of the species—they were also a warning of a much larger set of health problems facing men. In this view, sperm production is a canary in the coal mine of male bodies: We know, for instance, that men with poor semen quality have a higher mortality rate and are more likely to have diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease than fertile men.

Testosterone levels have also dropped precipitously, with effects beginning in utero and extending into adulthood. One of the most significant markers of an organism's sex is something called anogenital distance (AGD)—the measurement between the anus and the genitals. Male AGD is typically twice the length of female, a much more dramatic difference than height or weight or musculature. Lower testosterone leads to a shorter AGD, and a measurement lower than the median correlates to a man being seven times as likely to be subfertile and gives him a greater likelihood of having undescended testicles, testicular tumors, and a smaller penis. “What you are seeing in a number of systems, other developmental systems, is that the sex differences are shrinking,” Swan told me. Men are producing less sperm. They're also becoming less male.

I assumed that the next thing Swan was going to tell me was that these changes were all a mystery to scientists. If only we could figure out what was causing the drop in sperm counts, I imagined, we could solve all the attendant health problems at once. But it turns out that it's not a mystery: We know what the culprit is. And it's hiding in plain sight.

The sixth floor of the Rigshospitalet, a hospital and research institution in Copenhagen, houses the Department of Growth and Reproduction. The babies are all a few floors downstairs—on six, the unit is populated not with new parents but with doctors and researchers hunched over mass spectrometers and gel imagers and the like. I was there to meet Niels E. Skakkebæk, an 82-year-old pediatric endocrinologist, who founded the department in 1990. After walking me through the lab, he showed me to his office, a cramped, closet-like space—modest for someone who is a giant in his field. Male fertility and male reproductive health, Skakkebæk told me, are in full-blown crisis. “Here in Denmark, there is an epidemic of infertility,” he said. “More than 20 percent of Danish men do not father children.”

Skakkebæk first suspected something was going wrong in the late '70s, when he treated an infertile patient with an abnormality in the cells of the testes that he had never seen before. When he treated a second man with the same abnormality a few years later, he began to investigate a connection. What he found was a new form of precursor cells for testicular cancer, a once rare disease whose incidence had doubled. Moreover, these precursor cells had begun developing before the patient was even born. “He had the insight that testicular cancer, which is a cancer of young men, is something that is actually originated in utero,” Swan told me. And if these testes had somehow been misdeveloping in utero, Skakkebæk asked himself, what else was happening to these babies before they were born?

Eventually, Skakkebæk linked several other previously rare symptoms for a condition he called testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS), a collection of male reproductive problems that include hypospadias (an abnormal location for the end of the urethra), cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle), poor semen quality, and testicular cancer. What Skakkebæk proposed with TDS is that these disorders can have a common fetal origin, a disruption in the development of the male fetus in the womb.

So what was causing this disruption? To say there is only a single answer might be an overstatement—stress, smoking, and obesity, for example, all depress sperm counts—but there are fewer and fewer critics of the following theory: The industrial revolution happened. And the oil industry happened. And 20th-century chemistry happened. In short, humans started ingesting a whole host of compounds that affected our hormones—including, most crucially, estrogen and testosterone.

The scientists I talked to were less cautious about embracing this explanation than I expected. Down the hall from Skakkebæk's office, I met Anna-Maria Andersson, a biologist whose research has focused on declining testosterone levels. “There has been a chemical revolution going on starting from the beginning of the 19th century, maybe even a bit before,” she told me, “and upwards and exploding after the Second World War, when hundreds of new chemicals came onto the market within a very short time frame.” Suddenly a vast array of chemicals were entering our bloodstream, ones that no human body had ever had to deal with. The chemical revolution gave us some wonderful things: new medicines, new food sources, faster and cheaper mass production of all sorts of necessary products. It also gave us, Andersson pointed out, a living experiment on the human body with absolutely no forethought to the result.

