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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

HBO “Chernobyl”series grasped the truth about the conditions that led to the disaster

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August 19, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australian investigative journalist Mark Davis explodes the myths around Julian Assange

CN LIVE! Mark Davis Wikileaks Revelations

While the Internet was meant to democratise the transmission of information we see a few giant technology companies, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have near total control of what is seen and shared.

The situation is even worse in Australia with two or three media companies and the same technology giants having control. And the Government of Australia has granted them ever wider market access to extend their monopolies.

Slowly, instance by instance, the malicious and deceitful smears of Julian Assange’s character have been exposed for what they are; an effort to destroy trust in a system of anonymous leaking that will educate everyone.

WikiLeaks’ threat to the powerful was recognised and every effort was, and is, being made to criminalise anonymous leaking, which would be akin to criminalising Gutenberg’s printing press, but there is not much chance this criminalisation will succeed.

It’s time to bring Julian Assange home. Torturing and punishing him has never been legitimate and serves absolutely no purpose.

Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange, Michael West, by Greg Bean — 16 August 2019 – It is the journalists from The Guardian and New York Times who should be in jail, not Julian Assange, said Mark Davis last week. The veteran Australian investigative journalist, who has been intimately involved in the Wikileaks drama, has turned the Assange narrative on its head. The smears are falling away. The mainstream media, which has so ruthlessly made Julian Assange a scapegoat, is silent in response.

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, investigative journalism, Reference | Leave a comment

How the viewing public was ‘protected’ from seeing what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing did to people

Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the cutting room floor  https://thebulletin.org/2019/08/hiroshima-and-nagasaki-on-the-cutting-room-floor/ By Thomas Gaulkin, August 5, 2019 Seventy-four years after nuclear weapons were first and last used in war, it can be challenging to conceive of the devastation they cause. But even in the immediate months after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, news accounts offered a view of ingenuity and destruction that often elided the human cost.

The newsreels below [on original] were mainly screened to audiences in 1946 and 1947 and detail the destructive force of the explosions almost entirely through excited accounts of the structural damage to the cities.  There’s occasional mention of the lost city populations and the scientific knowledge to be gained from studying their casualties, but hardly any description of what people actually suffered, let alone personal accounts. It’s instructive to look at and listen to these reports today, and contemplate what is missing.

The 12-minute reel below was produced by the US War Department in 1946. “Tale of Two Cities” makes selective use of film that was confiscated from a Japanese filmmaker, Akira Iwasaki—though you wouldn’t know that from the narration, which boasts that “army cameramen have found and filmed pictorial evidence that tells in twisted steel and stone the effect of death-dealing atomic power.” (Some twenty years later, historian Eric Barnouw obtained more of Iwasaki’s footage and produced a remarkably different narrative that documented the horrible physical impact of the attacks on Hiroshima’s citizens.)

Contrasted with the triumphant tone of the news/propaganda made for 1940s audiences, silence changes everything. Made public only decades later, the two films below —one beginning with footage of wounded victims, the other, a full-color glimpse of survivors picking up the pieces of the ruined city—report what those above do not, without a single word.

Nagasaki And Hiroshima (1945)

Harrowing Accounts from Hiroshima Survivors

August 8, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, history, media, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia cracks down on climate activism. French journalists arrested while filming anti-coal activities

Adani protest: French journalists arrested while filming anti-coal activities, Guardian
Journalists charged with trespassing after filming Frontline Action on Coal activists include Hugo Clément, 
Ben Smee @BenSmee, Mon 22 Jul 2019 Four journalists working for the public television network France 2 have been charged with trespassing for filming a protest near the Abbot Point coal terminal, in north Queensland, targeting the operations of the Adani group.

July 23, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, climate change, media | Leave a comment

Vladimir Shevchenko – heroic photographer of Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe

I watched the “Chernobyl” miniseries, and I was struck by the accuracy. The scene on the roof of the reactor as depicted in the fictional episode, was accurate in so much detail, compared to  the 1986 real film.

The Soviet film maker who filmed his own death at Chernobyl    https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/the-soviet-film-maker-who-filmed-his-own-death-at-chernobyl/news-story/b06e971263baff167fdeab00061d9e9c

There were many who risked their lives after the Chernobyl disaster — but none more so than a man desperate to show the world what happened,   LJ Charleston,  21 July 19  When Soviet filmmaker Vladimir Shevchenko took his camera onto the roof of Chernobyl’s reactor four in the aftermath of the fatal explosion, he had no idea he was right in the middle of what was — in April 1986 — the most dangerous place on earth.

