Kingston Peace News - December 2018 / January 2019

The newsletter of Kingston Peace Council / Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

three people standing out of doors at a table covered in leaflets, with a white cardboard tray of white poppies, saying 'Remember and Disarm' and 'wear a white poppy for peace'

This year KPC/CND members decided to give out white poppies from our stall outside Kingston Parish Church on two consecutive Saturdays in early November. We did this very successfully last year so this time we bought an extra two boxes of poppies.

This year over 400 were given out, with leaflets explaining their significance.

Most passers-by were pleased to receive them and many gave a donation.

The photo shows our member Jean Turner giving out poppies from our stall.

White Peace-Poppies are going from strength to strength. The Peace Pledge Union who produce them say they have made and sold more this year than ever before.

Their statement reads:- In wearing white poppies, we remember all those killed in war, all those wounded in body or mind, the millions who have been made sick or homeless by war and the families and communities torn apart. We also remember those killed or imprisoned for refusing to fight and for resisting war.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, gave The Movement for the Abolition of War Annual Remembrance Lecture at St. John's Church Waterloo on the subject
"Active Remembrance and Waging Peace Together".

Lady with short hair and a red and black dress reading a lecture, in front of an altar with silver candlesticksCaroline spoke very widely on this subject - the whole speech can be read on the Movement for the Abolition of War website:-

Here are six extracts:- Do try and find time to read the whole speech, it's well-worth it!

"Europe for me has always stood as a symbol of what we can achieve when we work co-operatively together. A symbol of peace. And one of the worst aspects of Brexit to me is the way it ignores the most powerful and engaging reasons for our membership of the European Union. How it has helped avert war in Europe for sixty years. How it has fostered democracy and the rule of law across the whole continent. How it has provided its citizens with the freedom to travel, to study, to work. To experience the richness of the European inheritance. During the referendum campaign, this message was difficult to get across. How many of us when we went to the ballot boxes were thinking about the courage, ambition and vision that helped create the European Union? It is an astonishing institution, unique in human history, imperfect, of course, because of the scale of its ambition, but truly remarkable none the less. It symbolises lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.".........

"For our movement, where we most want to see change is nuclear disarmament – and that has so far proved near-impossible. Those nations with nuclear weapons are intent on upgrading them – with the UK amongst the chief culprits. And not surprisingly, non-nuclear states are encouraged to pursue their own ambitions too. The UK is spending up to £200bn on a weapons system that will be redundant before it is even delivered. Developments in underwater technology will likely uncloak our submarines within decades. Trident is not much use against today’s threats and it fuels the threat of nuclear proliferation. Globally there are at least 16,000 nuclear weapons in existence - and the US and Russia hold 90% of them. And now President Trump has withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, warns that this will "mark the end of the restraints on nuclear arsenals achieved in the 1980s" and that it "will open the way for the return to Europe of cruise-type missiles that can only have one purpose - that a nuclear war against Russia will be fought in Europe."........

"Active remembrance demands that we completely shift our mind-set – understand that waging peace cannot happen in isolation either. That it must be done in co-operation with those stopping deportation flights from leaving Stansted airport, the volunteers at food banks, the pioneers of community owned energy and banks, the three young men sent to prison for opposing fracking in Lancashire, who were set free just a couple of weeks ago. Those connections have been made but if you leave today with just one take away pledge, please make it to seek out and act in solidarity with others who are part of the wider movement that underpins and interacts with our campaign for peace. Poverty, war and inequality are not inevitable. But to create a different world, we must act differently. One of the definitions of insanity is to keep on doing the same thing and expecting a different result."........

"It’s easy to think that we are living through a unique moment in history but when it comes to our impact on the natural world there’s no denying it’s true. Here and now, at the start of the 21st century, the biggest threat to humankind is the ecological crisis - a planet exploited beyond its natural limits. And failing to address that will vastly increase the likelihood of future conflicts. From a national security perspective – as well as every other perspective - it makes no sense to be investing in weapons of mass destruction that are useless in the face of organised crime, terrorism, cyber warfare, pandemics - and climate change."......

