Greece Enters Death Spiral

Greece Enters Death Spiral

Spiegel Online International reports Tensions Rise in Greece as Austerity Measures Backfire

The austerity measures that were supposed to fix Greece’s problems are dragging down the country’s economy. Stores are closing, tax revenues are falling and unemployment has hit an unbelievable 70 percent in some places. Frustrated workers are threatening to strike back.

This dire prognosis comes even despite Athens’ massive efforts to sort out the country’s finances. The government’s draconian austerity measures have managed to reduce the country’s budget deficit by an almost unbelievable 39.7 percent, after previous governments had squandered tax money and falsified statistics for years. The measures have reduced government spending by a total of 10 percent, 4.5 percent more than the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) had required.

The problem is that the austerity measures have in the meantime affected every aspect of the country’s economy. Purchasing power is dropping, consumption is taking a nosedive and the number of bankruptcies and unemployed are on the rise. The country’s gross domestic product shrank by 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year. Tax revenue, desperately needed in order to consolidate the national finances, has dropped off. A mixture of fear, hopelessness and anger is brewing in Greek society.

Unemployment Rates of up to 70 Percent

Unemployment in the city [the shipbuilding district of Perama] hovers between 60 and 70 percent, according to a study conducted by the University of Piraeus. While 77 percent of Greek shipping companies indicate they are satisfied with the quality of work done in Perama, nearly 50 percent still send their ships to be repaired in Turkey, Korea or China. Costs are too high in Greece, they say. The country, they argue, has too much bureaucracy and too many strikes, with labor disputes often delaying delivery times.

Barely any of the country’s industries can keep up with international competition in terms of productivity, and experts expect the country’s gross domestic product to fall by 4 percent over the course of the entire year. Germany, by way of comparison, is hoping for growth of up to 3 percent.

Sales Figures Dropping Everywhere

A short jaunt through Athens’ shopping streets reveals the scale of the decline. Fully a quarter of the store windows on Stadiou Street bear red signs reading “Enoikiazetai” — for rent. The National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) calculates that 17 percent of all shops in Athens have had to file for bankruptcy.

No Way Out

The entire country is in the grip of a depression. Everything seems to be going downhill. The spiral is continuing unabated, and there is no clear way out. The worse part, however, is the fact that hardly anyone still hopes that things will improve one day.

‘Things Are Starting to Simmer’

Menelaos Givalos, a professor of political science at Athens University, has appeared on television, warning viewers that the worst times are still to come. He predicts a large wave of layoffs starting in September, with “extreme social consequences.”

“Everything is getting more expensive, I’m hardly earning any money, and then I’m supposed to pay more taxes to help save the country? How is that supposed to work?” asks Nikos Meletis, the shipbuilder. He predicts the situation will only become more heated. “Things are starting to simmer here,” he says. “And at some point they’re going to explode.”

How Long Can Greece Hold On?

Inquiring minds just might be asking “How long can Greece hold on?”

I do not have the answer to that, besides it’s not the important question. A far more worrisome question is “When does similar strife spread to Spain, Portugal, and perhaps even Italy?”

Part of the blame for this goes to the bailout plan itself. France and to a lesser extent Germany would not take haircuts on Greek debt. Aid to Greece by the IMF and European banks simply threw good money after bad.

The problem did not go away. Instead, terms of the bailout made the situation worse.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock


An Act of Strategic Desperation–American Death Squads In Afghanistan

Can an Assassination Campaign Turn the Tide in Afghanistan?

The Obama Administrations new military strategy in Afghanistan may be a sign of desperation — a Hail Mary pass — but it may just work. The President’s counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan describes it as giving up the ‘hammer’ for the ‘scalpel.’ The military, as we know from classified military documents put on the Internet by WikiLeaks last month, prefers the term ‘kinetic strike’. I’ve heard the Pentagon use the term ‘eliminating command nodes’. But I’ll go ahead and call it by its everyday name: assassination.

The tactic is familiar in the war on terror, of course, its template being the CIA’s unmanned aerial vehicle strikes on al-Qaeda operatives in the tribal areas of Pakistan, another form of assassination. Putting aside questions of the long-term wisdom of firing area weapons into small villages, no one has convincingly disputed the fact that these strikes have badly hurt al-Qaeda, with its remnants either hiding in caves or fleeing to places like Yemen. Not surprisingly, the military has asked, Why can’t we do the same in Afghanistan?

