scandal 'blown away'

abc's 'scandal' continues its hot streak as the best show on tv.  it airs on thursdays during the last hour of prime time.

the episode i watched last night isn't up at abc yet.  but it is up at hulu.  here's the hulu page for 'scandal.'

the vice president sally langston is now president. and she is awful.

langston confronts the judge at the hospital (the supreme court judge has cancer).  she tells the judge she will resign.  the judge tells her that she won't, that she'll only be president for about 15 minutes.  langston explains that she was promised the seat (when she got on the ticket with fitz, he promised her she would get to name the 1st vacancy on the supreme court - the judge helped get fitz in the oval office as part of the conspiracy with olivia and cyrus and the lobbyist and the 1st lady) and she will have it.

she explains that if she doesn't resign, she will tell the world that the judge has cancer, that the judge had cancer at her confirmation hearings and when she was nominated but hid it from the american people.  she says she will talk about how the chemicals - including the medical pot the judge uses at night - will be public as langston calls out every decision the judge made and questions whether or not she was competent.

meanwhile, olivia (kerry washington - back at the white house after fitz got shot - she's there for the crisis - though i think she'll be fired next episode) has to plan fitz's funeral in case he does not pull through.  (he's out of surgery.  mellie - 1st lady - won't let olivia see him. he hasn't come to.  the doctors hope he will.  langston wants things ready if he doesn't.)

okay, remember we found out huck shot president fitzgerald?


he's at olivia's firm.  harrison calls olivia.  she says she's busy at the white house can't leave.  he tells her she has to, she says handle it and he tells her to 'get your ass' over her.

she goes and discovers huck.

huck has the rifle.

that woman he was dating?  she called him.  she was at the hotel.

she needed him.

he went.  she wasn't in the 8th floor room.

a gun was.  it was operated by remote control and huck was there when it went off.  5 shots.  he grabbed 4 shells but couldn't find the 5th.

and then time had run out so he pulled the fire alarm and walked out via the stairs.

every 1 believes the mystery gal framed huck but he says she's in pain and needs him.

olivia tells them to keep huck there and not let him go.

quinn's being a bitch.  with all huck's going through, quinn could lay off but she's being a bitch the whole episode.

olivia is at the white house.  she's seeing footage in the oval office, a presentation.  they can't see the man in the hoodie's face (huck) in the hotel elevator but watch this.  the video shows a woman on the elevator dropping her phone.  huck picks it up for her.  they're looking for the woman to find the hoodie-man's finger print.

olivia calls harrison, tells him to find out if huck's fingerprints are in any system and also to find out who the woman is and get the woman's phone before the feds do.

they need security footage of the hotel.  harrison calls a man he got off on a dwi but he can't help - the hotel's in shut down.

abby says she might be able to do something.

did you automatically think attorney general david?  me too.

he drops off the footage on a little thumbnail disc.

she can't say thank you.  david leaves.

she's watching the footage.

harrison, quinn and huck want to know what she saw.

the woman (amanda) entered the hotel alone.  she wasn't with a dealer like she told huck.  she went up to the hotel room by herself.

huck refuses to believe it.

he says she needs him and he's leaving.  harrison tells him he will physically stop him.  huck makes clear that's not happening.

huck goes to where he took amanda 2 episodes ago.  it's a house.  huck watches this family that lives there.  they seem normal and he watches them the way you or i do tv.  so he's there watching the family and amanda is suddenly in the car with a gun.

she tells him she was hired to kill fitz and to set huck up.  but she loves huck.

she says she could have spread his dna all over the hotel room.  she could have killed him.  she could have done any number of things.

back at her place, she's surprised to find huck.  they end up screwing.  and planning to get out of d.c. and i believe the country.

let's jump over to cyrus and james.  cyrus is white house chief of staff.  james is his husband and a reporter.  james uncovered the vote fixing in fitz's election.  david tipped him off.

so cyrus is not going into the white house because he hates sally langston.

at home, james' mom calls him.  he doesn't like her but makes chit-chat.  and she asks him when james is going to visit.  not for awhile cyrus says, not since he was just up there last week.


james wasn't up there.
cyrus pretends that he was confused.

he hires the guy like huck - ex c.i.a. - the 1 that killed the white house intern who lied and said she was carrying fitz's child.  that guy follows huck.

cyrus shows up at olivia's with a bottle of wine.

what's that for?

they're drinking after he tells her that his husband is cheating on him.

as they drink, olivia can't believe he hasn't asked james.  he says james is a liar.  and he's younger and he's better looking than cyrus.  and he's a slut.

olivia laughs at the last 1.

cyrus says it's true.  it was 1 of the things that he found hot about james when they first met.

olivia doesn't think james is cheating but she talks about having to make preparation for fitz's funeral and cyrus tells her to never talk about it like that again, never talk about it like fitz could die.  he tells olivia that she is the love of fitz's life and fitz needs her to believe.

so cyrus gets the report from the spook.

there's no affair.  james is working on some story.  he's meeting with an attorney general named david about the story. don't worry because david is straight and just broke up with his girlfriend (that's abby).  and he has better things to do then work on this case.

cyrus was so happy as he was listening.

but then the spook is saying he has better things and doesn't need to go to small towns in ohio.

what small town?

defiance or whatever the 1 is that james stole the card from the voting machine to prove voter fraud.

cyrus tells him to keep following james.

if you get too close to the details, you get killed.

that happened to the man quinn slept with the 1st season.  if olivia and harrison hadn't broken up abby and david, abby was going to be killed. now james knows.

cyrus makes dinner (orders) for them.  and surprises james with a photo of a newborn.  the little girl is their baby in a week if they want her.


and he (cyrus) will have to go back to work at the white house.


so they need someone to stay home with the baby.

yes (james is saying 'yes' to all this).

and that means james is going to have to quit his job.


yes? - cyrus asks.

james says yes.

james has wanted a baby all along.  cyrus hasn't.  what changed his mind?  cyrus tells him that his friend fitz being close to death, he feels selfish saying no.

olivia meets with the judge.  the judge wants to know if there's anything she can do to fight sally langston.  step down, olivia says, and spend your remaining time with your grandchildren.

the judge says she's not going to give up and be put out by a pretend president.

olivia is a raw edge and misses that the judge is talking about sally.  instead, olivia thinks she's talking about fitz and starts insisting that fitz does not know what they did, that he's a patriot and a good person.

he's in the hospital, the judge points out, so is she.  karma.

and then she drops that she saw a sketch of the shooter.  it looked to her like it was huck.

olivia plays blase and asks, 'did it?'

cyrus meets with the spook.  james has gone from 1 baby store to another.  cyrus tells him he doesn't have to follow james anymore.

we see james in a baby store talking to a woman.  she works there and she's helping him with what he needs.  she walks off and then james turns to continue speaking to some 1 else.


james tells him he can't do the story now but hands him the device he took out of the voting machine.

huck goes to see olivia at the white house.  he waits at the gate for her to meet him.

did i mention the feds grabbed the woman with the cell phone.  it was just a partial print and they can't identify him.

so olivia comes out and huck says he's leaving with amanda (whose real name isn't amanda). he promised he would say goodbye and that's what he's doing.

so olivia begs him not to and tells him they can try to find her and huck says no.

huck leaves.

but he calls harrison.  okay, he'll do it olivia's way.  amanda's home is __ go there in ten minutes, in ten minutes because that's when she's supposed to meet huck at their spot.  after 10 minutes go there and plant the gun.

huck goes to their place (the house).  amanda must be late.  he calls her.  her cell phone is no longer activated.

a man walks a dog down the street. the dog goes crazy barking in front of the house.

huck looks at the house.

he goes in. the entire family has been killed and there's a voice.

he finds a recorder.  it has him telling harrison to put the gun at amanda's place.  she had his phone wired.

the judge goes to see sally langston.

so she's here to turn in her resignation letter?

she has that, the judge says, and she can hand it over or she can hand over something else.

there's nothing else the (temporary) president wants.

really?  not even the name of the president's shooter?

that's on the other slip of paper.

the judge says this is langston's osaman bin laden.  the resignation?  1 letter makes you small, 1 letter makes you larger.

we're at olivia's firm.  huck is freaking out.  quinn's being a bitch.

olivia's telling huck they can try to fix this.

quinn announces she's done and leaves.

as she's walking out of the front of the office, she looks up and there are about 10 swat teams.  they sweep past her into the office and grab huck.

olivia asks what are the charges?

they say they're holding him under the patriot act.

end of episode.

