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In first, UK university divests from firms supplying Israel army

Students hold a protest calling for an end of Israel’s occupation on Gaza at Leeds University, UK on 5 May 2018
MEMO | November 5, 2018

In the first move of its kind, a UK university has divested from companies that supply military equipment to the Israeli army following a student campaign.

The University of Leeds this weekend made the decision to divest from three companies which were found to be complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights: Airbus, United Technologies and Keyence Corporation. A fourth company – HSBC – is also under review by the university’s investment managers for its provision of loans to Elbit Systems, Caterpillar and BAE Systems, all of which sell weapons and military equipment to the Israeli government.

The move came after it emerged that the University of Leeds had invested £2.4 million ($3.1 million) in these companies this year alone. The sum was revealed by a Freedom of Information request dating back to August, under which the British public can demand access to information held by public authorities.

Students, staff, societies and alumni of the university then published an open letter to the Vice Chancellor calling for the cessation of investment in the four firms. The letter stated that: “In summer 2014, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 526 children, by the Israeli Defence Force in the attacks on Gaza […] the artillery used to carry out this destruction were made by Elbit Systems, funded by HSBC. The fighter jets employed by the IDF were maintained by United Technologies. The helicopters which patrol Gaza’s sea border are supplied by Airbus. Further military activity was aided by the equipment provided by Keyence Corporation. The University of Leeds knowingly enables this activity by investing in these companies.”

Our university should not enable military occupation. Our tuition fees should not fund killing. Our education should not be at the expense of a person’s life.

The move has been hailed as a victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Co-President of the Leeds Palestine Solidarity Group, Evie Russell-Cohen, explained: “It’s clear that the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is being heard in the UK. Students are no longer willing to see their tuition fees funding weapons companies which profit from the killing of Palestinians. This is a massive success, but we hope that it will only be the beginning of a wave change across UK Universities.”

Calls for UK universities to review their investments in companies known to assist the Israeli army have been growing in recent months. In April, activists at the University of Manchester exposed a web of connections between the university and several weapons companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries which produced drones used during Israel’s 2014 assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. The University of Manchester had previously tried to conceal its links to such companies until the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the body regulating data protection in the UK – found the university to be in contravention of the Freedom of Information Act, the same act which enabled University of Leeds students to force their institution to divest.

November 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boeing casts fresh doubt on Iran deal

Press TV – October 5, 2016

Fresh skepticism springs up about the fate of a deal which Boeing has signed to provide Iran Air with over 80 jetliners after the US aircraft maker says none will be delivered this year.

Since Boeing announced a tentative deal to sell jetliners to Iran in June, US lawmakers have been trying to block it. Under the agreement, Boeing must supply Iran some 80 passenger jets worth $25 billion at price lists.

On Tuesday, Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said while the two sides were making progress on the deal, no deliveries would take place this year.

“We won’t deliver any aircraft under that deal this year – these are deliveries that are a year, two, three downstream,” Muilenburg told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Chicago on future technologies.

Boeing’s deal is similar to another provisional agreement which Iran Air has signed with Airbus to get 118 jetliners from the European aircraft maker.

However, no formal contracts have been signed yet, meaning all of these deals could fail, given the volatile dynamics of the West’s relations with Iran.

Presidential election factor

The tentative deals have already hit a speed bump because major global banks are refusing to handle transactions with Iran for fear of running afoul of US sanctions on the country.

One major roadblock was lifted last month when the US government granted Airbus and Boeing permission to sell aircraft to the Islamic Republic.

Some Iranians, however, believe the US is most likely to put up new hurdles even if it does not scrap the deal entirely.

They are disheartened by what the next presidential elections in the United States might have in store for the patchy relations between Tehran and Washington. Both current US presidential candidates are expected to adopt a much stricter line than President Barack Obama toward Iran.

Another detracting factor which could scupper the deals is opposition from the US Congress.

The US House of Representatives has already passed a motion to block the Boeing deal, with further measures proposed in Congress to bar certain transactions by US financial institutions connected to the export of aircraft.

If the proposed bills to restrict the deal become law, they would also affect other companies’ sales to Iran, including those by Airbus.

Looking for new options

Last month, Iran indicated that it was cutting the Airbus deal by six aircraft and clipping the contract with Boeing by one jet.

Reports also have it that Iran Air has been cooling towards the purchase of 12 A380 superjumbos that were part of the provisional deal.

Iranian airlines, meanwhile, are looking for other options. They have approached smaller aircraft manufacturers which they believe are easier to deal with.

Tentative deals have been signed with France’s ATR and Brazil’s Embraer, while Japan’s Mitsubishi and China’s Comac have held talks with Iranian aviation companies.

Such developments have taken the shine off the deals with Airbus and Boeing – the biggest for Western aviation companies in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

However, neither of the two airline behemoths wants to lose one of the last untapped aviation markets in the world.

On Tuesday, Muilenberg described Iran “significant opportunity for us.”

“And I’m pleased to see that we’re making steady progress,” he said, adding Boeing was “in the final stages of working through the deal structure with our customers in Iran” while also working through the US government licensing process.

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

New Report Exposes EU’s Security Links to Refugee-Creating Arms Dealers

Sputnik | July 6, 2016

Like peace itself, the military-industrial complex sees internal stability as bad for business. A new report has exposed the activities of military and security companies that are profiting from the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, which have also successfully lobbied the EU to react by buying their security equipment.

The joint report by the European NGO Stop Wapenhandel and the Transnational Institute (TNI), called “Border Wars: The Arms Dealers Profiting from Europe’s Refugee Tragedy,” reveals the most prominent winners of security contracts which were issued in Europe as a result of the migrant crisis, and Europe’s acquiescent response to their lobbying.

“Some of the beneficiaries of border security contracts are some of the biggest arms sellers to the Middle-East and North-African region, fuelling the conflicts that are the cause of many of the refugees. In other words, the companies creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”

The big players in Europe’s border security complex include arms companies Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales, which are also three of the top four European arms traders and have been particularly prominent winners of EU contracts aimed at strengthening borders.

Other companies to benefit from the EU’s policy response to Middle Eastern conflict are French defense and aerospace company Safran, the Spanish IT and defense systems firm Indra Sistemas, and some Israeli companies like BTec Electronic Security Systems, which promote their expertise based on equipment installed at the Israeli-Palestinian border.

French companies Airbus and Thales, and Italian Finmeccanica, are part of the European Organisation for Security (EOS), which has been most active in lobbying the EU for increased border security. The report notes that many of its proposals, such as its push to set up a cross European border security agency, have eventually ended up as policy.

According to the report, the booming border security market was worth an estimated 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) in 2015, and is predicted to rise to over 29 billion euros ($32 billion) annually in 2022.

New EU member states have been required to strengthen borders as a condition of membership, creating additional markets for profit.

“The arms business, in particular sales to the Middle-East and North-Africa, where most of the refugees are fleeing from, is also booming. Global arms exports to the Middle-East actually increased by 61 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15. Between 2005 and 2014, EU member states granted arms exports licenses to the Middle East and North Africa worth over 82 billion euros ($91 billion).”

On Tuesday, the German newspaper Tagesspiegel newspaper revealed that the arms industry could benefit even further from a new direction in the EU’s African policy.

According to the report, the EU Commission intends to direct some funds from its Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace towards equipping African militaries.

The fund was established in March 2014 and has a 2.3 billion euro ($2.5 billion) budget, to be disbursed between 2014 and 2020.

“Development without security and stability is not possible,” a source in the Commission told the newspaper.

“The Commission is therefore considering increasing its support for security actors,” and “in some very special cases,” this will include security forces.

The proposal to spend African development funds on security forces was criticized by the German Green Party MEP Reinhard Butikofer, who described it as “breaking a taboo.”

Die Linke MEP Sabine Losing called the idea “scandalous,” and criticized the “misuse of aid.”

She said the proposal is one of a series of “steps in the militarization of EU foreign policy.”

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aeroflot to cut Airbus & Boeing orders after Transaero takeover

RT | April 15, 2016

Russian flagship airline Aeroflot may cut back on new aircraft from Boeing and Airbus after inheriting 35 airliners from bankrupt rival Transaero, says the company’s Deputy CEO Giorgio Callegari cited by Bloomberg.

State-run Aeroflot plans to take over leases on 16 Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321 single-aisle aircraft as well as operate 19 Boeing 747 and 777 wide-bodies which were in service with Transaero.

Aeroflot is reviewing the order for 22 Airbus A350s and the same number of 787 Dreamliners manufactured by Boeing.

“It would be inaccurate and unprofessional to say that if I put 19 wide-bodies into my group then the plan stays the same. It cannot be,” said Callegari, adding that the overall fleet plan needed corrections and updates.

The 19 planes Aeroflot will get from Transaero are to be deployed on routes to Russia’s Far East, including Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and the Kamchatka peninsula.

They’ll be operated under the Rossiya brand, around which Aeroflot is consolidating regional operations, though some of the jets will also provide charter services in collaboration with Russian tour operators.

The company doesn’t need the four new Boeing 747-8s ordered by Transaero, according to the CEO.

Transaero, once the second biggest airline in Russia, filed for bankruptcy in October 2015. The company was unable to service its debts including leasing obligations of about $4 billion.

As part of the takeover of some of Transaero’s routes and aircraft, Aeroflot is obliged to save as many jobs as possible at the bankrupt airline.