He also had no idea that his chilling documentary Chernobyl: Chronicle of Difficult Weeks, about the clean-up of the radioactive material at Chernobyl, would be his very last.

He died of acute radiation sickness a year later.

The award-winning film director, who was working for Ukrainian TV at the time, was said to have been quite unaware of the dangers he was putting himself in when he agreed to film from the roof next to reactor four.  

He’d been hired to film in the exclusion zone. But his gravest error was agreeing — along with two assistants — to climb up to the most lethal area of all, just days after one of the worst man-made disasters of all time.

Even 33 years after the explosion, Shevchenko’s film is still an eerie reminder of the sacrifices made by those who risked their lives in the clean-up efforts at Chernobyl.

Today, as the world focuses once again on those events due to HBO’s series Chernobyl, it’s worthwhile putting the spotlight on the courageous Shevchenko.

He gave his life so that we could see with our own eyes what went on during the clean-up. It was, at times, incredibly basic and put so many lives at risk.

And, by doing so, Shevchenko was unknowingly filming his own death……

Shevchenko, who was the first and only film maker allowed on location in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl, is best known for Chernobyl — Chronicle of Difficult Weeks. You can watch the full cut of his film here.

The film is entirely in Russian, although it’s believed people are currently working on English subtitles. It includes interviews with beleaguered scientist Valery Legasov, now famous due to the HBO series in which he’s played by Jared Harris.

Legasov committed suicide two years after the disaster, on the anniversary, due to the horror of his experiences and the lies he had to tell the International Atomic Agency in Vienna to cover up Soviet mishandling of the event.

Shevchenko’s footage of Chernobyl has not been widely seen and the fact he lost his life a year after the explosion has been completely obscured, as his name isn’t listed on official records of deaths. At the time, his two assistants were receiving hospital treatment, but there is no word of what became of them.

Sydney archaeologist Mr Robert Maxwell, the only archaeologist who has worked in Chernobyl across two field excursions, told news.com.au Shevchenko was well-respected and trusted to film the clean-up efforts, as it was such a highly sensitive time for the Soviets.

“He was granted permission to film the clean-up, including the incredibly dangerous work of the ‘biobots’,” Mr Maxwell said, referring to the name given to the workers sent in to clean up……..

THE ‘BIOBOT FOOTAGE’

One of the most memorable and unbelievable scenes in the TV series Chernobylfeatures liquidation workers on the roof, using shovels to throw highly radioactive material back into the core.

If it wasn’t for Shevchenko’s 1986 footage, we would not know that this happened. The men could only work in frantic 90 second shifts; any longer and their exposure to the radiation would be fatal.

What makes the footage so compelling is that we can clearly see some men picking up the radioactive graphite with gloved hands. We also see Shevchenko filming from the roof top, wearing only a flimsy mask and cap for protection. Then we can see how badly damaged the footage is as the radiation makes an impact on the film itself.

It’s harrowing to see how much work the men are doing with their hands.

This is Shevchenko’s footage focusing on the rooftop clean-up.

Chernobyl. Cleaning the roofs. Soldiers (reservists). 1986.

July 22, 2019 Posted by | media, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Russian commentators criticise secrecy on details of nuclear submarine accident

Critics Accuse Russia of Covering Up Nuclear Sub Fire, Compare to Chernobyl.  https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/07/03/critics-accuse-russia-of-covering-up-nuclear-sub-fire-compare-to-chernobyl-a66267 3 July 19       Russian commentators have challenged officials for not releasing full details about an accident on board a military submarine that killed 14 sailors.

The incident took place on Monday, according to the Defense Ministry, but was not officially disclosed until late on Tuesday. Nearly two days on, there was still no word on whether the submarine was nuclear-powered.

Some Russian media accused officials of starving the public of details and drew parallels with the dearth of official information during the meltdown of a Soviet nuclear reactor in Chernobyl in 1986.

The type of vessel was not specified by the ministry and there were few details of the circumstances beyond the fact that it had been in Russian territorial waters and the fire had been extinguished.

“Absolutely nothing is known at the moment — who, what… I don’t understand one thing: why did a day go by and only then did they make the statement about the deceased?” said Yevgeny Buntman, an anchor for the Ekho Moskvy radio station. “Why don’t we know their names? Is this normal?”

The Bell, a news site often critical of the government, wrote: “Nearly a day without information about the accident in a nuclear facility and the need to look out for Norwegian statements about the level of radiation should have given a shudder to those who remember the Chernobyl nuclear power station.”

