Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wake Up America!

Doubt you will see this reported in your newspapers etc. It would be embarrassing to Obama who has been courting Syria thinking soothing words and re-establishing our Embassy would turn Assad into a pussy cat.

Obama remains a dangerous dreamer and/or a blind idiot. He is confused and his sympathies misplaced. If purposeful then that is even worse so, out of kindness, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

Wake up America, open your eyes and quit trying to deny the obvious.

Also an entire generation have been schooled in contempt for our nation by elitists on American campuses. They associate with Obama, they think and breath like him.
They have intellectual cataracts when it comes to viewing our nation.

But then you decide. (See 1, 1a and 1b below.)
Hill writes stay focused on the messiah! (See 2 below.)
Shrillness always seems to dictate. Resists the nuclear naysayers who have been given their moment of triumphal glory.

Life is a series of the assumption of calculated risks. This is why before passing judgement it is wise to seek advice from the best minds, calm down and think rationally. (See 3 below.)
1)Israeli navy intercepts vessel carrying arms delivered by Iranian warships

Israeli Navy's elite Shayetet 13 commandos intercepted the German-owned A.S. Victoria Tuesday, March 15 about 320 kilometers off Israel's Mediterranean coast on its way from the Turkish port of Mercin to Egyptian El Arish with Alexandria its final destination.

The Liberian-flagged vessel was carrying a large consignment of weapons including C-704 shore-to-ship missiles with a range of 35 kilometers and heavy mortars shells bound for the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip. debkafile reports the consignment was picked up at the Syrian port of Latakia after being offloaded there by the two Iranian warships which transited the Suez Canal February 22.

The ship's documents and crew showed the vessel had departed from Latakia Port in Syria before proceeding to Mercin Port in Turkey. At least three crates of weapons were uncovered on board. Hundreds of others will be inspected when the ship reaches Israeli port. The crew did not resist the Israeli naval commandoes who boarded the vessel.

The US and Israeli navies did not stop the Iranian Alvand missile destroyer and Kharg logistical cruiser when they applied to transit the canal last month, asserting that they could not be stopped as they were not carrying contraband weapons. Egyptian Suez Canal officials made the same determination after reporting they had been inspected. Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the voyage was no more harmful than a "cadets' outing.The Iranian warships were carrying missiles
It now turns out that the clean bill of health they all gave the Iranian warships was not based on fact.

At the same time, military sources report that from the time that the Iranian navy ships entered the Mediterranean, US and Israeli warships and spy planes kept their movements under close surveillance: Around Feb. 25-26, the Kharg was seen offloading a large batch of containers at Syrian Navy ordnance depots in Latakia port.

In the second half of last week, the German A.S Victoria docked there and was seen loading the containers delivered by the Iranian warships at Latakia.

It now appears that the ship was instructed to detour to the Turkish port and wait there for a couple of days to disguise its real destination.

But after learning that the arms were bound for El Arish, in northern Sinai, Israel decided to apprehend the cargo before it could be delivered, whether to Hamas in Gaza or radical Egyptian Muslims, which Iran has been backing and funding.

Hamas would have arranged to have had it picked up at Al Arish and spirited into the Gaza through its smuggling tunnels. But it is possible too that Iran, while originally planning to consign the weapons to the Palestinian extremists in Gaza, changed their destination later to Egypt.

Much about this episode is still obscure, except for the clear evidence of military intelligence cooperation between Tehran, Damascus, Ankara, Hizballah and Hamas in the smuggling of Iranian weapons to radical groups in the region.
Cairo may have something to say about the seizure in international waters of a ship bound for Egyptian waters, albeit one surreptitiously carrying arms. Ankara, too, will not enjoy the exposure of Mercin, a port under the close supervision of the Turkish Navy, as a hub for the illegal transfer of Iranian war materials to the Palestinian Hamas and anti-government forces fighting Arab regimes.

