Saturday, June 01, 2013

Notice of Class Action Lawsuit against BC Hydro

Notice of Class Action Lawsuit against BC Hydro

Notice of Class Action Lawsuit against BC Hydro
Citizens for Safe Technology Society & Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
– April 29, 2013
Notice of Class Action Lawsuit against BC Hydro
Invitation for Participation
BC Hydro is a crown utility, an arm of the provincial government that is reaching into the private space of our domestic environment and imposing choices on us that raise serious health concerns.
The World Health Organization/IARC has classified wireless radiofrequency radiation, such as that from BC Hydro’s Smart Meters, as a class 2B possible human carcinogen. Regardless, BC Hydro continues to impose, at our residences, the operation of these devices on a 24/7 basis.
BC Hydro’s conduct constitutes a violation of our autonomy and our right to determine what potentially harmful emissions do or do not occur from within our own domestic environment; our right to be free from physical intrusion by the state.
Active plans are in effect to advance this position before the Courts by way of a class action. We invite participation in the action, subject to Court approval, by individuals that meet all three of the following criteria:
1.  You have indicated to BC Hydro in writing (by way of letter or signage) that you do not accept the installation / operation of a wireless smart meter at your home for reasons that include health  concerns.
2.  Either a, b, c or d has occurred:

  •  a. Notwithstanding your written communication referred to above, BC Hydro proceeded to install and operate a wireless smart meter at your home.
  •  b. Notwithstanding your written communication referred to above, you have received information from BC Hydro setting out its intention to install a wireless smart meter at your home.
  •  c. BC Hydro has cut off its supply of power to your home as a consequence of your refusal to allow the installation of a wireless smart meter at your home.
  • d. BC Hydro has indicated its intention to cut off its supply of power to your home as a consequence of your refusal to allow the installation of a wireless smart meter at your home
3.  At all times during the above-referenced occurrences, you have been a customer of   BC Hydro at a residence which you ordinarily occupy.
We need your correspondence with us to be in writing. Please complete the Class Action Registration Form which can be downloaded from and
 Please send the Registration Form and donation for class action legal fees and administration by cheque payable to Coalition to Stop Smart Meters to the following address:
Coalition to Stop Smart Meters
PO Box 52061
Beacon Ave., RPO
Sidney, BC V8L 5V9
We are accepting donations to fund this civil lawsuit irrespective of participation.
If you have further questions, please contact:
  •  Sharon Noble at
  •  Una St.Clair at
Click here for Registration form. (Text Version)

Sibal calls for doubling penalty for violation in cell tower radiation levels

Sibal calls for doubling penalty for violation in cell tower radiation levels

By Kalyan Parbat, ET Bureau | 1 Jun, 2013, 08.27PM IST

Kapil Sibal has recommended doubling the penalty for any violation in cell tower radiation levels from the present Rs 5 lakh per site per telco to Rs 10 lakh per site per telco, according to documents reviewed by ET.
Kapil Sibal has recommended doubling the penalty for any violation in cell tower radiation levels from the present Rs 5 lakh per site per telco to Rs 10 lakh per site per telco, according to documents reviewed by ET.
KOLKATA: Mobile phone companies will soon 
have to shell out Rs 10 lakh per site as penalties for any breach in cell tower radiation levels. Communications ministerKapil Sibal has recommended doubling the penalty for any violation in cell tower radiation levels from the present Rs 5 lakh per site per telco to Rs 10 lakh per site per telco, according to documents reviewed by ET.

"Penalty for non-compliance of actual radiation norms may be two times higher," says Sibal in an internal telecom department note, a copy of which was reviewed by ET.

But Sibal is learnt to have advised DoT officials during a recent meeting with telecom industry representatives "not to treat penalties as a revenue generation exercise but as clauses to facilitate compliance," said a top executive of a GSM operator who was present in the meeting. This is since the telecom department was pressing for a three-fold jump in the penalty for any violation in cell tower radiation exposure level.

Sibal has also urged the telecom department to "levy only a token sum" if a telco is found radiating from a new site without having submitted the necessary documents or installed the required signages on such towers.

Till recently, such non-submission of documents relating to new sites were also being treated as cell tower radiation violations by DoT and attracting the Rs 5 lakh per site penalty, which will no longer be the case.

Sibal called for a review after representatives of COAI and AUSPI -- the industry bodies representing telcos operating on the GSM and CDMA technology platforms -- apprised him that merely 1.2% of radiation-related penalty notices issued by DoT pertained to actual non-compliance, while a majority were triggered by faulty documentation or non-availability of signages at tower sites.

