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‘The Triumph of Doubt’ – corporations’ war on science

Inside corporations’ war on science . A new book explains how corporations create a climate of doubt around science and expertise. Vox, By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com  May 26, 2020

Johnson & Johnson announced this week that it will stop putting talc, a mineral linked to asbestos, in its baby powder products. The move comes after years of lawsuits alleging that the powder causes various cancers.

It’s also a surprising turnaround. Johnson & Johnson has spent decades funding biased science and lobbying the government to avoid regulating its products or labeling them as cancer-causing. It’s a tactic deployed by many other industries that have a stake in stifling regulation and the science behind it.

The history of this practice is documented in a new book by David Michaels, the former assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the Obama administration. It’s a close look at how powerful corporations fund junk science and misinformation campaigns in order to obscure evidence and undercut regulatory efforts.

Big Tobacco and the fossil fuels industry are obvious examples, but the problem goes well beyond that. From cancer-causing hair products and apparel to diabetes-linked food and sugary drinks, corporations have realized that you don’t have to convince the public or government officials of anything — all you have to do is create the illusion of doubt.

And they do that by piloting bogus studies, organizing partisan think tanks, supplying dubious congressional witnesses, and anything else they can think of to give regulators enough cover to plausibly look the other way. If you’ve ever heard a politician say “The science is still unclear” or “We need to keep researching the issue,” there’s a good chance that was made possible by industry-funded pseudo-science.

I spoke to Michaels about what this process looks like, why journalists and civic actors have been unable to stop it, and how the practice has become more pervasive in recent years. We also discussed the coronavirus pandemic and how the tactics he describes in this book helped lay the groundwork for the extreme skepticism of scientific expertise we’re seeing from conservatives.

“The Republican base,” Michaels told me, “has been acclimatized to be skeptical of mainstream science, and easily believe accusations that they are being manipulated by the deep state, the liberal media, and pointy-headed scientists.”

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing

When you say that big corporations like DuPont or Exxon manufacture doubt around their products, what do you mean?

David Michaels

I mean that they hire scientists who appear to be reputable to produce or obscure evidence about the products they make. If there are studies or even suggestions that their product is dangerous, you can hire a scientist who will say, “The evidence is in question,” or, “The study is wrong.”

Corporations make sure those scientists get their opinions into what look like credible peer-reviewed journals, then they get picked up by newspapers, then they have the sound bites that commentators repeat, and that’s enough to convince people that there’s uncertainty. Not necessarily that the product is safe, but that the scientific evidence isn’t there.

That’s basically how it works.

Sean Illing

You used the phrase “appear to be reputable.” What does that mean?

David Michaels

They are credentialed people, but they typically work for consulting firms whose business model is to provide any result their client needs……..

One of the things the Trump administration has done is essentially take the same mercenary scientists who have been working for corporations trying to influence the agencies to do the wrong thing and then given them high-level positions in these same agencies – [EPA , the FDA  and other public institutions]…….

The example that I find most striking is a fellow named Tony Cox, who was appointed chairman of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who is himself a longtime lobbyist for the oil and coal industries……..

Sean Illing

So we’ve just made the process more efficient. Industry doesn’t even need middlemen to muddy the waters on their behalf now because they just have their own people appointed to run the agencies charged with regulating them…….

David Michaels

As the abject and enormously tragic failure of the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic becomes increasingly clear, the president and his supporters are taking the tobacco road, applying the same strategy used by cigarette manufacturers, fossil fuel corporations, and a host of other industries whose products and activities damage public health.

Not only is it the same strategy, it features the same cast of characters, and it is promoted in the same social media and cable TV venues, especially Fox News. Right-wing punditsTrump administration officials, and scientists with long histories of discredited studies first declared the epidemic a hoax and then asserted the numbers of cases and deaths are wildly inflated. They have been eventually shown to be wildly wrong, but it has no impact on their credibility or their willingness to offer outrageous claims.

This strategy is successful because the Republican base has been acclimatized to be skeptical of mainstream science and easily believe accusations heard on Fox News or read on Facebook that they are being manipulated by the deep state, the liberal media, and pointy-headed scientists……..

When the Trump administration is finally evicted from power, we will need to rebuild our system of public health protections, not simply by pouring more funding into federal agencies that were weak and flawed even before Trump, but by reimagining how they can be far more effective and inclusive, and are able to apply the best available science. And we must do this in a way that overcomes the anti-science culture fed by the current administration and the Republican party.