Intelligence sources report that several boats loaded with arms for the Libyan rebels sailed out of Mercin in the last few days. They were bound for the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

It was decided in Jerusalem that whatever the destination of the Iranian weapons cargo may be, severing this link in Iran's new weapons smuggling route was absolutely essential

1a)Obama's First Two Years a Disaster for America
By Chad Stafko

Recall the euphoria that surrounded Barack Obama during the 2008 election season and after he was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. Life was going to be blue skies and rainbows, or at least we were told, with hope and change on the way. The American people would be better off and so would our nation with Obama in control. After a little more than two years as the President, those blue skies have turned gray with not the slightest hint of a rainbow.

Some professed that with Barack Obama as President, the staples of life would become affordable if not altogether free. Surely you remember Peggy Joseph who said, at a Barack Obama campaign event in August 2008, that she would not have to worry about paying for her gas and mortgage. Consider what has happened to those staples of life during the Obama presidency.

As of March 14, the average price of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.57/gallon. When Obama took office in January 2009, the price was $1.81/gallon. That represents more than a 90% increase in just over two years.

To put that in perspective, assume you have a 40 mile round trip commute to work, your car gets 20 miles per gallon and that prices remain the same going forward. Relative to January 2009, you are paying about $18 more per week and about $72 more per month at the pump.

The pertinent question we might ask is, "What has President Obama done in the past two years to limit the rise of oil and gasoline prices, if anything?" The answer is...nothing. If anything, his policies have contributed towards rising prices. Recall the moratorium he enacted on oil drilling following the BP oil spill that further limited the supply of the commodity from our own waters. His failure to support drilling in ANWR and his overt allegiance to the anti-drilling environmental fringe has also directly contributed to less supply of oil and therefore higher oil prices.

Ms. Joseph also looked forward to Obama paying her mortgage. Well, many Americans don't have to worry about a mortgage anymore, as they've had their houses foreclosed. In 2009, a record 2,824,674 foreclosures took place, while 2,872,892 foreclosures occurred in 2010. In other words, 5.7 million families have lost their homes, but at least they're not up all night wondering how they will pay their mortgage.

It just wasn't supposed to be this way, at least in the eyes of the 53% of voters who cast their ballot for Barack Obama. After all, President Obama's policies were going to reignite the economy and keep the unemployment rate below 8% at least that is what we were told, thereby making those aforementioned mortgages affordable. The opposite has occurred.

In December 2008, President Bush's final full month in office, the nation's unemployment rate stood at 7.3%. From that point until December 2010, a period in which Obama benefited from accommodative Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the unemployment rate rose to 10.1% at one time and remained at or above 9.5% from July 2009 until November 2010.

This resulted despite unprecedented government spending labeled as "economic stimulus."

What happened? Instead of a surge in America's economic growth, we've seen a surge in America's deficit. Under the direction of President Obama, the United States has seen its deficit increase by more than $3 trillion or by nearly $10,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.

Then there was the promise of "When there's a bill that ends up on my desk, as President, you, the public, will have five days to look online to find out what's in it before I sign it...." Again, the reality has been the complete opposite.

Rewind to March 2010, when then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in reference to the ObamaCare bill, said, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Really? I thought that 2,700 page bill would be posted on the Internet for all to view for five days. Instead, it was rushed through and pushed down our throats, despite most Americans not in favor of it. Again, Obama failed to deliver, as he has time after time.

We are now just after the halfway point of the Obama presidency. Based on the facts, we are no better off as a nation than we were when Obama took office. The average American citizen has failed to see an improvement in his or her lifestyle versus two years ago. This is a presidency, up to this point, that has been an absolute disaster for our nation and our people.

Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest. He can be reached at

1b)Can Niall Ferguson Save Civilization?
By Bernie Reeves

Harvard professor Niall Ferguson first gained mainstream notice for his 2003 book Empire: How Britain Made The Modern World that dared to present a fair-minded appraisal of imperialism, virtually an act of treason to the curia of radical scholars who view the age of empire as a one-sided matter. To them, the colonial powers were evil, malicious exploiters of indigenous peoples held captive by European plutocrats motivated by greed, plunder and glory. The other side of the equation has been ignored for over a generation.

