Saturday, February 04, 2012

A thesis: “Building Design for Persons with the Functional Impairment Electrophypersensitivity…”:

A thesis: “Building Design for Persons with the Functional Impairment Electrophypersensitivity…”:

From Olle Johansson:
I have for years served as Ph.D. supervisor for Eva-Rut Lindberg, The Royal Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, who now intends to defend her thesis entitled “Building Design for Persons with the Functional Impairment Electrohypersensitivity: a Project in the Voltage Field between Belief and Knowledge”.
Address: Alfred Nobels Allé 10 in Flemingsberg (The STH School)
Venue: Room 3-221 of the house ANA10.
Time: Friday December 2, at 13:00-17:00.
Note that the thesis is in Swedish
Abstract :
Electrohypersensitivity in Sweden is an official functional impairment. According to The National Board of Health and Welfare’s questionnaire from 2009, 3.2 percent of the population aged between 18 and 80 answered that they are sensitive / hypersensitive or allergic to electric and magnetic fields, which represents just over 200 000 people. 0.4 percent said they have severe problems. This corresponds to nearly 30 000 persons who receives severe sickness-like symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, problems with sleeping and skin disorders when they are visiting electricity-intensive environments that are not bothering most of the population.
The thesis consists of theoretical studies of radio-frequency emissions and how these can be shielded as well as a survey to investigate how the country’s municipalities, social insurance offices and three county councils are receiving these persons.
By the architect-oriented research methodology “research by design” a proposal for a type-building free from electricity, which also can shield the higher frequencies from the radio-frequency radiation, is designed but not yet built.
The questionnaire survey indicates that persons with the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity very rarely receive the dwelling accessibility adaptation assistance they, according to Swedish law, are entitled to. The thesis shows what can be done by building construction to improve the living for persons with the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity.
Olle Johansson

Congressman Kucinich "Children Shouldn't Use Cell Phones. Period."

Cases of EHS may explode

Cases of EHS may explode

Children should not use cell phones, says the former adviser to President Clinton, the epidemiologist Devra Lee Davis. Photo: Brian CohenHouse for sale, Arizona, with views of the canyon Chulo: superb residence of 2890 square feet, including over 2,000 ft2 located in a cave, protected from the microwaves emitted by the antennas and wireless devices Perfect for a baby boomer retirement électrohypersensible.Price: $ 1.5 million. Contact:

This type of listing (real thing) may become more frequent if the proliferation of sources of microwaves continues at the current exponential, says Dr. Gerd Oberfeld the public health department of Salzburg, Austria, a city which has adopted standards for exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) the most stringent in the world.

"The incidence of EHS has increased steadily since the syndrome was first documented in 1991," he wrote in a letter published in 2006 in the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. "In Austria, he earned an average 13% of the population while in Germany, the prevalence increased from 6% in 2001 to 9% in 2004," according to public health studies and independent research qu'Oberfeld Swedish Örjan Hallberg cited in this letter. "The trend extrapolation indicates that 50% of the population can expect to become électrohypersensible by the year 2017", then these authors concluded.

If it is possible to challenge this prediction of doom, there is no denying that more and more people complain of symptoms (sensation of burning skin, headaches, dizziness, nausea, heart problems, insomnia, tinnitus , sweating, confusion, etc..) associated with electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS). Symptoms that magically disappear when you move away or shielded sources (cables, antennas and wireless devices or yarn) of EMF emissions, both microwave and other high frequency (measured in kilo-, mega-and gigahertz) or extremely low frequency (60 Hertz) residential.

The National Survey of Population Health conducted by Statistics Canada does not deal with EHS. However, according to the 2010 survey made among 63 191 respondents, nearly 2.8% of Canadians aged 12 and over living in private dwellings reported having multiple chemical sensitivity, which often suffer the electrohypersensitive.

Disease of microwaveIn fact, EHS has been known since 1932. Then a German internist, Erwin Schliephake, baptized "microwave sickness" discomfort observed in radio operators are heavily exposed to short waves - waves that the doctor used in low doses as a treatment. Then in 1971, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, Zorach (Zory'''') R. Glasser, Ph.D., signed a literature on the biological effects reported and the clinical manifestations attributed to exposure to microwaves and other radio frequencies. Updated in 1972, the report identified more than 2,300 scientific studies on the subject.

