Pentagon does not account for Billions; Congress sends more Cash

by Robert Burns

The House prepared Tuesday to send President Barack Obama $33 billion to pay for his troop surge in Afghanistan, unmoved by the leaking of tens of thousands of classified military documents that portray a war effort beset by Afghan shortcomings.

War Pigs continue financing Genocide in the Middle East

From Obama on down, the disclosure of the documents was condemned anew by administration officials and military leaders, but the material failed to stir new anti-war sentiment. The bad news for the White House: A pervasive weariness with the war was still there — and possibly growing.

At a Senate hearing on prospects for a political settlement of the Afghan conflict, there was scant mention of the leaked material, posted on the website of the whistleblower group WikiLeaks, but there were repeated expressions of frustration over the direction of the fighting.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who has questioned the realism of U.S. goals in Afghanistan though he supports the war, pointedly asked why the Taliban, with fewer resources and smaller numbers, can field fighters who are more committed to winning than are Afghan soldiers.

“What’s going on here?” Kerry asked with exasperation.

Still, the House seemed ready to vote final approval for more than $33.5 billion for the additional 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and to pay for other Pentagon operational expenses. Other non-war provisions brought the total bill to nearly $59 billion.

Republicans were strongly behind the major war spending, with opposition coming mostly from members of Obama’s own Democratic Party who argued that the money could be better spent at home. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the leaked documents revealed corruption and incompetence in the Afghanistan government.

“We’re told we can’t extend unemployment or pay to keep cops on the beat or teachers in the classroom but we’re asked to borrow another $33 billion for nation-building in Afghanistan,” McGovern said.

At the separate Senate hearing, meanwhile, Sen. Edward Kaufman, D-Del., questioned whether the U.S.-led war effort is capable of pushing the Afghan government to provide the kind of leadership that wins the confidence of the population.

“Can we carry this off?” Kaufman asked.

In his first public comments on the weekend leak of tens of thousands of documents, Obama said it could “potentially jeopardize individuals or operations” in Afghanistan. But he also said the papers did not reveal any concerns that were not already part of the war debate.

Obama said the shortcomings in Afghanistan as reflected in the leaked documents explain why, last year, he undertook an in-depth review of the war and developed a new strategy.

“We’ve substantially increased our commitment there, insisted upon greater accountability from our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan, developed a new strategy that can work and put in place a team, including one of our finest generals, to execute that plan,” Obama said. “Now we have to see that strategy through.”

The leaked documents are battlefield reports compiled by various military units in Afghanistan that provide an unflinching view of combat operations between 2004 and 2009, including U.S. displeasure over reports that Pakistan secretly aided insurgents fighting American and Afghan forces.

Even as the administration dismissed the leaked documents as outdated, U.S. military and intelligence analysts were caught up in a struggle to limit the damage contained in the once-secret files now scattered across the Internet.

In Baghdad, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters he was “appalled” by the leak, which he said had the potential of putting troops’ lives at added risk.

Officials also are concerned about the impact the disclosures could have on the military’s human intelligence network built up over the past eight years inside Afghanistan and Pakistan. The people in that network range from Afghan village elders who have worked behind the scenes with U.S. troops to militants working as double agents.

Beyond expressions of disgust at the document dump, the political fallout in Washington appeared limited.

Advocates of pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan said the leaks reinforced their argument for disengaging. War supporters said they illustrated why Obama was right to decide last December to send an additional 30,000 troops and step up pressure on the Afghan government to reform, while pressing Pakistan to go after insurgents on its side of the border.

At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley said efforts to explain to Afghanistan and other allies that the U.S. government played no role in leaking the documents seemed to have paid off.

“We’re very gratified that the response thus far internationally has been moderate, sober,” Crowley said.

In his only reference to the leak, Kerry called the new material “over-hyped,” said that it was released in violation of the law and that it largely involved raw intelligence reports from the field.

The House, meanwhile, prepared to approve legislation to pay for the extra 30,000 troops.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., said he was torn between his obligation to bring the bill to the floor and his “profound skepticism” that the money would lead to a successful conclusion of the war.

Even if there were greater confidence, he said, “it would likely take so long it will obliterate our ability to make the kinds of long-term investments in our own country that are so desperately needed.”

Compact Fluorescent Threats

Few People Know the Dirty Secret Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Keep

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
May 5, 2010

For many people, fluorescent light bulbs -those swirly compact wonders that everyone keeps pushing on you- are instruments foCFLr saving energy and money on the light bill every month. But for many users of those bulbs the results after exposing themselves to the bright light, has gone beyond what they expected. Instead of providing light to read a book or take on a chore at home, fluorescent light bulbs are the perpetrators of massive burns, irritation and skin rashes. These skin conditions have appeared after just 10 to 20-minute exposures to the bulbs’ radiation.

Besides the rashes and irritation, victims of the bulbs also blame them for headaches, lack of concentration, dizziness, and a general state of discomfort. The irritation varies in severity from person to person and it can appear in different places on the skin; from the arms to the legs, ears, neck and hands. Those who have experienced the consequences of the emissions from the bulbs concur that after they removed them from their homes, all the afflictions went away in a matter of days, or even hours.