When a chemical affects your hormones, it's called an endocrine disruptor. And it turns out that many of the compounds used to make plastic soft and flexible (like phthalates) or to make them harder and stronger (like Bisphenol A, or BPA) are consummate endocrine disruptors. Phthalates and BPA, for example, mimic estrogen in the bloodstream. If you're a man with a lot of phthalates in his system, you'll produce less testosterone and fewer sperm. If exposed to phthalates in utero, a male fetus's reproductive system itself will be altered: He will develop to be less male.

Women with raised levels of phthalates in their urine during pregnancy were significantly more likely to have sons with shorter anogenital distance as well as shorter penis length and smaller testes. “When the [fetus's] testicles start making testosterone, which is about week eight of pregnancy, they make a little less,” Swan said. “That's the nub of this whole story. So phthalates decrease testosterone. The testicles then do not produce proper testosterone, and the anogenital distance is shorter.”

The problem is that these chemicals are everywhere. BPA can be found in water bottles and food containers and sales receipts. Phthalates are even more common: They are in the coatings of pills and nutritional supplements; they're used in gelling agents, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents. Not to mention medical devices, detergents and packaging, paint and modeling clay, pharmaceuticals and textiles and sex toys and nail polish and liquid soap and hair spray. They are used in tubing that processes food, so you'll find them in milk, yogurt, sauces, soups, and even, in small amounts, in eggs, fruits, vegetables, pasta, noodles, rice, and water. The CDC determined that just about everyone in the United States has measurable levels of phthalates in his or her body—they're unavoidable.

What's more, there is evidence that the effect of these endocrine disruptors increases over generations, due to something called epigenetic inheritance. Normally, acquired traits—like, say, a sperm count lowered by obesity—aren't passed down from father to son. But some chemicals, including phthalates and BPA, can change the way genes are expressed without altering the underlying genetic code, and that change is inheritable. Your father passes along his low sperm count to you, and your sperm count goes even lower after you're exposed to endocrine disruptors. That's part of the reason there's been no leveling off even after 40 years of declining sperm counts—the baseline keeps dropping.

With all due respect to Dr. Swan and the problems of extrapolating beyond one's data, I wanted to get back to What It All Means. The answer, I thought, might be found at the 13th International Symposium on Spermatology, which took place in May, on Lidingö, a small island in the inner Stockholm archipelago. A hundred spermatologists in one place: You'd think (incorrectly) that the jokes would be good. Skakkebæk had told me I'd be able to find some dissenters to the conclusions of Swan's meta-analysis there, but what I witnessed instead was the final vanquishing of the few remaining doubters.

At the welcome dinner (reindeer and rooster), I met Hagai Levine, the Israeli co-author of the Hebrew University/Mount Sinai meta-analysis. Levine, who is 40, told me we had reasons to worry. “I'm saying that we should hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” he said. “And that is the possibility that we will become extinct. That's a possibility we must seriously consider. I'm not saying it's going to happen. I'm not saying it's likely to happen. I'm not saying that's the prediction. I'm just saying we should be prepared for such a possibility. That's all. And we are not.”

His session the next morning—“Are Spermatozoa at the Verge of Extinction?”—would be the defining event of the conference: It cast a shadow over all the other talks. At a panel discussion that followed his presentation, Levine continued his argument for addressing the causes of the crisis, saying, “My default, if I don't know, is that it is up to the manufacturers of chemicals to prove that their chemicals are safe. But I don't feel like I need any more evidence to take action with chemicals already known to disrupt the endocrine system.”

The organizer of the symposium, Lars Björndahl, a Swedish spermatologist who had presented earlier in the morning, urged caution. “I have great respect for epidemiological studies, but we should remember that mathematical correlations don't prove that there is a causative relation,” he said. Questions from the audience—often taking the form of statements—were much along the same lines: Be careful of a bias toward the assumption that all these things are connected. Levine nodded with only a hint of chagrin, like a patient professor waiting hopefully for his students to catch up.

David Mortimer, who runs a company that designs and establishes assisted-conception laboratories, was one of the only members of the audience willing to question Levine's study itself. He pointed out that methods for measuring sperm had changed dramatically over the time period of the study and that the old studies were profoundly unreliable.