This view suited the radical creed disseminated by the Soviets during the Cold War, who pounded out propaganda emphasizing that the workers paradise mandated constant struggle against "imperialists." Perhaps this was a cogent point during World War 1, when the Bolsheviks took control of Russia and pulled out of the conflict between colonial powers engaged in a ludicrous blood-letting generated by territorial jealousies. But the epithet continued to be used as a bludgeon by KGB "active measures" propaganda against the "main adversary", the United States. Beginning in the 1930s and through World War 2 when the USSR was our ally, the depiction of the US as an imperialist power picked up in earnest from the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, into the Vietnam War from the early 1960s to 1975. Not until the disintegration of the USSR did the accusation abate.

Americans had no reason to think of themselves as imperialists. After all, the United States was created in revolution against an imperial power, and ever since has reached out to nations and peoples who desired freedom from oppressors. Yet the post-World War 2 generation came to believe they were imperialists listening to student radicals singing from the Soviet propaganda hymn book in the 1960s. Vietnam was a war of imperialism shouted the placards unfurled in anti-war rallies, adjacent to "Hell no, we won't go" and "Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" -- an ironic attack by the Left on the most potent liberal to hold the presidency to that time.

By the early 1980s, the campus radicals had risen to positions of power as tenured professors and department heads. Like a sleeper cell, they waited for their moment and seized it. The liberal arts were the main target: history, languages, English, anthropology, classical studies, political science, psychology were stripped of the accumulation of knowledge from the beginnings of western civilization in ancient Greece. This treason against western culture required smashing historically accepted definitions to create a new pedagogical omelet focused on race, gender and sensitivity to other cultures. And right on cue appeared the accompanying chant: "Hi-ho, hi-ho Western Civ has to go".

Since the new radical doctrine was incubated in socialist realism, the first objective was to manufacture equality via a perverse affirmative action initiative by elevating underdeveloped nations to equal status with the world's greatest cultures. It was sold as "multiculturalism," and, consistent with leftist screeds, hid behind the skirts of a noble outcome -- "inclusiveness" -- i.e. it is good to study and respect all cultures rather than emphasis on the big achievers.

In this disguise, the real dirty work was undertaken: dismantling and de-emphasizing the achievements of the western world by dramatizing its sins in order to "apologize' to the victims of imperialist exploitation and racism. To enforce the new credo on campus, the "politically correct" police attacked and discredited those that dared defy the party line, labeling offenders as racist, chauvinistic, homophobic ,or, of course, imperialistic. In the cloister of academic freedom, free speech was extinguished.

In situations requiring attention the radicals cannot side-step, such as World War 11, events are twisted against the West, for example staining the US/Allied victory in the Pacific Theatre with shame for dropping nuclear bombs on Japan. This subterfuge is a favorite propaganda campaign of the National Endowment for the Humanities, just one example of the spread of the radical re-interpretation of history that has seeped out into government agencies, public schools and the media.

Just as model farms and bear hugs concealed KGB thugs rounding up and executing millions of innocent Russians, the façade of multiculturalism served as cover for the murder of western culture. The dirty deed is done, despite Niall Ferguson's efforts, the latest being a British-produced television series Civilization: The West And The Rest. Scots-Brit Ferguson compares his series to the famous Civilization program on BBC aired on PBS stations in the 1970s. Hosted by aristocrat Kenneth Clark, the program defined western culture, and obviously made a big impression on Ferguson . As well it should have, although after what has happened to Western civilization since makes Clark's program a quaint anachronism.

The key question is: will Ferguson in his TV series lay the blame for the dismantling of Western civilization where it belongs? Squarely on the Soviets and KGB "active measures" -- and their co-conspirators, the Left in the US and other Western nations, who carried the attack into academia and continue their dirty work well past the collapse of the USSR? Check up on what Bill Ayers is up to and you will get the picture. The West has been infiltrated and defeated right under our noses.

