Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Police had Black Block infiltrated in Toronto and knew what they were going to be doing.

Democracy in big trouble as police powers expand to level of being able to declare martial law.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Toronto police let the Black Block rampage the streets of Toronto untouched and then bust up the peaceful protest later on.

Every year we get more and more reports from around the world that the police plant agents posing as Black Block in these protests and they lead the violence.

The public turns against the protest movement and the police departments get larger security budgets. A win-win for the corporate agenda.


Our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) is talking better on the war $$ issue. Now all we need is to see how she votes on the upcoming war $$ supplemental and the Pentagon war appropriations bills.

The final proof will be in the pudding.


John Pilger is one of the best journalists in the world


Northampton confronts thorny question of spending on wars
By Owen Boss
Daily Hampshire Gazette

NORTHAMPTON (Massachusetts) - As area legislators continue to look for ways to offer residents the programs and services they need during a period of national economic instability, some of those residents came together Wednesday night to discuss funding for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its effect on the city's budget.

Whether speaking for or against a resolution endorsed by six city councilors and the mayor calling on U.S. lawmakers to ensure that no more local money be spent to support wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, those who addressed the forum Wednesday night all said they were thankful for the opportunity.

"I support this resolution because these wars are costing our country way too many wonderful young lives," said Marty Nathan. "We are poorer and more at risk now because of these wars and I do not want to risk another life for an unwinnable military action."

Nathan presented city officials with 500 more signatures in favor of the resolution and pledged to collect at least 1,000 before the resolution is taken to a vote.

Col. John Paradis, of Florence, who served in the U.S. Air Force in Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2006, spoke out against the resolution.

"On my last day in Afghanistan, our Afghan translator turned to me and said, 'because of you my daughter can go to school and she will have opportunities that I never thought were possible,'" Paradis said.

More than 150 area residents crowded into the Community Room at JFK Middle School for the public forum called by the council to gather comments before the resolution is discussed by two subcommittees and the Human Rights Commission and their individual recommendations are sent back to the City Council.

Before opening the meeting, co-sponsor Mayor Clare Higgins encouraged those in attendance to use the gathering to find other members of the community who have a different opinion and arrange to discuss it privately.

"This is not structured as an opportunity for an open dialogue between the public and committee members," Higgins said. "I hope everyone here takes the time to talk to other people here they do not agree with. A respectful dialogue doesn't just happen at public meetings. It can happen between all of you."

Speaking in favor of the resolution was East Center Street resident Tyler Boudreau, 39, an Iraq War veteran serving as an infantryman.

"It is not inherently disrespectful to critique or re-evaluate a military operation," Boudreau said, "particularly if that military operation extends over a period of 10 years, as these conflicts have. It is imperative that we do re-evaluate continually, because the ultimate responsibility for American wars lies with the American people. We have to be able to discuss without passion or prejudice the courses of action before us and their costs and their consequences."

Paradis, opposing the resolution, said, "We are at war with a network known as al-Qaida, and its terrorist affiliates who support efforts to attack our country and our allies and to indiscriminately kill American citizens, including, if they were given the chance, right here and now, every person, man, woman, and child in this room without mercy or any remorse."

Andrew Trushaw, of Bridge Street, said he didn't come to the meeting to speak for or against the resolution, but said he felt it should be brought to a citywide vote.

"I think that it is wrong for the City Council to speak on behalf of the whole entire city of Northampton without actually knowing what the real percentage is," Trushaw said.

Kitty Callaghan, 54, of Golden Drive, said that after spending the last 25 years representing the city's low-income tenants as Western Mass. Legal Services attorney, she believed "war dollars should be brought home to address the housing crisis in this community."

"To show you the magnitude of our housing problem, in 2006 the Northampton Housing Authority opened their waiting list for one week and had 800 applicants. As of today, there are 100 applicants still on that waiting list," Callaghan said. "I would like Congress to bring home our war dollars so we can provide enough housing vouchers so that local people aren't struggling and aren't homeless."

Another U.S. Air Force veteran at the meeting, Col. Gary Keefe, 46, of Avis Circle, said he disagreed with the proposal because he thought many city residents' expectation that Northampton would get any more federal dollars as a result was unrealistic.

"If the council wants this resolution to go forward, I agree with Andy Trushaw, put it on a ballot and let the city vote on it," Keefe said, adding, "The city is not going to receive a big check. That's not how the government's budgeting system works."

Keefe also questioned the American Friends Service Committee's claim that the city of Northampton has collectively paid or become indebted to the amount of $111.7 million in federal taxes over the course of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

"I don't know where they came up with this $111.7 million dollars," Keefe said. "I'd like us to apply that same factor to find out what illegal immigration is costing the city of Northampton."

Elliot Fratkin, 62, of Massasoit Street, said he thought the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could not possibly end in military victory for the United States.

"Half of the country today feels that they don't know why we are still in these wars," Fratkin said. "I urge the City Council to pass this resolution, bring our war dollars home and send a clear message to our representatives and state senators."

My Note: I am told by the woman in the photo above that folks in support of the resolution outnumbered war supporters at the public meeting by a number of 5-6 to 1.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Billions of your $$$ in suitcases ($3 billion) being passed around the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan


This is the kind of student leadership we need in the U.S.

This student leader is connecting the dots by saying don't tie education funding into the upcoming vote on the $33 billion war supplemental bill.

That is a message of solidarity!


The coast along Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. This is the area the Navy wants to pour concrete over the rocks to build piers to port Aegis destroyers made here in Maine

* Back home after a great weekend in Madawaska. Had a real beautiful drive on country roads about half of the way home from the north. Some great scenery along the way with Mt. Katahdin and beautiful rivers and lakes. Did not see a moose. About two hours south we stopped at a roadside "clam shack" and immediately ran into two more of our Gagnon "cousins" from the reunion. They are all over the place!

* This morning I got a confirmation from our local newspaper that they will run my op-ed piece about my recent visit to the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in Korea. In the piece I suggest that it is time for people in Maine to think about where these Aegis destroyers, that are built here at Bath Iron Works, go when they leave Maine. I also said that the folks in Maine would never allow our rocky coast to be covered with cement by the Navy to build piers to port these warships. Looks like the op-ed will run in the Friday edition with a photo from the island. Will post it once it appears in the paper.

