“The Farce, Luke!” – Darth Meter Meets Fertile Resistance

Darth Meter? - An example of a fire incident occurring around a hydro meter in Ontario. From a report done by the Office of the Fire Marshal Fire Investigation Services in Ontario


Itron

Another Bright Idea from Mr. O.?
As the U.S. election season unfolds in all its weirdness, it seems appropriate to mention an issue that has not so far surfaced on the campaign trail.

Depending on your point of view, the list of President Obama’s accomplishments – or crimes – includes the following: bailing out Wall Street and the auto industry; prosecuting more whistleblowers than all past presidents put together; setting a record for breaking up immigrant families through massive deportations; escalating drone strikes around the world, thus murdering hundreds of innocent civilians and their children; signing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sanctioning indefinite detention and criminalizing dissent; and asserting the authority to execute American citizens (and their kids) anywhere in the world without charge or trial.

Then there’s another item that should be added to the list – providing stimulus funds to help jumpstart the wireless Darth Meter rollout.

‘Smart Grid’ as Moon Shot
In his recent national bestseller “Confidence Men: Washington, Wall Street and the Education of a President,” Ron Suskind describes then-candidate Obama chairing meetings of his economic planning team in the months leading up to the 2008 election.

“’What about smart grids?’ he asked at one meeting.
“The conversation then turned to an extended discussion with Carol Browner, Obama’s top adviser on energy and the environment, about the limitations of eminent domain. A smart grid would need to be implemented district by district, which, as part of the stimulus, was entirely unfeasible.
“Obama, frustrated, refused to let the topic go. ‘We need more moon shot,’ he said” (pp154-5)

And, by February 17, 2009, the unfeasible had apparently become feasible. On that day by-then-President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Designed as a Keynesian stimulus package, the $831 billion law covered many sectors, including: infrastructure, education, health care, transportation, communication, homeland security, law enforcement and energy. Included was $11 billion to fund a fully interoperable smart grid for the U.S. electric power system.

Of course, as we’ve noted before, the ‘smart grid’ concept did not originate with the Obama administration, but from the elite Davos-based World Economic Forum, and is being promoted by the world’s largest consulting firm, Accenture.

Though Darth Meter enthusiasts claim that ARRA ‘mandates’ the deployment of wireless automatic metering devices (AMI), our colleague Kikulani at Burbank Action has extensively documented that neither ARRA, nor the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), nor the Energy Policy Act of 2005, nor any Executive Order makes either wireless meters OR the ‘time-of-use pricing’ – which is their stated goal – ‘mandatory.’ She reports that even President Obama himself has stated that they should be voluntary.

Nevertheless, the march of folly rollout of wireless Darth Meters continues. A Consumers’ Digest report last year [ Why Smart Meters Might Be a Dumb Idea by William J. Kelly ] opined that

“Despite…objections, it’s clear that smart meters ultimately won’t be stopped.”

The Digest went on to report that, as of a year ago last January,

“Department of Energy says utilities have installed about 18 million smart meters in states across the nation, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland and Texas. Meanwhile, federal economic-stimulus money that totals $3.4 billion and was granted by DOE is supporting the installation of 40 million additional smart meters by scores of electric companies in 40 states, federal territories and federal districts in the next few years. By 2015, an estimated 65 million smart meters will have been installed. These will cover 52 percent of household electricity customers, according to Edison Electric Institute, which is a research group that is funded by electric companies.”

But that was then, and in the nearly 2 years since the Digest’s premature prediction that the rollout ‘won’t be stopped,’ ratepayer/citizen pushback against the wireless meter rollout has spread across the states and around the world – and is proving effective.

Claims that smart meters will enable consumers to dramatically cut their energy use, particularly during periods of peak demand have not been born out by subsequent studies, while reports of serious health effects, safety risks and cyber-security threats multiply.

Cities and counties are passing moratoria and demanding to opt-out of the rollout as communities. In California, the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has been forced to order all utilities within its jurisdiction to allow individual customers to opt-out, albeit for a fee. In a continuing proceeding (in which EON is a party) the Commission is being forced to consider the questions of ‘community-wide opt-out, what constitutes a ‘community;’ and who should pay the costs of this colossal technocratic blunder. In Michigan, DTE Energy will offer an opt-out mechanism for its customers who do not want to be equipped with a wireless so-called ‘advanced electric meter.’

As the Darth MeterTM farce continues to unfold, and the cloud of wireless gizmo pollution thickens, informed resistance IS proving fertile. Please scroll down for a look at recent stories.

‘Unusual’ number of fires, smart meters linked
Ontario fire marshall says faulty base plates could be the cause, similar to Mission blaze
By SCOTT SIMPSON, Vancouver Sun August 7, 2012

Smart meter installations are the suspected cause of an “unusual” number of fires similar to a recent electrical fire at a home in Mission, according to a recent investigation by the Ontario fire marshal’s office.