But it is too late to put the post-modern multicultural genie back in the bottle. After 40 years of warfare against their own society by radical scholars, college graduates since the mid-80s are hopelessly clueless when it comes to comprehending current events. Famous figures who shaped the modern world have been excised from the "new history" curriculum now masquerading as scholarship, banished for living in an era considered racist and imperialistic.

No longer "proud to be an American", younger generations have been deprived of their cultural self-esteem and see themselves as the cause of society's and the world's problems. Fighting to keep the world free, achieving magnificent technological advances, creating literature, music and a workable government are dismissed as the blood-stained handiwork of white male chauvinist, racist imperialists. Even global warming is the fault of our forbears. No wonder adolescent suicide is on the rise.

Not only has history been "airbrushed" with Stalinist precision by the radical scholars, it hardly exists anymore in the minds of the under-50 age group. Current events to them rise up out of the ether since they have no information or skills to frame or interpret, even as the information society serves up instantly accessible information. But most tragically, we have lost our self-esteem as a culture after 40 years of incessant attacks on our Western inheritance. Civilized mankind as we knew it is now the object of sneers and ridicule caused by the enemy among us, "useful idiots" on campus who purloined our pride in achievement in the name of class warfare and a corrupt doctrine that eventually imploded.

I fear it is too late for all good men like Niall Ferguson to come to the aid of their culture.

Bernie Reeves is editor and publisher of Raleigh Metro Magazine and Founder of the Raleigh Spy Conference.
2)2012 will be about Obama
By David Hill

The greatest political deception of the month must be that PowerPoint presentation — the 10-slide deck that shows the president matched against various Republicans — that is being trundled around the country for showings to audiences of Democrat fat-cats. Naturally, I haven’t been invited to view it, but I am betting that the data shared with big donors does not show the “deserves reelection” percentage earned by the president. That would scare off the faint-hearted. So, instead, the deceivers show the head-to-head results of Obama versus Michele Bachmann. I can’t believe sophisticated contributors are falling for this.

Not only is this “data-based” sleight of hand misleading about the president’s empirical prospects — the larger strategic premise is flawed. Advisers to the president’s nascent reelection campaign keep talking about where they are today versus four years ago. Worse off, they acknowledge. But then they start criticizing the Republicans for not being where the Democrats were four years ago. It’s as if they think they (and even Republicans) are going to succeed by going back to the future.

All this logic is terribly flawed. Here’s why. The contest four years ago was for an open seat. Open-seat races are about all comers and both parties. The 2012 election will be a reelection contest. It will focus narrowly on the incumbent. Has Barack Obama handled the presidency well enough to deserve reelection? Virtually all incumbents, and even a few challengers, appear to resent this one-sided nature of reelection contests. But resentment doesn’t alter the reality.

Incumbents, including Obama, react to this certainty by doubling down on opposition research. They figure they can “make it all about the challenger” with enough dirt to induce people to forget about the incumbent’s failures. Sure, if you have pictures of the challenger committing an ax murder, you might turn the tables, but the standard oppo file doesn’t hold enough garbage to transform a reelection campaign into a referendum on the challenger. Like it or not, Jim Messina and David Axelrod, this is going to be a referendum on your administration. Get used to it. Don’t take it personally, either, like some sort of martyr. All incumbents face this judgment. If Obama had only had the wisdom to get seasoned by a Senate reelection campaign before running for the White House, he would have had some experience with this truth.

The takeaway from this for Republicans presidential aspirants is not to get sucked into the Obama alternate-reality scenario. Don’t start too early. That only helps the Democrat snipers sighting their targets. Republicans also should drop delusions that this is about their own biographies, accomplishments and policies. They must keep the judgment focused on the incumbent. Sure, Republicans can do some touting of their pasts, but always highlighting how their own deeds compare and contrast with the failures of the incumbent. Keep the heat on. It’s how incumbents are toppled.

There’s an even more practical reason that Republicans cannot be goaded onto the playing field too early: money. To run a proper presidential campaign, even with a skeletal, pared-down organization, will cost at least $50,000 a day. I didn’t say a week. I said 50 grand every day, seven days a week. Multiply that goal times eight or nine candidates and you are chewing through more than $50 million just in the next six months. There’s simply not enough in the pockets of the Republican faithful to bankroll that kind of spending. Hold off.

