War in the Vale

A number of South Wales Anarchists attempted to disrupt this year’s ‘Aerolink Wales’ aerospace and defence fair, held at The Vale Hotel and Spa near Hensol on 7th April.

"Hardocre activists" "storm" The Vale Hotel...

"Hardcore activists" "storm" The Vale Hotel...

While members of the Red Choir, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, CND and Stop the War maintained a presence in a designated area at the front of the hotel, local anarchists approached the doors to attempt to gain access. However, they were prevented from doing so by police officers who described the group as ‘hardcore activists’ trying to ‘storm’ the building.

A police evidence gatherer filmed activists closely and became confrontational when protesters began to block him getting pictures. The officer was then instructed to put his camera away so as not to cause a scene! Erm, too late: the line of police at the entrance and the officers and police vehicles around the 4 Star facility had probably not gone unnoticed by its guests.

Police evidence-gatherer foiled by anti-militarist propaganda

Police evidence-gatherer foiled by anti-militarist propaganda

Leaflets were given to hotel guests and visitors, explaining that companies which supply the Israeli army who killed an estimated 1500 people in recent attacks on Gaza were showing off their wares and cutting deals in their hotel.

Many were shocked and upset to learn of what was happening in the hotel and made complaints to the manager. One guest took a number of leaflets back into the hotel to give out to other customers while another told us that when she asked hotel staff what the event was about, she was told they weren’t allowed to tell her!

Despite being informed that they were trespassing and being asked to leave by a nervous hotel manager, apparently under instruction from the police, the south wales anarchists continued to ensure that anyone going in or out of the hotel knew that profiteers from war were doing business in their hotel.

Meanwhile, as all police attention was focused at the front of the hotel, they totally missed posters and ‘blood’ covered dolls being left inside the hotel in protest against this Welsh Assembly supported arms fair. Doh! We think Aerolink 2010 may be actively looking for a new venue…

Doh!

Doh!

Gagged! 26

gagcover264Issue 26 of our newsletter is out now! featuring articles on Welsh assembly war crimes, death in Gaza, protests, Cardiff university occupation, shut down Aerolink 2009, G20 meltdown, police repression, deportations, the Cardiff anarchist book fair and much, much more!

Download GAGGED! #26 on .pdf

As well as our own input we have contributions from No Borders South WalesCardiff Anarchist Black CrossWestside Climate Action and FITwatch – if you want to see a story in Gagged! just get in touch!

Aerolink Wales 2009: Meet the arms dealers and…Ty Hafan?

With not long to go before Aerolink Wales 2009, due to take place on 7 April at the 4 star Vale Hotel and Spa, the organisers of this Welsh government-sponsored arms fair are getting excited. ‘We are looking forward to the 2009 event and providing our attendees with even more opportunities than ever before. With purchasing, research and technical, engineering and innovation representatives from some of the best known companies in Aerospace and Defence… 2009 is shaping up to be the biggest and best Aerolink Wales yet.’

Elizabeth Read had a successful career marketing financial services in the City of London before joining Ty Hafan

Elizabeth Read had a successful career marketing financial services in the City of London before joining Ty Hafan

And don’t the weapons manufacturers know it! Commenting on previous Aerolink events, the purchasing manager of General Electric engine services, part of the defence company which reported record earnings of $183 billion in 2008, is quoted as saying: ‘We all felt the day was fruitful with a number of potential opportunities.’ Opportunities (subsidised with our money, of course) to meet and do business with plenty of other weapons manufacturers and…Ty Hafan, the well-known Welsh charity which runs a hospice for dying children?!

We wondered if Ty Hafan’s presence as an exhibitor – for which it may have paid as much as £750 plus VAT – was a mistake. Not at all, according to Elizabeth Read, Ty Hafan’s fundraising and marketing director: ‘Representatives of our Corporate Partnership team are planning to attend the Aerolink Wales exhibition. We develop relationships with a number of companies in South Wales that are interesting (sic) in working with a charity. These relationships lead to various fundraising and volunteering opportunities for the staff, in particular’.