But the minister has ruled out easing the rules for non-compliance on cell tower radiation limits, and urged telcos to furnish a comprehensive data-base on current radiation levels at tower sites by July 15. "The industry will have to demonstrate through this computerised database that radiation exposure limits prescribed by DoT are being adhered to," says the department note with ET.

Effective from September 1, 2012, DoT had lowered the permissible radiation limit to 0.45 watts per sq metre -- which is one-tenth of the ICNIRP guidelines - for Indian operators.

Germany-based International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection or ICNIRP puts out norms on permissible radiation limits for tower firms: 4.5 watts per sq metre in the 900 MHz frequency band. Some countries (notably the United States and Canada) are above it. While several including India, are below it.

Utility smart meters raise health, privacy concerns

Utility smart meters raise health, privacy concerns

By Alyssa Edes |  GLOBE CORRESPONDENT     JUNE 01, 2013

Catherine Dibara installed a smart meter as part of National Grid’s pilot program in Worcester.
Catherine Dibara installed a smart meter as part of National Grid’s pilot program in Worcester.

Utilities across the country are installing so-called smart meters in homes and businesses to allow them to better track and manage energy use by their customers, aiming to increase efficiency, lower costs, and reduce pollution.

But the advanced meters, which use wireless and digital technologies to send frequent consumption data to utilities, face opposition from customers and others who see them as a threat to health, privacy, and security.

Already, eight states, including Maine and Vermont, have adopted laws or regulations that make it easier for customers to opt out of smart-meter programs and keep old analog meters. Eight others, including Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., are considering similar measures. Representative Thomas Conroy, Democrat of Wayland, has filed a bill in the Legislature that would give Massachusetts residents the right to say no to smart meters.

“I’ll admit I haven’t done all the research on the alleged or real health effects of smart meter technology,” said Conroy. “But with an abundance of caution from my constituents, the least I could do was offer a piece of legislation to bridge the gap until the science catches up with the potential effects of smart meters, if there are any.”

The opposition to the meters represents a hitch to one of the key energy initiatives of the Obama administration in Washington and Governor Deval Patrick’s administration in Massachusetts — the smart grid. Smart grid proponents hope to incorporate information technology and advanced communications into the production, distribution, and consumption of electricity to make the power system more efficient, less costly, and more environmentally friendly.

A Massachusetts law requires all utilities in the state to undertake pilot programs to test how smart grid technologies, such as advanced meters, can help cut energy use. By more effectively managing supply and demand, smart grid advocates say, the power system can avoid the costs of building new plants and transmission while reducing pollution emitted by plants.

For example, on a hot summer afternoon when the power system is near capacity, utilities monitoring energy use through smart meters might raise thermostats a few degrees in the homes and businesses of willing customers, reducing demand and avoiding the need to start up expensive plants known as “peakers” to meet short-term need. Ultimately, that could lead to lower bills.

“If enough people opt out, it really dampens the positive impacts the technology can have on the system as a whole,” said Shanna Cleveland, senior lawyer at the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group.

Utilities face opposition from people who see threats to health, privacy, and the security of the nation’s power grid. Opponents say the meters emit dangerous levels of radiation through the radio frequencies that allow communications between the meters, utilities, and “smart” appliances, including thermostats.
Smart meters like the one on the right use electromagnetic signals to send data to utilities as often as every 15 minutes.
Smart meters like the one on the right use electromagnetic signals to send data to utilities as often as every 15 minutes.

In Massachusetts, the opposition has centered on National Grid, which launched a pilot program in Worcester to upgrade meters in 15,000 homes and businesses. If successful, the utility, headquartered in Waltham, may expand the program to other customers.

Halt Smart Meters Massachusetts, which has gathered more than 200 signatures on a petition to Attorney General Martha Coakley opposing the National Grid program, said electromagnetic frequencies emitted by the meters — similar to those from cellphones — cause insomnia, ringing ears, headaches, anxiety, nausea, and other problems for people who are “electromagnetic sensitive.”

“They are blanketing our environment with this radiation,” said Felix Kniazev, an artist from Dorchester and a member of the group. “Utilities are forcing you to accept this.”
National Grid said the new meters are proven safe and secure. The frequencies emitted by the devices are lower than cellphones and other common devices, said Deborah Drew, a National Grid spokeswoman.

