An increased incidence of brain and heart tumors was seen in rats.
Josh HarkinsonMay 27, 2016 1:41 AM
It's the moment we've all been dreading. Initial findings from a massive federal study, released on Thursday, suggest that radio-frequency (RF) radiation, the type emitted by cellphones, can cause cancer.
The findings from a $25 million study, conducted over two and a half years by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), showed that male rats exposed to two types of RF radiation were significantly more likely than unexposed rats to develop a type of brain cancer called a glioma, and also had a higher chance of developing the rare, malignant form of tumor known as a schwannoma of the heart. The effect was not seen in females.
The radiation level the rats received was "not very different" from what humans are exposed to.
The radiation level the rats received was "not very different" from what humans are exposed to when they use cellphones, said Chris Portier, a former associate director of the NTP who commissioned the study.
As the intensity of the radiation increased, so did the incidence of cancer in the rats. (The highest radiation level was five to seven times as strong as what humans typically receive while using a phone.) Although ionizing radiation, which includes gamma rays and X-rays, is widely accepted as a carcinogen, the wireless industry has long noted that there is no known mechanism by which RF radiation causes cancer. The researchers wrote that the results "appear to support" the conclusion that RF radiation may indeed be carcinogenic.
The findings should be a wake-up call for the scientific establishment, according to Portier, who is now a contributing scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. "I think this is a game changer," he said. "We seriously have to look at this issue again in considerable detail."
"The NTP does the best animal bioassays in the word," Portier added. "Their reputation is stellar. So if they are telling us this was positive in this study, that's a concern."
Past animal studies have been inconclusive. Most of those suggesting a connection between cellphone radiation and cancer had first exposed rodents to toxic chemicals to induce tumors, which were then shown to grow in response to radiation exposure. But the new study did nothing in advance to stimulate cancer in the animals.
The NTP first decided to investigate the carcinogenicity of cellphone radiation in 2001, partly in response to epidemiological studies showing a correlation between gliomas and cellphone use. Some of the studies even showed that the cancers were ipsilateral—meaning they tended to appear on the same side of the head where users held their phones. But other epidemiological studies haven't found links between cancer and cellphones.
The Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with regulating the health aspects of consumer products, says on its website that there is "no evidence linking cell phone use with the risk of brain tumors." It does acknowledge some risk associated with carrying cellphones too close to the body, but only due to the phones' heating effect.
Even "a very small increase in the incidence of disease" due to cellphone radiation "could have broad implications for public health."
The NTP findings cast doubt on that conclusion: The study was designed to control for heating effects by ensuring that the body temperature of the exposed rats increased by less than 1 degree Celsius. "Everyone expected this study to be negative," a senior government radiation official toldMicrowave News, which was shown partial results from the study earlier this week. "Assuming that the exposures were carried out in a way that heating effects can be ruled out, then those who say that such [carcinogenic] effects found are impossible are wrong."
The study was expensive in part because it required the construction of special exposure chambers that allowed thousands of mice and rats to receive standardized dozes of radiation. For about nine hours per day, for periods ranging from two months to the lifetime of the animal, the rodents were exposed to the RF radiation frequencies used by second generation (2G) phones—the standard at the time the study was initiated.
Only the test results for rats have been released so far. Female rats didn't experience significantly higher than normal cancer rates. However, among male rats that received the highest radiation exposures, 2 percent to 3 percent contracted gliomas and 6 percent to 7 percent percent developed schwannoma tumors in their hearts, depending on the type of radiation used. None of the male rats in the control groups developed those cancers.
Potentially confounding the results, the rats exposed to radiation on average lived longer than those that weren't. Some outside reviewers argued that the study's authors should have given more weight to that caveat. Reviewers were also puzzled that the unexposed control rats didn't exhibit the usual number of brain tumors. "I am unable to accept the authors' conclusions," wrote Michael Lauer, the deputy director of the National Institute of Health's office of extramural research.
In the United States, of about 25,000 malignant brain tumors diagnosed each year, 80 percent are gliomas. Malignant brain tumors are the most common cause of cancer deaths in adolescents and adults ages 15 to 39.
