Turmoil continues in Libya while budget woes continue at home
By: Ashley L. Freije
On Saturday, the Libyan government yet again attempted to institute a media blackout. However, western journalists already within the country continued to report on events and citizens were still able to update the world via Facebook and Twitter. The United States officially levied sanctions against the country, including freezing the assets of both leader Muammar Gaddafi and his four children.
On Sunday, the United Nations Security Council referred Libya to the International Criminal Court to decide if the country should be persecuted for human rights violations. The Italian foreign minister came out Sunday saying that the end of Gaddafi’s rule was “inevitable.” On Monday, Gaddafi sat down for the first time with with a western journalist. He dismissed claims that his government was illegitimate, that the people are not protesting against him, and that those protesting were on “hallucinogenic drugs.” In a more striking move, the US repositioned ships in the Mediterranean Sea in a show of strength in the region, though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the the move and presence of ships was already planned.
Foreign governments stepped up their rhetoric alongside the US on Monday as well. British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country is not ruling out a military strike against Libya, and that his country will not tolerate the use of military assets by Gaddafi against his own people. The UN took more action on Tuesday, suspending Libya from the UN Human Rights Council. There were reports on Wednesday that Gaddafi had bombed two cities in north-eastern Libya to suppress protests. Pressure has been mounting on the US to instate a no-fly zone over the country, and while the US has resisted, the Arab League announced Wednesday that it would institute one.
Al Jazeera continues to live blog the situation in the region.
In news closer to home, Democrats narrowly avoided yet another government shutdown on Tuesday, agreeing to a temporary, two-week budget extension. While a government shut down happened for nearly a month in 1995 to 1996 and took place in an episode of “The West Wing,” what would really happen if the federal government ran out of money and was forced to shut down?
According to the Antideficiency Act of 1870, the government must shut down if congress and the president cannot pass a budget, except for emergency services. According to the Christian Science Monitor, government agencies have been required by the Office of Management and Budget has required all government agencies to submit plans to orderly shut down if funding stops.
So for starters, people would be out of jobs. According to PBS, over 1,000,000 federal employees were sent home during the 1995 shutdown because there was no money to pay them. However, congressmen and the president are immune to this, as their salaries come from a different funding source.
Next, government-funded agencies would have to shut-down. No family vacations to national parks or museums, no passport requests or bankruptcy filings can be processed. Welfare and government-funded health care will be restricted as well, though social security would continue to run as normal. Interestingly, the Internal Revenue Service would continue to process tax returns that involved payments to the IRS, but those getting returns from the IRS would have to wait. However, mail will still be delivered, as postal employees are also immune from the salary freeze.
Luckily, we will have two more weeks to prepare for the prospect of a governmental shutdown.
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