Secret sub   Norway’s authorities said on Tuesday they had not detected any abnormal radiation.

Asked on Wednesday if the vessel had a nuclear reactor on board, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred the question to the Defense Ministry.

He told reporters in a conference call that details of the submarine were classified, but that information had been provided in good time. Several hours before the official statement, blogger Yevgeny Karpov reported a fire on a vessel belonging to the Northern Fleet, but he then took down the report at the fleet’s request, he told the Meduza news site.

The fire is one of the deadliest submarine accidents since August 2000, when the nuclear-powered Kursk sank to the floor of Barents Sea, killing all 118 men aboard.

Authorities then, and in particular President Vladimir Putin, who was at the beginning of now almost two decades as president or prime minister, came under fire for their slow response and shortcomings in the rescue operation.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | media, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Chernobyl survivors confirm the accuracy of the TV series, about nuclear radiation

Chernobyl survivors assess fact and fiction in TV series,

July 1, 2019 Posted by | media, Ukraine | Leave a comment

A film that reminded the world of the nuclear danger

The China Syndrome (1979) ORIGINAL TRAILER [HD 1080p]


How THE CHINA SYNDROME Brought Down The Nuclear Power Industry, The film that predicted Three Mile Island and affected the response to Chernobyl. Birth, Movies, Death. By  When we think about nuclear power, we tend to think about disasters. Real life has given us plenty of reason to do so: between Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, three major global powers have each seen their nuclear industries fall subject to catastrophe. People died; economies crashed; whole sections of Earth were rendered uninhabitable. Hell, Chernobyl arguably ended the entire Soviet Union.

Entertainment, too, has played a significant role in creating this image of nuclear power. Dozens of movies, TV miniseries, and documentaries over the years have played off and magnified real-life fears, often drawing a direct connection between the “peaceful atom” and its destructive wartime counterpart. One of the first, and most influential, was James Bridges’ 1979 atomic energy thriller The China Syndrome.

“The China Syndrome” is a colloquial term for a very real threat in the event of a nuclear accident. It refers to a reactor accident wherein reactivity becomes so supercritical that operators cannot control it. The fuel gets so hot, it melts its mounting channels, control rods, and even exterior housing, burning through concrete and steel to seep unstoppably downwards – in fanciful terms, all the way to China (hence the name). This actually happened, to a degree, at Chernobyl: the reactor transformed into hundreds of tons of corium lava, eating through multiple basement levels and nearly breaching the building’s foundations before it cooled sufficiently to stop melting concrete. The danger, as with any China Syndrome situation, was that the fuel would reach groundwater, poisoning the land or creating a steam explosion that would blast radioactive material across an enormous area.

Curiously, there is no China Syndrome in The China Syndrome. Based primarily on a 1970 accident at the Dresden Nuclear Power Station in Illinois, the film follows reporter Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) after they witness an accident while reporting at a California nuclear power plant.  ………….

Predictably, the nuclear industry had a fiery reaction. Westinghouse executive John Taylor described the film as “an overall character assassination of an entire industry.” Nuclear experts generally agreed that the film’s specific events were highly improbable (if not entirely impossible), but also that an inherent clash exists between earning corporate profits and spending the money required to keep reactors safe. The industry may have been correct to debate the film’s finer technical points or melodramatic ending, but it’s hard to argue that unchecked capitalism doesn’t encourage corner-cutting.

On that note, it’s worth noting, that The China Syndrome’s institutional failure is near-identical to that which contributed to the Chernobyl disaster. Both saw powerful organisations covering up disastrous mistakes made in the name of cost-efficiency, but they come from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. One comes from American capitalism, where making money and gaining power comes first and safety regulations are a costly hassle. The other comes from Soviet communism, where saving money and maintaining power came first and safety regulations were a costly hassle. Personal and institutional selfishness knows no political boundaries, and both all-powerful states and all-powerful corporations are prone to malfeasance.

All the industry’s rebuttal ultimately proved ill-advised, of course, as less than two weeks after the film’s release, a reactor underwent a partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station. Still the most serious nuclear accident in US history, the accident caused no immediate deaths, but the radiation leakage may have contributed to cancers, and the fourteen years of cleanup cost a billion dollars. More importantly, it caused opinion to solidify around the The China Syndrome’s thesis: that the nuclear energy industry could not be trusted with nuclear energy……… https://birthmoviesdeath.com/2019/06/28/how-the-china-syndrome-brought-down-the-nuclear-power-industry

June 29, 2019 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

HBO TV series ” Chernobyl” causing great interest in Iran

With ‘Chernobyl,’ Iranians talk other people’s nuclear problems, for a change, Al-Monitor, Iranians, who have been under pressure from the United States over the country’s nuclear program, are enjoying discussing someone else’s nuclear problems for a change. The recently released HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” focusing on the catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986, has proved to be wildly popular in Iran.