The authors of the NTP study did not say how their results might translate into cancer risk for humans. But "given the extremely large number of people who use wireless communication devices," they wrote, "even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to RFR resulting from those devices could have broad implications for public health."
The wireless industry and many media outlets—particularly tech sites, which depend on the industry for advertising—have confidently proclaimed that the science on cellphone safety is settled. You "can't choose to 'believe' in facts because they are, well, facts," Charlie Sorrell wrote in Wired in 2011, after detailing the results of a Danish epidemiological study showing no link between cellphone use and cancer. "So there you go, people. Finally you can ditch that dorky Bluetooth headset. Your brain isn't being microwaved after all."
But Portier says there still isn't enough data to consider the case closed. "There are arguments in the literature now that we are at the beginning of an epidemic of cancers," he told me. "There are arguments against that. It is not clear who is right. I have looked through it. It's a mixed bag."
"We spend as a nation god-awful billions of dollars using our cellphones," he adds. "We are significantly exposed on a constant basis and yet we spend almost nothing on research in this area. We need an influx of research dollars if we want to understand what may be happening, and hopefully be able to prevent it while we still have the time."
This article was updated to reflect criticism of the study's conclusions by outside researchers.
"With all the racism going on today, I'm very proud to be white. Just like black people are proud to be black and now, as white people, whenever we say something critical we're punished as if we're racists. I'm tired of it. I'm very proud," Gayne said.
"I'm so angry I don't even feel like I live in America. You can call me a racist. Black Lives Matter? Those people are out of control," she said.
Gayne's Twitter account, which is only accessible to her followers, is called "whitepride":
Gayne isn't the first Trump delegate to embrace white power. William Johnson, a Trump delegate in California, resigned last week after Mother Jonesrevealed that he was the leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party. And the anti-Muslim pastor Guy St-Onge resigned as a Trump delegate after being questioned about his views by the Guardian. The AFP now claims that it has other members who are Trump delegates but has declined to release their names.
The Maryland delegate was approved for the GOP convention by the Trump campaign.
Josh HarkinsonMay 19, 2016 3:04 PM
A Maryland delegate selected by Donald Trump's presidential campaign for the Republican National Convention was indicted on Wednesday on federal weapons and child pornography charges.
The federal indictment alleges that Caleb Andrew Bailey, 30, of Waldorf, Maryland, illegally mailed a cache of ammunition and explosives through the US Postal Service and illegally possessed a machine gun and child pornography. The indictment also further alleges that Bailey "attempted to use and did use a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce child pornography."
Joe Cluster, the executive director for the Maryland Republican Party, confirmed to Mother Jones that Bailey was approved by the Trump campaign as a delegate to the GOP convention from Maryland's 5th Congressional District. Bailey could not immediately be reached for comment.
Questions remain as to how the Trump campaign has vetted its delegates for the GOP national convention. Earlier this month, Mother Jones reported that the Trump campaign approved a white nationalist leader as one of its delegates from California. That prompted the delegate, William Johnson, to resign. The Trump campaign blamed Johnson's inclusion on a "database error."
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Bailey's indictment.
UPDATE, 4:15 p.m. EDT: The Trump campaign has issued a statement: "We strongly condemn these allegations and leave it in the capable hands of law enforcement. He will be replaced immediately."
Is Trump their ticket into the GOP convention and the mainstream?
Josh HarkinsonMay 19, 2016 6:00 AM
On May 10, Los Angeles attorney William Johnson resigned as a delegate for Donald Trump to the Republican National Convention after Mother Jones reported that Johnson is the leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party. The Trump campaign, which selected Johnson as one of its California delegates, blamed his inclusion on a "database error." But white nationalist leaders, including one who has contributed to an online hate forum, are now claiming that other members of their movement have become delegates for Trump.
"[H]ere is what they don't know: we have more delegates!" the American Freedom Party wrote on its Facebook page last week, in response to the Mother Jones report.
