Weekly Letter to the President
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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
June 23, 2017  (posted June 25, 2017)

Mr. President:  There is a disturbing, discordant dissonance in the world.  It is an
uncomfortable feeling that something really bad is about to happen.  Events unfold
almost daily, each of which would have been cause for shock and alarm once upon a

Worshipers leaving after Ramadan prayers at Finsbury Park Mosque were attacked
by a man driving a van, killing one and injuring eleven.  The hero of the attack was
the mosque's Imam who prevented the man being beaten up by the enraged
bystanders and made certain he was handed over unharmed to the police.

In Arlington, Virginia a 17-year old girl was killed by a baseball bat when her groups of
teens were returning from late Ramadan prayers was attacked.

In Brussels' main railway station a jihadi tried to detonate a suitcase bomb.  It caught
fire instead, allowing bystanders to escape before it finally exploded.

In Syria the U.S. actually shot down a Syrian fighter bomber claiming it had attacked
U.S. supported rebels.  Russia is livid but can do little (other than talk about
international law violations) as its forces are vastly outnumbered by the U.S. armada
in the Mediterranean.  The very next day an Iranian armed-drone was shot down, the
second in a couple of weeks.

Iran fired ballistic missiles at ISIS but that was a response to the terrorist attack in
Teheran.  In Syria's many-cornered war, hope for peace recedes with the farcical
peace talks, two sets starting supposedly the same day, July 10 in Astana,
Kazakhstan and under UN sponsorship in Geneva, Switzerland.  The Syrian
opposition, at least the participating part, has walked out of the Geneva talks and
threatens not to attend Astana.  As always, it all depends on the puppeteers.  
Whatever Syrian opposition there may be, the fact remains Assad would win an
election.  The Syrian people want the foreign Salafis out of their country.  They want
back their multi-faith tolerant culture.  They are not the ones who cut off people's
heads and hands on Fridays.

Meanwhile Trump, the perennial bully, has morphed from the candidate for peace into
the man of war.  Sensing Russia's weakness, he is pressing them hard to secure the
best possible position before an actual peace in Syria.

Knowing the Europeans' dislike of Trump (particularly in the case of Germany), the
wily Putin is busy courting them for their help and trying to wean them off U.S.
influence.  After all, they get the refugees.  Should he eventually succeed -- a remote
possibility given valuable economic ties with the U.S. -- it would be a foreign policy
coup and a Trumpian disaster for the history books.  The silk road group would then
embrace the world excluding North America.

Mr. President:  The feeling of unease comes from the high stakes game, the virulent
hatred stirred up by the likes of Trump and Nigel Farage in the U.K.  It has led to a
climate and environment where Finsbury Park can happen; where marginalized losers
and petty criminals take to ISIS as a guiding light to perpetrate mayhem; where an
idealistic MP like Jo Cox can lose her life.

And the high stakes game?  Trump can go too far.  Do we really want Russian cruise
missiles hitting the U.S. flotilla off Syria -- perhaps even the carrier?  And what then?  
Russian missiles over American skies.  Disasters have happened before ... caused by
over-confident, under-informed, overly-proud, even narcissistic, buffoons.  Sound

The Union of Concerned Scientists and its Nobel Prize studded Board of Sponsors
have moved their Doomsday Clock up to two and a half minutes to midnight, the
closest to doom since 1984 when it was a half minute further away.