When does the inhuman misery of   civilians  come to an end in Syria?  Perhaps  in the near future, perhaps already  this  week!

Lebanon Daily Star tells:

GENEVA: The Syrian opposition is willing to lift a siege on three pro-government villages in the north of the country as part of a wider agreement to relieve besieged towns on both sides, the opposition’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

Louay al-Safi told reporters at the end of a morning session of talks in Geneva that Free Syrian Army fighters are willing to relieve pressure on the Shi’ite Muslim villages of Nubl, al-Zahra and al-Foua.

But he said President Bashar al-Assad’s government has not agreed to lift the siege on the rebel-held Old City of Homs, seen as crucial for the success of any deal.

“We asked the regime to lift the siege from all cities and we agreed to lift any siege by the FSA from any town and city in Syria. There are three that are surrounded by the FSA because they have been used as a launching pad from the regime to attack Aleppo,” Safi said.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Jan-28/245572-syria-opposition-say-willing-to-lift-siege-on-pro-assad-towns.ashx

UNAMA News: UN WFP

January 28, 2014

Afghanistan is slated to hold Presidential and Provincial Council elections on 5 April. The Presidential poll will mark the transfer of power from one elected president to another for the first time in the country’s history. The political transition coincides with a security transition as Afghan security forces have taken up security responsibility from their international allies, who are ending their combat mission by the end of this year.

Through the WFP scheme, people affected by conflict, disaster or economic stress will be assisted with food, vouchers or cash; under-nutrition will be addressed through targeted supplementary feeding programmes for children and pregnant and lactating women; support for schools will aim to increase enrolment and attendance; and adults will be trained in vocational skills.

According to recent estimates of a globally-recognized method of measuring the level of malnutrition, ‘Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM),’ some 60.5 per cent of Afghan children under the age of five suffer from stunting while 37.7 per cent are underweight; 72 per cent are deficient in iodine and iron and 34 per cent are anemic.

The same estimates note that among Afghan women of reproductive age, 21 per cent are underweight, 72 per cent are iodine-deficient and 48 per cent are iron-deficient.

The UN agency’s previous PRRO, implemented between April 2010 and December 2013, targeted 7.6 million vulnerable people with the aim of enhancing their food security and nutritional status.

IAEA and Japan

January 28, 2014

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2014/report-on-remediation.html

“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) handed Japan the final report from an expert mission that reviewed remediation efforts in areas affected by the Fukushima Daiichi accident.”

The mission observed that comprehensive implementation of food safety measures is in place to protect consumers and improve consumer confidence in farm produce, reflected in an increase in the economic value of the crops.

Japanese authorities were encouraged to sustain current public communication efforts and enhance these whenever necessary, especially with a view to explaining to the public that, in remediation situations, any level of individual radiation dose in the range of 1 to 20 mSv per year is acceptable and in line with the international standards and with the recommendations from the relevant international organisations such as ICRP, IAEA, UNSCEAR and WHO.

The team recognized the efforts to reduce residual doses to less than 1 mSv per year, but stressed that this target is a long-term goal, and that it cannot be achieved in a short time – for example, through decontamination work alone. The IAEA is ready to continue to support Japan in its remediation efforts, at its request.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boron

Enriched boron or 10B is used in both radiation shielding and is the primary nuclide used in neutron capture therapy of cancer. In the latter (“boron neutron capture therapy” or BNCT), a compound containing 10B is incorporated into a pharmaceutical which is selectively taken up by a malignant tumor and tissues near it. The patient is then treated with a beam of low energy neutrons at a relatively low neutron radiation dose. The neutrons, however, trigger energetic and short-range secondary alpha particle and lithium-7 heavy ion radiation that are products of the boron + neutron nuclear reaction, and this ion radiation additionally bombards the tumor, especially from inside the tumor cells.[46][47][48][49]

In nuclear reactors, 10B is used for reactivity control and in emergency shutdown systems. It can serve either function in the form of borosilicate control rods or as boric acid. In pressurized water reactors (PWR) , boric acid is added to the reactor coolant when the plant is shut down for refueling. It is then slowly filtered out over many months as fissile material is used up and the fuel becomes less reactive.

In future manned interplanetary spacecraft, 10B has a theoretical role as structural material (as boron fibers or BN nanotube material) which would also serve a special role in the radiation shield. One of the difficulties in dealing with cosmic rays, which are mostly high energy protons, is that some secondary radiation from interaction of cosmic rays and spacecraft materials is high energy spallation neutrons. Such neutrons can be moderated by materials high in light elements such as polyethylene, but the moderated neutrons continue to be a radiation hazard unless actively absorbed in the shielding. Among light elements that absorb thermal neutrons, 6Li and 10B appear as potential spacecraft structural materials which serve both for mechanical reinforcement and radiation protection.[51]

Depleted boron (boron-11)

Cosmic radiation will produce secondary neutrons if it hits spacecraft structures. Those neutrons will be captured in 10B, if it is present in the spacecraft’s semiconductors, producing a gamma ray, an alpha particle, and a lithium ion. These resultant decay products may then irradiate nearby semiconductor ‘chip’ structures, causing data loss (bit flipping, or single event upset).

In radiation hardened semiconductor designs, one countermeasure is to use depleted boron which is greatly enriched in 11B and contains almost no 10B. 11B is largely immune to radiation damage. Depleted boron is a by-product of the nuclear industry.[50]

11B is also a candidate as a fuel for aneutronic fusion. When struck by a proton with energy of about 500 keV, it produces three alpha particles and 8.7 MeV of energy. Most other fusion reactions involving hydrogen and helium produce penetrating neutron radiation, which weakens reactor structures and induces long term radioactivity thereby endangering operating personnel. Whereas, the alpha particles from 11B fusion can be turned directly into electric power, and all radiation stops as soon as the reactor is turned off.[52]

http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20140116-cooking-in-the-danger-zone-chernobyl

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