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Peace News log archive: September 2013

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

Report from the Maldives on the current elections and social crisis in the country.

At what point is it that an infant democracy can really say it is growing up?

For the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives, which held its first multi-party democracy in 2008, uncertainty remains over whether the country is on the cusp of realising some form of political maturity, or is rather facing protracted political instability, potentially violent clashes and continued name calling between its elected officials.

While established democracies like to boast of political divides based on clear ideologies - usually evolved from decades and even hundreds of years of struggle - Maldives politics remains very much personality based as of five years into its democratic transition.

Of these personalities, arguably the most divisive, yet influential, politician at present in the country is former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed, who resigned from office on the back of a mutiny by sections of the police and military on February 7, 2012, is hailed locally by his supporters as the country's only means of reforming the tested methods of cronyism and autocratic rule, while at the same time derided by opponents as an “anti-islamic”, dictatorial leader who flouted the country's 2008 constitution,

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Report about a recent anti-GM researchers and campaigners event.

Being cautious and trying to apply the saying “you are what you eat” today can perhaps be trickier than simply checking the nutritional information about the levels of sugar, fat and vitamins that the food you are buying contains. Indeed, last year about 170 million hectares of genetically modified (GM) crops were cultivated in 28 countries and although none of them are being grown commercially in the UK, imported GM commodities, especially soya, are being used here, mainly for animal feed.

In June the controversy about the subject was once again reopened after the Environment Secretary told the BBC that “GM has significant benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment.” Opponents of GM, including some scientists and activists, say the opposite.

Anti-GM researchers and food campaigners gathered to discuss the implications GM has for our food system at a public meeting in the Senate House of the London University on September 4th. At the centre of the debate was the often cited, by both sides of this issue, 2012 study co-authored by the Professor of Molecular Biology from the University of Caen, Gilles-Eric Séralini, which links GM and the Monsanto pesticide Roundup to organ damage and increased risk of tumours in rats. Due to medical conditions Mr Séralini was not able to attend the event in person and was instead represented by Dr Michael Antoniou from King’s College London School of Medicine who is co-author of the study “GMO Myths and Truths”.

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Jessica Corbett reports from a recent meeting of anti-arms trade campaigners at City Circle.

ImageOn 10 September, DSEi invades London. DSEi, or Defence & Security Equipment International, is the world’s largest international arms trade fair, and is held every two years at the London ExCeL Centre.

One of the most touted arguments in favour of arms production is employment. Companies and politicians constantly make the claim that a reduction in arms development means a loss of jobs.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case, and some alternatives to arms trade may actually be better for workers and the economy.

In many nations with arms trade industries, governments subsidise arms trade-related jobs with taxpayer money. As of May 2011, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated the UK arms export subsidies at around £700 million per year.

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Second half of Jessica Corbett's report on City Circle's recent anti-arms trade meeting.

ImageThe City Circle held its weekly public meeting at the Abrar House Friday evening, featuring two experts on the international campaign against arms trading.

In less than two weeks, London will play host to the world’s largest international arms trade fair. The city will welcome 30,000 arms dealers and 1,400 exhibitors or companies to the ExCeL Centre for Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi), which is held here every two years.

But for many Londoners, and campaigners from all over the world, DSEi is not a welcome event.

Leading up the three-day fair, which kicks off 10 September, activists have organized vigils and demonstrations to highlight major concerns about arms trade.

The meeting on 30 August was simply called ‘The Fair is Here.’

Speakers Kirsten Bayes and Barnaby Pace addressed about 40 members of the surrounding communities and answered questions from the audience.

Kirsten Bayes is a long-time campaigner for various peace and social justice movements. She started campaigning against DSEi in 2003, and in 2011 she joined the Stop the Arms Fair coalition team.

Stop the Arms Fair is a coalition of groups, such as Occupy London and Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).

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