An official back from Washington told me I’d be surprised at the extent to which my former colleagues in the CIA are caught up in this new Afghan strategy, the agency having turned itself into a paramilitary operation at the service of the military. The CIA in Afghanistan wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night thinking about how it can better guide Brennan’s scalpel. It has even adopted a new term for officers helping the military — targeters. But the flaw in the new strategy remains the availability of good, solid intelligence.

The first assassination I ever looked into in depth was that of Bashir Gemayel, Lebanon’s Christian president-elect who was killed along with 26 others by a bomb attack on his Phalange party’s headquarters September 14, 1982. What was apparent from the beginning was that the assassins had fantastic intelligence. They not only had people continuously watching Gemayel right up until the moment they detonated their bomb, they also had unimpeded access to the building in which Gemayel was killed. The assassins did not intend to miss, because for them assassination is a form of intimidation — a message to Gemayel’s party that if it continued cooperating with the Israelis, who had invaded Lebanon, the rest of the party’s leadership would meet the same fate. It worked. Gemayel’s brother Amine, who succeeded him, gave up any idea of cooperating with Israel.

That’s pretty much what we’d like to do in Afghanistan: decimate the Taliban’s leadership, and force the survivors to put down their arms. But Afghanistan isn’t Lebanon. For a start, there is no single leader of the Taliban. How many Taliban commanders would we have to kill before the Taliban was intimidated? Fifty? A hundred? We don’t know the Taliban well enough to put a number on it. Second, what’s clear in Afghanistan is that while our military is more than capable of wielding a scalpel, we don’t have the intelligence to point out where to strike. We saw evidence of this in the Wikileak documents on the failed assassination of al-Qaeda operative Abu Laith al-Libi in Afghanistan. It underscores the problem that the Taliban is possibly the most elusive military force in the world. Unlike the Gemayel assassination, there simply is no way for us to keep our eyes on a target right up until the assassination, let alone get access to wherever he’s hiding.

Like any Hail Mary pass, we’ll just have to wait and see whether the play works.

Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer, is’s intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower.

Turning the Tables On American Mercenary Plans

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Blackwater owner flees storm for Abu Dhabi

James Risen, Washington

August 19, 2010

ERIK Prince, whose war-zone private security company, Blackwater Worldwide, is for sale and whose former top managers are facing criminal charges, has left the United States and moved to Abu Dhabi.

Mr Prince, a former member of the US Navy Seals, left the country after a series of civil lawsuits, criminal charges and congressional investigations singled out Blackwater. His company, now called Xe Services, has collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the US government since 2001.

Former colleagues said Mr Prince hoped to focus on security work from governments in Africa and the Middle East. They also said he was bitter about the legal scrutiny and negative publicity his company had received.

”He needs a break from America,” said one colleague.

Mr Prince does not face criminal charges, but five former top company executives have been charged with federal weapons, conspiracy and obstruction offences.

Two guards who worked for a Blackwater-affiliated company face murder charges from a 2009 shooting in Afghanistan, and the US Justice Department is trying to revive its prosecution of five former Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Congress has also conducted a series of investigations of Blackwater’s activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, including an inquiry into the company’s role in a proposed CIA assassination program. Blackwater personnel have a reputation for cowboy tactics.


Afghanistan and African nations at greatest risk from world food shortages

Afghanistan and African nations at greatest risk from world food shortages

Russian heatwave and floods in Pakistan threaten supplies for basic human diet

Aerial view of flood-damaged countryside in GhaziPakistan’s devastating floods highlight how climate change is having “a profound effect on global food security”. Photograph: Horace Murray/ReutersSoaring commodity prices and natural disasters in Russia and Pakistan have combined to put African nations and conflict-ridden countries such as Afghanistan most at risk from food shortages, according to a report released today.

Sharp price rises for wheat and other grains will hit the world’s neediest countries hardest, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, as they grapple with their own poor harvests and failing transport networks, according to a food security index by risk management consultancy Maplecroft.

