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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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Criminal classes

Andrea Needham, Hastings

I was pleased to read the positive accounts in last month’s “Activism and..work”column. My experience was very different. I have always been completely upfront about my criminal record, which consists of a number of NVDA convictions, and have usually had no problems with employers, who mostly are able to distinguish between peaceful direct action and ‘criminal’ behaviour.

When I started work for a nursing agency, my employers said that my convictions were not a problem. I worked for over a year, and had nothing but praise from the various hospitals and care homes where I worked.

But then the agency was bought out, and the new owners had a rule (they claimed) that they would not employ anyone with criminal convictions, with the only exception being for driving offences (so if I’d been done for drink driving rather than sitting in the road, that would have apparently been just fine). Consequently, I was sacked.

I had a lot of support from my union but the situation at the time was that agency workers were not covered by unfair dismissal legislation, so I had no comeback. I don’t know whether my experience is common but with the job market as it is, it may well be that a lot of people who declare convictions on application forms may never even make it as far as an interview. I’m now self-employed, so am secure in the knowledge that I’m the only one who can sack me...

 

Hugs and kisses

Ann Stringer, Soure, Portugal

I live in Portugal and subscribe to PN from here. So I read the article Ola Amigos (PN 2525) by Andre Pais with interest. My husband and I were on the demo in Lisbon in 2003 and have been on two since, against nuclear power in Spain and against storage of uranium in Nisa, south of here.
I’m not sure I agree with Andre about the politics! And he doesn’t mention (English translation) the Association for Peace and Justice.

Portugal has had Green party members of parliament for at least nine years (which is how long we’ve lived here). “Quercus” (oak tree) is like FoE in the UK and organized the demos in Spain and at Nisa. And of course there’s a Portuguese Greenpeace.

I can only go by what I see on Portuguese TV, but it seems to me that most of their armed forces overseas are medical and engineering units.
I hadn’t heard or read about PAGAN before seeing Snr Pais’ article.

Portugal is probably the most democratic country in the EU, with eight parties represented in parliament, including the Communists, and in our experience, at least in the villages and towns, there is a true sense of community and cooperation.

We’re very happy here. Beijinhos e abraços. Para paz no mundo.

Editor Response: 

That translates as: “Hugs and kisses. For world peace.” - Ed

PN hatemongers

Bettina Cohen

Demonising one group of people (nation, religion, ethnic origin, political party) is the job of war leaders, who need to whip up hatred against “the enemy” to counteract any conscience about inflicting injury, death and destruction!

Pacifists do the exact opposite! They find out the good on all sides! In a conflict they find out how to resolve it, ie what the true cause of it was (fear, greed, feeling superior or inferior, revenge or having made a treaty with a participant). Greed is more likely among the arms traders, who encourage conflicts to sell to all sides. Modern war does not profit either side of actual fighters.

Whipping up hatred will profit arms dealers – so why does Peace News do it? Please could we have news of resolving conflict, people of different backgrounds working together for a common good! (not just going to the beach, a camp, a protest march, a demo!), but creating something together! An orchestra, growing food, a Peace Park like the nature reserves between USA and Canada, when they were at war and Jordan and Israel more recently.

Reports on the “daring” exploits to smash up parts of a harmful factory may appeal to those who relish similar war stories of rather more daring military operations! Does interrupting arms manufacture for a few hours or days do anything to encourage people to leave such employment? Or could we aim to offer our young people more useful jobs that will then feed their idealism of working for the common good?
Can we have reports from people who are working for worthwhile projects, (not marching or shouting!) whether small local jobs (such as building a cycle way) perhaps starting as volunteers until recognised as a useful means of helping children to cycle to school that might get funded or part of a bigger organisation, working as carers, health researchers etc willing to train in what is needed? As for “drones”: war is unfair! Each side wants to protect their own people (except those who encourage suicide bombers). That may be by using bows and arrows from a secure castle against people with handheld spears or bomber planes against those not yet having enough anti-aircraft guns. Making and trading in all means of causing injury, death and destruction is wrong.

Editor Response: 

We hope that the Bamiyan Peace Park story, Wales youth bike ride and the article on the No Borders music festival in Calais in this issue will help towards satisfying a desire for the content mentioned above. -Eds