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
May 23, 2014

Mr. President:  While no official price tag has been announced, the 30-year gas deal
between Russia and China signed a couple of days ago, is reputed to be worth some
$400 billion plus for over a trillion cubic meters of gas.

Negotiations over the deal  had been proceeding for several years with price being
the principal impediment.  However, with military pressures from the U.S. confronting
both sides, they have resolved differences more quickly than expected.

Gazprom depends on Europe for 80 percent of its revenues at present.  This will
change rapidly as Russia starts supplying China.  For the U.S. there is another sign
of trouble:  the deal forgoes the dollar and is outside the dollar system of trade,
relying as it does on local currencies.

Bypassing the dollar renders the parties less susceptible to the threats of financial
and banking sanctions.  If European countries dealing with them are encouraged to
trade in local currencies, i.e. the euro, the ruble and the yuan, then the days of the
dollar as the world's reserve currency are numbered, and with it the uninhibited
minting of money by the Fed because the world uses dollars for trade.  One wonders
if Ukraine and the South China Sea were worth throwing the giants into an embrace
when what they sought was acceptance and respect.  So is the world aligning itself
again as during the cold war?

In front of Sunday's elections in Ukraine, there have been further clashes in the east
resulting in several fatalities.  Mr. Putin expresses a willingness to accept the results
of the election but the real question is whether the separatists will.  They certainly did
not follow his lead when he suggested deferring their own vote on autonomy recently.

Mr. Putin has also announced that Russia will no longer sell the RD-180 engines
used, of late, to power our Atlas V rocket.  The Atlas puts up spy satellites and
performs other mundane chores for our complex communications.  Ever since the
space shuttle was retired, the Russians have provided the sole means of travel and
supply to the space station.  This cooperation is also going to cease by 2020.  Let's
hope relations improve by then.

Perhaps all of this does not matter.  Frozen peas are suddenly missing from grocery
shelves.  We are told by store managers, it is the drought in California.  And climate
change scientists are now saying the window for action is shutting (if not actually
closed) -- meaning that if man-made CO2 emissions were acted upon today, it would
still not be able to reverse the inevitable consequences of global warming.  The
planet as a whole, apparently, will do better without the scarring inflicted by humanity.