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News in Brief
Reports have suggested that Tony Blair is considering the legalisation of poppy production in Afghanistan to undercut the Taliban, reduce the production of heroin - and produce painkilling opiates which are in short supply globally. (The US is committed to crop-spraying from the air, which creates poverty and bitterness against the West.) A pilot project is apparently to be tried in Helmand province.
Peace groups including Voices in the Wilderness UK, London Catholic Worker and Justice Not Vengeance are planning to greet the installation of a new Labour leader with mass nonviolent civil disobedience at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth this September.
They are inviting people to sign a pledge postcard to commit themselves to taking part in the protest if there is not a fundamental change in British foreign policy, including withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In public, the government scorned the Lancet estimate that 655,000 Iraqis had died directly and indirectly as a consequence of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
At the end of March, the BBC World Service used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that the Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, had described the study's design as “robust”, using “methods that are regarded as close to 'best practice' in this area”.
Another official commented privately, “The survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in Conflict zones.”
The “Lakenheath 8” are on trial at Bury St Edmunds court on 6, 10 and 11 July for SOCPA criminal trespass (and criminal damage), at USAF Lakenheath last October. Sylvia Boyes and Helen John are awaiting a trial date for their SOCPA criminal trespass at Menwith Hill a year ago. The judge wants proof from the prosecution that the US spy centre at Menwith Hill is an RAF base. The next hearing is on 8 June.
UKwatch.net has revamped its site, which brings together radical analysis of different aspects of British society, and relaunched their blogs, featuring Mike Marqusee, and PN editor Milan Rai. The US radical mega-site ZNet (http://www.zmag.org) is about to set a new benchmark for radical websites - including ZSpace! If you're online, don't miss it.
On 10 April, activists from Trident Ploughshares, Block the Builders and Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp blocked the boilerhouse gate at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, where Britain's nuclear weapons are developed and maintained, halting traffic for forty minutes. There were 11 arrests at three locations around the perimeter, and over sixty participants in total, travelling from Bristol, Plymouth, Yorkshire and Newcastle.
Friday 13 April was unlucky for the Trident submarine base at Faslane, as 40 protesters from the UK and Germany blocked entry to the Scottish naval base
for almost two hours after chaining themselves together, 4 affinity groups used reinforced concrete lock-on tubes (see above for example) to block three entrances to the base and 24 people were arrested. Since the beginning of Faslane 365 in October, 730 people have been arrested.
STOP PRESS: As PN goes to press, news of another Aldermaston blockade on 23 April: 8 arrests as Scottish activists using lock-ons to block traffic at three gates (one person is sitting on top of a gate!).