If we are unable to accomplish these goals, I fear that the nation’s disastrous response to Covid-19 is likely to be a preview of a very troubling future.  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/21137717/johnson-and-johnson-triumph-of-doubt-david-michaels

May 30, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, resources - print, Resources -audiovicual, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

THE ATOM: A LOVE AFFAIR – nuclear dream to global nightmare

Going plant potty in story of nuclear power, The Atom: A Love Affair chronicles an energetic journey through the 20th century to the modern day   http://islingtontribune.com/article/going-plant-potty-in-story-of-nuclear-power  15 May, 2020 — By Dan Carrier THE ATOM: A LOVE AFFAIR  Directed by Vicki Lesley  Certificate: 12a

WITHIN a lifetime, the nuclear power industry has gone from being the golden future of energy generation to the dirty fuel that illustrates a blind race to make profit at any cost, the strength of industrial lobbying, and the inability of government to listen to those it supposedly represents – nor arguments based on empirical evidence that do not fit in with an economic philosophy.

In The Atom: A Love Affair, a wide-ranging, deeply researched, non-judgemental documentary, we are taken on a journey through the 20th century to the modern day to consider how we generate electricity and what role nuclear power has, and can, play.

Split into decades, film-maker Vicki Lesley charts how governments thought they had cracked the lode-stone problem of clean, efficient, renewable energy for all: the power needed for the post-war consumer boom, the eras of new white goods in each house, of labour-saving devices that would make the human race a species not of toil but of leisure and learning.

But, of course, a dream so good can’t be true: and as this film shows, nuclear is not only dirty, expensive and dangerous, it also crosses over into the realm of nuclear reprocessing plants, dealing with weapons-grade plutonium for mass destruction. Not a pretty look.

The difference between Germany and France are used as examples of how an approach to nuclear is based on what the state wants to believe.

France has 58 nuclear plants and cannot afford to replace them. The state-run energy firm EDF has to find new income streams so it is now building these eye-wateringly expensive plants elsewhere – including in the UK.

Germany’s anti-nuclear movement has grown in strength since the 1970s.

Post Fukushima, the Germans decided enough was enough and they would cease to use nuclear energy from 2022. They decided they would use the tax produced by the sale of nuclear energy to pay for other non-nuclear, carbon-free energy production.

“In Germany today, the atom is finished,” says one engineer.

“It is, they say, the last step on a very long goodbye dating from the 1970s. You cannot find any political party in Germany prepared to go anywhere near nuclear power.”

US politician Ralph Nader sums it up nicely (and the footage of him as a young man saying basically the same thing is inspiring).

“Atomic energy is unnecessary,” he says.

“It is uneconomical. It is unsafe. It is uninsurable. It is undemocratic and it is a travesty on our descendants who will curse us if we do not stop the menace of atomic energy.”

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | 1 Comment

‘Fukushima 50 ‘ – a new film about the nuclear meltdown

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Film lauding Japan’s Fukushima heroes warns against complacency,

Film lauding Japan’s Fukushima heroes warns against complacency, Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) – As aftershocks rock the Fukushima nuclear plant, a small band of workers defy their bosses to stay on and fight to stop an even bigger disaster from irradiating a wide swathe of Japan.

The scene is from a movie that opened on Friday – “Fukushima 50”, which tells the true story of the hours after a quake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors on March 11, 2011.

Almost nine years to the day after that disaster, its depiction of individual heroism in the face of official bungling and overwhelming catastrophe has struck a chord with early viewers……

nine years on, workers in protective suits are still removing radioactive material from Fukushima’s reactors, and the film’s scenes – mixed in with news footage from the time – still pack an emotional punch. ……

“The Fukushima Fifty” was the name given to the group of workers and engineers who stayed behind after the tsunami knocked out the power and cooling systems at the plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)……

“When I made the film ‘Letters from Iwo Jima,’ I felt that Japan isn’t very good at learning lessons from the past,” Watanabe told a news conference after filming finished last year, referring to the Clint Eastwood film depicting the World War Two battle.

“I feel the same way about Fukushima,” he added.

