As this day fell on a Sunday this year, members of Kingston Peace Council/CND decided to mark the occasion on the Saturday, our normal 'stall day' . Maggie prepared blank white doves, Hilary brought a tree branch which was set up alongside the pram and passers-by, especially children, were asked to write messages for peace on the doves and hang them on the tree. Luckily it was a fine sunny day, and this caught people's imagination, and we had plenty of participants. Some of the messages that were written are listed below. Many children were also given activity packs to take away, which had been prepared by Fiona, and coloured pens were provided.
Also lots of messages very similar to those listed 80 in total. Many of the doves were beautifully decorated.
On the actual Peace Day some members of Kingston Peace Council/CND went on the Mystery Peace Walk in London, organised by Valerie Flessati and the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW). This visits statues and other places in London important in the history of international peacemaking. Many groups of children were taking part, they received a passport and puzzlebook, and had to solve clues and decode messages to get their passports stamped at the various Peace sites. Another beautiful day, and a good time was had by all.
There is a very informative leaflet produced by MAW, "A Peace Trail through London", available from 11 Venetia Road, London N4 1EJ, 40p + postage. More details from MAW, firstname.lastname@example.org
This demonstration took place on October 11th, and several members of KPC/CND were there. We assembled outside Shell House Waterloo, in front of a giant papier-mache figure of Dick Cheney. We went across Hungerford Bridge and on to BP offices in St. James Square, and then to the USA embassy. A lively samba band led the march (behind Cheney), and a very large number of leaflets were given out to the crowds. The leaflets made clear that time is running out, as the Bush administration is pushing hard to pass an Oil Law before the new President takes over. This law will give multinationals such as BP, Shell and Exxon contracts over Iraqi oil for 30 years, allowing a very small amount of the profits to remain in Iraqi hands. Iraq will be further impoverished and it will be very unlikely that occupation forces will leave.
Read more about this campaign at www.handsoffiraqioil.org.
Concerned about global warming and the natural environment, American voters challenged Sarah Palin, the renowned creationist, about her determination to support Alaskan oil drilling "no matter what". Her retort about the threat to polar bears was that they can adapt to life without snow. A NEW STATESMAN reader wrote that his 12 year old daughter said that shows she is a Darwinist after all!
Thanks for this, Noel!
We ignored the threats from the unsustainable and dangerous banking system until the first banks started to collapse. Then we took emergency action. We are behaving in the same way with the unsustainable and immeasurably more dangerous nuclear weapons system. If we wait till the first nuclear weapons are launched no emergency action will help the millions of dead and dying.
Jim McCluskey sent this letter to The Guardian. I hope it was published?
I doubt if any of our readers held out much hope of the promise made in November 2007 by President Bush and Condoleeza Rice that they would achieve a solution to the Palestine/Israel situation by the end of 2008 coming true. But perhaps some of us are hoping for better things if Barack Obama is elected president. This article is not cheering. Ramzy points out that Obama has made a direct pledge to not interfere with the "historic responsibility" that every US administration has towards Israel. His devastating statement that "Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel" is actually contrary to international law and to previously stated US foreign policy. Joe Biden is a long-standing friend of Israel, and has recently said on a television interview "I am a Zionist" - so not much hope there.
John McCain and Sarah Palin will no doubt be marginally worse, one being a hawkish militant and the other a religious extremist, thus guaranteeing unqualified support for what was Palestine being promised by God to Israel for ever (or rather until the 2nd coming!) This combination is also unlikely to take any notice of rulings by the UN. Any failure to try and carry out the promises previously made by Bush and Rice will be conveniently blamed on the activities of Hamas.
Then there is the new Israeli leader of the Kadima party, Livni Tzipi. She may well become the next President of Israel. Ramzy Baroud states that she is 'an intelligent, shrewd and calculating right-wing politician with reasonable foreign policy experience' who 'would exploit unconditional US support of Israel to fit whatever agenda she deems suitable for her country's alleged security needs'. If on the other hand Benjamin Netanyahu becomes the next President, it is most unlikely that he will be any more inclined to try and address the true appalling situation in Palestine.
His depressing conclusion is therefore that 'the relationship that governs the US-Israeli love affair is much too convoluted, deep-rooted and institutionalised to be affected by the exit of one man and the arrival of another.
(Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of Palestine Chronicle.com. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle - out now and published by Pluto Press.)
How is the current financial crisis affecting the world's poor? Most of the world's more than 6 billion people are not worried about banks and the value of their savings decreasing. They've never been inside a bank and though they would love to save, feeding the family has to come first. Sadly however the economic tsunami will roll out across the globe with devastating effects for the poor as well as the rich.
When it comes to overseas aid only x rich countries have so far achieved the 0.7% of national income which the United Nations has been calling for since 1970. Understandably our media currently concentrate on the effect of the credit crunch/banking crisis/recession in the West but also point out that - in a globalised world - recession will spread to sweatshops, mines and coffee plantations far away, while the rich will be even less enthusiastic about meeting their aid commitments.
Susan Kramer, MP for Richmond Park, spoke at a meeting of Twickenham and Richmond UN Association in September. She described a recent visit and the conditions she encountered in the country:
Sadly these facts may not have enabled you to identify Ethiopia as the country Susan visited. They could describe all too many countries.
In the 1960s people talked of the 'trickle down' of resources and there was a belief that poor countries would gradually get richer. Yes some countries, and in particular some groups, are now better off but - specially in recent years - Western neo-liberal economic policies have left many in grinding poverty. Governments too used to tell us they would love to help poor countries but the money just wasn't there. Suddenly when it is Western bankers and finance folk in trouble billions of pounds and dollars turn up in the back of the sofa. But enough of my reflections. . . .
Susan Kramer's visit was arranged by Voluntary Service Overseas to highlight the problems faced by HIV positive women in Ethiopia. Susan spoke with great compassion and respect for the courage these women have shown. We are lucky to have such an excellent MP keen to address such issues.
If you want to understand a society you should look to its women. It's they who carry the burdens and responsibilities of everyday life and ensure continuity through thick and thin. There isn't a society on earth that could exist without them and the homes and families they nurture, the food they prepare, and the solace they dispense.
Too often we talk of history, of war and peace, in terms of Churchill, Hitler, Bush, Hussein and Blair. The real people, and hence reality, become a backdrop to events and our knowledge and understanding is diminished. Another foible is to talk of events in soundbites which obscure the facts. Haifa Zangana's is a feminine perspective of Iraqi 20th century history which puts the 2003 invasion into context. She shows us how successive occupations have coloured life and restricted developments and freedoms, and how they have been resisted and deposed, often only to be replaced with other occupations or impositions. She shows us how progress, towards a well-adapted free secular society where everyone, women included, are respected and valued, has been uneven, with repeated setbacks, and how the imposition of foreign rule and subversive influences like sanctions have interrupted progress. Iraqi society has struggled to develop strong institutions in the face of continual interference.
Most Iraqis see the 2003 invasion as yet another in a series dating back to WWI when the Ottomans were turfed out only to be replaced by British colonization and subsequent crippling interference, which has cast a long shadow over Iraqi development and independence ever since. The theme of her book is that the continual struggles to establish government and institutions that faithfully represent Iraqi needs and identity have placed particular burdens on women who have provided the continuity in times of change and upheaval, progress and reversal, destitution and plenty, equality and inequality, and as the centre of family life often with their men unemployed, incapacitated, imprisoned or killed. And life still goes on!
The invasion of 2003 was, to most Iraqis, just another chapter in the cruel and heartless treatment of Iraqi society by foreign leaders bent on serving their own interests and to hell with anyone who happened to get in the way. History, like peace and justice, is relative. It looks entirely different, depending on your circumstances and perspective. Bush and Blair knew nothing of Iraq, its history, its culture, or its peoples, yet they pronounced on everything and used every means available to push their particular propaganda in the teeth of reality. The government of occupation-vetted stooges and the mechanism by which it was elected is viewed as yet another temporary setback on the road to progress. The people who talk about Iraq in soundbites, as if they understand, come and go but Iraq will survive their interference and injustices.
The book is full of real information and recounts numerous atrocities committed by those determined to mould Iraq to fit their vision, including the US & UK occupiers.
Newsletter editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington. Send items for the next newsletter (preferably by email) to Harry Davis.
Disclaimer: It is the nature of a newsletter like KPN that views cannot be sought on everything that appears herein, so views expressed are almost never the agreed opinion of the group.