So just which of the very wealthy companies at Aerolink might Ty Hafan be developing ‘relationships’ with and, more importantly, why? Here are just a few of Ty Hafan’s fellow attendees:

White phosphorous attack on Beit Lahia school

White phosphorous attack on Beit Lahia school

Magellan Aerospace, with facilities in Wrexham, manufactures the CRV7 rocket weapon system (RWS) for the F-16 jet fighter and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Both were used with devastating effect by the Israeli armed forces in Israel’s recent aggression against the people of Gaza which killed upwards of 1500 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. Ms Read and the members of the corporate partnership team may have seen photos of the carnage after a UN-run school at Beit Lahia was bombarded with burning white phosphorous. What Ms Read and her team may not know is that Magellan Aerospace also manufacture the M156 Smoke missile that goes with the CRV7 system. ‘Upon detonation’, Magellan’s story goes, ‘the high explosive ruptures the warhead and disperses the white phosphorous to generate a white smoke cloud.’

Beit Lahia - the aftermath

Beit Lahia - the aftermath

General Electric (GE) has been supplying the Israeli army since 1950 and, given its gargantuan profits, wars in the Middle East are good for business. One of GE’s success stories is the F110 jet engine, used to power the F-16.

Gardner Aerospace, part of the Carlyle Group, helps build war planes, including the C-130 Hercules, the military transport plane used by the Israeli airforce operating from its Nevatim Airbase.

Thales is a specialist manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, which are used extensively by the Israeli airforce to locate targets prior to bombardment. While the Hermes 450, made by Israeli company Elbit and tested at ParcAberporth in West Wales, remains Israel’s UAV of choice, Thales will, no doubt, be keeping an eye out for opportunities to do business with the pariah state.

Arms manufacturers 'making a difference' in Gaza

Arms manufacturers 'making a difference' in Gaza

We wish Elizabeth Read and her colleagues a fruitful day at Aerolink. Corporations that deal in death will be grateful for the opportunity to develop relationships with a charity which helps dying children. After all, any opportunity to ‘legitimise’ their activities is always welcome. As Bob Corcoran, Chairman of the General Electric Foundation writes: ‘we look forward to working closely with schools and organizations also committed to building strong communities. The impact of these investments underscores the company’s commitment to strategic philanthropy and corporate citizenship. By applying the very best of who we are – our talent, ideas, skills, and inspiration – we will do our best to make a difference in this world.’

We’re sure you will, Bob, just as long as you can find organisations willing to accept your blood money, that is…

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

From Glascoed to Gaza: Welsh Assembly government implicated in Israeli war crimes

The aftermath of Israeli attacks in Gaza

The aftermath of Israeli attacks in Gaza

As Palestinian survivors of the Israeli onslaught in Gaza huddle in the ruins of their devastated communities, it will be cold comfort to them to know that the weapons used against them have been developed – in part – in a country proud to be committed to a sustainable future: Wales. While the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) talks of having “a real part to play in influencing change at home and on the international stage”, the truth is that Welsh taxpayers’ money is being used to subsidize the arms industry in Wales – an arms industry that is deeply implicated in Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

Israeli Hermes 450

Israeli Hermes 450

The Israeli military employ UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to target Palestinian homes, schools and hospitals. These are the Hermes 450, made by the Israeli firm Elbit Systems, using engines built in Birmingham. The pilotless drones are then brought to Parc Aberporth in west Wales for testing. This facility has been supported by £8.7m in grants from the WAG.

Israeli Apache attack helicopter

Once the “targets” have been identified, next come the bombs. The Israeli military use Apache attack helicopters, which Palestinian human rights activists have described as “a symbol of indiscriminate military violence.” The Apaches rely on transformers made by Penny & Giles Controls of Cwmfelinfach, Gwent. Then there are the F-16 fighter jets, using components made by BAE Systems, which operates a munitions factory in Glascoed and runs a military training school in Cwmbran. These same jets bombed the Shij’ia Family Health Care Centre in Gaza , which runs a mobile dental clinic wholly funded by the people of Wales through the Near East Council of Churches.

The ruins of the health care centre

The ruins of the health care centre

Incredibly, the health care centre was telephoned 15 minutes in advance by the Israelis to warn them that they would be attacked – no case of “collateral damage” there then.