But today Sweden is the only country to recognize EHS as a disability caused by the environment. And it's a Swedish student, Eva-Rut Lindberg, who has signed the first doctoral thesis on architecture suited to electrohypersensitive. (Download at Pid = diva2: 455407 and read pages 9-26 which are in English.)

Although the symptoms are real, "EHS is not a medical diagnosis," says the World Health Organization (WHO) in its memorandum 296 published in December 2005. In this document, the WHO says there is no "scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF exposure." It does not exclude that they are due to anxiety or a psychiatric disorder.Yet since 2005, and published several studies currently underway prove otherwise. (Read here on electrohypersensitivity the former Director General of WHO and mother of the concept of sustainable development, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland. In 2002, it stated that it could detect up to a distance of 4 meters cell phone open because it emits waves gave him a good headache. The same article also describes how the WHO recommendations regarding electrosmog were made in collaboration with industry representatives, whose Dr Michel Plante, Hydro-Quebec.)

Standards criticizedAccording to Health Canada, which is based on WHO recommendations, the guidelines for EMF exposure described in the Canadian Safety Code 6 protect public health. However, according to a report of 14 independent experts (, these recommendations would be up to 1,000 times too tolerant because they reflect only thermal effects in the short term on the human body during exposure to 6 minutes, and not long-term effects of chronic exposure, as EHS and brain cancer. The risk of suffering from such cancer seems to double in people who use a cell 30 minutes a day for ten years, according to a dozen studies, including the largest conducted to date on the subject: published in 2010 The Interphone study was a meta-analysis by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of WHO.

Many experts therefore recommended to apply the precautionary principle in relation to EMF exposure, as was indeed also the European Environment Agency and even the WHO.However, the consumer is increasingly imposing devices emitting microwaves against his will: "The new appliances include transmitters communicating with smart meters," says the American epidemiologist Sam Milham which established a link between increased incidence of several chronic diseases and the electrification of houses in the 1930s."Smart meters I measured emit 24 hours a day, seven days a week We will not put the genie of the bottle in his electro without government help."

How to reduce exposureFortunately, it is possible to reduce our exposure to EMF. Former advisor to WHO and President Bill Clinton in environmental health, Devra Lee Davis, who is an epidemiologist, founded the first environmental oncology center in the world at the Cancer Institute of the University of Pittsburgh On the site of its foundation (, it suggests 12 things to do to prevent cancer, including:"Use cell phones with a headset and a speaker so as not to hold the camera against your head. Children should not use a cell phone.Studies claiming that there is no link between cell phone use and brain cancer have not been conducted with people who use cell phones as often as the average person today. Cell phones emit low levels of microwave radiation that destroy brain cells of rats and memory that can enter the human brain to an inch deep [even deeper into the brain of a child ]. Although the UK government recommends that children avoid altogether the use of a cell, some U.S. companies will boast up their phones to children of five years."

Do evaluate their homeHere also the advice given by the electrical engineer Alasdair Philips, founder of the excellent British website, in an interview with the American physician Joseph Mercola:

• Take measure EMFs in your home to identify the main sources. Firms electromagnetic hygiene most experienced working in the houses are Quebec (Andrew Michrowski) and (Stephane Bélainsky). These specialists can identify particular: 1) generating electrical problems EMC, 2) the major sources of EMF that must move away from one to two meters, and 3) shielding devices (metal alloy, textile paint graphite), filtration or rupture of blood that can be installed in bedrooms and other rooms where you spend the most time.

• Minimize your use of electrical appliances, especially during evenings and at night, especially the hair dryer and electric razor that emit very high magnetic fields. These fields halt the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the biological clock - and by extension sleep - and that fights the growth of tumors. People who work in offices have an interest in reducing the intensity of their computer screen in the evening: the secretion of melatonin typically begins around 21h but is delayed when s' exposed to intense light, according to Israeli summit in chronobiology Abraham Haim, Haifa University.

• Move or disconnect electrical appliances located up to one meter in your bed: the room must be a health oasis where you can recover.

Other Tips

• Stay away from at least two meters from a microwave oven on. When you are half a meter of such a device, it may expose you to a magnetic field of 400 milliGauss. According twenty studies, chronic exposure to a magnetic field means more than 3 mG doubles the risk of childhood leukemia.

• Have an electrician connect the ground (GND) of your electrical input is supplied on the entry of water, at least two buried metallic grounding rods. A plumber can then replace a section of the pipe by a piece of plastic, thus avoiding that the magnetic fields on flowing through your home plumbing.

