Bulletin N°568



18 May 2013
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

During the Vietnam War, soon after the collapse of the Paris Peace negotiations that had been initiated by Lyndon Johnson in the last months of his administration (later it was discovered that Dr. Henry Kissinger, working for the Republican Party, had been instrumental in sabotaging Johnson’s early attempt at ending this war), I remember the director of my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Wisconsin mentioning that he had just returned from New York, where “the art scene” was going through a collective nervous breakdown. In the plastic arts they were using dark tones. Black on black seemed to be the mode of expression in those depressing times. At one exposition, an artist had simply displayed a large canvas saturated with black paint. Many poets were silenced, and on many university campuses a mindless “langue de bois” prevailed. Intellectuals and artists had arrived at an impasse in the United States, and there was no hope for anything new to be expressed on the international art scene in New York, at the beginning of 1968, except layer upon layer of despair. From this psychological cul-de-sac grew violence, which the popular Robert Redford film, The Company You Keep (based on the Neil Gordon novel of the same name), attempts to depict as a collective response of desperation on the part of middle class students in the United States to the remorselessly murderous actives of their government. An emotional numbing was covering North America in epidemic proportion. This was shortly before I left, a refugee from Nixon’s “Silent Majority.”

On a recent trip to Paris my wife and I dropped by to visit Shakespeare & Company across from Notre Dame. Sylvia Whitman, as always, was there with her wonderful smile. She had buried her father more than a year ago, and the place looked like it has always looked, with the charming mementoes on the walls, and the stacks and stacks of books everywhere. I couldn’t resist purchasing a new copy of Hemmingway’s  The Movable Feast, on the cover of which was the famous photo Sylvia Beach and Hemmingway standing in front of the bookstore. I’d read this book in my youth when living in Texas and it had contributed to my urge to see the world. I read it again quickly on the train on the way back to Grenoble and I felt light-years younger. On the way to the Gare de Lyon, we had walked by Hemmingway’s apartment at La place de la Contrescarpe, and further down rue du Cardinal Lemoine I noticed for the first time a bronze plaque indicating the temporary residence of James Joyce, where he completed Ulysses in 1922, at the same time Hemmingway had lived nearby. I never knew he and Hemmingway had been neighbors.

The next morning after our return to Grenoble, I dug out my old dog-eared copy of The Dubliners and began reading the short stories, as I had done when I was 18 years old in north Texas. Escaping “paralysis of the will,” avoiding a “living death”; like Stephen Dadelus’s soul “arisen from the grave of boyhood, spurning her grave-clothes,” as described by Joyce in A Portrait of An Artist as A Young Man --this had become my life’s ambition, as well. I chose to study history at the University of Wisconsin instead of literature at the University of Chicago, when opportunities knocked, as I felt it was a broader discipline, more inclusive of real life. I’ve never regretted the years I spent with Harvey Goldberg at Madison, Wisconsin. Literature, he would opine, cannot be understood without historical context, no matter how many careers are made trying to prove the contrary. Historical context must include literature, but also economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and any other productions of human activity. Yes, it seemed (and still does) that historical knowledge is the foundation of all knowledge; even disembodied delusions and grunting, groundless madness have their historical contexts.

Lester Thurow’s 1972 book Zero-Sum Society mentions the tried-and-proven tactic of “analysis-paralysis,” by which he meant the often successful move to sabotage desirable legislation by indefinite delays which are rationalized by a declared need for further analysis. It is an effective weapon in a war of attrition which is intended to wear down the opposition, and it is often successful, as people move on to other issues or are distracted by the appearance of new interests. This liberal MIT economist made a noble attempt in 1972 to draw this stratagem to the attention of the American public, and to some degree it had an influence, one of which was the crystallization of neo-liberal activist ideology which blasted rational thought sky high, and left many on the ground sucking for oxygen. We had entered the age of faith-based policy making, and social context became insinuated from decision making in the traditional domains of power.

The empirical sociological approach to the history of power promoted by Michael Mann in his four-volume study of The Sources of Social Power, which covers a period of 5000 years, from ancient Mesopotamia to the present US foreign policy of strategic assassinations, contains the inherent limitations common to the inductive method shared by all empirical studies. (For more comments on empiricism and the method of inductive reasoning, see CEIMSA Bulletin # 551.) At the beginning of the last volume (2013) of his study, Michael Mann gives his definition of the four sources of power. “Power,” he writes, “is the capacity to get others to do things that otherwise they would not do.”

