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
October 31, 2014

Mr. President:  Have we become a nation of hysterics?  Every newscast for the last
two weeks features stories of the ebola epidemic.  Yes, there is an epidemic but in
Africa, principally Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  The best measures for
restricting air travel are taken at the point of origin -- not destination after a carrier
has exposed a whole plane load of passengers.

First, the ebola virus does not transmit too easily.  Unlike flu, it is not airborne.  There
have been precisely two American cases here, both health care workers and both
have recovered.  In Africa, where few receive the necessary medical care there have
been 10,000 cases according to the WHO and less than 5000 fatalities.

Second, a person not displaying symptoms is not infectious.  Thus, New Jersey
Governor  Christie putting nurse Kaci Hickox in quarantine is a travesty.  We have to
thank courageous, self-sacrificing health care workers like her for helping to contain
the epidemic.  After the stress of long hours in trying conditions working for a month
halfway across the globe, she is not allowed to relax with friends or family but put in a
tent with a portable toilet and no shower.  No wonder she hired a civil rights lawyer
and threatened to sue.  Governor Christie quickly backed down.

Of course the news media, reliant on basic human emotions, has a natural tendency
to focus on them -- fear, safety, prevention, and cures just out of reach for the
moment are all part of the package.  Few mention that simple measures like a drip to
prevent dehydration and lower body temperature often provide the body time to heal
itself.  That would remove the magical fear of ebola.

In your home state of Illinois, the Republican gubernatorial candidate is thriving on
negative ads and dirty politics.  A respected journalist of many years standing at the
Sun Times has been forced to resign after critical articles on Rauner.  Billionaire
Rauner threatened to sue and met with the Sun Times owner.  The journalist was
taken off his beat.

Brazil and Ukraine had elections on Sunday.  In Brazil Dilma Rousseff  retained the
presidency with 51.6% of the vote.   Our media reported the victory as a very narrow
margin and a great schism in the Brazilian populace.  If I remember correctly, your
share of the vote was 51.1% or a half percentage less than Ms Rousseff but no such
reports emerged about our demography.

In Ukraine, the results were interpreted by our media as Ukraine looks towards the
west and independent European observers call the election legitimate.  Hidden in the
reports or disguised carefully was the outrageous fact that eastern Ukraine did not
participate.  It is like holding a US election where east of the Ohio river the people
refuse to participate.  Eastern Ukraine or, as they call themselves, the republics of
Donetsk and Luhansk will hold separate  elections this Sunday to elect their own
leaders and parliaments.

As the bombing of ISIS continues apace, the millions of dollars expended on smart
bombs and missiles is in sharp contrast to the report released this week on school
children in your home state of Illinois.  For the first time, the majority (52%) of children
in Illinois public schools come from low-income families.  As low-income children do
worse on tests, average scores are likely to go down.  Teachers will again be blamed
when the real problem lies with distracted families trying to cope with economic and
social pressures.  These are what Finland addressed in turning around its school
system from the worst to the best in Europe.