Does CNN really have a video ready for the apocalypse?

CNN presenter Wolf Blitzer. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wolf Blitzer, a military band, then the end of life on earth

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Today's must-read

If the end of the world arrives, chances are you aren't going to be watching CNN. But just in case you are, the cable news network has a video ready for the Big Sign-off. That's according to blogger Michael Ballaban who posted the purported footage online.

The clip isn't much, really - just low-res footage of a US Army band playing a mournful rendition of Nearer My God to Thee, which takes a little over a minute. Then fade, presumably, to the rapture, apocalypse, giant comet impact or whatever coup de grace fate has in store for our little blue marble.

Writing on the Jalopnik blog, Ballaban says he first heard about the video from a college professor who worked at CNN. He was then able to confirm its existence when he was an intern at the network in 2009.

The video, he reports, is available on CNN's MIRA archiving system under the name "TURNER DOOMSDAY VIDEO" - the lingering legacy, it seems, of now-departed CNN founder Ted Turner.

Of course, it's existence shouldn't be a total shock. Mr Turner has said that the same tune that serenaded the doomed passengers of the sinking Titanic would usher the world's population into the great hereafter. Still, Ballaban writes, he was a bit sceptical.

"It sounded mostly like a mythic joke, the kind of thing that Ted Turner, the all-around 'eccentric billionaire' archetype, would mention offhand. Bison ranches, the America's Cup, four girlfriends at once, the last word on the last day on earth - why not?" he writes.

Just in case there is any confusion, the video clip is marked, in bright red letters, with an HFR - "hold for release" - warning: "HFR till end of the world confirmed."

"CNN, once ever so thorough in its fact-checking, knew that the last employee alive couldn't be trusted to make a call as consequential as one from the Book of Revelation," Ballaban writes. "The end of the world must be confirmed."

Who exactly the momentous occasion should be confirmed by, Ballaban speculates, is unclear.

"All we have is this bleak yet romantic farewell, showcasing both the best and the worst of humanity with all of its unsettled questions," he concludes. "Like nuclear weapons or the little safety card they give you on the plane, it's the fact that we don't know why or how exactly we'd need it that stands as the most unsettling thing about the doomsday video. This may just be the last thing that whoever is left sees, watching on whatever device remains, when humanity's last remnant winks out of existence."

Echo Chambers has found no evidence that the BBC has its own end-of-the-world video. We're taking suggestions, however, at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.

God Save the Queen, perhaps?

Venezuela

A nation on the brink - President Barack Obama's recent outreach to Cuba ignores the fact that Venezuela is teetering on the brink of collapse, writes the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl.

The president should be focusing on "the slow but potentially catastrophic collapse of Venezuela, a major US oil supplier with three times Cuba's population that, as 2015 begins, is well on its way to becoming a failed state," he writes.

He says that Venezuela "has been a virtual Cuban colony in recent years", but "the only discernible policy the Obama administration has toward this unfolding implosion is the one it just repudiated for Cuba: sanctions".

Instead, he says, the US should step in and mediate a "political truce" between the Venezuelan government and moderate opposition that will prevent an economic collapse.

Argentina

A Falklands War sequel? - According to Commentary's Michael Rubin, a combination of Argentine instability and British military weakness could lead to a new conflict over the Falkland Islands.

"The Argentine government has begun making noises again with regard to its claim that the Falkland Islands, which it calls the Islas Malvinas, should return to it by any means necessary," he writes.

He also questions whether the US would back its trans-Atlantic ally this time around. "Even if Obama were to give his firmest red line against Argentine military adventurism, it is doubtful anyone in Argentina or back in America would believe him," he says.

He concludes that while it might seem unlikely, the 1982 war was unexpected as well.

Russia

A new Cold War - The "trust created by hard work and mutual effort" that led to the end of the Cold War has collapsed, writes former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Instead of a new world order built on peace and stability, he continues, Western hubris has led to the renewal of age-old rivalries and heightened global tensions, turning a "blister" into a "festering wound".

Mr Gorbachev calls for renewed dialogue between Russia and the West, leading to the lifting of sanctions - particularly those directed against Russian political figures.

"Though I am, by nature, an optimist, I have to admit that it is very difficult not to be pessimistic as 2014 comes to a close," he writes. "Nonetheless, we must not submit to panic and despair, or allow ourselves to be drawn into a vortex of negative inertia."

Nigeria

A call for peace before February elections - As the general elections scheduled for 14 February approach, Yomi Obaditan writes for Vanguard that "men and women of timber and calibre" must step forward to serve their nation.

Before ballots are cast, he says, President Goodluck Jonathan "must rise above party politics" and put an end to the insurgencies in portions of the nation so that voters can get to the polls.

He also urges voters to focus on "issues rather than individuals".

"Tell the nation how our economy will be improved upon," he says. "Tell the youths how unemployment will be reduced drastically. To do otherwise, and be raining abusive language on the political opponents, will be an open invitation to political violence."

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Tuesday marks 100 days since Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took the oath of office. The local press takes note of the fact that his national unity government has not yet agreed on a cabinet.

"Has the government managed to win the people's support for its programmes in the first 100 days?... The national unity government has taken two key measures in the first 100 days. Initially, it has immediately signed the security agreements with America and Nato, which have been a serious tension in relations between Afghanistan and its international allies for several months. Second, it has attracted the international community's attention to Afghanistan after 2014 and developed a strategy to fight insecurity in the absence of the foreign troops." - Editorial in Mandegar.

"The government has failed so far even to form a part of its cabinet… If the deadlock in the cabinet formation is not broken till the end of the first 100 days, it will be the biggest failure of the national unity government." - Editorial in Hasht-e Sobh.

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.