* I have the responsibility to organize one of the plenary panel discussions at the national Veterans for Peace convention that will be held in Portland, Maine on August 26-29. The panel will be called "Strengthening Our Movement: Linking War and the Economic Crisis at Home" and will feature Jo Comerford from the National Priorities Project and a couple other speakers. Still got a few details to work out on the panel. I am also responsible for the final march and rally through the streets of Portland on Sunday, August 29 from 9:00-11:00 am. (Hope you can attend this finale demo.)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Veterans for Peace which was actually founded here in Maine. Should be a wonderful event - great music, speakers, lobster bake on nearby Peak's Island, and banquet featuring Noel Paul Stookey, of the revered group, Peter, Paul and Mary along with keynote speech by Chris Hedges.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


It is more beautiful here in Madawaska, Maine than we had expected. Today we went to a reenactment of our Gagnon French-Canadian ancestors crossing over the river that separates the two countries (before there was a U.S.). This evening we attended the banquet of over 700 people.

The Gagnon clan is very friendly and unpretentious. We sat with a French-Canadian couple that made us feel like we had met long time close relatives.

Many of the folks speak French, the people in Madawaska and surrounding towns are keeping the French tongue very much alive around here.

State Senate President (and Governor candidate) Libby Mitchell was at the event and gave us a note to our 11 year old neighbor friend who is a big fan.

Sadly the folks doing genealogy here did not get my family history I had mailed in to them in advance of the reunion so were were not able to learn which of the four Gagnons who came to Quebec in the mid-1600's we came from. Will have to follow up on this afterwards.

In the morning we will attend a church service in Frenchville and then head home. It's been real fun to be here and we are all glad we made the trip.

Plus my Orioles won two in a row so I might have to come to Madawaska more often.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


This is a pure survival moment - we either end oil drilling in the oceans or we are dead ducks. Time for survival instincts to kick in.....


My sister Joan, who lives in Iowa, arrives today. On Thursday morning we (MB too) will drive north about six hours to Madawaska, Maine right near the Canadian border. The occasion - the Gagnon family reunion.

Gagnon is a French-Canadian name. My father was born in Ogdensburg, New York right along the St. Lawrence River that separates the U.S. and Canada.

All the Gagnon's in Canada and the U.S. are descendants of three brothers Mathurin, Jean, Pierre, and their cousin Robert. The three young Gagnon brothers emigrated in 1635 from the small village of La Gagnonniere in Northwestern France to Quebec, where they opened a store on St. Pierre St. in the lower city.

We've never been to one of these reunions and won't know anyone there. But it should be an interesting experience for us as we try to learn which of the early Gagnon's we came from.

I hear that the Gagnon name is quite common in northern Maine - potato growing country. It's a large region but not many people live in that part of the state.

I am excited about the trip.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am not yet recovered from my trip. Today I feel like doing nothing except working in the garden and chopping the last bit of wood that is stashed in a corner of our yard. My mind needs a break.

But before I get out of bed and have breakfast I wanted to remind myself and others about that far away war in Afghanistrap. Yeah that place with the trillion dollars worth of minerals - just ready for mining. But first we must "stabilize" the joint, so we'll need to stay there for a couple more years or so.......and yes, of course, we will need some more $$$ for the war to keep it going.

I can say without much exaggeration that the peace movement in America is limping pretty badly on one leg. I hate to admit it but let's face reality. People care but they have just about given up. I'm not about to join them...I'm far too stubborn for that, but it's rather hard to deny the truth.

These things are cyclical, the tide does come in and out, and for sure the tide is way out right now.

The BP disaster has only exacerbated people's feeling of impotence......the despair is toxic and spreading like a fast moving oil slick.

The question is what can an organizer like me offer people at this moment? Hope, solutions, evidence of possibilities, a sense that we are on the verge of springing to life again?

I don't have any magical answers.....I just keep remembering those folks who are fighting on Jeju Island or the innocents who are being killed in Afghanistan or the social needs going unmet in this country due to endless military spending. That is all the incentive I need to keep going.

But just a couple days off. Then I'll get back on the case. See you all then........

Monday, June 21, 2010


This is an excellent news report. I've seen several different news stories by this particular reporter and have been impressed with each of them. He's one of the better journalists out there these days.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The chairperson of the Global Network, Dave Webb, being interviewed about Pax Americana. Daves teaches engineering at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK and is national Vice-Chair of the UK's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.


The chairman of the Mugeonri village committee discovers the gate is unlocked and inside we went. On the left used to be rice paddies and the U.S. Army now drives tanks through the mountains and fires shells in the direction of North Korea
Right-wingers in South Korea have been busy in recent days after progressives sent a letter to the UN's Security Council questioning the "official story" about the sinking of the Cheonan Navy ship

Meeting here with Dr. Chung (left) whose parents were survivors of the massacre at No Gun Ri during the Korean War

Our delegation getting ready to board the bus in Gangjeong village for trip to airport and return to Seoul. I've got on my Korean World Cup soccer shirt that illustrates many activists hopes that the teams from the North and South would end up in the semi-finals against one another - a reunification activists dream come true. But unlikely to happen this time.

* On our last day in South Korea our thinned out delegation took a trip north to within an hours drive of the DMZ to a village called Mugeonri. Since 1979 the U.S. military has been scooping up large holdings of rice farm land and complete villages in the area in order to create a huge military training area for tanks and armored vehicles. The people in this area have lived here for 400 years and have relatives just over the border in North Korea. The process of having their lands stolen from them is doubly sad because not only do they lose their sacred farms and communities but the military maneuvers that are carried out there are aimed toward North Korea and any attack is sure to kill their relatives.

Each time there is a U.S. military war game in the tree-lined mountains surrounding their declining village populations, 30-60 tanks and armored vehicles trundle through their streets in the early morning or late at night. In 2002 two local school girls were ran over by U.S. Army tanks as they walked to a birthday party. Those responsible for running them down were never punished and the killings became a huge controversy all across South Korea.

Led by the chairman of the local village committee, and a leader from SPARK, we were driven around to see the growing area that makes up the training fields. When we came to a padlocked iron gate blocking our entry onto a road through the mountains, the local chairman discovered that the gate was not actually locked. So he threw open the gate and we piled back into his van and into the mountainous war rehearsal zone we drove. Soon we came to several military camps, set up with tents and South Korean Army soldiers in full battle gear. We got out saying we wanted to see their sacred tree that has bark that turns water blue. The soldiers kept shouting at us to move on and one of them had his machine gun pointed at us the entire time we were outside the van pointing to the tree on a hill just beyond their war camp.

