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Editorial

Eduardo Galeano, the great Uruguayan writer, said "if nature was a bank it would have already been saved".

Isn't that true? So much is decided in the name of financial profit, and what institutions are more cynical in this than banks. When we look at the mess the economy is in and at how many people it affects, who is especially to blame? And yet here come the rescue packages, and the big bonuses for directors who have presided over the disaster.

As we repeatedly report in this newsletter, banks are one of the main financiers of the arms trade. The connection between the economic crisis and militarism could not be clearer than with the role of banks, and in this issue Jordi Calvo Rufange describes some of the basic ways that banks are involved in the war industry.

Is it impossible to live without these banks? Where else could we put our money?

There are several campaigns promoting ethical banks, demanding no more investments in the arms trade. This work is very welcome. But what about a campaign against banks per se? Is that just being utopian? Well, a year before French students coined the slogan "Be realistic, demand the impossible", one of the world's outstanding cooperatives was born. Back in 1967, in Venezuela, a group of local self-managed credit unions decided to launch a cooperative funeral service. This grew into a full community transport programme, and then got into coordinating food distribution. A year ago when I visited Barquisimeto, this cooperative of cooperatives called Cecosesola was supplying the fruit and vegetables to a third of the population of the area - half a million people - and organic too! They've set up local health centres, and we even visited a new hospital they've opened, ploughing back the income they've generated. It's another model of economics. It's taken a long time to grow - but as they say "revolution is a broth best cooked slowly".

Drones

Several peace, anti-war and anti arms trade groups have taken on campaigning against drones. The Campaign of the Month this issue highlights CODEPINK's campaign against drones. Campaigning against arms trade can get a bit geeky with the need to explain new technologies.

This couldn't be more true than on the issue of drones - what would we do without people like CODEPINK to put it across in simple words. The drone race is well under way, numerous countries are desperate to buy or start building their own ones. The USA and Israel are in the lead, but other countries are following enthusiastically. At the last annual meeting of the European Network Against Arms Trade, held in Berlin, I learned of plans of submarine drones, and also about how in the near future the plan is that drones will be completely independent. At the moment, far away from their targets, there is usually someone with a joystick telling the drone what to do. Soon this won't be necessary - someone will just format the drone, and that's that.

CODEPINK works with Pakistany people to make contact with the victims of drones there, making visible that this technology is not safe but on the contrary is creating new dimensions of "collateral damage" (military speak for "death and destruction").

Our War Profiteer of this Month is Veolia, a major profiteer from the Separation Wall in Palestine. But unlike most war profiteers, this is a company with which we are quite likely to have contact. It advertises its "environmental services" - waste management, water, energy facilities, passenger transport. Yes, let's recycle - but boycott Veolia!

Javier Gárate