Global Nation Organization

Securing the Future With Love, Hardwork and Integrity

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Obviously, there are many components contributing to a global resurgence of irrational perspectives, superstition, religious sentiment, and faith. From my own observations, however, I have come across an important element I haven’t seen mentioned so far: It’s called progress.

When I grew up as a teenager in Bavaria, Southern Germany, we lived through boom years and relative affluence. We had a house, cars, TV, holidays and so on. Little has changed in the sense that products today have really different purposes compared to then.

However, there is one big difference. The feeling has changed. As a kid, I repaired my bicycle. As a teenager, I fixed my radio; I built Hi-Fi systems and even tuned my car. Products often came from factories nearby.

These days I can hardly do similar things. Technology, in the name of progress and cost, has run amok, leading away from us at a fast pace. Electronic elements that steer your car, your washing machine are unique parts only the specialized workshop can replace and tune-up. The Hi-Fi set, arguably cheaper than in the old days, has become a completely incomprehensible set of irreparable technology. It’s all Chinese junk full of toxic metals that will end up in landfills soon, and poison aquifers. Does complex technology benefit the customer? It might, because it’s cheaper (thanks to slave work conditions), compared to what it used to be, in real terms. Does it fit the general public? Here my answer is a clear: No.

Progress has not only empowered people; it has also disenfranchised the customers. We clearly have gone too far! We have become a hopeless bunch surrounded by technology we are not able to master any longer.

Consequences of this finding are far from trivial. If me, the fairly well educated technical professional feels outwitted by progress, how would people with a lesser level of education feel and react? How do today’s teenagers fare, when they leave school? Where are the car mechanics jobs today? I was told that the new versions of Mercedes and Lexus cars are shunned by the wealthy African elites. Why? Simply because there isn’t anyone out there, who knows how to repair these vehicles, once they fall prey to the glory of African roads, and maintenance culture. Progress has run away from us in such ways, that playing catch-up has become an almost impossible task. Customers aren’t controlling the products that shape their lives any longer.

Feeling disenfranchised and disoriented people tend to turn to conservative religious or other emotionally-based value systems. It’s like the drowning swimmer who tries to grab whatever floats around. Regardless of being right or wrong, religious systems are beyond reasoning and hence give the illusion of comfort. What cannot be argued about must be right, ok? Unfortunately, however, this is leading people away from the real issues that we face in this world today – overpopulation, habitat destruction, climate change, drinking water shortage. People are lulled into systems of beliefs that feel emotionally comfortable but don’t offer any help for the problems of our overcrowded, polluted and freaking-out planet.

In a nutshell, the general public needs to reclaim its rights for the products it deals with.

There are a number of things that can be done. The ball is in the court of the lawmakers, but little is done given it doesn’t fit anyone’s special interest. In particular, there are three points that come to my mind:

1. Simplicity. Bills need to be written that spell out the degree of technology that should be applied in respect of certain commodities and appliances. Some products should use proven and simple technology, without shunning, however innovation and, yes, progress.

2. Green technology. An emphasis should be put on green technology, too. It doesn’t make sense to drive around in a 400 hp cars, with highly sophisticated electronics managing the ‘system’ to allow a ‘reasonable’ gas consumption, if a simple, 50 hp and environmentally friendly car could address our needs for a fraction of cost, little or no negative environmental impact, and so simple that can be repaired by our neighbor. It doesn’t make sense to produce non-recyclable packaging (acrylic plastic bottles, for instance), that have an environmental decomposition period of 10 years plus, if used for a product that is consumed in a minute.

3. Education is seen lagging behind; it’s often teaching for a world of yesterday’s technology and products. This has to change, too. Technology is also increasingly running away, and people have problems in mentally separating science from technology applications.

There is no doubt that reason, logical thinking, and modern education have solved many of our problems. Ratio has guided civilization out off the nightmares created by religious ignorance and emotional suppression. That’s why ratio, simplicity, science and technology need to be brought back to the people!

© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

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Did you ever wish to know more about earthquakes? It used to be a cumbersome exercise, with the need to delve through books and strangely worded articles.

Not anymore! The reign of the Internet has started, the reign of the book is doomed!

Just click on:

and you will be presented with a world-map showing earthquakes of the last week, the last day, and the last hour. Click on any of the colored squares, and you’ll see smaller-scale maps, with the exact quake location, and the depth of quakes. Looking through it you’ll realize the very uneven global distribution of earthquakes.

In same places, the earth quakes every month. These are the major and minor plate boundaries. Most common are the extensional quakes (plates moving apart) occurring at a depth of some 10 km.

- In some zones, earth-quakes occur every week. These are so called active plate margins, were young tectonic processes are shaping the earth. The plate margins of the Pacific and of some Atlantic plates fall into this category, and also the compressive belt leading from the Alps to the Himalaya.

- In some zones, there is a quake on every day, or even every hour. These ‘hotspots’ are located in very specific zones, such as Kuril Islands offshore Alaska, Kamchatka, Sulawesi, the southern-most Atlantic, the Lesser Antilles, and a few more.

When you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the distribution of earthquake depth is profoundly skewed.

- Most common quakes occur at a depth of 10 km or less. These quakes can stem from extension (= lateral pull), compression (= push), or (more rarely) shear along plate boundaries, and characterize areas of active volcanism.

- A large number of quakes occur at a depth of 10-100 km. These quakes are almost entirely related to plate subduction (=pushing one beneath the other) processes. Alaska and the Caribbean are good examples. These are commonly associated with volcanism, often parallel to the quakes at a distance of some 100 km or less. Areas located next to a subduction zones (Lima, Peru, for example) are earthquake and damage-prone, as the quake centers tend to be shallow, and the shaking is violent.

- Lateral movements (strike-slip) and the related quakes are common in a few specific areas around the Pacific margin: California, Oregon, Taiwan, Philippines, New Zealand. These zones can spark very violent quakes, too.

- Deep quakes (100-700 kms of depth) occur in a very few selected areas only. These are: Below the eastern cordilleras of South-America; in the Sulawesi Sea; the Western Pacific, such as near the Mariana Islands; in the Mediterranean, such as in the area of the Lipari Islands. Deep quakes relate to areas, where cold slabs of rigid crust have been submerged into the semi-liquid mantle, without haven smelted-up completely yet.

The damage originating from these quakes is normally small, compared to the others.

More practically, would you like to check-out the site of your domicile for dangers resulting from earthquakes? Very easy! Look for the button ‘historical earthquakes.’ Earthquakes do always come in groups. If an area has been completely quiet for 20 years, it highly suggests that such an area is relatively stable, and chances for major earth-quakes are extremely low. In many ways, earthquake-prone areas are smoking guns, and shine up in your earthquake statistic. To obtain that one, select your area of interest in latitude and longitude coordinates, and get your earthquake listing or plot from that area.

Earthquakes not only come in groups, they are mostly aligned on linear features such as fault lines. These are also often seen in the landscape (the many romantic stepping flanks and bents in places like San Diego or San Francisco, are fault lines). If several earthquakes line up, and your property is located on such alignment, better consult an expert!

Dear readers, I hope I have wetted your appetite. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we are now today truly empowered to do our own quake research. Good luck! I’ve attached a few USGS quake maps to farther illustrate the issue.
© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

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These days, there is a lot of talk about globalization, multicultural society, and diversity. Very often the point is made that diversity is strengthening a culture, or society. But is this view correct? The answer is yes and no.
Often indeed, diversity has yielded a certain cultural strength – New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo, Barcelona can be cited as good examples. Diversity leads to strength, when elements of different character, but of a common root, are allowed to blossom. Japanese cultures thrives, for instance, on the concept that extremes can co-exist and strengthen each other. Diverse cultures are fascinating, attractive, exciting. They offer what people want: the freedom to choose one’s own genuine lifeform. Largely monochromatic cultures, such as Singapur for instance, appear dull, authoritarian and intellectually somewhat stifling.

Nobody wants to live in Saudi Arabia.