Of course the Welsh arms industry doesn’t end there. With over 180 companies in the aerospace sector in Wales, we are now home to the likes of General Dynamics and Raytheon, makers of tanks, submarines, bombs, rockets and much much human misery. If only these companies would get together in one room so outraged Welsh taxpayers could show what they think of them… Well, quit dreaming. All of these murderous scum and more will be attending the Aerolink Wales 2009 exhibition, to be held at the Vale Hotel in Cardiff, on 7th April this year. The South Wales Anarchists will be there. Will you?

 

UAV Engines Ltd, Lynn Lane, Shenstone, Lichfield, WS14 0DT. Tel: 01543 481819. uav@uavenginesltd.co.uk

Penny & Giles Controls, 36 Nine Mile Point Ind. Est., Cwmfelinfach, Gwent NP11 7HZ Tel: 01495 202000. sales@pennyandgiles.com

BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions, Usk, Monmouthshire, NP15 1XL. Tel: 01291 672211.

BAE Systems: Cwmbran Training College, Beacon House, William Brown Close, Llantarnam Park, Cwmbran, Gwent. Tel: 01633 835123. trainingcollege@baesystems.com www.cwmbrancollege.com/

www.aerolinkwales.co.uk  The Vale Hotel, Hensol Park, Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan, CF72 8JY. Tel: 01443 667800. www.vale-hotel.com

ALUN CAIRNS RESIGNS AS CHAIR OF ASSEMBLY PENSION FUND TRUSTEES

SOUTH WALES ANARCHISTS CLAIM VICTORY AS YET ANOTHER PENSION FUND SCANDAL EMERGES

 Following our revelations that the welsh arsembly members’ pension fund is being held in companies with appalling environmental and human rights’ records, chair of the pension scheme trustees, Alun ‘greasy wops’ Cairns has resigned.

another Tory twat bites the dust

another Tory twat bites the dust

End of story? Er, we don’t think so. Mr Cairns isn’t the only villain of the piece. There are, of course, four other trustees representing all the political parties who must have known as much or as little as Mr Cairns. Perhaps the lot of them should come clean and tell us exactly what they’ve been up to during their tenure as trustees? We’ll be sending a freedom of information question to the government requesting details of ‘meetings’ between trustees and Baillie Gifford Life Ltd, the Edinburgh-based partnership that manages members’ pensions. Watch this space, although we’ll probably be met with more porky pies from the freedom of misinformation team at the assembly.

But the story doesn’t end there. We’ve been in touch with the nice freedom of information officer at Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT), one of our favourite councils (see Gagged 24 and16) and we’ve learned that, coincidently, of course, Baillie Gifford, along with four other financial companies, manages RCT’s pension fund too! The assembly’s stash of £10.5 million pales into insignificance against RCT’s fund with a membership of 23,000 people. At the end of March 2008 the fund stood at £1.3 billion, with Baillie Gifford Asset Management holding £540 million.

 And, you’ve guessed it, many of the star performers in the arsembly fund feature in RCT’s. We asked specifically about money given to the arms and tobacco industries and were told the breakdown of holdings at 31st March 2007 in aerospace and defence was:

 BAE Systems            £2,908,645

Meggitt                        £3,305,736

Rolls Royce    £6,770,177

how many more Palestinian children will Israel murder?

how many more Palestinian children will Israel murder?

 

That wouldn’t be the same BAE Systems that supply Israel with parts for F-16 bombers currently being used to murder Palestinians, would it?

 

 

The breakdown of RCT’s holdings in tobacco was:

 British American Tobacco               £  6,252,715

Imperial Tobacco                              £10,838,441

Which, when added up, comes to £13 million to weapons manufactures and £17 million to tobacco barons.

By the end of March 2008 RCT’s investments in the arms trade had fallen to £9 million, following the sales of shares in arms companies including Lockheed Martin, worth £840,000 in 2006, and the sale of nearly £500,000 of shares  in our old friend, Raytheon (see Gagged 25). Investments in tobacco stood at almost £16 million.

Perhaps it’s time for the Pension Panel Members, which include council leader Russell Roberts and councillor Clayton Willis, to step up to the mark and account for their murderous investment decisions.

RCT councillor Roberts

RCT councillor Roberts

                                

RCT councillor Willis

RCT councillor Willis