Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Plowshares Action by Fr. Martin Newell & Katrina Alton

Protests expected as Libyan arms dealers come to ExCelTuesday, September 8 12:01 amBy Liz Stephens from

Anti-war protests are expected in London today as a controversial arms fair gets underway.The Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition begins at the ExCel centre in the Docklands today. Protests are planned at ExCel, in the City and also in Westminster. The bi-annual event – which is flagged as the world's largest fully integrated defence and security exhibition – will attract arms dealers and technology and military experts from across the world.
Of the 53 countries invited by UK Trade and Investment's Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) to attend the event, several have been blacklisted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for human rights violations.

However, the event claims that conventional weapons of torture and landmines will not be on display and all exhibits will comply with UK law and the provisions of the Oslo Accord. "Exhibitors promoting or exhibiting prohibited items, either overtly or covertly during the exhibition, will be in breach of their contract with the organisers and will forfeit their right to exhibit at DSEi," say organisers Clarion Defence and Security.

Protests will take place at a number of locations, although the event itself will be surrounded by a "ring of steel" with only accredited visitors, exhibitors and press allowed within a strict distance of the ExCel centre.

"Huge profits will be made by arms companies, but the costs are borne by the UK taxpayer, and millions of people whose lives are blighted by the arms trade."

Libya has been accused of arming the IRA and other terrorist organisations during the 80s & 90s.

PRESS RELEASE, Wednesday 9th September 2009DSEi
Arms Fair, ExCEL Centre, Docklands, London Catholic Workers Arrested for Exposing Bloody DSEi Arms Fair

London Catholic Workers Katrina Alton and Martin Newell poured red paint on to a sign advertising the DSEi Arms Fair [this morning at 8.30am]. The red paint represents the blood of the victims of the arms fair, on [the walkway which is the main pedestrian entrance to the arms fair by Custom House DLR station]. … The two raised a banner which read “FORGIVE THEM FATHER; THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”. They remained there kneeling in prayer for 45 minutes while several Arms Dealers took photos and one spoke with Fr. Martin. The two were surrounded by a dozen police officers and arrested for criminal damage, they were taken to a local police station.

Katrina Alton said, “Today the DSEi Arms Fair is proudly trading in arms and weapons that cause death and suffering to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable in our world. As a Christian I believe these children, women, and men are my brothers and sisters. Their voices are silent and their stories are not writ large on advertising stands or at multi billion pound ‘Fairs’: they remain hidden, “out of sight out of mind”. My love and compassion for these victims, faith, means that in faith and solidarity I cannot remain silent or hidden. So our action today is a visible sign that in the heart of our community this week the powerful and the greedy are trading in the blood of the poor: and that blood is on my hands too. By pouring ‘blood’ over the DSEi sign I am hoping to bring out into the light what is happening here today, and challenge these powerful and rich people to think what a difference could be made right now if all this money and resources was used to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the sick just as Jesus asks us to do.

Martin Newell said, “This red paint, our actions today, are for the victims. The victims of the arms trade may not know where their suffering has come from – they may only know that their families have been killed, their homes destroyed, their means of survival wiped out. They may not know the words DSEi, EXCEL, arms fair, arms trade, or capitalism. But those who are working here today, those who work in and for the arms trade, do know that they make a living at the expense of the blood of the innocent. We hope and pray that our action here today will touch those hardened hearts, and open the eyes of those who see but do not perceive, so that hearts of stone will be changed into hearts of flesh. We expect to pay a price for our convictions and our conscientious objection to this arms fair. But I pray that this too will be a small part of my journey to seeing the truth from the perspective of the victims.” The London Catholic Worker is a part of the international, radical, pacifist, Catholic Worker movement. We offer hospitality and welcome to the poor and homeless, refugees and other migrants. At the same time we resist the forces of injustice and violence that create so much suffering, poverty and insecurity. Katrina Alton and Martin Newell are members of the London Catholic Worker (LCW). They live and work in the LCW house of hospitality for refugees in Hackney. They also work in the LCW drop-in and community cafĂ©. Katrina Alton is 42 years old. Martin Newell is also 42.

The next day

Katrina Alton, Diane, Scott Albrecht, two CW volunteers at the Farm and I went to support Martin in his court appearance today. We had expected the court to begin a 9, but it did not begin until 10. Martin made a brief appearance just afternoon noon. The court then adjourned for lunch and began again at 2:00 p.m. (aka 14:00).

Finally Martin appeared. Two dates were set: October 6th for a pre-trial review & the trial February 24th. Katrina was released yesterday around 7:00 p.m. She received a fixed penalty notice and a fine of £80 around $130. Her stay though briefer than Martin's was distinctly unpleasant. A usually provided screen for women to use the toilet was missing in her cell. The toilet did not work and was sharing a very foul odor.
Martin was held over night due to his record of previous actions making it a long day due to the noise and bright lights at night.


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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.