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FROM THIS EPISODE

Hollywood's often accused of rank commercialism that aims for the lowest common denominator. This year, well-made fantasies like The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and King Kong earned the big money, but the nominees for Best Picture have been weak at the box office and strong on social and political themes: Brokeback Mountain and Capote, both with gay characters; Goodnight and Good Luck, about watchdog journalism in an age of paranoia; Munich, about Israeli agents and the psychology of revenge; and Crash, about continuing racism in Los Angeles. Do Americans want films that challenge their unspoken feelings on race, sex and politics? Why isn't there an Academy Award for comedy? We hear from social activists, film critics and other journalists.
  • Making News: Cars Banned in Baghdad amid Calls for Jaafari to Step Down
    A ban on private cars and trucks has brought a moment of calm on the streets of Baghdad. Meantime, Iraqis are playing political hardball and American officials are conceding disaster--and blaming it on the Iraqis. Borzou Daragahi, who reports from Baghdad for the Los Angeles Times, says the acrimony has spread into the halls of parliament as sectarian groups put pressure on Prime Minister Jaafari to step down.
  • Reporter's Notebook: Senate's Declining Interest in Lobbying Reform
    Former Republican Congressman Randy Cunningham faced ten years in prison today for admittedly taking millions of dollars in bribes from lobbyists. Meantime, a US Senate Committee has rejected the idea of an independent Office of Public Integrity. Washington Post columnist Jeffrey Birnbaum, author of The Money Men: the Real Story of Fundraising Influence on Political Power in America, has more on the Senate's "waning interest" in ethics reform.
Nominees for Best Picture: Also discussed, these films were nominated for other Oscars:

Los Angeles Times' article on Kurds and Sunni Arabs ouster of Iraqi Prime Minster

Oscars

Charles Krauthammer's (Washington Post) column on this year's Oscars

Pinkerton's article on politics in this year's Oscars

Rainer's article on Germany's "fact-based" Sophie Scholl, nominee for Best Foreign Film

Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2005 (S 2128)

Birnbaum's article on rejection of independent ethics office

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