so, again, an amazing episode.  it has quickly become the best show on tv.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, December 14, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, protests against Nouri continue for day four in Iraq, Nouri's lashing out that means he feels comfy, US House Rep Lynn Woolsey winds down her Congressional service, a needed bill that Senator Patty Murray fought for in the Senate may die because the House doesn't think it's the 'right time' to vote on it, the Pentagon releases the latest suicide data for the Army, and more.
US House Rep Lynn Woolsey was one of the creators of the Out of Iraq Caucus in the House of Representatives.  Alongside other brave voices in the House like Maxine Waters, Woolsey stood firmly against the Iraq War.  She did not seek re-election this year and this week spoke on the House floor about war and peace (video here).
US House Rep Lynn Woolsey:  Mr. Speaker, throughout my career in public life and even before, nothing has motivated me more than a desire to end wars and violent conflict.  When I was a small girl saying bedtime prayers or making a birthday wish blowing out the candles, I always asked for world peace.  So no surprise that, over a decade ago, I opposed the Iraq War before it even started.  It was appalling that we would invade a nation that hadn't provoked us, that had nothing to do with 9-11 and did not have weapons of mass destruction.  It was a lonely fight at that time.  But I didn't do it to be loved. It was a matter of principle.  Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters and I formed the triad, Woolsey, Waters and Lee, to organize our opposition.  We held forums, we developed an Out Of Iraq Caucus, we traveled around the country.  And in January 2005, I offered the first amendment here on the House floor calling for our troops to be brought home.  Some of my own party thought that it was a mistake, that we wouldn't get any votes or enough votes and that we would be embarrassed.  Well I told them that even if I were the only one voting to bring our troops home, I would not be embarrassed.  Well as it happened, we got 128 bi-partisan votes that very first time.  So you see, Mr. Speaker, when you lead, people follow.  Because a handful of progressive leaders and progressives in our country that were vocal and fearless, eventually public opinion turned. It turned against the Iraq War.  It turned towards peace.  If we and other outspoken political advocates hadn't ignored conventional wisdom and hadn't pressed for peace, the war in Iraq could still be going on today.  In April, Mr. Speaker, of 2004, I began speaking on this very spot of the House floor about my very strong anti-Iraq War convictions.  Eventually, these speeches focused on Afghanistan where we've now been waging war for more than 11 years despite more than 2,000 Americans dead and nearly $600 billion wasted.  Even though, we are undermining our own interests and failing to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.   Over the last eight-plus-years, I've spoken here nearly every day that I could  to drive home what a moral disaster and strategic failure these wars have been.  When constituents and others call or come up to me and thank me, I say, "But we're still there."  I don't deserve thanks until all of our troops are home.  You know, Mr. Speaker, because you've been here for many of them, my speeches haven't been just about bringing our troops home.  They've offered a new vision for global engagement. From here, I've outlined my Smart Security Platform which calls for development in diplomacy instead of invasions and occupations, civilian surges instead of military surges.  Smart Security means helping other nations educate their children, care for their sick and strengthen their democratic institutions. Smart Security says we can make America safe by building international goodwill, by empowering people with humanitarian assistance instead of sending troops or launching drone attacks.  It's the right thing to do.  It's the smart thing to do.  And it costs pennies on the dollar compared to military force. So, Mr. Speaker, today I'm delivering that message for the 444th time and my final time on the House floor to speak on five minute special order.  This is the last of my special order speeches on war and peace and Smart Security.  I'm retiring from Congress at the end of this year and I believe part of my legacy will be that I worked diligently for peace and a safer world.  So in closing, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to acknowledge that sometimes I've been accused of wanting a perfect world but I consider that a compliment.  Our founders strove for a more perfect union.  Why shouldn't we aim for a perfect world?   You see, I'm perfectly and absolutely certain that if we don't work towards a perfect world we won't ever come close to providing a safe, healthy and secure world for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.  So I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my wonderful staff who have helped me over the last twenty years to work for a perfect world which means peace, health and security for all.  I yield back.  Thank you all.
Lynn Woolsey is a Democrat who was first elected in the Novembe 1992 elections (a "Year of the Woman" in real time and the first time the genderquake was undeniable in the elections).  She has served California's sixth district.  Lynn Woolsey succeeded Barbara Boxer in the seat, Boxer, in the "Year of the Woman" 1992, was elected to the US Senate.  Greg Cahill (Pacific Sun) interviewed Lynn on her time in the US Congress.  Excerpt:
Now the wars are winding down, and the economy is in recovery. Why leave the job now?
[Lynn Woolsey:]  I'm a person whose timing has worked for her. Actually, I thought I'd be in Congress for 10 years. And then all of a sudden, zip, it's 20. I'm 75 years old. And I've gotten on an airplane every week that we're in session on a Monday or Tuesday morning and fly back on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. Week after week after week. And I'm tired of doing that. It doesn't work for my body and it doesn't work for my soul. During the last Congress, the 111th Congress, I toyed with the notion that that should be my last term. But Jared Huffman hadn't termed out in the state Legislature yet. And I wasn't 100 percent sure about that decision. So I ran and got re-elected knowing that would be my last term. [House minority leader Rep.] Nancy Pelosi asked me, "When did you know?" And I said I knew when I walked backed into Congress and said to myself, "I really wish I hadn't done it this time." I felt like, I don't know why I'm here--I don't want to be here. I didn't stop working--we worked our hearts out these last two years. But I just knew it was time. I was sick and tired of money and politics. I mean, it's going to ruin our democracy if we don't do something [about campaign finance reform]. And I gave lots of notice.
You're retiring from politics but it sounds as though you plan to stay quite active.
[Lynn Woolsey:] Oh, I am going to retire. If Lynn Woolsey doesn't learn to sit down and be calm in what I consider to be the last quarter of her life, she'll be in trouble. I want to enjoy my life without all the spin. I mean, I've raised four kids and was a working mom and active in my community. I get to sit down.
As a member of Congress, Lynn didn't just mouth words.  Nor did she cave when she made a stand.  Her word counted for something and she took it very seriously.  She will be missed.
And sad to say that as one of the strong left leaders leaves Congree, I find myself wondering if maybe on the left we just need to throw in the towel?  I wondered that not because of the loss of Lynn Woolsey in the Congress but because of the garbage by Gareth Porter at Truthout.  I'd seen him in his too long Real News Network interview and thought, "Maybe he just doesn't speak well on the subject."  But now his promised 'big piece' on counter-insurgency is out and the natural response to it is to string together numerous curse words.  Let's get two of his paragraphs in here.
The COIN manual ducked some central issues in the US wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan - most notably whether US troops should have been carrying out violent "cordon and search" operations, especially when they had little or no real intelligence to go on. Intent on staying within the political consensus of the military establishment, Petraeus opted not to criticize the tactic of violently invading private homes and seizing military-age males in the middle of the night in front of their families, which had become routine in Iraq.
But in one area, the manual staked out a bold new position. It called for the commander in a counterinsurgency war to influence the coverage of the war by the news media. "The media directly influence the attitude of key audiences toward counterinsurgents, their operations and the opposing insurgency," the section on "information operations" said. "This situation creates a war of perceptions between insurgents and counterinsurgents conducted continuously using the news media."
Did it duck "some central issues"?  Well Gareth did too.  Gareth's apparently opposed to searches that cart away males but that's about all he can really call out.  The very notion of counter-insurgency -- long called out on the left in past wars -- is just accepted by Porter.  As for "a bold new position," your ignorance exceeds your ethical decay.  I don't care what your damn manual told you.  I don't give a damn.  Counter-insurgency has always included the media and 'messaging.'  That you're too stupid to know that is appalling.
Here's the way this will go.  I'll get e-mails about how "Gareth is really trying hard and, gosh, it's not easy and if you want someone to call out David Petraeus . . ."  Gareth has a job to do.  Does he do his job or not?  No, he's not doing his job -- or he's doing it very poorly.  As for calling out Petraeus, it may be a media fad at present but here we've always called out Petraeus. 
If you're going to write about counter-insurgency, you need to know about it.  It's war on a native people.  The occupier tries to make a group of natives undesirable so that the rest of the population will turn on the undesirables.  To make people undesirable, you demonize them, you make it difficult for people to befriend or help them.  You do other things as well.  To do these other things, you tell yourself lies.  For example, labeling the native (non-South) Vietnamese media "propaganda" allowed counter-insurgency to target the media and to justify the lying.   Counter-insurgency includes outright murder.  People are targeted for murder to frighten the population at large.  You saw that in Iraq and you've seen it throughout the US usage of counter-insurgency.  Take the Phoenix Program during Vietnam.  As the RAND Corporation noted, while its supporters cheer the program, its "detractors condemn it as a merciless assassination campaign."  Let's go to the CIA for some whining:
The Phoenix program is arguably the most misunderstood and controversial program undertaken by the governments of the United States and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was, quite simply, a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Lao Dong Party (hereafter referred to as the Viet Cong infrastructure or VCI) in South Vietnam. 1
Phoenix was misunderstood because it was classified, and the information obtained by the press and others was often anecdotal, unsubstantiated, or false. The program was controversial because the antiwar movement and critical scholars in the United States and elsewhere portrayed it as an unlawful and immoral assassination program targeting civilians.
We called it out because it was unethical and it was illegal and, yes, we called it out.  Today Gareth Porter can't even do that.  A ho-hum piece where this may be objectionable  . . . The ignorance and the cowardice is appalling.  At this late date, if we on the left can't call out counter-insurgency, that's on us, we're just pathetic and ineffective.   Via Z-Net, here's an excerpt of a January 10, 2005 broadcast, Katie Couric (then host of NBC's Today) discussing with retired Gen Wayne Downing  the article Newsweek published on the Salvador option possibly being brought to Iraq (Michael Hirsh and John Barry were the authors of the Newsweek article). 
"Gen. DOWNING: Well, Katie, I -- I think this term is very unfortunate because this El Salvador thing brings up the connotation of death squads, of illegal activity that took place in -- in -- by some of the El Salvadorian military 20 years ago. But I think what they're considering is to use a special -- or more special Iraqi units trained and equipped and perhaps even led by US Special Forces to conduct strike operations against this -- this insurgency, against the leaders of it, which of course is a very valid strategy, a very valid tactic. And it's actually something we've been doing since we started the war back in March of 2003.
"COURIC: But is this going to be used more, or in greater numbers? According to Newsweek, they're going to -- the -- the US Special Forces will train specially chosen Kurdish forces and Shiite militiamen.
"Gen. DOWNING: Right.
"COURIC: So does this signal a -- a -- I guess an escalation of this technique at least?
"Gen. DOWNING: I wouldn't say an escalation, Katie. I -- I think what we're looking at is -- there are already some special units formed. We have special police commandos now of the Iraqi forces which conduct these kind of strike operations. I think what we're looking at is another type of unit. In other words, they -- they've got 10 tools right now in their tool box, this is probably adding a -- an 11th or perhaps even a 12th tool. But -- but, Katie, I -- I really want to emphasize what they are going after here. These -- these insurgents leaders, these are terrorists. These are people who have been decapitating hostages. These are the people who have been planning and -- and perpetrating these suicide bombers...that has killed thousands of -- of friendly Iraqis. These are very, very legitimate targets, and actually part of the overall strategy for countering this insurgency...
"COURIC: But in El Salvador many innocent civilians were killed when these kind of tactics were employed. Are you concerned about that, or the possibility this will increase anti-American sentiment in the general Iraqi population?
"Gen. DOWNING: Katie, this has nothing to do with El Salvador. Those operations that were conducted down there were conducted by -- by renegade military leaders. This is under the control of the US forces, of the current interim Iraqi government. There -- there's no need to think that we're going to have any kind of a -- a killing campaign that's going to maim innocent civilians.
The government pretends that counter-insurgency has been proved to be effective.  That actually hasn't happened and I don't understand why a Gareth Porter or anyone else would accept the premise that counter-insurgency is 'good' but has a few aspects that may be troubling?  I don't get that at all.   Tom Hayden called out counter-insurgency during Vietnam.  He's one of the few voices who've called it out during the Iraq War.  In a column on Petraeus a few weeks ago, he included this paragraph:
As this test of wills unfolded, Petraeus, with the help of an inbred, fawning mass media, had become knwon as "the greatest soldier of his generation," the counterinsurgency strategist who staved off a dishonorable American retreat in Iraq, the guiding hand behind The U.S. Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the man who would revive the South Vietnam "Phoenix Program" from the ashes of disgrace. The Petraeus field manual rallied a cult of true believers who have been convinced for thirty years that America's war in Vietnam would have been won if only the politicians back in the States had not pulled the plug on Phoenix because of claims of torture plus photos of emaciated Vietcong prisoners held in tiny cages. (This is all true, not a screenplay. Please see the Field Manual for more on the pacification program, pp. 73-75; see also, "Countering Global Insurgency," by Petraeus top counterinsurgency advisor, David Kllkullen, in the Small Wars Journal, November 30, 2004)
In that paragraph, Tom Hayden makes it clear how disgusting counter-insurgency is.  In one paragraph.  In his very long article, Gareth Porter never manages to do the same.  Click here for audio of Douglas Valentine on Between The Lines discussing the various assassination programs in the early days of the Iraq War.
Nicola Anderson (Independent) reports that Kallada Abdul has just become a citizen of Ireland.  Six years ago, she left Iraq due to the violence and went to Ireland where her son Dr. Mudafar Altawash had already moved to several decades ago.  At 83, it is thought that Kallada might be the oldest "to ever become a new citizen."  She is among millions of refugees who have left Iraq since the start of the Iraq War in 2003.  She is also among a small number of lucky refugees who have been granted asylum and/or citizenship in a host country.  Deborah Amos's excellent 2010 book  Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East charts the lives of some who fled Iraq due to the violence.  Among those who have fled Iraq or moved to the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government -- semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq) due to safety concerns are Iraqi Christians.  As  Sean McLachlan (Gadling) observed earlier this month: 
The Christian Community in Iraq is a lot smaller than it was in 2003 when the Coalition invaded. During the occupation, radical Muslims claimed the Christians were helping the invaders and used this as an excuse to attack them. Churches and shops were bombed and individual Christians were murdered or told to leave on pain of death.
In an
interview with the BBC, the priest at St Joseph's Chaldean Church in Baghdad said that in the past nine years his parish has shrunk from 1,200 families to 300. The New York Times reports that before the war the Christian population was estimated to be as high as 1.4 million, and has now dropped to less than 500,000.
The violence and the targeting has led surviving Iraqi Christians to consider leaving.  Among the violence, the October 31st, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.  Today, Nouri attended the latest reported opening of the Church (this one's supposed to finally be the real one) and Alsumaria reports he used the opportunity to accuse the European Union of being responsible for Iraqi Christians leaving Iraq.  He gave a speech at the Church where he declared the EU had needed to stop encouraging Christians to leave and that all can live in Iraq in harmony. All Iraq News notes the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim attended the ceremony.  Nouri's blaming the European Union for his own failure to protect Iraqi Chrisitans.  He hasn't felt able to lash out like this since November of 2010 when he publicly attacked France for providing medical treatment for survivors of the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church.
When Nouri's cocky, it's usually a sign that he's about to screw someone over.  The breathing space some believe was created yesterday when Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced Nouri and the KRG had reached an agreement with regards to the military stand-off that was taking place in disputed areas may have just gotten a lot smaller.  With Nouri, the pattern is he makes deals that he then refuses to honor.  That's not just my opinion, Al Mada notes Nouri's refusal to honor agreements in his second term as prime minister and they zoom in on the Erbil Agreement (publishing it in full).  As they note, the longest political stalemate in Iraq followed the 2010 elections.  In those parliamentary elections that Nouri's State of Law was supposed to overwhelmingly win, the voters went another way.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya came in first place.  Nouri's State of Law came in second place. 
Per the Constitution, Jalal Talabani should have named someone from Iraqiya prime minister-designate.  Per the Constitution, that person would then have 30 days to create a Cabinet (select people, nominate them to be Ministers and have Parliament vote to approve them).  Success at that would mean the person was no longer prime minister-designate but was now prime minister.  Failure to create a Cabinet in 30 days would result in Jalal naming someone else to be prime minister-designate, per the Constitution.
Nouri wanted a second term.  And US President Barack Obama didn't give a damn about democracy, will of the people, the Iraqi Constitution or the Iraqi people who turned out to vote. Let's again note this from John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
Bully Boy Bush installed Nouri as prime minister in 2006 (the Iraqi Parliament wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari to be prime minister).  In 2010, Barack loved Nouri.  How do you make someone prime minister when they didn't meet the criteria outlined in the Constitution?
You set aside the Constitution.  Barack had the US government spend forever negotiating a contract, popularly known as the Erbil Agreement because it was signed in November of 2010 at a political meet-up held in the KRG capital of Erbil.  The US government went around asking the leaders of the political blocs what they really wanted.  A wish list was prepared.  These things were then offered in the contract in exchange for their agreeing (in the contract) to allow Nouri al-Maliki to have a second term.  He'd already held up the process by 8 months.  Eight months after the election, Iraq still didn't have a prime minister.  Nouri brought things to a stand still and was able to do that because he had Barack's support.
So what do you do if you're an Iraqi politician?  You can hold out forever for the Constitution and I honestly believe that's what they should have done. (I don't live in Iraq, however.  Fakhri Karim does and he's being targeted by Nouri -- Nouri's office issued a statement this week attacking the editor -- because Karim believes Iraq can be and should be everything outlined in the country's Constitution.  For that, for faith in Iraq's future, Karim is being publicly attacked by Nouri al-Maliki.)  But to move things forward, they signed off on the contract.  It gave Nouri a second term.
And what of the rewards the political leaders were supposed to receive (such as the implementation of Article 140 in the Constitution, the creation of an independent national security body, etc.)?  It just wasn't time, Nouri insisted.  Within weeks, Iraqiya was stating Nouri was breaking the contract.  The US government swore it wasn't so.  The same US government that swore it was a valid contract and that the President of the United States gave his word to fully back.  But Nouri tossed it aside -- Iraqiya was right -- and the White House revealed themselves to be a snake pit of liars and users who say anything to get what they want. (Yes, that is Barack's reputation in Iraq.  No, it's not pretty but it was earned by his actions.)
Since the summer of 2011 the current stalemate (Political Stalemate II) has been going on as Iraqiya, the Kurds and Moqtada al-Sadr have called for the Erbil Agreement to be implemented.  The US government has remained silent on the issue -- the White House is always silent when it's time to call Nouri al-Maliki out.
They've rewarded the tyrant -- in Republican and Democratic administrations -- who has repeatedly been caught running torture cells in prisons and detention centers.  Nouri won nothing in the recent battle which is another reason to watch him closely.  But, more importantly, no one else did.  The deal Iraqi President Jalal Talabani outlined basically just turns the clock back to a time right before Nouri sent the Tigris Operation Command forces into the disputed areas.  There is no concession won that Nouri will now suddenly follow the Constitution and implement Article 140 as he's required to do -- as he was supposed to some time ago.  Fakhri Karim (chair and editor of Al Mada) observes in a column today that Jalal has wasted too much time appeasing and has refused to use his powers as president to hold Nouri in check.  He notes Nouri's blatant violation of the Constituion and how, despite this increasing, Jalal just ignores it and works on repairing dialogue when he should be using his role as president to protect the Constitution.
He's correct.  And a growing number of people find Nouri's actions and statements outrageous and embarrassing.   Kitabat reports hundreds turned out in Nasiriyah yesterday to protest the verbal attack Nouri launched Monday on Moqtada al-Sadr and that some of the signs carried call for an Iraqi Spring -- similar to 2011's Arab Spring.  As Kitabat has previously reported, there are already plans by Iraqi youth to take to the streets in January  Protesters in Nasiriyah said Nouri was guilty of covering up corruptions and protecting thieves of the public money.  They burned photos of Nouri al-Maliki and chanted that this was the final warning.  This was only the latest protest this week following Nouri al-Maliki publicly attacking cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr in a speech on Monday.  Dropping back to Tuesday's snapshot:

In Basra and Baghdad today, protests took place against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Mada reports photos of Nouri were burned and he was denounced loudly.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Nouri used a Monday speech allegedly about human rights to attack Moqtada al-Sadr -- cleric and movement leader.  Dar Addustour adds "thousands" poured into the streets in Baghdad at two o'clock in the afternoon.  As they marched to a central location, Muzaffar Square, they chanted slogans.  Nouri can take comfort in that his wasn't the only photo burned -- there were also a few photos of former leader Saddam Hussein that were set on fire.   All Iraq News notes that as the protests took place, Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement noting that the Iraqi army must be armed but not via corrupt deals (like the Russian deal Nouri signed and then called off) and that all arms must be to defend Iraq and not used to attack Iraqis.  Please note that all three previous links have a photo of the turnout in Baghdad, it was huge.  Just how large it was may be best captured in the photo Kitabat runs.  At the Basra protest, Sheikh Khalid al-Issawi tells Al Mada that the protest is to convey the outrage over Nouri's verbal attack on Moqtada while, in Baghdad, Sheikh Taha Altablawbawi explains that the people of Sadr City, elders, intellectuals, children, all, are serving notice that attacks on Moqtada al-Sadr will not go unnoticed and will result in a response. Protester Sam Abdul-Mahdi tells Alsumaria that this is the start of protests in Basra and that Nouri should retract his attack on Moqtada.  The Iraq Times reports that Nouri ordered helicopters to fly overhead during the Baghdad protest and that some Sadrists saw that as an attempt at intimidation.
Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is warning that if changes do not take place in Iraq quickly, popular uprisings will take to the streets.  Protests were taking place around Iraq in January.  Demonstrators were calling out the disappearance of their loved ones into the 'justice system,' they were calling out the lack of jobs and the lack of basic services.  This swelled into the massive protests that took place across Iraq February 25th.  Iraqis took to the streets and, in Baghdad, Nouri sent his forces to attack.  Iraqi reporters were kidnapped by the police after covering the protests, they were then tortured and forced to sign statements saying they had not been tortured.  Haidi al-Mahdi was one of those reporters.  It was after the protests, he and some other reporters were ordering lunch and seated a table when Nouri's forces barged over, used the butt of their guns to strike people and rounded up Haidi and the other reporters.
Al Mada notes that protesters also showed their support for Moqtada on Wednesday in Baghdad, Najaf, Basra and Maysan and that they called out Nouri and burned photos of Nouri.  Al Mada reports that the protests continued in Baghdad and Najaf today for the fourth consecutive day.  If you're not aware of those protests, it's because the non-Iraqi media hasn't been reporting them.
Late Thursday, a Baghdad bombing took place.  Details on the numbers weren't in when we did the snapshot.  All Iraq News reports that it was 2 bombs and that 1 person died and five more were injured. And violence today?  All Iraq News reports 1 corpse was discovered in Babylon (shot to death), and a Falluja car bombing claimed 3 lives. Alsumaria notes a Samarra car bombing has claimed the life of 1 woman with sixteen injured.  The Iraq Times notes that journalist Saifi Qaisi remains missing.  Yesterday's snapshot noted, "The Journalistic Freedom Observatory also notes that Saifi Qaisi, editori-in-chief of Safir newspaper, disappeared Sunday when he left a management and editorial meeting to return home by cab but never made it home.  The fifty-year-old has a wife and three children and has been a journalist since the 1980s."  The paper notes that all the hospitals in Baghdad were contacted and that police were given information on Sunday and that he was targeted for assassination in July 2008 but survived the bombing with injuries to his head and back.  The paper also notes the murder of journalist Samir Sheikh a few weeks ago.  He was shot dead November 17th while driving his car in Baghdad.
Turning to the US,  Rick Wills (Tribune-Review) reports a memorial service was held today for Iraq War veteran and Afghanistan War veteran Major Benjamin Follansbee who "apparently hanged himself on Monday in his Fayetteville, N.C., residence".  At this point, the death is not ruled a suicide.  Yesterday, the Pentagon released their data on Army suicides for November.  In October, there were 20 possible suicides according to last month's data.  The Pentagon notes that 1 of the 20 has been ruled  to not be a suicide.  9 of the remaining 19 were confirmed suicides and "10 remain under investigation."  That's an update on October.  For November?  They believe there are 15 potential suicides and 2 have been confirmed as that while 13 remain under inviestigation.  The Pentagon statement notes: "For 2012, there have been 177 potential active-duty suicides: 113 have been confirmed as suicides and 64 remain under investigation.  Active-duty suicide number for 2011: 165 confirmed as suicides and no cases under investigation."
From service members to veterans,  June 27th, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee -- which Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of -- held a hearing  (we covered that hearing in the June 27th and June 28th snapshots).  Tracy Keil was one of the witnesses and her testimony included:
My husband Matt was shot in the neck while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq on February 24, 2007 just 6 weeks after we were married.  The bullet went through the right side of his neck, hit his vertebral artery, went through his spinal cord and exited through his left shoulder blade.  Matt instantly because a quadriplegic.  When I first saw him 3 days after he was injured I was in shock, they explained to me that he had a "Christopher Reeve type injury."  He would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life and would never move his arms or legs.
Matt and I looked at each other in his hospital room at Walter Reed and he asked me if I still loved him? I said "baby you're stuck with me!" at that moment we knew that we would be okay if we stayed in this together.  I knew that we just needed to work really hard to get Matt off his ventilator to increase his life expectancy.  Ultimately we moved to Craigh Hospital in Denver to be closer to family support.
Four weeks to the day of arriving at Craig Hospital in Denver, Matt was officially off of his ventilator and we could truly concentrate on him doing physical rehabilitation.  Matt has regained about 10% function of his left arm but not his hand.  He was feeling good and getting used to his new normal of being in a wheelchair and asking for help for everything.
It was while we were at Craigh hospital that we started talking about having a family.  Craig doctors talked to us about in vitro fertilization and recommended some doctors for us to speak to when we were ready to start a family.  We started to get really excited that even though so much had been taken away from Matt physically that we could still have the future we always dreamed of. 
My husband is the most amazing man I have ever met, he is strong, honest and loyal and he wanted us to both have everything we always wanted before his injury and we agreed that this injury wasn't the end, it was the beginning of a new life, and we were in this together.
We had our whole lives ahead of us.  Matt was just 24 when he was injured and I was 28.  We are very fortunate that he survived his injuries that day and we made a promise to each other on our wedding day "For better or worse, in sickness and in health" I meant every word and still do today.  It is a challenge for my husband and I everyday but we knew we still wanted to start a family.  I remember back when he was in rehabilitation at Craigh Hospital it's all we could talk about was when we were going to be adjusted to our new normal and when we would we be ready to have children. We always knew we had wanted children.
In 2008 we moved into a fully handicap accessible home built for us by Homes For Our Troops.  We were starting to feel like things were falling into place in our lives.  We felt like we were starting to get back on track to where we were before Matt was injured.
His injury unfortunately prevents him from having children naturally.  In mid 2008 I started asking the VA what services they could offer my husband and I to assist us with fertility.  I can remember hitting road blocks at every turn.  I decided to take things into my own hands and write letters and make phone calls to try and get anyone to listen to us that we needed help.  Fertility treatments are very expensive and since I had left my full time job we were still adjusting to living on one income.
I felt helpless and hopeless and thought that our dreams of having a family may never come true.  The VA finally said that they would cover the sperm withdrawal from my husband . . . that costs $1,000 and that they would store the sperm for us at no charge.
It was very difficult when I found out there was no help available for us from the VA or Tricare. I felt very defeated, sad, disappointed and in some ways I felt helpless.  I researched everything I could about how to get Tricare to cover some of the costs but they couldn't because it was a direct result of my husband's injury and that fell under the VA.  The VA said that they had no programs in place for this sort of thing.  I even started asking non profits to assist with the cost and they couldn't help due to the other immediate needs of injured service members.

