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Candide’s Latest: Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Drink and Vote

Michael Kinsley on the Midterms: “What will a Democratic House of Representatives be like? The Republicans have been painting a portrait of Democrats roasting children on a spit in the Capitol Rotunda. Hoping for a more encouraging view, I picked up A New Direction for America - a 31-page manifesto released by House Democrats in June. All I can say is, thank goodness I voted beforehand. The Democrats promise "security, prosperity and opportunity" in "diverse, safe and vibrant communities". They will "protect Americans, secure our borders, and restore our position of international leadership" through "homeland, energy, and diplomatic strategies". And we're only up to page three.” See the rest at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free…

Bernard-Henri Lévy on the Midterms: “The paradox of American democracy and especially of these midterm elections: both are local, even provincial. They rest on the homosexual escapades of Congressman Mark Foley of Florida; on Virginia Senator George Allen’s use of “macaca”, an obscure racial epithet, to refer to a volunteer working for his opponent; on the question of gay marriage in South Dakota, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The Republican majority in the Senate will be lost or maintained according, in part, to how credible the Bush Administration’s promises seem in New Jersey, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia. In short, everything will be decided according to local squabbles. Yet these are the only elections of truly global importance in the world. This is the only electoral battle that we know of on which, in a strict sense, the fate of the planet hangs.” See the full column…

We Don’t Do Torture. We Let Them Do It

From the Post: “Iraq's Interior Ministry has charged 57 employees, including high-ranking officers, with human rights crimes for their roles in the torture of hundreds of detainees once jailed in a notorious eastern Baghdad prison known as Site 4, officials announced Monday. The charges marked the first time the present Iraqi government has taken criminal action against members of its own security forces for operating torture chambers inside Interior Ministry prisons. […]Sunni Arab detainees and human rights groups have long alleged that members of the ministry's police force, made up mostly of Shiite Muslims, took revenge on Sunni captives through beatings and other brutal methods. For months, Shiite officials have said such accusations are exaggerations, branding them attempts by Sunnis to discredit the Shiite-led government.” The full story…

The Day Hatred Boiled Over in Balad: “When gunmen murdered dozens of people in this once peaceful Shiite market city over two days last month, no one stepped in to stop the killing. Not U.S. forces, whose stated purposes in Iraq include preventing all-out civil war. Not the Iraqi security forces, who mostly turned a blind eye to the massacre. Not the people of Balad, who allowed decades of fear and hatred to overwhelm their better instincts,” the LATimes writes. “Perhaps nothing could be done. Perhaps Iraq's Shiite-Sunni feuds have become so heated that not even 140,000 U.S. soldiers can stop the country's increasingly brutal civil war. […] Balad, a city of 120,000 up the Tigris River from Baghdad, lies less than 15 miles from Logistics Support Area Anaconda, the largest U.S. military base in Iraq. A small forward operating base, Camp Paliwoda, lies just outside the city. But U.S. troops stuck by the mantra of letting Iraqis take the lead and gave the Shiite-dominated police force latitude as townspeople went on a murderous rampage.[…] Perhaps the most chilling thing about the massacre in Balad was that it was not the work of outside death squads. According to Iraqis and U.S. intelligence officials, it appears to have been the work of Shiite residents who turned on their neighbors.” The full story…

Lebanon’s Cluster Bombs

The tally is up to 22 killed and 133 injured from Israel’s seeding of cluster bombs during its latest Lebanon war: Hassan Hammade was picking oranges near his home when a strange object fell from a tree in front of him. The 13-year-old picked it up. "I started playing with it and it blew up," he says at his home in Ras el-Ain village, near the city of Tyre . "I didn't know it was a cluster bomb - it just looked like a burned-out piece of metal." The bomb blasted four fingers from Hassan's right hand and injured his stomach and shoulder. The humanitarian organization Islamic Relief flew Hassan to Birmingham, England, for surgery. He is expected to return in a few weeks. […] South Lebanon's fallout has fueled campaigns for a ban on cluster bombs, akin to the prohibition of antipersonnel mines adopted in 1997. Civilians, many of them children, make up 98 percent of those killed and injured by the munitions across the globe, campaign group Handicap International found in a report of unprecedented scope released last week.” See the full story…

Australia Sees the Stem Cell Light

“The legal ban on human embryo cloning in Australia is likely to be lifted after the Senate voted narrowly to support the change tonight,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports. As “legislation has passed the third reading by 34 votes to 32. The legislation is expected to gain backing in the House of Representatives. The vote came after a barrage of conflicting speeches by dozens of senators. Former Health Minister Senator Kay Patterson, who put up the private member's bill arguing for the change, was the last to speak before the vote and appealed to senators not to stand in the way of regulated medical research that could offer cures for the future. The bill would allow researchers to clone human embryos to extract their stem cells, in the hope of one day finding cures for debilitating diseases.” The full story…


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