Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem
By ELIZABETH WOLFE, Associated Press Writer, November 23, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Curtis Sathre said it was like a bomb going off. His 13-year-old son Michael stood stunned, ears ringing, hand gushing blood after his cell phone exploded. Safety officials have received 83 reports of cell phones exploding or catching fire in the past two years, usually because of bad batteries or chargers.
Burns to the face, neck, leg and hip are among the dozens of injury reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received. The agency is providing tips for cell phone users to avoid such accidents and has stepped up oversight of the wireless industry. There have been three voluntary battery recalls, and the CPSC is working with companies to create better battery standards.
"CPSC is receiving more and more reports of incidents involving cell phones, and we're very concerned of the potential for more serious injuries or more fires," said agency spokesman Scott Wolfson.
U.S. phone makers and carriers say most fires and explosions are caused by counterfeit batteries and note that in a country with some 170 million cell phone users, the number of accidents is extremely low.
"Is it a problem? It has turned up, you bet. But statistically it is extraordinarily rare," said John Walls, spokesman for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. "But the fact that it has happened certainly has the industry's attention."
Some consumer advocates say the cause goes beyond bad batteries making their way to the market. They point to the increasing pressure on battery and phone makers to fit more capabilities into small instruments.
"If you're cramming more and more power in a small space, what you're making is a small bomb," said Carl Hilliard, president of the California-based Wireless Consumers Alliance, which has been tracking incidents of cell phone fires and explosions.
Though legitimate batteries can go wrong, there is a greater chance that poorly made, counterfeit ones will lack safety devices to detect overheating or overcharging. The lithium-ion batteries found in most cell phones can overheat if, for example, heat vents are covered.
The CPSC is trying to determine if improved venting is enough by itself to ensure safety. "We have seen temperatures as high as 600 degrees, and you can have a torch-like effect if these batteries don't function properly," Wolfson said.
The commission has announced three battery recalls since January, one from Verizon Wireless and two from Kyocera Wireless Corp. Kyocera's first recall was blamed on a supplier whose standards had slipped. The other recalls were attributed to suppliers bringing counterfeits into distribution chains.
Kyocera, which recalled 1 million batteries last month, said it has changed vendors and doubled efforts to test its own batteries.
Hoping to address problems that may lie beyond their supply lines, members of the wireless industry began collaborating last week with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a standard-setting organization, to create voluntary design and performance standards for all batteries.
"There needs to be high-quality batteries for these cell phones. You have a lot of power in a very small product, so it's really key," said Wolfson of the CPSC, which is participating in the meetings between wireless industry members and IEEE.
Carriers and manufacturers also are urging cellular users to exercise reasonable care of batteries, chargers and phones and to purchase them directly from phone companies rather than secondhand dealers or off the Internet.
But even following those recommendations sometimes isn't enough, as bad products inevitably find their way onto store shelves.
Angela Karasek, a 21-year-old paralegal in Philadelphia, bought her Motorola phone and battery together from a Nextel store. She awoke one night a few weeks ago to what she described as a pinging sound and then saw fire. Her cell phone battery had blown out, igniting a doll about three feet away. She ran to her parents' room for help, and her father quickly put out the fire.
"I'm just a light sleeper, and for some reason I sat up and saw all the flames on the doll," Karasek said.
Marcelino Gonzalez of Brentwood, N.Y., said he suffered second-degree burns after his Kyocera phone exploded in his hand as he turned it on to make a call.
"If it was to my face it would have blown up in my face," said Gonzalez, 62, who has contacted a lawyer.
Michael Sathre, who is expected to fully recover from his wounds, was picking his fully charged Verizon LG cell phone off the floor when it exploded by his side. The family chose not to sue and has instead allowed the companies involved and a consumer group to come to their house to study the damage, in the hopes it won't happen to someone else.
"It took my son two months to decide to even be near a cell phone," said his mother, Cris. "But he needs one."
2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Woman convicted of killing 3 kids after custody battle
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, USA, August 26, 2008
HELSINKI, Finland - A court in Finland has convicted a woman of murdering her three young children and has given her a life sentence.
The Espoo District Court says Thai-born Yu-Hsiu Fu was found guilty of strangling her 8-year-old twin daughters and 1-year-old son in her home.
She tried to kill herself afterward.
The verdict on Tuesday says the 41-year-old woman was found to be of sound mind at the time of the murders.
Court papers show the murders were preceded by a bitter custody battle with her Finnish husband who was living separately from her at the time of the murders.
A life sentence in Finland mean convicts usually serve at least 11 years in prison.
ST. STEPHEN, N.B. - A New Brunswick judge says a woman who burned and dismembered her newborn son is criminally responsible for her actions.
Becky Sue Morrow earlier pleaded guilty to offering an indignity to a dead body and disposing of a newborn with the intent of concealing a delivery.
Judge David Walker ruled Friday that the 27-year-old woman may have been suffering from a mental disorder when she delivered the baby but that that was not the case when the baby's body was burned and its remains hidden.
It is not known if the baby was alive at the time of birth.
At a hearing last month, the court heard contrasting reports from the two psychiatrists. One said Ms. Morrow was in a "disassociated" mental state when the crime occurred. The other said she clearly planned her actions and understood the consequences.
Wednesday, May. 22, 2002
KINGSTON, Ont. (CP) -- An Ontario woman who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in one of Canada's stiffest penalties for child abuse will be released on full parole after serving less than half her term.
Lorelei Turner, 38, and her husband Steven were convicted of manslaughter in July 1995 for beating and starving their three-year-old son John to death in a case that horrified Canadians who followed the trial.
But on Wednesday, a panel of the National Parole Board in this eastern Ontario city ruled Turner will be released but placed on probation until July 2011.
Until then, she must remain within 25 kilometres of her residence, is not allowed unsupervised contact with anyone under 16, and must continue to receive counselling.
"The board would have looked at the risk and obviously found a low risk to reoffend," Carol Sparling of the National Parole Board said Wednesday.
Mainichi Daily News, Sakai, Osaka, Japan, November 26, 2006
SAKAI, Osaka -- A woman accused of cutting off her newborn son's private parts in 2004 was ordered Monday to spend five years behind bars.
The Sakai branch of the Osaka District Court convicted Shizue Tamura, 27, a resident of Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, of inflicting bodily injury.
"The way she committed the crime was unprecedented, inhumane and cruel," Presiding Judge Masahiro Hosoi said as he handed down the ruling. Prosecutors had demanded an eight-year prison term. Read More ..
by Dr. Hazel McBride Ph.D. June 9-10, 1995
Violence and Abuse within the Family: The Neglected Issues
A public hearing sponsored by The Honourable Senator Anne C. Cools on June 9-10, 1995 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Transcript of Dr. Hazel McBride's presentation on the relationship between family conflict and suicide rates among men. Read More ..
This overview paper summarizes recent research on girls who exhibit aggressive and violent behaviours. It defines relevant terms, outlines factors which may contribute to girls' aggression and violence, and presents ideas for preventing these behaviours. A list of resources is also included. 2002, 13p. Read More ..
Boys have been painted as the bad guys in the push to encourage girls to succeed, leaving many young men feeling confused and alienated, wondering what they did wrong
The Associated Press
January 5, 1999
According to psychologist and author William Pollack, 'sports are the one arena in which many of society's traditional strictures about masculinity are often loosened, allowing boys to experience parts of themselves they rarely experience elsewhere.'
When Harvard Medical School psychologist William Pollack administered a test to a group of 150 teenaged boys a few years ago, the results were shocking. Read More ..