Editing by Andrew Heavens  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-fukushima-film/film-lauding-japans-fukushima-heroes-warns-against-complacency-idUSKBN20T1GV

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

CHEESE INSTEAD OF URANIUM – film record of a community decision

“Official Selected 2019” CHEESE INSTEAD OF URANIUM https://www.laziofilmfestival.it/official-selected-2019-cheese-instead-of-uranium/

LAZIO GREEN FILM FESTIVAL

CHEESE INSTEAD OF URANIUM

Citizens of a medieval village in Portugal have made a decision that is an example for other communities in the world with valuable ore in the soil. Leave uranium in the ground.

Nisa, a beautiful village north of Alentejo in Portugal. At the mediaeval gates of Nisa there is a large uranium deposit, but the population has decided to leave the uranium on the ground in favor of sustainable development based on the region’s natural products such as beef, goat and sheep, milk, cheese, sausages, hams and olives.

When mining companies became interested in the Nisa deposit at the beginning of the 21st century, the local movement „Urânio em Nisa Não” influenced the City Hall and the City council to declare that uranium exploration in the region will never be allowed.

Keep it in the ground!“ is Nisa’s powerful message. Sustainable use of above-ground natural wealth is more valuable than below-ground ore, which would provide only short-term money but would leave the region with no future. That is why Nisa and its movement „ Urânio em Nisa Não“ received the international „Nuclear-Free Future Award“ in 2012.Director Biography – Norbert G. Suchanek

Norbert G. Suchanek was born in 1963 in Würzburg in Germany. Since 1988 he works as environmental and human rights journalist, author, photographer and filmmaker. In 2006 he moved to Rio de Janeiro.Director Statement

A tiny town in Portugal stands firm against the big uranium business! The citizens of Nisa have given the world an important example. Instead of short-term profit through uranium mining, they opted for a sustainable present and future based on the production of traditional and healthy food.

Credits:

  • Norbert G. Suchanek Director
  • Norbert G. Suchanek Writer
  • Márcia Gomes de Oliveira Producer

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

10th International Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro, May 2020

Marcia Gomes de Oliveira shared a link. 2 Nov 19

Next year, May 2020, we’re celebrating the 10th birthday of the International Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro.

These filmmakers and producers have already agreed to come to Rio 2020: Peter Kaufmann (Australia), Kim Mavromatis (Australia), Laura Pires (Brazil), Angelo Lima (Brazil), Miguel Silveira (USA/Brazil), Cris Uberman (France), Marcus Schwenzel (Germany), Rainer Ludwigs (Germany), Michael von Hohenberg (Germany), Peter Anthony (Denmark), Michael Madson (Denmark), Lise Autogena (Denmark), Masako Sakata (Japan), Maurizio Torrealta (Italy), Alessandro Tesei (Italy), Amudhan R.P. (India), Tamotsu Matsubara (Japan), Tamiyoshi Tachibana (Japan), Tineke Van Veen (Netherlands), Mafalda Gameiro (Portugal), James Ramsay Cameron (Scotland), José Herrera Plaza (Spain), Marko Kattilakoski (Sweden), Edgar Hagen (Switzerland),Tetyana Chernyavska (Ukraine), Brittany Prater (USA), Ian Thomas Ash (Japan/USA).

Rio’s 10th International Uranium Film Festival is scheduled for May 21st to 31st. Do not miss it!

November 2, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, media, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

AMAZING URANIUM FILM FESTIVAL IN PORTUGAL 2019

 https://uraniumfilmfestival.org/en/amazing-uranium-film-festival-in-portugal-2019, Norbert G. Suchanek and Marcia Gomes de Oliveira,
Founder and directors of the Uranium Film Festival

Those who couldn’t make it to the recent International Uranium Film Festival in Portugal have missed an amazing event at a special place where uranium mining started more than a hundred years ago.  From September 13th to September 15th the festival was organised in partnership with ATMU (Former Uranium Mine Workers Association) and former uranium miners and their families in the towns Urgeiriça (Nelas), Viseu and Mangualde in the Dão region of central Portugal.

„We thank especially the former surviving uranium miners and their incredible wives for the warm welcome and their enthusiastic commitment for the festival“, said Uranium Film Festival’s executive director Márcia Gomes de Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro. And the President of ATMU added. „The Uranium Film Festival was, in fact, one of the most interesting cultural and scientific initiatives in which we had the privilege to participate. We extend our most sincere congratulations to the festival directors Márcia Gomes de Oliveira and Norbert G. Suchanek for three days of films, debates and remarkable of all, raising awareness.“

“We confess that we did not know some of the cases we were made aware of: the uncertain future of the Utah Ute people in the Grand Canyon; the scandalous case of Palomares, who lived under the shadow of lies for decades; and the living despair of Jadugoda whose inhabitants, the Adivasi, are sacrificed by uranium mining and under the hollow argument of so called development”, write the two observers Catarina Gameiro Minhoto & João Paiva in their final festival report to ATMU.

