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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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Frackfree?

At the beginning of November, the Conservative government announced a moratorium on fracking in the UK – ‘until compelling new evidence is provided’ proving that hydraulic fracturing of shale rock for oil and gas could be safe.

Anti-fracking activists, remembering the 2011 moratorium that was lifted in December 2012, said they would continue to campaign for an outright ban.

Steve Mason from Frack Free United said: ‘Our call has always been for an immediate halt to fracking and associated methods of unconventional oil and gas extraction in the UK, such as coal-bed methane and acidisation.’

The moratorium has not halted the planned Horse Hill oil wells that would use acidisation on shale: www.frackfreesurrey.com

Topics: Energy

Money, money, money

The Metropolitan police more than doubled their spending on policing the protests against the DSEI arms fair in East London, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The cost this September was £2.4m, whereas it was only £978,000 the last time in 2017.

The Met spent £21m dealing with XR in October, much more than the £16m it spent in April.

By 10 October, XR itself had raised just over £2.5m in 12 months, according to the Financial Times.

Earlier, XR budgeted £1m for their own spending on the October rebellion.

Irresponsibility

Some of the most influential professional engineering and science organisations (PESOs) in the UK have promoted fossil fuel and arms companies to schoolchildren – without discussing the ethical issues involved.

That was the finding of an investigation of 20 PESOs by Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) this October.

Separately, in November, SGR released a poll of climate-related attitudes among scientists, some working in fields connected to the climate crisis.

It found that there was a gap between scientists’ knowledge of what is required and the action they were taking in their own lives.

SGR also found that there were ‘signs that radical shifts in behaviour are now happening’ among the scientists.

XR prisoner

Mark Ovland (36) was arrested during the XR actions in London in April, and again in October. He was one of those arrested for standing on a Tube train at Canning Town.

He refused bail, so Mark is being held at least until 16 December when he appears at the Inner London crown court for a different trial. You can write to Mark (your email will be passed on): writetomark.xr@protonmail.com

Topics: Prison

BAE blockaded

There were two anti-arms trade blockades of an industrial park in Filton, Bristol, in October.

They were both protests against the supply of weapons to Turkey by BAE Systems and MBDA (who have offices in the industrial park), and against the Turkish assault on the Kurdish area of Syria known as Rojava, which began on 9 October.

On 10 October, four campaigners used lock-ons (with their arms fastened together in steel pipes) to close down the main entrance to the Filton site for four hours.

On 25 October, the Bristol Kurdish Solidarity Network, Anti-Fascist Action and others blocked all three entrances to the Filton site.

Cops vs black families

Undercover police officers infiltrated at least 26 campaigns around deaths in police custody and racist murders over several decades, according to research carried out last year.

Now, the Undercover Research Group and Netpol (the Network for Police Monitoring) have focused their attention on undercover police operations that targeted family justice campaigns and their support groups.

Family justice campaigns are invited to help update the research with more detail: www.tinyurl.com/peacenews3374, evel@undercoverresearch.net.

Hello EDO

At 6am on 25 November, three anti-arms trade campaigners locked themselves to the gates of the EDO MBM arms factory in Brighton. Banners were hung on the fence saying: ‘Stop the arms trade. Solidarity with Kurdistan’ and ‘No bombs, no borders’.

There were no arrests.

Earlier in the month, on 6 November, Brighton Against the Arms Trade held a demonstration outside the arms factory with about 100 activists banging drums and chanting ‘break the kill chain’.

They were protesting against the use of EDO MBM components in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Two museums

The Museum of Neoliberalism opened in Leegate Shopping Centre in Lewisham, South London, on 16 November. The shopping centre is due for demolition, but probably not for a year at least.

The museum aims to expose ‘an economic and social ideology that has remained invisible, even while the violence it has enacted in people’s lives has not’. Book your visit: museumofneoliberalism.com

Meanwhile, 16 November saw the opening of the Vagina Museum in Camden Market, North London.

Open 10am–6pm, Monday–Saturday, the museum is the world’s first bricks-and-mortar gynaecological anatomy museum:
www.vaginamuseum.co.uk

Peace in Yemen?