The company’s pilot program, projected to cost about $44 million, has installed about 7,500 meters in Worcester. The data that National Grid receives very 15 minutes will help the utility improve reliability, Drew said, allowing it to quickly pinpoint and respond to power outages and other problems.

But skeptics worry that increasing reliance on computer technology could make the power grid more vulnerable to cyber attacks, which could shut down whole cities. Last week, US Representatives Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat running for the Senate, and Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, released a report calling for legislation to enhance the security of the power system.

Opponents say smart meters might be able to gather information on personal activities.
Opponents say smart meters might be able to gather information on personal activities.
Smart meters also gather data on household energy use. If stolen or hacked, they could reveal personal information, such as when a consumer wakes up, goes to bed, or runs a device like a washing machine, said Ernie Hayden, managing principal of energy security at Verizon Global Energy and Utility Practice.

“In the old days [meters] didn’t tell me anything about what you were using the electricity for, why you were using it, when you were using it,” he said. “If I had a million peoples’ worth of data, there’s value in that because now I could sell it.”
Drew said National Grid has safeguarded customers’ personal information for years, and will continue to do so. Customers can opt out of smart meters by contacting customer service, she said.

NStar and Unitil Corp. both completed pilot programs with little controversy. In 2010, NStar said it retrofitted meters with radio wave and broadband technologies in 2,800 homes and businesses in Newton, Hopkinton, and Jamaica Plain Unitil , based in New Hampshire, said its meters used cables, instead of wireless technology, to gather advanced energy data from 100 customers in Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Townsend, and Ashby, as well as 200 other customers in New Hampshire in 2011.

Alyssa Edes can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @alyssaedes.

Wi-Fi technology – an uncontrolled global experiment on the health of mankind

Wi-Fi technology – an uncontrolled global experiment on the health of mankind

From Andre Fautex
Just published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, May 31, 2013
Wi-Fi technology – an uncontrolled global experiment on the health of mankind
Marko Markov – Research International, Williamsville, NY, USA, Yuri G. Grigoriev – National Committee of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, Moscow, Russia
More than 10 years ago, at the WHO organized meeting on harmonization of standards one of the authors pointed out that neglecting the hazard of high-frequency EMF for children is a crime against humanity (Markov, 2001).
We believe that scientific community must be more insisting in comprehension of potential hazard that mobile exchange of information is potentially invoked in human organisms. In that aspect, it is very important that the IARC classified the RF EMF as a possible cancerogene (2B). It is important to note tha tfor less than two years this major International Agency switched from “no conclusive evidence for health hazard” to “possible cancerogen”.
In 2003, IEEE published astandard that affirmed that biological effects can only be thermal (Cho & D’Andrea, 2003). No heat – no effect. This policy serves very well in the industry and creates a serious barrier preventing biology-based assessment of the human health. The scientific community must be more insisting in comprehension of potential hazard that mobile exchange of information potentially invoke in human organisms.
In conclusion, we would like to point out the following:

1. For a number of reasons, the evaluation and prevention of hazard from ionizing radiation have been developed during the last 60 years.

2. The problem of potential hazard of nonionizing radiation is studied for significantly shorter period of time and significant differences in standards indifferent countries can be seen. It is due to the fact that in North America thestandards are based on engineering computation, while in former Soviet Unionand Easter Europe the standards are biologically based. Despite all efforts of the WHO for harmonization of standards, today standards do not consider the real pollution of the environment with nonionizing radiation.

3. The comparison of both sources of radiation leads to conclusion that thecontinuous noncontrolled exposure of the entire civilization to low-intensity EMFs represents now more serious problem for the mankind than ionizingradiation where the sources of radiation are under strict control and are well localized.

4. For the first time in the history of mankind, because of aggressive use of mobilephones children are exposed to harmful nonionizing radiation and potentially aresubject of larger risk than adults. Even if the dose received by the children’s brainis the same as for adults, due to the specificity of the body size and physiologicaldevelopment, children are in greater danger. It might be compared to the hazardof EMF for professional groups.

5. In early 2012, the European Parliament voted by 512 to 16 to urge member countries to impose stricter limits for exposure to radiation from mobile phone and Wi-Fi technologies, especially taking care for the most sensitive population of children.

6. The scientific and medical communities are obliged to ring the bell – the health and standardization institutions must urgently develop recommendations and actions for protection of the civilization and especially children.

