News in brief

Economics and pacifism

If you would like to be part of an academic workshop on ‘The Economics of Pacifism and Nonviolence’, get your 150-word proposal (‘abstract’) and your name in by 30 September to the Journal of Pacifism and Nonviolence:

Possible topics include the economics of the military-industrial complex.

A free online workshop will be held in May 2024.

Europe and London

Before they head off to Bristol for the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Gathering (see p24), Dr Matthias-W Engelke (a Protestant pastor from Germany) and Etienne Godinot (a lawyer from France) are doing a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons embassies walk in London on 4 August.

They’ll be at the Russian embassy at 10am, before walking to the French and German embassies and then to Downing Street.

They’re also speaking at Tottenham Quaker Meeting House at 7pm that night, as well as protesting outside the ministry of defence in Whitehall on 5 August (10am – 1pm).

COVID and campaigning

COVID is continuing to have an impact. At the WRI gathering in June, we learned from local outreach co-ordinator Kirsten Bayes that in the last year, there’s rarely been a time when one member of staff or another hasn’t been off sick with COVID. Not because they’re catching it off each other, they’re mostly working from home.

Because CAAT folk have been out and about travelling and working with local activists, the organisation has effectively been down one member of staff for a year, and they are not the only peace organisation to be affected.

Occupier and occupier

In mid-July, Israel recognised Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara (illegally-occupied since 1975). In return, Morocco has invited Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

The two countries have become closer after Morocco signed up to the US-sponsored ‘Abraham Accords’ in December 2020, promising to normalise relations with Israel.

This was in return for US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco, a policy that has not been reversed by Trump’s successor, Joe Biden.

  • Morocco has also bought at least 150 surveillance and reconnaissance drones from Israel to guide Turkish killer drones to attack Sahrawi fighters.
  • Israeli arms company Elbit Systems announced in June it will be opening two arms factories in Morocco – possibly to manufacture ‘kamikaze drones’ (see PN 2666).

Brian in bronze

Brian Haw’s statue will be going up across the road from the Imperial War Museum in South London (PN 2665).

It was announced on 25 May that enough had been raised to install a 5½ foot statue of the Christian peace activist – a crowdfunder raised £20,000 from over 1,000 people, and then project supporters Mark Rylance, Brian Eno and Claire van Kampen each donated £5,000.

The organisers are still looking for £5,000 ‘as contingency to help the School of Historical Dress, on whose wall Brian will stand, to pay for maintenance, insurance and ongoing costs in the years ahead’.

Energy debt win

Plans to hit consumers with higher electricity and gas bills to help energy companies with current and future unpaid bills have been scrapped after a campaign by Debt Justice (formerly Jubilee Debt Campaign).

£2.3 billion of household energy debt has built up during the cost of living crisis, some of which is unlikely to ever be paid back.

When 2,000 Debt Justice supporters told an Ofgem consultation it should be the companies that have profited in this crisis who bear the burden, not ordinary people, the regulator backed off.

Debt Justice have a petition calling for consumer energy debts to be written off completely:

Divestment win

A London university is divesting from both fossil fuel and arms companies after a year-long ‘Invest for Change’ campaign led by Royal Holloway students’ union president Maia Jarvis.

Royal Holloway announced its new investment policy on 18 July, joining the nearly two-thirds of UK universities committed to divest from fossil fuels.

Students are now demanding the university ends career pipelines into the oil, gas and mining industries.

The student union was supported by the British branch of Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS):

First Nations win

Seven Sisters Dreaming, a sacred site for women of the Barngarla nation in South Australia, became a bit more secure on 18 July when a federal court overturned a government decision to build a nuclear waste facility on Barngarla land. The project is now in doubt.

The court ruled that government ministers had shown ‘apprehended bias’; they had made up their minds over 18 months before the decision was announced.

‘We’ve been here for over 60,000 years and wasting taxpayers’ dollars [legal costs of over £7m – ed] on taking First Nations people to court is very disrespectful,’ said Jason Bilney, chair of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation.

Paying the price

The London Catholic Worker has a Twitter account: @LndnCathWorker.

13 July, 7.27pm: ‘The London Catholic Worker now has an Instagram! We have plenty of reservations about Meta and about social media in general, but it’s important that we try to reach as many people as we can. Here’s the link:

16 July, 11.11am: ‘In an exciting and unexpected turn of events, our Instagram account was suspended almost as soon as we created it! We’re launching an appeal against this travesty of justice.’

16 July, 11.11am: ‘Beginning to think this Mark Zuckerburg isn’t such a great guy after all.’

(PN: 24 July, still no IG posts visible)

Pay nothing!

A ‘Future Camp’ (or ‘Climate Camp against Nukes’) was held in Düren in western Germany in early July to oppose US nuclear bombs held at the nearby Nörvenich airbase.

The camp, which involved a blockade of the base, was free to attend and had free food. It was organised by the German branches of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW):

Pay everyone!

If Britain had even a modest Basic Income scheme, it would prevent or postpone 125,000 cases of depressive disorders and 120,000 cases of clinically significant physical health symptoms a year. This would save the NHS and personal social services £125 million every year, quite apart from the effect it would have on poverty and inequality.

A modest scheme, which would not require any new taxes, would mean giving £75 a week to all adults under 65 and £205 a week to everyone over 65 (plus £50 a week to all children).

The new report from the National Institute for Health and Social Care Research also assessed two more generous Basic Income schemes:

The rich pay less....

One in 10 flights leaving UK airports are now private jet flights, which can be up to 30 times more polluting than standard flights – but someone on a standard flight could be paying more tax than someone on a private jet.

One in five private jet flights don’t need to pay ‘air passenger duty’ at all, and most of the rest only pay the standard rate.

Find out more in Jetting away with it: How private jets pollute the most and pay the least, a new report from Possible, the climate action group.

They say: ‘Let’s ban fossil-fuel-powered private jets by 2030 at the latest and introduce proper taxes which reflect the harm they inflict on our climate.’