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"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

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Hard times

Deaths linked to benefit claims may have doubled in the last two years, according to information obtained by Disability News Service through freedom of information requests.

The department for work and pensions (DWP) carries out secret inquiries, which they call internal process reviews (IPRs), into deaths and other serious and complex cases linked to DWP activity. There were nine IPRs involving the death of a claimant between October 2014 and January 2016. There was a jump to 33 death-related IPRs between April 2016 to June 2018.

This is an increase from 0.6 to 1.27 death-related IPRs a month.

Topics: Disability

Tale of two summits

At the end of July, Disabled People Against Cuts held an ‘International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit’, Disability News Service reports. This was a counter-conference to the first ‘Global Disability Summit’, also in East London, co-hosted by the British and Kenyan governments.

DPAC also held a disabled people’s ‘festival of resistance’ outside the official event, to expose the impact of the British government’s austerity policies on disabled people in Britain.

In 2017, the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities described the effect of the cuts as ‘a human catastrophe’. Disability News Service:
www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Topics: Disability

Great expectations

Devonport and Rosyth dockyards cannot host Britain’s Trident submarines, which carry nuclear missiles, because they are full up with 20 obsolete nuclear submarines which have not been decommissioned. Nine of these subs still hold nuclear fuel. The public accounts committee criticised the ministry of defence for its lack of action in late September.

The infrastructure supporting Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet is no longer ‘fit for purpose’, according to the parliamentary select committee.

A lack of maintenance at 13 military nuclear sites around Britain, including Devonport dockyard, has created a ‘ticking time bomb’, the committee was told by officials.

Topics: Nuclear Weapons

Our mutual friends

Social media has changed the way campaigning works, according to the London Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) so it is creating ‘peace networks’ across the capital to reflect those changes.

The new networks aim to work flexibly, co-ordinating support for campaigns, events and protests across different organisations and individuals.

The West London peace network was launched on 22 September, following the annual West London Peace Market. The East London peace network will be launched later this year. More info: www.londoncnd.org

Topics: Activism

Parade

In mid-September, Voices for Creative Nonviolence US held an eight-day ‘Disarm Trident’ peace walk along the east coast of the USA. The walk was in solidarity with the Kings Bay Ploughshares 7, Catholic peace activists who entered the Trident submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, in April to carry out disarmament. (PN 2618–2619) Three are out on bail, four are still inside.

Write to the prisoners! If you can... the prison only accepts ‘pre-stamped’ postcards; we’re not sure you can get those in the UK.

If you want to try, please write in blue/black ink only on plain white postcards: Clare Grady #015632; Elizabeth McAlister #015633; Stephen Kelly #015634; Mark Colville #015635.

All at: Glynn County Detention Center, 100 Sulphur Springs Road, Brunswick, GA 31520, USA.
More info: www.kingsbayplowshares7.org

Topics: Nuclear Weapons

Precipice

As PN went to press, police were suspending the clearing of treehouses in Hambach Forest in western Germany, and memorial vigils were being held throughout the country.

On 19 September, a freelance journalist covering the resistance to opencast coal mining fell over 60 feet to his death from a rope bridge linking two treehouses. Steffen Meyn, 27, was working on a documentary about the occupation of Hambach Forest.

The forest is being cleared to make way for the expansion of a massive lignite coal mine.

More info: www.hambachforest.org

Topics: Climate Change

Persuasion

The British army is targeting young working-class people for recruitment, an internal marketing document has revealed.

According to the briefing paper, the ‘This is Belonging’ advertising campaign is focused on ‘16-24 C2DE’, meaning 16- to 24-year-olds who are: skilled manual workers (C2); semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers (D); and casual workers and benefit claimants (E).

The document, obtained by Child Soldiers International through a freedom of information request, also shows a focus on the ‘M55’ social group: ‘Lower-income owners whose adult children are still striving to gain independence, meaning space is limited’.

More info: www.child-soldiers.org

Topics: Militarism

Nonsense sensibility

There was a counter-exhibition in mid-September, ‘From Nope to Hope: Art vs Arms, Oil and Injustice’, held by artists who had withdrawn their work from an exhibition about protest art at the Design Museum, also in London.

The artists withdrew their work after the museum held a private event for an Italian arms company.

www.nopetoarms.org

Topics: Arms trade

Free Hassan

On 15 September, Bahraini exile Ali Mushaima ended his 46-day liquid-only hunger strike in front of the Bahraini embassy. He had been fasting in solidarity with his 70-year-old father, imprisoned Bahraini opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, an Amnesty prisoner of conscience. During his fast, Ali lost two-and-a-half stone (16kg), and was hospitalised briefly.

Ali’s father, Hassan Mushaima, has serious medical conditions including diabetes. After he refused to wear a prison uniform or shackles, the Bahraini authorities withdrew healthcare. After Ali’s hunger strike, his father received some medication and treatment.

As we went to press, Ali continued his sit-in in front of the Bahraini embassy, 30 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QB. He continues to demand that his father be allowed access to medical care, family visits, and books.

More info about repression in Bahrain: www.birdbh.org

Free Western Sahara

Geoex Ltd, a geological services company based in Kent, has been helping Moroccan state oil company OHNYM survey for gas and oil off the coast of Western Sahara. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, making such exploration illegal as it takes place without the consent of the Saharawi people.

Western Sahara Resource Watch wrote to Geoex in July urging it to stop acquiring or selling Saharawi seafloor data .

(Seismic study group TGS-Nopec ended offshore exploration in Western Sahara after a divestment campaign by the Norwegian Western Sahara Committee led to a fall in its share price.)

Write to: Geoex Ltd, Global House, 1 Ashley Avenue, Epsom KT18 5AD.

Meanwhile, the campaign to halt illegal phosphate exports from Western Sahara has made progress. In August, US company Nutrien announced it will halt its phosphate imports from the territory at the end of 2018.

In January, there will only be three companies (down from 15) importing this conflict rock: Paradip (India) and Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown (both in New Zealand).

More info:
www.wsahara.org.uk
www.wsrw.org

Topics: Western Sahara

Free Scotland

Despite the opposition to nuclear weapons of the Scottish public and the Scottish government, local government pension funds, universities and financial institutions in Scotland are investing billions in nuclear weapons-producing firms.

Learn how to put pressure on them to divest: Working to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons Through Divestment: A Guide for Scotland, published in late September.
www.nukedivestmentscotland.org