NATO, Fracking, Citizens United

MP3 Interview with Robert Parry, investigative journalist and editor with, conducted by Scott Harris

ukraineAn offensive by Ukraine’s military targeting the remaining enclaves of pro-Russian separatists seemed poised for victory in recent weeks, but those gains were soon reversed as the eastern Ukraine rebels re-grouped and took back territory from government troops. The Kiev government and NATO accused Russia of sending arms and soldiers across the border that helped the rebels turn the tide, ignoring American and European Union threats of additional economic sanctions.

On Sept. 5, not long after the separatists launched their counteroffensive, Ukraine’s government signed a cease-fire agreement with pro-Russian rebels in the Belarus capital of Minsk. The 12-point cease-fire plan called for an exchange of prisoners, and special autonomous status for the Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The cease-fire remains fragile with reports of violations on both sides, despite continuing dialogue between Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Throughout the recent NATO summit meeting in Wales, officials warned of the threat of an expansionist Russia citing Vladimir Putin’s March annexation of Crimea and the continuing crisis in eastern Ukraine. In an echo of the cold war, NATO announced the creation of a new rapid response military force based in Eastern Europe designed to quickly counter any future Russian incursion into the region. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with investigative journalist Robert Parry, editor of Here, Parry discusses the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine and the U.S. corporate news media’s failure to honestly report on the roots of the crisis and the role of Kiev government allied neo-Nazi militia groups.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry is one of the reporters who helped expose the Iran Contra scandal in the mid-1980s. Find links to Parry’s recent articles on Ukraine and related material by visiting Consortium News at

Related Links:

  • mp3 Interview with Robert Parry, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Sept. 8, 2014 (22:12)

    Community Joins Together to Offer Clean Water to Families Affected by Natural Gas Fracking Pollution

    Posted Sept. 10, 2014

    MP3 Interview with Rev. Lee Dreyer, pastor of the White Oaks Spring Presbyterian Church in Butler County, Pennsylvania, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

    frackingAs the Marcellus shale gas fracking boom in western Pennsylvania continues, more and more residents are finding their formerly pure well water contaminated. Most of the contamination has not been proven to be caused by the gas industry, but residents say their problems started when the gas infrastructure came in wells, processing facilities and compressor stations, along with a huge increase in heavy truck traffic.

    One group of affected residents lives in a low-income neighborhood of about 200 homes called the Woodlands, in Butler County, surrounded by 65 wells within a two-mile radius. John Stolz, a researcher from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, interviewed three-quarters of the resident and found 40 percent reported problems with their water. Testing revealed the presence of high amounts of certain chemicals, but none that are among the most toxic. Gas drilling company Rex Energy and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determined that residents’ well water didn’t differ significantly from pre-drill samples taken by the company, although Stolz notes that the wells were not tested when fracking was occurring. Further, the DEP did not test for all chemicals related to the fracking process, and the company has not revealed its pre-drill testing results.

    Nine families from the Woodlands filed lawsuits against Rex Energy last year, claiming the company’s practices contributed to the decline of their water quality, health and quality of life. The residents were left to deal with the problem on their own, until several area churches got together to set up a clean water bank. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus just completed a reporting trip to the area, where she spoke with many affected residents and Rev. Lee Dreyer, pastor of the White Oaks Spring Presbyterian Church in Butler County, which houses the water bank. Here, he describes how the water bank works, whom it serves, and what kind of resolution the affected families are seeking.

    For more information White Oaks Spring Presbyterian Church’s clean water program, visit Water in the Woodlands

    Related Links:

    • Marcellus Outreach Butler at, which works with local residents to fight the gas companies they say are responsible for contamination of their land, water and air

    MP3 Interview with Jonah Minkoff-Zern, director of Public Citizen’s Democracy is for People campaign, conducted by Scott Harris

    citizensunitedAs momentum has gathered to overturn the controversial Supreme Court rulings in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC cases that opened the floodgates of unlimited and unaccountable money in U.S. election campaigns, activists across the country have been working hard to raise the issue at both the state and federal levels.

    On Sept. 8, the U.S. Senate voted 79-to-18 to allow debate and a vote on the proposed “Democracy For All” constitutional amendment that would overturn much of the campaign finance precedents set forth by the conservative majority in the high court’s recent rulings. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, would authorize Congress and the states to regulate and limit fundraising and spending on federal candidates and would also prevent the Supreme Court from reversing future campaign finance regulations passed by Congress.

    Although Senate Democrats temporarily overcame a possible Republican filibuster, the amendment will likely be defeated because a two-thirds vote is required in both the Senate and House, followed by two-thirds of the 50 states ratifying the measure in order to become part of the U.S. Constitution. Sen. Udall, a lead sponsor of the bill, said before the vote, “We are here to say as strongly and forcefully as we can, ‘Corporations are not people.’ And were are here to take back our democracy from billionaires.” Republicans counter by asserting that campaign spending is a form of free speech. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Jonah Minkoff-Zern, director of Public Citizen’s Democracy is for People campaign, whose group turned in 3 million petition signatures supporting the Democaracy For All amendment. Here, he talks about the significance of the Senate vote and what many believe will be a long battle to victory.

    Find more information on groups working to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling by visiting Public Citizen’s Democracy is for People campaign at

    Related Links:

    • mp3 Interview Jonah Mikoff-Zern, conducted by Scott Harris, Counterpoint, Sept. 8, 2014 (25:07)

    This week’s summary of under-reported news

    MP3  MP3

    Compiled by Bob Nixon

    • For the first time in late August, Gen. Javier Florez, deputy commander of Colombia’s Army, sat down in face-to-face negotiations with representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or FARC). It marked a new and difficult stage for the Havana peace talks to end the 50-year civil war in Colombia. (The Economist; Agence France Press)
    • For the first time, the top United States immigration court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, ruled that migrants who are the victims of domestic abuse in their home country can apply for asylum in the U.S. (Mother Jones, New York Times)
    • Deep underneath the New Mexico desert, a 55-gallon drum of nuclear waste buried in a salt shaft broke apart in February, releasing a white foam laced with plutonium that went airborne and up a ventilation duct contaminating 21 workers with low-level radiation. (Los Angeles Times)

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