Democracy Now! - January 14, 2016

On today's episode of Democracy Now! 

This week is not looking kind to opponents of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran. On Wednesday, Iran freed 10 U.S. sailors less than 24 hours after their two U.S. ships entered Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. This comes just days before the Iran nuclear deal is set to take effect, easing sanctions and freeing up billions in frozen Iranian money. Is this a new era for U.S.-Iran ties? We are joined by Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, author of the forthcoming book, "Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Legacy of Diplomacy."

Today is day 84 of a runaway natural gas leak above Los Angeles that has emitted more than 150 million pounds of methane, described as the nation’s biggest environmental disaster since the BP oil spill. Nearly 3,000 families in the community of Porter Ranch have been relocated into temporary housing. California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the area last week. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change 86 times more than carbon dioxide. At its peak, the leak has spewed the equivalent pollution of 4.5 million cars each day. On top of the impact to surrounding communities, the Porter Ranch leak has raised concerns about similar incidents across the state and around the country. There are 14 such natural gas storage facilities in California and more than 400 across the United States. Critics say they are plagued by ailing infrastructure and a lack of adequate regulation. We are joined by two guests: Tim O’Connor, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oil and Gas Program in California, and David Balen, president of Renaissance Homeowners Association, located just outside of the well site.

Health and environmental experts are accusing the Obama administration of caving to the meat industry in its new dietary guidelines. While the guidelines recommend consuming less sugar, they do not recommend eating less meat. This comes after an intensive lobbying campaign by the meat industry and despite recent findings by the World Health Organization that processed meat can cause cancer. We are joined by Lawrence Gostin, university professor and faculty director at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law.

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