READ MORE: Transaero, Russia’s biggest private airline files for bankruptcy

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Arms giants see stocks rocket after Syrian airstrikes vote

RT | December 3, 2015

The share prices of major international arms traders jumped in the wake of the British parliament’s decision to extend its aerial bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) from Iraq into Syria.

Stock values at BAE Systems, Airbus, Finmeccanica and Thales all soared as trading began on Thursday morning, CommonSpace reports. It comes as Britain prepares to spend millions more on its war with IS, and as an international collaboration against the terror group looks ever more likely.

BAE Systems leapt four points at the start of trading on Thursday. The jump comes as the arms trader’s value increased by 14 percent following the terror attacks in Paris which left 130 dead and over 300 injured.

Britain announced it is boosting its military spending and introducing a range of new security measures in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Aircraft firm Airbus, which develops the British Typhoon fighter jet, is also trading 1.5 percent up since the stock market opened on Thursday.

Italian arms dealer Finmeccanica has also seen its shares rise by 2 percent.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade told CommonSpace that arms companies are cashing in on the bloodshed.

“Unfortunately, where most of us see war and destruction, the arms companies see a business opportunity. It is conflict and military intervention that fuel arms sales, and companies like BAE are only too happy to cash in from it. These companies don’t care who uses their weapons or the damage they cause, the only thing they care about is profit.”

Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Thursday that British military action in Syria will be complex and take a long time.

“This is going to take time. It is complex and it is difficult what we are asking our pilots to do, and our thoughts should be with them and their families as they commence this important work,” he added.

On Wednesday evening British bombers hit seven IS targets in eastern Syria, including oil fields used to supply the terror group with vital funds.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the airstrikes had dealt IS “a real blow,” and added that British planes would not initially be targeting urban areas like Raqqa.

“I can confirm that four British Tornados were in action after the vote last night attacking oil fields in eastern Syria – the Omar oil fields – from which the Daesh (IS) terrorists receive a huge part of their revenue.”

“This strikes a very real blow at the oil and the revenue on which the Daesh terrorists depend,” he told the BBC.

December 3, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fighting Income Inequality Requires a Return of Manufacturing Jobs

By Arshad M. Khan | Dissident Voice | February 1, 2014

A recurrent theme in this administration is often spellbinding rhetoric followed by … well, very little in the way of follow-through programs. Lately, there has been the inequality issue. Taken up once more in the State of the Union (SOTU) address, the remedy proposed was an increase in the minimum wage. Yes, it needs to be raised but to focus on it alone simply evades the complexities to be navigated to confront the challenges of inequality.

One major cause is the export of well-paid manufacturing jobs and with them proprietary technology and skills. Higher and higher level jobs (and concomitant expertise) are being exported. Ross Perot’s ‘whoosh of jobs’ in the wake of NAFTA will become a hurricane (or more accurately a typhoon) as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is realized. Yet, the administration sees no contradiction in promoting TPP vigorously and attacking income inequality rhetorically. NAFTA failed to render a level playing field for the American worker by excluding environmental safeguards, working conditions, worker safety and benefits (even on a purchasing-power-parity equivalence). The secretive negotiations for TPP are expected to do the same.

As a result, almost everything we use in our daily lives is made abroad: refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, TVs, computers, phones, fixtures, fittings, clothes, shoes, automobiles among which even iconic names often have innards imported, pet foods, toys, etc., etc. Gone with them are the jobs of the men and women who built them. Even high-end airplane manufacture is not exempt. Consider the new 777: While Boeing is responsible for a major portion of the structure, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Fuji are significant contributors furnishing fuselage panels and the wing center section. Other bits and pieces have been contracted elsewhere in the world including Australia, Brazil, Korea and Italy. The concept differs from Airbus which retains almost all its jobs and technology in Europe. Also in contrast, Boeing recently threatened to pack up and shift the manufacture of the 777x forcing machinists into benefits concessions.

Germany which exports few jobs follows a model encouraging job retention. Very simply a company’s supervisory board has equal management and labor representation (10 members from each side). It must approve major decisions, and it appoints the management board. No surprise that jobs stay home.

A line in the SOTU address mentions job training. Here too the long-standing German apprenticeship model, which develops highly skilled workers and offers alternative skills to a university education, deserves a closer look. But the least anyone undertaking such programs can expect is a job. Yet, just about every jobs report in the last half-dozen years shows most jobs generated are in the low-paid, low-skill service sectors like the hospitality industry and ambulatory care.

What we need desperately are policies and programs to bring back manufacturing jobs, and to restore our crumbling infrastructure. The latter not only alleviates unemployment but together with education and job training enhances the attractiveness of relocating manufacturing jobs to this country.

Now that would be a step towards reducing income inequality.

Arshad M. Khan is a retired professor. He can be reached at: backfire@ofthisandthat.org.

February 1, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment