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BAE boss lectures on ethics – a bad joke?

Cordula Bieri describes how a CAAT protest took on a comic theme to highlight the absurdity of an arms company boss speaking on ethics.

On a cold and wet Thursday evening, 12 November 2009, supporters of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) gathered outside Savoy Place in central London to have a good laugh. What happened?

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) invited BAE Systems’ Chairman, Dick Olver, to give its annual Mountbatten Memorial Lecture on ethics. The head of a company which is being investigated in several countries for alleged corruption and bribery and yet still denies any wrongdoing. So, naturally, we were really interested in what he had to tell us about ethics.
Read more »

Clarion call from “The Spirit of Christmas”

DSCN5631 by Ian MacKinnon

Clarion's ideal of "The Spirit of Christmas"

Dan Viesnik explains why CAAT supporters dress up for the Spirit of Christmas and the message they are bringing to visitors.  Photo by Ian MacKinnon.

Members of London Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF),  the London Catholic Worker and Trident Ploughshares met vistors outside  the Spirit of Christmas Fair at London’s Olympia, on 7 November 2009.

This was the second year running they had descended upon this area of west London. Why? Was it to spread Christmas cheer among prospective visitors?
Hardly. Rather, they were there to  alert visitors to the fact that the organisers, Clarion Events, are the owners of five international arms and security fairs, including one of the world’s biggest, the euphemistically titled Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI), held biennially in London’s Docklands. DSEI 2009 took place in September, attracting both hordes of arms dealers and much publicity.
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Green markets or gun markets

David Watson from Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) writes on weapons, wars and climate change for Blog Action Day on Climate Change – 15 October 2009.

On 14 October, BBC’s Newsnight asked the question “Can you be green and capitalist?”

Simon Retallack, associate director at the centre-left think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, was asked how best to fight climate change. He rejected an approach based on changing people’s values, saying: “I worry that the [anti-consumerist] approach gets in the way of putting in place some consumerist approaches to solving some of these problems that doesn’t (sic) entail trying to engineer changing people’s values.”

The interviewer didn’t ask Retallack if not changing our values meant we could continue to support wars and military occupations in strategically important locations.

Neither did he offer an opinion on whether this meant that the UK and the US could carry on spending so much of their stretched budgets subsidising their arms industries. Read more »

Clown Army descend upon BAE careers fair!

Battlefield dispatch from General Whitewash and his brigade of rebel clowns:

Today at 17:00 hours a highly militarised clown battalion laid siege to the BAE Systems stand at the Edinburgh University Careers Fair on Chambers Street. In a bid to disrupt the recruiting efforts of the world’s third largest arms company these brave clowns performed great feats of surrealist mayhem.

Their derring-do extended to other stalls when they were alerted to the presence of such villains as Shell, RBS and Procter & Gamble, all of which futilely attempted to conceal their misdeeds – which range from massive environmental and social degradation (here’s lookin’ at you Shell and RBS) to the routine torturing of animals for cosmetics’ testing (hello Procter & Gamble!) – behind nice and shiny PR smokescreens. Good thing these clowns come fully equipped with bullsh*t detectors!

Back at the BAE stand, company reps were definitely not overheard explaining to students how the company equips F-16 warplanes used by the Israeli army to reduce Palestinian and Lebanese villages to rubble. Like lightening clowns were despatched, heavily armed with sarcasm and fluorescent clothing, to make sure potential graduate employees were fully educated in the glorious history of BAE’s deadly dealings. Read more »

DSEI video blog

On the 8 September the DSEI arms fair opened in East London.  I spent the day meandering around CAAT’s demonstration outside the offices of UKTI DSO talking to all and sundry.

I wanted to see the range of reasons why such a large group of people had gathered to fight actions our government deems to be legal. The range of passionate and articulate responses are collected in the video blog below, and stand as a testament to those who wish to stop British companies from profiting through war. They will surely rank with those who have fought such accepted abberations as the slave trade in the past.

It was a great day to feel part of such a positive movement for change, and I would encourage all who are inspired by the film to become an active part of CAAT in the future.

The Quinnie and I (and a few friends)

CAAT’s Media Coordinator Kaye Stearman writes:

I lay unmoving on the walkway above Trafalgar Square, in front of the National Gallery. Through my half-closed eyes, I could see passers-by stopping to look at me, some taking photos. My knees stiffened and my back arched on the still damp ground yet I felt strangely content. Why? Well, I was taking part in a public art event and simultaneously protesting against the London arms fair. How good is that?

The main focus of attention was on the Fourth Plinth of the square, scene of the One & Other project, brainchild of artist Antony Gomley. Members of the public, drawn by lot, could use their hour on the plinth as “living sculptures” to do what ever they liked – as long as it was legal.

A wonderful lady in Leeds called Quinnie had got in touch with Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) the previous month to say that she had been drawn to appear on the plinth and wanted to dedicate her hour to protest against the London arms fair – Defence Systems & Equipment International (DSEI). Read more »

UCL SECReT – NO secret about arms companies links

UCL students pose as arms dealers 3

Katherine O’Mahoney, Universities Network Volunteer writes:
Anti-arms trade campaigners will be shocked and disappointed to learn of the launch of University College London’s (UCL) new £17m Security Research Training Centre – or UCL SECReT. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC), the multidisciplinary centre will recruit between 10 and 20 PhD students each year to research a range of subjects relating to crime and security. And, in its ambition to become one of the world’s leading centres of expertise for security and crime science, UCL SECReT has partnered with arms companies BAE Systems, Thales and Lockheed Martin.

This year student group Disarm UCL successfully lobbied for the university to adopt an ethical investment policy which should result in the exclusion of arms shares from the university’s portfolio.
Read more »

How I found out who is funding the arms trade – and what I did about it!

Bexie21 describes her experience at Clarion Events Baby Show

This is a blog about how I found out that BabyCentre were indirectly funding the arms trade – and perhaps more importantly, what I did about it.

I was browsing BabyCentre, when i came across a thread on DC Lite. I like DC Lite, because it is full of all different types of thread, some funny, some challenging, generally though, it makes you think!!

BlueHouser had written a thread on BabyCentre’s Involvement with the Baby Show – Well that’s quite normal, I thought, a baby website, involved with a baby show, for parents and expectants, sounds good! I was going! Bought my tickets already, and was looking forward to spending my hard earned dosh on lovely things for my little sproggy! Things for him, things for me, Wahey!!

The Baby show was run by Clarion Events. Hmm. No worries there.

Clarion Events also run Arms fairs. If you’re anything like me, you thought, what the Scooby Doo is a bloody arms fair? Introducing Google, My good friend!, I found the website of CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) and wow….

I got it: Clarion run baby shows. Clarion also run arms fairs, where weapons are sold. Weapons that maim and kill familes and children and mothers and expectants. Read more »

BAE AGM in pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words and that is certainly true when you look at the output of the wonderful Jill Gibbon. She attended the 2009 BAE AGM, as she has in previous years, and has done a fantastic series of sketches of the meeting itself and the lunch afterwards -which makes you realise there is a whole subculture of investors who attend AGMs just for the food (admittedly it was the best part of the day).

Look and laugh at www.jillgibbon.co.uk.

Throw the book at BAE – CAAT at the BAE AGM 2009

The BAE AGM is one of the constants of the CAAT calendar. Every May we mobilise our supporters to line up to ask the sort of questions the BAE Board definitely do not want to answer. 2009 was no exception.

This year we decided to focus on what happens inside the AGM, rather than outside. Even so, the day started with a small group of CAAT supporters holding posters highlighting BAE’s rising profits and ethical record. As usual, the area outside the giant Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centree was heavily policed and we were confined to a small holding pen, made even more frustrating by the narrowed pavements and extra barriers thrown up by roadworks. Hopefully, the Korean tourists and French schoolchildren who passed by understood at least some of our message.

At least you can see our messages in our photos. Although BAE faithfully recorded the entire AGM on film, shareholders cannot use recording equipment inside the meeting.

We were faced with the usual bland setting. The BAE Board – all male, almost all white – sat on the rostrum. Most stayed mute, letting Chairman Dick Olver dominate the meeting. Apart from a report from Chief Executive Ian King, and a few short replies from others, it was Olver all the way. Read more »