Citizens of New York may have different ethnic or cultural backgrounds but see themselves as New Yorkers. Recently, a lady of Iranian descent was  elected beauty queen in my native conservative Bavaria – she’s perfectly speaking the local dialect, never mind about the rest.  As long as there is a common denominator amongst a diverse population, diversity means strength. A common denominator may be culture, language, dialect, dress, ethnicity, history, faith, Weltanschauung, Law.
What happens if a common denominator is lacking? In this case trouble looms ahead. That’s when cars are burning in dirty French suburbs, and liberal filmmakers are murdered in Amsterdam. The lack of an intrinsic common root, or consensus, leads to parallel societies, or ghettos.
In a parallel society, the other part is ignored, if not plainly rejected. in the ghetto, the extremist always shines as a defender or hero of local values, though he or she may be a complete nut. Ghetto leaders work against the host society, they thrive like a parasite plant off the host society’s odds and general decay and corruption. 

Societies that are tolerant of this kind of ghetto culture are doing wrong. Keeping one’s eyes shut won’t solve the problem. Ignoring each other may work for a while, but can and will lead to social clashes sooner or later – at the next economic downturn, to be precise. It may and will erupt violently.
In world’s history, the most tragic example is certainly the failed (ultimate) integration of Jews into German mainstream culture. Although both sides had gone a very long way toward a permanent platform of common thought and culture, one catastrophic event (WW I and the economic disasters thereafter) was sufficient to wipe out hundreds of years of cultural synopsis, and ultimately created the landscape that allowed the Holocaust to materialize. It could happen, because a common cultural platform had only materialized at the level of the elites, whilst the majority uneducated lower class rabble was left cut-out of material and cultural goodies, and remained prone to anti-Semitic feelings.

There are many other examples, too. In SE Asia, the Chinese overseas minority is viewed with great suspicion, given their financial strength, self-centered cultural focus, and endowed with an often ruthless, and uncompassionate business style. They are seen as a hated, yet necessary element of society. A predator, just waiting to take over the land.
Currently, the most challenging subject seems to the integration of Muslim believers into the mainstream of western culture. Integration means that both sides cede part of their territory, and move toward the other position, in fair amounts given in respect to number and standing within the host societies.
Neither side may reject the other, nor expect the other of fully embracing ‘alien’ values. There can only be one common Law, and, as long as the host country’s population continues to believe and act in known ways, it won’t be halal.
This process will be a painful one for Muslims living in Christian or liberal host countries. The followers of Islam must abandon absolutist statements, such as owning the only way to God. It falls short of revising the ‘source code’ of this religion. Yet, the bottom line is: there is no choice. Parallel societies are and have been a recipe for disaster. Adherence to absolutist ideas means, ultimately, acceptance of bloodshed.

Finding a common platform might not only be a problem but a tremendeous opportunity in disguise: A possibility to pose society onto a platform of rational thought, law, ecology and common sense. But what are the chances to succeed? I’m a little pessimistic, when looking at the increasing rejection of rational values in favor of religious ideas.
Citing Murphy’s Law ‘what can happen will happen,’ a tremendous effort is needed on both sides to work on a truly common and reliable platform of co-existence, and beliefs cannot and may not remain taboo. What will happen, if these efforts remain fruitless? The answer is: mass murder and ethnic cleansing. Just look, what happened to Yugoslavia! A clash of culture will see no winners. Should the autochthonous (‘western’) culture prevail in a ‘clash of cultures,’ freedom might be preserved, but our dignity will be lost. Should there be a globally fanatic Islam, both dignity and freedom will be lost.

There is no choice.  
© 2007 by Franz L Kessler

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Recently I had a short exchange with a friend regarding the reality of humans affecting global temperatures. Thinking humans could not manipulate nature without nature’s permission, or rather without its assistance. Regardless of whether humans are causing global warming, or are just active participants in the natural cycle of global climate change, we are in the midst of severe changes. Rather than seeing this as a cause for a panic attack, it would be wiser to view this as an opportunity.

My initial contention with my friend regarded dinosaurs. Thinking, even with their enormous size, enormous appetite and equally enormous fecal and urine output, they did not impact global climate, and in fact thrived over a hundred and sixty-five million years. Humans on the other hand have only been around for around 1.5 million; one hundredth as long as the dinosaurs. And while dinosaurs did eventually die off after either global warming brought about from an extremely volatile volcanic period or an asteroid impact, humans have an adaptability dinosaurs did not which could protect us from extinction. We can, through the application of science and technology, overcome the impact of global climate change.