Levine was ready with an answer. “So that's one of the reasons we also conducted a sensitivity analysis,” he said from the stage, “with studies with sample collection only after 1995—and the slope was even steeper. So that could not explain the decline we see after 1995.”

“I've never said there was no decline in sperm counts,” Mortimer said, a bit defensively. Levine, who had been so gracious and engaged with his critics, began to look a little tired. He rallied, though, when the group agreed to put out a joint statement about the crisis. The chairs of the symposium called on the world to acknowledge that male reproductive health was essential for the survival of the species, that its decline was alarming and should be studied, and that at present it was being neglected in funding and attention.

Mortimer came around and ended up signing the statement. When I caught up with him later, he wasn't nearly as dismissive of the study's conclusions as I expected. He agreed there was little question that sperm counts were dropping, and he even embraced some of the direst predictions of scientists like Levine. “The epigenetics are the scary bit,” he told me, “because what we're doing now affects the future of the human race.” When even the skeptics are scared, it's probably time to pay attention.

Can anything be done? Over the past 20 years, there have been occasional attempts to limit the number of endocrine disruptors in circulation, but inevitably the fixes are insubstantial: one chemical removed in favor of another, which eventually turns out to have its own dangers. That was the case with BPA, which was partly replaced by Bisphenol S, which might be even worse for you. The chemical industry, unsurprisingly, has been resistant to the notion that the billions of dollars of revenue these products represent might also represent terrible damage to the human body, and have often followed the model of Big Tobacco and Big Oil—fighting regulation with lobbyists and funding their own studies that suggest their products are harmless. The website for the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association, has a page dedicated to phthalates that mostly consists of calling Shanna Swan's research “controversial” and asserting that her “use of methodologies that have not been validated and unconventional data analysis have been criticized by the scientific community.” (Cited critics of Swan include Elizabeth Whelan, now deceased, an epidemiologist famous for fighting the regulation of chemicals from her position as president of the American Council on Science and Health, which has received funding from Chevron, DuPont, and other companies in the plastic business.)

Assuming that we're unable to wean ourselves off plastics and other marvels of modern science, we may be stuck innovating our way out of this mess. How long we're able to outrun the drop in sperm count may depend, finally, on how good we get at IVF and other fertility treatments. When I spoke with Marc Goldstein, a urologist and surgeon at Weill Cornell medical center in New York City, he said that while there was “no question I've seen a big increase in men with male-factor infertility,” he wasn't worried for the future of the species. Assisted reproduction would keep the babies coming, no matter how sickly men's sperm become.

It's true that fertility treatments have already given men with extremely low sperm counts the chance to be fathers. Indeed, by looking at their cases, we can glimpse what our low-sperm-count future might look like. We know that it will be arduous to conceive, and expensive—so expensive that having children may no longer be an option available to all couples. A fertility-treatment-dependent future is also unlikely to produce a birth rate anywhere near current levels.

Not long ago, I spoke with Chris Wohl, a research materials/surface engineer at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, who spent six years trying to conceive a child. Both he and his wife had fertility problems: Wohl's sperm count was under 2 million per milliliter—the average count we'd expect to reach, at the current rate, by 2034. “We started in the normal way of trying to have kids,” he said, “and after a few years, we said, ‘Okay, let's talk to some folks.’ ” They went through several rounds of intrauterine insemination. “And then after that sixth time, we said, ‘This isn't working. We need to kind of up our technology game.’ So we went to a reproductive endocrinologist and went through several rounds of IVF. And then when that failed, we were going to look into adoption. That's when somebody came forward and said that they would be a surrogate for us.” Finally, with the surrogate, the process worked. He and his wife now have a healthy, strong-willed 4-year-old girl.

