Apr 062012
 

At the next meeting of Aberdeen CND on Monday 10th April, Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen CND and also a member of Campaign Against the Arms Trade, will be leading a discussion on the Arms Trade. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm on the Top Floor of the Belmont Cinema, Belmont Street, Aberdeen.

The arms trade is a deadly, corrupt business. It supports conflicts and human rights abusing regimes while squandering valuable resources which could be used to deal with the many social and environmental challenges we face here on Planet Earth. It does this with the full support of governments around the world, in particular the five permanent members of the United Nations  Security Council: the United States, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom.

These are the very countries which are meant to be our global custodians, but are in fact the very countries which are feeding global insecurity and conflict.

While very few countries sell large volumes of weaponry, the buyers are spread across the world. Other than to the five permanent UN Security Council members, the largest buyers are in the Middle East and South East Asia. The arms themselves range from fighter aircraft, helicopters and warships with guided missiles, radar and electronic warfare systems, tanks, armoured vehicles, machine guns and rifles.

The common misconception is that it is the illegal trade that is damaging, while the legal trade is tightly controlled and acceptable. However, the vast majority of arms sold around the world including those to human rights abusing governments or into areas of conflict are legal and are supported by governments. In 2007 the value of legal arms around the world amounted to 60 billion dollars. The illegal market is estimated at 5 billion dollars:  many illegal weapons end up as legal weapons.

The arms trade exists to provide weapons to those who can pay for them. What the buyers do with the arms, what political approval the sales signify, and how money could be better spent appears irrelevant to the arms companies and our governments. The UK Government’s 2010 Human Rights Annual Report identified 26 countries of concern. In that year the UK approved arms licences to 16 of these.

There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.

David Cameron was in the Middle East on a high-profile mission to sell arms when the democracy movement started in the Middle East. Selling arms to a country in conflict whether internal or external makes the conflict more deadly and longer lasting.
If there is tension between countries or within a country, then arms purchases are likely to increase this tension and make actual conflict more likely.

Even when conflict has ended, arms, particularly small arms, may remain in large numbers (as in Libya at present), fuelling further conflicts and/or criminal activity.

Every year the UK Government authorises the sale of arms to well over 100 countries. This is hardly surprising given that it is Government policy to vigorously support arms exports. Peter Luff, Minister of Defence Exports in the present UK Government, has stated that:

“There’s a sense that in the past we were embarrassed about supporting defence exports. There’s no such embarrassment in this Government.”

Arms companies and Government are inseparable when it comes to selling arms. The Government’s UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) department is a vital element of UK’s arms dealing. In 2008 the Government opened the Defence and Security Organisation which promotes weaponry on behalf of arms companies. There are 158 civil servants in the Defence and Security Organisation while other non-arms sectors have137 staff. This is despite arms accounting for less than 1.5 Percent of UK exports.

• Arms export jobs as a percentage of total employment:  0.2%
• Arms as a percentage of exports:  1.5 %
• UK Government Research Expenditure Spent on Arms:  27%
• UK trade and investment staff committed to selling arms:  54%

Research carried out for Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) by the Stockholm International Peace Institute assesses the level of subsidy by Government to the arms trade in the UK to be around £700 million a year.  In 2010 the UK Government issued 10,850 arms export licences, refused 230, and revoked 14.

Half of the refusals related to proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, with a maximum of 76 being revoked on the grounds that they contributed to internal repression, internal conflict or regional instability. Foreign office embassies also promote the arms sales, as do the Ministry of Defence armed services. Arms fairs are common in the UK and around the world.  The governments of host countries provides support for their arms firms.

Arms sales from the UK seem to vary from year to year:

• 2007    9651 million   (particularly high because of sales of Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia)
• 2008    4367 million
• 2009    7261 million also high as included Typhoon support services to Saudi Arabia)
• 2010    5819 million

Of the 16 countries identified by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute as locations of major conflict in 2009, the UK sold arms to 12.

Columnist Will Self –  “War, the arms trade and the abuse of language”

BAE arms are the UK’s main arms company and has military customers in over 100 countries. BAE’s focus over the past few years has been on increasing sales to the US, specifically targeting equipment for conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and supplying Euro fighters and other arms to Saudi Arabia. BAE routinely supplies countries which the UK Foreign Office considers as having ‘the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns’.

