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A spark

Feeling very grateful to past self for subscribing. The current issue focussing on hunger and food justice (NI 533) is a cracker.

John Waterworth via social media

Marching orders


Symon Hill’s ‘What if… armed forces were abolished’ (NI 533) makes for an interesting read.

In 2016 the entirety of world military expenses totalled up to more than $1.6 trillion. If we could have a peace plan that ran this down to zero and spent the money on a worldwide low carbon plan we would soon achieve our emissions reductions targets.

To have all countries cede all of their armed forces in agreed stages, to a democratically elected United Nations, until war becomes impossible – that is a peace plan that can work and would leave most of the world’s population unharmed by the climate crisis.

Andy Kadir-Buxton Hatfield, UK


Re: Symon Hill’s mention of Costa Rica abolishing its army. Although Costa Rica is not officially a member of a military alliance, it relies considerably on the US to safeguard its interests and has to accept much American policy. The world should be moving together to abolish the military, but a country which does so unilaterally will erode its independence from more powerful nations.

Michael Hunneman Taunton, UK


If our armed forces had been abolished 80 years ago, the Battle of Britain and Operation Overlord would never have taken place and the whole of Europe would have been defeated by Nazi Germany.

More recently, if Britain did not have armed forces in 1982, when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, they would now be under Argentinian rule.

Nobody knows what threats may arise in the future, so it is imperative that countries maintain their capability to defend themselves.

James Cunningham Ruislip, UK

Official version

Your Russian feature (‘Not toeing the Kremlin’s line’, NI 532), covered many important subjects regarding the courageous work of the regional media in exposing Moscow’s lies.

One particular example was the under-reporting of Covid-19 deaths, illustrated by the Governor of Lipetsk telling officials to manipulate the figures.

Doubt was also cast by a CNN report by Mary Ilyushina on 29 December 2020. It quoted 229,700 more deaths in Russia for the first 11 months of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019 (according to the country’s statistics agency Rosstat). It also revealed the true Covid-19 death toll could be estimated to be 186,000 via information from a high government source. This was three times higher than the official death toll of 56,000.

David Rimmer Hertford Heath, UK


Graeme Green’s article ‘Beyond the tourist trail’ (NI 529) was superb. Clear writing, perfectly deployed interview quotes, and masterful lassoing of only the key bits that mattered. I shall be sharing with lots of people, with notes along the lines of: ‘You want to know what’s important in conservation in Africa today? This.’ Bravo.

Mike Pflanz Conservation Communications, Nairobi, Kenya


The UK publisher for Wole Soyinka’s Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth reviewed in NI 533 is Bloomsbury (ISBN 9781526638243). Pantheon Books (mentioned in the review) is the US publisher.

Why I...

...campaign against coal.

Confronting the climate crisis means ending the era of coal – and investing in new green jobs and industries instead.

My journey as an anti-coal campaigner began seven years ago when I joined 7,500 activists to form a human chain between two proposed lignite mines in Poland and Germany.

I spend most of my time in Cumbria, where I’m a community organizer for Friends of the Earth, campaigning against the controversial plan to build the new Whitehaven coal mine. A public inquiry into the mine is expected to report before the end of 2021 or early next year.

Meanwhile you can sign the petition to stop it here: nin.tl/StopWhitehaven

Rakesh Prashara Newcastle upon Tyne, UK