In November, there were hopeful signs in the war in Yemen, which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The withdrawal of the UAE from the war had led to clashes between groups within the anti-Houthi alliance, which threatened to become a civil war within the civil war.

On 5 November, Saudi Arabia, which has led the anti-Houthi coalition, brokered a peace deal between its Yemeni partners.

Saudi forces then dramatically reduced the number of airstrikes and missile and drone attacks.

On 22 November, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, told the security council: ‘In the last two weeks, there were almost 80 percent fewer airstrikes nation-wide than in the two weeks prior. In recent weeks, there have been entire 48-hour periods without airstrikes for the first time since the conflict began.’

Saudi officials are reported to have begun indirect talks with Houthi representatives via Oman.

The confirmed death toll for the war reached 100,000 in October.

Western Sahara

It is hard to believe that there was any down side to the departure of the superhawk John Bolton from the Trump administration, but it has had an unfortunate effect on the Western Sahara peace process.

Bolton had exerted pressure since he was appointed Trump’s national security advisor in April 2018 to move the Sahrawi peace process forward.

Bolton had said he was ‘frustrated’ over Western Sahara, which has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. The US acting ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Cohen, said: ‘There can be no more ‘business as usual’.

In April, the US forced the UN to renew the mandate of its ‘Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara’ (MINURSO) for only six months instead of the usual year. This was to create further pressure for real negotiations.

After several signals that the US was growing closer to Morocco, and Bolton’s departure in September, the UN renewed MINURSO’s mandate for 12 months on 31 October.

Sahrawi negotiator Fatma Medhi wrote in Passblue: ‘The Security Council has lost vital leverage over Morocco and sent a dangerous signal to the people of Western Sahara: that the diplomatic process and playing by the rules of the diplomatic game don’t matter.’

She went on: ‘Like so many Sahrawis, I have long believed that the best way to achieve the goal of a free and independent Western Sahara is through nonviolence and UN-led negotiations. But the collapse of the political process – and the strong sense of betrayal we Sahrawis feel by members of the Security Council – throws this assumption into question.’

UK Reaper kills

British drones are more likely to target individuals than infrastructure, according to Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK.

British Reaper drones launched two-thirds of the 110 UK strikes on Islamic State fighters in the open in the last two years. The UK’s other strike aircraft, the Tornado and the Typhoon, were generally used to launch attacks on buildings of various kinds.

Just over half of all UK Reaper attacks (51 percent) were targeted at individuals on the ground compared to only 10 percent of Tornado and Typhoon strikes.

Altogether, Reapers launched 29 percent of the UK’s strikes in the last two years.
www.dronewars.net

Topics: Drones

Stopped!

A major arms fair has been cancelled in New Zealand.

It was announced on 30 September that the annual Defence, Industry, and National Security Forum would not be held in 2019.

24 protesters were arrested for blockading the last two ‘defence forums’.

Auckland Peace Action said: ‘The nonviolent direct action tactics we have used have been effective at shutting this thing down for the past four years. Now the NZ Defence Industry Association has realised the futility of continuing to host this weapons show against the massive wave of public opposition and disgust at their business of war.’

Topics: Arms trade

No to autonomy

In September, it was revealed that the US air force (USAF) had awarded a contract to a US weapons company to develop an artificial intelligence and machine-learning surveillance system for a killer drone.

The Agile Condor system is supposed to independently (‘autonomously’) identify pre-defined targets of interest and then send information back to a human decision-maker before any action is taken.

Peter Burt of Drone Wars UK says the intended change to the Reaper killer drone represents ‘a significant step towards the development of an autonomous weapon system’ which will make life-and-death decisions by itself.
www.dronewars.net

Topics: Drones

Anti-militarist Pride?

On 23 October, the organisers of the Pride in London parade launched a wide-ranging consultation on the future of the LGBT+ event.

One issue in the online Pride survey was whether the parade should accept the participation of LGBT+ networks from ‘arms manufacturers’, ‘fossil fuel companies’ and ‘companies who profit from ecocide’.

Earlier, Pride had agreed to Extinction Rebellion’s demands that it become carbon-neutral in 2020.