It also says conflict is a key factor behind food insecurity and Afghanistan tops the index of threatened countries. The other nine nations categorised as “extreme risk” are all in Africa, led by Democratic Republic of the CongoBurundiEritreaSudan and Ethiopia. African nations make up 36 of the 50 countries most at risk in the index.

The report highlights climate change as having a “profound effect on global food security”, with a heatwave in Russia coinciding with devastating floods in Pakistan – ranked 30th and “high risk” in the index.

“Russian brakes on exports, plus a reduction in Canada’s harvest by almost a quarter due to flooding in June, are provoking fluctuations in the commodity markets,” said Fiona Place, environmental analyst at Maplecroft. “This will further affect the food security of the most vulnerable countries.”

Using 12 criteria developed with the World Food Programme, including GDP per head and cereal production and imports, Maplecroft’s index evaluated risks to the supply of basic food staples for 163 countries. Finland was least at risk, while the UK was ranked 146th.

The latest official inflation data for Britain this week suggested that recent disruptions in the wheat market have yet to feed through to consumers. Economists are warning households in Britain and around the world to prepare for more price rises in staples such as bread following Russia’s ban on wheat exports after drought has cost the country much of its latest crop. Wheat prices have risen by about 70% since June and other crop prices have also climbed.


1 Afghanistan2 Democratic Republic of Congo

3 Burundi

4 Eritrea

5 Sudan

6 Ethiopia

7 Angola

8 Liberia

9 Chad

10 Zimbabwe

Pakistan after the floods: “The situation is explosive”

Pakistan after the floods: “The situation is explosive”

World Socialist Web Site


WSWS, August 17, 2010

The World Socialist Web Site received the following letter Sunday from a supporter in Pakistan.

The situation in Pakistan is increasingly explosive. The floods are a natural calamity. But if a large portion of the population, especially the workers, peasants and toiling masses, are now suffering hunger and lack of water and shelter, it is because of the criminality of the country’s capitalist elite and their imperialist backers. They have plundered the people, while failing to provide elementary public infrastructure.

Cases of cholera due to the non-availability of drinking water are spreading. In the one-fifth of the country that has been flooded, the population continues to be besieged. Livestock and crops have been destroyed over a vast area. Most of the roads linking the four provinces are ruined. Anger is growing steadily among the people against the government, the ruling class, and US imperialism.

Washington is watching the situation in Pakistan after the flood very closely. The US military is determined to expand its intervention in Pakistan and under the guise of providing humanitarian aid is now trying to doing so. That the US is maneuvering to advance its predatory geo-political interests in the region is underscored by the fact that the US, despite its massive presence in the region, had delivered next to no aid to the flood victims.

The Pakistani ruling class are afraid of a possible mass upheaval against the government and state. Yesterday President Zardari and his arch-rival, Nawaz Sharif of the official opposition Muslim League (Nawaz), came together to announce a joint relief campaign for the flood sufferers.

The vast majority of the people want to help those whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed, but they do not trust the government and state institutions. They saw what happened after the earthquakes in Kashmir in 2005 and Ziarath in 2008—how the politicians and military and their business cronies diverted aid, in cash and kind, into their pockets.

Anarchy is spreading daily. Yesterday 10 working class people were killed by the BLA (Baluch Liberation Army) in Baluchistan, where a separatist insurgency has gained a popular following due to the ruling elite’s indifference to, and repression, of the Baluchi masses. And on August 14 (so-called Independence day) there were rocket attacks and bomb blasts in different parts of Baluchistan.

The Pakistani bourgeois national project has utterly failed the masses. Even before the floods, Pakistan was crippled by power shortages and there was mass popular disaffection and anger at soaring food prices, the gargantuan gap between rich and poor, the military’s continuing dominant role in the country’s political and economic life, and the Pakistani bourgeoisie’s pivotal role in assisting the US occupation of Afghanistan.

Two years after assuming the presidency, the Pakistan People’s Party dynastic leader, Asif Ali Zardari, is as hated as the previous US-sponsored military strongman, General Pervez Musharraf. The burning need is for a vanguard working class party that can mobilize the toiling masses against the Pakistani bourgeoisie and imperialism.