The question about deserving reelection is not asked often enough by the public pollsters. The last time The Hill reported Obama’s results, in December, only 42 percent said he’s worth another term. That’s far more telling than Obama’s double-digit lead over Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin in someone’s PowerPoint presentation.

David Hill is a pollster that has worked for Republican candidates and causes since 1984.
3)Fear the Media Meltdown, Not the Nuclear One
Relax: this is not another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, and I'll tell you exactly why. The only thing to fear is the sensationalist reporting that has the world panicked.
By Charlie Martin Share

The March 11 earthquake off the coast of Japan has been an unprecedented disaster. Now estimated to have been a magnitude 9 earthquake — one of the top five earthquakes measured since reporting started in 1900 — it was the result of a “megathrust” in which an area of sea floor bigger than the state of Connecticut broke free and moved under the force of colliding tectonic plates. It was so strong that it literally moved the entire island of Honshu eight feet to the east. The earthquake was then followed by a tsunami comparable to the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 — but since the epicenter of the quake was only a few miles off the coast of Japan, the tsunami struck the heavily populated coast of Honshu with almost no warning, basically washing many coastal villages off the face of the earth.

The earthquake and tsunami seriously damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi (“number one”) and Daini (“number two”) in Okuma, in Fukushima Prefecture, and also damaged the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture. In total, of the 55 nuclear power generation plants in Japan, 11 have been forced to shut down, cutting power generation capacity in Japan dramatically and forcing the country to adopt a series of rolling blackouts. It would seem impossible to overstate the severity of the crisis.

The media, however, has risen to the challenge, with a combination of poor information, ignorance, and alarmism, along with antinuclear activists passing themselves off as unbiased experts.

Let’s try to make some sense of it all.

Basics of How Reactors Work

The Fukushima plants have several reactors built on the same basic design, either by GE or by Japanese companies licensed by GE. These are all “boiling water” reactors, which means just what it sounds like: the heat of the nuclear reaction boils water; the steam generated is used to drive turbines and thereby generate power. The water in direct contact with the reactor core known as “coolant” is nothing particularly special, just demineralized; water itself isn’t very susceptible to becoming radioactive, but minerals and contaminants in the water can be. If the water is purified, there’s less radioactive waste to deal with.

The cooling water is pumped past the reactor core in normal operation to get the energy with which power is generated, and of course to cool the core. If there’s an accident, the reactor is shut down by inserting the “control rods,” made of some material that absorbs neutrons and so slows the nuclear fission from which the reactor gets its power. Even a shut down reactor continues to need cooling, however; there’s an immense amount of residual heat still left in the reactor core. This means continuing to run the pumps, and of course with the reactor shut down they can’t be run from the reactor’s power, so there are diesel generators as a backup, and batteries as a further backup to the generator.

If all the cooling fails for some reason, the accumulated heat can’t escape; the water boils away, and once it’s gone, the materials that make up the reactor core break down. This is a Bad Thing, because the controls on the reactor fuel also break down; it starts to heat up again. This is what’s called a meltdown. When this happened at Chernobyl, the reactor core quickly became hot enough to vaporize the reactor’s fuel and a good part of the other material around it, leading to an explosion that destroyed the building that housed the reactor.

To prevent that from happening in commercial reactors in the capitalist bloc, the reactor is inside three concentric safety vessels: first, the “boiler” itself; second, a massive steel bottle; and third, an even larger and more massive reinforced steel, concrete, and graphite outer containment vessel. In case of a meltdown, the whole reactor should be contained within the steel secondary containment vessel, but if it’s not, the molten reactor core drops to the graphite floor of the third vessel, where it spreads out across the floor. This causes the reactor to stop, and it can cool naturally. Eventually the pieces can be cleaned up.

This whole structure is then inside a big conventional steel building that is the outside wall of the reactor complex.

