The Crash

On May 2, 2011, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent his third ultimatum to Congress noting that the US is set to reach its statutory debt limit of $14.3 trillion by May 16, and unless the ceiling was raised by August 2, the country could face default. ‘The economy is still in the early stages of recovery,’ he warned, ‘and financial markets here and around the world are watching the United States closely.  Delaying action risks a loss of confidence and accompanying negative economic effects.’ These will have a ‘catastrophic economic impact’ and ‘broad range of government payments would have to be stopped, limited or delayed, including military salaries, Social Security and Medicare payments, interest on debt, unemployment benefits and tax refunds.’ It will also lead to ‘sharply higher interest rates and borrowing costs, declining home values and reduced retirement savings for Americans.’ Mostly ominously, it will ‘cause a financial crisis potentially more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover.’

The situation doubtless sounds dire, but there is something mildly ironic about a Treasury Secretary warning the government against losing the trust of an industry which he only recently rescued with an extraordinary cash transfusion of $4.1 trillion in public money. The real costs of the bailout are estimated by Bloomberg at $ 12.8 trillion. But it is easy to overlook the consistency in Geithner’s assessment: the US government was a hostage to the financial industry when it faced collapse, and it is a hostage to it when its own economic future turns increasingly uncertain. The doubling of US national debt between 2004 and 2011 is merely a symptom of the problem—two wars and the bailout have both paid a part—but at its root are the regulatory failures and conflict of interests which are embodied in the person of Timothy Geithner. For over two decades the US Treasury has functioned as a de facto arm of Wall Street, eschewing its regulatory function to act as a passive enabler. Little surprise then that three years after the crisis the institutions that caused the collapse continue to evade responsibility and the price is instead paid by the taxpayer in exorbitant, lost homes and depleting employment opportunities.

How did things go so bad?

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Who are the Libyan revolutionaries?

Jihan Hafiz of the Real News on the Libyan revolutionaries. (Also see Part 2)

Recently returned from Bengazi, Hafiz reports on rebel fighters, supporters and early stages of the Libyan uprising.

James Bays of Al Jazeera reports from the frontline:

Jon Lee Anderson of the New Yorker, who wrote the acclaimed biography of Che Guevara, also spent some time with the rebels. Here’s an excerpt:

During weeks of reporting in Benghazi and along the chaotic, shifting front line, I’ve spent a great deal of time with these volunteers. The hard core of the fighters has been the shabab—the young people whose protests in mid-February sparked the uprising. They range from street toughs to university students (many in computer science, engineering, or medicine), and have been joined by unemployed hipsters and middle-aged mechanics, merchants, and storekeepers. There is a contingent of workers for foreign companies: oil and maritime engineers, construction supervisors, translators. There are former soldiers, their gunstocks painted red, green, and black—the suddenly ubiquitous colors of the pre-Qaddafi Libyan flag.

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Militarism, Mutilation, and Minerals: Understanding the Occupation of Afghanistan

Below is a short film from Cultures of Resistance, featuring renowned Afghan activist, former parliamentarian, and feminist Malalai Joya, among others.

The introduction to the film from the Cultures website:

By mid-2010, the war in Afghanistan had arguably passed Vietnam as the longest war in the history of the United States. At the war’s outset many U.S. citizens supported the invasion as a means of holding responsible those who orchestrated the attack on the World Trade Center. However, as time has passed and more American troops and Afghan civilians die, the U.S. government has struggled to maintain popular support by emphasizing other justifications for continuing the costly occupation. One of the most controversial concerns is the plight of women. Many commentators, some of them Afghan women, argue that the presence of coalition forces in their country has allowed them to be more active in politics and civil society. But not all women agree, and many find the country just as dangerous as ever. Furthermore, some believe that, in reality, the U.S. is far more concerned with the nearly $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits that the U.S. discovered in June 2010. This short film allows women in Afghanistan to give voice to their reasons for opposing an ongoing occupation, and it features an interview with renowned Afghan feminist Malalai Joya.

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‘Israel’s Five Star Occupation: Get Europe To Pay’: Ali Abunimah and David Cronin on Israeli Apartheid

As David Cronin also puts it in the second clip (over the fold), “The European Union is chastising Israel with one side of its mouth, and kissing Israel with the other.” This London talk by Ali Abunimah and David Cronin was chaired by Oxford academic Dr Karma Nabulsi and hosted by Palestine Solidarity Campaign and KCL Action Palestine.

Ali Abunimah

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Bad Luck, Worse Luck, Concrete Steps

by Nafissa Assed

We all know that the western intervention in Libya is problematic, but it also remains the right decision that saved a countless number of innocent Libyans from Qaddafi’s brutal bombing and mercenaries. As the American writer Cormac MacCarthy says: “You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”

Unfortunately, it took the UN Security Council over a month to finally authorize the necessary measures and impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians. At that time Qaddafi’s viciousness had grown, with bombings, tanks, high-caliber guns, helicopter shootings and callous mercenaries. Human rights monitors found that Qaddafi’s forces are using dozens of landmines on the outskirts of Ajdabiya.

Now air power is useful up to the point that it can dislocate Qaddafi’s logistics and stop the movement of his forces across the huge desert spaces between Libya’s cities, but it cannot take and hold ground, and that also is something that Libyans do not wish to happen. They do not want foreign ground troops.

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