Weekly Letter to the President
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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
December 6, 2019
Mr. President: News stories have Donald Trump being mocked by France's Macron
at a Buckingham Palace reception for the NATO leaders meeting. A nearby open mic
caught the incident. Trump's response was to call Macron two-faced.
Macron returns to a France paralyzed by the biggest strike in years. Teachers and
transport workers are alarmed by his plan targeting their traditional pension scheme.
They would now have to retire later or accept lower benefits.
Trump returns to face impeachment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked the House to
get on with it and draw up the Article of Impeachment. Trump also wants the same.
So he said upon his return from Europe. He wants it over so he can get on with
running the country, which he says has a bustling economy, the lowest unemployment
in recent history and a booming stock market.
The source of Trump's self confidence: a Republican majority in the senate bound to
acquit him. Truth be told, this is an unusual impeachment in that it has not managed
to obtain the support of a single member of the president's own party. Prior
impeachments of others had more substantial grounds and always some bilateral
This impeachment is also unusual for its triviality. Taking together the partisanship
and the weak reasons, some legal scholars warn it sets a bad precedent, and the
possibility that future presidents might well face the prospect not as rarely as in the
To summarize the issue: it stems from Joe Biden's son Hunter earning $50,000 per
month serving on the board of Burisma, the notoriously corrupt Ukrainian gas
enterprise, while lacking any professional expertise in the company's area of
business. The clear implication is that it was due to his father being Vice President of
the United States. Trump simply asked for an announcement from the Ukrainian
president that they were opening an investigation. So what is worse nepotism or an
inquiry into it?
From the relatively trivial to the deadly serious. The International Court of Justice
(ICJ) will hear the case against Myanmar for the Rohingyan genocide. Aung San Suu
Kyi as tarnished as her Nobel Peace Prize remains obdurate. Her country's claim the
genocide case stems simply from the world''s inability to understand the complexities
of the issue.
Forget the BBC film clip of one incident where the perpetrators boasted proudly of
their handiwork as smoke from a village they had set alight rose in the background.
Killing or stealing livestock, destroying crops to make return impossible was another
tactic in the event villagers escaped. Rape, mass murder, people being burnt alive
locked in their houses are well documented. Later, the UN Human Rights Council's
fact-finding mission confirmed convincing evidence of genocide.
Aung San Suu Khyi will face a legal team from Gambia. Why? Well it's a story of
happen-chance. Last year Gambia's Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou visited
Bangladesh for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's annual conference. What
he saw and heard there recalled for him painful memories of the Rwandan genocide
where he had prosecuted cases.
With the OIC delegation he visited Rohingya refugee camps to hear repeated stories
of rape, murder and arson, and on his return he was able to convince the OIC to file a
case with the ICJ. It is the first of its kind since the 1990s from the then demised
Yugoslavia -- the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina versus Serbia and Montenegro
charging genocide filed in 1993.
And a timely warning to over-enthused promoters of religious nationalism willing to
step over the line of human decency and respect for the other. Look where it leads.