As was revealed in summer, when Tea Party Republicans were prepared to see America’s credit rating downgraded from AAA for the first time in its history rather than reaching a budget agreement with the administration (an act that ought to have counted as economic treason), the possibility of a bipartisan group reaching an agreement to reduce America’ s deficit has to be regarded as something close to impossible.
That, however, is what the deficit super committee, which has been meeting in August, is supposed to do by Wednesday, although, as the Guardian reported on Sunday, the committee, tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion from America’s $15 trillion budget deficit “looks close to admitting defeat as its deadline looms,” even though failure “will trigger automatic cuts to defence and social welfare programmes starting in 2013.” And today, as this article was published, the prognosis was no less gloomy. “‘Super-committee’ on brink of US deficit failure,” the BBC reported at 10 am Eastern time.
As the Guardian also noted yesterday, “Economists warned on Friday that failure by the ‘super committee’ could have dire consequences for the US and lead to another downgrade of its credit rating,” but, typically, Republicans are “refusing to budge on Bush-era cuts that provide tax breaks for wealthier Americans and expire in 2012,” which they want to extend, Democrats are “refusing to budge on cuts to ‘entitlement’ social welfare programs.” Read the rest of this entry »
As the “Occupy” campaign continues to resonate throughout America and around the world, just seven weeks after “Occupy Wall Street” began in New York’s financial district, two campaigns in Washington D.C. — the October2011.org movement in Freedom Plaza (campaigning under the slogan, “Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed”), and the Occupy D.C. movement in McPherson Square — are both still going strong, and as the first issue of The Occupied Washington Post is produced — with a front-page feature by Chris Hedges, entitled, “A Movement Too Big to Fail” — I’m cross-posting below a rallying cry for support from Kevin Zeese, one of the organizers of the Freedom Plaza Occupation, who also has an article in the movement’s newspaper.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin in January in Baltimore, when, during a visit to the US to campaign on the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, I was invited by David Swanson to take part in an event as part of the promotion for his book, War Is A Lie, and I’m looking forward to meeting him again at Freedom Plaza — and also visiting the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy D.C.” campaigners — in January, when I will be visiting the US again to renew the campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 10th anniversary of its opening. Read the rest of this entry »
“Stop the Machine! Create a New World!” and “Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed!” are the rallying cries of a movement, October2011.org, that launched on June 6 this year, calling for the occupation, on October 6 (yesterday), of Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. on an open-ended basis. The movement is calling for nothing less than the total transformation of American politics, but the immediate focus today is on the war in Afghanistan, which began exactly ten years ago.
Bringing the war to an end ought to be a priority for the American people on a number of fronts.
Firstly, the war is unwinnable. Ousting al-Qaeda from Afghanistan may have been a success, but the battle for hearts and minds was lost early on, through bombing raids that killed thousands of civilians, and the casual and imprecise violence that led to the imprisonment and abuse of hundreds of Afghan Taliban conscripts in Guantánamo and Bagram. To topple the Taliban, the US worked with brutal warlords, whose corruption, in many cases, had prompted the rise of the Taliban in the first place, and although the Taliban were ousted from power, the pointless diversion into Iraq was ruinous for the muddled and ill-conceived nation-building mission in Afghanistan.
Secondly, the cost is astronomical. According to the Cost of War project, the total cost to date is over $460 billion — and a useful breakdown of that figure, including some mention of what it could have been used to fund instead, is available here. Read the rest of this entry »
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