That's the story of one family.  The Defense Dept estimates that there are nearly 2,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars who have suffered injuries that could impact reproduction.  If you are a service member, you can get coverage via Tricare.  But if you are a veteran, you currently have no coverage.  Yesterday, Tracy Keil and her husband Iraq War veteran Matt Keil and their twins Faith and Matthew were in the Senate.  They were present to hear Senator Patty Murray explain from the floor why her bill, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, was needed.   Murray explained, "This is about giving veterans who have sacrificed everything -- every option we have to help them fulfill the simple dream of starting a family.  It says that we are not turning our back on the catastrophic reproductive wounds that have become a signature of these wars.  It says to all those brave men and women that didn't ask questions when they were put in harm's way, that we won't let politics get in the way of our commitment to you."  Lawrence Downes (New York Times) observes, "Disabled veterans won a big, unexpected victory today: the Senate passed Senator Patty Murray's bill to expand fertility services, including in-vitro fertilization, at the Veterans Affairs Department. Ms. Murray, the Washington Democrat and chairwoman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, sponsored the bill, S.3313, to help service members whose war wounds have left them unable to have children."   Rick Maze (Marine Corps Times) states the just passed bill is already dead.  Why?  US House Rep Jeff Miller, Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, supposedly doesn't want it to be brought to a vote.  As Miller's presented in a quote in that article by Maze, Miller favors it for the 113th session of Congress that will begin in January.  If that's a correct reading of Miller (and Maze is one of the country's strongest reporters so it most likely is a correct reading), Miller's fiscal responsibility that he always touches on and how important it is to be a strong steward of public monies (tax payer money) is not being followed.  There's no reason in the world that it can't be voted on in the House.  They're not even on vacation yet.  And why would you want to waste tax payer money starting the process up all over again in the 113th Congress?  The bill needs to be put to a vote.  It's not fair to veterans not to and it's not fair to tax payers.  If every bill that passed in December was put on hold until the 113th Congress (when I say 'put on hold,' I mean it's stopped in its tracks.  It will have to be revoted on in the 113th Congress, the entire process will have to start over), when are they going to accomplish anything.  Tax payers paid for the printing of the bill, for the time spent researching the bill, for the time spent writing the bill and for the time spent presenting the bill.  Tax payers have footed the bill on this.  To not vote on it in the House is to waste the tax payer dollar.