So perhaps that's the solution: As long as we hover somewhere above Sperm Count Zero, and with an assist from modern medicine, we have a shot. Men will continue to be essential to the survival of the species. The problem with innovation, though, is that it never stops. A new technology known as IVG—in vitro gametogenesis—is showing early promise at turning embryonic stem cells into sperm. In 2016, Japanese scientists created baby mice by fertilizing normal mouse eggs with sperm created via IVG. The stem cells in question were taken from female mice. There was no need for any males.
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Source: GQ Magazine, Daniel Noah Halpern 04 Sep 2018

Bay Area city blocks 5G deployments over cancer concerns
USA Created: 11 Sep 2018
The Bay Area may be the center of the global technology industry, but that hasn’t stopped one wealthy enclave from protecting itself from the future.

The city council of Mill Valley, a small town located just a few miles north of San Francisco, voted unanimously late last week to effectively block deployments of small-cell 5G wireless towers in the city’s residential areas.

Through an urgency ordinance, which allows the city council to immediately enact regulations that affect the health and safety of the community, the restrictions and prohibitions will be put into force immediately for all future applications to site 5G telecommunications equipment in the city. Applications for commercial districts are permitted under the passed ordinance.

The ordinance was driven by community concerns over the health effects of 5G wireless antennas. According to the city, it received 145 pieces of correspondence from citizens voicing opposition to the technology, compared to just five letters in support of it — a ratio of 29 to 1. While that may not sound like much, the city’s population is roughly 14,000, indicating that about 1% of the population had voiced an opinion on the matter.

Blocks on 5G deployments are nothing new for Marin County, where other cities including San Anselmo and Ross have passed similar ordinances designed to thwart 5G expansion efforts over health concerns.

These restrictions on small cell site deployments could complicate 5G’s upcoming nationwide rollout. While 5G standards have yet to be standardized, one model that has broad traction in the telecommunications industry is to use so-called “small cell” antennas to increase bandwidth and connection quality while reducing infrastructure and power costs. Smaller antennas are easier to install and will be loss obtrusive, reducing the concerns of urban preservationists to unsightly tower masts that have long plagued the deployment of 4G antennas in communities across the United States.

Perhaps most importantly, these small cells emit less radiation, since they are not designed to provide as wide of coverage as traditional cell sites. The telecom industry has long vociferously denied a link between antennas and health outcomes, although California’s Department of Public Health has issued warnings about potential health effects of personal cell phone antennas. Reduced radiation emissions from 5G antennas compared to 4G antennas would presumably further reduce any health effects of this technology.

Restrictions like Mill Valley’s will make it nearly impossible to deploy 5G in a timely manner. As one industry representative told me in an interview a few months ago, “It takes 18 months to get the permit to deploy, and 2 hours to install.” Multiplied by the hundreds of sites required to cover a reasonably-sized urban neighborhood, and the 5G rollout goes beyond daunting to well-near impossible.

While health concerns have bubbled in various municipalities, those concerns are not shared globally. China, through companies like Huawei, is investing billions of dollars to design and build 5G infrastructure, in hopes of stealing the industry crown from the United States, which is the market leader in 4G technologies.

Those competitive concerns have increasingly been a priority at the FCC, where chairman Ajit Pai and his fellow Republican commissioners have pushed hard to overcome local concerns around health and historical preservation. The commission voted earlier this year on new siting rules that would accelerate 5G adoption.

Mill Valley’s ordinance is designed to frustrate those efforts, while remaining within the letter of federal law, which preempts local ordinances. Mill Valley’s mayor has said that the city will look to create a final ordinance over the next year.
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Source: TechCrunch, Danny Crichton, 11 Sept 2018

Microwave Weapons Are Prime Suspect in Ills of U.S. Embassy Workers
USA Created: 3 Sep 2018
Doctors and scientists say microwave strikes may have caused sonic delusions and very real brain damage among embassy staff and family members.

During the Cold War, Washington feared that Moscow was seeking to turn microwave radiation into covert weapons of mind control.

More recently, the American military itself sought to develop microwave arms that could invisibly beam painfully loud booms and even spoken words into people’s heads. The aims were to disable attackers and wage psychological warfare.

Now, doctors and scientists say such unconventional weapons may have caused the baffling symptoms and ailments that, starting in late 2016, hit more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The Cuban incidents resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington.