• Reduce or eliminate the use of wireless devices, especially in the evening and overnight. The basics of recharge cell phones and Wi-Fi routers constantly emit microwaves. Also avoid installing these devices in the rooms. Three feet of a wireless router or to a laptop Wi-Fi, the exposure level is so high that if you stand at 200 meters from a cellular base station. For some antennas, not the least powerful, the safe distance to live is at least 500 meters, according to researcher Henry Lai of the University of Washington. "Some antennas erected on or near buildings may not be a problem, shade Aladair Philips. It depends on the height and power of the antenna, of the beam direction, of the height of the building, etc.. We recommend that the signal does not exceed 0.1 volts per meter in the house in general, and particularly in the rooms."

• Children and teenagers should avoid having long conversations with their cell phones and texting favor. Never use a cordless phone or a cell where the reception is poor because the device then increases its emissions of microwaves. Ultimately, stand at least six inches of the handset (avoid wearing an open cell on you) and use the speakerphone or a headset like Blue-Tube, which carries the sound through an air tube, as a stethoscope.For more information:électrohypersensibilité-risquent-dexploser

Les cas d'électrohypersensibilité risquent d'exploser

Les cas d'électrohypersensibilité risquent d'exploser

Les enfants ne devraient pas utiliser de téléphone cellulaire, affirme l’ancienne conseillère du président Clinton, l’épidémiologiste Devra Lee Davis. Photo : Brian Cohen
Maison à vendre, en Arizona, avec vue sur le canyon de Chulo : superbe demeure de 2 890 pieds carrés, dont plus de 2 000 pi2aménagés dans une caverne, à l’abri des micro-ondes émises par les antennes et appareils sans fil. Idéale pour un baby-boomer électrohypersensible à la retraite. Prix : 1,5 millions de dollars. Contact :
Ce genre d’annonce (authentique !) risque de devenir plus fréquente si la prolifération des sources de micro-ondes se poursuit au rythme exponentiel actuel, estime le Dr Gerd Oberfeld du département de santé publique de Salzbourg, en Autriche, ville qui a adopté les normes d’exposition aux champs électromagnétiques (CEM) les plus sévères au monde.
« Le nombre de cas d’électrohypersensibilité augmente de façon soutenue depuis que ce syndrome a été documenté pour la première fois en 1991 », écrivait-il dans une lettre publiée en 2006 dans la revue Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. « En Autriche, il touchait en moyenne 13 % de la population alors qu’en Allemagne, la prévalence est passée de 6 % en 2001 à 9 % en 2004 », selon des études de santé publique qu’Oberfeld et le chercheur indépendant suédois Örjan Hallberg citent dans cette lettre. « La tendance extrapolée indique que 50 % de la population peut s'attendre à devenir électrohypersensible d’ici l'an 2017 », concluaient alors ces auteurs.
S’il est possible de contester cette prévision de malheur, l’on ne peut nier que de plus en plus de gens se plaignent de symptômes (sensation de peau qui brûle, mal de tête, étourdissements, nausées, problèmes cardiaques, insomnie, acouphène, transpiration, confusion, etc.) associés au syndrome d’hypersensibilité électromagnétique (HSEM). Des symptômes qui disparaissent comme par magie lorsque l’on s’éloigne ou se blinde des sources (câbles électriques, antennes et appareils filés ou sans fil) d’émissions de CEM, qu’il s’agisse de micro-ondes et d’autres hautes fréquences (mesurées en kilo-, méga- et gigahertz) ou de fréquences extrêmement basses (60 Hertz) résidentielles.
L’Enquête nationale sur la santé de la population menée par Statistique Canada ne traite pas de la HSEM. Toutefois, selon l’enquête de 2010 faite auprès de 63 191 répondants, près de 2,8 % des Canadiens âgés de 12 ans et plus résidant dans un logement privé ont déclaré souffrir de polysensibilité chimique, dont sont souvent atteints les électrohypersensibles.
Maladie des micro-ondes
En fait, la HSEM est connue depuis 1932. C’est alors qu’un interniste allemand, Erwin Schliephake, baptisait « maladie des micro-ondes » les malaises observés chez des opérateurs radio fortement exposés à des ondes courtes — ondes que ce médecin utilisait à faible dose comme traitement. Puis en 1971, un lieutenant de la marine américaine, Zorach (‘’Zory’’) R. Glasser, Ph.D., signait uneétude bibliographique sur les effets biologiques rapportés et les manifestations cliniques attribuées à l’exposition aux micro-ondes et autres radiofréquences. Mis à jour en 1972, son rapport recensait plus de 2 300 études scientifiques sur le sujet.  