Think about it, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, they ate enormous amounts of vegetation. Possibly devouring large swaths of cycad forests in short spans; leaving behind enormous amounts of excrement in their wake. If you have ever visited an area with a large bird or seal population, you would know what it must have smelled like. You would understand just how polluting dinosaur waste must have been to air and water. So here we have, humans, little teeny tiny creatures relative to dinosaurs, wrecking the environment. Polluting, devouring natural resources, and dumping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Okay, if you say so.

Anyway, you are probably wondering how I can call global warming the opportunity of the century. Simple. First, its advantage is already evident to Northern European and Canadian areas that were previously covered in ice. Areas now exposed, ready for exploration.

The second opportunity will come from other benefits to global warming. Such as fewer cold weather related deaths; fewer traffic fatalities from icy roads; shorter and milder winters; higher crop output from both warmer weather and increased CO2.

Lastly, I see global warming as an opportunity because it will create demand for products and services developed specifically to either combat global warming or make its inevitability more bearable. Global warming is already fueling the largest economic boom of humanity either through legislation (an interference if you ask me to the invisible hand of supply and demand) or from isolationist, racist, bigoted reasons. Not to mention plain old desire for the latest, greatest, and coolest anything.

You are probably wondering what the hell am talking about. You think the world is coming to an end and I’m talking about global warming as if it were something beautiful. Well, the world is not coming to an end. It is only going to be different from what we have become accustomed to. The world, whether warm or cool, is beautiful.

However, change will require management. It will require many new industries, new ways of thinking about old technologies and of technologies that might not exist yet. Engineering positions will be in high demand in the future of global warming as the world seeks out ways to meet or exceed reduced engine emissions on motor vehicles; or as people start coveting more energy efficient appliances; newer, better types of home insulation; and more highly efficient thermal windows.

Then there will be a demand for economically alternative and renewable energy sources, such as solar energy for more than just water heaters; moderately priced windmills that might make it possible to be mounted on every roof or in every backyard; geothermal energy, which is already being used as geothermal heat pumps for heating or cooling air and water; and of course we cannot forget the big baddy, construction and maintenance of dozens, perhaps even hundreds of nuclear power plants.

Really, the list is endless. So don’t panic. Just get to work because the future needs you. Opportunity is an impatient lover, it will find some other willing partner should you fail to become captivated by her.

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One objective at Global Nation is to uncover unscrupulous business practices. Our primary focus is on those who profit from dangerous or inferior goods; with a good being defined as a product or service. How we do this is quite simple: through exposure. Today, all eyes are on China, whose “states secrets system is dangerous to the health of people not only in China but also worldwide, and undermines healthy governance and rule of law.” It is apparent, China is not just poisoning American pets out of greed, but the entire planet.

As most of the world knows, this past March millions of cans of pet food was recalled from North American pet stores when thousands of animals died from kidney damage after eating tainted food. According to the FDA, the food contained the chemical melamine. In a statement on ChemNutra’s website: “We are concerned that we may have been the victim of deliberate and mercenary contamination for the purpose of making the wheat gluten we purchased appear to have a higher protein content than it did.” In fact, the wheat gluten may not have had any protein at all.

What is more frightening, this practice, which to me is fraud, is customary in China. According the the New York Times,

For years, producers of animal feed all over China have secretly supplemented their feed with the substance, called melamine, a cheap additive that looks like protein in tests, even though it does not provide any nutritional benefits, according to melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

“Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed,” said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine. “I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.” from the New York Times

Last year nearly 1,000 people in Panama were killed from cough syrup and other anti-allergy medicines. It was found that additives used in the compounding process were imported from China which contained diethylene glycol (DEG), more commonly known as anti-freeze. “Exposure to large amounts of DEG can damage the kidneys, heart, and nervous system.”

This week, toothpaste has been banned for the same reasons; it was found to contain DEG. It is further insulting to learn the types of stores buying this toothpaste are not regular supermarkets, but low priced dollar and discount stores; businesses that appeal to low income people. Chasing after the lowest price appears to come at a high price, loss of life.