Please give my regards to the International Committee of the Fourth International.


The Tragedy of Pakistan’s Swat Valley

The Tragedy of Pakistan’s Swat Valley

By Hasnain Kazim in Mingora, Pakistan

The Swat Valley used to be high on the must-see list for Western travelers in Pakistan. Recent years, however, have not been kind to the region. Now, just months after having shed the brutal rule of the Taliban, the valley has been devastated anew.

“My God,” says Jawad when he finishes telling his story. “If I didn’t know that all this is true, I would think, ‘what an exaggerated story.'”

Jawad sells handicrafts and silk scarves in his uncle’s store in the city center of Mingora — on a street which has been known as the “bloody mile” since the beginning of 2009.

Mingora is the biggest city in the Swat district, a corner of northwestern Pakistan in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Queen Elizabeth II once called the valley the Switzerland of the British Empire. It was a time when the Swat Valley was high on the list of international tour groups and hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis came here in the summer to escape the heat in the south.

Now, nobody goes to Swat if they can avoid it. Jawad is only in his mid-20s, but he has experienced all of the Swat Valley’s recent tragedies himself: the devastating earthquake in 2005, the penetration of the Taliban into the valley, their brutal rule, the fight against terror in the last two years. And now, the astonishingly vast floods.

Some 80,000 people lost their lives in the earthquake, most of them in Kashmir. “But we felt the effects here in Swat as well,” says Jawad. “Several buildings were destroyed.” It was around that time that men with long hair and long beards began to show up in the region — men with an extremely conservative outlook on the world.

Afraid to Oppose the Taliban

“Unfortunately, we didn’t take the Taliban seriously back then,” says Inayat Ullah, Jawad’s uncle. When they began to show their true faces, they were already so strong that people were afraid to oppose them. The US, together with countries in Europe, warned General Pervez Musharraf, the then-head of Pakistan’s military dictatorship, to do something about the developing state within a state just four hours by car north of the capital Islamabad. But he declined and allowed the Taliban to grow in strength.

They forbade cinemas and music, CD shops were destroyed, barbers received death threats should they persist in shaving beards — anything other than long facial hair was seen as “un-Islamic.” They burned down girls’ schools and assaulted women who did not completely veil themselves.

“They ruled with pure violence,” says Jawad. “Their aim was to spread fear and terror. And they were quite successful.” Pointing to a nearby intersection, he says “over there, the Taliban decapitated petty criminals.” Today, a policeman stands in the center of the intersection trying to direct the chaotic traffic from a concrete pedestal where the executions took place. “Every now and then, we would find a corpse in front of our store as well,” Jawad says.

Increasingly, the Taliban began killing soldiers from the Pakistani army. Finally, at the beginning of 2009, the Taliban officially claimed power in the Swat Valley and declared Sharia as the only valid law in the region. After a failed attempt to negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban, the Pakistani government — now under a democratically elected leadership — declared war on the militants, primarily in response to pressure from the US.

‘Gunfire Everywhere’

“Nobody warned us,” says Jawad. “As the situation became increasingly violent, we packed our stuff and moved to safety.” He himself was able to find lodging with relatives in Islamabad, but many people had nobody to turn to and collected in refugee camps. Ultimately, some 2 million people fled to other parts of the country from the Swat Valley. “It was like a ghost town, buildings were empty and everywhere there was gunfire,” says Jawad.

There are still holes in the façades of buildings in Mingora from this period. Thousands of people lost their lives in the fighting before the military declared that “some 2,000 insurgents” had been killed and the valley was “liberated.” But even now, a year and a half later, the valley has not found peace. In the mountains to the north, near the Kalam Valley, military operations against the Taliban continue. “On Monday, we tried to overrun insurgent positions,” relates a soldier over the telephone from the frontlines. “They shot my best friend, who I went to officers’ school with.”

The military, at first celebrated as liberators, soon earned a reputation for brutal mistreatment of Swat locals. They have been accused of performing extrajudicial executions. “That house over there,” says Jawad, pointing to a pile of bricks, “belonged to a man the army accused of supporting the Taliban. The soldiers simply blew it up.”

Still, people began returning to the valley to fix up their houses or build new ones.

