The front line in this city's sectarian war runs through Edrice al-Aaraji's old backyard. He is a Shiite and a baker. So are his two brothers.
For the past year, Sunni Arab militants have swept through their old neighborhood, a heavily Sunni district in northwest Baghdad that borders a Shiite area, forcing Shiites out of their homes and shutting their shops by killing customers and workers inside. One after another, bakeries, whose workers are overwhelmingly poor and Shiite like Mr. Aaraji, began to close.
Now, out of 11 bakeries in the area, northern Ghazaliya, just one, the Sunni-owned Al Obeidi on Center Street, remains open. The neighborhood, like a mouth with missing teeth, is almost entirely without the simplest of Iraqi needs, freshly baked bread.
"To shut down a well-known bakery in a neighborhood, that means you paralyze life there," Mr. Aaraji said, sitting in a bakery in a Shiite neighborhood where he now works and usually sleeps.
As the most basic of local institutions, Baghdad's bakeries are an everyday measure of just how far the sectarian war here has spread.
The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Sects' Strife Takes a Toll on Baghdad's Daily Bread" in this morning's New York Times. There's a great deal worth noting in this article (including the attitude that the US military is 'show business' -- showing up with great flair and production and protecting no one). Rachel, Eli and Jordan all say this is the "must read" for this morning. It's a look at life on the ground and Iraqis actually speak for themselves. Not officials, actual Iraqis trying to live their daily lives in the chaos and violence that is the illegal occupation.
On some of yesterday's chaos and violence, Martha notes Andy Mosher's "An Ebb Proves No Respite In Violent Summer in Iraq" (Washington Post) (first two paragraphs below, I'm noting the third paragraph, see note after):
The violence once again centered on Baghdad, where a car bomb in the morning killed six people, including three police officers, in the neighborhood of Baladiyat; another at noon in the city center also killed three police officers and three civilians; and a third in the afternoon killed three more police officers and three more civilians in the northern Shiite neighborhood of Shula, according to Col. Sami Hassan of the Interior Ministry.
A roadside bomb on the city's eastern side killed two people, he said. Hassan also said police squads searched different areas of Baghdad, looking for the corpses that are found most mornings on the city's streets. Working from sunrise until 1 p.m., in heat that exceeded 110 degrees for much of the day, they found 38 bodies. Most were shot in the head and chest, according to Hassan.
[. . .]
Across Iraq, the number of Iraqis registered as refugees has jumped by 30,000 since the beginning of July, according to Iraq's Migration Ministry. A total of 162,000 refugees have registered with the ministry since Feb. 22, when the bombing of a Shiite shrine in the northern town of Samarra triggered the current phase of intense sectarian fighting.
[Note: My math is wrong in yesterday's snapshot on the figure for the refugees. I'm correcting it right now on another screen.]
And Brandon notes Elise Fox' "Take Back Our Country" (The Nation) which he hopes "we'll get us motivated for the work that needs to be done." From Fox speech:
I was a young woman living in Seattle during the Depression of the Thirties. I saw the Crash.
I saw the banks close and people losing their jobs and being evicted from their houses. I saw industry stop. I saw the country stop. I saw people go hungry! I saw fear. Fear of hunger is almost as bad as hunger itself. I saw people go without health care. I saw racial discrimination among black people, immigrants, women, and the elderly. I saw unfair labor practices. Does all this sound familiar? President Hoover told us that the benefits of big business would trickle down to the people. Sound familiar? And what did we, the people, do?
We, the people, marched from one end of this country to the other to demand change. We marched ten thousand people strong down Main Street of Seattle, demanding work and food. Incidentally, the man who led that march later became my husband. We pooled our resources and drove our "Tin Lizzies" and took boxcars and thumbed rides to Washington DC to demonstrate on the Capitol Mall.
We, the people, educated the working class by publishing a newspaper, the Voice of Action, and distributed it door to door.
We, the people, organized Townsend Clubs after pensions were lost when the banks closed, and we discussed ways to provide security for the working man's future. This was the beginning of Social Security.
By the way, Ann Rose has been guest blogging for Eleanor Smeal at The Smeal Report (Ms. magazine) on the issue of anti-choice attempts to close the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi.
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