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Frida Berrigan, How Vulnerable Are We?

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I still remember going to New York’s Museum of Modern Art as a kid and seeing Pablo Picasso’s famed painting Guernica11.5 feet tall by 25.5 feet long! — hanging there. It was an eye-catching apparition, his gigantic 1937 protest against the devastating bombing of the town of Guernica by German planes connected to the forces of Spanish fascist leader Francisco Franco. And it was in New York because, for all the obvious reasons, it couldn’t be shown in Spain until after Franco, the only fascist winner in what became World War II, finally died in 1975.

A mélange of devastated or dead humans, a screaming mother holding a dead child, and a bull and a horse in a crisis of their own, all in black, white, and grey, it would prove to be a (even the) classic protest painting and a memory piece for the horrors of war. As a kid, though, fascinated as I was by it, I had next to no idea what to make of it. Just being in that museum amid the other Picassos, Matisses, Van Goghs, and so much else was a strange wonder. And I was looking at a scene from a war that, some years after Picasso painted it and long before I would view it, set the stage for my father’s war, World War II. Though he would take me to popular movies about his war in the 1950s — think John Wayne — and I assumed that they told me everything I needed to know about his experience, he absolutely refused to talk about what he had experienced.

Still, art and war, how truly strange. It seems as if they shouldn’t be in the same room. Well, think again and let TomDispatch regular Frida Berrigan take you into her own version of art and war — of a kind that could someday leave all of us on this planet in a global version of Guernica. Tom

The Art of the Submarine

Or 5,824 Hiroshimas Per Sub

Walk through any art museum and you're likely to see a mix of the classical and contemporary, impressionist and surrealist, refined and raw, beautiful, eerie, and provocative. Looking at art allows me at least a few moments of relief from the “that’s just the way it is” attitude of our hyper-consumerist, hyper-militarized, hyper-nihilist nation. I can step outside my day-to-day life and accept an invitation, however briefly, to boundlessness! I can experience invention, creation, and re-creation just moments apart. I can see everyday objects with new eyes as they're repurposed and reframed in extraordinary ways. I can celebrate the relentless power of human vision and imagination. In a museum, I often find that I can actually breathe.

The Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut, where I live, has one floor for its permanent collection, with works from the 1600s to perhaps a decade ago, a mixture of famous names and those that are (at least to me) obscure indeed. That collection on the first floor remains the same, year in and year out, while new exhibits circulate through the upstairs galleries every few months. I try to take in each new exhibit and often find myself surprised, inspired, and even educated by what I see.

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John J. Berger, It’s Bloody Hot!

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In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re now distinctly on another planet. Only recently, two weeks before summer officially starts, the temperature hit 113 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona (and 11 people waiting in line to enter a Trump rally had to be hospitalized due to heat exhaustion). In fact, the whole Southwest and parts of the West were broiling under a “heat dome,” as was Florida in temperatures that were rare or unknown at this season. And the U.S. was anything but alone. Like last year, fires were already burning again in Canada, sending smoke south; a devastating heat dome sat over Mexico; and don’t even think about South Asia, where temperatures have recently gone wild. Yikes!

All of this at a time when May was the 12th month in a row to set a historic global heat record and, given temperatures on this planet, June might not be far behind. Oh, and don’t forget the ocean waters either. The tropical Atlantic Ocean recently hit record heat highs, leading the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to predict a particularly violent hurricane season for the Eastern U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico.

And to throw something else into the mix, in Europe, the far right only recently scored a series of victories in elections for the European Union, previewing a potential climate backlash there. In other words, that region, which has taken far more green steps than the U.S., may not be taking many more. And were the same thing to happen in the U.S. and Donald Trump became president again, a lot more Americans would be hospitalized due to heat exhaustion. With all of that in mind, let environmental policy specialist John J. Berger, author of Solving the Climate Crisis: Frontline Reports from the Race to Save the Earth (from which the ideas in this piece were adapted), offer some fresh ideas on how we Americans might actually be able to deal better with the disaster our planet’s becoming. Tom

A National Climate Action Plan

Why We Need It and How to Do It

While April and May are usually the hottest months in many countries in Southeast Asia, hundreds of millions of people are now suffering in South Asia from an exceptionally intense heat wave that has killed hundreds. One expert has already called it the most extreme heat event in history. Record-breaking temperatures above 122º F were reported in the Indian capital of New Delhi and temperatures sizzled to an unheard of 127º F  in parts of India and Pakistan.

