All posts by wpadmin

Reading the Constitution on the 4th of July

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Dear Friends,

Just to share the almost perfect day in Central Park for the reading of the Constitution.

It was really cool in more ways than one……towards the end, light rain…..and then heavier. But spirits were high, even though this year, due to our location on the grass near Colombus Circle, we didn’t have much of an audience. Suggestions for better locations in the Park for next year are welcomed.

(Click on photos for larger images.)

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As usual, the presentations and commentary were led by Norman Siegel. Gale Brewer and Ben Kallos, City Council Member also joined the group of Raging Grannies, Peace Brigade and others….

 

 

The Raging started with a few songs and ended, in the rain singing a few more! The discussion focused on recent Supreme Court decisions…..with the recent unanimous decision on protection of information on cell phones. However it was noted with concern the conservative direction of the current Council.

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And then a bit of a boon for us, maybe. Ben Kallos, Council Member, Upper East Side, asked for suggestions for Council resolutions……and so he was reminded of the materials already sent to his office on the Ban Drone resolution. He expressed “serious” and asked us to call him and meet with his staff. Joan will follow this up.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Anti-Drone Action in Harlem elicits a surprisingly strong police presence!

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We were back at our usual spot in front of the Recruiting Station on Lennox Ave/125th St. sharing information on the latest drone news that can affect NYC residents: the recent statements by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton who said “I’m supportive of the concept of drones, not only for the police but for public safety in general.” He is quoted as also saying: “The Mayor is supportive of it as are many members of the Council…” Is this why there were at least 10 officers at different times during our 1.5 hour action hovering around us; ensuring we did not block the entrance to the Recruiting station; forcing us to remove our posters from the wall? And what about the cameras on the back of the police car, parked in front of us….blocking the bus stops….just for us!? (Click on Photos for larger images.)

2014_06_06martyAs we engaged with the public, this is clearly a subject that many have not given any consideration. However, as we discussed this possibility with them, it was increasingly clear that there is concern about this. Issues like where would such drones be used…..mostly likely in this (Harlem) area, but probably not in Wall Street where so many “criminals” hang out!

2014_06_06joanandguyOne resident felt that the police will not like drones, as it will also capture what they are doing! But generally, people felt that with cameras everywhere, there is enough surveillance….”we don’t need them peeking in our windows” as another resident said. But drone use may have another side as we watched one young man run down the street. Was the police car with the siren following him? Would a drone have been safer? And realizing that the neighborhood had a major police action against large gangs earlier this week, would this have been stopped sooner if drones were following the members around?

2014_06_06jennyandguyWe urge a serious public discussion of the possibility of drone use by the Police force by the City Council, perhaps coming up from Community Board Meetings, and maybe even something on the next ballot. We see the use of drones in NYC as further infringing on our rights to privacy. And we definitely don’t want drones weaponized with rubber bullets, tear gas, real bullets, etc. Call your city council member and share your concerns with them directly!

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Eighth Annual Mother’s Day Peace Stroll

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What a wonderful day: warm, sunny, good spirits all around. Maybe we totaled 40,

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which included Raging Grannies who sang many songs at Columbus Circle,

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82nd St stop and at the Met….

 

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the wonderful Rude Mechanical Orchestra that added so much to the stroll, families: Joan’s and Nydia’s and supporters from Brooklyn for Peace among others plus a young girl and her bike with her mother….who just joined from the start!

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I think we all had very nice encounters with people as we walked and had the opportunity to chat about the day. And it was so encouraging to see people reading the cards so carefully as they were passed around.

This is always a special action.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Parent Teacher Conference Night, March 27, 2014 – Volunteer Action Report

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Military recruiters are ever ready to engage high school students.  They visit schools, participate in high school career fairs, hang out in playgrounds and parks getting to know the neighborhood and the students.   Dressed in camouflage fatigues or full military uniform, recruiters form a relationship, discuss enlistment and glorify their mission.  It’s enticing to youth and full of promises for the future.

To counter the military story, on March 27th, volunteers were at 10 high schools distributing non-military informational handouts to parents who were attending parent teacher conferences. With only a brief minute or two to speak with a parent and offer an alternative message, the conversation is positive and pro-education.  (Click on photos for larger images.)

Photo: Eva-Lee Baird
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird

Every student deserves the opportunity to reach his/her goals without military interference. Our Questions to Ask flyer clarifies some of the misunderstanding parents and students may have about military service. The non-military Options for Life after High School flyer provides information to help families get started on finding job skill training courses, college programs, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities, or to consider a community service option. Parents gladly take the handouts and sincerely appreciate this information.

Few parents are pro-military, and they do not want their child to be recruited. But at one school, two mothers felt the military would be good for their sons.  That’s why the information we provide is so important.  It answers questions parents may have about military service and offers alternatives for students to reach their goals.

