Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Picks of the Week

Today's pig is tomorrow's bacon ( a Labor Day recipe): Some years from now, in an economic refugee relocation "Enterprise Zone," your kids will ask you, "What did you do during the Class War, Daddy?" by Greg Palast

"This week, Dupont, the chemical giant, slashed employee pension benefits by two-thirds. Furthermore, new Dupont workers won’t get a guaranteed pension at all — and no health care after retirement. It’s part of Dupont’s new “Die Young” program, I hear. Dupont is not in financial straits. Rather, the slash attack on its workers’ pensions was aimed at adding a crucial three cents a share to company earnings, from $3.11 per share to $3.14.

"So Happy Labor Day.

"And this week, the government made it official: For the first time since the Labor Department began measuring how the American pie is sliced, those in the top fifth of the wealth scale are now gobbling up over half (50.4%) of our nation’s annual income."

Perfect storm for the poor: In income data, something more damaging than Katrina

"All manner of politicians and columnists said in Katrina's wake that this was the time to revisit the problems of the destitute. The anguish of the people of New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward would have at least some redemptive power if the country took poverty seriously again.

"It didn't happen. The innovative ideas that came from all sides were swept off the table. The poor became unfashionable once more. Congressional conservatives changed the conversation. A concern for the struggling gave way to debate over how to offset spending on Katrina with budget cuts -- directed in large part at programs for the needy."

This is in line with Christ's teachings: "Screw the have-nots, aid the haves."

A timely reminder of America's Enlightenment origins

"The author concludes by calling on his American readers to remember and embrace their Enlightenment origins at the present critical point in their history."

Senate moves to give Bush more power to wiretap

"The bill, which was written by judiciary chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), and which has been widely and publicly excoriated by Democratic members of the committee, contains provisions—such as the institution of program-wide warrants, and warrants that do not expire for a year—that would weaken the strict limits that currently govern the FISA courts."

They're going to give more power to a guy who should be being measured for an orange jump suit?

First time released documents expose subservient Congress

"In this link you see various letters from members of Congress and the executive branch, with bureaucrats refusing information to the two intelligence oversight committees because the committee members do not have appropriate clearances. Of course, clearances, like classified information, are exclusively controlled by the President. So if he does not want oversight of anything he has made secret he simply refuses Congress clearance to see the material. This is the modern version of Royal Prerogative that was argued by Parliament against Charles I in 17th century England and was finally, so we thought, put to rest in the United States by the Constitution. 'National security' has converted the presidency into a limited monarchy with the power to deny the people, through their elected representatives, accountability for executive actions."

Bush White House to be subpoenaed by wiretap lawyers

"Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer, who say they represent hundreds of plaintiffs in lawsuits against Verizon, AT&T, and the US Government, will announnce today that they are serving both the Bush administration and Verizon with subpoenas."

Iraq war has Bush doctrine in tatters

"No one has an endgame for Iraq. No one offers any magic bullets against stateless terrorists undeterred by conventional military power, or the dangerous regimes in Iran and North Korea that many believe to be bent on nuclear arms. The United States now faces a set of bad options -- or, at best, a deeply chastened view of the limits of American power."

Let me think . . . how about not invading countries on false pretenses? Maybe not supporting dictatorships around the world? Perhaps not being the biggest player in arms sales? Supporting fair elections at home? The stringent regulation of corporations and capitalism? Providing a safety net for citizens? Universal health care at home? Doesn't seem hard if you start thinking about it.

Iraqi hospitals are war's new 'killing fields'

"Authorities say it was not an isolated incident. In Baghdad these days, not even the hospitals are safe. In growing numbers, sick and wounded Sunnis have been abducted from public hospitals operated by Iraq's Shiite-run Health Ministry and later killed, according to patients, families of victims, doctors and government officials."

A virtual democratic paradise.

The big lie about 'Islamic fascism'

"There is nothing in any part of the Muslim World that resembles the corporate fascist states of western history. In fact, clan and tribal-based traditional Islamic society, with its fragmented power structures, local loyalties, and consensus decision-making, is about as far as possible from western industrial state fascism."

