Morning Report: September 14, 2005

Rice promotes US policy on UN anniversary. Fox: 'The assembly of more than 170 world leaders to mark the United Nations' 60th birthday gives Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a unique opportunity to advance U.S. foreign policy goals on several difficult fronts. Success is by no means assured. While the United States is the largest contributor and the world's only real superpower, it cannot count on the United Nations for automatic support. ... Rice's drive to pressure Iran to resume negotiations on its nuclear program is a key test. Any U.S. resolution in the U.N. Security Council to censure Iran or to impose sanctions runs the risk of being vetoed. ... Russia remains dubious about having the council take up the issue. On Friday, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko called it a hasty step.' (Fox)

Roger Simon: UN, RIP. Roger L. Simon thinks it's all over for the United Nations: by failing to adopt serious reforms in the wake of the oil-for-fraud scandal, the UN - once a symbol of idealism - has consigned itself to irrelevancy. 'Of course, it will still be there in name, serving discount lunches to diplomats in the cafeteria, and the Secretariat Building will not yet be turned over to The Donald to be retrofitted as a gold-plated hotel/casino in Turtle Bay, but it might as well be, considering the pallid reform package the General Assembly was able to muster today. The Washington Post sums up: *The negotiators were forced to put off action on some of the thorniest and most ambitious goals, including proposals to expand the U.N. Security Council, to create an independent auditing board to scrutinize U.N. spending, and to impose basic membership standards for a new Human Rights Council so that chronic rights abusers will not be able to join.* So, despite all, the Volcker Report on Oil-for-Food's call for independent auditing evidently had no impact (the endless corruption spigot's still on), ditto the Koizumi electoral smash. Despite its vastly stronger economy and healthier system, Japan stays off the Security Council for the benefit of trivial France and dysfunctional Russia. ...' Full post at the link. (Roger Simon)

Dozens die in Iraq in al-Qaeda reprisals; terrorist group calls it "final battle", analysts say death throes. Al-Qaeda in Iraq failed to deliver on its promised chemical attacks following the allied Tal Afar offensive, offering instead an orgy of car bombings that left dozens of innocent people dead but failed to produce any evident strategic benefit for the group. Current Debka homepage offers this analysis of the latest spate of terrorist attacks in Iraq: 'Al Qaeda has begun nationwide suicide campaign to avenge US-Iraqi offensive against rebel Tal Afar town in northern Iraq. Twelve car bombings in Baghdad killed at least 160, mostly Shiites, and injured scores, Wednesday. One failed to detonate against a US convoy and the driver was captured. The al Qaeda notice appeared on Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s Land of the Two Rivers website. Early Wednesday, a suicide bomber lured a crowd of Shiite laborers to his minivan in the Kadhimiya district and detonated 500lbs of explosives, killing 114, injuring 156. It was in the same district that nearly 1,000 Shiite pilgrims were slaughtered two weeks ago. Eleven died in a second suicide bombing at a fuel pump in the capital. Two hours earlier, gunmen dressed as soldiers shot dead 17 civilians before dawn Wednesday after dragging them out of their homes. The victims were blindfolded, cuffed and “executed” in the main square of Taji north of Baghdad.' Mohammed at Iraq the Model adds: 'Today Al-Qaeda carried out their threat and launched their "final battle" that has no apparent goal other than killing the largest possible number of Iraqis. Maybe Al-Qaeda wants to exterminate all Iraqis as a start for exterminating mankind! Eleven explosions till now in Baghdad alone and the news are coming while I type these words. I passed by two of the car-bombs on my way home, one of them-gladly-failed to detonate and the driver was arrested, he was apparently trying to attack the interior ministry, the crowd that gathered in the scene say the driver was Syrian. A few minutes later I saw a big explosion that was close to the green zone. The other passengers in the mini bus were discussing the explosion in Kadhimiya that killed more than a hundred construction workers who were waiting for employers to hire them. The Al-Qaeda called it the "battle for avenging Talafar" and this gives us a clue of the extent of the losses inflicted upon Al-Qaeda by Iraqi and American troops and the anger and frustration associated with these losses. The huge losses of Al-Qaeda in Talafar were in my opinion a result of the poor training of the new recruits as many of the old, well trained fighters were either killed or arrested over the past two years. The new Al-Qaeda recruits are even getting generous in giving information after being arrested as one advisor of the interior ministry said yesterday; these information and confessions are more and more revealing the ties of Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq with Syria and I guess that's why the American ambassador Khalilzad was so confident when he talked about Syria because the evidence now do not only indicate carelessness in monitoring the borders, they confirm the existence of cooperation in training and logistic support. Obviously the continuous American-Iraqi armies' operations in western Iraq have pushed Al-Qaeda to announce this "final battle" but actually this reminds me of Saddam when he felt that his end was nearing and called the battle "the hawasim" (the final or decisive) and it was indeed as it ended his reign. Al-Qaeda has never won a war before and I don't expect things to be different this time, except that this time they want the battle to be final which means the terrorists will pour all their resources and power into this battle so their defeat this time will hopefully pave the way for ending their presence in Iraq.' (Debka, ITM)

Two convicted of murdering transgender teen. The Washington Blade reports: 'Two men who had sex with a transgender teen and then discovered she was biologically male were convicted Monday of her murder, but cleared of hate crime charges. An autopsy found that Araujo died of asphyxiation associated with head injuries. Michael Magidson and Jose Merel, both 25, face mandatory sentences of 15 years-to-life in prison for second-degree murder in the killing of Gwen Araujo, who was beaten, tied up and strangled. The jury was deadlocked in the case of a third man, Jason Cazares, 25, marking the second time a jury was unable to reach a verdict in his case. Araujo, 17, was born a boy named Edward but grew up to believe her true identity was female. The defendants, who knew her as Lida, met her in the summer of 2002. Magidson and Merel had sexual encounters with her, experiences that fueled suspicions about Araujo's gender. ...' Fox News: 'In their verdict Monday, the jury rejected defense arguments that the killing of 17-year-old Gwen Araujo amounted to no more than manslaughter. "It's murder," said Gwen Smith, who maintains a Web site memorializing people believed to have been killed because they were transgender. "And a murder conviction shows that transgender lives are valuable." ... Outside the Alameda County courtroom, Araujo's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, said she was satisfied by the verdicts. "Nothing is going to bring Gwen back. I know that." Guerrero said. "But this is at least a step toward closure."' (Washington Blade, Fox)