The killing of seven people and wounding of 47 more in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4 was committed with a weapon made by Smith & Wesson, the world’s biggest firearms manufacturer. So was the killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Perhaps it’s no surprise that guns made by Smith & Wesson would be implicated in gun crimes, a category that reached record heights in the United States last year. Neither is it a surprise that the issue crosses U.S. borders. In a lawsuit targeting major gun manufacturers, the Mexican government cited numerous examples of Smith & Wesson rifles being smuggled over the border to criminal cartels. The company is well aware, the lawsuit says, “that its marketing would motivate and attract criminal users — including the cartels — to select and misuse its products in unlawful acts of violence.”
Under Ukrainian government pressure, major US media outlet CBS News censored a documentary that it produced that exposed corruption in Ukraine. The report estimated that, of the tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons that Western governments have sent to help Ukraine wage a proxy war against Russia, just around 30% have actually made it to the frontlines. People involved in the Ukraine arms ratline told CBS in the documentary that there was significant corruption, due to “powerlords” and “oligarchs,” and that much of the military equipment was being siphoned off or sold on the “black market,” in what was a kind of “black hole.” CBS News published these revelations on August 4 in a joint article and video titled “Why military aid to Ukraine doesn’t always get to the front lines: ‘Like 30% of it reaches its final destination.’”
Nearly 2,500 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 837 have voted to strike the Boeing Co. in St. Louis. IAM District 837, which represents workers at three Boeing Defense locations, released the following statement regarding the rejection of the company’s offer: “Our members have spoken loudly and with one voice. We reject Boeing’s current contract offer and will strike at all three St. Louis area locations, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. We cannot accept a contract that is not fair and equitable, as this company continues to make billions of dollars each year off the backs of our hardworking members. Boeing previously took away a pension from our members, and now the company is unwilling to adequately compensate our members’ 401(k) plan. We will not allow this company to put our members’ hard-earned retirements in jeopardy.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia’s goals in Ukraine are now expanded beyond the Donbas region, citing the failed peace talks and Western military aid to Ukraine. When Russia pulled its forces out of areas in northern Ukraine, Moscow said it would focus on the “liberation” of the breakaway Donbas republics, known as the Donestk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). Lavrov’s comments are the first time a high-level Russian official acknowledged Moscow’s war aims extend beyond that region. Lavrov said that geographical realities changed after Russian and Ukrainian negotiators failed to reach a breakthrough at talks that were held in Istanbul back in March.
Biden said last year that he enacted the ban but has pushed through arms sales for the Saudis since. Reuters reported on Monday that the Biden administration is considering lifting a ban on the sale of “offensive” weapons to Saudi Arabia as President Biden is preparing to visit the country. Sources told Reuters that the decision hinges on whether Riyadh makes progress toward ending its war in Yemen, where a ceasefire has been holding relatively well. The report said that the Biden administration wants the ceasefire to stick. In February 2021, Biden said he was ending support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, a policy that included a ban on offensive weapons sales. But it was later revealed that US contractors were still maintaining Saudi warplanes that were bombing Yemen, and the Biden administration approved a sale of air-to-air missiles to the Kingdom in November 2021.
Recently, police told Palestine Action activists who were under arrest, that Elbit was abandoning its London Headquarters at 77 Kingsway. Security at the company’s entrance told Samantha Asumadu, a freelance journalist, working for the Big Issue, that Elbit was not at the site and they had never heard of them. The front desk also confirmed that the Israeli arms firm were not there and even denied the company ever was, despite it being well known that Elbit was leasing the sixth floor for many years. A separate security guard confirmed to another source that Elbit had indeed left the building. This makes 77 Kingsway the second Elbit site permanently shut down by Palestine Action, in less than 2 years of sustained direct action. Behind closed doors, war criminals have been facilitating Elbit’s British-based operations — no more!
The United States plans to spend tens of billions of dollars to surround China with missiles. But it’s having trouble finding an Asian country willing to host the offensive weapons. The US military commissioned a study from the RAND Corporation, a Pentagon-backed research group, to assess the feasibility of deploying intermediate-range missiles to the Pacific. The study closely analyzed the US government’s relations with its five treaty allies in the region: Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. Citing “an inability to find a willing partner,” the RAND report concluded that the chance of these nations hosting US ground-based intermediate-range missiles “is very low as long as current domestic political conditions and regional security trends hold.”
This morning, Palestine Action Scotland made its debut – as activists took to the roof of weapons company Thales’ Glasgow factory. A team of six activists scaled the site in the early hours of the morning and are currently occupying the building, rendering it unusable and forcing workers to evacuate. Inside the factory they have dismantled and destroyed factory equipment and facilities. Thales is one of the world’s largest arms companies – producing armored vehicles, missile systems and military UAVs (drones) – in particular, the Watchkeeper drone, used for surveillance and combat on captive populations. Today’s action has begun the campaign to end Scottish complicity in the apartheid, dispossession and ethnic cleansing enacted on Palestinians by the Israeli occupation.
Ottawa — Hundreds of people have blocked access to the opening of CANSEC, North America’s largest weapons and “defense industry” convention at the EY Centre in Ottawa. 40 foot banners saying “Blood On Your Hands,” “Stop Profiting From War,” and “Arms Dealers Not Welcome” obstructed driveways and pedestrian entrances as attendees attempted to register for and enter the convention center immediately before Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand was slated to give the opening keynote address. “The same conflicts around the world which have brought misery to millions have brought record profits to arms manufacturers this year,” said Rachel Small, organizer with World BEYOND War.
Today, a group of right-wingers are gathering to fetishize guns. The cast of characters includes a former president, multiple sitting congresspeople, and the senator of a state which just saw the fourth deadliest school shooting in American history. There also will be members of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, people who attempted to overturn the results of the last election, weapons manufacturers, people who call queer people “degenerates,” and an actor who once played Superman. And that’s just the board members. The National Rifle Association (NRA) hosts their annual convention this weekend just a few days after a school shooting in Uvalde left 19 children and two adults dead and a few weeks after a white supremacist fatally shot 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo.
Another action has taken 77 Kingsway, the London headquarters of Elbit Systems – Israel’s largest weapons company. Three activists took to the site, two securing themselves to the site entrance with a lock-on, and all three soaking the building in red paint. In doing so, the trio have shut down the site for the day, leaving the company headquarters unable to operate. Today’s action marks the fifth time in just over a month that 77 Kingsway has been targeted by Palestine Action, our activists making clear that war criminals are not welcome in Britain. Alongside recent actions at Elbit’s London headquarters, in the past week, two covert actions targeting JLL (who lease a number of sites, including 77 Kingsway, to Elbit) have been carried out by activists, calling on the real estate company to “Evict Elbit”.
Two important reports were released last month, neither getting the kind of attention they deserve. On 4 April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group III report was published, evoking a strong reaction from the United Nations’ Secretary General António Guterres. The report, he said, ‘is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world’. At COP26, the developed countries pledged to spend a modest $100 billion for the Adaptation Fund to assist developing countries adapt to climate change. Meanwhile, on 25 April, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) issued its annual report, finding that the world military spending surpassed $2 trillion in 2021, the first time it has exceeded the $2 trillion mark.
President Joe Biden’s new appointee as arms czar for Ukraine, Terry Wolff, has a lot of blood on his hands. The three-star general’s new job is to coordinate arms shipments to Ukraine that are designed to bog down the Russians, including a new $800 million weapons package that President Biden authorized last Thursday. A native of Elk Grove, California, who graduated from West Point in 1979, Wolff previously trained Iraqi forces for a deadly siege of Mosul in 2016, and helped plan operations in the illegal war on Afghanistan as a National Security Council senior director for the country. Between November 2015 and February 2019, Wolff directed the global coalition fighting ISIS in Syria, which served the ulterior goal of overthrowing the nationalist regime of Bashar al-Assad.
With German chancellor Olaf Scholz proclaiming on Tuesday, April 19 that the European Union and NATO are united to make sure that Russia never wins the war in Ukraine, the possibility of it continuing looms large. He also pledged more weapons to Ukraine, including anti-tank and air defense weapons. Scholz’s announcement came after his meeting with several NATO leaders. “Our common goal is to continue to arm the Ukrainian military so that it can continue to defend itself against attacks,” Scholz said at a press conference following the meeting. Several other countries, including Canada, the UK, the Netherlands and Romania, also pledged the supply of more weapons to Ukraine. Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky has been giving contradictory statements for some time, vacillating between the need for talks with Russia and more weapons supplies from the west.
Today, the day of Lockheed Martin’s annual meeting, begins a week of actions around the world. These included a demonstration and a petition delivery at the company’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, this morning. Reports, photos, and videos from actions around the world are being posted athttps://act.worldbeyondwar.org/stoplockheedmartin Activists delivered a petition to Lockheed Martin’s headquarters during its (virtual) annual general meeting, calling on Lockheed to begin work on conversion to non-deadly industries. They held colorful banners, and demonstrated in front of the Bethesda, Maryland, building, and then paraded half a mile to an overpass and displayed their banners over the highway (I-270) with messages including “Lockheed Martin weapons terrorize the world.”