One team put up a sign on the wall near the entrance of the school – Options After High School.  At 2 schools JROTC students, in full uniform, hosted the event and greeted parents.  A volunteer, a veteran himself, noted that he had a good conversation with a JROTC leader, who took the handouts as well.  Volunteers unanimously declared this educational outreach action a success.
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We hope to see you in the fall when school reopens, students return, and recruiters are not far behind.  We’ll be out there just telling it like it is. And everyone can continue to tell it like it is. For downloadable copies of the flyers, tips on leafleting, and websites to visit, go to: www.grannypeacebrigade.org, Counter Recruitment Recruitment page.

Many thanks to all the volunteers – in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
Students not Soldiers

-Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

2014 Grassroots Community Fair at Hunter College

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Tuesday, March 18 at the Hunter Grassroots Community Fair:

The Granny Peace Brigade came to the fair to ask Hunter students for help. We would like the New York City Council to pass a resolution banning weaponized and surveillance drones in NYC. How will that happen? If many, many voters call their City Council representatives asking for drone-control legislation we just might get a law passed. (Click on photos for larger images.)

Photo: Caroline Chinlund
Photo: Caroline Chinlund
Photo: Caroline Chinlund
Photo: Caroline Chinlund

As students stopped by we gave out flyers and FAQ sheets…

 

 

Photo: Phyllis Cunningham
Photo: Phyllis Cunningham

 

 

 

…and got into many interesting conversations about drones.

 

 

Photo: Eva-Lee Baird
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird

 

 

 

Photo: Phyllis Cunningham
Photo: Phyllis Cunningham

Here’s what we asked them to do:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go to http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml
Type in your address and borough.
Your council person will appear along with contact info.
Get the phone number and make a call.
Identify yourself as a constituent,
and say that you want your councilperson to support a resolution banning weaponized and surveillance drones in NYC.

– Caroline Chinlund, Eva-Lee Baird & Phyllis Cunningham
for the Granny Peace Brigade

NY TIMES GOT IT WRONG

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Sisters and Supporters,

We of the Granny Peace Brigade epitomize the revolt of seniors.  Our “silver revolution” is certainly not muted and if our persistent, consistent actions for peace which we demonstrate with our physical bodies and our vocal cries, exhortations for peace, against the violence of war, poverty, racism, militarism, and materialism is viewed as passive then we must intensify our activities and our solidarity with the oppressed, dispossessed not only in these United States but around the world.

A boy stands at the site of suspected U.S. drone attacks in the Janikhel tribal area in Bannu district of North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, November 19, 2008 Photo: REUTERS (Click on photos for larger images.)
A boy stands at the site of suspected U.S. drone attacks in the Janikhel tribal area in Bannu district of North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, November 19, 2008 Photo: REUTERS (Click on photos for larger images.)

 

A relative of the 10 members of the Deeb family weeps at their funeral in Jabaliya refugee camp. The victims died in an Israeli strike on a a UN run school the previous day - Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA
A relative of the 10 members of the Deeb family weeps at their funeral in Jabaliya refugee camp. The victims died in an Israeli strike on a a UN run school the previous day – Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA

We STAND UP for a transformation of the values of this world society.  We are no summertime soldiers. Like the evergreens surrounded by the bleakness of winter snows, we STAND OUT with the passion and wisdom of our years and with the love we  have for all living things.

Sisters, it was so good to see you in my Lower East Side yesterday marching for peace and against nuclear war. Nothing muted about us!

Peace, Power, Love

– Vinie Burrows
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Needed: An Honest Broker

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Reuters / Nayef Haslamoun
Reuters / Nayef Haslamoun

(Click on photos for larger images.)

In connection with the ongoing Kerry-Israel/Palestine Peace Talks the GPB decided we should seek advice on practical action we might take to encourage the U.S. Government to act as a truly honest broker in this so vital process.  Accordingly, I addressed a letter, below, to each of the following five whose concern with U.S. Middle East involvement has been evident, individual openings as indicated:

  • President Bill Clinton, William J. Clinton Foundation – referred to his statement “America Cannot Let Israel-Palestine Conflict Fester.”
  • Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – referred to his concern with cause and effect in the Israel/Palestine conflict and to his discussions on high level on Middle East peace process.
  • Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) – referred to his discussion on the U.S. as broker in the Israel/Palestine peace process.
  • Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) – referred to his support of the petition “Tell Congress:  Don’t Attack Syria.”
  • Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) – referred to his visit to Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, and to is views on efforts to move forward the peace process.

I write here expressing my own views and as a member of a peace-focused group, the Granny Peace Brigade.  I am seeking your suggestions/recommendations for any practical action you think we might pursue in urging our government to work as a true third party broker in the Kerry Israel-Palestine peace talks (not as a broker favoring the basic aims of one party).

UNRWA  -  A boy hangs on to what is left of his house after the 2008-09 Israeli military incursion into Gaza.
UNRWA – A boy hangs on to what is left of his house after the 2008-09 Israeli military incursion into Gaza.

How best to further the U.S. playing an impartial role (notwithstanding the 1975 letter from President Gerald Ford to Prime Minister Ytzhak Rabin which in effect made American diplomatic initiatives in future Middle East peace negotiations conditional on prior approval by Israel — reference, Rashid Khalidi, “Brokers of Deceit,” page 8) in the cause of fair negotiation and establishment of peace?

I should mention that the Granny Peace Brigade works independently and with other groups undertaking activities such as visiting members of Congress to lobby for the lessening of our military action and for increase in our use of diplomacy for conflict resolution, focusing public awareness on the need to channel government funds for development of our human resources and national infrastructure, organizing teach-ins on current matters.

UNWRA - An estimated 350 children were killed and thousands were injured during the 2008-09 Israeli military operation in Gaza.
UNWRA – An estimated 350 children were killed and thousands were injured during the 2008-09 Israeli military operation in Gaza.

A retired United Nations staff member, I worked in Africa and the Middle East for 18 years.  If I express here concern about matters that affect Palestinians negatively, it is because many know of the situation and events in Israel/Palestine principally from an Israeli point of view and many do not realize that it is ancestral home also to Palestinians.  Therefore, as I see it, settlements, including, of course, Hebron; East Jerusalem; the West Bank portion of the Jordan River Valley (and in this connection the recent reports of President Mahmoud Abbas’s indication that it is reasonable to allow Israelis to withdraw gradually from the Jordan Valley is noted); the wall built into portions of West Bank land all should be dealt with, real consideration being given to Palestinian needs and rights.  AN ETHNOCENTRIC APPROACH ON OUR PART MUST BE AVOIDED.  We (our government) must make a continuing conscientious effort in this regard.

UNWRA - Two children fill up bottles of water to take home.
UNWRA – Two children fill up bottles of water to take home.

A just resolution of the conflict for the people of Israel/Palestine is so long overdue.  I do thank you for any advice you may have.  It will be very much appreciated.

Very truly yours,
 – Barbara Walker

Junior Reserve Officer Training in 18 NYC High Schools

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New York City’s budget will come up for a vote this spring, and buried in its pages will be $2 million to fund the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) military programs at 18 NYC high schools, listed below.

JROTC is a program developed by the Department of Defense under the banner of citizenship and leadership for youth. Included as a regular part of the school day, the JROTC program masquerades as an educational curriculum.

But these classes are often led by instructors who are not certified by the NYC Department of Education. Instead the instructors are retired military personal, who are trained and prepared for classroom teaching using military procedures and management skills. JROTC is about winning the hearts and minds of students and school administrators. Recruiting students for military service is the goal.

Is this what we want for our kids? The GPB doesn’t think so, and we suspect a lot of parents agree with us. At the very least, we want to be sure that parents know that the schools are helping the military recruit their children. Will you help us get the word out?

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What you can do:
Please join us
Parent Teacher Conference Night at NYC High Schools
Thursday, March 27, 2014, 5:00PM
– We’ll have info to help families find job skill training courses, college programs, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities. Email us for details – grannypeace@gmail.com

– Barbara Harris and Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo: Bud Korotzer

Schools with JROTC programs in 2013-2014
Bronx:

  1. Bronx High School for Law And Community Service (X439), Theodore Roosevelt Campus, 500 East Fordham Road
  2. De Witt Clinton HS (X440),  100 West Mosholu Parkway South
  3. Harry S. Truman HS – Educational Campus (X455), 750 Baychester Ave
  4. Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies (X297), Morris Educational Campus, 1100 Boston Road

Brooklyn:

  1. Franklin K. Lane HS (K420), 999 Jamaica Avenue
  2. Performing Arts and Technology HS (K507), 400 Pennsylvania Ave
  3. Fort Hamilton HS (K490),  8301 Shore Road

Manhattan:

  1. HS Of Graphic Communication Arts (M625), 439 West 49th St
  2. HS For Health Careers And Sciences (M468), 459 Audubon Ave

Queens:

  1. Aviation Career and Technical HS (Q610), 45-30 36th St.
  2. John Bowne HS (Q425), 63-25 Main St.
  3. Francis Lewis HS (Q430), 58-20 Utopia Parkway
  4. Long Island City HS (Q450), 14-30 Broadway

Staten Island:

  1. The Michael J. Petrides School (R080), 715 Ocean Ave.
  2. Port Richmond HS (R445), 35 St. Josephs Ave
  3. Curtis HS (R450), 105 Hamilton Ave
  4. Tottenville HS (R455), 100 Luten Ave
  5. Susan E. Wagner HS (R460), 1200 Manor Road

WAR IS NOT A GAME – DON’T BUY WAR TOYS

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In the midst of NYC’s recent holiday shopping frenzy the Granny Peace Brigade and Raging Grannies got together at FAO Schwarz on Fifth Ave. Ever since 2009 we’ve hit the streets each December to remind holiday shoppers that “War Is Not A Game.” We also give people tips on how to select gifts for children in our “Smart Toys For Smart Kids” flyer.

(Click on photos for larger images.)

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Earlier in December we’d been to Toys”R”Us in Times Square, and Target at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. We wound up our tour on December 19, assembling on the plaza outside FAO Schwarz. Some of us stayed outside singing and giving out flyers while others went inside to spread our message quietly.

What happened outside? It was deja vu all over again.

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We belted out a number or two, passersby got interested, a security guard asked us to leave, we refused, saying our message was really important, and the security guard called the cops. When the police arrived, Alice, Nancy and Nydia explained our message to an officer, and the officer in turn explained to us that the very public-seeming plaza in front of the store was actually privately owned. If we refused to leave we could be arrested for trespassing. We didn’t want to go that far – this time. We did want as many people as possible to witness the interaction with the officer, in the hope they would think about the increasing privatization of public space. Under these circumstances a long conversation with that officer would be a good thing.

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Grannies are virtuosos at delicately extending these conversations. If they are soft spoken so bystanders have to lean in to hear, that’s just fine. They get the timing right too, knowing when to call it quits and have the singers amble off to the public sidewalk for a bit more serenading.

– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Meanwhile, what happened inside the store?

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Yes, we were inside, and the reaction was very positive. People passing by stopped to talk with us, including a guy in camouflage who was in the National Guard and a group of teenagers who wanted to know more about the Grannies and why we were there.

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All discussions were respectful. We also spoke to the manager who may have agreed with us but wasn’t committing to anything. She said the store was now owned by Toys’R’Us and they make all stock decisions and she gave us the name and email of the decision-maker. Security was clearly sent to keep an eye on us, subtly, and we were not thrown out of the store.

Happy new year and hope to see you soon.
– Fran Korotzer
Photos: Bud Korotzer

P.S. the Granny Peace Brigade  sends a huge thank you to Bud Korotzer for giving us so many wonderful photos.

2013_12_19budBud,  your support means so much to us.

Shock and Awe at Grand Central Terminal

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Rising from the escalator at Grand Central Terminal on Monday (16 Dec), I was shocked to see a lifelike soldier model with a rifle, in charging position, a grenade in his pocket, a ferocious look on his face. The display was for Supporting Our Troops. I first walked by, but then thought otherwise. I approached one of the Vets, a kind elderly Vet from Fort Bragg, and asked him if  he thought this was the best way to support our troops at this season (well any season). He said no  and when we discussed it a bit more, he did agree that this was quite a violent-looking soldier. I asked the two Vets there if this could be removed,  but they said no.

2013_12_soldier_grand_central_forblog(Click on photo for a larger image.)

When I finished up at the Save the Library action, I was still thinking about that horrible model. So I bought some flower sprays, thinking I could put one the barrel of the rifle. But, no hole! So with the Vets permission, I covered the grenade with a poinsettia and a silver spray over the rifle. (I wish I had put a sock or something in the model’s mouth though!) Not ideal. Both Vets agreed, we need peace, no more wars! I hoped though they would take that model away.

A friend sent me a message later that day. No flowers were seen. She agreed: the model soldier really did look terribly violent and really not appropriate.

So when I returned the next day, the soldier was still there, but set behind a table and not quite as obvious as the previous day. I was ready with some more flowers, but then  was told that I could not put them on the soldier model. It was against some military “rule” said the Vet in charge. He was an 83 year old Vet from the Korean War (whoops officially a conflict) and he was not very happy about the state of the world, all the wars/conflicts since then. He commented that few congressmen or the rich were among those serving in these wars.

And when I returned today (Thursday), ready with some more flowers, but in a mood to find where I could make an official complaint, the display, together with the model soldier was gone.

On reflection, Support Our Troops clearly had a right to be there. I recalled other times I have been in Grand Central Terminal doing things: a melt-in related to our nuclear power plant at Indian Point (do note, license expired); walking in silence with toy babies swaddled in cloth representing children killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza; in silence, dressed in the orange suits of the Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike. Maybe its just my bias, but seeing this model soldier depicting such violence and anger. It just didn’t seem right. Let us support our troops by bringing them home, providing them and others with liveable wage-jobs, and re-building our broken country.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade