Morning Report: January 8, 2006

Hugh Thompson, hero at My Lai, dies. The helicopter pilot who risked his life to prevent further atrocities by American soldiers has died. On March 16, 1968, Hugh Thompson and his two crewmates came upon the horrifying scene of Vietnamese civilians murdered by US troops. Thompson confronted Lieutenant Calley, who had ordered the massacre, and acted immediately to prevent further loss of innocent life. Bill at Argghhh! has the rest, and Armed Liberal has a tribute. (various)

DeLay abandons quest to resume House Majority Leader role. News reports announce that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R - Texas, 22nd dist.) will not seek to regain his former title in the wake of the Abramoff scandal. 'Rep. Tom DeLay, the defiant face of a conservative revolution in Congress, stepped down as House majority leader on Saturday under pressure from Republicans staggered by an election-year corruption scandal. "During my time in Congress, I have always acted in an ethical manner within the rules of our body and the laws of our land," the Texas lawmaker told fellow Republicans in a letter informing them of his decision. Still, referring to criminal charges he faces in his home state, he added, "I cannot allow our adversaries to divide and distract our attention." DeLay temporarily gave up his leadership post after he was charged, but always insisted he would reclaim his duties after clearing his name. His turnabout cleared the way for leadership elections among Republicans buffeted by poor polls and by lobbyist Jack Abramoff's confessions of guilt on corruption charges in connection with congressional wining and dining. ...' (AP via Yahoo)

Iran regime skips negotiations, reactivates nuclear centers. New York Times: 'Iran threw negotiations over its nuclear program into disarray on Thursday, abruptly canceling a high-level meeting with the United Nations' monitoring agency in Vienna. The leader of Iran's negotiating team was said to be returning to Tehran. The unexpected turn of events stunned and frustrated officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency and foreign diplomats, who scrambled to make sense of Iran's decision.' Morning Report is sure they're still scratching their heads over that one. BBC: 'Iran says it will resume nuclear fuel research on Monday, despite international appeals to desist.
Officials say seals at nuclear research centres will be removed, ending a two year suspension. The European Union has warned such a move could jeopardise a return to negotiations on Iran's sensitive nuclear ambitions. Resuming the research would mean all of Iran's nuclear activities, apart from uranium enrichment, are active again.' (NYT, BBC)

Rice: US has votes for Iran referral. Washington Post: 'Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the United States and its European allies have the votes to bring Iran before the U.N. Security Council for possible censure over its nuclear ambitions, signaling increasing skepticism that continued negotiations with Iran will ever succeed. "The Iranians are digging their own hole of isolation deeper and deeper," Rice said at a breakfast with State Department reporters, referring to Iran's announcement this week that it will resume nuclear fuel research ...' (WP)

Allawi to lead Sunnis; Erbil and Suleimania administrations to unite. ITM: 'Stage two of the current phase of the political in Iraq which we anticipated a few days ago has just begun and its beginning is marked by the emergence of a new large political bloc. The new bloc was announced today in Baghdad after the largest three blocs of Maram-the Iraqi list, the Accord Front and al-Mutlaq’s Dialogue Front-signed an agreement to form one unified political body. This agreement will grant the new political body a significant political weight with a total of approximately 80 seats in the parliament and with good prospects for reaching something close to 100 seats if a few other smaller lists like Mishaan al-Juboori’s list, the Islamic union of Kurdistan, Turkmen and Christians chose joining it. Of course these numbers are not final until the election commission gives the final count and the international investigation team verifies those results and finishes studying claims of fraud.
Anyway, now the equation seems easier to read with only three variables instead of four or five! Allawi who appeared in a press conference today after a relatively long hiatus emphasized again that talking about forming the government should take place only after the investigation is over. Adnan al-Dulaimi and Salih al-Mutlaq were standing behind Allawi during the press conference which means that the two men have given Allawi the leadership of the new alliance. Allawi stressed that the new bloc rejects and condemns terrorism, of course this is something not unusual from Allawi but I think that Allawi this time was speaking on behalf of al-Dulaimi and al-Mutlaq who have recently been accused so many times by the UIA of backing terrorism. ... The day’s other big event is something that has been awaited for quite along time, and it is an achievement of special importance for the Kurds in Iraq, today Masoud Barzani announced that the KDP and PUK have finally reached an agreement to unite the two Kurdish administrations in Erbil and Sulaymaniya. It’s worth mentioning that since after 1991, the Kurdish region was run by two separate administrations; one by the KDP in Erbil and Duhok and the other by the PUK in Sulaymaniya.' (ITM)