29th September 2006 |
WAKE UP! IT'S YER ALWAYS EXPLOSIVE...
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A Bomb | Crap Job Of The Week | Life
In The Faslane | Milk The Applause | Simpol
Minds | Five Alive | Branching
Out | Party & Protest | ...and
SchNEWS looks again
at the death-to-dividends arms business
We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, US President 1953-1961
Corporations and governments use war to gain power, access to resources
and markets, and for domestic propaganda ultimately its
just a means to an end. For Western governments its a dangerous
game. On the one hand, the exploitation and promotion of global
insecurity helps to prop up capitalism, whilst allowing increased
authoritarian control over their subjects, but on the other it threatens
the security of the core Western capitalist regions, by encouraging
terrorism and pushing alternative military power blocs to form (see
It is only the arms industry, looking myopically to the next quarters
share price, that has a direct interest in war above all else. Terrorist
attacks in the US or Europe? Ker-ching! Shares in British Aerospace
rocketed before the dust of the twin towers had settled, and protesters
outside the DSEi arms fair in London on September 11th, 2001 (possibly
unreliably) reported the sound of champagne corks popping from inside
the building as the news came through. US wars of conquest dragging
on for years? Ker-ching! All those brave soldiers will need feeding,
arming and equipping for as long as theyre out there.
In the US, whose state and corporations still lead the Western
capitalist bloc despite their collapsing society and disastrously
aggressive policies, spending on weapons (sorry, defence)
has gone ballistic. Government arms contracts in 2005 totalled $269
billion, up from a pocket-money sized $154 billion in 2001. The
War Resisters League quotes budgeted military spending for 2007
at $563 billion, estimating another $100 billion unbudgeted spending
in Iraq and Afghanistan, totalling 30% of the national budget. And
thats just at home US arms exports in 2004 were $18.5
billion, up from $5.4 billion in 1990.
The arms trades growth has far outstripped the rest of the
economy - between 2001 and 2005, average profits for the 34 top
publicly-traded US arms companies increased by 189%, compared to
a meagre 76% average. And arms industry bosses seem
to be particularly greedy, even among the feeding frenzy of executive
excess. Average pay for CEOs at those companies doubled from $3.6
million in the three years before 9/11 to $7.2 million in 2002-2005,
while the overall average pay for corporate execs rose by 6%. Maybe,
since theyre bringing about the end of human existence as
we know it, war profiteers want to spend as much money as possible
now while theyve still got the chance. Better not to imagine
what could be done with that $563 billion a year towards creating
a sustainable world economy that would protect the environment and
reduce conflict by using resources more efficiently and fairly,
an arrangement that would be in everyones interests... oh,
except for the arms trade and oil barons.
While soldiers risk death and physical and psychological damage,
and those civilians left alive or uninjured suffer displacement,
trauma and the destruction of material and social structure, arms
dealer bosses sit at home counting the cash. In 2005, an average
US arms company CEO coined in $7.4 million thats 44
times more than an experienced military general, and 308 times more
than an army private actually taking the combat risks - earning
$25k a year for killing and possibly dying on the front line. As
of 2005, the top-paid bloodsucking fat cat arms dealer boss was
George David of United Technologies Corporation, who did pass Go
and banked $200 million between 2002 and 2005, including $88.3 million
in 2004 alone. You dont get to the top by playing fair
UTC are currently suing the Pentagon to stop the public learning
about them supplying defective helicopter parts in Iraq.
Other top fat cats include Health Net CEO Jay Gellert, who sells
military mental health services to patch up the shattered
minds of those who have witnessed the full horrors of war - and
get them back on the front line. His income between 2002 and 2005
increased by a high-explosive 1,134% compared to the previous four
years, to a total of $28 million. Of special interest to SchNEWS
is number 9 in the list of top earning US war profiteers, James
M. Smith of EDO Corp, the parent company of notorious Brighton arms
firm EDO MBM. His personal profit has risen from $883,200 a year
to $1,783,700 in 2005.
Back in the UK, arms exports totalled $1.9 billion in 2004, leaving
old Blighty 4th in the world arms dealing league. British Aerospace,
now called BAe Systems Plc, the worlds fourth largest arms
firm, earned $20,344 million in military revenue in 2004. From 1996,
BAe notoriously supplied Hawk aircraft to Indonesia, which were
used in attacks on East Timor. BAe subsidiary Royal Ordnance has
been accused by Amnesty of supplying torture equipment. Other top
UK arms companies include Rolls Royce (military sales $3,069 million
in 2004) and QinetiQ, the privatized Defence Research Agency ($1,399
million). BAe chief exec Mike Turner will earn up to £4.1
million this year good work old boy, youre well up
with those nice Amercian chaps now!
Arms business influence over governments operates through
corporate lobby groups and the revolving door system,
where politicians who have done favours for arms companies later
get lucrative jobs with the self-same companies. In the UK, one
such public servent is Lord Levene, former government Chief of Defence
Procurement, and now Chairman of General Dynamics UK and President
of the Defence Manufacturers Association.