Despite four decades of enmity between Iran and the United States, Iranians have always been big fans of American television series. …… https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/06/chernobyl-series-raises-debates-in-iran.html

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Iran, media | Leave a comment

Investigative journalism lives- when it comes to the issue of nuclear decommissioning

Meet the nuclear plant project reporters    https://www.lohud.com/story/news/investigations/2019/06/19/nuclear-plant-project-team/1352103001/ Rockland/Westchester Journal News  June 19, 2019

A team of veteran reporters from the USA TODAY NETWORK’s Northeast Metro Group teamed up to investigate who is getting the billions of dollars set aside to clean up the nation’s closed and decommissioned nuclear plants and how that process is being handled.

A team of veteran reporters from the USA TODAY NETWORK’s Northeast Metro Group teamed up to investigate who is getting the billions of dollars set aside to clean up the nation’s closed and decommissioned nuclear plants and how that process is being handled.

With the nuclear power industry shifting into decommissioning mode, the nation’s plants are facing closure, leaving a raft of questions and concerns in its wake.

Our reporters who tackled the project:

Tom Zambito has been an investigative reporter with The Journal News/lohud and the USA TODAY NETWORK since August 2015.

In a 33-year career, Zambito has had stints at The Record, the New York Daily News, Newsday and the Star-Ledger (nj.com). His current focus is transportation and energy.

Zambito’s work has been recognized with more than three dozen writing awards, among them honors from press associations in three states as well as Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), The Associated Press, the Deadline Club, the American Bar Association, the National Press Club, the New York City Police Department Emerald Society and the Society of the Silurians.

Amanda Oglesby is an Ocean County, New Jersey, native who covers the environment for the Asbury Park Press and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey. She has covered the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, the Pine Barrens and other news for the Press since 2008. She is a Rutgers University graduate who studied journalism and environmental policy before starting her reporting career. In 2014, she was one of two Gannett reporters who were finalists in the Deadline Club’s “Public Service Award” for their work on the Asbury Park Press’ “Heroin at the Shore” series.

Christopher Maag is a columnist for The Record. His columns focus on the overlooked characters of New Jersey and the Northeast, bringing readers into the lives of a chopper-riding chihuahua, a convicted drug cartel strategist and the farmer whose field overlooks the Lincoln Tunnel. Formerly a regular contributor to The New York Times and TIME, he has written for daily newspapers, monthly magazines and alternative news weeklies, winning awards for writing and investigative reporting. A graduate of Columbia University School of Journalism, he lives in Queens.

Samantha Ruland is the Pennsylvania issues reporter for the York Daily Record and USA TODAY NETWORK. During her time at YDR, she’s worked to understand and report on the issues that affect the people of central Pennsylvania and beyond, while keeping a close eye on legislation in Harrisburg. She was part of a team of reporters whose work received first place in public service by the Pennsylvania Associated Press Media Editors contest for chronicling the ongoing child sexual abuse by priests in the state.

Frank Esposito is a data reporter for The Journal News/lohud and the USA TODAY NETWORK. He writes about technology and systems running awry and what happens to the people caught in their path. Frank was part of the team that won the New York State Associated Press Association First Amendment award for coverage of the governor of New York’s political donations. He studied international political economics and journalism at Penn State University.

June 20, 2019 Posted by | investigative journalism, USA | Leave a comment

“Chernobyl” TV series – was drawn from the testimony of those who were there

The Chernobyl miniseries is a compelling account of how the disaster unfolded, based largely on the testimony of those present, most of whom died soon afterwards. It rings true but only scratches the surface of another, more cruel reality– that, in their desperation to save face, the Soviets were willing to sacrifice any number of men, women and children.  

The truth about Chernobyl? I saw it with my own eyes.   Guardian, 16 June 19, Kim Willsher reported on the world’s worst nuclear disaster from the Soviet Union. HBO’s TV version only scratches the surface, she says.There is a line in the television series Chernobyl that comes as no surprise to those of us who reported on the 1986 nuclear disaster in what was the Soviet Union – but that still has the power to shock:

“The official position of the state is that global nuclear catastrophe is not possible in the Soviet Union.”