We also stopped by the large tombstone honoring the two teenage girls and heard the story that it had been purchased by the soldiers from the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division whose personnel had run them over. Local Korean activists have requested the Army remove the tombstone so that the community can replace it with one of their own but so far the Army has ignored their request.

* I am writing this from the airport in Washington DC where I have a five-hour wait to catch my plane back to Maine. I did not sleep during the 13 hour flight from Korea back to the U.S. and watched seven movies. My mind is mush now and doing this blog is a chore.

* While on Jeju Island we watched a half-hour video and I was struck by one phrase: "We don't know where our ending point is....but we do know that when there is a start there is an end."

* We had alot of fun on the trip and of particular interest was Michael Lujan Bevacqua's quest to count the number of Dunkin Donut shops along our journey. I think he hit about 20 in all, and while a nice joke, it made the important point about the corporate colonization of South Korea. Michael, from Guam, has a blog where he has posted photos and his reflections throughout our trip. You can find it here

* Dr. Chung (in the photo above who we met the night before we left) is the chairman of the citizens committee to bring justice to those who were massacred at No Gun Ri on July 26-29, 1950. He and his father (both his parents are survivors of the massacre that killed up to 400 innocent civilians) have worked for years to bring the massacre to light and ultimately proved that the carnage had been ordered by high-level U.S. military brass. Recently a mainstream South Korean TV network did a documentary about No Gun Ri and he presented it to me so it could be shown at the national Veterans for Peace 25th anniversary convention that will be held in Portland, Maine on August 25-29.

* The big story in Korea these days though is the sinking of the South Korean Navy boat called the Cheonan. Progressive activists from an organization called the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) sent a letter to the UN's Security Council seriously questioning the South Korean right-wing President Lee's "official" account that puts the blame on North Korea. PSPD also calls for a real international investigation of the incident.

One of the Naval experts who was on the South Korean investigative committee disagreed with the formal findings of the final report and maintains that the ship was grounded (and broke apart) in rough shallow waters during U.S.-South Korean military exercises that put these ships near North Korean waters.

South Korean President Lee is furious with PSPD for "unilaterally" approaching the UN Security Council and has helped stoke up the anger of right-wingers who have been daily attacking the offices of PSPD in Seoul. You can read an interesting article in a South Korean newspaper (in English) here

You can also read a letter from SPARK to the UN Security Council here

Friday, June 18, 2010


A photo display of soft coral reefs and other sea life along the coast in the Gangjeong village
Mayor Kang of Gangjeong village sleeps four hours a night as he leads the fight against the Navy base plan

I am back in Seoul now after two nights in the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea. When we arrived in Gangjeong we were met by Corazon Fabros from the Philippines who is one of the key leaders of the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases. Also joining us was a staff representative from the peace group called SPARK (Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea).

Upon arrival in Ganjeong we went straight to the office of Mayor Kang who has been leading the villagers in their struggle to save their farming community of about 2,000 residents from the Navy base. Gangjeong grows tangerines and other vegetables and of course is a fishing community as well. It's rocky coast reminds me much of Pemaquid Point near where I live in Maine. The Navy base plan calls for the pouring of tons of cement on top of the rocks in order to build a pier for the Aegis destroyers and aircraft carriers that would be ported there. The sea creatures and plant life that thrives within those rocks would be buried alive.

The mayor recapped their latest efforts to physically resist the Navy base construction. More than fifty of the villagers have been arrested for putting their bodies in the way of the bulldozers that have been brought to clear land. The recent election of a new governor on Jeju Island gives the villagers some hope as he has called for more dialogue between the Navy and the villagers.

In a village-wide referendum on the Navy base 95% of the people voted against it. Mayor Kang though sadly confirmed that about 25% of the actual residents in the village do support the base construction. The Navy has offered bribes to some of the old sea diving women in their attempts to divide a village that previously had been united like a family.

Mayor Kang spoke eloquently about the need to "coexist with nature". He said that "Jeju is at the crossroads to becoming either an eco-friendly island or militarized." He told us that the village had decided to build a peace museum using traditional Korean style architecture for the building.

In July (during the slow farming time) the villagers will hold their third pilgrimage around the island to bring the issue to the public's attention. The walk will last one week during the hot season. Many of the villagers are elderly but they will make the pilgrimage through all the other villages on the island because they feel they must continue to do everything possible to try to block the building of the base.

The Samsung Corporation (a big development company in addition to building electronics) is one of the forces pushing the construction of the base. Another of the corporations that would be involved in the base construction is the same company that is building the Korean aerospace center. So when the Navy says the base in Gangjeong will be "high-tech" many villagers suspect the base will be also connected to space technology.

On our second day in Gangjeong a community forum was held (at about the same time the South Korean soccer team was playing for the World Cup) and 70 people turned out. Each of the people in our delegation spoke and here are a few key points that were made:

  • Corazon Fabros reported that the U.S. still refuses to take responsibility for the toxic pollution long after its Navy base was closed in the Philippines. "We have to match our enemies strength with our unity and solidarity," she said.
  • Shinako Oyakawa (University student from Okinawa) shared that 20% of their island has U.S. military bases since the end of WW II. Now the U.S. is attempting to build another base on environmentally sensitive lands in Henoko, Okinawa. They have learned that the U.S. military created the Henoko base plan all the way back in 1966. 85% of Okinawa citizens want the U.S. bases closed.
  • Michael Lujan Bevacqua (College instructor from Guam) said that 30% of Guam has U.S. bases, and the U.S. wants to build two more, also to be located in environmentally sensitive locations on the island. The U.S. military controls the largest water source on the island. The U.S. Navy wants to bring nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to Guam which will kill the coral reefs.

The South Korean government has announced that they intend to begin actual construction of the Navy base in September and expect to be finished in 2014. The South Korean Defense Minister has called the Gangjeong villagers "African natives" in an obvious racist slap at the fact that they are unwilling to be controlled.

The people in Gangjeong are a rare inspiration. They intimately feel their sacred connection to the land, the sea, the rocks, the fish, and the coral. As a village young and old alike are taking collective responsibility to protect it all. It is not a common sight in today's world to see virtually an entire village moving together with such common purpose. It indeed is a pure honor to be able to witness and find even small ways to support such a principled struggle.