"The vast and growing consumption of food and resources is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else. The annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation – and will inevitably fuel future wars, just as previous wars have been fought over access to precious but scarce resources. The evidence couldn’t be any stronger, yet rather than an emergency budget, the Government’s response this week was to allocate just £60m for tree planting compared to £30bn for road building. The Chancellor not only failed to mention climate change in his budget speech, but the policies he put forward will increase the UK’s climate impact."........

"So let me give you one final example of what I think active remembrance looks like. It's right before me in this room. It's you. ...... There is no, as yet unfound, group of people who are going to lead us into the safety and security of peace. We are it. We are the present and that means we are the future. So friends, wagers of peace, the most effective way we can engage in active remembrance is to never forget that – and to use it to bring new energy, power and the force of hope to our quest."

Rare Good News received 21/11 from USA


"Yesterday we successfully blocked Trump’s dangerous asylum ban targeting Central Americans fleeing violence in their own countries. The Court has provided an important check on a President who believes he is all powerful, able to override federal legislation with the stroke of his arbitrary and discriminatory pen, " said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. "Today the Courts were clear: Trump's attempt to obliterate decades-old U.S. and international law ensuring a right to safe haven from persecution and violence will not stand."

Sue Gilmurray's Poem (written June 2018)

“Lest we forget”

Remember the war, nineteen fourteen to eighteen?
A hundred years later we think of it yet,
and posters remind us, with soldiers in silhouette,
jogging our memory “Lest we forget”.

So let’s not forget it was not unavoidable,
no freak of nature, no act of God’s will:
the Kaiser, the King and the Tsar and their generals
called up the soldiers and told them to kill,

And let’s not forget there were some who were optimists:
“War would be madness with weapons this strong.
Death would be wholesale – they’ll never go through with it.”
So said the peace movement – shame they were wrong!

And let’s not forget it was not all one-sided,
with poor Tommy Atkins being ambushed by Fritz:
both sides used rifles and bombs and artillery,
set up to blow many thousands to bits,

And let’s not forget it was not noble sacrifice,
dignified heroes who laid down their lives:
young men were herded in droves to destruction –
too bad for their mothers and sisters and wives.

And let’s not forget that the later atrocities –
fascism, Holocaust, truly obscene –
all had their roots in the cruelty and vengefulness
shown by the victors in nineteen eighteen.

Yet still there are those who would maintain the bigotry,
pride for their nation, contempt for the rest:
although we’re aware of the rights of humanity,
still we must boast that “our boys” are the best.

But now let us learn from the waste and the suffering;
let us build peace and there’s hope for us yet,
for war sends good people to kill one another,
but peace values all of us – lest we forget!

(Sue read this at the Tavistock Square Remembrance
gathering November 11th 2018)

Thanks to Carol Clisby for attending the Scientists for Global Responsibilty (SGR) Conference and submitting this report.

This conference focused on the implications of automation and artificial intelligence, in particular the use of AI to control drones, robots, cars etc. Huge advances are being made in these fields, and there is a very real danger that AI could outcompete humans with potentially catastrophic results.

Internet giants and car manufacturers have enormous funds invested in this type of research, but the UK Government is also investing heavily, in liaison with the universities. There is a big difference between an automated drone, for example, and an autonomous one, with no human control. The Government claims that international human rights law provides sufficient regulation of these systems and a ban is not necessary. SGR does not agree and argues that human control must be retained. The Government further states that it would not sanction the use of autonomous drones——-why, therefore, is it spending huge sums of money on research into them? In the US Google has withdrawn its support from the Pentagon’s programme——using AI to monitor drones.

Similarly robots can be deterministic i.e. predictive, or cognitive, controlled by AI, but again there is no satisfactory regulation in place to control the development and use of cognitive robots.