In order to achieve our goals, whatever they are, we enter into power relations involving both cooperation and conflict with other people, and these relations generate societies. So power may be collective, embodying cooperation to achieve shared goals –power through others—and distributive, wielded by some over others. (Mann, Vol. IV, p.1)

He goes on to describe the four main sources of both kinds of power, ideological, economic, military, and political -- according to this theory :

(1) Ideological power derives from the human need to find ultimate meaning in life, to share norms and values, and to participate in aesthetic and ritual practices with others. Ideologies change as the problems we face change. The power of ideological movements derives from our inability to attain certainty in our knowledge of the world. We fill in the gaps and the uncertainties with beliefs that are not in themselves scientifically testable but that embody our hopes and our fears. No one can prove the existence of a god or the viability of a socialist or an Islamist future. Ideologies become especially necessary in crises where the old institutionalized ideologies and practices no longer seem to work and where alternatives offered have as yet no track record. That is when we are most susceptible to the power of ideologists who offer us plausible but untestable theories of the world. Ideological power is generally a response to developments in the other three power sources, but it then develops an emergent power of its own. It tends to be very uneven, suddenly important when we have to grapple with unexpected crisis, much less so at other times. Revived religious meeting systems will figure in this period, as will secular ideologies like patriarchy, liberalism, socialism, nationalism, racism, and environmentalism.

(2) Economic power derives from the human need to extract, transform, distribute, and consume the produce of nature. Economic relations are powerful because they combine the intensive mobilization of labor with more extensive networks of exchange. Contemporary capitalism has had global its circuits of capital, trade, and product ion chains, yet at the same time its power relations are those that penetrate most routinely into most people’s lives, taking up about one-half of our waking hours. The social change economies produce is rarely swift or dramatic, unlike military power. It is slow, cumulative, and eventually profound. The main organization of economic power in modern times has been industrial capitalism, whose global development is central to this volume. Capitalism treats all the means of production, including labor as commodities. All four main forms of market –for capital, for labor, for production, and for consumption—are traded against each other. Capitalism has been the most consistently dynamic power organization in recent times, responsible for most technological innovations –and most environmental degradations.

(3) Military power I define as the social organization of concentrated and lethal violence. “Concentrated” means mobilized and focused; “lethal” means deadly. Webster’s Dictionary defines “violence” as exertion of physical force so as to injure and abuse, or intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force. Thus military force is focused, physical, furious and above all lethal. It kills. Military power holders say if you resist, you die. Since a let5hal threat is terrifying, military power evokes distinctive psychological emotions and physiological symptoms of fear, as we confront the possibility of pain, dismemberment, or death. Military power is most lethally wielded by the armed forces of states in interstate wars, though paramilitaries, guerrillas and terrorists will all figure in this volume. Here is an obvious overlap with political power, though militaries always remain separately organized, often as a distinct cast in society.

(4) Political power is the centralized and territorial regulation of social life. The basic function of government is the provision of order over a given territory. Here I deviate not only form Max Weber, who located political power (or “parties”) in any organization, not just states, but also from political scientists’ notion of governance  administered by diverse entities, including corporations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and social movements. I prefer to reserve the term “political”  for state –including local and regional as well as national-level government. States and not NGOs or corporations have the centralized-territorial form, which makes their rule authoritative over persons residing in their territories. I can resign membership of an NGO or a corporations and so flaunt its rules. I must obey the rules of the state in which I reside or suffer the punishment. Networks of political power are routinely regulated and coordinated in a centralized and territorial fashion. So political power is more geographically bounded than the other three sources. States also normally cover smaller, tighter areas than to ideologies.(pp.1-2)

These analytical categories developed by Michael Mann seem to offer useful insights into power relationships in society. They are abstractions of different properties of social power and provide a theoretical framework to explain the origins social power. The categories themselves are mental constructs, submitted for acceptance as a social norm, much like the Medieval Church submitted the Seven Deadly Sins –wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony—as a social convention, to be applied in evaluating interpersonal relationships in daily life. If the medieval peasant was made to understand that “mortal sin” destroys virtues such as faith, hope and charity, he/she might be brought under control, in the hope of avoiding “eternal damnation.” As an ideology for social control it was effective.

