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The Peace News log

This is the longer version of an obituary of the prominent US radical pacifist.

David McReynolds, who died in New York at the age of 88 on 17 August, played a leading role in the US and international peace movement. He was one of the main organisers of the anti-Vietnam war mobilisation in the US, which not only contributed to the ending of that war but had a profound impact on US politics and society.

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Esme Needham reviews Tessa Boase's new book Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather

ImageTessa Boase
Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism – Women's Fight for Change

Aurum Press, 2018; 336pp; £20

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A poem to mark the recent visit to the UK of US president Donald Trump.

A food-centred gathering at Crabapple Community in Shropshire.

Radical Bakers 2018 wasn’t very radical, unless you count learning how to do things for yourself as radical… There were a range of practical skill based workshops.

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A Trident Ploughshares Press Release

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Trident Ploughshares activists chained to houses of parliament in central London 20 June 2018

At 1.30pm on 20 June, while Britain's Westminster parliament was sitting inside, 60 activists from across the UK chained themselves to the railings outside the houses of parliament in central London. They are calling for the UK to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and disarm the Trident nuclear weapon system.

This action echoes similar actions by women’s suffrage campaigners 100 years ago.

The activists from the campaign group Trident Ploughshares chained themselves along 13 sections of wrought iron fence stretching from Big Ben to Parliament Square and hung banners that proclaim 'Denuclearize the World – Sign the Treaty' and 'Trident Terrorises'.

Nearly 50 years ago, the UK and other nuclear weapons states promised to negotiate to disarm their nuclear weapons. Their failure to keep that promise and their continued preparations to use these horrific weapons has led countries like North Korea to seek to acquire them. <--break- />

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At a London training day, women prepare themselves to lobby for nuclear disarmament.

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Paula Shaw, Dr Rebecca Johnson and Sheila Triggs (left-right) at a WILPF UK training day on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in London, 7 April 2018.

'We need to recognise that we can change the debate in this country and this treaty gives us the means to do so' said Rebecca Johnson on 7 April, at a WILPF UK training day on realising the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Dr Johnson is a member of the British branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF UK) and founding co-chair of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

WILPF UK had invited members and non-members to an interactive training day on lobbying for the TPNW in the UK. The purpose of the day was to provide an opportunity to develop negotiation and lobbying skills. Participants received background information about the treaty and the UK context, as well as practical advice on campaigning. We were fortunate to have speakers who had been present in New York during the final negotiations leading up to the UN adoption of the treaty. Janet Fenton (of WILPF UK and Scottish CND) gave an account of the successful WILPF campaigning efforts in New York.

Taniel Yusef (WILPF UK) highlighted the core humanitarian values and aims of the treaty, followed by Dr Rebecca Johnson who provided insight into key issues in the UK context. 'This is a real treaty in the real world. When the UN bans something, it stays banned', she reminded us as an encouragement to use the very existence of the treaty as an argument in meetings with MPs.

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The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has been given permission to keep putting the British government's arms trade policies on trial – over the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

On 4 May, the British court of appeal granted permission for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) to appeal the legality of British arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

CAAT took its legal case to the court of appeal on 12 April for a one day hearing in an attempt to overturn a high court judgment which allows the UK government to continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.

On 4 May, two court of appeal judges, lord justice Irwin and lord justice Flaux, granted permission to appeal, and the case will be heard by the court of appeal in the months ahead.

For more than three years the government has refused to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia – despite overwhelming evidence that UK weapons are being used in violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

'Given the evidence we have heard and the volume of UK-manufactured arms exported to Saudi Arabia, it seems inevitable that any violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the coalition have involved arms supplied from the UK. This constitutes a breach of our own export licensing criteria.' – Parliament's International Development and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees, October 2016

Ignoring massive public pressure to stop the arms sales, the government has instead done everything it can to maintain its relationship with Saudi Arabia, the UK's biggest arms customer.

We can’t and won’t let this stand.

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A Metropolitan Police disciplinary board has found against one of its own, a former undercover police officer with the notorious Special Demonstration Squad who deceived three women activists into relationships.

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British undercover police officer Jim Boyling

Today, 3 May 2018, former undercover police officer Jim Boyling has been found guilty of gross misconduct for pursuing an unauthorised sexual relationship with 'Rosa' (a pseudonym) using his false identity, failing to inform his line management of the extent of his relationship, and disclosing confidential information to his target.

A disciplinary panel convened by the Metropolitan Police heard evidence from his former partner 'Rosa' / DIL, who was deceived into a relationship with Boyling in 1999 when he infiltrated 'Reclaim the Streets' and 'Earth First!' using the cover identity 'Jim Sutton'. Boyling also had prior relationships with two other women in 'Reclaim the Streets': 'Monica*' and 'Ruth'.

Less than two weeks before the disciplinary hearing, which was scheduled to last three weeks, Boyling opted not to attend the hearing or send a representative to challenge the evidence but made no formal admission to the allegations. His defence consisted only of written responses he gave in prepared statements. The panel nonetheless considered those responses along with other evidence, including video interviews with Rosa /DIL. Despite his failure to attend the hearing to challenge the evidence, Boyling made statements to the press in which he attempted to portray himself as the victim of unjustified police persecution who was too poor to attend the hearing. His statement asserted 'If you're going to pick on anybody, the family with the terminally ill children will probably be the weakest.'

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What is a sustainable diet? Is a vegan diet necessarily sustainable? And what's blocking moves to a more sustainable food system? Ian Sinclair investigates.

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Last year public health nutritionist Dr Pamela Mason and Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at the Centre for Food Policy, City University of London, published their book Sustainable Diets: How Ecological Nutrition Can Transform Consumption and the Food System with Routledge.

After reviewing the book for Peace News, Ian Sinclair asked the two researchers what they mean by sustainable diets, what role veganism can play, and what concerned people can do to quicken the transformation to a sustainable food system.

Ian Sinclair: What is your definition of a sustainable diet?

Pamela Mason and Tim Lang: A sustainable diet has often focused on a diet that is protective for the planet, particularly for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs). Given that food systems account for 25-30% of GHGEs, this is an essential consideration for sustainable diets, but we believe that a sustainable diet should be defined more broadly to include public health, cultural acceptability, accessibility, safe and affordable food, and the health and welfare of all who work in the food system. We are in agreement with the definition of the FAO and Bioversity (2010) which defined sustainable diets more broadly than nutrition + environment (or calories + carbon), as “Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources”.

IS: You note that standard Western diets are far from sustainable – causing obesity and non-communicable diseases, with the rich world “eating as though there are multiple planets”. How do our diets in the West need to change for them to become sustainable?

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Celebrating CND's 60th anniversary with profiles of some of its offices around England, Scotland and Wales.

CND Cymru

CND Cymru is the center of the Welsh anti-nuclear movement. Before it was established in 1981, the Welsh branch of the CND was made up of a collection of smaller groups spread out across the region. This network of local associations shared a commitment to decreasing the significant role of nuclear power and nuclear proliferation in Wales through mass protest of local nuclear power plants and loud opposition to military campaigns. In the last few decades, CND Cymru has grown to have over 1,000 members across Wales and connections internationally even though the branch itself is only run by a group of 10 core volunteers. 

An interview with Brian Jones, CND Cymru vice chair:

What are some of the issues that CND Cymru has been working on recently?
Jones: 'I guess that the main issues that we've been campaigning on will not be a surprise to you; nuclear weapons, supporting ICAN [International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons] and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and opposing the UK's plans to renew Trident. Unlike some of the other branches, we do not really have a particular focus. For me at least, the nuclear issue is the end all, be all.'

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