Arms & Bribes

In 2006, Tony Blair’s government shut down inquiries into the sale of Tornado warplanes to the Saudi royal family, a deal which had lasted 20 years and grossed £43bn in revenue for BAE.

Allegations emerged that £1bn and a personal Airbus jet had been transferred to Prince Bandar, son of the Saudi crown prince. Another £1bn had been moved to Swiss accounts linked to prominent Saudis.

BAE are finally about to get prosecuted, if the UK government doesn’t step in and protect the crooks again (that being all of them), however our Stateside cousins might want to ask the Pentagon about this deal-

A U.S. unit of BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L) has won a Pentagon contract worth up to $313.3 million for gunner restraints, vehicular safety belt kits and accessories for the Army and Marine Corps, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

Being as-

BAE had its fingers on $8 billion of the Pentagon’s cash mountain last year; the British arms dealer ranks sixth among US defence contractors, the only significant foreign firm, the only one trusted enough to get juicy, sensitive projects.

It is not entirely bluster, when BAE threatens the British Government that unless it is treated better it might move its headquarters to the US.

But a conviction for bribery could ruin everything for BAE because the US Department of Justice (DoJ) is on the warpath against cheating, bribing foreigners.

Yet the Pentagon see fit to continue doing business with BAE, a firm who (along with Barclays bank) once fiddled an aid agreement with Tanzania to take debt relief and education funding to instead buy a totally pointless military radar system, aided and abetted by…Tony Blair. I suppose for BAE it might be hard to know who to bribe right now, New Labour as they can spike the prosecution, the Tories as they can once in power, or the Pentagon so they can move to the US with its military spending that outstrips, er all of planet Earth combined. Or maybe all three to be safe and when/if Tony swindles becoming EU president expect a lot of reasons why NATO needs to have wars and thus new equipment, oh except that part is already going on.

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Applause For Progressive Co-operation

Statement from GL re Birmingham
The following statement was agreed unanimously last night by the Steering Group of Green Left. There will be a decision on whether to stand a candidate by Green Party members in Hall Green constituency within the next week.

“Green Left calls upon our fellow Green Party members in Birmingham not to stand a candidate in the constituency of Birmingham Hall Green in the coming general election in order to give a strong, progressive and environmentally aware candidate the chance of taking the seat. We believe that Salma Yaqoob of Respect is the candidate most likely to do this and her victory would be a victory for all those opposing the policies of privatisation, war, greed, racism and environmental destruction.

We believe that this is an opportunity for the progressive movement in Birmingham to unite behind one candidate and not to make the mistakes of the European election, where a divided Left opened the way to the election of racists and bigots. For the benefit of the people of Birmingham and of radical politics in this country we ask the Green Party in Birmingham to stand aside and not to oppose Salma Yaqoob. We are firmly of the belief that this will benefit both the Green and progressive movements in this country and send out a signal that we are serious in challenging the neo-liberal economic policies of the three main parties as well as Fascism and racism.”
Joseph Healy
Co-Convenor Green Left


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Oh Yes

A decision by a county court judge could mean thousands of borrowers being able to renege on their debts. Judge Jacqueline Smart at South Shields county court has decided that the MBNA credit card company cannot demand the repayment of a customer’s debt. It tried to force Mrs Lynne Thorius to repay the £8,000 she owed on her card. But the Judge decided there had been an unfair relationship between Mrs Thorius and MBNA because of the way she had been sold payment protection insurance. ‘Massive ramifications’ Mrs Thorius’s case was pursued on her behalf by a claims management firm Cartel Client Review, based in Manchester, and the law firm Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors. Carl Wright of Cartel Client Review said the court decision was a landmark judgement. “This will have massive ramifications for consumers up and down the country,” he said.

The credit card in question was branded with the logo of Sunderland football club and was sold to Mrs Thorius in the club’s shop in 2002. The PPI policy was strongly recommended by MBNA to her at the same time, to pay off her account if she fell ill or was made redundant. But, critically, she had not been told that MBNA would be receiving regular commission payments from the insurance provider ITT London & Edinburgh, a subsidiary of the Aviva insurance group. Judge Smart agreed with the argument of Mrs Thorius’s barrister, Paul Brant, that this “secret” commission meant the credit card deal was unfair and therefore in breach of the Consumer Credit Act. This point could potentially undermine many other agreements where PPI has been sold by the lender alongside a loan. These include car finance deals, other personal loans and even mortgages.

“This practice is believed to be widespread and formed part of the Competition Commission’s decision to prohibit the co-sale of PPI with credit in its report published on 29/1/09,” her solicitors noted. “This point is likely to affect many thousands of individuals within England and Wales,” they added.

“We have been using this argument for some time but lenders have been settling outside the courts to avoid publicity,” said Mr Wright.

Galbraith Not Going Quietly

The senior UN envoy removed from his post in Afghanistan has told the BBC his dismissal sent “a terrible signal” to the world about the organisation. Peter Galbraith said he believed he had been removed because of a dispute with his superior over how to handle fraud allegations in the country’s elections. He said that in not addressing the “extensive” evidence of fraud, the UN had failed its Afghan mandate. The UN said his dismissal had been “in the best interest of the mission”.

Mr Galbraith told BBC’s World Tonight that he had great respect for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but that he disagreed with his decision to remove him from his post. “Not just on personal ground, but because I think it sends a terrible signal when the UN removes an official because he was concerned about fraud in a UN-sponsored and funded election,” he said. Mr Galbraith said he had seen “very extensive evidence of fraud” in August’s president elections and had had “a sharp disagreement” with his superior, Kai Eide, about how to address it. He wanted to present the evidence to the Afghan Election Complaints Commission for further investigation, he said, but Mr Eide “did not want this information disseminated”.

Mr Galbraith said that when he intervened, President Hamid Karzai complained and Mr Eide “decided he would support Karzai, who would be the beneficiary of the fraudulent ballots”. He said Mr Eide had initially “tended to dismiss the fraud”. “

He didn’t want the UN staff to talk about it, he didn’t want us to discuss issues, for example of turnout, with the ambassadors in Kabul because we knew the turnout was very low in the southern provinces although a very large number of votes were in fact being reported from those areas. “Later, when the evidence of the fraud was inescapable he did talk about it but he’s consistently minimised it,” he said.

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“Like Vietnam without the napalm”

I’m thinking that if that’s what their mission of ‘improving security and winning the support of villagers’ is likened to, um it might not be destined for great success. Not to mention issues of cultural sensitivity of the occupier.

How Do You Ask a Soldier to be the last person to die for a lie