It was an Earth Day to remember. On a beautiful sunny spring day, our local citizen coalition Reject Raytheon (in Asheville, North Carolina, USA) pulled off a three-part demonstration for the protection of the earth and earthlings and against the US military-industrial complex. We rallied, we paraded, and we performed a direct action.
The news that US billionaire Elon Musk is buying Twitter has sparked a wide range of concerns. One worry has been the emphasis Musk has placed on boosting free speech on the platform. Below are reactions from three different campaigning groups, giving their different perspectives on the issues.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
As we continue to look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’re joined by professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco. He recently published an article in The Progressive headlined ‘The US Hypocrisy on Ukraine.’ Zunes condemns the Russian invasion but criticises what he sees as President Biden’s hypocrisy.
Palestine Action (PA) has organised at least five more actions in the last two months. PA activists have had charges against them dropped – and they’ve also had house raids.
The first action in the latest run came on 24 January, when PA raided the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire. UAV is a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms company that produces 85 percent of Israel’s military drones, used in attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.
PA activists occupied the roof, sprayed the premises with red paint, broke windows, and dismantled equipment.
On 7 March, a new direct action group, ‘Block Lockheed’, did what it said on the tin and blockaded the Lockheed Martin UK factory at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, England.
Lockheed Martin says it is ‘a global security and aerospace company’ which is ‘the leading provider for offensive and defensive weapons systems’.
Among other things, it builds the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile for the US and UK nuclear arsenals.
Block Lockheed shut down the access road to the factory by locking-on across it at 5.30am.
Climate activists have recorded two major successes in their campaign to stop oil company sponsorship of cultural institutions.
Scottish Ballet ended its partnership with BP (formerly ‘British Petroleum’) on 31 January. The ballet company said its partnership deal no longer ‘aligns with the company’s green action plan – to be carbon neutral by 2030’.
Three weeks later, on 22 February, the National Portrait Gallery in London announced that it had also ended its BP sponsorship deal – after more than 30 years.
It’s actually been around for a while now, but we should formally announce in these pages that Peace News has a new website!
After tons and tons of hard work theme-ing, template-ing, module-ing, database-ing and so on, we have a more secure, more up-to-date and more attractive website.
Thank you, Emma Sangster, our tireless web worker!
Thank you, Pastel!
Pastel (who built the site under Emma’s guidance) are a web design and development team with over 20 years of experience. They pride themselves on making every pixel count.
Over 330,000 young people took part in the 25 March global school strike for the climate, according to Fridays for Future (FFF), the youth-led global climate action group founded by Greta Thunberg. The main slogan was ‘people not profit’; FFF also called for climate reparations. 1,152 events were organised in 639 cities in 92 countries, higher numbers all round than the strike last November. More info: fridaysforfuture.org
After five Insulate Britain (IB) activists were jailed in February, police forces in three counties brought criminal charges against IB road blockaders in March.
Kent police charged 74 people, all but one for causing a public nuisance, many also for obstruction of the highway. Two were charged with criminal damage to a police car.
The Met in London laid 63 ‘public nuisance’ charges against 56 activists.
Surrey police brought 131 charges. They charged 54 people with obstruction of the highway; and 11 of them also for criminal damage or possession of a bladed knife.
Since the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan police officer in March last year, the Met has been embroiled in a series of further scandals.
On 11 March, the high court ruled that the Met had breached the rights of four women organising a vigil in London for Sarah Everard last March. The police told the Reclaim These Streets organisers that they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if they went ahead with the vigil.
On 14 March, a young protester was cleared of riot but imprisoned for nine months for her part in ‘Kill the Bill’ protests outside a police station in Bristol on 21 March last year. Jasmine York (26) was convicted of arson because she had been filmed pushing a bin against a burning police car. She denied in court that she had been intending to add more fuel to the fire.
On 22 March, the house of commons voted down seven of the house of lord’s amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill on its return to the commons.
In other words, MPs have reconfirmed that it will be a criminal offence to arrive in the UK without official entry clearance.
Under the bill, you can be imprisoned for up to four years if you enter the UK unofficially – for example, in a small boat across the Channel.
This will also apply to Ukrainians entering the UK through unofficial routes, the government has admitted.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Insulate Britain co-founder Roger Hallam has been touring the UK recently, recruiting for his latest nonviolent direct action project: Just Stop Oil. Among other things, he’s been telling audiences that we’re looking at experiencing a 7 ºC temperature rise by 2042 (possibly sooner) – and that solving the climate crisis ‘is not complicated’.
These claims deserve examination. Hallam expressed them, for example, in a talk in Hastings on 10 January. (I’m relying on a Hastings XR transcript of the meeting .)
When Britain invaded Egypt in 1956 (in alliance with Israel and France), the US threatened to block attempts by Britain to borrow $561 million from the IMF and to get a $600m credit extension from the US Export-Import Bank. The US also threatened to sell its sterling bonds (tradeable IOUs issued in British pounds), which would have had a catastrophic effect.
These ‘financial warfare strikes’, and other pressures, forced Britain, within weeks, into a humiliating withdrawal.
If only it was as easy to reverse the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Noam Chomsky once wrote that some things were almost painful to have to say, they were so obvious. One example is that we have more responsibility for things that we can affect than for things that we have little or no influence over.
In Britain, we can help relieve the suffering of Ukrainians, but we have little influence over the Russian state which is raining destruction on Ukraine.
Whatever influence we have, we should try to use. Bruce Kent gave us a fine example of that with the letter of protest that he publicly handed in to the Russian embassy on 28 February.