Across the United States and around the world – markets, business leaders, financial institutions, governments, citizens – are anxiously monitoring the question of whether the United States will default on its $28.43 trillion debt that it is carrying today
The United States has never, ever defaulted on its debt.
The political leaders in both parties have never let that happen. Until possibly right now.
Australia, to its credit, abolished the statutory debt limit in 2013 and does not face this crisis management issue.
The US statutory debt limit – the amount of money the United States Government can finance – has been raised over the decades by law and is today at $28.4 trillion. That ceiling was broken in July.
The United States Treasury is undertaking “extraordinary measures” to manage the inflow and payment of funds
Money coming in from tax receipts and going out in interest and other payments due, to keep the daily aggregate debt under that statutory ceiling.
But those measures will be exhausted on or near October 18. When that happens, the United States will no longer be authorised by law to pay its creditors.
It is like your credit card reaching its limit – you can’t buy anything further on it. You need a higher credit ceiling from your card’s issuer to keep spending. Good luck!
This is why Congress needs to raise the existing debt limit.
While it sounds simple, it is immensely, intensely, fraught with the rudest, most confrontational politics.
If you are a Democratic president of the United States, and you need to raise the debt limit, your political opponents, who want you exorcised out of office, will call you irresponsible, radical and guilty of fiscal recklessness – and no, we will not give you the votes in Congress to raise the debt limit.
The debt limit has been raised some 80 of times since 1917 – generally on a bipartisan basis. It was raised three times under President Trump. But under President Obama, and now under President Biden, Republicans in Congress are refusing to vote in any way, shape or form to raise the debt limit.
Every responsible economist believes that a default by the United States on its debt will have catastrophic consequences
This includes the possibility of market crashes and recessions in the US and in countries around the world. In the United States, the ability of the government to make cash payments and to continue programs like Social Security and child care and veterans support, could be sharply curtailed and possibly stopped.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has relentlessly argued the urgency of this looming crisis:
“I believe the only way to handle the debt ceiling is for Congress to raise it and show the world, the financial markets, and the public that we’re a country that will pay our bills when we incur them.
When Congress legislates expenditures and puts in place tax policy that determines taxes, those are the crucial decisions Congress is making.
If to finance those spending and tax decisions, it’s necessary to issue additional debt, I believe it’s very destructive to put the president and myself — the treasury secretary — in a situation where we might not be able to pay the bills that result from those past decisions.”US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
The Republican leadership in Congress is arguing: The debt limit is being breached because of all the Biden spending.
You have majorities in the House and Senate – this is your problem, you fix it
As a political ploy, it sounds pretty effective. But the debt limit is always reached on spending that occurred earlier – not the big spending Biden is asking Congress to approve today. A trillion dollars plus of today’s debt is due to the Trump tax cuts.
The Biden spending hasn’t been enacted much less booked yet.
While Republicans say the Democrats have the votes to raise the debt limit, the problem is that Senate Republicans will not let the debt limit extension pass with just a simple majority of 51 (all the Democrats plus Vice President Harris)– they will not yield on the 60-vote supermajority protected by the filibuster.
No one has found a way out of this nightmare yet
The truly frightening undercurrent that is becoming visible is that some Republicans now seem to believe that it is OK for the United States to default – that if that occurs, then the ensuing catastrophe will be at the feet of Joe Biden and the Democrats.
They lose. We win because they will own the country’s agony.
This is not going away. It is not even close to getting solved. The United States may well plunge over the fiscal cliff later this month.
How close to a full scale nuclear war are we really?
Since President Vladimir Putin’s latest warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, the question of whether or not the former KGB spy is bluffing has become much more urgent.
There are several reasons why Putin’s nuclear warnings have the West worried. First, Russia has been increasingly aggressive in its actions in recent years, from annexing Crimea to intervening in Syria. This has led to a feeling that Putin is becoming more and more reckless and unpredictable.
Second, Russia has been beefing up its nuclear arsenal, with reports indicating that it now has more nuclear warheads than any other country in the world. This increase in firepower makes Putin’s threats all the more credible.
Last but not least, there is the fact that Putin is a former KGB agent. This means that he is no stranger to playing games of brinkmanship and bluffing. In the past, he has used nuclear threats as a way to get what he wants. For example, in 2008, he threatened to aim nuclear missiles at European cities unless the United States agreed to drop plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.
The West is worried
Given all of this, it’s no wonder that Putin’s latest nuclear threats have the West worried. Only Putin knows if he is actually bluffing, but given his track record, it’s certainly a possibility.
If a nuclear weapon were used in Ukraine, it would cause a massive humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people would be killed or wounded, and millions more would be displaced. The economic and social damage would be enormous, and Europe would be plunged into chaos.
In addition, the use of nuclear weapons would also have devastating consequences for the rest of the world. The nuclear non-proliferation regime would be dealt a serious blow, and there would be a renewed risk of nuclear war.
