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The Peace News log

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The Biden administration must act swiftly to prevent a Trump-administration 'death sentence' for thousands of Yemenis, argues Kathy Kelly

In 1565, Pieter Bruegel the Elder created The Massacre of the Innocents, a provocative masterpiece of religious art.

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The coup mob in Congress has led to an outpouring of propaganda about the US love for democracy. Actually, the US has regularly opposed democracy, overthrowing democratically elected leaders it doesn't like.

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Trump rally at Lower Senate Park near C Street between Delaware Avenue and First Street, NE, Washington DC on Wednesday morning, 6 January 2021 by Elvert Barnes Photography (CC BY-SA 2.0).


'To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins.' So said US vice-president Mike Pence. Incoming US president, Joe Biden, said: 'The scenes of chaos do not reflect the true America, do not represent who we are.'

These statements came after armed pro-Donald Trump protesters flooded into Congress in Washington DC on 6 January, breaking windows and doors and occupying offices for hours. One member of the mob was shot dead by a police officer, in circumstances which are not clear at the time of writing. The violence could easily have escalated. Molotov cocktails were found in the grounds of the Capitol, where Congress is, and pipe bombs were found at the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican parties.

My first reaction to hearing Mike Pence was to think of the US- and British-sponsored coup in Iran in 1953. Violence never wins?

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ImageWrite to people imprisoned because of their actions for peace

1 December is Prisoners for Peace Day. For over 60 years, War Resisters’ International have publicised the names and stories – and prison addresses – of those imprisoned because of their actions for peace. This is a chance to write to someone whose freedom has been taken away because of their work for peace. 

We can find the prison address for Julian Assange here – please do write to him as he is waiting for the verdict in his extradition trial, due on 4 January. In his written evidence to the trial, Noam Chomsky wrote: ‘In my view, Julian Assange, in courageously upholding political beliefs that most of us profess to share, has performed an enormous service to all the people in the world who treasure the values of freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know what their elected representatives are doing. His actions in turn have led him to be pursued in a cruel and intolerable manner.’

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You can be part of the new world of online campaigning even if you don’t have (reliable) broadband or a webcam. 

Organisers, you should be circulating details of how people can phone into your online events (or at least your phone number).

You can go to a Zoom Meeting by phone if 
(a) the organisers allow this in the settings of the Zoom call and (b) you have a telephone with these two keys: # and *

You will need to get from the organisers the Meeting ID number and the Passcode (password).

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Ian Sinclair reports on a new feminist-driven initiative

Coined by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985, what has become known as The Bechdel Test – whether a movie includes at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man – is now widely discussed by consumers and creators of popular culture.

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Henri Matisse, CC BY-SA 4.0. via Wikimedia Commons

The politics of sound bites and Twitter  need to be replaced with a refreshed politics of sensibility, argues Robin Holtom

'Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world' - Shelley

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Castle Romeo nuclear test, 27 March 1954. PHOTO:United States Department of Energy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Nuclear weapons states applied enormous pressure to try and stop the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, recalls Janet Fenton.

On 24 October, Honduras ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), becoming the 50th state to signal its binding agreement with the treaty. Passing the 50-ratifications threshold means that the TPNW will now actually ‘enter into force’, 90 days from Honduras’s ratification.

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ImageAndrew Bolton reviews Clare Stober's book about the Bruderhof: 'Another Life is Possible – Insights from 100 years of life together' (Plough Books, 2020; 320pp; £21.50)

There are activists seeking change nonviolently, protesting, getting in the way, being arrested. From Gandhi and Rosa Parks to Extinction Rebellion, we celebrate their courageous contributions. Then there are communal demonstrators, those whose lives together model a better world here and now. Both activists and communal demonstrators are important. This book is about the Bruderhof, a celebration of struggles and endurance over 100 years of a remarkable communal movement. Today there are 23 settlements on four continents totaling about 3,000 members, ranging in size from households in Harlem, New York or Peckham, London to communities around 300 people in size like Darvell in East Sussex, Beach Grove, Kent, or Danthonia, NSW, Australia.

The story begins in Sanherz, Germany in 1920 – Bruderhof means place of brothers in German. In the chaos and suffering of the end of World War I, threatening communist revolutions, and the moral bankruptcy of many Christians over war and capitalism, Eberhard and Emmy Arnold, their children, and a few others began to live together in full Christian community. They took very seriously the Sermon on the Mount and the example of living all things in common in the early Jerusalem (Acts 2 and 4:32-35). They also drew inspiration from the radical Anabaptists – the left wing of the Protestant Reformation, and later the Hutterians, communal Anabaptist descendants, now farming the prairies in Canada and the USA. 

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The Women's March on Washington, 21 January 2017, the day after Donald Trump's inauguration as US president. Photo: Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA (CC BY-SA 2.0).
US president Donald Trump has been threatening for months to hang onto power by illegal means after the 3 November presidential election. Dozens of organisations are preparing to stop him, and to protect the fabric of US democracy.

One week away from election day, thousands of activists across the United States are preparing to prevent any attempt by Donald Trump to hold onto the US presidency by illegal means if it looks like he is losing.

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ImageA review of Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Rivalry that Unravelled the Middle East by Kim Ghattas (Wildfire, 2020; 400pp; £10.99)

I do find it shocking that Kim Ghattas uses the word ‘black’ in such a negative way in the title of her new book about the Middle East.

Ghattas, a former BBC journalist, describes the upsurge of fundamentalism in the region since 1979 as a Black Wave. She takes this phrase from Egyptian film-maker, Youssef Chahine.

For me, the title seems to reinforce the idea of blackness as evil and anti-human – which is how Ghattas, a mainstream Western liberal, sees Islamic fundamentalism.

Ghattas has a chapter on Egypt in the early 1990s which is also called ‘Black Wave’.

In this chapter, Ghattas writes: ‘The most dramatic visual of the black wave crashing over Egypt was the veiling of dozens of its beloved, beautiful actresses, who had delighted generations of Egyptians and Arabs’.

Perhaps Ghattas and Chahine would say that the expression ‘black wave’ refers to this change that they saw in women’s clothing.

However, I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the hijabs (headscarves) worn by newly-veiled Egyptian actresses were colours other than black. (A minority of actresses taking the veil wore the full-face niqab, which was most likely black.)

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