A recent investigation carried out by a television news program called 16:9, brought out an unknown fact. The compact fluorescent bulbs emit ultraviolet radiation. That’s right, the same radiation found in solar rays. Scientists and consumer product protection agencies like Health Canada, studied the bulbs and discovered they are not sold with prismatic diffusers to filter the UV radiation that comes out of them. This is thought to be the cause of the rashes and other affections that the bulbs cause, especially on people with skin diseases.

The questions raised after realizing the bulbs give out UV radiation are how much of it do they emit, and could it be harmful enough to cause cancer? These two questions have not been answered by the agencies that are supposed to oversee consumer safety in North America, therefore there isn’t an official position. What there is, is a growing number of consumers who were mildly and severely ‘burned’ by the radiation that comes out of the bulbs. How did people come to this conclusion? Most of them had blood tests performed on them to rule out any kind of blood disease or skin condition, and in all cases the tests came out negative.

After months without any answers from the consumer protection agencies, the program 16:9 traveled to London, England, where government scientists studied the bulbs and reached the results everyone who uses the fluorescent bulbs is afraid to hear. Scientists found that from a random sample of bulbs, one of every five emitted high levels of UV radiation. The conclusion is that the mercury contained in the bulbs, which is needed for them to operate, is what creates the ultraviolet radiation blamed for the headaches, rashes and stains of people’s skin.

While fluorescent light bulbs are more and more common in every household, countries like Canada will ban the traditional incandescent ones by 2012, which will limit the options consumers have to illuminate their homes and offices. Andrew Lankfort, the head of a non-governmental consumer oriented agency in the United Kingdom, affirms that most studies have agreed that the bulbs’ radiation are the origin of blisters and irritation that people have experienced. Whether this radiation causes skin cancer or not, he says, “only time will tell”.

Despite the multiple complaints from consumers, no country has approved legislation that mandates the bulbs have a warning on their labels about the possibility of radiation originated skin conditions as well as headaches and dizziness. In the meantime, countries like Canada and the United Kingdom have made available compact fluorescent bulbs which are covered with a diffuser to limit the exposure to the UV radiation. Dermatologist Cheryl Rosen says that she recommends to her patients to reduce the distance and time of exposure to the bulbs and traditional fluorescent tubes that are used in office buildings. After being questioned by the production of the program 16:9, the three major producers of compact fluorescent bulbs -Phillips, Silvannia and General Electric- only commented that their bulbs meet industry standards and only Phillips admitted to be performing tests on the bulbs in order to determine their safety. A major concern for consumers is that there aren’t guidelines established by the governments when it comes to UV radiation safety, so even if the bulbs were harmful, the companies would not be braking any law.

But the findings reported by the program 16:9 did not end there. How about electromagnetic pollution? Yes, that is what makes the compact fluorescent bulbs even worse that previously thought. Studies by Dr. Magda Habbis a professional in electromagnetic energy, find that these bulbs emit almost ten times more electromagnetic waves than what is considered safe and normal. While and incandescent bulb shows 27 on the radio frequency meter, the compact one reaches 580. Electromagnetic pollution is that which comes from cellular phones, high tension electric wires, wireless Internet signals and other technology shown to cause electric imbalances in the human body. The high levels of electromagnetic energy emitted by the compact bulbs has earned a new name: ‘dirty energy’. One case is that of Larry Newman; Dr. Larry Newman, a neurologist at the Headache Institute of New York, who has suffered the consequences of ‘dirty energy’. Dr. Newman has seen the number of patients complaints over compact fluorescents increase alarmingly. “There is something about those bulbs that trigger my headaches,” Newman says. More and more of his patients are going back to the good old incandescent light bulbs.

Dr. Christine Lay, also a neurologist, has patients who changed all their compact fluorescent bulbs for the incandescent ones and experienced relief almost immediately. She says it will take action from consumers to obligate the makers of the bulbs investigate the consequences of continuous exposure to the bulbs and the possible links to skin conditions and even skin cancer. Kevin Burn, a former victim of the bulbs left his job and began testing his neighbors’ bulbs for electrical pollution. Mr. Burn says before changing the bulbs in his house, the pain was as bad as having arthritis. Some of his tests revealed that some bulbs emit up to 1000 volts and that energy, he says, goes right through people’s bodies. The closer one is to the bulb, the greater the exposure. Since the bulbs contain mercury, a well known neuro-toxine, those who intend to change their compact fluorescent bulbs must be careful not to break them and inhale the vapors contained in the bulb. Once taken from the sockets, they need to be taken to especial recycling facilities where proper disposal is done.

So what is a person to do if the industry bans the incandescent bulbs? There is another option in the market: LED, or Light Emitting Diods. These bulbs record safe energy emission levels and so far no complaints from users. Furthermore, they are even more efficient than the compact fluorescent bulbs.

Just as the compact bulbs, the LED ones are making a slow but sure appearance into the market, and although there are not available everywhere, it is expected consumers will bring them into the main stream just as they did with CFL’s.

Sources:

http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=26990
http://www.residentiallighting.com/Can-sitting-too-close-to-a-CFL-cause-a-rash-article10833
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_2004/2004_68-eng.php
http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/home_journal_news/4217864.html
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/cheryl-rosen/5/894/a2
http://www.healthzone.ca/health/article/575275
http://www.consumerhealth.org/articles/display.cfm?ID=19990303163909
http://www.wehealny.org/headache/staff.html
http://www.wehealny.org/headache/about.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-emitting_diode