It was not possible, so in the days and months after the world’s worst such accident, on 26 April, the Kremlin kept up its pretence. It dissembled, deceived and lied. I began investigating Chernobyl in the late 1980s after Ukrainian friends insisted authorities in the USSR were covering up the extent of the human tragedy of those – many of them children – contaminated by radiation when the nuclear plant’s Reactor 4 exploded, blasting a cloud of poisonous fallout across the USSR and a large swathe of Europe.

When photographer John Downing and I first visited, the Soviet Union, then on its last political legs, was still in denial about what happened despite president Mikhail Gorbachev’s new era of glasnost. Continue reading

June 17, 2019 Posted by | media, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine | Leave a comment

“Chernobyl” TV series gets high rating, highly viewed in Russia and Ukraine

BBC 12th June 2019 , Hours after the world’s worst nuclear accident, engineer Oleksiy Breus
entered the control room of the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant in Ukraine. A member of staff at the plant from 1982, he became
a witness to the immediate aftermath on the morning of 26 April 1986.

The story of the reactor’s catastrophic explosion, as told in an HBO/Sky
miniseries, has received the highest ever score for a TV show on the film
website IMDB. Russians and Ukrainians have watched it via the internet, and
it has had a favourable rating on Russian film site Kinopoisk. Mr Breus
worked with many of the individuals portrayed and has given his verdict of
the series.      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48580177

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Kazakhstan, media, Resources -audiovicual, Russia | Leave a comment

TV Drama “Chernobyl” shows chilling reality of contemporary politics and its “war on truth”

Mazin says he intended Chernobyl as a comment on contemporary politics, and specifically on what he calls the “war on truth”. The subtext is relatively obvious: knowledge painstakingly acquired by scientists is discarded when it is politically inconvenient.

the topicality of Chernobyl derives from the inescapable fact that the bureaucracy’s inhuman behaviour is so familiar to us. The fatuous speeches about socialist morality shown in Chernobyl are just that country’s equivalent of our paeans to free markets and free people.

it is easy to recognise the system we have today: a managerial society run by bosses and bureaucrats who lie and kill to maintain their social dominance, and who threaten the whole world as long as they remain in power. The system of class domination and exploitation portrayed in Chernobyl lives on in free-market form today.

The Horrifying True Scale of the Chernobyl Disaster

Chernobyl: an anti-capitalist nuclear horror story  https://redflag.org.au/node/6814, Daniel Taylor

09 June 2019 Even before its broadcast run had concluded, Craig Mazin’s five-part TV drama, Chernobyl, was acclaimed as a classic. It currently stands as the highest rated series of all time on IMDb, and has been watched by millions in the US and around the world despite airing on a bad schedule and relying heavily on word-of-mouth promotion.

A short-run series about an industrial accident that took place 33 years ago in a state that no longer exists might seem an odd candidate for such popularity. But, as Wired put it, “2019 needed a hit as bleak as Chernobyl”. It is a show that speaks to the concerns of its time.

At the time of the series’ airing, nuclear power is being rehabilitated as a solution to catastrophic global warming. The technology is back in the marketplace of ideas, while the generations traumatised by the meltdowns and near-misses continue to be dismissively diagnosed with “radiophobia”. The familiarity of the feeling that a cataclysmic environmental and social disaster is unfolding right around us, while the administrators of our society look the other way, is impossible not to recognise.

Continue reading

June 10, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Whistleblowers will be effectively silenced: the result of Australia’s police raids on journalists

It sends shockwaves through your life’: how the media raids will silence whistleblowers, Guardian  Christopher Knaus @knausc 9 Jun 2019

Those forces have already exacted a crippling toll.

“[My ex-wife] would probably say – and I think there’s an element of truth in it – it killed David McBride,” he says. “The man that she married was killed by the defence force, and I’m someone who’s different.

“Doing something like this, taking on the whole government, it sends shockwaves through your life, and not much survives, really.”

Wednesday’s raid on the ABC prompted outrage among civil rights groups, transparency campaigners, journalists and unions. It came just a day after federal police searched the home of the News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst, searching for documents related to her coverage of proposed new surveillance powers for the Australian Signals Directorate. 2GB host Ben Fordham’s revelation about asylum seeker boats attempting to reach Australia from Sri Lanka is also the subject of a home affairs investigation, as the department attempts to identify his source.