The medical team that examined 21 affected diplomats from Cuba made no mention of microwaves in its detailed report published in JAMA in March. But Douglas H. Smith, the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a recent interview that microwaves were now considered a main suspect and that the team was increasingly sure the diplomats had suffered brain injury.

“Everybody was relatively skeptical at first,” he said, “and everyone now agrees there’s something there.” Dr. Smith remarked that the diplomats and doctors jokingly refer to the trauma as the immaculate concussion.

Strikes with microwaves, some experts now argue, more plausibly explain reports of painful sounds, ills and traumas than do other possible culprits — sonic attacks, viral infections and contagious anxiety.

In particular, a growing number of analysts cite an eerie phenomenon known as the Frey effect, named after Allan H. Frey, an American scientist. Long ago, he found that microwaves can trick the brain into perceiving what seem to be ordinary sounds.

The false sensations, the experts say, may account for a defining symptom of the diplomatic incidents — the perception of loud noises, including ringing, buzzing and grinding. Initially, experts cited those symptoms as evidence of stealthy attacks with sonic weapons.

Members of Jason, a secretive group of elite scientists that helps the federal government assess new threats to national security, say it has been scrutinizing the diplomatic mystery this summer and weighing possible explanations, including microwaves.

Asked about the microwave theory of the case, the State Department said the investigation had yet to identify the cause or source of the attacks. And the F.B.I. declined to comment on the status of the investigation or any theories.

The microwave idea teems with unanswered questions. Who fired the beams? The Russian government? The Cuban government? A rogue Cuban faction sympathetic to Moscow? And, if so, where did the attackers get the unconventional arms?

At his home outside Washington, Mr. Frey, the scientist who uncovered the neural phenomenon, said federal investigators have questioned him on the diplomatic riddle and that microwave radiation is considered a possible cause.

Mr. Frey, now 83, has traveled widely and long served as a contractor and a consultant to a number of federal agencies. He speculated that Cubans aligned with Russia, the nation’s longtime ally, might have launched microwave strikes in attempts to undermine developing ties between Cuba and the United States.

“It’s a possibility,” he said at his kitchen table. “In dictatorships, you often have factions that think nothing of going against the general policy if it suits their needs. I think that’s a perfectly viable explanation.”

Developing a new class of weapons

Microwaves are ubiquitous in modern life. The short radio waves power radars, cook foods, relay messages and link cellphones to antenna towers. They’re a form of electromagnetic radiation on the same spectrum as light and X-rays, only at the opposite end.

While radio broadcasting can employ waves a mile or more in length, microwaves range in size from roughly a foot to a tiny fraction of an inch. They’re seen as harmless in such everyday uses as microwaving foods. But their diminutive size also enables tight focusing, as when dish antennas turn disorganized rays into concentrated beams.

The dimensions of the human head, scientists say, make it a fairly good antenna for picking up microwave signals.

Mr. Frey, a biologist, said he stumbled on the acoustic effect in 1960 while working for General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University. A man who measured radar signals at a nearby G.E. facility came up to him at a meeting and confided that he could hear the beam’s pulses — zip, zip, zip.

Intrigued, Mr. Frey traveled to the man’s workplace in Syracuse and positioned himself in a radar beam. “Lo,” he recalled, “I could hear it, too.”

Mr. Frey’s resulting papers — reporting that even deaf people could hear the false sounds — founded a new field of study on radiation’s neural impacts. Mr. Frey’s first paper, in 1961, reported that power densities 160 times lower than “the standard maximum safe level for continuous exposure” could induce the sonic delusions.

His second paper, in 1962, pinpointed the brain’s receptor site as the temporal lobes, which extend beneath the temples. Each lobe bears a small region — the auditory cortex — that processes nerve signals from the outer and inner ears.

Investigators raced to confirm and extend Mr. Frey’s findings. At first they named the phenomenon after him, but eventually called it the microwave auditory effect and, in time, more generally, radio-frequency hearing.