But then, on July 29, the Swat River burst its banks. The water levels became so high that even those houses that weren’t washed away have been flooded to the second floor.

Begging for Rupees

Now, large swaths of the Mingora city center have been destroyed. People are trying to find normality among the rubble. Two boys have set up a table in front of their father’s destroyed shop and are selling bottles of perfume which they managed to save from the floods. Another family is trying to waterproof the remains of their house with a tarp received from the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR. An elderly man and his handicapped son, having lost their home to the floodwaters, beg for a few rupees.

The northern part of the Swat Valley was particularly hard hit, with some villages almost completely destroyed. Help only began arriving to the region a few days ago when US military helicopters started to deliver food, water, medical supplies and tents. The helicopters swoop low over Mingora on their way north. In a severely damaged part of the city, two people look skyward. “I wonder if they will ever land here,” a man wonders aloud as he shovels mud and debris out of his collapsed shop.

Authorities are having trouble providing aid to all those who need it. The catastrophe is simply too big — any government in the world would have difficulties in the face of such a disaster, say Pakistani politicians. The fact remains, however, that even five years after the earthquake, there is still no effective disaster response system in place. Back then, millions of dollars in aid money donated from abroad never made its way to those who needed it most.

Once again, officials have seemed helpless. For lack of any kind of aid plan, the provincial government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has decreed that members of the provincial parliament are to distribute aid money and supplies in their own constituencies. “We’ll be waiting for help for a long time,” says a shopkeeper in Mingora. “The politicians will only help people who they like. Everyone else will go without.”

‘What Have We Done Wrong?’

People in Mingora in general don’t have much use for their politicians. “They only think of themselves,” complains an old man reading a newspaper in front of the remains of his home. “Yesterday, a parliamentarian showed up. He came in a convoy of three cars plus a police escort, just to show his face for a few minutes.”

It is a problem that has suddenly proven a major hurdle in the effort to collect international donations for Pakistani flood victims. Many fear that rampant corruption will prevent aid from reaching those who need it. Assumptions as to the country’s involvement in extremist Islam and presumed support of the Taliban have also resulted in only a trickle of help flowing in from Western donors.

Three weeks after the beginning of the flood disaster, Islamabad has now begun taking action to address the problem. A non-partisan commission is to be established which will regulate the provision of aid to flood victims. Credible celebrities are to ensure that the help reaches those in need.

But time is growing short. There have been reports of children starving to death and the Swat Valley has begun to see cases of cholera. The situation in many parts of the country is getting worse by the day.

“I have read that some people are saying that the flood is God’s punishment for our failures,” says Jawad. “But what, for heaven’s sake, have we done wrong to warrant being punished so often?”

On the Way Down–The Erosion of America’s Middle Class

On the Way Down

The Erosion of America’s Middle Class

By Thomas Schulz

While America’s super-rich congratulate themselves on donating billions to charity, the rest of the country is worse off than ever. Long-term unemployment is rising and millions of Americans are struggling to survive. The gap between rich and poor is wider than ever and the middle class is disappearing.

Ventura is a small city on the Pacific coast, about an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles. Luxury homes with a view of the ocean dot the hillsides, and the beaches are popular with surfers. Ventura is storybook California. “It’s a well-off place,” says Captain William Finley. “But about 20 percent of the city is what we call at risk of homelessness.” Finley heads the local branch of the Salvation Army.

Last summer Ventura launched a pilot program, managed by Finley, that allows people to sleep in their cars within city limits. This is normally illegal, both in Ventura and in the rest of the country, where local officials and residents are worried about seeing run-down vans full of Mexican migrant workers parked on residential streets.

But sometime at the beginning of last year, people in Ventura realized that the cars parked in front of their driveways at night weren’t old wrecks, but well-tended station wagons and hatchbacks. And the people sleeping in them weren’t fruit pickers or the homeless, but their former neighbors.

Finley also noticed a change. Suddenly twice as many people were taking advantage of his social service organization’s free meals program, and some were even driving up in BMWs — apparently reluctant to give up the expensive cars that reminded them of better times.

