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Share prices rise up for masters of warmongering

The Troublemaker looks the week's news from arms manufacturers cashing in on war to Tolstoy being cancelled
Issue 2796
the military marine dockyard owned by Babcock in Devonport illustrating a story on arms companies defence spending

Arms company Babcock Marine, Devonport (Picture: N Chadwick – Commons)

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said Britain needed to increase its defence spending—and the financial markets responded with glee. One stockbroker salivated, “The move to 2 percent of GDP spent on defence could trigger a 25 percent growth in non-US Nato members’ budgets, which may translate into as much as a 40-50 percent growth in procurement spend over the next five years.”

On the day Russia invaded last week, BAE announced 2021 revenue up £200 million to £19.5 billion and ­operating profit £459 million higher at £2.4 billion. The company makes equipment from tanks to submarines, and electronic ­warfare systems to cyber-intelligence kit. Babcock, the civil nuclear ­contractor, is a major aerospace and supplier of weapons, warships and submarine launch systems. It owns the Devonport and Rosyth dockyards.

In December half-year revenue was 8.2 percent higher at £2.22 billion and it also recorded a £75.4 million profit. The Times newspaper’s advice was “buy” Internationally Raytheon Technologies, the US defence giant is also surging. It makes the Stinger ground-to-air missile that Germany has pledged to supply to Ukrainian forces and has seen its share price increase more than 10 percent since the ­invasion began.

Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35 fighter jet, advanced more than 5.4 percent. The company, with Raytheon, is the manufacturer of the Patriot missile defence system. Northrop Grumman, leading ­manufacturer of attack and surveillance drones, saw its stock rise 7 percent last Monday, after rising 3 percent since the Ukrainian war began. Huntington Ingalls Industries, the largest US military shipbuilder, is up over 7 percent.

In a remarkable show of fairness some companies, including Raytheon, also supply Russian aircraft makers.

Oil and gas multinationals are preparing for a profits bonanza as prices soar due to shortages caused by sanctions and war. BP and Shell were already on course to make a combined profit of £40 billion this year.

That will be much more now oil prices are soaring higher. In 2020 Shell did not pay any tax in Britain, the only country in which it operates where it didn’t. In fact Shell grabbed nearly £100 million from taxpayers in rebates.

A stark reminder of the likely consequences of further dependence on oil and gas came from the International Energy Agency last week. It reported that greenhouse gas emissions had shown the biggest ever annual increase in 2021. The global energy watchdog found that energy‑related carbon dioxide emissions, which make up the bulk of greenhouse gases, had risen by 6 percent in 2021 to 36.3 billion tonnes, their highest-ever level.

Brutal regime kills war opponents

Boris Johnson was preparing this week for a goodwill visit to Saudi Arabia—just after the regime beheaded a record 81 people in one day last Saturday.

This exceeded the total number killed in all of last year. All had been “found guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes’’ and holding “deviant beliefs” the official Saudi Press Agency reported. It said they included people linked to Yemen’s Houthi rebel forces or “other terrorist organisations”.

Backed by the West, and British-made weaponry in particular,  Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition that has been fighting in Yemen since 2015. “Just last week the Crown Prince told journalists he plans to modernise Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system, only to order the largest mass execution in the country’s history,” campaign group Reprieve said. “There are prisoners of conscience on Saudi death row, and others arrested as children or charged with non-violent crimes. We fear for every one of them following this brutal display of impunity.”

Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people.

US president Joe Biden has made noises about pressure on Saudi Arabia to be less repressive. He declassified an intelligence report concluding that its ruler Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi. But now the US and Britain are begging Saudi Arabia to cooperate over boosting oil production to make up for the withdrawal of Russia’s supply.

So don’t expect Johnson or the US to demand action over the Saudi horror.

If the Russians attack Croydon they are in trouble. Chris Philp, a Tory minister, has said he would fight “in the streets” if his Croydon South constituency was attacked. Philp, who was a businessman before becoming an MP and technology minister, said, “If somebody was attacking Croydon, the place I represent, if somebody was bombing Croydon University Hospital, I tell you what, I would be in the streets defending my hospital. I’d be in the streets defending my town and my neighbours as Ukrainians are quite rightly doing.”

Vladimir Putin—Croydon South has its eye on you.

Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy and Strictly are all casualties

Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra has spiked the Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)from its forthcoming programme because of the war in Ukraine.

The entire programme, including the 1812 Overture, has been abandoned because it involves, you know, Russians. Netflix has pulled four television series, including its adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic Anna Karenina.

Maybe that is their revenge for Tolstoy being a pacifist who died 112 years before the Ukraine invasion. A Russian piano prodigy, who was due to make his debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, was cancelled despite him being outspoken against the war in Ukraine

In the world of high culture the same is happening. The Strictly professionals are reportedly divided on whether the show’s Russian stars should appear. Russian natives Katya Jones and Luba Mushtuk, are under pressure from the Sun newspaper which claims there is disquiet among the dancers.

In happier news Brew Dog have launched a beer called United for Ukraine.

British racist border  controls are here to stay

It’s not just in Ukraine that you can see discrimination against black people fleeing the war. A black British medical student who fled Ukraine was left “inconsolable” after her treatment by British immigration officials.

Zimbabwean-born Korrine Sky said that she was lunged at and had a gun aimed at her when she attempted to make it to the Romanian border out of Ukraine.

But after arriving at London Luton Airport, she and her partner were treated “like animals” as they sat in a cubicle area without explanation. Korrine tweeted, “I was inconsolable because after everything we’ve been through just to come ‘home’ and be treated like this. I’ve honestly had enough. The treatment of black people fleeing Ukraine has honestly been disgusting at every point. I’m so tired of being strong I’m at my breaking point.”

When they arrived at the front of the queue for border security in London Luton airport, she was questioned and then moved to a room where they sat for hours. 

Eventually, they were grudgingly allowed in.

Things they say

‘Russian Tik Tok influencers paid to spread Kremlin propaganda’

Vice news headline on Russian media bias

‘White House briefs social media influencers on Ukraine crisis’

Helpful CNN news headline on righteous information from the US government

‘Things could have been even worse if voters hadn’t rejected Corbyn’

Dominic Sandbrook gets excited in the Daily Mail fantasising that Corbyn would have backed Russia

‘Freedom blue and energising yellow is the new black’

Elle magazine on Paris fashion week, while its astrologer has predicted how long the invasion will last

‘This proves that Black Lives really do matter. Because a wider European War will kill practically all the white people’

Giles Coren in The Times fights in a crowded field to be the worst commentator on Ukraine

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