The casualties of conflict are now overwhelmingly civilian, increasing from 50% of war related deaths in the first half of the twentieth century to 90% near the end of the century.

The arms trade affects development both through the money wasted on arms purchased and through the conflicts fuelled by arms.

A study in 2007 by Oxfam of the economic cost of armed conflict to Africa estimated that Africa  loses around 18 billion dollars a year due to wars and that armed conflict shrinks an African nations economy by 15%.

As well as the direct effects of military spending, medical costs and the destruction of infrastructure, there are indirect costs on the  economy and employment suffers ( this does not take into account the countless human misery caused by loss of life and sustained injuries effecting families and friends as well as the individuals concerned).

The study estimated that the cost  of conflicts in Africa since 1990 was equivalent to the aid provided to them by major donors.

Even when conflict is not taking place money diverted to arms is a drain on government resources and takes away from vital spending on health education and infrastructure. The massive 1998 South African arms deals for aircraft, helicopters, warships and submarines cost the country over £8billion. Yet most of the population live in shanty towns and other poor housing and South Africans with HIV/AIDS were told that the country could not afford ant-retroviral medication.

Despite desperate poverty and its recent appalling history of armed struggle, the UK government is actively promoting arms struggle to Angola. The UK government not only approved arms exports to Angola it actively organised an “industry day’’ when HMS Liverpool docked in Angola waters and hosted Angolan political and military officials.

The arms trade causes countless misery in our world; it is a poor use of limited resources which should be used to make this world a better place. We need to question the thinking in the world that believes you only get what you want by force. The five members of the Security Council should start taking on their responsibilities and use conflict resolution rather than warfare to sort the many conflicts that take place both between and within countries.

Mar 292012
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

THE OBSIDIAN ISLE – Gayle Chong Kwan

The Obsidian Isle is a significant new body of work from Venice Biennale exhibitor Gayle Chong Kwan. The installation of large-format photographs & sculptures documents a fictional island located off the west coast of Scotland, on which reside one country’s lost and destroyed buildings and places.
The Obsidian Isle explores ideas of collective history, national identity, landscape, and tourism through the prism of the senses and the distortion of memories.

Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012 

KIN – Gray’s pre-degree show

KIN is an exhibition by Gray’s School of Art’s BA Hons printmaking students.
The exhibition gives an exciting insight into a great variety of different approaches to print and printmaking and showcases a diverse range of works made in preparation for the students’ degree show later in the year. So come along to support the students and see the artistic talents of tomorrow.

Preview Night Friday 23 March | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!
Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012

BIG JESSIE – Donald Urquhart

Drag queen turned draughtsman, Donald Urquhart presents Big Jessie, a selection of bold, new hand printed works in his distinctive cartoon-like black ink style, created at Peacock Visual Arts.

To be shown at The Brunswick Hotel, Merchant City, Glasgow.

Preview Thursday 26 April |Brutti Ma Buoni,
The Brunswick Hotel, Merchant City, Glasgow | 7pm – late
 Exhibition runs 27 April – 27 May 2012

TEMPORARY ART SCHOOL – Poets in the City Workshop + Meet-up

The Temporary Art School is a one month live project happening throughout the city of Aberdeen in March 2012. TAS was devised by a group of people living and working in both Aberdeen and Glasgow who have come together to put on classes and workshops for all which experiment with what an art school can be and continue in a long tradition of self-organised education.

This Friday Poet Gerard Rochford will be giving a new workshop on the word whether it be spoken, written or sprawled in the streets. Please bring along a poem of two which you have written you would like someone to have a look at it and if you have never written one, in Gerard’s words ‘by the end you will have.’ email atemporaryartschool@gmail.com to reserve a space.

Friday 16 March | 5-9pm

ABERDUINO – Electronic Jiggery-pokery

Aberdeen’s own electronic tinkerers and artist’s hackerspace will be running on the second or third Tuesday of every month from now on – so put the date above in your digi-diary.

Come along if you’re interested in micro-controllers, soldering irons, circuit bending, electronic jiggery-pokery and chin scratching.

Tuesday 17 April | 6.30 – 8.30pm | FREE
*Note – The event is FREE but call us on 01224 639539 to let us know if you’re coming along.