7. We should stop telling the science, politicians and general population that Wi-Fi is harmless.
8. We should better be honest and say that “we do not know what long-term effects might be.”

MP Terence Young Recognizes C4ST's Stand Against EMR

MP Terence Young Recognizes C4ST's Stand Against EMR

Posted in C4ST in the NewsWhat's Happening in Canada?Wifi in Schools Written by Terence Young, Parliament of Canada
Thank you to the leadership and students of Westwind Montessori Junior High - your investigative spirit was recognized by MP Terence Young in the House of Commons yesterday.
"Citizens 4 Safe Technology, C4ST, are calling for caution with cellular tower antennae that emit radiofrequency radiation. The World Health Organization says RF radiation is possibly carcinogenic, and some people suffer physical symptoms from it, including the former Head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Gro Brundtland. The children at Westwind Montessori Junior High in Oakville have researched the issue, they know children are more at risk to RF radiation, and decided to take wi‐fi out of their own school. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Template for Public Consultation is voluntary and leaves a gaping loophole, which is existing structures. In Oakville, Bell Canada has by stealth placed multiple antennae just 11 metres from a child’s bedroom. Their business is booming, and legally they don’t have to care, but, ethically, how can Bell callously ignore the legitimate health concerns of Canadians—many of whom are their own customers. Today, I call on Bell Canada, for the second time in this house, listen to the children, move the Bell antennae away from homes and schools. Thank you, Speaker." - MP Terence Young

Mobilize: Official Trailer

SO31: More caution needed on placement of cellular tower antennae

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Are we ignoring the dangers of mobile phones?

Are we ignoring the dangers of mobile phones?

To some scientists, they’re deadlier than cigarettes; to others they’re harmless. Will we ever know the truth about mobile phones? Julia Llewellyn Smith finds out.

