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
Feb 17, 2012

Mr. President:  Libya is in the news again:  Amnesty International has just
published a report in which they cite clear evidence of torture in 10 out of 11
detention centers they investigated.  The opposing tribes are settling
scores.  In January, the Nobel Peace Prize winning NGO, Doctors Without
Borders suspended their activities in Libya because of widespread torture.  
They did not wish to be placed in the position of repairing victims bodies so
they could be tortured again.

Gaddafi might not have been a saint but he developed Libya from a
backwater to a country with the highest standard of living in Africa leading
also in the Human Development Index.  The people are now living in
bombed-out cities, violent militias are running wild, some turning on each
other.  The sophisticated water system bringing water form the south to
Tripoli turning it green has been destroyed by NATO bombs.  Ditto for power
stations, bridges, hospitals and roads.  Exactly how this protected civilians is
difficult to understand.

Mr. Abdelhakim Balhadj, the notorious Al-Qaeda sympathizer, accused by the
Spanish of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, was sent by the CIA
to Gaddafi's prisons.  He now heads one of the most powerful militias.  It
would be interesting to run a poll in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan asking if
people felt better off after our intervention -- Syriasly speaking, that is, as
interventionists embark on another venture.

The amazing mortgage settlement with the banks appears, at first, to be
costing the banks -- not much -- but at least something for the abuses (like
lying on affidavits during foreclosures, for example) inflicted on hapless
homeowners.  But it turns out the banks will be able to access the
government's HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Plan) to cover
reductions in loan principals.  The much ballyhooed payments by banks to
homeowners are chicken feed in comparison.  Of course, in all the press
conferences highlighting the latter, no one informed the poor taxpayers
about the banks' access to HAMP funds.  Just who pays for HAMP?  The poor
taxpayer ... while the banker lights a celebratory cigar in a private club, and
the politician gets his wad of cash for the next election.