Pourtant, aujourd’hui la Suède est le seul pays à reconnaître la HSEM comme un handicap causé par l’environnement. Et c’est une étudiante suédoise, Eva-Rut Lindberg, qui vient de signer la première thèse de doctorat portant sur l’architecture adaptée aux électrohypersensibles. (Télécharger à l’adresse et lire les pages 9 à 26 qui sont en anglais.)
Bien que les symptômes soient réels, « la HSEM ne constitue pas un diagnostic médical », affirme l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) dans son aide-mémoire 296 publié en décembre 2005. Dans ce document, l’OMS affirme qu’il n’existe aucune « base scientifique permettant de relier les symptômes de la HSEM à une exposition aux CEM ». Elle n’exclut pas qu’ils soient dus à de l’anxiété ou à un trouble psychiatrique.
Pourtant, depuis 2005, plusieurs études publiées et présentement en cours démontrent le contraire. (Lire ici sur l’électrohypersensibilité de l’ancienne directrice générale de l’OMS et mère du concept du développement durable, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland. En 2002, celle-ci déclarait qu’elle pouvait détecter jusqu’à 4 mètres de distance un téléphone cellulaire ouvert car les ondes qu’il émet lui donnaient un bon mal de tête. Le même article relate également comment les recommandations de l’OMS en matière d’électrosmog ont été formulées en collaboration avec des représentants de l’industrie, dont le Dr Michel Plante, d’Hydro-Québec.)
Normes critiquées
Selon Santé Canada, qui s’inspire des recommandations de l’OMS, les lignes directrices d’exposition aux CEM décrites dans le Code de Sécurité 6 canadien protègent la santé publique. Or, selon un rapport de 14 experts indépendants (, ces recommandations seraientjusqu’à 1 000 fois trop tolérantes car elles ne tiennent compte que des effets thermiques à court terme sur le corps humain durant une exposition de 6 minutes, et non des effets à long terme des expositions chroniques, comme la HSEM et le cancer du cerveau. Le risque d’être atteint d’un tel cancer semble doubler chez les gens qui utilisent un cellulaire 30 minutes par jour pendant dix ans, selon une dizaine d’études, dont la plus importante réalisée à ce jour sur le sujet : publiée en 2010, l’étude Interphone était une méta-analyse réalisée par le Centre international de Recherche sur le Cancer (CIRC) de l’OMS.
De nombreux experts ont donc recommandé d’appliquer le principe de précaution en matière d’exposition aux CEM, comme l’ont d’ailleurs aussi fait l’Agence européenne de l’environnement et même l’OMS.
Or, le consommateur se voit de plus en plus imposer des appareils émettant des micro-ondes contre son gré : « Les nouveaux électroménagers comprendront des transmetteurs communicant avec les compteurs intelligents », déplore l’épidémiologiste américain Sam Milhamqui a établi un lien entre la hausse de l’incidence de plusieurs maladies chroniques et l’électrification des maisons dans les années 1930. « Les compteurs intelligents que j’ai mesurés émettent 24 heures par jour, sept jours sur sept. Nous ne pourrons remettre le génie de l’électrosmog dans sa bouteille sans l’aide des gouvernements. » 
Comment réduire son exposition
Heureusement, il est possible de réduire notre exposition aux CEM. Ancienne conseillère auprès de l’OMS et du président Bill Clinton en matière de santé environnementale, Devra Lee Davis, qui est épidémiologiste, a fondé le premier centre d’oncologie environnementale au monde situé à l’Institut du cancer de l’Université de Pittsburgh. Sur le site de sa fondation (, elle suggère 12 gestes à poser pour prévenir le cancer, dont :
« Utilisez les téléphones cellulaires avec une oreillette et un haut-parleur afin de ne pas tenir l’appareil contre votre tête. Les enfants ne devraient pas utiliser de téléphone cellulaire. Les études prétendant qu’il n’y a aucun lien entre l’usage du cellulaire et le cancer du cerveau n’ont pas été réalisées avec des gens qui utilisent les cellulaires aussi fréquemment que la moyenne des gens aujourd’hui. Les cellulaires émettent de faibles quantités de radiations par micro-ondes qui détruisent les cellules cérébrales des rats et la mémoire et qui peuvent s’introduire dans le cerveau humain jusqu’à un pouce de profondeur [même plus profondément dans le cerveau d’un enfant]. Bien que le gouvernement britannique recommande que les enfants évitent carrément d’utiliser un cellulaire, certaines entreprises américaines vont jusqu’à vanter leurs téléphones auprès des enfants de cinq ans. » 