Dems Bash Rumsfeld's Nazi comments: Defense Secretary Likened Iraq War Opponents To Those Who Appeased Hitler

"Rumsfeld said the world faces 'a new type of fascism.' And he warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement."

Whereas, with von Rumsfeld and company, the world is faced with the old fascism. Rummy needs some face time with a mirror.

Fascism anyone?

"Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity." . . . .

"9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of 'have-not' citizens."

Data show one in eight Americans in poverty

"The survey also showed 15.9 percent of the population, or 46.6 million, had no health insurance, up from 15.6 percent in 2004 and an increase for a fifth consecutive year, even as the economy grew at a 3.2 percent clip."

Americans without health benefits may have set record in 2005

"The total has climbed every year since President George W. Bush took office, a point Democrats are likely to seize on in this year's congressional election. In February Bush called the 45.8 million who didn't have insurance in 2004 ``unacceptable in our country.'' Emory University Professor Ken Thorpe in Atlanta says Bush has done little to help these people."

BushCo has created a trickle up economy. Make that 'surge up."

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

"And about Mr. Rumsfeld's other main assertion, that this country faces a 'new type of fascism.'

"As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that - though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

"This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed."

Worth reading through. Keith Olbermann closed with this on last Wednesday's Countdown.

Pentagon gives gloomy report

"Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, a Pentagon report said Friday."

I no longer have power to save Iraq from civil war, warns Shia leader

"The most influential moderate Shia leader in Iraq has abandoned attempts to restrain his followers, admitting that there is nothing he can do to prevent the country sliding towards civil war.

"Aides say Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is angry and disappointed that Shias are ignoring his calls for calm and are switching their allegiance in their thousands to more militant groups which promise protection from Sunni violence and revenge for attacks."

No civil war in Iraq, says Bush

"US President George W Bush said on Saturday that early results of a Baghdad security crackdown were 'encouraging' and denied that Iraq was in the grips of civil war."

'Deluded': Extraordinary attack on Blair by cabinet

"Tony Blair will be served notice to quit Downing Street at a meeting of the Cabinet next week when senior ministers plan to confront him over his refusal to commit to a departure timetable.
"One described Mr Blair this weekend as 'deluded', while another said he was being 'self-indulgent'. They are among a growing number of cabinet ministers, some formerly loyal to Mr Blair, who have concluded he must leave office sooner rather than later if Labour is to have a chance of winning a fourth term."

Soldiers die, CEOs prosper

"Just as odorous, a mountain of corporate cash grows next to the piles of bodies. In this bizarre war where Iraqi civilians fear both suicide bombers and the United States, the biggest sacrifice that President Bush asked of American civilians was to get on a plane and show those terrorists a thing or two by going to Disney World.

"Defense contractors took that request to a logical extreme. They built their own fantasy land."

Arms dealers in charge

"Hard to believe that the US had no domestic weapons manufacturers before WWII, but that's what Dwight D Eisenhower said in 1961 before he left office as President. He also, famously, warned the public to keep an eye on the 'military-industrial complex.' Eugene Jarecki's documentary, Why We Fight, charges that the weapons industry now drives all US economic and foreign policies. The website offers succinct but significant scenes from the film, supporting the premise. Move over, Michael Moore!"

Weapons to die for

"Today, more than 15 states have introduced a depleted uranium bill, and Louisiana and Connecticut have passed theirs. It has created a nightmare for the federal government and put the Pentagon in permanent PR counterspin as well as exposed 15 years of official coverup under three Presidents and corruption in Congress. Our children, our sons and daughters, have been sent off to the battlefields of the Middle East and Central Asia to become uranium meat. The cost of their care has been dumped on the state medical facilities. Their families have been destroyed, not to mention their lives. It is time for citizens and state elected officials to pass depleted uranium bills which will help all soldiers by putting pressure on the federal government."

Goats and Hussars: A British harbinger of American defeat by Chris Floyd

"Don Rumsfeld is fond of historical analogies when pontificating about Iraq; he particularly favors comparisons to the Nazi era and the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II. Unfortunately, any historian will tell you that Rummy's parallels are invariably false, even ludicrous. So we thought we'd give the beleaguered Pentagon warlord a more accurate and telling analogy to chew on."

