Who killed Nikkita Walters and Katie-Jo Davies?

The movers and shakers of the Welsh weapons industry will gather on Tuesday 7 April 2009 for the annual Aerolink Wales arms fair. Organisers promise ‘a host of new opportunities for our attendees’ plus a very pleasant stay – at the taxpayers’ expense, of course – in the 4 star Vale of Glamorgan Hotel and Spa.

But just who are the people intent on putting Wales at the forefront of the global arms trade?

Here's to more death and destruction!

Here's to more death and destruction!

First minister, Rhodri Morgan, makes no bones of his support for the Welsh war machine. In early February 2009 he was in north Wales offering support to Saygrove Electronics Ltd, which produces missile systems. Two weeks before that he visited Hawker Beechcraft in Broughton, which makes the spy planes that patrol the skies above Afghanistan and Iraq.

And when the announcement of the new military academy at St Athan was made on the steps of the Senedd in 2007, Rhodri and Welsh politicians from all parties were queuing in front of the TV cameras to express their delight at the £14 billion project, hailed as the saviour of the south Wales economy.

Ieuan Wyn Jones, country lawyer turned arms dealer

Ieuan Wyn Jones, country lawyer turned government arms dealer

Now that the academy looks doomed to fail, Rhodri and Ieuan ‘deputy dawg’ Wyn Jones, his Plaid Cymru sidekick and minister for enterprise, innovation and networks, will no doubt be using Aerolink 2009 to push for companies to set up at the ParcAberporth UAV technology park near Aberystwyth, where unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as the Hermes 450 made by Israeli firm Elbit Systems, are tested. According to the technology park’s website a ‘generous and comprehensive support structure [is] available to occupiers’. By May 2008 £8.7 million of our money had gone towards making Parc Aberporth one of Europe’s leading military testing centres, attracting not just Israeli UAV manufacturers but many others from around the world.

Mark Norris, head of aerospace and defence, IBW; director of AWF

Mark Norris, head of aerospace and defence, IBW; director of AWF

Making sure Rhodri and Ieuan’s pledges are turned into action is the job of Mark Norris, head of aerospace and defence at International Business Wales (IBW), a government department under the direct supervision of Wyn Jones which offers ‘an unrivalled package of skills, sites and support’ to the arms industry. IBW is a main sponsor of Aerolink 2009 so Mr Norris will, no doubt, be courted by representatives of arms manufacturers from around the world eager for handouts. Yet far from providing the ‘unbiased’ eye of a civil servant out to get the best deal for the taxpayer, Norris is indisputably on the side of the arms industry, demonstrated by the fact that he just happens to be a director of Aerospace Wales Forum Ltd (AWF), a private lobbying company – yet in receipt of public money – run by CEO John Whalley, whose thirty years of experience at BAE Systems, the UK’s premier arms manufacturer, put him and his lobbying outfit at the heart of the Welsh arms industry.

John Whalley, ex-BAE Systems and CEO of Aerospace Wales Forum

John Whalley, ex-BAE Systems and CEO of Aerospace Wales Forum

Politicians and manufacturers would be lost without the research and development (R&D) expertise of Wales’ top universities. Cardiff and Swansea universities have received at least £7 million of public money to help private companies develop their weapons capability. In addition, Bangor and Aberystwyth universities (along with Swansea) got £17 million of taxpayers’ money last year to work on the Tyciant project which aims to develop further UAV technologies.

Getting our children involved in the war effort is the task of John Steele, University of Glamorgan academic, director of AWF and representative of the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC). At a Welsh assembly science policy review meeting in 2005 Mr Steele, in his role as ‘coordinating and implementing a Welsh academic and skills aerospace strategy,’ declared the national curriculum as ‘too prescriptive and too soft’. His solution?  ‘Mathematics, Science and Innovative skills must underpin any future education system’. Fellow AWF director John Whalley’s former employer, BAE Systems, has taken Steele’s words to heart by opening an ‘education’ centre at its Glascoed bomb-making factory where primary school children are promised ‘a unique learning experience to bring the subject of World War 2 to life’.

military academic, AWF director, representative of SBAC

John Steele, military academic, AWF director, SBAC people and management board

Luckily the children can leave the bomb factory and go home at the end of the day. Not so fortunate were air cadets Nikkita Walters and Katie-Jo Davies, the teenage cousins from Gilfach Goch, killed above the skies of St Athan during one of the RAF’s ‘First Flight experiences‘.

