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Protest to end spending on weapons

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Projecting the message: One of many signs protesting against the use of drones

Projecting the message: One of many signs protesting against the use
of drones

AS PEOPLE across the world marked the UN International Day of Peace (Sept 21), about 150 people from across south and mid Wales gathered at Parc Aberporth (Blaenannerch). 

The event, the brainchild of local woman Kate Sherringer, took the form of a symbolic ‘Drape the Drones’ and ‘Wool against Weapons’ action. Speakers Jill Evans MEP (Plaid Cymru), Jim Scott (Pembrokeshire Green Party), Sue Lent (Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council) and Jill Gough (CND Cymru) all called for an end to militarism, and a halt to plans to spend £100billion of taxpayer’s money on replacing Trident – the British nuclear weapons system. Jill Evans MEP said: “War technology, of course, changes constantly but what does not change is the use of our country to test and practise for war. Aberporth is where drones have been developed for a multimillion Ministry of Defence programme – not a fact we can be proud of. Wales can help build a better world by contributing to peace and development.”

Jim Scott of the Green Party emphasised the damage caused to the environment caused by wars, arms build-up and militarism he said: “Technology is being used by governments and big oil companies to control and exploit vulnerable regions in the world, perpetuate instability and war, and disconnect us from the act of killing by conducting it remotely. We must redress and reverse the environmental damage caused by this approach before it is too late.” Sue Lent of Cardiff City Council, a long time campaigner for peace and justice said that she and her family had been visiting Wales for decades on holiday but had always considered the military sites near Aberporth as a blot on the landscape which spoiled an otherwise exceptionally beautiful area. CND Cymru National Secretary Jill Gough said: “It is time to work on alternative, non-violent ways of conflict resolution and we want Ceredigion, and the rest of Wales to be part of the solution – not part of the problem.

Here, where people are forced to use food banks and to seek help to pay energy bills, while £billions is spent annually on armaments, it is time to reconsider our priorities. The Peace Scarf shows just how passionate ordinary people everywhere are about nuclear disarmament. However symbolic the action, when people find their voice, they speak out. If we fail to abolish nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons will abolish us.” Music provided by Côr Gobaith (Aberystwyth), St Dogmaels Community Choir and Côr Cochion Caerdydd, and poetry by Paul Hawkes and Dave Rendle (Cardigan), Katy Beddoe (Newport Gwent) and Patrick Dobbs (Llandovery) was followed by a moving reading of the Waldo Williams poem Y Tangnefeddwyr by Megan Williams (Glandŵr Pembrokeshire). After a 2km locally knitted rainbow scarf had been unrolled around and across the entrance to Parc Aberporth and around the roads and the adjacent roundabout, people stood in a very moving two minutes silence, to remember all victims of war.

Over 100 signatures were collected on a giant postcard to David Cameron calling on him to follow 19th Century Tregaron born Welsh MP Henry Richard in his work towards International Arbitration instead of violent conflict. The day had been preceded by a colourful and musical lead-up event outside Cardigan Guild Hall. Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire peace campaigners will be meeting on the Global Action Day against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing to fly kites on Poppit Sands at 12pm.

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Royals set to visit Ceredigion during summer visit

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AS PART of their annual summer visit to Wales, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be visiting Ceredigion next month.

From July 2-6, Charles and Camilla will tour the country, undertaking over 20 engagements across the country.

On July 3, The Prince of Wales will visit Dà Mhìle Distillery, Llandysul, the first organic distillery in the UK approved by the Soil Association, where he was previously gifted the thousandth bottle to be produced by Dà Mhìle.

The Prince of Wales will also visit St. Gwenog’s Church, Llanwenog, and view their unique carvings created by Joseph Reubens, a Belgian World War One refugee. His Royal Highness will also meet members of their local community.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s fourteenth annual Summer visit to Wales will feature celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of The National Health Service and the marking the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales railway line amongst other events.

A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince and The Duchess are really looking forward to their annual summer visit to Wales where they will be celebrating key anniversaries for the National Health Service, the Heart of Wales railway line and the 90th anniversary of Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisation. Their Royal Highnesses relish the opportunity to meet members of the community who are making a difference to Welsh life.”

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Social media used to groom children young as six

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CHILDREN as young as six in Wales have been targeted across an array of online platforms in the first year following the introduction of anti-grooming laws.

A law of Sexual Communication with a Child came into effect in England and Wales on April 3, 2017, after an NSPCC campaign, and in the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police forces – amounting to nine grooming offences per day.

A total of 274 offences were recorded across the four Welsh police forces in the same period.

More than half of the offences in Wales were logged by South Wales Police (158) with 53 in North Wales and 44 in the Gwent force area.

Dyfed-Powys Police supplied data for the period between October 2017 and April 2018 when 19 offences were recorded.

In Wales, grooming offences were recorded on 23 different platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat comprising the top three most-commonly used with more than 120 taking place using those platforms alone.

Ninety-one crimes were reported in Wales against boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, while 56 offences were recorded against children aged 11 and under. The youngest victim recorded was just six years old.

Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, the UK Government’s digital secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.

The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe.

It is calling on Government Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow; Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites; Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports; Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.

It comes ahead of the charity’s annual flagship conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Wednesday June 20 in London and has the theme Growing Up Online.

Contact offences such as rape and sexual assault were among those recorded in connection with grooming offences.

Mared Parry, from North Wales, was sent sexual messages from men 10 years older than her on Facebook when she was aged just 14.

Mared, who has waived her right to anonymity, was groomed to send semi-naked pictures to them.

She said: “At the beginning it was messages like ‘Hey, how are you?’ But as the weeks went on, they started sending messages that were more and more sexual. It was so subtle; that’s why it is so easy for an online chat to slip into being so wrong.

“If I didn’t reply or speak the way they wanted me to, then they would say: ‘You’re just too immature for me’. They were so manipulative, but you don’t even notice it.

“Looking back at it now, it’s scary to think that I sent semi-naked pictures to older guys. It could have gone a lot further.”

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.

“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.

“I urge digital secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.

“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”

In Wales, NSPCC Cymru has called for the Welsh Government to co-ordinate and progress efforts to keep children as safe in their online worlds as they are offline.

Last year, Welsh Government announced plans to produce a children and young persons’ online safety action plan.

The NSPCC hopes it will deliver practical help and support for schools, parents and others in Wales involved in child protection online when it is published.

How Safe Are Our Children? takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, London on June 20-21.

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Grant money available to improve play areas in Ceredigion

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL has been awarded £100,800 from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development Fund to finance capital works in four play areas across Ceredigion.

On June 19, the Council’s Cabinet authorised the project’s commencement.

The four play areas are Ponterwyd Play Area, Llanon Tennis Courts, Llanddewi Brefi Play Area and Cardigan Skate Park. The money will improve playing and leisure opportunities in these areas.

The full cost of the work is estimated to be £126,000, with the grant contributing 80% of the cost and the town and community councils will provide the remaining 20%.

The Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Catrin Miles, said, “Quality and safe playing opportunities are important to the county’s children as well as for their parents. I’m delighted that the Cabinet could authorise such a project and I’m sure the play areas will be well used after being improved.”

The project may start from July 18, 2018 and must end by April 30, 2019.

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