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BAE – getting away with paying peanuts

Demo outside BAE court case

A giant Dick Olver, chairman of BAE, paying peanuts

BAE managed to escape with a fine of £500,000 plus costs in court today. Its plea bargain (worth £30 million) to end years of corruption investigations was structured so poorly that if the court fined more, this would be deducted from the amount Tanzania is to receive in reparations. The judge described “moral pressure” to therefore minimise the fine.

But it is heartening that the judge, like the rest of us, could clearly see through BAE’s story:

“..on the basis of the documents shown to me it seems very naïve in the extreme to think that Mr Vithlani was simply a well-paid lobbyist” Read more »

BAE – guilty not only of “accounting errors”?

We braved the snow to demonstrate outside BAE’s court hearing

CAAT outside court

Will a giant Dick Olver get away with paying peanuts?

Sub-zero temperatures didn’t deter us from voicing our anger outside court today. Arms company BAE was inside and set to get away with paying utter peanuts: buying an end to years of corruption investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). But it seems we weren’t the only people to spot injustice: the judge has so far not rubber-stamped the proposed plea bargain. He has instead postponed sentencing until tomorrow.

The SFO investigations involved allegations of corrupt payments of over £1,000,000,000 in nine countries. The proposed plea bargain on the other hand is a measly £30 million, admitting only to “accounting errors” in a single disastrous deal for Tanzania. Read more »

Justice should be HEARD by everyone

Westminster Magistrates Court

Westminster Magistrates Court

Kaye Stearman explains, as far as she is able, what happened when BAE pleaded guilty in court.
Tuesday 23 November 2010

9.45 – I arrive at Westminister Magistrates Court in Horseferry Road, a building with all the architectual charm of a multi-story parking lot and the security checks of a minor international airport. Read more »

Santa and his elves protest against DSEI arms fair owners

Santa and elves assemble outside Olympia

Santa and elves assemble outside Olympia

Santa and his elves turned up at Kensington Olympia on Sunday 7 November to protest about the Spirit of Christmas being corrupted by the owners of the DSEI arms fair. The Spirit of Christmas Fair was taking place and the organisers of this event, Clarion Events, saw no contradiction between holding an exhibition for the gift trade and organising the world largest arms fair. Read more »

Through the Payne barrier on the Great South Run

“Wow, I did it” says Debbie Payne after she finishes the Great South Run.

These shoes were made for running

What makes it even more special is that Debbie was running on 24 October to raise funds for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and now she has posted her account on the blogsite of Norfolk CAAT. Read all about it and be inspired.

CAAT is keen to hear of others who are willing to run, hop and skip to raise funds. And if you want to take that ultimate jump of a lifetime, why not sign up for skydiving. If you want to learn more, contact fundraising(at)caat*org*uk

How BAE uses LEGO to groom children

Why is arms company BAE Systems encouraging schoolchildren to play with LEGO?

The company wants children to develop the skills it needs for developing high-tech weapons platforms, and has hit upon LEGO’s programmable robot kits called Mindstorms as a fun way to get kids interested.

Children being shown how to make robot vehicles

Children making robot vehicles at the BAE-sponsored FIRST LEGO League

BAE Systems runs LEGO Mindstorms sessions in British classrooms, and last year the company enlisted the help of Eastenders actor Todd Carty to front a school roadshow in which children worked to create a robotic LEGO vehicle. Meanwhile, in the US, BAE heavily sponsors the FIRST LEGO League, in which children compete to build the best LEGO robot.

For BAE, this is part of a wider involvement in schools aimed at steering the best and brightest pupils into a career making military machines. Read more »

Edinburgh Uni students close careers fair in protest against BAE Systems

A careers fair at the University of Edinburgh was closed down last week after the organisers’ decision to invite the world’s largest arms firm to the event triggered a nonviolent protest by students. The students laid down in front of the stall run by BAE Systems in a symbolic die-in.

Read more »

ITT’s Hammertime!

Yesterday I took part in an action which managed to close down arms factory EDO/ITT/MBM for a day. The extremely heavy policing stopped us from blocking the road to the factory, but tens of police vans in our way meant our actions had the desired effect: to close the factory and maximise economic damage to an arms company that the Smash EDO campaign hope to drive out of Brighton.

The action (tagline: “If I had a hammer…”) was inspired by the acquittal of the Decommissioners, who caused £300,000 worth of damage to assembly lines during Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2009. By aiming to “besiege” the factory by blocking its access roads, protesters stood in solidarity with Palestinians who live under siege. The hope is that more civil resistance to EDO’s presence in Brighton will prove the final straw for this arm’s companies operations in Brighton.

CAAT staff poised with inflatable hammers over a model of an EDO-armed fighter plane Read more »

Diary of a peace campaigner

Rhiannon Rees recalls her busy week of meetings and actions in October 2010.

Peace campaigners in the London area have had a busy week, and I have been fortunate to get around and meet some fantastic people. Last week was also ‘Quaker Week’, and I went to two of the talks at the Quaker Centre in Euston that illustrated how Quakers are involved in working for peace.

Tuesday 5 October: Andree Ryan spoke at the Quaker Centre about the time she had spent as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Israel/Palestine. These are trained volunteers of all faiths, who spend several months living and working alongside Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, observing and reporting on the daily brutality and hardships of the Israeli occupation and helping to negotiate some mitigation of the hardships and defuse some tense situations by their presence. The programme is co-ordinated by Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) under the auspices of the World Council of Churches.

Inspired by the courage of the Ecumenical Accompaniers, I took the rather less brave step of joining the monthly vigil against Trident in Parliament Square, which is organised by London Region CND and takes place from 5-7pm on the first Tuesday in the month. Since the Peace Camp was ejected and the green has been blocked off by hoardings, we have to display our banners on a narrow strip of pavement close to the rush-hour traffic, but we gave out 350 leaflets and I hope reached some MPs. Read more »

Pounding the pavements to raise pounds for CAAT

Robin Lane, of St. Stephen’s Church in Dulwich, recounts a sponsored walk from the leafy suburbs to the heart of the speculative city.

On Saturday, 7 August, myself and Ian Pocock completed a walk to raise funds for Campaign Against the Arms Trade CAAT). We walked a total of 6.2 miles, starting at St. Stephen’s church in Dulwich, and finishing at the Stock Exchange in the City.

Robin and Ian at the beginning of their walk

The idea for the walk came about after I had decided on a walk to raise funds for St. Stephen’s. However, I soon decided on a joint walk to raise funds for CAAT also. I wanted to bring the message to the congregation that the arms trade is an unnecessary evil, and to impress upon them the importance of world peace. Read more »