Johnson said in an interview that he is not directly involved with the AFP's Facebook page, but he confirmed that the page is run by Robert H. DePasquale, whose covert activism as a white supremacist is well documented. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, DePasquale is a web designer in New York City who has built sites for white supremacist groups and has pseudonymously posted more than 20,000 racist and anti-Semitic messages on Stormfront, a leading online hate forum. (The forum's motto is "White Pride World Wide.") DePasquale did not respond to requests for comment. The AFP's Facebook post, captured by Mother Jones in this screen shot, was soon deleted:
The AFP has come to see the Trump campaign as its path to taking white nationalism into the mainstream. In recent months the group and a related super-PAC have produced and funded pro-Trump robocalls, set up a "political harassment hotline" for Trump supporters, and promoted Trump on a talk radio show.
But movement leaders appear torn about how much to shout from atop the Trump bandwagon versus staying in the shadows. Johnson told Mother Jones that he knows of at least one other AFP memberwho has been selected by a state party to attend the GOP convention this July. Johnson declined to identify the person for fear of compromising the person's involvement with the GOP, but he disclosed that he is an "honorary" delegate for Trump from an Eastern state. So-called honorary delegates do not have voting power, but typically are selected bystate parties to attend the convention, often as a perk in exchange for political donations.
At Johnson's request, the AFP delegate for Trump agreed to be interviewed by Mother Jones, but later backed out. Johnson said there are additional white nationalist Trump delegates who have been in touch with movement leaders, though "I don't actually know who they are. There are people who are surreptitious," he said.
"Right now people are still a little bit afraid because they will have the same reaction that happened to me," Johnson explained. "We just have to give it a few more months before people feel comfortable."
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Led by Johnson since 2009, the American Freedom Party "exists to represent the political interests of White Americans" and aims to preserve "the customs and heritage of the European American people." The AFP has never elected a candidate of its own to public office and is estimated to have only a few thousand members, but it is "arguably the most important white nationalist group in the country," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok.
Johnson believes that Trump's rise will motivate other white nationalists to express their views publicly. "You've got to realize that I'm out in the open and upfront, but a lot of people aren't there yet," he said. "Talk to me in eight months and more people will be out. Particularly if Donald Trump gets elected."
Is racism a bug in the Trump campaign, or a feature?
Josh HarkinsonMay 11, 2016 5:18 PM
Every political campaign has its share of computer glitches and technical malfunctions, but for the Trump campaign, these sorts of bugs have a strange tendency to happen whenever white supremacists come up for discussion. Just how often has this been the case? More than you might think.
The "database error"
After Mother Jones reported on Tuesday that the Trump campaign had selected white nationalist leader William Johnson for its slate of California delegates, the Trump campaign at first claimed the story was "totally false." But soon, Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks gave a different explanation: "A database error led to the inclusion of a potential delegate that had been rejected and removed from the candidate's list in February 2016," she said in a statement emailed to Mother Jones and other news organizations. Johnson then told Mother Jones that he would resign as a delegate.
The "bad ear piece"
In a Sunday morning interview in late February, Trump declined to disavow an endorsement for former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke after being asked about it repeatedly by CNN's Jake Tapper. He later claimed he couldn't hear what Tapper was asking. "I was sitting in a house in Florida, with a bad ear piece," Trump told NBC's Today show. "I could hardly hear what he was saying. I hear various groups. I don't mind disavowing anyone. I disavowed Duke the day before at a major conference."
A source familiar with Trump's three television interviews that Sunday morning told Mother Jones that NBC and Fox were in charge of the camera and satellite truck—a common pool sharing arrangement—and that the same equipment was used for all three interviews. "So the notion that some particular earpiece was to blame is not accurate," the source said.
The Photoshop glitch
Last July, Trump tweeted a photo of himself looking stoic against a backdrop of an American flag and marching soldiers.
The tweet seemed unremarkable, until close observers noted that the soldiers used in the image were in fact dressed as Worl War II-era Waffen-SS infantry. The Trump campaign deleted the tweet and toldThe Hill that an intern was at fault.
Various other social-media glitches apparently have involved the processor between Trump's ears: He has retweeted white supremacist Twitter accounts such as @WhiteGenocideTM and @EustaceFash, which campaign spokesperson Hicks has explained by noting that Trump pays no attention to who's doing the tweeting, but only to the content.