Photo: Corbis
In 1996, Neil Whitfield, a sales manager from Wigan, was given his firstmobile phone by his company. “It was introduced as a nice, cuddly friend. It had all of your mates’ contact details on it. It was always in your pocket or pressed against your ear,” he says.
However, within a short space of time Whitfield, a father of six who was then in his late thirties, started suffering terrible headaches. “Then my hearing deteriorated and I kept forgetting things, which was not like me.” A scan revealed he had an acoustic neuroma – a rare brain tumour that grows on a nerve in the brain near the ear. Without surgery, he was told, he had five years to live.
“The specialist asked if I used a mobile a lot. When I said yes, he replied: ‘Mobiles will be the smoking gun of the 21st century.’ He sowed a seed in my mind.” Whitfield, now 56, is one of a growing and vociferous group of people who are convinced that mobile phones are killing us. A phone, they point out, along with cordless phones and Wi-Fi, works in the same way as a miniature microwave, emitting electromagnetic radiation.
Admittedly, this radiation is at too low a frequency to heat human tissue, but there’s a large amount of evidence that it could affect the protective barrier between the brain and blood, allowing toxins to enter. There is also evidence that mobiles could be damaging our immune systems, reducing sperm motility and causing tumours, Alzheimer’s, strokes and autism.
It’s not just individuals like Whitfield who believe this, but a number of eminent scientists and physicians. Two years ago, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organisation, published a report, reclassifying radiation from mobiles from category 3, with “no conclusive evidence” of causing cancer, to category 2b – a “possible human carcinogen” – along with diesel exhaust, chloroform, jet fuel, lead and DDT.
In October, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that a businessman’s brain tumour was caused by his use of a mobile for five or six hours a day for 12 years, paving the way for a potential host of legal actions from employees against employers.
Yet bodies like Cancer Research UK assure me not to worry. “We think it’s incredibly unlikely there’s any link between phones and cancer, with the slight caveat it’s a relatively new technology so we can’t be sure of any long-term effects,” says Sarah Williams, senior health information and evidence officer.
To the layperson, the science behind all of this is mind-numbingly complex. For virtually every assertion of risk, there’s another asserting no risk.
“None of the research has been conclusive. When we do a meta-analysis of it all there’s no clear effect in either direction. The studies that show phones don’t cause cancer are balanced out by studies that show they do,” says Williams.The anti-mobile lobby disagree. They cite the “precautionary principle” – a statutory requirement in EU law that basically can be translated as: “new technology is guilty until proven innocent”. Until more research is done and phones have been in general use longer, they say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Official advice from the NHS is to limit our mobile usage if we want to avoid exposure to radio waves. Children in particular should only use them in emergencies, because if there is any risk, their thinner skulls and developing brains would make them much more vulnerable to potential damage.
Other countries have taken this a step further. France has banned all mobile phone advertising aimed at under-12s, while legislation is being introduced to make it compulsory to sell all phones with earphones. Canada and Russia have also advised caution and the Israeli government is considering printing health warnings on phones, as on cigarette packets. Meanwhile, several countries are implementing or considering a total ban of Wi-Fi in schools.
Official NHS advice suggests that children under 12 should only use mobiles sparingly (Corbis)
So what is the truth of the matter? Are mobiles really dangerous? There is no question that some of those sounding the alarm belong to that subset of humanity who see conspiracies everywhere they look. But, investigating the subject, it became clear to me that the arguments against phones are not all the products of paranoid minds. Far from it. The fact is, considering how widespread phones are (more than 5.3 billion mobiles are in use out of a global population of 7 billion) anything that proved they were dangerous would be a highly inconvenient truth. “Mobile phones is an issue we all bury our heads in the sand about,” confirms Denis Henshaw, professor of physics and head of the Human Radiation Effects group at Bristol University. “The first mobile phone technology was rolled out without really any consideration for the long-term effects, just like asbestos and smoking. The government rakes in billions from the technology, in taxes from the mobile phone companies and licensing of the networks. The new generation really doesn’t want to know about any potential ill effects.”
Think of the tobacco companies – says the anti-phone lobby – who concealed the dangers of smoking and the addictiveness of nicotine and supported their position with numerous deceptive studies. Or asbestos producers who hid evidence that the mineral was dangerous even though tens of thousands of workers were dying from exposure.
Mobiles are a multi-trillion-dollar industry, even bigger than pharmaceuticals, and with a sizeable lobbying arm. Nearly every study that’s proven mobiles to be safe has been funded by the industry, though scientists involved in such studies point out funds are usually distributed by neutral bodies, so they have no way of knowing the source.
Scientists who’ve discovered displeasing evidence have spoken about threats being issued to remove funding and pressure put on employers to sack them. But, at the same time, scientists accused of being in cahoots with big business are indignant. Anthony Swerdlow, professor of epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research, headed last year’s International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) report into mobile safety, concluding there was “no clear evidence” mobiles threatened public health.