My primary lesson from listening to the villagers of Gangjeong, and the other activists from Okinawa, Guam, and the Philippines is that the American people have no clue about the suffering that our military bases around the world are causing the people who have to deal with these outposts of empire. Many U.S. citizens seem to avoid opening their hearts to the enormous harm that is being done in our name with our tax dollars. The environmental degradation that results from these U.S. bases is beyond imagination.

The voices of those opposing U.S. bases must be heard. Each of us should hear their crys for support and we must do more in our own communities to bring these appeals to the public attention. The American people must learn that there is a consequence somewhere in the world when our planes, ships, tanks, and troops are deployed in a particular country. There is an impact on the environment and the human population who live there.


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Thursday, June 17, 2010


New Army resident apartment towers being built on stolen farm lands at Pyeongteak (Click on photo for better view)

I wrote the following on the bus (June 16) from Pyeongteak to the Kimpo Airport in Seoul as we make our way there for a flight to Jeju Island.

This morning our four-person group took the train from Seoul to Pyeongteak to meet with activists who are organizing against the expansion of two U.S. bases in their community. One is the Army base called Camp Humphreys (which was a Japanese imperial military base during WW II) and 13 kilometers away is the Osan Air Force Base.

As we drove the narrow farm roads on the perimeter of Camp Humphreys we saw the clear signs of massive construction going on. Housing for 10,000 military personnel and their families is being built on one edge of the Army installation. The base expansion was to be completed in 2008 but has been delayed until 2015 by the national peace campaign of opposition that peaked between 2002-2006. Another reason for the delays has been the hardball negotiations between the U.S. and the South Korean government, as the Americans have demanded that the Koreans pay a larger share of base construction costs.

Osan AFB, like Camp Humphreys, is also taking major tracks of farming land from surrounding villages in order to build a second runway and new munitions storage areas. The fighter bombers were practicing take-offs and landings as we drove around the base and the screaming planes reminded us that the levels of noise and air pollution that local residents have to daily deal with would never be acceptable to most Americans.

But the big question that must be answered is why is the Pentagon doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region? Is all this being done because of North Korea? Hardly.

On June 16, 2009 Obama and South Korean right-wing President Lee signed a new “Strategic Flexibility” agreement that turns “local responsibility” for defense of South Korea over to their military forces. The U.S. has bigger fish to fry.

Under “Strategic Flexibility” South Korea will be responsible to defend against North Korea (who is never going to initiate an attack on the south anyway) while the U.S. intends to use its expanding military presence throughout the region for its own imperial ambitions.

I asked one of our hosts at the Pyeongteak Peace Center (Yongdong Yang) just whom the U.S. was aiming at in the region if it was not North Korea? His response was straight to the point as he answered, “Russia and China. Russia has large supplies of natural gas [actually the largest in the world]. It’s about energy wars.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Alongside the Osan AFB runway, which was buzzing with U.S. warplanes, sits many concrete bunkers with the new ground-based PAC-3 (Patriot) “missile defense” system launchers raised up and ready to fire. I asked our host which direction they were pointing toward and he told me they were aimed at China not North Korea.

You can imagine that China is not pleased with these U.S. military moves throughout the region. These same kinds of Pentagon base expansions are happening in Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Australia, and more. The Obama administration has recently approved the sale of PAC-3 “missile offense” systems to be sold to Taiwan – a Cuban missile crisis in reverse except this time most American people know nothing about these dangerous and provocative deployments.

Instead the American people just hear that China is upgrading its military and we are left to believe that they are just doing this because they have decided to take over the world. But the truth is that it is the U.S. that has military bases in over 130 countries around the world – not China or Russia.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The wall along the base
Yesterday's action outside the U.S. Embassy. The embassy faces the South Korean government building - a symbol of who is really in charge

A photo from one of the monthly vigils outside the U.S. embassy in Seoul

We spent the day inside Seoul yesterday attending a couple different events. First we went to a 10th anniversary remembrance ceremony of the June 15 Declaration that was signed between the governments of South and North Korea that began to open up contacts between the people and family members. But in the last two years the right-wing government in South Korea of President Lee has begun to destroy those steps toward progress and he has resumed hostility toward the North.

Leading politicians from a couple different opposition political parties spoke at the event and after it was finished the former minister of unification came up to our delegation (which had been recognized during the ceremony) and introduced himself.

Following that event our delegation that includes Michael Lujan Bevacqua (Guam) and Shinako Oyakawa (Okinawa) went to a protest in front of the U.S. embassy that is held each month by Global Network affiliate group called SPARK (Solidarity for Peace & Reunification in Korea). SPARK began holding these regular protests at the embassy in 1999 and for a few years were met with arrests and beatings by their government. But persistance paid off and they are now left alone although the police were noticeably present.

At this protest, attended by about 100 people, they had reports on key issues including the recent sinking of the South Korea Naval vessel and reports from the U.N.'s recent NPT Review Conference. Peace groups and the public in South Korea remain convinced that North Korea had nothing to do with the sinking of the Navy ship which happened at the time of joint U.S.-South Korean war games aimed at North Korea.

After a wonderful lunch of grilled fish we were taken on a driving tour of the vast U.S. Yongsan Army Post that sits in the center of busy Seoul. The Army base is on both sides of hectic downtown streets and its stone walls with circular razor wire at the top is a visible reminder that this unwanted intrusion not only takes precious land but also makes the city a military target.

The South Korean Ministry of National Defense sits inside the Army base which well illustrates the fact that South Korea always has been a military colony of the United States. After WW II ended, and the Japanese colonizers were removed from power in South Korea, the U.S. put the Koreans who had been collaboraters with fascist Japan into positions of power.

The Korean War was essentially a civil war against those Japanese imperial collaboraters and those who had fought against the Japanese occupation and could not accept the U.S. as the new colonizing government. Since the Korean War never resulted in a peace treaty the war continues to this day with the U.S. still remaining in control of the South Korean government.

We were taken to dinner last night by leaders of the Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification (PKAR). You might remember several postings I did late last year about the three activits from PKAR who had been jailed by the Lee government under the "National Security Act". Their crime allegedly was calling for national reunification and demanding that U.S. military bases in Korea be closed. After several months in jail they were released after the high court ruled that they had been illegally spied on by the government.

