News in brief

Joe Glenton

In mid-April, it was reported that the anti-war British soldier Joe Glenton was being subjected to “cruel and degrading treatment” in military prison. Glenton was jailed on 5 March for nine months for refusing to return to fight in Afghanistan.
The Colchester prison authorities are allegedly requiring Glenton to sleep under an unwashed or dirty blanket and to wear boots despite having a broken toe.

Gordon and Gandhi

2007 (just before becoming prime minister): “I could never compare myself to Gandhi or those other heroes of mine but I do take inspiration from the way that they dealt with the challenges they faced when I think about how I will deal with the challenges the country and the world faces, including the security challenge.” (Guardian, 19 January 2007)
2009: “I want to write something at some point about the contribution of Gandhi to our civilisation. I think he was one of the great leaders of the 20th century…. he won support because people could see his moral integrity.” (Garavi Gujarat, 2 August 2009)
2010: “I can’t be in politics and be a pacifist.” (The Times magazine, 10 April 2010)

Rats out, ship down?

On 12 April, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute declared that BAE sold £21bn of arms in 2008, though arms sales from BAE’s British factories actually fell, making it the largest weapons manufacturer in the world. On 13 April, four BAE senior executives cashed in share options ahead of military spending cuts expected after the election. Ian King, chief executive, Nigel Whitehead, group managing director, Andrew Davies, group strategy director, and Alastair Imrie, personnel director, took advantage of BAE’s recent share price strength and sold options worth a total of £460,000.

Lindis wins

Peace activist Lindis Percy (coordinator of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases) has forced US airman Frank Macdonald to settle out of court.
The case dates back to February 2006, when Lindis was assaulted by Macdonald at the US base at Croughton, Northamptonshire – observed by MoD police.
Lindis very reluctantly accepted the offer to settle out of court at the end of March, because of the cost of legal representation and proceedings.

Growing Heathrow

In March, the Heathrow Transition Towns group started its “Grow Heathrow” project, squatting a derelict market garden in Sipson, the town threatened by demolition to make way for the projected third runway at Heathrow.
“Grow Heathrow” has had instant, widespread and enthusiastic community support. To arrange a “Grow Heathrow” work day: 07890 751 568; www.transitionheathrow.com
Meanwhile, on 27 March, the high court dealt a hefty blow to the third runway project by ordering the government to update its case for the runway, given new evidence on climate impacts.
Local MP John McDonnell (Lab) said in mid-April: “We won in the High Court recently so most people think that this issue is dead – ‘we’ve killed it off’. But… what we don’t want is any party telling us one thing before the election and then getting elected….”

Silencing Oxford

An extra event: The Fellowship of Reconciliation (England) are holding an eight-week series of “Silence in the city” lunchtime events in its office in Oxford from 29 April -17 June.
There will be a range of facilitators from religious, spiritual, or therapeutic perspectives from 1.15pm at Peace House, 19 Paradise St, behind Oxford Castle. Contact: 01865 250 781; silence@for.org.uk

Growing Stanstead?

The Labour government says it is still committed to the third Heathrow runway, but on 12 April gave up on the idea of a second Stansted runway!

Avatar Brazil?

While the director of the Hollywood film Avatar, James Cameron, did not respond to an appeal from Indian tribal peoples in Orissa (see PN 2520), he has lent his support to tribal people in Brazil. Saying: “We’ve got a bit of a spotlight on us right now to raise awareness in certain key areas… and I think that is important,” Cameron visited the Xingu region of Brazil with Avatar actors Sigourney Weaver and Joel David Moore, to protest against the multibillion-dollar Belo Monte hydroelectric dam project.
In Avatar, the Na’vi people successfully resist attempts to loot the resources of their planet Pandora. Cameron said that in Xingu, “a real-life Avatar confrontation is in progress.”

Not racist

On 8 April, Edinburgh sheriffs’ court ruled that five activists were not guilty of being racially abusive for having disrupted a concert by the Jerusalem string quartet at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2008.
The five were protesting against Israel’s bombing of Gaza and the quartet’s links to the Israeli army.
The court found that the five were criticising the behaviour of a state and its army, not attacking Jews or any ethnic group, and that there was a clear right to attack a state’s behaviour under the European convention on human rights.

Palestinian demos

Palestinians held nonviolent marches in three villages near the Israeli separation wall on Land Day. 30 March marks the day in 1976 when six Arab Israeli citizens were shot during a general strike and demonstrations protesting against Israeli government plans to expropriate thousands of dunums of Arab land.
The marches to the separation wall in Bil’in, Nil’in and Ma’sara were met as usual by tear gas, shock grenades and rubber-coated bullets from troops and police.