By Andy Hoffman, Paul Waldie and Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail Posted Sunday
domingo, 14 de fevereiro de 2010
Scientists haven't found a direct link between the symptoms of headaches and general complaints and being near electromagnetic fields. Some speculate that it is a mental instead of a physical disorder
By Chris Woolston
The explosive spread of electromagnetic fields across the world has undeniably spawned at least one disorder: electrosensitivity syndrome. Millions of people -- most of them in Europe -- say they suffer headaches, depression, nausea, rashes and other problems when they're too close to cellphones or other sources of EMFs. They've formed their own support groups, started their own newsletters and taken drastic steps to avoid EMFs, with some even wearing metallic clothing. A band of EMF "refugees" has moved to a valley in southern France to avoid radiation.
The list of victims includes Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former director-general of the World Health Organization. In 2002, when she still held her title, Brundtland told the BBC that she didn't allow cellphones in her office because the radiation gave her headaches.
In "Full Signal," a documentary that premiered at the 2009 Santa Fe Film Festival, a self-described sufferer of EMF poisoning says that if someone accidentally forgets to turn off a cellphone before entering her house, she starts to feel ill within a couple of hours. "After four hours I can't speak anymore," she says.
Alarming, yes, but such symptoms may not have much to do with electromagnetic fields. Even David Carpenter, a professor of environmental health sciences and biomedical sciences at the University at Albany, State University of New York, who often warns against the dangers of EMFs, isn't convinced that low-level radiation can cause such a wide range of symptoms. He believes that EMFs can cause cancer and possibly neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease, but there's no good evidence that cellphones can cause headaches and other vague complaints, he says. "I'm not sure electrosensitivity is real0".
Many researchers have looked for a connection between EMFs and EMF sensitivity syndrome, but so far they've mostly come up empty. In one recent example, an English study of 48 self-described "electrosensitive" people and 132 "non-sensitive" people published online in January in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that all of the subjects had pretty much the same reaction to microwave radiation, which is to say no obvious reaction at all. The researchersspeculated that a fear of EMFs -- and not any physical issues -- might be the root cause of electrosensitivity.
A 2005 report from the World Health Organization -- Brundtland's former agency -- stated that people who believe they're sensitive to EMFs don't seem to have any special abilities to actually detect the fields. The report suggested that anxiety about EMFs could be the root cause of all of the symptoms.
"You have a whole population of people that are scared to death of electromagnetic fields," says Ken Foster, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who believes that low-level EMFs have little to no effect on human health. "People latch on to fears that mainstream science doesn't take seriously." He says electrosensitivity syndrome seems to be similar to multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, a condition that most experts consider to be psychological.
A 2009 article in the journal PLoS ONE speculated that people who believe they're electrosensitive may have overactive distress signals in the brain. The researchers noted that cognitive behavioral therapy is often an effective treatment.
Los Angeles Times
Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer took the gold medal in the Winter Olympics 5,000m event, his 12th international title in a row.
Kramer, who was one of the favourites for the distance, completed the course in 6.14,60, a new Olympic record.
The silver medal went to Korea's Seung-Hoon Lee (6.16,95), while bronze was won by the Russian Ivan Skobrev (6.18,05).
Kramer had to wait for six more competitors to complete the distance before he could claim victory.
As soon as it became clear Kramer had won, he climbed over the tribune to his parents and hugged them both. Next he embraced girlfriend Naomi van As, who plays hockey for the Netherlands and is part of the team which holds the world and Olympic title.
'I was dying in the end, so I think it was one of my hardest, and even my best race ever,' Kramer told the BBC.
For the BBC report on the race, click here
For Time Magazine on the Dutch love of speed skating, click here
For photos and video, click here
CHICAGO (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it will recall about 10,000 Tacoma pickup trucks in North America amid criticism of its massive global recalls implemented from last fall totaling around 8 million vehicles in connection with accelerator pedal and brake system problems.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has suspended one of his top aides under investigation for allegations of being involved in a sex scandal.The report said Husseini will be suspended until the committee announces its findings in three weeks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has suspended one of his top aides under investigation for allegations of being involved in a sex scandal.
The report said Husseini will be suspended until the committee announces its findings in three weeks.
By Amos Harel and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents and News Agencies
U.S. military chief in Israel to discuss Iran's nuclear work; Netanyahu to push Russia over sanctions
Visiting U.S. Joint Chief of Staffs Mike Mullen declared Sunday that Washington was committed to Israel's security, voicing concern over the possibility that a war might erupt in the Middle East over Iran's contentious nuclear program.
Mullen arrived in Israel on Sunday for talks on Iran's nuclear program, as the United States and Israel were pushing world powers to support harsher sanctions against the Islamic republic.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Iran on Sunday to reconsider its "dangerous" nuclear policy, saying Tehran's stance leaves the world community little choice but to impose "greater costs".
Hours earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored Israel's support of Clinton's declaration that "crippling" sanctions were needed to rid Iran of its contentious nuclear ambitions.
In her latest comments on the matter, delivered at a U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha on Sunday evening, Clinton said:
"Iran leaves the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps. Together, we are encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions.