BC Hydro is in the process of a $1-billion installation of the meters, which use wireless technology to transmit information about electricity consumption to power utilities, following the lead of provinces and states including Ontario and California.
There’s no evidence to suggest that the meters themselves are overheating and catching fire, but it appears from an Ontario fire marshal’s report, dated June 15, 2012, that the base plates, or four-pronged sockets that meters plug into, can become compromised and start to burn if they’re old or suffer rough handling during installation.

SF cell phone safety law in appeals court battle
The battle over San Francisco’s controversial cell phone safety law is playing out right now in federal appeals…
Carolyn Tyler
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A legal battle that’s being closely watched around the nation took another step forward at the Court of Appeals in San Francisco Thursday.
At issue is the city’s law forcing cell phone retailers to warn customers about potential health risks. It’s on hold while the two sides fight it out.

San Francisco passed what’s called the “Right to Know” law two years ago, making it the only city in the nation to require customer warnings for cell phones. But the industry has sued, saying the groundbreaking measure violates retailers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to provide messages they oppose.

Cell Phones and Brain Cancer? Until We Know for Sure, Kucinich Urges Cell Phone Right-to-Know Act

Federal Appeals Court Hearing on San Francisco Labeling Law This Week

Washington D.C. (August 6, 2012) — Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced H.R. 6358, the Cell Phone Right to Know Act, a bill to grant a consumer’s right-to-know by providing for warning labels on cell phones. It would also create a new national research program to study cell phones and health and require the Environmental Protection Agency to update the outdated Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). A federal appeals court in San Francisco is expected to consider a local right-to-know ordinance this week.

“Consumers have a right to know the radiation levels of cell phones and whether they are buying the phone with the lowest – or the highest – level of exposure to cell phone radiation. They also deserve to have up-to-date exposure standards that are put together by health professionals without conflicts of interest,” said Kucinich.

From Louis Slesin Editor, Microwave News:
An interesting development:
According to the an item in today’s Times of India, India is adopting the same SAR limit for cell phones as that of the FCC: 1.6 W/Kg averaged over 1g of tissue. India is also reducing its current RF exposure standards by a factor of ten.

See:
New mobile radiation norms from Sept 1
Kounteya Sinha – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India is all set to clamp down on excessive radiation emanating from cellphone handsets and towers. According to the new radiation norms coming into effect from September 1, the radio frequency (RF) exposure limits are to be lowered to 1/10th of the existing level.

It will also become mandatory for the specific absorption level (SAR) — the rate at which RF energy is absorbed by the body — to be embossed and displayed on the mobile handset by the manufacturer. SAR level for mobile handsets will also be restricted to 1.6 watt/kg, averaged over a mass of 1 gram of human tissue. Mobile handsets manufactured and sold in India or imported will now be checked for SAR limit compliance.

BC Hydro plans to install 1.8 million smart meters across B.C. by the end of 2012


Smart meter fires spark concerns in B.C.
CBC News
Posted: Aug 7, 2012 5:49 AM PT
Last Updated: Aug 7, 2012 6:58 AM PT

Questions are being raised about the safety of smart meters after fire crews were called to a home in Coquitlam over problems with the box — the second such incident in weeks.

The latest incident happened at about 3 a.m. PT on Sunday morning. There was only minor damage to the home, said Coquitlam fire Chief Scott MacKenzie.

He declined to comment further as the case has now been handed over to BC Hydro for a full investigation.

Technicians had installed a smart meter at the residence — an older home — about a month ago, said a BC Hydro official.

The incident comes after a Mission woman’s house burnt down on June 15, just one day after a smart meter was installed there.

A report by the Mission Fire Department said the fire originated at the base plate which the smart meter was plugged into.

BC Hydro says the base is part of the house, so any damage or fault with the equipment is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Big Week for Cell Phone Radiation Legislation
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.

A “cell phone right to know” bill was just introduced in the Congress, and the City and County of San Francisco will defend its “cell phone right to know” ordinance against a CTIA lawsuit in a federal appeals court.

A “cell phone right to know” bill was just introduced in the Congress, and on Thursday, the City and County of San Francisco will defend its “cell phone right to know” ordinance against a CTIA lawsuit in the 9th District Court of Appeals.*

Although the text for the newly proposed federal legislation is not yet available from the Library of Congress,** a press release appears below. I plan to analyze the bill when the text becomes available.

Two years ago, I published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle about cell phones that called for community health education, government-funded research independent of industry to avoid conflicts of interest, and more protective regulatory standards and warning labels. See below for a link to my op-ed and additional concerns I have raised more recently.

