We Don’t Want No Radiation.

Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth is where the UK’s Trident nuclear submarines go to be refitted.  This dangerous and dirty work is done in close proximity to 250,000 Plymouthians, and within a matter of a few hundred yards of at least one primary school.  The ‘reward’ of a couple of hundred jobs is a poor return for the risk the whole city runs of cancers and leukemia.  Never mind that under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(N.P.T.) the UK is meant to be working “in good faith” towards complete nuclear disarmament.  But sadly the UK is intent on building bigger and more destructive weapons of mass destruction, while lecturing the world on the perils of having weapons of mass destruction.  Such hypocrisy, you could hardly make it up.  Trident Ploughshares activists today took a simple message to the base.

What would your message be?

Thoughts on October 20th Anti-Cuts March, by John Frugal Lakey.

A posting by John Frugal Lakey.  Re-posted with permission.

“A couple of thoughts on yesterday in London.
Although it was a great day out, it was also a long day.  Up at 4am , drive to Plymouth to pick up Steve, and blag a free lift on the union bus to London.
The bus…, well, I think they sussed we weren’t union members, but put up with us, as we were there to support the protest and oppose the cuts.  They handed out blank banners and pens so we could make our own protest signs with prizes for best designs.   Needless to say we won the prize with our “yes Dave .. the peasants are revolting”  sign.  The prize was a xxl purple unison / union tee shirt.  Ah well, at least i can use it to wash the car.

Once in London we arrived a little too late to meet up with UK Uncut – as this was the plan – and a shout-out on Facebook for info didn’t return anything, so we went along with the march, and it was massive!!  I was quite impressed and easily 150,000 people attended.

The problem was, well, they seemed happy…?  And i questioned myself why they were there ?  It all seemed like a, well , a sponsored walk.   All the signs seemed to be the same.  Everyone seemed to dress the same,  all the same chants from the last few years, lots of use of the word `comrade`, `brother`, `sister` etc.  No one smoked, everyone was polite.  Even the police ??!!??   And, to be honest, it was a little, may i say, boring.. ?
We searched in vain for a little action, someone to do something a little out of the norm.  Maybe just a little little naughty, but, zip, nothing.  No-one stept out of line.   No sit in protests – nothing – it all seemed robotic.

As soon as they got to the end of the march at Hyde park, they turned around and went back to the buses.  Some stayed to listen to a few speeches from the likes of  Ed Miliband( who attended an austerity speech in a Rolls Royce !! i shit you not !) – but to be honest of what little i caught of the speeches it was more of the same, comrade, brother sister speeches going over recycled crap with no real positive outlook to the future.

Now, I like what the unions have done for the working person in the past, but i honestly think if they seriously want to be a voice in the future they need top step things up,  and BIG.  This government and the Labour party are not listening to you, they think you are pussies.  And yesterdays  march proved that to them.  While you marched the Tories held a day out at Ascot for the boys.  Ed rubberband turned up in a Rolls-Royce and you allow this shit to happen???  I think someone is taking the piss.

What I did come away with was a bigger understanding of apathy.  At the end of the day, people don’t really give a shit until it effects them personally, and then it will be too late.  We have 3 main parties in the UK and, well, there is no real difference in any of them.   All 3 will fuck you over in the interest of the corporates that pay them.

Would i go again??  Well maybe.   Just in the hope that a few of the people there might actually be a little pissed off and inspired enough to do something other than a sponsored walk.
In fact,  I’m tempted to try and go up for the 5th November action, so if anyone is looking for car-share and is up for it, give me a shout…..”

On the London 2012 McOlympiCola Games.

To those of us who look beyond glittering surfaces and misleading headlines, the London 2012 Olympiad was a spectacular carnival of conspicuous consumption which demonstrated much that is wrong with what we like to call ‘civilisation’.

If aliens had visited Earth during this Olympic Orgy they would have been amazed to see stupendous sums spent on a largely inconsequential jamboree, while all around massive cuts are being made to vital public services that are central to the health, wealth, and happiness of human beings everywhere.  And while millions around the world remain at risk of starvation, thirst, hypothermia, disease, war, poverty or disaster, the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on these Games and the air of supreme importance attached to them, just cannot be justified in any sane universe.  In a time of so-called ‘Austerity’, when people are losing their homes, their livelihoods, and their lives, this extravagant luxury is pretty much offensive to me.  Somebody somewhere is making out like a bandit from these Olympics, and it sure as hell isn’t the taxpayers who subsidised the success of the UK athletes, to the tune of, according to this article, about £4.5 million per medal won.

I do feel a little sorry for the athletes though.  No blame can be attached to them for what the Olympics has become.  All that hard work, dedication, and sacrifice in pursuit of extraordinary feats of physical ability or endurance, only to find their efforts in effect hijacked by corporate and political vultures.  The athletes have become little more than pawns, or lures.  And indeed, in my own case,  I was lured into watching through the sheer brilliance of the athletic displays, despite my initial ambivalence.  In an ideal world sport would be just about sport, but sadly the ideal world is still some way off.