Finley calls them “the new poor.” “That is a different category of people that I think we’re seeing,” he says. “They are people who never in their wildest imaginations thought they would be homeless.” They’re people who had enough money — a lot of money, in some cases — until recently.

“The image of what is a poor person in today’s day and age doesn’t fly. When I was growing up a poor person, and we grew up fairly poor, you drove a 10-year-old car that probably had some dents in it. You know, there was one car for the family and you lived out of the food bank,” says Finley. “In the past, you got yourself out of poverty and were on your way up.”

American Way Heads in Opposite Direction

It was the American way, a path taken by millions. “Today the image is you’re getting newer late model cars that at one point cost somebody 40, 50 grand, and they’re at wits end, now they’re living out of the food banks. And for many of them it takes a lot to swallow their pride,” says Finley.

Today the American way is often headed in the opposite direction: downward.

For a while, America seemed to have emerged relatively unscathed from the worst economic crisis in decades — with renewed vigor and energy — just as it had done in the wake of past crises.

The government was announcing new economic growth figures by as early as last fall, much earlier than expected. The banks, moribund until recently, were back to earning billions. Companies nationwide are reporting strong growth, and the stock market has almost returned to it pre-crisis levels. Even the number of billionaires grew by a healthy 17 percent in 2009.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and 40 other billionaires pledged to donate at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy, either while still alive or after death. Is America a country so blessed with affluence that it can afford to give away billions, just like that?

Growing Resentment

Gates’ move could also be interpreted as a PR campaign, in a country where the super-rich sense that although they are profiting from the crisis, as was to be expected, the number of people adversely affected has grown enormously. They also sense that there is growing resentment in American society against those at the top.

For people in the lower income brackets, the recovery already seems to be falling apart. Experts fear that the US economy could remain weak for many years to come. And despite the many government assistance programs, the small amount of hope they engender has yet to be felt by the general public. On the contrary, for many people things are still headed dramatically downward.

According to a recent opinion poll, 70 percent of Americans believe that the recession is still in full swing. And this time it isn’t just the poor who are especially hard-hit, as they usually are during recessions.

This time the recession is also affecting well-educated people who had been earning a good living until now. These people, who see themselves as solidly middle-class, now feel more threatened than ever before in the country’s history. Four out of 10 Americans who consider themselves part of this class believe that they will be unable to maintain their social status.

Unemployment Persists

In a recent cover story titled “So long, middle class,” the New York Post presented its readers with “25 statistics that prove that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.” Last week, the leading online columnist Arianna Huffington issued the almost apocalyptic warning that “America is in danger of becoming a Third World country.”

In fact, the United States, in the wake of a real estate, financial economic and now debt crisis, which it still hasn’t overcome, is threatened by a social Ice Age more severe than anything the country has seen since the Great Depression.

The United States is experiencing the problem of long-term unemployment for the first time since World War II. The number of the long-term unemployed is already three times as high as it was during any crisis in the past, and it is still rising.

More than a year after the official end of the recession, the overall unemployment rate remains consistently above 9.5 percent. But this is just the official figure. When adjusted to include the people who have already given up looking for work or are barely surviving on the few hundred dollars they earn with a part-time job and are using up their savings, the real unemployment figure jumps to more than 17 percent.

In its current annual report, the US Department of Agriculture notes that “food insecurity” is on the rise, and that 50 million Americans couldn’t afford to buy enough food to stay healthy at some point last year. One in eight American adults and one in four children now survive on government food stamps. These are unbelievable numbers for the world’s richest nation.

Even more unsettling is the fact that America, which has always been characterized by its unshakable belief in the American Dream, and in the conviction that anyone, even those at the very bottom, can rise to the top, is beginning to lose its famous optimism. According to recent figures, a significant minority of US citizens now believe that their children will be worse off than they are.

Many Americans are beginning to realize that for them, the American Dream has been more of a nightmare of late. They face a bitter reality of fewer and fewer jobs, decades of stagnating wages and dramatic increases in inequality. Only in recent months, as the economy has grown but jobs have not returned, as profits have returned but poverty figures have risen by the week, the country seems to have recognized that it is struggling with a deep-seated, structural crisis that has been building for years. As the Washington Post writes, the financial crisis was merely the final turning — for the worse.