Homicide charges rare in Iraq war: Few troops tried for killing civilians

"The majority of U.S. service members charged in the unlawful deaths of Iraqi civilians have been acquitted, found guilty of relatively minor offenses or given administrative punishments without trials, according to a Washington Post review of concluded military cases. Charges against some of the troops were dropped completely."

Be all that you can be.

War is not a solution for terrorism

"THERE IS SOMETHING important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out."

The myth of the omnipresent enemy

"But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it? Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could so easily be exploited?

"One reasonable explanation is that almost no terrorists exist in the United States and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad. But this explanation is rarely offered."

The commies under every bed have merely been replaced by a terrorist under every bed.

The Cheney presidency

"The Iraq war is the work of Cheney and Rumsfeld. The capture of the career civil service is pure Cheney. The disciplining of Congress is the work of Cheney and Rove. The turning over of energy policy to the oil companies is Cheney. The extreme secrecy is Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales."

The five morons revisited

"When the neocons launched the Bush administration's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and announced plans for invading Syria and Iran, I labeled Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rice 'the Five Morons.' With the passage of time, I see that I overestimated their mental capabilities."

Going to war with the leaders you have

Name one part of the occupation of Iraq that has succeeded?"From the shortage of soldiers, to de-Ba’athification, to the disbanding the Iraqi military, to the lack of body-armor, to leaving the ammo-dumps unprotected, to Falluja, to Abu Ghraib, to Haditha, to the stage-managed, public relations Jessica Lynch incident (which was later exposed as a sham) every facet of Iraqi fiasco has been a complete and utter failure.

"And whose name is on that failure? Whose name features most prominently on the greatest strategic disaster in American history?"

Cheney chooses chief propagator of false Iraq-9/11 link to be official biographer

"Vice President Cheney — 'the man running the country”' — is now working on an official biography.

"But don’t hold out any hope that the biography will offer any revealing insight into 'Dick Cheney’s dark, secretive mind-set.' The author of the book, according to U.S. News, will be Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes:"

Rumsfeld on Iraq war critics: 'Quitters' who blame 'blame America first' and 'cannot stomach a tough fight'

"Instead, he took the opportunity to repeatedly attack — implicitly and explicitly — anyone who dares to criticize the administration’s 'stay the course' policy. Some excerpts:"

Rumsfeld's enemy: It's us

"Either Rumsfeld has delivered one of the most important speeches of the modern era, or he's gone crazy.

"I think the latter, not just because I think the secretary is wrong on his intellectual characterization of terrorism, and not just because he is wrong about the media and its intentions, and not because he is so pugnacious, or because he has been wrong so many times before."

Donald Rumsfeld's dance with the Nazis

"Here's how brazen Mr. Rumsfeld was when he invoked Hitler's appeasers to score his cheap points: Since Hitler was photographed warmly shaking Neville Chamberlain's hand at Munich in 1938, the only image that comes close to matching it in epochal obsequiousness is the December 1983 photograph of Mr. Rumsfeld himself in Baghdad, warmly shaking the hand of Saddam Hussein in full fascist regalia. Is the defense secretary so self-deluded that he thought no one would remember a picture so easily Googled on the Web? Or worse, is he just too shameless to care?"

The Bush administration and Godwin's law

"Perhaps, with Godwin's Law in mind, you'll allow me to indulge in a little bit of Nazi-analogizing. The following comes from a post–World War II interview between Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking intelligence officer and psychologist who was allowed by the Allies to speak with Nazi POWs, and Hermann Goering, the Nazi Reichsmarshall. Their conversation took place on April 18, 1946, during a break in the Nuremberg trials, and was recounted in Gilbert's book, Nuremberg Diary:"

Rumsfeld: Terrorists manipulating media

"'They are actively manipulating the media in this country' by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"'They can lie with impunity,' he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct."

Abu Ghraib.

Death penalty recommended in Iraq raid

"An Army investigator has recommended that four soldiers accused of murder in a raid in Iraq should face the death penalty if convicted, according to a report obtained Saturday by The Associated Press."

I wonder if Donald "High Standards" Rumsfeld goes along with the recommendation?

Iraq letter 'suppressed' by Downer (Australia)

"In it he warned the Australian Government the hunt was 'fundamentally flawed' and that there was 'a distinct reluctance on the part of many here and in Washington to face the facts' that Iraq had no WMD."

Howard should be fitted for a noose as well.

Positive press on Iraq is aim of US contract

"U.S. military leaders in Baghdad have put out for bid a two-year, $20 million public relations contract that calls for extensive monitoring of U.S. and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage of news from Iraq."

Leave Iraq. Try, convict and execute those responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Apologize to the planet. Don't do it again. Contact me for bank account info to wire the $20M.

Why it's not working in Afghanistan (Scroll down)

"The story of success in Afghanistan was always more fairy tale than fact -- one scam used to sell another. Now, as the Bush administration hands off 'peacekeeping' to NATO forces, Afghanistan is the scene of the largest military operation in the history of that organization. Today's personal email brings word from an American surgeon in Kabul that her emergency medical team can't handle half the wounded civilians brought in from embattled provinces to the south and east. American, British, and Canadian troops find themselves at war with Taliban fighters -- which is to say 'Afghans' -- while stunned NATO commanders, who hadn't bargained for significant combat, are already asking what went wrong."

US spy agencies pressed for "intelligence" to justify war against Iran

"The aim is the same as that pursued by Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war who sought to manufacture phony 'intelligence' that Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction justified a US invasion and occupation of the country."

How many war crimes does it take before being eligible for trial?

US renews threat of unilateral sanctions

"Three days before a UN Security Council deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions, the United States again raised the prospect of unilateral sanctions against Tehran."

Israel plans for war with Iran and Syria

"THREATENED by a potentially nuclear-armed Tehran, Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources."

Let them have at it . . . alone . . . without US aid.

Apocalypse looms unless we take the lead against proliferation

"The 30-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commits the 177 non-nuclear nations that signed the agreement not to acquire nuclear weapons and the 'Big Five' nuclear powers- the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia – to dismantle theirs.

"But, the Big Five have now largely ignored their obligations, and the Bush Administration's Nuclear Posture Review unilaterally withdrew its previous promises. Meanwhile, both the U.S. and France have developed new ways of designing new generations of nuclear weapons that skirt the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and Donald Rumsfeld has talked openly about violating the treaty."

So, countries with nukes are violating the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and the US, one of the violators, wants to invade Iran for, perhaps, doing the same?

US accused of bid to oust Chavez with secret funds

"The US government has been accused of trying to undermine the Chávez government in Venezuela by funding anonymous groups via its main international aid agency.

"Millions of dollars have been provided in a 'pro-democracy programme' that Chávez supporters claim is a covert attempt to bankroll an opposition to defeat the government."

Seems like the duly elected leader of Venezuela doesn't have the kind of democracy BushCo likes. It would be refreshing if BushCo would, just once, do the right thing.

One year since Hurricane Katrina: New Orleans left to rot

"The so-called rebuilding efforts have been little more than government-subsidized boondoggles for speculators, profiteers and corporate cronies of the Bush administration. Newsweek magazine accurately termed the official recovery drive 'mostly an opportunity for Southern companies owned by GOP campaign contributors to make some money in New Orleans.' One of the first measures enacted, even before the creation of the so-called 'Gulf Opportunity Zone,' was the slashing of wages for workers involved in reconstruction efforts."

'Lebanon will be rebuilt before New Orleans is'

"The folks at Brasscheck predict that Hizbullah, the so-called 'terrorist' organization will rebuild Lebanon before the Federal government coughs up the relief funds to rebuild New Orleans."

Spanish firm to build and run new PFI road in Texas

"Grupo Ferrovial, Spain’s construction, infrastructure and services giant, had a busy summer acquiring airports in the UK and Peru. Now it has a concession to build and operate a Texas superhighway.

"Construction of the new toll road project, designed to develop an alternative route to Interstate 35 as part of the planned Trans-Texas Corridor is due to start early next year."

