Friday, September 23, 2011

Most of what's 'News' is Crap!

I hold a degree in nuclear engineering. So, in this area at least, I feel I'm competent to listen to what's on the news as someone who's at least somewhat knowledgeable in nuclear issues. From this one area, where I know enough to think on my own, I am left with the belief that most of what's on American 'news' is crap and lies.

 Lets review a little bit of 'recent' news'

 -- Saddam Hussein has a nuclear weapons program and is close to being able to nuke the US.

Well, we all know, if we stop and think about it, that this was total crap. It turns out the Saddam had shut down the nuclear program that he'd run with US and western european support when the sanctions kicked. This of course made total sense as a nuclear program is big and expensive and no matter how much 'oil for food' was scammed and leaked, Saddam still had a lot less money under the sanctions than he had before. And of course, the weapons inspectors who'd been in the country were telling us exactly the same thing. That they had uncovered Saddam's nuclear program, that it was shut down, and that the inspectors were just working to fill in some paperwork blanks to understand what had happened.

-- Iran has a nuclear program and is close to being able to nuke the US.

Well, its not official that this is total crap, but the signs sure point this way. Especially since its pretty much the same people saying this that told everyone that Saddam was going to nuke the US within months. Again, the inspectors consistently say they see no signs of Iran having anything other than a civilian nuclear program with no enrichment anywhere near the 95-98% levels they'd need for a bomb.

-- Fukushima. 

It took them months to admit that they had melted the cores within hours of the earthquake. They recently just admitted that three times as much radiation has been dumped into the ocean as previously admitted. Now it seems that they've 'redefined' the magnitude scale of earthquakes to declare that this was a '9.0' that couldn't have been expected. The real magnitude appears to have been around 8.3 or 8.4, and the reactors were supposed to be designed to handle that. The same liars that claim that only 39 people died because of Chernobyl say no one has died this time. But remember, some of the cancers caused by Fukushima' radiation won't even be known for up to 40 years.

-- Missouri river nuke plants.

In the US, two nuclear plants were in severe danger from the flooding of the Missouri River last summer. Both needed emergency dikes and sandbags to keep the water from critical areas. And remember the real lesson from Fukushima that the news doesn't want to talk about. Every operating nuclear plant has a core that is very hot and takes months to cool down. Until then, you must have pumps running to keep cool water flowing past this hot core to cool it. Failure of these pumps at Fukushima led to melting nuclear reactor cores within hours. Good thing those sandbags held, because if they hadn't the pumps at the reactors along the Missouri River would have lost the power their pumps needed. Of course, the American news presented this as a minor curiousity that people didn't need to be concerned with.

-- America attacks itself with dirty bombs.

Not exactly a breaking news story, as we've done this damage to ourselves over 50 years. But, still, don't count on CNN making a big deal that the one measurable result of the American nuclear weapons program is that we have places like Rocky Flats that won't be safe for human occupation for generations. Same with Hanford, WA, Savanah River Plant, and some of the canyons off the back of Los Alamos. Plus we have leaking tank after leaking tank of highly dangerous nuclear waste as a byproduct of making nuclear weapons. We've never fought a nuclear war, but you can find the spots in the US that are now fenced off (hopefully) and where our quest for nuclear weapons has destroyed parts of America as surely as if we'd launched 'dirty bomb' attacks on ourselves.

 As someone with a background in nuclear engineering, in at least this area, the news and information presented to Americans is absolutely horrible. At the very best its very bad and very biased reporting, when it doesn't seem like we are being fed out-right lies. I'm not an expert in say food-safety, so I can't judge how good or how accurate the 'news' is in telling us how safe the food we eat really is. But, I do have an education as a nuclear engineer, and from that background, the 'news' we are watching and listening to is horrible.

In my house, I've used the parental blocking features of my tv system to block all the American 24 hour news channels from my house. No CNN, no FAUX, no GE-TV (aka MSNBC, CNBC). I use my TV's controls to block all of this from my home. I'm not uninformed. And I benefit from not getting all the lies and misinformation fed to me. From what I can see in the nuclear area, I'm not missing much. My advice to anyone is that they do the same and turn these 'news' channels off.

[edit 9/26]
I wrote the above before I saw the following about a study from the Pew Research Ctr. Apparently, I'm with the vast majority of Americans in believing that the 'news' is crap.

Only one-quarter of those surveyed say news orgs get the facts right, a new low since 1985 when the question was first asked. Two-thirds (66 percent) say stories are often inaccurate, a new high. And nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that journalists try to cover up their mistakes, rather than admit them.

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