Friday, June 18, 2010
On Tuesday the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to require
retailers to post the "specific absorption rate" (SAR) of cell phones.
Others will follow. The story begins in 1988; David Reynard gave his wife
Susan a cellphone. She died of brain cancer 4 years later; as David
explained on Larry King Live, "she held it against her head and talked on
it all the time" (WN 29 Jan 93). With such compelling evidence David
Reynard sued the cellphone industry. Confronted with pseudoscience, the
first question is who profits by this? With an estimated 5 billion cell
phones in use, it's fertile soil for a "mass tort blitz," the dream of
every tort lawyer. As with asbestos and tobacco, companies face so many
lawsuits that it becomes a cheaper to settle than to defend.
The WHO study that prompted the board's decision seemed to settle nothing.
Indeed, even as the non-results were announced, still another mobile phone
study, the COSMOS cohort study of of health effects in five European
countries, to be carried out at Imperial College London over a period of
thirty-years was announced. It must be a joke, in 30 years the technology
will be completely different.
Who can forget the heroic struggle, waged by Susan Wood during the Bush
years, to gain approval for the emergency contraceptive Plan B (WN 2 Sep
2005). On Thursday, a federal advisory panel voted unanimously to approve
a new emergency contraceptive called Ella. Although born in the US, Ella
was approved for sale in Europe last fall. It is effective if taken five
days after intercourse, as opposed to three days for Plan B. As you would
expect, there are complaints from the religious conservatives who believe
it should be considered an abortion drug. It is a chemical relative to the
abortion pill RU-486. According to James Trussell, director of the Office
of Population Research at Princeton University there are more than a
million women having unprotected sex every night who do not wish to get
pregnant. We do not need more unwanted children.
A familiar landmark in southwestern Ohio, the six story statue of Jesus
from the torso up was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because the arms were
raised like a referee signaling a touchdown. Constructed of plastic foam
over a steel frame, it was consumed by fire on Friday after being struck by
lightning, as if to invite comparison.