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Pools of light
Martin Schweiger, Leeds MM, describes the continuing Tuesday evening demonstrations at Menwith Hill
As autumn comes on it is dark by the time I reach the gates of Menwith Hill to join the Tuesday evening demonstration. There is a gentle mist of rain through which the headlights pick out flags, banners, a couple of demonstrators and a cluster of police officers. I collect various items from the boot; the plastic covered sheet of ‘Information and Guidance to Protestors’ issued by the North Yorkshire Police, my yellow reflective cycle vest with ‘Quaker. org.uk’ displayed on the back and my poster. At this point one of the police officers is usually busy filming my approach so I try to remember to wave and smile at the camera. Another officer comes over and asks me if I am aware of the ‘Information and Guidance to Protestors’. I show him my copy and we are usually able to agree quite quickly that it is no different from last week. For over a decade now the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) has held a protest Meeting by the gates of Menwith Hill on a Tuesday evening. The campaign is grounded in a deep concern and opposition to weapons of mass destruction in general and nuclear weapons in particular – specifically the proposed American Missile
Defense/Theater Missile Defense systems. Energetic and articulate, Lindis Percy (pictured above) and Anni Rainbow have driven the campaign with endless questioning, informing and lobbying, with a few court appearances thrown in. The heart of the problem is that activities at Menwith Hill effectively break three major peace treaties dealing with weapons in space and anti-ballistic missiles and yet this has never been discussed by parliament. Members of parliament have been denied access to the base and it seems very unlikely that the British public will ever be asked if they wish to host part of the world’s greatest weapons system. The system is inherently offensive. Publicity about its role in defending the United States is a weak attempt to divert attention from the real controlling power behind the American Missile Defense system. Why am I standing here this Tuesday evening? The large white golf ball-like structures that dominate the base are listening to the electronic world, watching over the world from orbiting satellites. All this information and yet it seems so little understanding to go with it. Some may hear and some may see, but we are kept out by virtue of Section 128 of
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which makes it an offence to cross the yellow line by the gate. The beauty of Nidderdale is lost to view in the darkness. The lights provided by the generator are reflected in pools of rain water collecting on the ground. It is rare for those passing in and out of the gate to stop and talk to us. Most avert their eyes and simply stare ahead, occasionally one or two express outrage at the inverted Stars and Stripes but once in a while I seem to see a look that says this person understands why we are here. Some evenings the police officers are relaxed and happy to talk to us. We point out to them the drivers and passengers without seatbelts, drivers talking on mobile phones and those with defective lights. Maybe we have not lessened world tension tonight but the roads of North Yorkshire are slightly safer. One police officer discusses his hopes for his three young daughters and what sort of world he hopes they will grow up in. Maybe that is why we are there. The pools of light are a metaphor for what we are trying to nurture, the reality of a more peaceful and kinder world for future generations.
the Friend , 3 November 2006 Births
Lucy Marie CORLESS 26 September.A daughter for Josa and Steve,sister for Carl,second grandchild for Elizabeth and Bertram Wehrfritz ofWanstead Meeting,London.
Rowan Edward TILBROOK 18 October.Son to David and Rachel (née Taylor Durr) Tilbrook, first grandchild to Lee Taylor and nephew to Adam and Robin Taylor Durr ofMilton Keynes Meeting.
Mark HARVEY 24 October,very peacefully ofold age.Member of Pickering Meeting.
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'ANENDTOWAR?' Remembrance Sunday 12 November,2pm. Baroness Shirley Williams will give the Movement for the Abolition of War annual lecture in the Imperial War Museum,Lambeth Rd,London. All welcome.No tickets required. Details: www.abolishwar.org.uk
CAMBRIDGE & PETERBOROUGH MM. Saturday 18 November, 11.30am: James Langstaff,East of England Faiths Council representative on East ofEngland Regional Assembly speakson the input of faith groups into Assembly thinking. Please join us.Details:Janet Gilbraith 01223 366232. firstname.lastname@example.org
FILM AND TALK ON PALESTINE Horfield FMH,300 Gloucester Road, Bristol.Tuesday 28 November,6.30pm buffet,7.30pm start.By recently returned worker.Palestinian olive oil on sale.Details: 0117 9594425, email email@example.com
ONE MAN PLAY which questions prison using puppets,masks and physical theatre.Profits to Prison Reform Trust.Venue: Ealing Quaker Meeting House: 25 November - 8pm and 26 November - 3pm.£6/£4 concs.Charlie 0208 767 6278. firstname.lastname@example.org
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NOWI’M 64 Warm,creative Quaker woman knows what she wants! Including a female friend, helpmeet,with whom to live adventurously and love tenderly.Box 848.
SINGLEPROFESSIONALFEMALE 37,seeks unattached man (ofsimilar age) to share zest for life and passions,including music,cycling, walking and African issues.Box 847.
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the Friend, 3 November 2006