The federal legislation appears to address a major concern I raised on June 15 (link below). Namely, that an FCC review of the current inadequate cell phone radiation standards would rubber stamp the 16-year old standards. The proposed legislation would require a different agency with the appropriate expertise to conduct the review — the Environmental Protection Agency.

The only major cell phone radiation health effects research our Federal government currently funds is a study of the effects of 2G (GSM and CDMA) on mice and rats by the National Toxicology Program. The preliminary results from this study should be available by 2014. However, 2G technology will likely be obsolete in the US by the end of 2016.*** To date, little research has been conducted on the health effects of 3G, and some research suggests that this carrier technology damages DNA at much lower exposure levels than 2G. No research that I am aware of has been conducted on 4G.

[The next one below is from Susan Foster, who comments, ‘It would demand an increase in allowable power within phones and emanating from towers. The directive was reported in May 2012.

When did Chairman Genachowski suggest revisiting safety standards but in the same statement he said he did not think there were any relevant health concerns with existing standards? Is this presidential order the motivation? If so, you know what we can expect from the FCC.]

Obama orders agencies to optimize Web content for mobile
The president tells agencies to make two key services available on mobile phones within a year
By Grant Gross

IDG News Service – U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered all major government agencies to make two key services available on mobile phones within a year, in an effort to embrace a growing trend toward Web surfing on mobile devices.

Obama, in a directive issued Wednesday, also ordered federal agencies to create websites to report on their mobile progress. The websites are due within 90 days.

Innovators in the private sector and the government have used the Internet and powerful computers to improve customer service, but “it is time for the federal government to do more,” Obama said in the memo. “For far too long, the American people have been forced to navigate a labyrinth of information across different government programs in order to find the services they need.”

Many government services are not optimized for smartphones or tablets, and other services aren’t available at all on those devices, Obama wrote.

“Americans deserve a government that works for them anytime, anywhere, and on any device,” Obama said in a statement. “By making important services accessible from your phone and sharing government data with entrepreneurs, we are giving hard-working families and businesses tools that will help them succeed.”


If You See This Google Warning, Act Fast: Big Brother is Watching
By Dr. Mercola
Big Brother is watching. No kidding. And the warning is coming from none other than Google, which says government spies may be spying on you. Some believe the Google announcement may be related to the recent discovery of the data-mining virus named “Flame.” In a June 3 New York Times article, Andrew Kramer and Nicole Perlroth write1:
“When Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of Europe’s largest antivirus company, discovered the Flame virus that is afflicting computers in Iran and the Middle East, he recognized it as a technologically sophisticated virus that only a government could create.

He also recognized that the virus, which he compares to the Stuxnet virus built by programmers employed by the United States and Israel, adds weight to his warnings of the grave dangers posed by governments that manufacture and release viruses on the internet.

“Cyberweapons are the most dangerous innovation of this century,” he told a gathering of technology company executives… While the United States and Israel are using the weapons to slow the nuclear bomb-making abilities of Iran, they could also be used to disrupt power grids and financial systems or even wreak havoc with military defenses.”

Story at-a-glance
• A massive data-mining virus named “Flame” has been detected in computers in the Middle East, particularly in Iran. It’s the first virus found with the added ability to spread wirelessly by attaching itself to Bluetooth-enabled devices. Once there, it can trace and steal information stored on those devices. The program also contains a “microbe” command that can activate any microphone within the device and record audio files
• The NSA is building a massive spy center in Bluffdale, Utah, which will intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast amounts of the world’s communications—both foreign and domestic
• As of the first week of June, Google will warn you when it picks up activity on your computer account that looks suspiciously like state-sponsored monitoring of your computer activities
• To re-secure your account, Google recommends creating a unique password that includes a mix of capital letter, lowercase letters, punctuation marks and numbers; enable 2-step verification; and update your browser, operating system, plugins, and document editors

Still relevant:
The Backlash against Backscatter

The airport x-ray machines are not safe. And for over a year, TSA has been defying a court order.

A few months ago we told you about the dangers of airport full—body scanners—that they emit low levels of ionizing radiation and can cause cancer. The x-rays skim the entire surface of your skin instead of being directed to a localized area of your body, which means that radiation levels could be 10 to 20 times higher than the manufacturer’s calculations. The cancer threat has the European Union so concerned that it has put a moratorium on the machines.

Europe Bans Airport X-Ray Scanners. Should the U.S. Follow Suit?
As millions of American travelers take to the airways this Thanksgiving, they will increasingly face the new generation of full-body scanners at airport security — including the kind that Europe just banned for reasons of “health and safety.”
In its new airport security policy, the European Commission announced on Nov. 14 that it would ban the controversial “backscatter” X-ray machines, which emit ionized radiation, from all airports in the European Union’s 27 member nations “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”

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