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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The Resistance Starts Now!

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SPECIAL REPORT: "The Resistance - Women's March 2018 - Hartford, Connecticut" Jan. 20, 2018

Selected speeches from the Women's March in Hartford, Connecticut 2018, recorded and produced by Scott Harris

SPECIAL REPORT: "No Fracking Waste in CT!" Jan. 14, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "Resistance Round Table: The Unraveling Continues..." Jan. 13, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: "Capitalism to the ash heap?" Richard Wolff, Jan. 2, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: Maryn McKenna, author of "Big Chicken", Dec. 7, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Nina Turner's address, Working Families Party Awards Banquet, Dec. 14, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Mic Check, Dec. 12, 2017

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SPECIAL REPORT: Mic Check, Nov. 12, 2017

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SPECIAL REPORT: Rainy Day Radio, Nov. 7, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Resisting U.S. JeJu Island military base in South Korea, Oct. 24, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: John Allen, Out in New Haven

2017 Gandhi Peace Awards

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who helped make our 25th anniversary with Jeremy Scahill a success!

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.

Jeremy Scahill keynote speech, part 2 from PROUDEYEMEDIA on Vimeo.

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Between The Lines Presentation at the Left Forum 2016

"How Do We Build A Mass Movement to Reverse Runaway Inequality?" with Les Leopold, author of "Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice,"May 22, 2016, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 860 11th Ave. (Between 58th and 59th), New York City. Between The Lines' Scott Harris and Richard Hill moderated this workshop. Listen to the audio/slideshows and more from this workshop.

Listen to audio of the plenary sessions from the weekend.

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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Investigation Reveals Dangers at Aging U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

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Posted June 29, 2011

Interview with Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, conducted by Scott Harris


As corporate media coverage of the ongoing disaster at the four failed nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan has faded, a new concern has emerged in the U.S. as flood waters threaten two nuclear plants on the Missouri River. Both Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun nuclear plant and the Cooper Nuclear Station sit on the shores of the Missouri River, which is now facing record flood levels. The Fort Calhoun plant has been shut down for refueling since April, and operators there have installed berms, floodgates and piled up sandbags to help protect the facility. When floods caused the local electricity grid to fail, emergency generators had to be used to supply power to keep the reactor cool and prevent a meltdown, such as occurred in Fukushima. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has assured the public that the plant is equipped to safely survive the flood.

Adding to heightened concern about the safety of nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster, is the publication of a new Associated Press investigation into the failure of nuclear regulators in the U.S. to enforce already weakened safety regulations. In an investigative series titled, "Aging Nukes," the AP's Jeff Don found evidence that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, has colluded with the nuclear power industry to weaken safety standards in order to continue operating older, potentially dangerous nuclear plants. The AP report also discovered that radioactive tritium has leaked from 48 of the 65 U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard -- sometimes at hundreds of times the limit.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, who examines the concerns raised by the Associated Press investigation -- and the call by three U.S. senators for a federal investigation into safety standards and oversight at the nation's 104 nuclear power reactors.

MICHAEL MARIOTTE: The first thing of interest, I think, is they documented something we found ourselves not long ago, as well, which is that radioactive tritium has leaked at three-quarters of the U.S. nuclear sites. It's leaked into local groundwater, it's leaked off site in many places and it's leaked at levels far higher than are allowable in drinking water. Now, there isn't at this point, evidence that this has actually leaked into drinking water, but tritium is very mobile, and if it gets into groundwater then it can move very quickly. So it's concerning, and what should be especially concerning, of course is that the industry's constant refrain of nuclear safety and that they don't have leaks and that kind of thing. But in fact, three-quarters of the nation's nuclear sites have experienced these leaks over the last decade or so. That's one thing.

The other thing is -- and this is something that those of us who work closely on this business are also pretty aware of -- is that as the U.S. reactor fleet ages, the average reactor in the U.S. is more than 20 years old. A lot of them are more than 30 years old, a few are right around 40 years old, and as they get older, just like any other piece of machinery -- any other large complicated mechanical thing you can think of -- as they age, they experience more problems. And this is particularly true in a reactor, where you not only have a sort of a normal kind of aging that you might find in a car or a factory or anything else -- these are operating in environments of extremely high heat and extremely high radiation, and that causes different effects on materials than would be the case under a non-nuclear environment.

What the AP found is a pattern of the NRC giving exemptions from regulations to utilities to allow them not to have to spend a lot of money to keep these reactors running; relaxing regulations to make them easier to meet for utilities and generally bending over backwards to keep these reactors (operating) at a cost that the utilities are willing to pay. Now if the utilities were willing to pay any cost, that would be one thing, but for the utilities, these older reactors are basically cash cows. These old reactors, the initial construction costs have been paid for and now, they just want to run them flat out and make as much money as they can until they can't run any more.

BETWEEN THE LINES: What do you feel Congress should be doing right now in terms of investigating the charges in this Associated Press investigative piece? What do they need to do?

MICHAEL MARIOTTE: Well, three senators -- Sen. (Barbara) Boxer of California, (Sheldon) Whitehouse of Rhode Island and (Bernie) Sanders of Vermont -- actually have already called for a congressional investigation of all of these charges. And Sen. Boxer herself is actually in the best position to do that, she is the chair of the Senate Environment Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She's called for an investigation. Well, she ought to go ahead and get it going, and I suspect probably she will. And I think what they need to do -- from our perspective -- is to not only bring in the commissioners and talk to them -- the commissioners are the ones appointed by the president and who set the policy.

But, I think they need to bring in some of the high-level staff people as well, who are career people. There's a major revolving door between the NRC and the nuclear industry, as you might expect; it's not unusual in government. And they need to bring these kinds of people in and find out exactly why in some of these specific instances, for example, fire protection, why nearly 30 years -- actually more than that -- 35 years after a major fire at the Browns Ferry reactor in Alabama caused the NRC to write rules to protect reactors from fires, why most of the reactors in the United States still don't meet those rules. And it's a national scandal that they don't. We've been pushing and pushing and pushing for 20 years ourselves to get them to take this seriously, and the NRC constantly gives exemptions and amendments and allows these reactors to operate even though they don't meet the fire protection rules.

And I'll just give you a very concrete example so you know what we're talking about. The rules say that the wiring from the control room to the safety system -- everything's electric, so you need these wires -- that these wires should be protected by fire barriers; by materials that can't catch fire, so that in the event that you do have a fire, the wires aren't going to burn, and you're going to be able to control the reactor. Well, all these years later, a lot of plants still don't have these barriers in place, and as a substitute the NRC allows fire "watches," which is a guy who walks the plant and looks for fire, and if he doesn't see a fire, he keeps on walking around the plant. And they do this every couple of hours, 24 hours a day, and that's the fire protection program. And that's just not acceptable.

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