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weapon of mass destruction media coverage, public perception, in popular culture and common hazard symbols..
May 21, 2017
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In 2004, the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) released a report[54] examining the media’s coverage of WMD issues during three separate periods: nuclear weapons tests by India and Pakistan in May 1998; the U.S. announcement of evidence of a North Korean nuclear weapons program in October 2002; and revelations about Iran’s nuclear program in May 2003. The CISSM report notes that poor coverage resulted less from political bias among the media than from tired journalistic conventions. The report’s major findings were that:

Most media outlets represented WMD as a monolithic menace, failing to adequately distinguish between weapons programs and actual weapons or to address the real differences among chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological weapons.
Most journalists accepted the Bush administration’s formulation of the “War on Terror” as a campaign against WMD, in contrast to coverage during the Clinton era, when many journalists made careful distinctions between acts of terrorism and the acquisition and use of WMD.
Many stories stenographically reported the incumbent administration’s perspective on WMD, giving too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats, and policy options.
Too few stories proffered alternative perspectives to official line, a problem exacerbated by the journalistic prioritizing of breaking-news stories and the “inverted pyramid” style of storytelling.
In a separate study published in 2005,[55] a group of researchers assessed the effects reports and retractions in the media had on people’s memory regarding the search for WMD in Iraq during the 2003 Iraq War. The study focused on populations in two coalition countries (Australia and the United States) and one opposed to the war (Germany). Results showed that U.S. citizens generally did not correct initial misconceptions regarding WMD, even following disconfirmation; Australian and German citizens were more responsive to retractions. Dependence on the initial source of information led to a substantial minority of Americans exhibiting false memory that WMD were indeed discovered, while they were not. This led to three conclusions:

The repetition of tentative news stories, even if they are subsequently disconfirmed, can assist in the creation of false memories in a substantial proportion of people.
Once information is published, its subsequent correction does not alter people’s beliefs unless they are suspicious about the motives underlying the events the news stories are about.
When people ignore corrections, they do so irrespective of how certain they are that the corrections occurred.
A poll conducted between June and September 2003 asked people whether they thought evidence of WMD had been discovered in Iraq since the war ended. They were also asked which media sources they relied upon. Those who obtained their news primarily from Fox News were three times as likely to believe that evidence of WMD had been discovered in Iraq than those who relied on PBS and NPR for their news, and one third more likely than those who primarily watched CBS.
In 2006 Fox News reported the claims of two Republican lawmakers that WMDs had been found in Iraq,[57] based upon unclassified portions of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center. Quoting from the report, Senator Rick Santorum said “Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent”. According to David Kay, who appeared before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee to discuss these badly corroded munitions, they were leftovers, many years old, improperly stored or destroyed by the Iraqis.[58] Charles Duelfer agreed, stating on NPR’s Talk of the Nation: “When I was running the ISG – the Iraq Survey Group – we had a couple of them that had been turned in to these IEDs, the improvised explosive devices. But they are local hazards. They are not a major, you know, weapon of mass destruction.”[59]

Later, wikileaks would show that WMDs of these kinds continued to be found as the Iraqi occupation continued.[60]

Many news agencies, including Fox News, reported the conclusions of the CIA that, based upon the investigation of the Iraq Survey Group, WMDs are yet to be found in Iraq.
Awareness and opinions of WMD have varied during the course of their history. Their threat is a source of unease, security, and pride to different people. The anti-WMD movement is embodied most in nuclear disarmament, and led to the formation of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1957.

In order to increase awareness of all kinds of WMD, in 2004 the nuclear physicist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Joseph Rotblat inspired the creation of The WMD Awareness Programme[63] to provide trustworthy and up to date information on WMD worldwide.

In 1998 University of New Mexico’s Institute for Public Policy released their third report[64] on U.S. perceptions – including the general public, politicians and scientists – of nuclear weapons since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Risks of nuclear conflict, proliferation, and terrorism were seen as substantial.

While maintenance of the U.S. nuclear arsenal was considered above average in importance, there was widespread support for a reduction in the stockpile, and very little support for developing and testing new nuclear weapons.

Also in 1998, but after the UNM survey was conducted, nuclear weapons became an issue in India’s election of March,[65] in relation to political tensions with neighboring Pakistan. Prior to the election the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced it would “declare India a nuclear weapon state” after coming to power.

BJP won the elections, and on 14 May, three days after India tested nuclear weapons for the second time, a public opinion poll reported that a majority of Indians favored the country’s nuclear build-up.[citation needed]

On 15 April 2004, the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) reported[66] that U.S. citizens showed high levels of concern regarding WMD, and that preventing the spread of nuclear weapons should be “a very important U.S. foreign policy goal”, accomplished through multilateral arms control rather than the use of military threats.

A majority also believed the United States should be more forthcoming with its biological research and its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commitment of nuclear arms reduction.

A Russian opinion poll conducted on 5 August 2005 indicated half the population believes new nuclear powers have the right to possess nuclear weapons.[67] 39% believes the Russian stockpile should be reduced, though not fully eliminated.
Weapons of mass destruction and their related impacts have been a mainstay of popular culture since the beginning of the Cold War, as both political commentary and humorous outlet. The actual phrase “weapons of mass destruction” has been used similarly and as a way to characterise any powerful force or product since the Iraqi weapons crisis in the lead up to the Coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Weapons of mass destruction and their related impacts have been a mainstay of popular culture since the beginning of the Cold War, as both political commentary and humorous outlet. The actual phrase “weapons of mass destruction” has been used similarly and as a way to characterise any powerful force or product since the Iraqi weapons crisis in the lead up to the Coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The international radioactivity symbol (also known as trefoil) first appeared in 1946, at the University of California, Berkeley Radiation Laboratory. At the time, it was rendered as magenta, and was set on a blue background.[68]

It is drawn with a central circle of radius R, the blades having an internal radius of 1.5R and an external radius of 5R, and separated from each other by 60°.[69] It is meant to represent a radiating atom.

The International Atomic Energy Agency found that the trefoil radiation symbol is unintuitive and can be variously interpreted by those uneducated in its meaning; therefore, its role as a hazard warning was compromised as it did not clearly indicate “danger” to many non-Westerners and children who encountered it. As a result of research, a new radiation hazard symbol was developed in 2007 to be placed near the most dangerous parts of radiation sources featuring a skull, someone running away, and using a red rather than yellow background.[70]

The red background is intended to convey urgent danger, and the sign is intended to be used on equipment where very strong radiation fields can be encountered if the device is dismantled or otherwise tampered with. The intended use of the sign is not in a place where the normal user will see it, but in a place where it will be seen by someone who has started to dismantle a radiation-emitting device or equipment. The aim of the sign is to warn people such as scrap metal workers to stop work and leave the area.[71]

Biological weaponry/hazard symbol Edit
Developed by Dow Chemical company in the 1960s for their containment products.[72]

According to Charles Dullin, an environmental-health engineer who contributed to its development:[69]

We wanted something that was memorable but meaningless, so we could educate people as to what it means.

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