Faire évaluer sa maison
Voici aussi des conseils donnés par l’ingénieur en électricité Alasdair Philips, fondateur de l’excellent site Web britannique, en entrevue avec le médecin américain Joseph Mercola :
• Faites mesurer les CEM dans votre maison pour en identifier les principales sources. Les firmes d’hygiène électromagnétique les plus expérimentées qui oeuvrent dans les maisons québécoise sont (Andrew Michrowski) et (Stéphane Bélainsky). Ces spécialistes pourront notamment identifier : 1) les problèmes électriques générant des CEM, 2) les sources majeures de CEM dont il faut s’éloigner d’un à deux mètres, et 3) les dispositifs de blindage (alliage métallique, textile ou peinture au graphite), de filtration ou de rupture de tension que vous pouvez installer dans les chambres et les autres pièces où vous passez le plus de temps.
• Minimisez votre usage d’appareils électriques, en particulier en soirée et durant la nuit, surtout du séchoir à cheveux et du rasoir électrique qui émettent des champs magnétiques très élevés. Ces champs stoppent la production de mélatonine, hormone qui règle l’horloge biologique — et par le fait même le sommeil — et qui combat la croissance des tumeurs. Les gens qui travaillent dans les bureaux ont intérêt à réduire l’intensité de l’écran de leur ordinateur en soirée : la sécrétion de la mélatonine débute typiquement vers 21h mais est retardée lorsque l’on s’ expose à une lumière intense, selon la sommité israélienne en chronobiologie Abraham Haim, de l’Université Haifa.
• Éloignez ou débranchez les appareils électriques situés jusqu’à un mètre de votre lit : la chambre doit être une oasis de santé où l’on peut récupérer.
Autres conseils
• Éloignez-vous d’au moins deux mètres d’un four à micro-ondes en fonction. Lorsque vous êtes à un demi-mètre d’un tel appareil, celui-ci peut vous exposer à un champ magnétique de 400 milliGauss. Selon une vingtaine d’études, l’exposition chronique à un champ magnétique moyen de plus de 3 mG double le risque de leucémie infantile.
• Demandez à un électricien de raccorder la mise à la terre (MALT) de votre entrée électrique, effectuée sur l’entrée d’eau, à au moins deux tiges de MALT métalliques enfouies. Un plombier pourra ensuite remplacer une section de la tuyauterie par une pièce de plastique, évitant ainsi que les champs magnétiques circulant sur la plomberie ne traversent votre maison.
• Évitez le plus possible d’utiliser des appareils sans fil, surtout en soirée et durant la nuit. Les bases de recharge des téléphones portables ainsi que les routeurs Wi-Fi émettent constamment des micro-ondes. Évitez aussi d’installer ces appareils dans les chambres. À trois pieds d’un routeur Wi-Fi ou devant un ordinateur portable Wi-Fi, le niveau d’exposition est aussi élevé que si vous vous tenez à 200 mètres d’une antenne relais de téléphonie cellulaire. Pour certaines antennes et non les moins puissantes, la distance sécuritaire où vivre est d’au moins 500 mètres, selon le chercheur Henry Lai de l’Université de Washington. « Certaines antennes érigées sur les immeubles ou à proximité peuvent ne pas poser problème, nuance Aladair Philips. Ça dépend de la hauteur et de la puissance de l'antenne, de la direction du faisceau, de la hauteur de l'immeuble, etc. Nous recommandons que le signal ne dépasse pas 0.1 volt par mètre en général dans la maison, et particulièrement dans les chambres. »
• Les enfants et les adolescents devraient éviter d’avoir de longues conversations avec leur cellulaire et privilégier les textos. N’utilisez jamais un téléphone sans fil ou un cellulaire là où la réception est mauvaise car l’appareil augmente alors ses émissions de micro-ondes. À la limite, tenez-vous à au moins six pouces du combiné (évitez de porter un cellulaire ouvert sur vous) et utilisez la fonction mains libres ou une oreillette genre Blue-Tube, qui transporte le son par un tube d’air, comme un stéthoscope.
Pour en savoir davantage :électrohypersensibilité-risquent-dexploser

