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 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 »
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.
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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.
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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 »