There is no need to beat the dead horse of “economic determinism,” as Mann occasionally does, to establish that society is a complex network of relationships at many different levels. One non-empirical approach for understanding society is the method of dialectical materialism. This approach goes beyond merely collecting data from observations and already formulated conclusions (secondhand observations). Instead dialectical materialism delves into its investigation with certain conceptual instruments and a general idea of what is important about what it is looking for. (For further information about this method of abstracting and for developing concepts, see CEIMSA Bulletin #419.) Bertell Ollman is most helpful when he describes the process of abstracting, which consists of consciously entering a domain of thought by excluding certain elements. He suggests 7 levels of extension, from which interrelationships can be discovered: Please see CEIMSA Bulletin #253.


The 13 items below offer readers an opportunity to apply Michael Mann’s theory to the contemporary United States and to analyze the possible crystallizations of his four interwoven and overlapping currents of social power. Will paralysis or strategy be the result? An alternative approach to these news items is, as we’ve discussed before, to apply dialectical materialism with its emphasis on deductive reasoning and human intervention.

Item A., sent to us by Truth Out, is an article by Thom Hartmann on The Second Amendment.

Item B.., from Democracy Now! on the limits of US military power and the ideology of ‘over-reach’.

Item C.., from the Wall Street Journal, is an article on the Internal Revenue Service’s aborted investigation of the Koch brothers’ political associations.

Item D., sent to us by Truth Out, is an article of Educational ‘Reform’ ad nauseam… by P.L. Thomas.

Item E. from Reader Supported News, is an article by Matt Taibbi on the transnational oil companies and their big-time culture of cheating.

Item F. is an article by Ralph Nader on unpatriotic giant corporations.

Item G., from Jim O’Brien, is a list of current articles of interest selected by Historians Against the War.

Item H., from Democracy Now!, is an interview withChris Hedgeson US political power reaching beyond its traditional (and legal) limitations.

Item I., from Reader Supported News, is an article by Carl Gibson, “Time to Abolish Left vs. Right”.

Item J., sent to us by Mark Crispin Miller, is an article by Bill Fletcher, Jr. on Assata Shakur, “She’s No Terrorist: The Bizarre Move By The FBI Against Assata Shakur”.

Item K., from Mark Crispin Miller, is an article by y Paul Waldman, “ Big Brother Is You, Watching”.

Item L., is a short Video on the “power of vulnerability” by social worker and researcher, Brene Brown.

Item M., from Mark Crispin Miller, is an article by James F. Tracy on the “Looming Health Crisis: Wireless Technology and the Toxification of America.”

And finally, we offer readers a look at filmmaker John Pilger’s recent documentary film,

The War on Democracy

Francis Feeley
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego


From Truth Out :
Date: 15 January 2013
Subject: State Terrorism and the Second Amendment.


The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery


From Democracy Now ! :
Date: 17 May 2013
Subject: Military power.

Pentagon officials today claimed President Obama and future presidents have the power to send troops anywhere in the world to fight groups linked to al-Qaeda, based in part on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

From Boston to Pakistan, Pentagon Claims Entire World Is a Battlefield

From The Wall Street Journal
Date: 17 May 2013
Subject: Teaching the exam: competition and the culture of cheating.

It Wasn’t Conservatives That Were Being Investigated by the IRS; It Was the Koch Brothers’ Front Groups



From Truth Out
Date: 17 May 2013
Subject: Teaching the exam: competition and the culture of cheating.

There are significant parallels between the war on drugs and market-oriented education reform, and both create an underclass - especially among African-American males, according to Thomas, who traces the history.


Education Reform in the New Jim Crow Era
by P.L. Thomas


From Reader Supported News :
Date: 17 May 2013
Subject: Big-time culture of cheating.

The European Commission regulators yesterday raided the offices of oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway as part of an investigation into possible price-rigging in the oil markets.

Everything Is Rigged, Continued: Oil Companies Raided
by Matt Taibbi


From Reader Supported News :
Date: 30 March 2013
Subject: Unpatriotic giant corporations.

Nader writes: "Why are big, global U.S. corporations so unpatriotic? After all, they were created in the U.S.A., rose to immense profit because of the toil of American workers, are bailed out by American taxpayers whenever they're in trouble, and are safeguarded abroad by the U.S. military."

Patriotic Yardsticks for Unpatriotic Giant Corporations
by Ralph Nader


From Historians Against the War :
Date: 30 March 2013
Subject: Recent articles of interest.



To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
Here are some notes, plus a set of links to recent articles of interest.