Who really benefits from putting high-tech gadgets in classrooms?

Who really benefits from putting high-tech gadgets in classrooms?

How much genuine value is there in fancy educational electronics? Don't let companies or politicians fool you.

Arne Duncan and Julius Genachowski discuss technology in education.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, left, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski speak at a Digital Learning Day event sponsored in part by Google, Comcast, AT&T and Intel. (Mark Wilson, Getty Images / February 5, 2012)

Something sounded familiar last week when I heard U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski make a huge pitch for infusing digital technology into America's classrooms.

Every schoolchild should have a laptop, they said. Because in the near future, textbooks will be a thing of the past.

Where had I heard that before? So I did a bit of research, and found it. The quote I recalled was, "Books will soon be obsolete in the schools.... Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years."

The revolutionary technology being heralded in that statement wasn't the Internet or the laptop, but the motion picture. The year was 1913, and the speaker, Thomas Edison, was referring to the prospect of replacing book learning with instruction via the moving image.

He was talking through his hat then, every bit as much as Duncan and Genachowski are talking through theirs now.

Here's another similarity: The push for advanced technology in the schoolroom then and now was driven by commercial, not pedagogical, considerations. As an inventor of motion picture technology, Edison stood to profit from its widespread application. And the leading promoter of the replacement of paper textbooks by e-books and electronic devices today is Apple, which announced at a media event last month that it dreams of a world in which every pupil reads textbooks on aniPad or a Mac.

That should tell you that the nirvana sketched out by Duncan and Genachowski at last week's Digital Learning Day town hallwas erected upon a sizable foundation of commercially processed claptrap. Not only did Genachowski in his prepared remarks give a special shout out to Apple and the iPad, but the event's roster of co-sponsors included Google, Comcast, AT&T, Intel and other companies hoping to see their investments in Internet or educational technologies pay off.

How much genuine value is there in fancy educational electronics? Listen to what the experts say.

"The media you use make no difference at all to learning," saysRichard E. Clark, director of the Center for Cognitive Technology at USC. "Not one dang bit. And the evidence has been around for more than 50 years."

Almost every generation has been subjected in its formative years to some "groundbreaking" pedagogical technology. In the '60s and '70s, "instructional TV was going to revolutionize everything," recalls Thomas C. Reeves, an instructional technology expert at the University of Georgia. "But the notion that a good teacher would be just as effective on videotape is not the case."

Many would-be educational innovators treat technology as an end-all and be-all, making no effort to figure out how to integrate it into the classroom. "Computers, in and of themselves, do very little to aid learning," Gavriel Salomon of the University of Haifa and David Perkins of Harvard observed in 1996. Placing them in the classroom "does not automatically inspire teachers to rethink their teaching or students to adopt new modes of learning."

At last week's dog-and-pony show, Duncan bemoaned how the U.S. is being outpaced in educational technology by countries such as South Korea and even Uruguay. ("We have to move from being a laggard to a leader" was his sound bite.)

Does Duncan ever read his own agency's material? In 2009, the Education Department released a study of whether math and reading software helped student achievement in first, fourth, and sixth grades, based on testing in hundreds of classrooms. The study found that the difference in test scores between the software-using classes and the control group was "not statistically different from zero." In sixth-grade math, students who used software got lower test scores — and the effect got significantly worse in the second year of use.

The aspect of all this innovative change that got the least attention from Duncan and Genachowski was how school districts are supposed to pay for it.

It's great to suggest that every student should be equipped with a laptop or given 24/7 access to Wi-Fi, but shouldn't our federal bureaucrats figure out how to stem the tidal wave of layoffs in the teaching ranks and unrelenting cutbacks in school programs and maintenance budgets first? School districts can't afford to buy enough textbooks for their pupils, but they're supposed to equip every one of them with a $500 iPad?

"There are two big lies the educational technology industry tells," says Reeves. "One, you can replace the teacher. Two, you'll save money in the process. Neither is borne out."

Apple has become a major purveyor of the mythology of the high-tech classroom. "Education is deep in our DNA," declared Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, at its Jan. 19 education event. "We're finding that as students are starting to be introduced to iPad and learning, some really remarkable things are happening."

