Republican congressmen are giving credibility to Alex Jones and his conservative fringe website Infowars.com, which popularized a conspiracy theory that DHS is stockpiling ammunition for nefarious purposes. The conspiracy theory has now inspired legislation known as the AMMO Act of 2013, which seeks to limit the ammunition purchasing power of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even though the underlying theory was based on flawed math and a mischaracterization of the facts.
Right-wing media outlets are seizing on a recent study to claim that ultraviolet (UV) emissions from compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) pose a threat to human health and may even cause skin cancer. But experts agree that under normal conditions CFLs are perfectly safe, and the study's author says that there is "no link" between CFLs and cancer.
A study published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology measured the effect of CFLs at distances of 2.5, 7.5 and 35 centimeters (0.98 to 13.78 inches) away from skin cells and found that "the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation." It concluded that "it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover."
The UV risk is easily eliminated by purchasing double-envelope CFLs, using a lampshade, or staying more than a foot away from an exposed bulb.
Nevertheless, conservative media outlets have exaggerated these findings to once again portray CFL bulbs as unsafe. During a Fox & Friends news brief on the study, Gretchen Carlson reported that CFLs "could be bad for people," and Brian Kilmeade exclaimed: "Goodbye epidermis!" And a Newsmax headline declared that "Energy-Saving Light Bulbs Can Cause Skin Cancer."
But Dr. Tatsiana Mironava, co-author of the study, told Media Matters that "there is no link in scientific literature between CFL exposure and cancer." And dermatologist Dr. Howard Brooks explained that CFLs emit "such a small amount" of UV rays that they "shouldn't be a risk." Dr. Brooks said that skin damage would only be a concern after "prolonged exposure," such as sitting directly underneath a desk lamp for an extended period of time.
Right-wing media responded to the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate by attacking the president and claiming that certain questions surrounding the document remain unanswered. Below is a sampling of the early attacks by conservative media following the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate.
Fox Nation today posted an article from Alex Jones' PrisonPlanet.com website, entitled "Obama's Blocking of New Power Plants Triggers Nationwide Blackouts?"
As Kate Galbraith reported yesterday in the Texas Tribune, the rolling blackouts throughout Texas earlier this week were primarily caused by problems with the power plants from the extremely cold weather -- not a government conspiracy:
Initially, it appears, some coal plants went offline due to cold-weather problems, taking a large chunk of electricity out of the grid. Luminant, a major power-generation company, confirmed that its two coal units at the Oak Grove plant in Robertson County failed, as did two units at a coal plant in Milam County. "We are in various stages of start-up and operation for that group," Allan Koenig, a Luminant spokesman, said via e-mail. Three of these four units only began operating in the last few years; Fraser, who chairs the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, noted that they had new emissions-control technologies, and said one question was how those technologies had handled the cold.
Dave Knox, a spokesman for NRG, another power company, said that a cold-weather problem also caused a shut-down of its Limestone coal plant near Jewitt, Texas. The problem occurred yesterday, albeit after the early-morning crisis, and the plant returned to operating early this morning.
Natural gas plants were hastily turned on to make up for the coal-plant failures. But, Fraser said, some power cuts affected some stations for compressing natural gas -- so without power they couldn't pump gas, causing some gas power plants to go offline. In addition, rules regarding "curtailment" of natural gas -- who gets first dibs on gas when gas supplies are tight -- were last revised in 1972, Fraser said, leaving some power plants at risk of losing out on supplies.
Fox Nation is just the latest Fox entity to mainstream Jones. Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano previously revealed himself as a 9-11 Truther on Alex Jones' radio show in November 2010. Napolitano has long been friendly with Alex Jones during his employment with Fox. Alex Jones himself is best known for his wild conspiracy theories, and was cited as an inspiration by alleged would-be assassin Byron Williams last year.