As David Cameron has admitted, the Olympics are about “more than medals”.  There are games being played around The Games, by politicians and businessmen.  For these people, the Olympics is not about the sport, it is about the opportunity to exploit the event for their own ends.  And their efforts in that regard are as single-minded and determined as that of any athlete.  But instead of a constant quest for Personal Bests, this is a  constant quest for power and profit.

And while we know already that Team GB enjoyed a heady yield from London 2012 in terms of medals won, only time will tell about the ‘return’ for the likes of the Coalition Government, and the host of corporate sponsors.  Already the indications are that the Games have served some of their political purposes.  The Sun claims that the Olympics has sparked a “massive feelgood factor”, whose “afterglow” will “help us through these tough times”.   Cameron is quoted in The Scotsman outlining exactly what the message of these games is supposed to be –

We do face a very tough economic situation and I do not belittle that at all.  It is a very tough economic world we are in.  But in a way, what these Games show is that if you work hard enough at something, if you plan something, if you are passionate enough about something, you can turn things around.  I think that is the lesson people can take from these Games.

What we have there is the reinforcement of neoliberal capitalist myths, that anyone can make it if they work hard enough, and that competition is good and healthy.  Never mind that most of elite sport in the UK is subsidised by the State, or from semi-nationalised Lottery funding.

The Independent claimed just before the opening of the Games that –

Mr Cameron will say he intends to devote his energy to drumming up business on the back of the global event, which will give the Government a chance to sell Britain to the world.

On other words to find investors for the public services he is selling off, and increase the profits of his buddies in major corporations.

In the Daily Mail, David Cameron is said to be pleased that the Games provided a “boost to the Union”, which no doubt will be useful to him when it comes to the referendum on Scottish independence.  The jingoistic coverage of the Games by the BBC will have, of course, played a large part in that.  All those lingering, loving shots of the union flag.  And of course, when the Conservative MP Aiden Burley tweeted “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multicultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!“, it allowed Cameron, who had previously claimed “multiculturalism has failed”, to position himself as the soft, liberal and tolerant face of British nationalism.  In the same speech he claimed the UK “needed a stronger national identity”, and undoubtedly he is using the success of the UK Olympians to further that cause.

The sensational success of Mo Farah has already been utilised by David Cameron for propaganda purposes, namely to lend credence to the myth that the UK government is sincerely committed to tackling the problem of world hunger.  Millionaires Against Poverty don’t ya know?  It’s kinda like when in 2005 the Labour Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, claimed the Games would help advance the good health of the nation.  Presumably that is why McDonald’s, and major  environmental polluters like BP and Dow Chemicals ended up as major sponsors of the Games….?

Forgive me if I think it’s all a load of bollocks.  And dangerous bollocks at that.

There’s a lot more that could be said about this, the failure of the Olympic Truce – Syrian delegates were refused visas into the country,(incidentally, this article is a must read for the outrageously biased reporting), UK troops remaining on active service in Afghanistan, surface-to-air missiles on roofs in London, or the kettling, beating, and arrest of nearly two hundred Critical Mass cyclists at the same time as Danny Boyle’s feelgood Opening Ceremony was extolling the virtues of past protest in this country. But at least Boyle reminded us a little of that legacy.   One of solidarity in the struggle for a better tomorrow, won for us by the struggle of our dissenting foremothers and forefathers.  And that is the real legacy we should take from these Games, not some tawdry promises from the likes of  Coe, Cameron, or  Johnson.

We should not be content with bread and circuses.

Modern Heroes – Sister Megan Rice and Friends.

I make no apologies for reproducing this article from the New York Times in full.  It’s about Sister Megan Rice and her friends.  Looks like I’ve found more heroes…   😀

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/11/science/behind-nuclear-breach-a-nuns-bold-fervor.html?_r=1&hpw

By
Published: August 10, 2010.  She has been arrested 40 or 50 times for acts of civil disobedience and once served six months in prison.  In the Nevada desert, she and other peace activists knelt down to block a truck rumbling across the government’s nuclear test site, prompting the authorities to take her into custody.
National Nuclear Security Administration/Department of Energy

Sister Rice is one of three people arrested in a break-in at a the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation.

She gained so much attention that the Energy Department, which maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal, helped pay for an oral history in which she described her upbringing and the development of her antinuclear views.

Now, Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers — and hung banners outside its walls.

“Swords into plowshares,” read one, quoting the Book of Isaiah. “Spears into pruning hooks.” The plant holds the nation’s main supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.

The actions of Sister Rice, a New York native who grew up on a prosperous block in Morningside Heights, and her companions, ages 57 and 63, are a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Since 2010, he has led a campaign to eliminate or lock down nuclear materials as a way to fight atomic terrorism. Now, the three — two of whom, including Sister Rice, are free and are awaiting trial in October — have made nuclear theft seem only a little more challenging than a romp in the Tennessee woods.