“Each case is unique, but the reality is the same. Let us quote a phrase from the Wismut movie (Yellow Cake) which said that uranium mining happened under a web of lies, propaganda and lack of information. Same in Palomares, where in 1966 two US planes crashed and four atomic bombs felt from the sky and where even today the United States and the now democratic government of Spain seem to hide the truth behind that accident and its ongoing consequences. We also mention Jadugoda where the situation is dramatic and where the authorities – like the nuclear industry in Brazil (INB) – insist on ignorance. Worse than natural ignorance, is conscious ignorance, based on the lie about the truth. The consequences of this attitude on the part of the authorities are clear: thousands of people suffering from cancer and other diseases; with terrible social conditions; the surroundings of these mines became ecological time bombs.

To our great shock, we have learned by the film that the main reason why the environmental situation is often untreated and the legacies of uranium mining are not rehabilitated is that the end point of nuclear fuel production is extremely costly. And no profit waiting. The big companies or uranium mills do not want to spend money on this last stage. The final price of this insensitivity is paid by the people of the surrounding areas, is paid by the environment, is paid by all of us.”

MOVIES LEFT A LASTING IMPRESSION ON THE AUDIENCE

Catarina Gameiro Minhoto & João Paiva’s comments show that the documentary movies screened have left a lasting impression on the audience in Portugal, especially the four films: YELLOW CAKE. THE DIRT BEHIND URANIUM(link is external) by Joachim Tschirner, BUDA CHORA EM JADUGODA (BUDDHA WEEPS IN JADUGODA)(link is external) by Shri Prakash, HALF LIFE: THE STORY OF AMERICA’S LAST URANIUM MILL (MEIA VIDA: A HISTÓRIA DO ÚLTIMO MOINHO DE URÂNIO DA AMÉRICA)(link is external) by Justin Clifton and OPERACIÓN FLECHA ROTA. ACCIDENTE NUCLEAR EN PALOMARES (BROKEN ARROW. NUCLEAR ACCIDENT IN PALOMARES) by Jose Herrera Plaza. ………https://uraniumfilmfestival.org/en/amazing-uranium-film-festival-in-portugal-2019

October 5, 2019 Posted by | media, Resources -audiovicual | 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

Veteran of Chernobyl nuclear clean-up: HBO TV episode was very accurate

Chernobyl Episode 4 Scene | HBO | Graphite Clearing

This man knows what it’s really like shovelling radioactive debris on top of Chernobyl’s reactor ABC News 

Key points:

  • At age 32, Jaan Krinal was forced to go to Chernobyl and clean the roof of the reactor
  • He says men were initially enthusiastic to help eliminate the radiation
  • One-third of the men of his town he served with in Chernobyl have died

When he left his wife and two children on May 7, 1986 and went to work, Jaan Krinal didn’t know he would be one of those people.

The 32-year-old was working on a state-owned farm in Soviet-occupied Estonia.

Because he’d been forced to complete the Soviet military’s retraining a year before, he was confused when officers surprised him at work and said he’d been called up again — immediately.

Jaan and 200 other men were taken to a nearby school. Once they’d walked through the door, no-one was allowed to leave.

The men’s passports were seized before they were loaded onto buses and taken to a forest, where they were told to slip into brand new army uniforms.

“That’s when I first questioned what’s really going on here,” Jaan recalls………

Workers told radiation could have health benefits

It all happened fast.

Hundreds of men boarded a Ukraine-bound train on May 8. By the next evening, they were setting up camp on the edge of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone.

They were just 30 kilometres away from the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster — the still-smouldering wreckage of a reactor torn apart by a series of explosions and spewing radiation in a plume across Europe.

Jaan was among the first group sent to clean up in the aftermath of the catastrophe.

Tasked with hosing down radiation on the houses in nearby villages, he was thrown into the thick of it……

Despite the apparent uselessness of the job, they continued to work 11-hour days without a day off until the end of June. After that, they had two days of downtime a month.

As the weeks rolled on, suspicions grew.