Another is lard-arse fox-hunting Tory Nicholas Soames, who was
Conservative Armed Forces Minister and is now a non-executive Director
of Aegis Defence Services. DESO (Defence Export Services Organisation)
employs 500 civil servants in Whitehall to find opportunities for
arms sales around the world and promote the arms industrys
interests across government.*
US authors of the report Executive Excess 2006: Defense and
Oil Executives Cash in on Conflict conclude, rather mildly:
Excessive CEO pay in wartime raises the risk of a profit motive
for continuing the conflict or getting into new ones in other parts
of the world. The vast potential for war profiteering should be
of even greater concern during this war [Iraq] than in past ones
because of the extent to which the war and the reconstruction effort
have been privatized. Ker-ching!
* Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) are having a peaceful protest
campaigning to close down DESO. 12.30pm, 2-12 Bloomsbury Way, London
WC1A 2SH. See www.caat.org.uk
JOB OF THE WEEK
Printing SchNEWS Every Friday...
Ever wondered how your friendly neighbourhood subversive newsheet
gets printed? Nows your chance to find out...Our regular printer
is taking a well-earned break (cheers, Russ) and we desperately
need kindly people with a couple of hours every Friday to help keep
the ink flowing. If youre up for it, and in Brighton, call
the office on 01273 685913 or email email@example.com
While were at it, heres a general SchOUT-out for help:
writing, distributing in Brighton, sorting website and more... production
takes place Tuesday to Thursday get in touch!
IN THE FASLANE
Fancy a weekend away with a difference? (and one that might actually
help make a difference) Sometime during the next year why not pack
a (small) bag and head for Faslane in Scotland for an idyllic couple
of days helping blockade the Trident nuclear weapons base.
There has been a permanent peace camp at Faslane since June 1982.
(For a look back at some of the more recent history type Faslane
into the SchNEWS website search facility and youll get a 100+
hits back!) But with the government shaping up to give the go ahead
for a whole new generation of nukes to replace the worn out
Trident (well, there are no better ways to spend those billions
are there?), its high time to increase the pressure on the
UK to honour trivial things like international law and nuclear limitation
treaties - and actually do as it preaches and disarm.
A new concept in peace camp solutions is being rolled out (to put
it in corporatespeak!) and its gonna be all the rage! Faslane365
will be a continuous year-long blockade of the weapons facility.
The plan is for activists to drop in to camp for 48 hours at a time,
using a rota system to keep up the continuous resistance at the
gates, helping to keep everyone fresh and energised.
A wide range of different campaign and protest groups have already
signed up and the whole thing kicks off this weekend (Oct 1st) with
two days of women only blockades. Full details are on the website,
along with an excellent mini-break brochure and local attraction
guide, erm, we mean excellent resource guide with lots of
good background info, direct action tactics, tips for dealing with
the cops and more... See www.faslane365.org
all a bit teary-eyed after Tonys farewell speech to the Labour
conference and we appreciate just how difficult it can be to let
go of power, but we can still manage our now traditional look
of some of the typical fringe events playing alongside the main
Socialist Movement (CSM) started off on Monday 25th with talks entitled,
Is Slavery History? asking what governments and business
are doing about forced labour and poverty in Africa - although were
not sure they came up with the answers No and Not
much.CSMs stated sponsorship policy means they will
not work with organisations involved in criminal activity nor those
that provide or promote goods and services where the primary purpose
is to harm others - strange then, that the company footing
the bills was the worlds longest-boycotted company, the ever
lovely, caring, Nestle (See SchNEWS 277,
And then theres
the Foreign Policy Centres Africa debate. Entitled Continuing
the momentum - a range of policy wonks promising solutions
to all the woes of Africa... by opening up the continent to more
profit-hungry corporations. Keep that ball rolling! And all this
was organised by...? Good old Nestle!
Meanwhile in Kenya,
where life expectancy is just 50 and less than 5% of women exclusively
breastfeed their new-born babies, Nestle has been at the forefront
of baby-formula companies lobbying to prevent any legal restrictions
on their dubious sales practices - of products which have been linked
to diabetes, lymphatic cancers and animal cruelty. Well they do
have a juicy £2.5bn investment in Africa to look after! Honorary
chairman Helmut Maucher recommends that we leave Nestle to it, arguing
that, ethical dimensions that injure a firms ability
to compete are actually immoral. So here at SchNEWS we reckon
its time for some depraved consumer action to keep Nestle... Out
of Africa. See www.babymilkaction.org
Risking ridicule from all sides; neo-cons, liberals, lefties and
cynical radicals alike, some people are nonetheless trying to come
up with genuine alternatives designed to correct some of the worst
perversities of the global governance game. And not just imagining,
but sticking their necks out and publishing - attempting to engage
and inspire others to co-operate in developing and pushing the ideas
One example is participatory economics (parecon for short), which
involves all members of the community being actively involved in
policy and decision-making with regard to matters of economics.
While small trials have been undertaken in some places, including
Brazil, with some success, there is criticism that it would be unworkable
on a larger scale in practice. However, it has provided food for
thought to others, launched much debate about the subject and is
leading to rival alternate schemes emerging.
And then theres ISPO, the International Simultaneous Policy
Organisation (simpol for short, geddit!). This is an idea where
large scale structural changes to political systems are, as the
name suggests, one day implemented simultaneously around the world.
This stops the old well lose out if everyone else doesnt
do it too argument. While it is easy to criticise or write
off some of its current policy suggestions, perhaps this is missing
the point. This is open source politics: policies continually evolve
and can be shaped by equitable consensus of the public membership.
They in turn adopt the ISPO pledge, which recognises that 60% and
rising of the worlds population live in some form of electoral
democratic system, and promise their vote to any political party
which agrees to enact the simpol mandate. This wouldnt happen
until a critical mass of the worlds people had signed up
and, yes as this is still some way off, theres plenty of time
to improve the that mandate yet.
What ISPO offers is a model of how ordinary people could cooperate
to exert their power politically - maybe one day everyone will simultaneously
implement some future, more autonomous decentralised economy / democracy
and maybe not. But even if flawed or compromised - in old
or completely new ways - working for any positive transformation
could be better than sitting on the sidelines, preparing for the
end of world. And when it comes to global corporate capitalism,
surely it would better the devil we dont know...? Go figure
* A Brighton man has launched his own political party, aimed at
the silent majority who cant stomach any of the electoral
candidates, but still want to register their democratic participation.
The Protest Vote Party want to get none of the above
listed on all ballot papers so people can register their true preference.
Let them stick that in their focus group and smoke it. See www.protestvoteparty.org
The two-week court trial of Margaret Jones and Paul Milling ended
without a verdict on September 15th (see SchNEWS
557), and a re-trial was ordered for next year. Now, Phil Pritchard
and Toby Olditch are standing trial next week similarly charged
with conspiracy to commit criminal damage to B52 bombers at RAF
Fairford, at the onset of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. These
four are part of the Fairford Five who entered the base
to damage bomber planes with the intention of preventing a greater
crime the illegal bombing of Iraq. The trial for Phil and
Toby starts at Bristol Crown Court on October 2nd, with all invited
to gather outside the court at 9am. For more call 07910 329 211
or see www.b52two.org
Some cheer for Titnore Woods protest camp this week (See SchNEWS
558) as West Sussex and Worthing councils seem to have responded
to local opposition and found a way to not destroy 200 or so trees
during the development. The planned access road straight across
the land where the camp is still on the menu however, not to mention
the 875 houses and a new Tesco.
Eviction at the camp could still be imminent but despite (or to
spite) this, an energetic expansion bid has been launched. To help
with this they urgently needed more timber and polyprop rope (6mm
is best) and tarpaulins for tree houses etc, plus, on a more down
to earth level, supplies of toilet paper and coffee.
If eviction takes place, supporters are being asked to go as soon
as possible to the camp, or congregate in Fulbeck Avenue, Durrington,
if access is barred. Then on the first Saturday after, there will
be a protest against the eviction and development on Fulbeck Avenue,
* Financial donations can be made at the camp or by sending a cheque
payable to The Porkbolter to PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14
* There is a mass mobilisation for all opponents of
the development on Sat October 7th. Gather 2pm at Durrington rail
station. For more see www.protectourwoodland.co.uk
or phone the camp on 0780 4245324.
Party & Protest
- OCTOBER: 1st is the Big Lakenheath Demo against US nukes!
Lakenheath in Suffolk holds up to 110 US nukes at any one time.
12-3pm, at Gate 1, RAF (USAF) Lakenheath. Call 01508 550446 or
- 7th - Migrants on the march for their rights. In London,
assemble 12pm, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ
and in Glasgow, assemble 12pm, George Square, Glasgow. See www.ncadc.org.uk
- 7th - Keep Space For Peace, part of an international
week of protest called by the Global Network Against Nuclear Weapons
and Power in Space. Action at NSA Menwith Hill, 12-5pm. www.caab.org.uk
- 14th - Call for a ban on cluster bombs and raise awareness of
disability by joining the good soles at the Handicap International
Pyramid of Shoes at Hyde Park (Bandstand Area), 10-4pm. Bring
a spare pair of shoes to donate to Eastern Europe and Africa.
For more call 0870 7743737 or see www.handicap-international.org.uk
- Check out our full party and protest
Just when youve managed to wipe the grin off you face after
recent ads by BP claiming that using their fuels in your car will
save the planet, BAe Systems the British arms manufacturing
giant - is going green with a new range of environmentally
friendly weapons. Next time youre dusting your machine gun
down for a bit of a homicidal rampage down at your local high school,
how about having a thought for the environment and using BAe Systems
new lead free bullets because, as BAe say, lead
bullets can harm the environment and pose a risk to people.
And to help save the planet, BAe Systems will be offering jets,
fighting vehicles and artillery with lower carbon emissions. Ahh!
The initiative is backed by the MOD which has also hopped on board
the climate change gravy train and proposed quieter warheads
to reduce noise pollution and grenades that produce less smoke.
Its nice to know that both corporate and state murderers are
coming to together and accepting their social responsibility. Anyone
know where to get organic Fairtrade anthrax?
SchNEWS warns all readers... if you dont bite
the bullet, the bullet will bite you. Honest!
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