RELIEF PRINTING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Come along to try out the oldest form of printmaking. No experience necessary.

Saturday 7 + Sunday 8 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

ETCHING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Learn the techniques and processes involved in the traditional art of etching. No experience necessary.

Saturday 21 + Sunday 22 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

GET ANIMATED AT PEACOCK

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Well book onto our animation workshops to find out.

Throughout April, July, August & October | 10 – 4pm | age 10 + | £35 

Call 01224 639539 for more information and to book a place on any of our courses.

Mar 152012
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

THE OBSIDIAN ISLE – Gayle Chong Kwan

The Obsidian Isle is a significant new body of work from Venice Biennale exhibitor Gayle Chong Kwan. The installation of large-format photographs & sculptures documents a fictional island located off the west coast of Scotland, on which reside one country’s lost and destroyed buildings and places.
The Obsidian Isle explores ideas of collective history, national identity, landscape, and tourism through the prism of the senses and the distortion of memories.

 Preview Night Friday 23 March | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!
 Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012 

Event – Gayle Chong Kwan in Conversation

Gayle Chong Kwan in conversation with Dr Dominic Patterson, a lecturer in modern and contemporary art and theory at the University of Glasgow. To reserve your place please email sarah@peacockvisualarts.co.uk or call 01224 639539.

Saturday 24 March | PVA | 3 – 4pm | FREE  

KIN – Gray’s pre-degree show

KIN is an exhibition by Gray’s School of Art’s BA Hons printmaking students.
The exhibition gives an exciting insight into a great variety of different approaches to print and printmaking and showcases a diverse range of works made in preparation for the students’ degree show later in the year. So come along to support the students and see the artistic talents of tomorrow.

Preview Night Friday 23 March | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!
Exhibitions runs 24 March – 5 May 2012

TEMPORARY ART SCHOOL – Poets in the City Workshop + Meet-up

The Temporary Art School is a one month live project happening throughout the city of Aberdeen in March 2012. TAS was devised by a group of people living and working in both Aberdeen and Glasgow who have come together to put on classes and workshops for all which experiment with what an art school can be and continue in a long tradition of self-organised education.

This Friday Poet Gerard Rochford will be giving a new workshop on the word whether it be spoken, written or sprawled in the streets. Please bring along a poem of two which you have written you would like someone to have a look at it and if you have never written one, in Gerard’s words ‘by the end you will have.’ email atemporaryartschool@gmail.com to reserve a space.

Friday 16 March | 5-9pm

ABERDUINO – Electronic Jiggery-pokery

Aberdeen’s own electronic tinkerers and artist’s hackerspace will be running on the second or third Tuesday of every month from now on – so put the date above in your digi-diary.

Come along if you’re interested in micro-controllers, soldering irons, circuit bending, electronic jiggery-pokery and chin scratching.

Tuesday 17 April | 6.30 – 8.30pm | FREE
*Note – The event is FREE but call us on 01224 639539 to let us know if you’re coming along.

RELIEF PRINTING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Come along to try out the oldest form of printmaking. No experience necessary.

Saturday 7 + Sunday 8 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

ETCHING WEEKEND WORKSHOP – Beginners

Learn the techniques and processes involved in the traditional art of etching. No experience necessary.

Saturday 21 + Sunday 22 April | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc. 

GET ANIMATED AT PEACOCK

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Well book onto our animation workshops to find out.

Throughout April, July, August & October | 10 – 4pm | age 10 + | £35 

Call 01224 639539 for more information and to book a place on any of our courses.

Mar 082012
 

Fridge Magnets are beginning to get the notice and acclaim they deserve. Music companies are getting interested, and the act has just won a major music award. Magnet Steve Winton tells Aberdeen Voice about that experience.

The awards are the Scottish Alternative Music Awards created by Richie Muirhead in 2010, and the only awards of their type in Scotland. The chosen venue for the annual ceremony this year was The Garage in Glasgow.
Nominees are selected by a panel chosen from throughout Scotland and ranging from gig promoters to Radio DJs.

We were nominated for Best Electronic Act with four other established Scottish acts. It then went to public vote on the SAMA website. Over 18,000 votes were cast for the whole competition, double the number of the previous year.

