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General News    H4'ed 3/28/22

Tomgram: John Feffer, The Book of Job, Updated for the 22nd Century

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For the first time in years, thanks to the Ukraine conflict, there's been talk again of that nightmarish Cold War-era nuclear term "mutually assured destruction" (or MAD). Unfortunately, the madness of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (and the threat of nukes that, from moment one, went with it) has swept the news, leaving the other kind of MADness beginning to engulf our planet in the shade, at least for now. So it was good to see that, among all those focused on other issues, U.N. General Secretary Antà nio Guterres recently spoke about it in terms that couldn't have been more blunt. "This is madness," he said. "Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction."

How right he is! To take that version of MADness in, you can skip the fires now flaring in Texas, part of a megadrought in the American West that hasn't been seen in 1,200 years and just head straight for the poles. If you do so this spring, however, in that once-upon-a-time domain of ice and snow, be sure to take your shorts and suntan lotion. After all, just recently it was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (yes, that's not a misprint) warmer than normal in parts of Antarctica and 50 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm in parts of the Arctic. Both poles, in other words, are heating up in ways we've never seen before. That, of course, will mean potentially cascading changes globally as ice melts, sea levels rise disastrously, and increasingly iceless polar waters only absorb yet more of the sun's heat.

Bad as Ukraine may be (and it is a genuine, if utterly unnecessary horror), the way it's only increasing the urge to burn fossil fuels on this planet should truly frighten us all. Can there be any question that, in March 2022, the future of our world as we've known it is ever more in peril? No wonder TomDispatch regular John Feffer, author of the remarkably farsighted Splinterlands trilogy of dystopian novels, looks to the heavens today, turning not to us but to the gods for some kind of illumination. Tom

The Five Plagues Testing Humanity
The Uncivil War Between Nationalism and Internationalism, a View from the Heavens (and Hell)


Once upon a time, the tutelary gods of nationalism and internationalism met for a chat. They had a superb perch above the clouds. From there, they could see everything happening on the Earth below and they set to arguing, as they so often did.

Sophia, the goddess of internationalism, began by proudly pointing to the accomplishments of humanity. "Behold the United Nations," she said, not for the first time. "See how all the peoples of the world cooperate across borders, languages, and cultures."

Nikolai, the god of nationalism, whose followers believed that fortified borders and high walls make good neighbors, scowled. "It's just a talking shop where I see lots of my people getting all up in each other's faces."

"Then behold the international charities," Sophia replied with a smile. "People from one country giving to those in other countries."

"What a waste of money!" Nikolai retorted. "So much lost to overhead and bureaucracy."

"It's 2015," Sophia said, "and I don't think I've ever seen internationalism looking stronger. The Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and how about Germany's decision to accept a million refugees this year!"

"Nonsense!" Nikolai exploded. "Those agreements are farces and just wait for the German backlash. It's going to be epic!"

Sophia groaned. "You're incorrigible. I give you one example after another of international solidarity and you dismiss them out of hand. All you do is sit around complaining."

"Not true," he countered. "I've been roaming the earth, observing current events closely, and I'd wager that your beloved internationalists will give up their vaunted ideology when push comes to shove."

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)

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