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
December 14, 2012

Mr. President:  On Wednesday, December 12, North Korea launched a weather
satellite.  Perhaps the 12/12/12 date was auspicious in the quirky mindset of the
regime, but whatever their reasons, our world went ballistic.  South Korea's military
went on high alert; ditto for the Japanese who had had the Air Force Chief fly to
Okinawa ready to oversee interception if anything came close to their territory despite
the fact that North Korea had given notice of their intentions.  If the Japanese launch
a weather satellite, that is what it is.  If the North Koreans do the same, they are
testing a ballistic missile.

The same double standard is being applied in the Middle East.  Democracy at any
price for Syria and Libya, but not in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc., etc.  
Nuclear weapons for Israel?  Unquestioned, despite its overwhelming conventional
arms superiority and despite a UN resolution passed with almost universal support
asking it to join the NPT and open its nuclear program for inspection.  Iran is a
member and it allows inspection, and it is not in violation of the treaty.  Yet, we have
imposed punitive sanctions harming the most vulnerable, the children, the sick, the
elderly, because we assert a future intent to violate the treaty.  Even if Iran had a
weapon, what could it do without facing massive retaliation?

Mansourieh al-Mohammadi is a widow.  One morning as her husband left for work,
there was a loud explosion.  She ran outside to find her husband slumped at the
wheel.  When she lifted him back calling his name, there was nothing left of his front,
no face, no chest, just loose bits of skin and flesh.  He had started started work in
nuclear power under the Shah's regime; then nuclear power was the future and Iran
was being helped by the West to develop it.  Mr. Mohammadi continued in the same
line of work.  He didn't change; the politics around him changed, and sorrow and
suffering befell his family.  Many would consider a car bomb like this to be a terrorist
act; to others it is a preemptive strike.

Perhaps we are inured to suffering; when the deaths of half a million Iraqi children
from sanctions is dismissed in a blase remark by then Secretary of State Madeline
Albright, little else can be said.  So the thousands of children now sick from cold and
diarrhea in the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan deserve little mention in
the mainstream media.  And bombs keep going off in Damascus, the latest killing
another dozen women and children.  And few remember Mohammad Rafai, an actor
tortured and killed by Syrian rebels now recognized by us as representative of the
Syrian people, or the Iranian journalist shot in the middle of a broadcast.

Meanwhile Khaled el-Masri, whose case was dismissed by the Supreme Court here,
has just won a judgement against Macedonia in the European Court of Human Rights
for almost $80,000.  The court found the CIA guilty of torture.  To refresh our
memories, he was kidnapped and beaten in Macedonia, renditioned to Afghanistan
where he was imprisoned and tortured repeatedly -- I mean subjected to 'enhanced
interrogation techniques' repeatedly.

Renaissance Capital, based in Britain, has just issued a report predicting Africa will
grow within the next three to four decades from $2 trillion GDP to around $29 trillion.  
The Chinese focusing on soft economic power are already there, taking full
advantage of this rapid growth, winning friends from Nigeria in the West to Ethiopia in
the East and consolidating the resource sources.

Also this week, China memorialized the Nanjing Massacre following the December 13,
1937 Japanese invasion.  It is the 75th anniversary of another pointless war.

Finally, in apparent acknowledgement of truth-tellers, readers of The Guardian (U.K.)
have voted Sgt. Bradley Manning as their 'person of the year'.