“We started to have doubts. But all the officers said, ‘Why are you fretting, the radiation levels aren’t that high.”

In a cruel irony, the commanders told the men that being exposed to radiation would actually have health benefits.

“They joked that whoever has cancer can now get rid of it — because the radiation helps,” Jaan says.

Men unaware of deadly reason behind roof time limit

By the end of September, whatever enthusiasm the men initially felt had faded.

As many developed a cough, concerns grew about whether they were being lied to about the radiation being harmless. The respirators the men were given wouldn’t stay on because of the heat and were used until they got holes in them.

Later they found they should have been replaced every day…….

A rumour had it that the very last leg of the assignment was going on the roof of the reactor to clean up as much debris as possible.

Humans were going to be given a task that remote-control robots had previously attempted, but failed. The machines simply stopped working due to the unprecedented levels of radiation.

“When they told us, ‘You have to go to the roof’, we thought, ‘Oh, this means we can go home soon’,” he says.

On the day, he changed his army uniform for a protective suit, glasses and a gas mask, and a metal groin guard.

“We were all lined up and told, ‘who doesn’t want to go on the roof, step forward’. But only a couple of us did,” he says.

“There was no mass rejection. Most people went up there.

“It had to be done. We couldn’t just leave it. I think everyone realised the longer the reactor would have stayed open, the more dangerous it would have become.”

Jaan was shown on a small screen exactly which piece of debris he had to pick up with a shovel and throw off the roof of the reactor, but strictly warned against going too close to the edge.

He had two minutes to complete the assignment — a bell would ring to tell him when to run back.

The two-minute timeframe was to limit exposure to radiation, which could kill a man.

But this wasn’t communicated to the men at the time.

Jaan says the roof-cleaning scene depicted in HBO’s mini-series Chernobyl mirrored real life events…….

A staggering one-third of the men of his town who went to Chernobyl have died.

The average age of death has been 52.

“Over the past couple of years, just a couple of us have died. But not too long ago it was around 10 men a year,” he says.

“There have been cancers. There have been suicides too, but thankfully not too many.”……

he hopes tourists won’t start flocking to the ghost city.

“I hope they’ll never start sending large groups of tourists there. It’s still a dangerous zone,” he says.

He hasn’t seen the mini-series, but welcomes the attention Chernobyl disaster is getting — he thinks it acts as a warning to the human kind.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-22/chernobyl-what-it-was-really-like-on-top-of-reactor/11223876

June 22, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Attacks Gundersen – Again!

June 20, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Resources -audiovicual, 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

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

New Documentary Explores Chelsea Manning’s Fight To Live Her Truth

XY Chelsea (2019) Official Trailer | Chelsea Manning SHOWTIME Documentary

In Showtime’s “XY Chelsea,” filmmaker Tim Travers Hawkins aims to reframe the media’s narrative around the Army whistleblower, who identifies as transgender.  HuffPost By Curtis M. Wong, 5 June 19  Filmmaker Tim Travers Hawkins aims to relay former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s “sense of principles and sacrifice” in a new, sure-to-be-controversial documentary.

XY Chelsea,” which premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival in May and airs Friday on Showtime, is a compilation of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Manning, who was jailed for about seven years for leaking more than 750,000 classified diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks…… https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/xy-chelsea-manning-showtime-documentary_n_5cf672bfe4b0e8085e40b5e7

June 6, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, media, Resources -audiovicual, USA | Leave a comment

6th June- world premiere of movie ‘The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons’

Beyond Nuclear 2nd June 2019 , At 7pm, on the 6thof June, at the Village East Cinema, in Lower Manhattan,
Pressenza International Press Agency, of which I am a co-director, will
host the World Premiere of our new documentary on the Treaty to Prohibit
Nuclear Weapons.

The title, The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons, is
a reference to the speech made by Setsuko Thurlow to the assembled throng
of dignitaries and International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN)
campaigners, during her Nobel Laureate Speech in December 2017 when the
Peace Prize was awarded to ICAN. The film charts the story of the
development of the atomic bomb through to the negotiations to prohibit
nuclear weapons, and is told through the interventions of 14 people whose
roles have been key in the fields of activism and diplomacy.

https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/06/02/the-beginning-of-the-end-of-nuclear-weapons/

June 4, 2019 Posted by | ACTION, media, Resources -audiovicual, USA | Leave a comment