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Ellen Cantarow, A Shrapnel-Faced World

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When you watch the latest TV news on Israel’s war in Gaza, it feels as if its military had invaded another country. So, it’s important to remind ourselves that the tens of thousands of weapons the Biden administration has been sending to Israel since October 7th, including most recently, as the Washington Post reported, “more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs” — and keep in mind that those 2,000 pounders are “capable of leveling city blocks and leaving craters in the earth 40 feet across and larger” — are meant to be used to obliterate a 25-mile-long strip of land, smaller than some large American cities. It’s hard to remember a moment when such a relatively tiny area got quite such a pounding, day after day, week after week, month after month.

And keep in mind as well, that not many small areas of land are quite so densely populated (about 14,000 people per square mile), so the toll from those American weapons has been nothing short of devastating. In addition, a 2,000-pound bomb capable of destroying a city block won’t make any distinction between a member of Hamas and families with children. Nor, it’s now all too clear, has the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing compatriots had the faintest urge to make such a distinction. Otherwise, an estimated 10,000 Gazan children, or one of every 100 kids there, wouldn’t be dead and, in all too many cases, buried in the rubble of the buildings in which they lived.

In short, there can be little question that the present war not just in, but on, Gaza, is a crime against humanity (as, of course, was Hamas’s October 7th attack on Israel). With that in mind — and worse yet, no end yet in sight for such a nightmare — let TomDispatch regular Ellen Cantarow, who long ago wrote about Israel for various American publications, offer a glimpse of hell on earth in the world of 2024. Tom

Dead on Arrival

Israel’s Blowback Genocide

Words can't express the horrors of Israel’s genocide in Gaza. To actually feel the nightmare, you would have to be there under the bombs, fleeing with Palestinians desperately seeking a safe place that doesn’t exist; seeing building after building destroyed; treading through blood in one of the few, only partially standing hospitals; and witnessing children and other patients sprawled on hospital floors, limbs amputated without anesthesia (Israel having blocked all medical supplies).

It has taken the Jewish state’s savagery to break decades of silence about its history of crimes against humanity. U.S. military historian Robert Pape has called the onslaught against Gaza “one of the most intense civilian punishment campaigns in history.” Former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour has said that we are witnessing “probably the highest kill rate of any military... since the Rwandan genocide of 1994.”

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William Astore, “Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”

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I was born on July 20, 1944, barely a year before the world (potentially) ended. On August 6 and 9, 1945, the U.S., which had already been torching Japanese cities from the air, dropped the first atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The explosions were unlike anything humanity had previously experienced. A single weapon from a single plane could devastate a city, wiping out tens of thousands of human beings (and leaving behind a nuclear residue or “fallout” that could cause horrific cancers in the years to follow). It was a grim, dark miracle of human invention and, within a decade, the weapons used on those two cities would seem all too modest compared to the new thermonuclear or hydrogen bombs the U.S. possessed that, within years, were capable of wiping out whole civilizations. (The estimate of Russian, Chinese, and other deaths from the carrying out of the Single Integrated Operational Plan for General Nuclear War developed by the U.S. military in 1960 was at least 600 million.)

Today, of course, nine countries (still led by the U.S.) have close to 13,000 nuclear weapons and, in the coming decades, my own country is planning to spend almost two trillion dollars (no, that is not a misprint!) on “modernizing” its nuclear arsenal while, at this very moment, two countries presently at war in a major fashion, Israel and Russia, are also nuclear powers and the leader of one of them has even threatened to use such weapons on the battlefield.

Consider it a miracle of sorts, given us humans and the kind of devastation we now know a nuclear war would bring to this world, that, for the last 78 years, while such ultimate weaponry spread and, one might even say, flourished on this planet, not one of them has ever been used again in war (though in those same years, there have certainly been countless wars). But will my great-grandson or great-granddaughter be able to say the same thing 78 years from now? Will they or anyone else even be here to say anything at all, or might we humans truly fulfill the prophecy of those two nuclear moments in 1945 and end our world, at least as we know it? With that in mind, let retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, historian, and TomDispatch regular William Astore take you onto a planet that couldn’t be more fragile or more worth saving. Tom

There Is Only One Spaceship Earth

Freeing the World from the Deadly Shadow of Genocide and Ecocide

When I was in the U.S. military, I learned a saying (often wrongly attributed to the Greek philosopher Plato) that only the dead have seen the end of war. Its persistence through history to this very moment should indeed be sobering. What would it take for us humans to stop killing each other with such vigor and in such numbers?

Song lyrics tell me to be proud to be an American, yet war and profligate preparations for more of the same are omnipresent here. My government spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined (and most of them are allies). In this century, our leaders have twice warned of an “axis of evil” intent on harming us, whether the fantasy troika of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea cited by President George W. Bush early in 2002 or a new one -- China, Russia, and North Korea -- in the Indo-Pacific today. Predictably given that sort of threat inflation, this country is now closing in on a trillion dollars a year in "defense spending," or close to two-thirds of federal discretionary spending, in the name of having a military machine capable of defeating “evil” troikas (as well as combatting global terrorism). A significant part of that huge sum is reserved for producing a new generation of nuclear weapons that will be quite capable of destroying this planet with missiles and warheads to spare.

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Rebecca Gordon, Class Warfare Will Be on the Ballot This November

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Yes, indeed, it is getting warmer (and warmer and warmer) on this planet of ours. It’s not just that records are being set for an ever hotter world, year after year after year, but that when the warmth hits, as the New York Times recently reported, the heat waves “linger longer,” sometimes for extra days or even — yes! — weeks at a time! Meanwhile, new records are regularly being set for heat not just on land but in the planet’s waters, too, shattering previous temperature records for the oceans. And in case it hadn’t occurred to you, that’s bad news when it comes to the strength of the next hurricane season, which can be supercharged by soaring ocean heat. And then, of course, there’s that other record — the loss of Antarctic sea ice, which will only feed rising sea levels (and sinking coastal communities).

And here’s another “yes” on the subject: if, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon points out today, the world, which also means your particular world, is getting ever hotter, that’s an issue not just for, say, farmers facing megadroughts or devastating megafires, but also for workers in any job that exposes them to the growing heat of this planet of ours. Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the head of the Trumpublican Party is now running on a “day one” platform of establishing a “dictatorship” to — yes, “drill, drill, drill!” And that means, however hot it already is, that party and its presidential candidate are now all-too-publicly committed to making it hotter yet, maybe even as hot as it can get.

And as Gordon reports today, when it comes to this country’s workers that’s hardly all the Trumpublicans are now committed to do! Tom

Republicans Have Plans for Working People

And You’re Not Going to Like Them

Recently, you may have noticed that the hot weather is getting ever hotter. Every year the United States swelters under warmer temperatures and longer periods of sustained heat. In fact, each of the last nine months -- May 2023 through February 2024 -- set a world record for heat. As I'm writing this, March still has a couple of days to go, but likely as not, it, too, will set a record.

Such heat poses increasing health hazards for many groups: the old, the very young, those of us who don’t have access to air conditioning. One group, however, is at particular risk: people whose jobs require lengthy exposure to heat. Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that about 40 workers died of heat exposure between 2011 and 2021, although, as CNN reports, that's probably a significant undercount. In February 2024, responding to this growing threat, a coalition of 10 state attorneys general petitioned the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement “a nationwide extreme heat emergency standard” to protect workers from the kinds of dangers that last year killed, among others, construction workers, farm workers, factory workers, and at least one employee who was laboring in an unairconditioned area of a warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee.

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