Democracy Now! 2015-08-20 Thursday

The Iran nuclear deal is coming under fresh scrutiny from Republican lawmakers following a new report by the Associated Press about a secret arrangement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency to allow Iran to use its own inspectors to investigate the Parchin military site. Supporters of the Iran deal have downplayed the report, pointing out that Iranian inspectors will work under close supervision of the IAEA. The new AP report comes about halfway through the 60-day period that Congress has to scrutinize the Iran nuclear deal. Both houses of Congress plan to vote next month on a measure to disapprove, or block, the deal. So far, just two Senate Democrats have broken with their party to oppose the agreement: Senators Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez. We speak to Gary Sick of Columbia University. He served on the National Security Council under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. He recently wrote an article for Politico called "The Danger of a Failed Iran Deal.”

Former President Jimmy Carter revealed today cancer had spread to his brain and that he would begin radiation treatment later in the day. He made the comment during his first public remarks about his cancer. We ask Gary Sick about his former boss. Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.

A group of leading Islamic scholars have issued a declaration calling on the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to do their part to eliminate dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and turn toward renewable energy sources. The declaration urges world leaders meeting in Paris later this year to commit to a 100 percent zero-emissions strategy and to invest in decentralized renewable energy in order to reduce poverty and the catastrophic impacts of climate change. The declaration comes on the heels of the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment earlier this year, which also calls for sweeping action on climate change. Like the encyclical, this declaration, endorsed by more than 60 leading Islamic scholars, links climate change to the economic system, stating: "We recognize the corruption that humans have caused on the Earth due to our relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption." We speak to Bangladeshi climate scientist Saleemul Huq, one of the contributors and signatories to the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change.

Four months ago, Samuel Harrell died at New York’s Fishkill Correctional Facility. At the time, officers claimed Harrell, an African-American prisoner with bipolar disorder, may have overdosed on synthetic marijuana, known as K2. But The New York Times recently obtained an autopsy report that determined Harrell’s death was a homicide caused by a "physical altercation with corrections officers." According to interviews conducted by The New York Times, Harrell died after as many as 20 corrections officers kicked, punched and dragged him down a flight of stairs while he was handcuffed. Some of the officers were known around the prison as the Beat Up Squad. Officers then called an ambulance and told the medical crew Harrell may have overdosed on synthetic marijuana, known as K2. Harrell died that night in a nearby hospital. We speak to Michael Schwirtz, reporter at The New York Times.

When two prisoners escaped the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, in June, the story dominated national headlines. Little attention was paid to what was going on inside the prison during the search. Though it was prison employees who were implicated in helping the two men escape, The New York Times recently revealed a campaign of retribution was waged against other prisoners. Some were beaten while handcuffed, choked and slammed against cell bars and walls. One prisoner was threatened with waterboarding. We speak to Michael Schwirtz, reporter at The New York Times.

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