Doomsday clock ticks
Nuke programs push world to ‘perilous period’
January 12, 2007

Warning that the world has entered “the most perilous period since Hiroshima,” the keepers of the famed nuclear Doomsday Clock plan to move it closer to midnight.

The symbolic clock now stands at 7 minutes to midnight, with midnight representing global catastrophe.

Board members of the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine cite nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, unsecured nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere and 25,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia, including 2,000 that are ready to launch.

Also, the threat of global warming is helping to revive the nuclear energy industry. Nuclear plants don’t release carbon dioxide believed to cause global warming. But the reactors could increase the risk of nuclear proliferation.

Bulletin officials signaled the change in a media advisory. They plan a joint announcement Wednesday in Washington and London to announce the exact time change.

The Bulletin covers global security issues, especially nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. It was founded after World War II by scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bombs.

Last moved in 2002
The Doomsday Clock first appeared on the Bulletin’s cover in 1947 and has since moved closer or farther from midnight 17 times.

The closest was 2 minutes to midnight in 1953, after the United States and Soviet Union tested thermonuclear bombs. The farthest was 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, after the United States and Soviet Union signed an arms-reduction treaty.

In its most recent movement in 2002, the clock ticked ahead two minutes after little progress was made on global nuclear disarmament and terrorists sought nuclear and biological weapons.


Just look at that face. Jesus.
January 12th, 2007


That’s the face of a desperate man. That’s the face of the fellow who’s taken his family hostage, in the 18th hour of negotiations. He’s sitting in the darkness of the kitchen, hands on his M-16, right across from his terrified wife, children, and the UPS guy who thought he was just delivering a package that day before that face, staring at him from the other end of the M-16, answered the door, asking, “Are you him? Are you the guy!?! Get in here!”

“Please, George, just give yourself up. You’re scaring the kids…” his wife begs.

“Shut up!” George screams. “Shutupshutupshutup! This is NOT how it was supposed to go! They should have LISTENED to me! Now it’s all going straight to HELL!”

“Mister… I got a wife and kids at home too,” says the UPS guy. “Please, they’re worried about me, and I miss them. I…”

George seizes the M-16 and lifts it up, pressing the barrel against the UPS guy’s forehead.

“Don’t TALK! Don’t TALK! You think I’m fooled? You think I don’t know what they’re trying to do through you?” George puts down the gun and walks over to the drawn blinds. He peers through the cracks and sees the police cars, cherry-red and icy blue strobes flickering atop their roofs. He knows they’re out there, ready to burst in and take him back to their secret torture chambers… try to make him talk… rip apart the life he’s built for himself… Them. They. They’re out there.

He can’t let that happen.

“Daddy?” says his daughter. “Daddy, I’m scared.”

“Shshshshshshshhhhhhhh…” he tells her turning to them. He cradles the M-16, massaging it almost, feeling its power, it’s protection, it’s safety. It stopped that one agent, disguised as a cop, during the first hour of the siege. “It’s all right to be scared. It’s smart to be scared. The world is a very scary place. And they’re trying to get you.”

His daughter whimpers.

“Yes, they want to come in here and get you, and your brother, AND YOUR MOTHER, AND ME… AND THEY WANT TO KILL US AND RAPE US AND EAT OUR FLESH AND AGGGGHHHHHH!!!” George runs to the window and lays down a burst of automatic gunfire. The night is seared by the brightness of the muzzle flash, the quietude rent by the harsh barkings of the rifle. The cops outside hit the dirt, the captain barking orders not to engage. “Maybe he’s getting tired. We’ll just have to wait and see.”


George manages to shoot another cop dead as he leans against his squad car.

“Damn, that’s a shame. But I think he’s running out of steam,” says the captain drinking his coffee. “Let’s wait a little more and see.”

Inside, the UPS guy whispers to the woman, “Why won’t the fucking police do something?”

“I don’t know…” she says. “I don’t know. It’s like some nightmare that won’t end. I just keep waking up again and again, and things never get better.”

“Mommy, what’s wrong with Daddy?” asks the little boy.

“Daddy’s very sick, sweetie,” she says. “Daddy is sick in the head. He can’t understand that what he’s doing isn’t very safe or nice. He thinks he’s protecting us, but he’s not.”

“WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN I’M NOT!?!” George says, grabbing her arm and roughly lifting her up. “I DO THIS FOR YOU, DAMMIT! I DO THIS FOR THEM! I’LL BURN THIS HOUSE DOWN TO THE GROUND AND PUT A ROUND INTO EACH OF YOUR HEADS BEFORE I’LL ALLOW THEM TO HARM ONE HAIR ON YOUR HEADS. DAMN, WOMAN!” He throws her down to the floor and goes back to the window. “Hey!” he shouts to the cops. “Where the hell is that pizza I ordered?”

The captain looks startled, and he turns to the lieutenant. “Hey, did the pizza arrive yet?” The lieutenant sadly shakes his head no. “Damn. He’s not gonna like that.”

Talking through the megaphone, the captain says, “Sir, please be patient. We’re doing all we can. In the meantime, how is that electric blanket you requested working out for you?”

“Fine! A little scratchy though…” George screams back.

“Sorry about that,” says the captain. “What about the bouillabaisse? Was it to your liking?”

“IT WAS TOO SALTY!” bellows George. He shoots down another cop. “SEE!?! YOU DID THAT!!! THAT WAS YOU!”

“Sorry, sir. Is there anything else we can do?”

“I want a treadmill in here, stat! And six of those Fabergé eggs so I can smash ’em! Then I want another hostage, a bazooka, and ALL CHARGES DROPPED WHEN I LEAVE HERE!”

“Anything you say, sir. Johnson!” says the captain with a military snap.

“Yes sir?”

“The governor send that pardon yet?”

“He sent three, sir. We won’t be able to touch him after this!”

“Excellent!” the captain chuckled. “He’ll never see it coming… How are we doing with that escape vehicle and unrestricted path to the airport. Are all highways shut down for him?”

“Yessir!” said Johnson, proudly.

“Good! Now, why don’t you run up to the house? Make sure you’re out in the open,” says the captain.

Johnson hesitates.

“Something, Johnson?”

“Well, sir…” Johnson says, stammering. “If I were to do that… He’d be able to shoot me.”


“And I’d die, sir,” says Johnson, a little more forcefully.”


“And I don’t want to die, sir. In fact, I’m not sure why we’re doing this? We have a SWAT team that could extract the suspect within minutes. In fact…” Johnson looks up to see George at the window, fully exposed, sticking out his tongue while waggling his fingers like moose horns from both sides of his head. “Sir, I could take him out right now. I wouldn’t even have to kill him.” Johnson lifts his service revolver and aims. But the captain knocks it from his hands, enraged.

“Dammit, Johnson! What do you think you’re doing?”

“Serving and protecting the community by trying to save people’s lives, sir?”

The captain stared at him long and hard, a measure of disgust in his expression.

“Don’t you understand, Johnson? Haven’t you been listening? HE’S in charge here! HE’S the Decider. Did they teach you NOTHING at the academy?”

“Sir, he’s killed five…”

A shot rings out. A figure in blue falls.

“Six of our men. The neighborhood is being held in a grip of terror. I’ve heard about robberies, kilings, rapes, and more over the radio, but all our units are tied up here. His family… God knows what he’ll do to them if we don’t act soon. I mean, that’s our job, right, sir?”

“Johnson, you’re dismissed…” says the captain with a tired voice.

“Sir, I…” Johnson says.

“I said you were dismissed, lieutenant. Get out of my sight,” says the captain. “You make me sick.”

Johnson begins to say something but sees that it will be fruitless. He takes off his badge and lays it on the hood of the car before walking away.

“OOGA-BOOGA! SURRRRRRRRRGE!!!” screams George from the window. He levels the rifle and takes aim. A shot rings out, and half the captain’s head is sheared off. Johnson rushes to his side.

“Captain! O my captain! What can I do for you?”

“Stay…” says the dying captain. “Stay the course. I have him NOW, by God…”

“Who ordered the pepperoni and garlic pizza?” says the newly arrived pizza delivery dude.

“He’s in there,” says the captain. “Wait…” He reaches for his wallet, withdraws a fifty, and gives it to the pizza dude.

“Keep… the change…” says the captain, smiling with his dying breath.