1. Many of the talks from the HAW-sponsored April 5-7 conference on "The New Faces of War" are now on-line in one form or another.  (Several are in video format, recorded and edited by the Baltimore-based Indypendent Reader.) Links to all the available video- and audiotapes and on-line papers are available at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/conf2013/talks.html.

2. An on-line petition is being circulated asking for reversal of the FBI's inclusion of Assata Shakur on its "10 Most Wanted Terrorists" list. The petition gives background; the FBI's announcement also stimulated an eloquent article by Alice Walker, "Sister Assata: This Is What American History Looks Like."


From Democracy Now ! :
Date: 15 May 2013
Subject: US political power under Obama going to new extremes.

Chris Hedges on: Monitoring of AP Phones a "Terrifying" Step in State Assault on Press Freedom


From Reader Supported News :
Date: 15 May 2013
Subject: Left, Right out of your heart, left right out from the start….

Time to Abolish Left vs. Right

by Carl Gibson,


From Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 13 May 2013
Subject: The strange case of the FBI against Assata Shakur.

She’s No Terrorist: The Bizarre Move By The FBI Against Assata Shakur

by Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Black Commentator


From Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 17 May 2013
Subject: New techniques in social control

Big Brother Is You, Watching
by Paul Waldman

Google Glass is coming, and it's raising some new privacy concerns.

I stole the title of this post from an essay Mark Crispin Miller wrote 25 years ago about the effects of television, in which he argued that instead of a totalitarian government forcing us to submit through fear and oppression, we'd happily voluteer to be anesthetized by our TVs. Today though, the more proximate danger involves the rise of a kind of universal surveillance where we're being watched through much of our days, by governmental authorities, corporations looking to part us from our money, and each other. It's bad now, and it's only going to get worse.

Which brings us to Google Glass, the augmented reality glasses rig that is getting closer to becoming a consumer product. People are starting to become concerned about the privacy implications of Google Glass, namely that you could be talking to someone who, unbeknownst to you, is recording everything you say. Or maybe you aren't even talking to them; maybe they're just walking behind you in the street, or sitting next to you in a restaurant. Maybe they'll have their Glass use facial recognition software to identify you, and then post to Twitter that you're in this restaurant, and you're looking a little tipsy. Members of the Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus (yes, I didn't know there was such a thing either) in the House just sent a letter to Larry Page, Google's CEO, expressing their concerns.

And what's Google's response? Don't sweat it, bro: Advertisement.

Privacy was top of mind as we designed the product," [project director Steve] Lee said, adding that he's proud of the way his team has designed Glass. Early prototypes covered a user's eyes rather than placing the display above the eye. But Google discovered quickly how important eye contact is to Glass, he said. "You'll know when someone with Glass is paying attention to you," Lee said. "If you're looking at Glass, you're looking up."
The built-in camera raises its own, unique set of privacy questions, the Glass team acknowledged. "If I'm recording you, I have to stare at you — as a human being. And when someone is staring at you, you have to notice," said Charles Mendis, an engineer on the Glass team. "If you walk into a restroom and someone's just looking at you — I don't know about you but I'm getting the hell out of there.

That's plainly ridiculous. Even if we're just talking about the current iteration of Google Glass, which the company characterizes as a beta device, it isn't true that you have to be staring at someone to record them, just that your head needs to be pointed in their general direction. You could be looking away, or have your eyes closed, and still record them. But more important is what happens as future versions of this device get less obtrusive. Google Glass is a pretty distinctive-looking pair of specs, but many other companies will be making their own versions, and the electronics will inevitably get smaller. Today you can tell when someone's wearing Google Glass, but within a few years the whole device will be contained within what appears to be an ordinary pair of eyeglass frames. And eventually—let's just spitball here and say 15 years from now—it'll be in a pair of contact lenses.

When we get there, things will certainly be more convenient; we'll be able to look up at the world around us, instead of staring down at our phones all the time. We've already stopped being amazed or disgusted when at large public gatherings, no one seems content to have an actual experience, but must rather stand holding up their phones so that afterward, they can experience whatever it was through a screen. When your smartphone is contained within your glasses, at least it won't require both your hands and your eyes to operate, so you'll be able to be more present while you're recording things for posterity.

On the other hand, eventually you'll be able to be completely engrossed in your screen while those around you think you're actually paying attention to them. And once things like facial recognition and web searching get more integrated, we'll be open books to anyone whose path we cross. Google, as is its wont, hopes to create the inevitable new form of social relationships and then monetize it. Like it or not, it's going to be awfully hard to stop.

