Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chernobyl fire radiation hazard as 'hot particles' of plutonium go up in smoke

As can be seen in this forest fire in the US, smoke and ash can be projected high into the sky by the intense heat. Photo: USFS Region 5 via Flickr (CC BY).
As can be seen in this forest fire in the US, smoke and ash can be projected high into the sky by the intense heat. Photo: USFS Region 5 via Flickr (CC BY).
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Chernobyl fire radiation hazard as 'hot particles' of plutonium go up in smoke

RT & The Ecologist
30th April 2015

Forest fires raging near the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in north Ukraine are releasing a surge of airborne plutonium particles as radioactive twigs, branches and leaf litter burn.

The dominance of plutonium in the smoke is especially worrying since it is hard to detect using Geiger counters owing the very short range of the alpha radiation it emits. Yet even small particles embedded in lung tissue can cause cancer.
The Ukrainian National Guard has been put on high alert due to worsening forest fires around the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant, according to Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.
"The forest fire situation around the Chernobyl power plant has escalated", a statement on Avakov's Facebook page says.

"The forest fire is heading in the direction of Chernobyl's installations. Treetop flames and strong gusts of wind have created a real danger of the fire spreading to an area within 20 kilometers of the power plant. There are about 400 hectares [988 acres] of forests in the endangered area."

He added that there was "reasonable suspicion of intentional arson" since fires had been ignited on both sides of the river.

Police and National Guard units are on high alert. Ukraine's Prime Minister personally went to the affected area to oversee the firefighting. He says the situation is under control, "but this is the biggest fire since 1992."

However, in comments to Russia's Moscow Speaks radio, a representative of Greenpeace Russia said that the situation is much worse:

"A very large, catastrophic forest fire is taking place in a 30-km zone around the Chernobyl power plant. We estimate the real area of the fire to be 10,000 hectares; this is based on satellite images. This hasn't been officially acknowledged yet."

Serious radiation risk from re-suspended 'hot particles'

The potential danger in this fire comes from the radioactive contaminants the burning plants have absorbed, Christopher Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, told RT.

"Some of the materials that were contaminating that area would have been incorporated into the woods. In other words, they land on the ground in 1986 and they get absorbed into the trees and all the biosphere.

"And when it burns, they just become re-suspended. It's like Chernobyl all over again. All of that material that fell on the ground will now be burned up into the air and will become available for people to breathe.

"Internal radiation from inhalation is very much more dangerous than the background radiation that comes off the ground", added Dr Busby. "People should stay inside. It's extremely serious. They should not go outside and breathe the air.

"This stuff will remain airborne and there will be radioactive particles that can be inhaled. These particles can travel for great distances - its a serious matter if these particles become volatilised in the intense heat that these fires produce. It is quite a serious health hazard."

Huge accumulation of plutonium in radioactive forest litter

Adding to the ferocity of both the fire and the radiation is the fact that the normal decomposing operation of fungi, bacteria and insects in the forests near Chernobyl has been inhibited by radiation, leading to a large accumulation of flammable and radioactive leaf litter, dead trees and branches and other forest debris.

According to a 2014 study published in Oecologia, decomposers - organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay - have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil.

"The gist of our results was that the radiation inhibited microbial decomposition of the leaf litter on the top layer of the soil", said Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and lead author of the study.

A further 2006 study in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity reported the results of small controlled fires, stating that "an increase of several orders of magnitude of the airborne radionuclide concentration was observed in the territory near the fire area ...

"The additional inhalation dose for firemen exposed in the affected area can reach the level of the additional external irradiation in the period of their mission. The plutonium nuclides constitute the dominating contribution to the inhalation dose."

The dominance of plutonium in the smoke is especially worrying since it is hard to detect using normal radiation detection systems such as Geiger counters owing the very short range of the alpha radiation emitted by the main isotope found in used nuclear fuel, 239Pu.

239Pu is especially dangerous when inhaled and even small particles of the isotope embedded in lung tissue can cause cancer. But firemen and others using Geiger counters to assess their safety under exposure to the ash would be lulled into a false sense of security - only to suffer the consequences in years to come.

