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
April 18, 2014

Mr. President:  The twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall is also a
reminder of the trauma West Germany experienced in assimilating East Germany.  It
is well known to Mr. Putin and he will do his best to avoid it in impoverished Ukraine.  
Instead, he would like Europe to foot the bill while his preferred solution, an
autonomous east in a federated Ukraine looks eastwards to Russia.  Thus,
yesterday's agreement of the Foreign Ministers in Geneva.  Much like apple pie,
everybody likes it; the real questions are of how and who will do the cooking.  So far
the crux of the agreement has been left to the most antagonistic parties to solve, but
the how and when are not stipulated.

Everybody is happy:  the Europeans because the threat of sanctions -- they would
bear the heaviest cost, and during an anemic recovery -- has been lifted; the
Russians are happy with Crimea, unmentioned at the conference, safely tucked away
... at a cost of vague promises where a million excuses including lack of control over
the Russian-Ukrainian protesters are at the ready; the U.S. is happy because there is
some face-saving, and continued threats, mostly meaningless, from Mr. Kerry; and
the Ukranians because they avoid the threat of civil war as well as the possibility of
losing more of their country to the Russians.  So who actually won?  The answer to
that is obvious at least in the interim.  And it is also clear the Russians are not going
to allow eastern Ukraine to be easily Greeced.

Violence in the U.S. has been much in the news so much so that your leading
hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune ran a piece on shootings in Chicago over
a 36-hour period commencing last Friday evening. They recorded shootings
averaging a shocking one every hour.  The Illinois legislature has passed a
concealed-carry law granting private individuals the right to carry a concealed
weapon.  Permit seekers are required to undertake a course and be instructed in
safety procedures all of it costing an average of $150.  Will it solve the problem?  I
doubt it though there is limited evidence to the contrary, including a University of
Chicago study in Florida showing a decline in street crime after such a law was
passed there.

Over the last few months, it seems every week there is a mass shooting, bombing, or
a memorial service for one in the news.  This week Sandy Hook is in the news again
over discussions about commemoration.  Vice President Biden spoke at the
anniversary of the Boston marathon bombing.  Last week was a memorial service for
the Fort Hood mass shooting victims of the previous week.  Then there was the high
school student going berserk; armed with a couple of knives, he killed and wounded
many before being subdued.  A few days later a former Klu Klux Klansman shot and
killed three people at a Jewish community center and a synagogue.

There have always been guns in this country but why is it that nowadays people with
some disenchantment or another, or grievance, or even hatred are shooting up
innocent people.  This is new.  Killing innocents has become a way of protest as in the
Boston marathon bombing.  Does the constant replay put ideas in the heads of
disturbed people?  Does it desensitize people to killing and mayhem?  Or is it the
perpetual violence/war that has been on-going for a generation?  It certainly was the
proximate cause of the Fort Hood shootings -- both of them.