35 Killed in Diyala Bombings; 10,000 Longshore Workers Strike against Iraq War; Sadr Rebuffs UIA Delegation; Sami al-Haj Released

A double suicide bombing killed 35 and wounded 66 at a wedding party in Baladruz, a city northeast of Baghdad in troubled Diyala province. In Baghdad, 1 US soldier and 8 Iraqis were killed by a roadside bomb targeting a US convoy.

In a sign of a reinvigorated American Left, longshore workers declined to come to work on Thursday, paralyzing ports along the West Coast from Los Angeles to Seattle, in protest against the Iraq War. The union workers complained that “many of the big shipping companies are profiting from the war.”

If the Democrats could get both the executive and both houses of Congress in the fall, one measure of whether they are just time-servers and lackeys or whether they are serious about reforming the country away from its current abuses will be whether they revise Taft-Hartley and Landrum-Griffin, the 50s-era legislation that laid the legal groundwork for the successful union-busting by US corporations of the past three decades. Despite the myths, most unionized workers are substantially to the left of the white collar middle class on important social issues, and gutting the unions has ensured that their voices have been muted. On Thursday we got a glimpse of what they think and an inkling of what the US would be like if union membership hadn’t plummeted to only about 12%. Corporations are very wealthy and very organized. The rest of us are not wealthy and not organized at all in comparison. And in politics, that means we almost always lose. Unions are the main form of organization that could at least sometimes prevail over corporation policies that injure the rest of us, and if they are not strong then we have lost our shield. For news of union-busting activities, Workinglife.org does a good job. Of course, not all corporations benefit from the Iraq War, and some actually are suffering from it in some ways, which is probably the main hope for ending it.

In Iraq news, a further parliamentary delegation, comprising MP from the United Iraqi Alliance (Shiite coalition), went from Baghdad to Iran in hopes of negotiating a new ceasefire with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Sadr, however, refused to see them. He said he preferred the negotiating track being engaged in by Iraqi president Jalal Talabani and speaker of the House Mahmud Mashhadani. Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi in Najaf denied that Sadr was anyway in Iran.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists hailed the release by US military authorities of Aljazeera journalist Sami al-Haj, who was detained at Guantanamo for 6 years without ever having been charged with a crime. He had only been working for Aljazeera for 1 month when the Pakistani military detained him at the Afghan border. Apparently the US military trumped up charges against him in order to hold him, in hopes of interrogating him about Aljazeera. Donald Rumsfeld had all sorts of conspiracy theories about the Doha-based news organization, which is funded by the moderate Qatar government (which also hosts a US military base and has helped capture key al-Qaeda operatives).

And, see Pepe Escobar on Iran at tomdispatch.com. As usual, Tom Engelhardt has been publishing hardhitting essays, and recent ones include Chalmers Johnson on RAND and Tom himself on Gen. Petraeus (scroll down).

Tony Judt on the Israel Lobby:

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq on Thursday:

‘ Baghdad

A parked car bomb exploded targeting a US military convoy in Camp Sara moving in the direction of the Sina’ah (industrial) street, central Baghdad at 9.20 Thursday. The explosion killed 8 civilians and 1 American soldier, wounding 21 civilians and 2 American soldiers, said Iraqi Police. The US military confirmed that, “soldier was killed from wounds sustained when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device struck the soldier’s vehicle during a combat patrol in central Baghdad at approximately 9:15 a.m. May 1.”

Random fire from 4 SUVs belonging to a private security company injured 1 civilian. The incident took place in Tayaran Square, central Baghdad at 1 pm.

A roadside bomb exploded targeting a police patrol passing under Ghadeer traffic fly over in Ghadeer neighbourhood, east Baghdad at 1.15 pm, injuring 2 policemen and 3 civilians.

A roadside bomb exploded targeting a US military convoy in Bayaa, southwest Baghdad at 4 pm. No casualties were reported.

A mortar round fell on al-Salhiyah residential complex, central Baghdad at 4 pm, injuring 3 civilians.

A roadside bomb exploded in Zafaraniyah near al-Kubaisi Mosque at around 6 pm injuring 3 civilians.

A roadside bomb exploded in al-Obaidi neighbourhood near al-Obaidi Mosque at around 6 pm injuring 5 civilians.

Armed clashes broke out in Amil between gunmen and US military forces at 8.30 pm. The US military had air support and several air strikes took place killing 4 people and wounding 12. The main waster supply pipe in the neighbourhood was hit during the air strikes.

5 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today. 1 in al-Nidhal Dtreet; 1 in al-Amin; 1 in Shaab and 2 in Saidiyah.

Diyala

1 Iraqi Army soldier killed and 4 injured in a roadside bomb explosion that had targeted an Army patrol in Abu Khamees village, 12 km to the south of Baquba at around 7.50 am Thursday.

A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest mingled with a wedding procession during a stop to take photographs at the studio in al-Faina area in Baladruz district, 45 km to the east of Baquba, and detonated. While people gathered to aid the wounded, another suicide bomber – this time a woman walked into their midst and detonated. Casualties until time of publication stand at 36 killed and 65 wounded many of whom were women and children.

Tikrit

Yeterday, Wednesday, 2 bodies found near the rail tracks in Dayum area, to the west of Tikrit city were identified as Khaleel Ibraheem, 24 years, labourer and his young wife Kawakib Suhail, housewife. The report from the coroner’s office in Tikrit Teaching Hospital said they died as a result of torture.

Nineveh

A roadside bomb exploded targeting an Iraqi army patrol in al-Islah neighbourhood, western Mosul killing 2 soldiers and completely destroying their vehicle. ‘

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