Online, I find all sorts of attacks ranging from accusations that Swerdlow has shares in the mobile industry (he has a few shares in BT) and doesn’t own a mobile (he does). “Where scientists do have a great deal of self-interest is in getting the answers right as far as possible,” he says. “Our long-term careers depend not on money from the phone industry but on having a reputation and track record for doing good science and making sound scientific judgments. If scientists conduct poor studies or make biased judgments, they harm their reputations and damage their careers.”
While researching this article, word reached me – from impartial sources – of reputable scientists whose research had led them to banning their children from using mobiles and a neurologist who refused to sleep with her phone charging in the bedroom because she was convinced the electromagnetic fields emitted by mobiles were responsible for the rising number of strokes she was seeing. But they didn’t respond to my emails or calls.
Are they reluctant to express their doubts publicly because they rely on the industry to provide them with data, or because – without hard evidence to support them – they don’t want to be dubbed crackpot?
The crux of the debate hangs on whether this radiation can damage cells. The pro-mobile lobby stress that ionic radiation is associated with cancer because it can break biochemical bonds in the body. A mobile’s electromagnetic radiation, on the other hand, has too low frequencies and too weak a signal to be able to heat human tissue and damage DNA molecules.
But many disagree. In 1975, before mobiles were invented, US neuroscientist Allan Frey surprised the scientific community with a paper describing his work on the blood-brain barrier, the vital protective layer between the brain and our blood supply. The barrier is so protective that normally when blue dye is injected into animals or humans, the body turns blue while the brain remains its natural, grey colour.
But in Frey’s experiments, microwaves pulsed at certain modulations sent dye leaking into rats’ brains within minutes. Rats have very similar brains to humans. This would mean that the brain’s environment, which needs to be extremely stable for nerve cells to function properly, can be perturbed in all kinds of dangerous ways and exposed to toxins. Subsequent research has expanded and compounded this work.
“People say there’s no plausible biological hypothesis for how electromagnetic radiation can damage cells – well speak for yourself,” says Prof Henshaw, who is an adviser to Mobilewise, a group that issues safety guidance to children. “Research is moving so fast, I receive five to 10 papers a day on the effects of radiofrequency. We don’t know everything.” Prof Henshaw does not agree that primary DNA damage is needed to cause cancer. He cites research into magnetite crystals, that are found in the human brain. Electromagnetic radiation is shown to physically vibrate these particles and there’s speculation this could make cells think they’re under attack.
“They’ll find it stressful and this could affect the mechanism and we know that some cancers are caused by mechanics,” he says.
There is also a growing school of thought that mobiles can make us more vulnerable to disease. Experiments on birds’ cryptochrome, a molecule in their eyes used for navigation, have shown it can be disturbed by the use of radio frequencies, far below those of mobile frequencies. These cryptochromes, also found in humans, help us detect light and therefore have a vital effect on our secretion of melatonin, the hormone that plays an important role in bolstering the immune system.
An increasing number of people are claiming to be “electrosensitive, allergic to the electromagnetic fields that power mobiles, to the point where they’ve had to quit their jobs or move house, because of the ill effects.
“Over the past three or four years, I’ve seen a dozen or so patients who’ve had problems because of electromagnetic fields, from those suffering occasional headaches to those left quite severely disabled,” says Dr Andrew Tresidder, a GP in Chard, Somerset. “When I advise them to switch off their Wi-Fi routers and cordless phones at night, it often appears to alleviate their symptoms.” Many official bodies, including the Health Protection Agency, dismiss electrosensitivity as a psychological phenomenon. “They haven’t seen the patients I’ve seen,” says Dr Tresidder. “Whenever there’s anything that disrupts conventional thinking, there’s rearguard action trying to dismiss and rubbish any study. I think technology’s wonderful and we can’t escape it, but I also think in five years’ time if we don’t pay attention to the evidence, we could be facing a public health disaster.” Cancer Registry statistics for the past decade show that the number of brain tumours has remained fairly static – the period in which mobile phone uptake has been greatest. But this, the doubters argue, is insufficient reassurance as brain tumours have a long latency period of up to 40 years.
Although the phone industry strenuously denies its products have any links to cancer, it covers its back, using tiny print to counsel holding the phone at least 15mm from the body. BlackBerry’s instructions advise a distance of 25mm and keeping phones away from pregnant abdomens or the abdomens of teenagers.
I still can’t contemplate abandoning my phone. But I have dusted off the Bluetooth earpiece I’ve never used and persuaded my reluctant husband not to leave his phone charging in the bedroom. I’m considering buying a shield, placed in the ear, that is supposed to deflect radiation, but I can find no studies to prove such gadgets actually work.
Neil Whitfield’s operation on his neuroma was successful, but he was left deaf in his left ear and still gets headaches and facial twitches. He left his job, which relied on mobile use, and now refuses to use a mobile.
“Now, when I haven’t a number to give people they think I’m trying to avoid them, or I’m silly, a crank. They think: ‘That will never happen to me’. But when you have had a brain operation like me, you err on the side of caution. In my opinion, if phones were a food, they’d long have been taken off the shelves and sent back to the lab for further investigations.”