The Soviets took notice. Not long after his initial discoveries, Mr. Frey said, he was invited by the Soviet Academy of Sciences to visit and lecture. Toward the end, in a surprise, he was taken outside Moscow to a military base surrounded by armed guards and barbed-wire fences.

“They had me visiting the various labs and discussing the problems,” including the neural impacts of microwaves, Mr. Frey recalled. “I got an inside look at their classified program.”

Moscow was so intrigued by the prospect of mind control that it adopted a special terminology for the overall class of envisioned arms, calling them psychophysical and psychotronic.

Soviet research on microwaves for “internal sound perception,” the Defense Intelligence Agency warned in 1976, showed great promise for “disrupting the behavior patterns of military or diplomatic personnel.”

Furtively, globally, the threat grew.

The National Security Agency gave Mark S. Zaid, a Washington lawyer who routinely gets security clearances to discuss classified matters, a statement on how a foreign power built a weapon “designed to bathe a target’s living quarters in microwaves, causing numerous physical effects, including a damaged nervous system.”

Mr. Zaid said a N.S.A. client of his who traveled there watched in disbelief as his nervous system later unraveled, starting with control of his fingers.

Washington, too, foresaw new kinds of arms.

In Albuquerque, N.M., Air Force scientists sought to beam comprehensible speech into the heads of adversaries. Their novel approach won a patent in 2002, and an update in 2003. Both were assigned to the Air Force secretary, helping limit the idea’s dissemination.

The lead inventor said the research team had “experimentally demonstrated” that the “signal is intelligible.” As for the invention’s uses, an Air Force disclosure form listed the first application as “Psychological Warfare.”

The Navy sought to paralyze. The Frey effect was to induce sounds powerful enough to cause painful discomfort and, if needed, leave targets unable to move. The weapon, the Navy noted, would have a “low probability of fatalities or permanent injuries.”

In a twist, the 2003 contract was awarded to microwave experts who had emigrated to the United States from Russia and Ukraine.

It is unknown if Washington deploys such arms. But the Pentagon built a related weapon known as the Active Denial System, hailing it in a video. It fires an invisible beam meant to deter mobs and attackers with fiery sensations.

Russia, China and many European states are seen as having the know-how to make basic microwave weapons that can debilitate, sow noise or even kill. Advanced powers, experts say, might accomplish more nuanced aims such as beaming spoken words into people’s heads. Only intelligence agencies know which nations actually possess and use such unfamiliar arms.

The basic weapon might look like a satellite dish. In theory, such a device might be hand-held or mounted in a van, car, boat or helicopter. Microwave arms are seen as typically working over relatively short distances — across the length of a few rooms or blocks. High-powered ones might be able to fire beams across several football fields, or even for several miles.

The episode in Cuba
The Soviet collapse in 1991 cut Russia’s main ties to Cuba, a longtime ally just 90 miles from the United States. The shaky economy forced Moscow to stop providing Havana with large amounts of oil and other aid.

Vladimir Putin, as Russia’s president and prime minister, sought to recover the economic, political and strategic clout that the Soviets had lost. In December 2000, months after the start of his first presidential term, Mr. Putin flew to the island nation. It was the first visit by a Soviet or Russian leader since the Cold War.

He also sought to resurrect Soviet work on psychoactive arms. In 2012, he declared that Russia would pursue “new instruments for achieving political and strategic goals,” including psychophysical weapons.

In July 2014, Mr. Putin again visited Cuba. This time he brought a gift — the cancellation of some $30 billion in Cuban debt. The two nations signed a dozen accords.

A Russian spy ship, Viktor Leonov, docked in Havana on the eve of the beginning of reconciliation talks between Cuba and the United States in early 2015, and did so again in subsequent years. Moscow and Havana grew so close that in late 2016, the two nations signed a sweeping pact on defense and technology cooperation.

As a candidate, Donald Trump faulted the Obama administration’s normalization policy as “a very weak agreement” and threatened to scrap it on reaching the White House. Weeks after he won the election, in late November 2016, the American embassy in Havana found itself battling a mysterious crisis.