torture and more

the guardian reports:

A prominent Senate select committee has voted to approve a 6,000-page report of its investigation into controversial interrogation techniques adopted by the CIA during the so-called "war on terror" that is believed to show that the methods, widely denounced as torture, produced little valuable intelligence.
The Senate select committee on intelligence voted by nine to six on Thursday to adopt the report, which will now be passed to the Obama administration for review. It is the result of a mammoth three-year investigation into the exceptional CIA interrogation methods that were permitted by the Bush administration.
Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic head of the committee, has called the inquiry the "most definitive review of this CIA programme to be conducted".

the report is about the torture that went on during the bush years.

i will note something here, the republicans refused to participate in the 3 years of research and writing of the report.

i call out my party all the time here.  and some people can't stand that and have little fits.  grow the hell up.

and for those who think my criticizing my party means i think republicans are wonderful, the republicans have exposed themselves as hypocrites. 

and why?

to protect bush.

who is out of office.

so they're stupid hypocrites.

i'm sick of the political parties, i think.

sick of them all.

neither major party stands for anything and jill stein proved to be a whore for the democratic party so screw the green party as well.

in related news, kevin gozstola reports at world can't wait:

A military judge has ruled that statements made by defendants on trial for their involvement in the September 11th attacks could be censored if they make statements about how they were tortured or abused.
Judge Col. James Pohl ruled the government had “submitted declarations…from representatives of the CIA, [Department of Defense], and FBI invoking the classified information privilege and explaining how disclosure of the classified information at issue would be detrimental to national security in that the information relates to the sources, methods, and activities by which the United States defends against international terrorism and terrorist organizations.” These explanations included how the government believed disclosure of methods of interrogation or torture would be harmful.
The judge further explained in his ruling:
…the Government requested the Commission to institutionalize a practice that has been in use for several years- the so called “40 second rule,” Because of the security constraints at the Expeditionary Legal Center courtroom (Courtroom 2) there is a 40 second delay between something said in the courtroom and when those viewing the trial in the gallery or at closed circuit television (CCTV) sites actually hear what was said, The ACLU and collective press, as well as the accused, object to this delay as an unwarranted closure of the court. The Commission is acutely aware of its twin responsibilities of insuring the transparency of the proceeding while at the same instance preserving the interests of national security. Commission finds the brief delay is the least intrusive and least disruptive method of meeting both responsibilities The delay permits the Commission to assess and remedy any negligent or intentional disclosure of classified information without unduly impacting on the ability of the public and press to fully see and understand what is transpiring… [emphasis added]
Director of the ACLU’s National Security Program, Hina Shamsi, reacted, “We’re profoundly disappointed by the military judge’s decision, which didn’t even address the serious First Amendment issues at stake here. The government wanted to ensure that the American public would never hear the defendants’ accounts of illegal CIA torture, rendition and detention, and the military judge has gone along with that shameful plan.”

protect the bush.  and protect those who carried out his criminal actions.  and for those who think i'm afraid to call out my own party, barack's a murderer.  he should be in prison for his drone war.  over 200 children have died in that.

i'm not saying children are better than other people but i'm saying children aren't 'high level terrorists.'

the drone war is a smoke screen for killing and more killing.  barack has the death lust on him and gets off on killing.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Thursday, December 13, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, State of Law walks out of Parliament, State of Law suspends a member, among those threatened, tortured and/or intimidated in Iraqi prisons is an 11-year-old-girl a Parliamentary Committee discovers, an Iraqi journalist has gone missing, Jalal Talabani announces a deal, US Senator Patty Murray has a victory in the Senate, the US intelligence community sees 'entitlements' as a threat to America's future, Victoria Nuland's thirst for Iraqi oil mirrors the US goverment's, and more.
Tuesday at that day's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Victoria Nuland pretended to care about Syria when discussing Iraq but it's really about oil for the neocon Kagan family (Nuland is the wife of Robert Kagan) and that's why she works as the face of the State Dept today.
QUESTION: Yes. Turkey is negotiating, or already finished an oil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. Are you encouraging Turkey not to go along with this, since it will be a provocation to the central government in Baghdad?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, let me say as a general matter, once again, Samir, that the United States supports a constitutional solution to the dispute over the management of Iraq's hydrocarbon resources. This is our longstanding position. We are continuing to urge the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to reach an agreement over legislation so that they can enhance investment so that everybody knows what the fair legal basis is for this.
We don't support oil exports from any part of Iraq without the appropriate approval of the Iraqi Government, and we're calling on the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to continue to try to work through their differences. We also call on neighboring states to similarly avoid any action or comment that can contribute in any way to increasing tensions.