Council spends £700,000 on smartphones for children in its schools because 'banning them would be futile'

Council spends £700,000 on smartphones for children in its schools because 'banning them would be futile'

  • Council not only wants to lift phone ban, but buy smartphones for pupils
  • Plans will cost an estimated £30,000 per secondary school in the area

A council's plans to spend £700,000 of its budget giving every pupil a smartphone has been heavily criticised for wasting money today.
The phones, costing around £150 each, will reportedly be available for every schoolchild in Aberdeen who does not already have one, so that they all have wifi access at school.
The scheme will cost an estimated £30,000 per secondary school and £10,000 per primary school.
Aberdeen City Council have decide to fund its pupils' smartphones rather than ban them
Resistance is futile: Aberdeen City Council have decide to fund its pupils' smartphones rather than ban them
At the moment, the 24,000 pupils in the city's schools are banned from using their mobiles in class but the initiative is expected before the start of the next school year.
Jennifer Stewart, the council's Lib-Dem education spokesman, argued that the money would be better spent on essential resources for schools.
She said: '£700,000 is a huge amount of money considering we've got basic bread and butter issues that need to be resolved.
'Other schools have poor toilet facilities, another is excellent in terms of performance but the buildings aren't great and things are falling apart and walls need painting.
'There's always a place for technology, but I think it would make sense to address these other issues first.'
 The head of education in Aberdeen wants to buy all pupils smartphones so that none of them is left out from connecting to the internet
'Digital divide': The head of education in Aberdeen wants to buy all 
pupils smartphones so that none of them is left out from internet use
 Aberdeen City Council is using a chunk of its education budget on making sure all its pupils have wifi access
Big spending: Aberdeen City Council is using a big chunk of its education 
budget on internet access at school, but assured it would be supervised
Aberdeen schools head David Leng defended the scheme, saying: 'We don't want to get into a situation where we are trying to ban things that you just can't ban anyway, and not harnessing the powerful possibilities of the smartphones.'
He added: 'There have been some concerns in the past that when we do these things we are creating a digital divide between those who have and those who don't. We will ensure that everyone has access to devices and they will always be supervised. 
'Nobody will be accessing the internet in a classroom without supervision and when they do it in the playground, they will be going through the school's WiFi, which is filtered. 
'Part of the conversations we are having is about mitigating the risk so we will make sure that the safety procedures are in place.'
Barney Crockett, leader of Aberdeen City Council, insisted that the budget will be going on upgrading internet access across Aberdeen's schools and not on buying smartphones.



(The cognitive problems typically found in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (slowed processing speed, shorter working memory, reduced executive functioning) suggest problems with distraction and focus are probably common. In this blog Johannes suggests ways to use one of the biggest potential mental energy hogs around – the internet –  with more ease and focus…..Cort) 

Are you sick of your computer making you sick?

A couple of weeks ago, a participant in my internet-based free e-course asked, “I like the content of your course, but I have trouble reading it because it’s all on the computer.” 

If consuming content from the internet worsens our Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia symptoms, it can be a major handicap. Not being able to use your computer can diminish our ability to 

  • connect with our friends via email and Facebook 
  • access all the good information from forums and blogs 
  • make a bit of money doing internet-based work with the limited energy we have. 

I don’t have the magical pill that will turn you, as soon as you are in front of your computer, iPad, or smartphone into a perfectly healthy person, but I can offer some help for using the internet without aggravating your symptoms.

 I’ve tried many things, and some of them have helped me to not only increase the time I can spend on the computer each day, but also to do so without exacerbating my symptoms. 

Why Computers Can Aggravate Our Symptoms 

Preventing distraction is important in getting the most out of your computer time 

Let’s take a  look at some of the problems that cause people trouble when they interact with their computer. 

  • Body position. Many of us sit at our desk or a table when we use a computer. The reason for why this can be a problem is that it is common for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia to function better when they lie down. 
  • The lighting is wrong. Other than commonly believed, it’s usually not the flicker of the screen that strains our eyes when we work on the computer. The real problem is that many computer screens are not set up in a way that provides ideal light conditions. 
  • We skim information, instead of reading it. Skimming articles on the internet is like listening to a radio station where, every few seconds, the narrator’s voice is interrupted by static, which makes it very hard to consume the information that’s being presented. As a result, it’s very hard to consume the information that’s being presented, and our brains get as frizzled as the bad connection. In my experience, when I skim, my brain has to work harder to fully comprehend what I’m reading, and this in turn makes me more tired. 
  • We don’t take breaks when we should. Even when we use all the energy-maximizing techniques in the world, we can only spend so much time on the computer before we reach our activity limit and aggravate our symptoms. Where it gets difficult is that it’s so hard to stop once we’ve immersed ourselves into reading that informative article or writing that heart-felt email to a friend. Not stopping when it’s time to stop can exacerbate our symptoms for days to come. 

There are other issues, but I’ve found these to be the most common. Let’s look at how to help with them. 

How to Increase Your Internet Time While Reducing Your Symptoms 

So how do we solve the above problems? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some of the things that have worked for me and my clients: 

Enabling Your  Environment 

  • Print out the articles that you’d normally read on the screen. Although this is not the “greenest” solution to screen reading fatigue, it does work. If you don’t like printing everything and don’t like all those sheets of paper flying around in your room, technique number two, “Transfer it to a kindle e-reader,” might do the trick for you. 
  • Transfer it to a kindle E-Reader. Reading on a kindle is much easier for me than reading on my computer screen. I suspect that this is so for three reasons: First, reading on my kindle enables me to read lying down, which is when my brain works best; second, I can position the kindle at a perfect distance to my eyes; third–because of the fiction novels I read on my kindle—I associate humor, love, and bravery with this reading device, which causes me be more relaxed regardless of what I read. Read here how to use your kindle to revolutionize the way you consume content from the internet. 
  • Remove bright sources of light from behind and from the sides and of your screen. Implementing this advice, which I just discovered recently through working with a client, made an incredible difference for me. 