"We are now working actively with our regional and international partners, in the context of our dual track approach, to prepare and implement new measures to convince Iran to change its course," she added, speaking at a U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha.
Clinton added that evidence "evidence is accumulating" that Iran was trying to develop a nuclear bomb. The U.S. is in a favor of a peaceful solution, she said, but did not want to engage Iran "while they are building their bomb".
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the United States expects to gain China's support for imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
"We have the support of everyone from Russia to Europe. And I believe we'll get the support of China to continue to impose sanctions on Iran to isolate them," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
Beijing so far has been cool to the Obama administration's push for additional international sanctions on Iran.
Israel pushes for crippling Iran sanctions
Meanwhile, Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that he would push for crippling sanctions on Iran during his meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this week.
Netanyahu is scheduled to leave for Moscow on Sunday.
"Russia is an important power and ally, and we intend to discuss Iran," Netanyahu said. "Harsh sanctions must be placed on Iran, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: We need crippling sanctions".
Netanyahu was expected to try to persuade Russian leaders to implement sanctions against Tehran, and to receive assurances that the Kremlin is committed to freeze its supply of advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran.
But Russia said Sunday that it saw no reason to stall on the sale.
"There is a signed contract (to supply S-300 missiles) which we must implement, but deliveries have not started yet," Vladimir Nazarov, deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council secretary, told Interfax news agency in an interview.
"This deal is not restricted by any international sanctions, because the talk is about deliveries of an exclusively defensive weapon," he said.
Nazarov also said a military strike on Iran would be a big mistake and that the problems linked to Iran's nuclear program must be resolved only by diplomatic means.
"Any military action against Iran will explode the situation, will have extremely negative consequnces for the entire world, including for Russia, which is a neighbor of Iran," he said.
Russia is believed to support sanctions targeting governmental bodies directly involved in Iran's nuclear program, but not those aimed at striking the country's economy as a whole.
"If Russia agrees to sanctions, China will find itself alone and may be forced to line up with the Western powers," an Israeli official said. "That's why persuading the Russian leadership is so important".
U.S. military chief Mike Mullen due in Israel to discuss Iran
Meanwhile, Israel is continuing diplomatic efforts to persuade the international community to launch a fourth round of United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran by the end of next month.
Israel and the United States will hold strategic talks on the issue next week, the first such talks since Netanyahu took office.
A senior Israeli official said Saturday that the U.S., France, Britain and Germany have been updating Israel continuously on developments at the UN and in major world capitals on drafting new measures against the Islamic Republic.
"As far as we know, efforts are being made to reach a decision on sanctions, and to have them approved in the Security Council by mid- to late March," the official said, adding, "The sanctions are expected to focus on the Revolutionary Guards and bodies linked to the nuclear program, and less on the Iranian population".
Jerusalem and Washington have held several high-level consultations on Iran in recent weeks. Last month U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones visited Israel for talks with Israeli colleagues, and two weeks ago Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta paid a secret visit to the country. The U.S. officials briefed their counterparts on sanctions the Obama administration intends to levy against Iran, but reportedly asked them to keep a low media profile and to "act responsibly".
On Sunday, Mullen met his Israeli equivalent, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, with whom he reportedly enjoys a close working relationship.
Mullen and Ashkenazi met several weeks ago at a NATO summit in Brussels and on several other occasions over the past year, and speak regularly by phone.
Mullen will meet with Deputy Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Monday, as well as Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and Amir Eshel, head of the army's Planning and Policy Directorate. Mullen will also meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak for talks on Iran and on maintaining Israel's "qualitative edge" over other regional military forces.
Clinton pressing Arab countries on Iran
Parallel to discussions with the Netanyahu administration, the U.S. is also ramping up pressure on Israel's Arab neighbors over Iran as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Saudi Arabia and the Qatar this week.
As Clinton departed for a three-day trip to the Gulf, U.S. officials hinted Saturday that one way Saudi Arabia could help diplomatically would be to offer China guarantees it would meet Chinese oil requirements, a step that might ease Beijing's reluctance to impose further sanctions on Iran.
China, which wields a veto on the Security Council, has lucrative commercial relationships with Iran and ahas worked to dilute previous sanctions resolutions.
"We believe that all countries have a part to play in helping to sharpen the question for Iran," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman told reporters as Clinton began her trip, saying Saudi Arabia and China have recently increased their diplomatic and commercial contacts.
"We would expect them (the Saudis) to use these visits, to use their relationships, in ways that can help increase the
pressure that Iran would feel," he added.
A high-level U.S. delegation will visit Israel next week for strategic talks on Iran and a number of other issues. In contrast to the original plans, talks will not be held between Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Clinton, but will instead be held at the deputy-minister level.
The Israeli negotiators will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon of Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party. The U.S. team will be led by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, and include presidential advisers Dennis Ross and Daniel Shapiro and other National Security Council, Defense Department and CIA officials.
Leading U.S. foreign-policy officials will also arrive in the region this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew will visit Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, and Under Secretary of State William Burns will travel to Syria and Lebanon.