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind

Ecologist Dmitry Shevchenko from the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus says it is difficult to predict where exactly the contaminants will go:

 "We don't have a real-time monitoring system for the Chernobyl area. We can hypothesize whether the radionuclides will go here or there, but there is no-one who can reliably predict the situation."
Ukrainian emergency services say 182 people and 34 vehicles have been dispatched to fight the fire. A Mi-8 helicopter and three An-32 water dropping airplanes are also working at the scene. The efforts are being coordinated from a mobile emergency headquarters.

According to the head of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone management department, radiation levels in the area remain normal. "The area on fire is relatively clean," Vasily Zolotoverkh told the newspaper

He said the fire started at lunchtime, when emergency workers had finished putting out an earlier blaze which started during the night. The emergency services have stated that it could have been caused by a lit cigarette.

Ukraine's acting head of emergency services said earlier the forest fires were not a threat to the sarcophagus sealing off Chernobyl's crippled Reactor 4.

Chernobyl and the surrounding area have been abandoned and remain off-limits following the April 1986 disaster, when an explosion and fire released massive amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. Increased radiation levels were detected throughout Europe.

Chernobyl became the worst nuclear disaster in world history in terms of casualties and clean-up costs. Reactor 4, where the blast took place, was sealed off in a giant reinforced concrete sarcophagus to prevent further leaks.

Reza Aslan Hypes 'Islamophobia'

Campus Watch

Reza Aslan Hypes 'Islamophobia'