Many members of this organization had been jailed for many years due to their political work. One man at the dinner last night was in prison for 36 years. During the Korean War, as a 16 year old boy, he had fought against the U.S. and had refused to renounce his belief that the U.S. had become another colonizing power just like Japan had previously been.

One of the PKAR leaders told me that it would take the U.S. 1,000 years to make up for all the wrong they had done to North Korea. From the carpet bombing of the north during the war (the North Koreans had to live underground because virtually every building in the north was destroyed), to the present situation of perpetual preparations for war that has kept the north in a state of seige, the U.S. has prevented North Korea from fully developing much like Cuba has been prevented from doing the same.

Earlier in the day while at the U.S. embassy protest, one speaker from the political prisoners family organization told the crowd that "Our hope is very far away." There is much sadness in Korea as the nation remains divided and the U.S. displays no intention of ending its aggressive military control in the region. The U.S. likes having military bases in Korea because of its strategic borders with China and Russia. Control and domination of the region is most important and what happens to the good people on the Korean peninsula is of no interest to the U.S. war machine.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Yeah, right, sure.....gimme a break!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


An article in today's New York Times declares - U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

Notice how it says the U.S. discovered this like it was our own country.

The article reads in part:

The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

See the entire article here and another good one here

My take is that the U.S. knew about these reserves all along but has just now gone public with it in order to deal with the growing public opposition to the war in Afghanistan. The fact that the article also appears just days before the House of Representatives votes on another $33 billion war supplemental is no coincidence.


I arrived in South Korea last night after a 13 hour flight from Washington DC. It made for a long day and I don't sleep well on planes. I watched about six moves (lost count) which helped pass the time.

I was invited to participate in a tour of the Asian-Pacific No Bases Campaign that is currently working to connect activists from throughout the region on solidarity trips to show support for one another's struggle against the U.S. military base expansion going on throughout this part of the world.

During this week here in Korea we will visit three different parts of the country where the U.S. is expanding current bases and military training areas, or (as in the case of Jeju Island) where new bases are planned to be built.

Activists will be coming from Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, South Korea, and myself from the U.S.

I'll do my best to post some reports and photos as I go along.

Some sleep might be helpful in the meantime.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The weapons industry has publicly thanked our Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) for her faithful service to the cause of increasing military production at the Pratt-Whitney aircraft engine plant here in Maine.

She has gone to bat for the F-35 fighter engines they make, showing strong leadership on their behalf.

We have asked her to similarly fight to end the war funding for Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan. She says she is with us but so far we are not seeing much energy coming our way.

Maybe we don't kick enough $$$ into her campaign chest?

Friday, June 11, 2010


The short video speaks for itself....why is this allowed to happen?


The latest edition of the Global Network newsletter is now available on-line. You can find it here

It is getting good reviews so far, I think the color photos/graphics/cartoons make such a difference. Sadly the black and white print version does not offer such good contrasts.

Hope you find the newsletter useful and educational. And of course we hope it inspires you to share the space issue with others.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara, May 31st 2010 // 15 min. from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

This video was released today at the United Nations by activists who were on-board the Mavi Marmara. One women smuggled the video off the ship in her underwear. It is I believe the first such video made public since the Israeli attack on the ship.

We've heard from many of those on that humanitarian aid mission that the Israeli military took all their possessions - clothes, cameras, computers, video tapes, passports, etc - except for the clothes on their back. People are demanding that Israel release all of their belongings so that a real reconstruction of the events on that night could be made public.

So far Israel refuses to do so.


I am almost finished reading Jesse Ventura's new book called "American Conspiracies". It is a good book and I highly recommend it.

The debate in this clip is over Oliver Stone's new documentary film about Hugo Chavez called South of the Border, which paints the Venezuelan president in a favorable light.

The suit and tie debating Stone and Ventura is Rep. Connie Mack III (R-FL) who is a right-winger just like his father who was a U.S. senator from the sunshine (and oil polluted) state. It just goes to show that you can make a career out of using the good name of a former baseball legend - Connie Mack.


This is a photo of the sand dunes and Gulf of Mexico in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida where I lived two different times in my youth. I spent many hours playing in these waters and fishing from nearby bridges. The sand was sugar white, the sun hot, the water clean, and the animal life abundant. I swallowed a few gallons of that salty water while body surfing the waves.

I did a nationally syndicated radio interview the other night and the talk show host lives in Ft. Walton Beach. He told me the oil was beginning to show up there. My mind flashed back to 1969 when I had a newspaper delivery route on what is called "Okaloosa Island" - the beach community there along the Gulf. In those days it was not covered with hotels and tourist joints as it is today. Back then many of the streets were still sand and miles of unspoiled beach lay before the eye. I would get up at 4:00 am and deliver papers on my motor bike along a 50 mile route and then sleep in school.

The local economy in Ft. Walton Beach is divided between the military and tourism. This oil mess will likely hugely impact the tourism.

In those days I took the pelicans for granted as they flew along in their bird formations, gliding just above the breaking waves. It breaks my heart to now see photos of these birds covered in gooey oil or laying dead stiff as a board on the darkened Gulf beaches.

I spend many moments these days trying to squeeze a bit more energy savings out of my being - walking as much as possible, turning off lights even more than before, working in our garden more. But I know this is a drop in the bucket. What we need is a national policy that moves us away from dependence on fossil fuels and toward public mass transit and creating a solar society.

I got an email this morning from a Florida friend linking to a column in his local newspaper where the editor takes personal responsibility for the BP disaster. It is worth reading. See it here

A friend that works at Bath Iron Works came over on Monday to show us a memo from General Dynamics to all BIW workers promoting a bond issue (which passed on Tuesday) to help fund wind turbine development for Maine's off-shore wind abundant waters.

My hope is that the American people can feel the pain of this disaster enough that we demand the end to off-shore oil drilling. My hope is that the people will demand we move away from dependence on oil.

My hope is that people will begin to see that we are all responsible for this mess.


The so-called all volunteer Army at work - they are having to drug the troops in order to keep them on the battlefield. The GI's are suffering from depression, are worn out, need to come home and get mental health treatment.

Instead the politicians from both corrupt political parties pat them on the back, call them heroes, put a bigger flag on the podium in Congress, and announce they will soon approve another war supplemental to the tune of $33 billion (in order to take care of the troops of course) and send them back to war - with pills in hand.