Officially, the US State Dept is a 'good faith' organization.  They claim their mission statement is: "Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system."  You see oil in there?  Me neither.
Victoria Nuland has never spoken out in defense of Iraqi women -- not when the 'independent' electoral commission had new commissioners and refused to make 1/3 women despite that being the mandate, not during the current prison torture scandal where women have been, at the very least, threatened with rape -- including an 11-year-old girl according to a Committee in Iraq's Parliament.  Victoria Nuland had no concerns about Iraqi women.
When bombs go off and their mass deaths and many injured?  She doesn't note it.  She gives a press conference hours later and doesn't even mention it.  I'm no fan of Condi Rice, but a spokesperson that pulled that under Condi would have been sent packing.  Under Condi, every mass attack in Iraq was condemned that day.  But Victoria Nuland, by her focus and what she chooses to stress and or ignore, clearly doesn't care about the safety of the Iraqi people.
In 2009, when Iraq's LGBTs were being terrorized by Nouri's forces and by militias in Iraq, the State Dept went out of their way to say nothing.  When the BBC was able to get someone on the record (for a mealy-mouthed statement), it wasn't Nuland.  And this year, when Nouri's Ministry of the Interior (that he never nominated anyone to be minister of so he is in charge of it) went to schools to spread fear and rage at Iraqi youths who were Emo or LGBT (or just appeared to be either or both), Victoria Nuland wasn't interested.
Over and over, when the Iraqi people are in trouble, the US State Dept plays dumb.  And no one plays dumb better than Victoria Nuland who has has so many years to perfect her craft of stupidity.
She had nothing to say about human rights crises in Iraq.  But she finds the time to speak on oil?
That might be puzzling if you didn't grasp how the US government defines oil.  In 2001, Dick Cheney, then President of Vice in the United States, serving under Bully Boy Bush, met with oil companies in what was called the "Cheney Energy Task Force."  This was about developing an energy policy, supposedly.  What it was really about was looking at the world's oil map and figuring out where to start a war and how to control the oil.
If Dick Cheney had has his way, we wouldn't know that.  But Judicial Watch sued for the records he refused to release. Click here for the maps and charts Cheney's 'energy task force' drew up on Iraq in March 2001.  And try to pretend that the illegal war that would start two years later wasn't connected.  Cheney's US 'energy task force' needed to label Iraq's "supergiant oilfield" (don't you picture Dick jizzing in his shorts over that one) as well as "other oilfield"s and "earmarked for production sharing" and all these other little tags, little price tags, in fact, that's what they were.  It was a tag sale on the belongings of the Iraqi people. 
Victoria Nuland's very familiar with these reports.  As we noted in 2004 when NPR's idiotic ombudsperson was pretending that there was nothing wrong with Robert Kagan critiquing the John Kerry campagin, Icky Vicky was working for Dick Cheney, she was his deputy national security advisor.  As his deputy national security advisor, Vicky Nuland was up to her armpits in these discussions of how to carve up Iraq.
And now she's a front person for the US State Dept.  The reason being, the theft of Iraqi oil isn't really dismaying to Democrats in power.  Those who objected in real time (or, more often, after the war was a clear loser) did so out of partisanship. Even now, no one's standing on the floor of Congress expressing outrage over this war for oil.  If you're not grasping how disgusting the current administration is, remind yourself that Dick Cheney's deputy national security advisor -- Dick Cheney's -- is now the spokesperson for the State Dept.
Let's go back over what Little Vicky The Small Blunder said:
Well, first of all, let me say as a general matter, once again, Samir, that the United States supports a constitutional solution to the dispute over the management of Iraq's hydrocarbon resources. This is our longstanding position. We are continuing to urge the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to reach an agreement over legislation so that they can enhance investment so that everybody knows what the fair legal basis is for this.
We don't support oil exports from any part of Iraq without the appropriate approval of the Iraqi Government, and we're calling on the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to continue to try to work through their differences. We also call on neighboring states to similarly avoid any action or comment that can contribute in any way to increasing tensions.
That's not a position of neutrality.  That's a position (yet again) backing neocon Princess Nouri al-Maliki, the man Bully Boy Bush installed as prime minister in 2006 and that Barack Obama insisted in 2010 -- despite the Iraqi people's vote and the Constitution -- must have a second term as prime minister. 

The roots of the crisis date back to the year 2007 when the Iraqi government refused to recognise contracts concluded independently by the independently with foreign oil companies, declaring them illegal.
Hamza al-Jawahiri, an oil expert, said that the KRG and the central government in Baghdad interpret the constitution differently.
"While KRG believes that it is its right to develop its oil industry, conclude oil contracts and control oil production, the Oil Ministry in Baghdad considers that crude oil belongs to all Iraqis, not to citizens of any area be it in the center, the south or the north," he reveals.
So when Nuland says the following, she's not being neutral, she's picking a side:
We don't support oil exports from any part of Iraq without the appropriate approval of the Iraqi Government, and we're calling on the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to continue to try to work through their differences. We also call on neighboring states to similarly avoid any action or comment that can contribute in any way to increasing tensions.
Note that Nuland doesn't say the Constitution.  Because many observers feel the KRG is correct in their interpretation of the Constitution (legally, they also have custom on their side now as a result of the practice in place in the last years).  This was not neutrality.  This was taking a position which is that the US State Dept doesn't want the KRG to be able to sell its oil.
While it was largely ignored in the US press, it was clear to the world's press what was going on.  Murat Yetkin (Hurriyet Daily News) grasped it.  Or as the headline to another article made clear, "U.S. warns Turkey over Iraqi oil."  Nuland is picking a side and someone should have asked her, "What is the KRG supposed to do?"  Iraq was supposed to pass a hydrocarbons law long ago.  Princess Nouri gave his word to Bully Boy Bush that he would see to it in 2007.  It didn't happen then.  It didn't happen in 2008.  It still hasn't happened.  So no oil sold until one is passed?  Is that what Nuland's advocating?  No, of course not.  She's advocating on behalf of Princess Nouri al-Maliki.
Courtney Howard (Avionics Intelligence) reports Lockheed Martin has delivered 2 C-130J aircrafts to Baghdad.  Three more are supposed to be delivered next year.  That's taking sides.  If you don't get that, Lockheed Martin has issued a helpful press release explaining that the planes will be used for "humanitarian relief operations in various locations" and "for intra-theater support for its troops."  That means Nouri will use them to support his forces in Iraq.  Even if those forces are going up against, for example, the Peshmerga.  Sides were long ago chosen while Nuland and the US government pretend that they are being neutral.
On the issue of Turkey and the lack of neutrality on the part of the US government, Press TV reports US intelligence is predicting that Turkey will be subdivided into multiple parts by 2030.  What are they talking about?  The US National Intelligence Council started "in 1979, the NIC has served as a bridge between the intelligence and policy communities, a source of deep substantive expertise on intelligence issues, and a facilitator of Intelligence Community collaboration and outreach."  Monday the National Intelligence Council's Matthew Burrows and Christopher Kojm gave a briefing on their organization's new report "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds."  PDF format warning, click here.  The report bills itself as "the fifth installment in the National Intelligence Council's series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future." They're attempting to play soothsayer and forecast the future. 
It isn't sacred text, it isn't holy.  It's the sort of crap Faith Popcorn briefly made a name for herself with or that Jeane Dixon did for years in the tabloids. It's a political and biased
 document and to pretend otherwise is to be ignorant of the text.  It accepts that "entitlements" are destructive to the United States (though a "sever pandemic" could fix that!) and spends a great deal of time trashing the programs many depend on like Social Security.  It is interesting to realize that the official position of the US intelligence community is that Social Security is a threat to the nation.  These are policy positions, this not neutral analysis.  They're also pro-fracking in one ridiculous segment.  This is garbage and wasted taxpayer money.
Iran's Press TV was so busy gleefully bleeting the predictions about Turkey that it seems to miss the dire predictions for Iran.  It also predicts that it's likely China will collapse.  Let's focus on Iraq which is barely mentioned in the report. 
It's noted that Iraq is forecast to decline in precipitation by 2050 by 13.3%. It is argued that the US being painted as the "great enemy" is something that is becoming less popular an likely: "The impending withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and decreases in US forces in Afghanistan help to reduce the extent to which terrorists can draw on the United States as a lightening rod for anger."  There are concerns about Iraq not being able to remain the country it currently is, "Fragmentation along ethnic and religious lines in Iraq and Syria could lead to an unraveling of current borders" and that Iraq's "government is already showing signs of reverting to factionalism."  It further notes that it's one of the states (Libya, Yemen and Syria being the others named) "where sectarian tensions were often simmering below the surface as autocratic regimes co-opted minority groups and imposed harsh measures to keep ehtnic rivalries in check.  In even of a more fragmented Iraq or Syria, a Kurdistan would not be inconceivable."
For the cost of a round of beers, you probably could have gotten the same 'data analysis' on Iraq from any group of people in this country paying attention to the situation.  Again, a grave waste of taxpayer money.
Susan Saad.  Alsumaria reports the female MP with the National Alliance delivered a denuciation of calls for investiations into the prison abuse scandal and calls for accountability.  Saad sputtered in public with great indignation over the fact that these charges of abuse were not coming from the Ministry of Justice but from women who had been imprisoned!

Imagine that.