by Cinnamon Stillwell
Jihad Watch
April 29, 2015
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Reza Aslan
At an April 13 lecture at the University of California, Riverside, UCR creative writing professor and self-styled expert on Islam and the Middle East Reza Aslan employed biased sources, isolated statistics, and ad hominem attacks to blame critics of radical Islam for the alleged rise in "Islamophobia" in post-9/11 America.
"Islamophobia: The Real Enemy" was delivered before a student-dominated audience of some three hundred who laughed heartily at Aslan's fashionably anti-American jokes, clearly responding to his personable, hip demeanor. Dressed casually in jeans, no tie, and an untucked shirt, he was, effectively, one of them.
Aslan explained that, "as a Middle Easterner, as a Muslim" Islamophobia was "a personal issue" that had been "brought home on a personal level." The child of Iranian immigrants who came to California in the early 1980s at the height of the hostage crisis—or, as Aslan put it, "an era in which Iran, the Middle East, and Muslims were being demonized"—he described how "tough" it was to be "Iranian/Muslim." Consequently, he tried to "separate himself from his heritage, culture, [and] religion," by "pretending to be a Mexican," which, he joked, "tells you how little I understood America . . . they don't like Mexicans, either." The audience responded with knowing laughter.
Praising America as "a unique . . . country of immigrants" united by "adherence to a set of values," Aslan claimed this unity is tested "in times of societal stress," particularly after 9/11, when, he alleged, there was an "unprecedented surge of Islamophobia" and "every passing year, the numbers" got "higher and higher." Citing alarming figures depicting a country awash in "mosque burnings" and anti-Muslim violence, he alluded to FBI statistics without acknowledging that, in 2013, sixty percent of religiously motivated hate crimes targeted Jews, while only eleven percent were directed at Muslims.
The visual aids projected onto the large screen behind him revealed the bias of at least one of his sources. Relying primarily upon the left-wing Center for American Progress (CAP)'s inaccurate 2011 report, "Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America," Aslan sought to blame the supposed rise in "Islamophobia" on:
[A] well-planned, well-executed deliberate attempt to turn Muslims into an internal enemy by a very small cabal of individuals and organizations that have been funded to the tune of nearly 46 million dollars.
CAP's report explained, Alsan noted, why "after 9/11, there was a rallying around Muslims," but "the further away we got from 9/11, the higher the anti-Muslim sentiment" grew. He contended that it was "not a naturally evolving process" based on Americans' reaction to real world events, but the work of handful of "misinformation experts," "pseudo-scholars," and "hate groups." He bemoaned that their "reports are cited" by the media, politicians, and the "average American" as "actual studies," even as he quoted the vacuous CAP report to a university audience.
One of the report's targets, Middle East Forum president Daniel Pipes—whom Aslan dubbed, "the intellectual Islamophobe"—has pointed out that, in addition to CAP's "predictable leftist-Islamist alarmism about those of us trying to warn the world of lawful Islamism," its financial allegations are faulty, it has "a budget many times larger than all of the organizations it attacks," and "its secret Business Alliance has a host of corporate donors." Presumably, Aslan did no research into the four-year-old CAP report, nor into its second, equally tendentious iteration, before largely basing his lecture on its findings.
Rather than rigorous critique, Aslan insulted those named in the report (Islam scholar Robert Spencer is a "moron," blogger and activist Pamela Geller is the "screeching queen of Islamophobia"), took quotes out of context, and belittled such dissidents from the Muslim world as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Brigitte Gabriel. Referring to the anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism of 1920s America, Aslan made an asinine comparison to two anti-Semitic figures of that period, Fr. Charles Coughlin and Henry Ford:
The Charles Coughlins of today never tire of preaching about the Judeo-Christian values upon which this country was founded. . . . A generation from now, they will look back at this time the same way people look at the 20s—with disgust. They will be as disgusted with Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer as Coughlin and Ford.
He then asked the audience:
What kind of America do you want to live in? The divisive America that the anti-Muslim ideologues preach or the one that finds unity in diversity and celebrates differences?
Aslan never defined "Islamophobia" beyond calling it "bigotry towards Muslims." Avoiding reference to the authoritarianism, sectarian conflict, misogyny, persecution of religious minorities, and other human rights abuses emanating from the Muslim world, he provided no context for this purported fear. As for Islamic terrorism, he blithely declared, "None of you are going to die by a terrorist; you have more to fear from a Lazy Boy [recliner].
To the obvious fact that it's erroneous to accuse "anyone who criticizes Islam of being Islamophobic," Aslan responded in typical profanity-laden style: "That's bulls**t!" Asserting that criticizing Islam is tantamount to attacking all Muslims, he added, "If it involves an entire group of people, you're a bigot." He eventually chalked up such prejudice to a "problem with America . . . a crisis of identity," concluding, "The problem isn't with Islam, it's not with Muslims."
By peddling this view to a broad audience, Aslan inoculates radical Islam from criticism. He claimed that, "Ninety percent of my efforts now are in the fields of film, pop culture, [and] fiction" and that, "the reason I teach creative writing . . . is that nothing I do will have as much influence as a sitcom." Referencing the influence of the television show "Will & Grace" on Americans' views of homosexuality, Aslan observed, correctly, that popular culture has the power to change the public's beliefs on core issues.
No doubt, Aslan will continue lecturing receptive young audiences on the perils of "Islamophobia," and he won't be alone. The 2015 annual conference of the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project at the University of California, Berkeley focused on developing a field of "Islamophobia studies." The subject is all the rage in Middle East studies and throughout academe, which is doing its utmost to distract attention from the backdrop of supremacism, dysfunction, and bellicosity in the region. Americans should beware the protestations of Alsan and his fellow travelers, for they intend not to educate, but to mislead.
Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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Britain's Labour Party Vows to Ban Islamophobia

Gatestone Institute
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Britain's Labour Party Vows to Ban Islamophobia
Islam, Muslims and the British Elections

by Soeren Kern  •  April 30, 2015 at 5:00 am
  • "In Miliband's Britain, it will become impossible to criticise any aspect of Islamic culture, whether it be the spread of the burka or the establishment of Sharia courts or the construction of colossal new mosques. ... If he wins, Miliband will ensure that the accelerating Islamification of our country will go unchallenged." — Leo McKinstry, British commentator.
  • The report shows that Britain's Muslim population is overwhelmingly young and will exert increasing political influence as time goes on. The median age of the Muslim population in Britain is 25 years, compared to the overall population's median age of 40 years.
Despite several grassroots campaigns to encourage British Muslims to vote in greater numbers, some prominent Islamists in the UK claim that voting is a "sin."
The leader of Britain's Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has vowed, if he becomes the next prime minister in general elections on May 7, to outlaw "Islamophobia."
The move — which one observer has called "utterly frightening" because of its implications for free speech in Britain — is part of an effort by Miliband to pander to Muslim voters in a race that he has described as "the tightest general election for a generation."
With the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour running neck and neck in the polls just days before voters cast their ballots, British Muslims — who voted overwhelmingly for Labour in the 2010 general election — could indeed determine who will be the next prime minister.
In an interview with The Muslim News, Miliband said:
"We are going to make it [Islamophobia] an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people's records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime.