            As Rhodri Morgan, Ieuan Wyn Jones, Mark Norris, John Whalley and John Steele cut deals over wine and canapés at Aerolink Wales 2009, dreaming of the world’s biggest and brashest training camp, serving the armies and airforces of the world, we wonder if any of them will pause to remember Nikkita and Katie-Jo…

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Cardiff students determined to continue occupation

On 24 February 2009, Cardiff became the first Welsh university – the 28th in the UK –  to be occupied by students, outraged that their university invests upwards of £200,000 in BAE Systems and General Electric, two of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers and major suppliers of weapons used to kill Palestinians in the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza.

cardiff-uni-occupation-001Following a well-attended ‘books not bombs’ demonstration, thirty students decided to occupy the Shandon lecture theatre opposite the students union where they are now coming to the end of their second day. Despite the annoying presence of university security guards, who are demanding ID from visitors and trying (but failing) to stop food and drink getting in to the lecture theatre, the students’ spirits are high and they’re adamant that the occupation will continue until their demands are met.

Representing a number of different political groupings, the students have been busy spreading the word, contacting and receiving messages of support from the likes of Naom Chomsky and at 2 pm today they were involved in a video link up with Palestinian students from the Jabaliya district of Gaza.

As usual, the Welsh mainstream media don’t seem to give a toss about covering this important action. And perhaps even more surprising is the lack of support from Cardiff university lecturers. Presumably they’ve been shackled by university bosses eager not to let more damaging information such as Cardiff’s £2.5 million military research programme leak out.

The occupation is more than just a stand off between angry students and a badly-behaved university. ‘Aside from the demands, if we’ve made people more aware, and there are lots of apathetic, disinterested students, then it’s worth it,’ said Becky. ‘This is a great transforming experience,’ added Andy. ‘Many of us never thought we could carry out an occupation. Now we’ve done it, we’re thinking what to do next.’

Cardiff university vice-chancellor, David Grant, has blood on his hands

Cardiff university vice-chancellor, David Grant, has blood on his hands

As negotiations proceed, we appeal to all those who are no longer prepared to see our public institutions hand over money to corporations that kill, to do everything they can to support the occupation. Get yourselves down to the Shandon lecture theatre armed with bags of food (veggie/vegan) and drink or send a message. The students need your support.   

For more information and the very latest on the occupation contact:

www.occupiedcardiff.blogspot.com

cardiffstudentsagainstwar@gmail.com

Huw ‘gravy train’ Lewis makes the news

Huw Lewis: knight in shining armour?

Huw Lewis: knight in shining armour or hypocrite?

Huw ‘gravy train’ Lewis, labour arsembly member for Merthyr Tydfil (even though he lives in Penarth with fellow Labour AM Lynne Neagle) has recently been heard criticising US firm Covanta over plans to build a huge waste incinerator in his constituency. Lewis is right to express his concerns. Covanta was found guilty of violating employment laws in the US and has been fined hundreds of thousands of pounds after exceeding emission levels of carcinogenic chemicals from its American incinerators.

‘Frankly, I find it a little surprising that the assembly government has been courting a company that has a string of environmental breaches and seems to also engage in union-bashing,’ said a perturbed Lewis.

Perhaps Huw might like to respond to South Wales Anarchists’ revelations last month that taxpayers’ money, set aside to provide for his generous pension, is being invested by Baillie Gifford Life Ltd in companies that, er, destroy the environment and abuse workers’ rights!

Alun 'greasy wops' Cairns

Alun 'greasy wops' Cairns

And whilst we’re on the subject of our arsembly members’ pension fund scam, we’re wondering why Alun ‘greasy wops’ Cairns hasn’t quite managed to remove an entry in the Welsh assembly register of members’ interests which still has him as chair of the pension fund trustees even though he was forced to resign from the post on 16 January 2009. Could we remind the diminutive tory that, according to section 36 of the Government of Wales act 2006, standing order 31 requires members to register within 4 weeks any changes to those interests. Oh dear, it looks like Alun has screwed up yet again…

Wrecsam activists target Israeli goods

Peace activists from Wrecsam decided to show their anger at the Israeli attack on the people of Gaza by organising a “supermarket sweep” of Israeli goods in the town’s supermarkets last month. The first one at Tesco was a spur of the moment thing organised via e-mail after the 1st protest – 18 people turned up. This is unheard of in a small town like Wrecsam!

Does your shopping fuel the Israeli war machine?

Does your shopping fuel the Israeli war machine?

The numbers made life a bit difficult so the group split up and agreed to meet by the veg aisles. Not everyone was happy to fill their trolleys (one guy worked for Asda!) so some people put leaflets on car windscreens outside. Others went inside in ones and twos and eventually met up at the fruit and veg counter.

 

Some people decided they didn’t want to do the trolley to the till thing and it all descended into a bit of a shambles – most abandoned their trolleys in the clothes dept upstairs, some hid stuff there or in the freezers and (because Tesco is so big) got lost. No-one had any stickers.
  

Then it all got a bit DIY – secret shoppers started going to Sainsbury and the following Saturday a group went back to Tesco. They were clocked by security and some got 12-month bans from the store. This included a guy who went there to take photos.

