Democracy Now! 2014-07-16 Wednesday
Iraq remains on the verge of splintering into three separate states as Sunni militants expand their stronghold in the north and west of Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared itself a caliphate last month and now controls large parts of northern and western Iraq and much of eastern Syria. Recent advances byISIS, including in the city of Tikrit, come amidst leaks revealing extensive Pentagon concerns over its effort to advise the Iraqi military. Iraqi politicians, meanwhile, are scrambling to form a power-sharing government in an effort to save Iraq from splintering into separate Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish states. We are joined by two guests: Reporting live from Baghdad is Hannah Allam, foreign affairs correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers; and joining us from London is Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent and author of the forthcoming book, "The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising."
Secretary of State John Kerry says he is returning to Washington, D.C., to consult with President Obama following talks with Iran over its nuclear program. Speaking on Tuesday, Kerry cited "tangible progress" on key issues, but said "very real gaps" remain ahead of a Sunday deadline. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran could freeze its nuclear capacity in exchange for sanctions relief, but Kerry would not say if the United States would agree. The main dispute is over Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Tehran claims it will need to expand to fuel its nuclear power reactor. The United States counters that this would allow Iran to enrich enough uranium at a high level to make a nuclear weapon, and wants Tehran to cut back sharply on its enrichment capability for as long as 20 years. We dissect the negotiations with investigative journalist Gareth Porter, author of the book, "Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare." Porter recently returned from a trip to Tehran where he interviewed top Iranian officials, including Zarif and the country’s nuclear chief.
Jose Antonio Vargas, one of the country’s best-known undocumented immigrants, was detained by the U.S. Border Patrol on Tuesday. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Vargas came to the United States from the Philippines in 1993 at the age of 12. After reporting for the Washington Post and other outlets, he revealed his undocumented status in a widely read essay in 2011. Vargas recently traveled to the Texas border to document the crisis of thousands of migrant children fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. But he soon realized he might have trouble leaving due to the heavy presence of Border Patrol agents and checkpoints. On Tuesday, Vargas was arrested at McAllen-Miller International Airport and held for about eight hours. His detention became a top U.S. trend on Twitter, with hundreds using the hashtag #IStandWithJose. As the country watched, Vargas was eventually released with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. In a statement after his release, Vargas said, "With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, and President Obama weighing his options on executive action, the critical question remains: How do we define American?" We broadcast video of Vargas speaking in McAllen, Texas, about the U.S. treatment of child migrants just days before his arrest. "These children are not illegal; they are human beings, and they are not a national security threat," Vargas says. "The only threat that these children pose to us, is the threat of testing our own conscience."