Witnesses described a chaotic and tragic scene of dozens of dead and injured men, women and children -- most on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Kadhim, the seventh imam of the Shiite sect. Thousands of pilgrims are visiting the holy site to mark Ashura on Jan. 7, the anniversary of the battlefield death in 680 of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad.
The Ashura is a defining event in the Shiite faith, with its mourning of Hussein's death in battle. Militants have targeted Kazimiyah repeatedly because of its significance to Iraq's Shiite majority. At least 17 pilgrims from Iran, which also has a Shiite majority, were among the victims, police said.
"I saw the people lying on the ground," said Assad, who declined to give his last name. "They were like sheep, more than human. Is that acceptable? Oh, my god."
Heider abu Hussein, 32, who owns a bookstore near the site, said the bomber exploded from the middle of a crowd, sending people and body parts flying everywhere.
As police quickly cleared the scene and washed away the bloody street, angry Kazimiyah residents criticized officials for the security breach.
"The security procedures absolutely are not good," said Abu Zainab, 61, who carried injured people from the scene in handcarts. "The narrow streets of Kazimiyah are not secured. Anyone can enter the city easily."
The above is from Usama Redha and Kimi Yoshino's "Iraq suicide bombing kills at least 36" (Los Angeles Times via San Francisco Chronicle) and this is slightly different than the article by Yoshino we highlighted last night. Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Bomber at Iraqi Shrine Kills 40, Including 16 Iranian Pilgrims" (New York Times) states the bomber was a man and also emphasizes the angry response of the people towards their security forces quoting Mahdi Khosroabadi asking, "Why do they tell us to come, why? Security is still very bad." They note:
A group of women not far from the scene were baffled at how the attacker had penetrated the security cordon.
For one woman, bribery could be the only explanation. "An Iraqi is blowing up Iraqis!" she said. "Money has blinded everyone."
And we'll again note Anthony Shadid's description from "Bomber Kills 40 at Shiite Shrine in Baghdad" (Washington Post) because it's strong reporting:
Residents described scenes of carnage after the woman detonated the explosives at 11:15 a.m. on a cool, sunny morning. Dismembered bodies were strewn across a muddy road and near a covered market, the blast's force hurling some parts onto the roofs of nearby two-story buildings. Volunteers gathered bloodied pieces of flesh in black plastic bags.
In the ensuing, chaotic minutes, witnesses said, some peopled vomited at the sight and smell of blood. Numb, survivors and the wounded cried religious invocations to Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, whose death will be marked Wednesday, on a day known as Ashura, the most sacred day on the Shiite calendar.
"They are enemies of God, and they are many," Bashir Hussein Ali, a 36-year-old Baghdad resident, said at the site. "This comes from the hatred in their hearts."
"They'll find any way to hurt us," said a friend, 27-year-old Murtada Aziz.
Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Debutante Barack" went up last night.
Lewis notes "Did Barack Obama Just Appoint An Underqualified Stooge and Privatizer Secretary of Education?" (Black Agenda Report) which is a transcript of BAR's Bruce Dixon's discussion "with longtime Chicago educator and activist George Schmidt broadcast on WRFG 89.3 FM Atlanta:"
BD: So now we've replaced democratic school reform that gave parents the power with what exactly? I understand one of Arne's pet things is giving public high schools over to the US military.
GS: Yeah, that's one example of several and it's a very good one. Beginning in the first days of the 21st century, literally Chicago instituted military high schools. And we're not talking about high schools that have ROTC programs, we're talking about high schools that are run by and for the military. The first of those was established in the heart of Bronzeville, the south side community at 35th and Giles, in the old armory there. It's now the Chicago Military Academy. Since then they've set up two more army high schools. Carver and Phoenix, a Marine high school and a naval academy which is named the Hyman Rickover Naval Academy inside Senn High School.
BD: Except for the naval academy operation inside Senn High School all of these are in African American communities, are they not?
GS: Yes they are.
HG: George this is Heather Gray. Is this a model that's in other parts of the country as well? Are other cities doing this?
HG: So this is unique to Chicago.
GS: This is unique to Chicago.
GS: Most places where you have more democracy, even where you have this CEO type dictatorship now, the citizens are better positioned to resist it than we are here in Chicago.
BD: In chicago, for the benefit of our audience, we're in Atlanta GA now, the mayor is Richard Daley. 2009 marks his 20th year in office. His father was the mayor too for almost as long, from about 1956 if I remember right to 1975, I think, eighteen or ninetten years. So out of the last fifty or so years, for forty of them the city of Chicago has been run by the Daley clicque, the Daley Regime, or as we call it in Chicago, the Machine. Arne Duncan, is he a product of the Machine.
GS: Exactly, Daley as I pointed out, in 1995 was given dictatorial power over the ChicagoPublic School system. It was based upon the lie that the system as a whole had failed, and the repetition of that lie from the eighties on. Daley has appointed two CEOs and roughly two school boards since then. Both of the CEOs have been white non-educators who replaced African American educators. Both of the CEOs had no experience in education or in corporate America. This is an important point since it's supposedly a corporate model. They were funamentally political puppets who would do his bidding.
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