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Candide’s Latest: Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Iraq Countdown

Surrender in the shape of a victory sign

Iraq’s prime minister’s days may be numbered: “Senior Iraqi and American officials are beginning to question whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has the political muscle and decisiveness to hold Iraq together as it hovers on the edge of a full civil war,” the Times reports. “Four months into his tenure, Mr. Maliki has failed to take aggressive steps to end the country’s sectarian strife because they would alienate fundamentalist Shiite leaders inside his fractious government who have large followings and private armies, senior Iraqi politicians and Western officials say. He is also constrained by the need to woo militant Sunni Arabs connected to the insurgency. […]“The thing you hear the most is that he never makes any decisions,” said a former senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. “And that drives Bush crazy. He doesn’t take well to anyone who talks about getting something accomplished and then refuses to take the first step.” Naturally, troop cuts are unlikely this year, so the $2 billion-a-year-spigot will stay open “because the current contingent of more than 140,000 troops is battling sectarian violence that could prove "fatal" to the country if not arrested,” says Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command. “I do believe that the secular tensions, if left unchecked, could be fatal to Iraq . . . and the center of the problem is Baghdad. It's the main effort.”

Unrepentant Bush still loves his boots: “If I were George W. Bush, I would have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning,” columnist Max Boot writes. “But if he is plagued by despair or doubt, he gave no sign of it in an Oval Office meeting last week with seven conservative columnists. Leaning forward in an armchair, clad in a pearl gray suit with a blue shirt, crimson tie and an ornate silver belt buckle from Texas, Bush began by declaring: "I've never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions."

British war crimes in Basra, Iraq’s allegedly quieter second city: “ A British corporal has become the first soldier to admit to a war crime after pleading guilty to inhumanely treating Iraqi civilians at a court martial yesterday… over the death of Baha Musa, 26, an Iraqi hotel receptionist,” the Independent reports. “Mr Musa suffered a severe beating over a period of 36 hours while in British military custody at a detention centre in Basra, southern Iraq .” He suffered 93 injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose. Another Iraqi civilian arrested with Mr Musa in 2003 suffered serious kidney injuries. “Other prisoners had injuries “consistent with being assaulted, by being punched and/or kicked,” and some of the beatings appeared to have been carried out for fun.”

And your luggage at US airports is still not safe.

Poverty as a circus attraction: “ Four years ago, I began touring the favelas, Rio 's slums,” Kobi Ben-Simhon writes in Haaretz. “They are now considered one of the more "authentic" parts of the city. Gozlin's company offers guided walking tours that cost $30 per person, and four other companies offer tours that cross through the favelas in minibuses and jeeps. Tourist traffic in the favelas increased after the release of the Brazilian film, "City of God ," in 2002. The film, which examined the cruel reality of drugs and violence in Rio 's suburbs, received an Oscar nomination.”

For Fox, sex sells, so does Christ: “FoxFaith, part of the home entertainment division of Rupert Murdoch's movie studio, plans to produce as many as a dozen new films a year,” the Mail & Guardian reports. “At a time when Christian programming is taking up a greater share of the US airwaves, and sales of Christian DVDs, CDs and books accounts for $4.34-billion a year, the move by FoxFaith is the boldest foray by Hollywood into what was once seen as hostile terrain. Evangelicals and traditional Christians have long been alienated from Hollywood, accusing the big studios of producing films that glorify sex and immoral behaviour and do not chime with their values.

Remember this day our daily Camus.

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