This is what empires do, they don't give a damn about the troops. They just want the GI's bodies and the killing they do in order to benefit the multi-national corporations who are getting rich off this war in Afghanistan, which is now the longest war in U.S. history.

The politicians who fund and justify these wars make me sick.

Latest Afghan War Poll: The Washington Post reports on a new war poll. Overall, 53 percent say the war is not worth its costs, a new high in Post-ABC polling.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


* I picked up our newsletter, Space Alert, today from the printer and took it to the mailing house. It should be arriving at your door soon. If anyone would like me to send them bulk copies let me know how many you want.

* I've heard a few peaceniks recently indicate they were a bit impressed with Secretary of War Gates trying to hold the line on some elements in the Pentagon budget. But we need some clarity here. Gates is not trying to cut the military budget, he is just trying to shift some spending, from some programs that he does not want, in order to "pay for war-fighting operations" the New York Times reported on June 3. The newspaper said, "The goal is to force all of the Defense Department agencies and organizations, and all of the armed services, to save enough money in their management, personnel policies and logistics to guarantee 3% real growth each year, beyond inflation, in the accounts that pay for combat operations."

* In other war news, the industry publication DefenseNews reports, "In response to anger over civilian deaths, the Senate voted to spend $36 million so the Air Force and Navy can develop a 'very low collateral damage precision air drop weapon.' The sum is intended to pay for five months of development and testing of a bomb designed to kill only the people it is intended to hit."

I swear, I did not make that last line up. It's in a June 1 article written by William Matthews. What does it mean? Who the hell knows.......?????

To date $747.3 billion have been appropriated by Congress for the war in Iraq and $299 billion for the war in Afghanistan.

It's a total of $1 trillion.....your war $$$$$.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Roger Waters from Pink Floyd


This video released on May 31 by IDF

The video apparently doctored by the IDF, released on June 4

Progressive journalist Max Blumenthal, reporting from Israel, has proven that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) forged an audio communication that was intended to paint the Free Gaza Movement in a negative light. He was able to force the IDF to acknowledge they had edited the audio transmission and he was able to get the New York Times to report this story - even though it was buried in their paper.

From the New York Times:

The I.D.F. make public what they said were audio transmissions that Israel’s navy received from the Mavi Marmara before the raid. The clip suggested that a polite request from the navy to the ship was met with responses from three people who said: “Shut up — go back to Auschwitz,” “We have permission from the Gaza Port Authority to enter,” and “We’re helping Arabs going against the U.S., don’t forget 9/11, guys.”

This clip, posted on the I.D.F.’s official YouTube channel on Friday, was met with immediate skepticism by some bloggers and journalists in Israel. Max Blumenthal pointed out in a post on his blog that the I.D.F. had already released video of what seemed like the same exchange four days earlier in which the only reply from the ship was “Negative, negative. Our destination is Gaza. Our destination is Gaza.”

Mr. Blumenthal suggested that at least one of the voices making the inflammatory remarks in the clip “sounded like an impersonation of an Arab.” He also noted that Huwaida Arraf, one of the organizers of the flotilla, said that it was her voice saying “We have permission from the Gaza Port Authority to enter.” But Ms. Arraf was not on the Mavi Marmara, which suggested that the I.D.F. tape was not an unedited snippet of the exchange between the naval ship and the Mavi Marmara.

On Saturday, the I.D.F. published what it called a “Clarification/Correction” regarding the clip which said that the audio had been edited.

Next Up: The German-Jewish organization Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East is preparing a Jewish flotilla to the Gaza Strip. "We intend to leave around July," a member of the organization, Kate Leitrer, said to Ynet. "We have one small craft so far, in which there will be between 12 and 16 people, mostly Jews."

Monday, June 07, 2010


This is a very moving four-part series of clips about the first journey to Gaza in 2008 by the Free Gaza Movement.

It tells the story how they had to quietly organize the trip in fears that Israel would find ways to sabotage the boats or kill the organizers.

People around the world must continue to keep breaking Israel's illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza.

The people of Gaza deserve to be free.

See an important article on this subject here


Isn't it just confounding that politicians in the U.S. (from both parties) refuse to acknowledge that Israel has more than 200 nuclear weapons?

Is there any wonder that so many people around the world look upon the U.S. government as a total hypocrite when we lecture and demand that Iran or North Korea not have nuclear weapons while we facilitate countries like Israel and India building more of them?

My mother always said, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." In this case the U.S. policy says we like our goose friends to have their "nuclear deterrent" and we don't like the ganders to have evil weapons of mass destruction.

Until the double standard goes away nothing really changes in the nuclear world. It's no wonder that despite all of Obama's cheap talk about wanting to get rid of nukes, nothing was accomplished at the U.N.'s Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) conference last month in New York City.

U.S. hypocrisy is holding up any real progress in nuclear disarmament.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


* Change the name on the pig to "Military Industrial Complex" and the cartoon works just as well to illustrate how Congress is brought to its knees by the big corporations that control politics in America today.

* Yesterday more than 20 activists from around Maine stood in the pouring rain outside Bath Iron Works protesting another "christening" of an Aegis destroyer. Reports in the local paper last week told us that the Navy will move forward with the DDG-1000 destroyer at the shipyard with plans to build three of the ships. This new, larger version of Navy destroyers were originally estimated to cost $3.2 billion each but the price has jumped to about $6 billion per ship. (The cost of the current DDG-51's they have been building are about $1.2 billion each.) Ultimately the Navy decided that they couldn't afford to build the DDG-1000 but the Congress pushed them through anyway - because, you know, our local economies are addicted to military spending so Democrats and Republicans want all the Pentagon bucks they can get their hands on. The new DDG-1000 ships are being designed to give the U.S. Navy better ability to come closer to "enemy" shorelines in order to have a better crack at intercepting their retaliatory missiles after a U.S. first-strike attack is launched. This will make Russia and China feel much better I am certain.

$$ Update: I have just received a copy of the June 3 Inside Defense article entitled Pentagon Estimates DDG-1000 Will Cost $7.4 Billion Per Ship. These ships are getting more expensive every day and can't really be justified. These cost overruns are happening before the damn ships have even begun to be built! Simply ridiculous!

* I heard Norman Finkelstien say in an interview that one of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara that was bound for Gaza had hid some film footage of the Israeli military attacks in her underwear and the images are to be released to the media this coming week. Should be interesting if this is true.

* Just in case you were wondering, my Baltimore Orioles baseball team has fired their manager because they currently have the worst record in professional baseball. They are 15-41 and have lost two since they replaced their manager. Attendance at their stadium is at an all-time low and at this point I am doing sociological research of the fan base reactions to 13-years of losing baseball as much as anything else. It is an interesting dynamic to follow and I am doing my best not to have a heart attack over one bad game after the other.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


This Real News segment gives a good view of what it looks like inside Israel in the aftermath of their attack of the humanitarian aid shipments.

It is absolutely evident to me that Israel feels no hesitation to kill anyone they want and to smear anyone who supports the Palestinian people as terrorists. They think they can get away with any kind of brutality.

Sadly for Israel they fail to see that the majority of people around the world now view their occupation of Gaza as a crime.


Lisa with one of the Pingree campaign donors

Eight of us from the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home went to nearby Freeport yesterday to hold a vigil outside a campaign fundraiser for our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (Democrat). The event was held out in the country at the luxurious home of a developer so we had to set up our picket line on the road by the entrance to the lane that went up to the house. Six of us stood there with our banner and signs. Two of our folks, who had invitations to the fundraiser, went inside.

Lisa Savage, the leader of CodePink in Maine, was one of those who went inside. She put on her pink wig, her pink apron, and began handing out literature to the 80 or so people who had gathered and were waiting for Rep. Pingree to arrive.

People had to park their cars out on the road and then walk past our picket line to get into the event. We told them that Rep. Pingree, just last week, voted in favor of another $159 billion for war spending for fiscal year 2011. We also told these good liberals going into the event, that Maine's other Congressman Mike Michaud (also a Democrat) voted "no" on the war funding authorization. We also told them that another $33 billion war funding supplemental, for the remainder of 2010, was soon to be voted on and Pingree had yet to declare how she will vote on it.

After about 45 minutes of us standing out on the road, Rep. Pingree drove up and jumped out of her SUV and went around shaking our hands telling us that she was sorry we didn't agree and that we could come to her office anytime and talk. Gary Higginbottom was standing with us and had just been inside her office last week to talk with her about war funding. (She had refused then to say how she'd vote on the upcoming $33 billion supplemental.) Pingree told us she only voted for the 2011 bill because it included language to repeal the anti-gay Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy in the military.

Pingree then tried to pull an old political trick of pitting the anti-war community against the gay community by inferring that she had done the politically correct thing and how could we expect her not to vote for the gay community. We reminded her that Rep. Michaud had voted "yes" to support the DADT amendment but then voted against the whole bill because of the war $$ in it. We suggested she could have done the same. (The 2011 war $$ authorization bill passed by a margin of 229-186.)

During this whole interchange you could clearly see that Pingree did not like it one bit that we had come to her event. After all, she is a Democrat and says she is against war spending and that should be enough. People like us are only supposed to protest against Republicans and people like George W. Bush - the warmonger.

Inside the fundraiser Lisa was steadily working the crowd and people were taking the literature and no one was asking her to leave. Eventually Pingree jumped back into her car and drove up the lane to the party. When she got out of the car Lisa greeted her. Here is Lisa's take on that moment:

Chellie was less thrilled about the PINK presence inside her fundraiser. Visibly irritated by the stop war spending message aimed at her, she said "I know you people don't like how I voted, but I voted for DADT." Yeah, right.

We figure that after we left the event, many of the folks who had come to attend the fundraiser had a few questions for Chellie. One woman, on her way into the party, told us, "Yes I know how she voted, I've been following this and that's partly why I came, I want to ask her some questions."

So we accomplished our purpose last evening. We wanted Chellie's supporters, and campaign donors, to know how she voted on war spending and to make Chellie have to explain herself to them face-to-face.

As long as Rep. Pingree keeps telling people that she is opposed to the war, and thinks we should stop funding it, then we are going to hold her feet to the fire. We will continue to press her, and all our other members of Congress to Bring Our War $$ Home.

What we are looking for from Rep. Pingree is leadership on this issue. We want to hear her speak out more in Maine about how war spending impacts our state. We also want to see her work harder in Washington DC to end the wars.

If she does that we will support her. If she does not then we will continue to educate the public how our Congresswoman says one thing but does another. At this point she is starting to tarnish her reputation.

Throughout this whole campaign we are trying to keep two key things in mind. First, and foremost, are the innocent civilians in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan who are daily being killed with our war $$. We must speak for them. And secondly, we must speak for the teachers, social workers, city workers, and others being fired all over our state because local and state budgets are being impacted by war spending. So far Maine's share of war spending since 2001 is over $2.8 billion.

Thursday, June 03, 2010



Below are excerpts of what some of the freed passengers had to say. See more here

Andre Abu-Khalil, Al Jazeera cameraman

First they [the Israelis] tried to come by helicopter and tried to come down on the main deck. But the Turkish people were gathering on the rooftop and they managed to grab three of the soldiers, which led to a second helicopter to come and start shooting live bullets on the people.

People [on board] did not have any guns. All what they had were some wooden sticks which is normal.

I was on the Mavi Marmara [the lead ship of the flotilla].

I wasn't on the rooftop deck. I was on the first deck floor where the Israelis tried to climb by the ropes on the deck.

There were 20 Turkish resistance guys throwing tomatoes, anything that they managed to throw, on the Israelis.

Then one of these Turkish guys got a bullet just in the head. When the Turkish people saw that, they pulled him inside when the Israelis started firing on the deck.

[After the Israelis took over the ship] they kept us tied up, hands behind the back, for nine hours until we reached the Ashdod port and from there they took us for individual interrogation and then shipped us all to Be'er Sheva jail.

The organisers [of the flotilla] swapped the four Israelis kidnapped, or caught, by the people on the ship, and because they were beaten up, because it's kind of resistance from our side, we swapped the Israeli soldiers to [get] to treat our injured.

Mohamed Vall, Al Jazeera reporter

The Israeli assault took those of us on the ship by complete surprise.

During that hour an half in the early morning everybody on board the ship thought that no-one would survive the Israeli attack because we saw about 30 war vessels surrounding this ship and helicopters attacking with very luminous bombs, the sound of them makes you think you are dead

That was a fear of war, complete war, on a ship that was full of men, women and even children.

