Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
March 9, 2012
Mr. President: This Sunday, March 11, is the anniversary of the Fukushima
disaster. We now know the nuclear power station was closer to becoming a
Chernobyl than was realized earlier. In the end, released radiation was a
tenth of Chernobyl. They were lucky in one way: the wind was blowing
eastwards and blew everything out to sea. Had it been blowing south, the
Japanese would have faced the enormous problem of securing the safety of
the 30 million residents of Tokyo and its environs.
Now here is a thought: If a Chernobyl like event, which the Japanese
escaped by a whisker, had indeed occurred, AND, if the wind had been
blowing in a southerly direction. Then what?
For those who continue to insist on the absolute safety of U.S. nuclear
stations, there is one other thought. The Japanese had eight hours of
battery back up to run the cooling pumps in the event of power failure; U.S.
stations generally have four hours. True, since 9/11 , they have been
required by Homeland Security to have, at hand, portable power generators,
but the safety of their location and the reliability of fuel supply remain murky.
As the rhetoric over Iran heats up, one is left wondering what happened to
the deal they agreed to with Brazilian and Turkish intermediaries who
persuaded the Iranians, point by point, to accede to every demand of your
letter to the envoys. It is still not clear why you could not accept a deal that
met your requirements. A new book by Trita Parsi argues that you ran out of
political space. Surely, the benefits in Iraq and Afghanistan and stable
relations with Iran were worth a fight.
Perhaps it is also naive to point out that Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty -- unlike India, Pakistan and Israel, all beneficiaries of
U.S. largesse and all nuclear armed -- and its nuclear facilities are under
constant watch. So far no one has been able to point to any violation of the
treaty which allows Iran to pursue civilian uses of nuclear energy.
The jobs report today shows the economy generating more jobs than were
expected by forecasters (about a quarter million). That is the good news; the
bad news -- at this rate, it will take forever to get the unemployed back to
In other news, it was established this week that fracking produces
earthquakes -- of low intensity so far. Environmentalists complain of the
brine disposal problem -- millions of gallons of it that is a byproduct of the
process. As with everything, the gas comes at a cost. In the meantime,
gasoline is hitting record prices again ... and we have only had a whiff of the