America's infrastructure fire sale

"The Chicago Skyway Bridge is a 7.8-mile toll road built in 1958 to connect the Dan Ryan Expressway to the Indiana Tollway. In 2004, the facility was leased for 99 years, for a one-time payment of $1.83 billion, to the Skyway Concession Company, LLC, owned by Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte S.A., and Macquarie Infrastructure Group. This same consortium won a 75-year lease for the 157-mile Indiana Tollway for $3.85 billion.

"Cintra is a Spanish company that has 21 similar highway projects in six countries. Macquarie Infrastructure Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Macquarie Bank, an Australian corporation with assets in excess of $100 billion."

Senator who put 'secret hold' on bill to open federal records is a secret, too

"An unidentified senator placed a 'secret hold' on legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., that would create a searchable database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance, worth $2.5 trillion last year. The database would bring transparency to federal spending and be as simple to use as conducting a Google search."

Instead of talking about being a democracy, the US should take the next step and act like one.

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens exposed as blocker of bill to create a searchable database of government contracts

"Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has been exposed, by the process of elimination, as the middle-of-the-night insider who blocked a bill to make public the spending patterns of the government."

Thecorrupt moron who backed the pork barrel bridge to nowehere.

SAT score drop is biggest in 31 years

"The results come several months after numerous colleges reported surprisingly low SAT scores for this year's incoming college freshmen. The nonprofit College Board, which had said scores would be down this year, released figures Tuesday showing combined critical reading and math skills fell seven points on average to 1021."

The dumbing down of 'Merica continues. No wonder the Bush crime family gets away with murder; the populace don't know nuthin' and don't suspect nuthin'.

The 9/11 Chronicles: Destroying a crime scene

"Scott Forbes was an employee of Fiduciary Trust, a firm located on floors 90 and 94-97 of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Forbes reported that over the weekend of September 8-9, 2001, floors 50 and above of the South Tower experienced a power down, meaning that all electrical currents were shut off for about 36 hours.

"The officially stated reason was that the electrical cables in the building were being upgraded.

"In that Forbes functioned as a senior database administrator in charge of Fiduciary Trust's computer division, he was entrusted to shut down the company's computers before the shut down occurred. After the power down he had to turn the computers back on and restore service to the network.

"Because there was no electric power above the fiftieth floor there were also no security cameras or security locks. There were many outside engineering personnel, however, coming and going in and out of the tower all weekend."

Allowing the placement of thermite for the controlled implosions of 9/11. Time has proven these criminals would stop at nothing to secure and maintain control. From rigged elections to illegal invasions, they will stop at nothing. Nothing!

Twenty things we know about 9/11 five years later

"In short, Bush&Co. used and then grossly abused the awful events of 9/11 -- and continues to do so -- in order to expand and maintain power, to move aggressively in the world, to pay off corporate and wealthy-individual supporters through huge tax breaks (in the middle of a war!), to create a one-party system of government, to neuter the legislative and judicial branches and thus violate our time-honored checks-and-balances system that provides a brake on executive excesses, to amass more and more police powers in federal hands, to effectively control the mass-media and the vote-counting system in this country, etc. etc."

Mexico's election tribunal denies Lopez Obrador's challenge to July vote

"Feeding the flames of this crisis are the increasingly untenable economic and social conditions facing most Mexicans, particularly the poorest. While in 1978 a family had to earn two minimum wages to meet the costs of basic necessities, today it takes four, condemning 40 percent of the population to poverty.

"At its current growth rate of 5 percent a year, Mexico creates 600,000 jobs out of the one million needed each year, forcing hundreds of thousands to emigrate."

So, if one were a thinking conservative [oxymoron] one might consider backing Obrador over Calderon. But noooooo! Better to build a wall around 'Merica and let the brown sonsabitches starve.

Mexico: President Fox puts legislature under siege

"Mexican President Vicente Fox had to cancel his final state of the union speech before the country’s Congress September 1, after legislators protested a massive police/military mobilization against anti-government demonstrators by seizing the podium. This is the first time in modern Mexican history that a sitting president has been prevented from addressing the opening session of the legislature on September 1."

