Future Headlines We Don’t Want to See (But Probably Will)

Difficult to see.  Always in motion the future.

Difficult to see. Always in motion the future.

W.J. Astore

History may not repeat itself, but it sure does echo – often loudly.  That’s the theme of Tom Engelhardt’s new article, “Tomorrow’s News Today: Writing History Before It Happens.”  Tom comes up with nine headlines that we’ve seen before, and that (sadly) we’re likely to see again — and again.  Here, shortened, are his nine “future” headlines:

  1. U.S. airstrike obliterates foreign wedding party.
  2. U.S. government surveillance is far more intrusive than previously reported.
  3. Patriotic whistleblower charged with espionage.
  4. Extremist groups exploit unrest caused by U.S. military strikes.
  5. Supposed U.S. ally snubs Presidential summit/meeting.
  6. Young American with Islamic sympathies caught planning terrorism in FBI sting operation.
  7. “Lone Wolf” homegrown terrorist kills innocents; says he was inspired by ISIS.
  8. Toddler kills mother in gun accident.
  9. President says U.S. is both exceptional and indispensable.

You can read all of Tom’s article here.   Perhaps the most sobering aspect of his article is how readily predictable (and repetitive) such headlines are.  Toddlers shooting parents and siblings?  Sadly predictable due to the proliferation of guns and lack of safety measures.  Whistleblowers charged with espionage?  The next Snowden or Manning should be ready to be so charged, even when (especially when) their motives are focused on informing ordinary Americans of what their government is up to.

Inspired by Tom’s article, I came up with seven grim “future” headlines of my own.  I challenge our readers to come up with a few as well.  Just add them to the “Comments” section below.

This is not simply a whimsical or cynical exercise: it’s a reminder of how narrow our country’s narrative appears to be, both now and in the immediate future.  Details change, a name here, a country there, but the headlines remain the same.  We need to act to change these headlines.

My seven “future” headlines

  1. U.S.-trained army [in Iraq, Afghanistan, whereverstan] collapses, abandoning heavy weapons and ammo stocks to rebel forces.
  2. Deep-sea oil drilling platform [in Gulf of Mexico, Arctic Circle, insert environmentally sensitive area] malfunctions, triggering major spill and environmental disaster.
  3. U.S. President starts new war without Congressional declaration of war.
  4. After declaring “mission accomplished” [in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, insert almost any Middle Eastern/African Country] and withdrawing U.S. troops, President [Bush, Obama, Bush/Clinton] orders troops to return as war is rekindled.
  5. U.S. loses huge weapons cache [in Iraq, Afghanistan, whereverstan]; sends more weapons as replacements.
  6. Lawbreaking major bank/corporation “too big to jail”; pays fine and admits no wrongdoing.
  7. Pentagon weapon system, 10 years behind schedule and $100 billion over budget, fully funded by Congress.

Always in motion the future, as Yoda said.  Let’s hope that a change for the better is not something that’s limited to “Star Wars” movies.

10 thoughts on “Future Headlines We Don’t Want to See (But Probably Will)

  1. I think one headline from the future will suffice (sorry if it’s a tad long!): “Republican House Speaker Trapped At Top Of Washington Monument As Rest Of D.C. Drowns; Declares ‘Global Warming A Myth Perpetuated By Pro-Regulation Liberals'”

  2. Everything anticipated in The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert will become weekly if not dailly headlines, only sooner and to greater extremity than present modelling technology is capable of predicting or anticipating.

    Other dramatically drastic climate change outcomes will also present sooner as well and in turn cause greater than anticipated worst case ripple effect outcomes. Alarming headlines will increase in proportion.

    Income inequality will increase during this event, feudal conditions in nearly every country on the planet as a result will be the norm nlt mi-22nd century (if not one hundred years sooner). This will cause a resurgence of religious faith among the masses of serfs, who will interpret environmental catastrophe as predicted eschatology, mentally processing this fatal bug as a promised joyful feature.

    A few humans will hoard the necessary means to survive this event. For at least a millennia this will be somewhat like surviving a nuclear war on Earth: yes, one has escaped annhilation, but the surroundings are now rather quite unpleasant. Better hope one selected wisely from the available sycophant pool before catastrophe struck. Corporate attorneys were indispensable then, but less valuable than a diligent scullery maid/seamstress now.

    These will be times when if there are news reports at all, there will be drastically scaled back numbers of human foibles to report, simply as a result of 95% or greater reduction in human actors to commit habitual self-destructive acts.

    Don’t worry unduly. The human population will grow over time (unless it gets below a level necessary for a sustainable reproduction rate, at which point it is either artificial reproduction means to the rescue or curtains), and soon will return to its merry way of primate tribal hierarchical structure resulting in the same old shit as before. And on this optimistic note …

  3. My Future “Top 10″ Headlines in Homage to the ” Dave Letterman Show & Retirement” Tense in Headlines:1. City Administrators once again decide Fire/ Police Teachers to face the ax cutting to bare minimum manning, staffing in U.S. Major Cities (I have selfish reasons here) 2.A (Insert Name) Sports Figure , Politician, or any Public figure basically won’t ever admit to cheating, or wrongdoing even when caught red handed. 3.Lawmakers consider yet another Tax Hike on you name it… 4. Wall St busted once again for losing– insert dollar amount.5.Thousand of Refugees from insert oppressed country– adrift…6. U.S. declares War… 7.More Crumbling Infrastructure leads to the next loss of insert amount of Lives.. 8.Latest Despot insert Country killing Countrymen– insert number,. 9 For a chuckle Chicago Cubbies & their Fans suffer in yet another Series loss to… 10. Lastly,the Names will be different, but the Characters and their foibles/ personal problems– mostly of their own making will always remain the same!.

    • Good one, Jerry! Listening to discussion this morning on NPR’s “On Point” of the latest gains by “Islamic State,” I noted the focus was on what the US should do now. Escalate the air campaign, put boots on the ground? etc. Occasionally someone did point out that, of course, the US created this mess in the first place. And it just emphasized for me, one more time, what an utterly useless body the UN has become when “peacekeeping” is really needed. The US had the UN on a leash in its early years, involving it in the war against Korean independence (that’s what Kim Il Sung was seeking, after all, just like Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam) and then enlisting it to scuttle a unification vote for Vietnam in 1956. And now it’s just a paralyzed hulk, with any permanent member of the Security Council having the ability to veto proposed actions. Thus, if the great majority of member nations proposed to put the UN in charge of seeking a solution to the Iraq mess, displacing the “exceptional” unilateral-acting US, guess who’d veto any such action?

  4. The Past:
    It seems a law of nature that animals not useful to man gradually recede from the domains he occupies, or even become extinct. 
    Edward Lytton (The Coming Race 1871)
    The Present:
    “For 60 years, we’ve changed the environment on those irrigated acres. That’s been our focus. Now the Ogallala Aquifer is depleting pretty fast, especially in the southern part of our area, the Lubbock and Plainview area, so the higher temperature is going to make the irrigation less effective. We’re running out of opportunities to change the environment and we’re going to have to adapt to the environment.”
    B.A. “Bob” Stewart – http://texasclimatenews.org/wp/?p=9504

    ‘The only thing we learn from history,’ it has been said, ‘is that men never learn from history’,
    From John B. Glubb’s ‘The Fate of Empires’

  5. ” X months after the [earthquake, tsunami, flood] that killed [tens of] thousands and destroyed services and infrastructure, only a fraction of the emergency funds by promised the world’s wealthiest nations have been received.”

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