What we don’t know yet is whether toothpaste not sold in the retail environment, but distributed to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, airlines, hotels and other places where the product is supplied unbranded and unlabeled, is also contaminated. Keep in mind, people in hospitals and nursing are already fragile. If they become exposed to these toxic chemicals the potential for disaster increases.

Most likely this is only the tip of the iceberg. China has never been highly regarded for respecting human or animal rights. So, at the very least we can expect to see these tainted products, products now banned in western nations, to not be destroyed, but to get dumped into third-world and emerging nations. In the end, will this fraud harm their GDP? Will China’s reputation be sufficiently damaged to result in a change to food safety policy? I don’t know. Hopefully, this will be their wake-up call. If not, I am sure another emerging nation has their eye on the prize; becoming the world’s most favored manufacturer.

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“Welcome to the jungle…”

What’s news on the Global front? Well, currently the annual G8 Summit is wrapping up three days of talks on the global economy. However, I am not going to spend time recapping the events and agreements at this time; preferring to leave it for future discussion. You can click on the link I’ve provided for in depth information on the G8 Summit. Right now I would like to draw attention to my current favorite print magazine: The Economist.

If you have never read The Economist, and are interested in global affairs as they impact business and politics (two sides of the same coin), then I highly recommend you get a copy of the magazine. At the very least, please visit their website.

What I like the most about The Economist versus similar magazines, (such as, The Weekly Standard, Newsweek, Time, Business Week, et. al.) is that The Economist is not U.S centrist. I am sure this is because it is a U.K. publication. I know many people perceive the United States as the center of the universe, but it isn’t; it is only one player on a planet of around 194 countries.

The quality of the writing is outstanding and clearly stated; the content is thorough and topical; the opinions are in line with my thinking (what I like to call right-thinking); and they believe in free-trade and free-markets. When you read the magazine, or as they call it, their newspaper, you might not notice it at first, but the articles are written anonymously. “The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it.”

Each week I will try to bring attention to one or more articles from The Economist that I believe reflect the work we do here at Global Nation.

The following is an article from the May 24, 2007 issue on Mo Ibrahim. Here, instead of charity, he uses courage to radicalize life in Africa; proving “the way forward for Africa is investment.” What is most remarkable is how he was able to establish wireless telecommunications in Africa without having to give out bribes. His vision for Africa, a continent ripe for investment, is to promote good governance in Africa with a system of rewards. His plan is “to award an annual prize of $5m to retired African leaders who rule well and then stand down, rather than trying to cling to power.” I believe his political model, rooted in good business practice will be successful.

Africa calling
May 24th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Mo Ibrahim

Mo Ibrahim helped to bring mobile phones to Africa. Now he has bigger plans

IN 1998, as the telecoms boom was under way, Mo Ibrahim was amazed that big companies were rushing into the mobile-phone business around the world, yet not in Africa. There they saw only problems: poverty, unrest and corruption. Mr Ibrahim, a veteran of the telecoms industry in Britain and Sudan, was at the time running a consultancy he had founded in London. Amid the cigar smoke and snifters that followed its directors’ dinners, an idea formed. Might it be possible to set up a pan-African mobile operator—and to do so without paying bribes?

This was the genesis of Celtel, which is now one of Africa’s largest mobile operators, with some 20m subscribers in 15 countries.When Mr Ibrahim sold Celtel in 2005 to MTC, a Kuwaiti operator, for $3.4 billion, it demonstrated that the continent was open for business. Rather than charity, he insists, “the way forward for Africa is investment.”

Building businesses in Africa is important to Mr Ibrahim, who had to leave the continent as a young man in order to pursue his career. Born in Sudan and raised and educated in Egypt, he started off as an engineer at Sudan’s national phone company. After further study in Britain he went on to become technical director at Cellnet, the wireless arm of BT, Britain’s biggest telecoms operator. (Cellnet was subsequently sold, renamed O2 and is now owned by Telefónica of Spain.) He left in 1989 to set up an engineering consultancy that designed mobile networks, and sold the firm for just over $900m to Marconi in 2000.