Let's break it down so we all get how stupid Susan Saad was today.  Prisoner abuse is only real if the complaint comes from the officials who would be doing the abusing (I believe that would be known as "confessions") and it is not believable when it comes from former female prisoners -- wome who can document the scars from torture.
The government of Iraq wastes money as well.   Alsumaria reports Susan Saad, MP with the National Alliance, delivered a denunciation of calls for investiations into the prison abuse scandal and calls for accountability.  Saad sputtered in public with great indignation over the fact that these charges of abuse were not coming from the Ministry of Justice but from women who had been imprisoned.
While she did damage control for Nouri al-Maliki, All Iraq News reports Iraqiya MP Faiza al-Obeidi is calling for the Minister of Justice to face questions about the violations in the prisons.  She noted that despite repeated assertions of violations, the Minister does not appear to have taken any steps to address the issue.  The article also notes that women's rights groups are calling for a full investigation into the allegations.  Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that Parliament's Security and Defense Committee's preliminary investiation has found no cases of rape but they have found cases where women were threatened with rape.  The report covers fourteen female inmates, the youngest of which was eleven-years-old.  Alsumaria adds that Hassan Shammari, Minister of Justice, is stating that this is not a topic for speculation.  Or for investigation judging by the Ministry's refusal to address the allegations that have been made publicly for some time now.  Meanwhile, Nouri's State of Law staged a huff and a walk-out of Parliament today.  They also turned on one of their own.  In December of last year, Nouri wanted Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of his post (with the intention being to sue him as soon as he was -- he told CNN Nouri had become a dictator) and he wanted Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrested for terrorism.  (Both men are Sunni and members of Iraqiya -- the political slate that defeated Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections.)
As the world watched Nouri uncork the crazy, Stae of Law MP Hussein al-Asadi ran all over the place vouching for Nouri and defending him.  So it's fitting that Alsumaria is reporting State of Law announced today that they had frozen the membership of Hussein al-Asadi.  All Iraq News reports the suspension but also doesn't note whether or not it is permament.  This is the second high profile snubbing of one of Nouri's supporters.  As the $4.2 billion Russian deal collarpsed (Iraqi officials in Russia this week insist that the deal is still going), Nouri turned on his spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh who ended up fleeing the country and decrying the attempt to try him in the media.  Today, AFP reports, Tareq al-Hasehmi has been sentenced to death again -- this is his "fifth death sentence."
In other disturbing news Iraq's Journalistic Freedom Observatory notes, a team of Alsumaria workers were prepaing a report when they were attacked (physically -- punches were thrown at them) by Iraq's security forces in Baghdad on Monday. The attack took place in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.  The Journalistic Freedom Observatory also notes that Saifi Qaisi, editori-in-chief of Safir newspaper, disappeared Sunday when he left a management and editorial meeting to return home by cab but never made it home.  The fifty-year-old has a wife and three children and has been a journalist since the 1980s. 
Today's violence? All Iraq News notes, includes a Harhiya sticky bombing which injured a taxi driver. And they note that an attack on a Baghdad police checkpoint left 2 police officers dead with four more injured, 1 city worker was shot dead in Mosul, and a Mosul armed attack left Col Khaled Zuhdi dead. Alsumaria adds that a Baghdad car bombing has left an unknown number of people dead and wounded.

In news that will have Victoria Nuland panting, Alsumaria reports that OPEC is going to keep a ceiling on production; however, Iraq is saying it won't cut production.  OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, met yesterday in Vienna, Austria.  Abdul-Kareem Luaibi Bahedh is the Minister of Oil in Iraq and he was president of the conference.  Addressing the assembled, he noted:

I should like to extend a special welcome to His Excellency Dr Abdel Bari Ali Al-Arousi, the Minister of Oil and Gas of Libya, who is attending the Conference for the first time as Head of his Country's Delegation. Let me also thank his predecessor, His Excellency Eng Abdurahman Benyezza, for his contributions to the Conference during his time in office.

As we approach the end of the year, we are faced with a period of continuing uncertainty about the oil market outlook. To a great extent, this reflects the lack of a clear vision on the economic front. The global economy has experienced a persistent deceleration since the beginning of the year. The combination of an austerity-driven Euro-zone, the weakening recovery in Japan and clear signs of a slowdown in major emerging economies has provided the main factors behind this development. In the light of this, world oil demand growth forecasts for this year have been revised down frequently. At the same time, non-OPEC supply and OPEC natural gas liquid output have continued to perform well, outpacing demand growth. This trend is not expected to change in the coming year, with the market continuing to see high volumes of crude supply and increasing production capacity.

Turning to oil prices, while these have strengthened in the six months since the Conference last met, there have been continuing fluctuations. In June, at around the time of the Conference, prices were at their lowest daily levels for the year, with the Reference Basket price below US $100 a barrel throughout the month. It even fell below $90/b for three days. However, the Basket price then rallied strongly past $110/b in the middle of August. But after that, for most of the time since mid-September, it has been several dollars a barrel beneath this mark. This drop has reflected mounting concern about the global economic slowdown, the pessimistic future demand outlook and significant stockbuilds of crude in the United States of America. Such downward pressures have outweighed supply concern arising from geopolitical factors.

For its part, OPEC continues to do what it can to achieve and maintain a stable oil market. A key aspect of this is to ensure that the market remains well supplied with crude at all times, with fair and reasonable prices. For this to happen, there must be clear planning for the future, with sound investment strategies ensuring the necessary levels of production capacity in the years ahead. But the drawing-up of such strategies is impeded by uncertainties on both the demand and the supply fronts, as well as by high levels of price volatility. Clearly there are many doubts about the market outlook today. Without market stability - that is, sustainable market stability - all parties will suffer, producers and consumers alike.

At today's meeting, therefore, we shall be examining the market outlook for next year and further into the future. Our focus will be on enhancing market stability in the interests of all parties, as well as in support of steady world economic growth. However, this is not the responsibility of OPEC alone. If we all wish to benefit from a more orderly oil market, then we should all be prepared to contribute to it. This includes consumers, non-OPEC producers, oil companies and investors, in the true spirit of dialogue and cooperation.

Summer Said, Benot Faucon and Hassan Hafidh (Wall St. Journal) note that they did not choose a new secretary-general and instead extended the term of Abdalla Salem el-Badri for another year.
The Iranian government, as Trend News Agency reported,  made clear earlier this week that they were opposed to Iraq or Saudi Arabia getting the post of secretary-general.  Of the meeting, Amena Bakr and Emma Farge Vienna  (IOL) report:

At yesterday's meeting of Opec the opening salvos were fired in the struggle over who takes responsibility for cutting output if oil prices, now at a comfortable $108 (R937) a barrel, start falling.
After 20 years of war, sanctions and civil strife that left its oil industry in disarray, Iraq is in no mood to consider curtailing output just as it starts to take off.
"Iraq will never cut output," Iraq's Opec governor, Falah Alamri, said. "Countries that have increased their production in the last two years – they should do so. This is a sovereign issue, not an Opec issue."
That was a clear reference to Saudi Arabia, which earlier this year lifted output to a 30-year high above 10 million barrels a day to prevent oil prices ballooning after Western sanctions on Iran halved its production.

In other news, AP can't stop lying.  I wasn't even going to mention that.  There's a nomination that went down in flames today.  I'm happy.  I don't need to mention it here.  By the same token, AP wasn't going to be called out but then they had to pick up last week's lie yet again.
You don't look right today.  You whored.  You whored and you did so in the public square.  Briefly, Nouri al-Maliki -- with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at his side -- held a press conference last week (Thursday) and declared, in response to a question, that Baghdad and Erbil continued weighing ways to end the stalemate.  He stated two proposals had emerged -- joint-patrols by the Kurds and Nouri's forces or allowing local regions to do their own patrols.  All the Iraqi outlets got this right.  AP issued 'breaking news' and stated Nouri announced a proposal (two became one!) had been agreed on and that the standoff was over.
AP, stop whoring.  Clearly you were wrong.  If an agreement is reached today, clearly you were wrong.  If AP had just acted like it didn't happen last week (their lie), I wouldn't even be noting it now.  We are short on space and this is being edited as I dictate.  But AP had to bring up their lie and pimp it as truth.  They lied.  AP versus Al Mada, All Iraq News, Kitabat, Dar Addustour, Al Rafidayn and Aslumaria?  Everyone was wrong in reporting on that press conference except AP?  Please.  AP didn't even acknowledge Ban Ki-moon.
You got caught whoring, that's bad enough.  To continue to pretend is just embarrassing.  Grow the hell up.  No link to their trash.
We'll instead note Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters) who reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is stating that local police are going to grab security responsibilities and, when that happens, both Nouri's Tigris Operation Command and the Peshmerga will withdraw.  There's strong analysis in the piece as well.  One point not noted that I hope does get noted?  Nouri started this crisis by sending the Tigris Operation Command in.  If the crisis is now resolved and resolved in the way that Talabani says (I wouldn't put it past Nouri to back out on the deal once it was in play), what we're left with is Nouri started a crisis and won nothing.  What Talabani's describing?  That was the state of things before Nouri sent in the Tigris Operation Command which led to the Peshmerga being sent in.  Again, al-Salhy has a strong report with great analysis.  And that's all we would have noted on this topic if AP -- revealed as a liar today -- hadn't tried to bring in last week's lie and act like they were correct in their 'report.'  If you're looking for a strong report in Arabic, check out this one by All Iraq News.
Okay, my apologies, we're having to pull Lynn Woolsey's comments.  They will be in tomorrow's snapshot.  I'm editing in my head over the phone and it's just easiest to grab a chunk of space by dropping her until tomorrow.  US House Rep who was a strong and needed voice against the Iraq War. We'll also note this from Human Rights Watch tomorrow.  We're going to wind down with military and veterans. First up, veterans.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Today her Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 passed the "Senate by unanimous consent," her office notes.  This is what she stated on the floor of the Senate today:
I come to the floor today to request unanimous consent for S. 3313, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, which is unanimously supported by the Members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.
M. President, this legislation not only builds upon previous laws to improve VA services for women veterans and veterans with families --
But it also brings a new focus to the need for VA to do more to help women veterans and the spouses of male veterans access assistance for one of the most impactful and serious wounds of these wars - reproductive and urinary tract trauma.
As many of you know, the nature of the current conflict and the use of improvised explosive devices leaves servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries.
In fact, Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 nearly 2,000 servicemembers have suffered these battle injuries.

