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Peace News log archive: March 2011

Articles from the Peace News log.
For archive articles from the whole site, look here

Jill Gibbon at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference


The Lib Dem Spring conference was the focus of anti-cuts protests in Sheffield this weekend. Hidden behind two million pounds of security fencing and applauded by the party faithful, Nick Clegg seemed oblivious. He was just elated to ‘have the reins of power’.

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How to deal with police "kettling" tactics

I’m currently in training for the London Marathon (more details here), a slightly mad endeavour which means putting myself through increasing long runs in and around Oxford. I tend to find I do a lot of musing as I run, and it crossed my mind the other week that my experience actually might be be of use in the event of getting caught in a kettle. Since there’s a rather big protest coming up this weekend with kettling chances high, I thought it might help to share.

1. Toilet facilities. One of the things that is pretty grim about kettling is the lack of toilet facilities. Apparently the police are preparing humane kettles with portaloos and everything, but just in case you get caught in an inhumane kettle, this might help. I’ve managed to run for nearly 4.5 hours without a loo break, which is quite an achievement for me. The trick has been to control my fluid intake. So, I stop drinking at least an hour before my run. I then go to the toilet as many times as I can before I start. I carry water and a sports drink with me, and I drink them sparingly, sips at a time, just to keep my mouth from getting too dry. So on Saturday, I’ll use the same principle & make sure I use the loo at every available opportunity – just in case I reach a place when I can’t.

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An anonymous article sent to PN explains how you can fill in your Census form without benefiting arms company Lockheed Martin or creating funding problems for local authorities.

US Arms Manufacturer Lockheed Martin has the contracy for the 2011 UK Census in March this year.

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An anonymous article sent to PN explains how you can fill in your census form without benefiting arms company Lockheed Martin or creating funding problems for local authorities.

(Updated as at 18-03-2011)

US arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin has the contract for the 2011 UK census in March this year.

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Jill Gibbon in Parliament

Drawing (along with shouting, swearing, throwing things and throwing up) is not allowed in the houses of parliament. All the more reason to do it. Here is David Cameron defending the SAS mission to Libya in PMQs last week.


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Gill Knight reflects on Palestinian steadfastness

Nabi Saleh is still on my mind and so is the new word I have learnt – “sumoud”. Picture this, during the afternoon of the demo, when things were quiet a group of us gathered under the water tower in the main square and sat on some pipes in a u-shape to chew the fat. Ben, an Israeli activist, appeared with a coffee pot and glass cups from a nearby house and we had a welcome coffee break.

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Joanna Bazley examines the Cameron-Sarkozy treaty

The ‘Teutates’ agreement was signed by David Cameron and President Sarkozy in November and presented as an exercise in military economy. We were told that we and the French have similar needs in the ‘stewardship’ of our nuclear arsenals, and that sharing research facilities will save expensive duplication. What was not stressed was that this treaty commits both nations to undertake a 50-year programme of cooperation on nuclear weapons technology at a new hydrodynamics research facility known as EPURE at Valduc in France, where conditions for underground nuclear testing can be simulated and the terms of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty neatly bypassed.

Teutates or Toutatis was a Celtic god of war, and someone at the FCO or MoD with a classical education (or perhaps a good acquaintance with Asterix the Gaul?) has displayed a cynical sense of humour in the choice of name. It is really asking too much to expect us to believe in the stewardship story.

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Should ex-soldiers be enlisted as teachers?

I have just read that Lordswood School in Birmingham employs ex-soldiers as teachers and runs a cadet-force to which a fifth of the pupils belong. They wear uniforms and they are taught to shoot.

Michael Gove believes this is the right way to tackle disorder in the classroom. He says, ‘The presence of role models who have the sort of experience in taking young people and forging them into a cohesive team and instilling discipline; I think that will be immensely valuable.’ (Quoted in the Guardian TV review, 1.02.11.)

This is so wrong-headed that it is hard to believe than anyone can mean it seriously. In many classrooms there is a degree of disorder that hinders  learning, but instead of recognising that this is clear evidence of the failure of the system, Gove and his allies blame it on the students, and seek to reinforce the status quo with punishment and discipline. There are parallels with Gaddafi’s efforts to blame the Libyan people for the current situation. Head teachers, like dictators, feel that they must exercise control, and that in consequence students, like Libyan citizens, must be controlled by any means available.

The problem of disorderly classes is not new. There have always been some disorderly classes even in the best of schools. This is not because their pupils are ignorant louts, it is because they resent the constant control, and when they find a teacher who is not strong enough  to cannot exert that control, they rejoice and rebel. Under the current system, pupils and teachers are enemies. This was the case when I was at school too, fifty years ago, at a time which Gove seems to see as a golden age. Some of my classes were chaotic, and I was at Eton.

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