Previously, my computer screen was positioned in front of a window, which forced my eyes to work extra hard on focusing on the screen while filtering out the outside light from the window behind it. Now, I’ve rearranged my room so that my desk faces a wall with the only sources of light located behind and above me. The difference is stunning. 

Break Time! 

If you’ve had ME/CFS for a little while, you may already have discovered that taking breaks can help you make the most of your limited energy. A break as short as thirty seconds—just enough to take in a slow, deep breath—can often be enough to relax your mind and renew your energy. 

 One problem with taking short breaks is that we easily forget to take them. Therefore I suggest that you let your computer help you with remembering. 

  • Stillness Buddy - Enable your computer to remind you by installing a piece of software called Stillness Buddy.  Once you’ve installed Stillness Buddy it will ask you every forty-five minutes (or however often you specify in the settings) to take a short break. I had previously introduced Stillness Buddy in this article, and people have written me emails just to rave about how helpful it has been for them—it’s that powerful. 
  • LeechBlock –  Just like taking breaks, stopping when we need to stop, unfortunately, isn’t that easy. When we’ve just immersed ourselves in an activity, we want to continue. Plus, if we stopped now, we’d have to face all of the CFS-symptoms we were just successfully avoiding by burying our minds in whatever we were just doing on the computer. 

The only reliable way that I’ve found to make me stop is, again, with the help of a software tool. This tool blocks access to the internet after a specified amount of time or at the push of a button. 

Before I knew about this tool, called Leechblock, I would work on the internet way beyond my limits. Now that I have installed Leechblock, I just press a couple of keys when I realize that it’s time for me to stop, and it then blocks access to all websites for thirty-five minutes. This gives me enough time for a deep and energy-renewing rest or meditation. I now feel much better each day and far more in control of my time. 

The tool is free! If you are using the Firefox web browser you can use Leechblock, like me; if you are using Google Chrome, you can use a similar program called Stayfocusd. 

A Less Stressful, More Peaceful Computer Experience 

Read out loud, speaking with a happy and relaxed voice. What? Yes, I mean it. Read like you were reading to a little child. 

Reading out loud, reminds us to not skim an article, which prevents our brains from getting frizzled (see bullet no. 3 in the previous section for further explanation). In addition, pretending that we read to a little child, makes us read in a happy and relaxed way, just like that cute little face of the imaginary baby in front of us. 

But what will people think of you when you start reading out loud like you were talking to a happy child? In my case, it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. Erin shut the door to my office to not be bothered by the noise, but never made any negative comments. I believe she’s happy that I’ve found yet another way to reduce my symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The perfect time for you to try this simple technique is right now: First, imagine a happy, relaxed baby. Then, read to the imaginary baby the rest of this article out loud. Read in a way that reflects the happiness of the baby, or even amplifies it. 

When you reach the end of this article, judge for yourself how this technique is working for you! 
  • Type with your eyes closed. When I leave a comment beneath a blog post or write an email, I often type with my eyes closed. Aside from giving my eyes and brain a bit of a rest, this is a great concentration exercise. Typing blindly encourages me to be 100% focused, which in turn centers my often frizzled CFS mind. 

Quick check-in: Are you still reading to your imaginary listener? 
If you try some of these techniques, I hope that for you, too, the amount of time you can spend on the computer will increase while your CFS symptoms will decrease.  May your computer never aggravate your symptoms again! 

Over to you 

What did reading this article out loud in a happy and relaxed way do for you? What techniques have you discovered that help you with benefiting from the upsides of the internet without aggravating your symptoms? Please share by leaving a comment below. 

Johannes Starke is a therapist and life coach for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia who has come a long way in recovering from the illness himself and has been coaching clients for over three years. He is the founder of the CFS Recovery Project, where he supports people with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia in regaining their health and happiness. 

To get access to and benefit from more of his work, sign up for his free CFS Recovery Tips Newsletter or join over 100 participants in his  free Health and Happiness E-Course. 

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  • Unraveling the Cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia? Recovered Author Asserts Single System to Blame 

Categories : ToolsTags : computer, internet, Stillness Buddy

Read more: 7 Ways to Stop the Internet from Aggravating Your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and FM Symptoms