How Non-Muslims "Survive" in Turkey

by Burak Bekdil  •  April 30, 2015 at 4:00 am
  • A non-Muslim can rise and become a darling of today's neo-Ottoman Turks. He can win hearts and minds in important offices in Ankara -- and a bright career. But to maintain his fortunes, he must remain loyal to the official Islamist line, both in deed and rhetoric.
  • That is the kind of collective psychology into which Turkey's ruling Islamists force non-Muslims: either become a collaborator or...
Prominent non-Muslims in Turkey, then and now. Left, an Ottoman Janissary officer, who was taken as a child from a non-Muslim minority community. Right, the Armenian Christian intellectual Etyen Mahcupyan, who "retired" from his position as advisor to Turkey's Prime Minister after he angered Turkey's ruling Islamists by saying "what happened to Armenians in 1915" was "genocide".
Last October, Etyen Mahcupyan, a leading Turkish Armenian intellectual, "liberal" writer and columnist, was appointed as "chief advisor" to Turkey's Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. At first glance, this was good news in a country where Islamists privately adhere to the old Ottoman "millet" system, in which non-Muslims were treated as second-class (if not third-class) citizens.
In reality, Mahcupyan was a reincarnation of the Ottoman "devshirme" system, in which the Ottoman state machinery produced several non-Muslim converts who enjoyed a place in the higher echelons of the palace bureaucracy, and the finer things of life, because their pragmatism earned them excellent relations with the ruling Muslim elite.

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Britain's Muslims Poised to Be Swing Vote in UK Elections
issue 169
Britain's Muslims Poised to Be Swing Vote in UK Elections
British Muslims — who voted overwhelmingly for Labour in the 2010 general election — could determine who will be the next prime minister. More
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, backed Turkey's refusal to acknowledge the killing of 1.5 million Armenians.
Muslim Brotherhood Leader Denies Armenian Genocide

ISIS supporters have been tweeting pictures claiming to be from inside Italy. Conquering Rome remains one of the Islamic State's strategic goals.
Islamic State Fighters Claim to be on Streets of Rome

A freedom of speech award to be given to the French satirical magazine that was attacked by Islamists is being protested by famous writers.
Rushie Rebukes Writers Protesting Charlie Hebdo Award

The UK general election is fast approaching. Here is Clarion Project's breakdown of where the various parties stand on Islamic extremism.
UK Elections: Where The Parties Stand on Islamic Extremism
Iranian General: US Carried Out 9/11 To Stop Muslim Unity
Brigadier-General Ahad Reza Pourdestan is the commander of Iran's ground forces. In this interview with Iranian TV he threatens strikes on Saudi Arabia and accuses the US of masterminding the 9/11 terrorist attacks in order to prevent Sunnis and Shiites from becoming unified under the banner of the Iranian Islamic revolution.
Bush on Iran: You think the Middle East is chaotic now?
"You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the [Iran] deal.  
- George W. Bush
Former President of the United States
The Burning Tigris
By Peter Balakian
In this national bestseller, critically acclaimed author Peter Balakian brings to the reader a riveting narrative of the massacres of the Armenians in the 1890s and during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Using rarely seen archival documents and remarkable first-person accounts, Balakian presents the chilling history of how the Turkish government implemented the first modern genocide behind the cover of World War I. In the telling, he resurrects an extraordinary lost chapter of American history.
The Clarion Project is a registered 501(c)(3). Donations are tax-deductible.

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