Diplomats and their families recounted high-pitched sounds in homes and hotel rooms at times intense enough to incapacitate. Long-term, the symptoms included nausea, crushing headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems and hearing loss.

The State Department filed diplomatic protests, and the Cuban government denied involvement. In May, the F.B.I. opened an investigation and its agents began visiting Havana a half year after the incidents began. The last major one hit that summer, in August, giving the agents relatively little time to gather clues.

In September 2017, the Trump administration warned travelers away from Cuba and ordered home roughly half the diplomatic personnel.

Rex W. Tillerson, who was then the secretary of state, said the embassy’s staff had been targeted deliberately. But he refrained from blaming Cuba, and federal officials held out the possibility that a third party may have been responsible.

In early October, President Trump expelled 15 Cuban diplomats, producing a chill between the nations. Administration critics said the White House was using the health issue as a pretext to end President Barack Obama’s reconciliation policy.

The day after the expulsions, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a closed, top secret hearing on the Cuba situation. Three State Department officials testified, as did an unnamed senior official of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Hypothesis

Early this year, in January, the spooky impact of microwaves on the human brain never came up during an open Senate hearing on the Cuba crisis.

But in a scientific paper that same month, James C. Lin of the University of Illinois, a leading investigator of the Frey effect, described the diplomatic ills as plausibly arising from microwave beams. Dr. Lin is the editor-in-chief of Bio Electro Magnetics, a peer-reviewed journal that explores the effects of radio waves and electromagnetic fields on living things.

In his paper, he said high-intensity beams of microwaves could have caused the diplomats to experience not just loud noises but nausea, headaches and vertigo, as well as possible brain-tissue injury. The beams, he added, could be fired covertly, hitting “only the intended target.”

In February, ProPublica in a lengthy investigation mentioned that federal investigators were weighing the microwave theory. Separately, it told of an intriguing find. The wife of a member of the embassy staff, it reported, had looked outside her home after hearing the disturbing sounds and seen a van speeding away.

A dish antenna could fit easily into a small van.

The medical team that studied the Cuba diplomats ascribed the symptoms in the March JAMA study to “an unknown energy source” that was highly directional. Some personnel, it noted, had covered their ears and heads but experienced no sound reduction. The team said the diplomats appeared to have developed signs of concussion without having received any blows to the head.

In May, reports emerged that American diplomats in China had suffered similar traumas. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the medical details of the two groups "very similar” and “entirely consistent" with one another. By late June, the State Department had evacuated at least 11 Americans from China.

To date, the most detailed medical case for microwave strikes has been made by Beatrice A. Golomb, a medical doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. In a forthcoming paper to be published in October in Neural Computation, a peer-reviewed journal of the MIT Press, she lays out potential medical evidence for Cuban microwave strikes.

She compared the symptoms of the diplomats in Cuba to those reported for individuals said to be suffering from radio-frequency sickness. The health responses of the two groups, Dr. Golomb wrote, “conform closely.”

In closing, she argued that “numerous highly specific features” of the diplomatic incidents “fit the hypothesis” of a microwave attack, including the Frey-type production of disturbing sounds.

Scientists still disagree over what hit the diplomats. Last month, JAMA ran four letters critical of the March study, some faulting the report for ruling out mass hysteria.

But Mr. Zaid, the Washington lawyer, who represents eight of the diplomats and family members, said microwave attacks may have injured his clients.

“It’s sort of naïve to think this just started now,” he said. Globally, he added, covert strikes with the potent beams appear to have been going on for decades.

Francisco Palmieri, a State Department official, was asked during the open Senate hearing if “attacks against U.S. personnel in Cuba” had been raised with Moscow.

“That is a very good question,” Mr. Palmieri replied. But addressing it, he added, would require “a classified setting.”

For his part, Mr. Frey says he doubts the case will be solved anytime soon. The novelty of the crisis, its sporadic nature and the foreign setting made it hard for federal investigators to gather clues and draw conclusions, he said, much less file charges.

“Based on what I know,” he remarked, “it will remain a mystery.”
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Source: New York Times, William J. Broad, 01 Sep 2018

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