Nor was the blazing heat limited to Asia. Heat waves of exceptional severity and duration are now occurring simultaneously in many areas of the world. Mexico and parts of the United States, notably Miami and Phoenix, have recently been in the grip of intense heat events. In southern Mexico, endangered howler monkeys in several states have been falling dead from trees in their tropical forests due to heat stroke and dehydration. Below-average rainfall throughout Mexico has led to water shortages in Mexico City and elsewhere. In some places, birds and bats, not to speak of humans, are also dying from the heat.

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Bob Dreyfuss, The Middle East and Election 2024

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[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me urge any of you preparing to read Bob Dreyfuss’s new piece to first take a moment to visit our donation page. Only you can help ensure that TD keeps on doing (through the perilous November to come) what it’s done these last 23 years. Think of it this way: you’ll also be helping ensure that all of Dreyfuss’s series of pieces — the second today on Israel and Gaza — comparing the past and potential future foreign policies of Joe Biden and Donald Trump will become a reality, while TomDispatch will be able to continue offering views about this increasingly disturbed world of ours that you don’t often see elsewhere. And many, many thanks in advance for your generosity! Believe me, it really does make all the difference. Tom]

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, might the ongoing disaster in Gaza prove the boxing equivalent of a preliminary bout? Imagine that, as Israel continues to use U.S.-supplied weaponry to slaughter women and children in that devastated 25-mile strip of land. After all, there’s increasing muttering in the Israeli government about the possibility of invading Lebanon to take on Hezbollah rebels there. Only recently, Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi claimed “that the army was ready to move to an offensive in the north.” Already, the two sides there have been exchanging long-range fire.

The Biden administration, worried enough over the devolving situation in Gaza, has indeed been warning the Israelis not to invade Lebanon, lest a full-scale regional war, including with Iran, were to break out. As State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller put it recently, the Biden administration remains “incredibly concerned about the risk of escalation along the Israel-Lebanon border.” And Biden’s officials have indeed begun publicly insisting that a “limited war” there “would not be possible” and that any such Israeli action could escalate “beyond control.”

Nonetheless, the chief of the Israeli armed forces recently suggested that “preparations” were complete and a decision to launch just such an offensive might be imminent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned of the possibility of an “intense campaign” there, while the wildly right-wing National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has been insisting that “now the IDF’s [Israeli army’s] job is to destroy Hezbollah.”

In other words, the possibility of the war in Gaza developing into a devastating regional conflict is increasing in a distinctly ominous fashion. And in that grim context, check out today the second of a series of pieces planned for the coming months about Joe Biden’s and Donald Trump’s thoughts and positions on key foreign policy issues, as the 2024 election approaches here in the U.S. Let TomDispatch regular Bob Dreyfuss once again consider the two aging men running for president and what to make of them, in this case, when it comes to Israel and Gaza. Tom

Trump or Biden on Israel?

It’s No Contest

Recently, I attended a demonstration called by groups opposing the carnage in Gaza, where eight months of air, ground, and sea attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces have leveled entire quadrants of cities and killed more than 36,000 Palestinians. Many of the participants, justly outraged by the ongoing mass murder triggered by Hamas's October 7th terrorist massacre, bitterly criticized President Biden over his continuing support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war.

Asked about the likely choice in November between Biden and Donald Trump, the consensus among the demonstrators was that they wouldn’t vote for “Genocide Joe,” and that there was nothing to choose from between Biden and Trump when it comes to Middle East policy. Some would simply stay home, while some might vote for the Green Party or another third party, and even those who might eventually pull the lever for Biden pledged to vote "uncommitted" in any primary to “send a message to the White House.”

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