Weekly Letter to the President
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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
August 16, 2019
Mr. President: It has been a somber week.
An orphaned dugong nurtured and returned to the sea has died from eating plastic.
Mariam died from a stomach infection made much worse by the plastic which often
harbors bacteria. Only a few hundred of the sea mammals -- similar to our manatees
but with a forked tail -- are left in Thailand.
India celebrated independence -- 72 years of it -- on Thursday, Pakistan on
Wednesday having pipped it by a day. All this while Indian Kashmir was in lock-down,
the people caged in their houses, and food running short according to a National
Public Radio eyewitness report. One in ten is the ratio of the security personnel to
the population. It is as if the small town where I live had 20,000 instead of a couple of
dozen police officers.
Mr. Modi would have you believe otherwise. He has unilaterally rescinded Kashmir's
autonomy claiming he can because the state at present is absent a legislature. He
omits to mention he dismissed it. The Kashmiris are livid and waiting like a time-bomb
for the lock-down to end, although there have been stories of small-scale
demonstrations met with tear gas and shotgun pellets.
More than pellets in the armament of the forces trained on each other, India and
Pakistan each have over a hundred nuclear weapons enough to destroy themselves
and give the rest of the world a nuclear winter. In Pakistan's favor ... the prevailing
wind is from the west carrying the radioactive dust to India.
Only one in ten in Indian Kashmir want to join Pakistan, two thirds of the people want
independence according to polls. So do other areas of strife in the northeast and the
eastern end of the southern peninsula in India. In the jaws of the military and the
paramilitary, success for insurgents appears remote.
Kashmir has a stronger legal case. In 1952, Nehru promised a peaceful solution
based on a plebiscite adding they had given their word of honor at the UN and a great
nation does not go back on it. So much for greatness. At present India controls 45
percent, Pakistan 35 percent and China the rest -- the troubles are confined to the
A couple of thousand miles away to the east is a very unhappy young man. In an
economic vice of sanctions he seeks relief to fulfill his desire of economic progress for
his country and a better life for his people. Donald Trump has put him on ice, seeking
more concessions on nuclear disarmament but Kim Jong Un cannot throw away his
main bargaining chip. He chose to test fire a couple of intermediate range missiles --
he has long range ones also.
In Britain, Boris the bad-enough (no Godunov for sure) is giving all indications of a
no-deal brexit. Jeremy Corbyn is asking Conservative MPs to support him to
take-over in a united move to prevent such an economic disaster but so far no
takers. Boris has returned from a visit to Ireland. Perhaps the present open border
between north and south opened his eyes.
Between the Boris brexit and Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports, the markets had had
enough. The Dow sank in the largest one-day drop of the year, although reviving a
little on Friday.
All in all, a somber week indeed.