In interviews this week, Sister Rice discussed her life — somewhat reluctantly at times — and kept emphasizing what she called “the issue.”

“It’s the criminality of this 70-year industry,” she said. “We spend more on nuclear arms than on the departments of education, health, transportation, disaster relief and a number of other government agencies that I can’t remember.”

Federal prosecutors, needless to say, take a different view. “This is a matter of national security,” William C. Killian, a United States attorney, told reporters outside a Knoxville courtroom. “It is a significant case.”

Sister Rice is no geopolitical strategist. But her bold acts and articulate fervor highlight how the antinuclear movement has evolved since the end of the cold war. They also illustrate the fierce independence of Catholic nuns, who met this week in St. Louis to decide how to respond to a Vatican appraisal that cast them as rebellious dissenters.

“We’re free as larks,” Sister Rice said of herself and her older religious friends. “We have no responsibilities — no children, no grandchildren, no jobs.”

“So the lot fell on us,” she said of fighting nuclear arms. “We can do it. But we all do share the responsibility equally.”

Megan Gillespie Rice was born in Manhattan on Jan. 31, 1930, the youngest of three girls in a Catholic family. Her father was an obstetrician who taught at New York University and treated patients at Bellevue Hospital. Her mother received a doctorate from Columbia University in history, writing her dissertation on Catholic views about slavery.

In the oral history, by the University of Nevada, Sister Rice portrayed her mother as strongly in favor of interracial marriage. “I just can’t wait,” she quoted her mother as saying, “until everybody in the world is tan!”

Sister Rice went to Catholic schools in Manhattan, became a nun at 18 and received degrees in biology from Villanova and Boston College, where her studies included class work at Harvard Medical School on how to use radioactive tracers. From 1962 to 2004, with occasional breaks, she served her order as a schoolteacher in Nigeria and Ghana.

“We slept in a classroom — no electricity, no water,” she said of her early days in rural Africa.

While visiting Manhattan in the early 1980s, she joined in antinuclear protests. She began visiting the Nevada test site for demonstrations and prayer vigils. Her mother accompanied her at times.

Around 1990, Sister Rice and other nuns set out on foot in the desert toward the site’s operational headquarters to distribute antinuclear leaflets. But guards, she recalled, “came up with their guns and treated us as though we were terrible criminals.”

In 1998, she was arrested in a protest at the School of the Americas, an Army school at Fort Benning, in Georgia.  It taught generations of Latin American soldiers to fight leftist insurgencies; some went on to commit human rights abuses.  The school has since been closed.

Sister Rice served six months in federal prison.  “It was a great eye-opener,” she said.  “When you’ve had a prison experience, it minimizes your needs very much.”

Malaria and typhoid fever began to impede her work in Africa and brought her back to the United States permanently.  Around 2005, her order gave her permission to join the Nevada Desert Experience, an activist group based in Las Vegas that organizes spiritual events near the atomic test site in support of nuclear abolition.

“She’s the kind of person who would risk her life to protect others,” Jim Haber, the group’s coordinator, said in an interview.

Late last month, Sister Rice set her sights on the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation, which covers more than 50 square miles, including wooded hills.  Her aim was to draw attention to its nuclear work.  After the break-in, the protesters released an “indictment” accusing the United States of crimes against humanity.

On Thursday in Knoxville, federal prosecutors shot back with an indictment of their own.  They charged Sister Rice, Michael R. Walli, 63, of Washington, and Gregory I. Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, Minn., with trespassing on government property (a misdemeanor) as well as its destruction and depredation (both felonies).  The charges carry penalties of up to 16 years in prison and fines of up to $600,000.  All pleaded not guilty.

A trial in Federal District Court in Knoxville is set for Oct. 10.  If found guilty, the three defendants might be allowed to serve their sentences for the various charges concurrently, shortening their imprisonments to five years.

“She’s a pretty sympathetic character,” Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, said of the nun.  “Sixteen years would be signing her death warrant.”

Sister Rice plans to leave Knoxville on Saturday for the Catholic Worker residence in Washington and commute to the trial from there.

She called her life privileged.  “I’ve sort of fallen heir to it,” she told the interviewer from the University of Nevada.  “I’m grateful.”

The Big Blockade of Devonport

Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth not only refits, maintains, and upgrades the submarines which carry the UK’s immoral and illegal Trident nuclear weapon system, but it is also increasingly becoming the dumping ground for old and out of service nuclear submarines. Plymouth is being paid for its role in the servicing of Britain’s weapons of mass destruction by becoming the ‘Sellafield of the South West’.

A decade of Trident Ploughshares blockades and disarmament actions have helped build a strong and broad movement against nuclear weapons in Scotland. The Scottish government was elected with a policy of nuclear disarmament. Now it is England’s turn.

On the 1st of November we are calling on people to join us to continue to increase the pressure by non-violently blockading the Devonport submarine base.

http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1608