The raids have not occurred in isolation. Multiple whistleblowers who revealed government wrongdoing are currently being pursued through the courts with alarming vigour.

The government is prosecuting Witness K and Bernard Collaery, who revealed an unlawful spy operation against Timor-Leste during oil negotiations. Richard Boyle, the tax office worker who revealed the government’s heavy-handed approach to recovering debts, faces a long stint in jail if convicted.

Assoc Prof Joseph Fernandez, a journalism lecturer at Curtin University, has spent years studying source protection and the Australian media. He says the consequences of this week’s raids are clear, regardless of whether journalists are charged.

“Such raids, regardless of what happens here to journalists or to others, will have an immeasurable censoring effect on contact people have with journalists,” Fernandez says.

“In my research in this area over the years, it was clear that even senior public servants are apprehensive about having contact with journalists, even about mundane things, in the wake of laws that enable the authorities to track down sources.”

The McBride matter had been bubbling away for some time before Wednesday’s raid. Guardian Australia understands police have been talking to the ABC since at least September, trying to find a way to access the documents without resorting to a very public raid. …….

Denis Muller, from the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, says arguments about the police operating at arm’s length from government miss the point.    “The point is that the politicians have constructed a repressive legal regime designed to protect the executive branch of government, impede accountability to the public and exert a chilling effect on the press,” Muller wrote in the Conversation……….    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jun/08/it-sends-shockwaves-through-your-life-how-the-media-raids-will-silence-whistleblowers

June 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Mini series Chernobyl unfolds the horror of radiation sickness – a warning for the future

‘A horrible way to die’: how Chernobyl recreated a nuclear meltdown, Guardian,  Julie McDowall, 5 June 19, 

From ‘painting on’ radiation sickness to making the explosion less ‘Die Hard’, the acclaimed drama has gone to great lengths to evoke the chaos and terror of the Soviet-era disaster.

We were lucky to have survived the Cold War without a nuclear attack. The pop culture of that chilly era warned what the bomb would do: the crisping of the skin; the slow agony of radiation sickness; the pollution of the land; and the death of cities.

The bomb didn’t explode, but some people experienced a fragment of this horror. The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 brought explosions, radiation sickness, evacuations, contaminated earth and, finally, medals awarded and memorials erected. It was war after all – but not against the west; this was another type of nuclear enemy.

Sky Atlantic/HBO’s drama Chernobyl unfolds over five distressing episodes that show the 1986 explosion was more than just another disaster in a decade horribly cluttered with them: it was a ghastly taste of nuclear war, a monstrous cover-up and, finally, an event that helped bring down the Soviet Union.

So it is fitting that the series begins with the explosion, as if to get it out of the way so that we might focus on what happens afterwards………..

Surprisingly, Parker didn’t look to photos of Hiroshima or Nagasaki victims for examples of radiation damage, as he suspects these were tempered by wartime propaganda. He went instead to medical textbooks, and this allowed him to pioneer a technique for Chernobyl where he “layered” the skin: painting the actors’ bodies with wounds, then putting a semi-translucent layer on top, giving the impression that sores are forcing themselves to the surface as the body degrades from within. The effect is dreadful to see. Yet, Parker was strict in saying these men must not be relegated to Hollywood “zombies”, and he explains that the director made sure sympathy stayed with these characters: even as they lie rigid on the bed, gurgling and fading, they still speak, and a wife may still hold her husband’s rotting fingers.

“It’s the worst way to die,” says Parker. “Beyond anything you can imagine. The most horrible way to die. I think it’s the worst, in line with medieval torture.” What makes it particularly atrocious is that the victims were denied pain relief. In the latter stages of radiation sickness you cannot inject morphine, he explains. “The walls of the veins are breaking down.”

So the Chernobyl disaster produced agonising deaths without pain-relieving drugs, which brings us back to the horror of nuclear war. Plans for the NHS after a nuclear attack show drug stockpiles would quickly be exhausted, and those who were hopelessly injured would be allowed to die without the tiny mercy of a supermarket paracetamol.

Chernobyl is a compelling and brilliantly realised drama, but it’s also a warning – of the dangers of lies, arrogance and complacency, and of nuclear war itself.

The final episode of Chernobyl airs Tuesday, 9pm on Sky Atlantic. The whole series is available to view on Sky Go and NowTV

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jun/04/one-day-your-skin-just-slips-off-how-chernobyl-restaged-nuclear-disaster  

June 8, 2019 Posted by | health, media, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine | Leave a comment