What happened at Fukushima Daiichi

The original earthquake hit. Three of the six reactors were in operation, the other three were shut down for scheduled maintenance. The reactors were designed to sustain an earthquake of magnitude 8.2; at magnitude 9, the Honshu quake was 16 times more powerful. This caused the plant to automatically shut down; this was apparently successful, but …

About an hour later, the tsunami hit. The tsunami did two significant things: it destroyed the backup generators that kept the pumps running, and it apparently so contaminated the reserve coolant that it was not only no longer pure, but was so mucked up with the scourings of the tsunami that it couldn’t be safely pumped. At this point, the reactor was in some trouble.

As the reactor heated up, water began to react with the zirconium fuel-rod containers, liberating hydrogen, which started to build up in the boiler. The operators began to vent gases from the reactor to reduce the pressure, liberating the hydrogen into the outer façade building. These gases are mildly radioactive, mainly with nitrogen-16 and several isotopes of xenon, all products of the fission reaction that powers the reactor; apparently they were vented into the outer building in order to slow their dispersion and give them a chance to lose radioactivity.

Hydrogen in combination with the oxygen in the air can be explosive, and at some time after the venting started in reactor 3, the hydrogen in the outer façade exploded, blowing off the walls of upper half of the building and leaving the steel structure exposed. This explosion put six workers in hospital, with various injuries and one apparent heart attack. This was the first spectacular explosion that raised great clouds of white smoke.

This was reported in the New York Times as “radiation poisoning.” No other source has reported this, including the IAEA. Apparently, according to the Times, radiation poisoning breaks arms.

The second explosion was another hydrogen explosion; as before, apparently what was destroyed was the outer building that surrounds the containment, not the containment itself.


This is the point at which the media confusion starts. Many stories concentrating on the reactor accidents were illustrated with blazing pictures of a natural gas plant explosion and a burning oil refinery, much more visually impressive than a building with the façade stripped off, but giving the false impression of a blazing inferno at the reactors.

Several headlines said “nuclear explosion,” which is something very different from “an explosion in a nuclear power plant.”

Anti-nuclear politicians like Congressman Ed Markey and anti-nuclear activists from groups like the Institute for Policy Studies warned ominously of “another Chernobyl” — which this isn’t and never will be; the reactors are wildly, radically, different in design. (More on this below.)

Television talking heads talked about the “containment building.” Which is strictly true, since the building in which the containment is housed would be the “containment building” — but misleading and confusing, because the containment for all three reactors remained intact.

So there’s the first bottom-line point: at least so far, the inner, steel, containment vessel on all three Fukushima reactors remains intact.


When the gases started to be released from the containment vessels, that meant there was some release of radiation. With their usual nuance, the media reported only that there was radiation released; since there was detectable radioactivity on the clothes and bodies of the men injured in the explosion, this apparently turned into “radiation poisoning,” even for the poor guy who had the heart attack.

But how much radiation was really released? There are several ways to measure radiation, but what we’re usually concerned with is the dose received — that is, how much radiation has hit the body of someone who gets exposed. It can be thought of like sunburn — if you’re out in strong sunlight for fifteen minutes, you are getting a “small dose” of sun; four hours, and you get a “big dose” and may get a sunburn.

In the U.S., this is usually measured as Roentgen, named for the discoverer of X-rays. (Strictly, it’s measured as “Roentgen absorbed dose” or rad, and the dose in humans is “Roentgen equivalent in man” or rem, but for our purposes it’s close enough to say 1 Roentgen = 1 rad, = 1 rem.) In the rest of the world, dose is measured in Sievert, with 100 Roentgen to 1 Sievert. A whole-body dose of 6 Sievert or 600 Roentgen is called the “LD 50/30 dose,” meaning that 50 percent of the people who get that dose will die within 30 days.

The highest dose rate — that is, the dose received in a period of time — that was observed around the Fukushima reactors was about 1015 microSeiverts per hour, but rapidly dropped to about 70 microSeiverts per hour. In other words, 0.001015 Sieverts per hour, or about 0.1 Roentgen per hour. The highest total body dose reported so far has been 106 milliSieverts, 0.106 Sieverts, or about 10 Roentgen.

What does this mean? Well, in the U.S., the average background radiation is around 7 milliSieverts (700 milli-Roentgen) a year; we here in Colorado nearly double that (more in some places, like Leadville) and some places have a background radiation of 50 times that or more.

So 1015 microSieverts is pretty significantly above normal background radiation, but that’s not the whole story either. By comparison, a CT scan exposes you to about 5 milliSieverts, 0.5 Roentgen; the total dose of the highest exposure reported has been about 20 CT scans. High altitude commercial flights have more radiation than normal background; 10 Roentgen is about twice what a intercontinental flight attendant gets in a year.

Effects of radiation

There’s no question that the effects of big doses of radiation are pretty awful; various systems break down, you can’t absorb food — in fact, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the first symptoms, along with hair loss — and eventually, your immune system fails and you die as a result of massive infections, or hemorrhaging, or dehydration. These effects are known as acute radiation syndrome, ARS.

Low levels of radiation are another thing. Obviously, we all are exposed to some radiation because of the normal background. The usual model, based on the people affected in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and later Chernobyl, is called a “linear dose response model,” and assumes that if a dose of 100 rem causes there to be 10 percent more deaths in a population, then a dose of 10 rem will mean 1 percent more, 1 rem about 1/10th of one percent more, and so on.

This is a conservative model, but it has a problem — it predicts that places with high background radiation, like Colorado, will have higher cancer rates than places with low background radiation.

What really happens is exactly the opposite — we in Colorado have a lower cancer rate than people at sea level.

Why this would happen is currently unknown, and in any case the rates of cancer are small enough it’s hard to be sure how much of it is due to normal radiation exposure anyway, but there’s certainly some reason to think that the linear dose-response model is too conservative, that some amount of radiation has no particular harmful effect.

What happens, though, is that the model affects how we think about radiation. Very small amounts of radiation are detectable — it’s literally “shining a light” at us, begging to be detected. Following the linear dose response model, there are assumed to be health effects of very small radiation exposures, and that means the regulations require even very very small releases to be reported.

Unfortunately, they tend to be reported as “a very small release of RADIATION.”

Another Chernobyl?

Still, what some people are saying is this is “another Chernobyl.” So let’s talk about Chernobyl for a minute. The accident at Chernobyl was the biggest reactor accident that’s well-known, although probably not the worst reactor accident of any kind. In the Chernobyl accident, a reactor of a radically different design, with a containment building but no containment vessel, overheated and exploded; most sources say the graphite that made up the bulk of the reactor core caught fire, although some sources say the graphite didn’t actually catch fire, combust, it just was very hot. According to the UN report, about 50 people died as a result of the accident, some of them dying from acute radiation syndrome. The highest exposure reported was about 16 Gray — which is another damn unit. There are more physicists than there are things to measure, I guess they have to pack them in somehow. But a Gray is a Sievert, approximately.

That 16 Gray dose is about 1600 Roentgen, 1600-1700 rem, or nearly three times the “lethal” dose. That’s 160 times as great as the worst dose reported from Fukushima.

What’s more, the Chernobyl fire distributed large amounts of radioactive material around — including about 10 tons of the actual reactor core. Unlike the Fukushima reactors, Chernobyl had no containment vessel, so once it was burning it was open to the outside, and diffused easily through the atmosphere, eventually spreading across much of northern Europe and a good bit of western Asia.

At the time of the accident, there were many terrifying predictions of the long-term health effects of the radiation.

The UN investigated these effects, and reported on them, in 2005, 2008, and 2011. The report concludes that there may be as many as 4000 additional deaths total that can be attributed to the effects of Chernobyl, but that’s among all the deaths in one of the most densely populated parts of the world. In other words, the linear dose-response model predicts that perhaps one person in a million might die somewhat earlier than they would have otherwise. Statistically. But we can never know if the prediction is correct.

