Weekly Letter to President Obama
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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
January 18, 2013

Mr. President: During your first term, low-income families, defined as earning less
than $45,000 for a family of four, have consistently increased each year; the statistic
for last year was announced this week.  Furthermore, people are being forced to dip
into their retirement funds to make ends meet.  The 401K accounts not only absolved
employers from any long term obligations to their employees, but the burden of
knowledgeable investing in a volatile environment has been placed on the shoulders
of individuals with little time or expertise.  All in all an idea that will have severe
repercussions on retirees in years to come.

To even things out, a new report on health finds life-expectancy of American males to
be the lowest among developed nations.  We also have the highest infant mortality,
the widest income disparity, the most murders, the highest-- by far -- rate of
incarceration.  When politicians mouth 'it's the greatest country in the world', they
really mean for themselves -- a salary three to ten times the median, a gold-plated
health plan, a platinum retirement etc., etc.

This week also, not far from the exclusive South Side Chicago neighborhood of your
house, there was a fight between basketball teams from Morgan Park High School
and Simeon Career Academy at Chicago State University which hosts the games.  
Now here is the news that is still news but no longer shocks:  Tyrone Lawson, a
17-year old was shot and killed.  Handguns are used almost exclusively against
human beings, and their licensing needs to be severely restricted.  Even more so, this
culture of violence lionized in movies and video games needs a roll back.  When (and
where) I was growing up, brawling after the age of about twelve was frowned upon
and shunned in that social milieu.  Have things changed for the better?  If the
anti-obesity campaign has gone nowhere, an anti-violence effort might be worthwhile.  
It is certainly an issue crying for attention.

The blowback in Mali from the Libyan intervention now has its own blowback in
Algeria.  Innocent civilian lives are in jeopardy if not already lost, and Algeria is paying
the price of permitting French military use of its airspace.

Meanwhile, bombings and counter-bombings continue in all the usual countries.  One
of the most horrific being the university in Aleppo which is in the
government-controlled section of the city.  To believe the Free Syrian Army, one
would have to believe the government is now bombing areas it controls and is also
using car bombs, a favorite instrument of the rebels employed in several other places
this week alone.  One would also have to discount the antipathy of these extremists
towards women's education -- Malala Yusufzai in Pakistan has been a vivid example.