Senate Candidates Debate. This is the last full week for candidates to campaign before the midterm elections. In between campaign stops over the weekend, Senate candidates in three closely watched races squared off in debates. Iraq was a central theme. In Tennessee, Republican candidate Bob Corker was critical of the war's execution: "I never felt like we had enough men on the ground in the first place and I think that we're paying the price." His opponent, the incumbent Democrat Harold Ford Jr., emphasized that he's not a proponent of cut and run: "I don't believe we can pull out of Iraq. If we do, the Iranians win. They have control over large oil reserve. They're able to use Iraq as an incubator to train a new generation of terrorists... Our plan is to decentralize Iraq into three semiautonomous regions: Sunni, Shia, Kurd."
The Search for a Soldier. There was sparring in Iraq as well, where residents of Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, complain they are under siege. The U.S. has launched a search operation to find a missing U.S. soldier. Speculation is that militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have captured him. But a Sadr aide told NPR's Jamie Tarabay that the search operation is a ruse to break Sadr's militia. "It is all a movie, what they claim can only be believed by naive people."
Rice at a Bargain Price. Meanwhile, election sparring is over in Brazil. Voters gave the country's first working-class president, Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, a landslide victory in his re-election bid. NPR's Julie McCarthy says Lula, as he is called, was rewarded for reducing poverty and improving the economy. As one Brazilian told her, "Lula's best for poor people like me. Before I paid $6 for a kilo of rice, now I pay less than $3. I paid $2 for beans, now I pay 50 cents."
Posted at 8:36 a.m. on Oct. 30.