By the end, most Israeli herbs had vanished and the ones left had “Boycott Israeli goods” stickers on the barcodes – apparently if you try to tear them off it knackers the barcodes.

The supermarket sweeps have been chaotic, unorganised and hugely disruptive to the supermarkets. They’ve also brought people together, developed their direct action confidence and have hopefully given Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury food for thought.

 

Anti-Israeli protestors set to fight assault allegations in court

Three people are fighting accusations that they assaulted police following a protest last year against the visit by Israeli Ambassador, Ron Proser, to the Welsh Assembly.   The assaults were alleged to have happened as the three were pushed to the ground by police, desperate to keep protestors away from the visiting dignitary.

Ron Proser, war criminal

Ron Proser, war criminal?

Ron Proser’s visit to the Senedd in June 2008 sparked controversy when a number of Assembly Members refused to meet him.  The presiding officer, Dafydd Elis-Thomas pointed to the extent to which Israel had ‘failed to meet its international obligations to the Palestinian people’.  Protests were called to coincide with Proser’s arrival at the assembly building. 

However, the ambassador’s arrival was carefully planned to keep him well away from any protest.  A decoy convoy of diplomatic cars was used to draw the protesters’ attention to the main public entrance of the assembly, while Proser himself arrived at the Pierhead Street entrance in a much less ostentatious vehicle. 

Anticipating such a tactic, a group of protesters had gathered in Pierhead street, determined that Proser should witness some of the protest against him.  However, just as he was arriving, the police moved in, apparently to prevent a ‘breach of the peace’.  Three people were thrown to the ground and arrested for assault.  One police officer alleges that he was kneed to the groin, a second that he sustained scratches to his wrist and a third that he was pulled to the floor.

The defendants have described these charges as pure fabrication, intended only to deter people from making any sort of effective protest at the assembly.  ‘I think we upset their plans to keep Proser away from the protests and because of that we were pushed, shoved, thrown to the floor and arrested for things we have not done’, said Val Swain, one of the people charged.  ‘But this is a man who has sanctioned war crimes against Palestine.  It doesn’t seem so unreasonable to me that he should be confronted with protests against the murderous regime he represents.’

The case will be tried at Cardiff magistrates court from the 20th April.  The trial is expected to last for four days.  At least one of the defendants potentially faces a custodial sentence due to the seriousness of the allegations, and it is possible that all three will be sent to prison if convicted. 

All the defendants would appreciate support when the case goes to trial in April.  Please send messages of support to val.swain@yahoo.co.uk .  Anyone able to spare a few hours to support the defendants in court during the trial would be very welcome. 

Trial dates: 20th – 25th April

Cardiff Magistrates Court

Contact for further info: val.swain@yahoo.co.uk

Bookfair Application Form

bookfair-flyer-lo-res

Thanks very much for the fantastic response we’ve had to the Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair shout out in January! Everyone here appreciates the support and goodwill that’s been shown.

Right. The next step is…..this:

Attached is an application form for ALL stalls and workshops. Please can you take the time to fill it in, even if you have already approached us.

We’re going to look at all the applications in April and decide who we’re going to have. At the moment, there are still spaces for both stalls and workshops, so if you’re interested, please email the form back to us by the April 1st deadline.

A quick reminder of prices:

£10.00 per table for national groups, campaigns & distros / publishers / bookshops

£5.00 per table for Wales-based campaigns & distros

Tables are 1.5 m by .73 m.

Free Information stalls don’t have to pay!! Just another reminder that this event is to be held on Saturday 23rd May 2009 from 10am – 6pm at Cathays Community Centre, 36 Cathays Terrace, Cardiff CF24 4HX. Free – in more ways than one.

Thanks very much for your patience, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

South Wales Anarchists
bookfairbookingform091

South Wales cops want more of our money so they can make our lives…worse.

A row recently blew up at the Welsh arsembly after local government minister Brian Gibbons threatened to stop the money-grabbing cops from asking council taxpayers to pay more to support policing.

South Wales Police had been hoping to impose a hike of 10% and has warned of cuts to policing services if the force is not given extra cash. Cuts to policing services, eh?

In his response to Gibbons yesterday, police authority chairman Russell ‘three jobs’ Roberts threatened to ignore the minister when the authority sets its council tax precept later this month.

Ian Skivens 5494 MET

Who needs Ian Skivens 5494 MET?

Today is decision day. We urge Gibbons to hold his ground. Cuts in policing services are exactly what we need. We’re fed up of cops playing around in helicopters, of cops driving round our streets like loonies, harrassing people, shooting pensioners with tasers, systematically abusing their power. Let’s face it. We don’t need the police at all. 

And as for Brian Gibbons and Russell ‘three jobs’ Roberts?Answers (abusive ones only please) to:

cardiffanarchists@riseup.net