These experiences paved the way for Celtel’s emergence. The consultancy enabled Mr Ibrahim to peer into the business models of dozens of mobile operators, from which he concluded that an African operator would work. His time at BT was also informative: big companies, he says, teach a fellow everything he ought not to do in order to be successful. “Later on in life I was not worried about taking on the big guys, because you know they are not efficient,” he says. And Mr Ibrahim’s previous success meant that the motivation behind Celtel’s establishment was not solely commercial. He and his co-founders had already made their fortunes and regarded Celtel as a political and intellectual test. That is why they happily ventured into risky African markets and refused to pay bribes.

Now that mobile telephony is booming in Africa, Mr Ibrahim has other plans. Not for him the typical rush into private equity. Instead he set up a foundation last year with the novel (and, say critics, utopian) mission of promoting good governance in Africa. It plans to award an annual prize of $5m to retired African leaders who rule well and then stand down, rather than trying to cling to power. The foundation is working with Harvard University to establish a scoring system with which to assess potential candidates. The prize committee is chaired by Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations. The first award will be presented in October, though the prize will be presented only in years when a worthy winner can be found. By that point Mr Ibrahim plans to have stepped down as the chairman of Celtel to avoid any possible conflict of interest.

Meanwhile Mr Ibrahim has also put up $150m to establish a fund to invest in African businesses. From its newly opened offices in London, the Africa Enterprise Fund will seek out promising companies in financial services, consumer goods, energy and agricultural processing. The aim is to focus on established businesses that need cash and experienced management to grow, and the average investment is expected to be around $20m. Only companies that can expand their operations regionally or throughout Africa will be considered. Mr Ibrahim has appointed Tsega Gebreyes, Celtel’s former strategy chief, to help run the fund. This is because the fund’s approach is to apply the Celtel formula in other fields: identify inefficiencies, consolidate fragmented operations, go pan-continental and develop a respected brand. The goal is scale. A large company that operates in several African markets can attract a higher calibre of managers than a gaggle of local ones, and can have more political clout when demands for bribes crop up.

Politics, philosophy and economics

Though there are no direct links between the foundation and the fund, the two are symbiotic. Business and investment in Africa can succeed only if there is good governance, which is what the foundation is intended to promote. And economic development is necessary in turn to give people a stake in improving the political process. The foundation’s $5m prize is a pittance, it is true, when compared with the spoils that can be extracted by staying in power. But the initiative may not be totally futile: given the impotence of Africa’s intergovernmental bodies it will do no harm at all to produce an annual public ranking of African governance. And the foundation will offer a carrot where other non-governmental organisations carry sticks.

The investment fund is also tiny when set against the magnitude of Africa’s problems. But as Celtel shows, some businesses can have a powerful ripple effect, promoting economic activity and generating new investment. Celtel employs around 8,000 people directly, for example, but it and other mobile operators indirectly provide jobs to around 170,000 people in Africa who resell prepaid airtime. More broadly, mobile phones also promote entrepreneurship and economic activity by widening access to markets and making up for poor or non-existent transport infrastructure. Similar ripple effects ought to be possible in other fields such as financial services and energy.

Thirty years ago Mr Ibrahim had to leave Africa for Europe in search of education and professional success. He hopes that fostering indigenous African companies will help ensure that tomorrow’s engineers and entrepreneurs can find their opportunities closer to home. (source: The Economist)

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  I may not be a genius but I know for certain….
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham
Thinks all those who disagree with him on immigration are bigots
Now that’s ingenious….
Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton
Said she wants American’s to share their prosperity
Now that’s ingenious…not to mention socialist….
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
Suggests American’s would prefer illegal immigrants be killed
Now that’s ingenious…
And then President Bush has chimed in with his statement
Opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic
And he said they ‘don’t want to do what’s right for America.’
Now that is truly ingenious….
If what you want is to piss off
the ninety nine percent of us who aren’t geniuses___ 

2007 © T Sheridan

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  A maggot feeds on decay___
America is dying and the maggots
Are feeding off her weakness…
This once Great Nation
Is so full of self loathing…
That with each day
Thousands more maggots cross our borders
Soon there will be nothing left
but the Flies…. 

2007 © T Sheridan