We then had a very interesting discussion about driverless cars—-how they would affect the behaviour of other drivers on the road, for example, and also the risks associated with them, if they became autonomous. Most people in my group started off feeling quite ambivalent, but ended up opposed.

Considering the potential dangers, lack of meaningful regulation, ever present danger of hacking etc., SGR believes that autonomous drones in particular should be banned. Ethics should always be considered during development not afterwards, when the argument invariably will be lost.

During the past year SGR was a partner and source of expertise to ICAN, opposed new EU funding for military Research & Development and challenged the corporate and military influence on science education in the UK. It argued for a change to the Government’s security perceptions and a consequent change to our industrial strategy, which should include sectors with a strong orientation towards peace, justice and sustainability.

Nuclear Weapons:- MoD ‘heading for bankruptcy over spiralling cost of Trident’.

The Ministry of Defence is heading for bankruptcy over its spending on a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system, an international campaign group, the British American Security Information Council (Basic), has claimed in a report “Blowing up the Budget:- The Cost Risk of Trident to UK Defence”, stating the Trident replacement system “will far outstrip the MoD’s allocated budget of £41 billion” and that its total cost is likely to be between £110bn and £114bn. The group used the government’s own figures from the National Audit Office and public accounts committee to reach its conclusions. Report author Toby Fenwick said: “It is regrettable that the government’s Trident cost estimates have consistently been underestimated. The MoD will likely blow its budget given historic decisions and the fall in sterling since Brexit.” Basic director Paul Ingram said Britain “needs to face up to the harsh realities of Trident renewal. Parliamentarians did not vote for renewal with a spending black hole that undermines conventional forces. It is time for an honest debate on cost of Trident and the strategic rationale of the UK’s nuclear forces.” CND general secretary Kate Hudson said the report “highlights the MoD’s budget crisis. It’s high time there was a proper discussion about government spending priorities. There can be no justification for wasting public money on weapons of mass destruction. Housing, education, health and jobs are the people’s priorities, not a redundant cold war status symbol,” she said.

Thanks to

Fighting erupts in Yemen despite UN calls for a ceasefire .......

Fighting between Saudi-led coalition forces and Yemen’s Houthi rebels has flared up again around the port city of Hodeidah despite United Nations calls for a ceasefire. The escalation began late on November 19 when coalition air strikes hit Houthis in and around Hodeidah, sparking violence in the city centre and in al-Saleh district.

The renewed fighting undermines latest UN efforts to end the three-year war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed much of the country to the brink of starvation. Yemen’s Information Minister Moammer al-Iryani accused the Houthis of shelling the city centre and neighbourhoods held by government forces.

The rebels also said they’d fired a ballistic missile the previous night into Saudi Arabia in response to an attempted border incursion and another air strike, reserving their right to respond to attacks.

This followed a rebel undertaking to halt all rocket fire into Saudi Arabia for the sake of peace efforts.

The coalition has been attempting to retake Hodeidah since last summer, with its forces now three miles from the port, through which much international emergency aid is delivered. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose military intervention accounts largely for the civilian suffering, pledged $500 million (about £390m) in aid to assist millions of Yemenis at risk of starvation shortly before resuming their offensive. Abdullah al-Rabeeah, of King Salman’s Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, said in Riyadh that the new initiative would provide food assistance to 12 million Yemenis.

This cynical Saudi announcement follows days after UN World Food Programme head David Beasley visited Yemen before telling the UN security council that as many as 12 million of the 28 million Yemenis “are just one step away from famine.”

UN envoy Martin Griffiths announced on November 16 that both sides had agreed to attend peace talks in Sweden “soon,” with Yemeni officials suggesting that talks would take place on November 29.

(Thanks to Morning Star November 21)

But here is better news, received Wednesday November 21 from the

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

We won! Just this morning, Airbnb, the online short-term rental service, announced that it would remove listings in illegal, Jewish-only settlements built on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.