Like so many of our veterans, these men and women come home looking to return to their lives, to find employment, and so often to start a family.
Yet what they find when they go to the VA is that the fertility services available don't meet their complex needs.
In fact, veterans suffering from these injuries find that the VA is specifically barred from providing more advanced assisted reproduction techniques such as In Vitro Fertilization – or IVF
They are told that despite the fact they have made such an extreme sacrifice for our nation we cannot provide them with the medical services they need to start a family.
Veterans like Staff Sergeant Matt Keil – and his wife Tracy, who is here with us today.
Staff Sergeant Keil was shot in the neck while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq on February 24th 2007, just 6 weeks after he married the love of his life – Tracy.
The bullet went through the right side of his neck, hit a major artery, went through his spinal cord, and exited through his left shoulder blade.
Staff Sergeant Keil instantly became a quadriplegic.
Doctors informed Tracy her husband would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life, and would never move his arms or legs.
Staff Sergeant Keil eventually defied the odds and found himself off the ventilator and beginning a long journey of physical rehabilitation.
Around that same time, Tracy and her husband started exploring the possibilities of starting a family together.
Having children was all they could talk about, once they adjusted to their new normal.
With Staff Sergeant Keil's injuries preventing him from having children naturally, Tracy turned to the VA for assistance and began to explore her options for fertility treatments.
Feeling defeated after being told the VA had no such programs in place for her situation, Tracy and Staff Sergeant Keil decided to pursue IVF through the private sector.
While they were anxious to begin this chapter of their lives, they were confronted with the reality that Tricare did not cover any of the costs related to Tracy's treatments -- because she did not have fertility issues beyond her husband's injury.
Left with no further options, the Keil's decided this was important enough to them that they were willing to pay out-of-pocket – to the tune of almost $32,000 per round of treatment.
Thankfully, on November 9, 2010, just after their first round of IVF, Staff Sergeant Keil and Tracy welcomed their twins Matthew and Faith into the world.
Tracy told me,
"The day we had our children something changed in both of us. This is exactly what we had always wanted, our dreams had arrived.
"The VA, Congress and the American People have said countless times that they want to do everything they can to support my husband or make him feel whole again and this is your chance.
"Having a family is exactly what we needed to feel whole again. Please help us make these changes so that other families can share in this experience."
I have heard from these severely injured veterans and while the details of these stories vary, the common thread that runs through them all is that these veterans were unable to obtain the type of assistance they need.
Some have spent tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector – like Tracy and her husband -- to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family.
Others have watched their marriages dissolve because the stress of infertility, in combination with the stresses of readjusting to life after severe injury, drove their relationship to a breaking point.
Any servicemember who sustains this type of serious injury deserves so much more.
The bill I am here asking to pass today will give VA broad authority to offer advanced fertility treatments to the most severely wounded veterans, their spouses, or surrogates.
It also gives VA the authority to determine how best to offer these benefits.
It reverses this troubling barrier to care and will bring the VA in line with the military which provides these services to this same groups of servicemembers.
This is common sense legislation that we should pass without delay.
In fact, the NY Times recently ran an editorial on this bill and said,
"In more than a decade of combat overseas, the military and V.A. have continually had to adjust to the challenges of new traumas with new treatments, as with the epidemic of brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. Adapting the V.A. health system to better meet reproductive-health needs should be part of that response. It is one compassionate way to fulfill the country's duty to wounded veterans."
They also noted that even this Congress should be capable of a bipartisan agreement to pass it.
M. President, I couldn't agree more.
And I can't think of any reason why all Republicans and Democrats wouldn't join us today.
This is about giving veterans who have sacrificed everything -- every option we have to help them fulfill the simple dream of starting a family.
It says that we are not turning our back on the catastrophic reproductive wounds that have become a signature of these wars.
It says to all those brave men and women that didn't ask questions when they were put in harm's way, that we won't let politics get in the way of our commitment to you.
M. President, we can't let this bill get bogged down in the obstruction that has become typical of this body.
This is too important to delay with procedural tactics.
The VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded
That should include access to the care they need.
And our women veterans deserve this, our male veterans deserve this, and our military and veteran families deserve this.
Thank you M. President.
I'd now like to offer a unanimous consent request for passage of S. 3313, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012.
It's an important issue and I'd like to return to it if we could tomorrow.  Now we move to the military.  Leon Panetta is the Secretary of Defense.  I know and like Leon Panetta.  We're including the topic because it's an issue that's not going to go away and that is getting heated.  (When I had an argument on it today, I realized it had to make it into the snapshot or I would be accused of letting Leon off because I like him.)   Dan Lamothe (Marine Corps Times) has an article you can reference.  Here are the basics on the issue: Sgt Rafael Peralta died while serving in Iraq on November 15, 2004.  He was a 25-year-old Marine who was born in Mexico and who joined the US Marines after the age of 20 when he received his green card (2000).  For years, members of Congress have argued that Peralta should be awarded the Medal of Honor.  The new Mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, began advocating for that in 2004 when he served in Congress.  US House Rep Duncan Hunter has picked up the cause.  Leon Panetta has denied the request. 
For The Medal of Honor to mean what it's supposed to, it does have to be given out for those whose actions warrant it.  I think most people would agree with that.  And a Navy Cross, the decoration that Peralta was awarded (in 2008) is certainly a worthy honor.  But where I fault Panetta is in doling out information.  Yesterday there were stories based on what people were saying.
US House Rep Hunter has released Panetta's letter to him denying the Medal of Honor to Peralta.  Dunan Hunter's office released the following today:
Washington, D.C. -- This morning, Representative Duncan Hunter commented that he was "beyond disappointed" after receiving an official response from Secretary Panetta regarding the decision not to award the Medal of Honor to Marine Corps Sergeant Rafael Peralta.
"Sergeant Peralta is a hero," said Representative Hunter.  "He died in service to his country and he died protecting his fellow Marines.  He and his family are an inspiration to me and many others, for their courage, their dedication and their sacrifice.
"While I vehemently disagree with Secretary Panetta's decision, I do appreciate the fact that he took the time to personally examine the Peralta case and consider the new evidence that was submitted.  What is still unsettling to me and many others who have followed this case is the process that led to Sergeant Peralta's downgrade to the Navy Cross -- a high honor, but not the Medal of Honor.
"For the first and only time on record, Secretary Gates formed a scientific panel consisting of several forensic experts to refute the findings and recommendation of both the Marine Corps and the Navy.  Until then, there was absolutely no disagreement that Sergeant Peralta's actions were in the spirit and tradition of the Medal of Honor.  Secretary Gates manufactured the doubt -- the same doubt that led Secretary Panetta not to award the Medal of Honor.  I also have questions about the legal authority to conduct such a review in accordance to regulations -- something I intend to examine more closely.  
"In his letter, Secretary Panetta makes several points that, in all due respect, are the same arguments of convenience made by Secretary Gates.   
"He specifically raises concerns with the eyewitness accounts -- the eyewitness accounts of U.S. Marines who were engaged in combat and saw their brother do the unthinkable.  These Marines know what they saw. They stand by their statements.   There were in fact 5 eyewitness accounts that led to the original decision.  Four of the statements are independent of each other and all four are consistent.   And for the Medal of Honor, the standard has always been two eyewitness accounts.  Not three, not four, not five, but two eyewitnesses. 
"Meanwhile, the new evidence that was reviewed, including the video, as confirmed through multiple sources, was not previously considered.  The video, in particular, invalidates Secretary Gates' conclusion that the grenade detonated one to three feet from Sergeant Peralta's left leg. Also, the pathology report that was submitted identifies multiple distinct irregularities with Secretary Gates' findings, such as a piece of the grenade fuse lodged in Sergeant Peralta's flak jacket, center-mass.  Above all, this evidence was intended to invalidate Secretary Gates' judgment, as it clearly does.  It also reaffirms the original eyewitness accounts.
"The fact that Sergeant Peralta still has not been awarded the Medal of Honor he deserves is a severe injustice, not just for Sergeant Peralta, but his family, his fellow Marines and anyone who has been willing to fight and die for their country.   The only way to correct this error in judgment is to honor Sergeant Peralta with the award he deserves."
Hunter is a veteran of both the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War.  Panetta's is expected to be leaving shortly as Secretary of Defense. This isn't a time for confusion.  If he wants to deny the Medal of Honor in this instance, he needs to be clear and publicly clear as to why that is.  He may have made the right decision. Let's say he did to move onto how, if he did, he's now turned it into a bad decision.
He destroyed a possibly correct decision by the way he handled it.  People should not have to read a letter to Duncan Hunter to know that Panetta shot down the request.  (I didn't find the letter at all illuminating, others may.)  When he leaves, if he hasn't fixed this issue, this should be a mark against him in grading his tenure as Secretary of Defense.  Fixing the issue does not mean he should award Peralta the Medal of Honor.  If Panetta doesn't feel it's deserved, then that's the decision.  But he needs to be public about that decision.  He needs to own that decision.  Thus far, he hasn't.  (And when people refuse to own their decisions, I tend to feel that their decisions must not have been the correct ones.  I doubt I'm alone in drawing that conclusion.)