The world would become a much more dangerous place.
A nuclear explosion in Ukraine would have a regional impact, but it could also have global consequences. The use of nuclear weapons would violate the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and this could lead to other countries acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition, the risk of nuclear war would increase, and this would have a negative impact on the entire world.
The UN has condemned Russia’s threats of nuclear war, and it has called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. The UN Secretary-General has said that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and he has urged all sides to return to the negotiating table.
Russia has several allies in its war against Ukraine. These include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia also has the support of China and Iran.
The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on energy prices.
Due to the conflict, there has been a disruption in the supply of natural gas and oil from Ukraine. This has led to an increase in prices for these commodities.
The West can only threaten Putin further, as they’ve done all year, since President Biden warned that Russia was about to invade Ukraine.
Every step of the way, Putin has done exactly what the West has feared.
“These are the guys?” Putin’s Dad’s army
Vladimir Putin’s army is in a bit of a pickle. They’ve been drafting retirees, and telling conscripts to use tampons for bullet wounds.
This isn’t exactly the most impressive fighting force we’ve ever seen. In fact, they look more like dad’s army than anything else.
It’s clear that Putin is desperate to beef up his forces, but it seems like he’s just throwing bodies at the problem instead of actually preparing them for battle.
Pictures from Sevastopol in Crimea show groups of men — many well into their 50s and 60s gripping weapons and wearing uniforms.
Several appear in questionable fighting shape.
This could be a big problem for Russia if they actually get into a serious conflict. We hope for their sake that they never have to find out.
Thousands of Russian men are fleeing the country to avoid conscription. This just goes to show how unpopular Putin’s policies are, even among his own people.
The Kremlin is now trying to catch thousands of Russian men as they try and leave the country. But it’s not going to be easy.
Many of these men are willing to risk everything to avoid being drafted into Putin’s army.
It’s estimated that up to 100,000 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine since the conflict began.
This is a huge loss of life for Russia, and it’s all thanks to Putin’s reckless policies.
Many of these soldiers were just boys, barely out of their teens. They had their whole lives ahead of them, but they’ll never get to experience it now.
It’s tragic, and it’s all thanks to Putin. He needs to be stopped.
At the same time, a video shared on social media shows a Russian officer telling new recruits what to expect.
“I say right away if you are near the fire, you are f***ed,” she says, before reeling off a list of items they will need to acquire themselves before entering the war zone.
“Take sleeping bags with you, you will sleep where you have to.”
IRAN PROTESTS | Are countries using religion as an excuse to violate basic human rights?
Iran protests are engulfing the country as thousands take to the streets in a revolution against oppression
IRAN PROTESTS – The story of Iran is one of a country that has been through a lot in recent history.
An uprising of both men and women has engulfed Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini. Women are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, demanding some form of change to the strict rules that impact their ultimate freedom.
From the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the nation’s residents have witnessed their fair share of turmoil.
Many insist that religion, like Islam, is being used as a reason to violate basic human rights in Iran.
There is a feeling of discontent among the Iranian people. The economy is struggling, and many young Iranians feel they have no future.
They are fed up with the corruption of the government and the lack of opportunity.
Mahsa Amini’s brutal death
On top of this is the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman.
Amini was arrested by the so-called morality police for “improperly” wearing her mandatory hijab.
Reports suggest she was beaten so severely that she went into a coma.
Three days later, she died, and many suspect it was a direct result of this police brutality.
Amini’s death has fuelled further anger and extreme protest, with widespread condemnation from Iranians, denouncing her death and the regime that caused it.
The incident has brought attention to the plight of many Iranians who feel they are living under an oppressive regime.
While it is difficult to predict what will happen next in Iran, many hope the death of Amani will not be in vain.
Many pray the protests will lead to real action and a country where women are treated as equals. They want a country where there is opportunity for all.
Women in Iran and around the world are now lifting the veil on Iran’s corruption and human rights violations.
In 2022, many are angry that men are controlling what women do with their bodies and what they wear.
Will this drive change?
In Iran, many young Iranians are showing the world they don’t want this system any more, that they want democracy.
They’re cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, they’re putting their own safety on the line to take a stand against the regime that has silenced them for so long.
This generation is very different, but it doesn’t guarantee that this uprising will fuel any real change.
However, Memarsadeghi said “there is no way back from here.”
How can organisations and world leaders help?
Iran is in the midst of a political upheaval and the world is watching.
Scenes of protest and violence are being shared far and wide on social media. The world has a front-row seat to the unfolding crisis.
However, the Iranian Government has responded by imposing a sweeping internet ban, cutting off the protesters from the outside world.
This only adds to the urgency of the situation, as Iran’s people are now risking their lives to speak out against their oppression.
World leaders and democracy advocacy groups are already discussing ways to help the people of Iran and hold their violations to account.
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