The first soldiers on the ship were not killed, they were not shot at, they were captured by the defenders of the ship.

Moments later another bigger helicopter landed more troops and this time they fired immediately at people and killed as many as they could so that they could reach the cabin and take control of the ship.

I saw blood spilt on the ship and everyone knew that there was no weapons. we all knew the Israelis would intercept us and try to stop us, but we didn't think that they would open fire at the first moment.

I have been shown the picture of a Yemeni man, and this is ridiculous, who was on the ship and most people know that every Yemeni in the world has a Yemeni style knife, that is a cultural thing and does not have anything to do with violence.

I understand now that in Israel they are trying to make a big deal about that, saying that the boat was full of violent people and just because of that one man.

Othman Battiri, Al Jazeera crew member

At 4:15, tens of Navy boats carrying tens of soldiers tried to board the ships. They were met by resistance. Peaceful resistance. Helicopters came and tried to download soldiers. They could not.

At that moment, they started firing live ammunition.

First, they fired sound and gas bombs and rubber bullets. Some people were injured from the rubber bullets. Then, live bullets were used. I saw several men being wounded. We tried to help some of the wounded. I saw four people who were killed.

I saw two people die before my eyes. One of them had a bullet in the chest. The other was bleeding but I did not know where he was shot.

We went down to see the other dead people. One had a bullet in his head as if he was hit by a sniper. Live bullets were every where.

They did not respect that all those on the ships were civilians. There were no weapons.

There was not firing by the activists on the soldiers. As media we stand witnesses on that.

They four dead people that I saw were all Turkish. Two were old men. The other two were younger. One of the young people was a coordinator in the media room. His name is Juwdat.

We heard that more people were killed. I only saw four. Most of the fighting took place on the upper level around the room of ship captain, where the activist tried to prevent the soldiers from trying to control the captain’s room. This is where live ammunition were used.

The attack started at 4:15 and ended around 5:30 when we heard that the ship was controlled by the Israeli's.

Around 7:00 they asked us to leave our rooms and they started tying our hands.

Hazem Farouq, Egyptian MP from the Muslim Brotherhood

Helicopters were flying above us. Four military ships and 10 Navy boats surrounded us. They rained us with sound and gas bombs as if we were in real war.

Four people died before my eyes and in my hands. We could not find any first aid material. What happened required a field hospital to treat the injured. I did not have the necessary material to treat their bleeding wounds.

When we tried to carry the injured, the Israeli soldiers refused to allow men to carry the wounded. They pointed their guns with laser light toward their heads. They asked women to carry the wounded. Some women could not.

The wounded were very hurt because they were not carried in the proper way through the stairs and narrow doors.

Farouq is a dentist who was on board Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the flotilla. He spoke to Al Jazeera after arriving in Cairo.

Issam Zaatar, Al Jazeera cameraman

I was filming, and then he [an Israeli solider] ran after me with a stun gun.

He could not catch me. One of his colleagues hit my hand from behind with a stun gun. My camera fell down. He ran to crush the camera with his feet.

I told him, don't break my camera. If you want the tapes, I will give them to you. I told him these are media equipment. They had no limits.

They used rubber bullets. They used tear gas bombs. It was an unbelievable scene.

Haneen Zubi, Palestinian member of the Knesset

We were expecting the Israeli army to stop us, to prevent us from entering but surely we didn't expect such a war against us.

It was 14 ships which approached us, nearly at 4.30 in the morning. Fourteen ships that I could count and one helicopter. Maybe more than 10 soldiers, I couldn't say exactly [how many] were getting out of the helicopter.

On the second floor of the ship there were just passengers who are journalists, a nurse and organisers of the flotilla who didn't have anything in their hands.

After 20 minutes, maybe 15 minutes, there were three dead bodies.

It ended at six, when a voice from the microphone said the ship was controlled by the Israelis, 'please enter the rooms'.

Norman Paech, former member of the German parliament

This was not an act of self-defence [by the Israeli army], but rather it was completely disproportionate - although we were counting on our ship being blocked and maybe checked.

This was a very serious offence, this was a war crime.

I personally saw two and a half wooden sticks which were used [by activists].

We had not prepared in any way to fight. We didn't even consider it.

No violence, no resistance - because we knew very well that we would have absolutely no chance against soldiers like this.

Mihalis Grigoropoulos, Greece

I was steering the ship, we saw them [Israeli soldiers] capture another ship in front of us, which was the Turkish passenger vessel with more than 500 people on board and heard shots fired.

We did not resist at all, we couldn't even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard?

The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge, forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices.

There was great mistreatment after our arrest. We were essentially hostages, like animals on the ground.

They wouldn't let us use the bathroom, wouldn't give us food or water and they took video of us despite international conventions banning this.

Nilufer Cetin, Turkey

We stayed in our cabin and played games amid the sound of gunfire.

My son has been nervous since yesterday afternoon ... I did not need to protect my son.

They knew there was a baby on board. I put a gas mask and life jacket on my son.

We did not experience any other problems on board, only a water shortage.

We took walks on the deck, played games with my son. The curtains were drawn, so I did not see the raid as it was happening. I only heard the voices.

There are lightly and heavily wounded people.

There are thousands, millions of babies in Gaza. My son and I wanted to play with those babies. We planned to deliver them aid. We wanted to say: 'Look, it's a safe place, I came here with my baby-son.'

I saw my husband from a distance, he looked okay. The ship personnel was not wounded, because they [the soldiers] needed them to take the ship to port.

I will go again if another ship goes.

Cetin returned to Istanbul airport with her one-year-old son.

Youssef Benderbal, France

The instructions were clear. Do not provoke, remain calm and go to meet them [the commandos] saying 'we are pacifists and not terrorists'.

Masked commandos took possession of the ship. They were aiming for the captain's cabin.

Benderbal was not on board Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the flotilla, but on one of the other five ships. He gave this account to Europe 1 radio after arriving at a Paris airport.

Dimitris Gielalis, Greece

Suddenly from everywhere we saw inflatables coming at us, and within seconds fully equipped commandos came up on the boat.

They came up and used plastic bullets, we had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method we can think of, they used.

Gielalis was on board the ship Sfendoni.

Mutlu Tiryaki, Turkey

When we went up to the deck, they emerged from helicopters and military boats and attacked us.

They approached our vessel with military ships after issuing a warning. We told them we were unarmed. Our sole weapon was water.