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
April 22, 2016
Mr. President: When the Panama Papers story began, the figure headlined was
Vladimir Putin. A cursory scanning of the headlines informed a reader of corruption.
Thus tainted, the story moved on. In fact, Mr. Putin was not personally involved;
some of his associates were. Now that the boot is on the other foot, the headlines are
absent. Bill and Hillary Clinton are involved, again not personally but through
Among these now showing up in the Mossack Fonseca leak is one Frank Giustra, a
Canadian mining magnate, who concluded a deal to buy Kazakh uranium mines for a
half-billion dollars after he and Bill Clinton dined with the country's president. He is
reported to have contributed $100 million to the Clinton Foundation although the
foundations own records give a degree of privacy to the really big hitters by not
specifying exact amounts beyond $25 million. Mr. Clinton has traveled the globe (with
and without Mr. Giustra) on his private plane.
Another associate is Jean-Raymond Boulle. Originally a diamond miner from
Mauritius he obtained a mining concession in Arkansas after two meetings with
Governor Bill Clinton.
Then there is the Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng who also featured in a fund-raising
scandal during the Clinton presidency. Others include Gabrielle Fialkoff the finance
director for Hillary Clinton's campaign the first time around, and the notorious now late
Marc Rich, the tax-evading fugitive pardoned by Bill Clinton.
Hillary Clinton has called outrageous the tax loopholes and tax havens used by the
super-rich. So are the Clintons going to return the money donated by such
associates? It'll be a long wait.
Hillary Clinton won the New York primary. In these heady days of earning $25 million
in a year's worth of speeches by the Clintons, no one bothers about paltry figures like
$100,000 from their hippie sandals times when Bill was Arkansas attorney general; a
time when Hillary with her superhuman expertise in the commodities markets
converted $1000 into $100,000 in one year, and then mysteriously stopped. The feat
for a novice trader is about as likely as being hit by lightning. If she had offered such
expertise to, say Paul Tudor Jones, the legendary commodity fund trader, she would
be worth billions -- unlike her son-in-law whose derivatives fund is notably lackluster.
Yes, the trail is a long one, and as with retreads there can be that ominous,
not-clearly-visible bulge on the inside leading to disaster.
Today is Earth Day. The US and 170 countries will be signing the Paris Agreement.
But in this so-called historic agreement each country is solely responsible for its
target and for ensuring implementation -- a bit like taxpayers deciding how much tax
they should pay as well as for compliance.
It gets worse. The accepted goal is to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees
Celsius but if present individual commitments are totaled up, the rise is 3.5 degrees.
No international control for implementation of even this loose arrangement is
scheduled before 2030.
The truth is the industrialized West has polluted this earth since the 19th century, and
is still busy subsidizing fossil fuel industries -- subsidies amounting to $88 billion
annually according to the World Bank.
Meanwhile data from the Marina Loa, Hawaii, Observatory, show that CO2 levels rose
a shocking 3.08 ppm in 2015, the highest ever recorded. The window for averting
catastrophe is closing rapidly.