It took almost three years of sustained, grassroots pressure on Airbnb to make them understand they need to be on the right side of history and end their complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

The US-based NGO Human Rights Watch released a new report yesterday, showing that businesses operating in illegal Israeli West Bank settlements contribute to and benefit from “an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians.”


UN sets 60-day deadline over Israel's ‘racist’ Nation State Law

Israel has been given 60 days by the United Nations to respond to “deep concerns” over the Jewish Nation State Law, which has been branded racist and discriminatory by Palestinian officials.

The deadline was set by the UN Special Rapporteur for cultural rights Karima Bennoune, UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied territories Michael Lynk and Special Rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia E. Tendayi Achiume in a letter to Israeli authorities. They expressed their deep concern over the impact of the law, which was adopted by the Knesset in July and stipulates that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country.

It also stripped Arabic of its status as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a “special status.” The move prompted many to claim it enshrines an “apartheid” system in the region with Palestinians treated as second-class citizens. The letter said that the Israeli Basic Law appears “to be discriminatory in nature and in practice against non-Jewish citizens and other minorities and does not apply the principle of equality between citizens, which is one of the key principles for democratic political systems.”

The special rapporteurs asked for more information on whether the law will contribute to segregation on the basis of ethnicity or religion and whether it endorsed the expansion of illegal settlements in occupied territories. They called for Israel to “clarify the consequences of the new status of the Arabic language and the impact if any on its use for official purposes, including on public signs, in public institutions including social and health services and in the education system.” Israel ignored a previous request from the special rapporteurs last year when the Nation State Law was in its draft stages. Any response will be sent to the United Nations Human Rights Council for consideration.  (Thanks to the Morning Star for this report, November 17)

Marianne Birkby of Radiation Free Lakeland has sent us this good news:-

Toshiba Corporation has announced that its Board of Directors has resolved to withdraw from a nuclear power plant construction project in the UK and to take steps to wind-up NuGeneration Ltd. (hereinafter “NuGen”), a consolidated subsidiary.

Toshiba acquired 60% of the outstanding shares of NuGen, a UK-based new nuclear development company that planned to construct a nuclear power plant on the West Cumbria coast in northwest England, in June 2014.  Toshiba subsequently acquired the remaining 40% of NuGen’s shares from France’s ENGIE S.A. in July 2017, when ENGIE exercised its right to sell its entire shareholding to Toshiba. This was the result of the filing of a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code by Westinghouse Electric Company and others, which triggered the “Event of Default” condition in the contract between Toshiba and ENGIE.

Under Toshiba’s policy to eliminate risks related to the overseas nuclear power construction business, Toshiba  invited new investors to participate in NuGen, and also considered the sale of Toshiba Group’s shareholding in NuGen.  However, notwithstanding negotiations with multiple companies, Toshiba is unable to anticipate completing the sale of NuGen before 31 March 2019. After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognizes that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind-up NuGen.

Toshiba has also resolved to take steps to wind-up Advance Energy UK Limited (hereinafter “AEUL”), a consolidated subsidiary established by Toshiba as a special purpose company for  holding its shares in NuGen. This is scheduled to start in Jan. 2019.

As a result of winding-up NuGen and AEUL, Toshiba expects to record a consolidated loss before taxes of approximately 15 billion yen.

Let’s hope this may put off other companies who consider building nuclear power plant in Britain. (Ed)

Marianne is delighted and thanks everyone who has campaigned long and hard on this, but says:

"Toshiba must be made to clear up its mess. What about the 300 boreholes they have already drilled on this greenfield site? Are they going to fill in the boreholes, cap them and repair the damage already done?  Or is the taxpayer going to pick up the tab? There are enormous plastic holding tanks to contain the waste from the 300 boreholes which were drilled under “permitted development” with the borehole sludge waste going into Lillyhall and the borehole water to the river Ehen (remember the deep ground near Sellafield is inevitably contaminated with americium, plutonium, caesium and other radionuclides).  So we must carry on our campaign to ensure that they repair all this damage and pay for it."

