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The Prism

Eye on the Media
  More than a laughing matter
Not to worry
The Gofman Challenge
Charles Kuralt as Propaganda Paragon
  More than a laughing matter

There's a new feminist zine around town. Ha! recently appeared as a 56-page, quarterly, magazine-style free publication, and contains essays, poetry, fiction, and art from local feminists.

Ha! is a product of the Lilith collective-named after the woman who in many Near Eastern and Teutonic myths was created from earth like Adam but took issue with Adam's need to bonk animals. God apparently sided with Adam, and so did creators of the Christian canon, who deleted Lilith from Biblical texts.

Collective members Lisa Garmon and Dianne Winninger have helped out with the Prism many, many times. They also were responsible for our 'Women's Issues' section back in March.

Check for Ha! at Internationalist Books and around town, or on the Web at http://www.unc.edu/~cherylt>.

Jeff Saviano

Not to Worry

When 20 NC legislators came out against the Wake County nuclear waste dump ($100 million plus in "studies" and counting) NC Low Level Radioactive Waste Authority chairman Warren Corgan called it "a predictable response from politicians whose districts surround an undesirable new arrival." (N&O 6/26/97) Waste Authority executive director Walter Sturgeon claimed this site is "the best place in North Carolina to put low-level waste," in the same article. A nearby article described how Duke Energy, the Carolinas' largest producer of nuclear waste, had cut off N&O columnist Barry Saunders' electricity on a hot Friday afternoon, which Saunders suspects was a scam to get the $77.25 weekend re-connect fee out of him.

The proposed dump site had been excluded early in NC's "search" for a site, based on both technical and legal requirements. It's amid wetlands next to a lake (and a nuclear power plant whose routine radioactive waste leaks could mask leaks from the dump). It also sits atop rock with incredibly complex fractures and lots of groundwater,where test wells only 20 feet apart have vastly differing water levels that can rise or fall rapidly. Hint: this is a ready transit system for leaks from the waste dumpers want to bury there.

The site was put back into play based on social and political considerations from a $900,000 study by a public relations firm, which remains sealed because revealing its contents "might embarrass the [Low Level Rad Waste] Authority." Public documents show the criteria used included making a location near poor people and minorities a plus (the Wake dump is in a mostly African-American area) and ruling out dumps near chicken farms, golf courses and soup factories (gotta protect those golfballs and chickens).

That weekend re-connect fee is nothing compared to the liability NC taxpayers will assume for low-level waste from Duke, CP&L and many other nuclear companies (producers of about 97% of the radioactivity in "low-level" waste) if the Wake County dump is built. The dump contractor lacks the assets to pay any significant damages.

The Gofman Challenge

Radiation expert John Gofman (now finishing a new book on the deadly dangers of "low-level" global radiation) has a new way to test claims that nuclear radiation exposure can be "safe." His modest proposal: Challenge anyone who declares that a certain level of radiation exposure is "safe" to voluntarily be exposed to that amount of radiation under monitored conditions.

Because most folks who claim "low-level" nuclear radiation won't hurt you (much) are making big bucks, you could call Gofman's challenge "put your mouth where your money is." If Messrs. Corgan and Sturgeon want to comply, I guess they'll have to eat a couple of ground-up demolished nuclear power plants. Wake County is the planned dumping ground for 10 or more of them, including intensely radioactive components, tons of contaminated materials including steel and concrete, and filters and resins full of nuclear waste. The dump, by the way, is legally allowed to begin leaking this stuff after 100 years, far less than the half-life of many of the radioactive elements in nuclear waste. And you know how dumps are about obeying the law. "Low-level" dumps in NY and IL have needed hundreds of millions to over a billion dollars just to slow down the waste escaping from them, so far. Suffer the Children

Kudos to the Chapel Hill News (6/29) for an article on Americans taking in children with damage from the Chernobyl nuclear blow-up of 1986. The children will get food with far less contamination than is available in their homes in Belarus, plus adequate protein. In Belarus, CHN reports, a half-pound of pork can cost a year's pay, and grazing animals are too contaminated to be eaten. To contribute, you may send checks to ABRO (American Belarussian Relief Organization) c/o Allison Culpeper, 3122 Laurelwood Dr., Matthews, NC 28105.

-Wells Eddleman

Charles Kuralt as Propaganda Paragon: Captive Memory for the Captive Nations

Charles Kuralt, who was not a knee-jerk booster of US policies, must already be turning over in his Chapel Hill gravesite, thanks to an extremely revealing little item in the local section of the Raleigh News & Observer (July 12).

The article, entitled "Forum works on U.S. image," encapsulates much of the task at hand for the corporate and governmental global media (who work quite cooperatively). That task centers on the fact that the problem of how to sweeten the often bullying and brutal image of the United States abroad is a unifying concern for everyone from the liberal Bill Friday to the death squad rightist Jesse Helms.

This diverse range of manipulators met for a forum called by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the US government's propaganda operations overseas.

In bemoaning the current US image, Friday, former President of the UNC system, exclaimed, "It's not what Charles talked about . It's crime, it's greed, it's vulgarity-vastly too much of it. What Charles Kuralt taught us about were the people in the middle of the country. They're not sinners, they're not sarcastic, they haven't given up on the country. But we don't do a good job of telling their stories."

And David Burke, board chair and a former president of CBS News, got to the heart of the vexing matter: "How do we ever, in international broadcasting, ever broadcast to the world that America is decent? How could we ever capture Charles Kuralt?"

But forget those wimpy liberals, leave it to the real muscular fiber of American policy know-how: Jesse Helms himself flew in special to announce that the "board had started a scholarship in Kuralt's honor to sponsor a journalism student from UNC-Chapel Hill at the Voice of America each year."

Bringing up the posterior of this little junta were the academics. UNC journalism professor Robert Stevenson cited statistics from Freedom House that 40 percent of the world lives in countries with no free media, and another 40 percent live in nations with only "partly free" media. (Presumably we live in the privileged sliver that has completely free media.)

That's too broad a target to parody further. However, academics concerned about credibility might act with caution around outfits that use such self-adulatory names as "Freedom House." For instance, FH is the same den of moral arbiters that invited Jonas Savimbi, Angolan rebel leader, as an honored guest speaker. That was at a time (the 1980s) when he was known to be behind some of the worst human rights atrocities in Africa and was allied with South African apartheid forces invading Angola.

No matter. I forgot. It's the image that's important.

The photo which accompanied the article, depicting Helms and other board members, is pricelessly nightmarish. . . .Yes, not too unlike the photos of the Reichskanzler himself surrounded by the German General Staff from those halcyon days at the high tide of Nazi domination of Europe, contemplating a world map. "We must appropriate the image of the Germany of Goethe and Beethoven in our broadcasts. But how do we ever do it?" Posted Prisms Pummel Army Post Prostrate-We can brag on Bragg

We have received word that the undermining of our nation's defense institutions proceeds apace-just as we planned.

Recent articles appearing in The Prism, one on the "School of Assassins" (May/June, 1997, about Ft. Benning's School of the Americas) and another on the US military's role in rescuing Haiti's death squads (May 1996) have been posted on a bulletin board at Ft. Bragg.

Reportedly, soldiers, on seeing these insidious devices from an internal hostile force, were taken unawares and were stricken by disabling laughter.

-David Kirsh


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