We were delighted when our name was read out as winners, and to be honest we were shocked. The other acts, notably Rustie and Discopolis had an amazing year in 2011 and we really didn’t think we would win.

We were also fortunate to be asked to perform at the awards. There was a 700 capacity sell out and we played in front of heavy-hitting Scottish music industry people such as Radio 1’s Ally MacRae, Vic Galloway and In:Demand presenter Jim Gellatly. All of them commented on how impressed they were with our performance and all three subsequently played our track on their radio shows the following Sunday and Monday.

It was a great opportunity for us to play in front of a crowd that hadn’t seen us, in some cases hadn’t even heard of us before, and we seemed to win them over. The Facebook and Twitter pages were going crazy the following day, commenting on how well we did. We then went on to play the official after-party at a smaller venue in Glasgow and sold it out as well. It was probably the best experience we have had thus far as a band.

We are extremely grateful to everyone who voted and we’re delighted with the win. Our next gig in Aberdeen is at The Tunnels on March 24.
To whet appetites before then, here are two Fridge Magnets videos

Death of Rock N Roll
Feeling Grows  

Feb 232012
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

Electro wizards Fridge Magnets have been nominated in the Best Electronic Act category at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards.

Fridge Magnets have already shared big stages with Calvin Harris, Alex Metric, Japanese Popstars and Burns and have played at T in the Park and Rockness.

With this nomination, they appear to be going from strength to strength. Their early demos have already been featured on Radio 1 and the Glaswegian/Aberdonian outfit are attracting attention from some big London labels.

The Scottish Alternative Music Awards ceremony takes place at the Garage, Glasgow on 1 March and you can cast your vote at http://officialsama.co.uk/vote/ by clicking Fridge Magnets in the Best Electronic Act category.

See them live:

March
1st – SAMA Awards and after-party, Glasgow
16th – Doghouse, Dundee
24th – Tunnels, Aberdeen
30th – 20 Rocks, Falkirk

April
13th – Chambre69, Glasgow with Hot Chip DJ Set
18th – Death Disco, London
21st – The Nest, LondonMay
5th – Hootenanys, Inverness

June
1st – Devils Disco, Edinburgh

View videos: 

Death of Rock N Roll video http://bit.ly/dornrvid
Feeling Grows video http://bit.ly/feeling_grows

For further information:

Barry Saint
Studio 11
10 Acklam Road
London
0208 968 8236
barry@distiller-records.com
www.facebook.com/TheFridgeMagnets

Jan 212011
 

By George Anderson.

My call, they assured me, was important to them. They were quite specific about this.

It was less important than putting a man on Mars, but more important than missing a hairdressing appointment.
Both of their service consultants, Alf and Deirdre, were experiencing hyper-normal levels of calls. Which was presumably why I was 68th in the queue and had been holding on since the milkman delivered the gold top on Monday.

Of course, your place in these queues is relative. Only 48 hours beforehand I had been 497th in the queue, so I wasn’t doing too badly and I always had the option to ‘Press 1 – if you have lost the will to live.’  Anyway, I had taken a week’s holiday to make this call, so I still had five days in hand.

On Thursday morning someone with an indefinable European accent asked me to key in the square root of my National Insurance number and while I was at it, my age, shoe size, bank details, three of my favourite passwords, a Visa card number, my postal code and my grandmother’s maiden name.

By Friday afternoon the manic rendering of the Birdy Song I had been listening to continuously since the beginning of the week – when I wasn’t listening to machines telling me how much they valued my custom that is – had infiltrated my cranium, dug in like travellers encamped on the Mounthooly roundabout and refused to leave for several weeks after I had hung up.

I was just starting to hallucinate from lack of sleep when I suddenly realised I could hear Alf’s voice saying ‘Hello, Alfred speaking. How may I help you?’  But he didn’t have an option to press for those, people like me, who had forgotten why they called in the first place; so I just hung up.

My wife said I had wasted a week’s holiday. But I reminded her of the week we had spent in sub-deluxe chalet-style accommodation at Butlins Ayr, during a rain sodden February in 1964 and she grudgingly agreed that nothing could be a bigger waste of time than that.

There was worse to come. Apparently, while I was waiting for Alfred to come free, some Albanian cyber-twister had plundered our bank accounts, leaving them emptier than Ma Hubbard’s dog.