From Paul :
Date: 1 May 2013
Subject: The Power of Vulnerability and How to Kill our Capacity to Feel.

Hello Francis,

I am sending a nice video about "The power of vulnerability"




From Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 18 May 2013
Subject: Wi Fi and its toxic fall out.

Looming Health Crisis: Wireless Technology and the Toxification of America

by James F. Tracy

As a multitude of hazardous wireless technologies are deployed in homes, schools and workplaces, government officials and industry representatives continue to insist on their safety despite growing evidence to the contrary. A major health crisis looms that is only hastened through the extensive deployment of “smart grid” technology.

In October 2009 at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) solar energy station President Barack Obama announced that $3.4 billion of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act would be devoted to the country’s “smart energy grid” transition. Matching funds from the energy industry brought the total national Smart Grid investment to $8 billion. FPL was given $200 million of federal money to install 2.5 million “smart meters” on homes and businesses throughout the state.[1]

By now many residents in the United States and Canada have the smart meters installed on their dwellings. Each of these meters is equipped with an electronic cellular transmitter that uses powerful bursts of electromagnetic radiofrequency (RF) radiation to communicate with nearby meters that together form an interlocking network transferring detailed information on residents’ electrical usage back to the utility every few minutes or less. Such information can easily be used to determine individual patterns of behavior based on power consumption.

The smart grid technology is being sold to the public as a way to “empower” individual energy consumers by allowing them to access information on their energy usage so that they may eventually save money by programming “smart” (i.e, wireless enabled) home appliances and equipment that will coordinate their operability with the smart meter to run when electrical rates are lowest. In other words, a broader plan behind smart grid technology involves a tiered rate system for electricity consumption that will be set by the utility to which customers will have no choice but to conform.
Because of power companies’ stealth rollout of smart meters a large majority of the public still remains unaware of the dangers they pose to human health. This remains the case even though states such as Maine have adopted an “opt out” provision for their citizens. The devices have not been safety-tested by Underwriters Laboratory and thus lack the UL approval customary for most electronics.[2] Further, power customers are typically told by their utilities that the smart meter only communicates with the power company “a few times per day” to transmit information on individual household energy usage. However, when individuals obtained the necessary equipment to do their own testing they found the meters were emitting bursts of RF radiation throughout the home far more intense than a cell phone call every minute or less.[3]

America’s Telecom-friendly Policy for RF Exposure.
A growing body of medical studies is now linking cumulative RF exposure to DNA disruption, cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and autoimmune diseases. Smart meters significantly contribute to an environment already polluted by RF radiation through the pervasive stationing of cellular telephone towers in or around public spaces and consumers’ habitual use of wireless technologies. In the 2000 Salzburg Resolution European scientists recommended the maximum RF exposure for humans to be no more than one tenth of a microwatt per square centimeter. In the United States RF exposure limits are 1,000 microwatts per centimeter, with no limits for long term exposure.[4] Such lax standards have been determined by outdated science and the legal and regulatory maneuvering of the powerful telecommunications and wireless industries.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ceased studying the health effects of radiofrequency radiation when the Senate Appropriations Committee cut the department’s funding and forbade it from further research into the area.[5] Thereafter RF limits were codified as mere “guidelines” based on the EPA’s tentative findings and are to this day administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

These weakly enforced standards are predicated on the alleged “thermal effect” of RF. In other words, if the energy emitted from a wireless antenna or device is not powerful enough to heat the skin or flesh then no danger is posed to human health.[6] This reasoning is routinely put forward by utilities installing smart meters on residences, telecom companies locating cellular transmission towers in populated areas, and now school districts across the US allowing the installation of cell towers on school campuses.[7]

The FCC’s authority to impose this standard was further reinforced with the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act that included a provision lobbied for by the telecom industry preventing state and local governments from evaluating potential environmental and health effects when locating cell towers “so long as ‘such facilities comply with the FCC’s regulations concerning such emissions.’”[8]

In 2001 an alliance of scientists and engineers with the backing of the Communications Workers of America filed a federal lawsuit hoping the Supreme Court would reconsider the FCC’s obsolete exposure guidelines and the Telecom Act’s overreach into state and local jurisdiction. The high court refused to hear the case. When the same group asked the FCC to reexamine its guidelines in light of current scientific studies the request was rebuffed.[9] Today in all probability millions are suffering from a variety of immediate and long-term health effects from relentless EMF and RF exposure that under the thermal effect rationale remain unrecognized or discounted by the telecom industry and regulatory authorities alike.

Growing Evidence of Health Risks From RF Exposure.
The main health concern with electromagnetic radiation emitted by smart meters and other wireless technologies is that EMF and RF cause a breakdown in the communication between cells in the body, interrupting DNA repair and weakening tissue and organ function. These are the findings of Dr. George Carlo, who oversaw a comprehensive research group commissioned by the cell phone industry in the mid-1990s.

When Carlo’s research began to reveal how there were indeed serious health concerns with wireless technology, the industry sought to bury the results and discredit Carlo. Yet Carlo’s research has since been upheld in a wealth of subsequent studies and has continuing relevance given the ubiquity of wireless apparatuses and the even more powerful smart meters. “One thing all these conditions have in common is a disruption, to varying degrees, of intercellular communication,” Carlo observes. “When we were growing up, TV antennas were on top of our houses and such waves were up in the sky. Cell phones and Wi-Fi have brought those things down to the street, integrated them into the environment, and that’s absolutely new.”[10]

In 2007 the BioInitiative Working Group, a worldwide body of scientists and public health experts, released a 650-page document with over 2000 studies linking RF and EMF exposure to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, DNA damage, immune system dysfunction, cellular damage and tissue reduction.[11]

In May 2011 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer categorized “radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless cellphone use.”[12]

In November 2011 the Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), a national organization of medical and osteopathic physicians, called on California’s Public Utilities Commission to issue a moratorium on the continued installation of smart meters in residences and schools “based on a scientific assessment of the current available literature.” “[E]xisting FCC guidelines for RF safety that have been used to justify installations of smart meters,” the panel wrote,

“only look at thermal tissue damage and are obsolete, since many modern studies show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposure below the level of intensity which heats tissues … More modern literature shows medically and biologically significant effects of RF and ELF at lower energy densities. These effects accumulate over time, which is an important consideration given the chronic nature of exposure from ‘smart meters.’”[13]

In April 2012 the AAEM issued a formal position paper on the health effects of RF and EMF exposure based on a literature review of the most recent research. The organization pointed to how government and industry arguments alleging the doubtful nature of the science on non-thermal effects of RF were not defensible in light of the newest studies. “Genetic damage, reproductive defects, cancer, neurological degeneration and nervous system dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, cognitive effects, protein and peptide damage, kidney damage, and developmental effects have all been reported in the peer‐reviewed scientific literature,” AAEM concluded.[14]

Radiating Children.
The rollout of smart meters proceeds alongside increased installation of wireless technology and cell phone towers in and around schools in the US. In 2010 Professor Magda Havas conducted a study of schools in 50 US state capitols and Washington DC to determine students’ potential exposure to nearby cell towers. A total 6,140 schools serving 2.3 million students were surveyed using the antennasearch.com database. Of these, 13% of the schools serving 299,000 students have a cell tower within a quarter mile of school grounds, and another 50% of the schools where 1,145,000 attend have a tower within a 0.6 mile radius. The installation of wireless networks and now smart meters on and around school properties further increases children’s RF exposure.[15]

Many school districts that are strapped for cash in the face of state budget cuts are willing to ignore the abundance of scientific research on RF dangers and sign on with telecom companies to situate cell towers directly on school premises. Again, the FCC’s thermal effect rule is invoked to justify tower placement together with a disregard of the available studies.
The School District of Palm Beach County, the eleventh largest school district in the US, provides one such example. Ten of its campuses already have cell towers on their grounds while the district ponders lifting a ban established in 1997 that would allow for the positioning of even more towers. When concerned parents contacted the school district for an explanation of its wireless policies, the administration assembled a document, “Health Organization Information and Academic Research Studies Regarding the Health Effects of Cell Tower Signals.” The report carefully selected pronouncements from telecom industry funded organizations such as the American Cancer Society and out-of-date scientific studies supporting the FCC’s stance on wireless while excluding the long list of studies and literature reviews pointing to the dangers of RF and EMF radiation emitted by wireless networks and cell towers. [16]

The Precautionary Principle / Conclusion.
Surrounded by the sizable and growing body of scientific literature pointing to the obvious dangers of wireless technology, utility companies installing smart meters on millions of homes across the US  and school officials who accommodate cell towers on their grounds are performing an extreme disservice to their often vulnerable constituencies. Indeed, such actions constitute the reckless long term endangerment of public health for short term gain, sharply contrasting with more judicious decision making.

