Apple and Samsung have been hit with a class-action lawsuit over claims that their phones expose users to radio frequency emissions up to 500 percent beyond federal limits. Meanwhile the health debate around smartphones heats up.
Filed following an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, the lawsuit alleges that the Radio Frequency (RF) emissions of a number of Apple and Samsung phones – among them the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and Galaxy S8 – “far exceed federal guidelines.” The risks of such radiation levels, it continues, include “increased cancer risk, cellular stress…genetic damages, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders,” and a laundry list of other medical problems.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tests phones by their ‘Specific Absorption Rate,’ measured in watts of energy absorbed per kilogram of body tissue. No phone sold in America can exceed 1.6 w/kg, while European regulators allow a more generous 2w/kg. However, health activists consider these levels outdated. Indeed, the FCC’s guidelines were put together in 1997, and were largely based on tests carried out by the US military on the head of a 220lb (100kg) soldier.
Children can absorb more than 150 percent more phone radiation than adults, and up to ten times more radiation through their skulls. With kids as likely to use modern smartphones as top-tier military personnel, some researchers say that the FCC’s SAR guidelines are inadequate.
No major public health organization has thus far been able to link cell phone use with cancer or other serious ailments. However, a number of studies have found that even at levels far below those set by the FCC, significant health effects are possible.
Radiation 2,000 times lower than the 1.6 limit was found to weaken the DNA of lab rats and decrease their sperm count. A dose four times lower was found to statistically increase the likelihood of malignant tumors, while exposure to just under half the limit alters the sleep patterns of users.
None of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim to have actually suffered any illness or health problems. Instead they are suing Apple and Samsung – two of the world’s three largest smartphone manufacturers – for misleading them into buying potentially dangerous devices.
A number of the alarm-raising studies mentioned above were carried out in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the more powerful antennae and different transmitting standards of modern devices mean the true effects could be more drastic.
The upcoming rollout of 5G cell infrastructure has also rung alarm bells. 5G cell towers use shorter radio waves than their current-generation counterparts, meaning as cities in America fast-track their rollout, more will have to be erected to ensure coverage. These shorter waves, however, travel at a much higher frequency meaning users are bombarded with more radiation.
The FCC maintains 5G is safe, but defers to the Food and Drug Administration’s assessment that “the weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems” to back this up.
Dr. Martin Paul, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry at Washington State University, told RT that 5G poses a “great threat” to public health. Pointing to reproductive damage, cardiac effects, and oxidative stress, which can accelerate “every chronic disease we suffer from,” Paul slammed the US government for passing laws to speed up the rollout of 5G technology, but refusing to fund research into the consequences.
With 5G promising a new chapter in a debate that has raged for three decades, lawsuits like the one filed against Apple and Samsung will likely become more and more commonplace.
Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access
Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.
The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.
In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.
Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.
The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.
HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.
“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”
The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.
There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.
Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”
Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”
The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.
Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”
Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party
Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.
Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”
A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.
The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.