If you say so, Phil. But it's proper to point out the downside to one great innovation Schiller touted, a desktop publishing app called iBooks Author. The app is free, and plainly can help users create visually striking textbooks. But buried in the user license is a rule that if you sell a product created with iBooks Author, you can sell it only through Apple's iBookstore, and Apple will keep 30% of the purchase price. (Also, your full-featured iBook will be readable only on an Apple device such as an iPad.)

Among tech pundits, the reaction to this unusual restriction has ranged from citing its "unprecedented audacity" to calling it "mind-bogglingly greedy and evil." Apple won't comment for the record on the uproar. Whatever you think of it, the rule makes clear that Apple's interest in educational innovation is distinctly mercantile. But that didn't keep Genachowski from praising Apple's education initiative as an "important step." (Perhaps he meant a step toward enhanced profitability.)

Of course Apple draped its new business initiative in all sorts of Steve Jobsian pixie dust, as if it's all about revolutionizing education. The company's most amusing claim is that iPads are somehow more "durable" than textbooks and therefore more affordable, over time. Its website weeps copious crocodile tears over the sad fate of textbooks — "as books are passed along from one student to the next, they get more highlighted, dog-eared, tattered and worn." Yet as James Kendrick of ZDNet reports, school administrators who have handed laptops out to students to take home say the devicesget beaten nearly to death in no time. The reality is obvious: Drop a biology textbook on a floor, you pick it up. Drop an iPad, you'll be sweeping it up.

Some digital textbooks may have advantages over their paper cousins. Well-produced multimedia features can improve students' understanding of difficult or recondite concepts. But there's a fine line between an enhancement and a distraction, and if textbook producers are using movies and 3-D animations to paper over the absence of serious research in their work, that's not progress.

Nor is it a given that e-books will be cheaper than bound books, especially when the cost of the reading devices is factored in. Apple tries to entice schools to buy iPads in blocks of 10 by offering a lavish discount of, well, $20 per unit. They still cost $479 each. The company also provides a bulk discount on extended warranties for the device, but — surprise! — it doesn't cover accidental damage from drops or spills.

Apple and its government mouthpieces speak highly of the ability to feed constant updates to digital textbooks so they never go out of date. But that's relevant to a rather small subset of schoolbooks such as those dealing with the leading edge of certain sciences — though I'm not sure how many K-12 pupils are immersed in advanced subjects such as quantum mechanics or string theory. The standard text of "Romeo and Juliet," on the other hand, has been pretty well locked down since 1599.

There's certainly an important role for technology in the classroom. And the U.S. won't benefit if students in poor neighborhoods fall further behind their middle-class or affluent peers in access to broadband Internet connectivity or computers. But mindless servility to technology for its own sake, which is what Duncan and Genachowski are promoting on behalf of self-interested companies like Apple, will make things worse, not better.

That's because it distracts from and sucks money away from the most important goal, which is maintaining good teaching practices and employing good teachers in the classroom. What's scary about the recent presentation by Duncan and Genachowski is that it shows that for all their supposed experience and expertise, they've bought snake oil. They're simply trying to rebottle it for us as the elixir of the gods.

Michael Hiltzik's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Reach him at, read past columns at, check out and follow @latimeshiltzikon Twitter.,0,639053.column

Bird Population in Collapse Near Fukushima

Bird Population in Collapse Near Fukushima

Study: Many species show “dramatically” elevated DNA mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and extinctions

- Common Dreams staff
An upcoming study shows the future for birds and insect life around Fukushima has been badly damaged, an ominous sign of things to SandoCap
The study, set to be published next week in Environmental Pollution, looked at 14 species of birds common to Fukushima and Chernobyl. David McNeill writes in the Irish Times:
Researchers working in the irradiated zone around the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant say bird populations there have begun to dwindle, in what may be a chilling harbinger of the impact of radioactive fallout on local life.
In the first major study on the impact of the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers from Japan, the US and Denmark say that analysis of 14 species of birds common to Fukushima and Chernobyl shows the effect on numbers is worse in the Japanese disaster zone. [..]
Timothy Mousseau and Anders Pape Moller say their research there uncovered major negative effects among the local bird population, including reductions in longevity, male fertility and birds with smaller brains.
Many species show “dramatically” elevated DNA mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and extinctions, they add, while insect life has been significantly reduced.
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Japanese researchers began studying flora and fauna around Fukushima in November, with an initial report on the findings expected in March.
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In this video uploaded to YouTube in June, a bird near the Fukushima Prefecture exhibits abnormal behavior: