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USA: AN UNHAPPY STATE OF AFFAIRS AND WHY WE STAND ON TAX DAY

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ONCE AGAIN, we stood outside NYC Federal Office on TAX DAY, April 15th, organized by the War Resisters League with support from Granny Peace Brigade, Raging Grannies, Bud’s Filthy Rotten System, Paul’s accordion, and many others to say, “No more taxes for war!” Since 2001 USA has spent $5.6 TRILLION on WAR: $32 MILLION per hour, and $24,000 per taxpayer!** And ironically 60 companies, all making huge profit, like Amazon, Honeywell, GM, paid $0 in Taxes. People pay while companies profit! Say NO to our huge Defense/war budget. Invest in PEACE.

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What does it mean: invest in peace? If we look at our neighbor Canada, basically their tax rates are similar to USA, maybe a bit more in some categories. What do they get for their tax dollars: free health care for everyone, low drug prices, up to 18 months of subsidized parental leave when they have children, good quality public education, less costly colleges and universities and Canada is in the top 10 countries in the “happiness index.” Canada spends 1.3% of its GDP on Defense.*** Similar benefits are found throughout Europe.

How does US fare? In the “happiness index” US continues to decline, in 2019 falling from the 18th place to 19th place. *** What are the variables: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy. What are we getting for our tax dollars: the strongest military in the world, with our defense budget more than that of the 11 top other countries combined. And every year this goes up, not down. In one way or other almost half our countries tax dollars goes to support defense, the veterans past and present, over 800 bases world-wide and active military action currently in over 70 countries.
And so, what does this leave us with? Just a few ways it affects our lives:
—US life expectancy is lower than in Canada and has dropped for the second year in a row according to CDC and is other comparable countries.
—Infant mortality rates 71% higher than comparable countries (Europe/Japan)
—A rising maternal mortality rate due to preventable causes (it is declining in most other countries) and highest among comparable countries
—32 million still without health coverage; most families paying high costs for health insurance for incomplete coverage; high drug costs;
—130 estimated die daily from opioid overdose. In 2017, over 70,000 people in US died from opioid overdose. The figures have been rising steadily from the 1990’s.
—Over 1.2 million students drop-out of high school yearly. 2000 schools in the country graduate less than 60% of their students. The US which used to have high graduation rates now ranks 22 out of 27 developed countries. Low investments in public education are found throughout the country.
—And then, high income inequality, low wages/wages not livable, decaying infrastructure, environmental degradation ranging from lead in pipes in schools and homes to elimination of regulations which protect our air, water, land and so much more.
—USA spends 3 times or 3.1% of GDP on Defense.

And all of this and more cannot be adequately addressed because we allow our Congress to allocate more and more to the military-industrial complex which profits well and enables our giving and selling more weapons for wars and bases all over the world.

Keep calling your members of Congress. Say NO to $800 billion defense budget. Say NO to $$$ trillions to upgrade our nuclear weapons capacity. Say YES to using our tax dollars to invest in our children, our environment.

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THIS IS WHY WE STAND ON TAX DAY AND OTHER DAYS TO SAY: END ENDLESS WARS.

– Marty Rajandran
– Photos: Eva-Lee Baird, Linda Novenski & Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

**Source: Stephanie Savell, co director of the Cost of War Project at Brown University and as published in OtherWords, 21 March, 2018.

***The World Happiness Reporta is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Four years of “living in Hell”—Children in Yemen

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March 25, 2019 marked the beginning of the 5th year of the Saudi-led war on Yemen. The Granny Peace Brigade, together with friends including some from the Saturday Catholic Worker vigil for Yemen, gathered outside the NY Consulates of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, one of the coalition partners of the Saudis in their war on Yemen, to call for an end to the the horrific war and to call upon the USA to end its support to the Saudis in this war which has been called an unconstitutional war by our Congress.

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According to UNICEF, “Yemen is a living hell for children….Every 10 minutes a child dies from a preventable disease…” That would mean that around 144 children are dying per day and in 2019 that would mean already 12,000 children have died from preventable illness.

While the reasons for the war are complex, it began as a civil war with Saudi Arabia and a coalition of 9 countries eventually coming to the aid of the “recognized” government conducting over 18,000 air strikes and a blockade of ports of entry barring food, medicines and other needed supplies to the people of Yemen. The results have been disastrous for Yemen, with a population of around 30 million:
—85,000 children have died from malnutrition/starvation
—2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition
—1 million pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition
—10 million suffer from extreme hunger
—Over 50,000 civilians killed (although UN confirms around 15,000)
—1.2 million cases of cholera reported, with over 2000 deaths (the largest outbreak ever reported)
—49% of health centers destroyed
—50% of the population no longer having access to safe water/sanitation due to the bombing campaign
—33% or around 4 million school age children not attending school as buildings destroyed or teachers unpaid for year upon year
The targeting of civilians, starvation as a weapon of war, the destruction of civilian infrastructure are all considered WAR CRIMES.

The USA, together with France, UK and Italy have helped arm the Saudis with fighter jets, missiles, bombs, other munitions. The US has even sold the Saudis cluster bombs, which have been banned globally. The USA has further provided re-fueling of Saudi bombers, although that was reportedly stopped as a result of Congressional pressure in 2018. However, US guidance in targeting, technical support and intelligence and according to some reports, special forces ground troops are still provided.

The US Senate has passed a resolution (Senate Res. 7-2019) condemning US action in Yemen, based on the US Constitution: only Congress can declare war, not the President. The resolution calls upon ending US support for the Saudi-led war.
It is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives within the coming weeks…perhaps early April. And so we call upon you to call your member of the House of Representatives and urge them to vote on the Senate resolution as it is.

It’s time to end our endless wars; this war on the people of Yemen is particularly egregious as the USA is complicit in the WAR CRIMES being committed by Saudi Arabia. US-made bombs pieces have been found at sites of civilian deaths: weddings, funerals, and at the school bus which killed 50 children on a school outing. We also urge our Congress to end the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which has violated our own laws, by using these weapons against civilians.

Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
With:  Alice, Barbara H, Barbara W, Bud, Edith, Eleanor, Eva-Lee, Hideko, Jim, Joan, Karen, Nydia, Paul, Phyllis, Trudy

Parent Teacher Conference Night – March 7, 2019

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March 7th was a freezing evening, but it did not stop volunteers from going to high schools on Parent Teacher Conference night. We were at 14 high schools throughout NYC prepared to provide families with non-military informational flyers. One addresses Options for Life After High School and the second focuses on Questions to Ask/ Points to Consider in connection with military recruitment outreach in high schools. As parents enter the building anxious to speak with their child’s teacher, they are presented with this information and perhaps a brief comment.
*One girl read the leaflet and told her buddy, “Good information here.”
*The parents are so grateful for the handouts. One mother said, “Nobody ever helps us with these things. Thank you so much.” With tears in her eyes.
*A teacher’s remarks: Responding that she was a teacher not a parent was interested in knowing what was being distributed. She was pleased to take the leaflets as she is a counselor and supervises a student study group related to post-high school matters.
A rewarding experience for volunteers as well as for parents and students who gladly accept the flyers and acknowledge the information.

Students not Soldiers,
Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST CAME TO TOWN…

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OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST came to town on the coldest day of the winter and the Grannies were there to welcome them. 21 youth plaintiffs, together with Julia Olson the lead attorney in their federal lawsuit, appeared on Thursday, January 31st at the New York Society for Ethical Culture to discuss ‘Changing Tactics in the Face of the Climate Emergency. Joining them in a discussion were representatives from 350.org and Sunrise.

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The young people have experienced climate change first-hand and their case demands action from the U.S. government to reverse course immediately and protect our water, air, land and atmosphere – as is the legal basis in the Public Trust doctrine dating back to Roman times. James Madison in 1818 worried about the damage from forests being cut down ! The youth await a new court date which was postponed from October 2018.

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Our table joined those staffed by students from various groups – the Sunrise Movement, the Alliance for Climate Education (a nonprofit providing educational resources on climate science and justice, as well as training for young climate leaders); the Sierra Club; and, of course, 350 NYC and O.C.T.

The GPB shared a table with these students from a New Jersey high school.

We have ten years in which to turn around global systems and the USA bears the largest responsibility as we have for decades released the most Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, with our military generating the most GHG.

The enthusiasm and energy of the 21 youths was palpable. Watch for a segment on SIXTY MINUTES in mid-February. Support them!

– Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Linda Novenski and Eva-Lee Baird

Links to follow up:

Article by Alice Slater and Medea Benjamin Why Green New Deal Advocates Must Address Militarism  From Counterpunch December 19, 2019

www.ourchildrenstrust.org
www.acespace.org
www.ourclimateourfuture.org

STRAGGLING AND NETWORKING AT THE WOMEN’S UNITY RALLY

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The first three Granny Peace Brigade stragglers to arrive at the south end of Foley Square on Saturday, January 19 for the WOMEN’S UNITY RALLY chose to wait for more stragglers. How can everybody be a straggler? It’s a GPB specialty — join us and you’ll see how it works. We used our waiting time for political discussions and people watching. A group of counter demonstrators passed by, one carrying a sign saying JEWS FOR TRUMP and another with a sign calling us BITCHES. Go figure. That group was followed by a lively and beautiful group from UNITE HERE Local 100, the union for workers in cafeterias, executive dining rooms, restaurants, bars, delis, airports, sports and exhibition halls and performing arts centers in the NYC area. After these folks went by a police officer asked us to move, so we sought a comfortable barricade to lean on.

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Barricades are not forever and another officer asked us to move again. Finally we were straggling into the crowd. Because of the waiting, people watching and leaning on barricades we did wind up rather far from the stage. We couldn’t see the speakers or hear them very well, so we used the time for networking with folks nearby.

Meanwhile, Bud and Fran Korotzer (to know them is to love them) had forged to the front where Bud took these wonderful photos.

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Thanks again Bud!

See you in the streets,

Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny peace Brigade

Bases Bases Everywhere!

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The U.S. maintains hundreds of military bases on foreign soil, as well as aircraft carrier “Strike Forces”. The Okinawa Prefecture is home to more than 70% of the U.S. bases in Japan. Opposition to the U.S. presence started in 1995 after the rape of a schoolgirl by three soldiers. Plane and helicopter crashes starting in 1959 continue to this day and the Okinawans want an end to the bases.

On Saturday, January 5, 2019 the Granny Peace Brigade joined Vets for Peace and Catholic Workers to set up a temporary base in Grand Central. Our signs tell it all – Stop the US Base in Okinawa. We were there to support Hideko Otake and the coalition “Stand with Okinawa” to stop the landfill of Henoko Bay.

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Okinawans are protesting the U.S. Marine Corps plan to build an airbase in the bay — a gorgeous pristine blue body of water, home to an endangered sea mammal, the Dugong. A petition was started December 8th to halt the work until a referendum is held in Okinawa to determine the fate of the proposed base. The petition, started on December 8th, had over 180,000 signatures, and is directed to President Trump to halt the construction.

The petition deadline was January 7th, but for updates go to: http://standwithokinawa.net/

Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Bud Korotzer

Grandmother arrested while trying to save the children of Yemen

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

People Present: Members of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and their friends. Members of the New York Police Department. Bystanders

Location: The United States Mission to the United Nations, First Avenue, NYC.

Introduction: This is the fifth day of a fast and series of demonstrations beginning in York City on December 29, 2018 and closing in Washington, D.C. on January 12.

The Call: Institute sustained measures to cease all hostilities in Yemen, end weapon sales to any of the warring parties, protect supply lines, facilitate aid operations, stabilize the Yemeni economy and avoid famine.

The demonstrators gathered at the US Mission, peacefully blocking the doors. Almost immediately the police broadcast a prerecorded arrest warning. One officer very obviously took surveillance videos. The recording sounded a bit like Steven Hawking’s voice machine or like George Orwell’s Big Brother. It sounded like it was designed to intimidate. And since the NYPD is capable of surreptitiously taking photos and videos, our best guess is the police officer with the little camera was sending us a message first, and collecting information second.

Joan and Alice were arrested today.

Eva-Lee Baird for the Granny Peace Brigade

Parent-Teacher High School Conference Night–NYC November 2018

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On Parent-Teacher Conference night parents have the opportunity to meet with their child’s teacher to discuss her his progress in the class. It is also an opportunity for volunteers to distribute educational informational flyers to parents. The informational flyers address Options for Life After HS as well as Questions to Ask Military Recruiters. In spite of the cold & wind that evening, volunteers were at 12 high schools throughout the 5 boroughs and distributed approximately 2,400 flyers.

Parents appreciated the information provided on each flyer. A thank you, a nod of acceptance, or question might be asked to the volunteers.

  • A volunteer reports that several parents said ‘awesome’ when told what information the flyer was offering & the value of the information.
  • Another volunteer noted that parents appeared glad to receive the information even those whose child was wearing JROTC uniform.
  • One team notes that it was simply a great night for us – freezing cold and grateful kids.

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To learn more about the action and to download the flyers go to our Counter Recruitment page. Scroll down to P-T night info and you can print a copy of the flyers. We will be back at the high schools in April for Spring Parent-Teacher Conference night, and hope you will join us then.

Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

YEMEN CAN’T WAIT

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Members of the Granny Peace Brigade participated in the weekly vigil for peace in Yemen, in Union Square on Saturday, November 24th. The weekly vigil was initiated by the Catholic Worker one and a half years ago. Several members of other peace organizations take part in this endeavor.

In spite of the fact that the U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday, the 21st of November, to advance a resolution demanding an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s coalition war on Yemen, pressure is needed to bring a bill to fruition. The killing and starvation of the Yemeni people is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Please contact your elected officials to demand that U.S. withdraw its support for this war. Join the weekly vigil and assist in getting the word out about this horrendous war and U.S. participation in it.

Weekly Vigil for Peace in Yemen
14th Street and Broadway, NYC
Saturdays, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

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– Phyllis Cunningham
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Bud Korotzer

VOICES RISING FOR YEMEN

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On March 22, 2015 Saudi Arabia launched a war against Yemen, a country now considered “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations. Millions of people face starvation caused by Saudi blockades of port cities; cholera outbreaks from Saudi bombing of hospitals, water and sanitation systems; a rampant wave of destruction waged against the Yemeni people – all made possible by U.S. military support for the Saudis by providing weapons, mid-air refueling planes, and target logistics. Now in its 4th year the war rages on amid a political and criminal thicket of deception, cynicism and hypocrisy.

Kathy Kelly from Voices of Creative Nonviolence called for three days of protests at the United Nations and the U.S. and Saudi Missions, as well as the Saudi Consulate. The Granny Peace Brigade joined Catholic Workers, Veterans for Peace, War Resisters League, Peace Action, Code Pink, Know Drones, Grafton Peace Pagoda and others.

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Photos by Bud Korotzer

On the third day, Thursday, November 8th our group of 60-70 gathered at the Isaiah Wall on First Avenue and 43rd Street (“…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”). The solemn single file procession was led by anti-nuclear activist Jun-san Yasuda and Ayumi Temlock. Following were activists portraying Grieving Mothers holding children’s bodies, signs explaining to onlookers what we were commemorating. Nick Mottern’s mock drone accompanied us along First Avenue, past the U.S. Mission where two persons blocked the entrance, and on to 47th Street and Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, ending at Second Avenue, at the Saudi Consulate. There 25+ persons with blue backpacks for the dead school children risked arrest by blocking the entrances in an act of civil disobedience. The names were recited of the 44 Yemeni children killed in their school bus August 9th. The action ended with the NYPD informing everyone they would not be arrested, nor were the protesters at the U.S. mission. The horror of this religious-civil-tribal-resource war is such that no country wishes to draw attention to its role in it.

Nydia Leaf
for the GPB