Award-winning Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Award-winning investigative journalist and founder/editor of, Robert Parry has passed away. His ground-breaking work uncovering Reagan-era dirty wars in Central America and many other illegal and immoral policies conducted by successive administrations and U.S. intelligence agencies, stands as an inspiration to all in journalists working in the public interest.

Robert had been a regular guest on our Between The Lines and Counterpoint radio shows -- and many other progressive outlets across the U.S. over four decades.

His penetrating analysis of U.S. foreign policy and international conflicts will be sorely missed, and not easily replaced. His son Nat Parry writes a tribute to his father: Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews.

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For those who missed the event, or were there and really wanted to fully absorb its import, here it is in video

Jeremy Scahill keynote speech, part 1 from PROUDEYEMEDIA on Vimeo.

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JEREMY SCAHILL: Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker "Dirty Wars"

Listen to the full interview (30:33) with Jeremy Scahill, an award-winning investigative journalist with the Nation Magazine, correspondent for Democracy Now! and author of the bestselling book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," about America's outsourcing of its military. In an exclusive interview with Counterpoint's Scott Harris on Sept. 16, 2013, Scahill talks about his latest book, "Dirty Wars, The World is a Battlefield," also made into a documentary film under the same title, and was nominated Dec. 5, 2013 for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category.

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Flawed Nuclear Power Technology Presents a Dire Threat to Human Health in Japan, World

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March 16, 2011

Interview with Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist with Beyond Nuclear, conducted by Melinda Tuhus


The disasters that have befallen Japan continue to multiply. Thousands are already confirmed dead, with the toll expected to exceed 10,000 from both the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the tsunami it triggered, which struck the island nation on March 11. Add to these already cataclysmic conditions the failures of the cooling systems, hydrogen explosions, fires and ultimately the possible breach of containment structures at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in the northern part of the country, where three reactors were operating at the time.

The failures at the nuclear plant may result in the worst scenario imaginable, a meltdown -- with a massive release of radiation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area -- and another 140,000 living in proximity to the plants being ordered to stay inside their homes, sealing them up as best they can to prevent radiation exposure.

Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist with the group Beyond Nuclear, whose mission is to educate and activate the public on the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The group advocates for the abandonment of both to safeguard the planet's future. Kamps talks about the effects of exposure to radiation on human health -- and why building more nuclear plants in the U.S. is not the solution to our energy needs or to address the dangers of global warming. The information in this interview reflects facts known about Japan's nuclear plant accident on March 15.

KEVIN KAMPS: Well, it's fair to say this is an unprecedented nuclear emergency in history. There were news reports even 24 hours ago that radioactive cesium had been detected outside of the facilities in the outdoors. So radioactive cesium is escaping at Fukushima, as is radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine 131 attacks the thyroid gland, and that's why there's already been widespread distribution of potassium iodide tablets to evacuees, who -- the latest figure I saw -- now number about 350,000 people, which means this is an evacuation as big as the evacuation that took place around Chernobyl 25 years ago.

It's a good thing they're distributing potassium iodide. They did not do that at Chernobyl -- there's been a thyroid pathology epidemic at Ukraine, Russia and Belarus ever since Chernobyl happened, because they didn't distribute these protective tablets. But one problem in Japan is that they, again, were downplaying the situation in the early hours. They only evacuated people two miles out from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and they were telling everyone else just to stay indoors. Well, they should have evacuated those people in the beginning. Everybody should have been given potassium iodide tablets immediately. They were not, so there were many hours when people were in their homes, as little as three kilometers away from this reactor in distress, without potassium iodide tablets, breathing radioactivity in the air -- radioactive gases, radioactive particles in fine dust form. If radioactive cesium and radioactive iodine are loose in the environment, that means there has at least been fuel damage; we knew that 24 hours ago. But now we know that there is a partial meltdown, because the authorities have admitted it.

There are over 200 different radioactive isotopes in nuclear fuel, in high-level radioactive waste, and many of them are biologically hazardous, so any talk of benign radioactivity or less harmful radioactivity is very misleading, is very downplaying. You name the radioactive isotope; it's going to have its own particular impact on the human body. Radioactive cesium seeks muscle tissue; radioactive strontium seeks bone; radioactive iodine seeks the thyroid. Plutonium -- a microscopic speck in your lung, if inhaled, will initiate lung cancer. It may take a decade or two, but you will have lung cancer someday if you inhale plutonium. That, too, may be being released right now in Japan, because the fuel has melted down. Everything in it is now airborne; it's being driven out of the reactor into the environment by steam and pressure and falling out downwind over vast territories at this point.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Kevin Kamps, someone I respect a lot -- James Hansen -- says we need more nuclear power to offset fossil fuels to reduce the threat of climate change. These existing plants are mostly, like, 40 years old. What about a new generation of nukes with a different design?

KEVIN KAMPS: Well, I'm sorry to have to say that James Hansen really needs to do his research on the subject. I know that he is a brilliant climatologist and very courageous in that regard. But his advocacy for generation 4 atomic energy as some kind of solution to the climate crisis is very misplaced. The reason I say that is that generation 4 atomic reactors are decades off, most optimistically, because they are not, as you said, in existence yet; they are merely on paper. To give you an idea of even the flaws of generation 4 proposals, about a decade ago, the top leading candidate generation 4 atomic reactor -- again, this is all theory, it's not reality yet -- it was called a pebble bed modular reactor. And the best selling point for the industry on this reactor was that we're going to save a whole lot of money in the construction of these reactors because we're not going to build containment buildings because they are so inherently safe you couldn't possibly melt one down and you don't need containment if you're not going to have a meltdown. Well, September 11 happened, and the major U.S. partner in the deal walked away; a South African firm was leading this effort, and Excelon Nuclear of Chicago walked away from the project because without a containment building, this reactor -- even if it were true, which it's not, that it was inherently safe -- would be wide open to terrorist attack. And just like with the Chernobyl reactor, the pebble bed modular reactor used a lot of graphite in its design; graphite is flammable. So from a security perspective, it was wide open to an attack and catastrophic radioactivity release.

But even the safety issues with that reactor were very real. In Germany a pebble bed modular reactor that was research in scale suffered a radiation release about the same time as Chernobyl disaster. So we've had accidents; we've had the risk of attack; that was the lead candidate generation 4 design. The thing is, something that's that far off in the future anyway -- not even perfected, far from perfected, actually risky -- it can't help us with the climate crisis. As Hansen himself has said, we have a decade or two to turn this thing around in a very big way. We can't wait a generation for these new reactors to show up. And besides waiting that long, these new reactors are going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars in research and development, and then finally construction. So we could waste a whole lot of time and money and breath arguing about more atomic energy of a better form. But we could solve the problem in the meantime, if we chose to, with renewables, with efficiency, that do not have radiological risks whatsoever.

Contact Beyond Nuclear at (301) 270-2209 or visit their website at

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