"I Object - Ian Hislop's search for Dissent"

(At the British Museum until January 20, 2019)

Subversion and satire are the themes of this  exhibition which showcases over 100 exhibits Ian has unearthed from within the vast collections of the British Museum.  Challenging the official version of events and defying established narratives, the items from all corners of the globe span three millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia in 1300 BC to the 2016 US presidential election. Many every-day objects and finely crafted works of art are on display for the first time and evidence their power in carrying messages about histories and stories that go against the mainstream. Some make statements of the obvious, such as an Edwardian coin that has been defaced with the slogan “Votes for Women” by a suffragette or the 18th century satirical British prints showing George, Prince of Wales, the future King George IV, as an obese and uncouth figure with a love of banqueting, booze and women. But others convey a concealed meaning, often because they have been produced in environments where dissent is dangerous. An ornate silver gilt salt cellar, made during the English Reformation, conceals Catholic religious imagery in defiance of Protestant legislation at the time, while a raffia cloth from Democratic Republic of Congo subverts the image of a leaping leopard, symbol of Zaire’s military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

There are also objects testing the boundaries of permissible dissent, such as a Roman oil lamp depicting a woman having sex with a crocodile — possibly propaganda directed against Queen Cleopatra — while a papier-mâché skeleton of a factory owner shows the public mockery of figures permitted during Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival.

A highlight of the exhibition is Peckham Rock, an artwork by Banksy secretly “installed” by the artist in the museum in 2005. It returns to the museum on loan, thirteen years after being placed in one of the galleries by the anon-ymous graffiti artist and lying undiscovered for three days alongside its mock information label. On display too are items of dissent from contemporary movements and events, including a knitted pink “pussyhat” worn at the Washington DC Women’s March last January.  (Review by Morning Star)

Robert Fisk, the Independent's multi-award winning Middle East Correspondent

came from his home in Beirut to give an Armistice Day Centenary lecture at the Sands Film Studios.

He has lived in Beirut since 1976, remaining throughout the Lebanese Civil War. He was one of the first journalists to visit the scene of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon, as well as the Syrian Hama Massacre

The author of many books including "Pity the Nation" and "The Great War for Civilisation", he has described himself as a pacifist, and says that journalism must "challenge authority, all authority, especially when governments and politicians take us to war. It must monitor power and the centres of power." He has written at length on how much of contemporary conflict has its origin in lines drawn on maps: "After the allied victory of 1918, at the end of my father's war, the victors divided up the lands of their former enemies. In the space of just seventeen months, they created the borders of Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia and most of the Middle East.  And I have spent my entire career—in Belfast and Sarajevo, in Beirut and Baghdad—watching the people within those borders burn."

Although now over 70 he still spends much of his time on 'front lines,' accompanied by his wife.  He has many 'friends' among the many soldiers on all sides.

Robert began his talk by speaking at length about his father, who lied to sign up at age 15, until Robert's grandmother went along to the recruiting office to cancel it!  But he did get into the war as soon as possible when 17, and was at first sent to Dublin to help quell the Easter Rising, thus avoiding the Somme.  He took with him a small Box Brownie camera, the latest technology.  He took wonderful photos, including two taken by standing up in the trench and poking the camera up above - a risky undertaking.  Also there were family photos and photos of several companions who were all subsequently killed.  These seventeen photos were passed around the large audience.

Robert continued with a very lively talk, stating among other things that he never wears a red poppy, Trump is insane, and no Palestinian alive today, if asked, would say that World War 1 has yet ended.   (Ed).

We were very sad to learn of the recent death of John Hayball.  Many people will remember Dorothy Hayball, John's mother,  a stalwart member of our Peace Group, and John used to help on our stalls. Though not a member in recent years having moved away to Leatherhead,  John remained a strong political activist, campaigning for the social and peace issues dear to all of us.

Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND