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Men and women shove each other aside at a dump on the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, fighting to grab bags of garbage tossed off a truck, searching for cans and plastic to sell to recycling factories. Children in grubby clothes play among garbage, a pool of green sewage stinking nearby.
"Look at my condition!" demanded Ali Hassan, one of those digging through garbage. "Is this how a human should live? Politicians are fighting over jobs while people live in poverty."
There are also flashes of joy in the city hugging the banks of the Tigris river.
Couples stroll riverside walkways, and children play in parks along its banks. Residents traipse through al-Mutanabi street, a pedestrian alley of booksellers.
Books are neatly displayed on tables and floors: Arabic poetry, heavy tomes of Islamic law and etiquette guides. Stationary shops sell calendars featuring bloodied Shiite martyrs and notebooks with covers of the yellow cartoon character "Spongebob Squarepants."
Nearby, families stroll through a museum featuring mannequins in traditional scenes, such as a wedding, circumcision, and a cafe. For an extra fee, visitors may be photographed in colorful costumes and have the photo inserted into a snow globe.
The dozens of young men who helped pull down the 16-foot bronze Saddam statue in Firdous Square 10 years ago were mostly from the nearby Iraqi communist party office.
But the statue was reinforced by metal cables and finally Marines with a crane finished the job. It was meant to be the swift end to an invasion that began only three weeks before.
Another statue made by an Iraqi artist soon replaced Saddam, but was also pulled down. The modernist structure, with branches reaching toward the sky and a crescent moon balancing a ball was supposed to represent the freedom and unity among Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
On Tuesday, the pedestal stood empty, save for a rusted iron bar poking out of it.
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