Has Canada got the cure? Publicly funded health care has its problems, as any Canadian or Briton knows. But like democracy, it's the best answer we've come up with so far.

"Should the United States implement a more inclusive, publicly funded health care system? That's a big debate throughout the country. But even as it rages, most Americans are unaware that the United States is the only country in the developed world that doesn't already have a fundamentally public--that is, tax-supported--health care system.

"That means that the United States has been the unwitting control subject in a 30-year, worldwide experiment comparing the merits of private versus public health care funding. For the people living in the United States, the results of this experiment with privately funded health care have been grim. The United States now has the most expensive health care system on earth and, despite remarkable technology, the general health of the U.S. population is lower than in most industrialized countries. Worse, Americans' mortality rates--both general and infant--are shockingly high."

At a social gathering yesterday the subject of universal health care came up. One guy chose the time honored (and worn) argument about people have to work for what they get, blah, blah, blah. I didn't argue. Stupid people only learn the hard way.

Unfortunately, health care is under siege in other industrialized countries as the global trend toward corporate vs. human welfare expands.

The merchant of menace: How "merchant coal" is changing the face of America

"Across the nation, 153 new coal plants are currently proposed, enough to power some 93 million homes. Of those 153 proposals, only 24 have expressed an intent to use gasification technology, which offers a way to handle the large amounts of carbon dioxide produced by coal combustion. A recent report from the National Energy Technology Laboratory anticipates the construction of up to 309 new 500 MW coal plants in the U.S. by 2030. If NETL's projections are correct, U.S. coal-generation capacity will more than triple by 2010, with corresponding air pollution and greenhouse-gas increases."

Northern Great Plains falls into dust bowl conditions

"Ranchers are turning to desperate expedients. Withered sunflower plants, normally raised for seeds and oil, are being fed to livestock. Cattle are being hauled hundreds of miles to healtheir feedlots, despite soaring fuel costs. Water is being poured in to refill natural watering holes that have gone dry. The governor of South Dakota even issued a proclamation declaring a week to pray for rain."

US state co2 laws won't prevent coal boom

"U.S. states' plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could lead to little change in national carbon output, simply pushing coal-fired power plants and other dirty industries to relocate in states without rules, experts said on Thursday."

Are the gods angry?

US cigarettes have 10% more nicotine than six years ago

"All tobacco brands have been increasing the nicotine dosage in each cigarette steadily during the last six years, says a report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The overall increase has been about 10% during 1998-2004. The higher the nicotine dose, the more hooked you get - it is much more difficult to quit."

Who says the US doesn't know how to add value to a product!

George and the Robot

A man named George accidentally walked into a very high-tec bar. As he sat down on a stool he noticed that the bartender was a robot. The robot clicked to attention and asked "Sir, what will you have?"

George thought a moment then replied? "Bourbon and water, please". The robot clicked a couple of times and poured the best bourbon and water George had ever had. The robot then asked, "Sir, what is your IQ?"

George paused and then answered "oh, about 164." The robot then proceeded to discuss the 'theory of relativity' 'interstellar space travel' 'the latest medical break-throughs.' etc.

George had no idea what he was talking about, so he left the bar but thought he would try something a little different. He returned and took a seat. Again the robot clicked and asked what he would have. “A Bourbon and water, please.” Again it was superb.

The robot again asked "What is your IQ sir?" Thinking of his father, George answered "Oh, about 100". So the robot started discussing Nascar Racing, the latest basketball scores, and what to expect the Texas Rangers to do this weekend.

George still had no clue what he was talking about and decided to try it one more time. So he left, returned and took a stool. Again, he ordered a bourbon and water, and waited for the question "What is your IQ?" This time for one of the few times in his life, he decided to be honest, " Uh..... Bout 91. Heh heh heh".

The robot clicked, then leaned in close and very slowly said, “I knew it was you all along, George, and "How is your father? Don’t you think you should get someone a little smarter than Karl and Dick to help you through the next two years, before you destroy the world? By the way, I got some of your favorite nose blow beneath the counter.”

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