The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment & Development adopted the precautionary principle as a rule to follow in the situations utilities and school districts find themselves in today. “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”[17] In exercising the precautionary principle, public governance and regulatory bodies should “take preventive action in the face of scientific uncertainty to prevent harm. The focus is no longer on measuring or managing harm, but preventing harm.”[18]

Along these lines, the European Union and the Los Angeles School District have prohibited cell phone towers on school grounds until the scientific research on the human health effects of RF are conclusive. The International Association of Fire Fighters also interdicted cell towers on fire stations pending “’a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity on health effects of exposure to low-intensity [radio frequency/microwave] radiation is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to the health of our members.’”[19]

Unwitting families with smart meters on their homes and children with cell towers humming outside their classrooms suggest the extent to which the energy, telecom and wireless industries have manipulated the regulatory process to greatly privilege profits over public health. Moreover, it reveals how the population suffers for want of meaningful and conclusive information on the very real dangers of RF while the telecom and wireless interests successfully cajole the media into considering one scientific study at a time.

“When you put the science together, we come to the irrefutable conclusion that there’s a major health crisis coming, probably already underway,” George Carlo cautions. “Not just cancer, but also learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and psychological and behavioral problems—all mediated by the same mechanism. That’s why we’re so worried. Time is running out.”[20]

[1] Energy.gov, “President Obama Announces $3.4 Billion Investment to Spur Transition to Smart Energy Grid,” October 27, 2009,
[2] Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, “Radiofrequency Radiation: The Invisible Hazards of Smart Meters,” August 19, 2011, GlobalReserach.ca, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26082
[3] Dr. Bill Deagle, “Smart Meters: A Call for Public Outrage,” Rense.com, August 30, 2011, http://www.rense.com/general94/smartt.htm. Some meters installed in California by Pacific Gas and Electric carry a “’switching mode power-supply’ that ‘emit sharp spikes of millisecond bursts’ around the clock and is a chief cause of ‘dirty electricity.’” See Perlingieri, “Radiofrequency Radiation: The Invisible Hazards of Smart Meters.” This author similarly measured bursts of radiation in excess of 2,000 microwatts per meter every 30 to 90 seconds during the day, and once every two-to-three minutes at night.
[4] Magda Havas, BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools, 2010,
[5] Susan Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams,” San Diego Reader, May 18, 2011,
[6] FCC Office of Engineering and Technology, http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety
[7] Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams”; Marc Freeman, “Cell Towers Could Be Coming to More Schools,” South Florida Sun Sentinel, January 5, 2012,
[8] Amy Worthington, “The Radiation Poisoning of America,” GlobalResearch.ca, October 9, 2007, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7025
[9] Worthington, “The Radiation Poisoning of America.”
[10] Sue Kovach, “The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation,” Life Extension Magazine, August 2007, http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007
[11] Susan Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams”; Bioinitiative Report: A Rationale For a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard For Electromagnetic Fields, http://www.bioinitiative.org/freeaccess/report/index.htm.
[12] World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, “IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic,” May 31, 2011, www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf; Joseph Mercola, “Be Aware: These Cell Phones Can Emit 28 Times More Radiation,” Mercola.com, June 18, 2011,
[13] American Academy of Environmental Medicine, “Proposed Decision of Commissioner Peevy [Mailed 11/22/2011] Before the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California,” January 19, 2012. www.aaemonline.org
[14] American Academy of Environmental Medicine, “The American Academy of Environmental Medicine Calls for Immediate Caution regarding Smart Meter Installation,” April 12, 2012, http://www.aaemonline.org/
[15] Havas, BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools, 31-38.
[16] Donna Goldstein, “Health Organization Information and Academic Research Studies Regarding the Health Effects of Cell Tower Signals,”Planning and Real Estate Development, Palm Beach County School District, January 30, 2012.
[17] Havas, BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools, 17.
[18] Multinational Monitor, “Precautionary Precepts: The Power and Potential of the Precautionary Principle: An Interview with Carolyn Raffensperger,” September 2004, http://multinationalmonitor.org/mm2004/09012004/september04interviewraffen.html.
[19] Luzzaro, “Field of Cell Phone Tower Beams.”
[20] Kovach, “The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation.”
James F. Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is an affiliate of Project Censored and blogs at memorygap.org.