In fact, the 2005 report says that a much, much bigger effect on public health comes from the rumors and uncertainty:

Alongside radiation-induced deaths and diseases, the report labels the mental health impact of Chernobyl as “the largest public health problem created by the accident” and partially attributes this damaging psychological impact to a lack of accurate information. These problems manifest as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state.

The fatalistic feeling of being doomed leads to passivity, as well as other more significant mental health issues; this is entirely due to poor information and uninformed alarmism.

“Experts” in the media

Now, let’s look at some of the media reports.

One of the first ones I saw (pointed out to me by my PJ colleague Richard Pollock) was this story in Channel News Asia:

Several experts, in a conference call with reporters, also predicted that regardless of the outcome at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant crisis, the accident will seriously damage the nuclear power renaissance.

And who are these experts?

“The situation has become desperate enough that they apparently don’t have the capability to deliver fresh water or plain water to cool the reactor and stabilize it, and now, in an act of desperation, are having to resort to diverting and using sea water,” said Robert Alvarez, who works on nuclear disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Hmm. Robert Alvarez. At the Institute for Policy Studies. Which, according to its web site:

IPS became involved in environmental issues through the anti-nuclear movement, a natural extension of its long history of work on the “national security state.” In 1979, IPS Fellow Saul Landau won an Emmy for his documentary “Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang,” which tells the story of the cover-up by the U.S. nuclear program and of the hazards of radiation to American citizens. In 1985, Fellow William Arkin published Nuclear Battlefields: Global Links in the Arms Race, which helped galvanize anti-nuclear activism through its revelations of the impact of nuclear infrastructure on communities across America.

Anti-nuclear movement? Next?

“It is considered to be extremely unlikely but the station blackout has been one of the great concerns for decades,” said Ken Bergeron, a physicist who has worked on nuclear reactor accident simulation.

Kenneth Bergeron, author of Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power.

I wonder, who else was on this call?

“Joseph Cirincione, the head of the Ploughshares Fund.” This would be the same Ploughshares Fund that:

… supports a global network of experts and advocates who are now poised to realize the vision of a nuclear weapon-free world. We leverage the impact of those funds with our own advocacy, with our ability to raise the profile and visibility of key issues, and by convening and engaging with organizations and leaders in the field.

“Paul Gunter is [sic] the U.S. organization Beyond Nuclear,” which:

… aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear.

Gunter also, according to

… is a co-founder of the Clamshell Alliance. A resident of Warner, New Hampshire, he has been arrested at Seabrook for nonviolent civil disobedience on several occasions.

I begin to see a pattern. Google those several names; you’ll find that over and over again, these same four names are being quoted as “nuclear power experts.” All of them closely associated with anti-nuclear organizations.

I wonder if they might have an agenda?

What to make of all this

No one can tell you that there will absolutely not be a catastrophic failure — really catastrophic, like Chernobyl or worse — at one or more of the Fukushima reactors. At the absolutely worst case, some combination of accidents and failures could break through all three major containments and release a large amount of radiation through the “China Syndrome” or something like it.

It’s very likely that there has been at least a partial meltdown in one or more of the reactors — but “meltdown” doesn’t mean “catastrophic release.” The reactor would not just have to melt down, but also penetrate both the still containment vessel and the concrete outer layer, and both were designed explicitly to keep that from happening.

What we can say is that it’s not very likely to be a catastrophic accident, and gets less likely with every minute. The Japanese are cooling the reactors down, and adding boron, which “poisons” the nuclear reaction by absorbing neutrons, the “sparks” that make the reaction go.

The amount of radiation that has been released is, so far, actually very minor. Instead of being “another Chernobyl,” which the IAEA put at INES level 7, this is INES level 4 — and Three Mile Island was level 5. So far, Fukushima is not just not another Chernobyl, it’s not even another Three Mile Island.

And finally, when you hear someone in the media giving one of these catastrophic predictions, check who it is. So far, the catastrophic predictions are consistently coming from people who have been professionally and personally committed to shutting down nuclear weapons and nuclear power for decades.

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