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December 15th, 2017

15 Peace Activists Arrested calling out: LET YEMEN LIVE!

Blocking the entrance to the US Mission to the UN, 15 peace activists from the Catholic Worker Movement, Granny Peace Brigade, Raging Grannies, among others, called for ending the blockade of Yemen, together with ending the intensive bombing of homes, water and sanitation infrastructure being assisted by the USA, and resulting in a million cases of cholera (reported as the largest outbreak in a country in recent times) and millions of cases of severe and acute child malnutrition, an estimate of 7 million facing starvation, new outbreaks of dengue and diphtheria, and thousands dead and tens of thousands injured.. With more than 50% of hospitals destroyed, many health workers unable to work due to the bombings or fleeing the violence, shortages of all foods and depleted medical supplies due to the blockade, limit help reaching the most at risk. Yemen is now facing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.

A Rally of at Ralph Bunche Park started the day’s events, with several speakers including David McReynolds, two times a presidential candidate, Carmen Trotta, Catholic Worker Movement, Kate Alexander, Peace Action, and Isaac Evans-Franz who also read a moving statement on the situation of children and women by a leading American-Yemeni activist, each presenting insights into the conflict. The US is not alone in arming and aiding the Saudi-led bombings: Canada, France, England, Germany among others are culpable in the destruction of Yemen, which has been and continues to be the poorest country in the Region. Politically, the civil war is very complex, and many feel there will not be a military solution. Efforts are underway by peace groups to urge our Congress to take action to end the US complicity in the war, which started in 2015 by President Obama, but now is intensified by Donald Trump. While Trump has asked the Saudis to end the blockade to enable humanitarian action, the US has not taken a stance to end the bombing. Of course not, as we have sold billions of $$$ worth of bombs and advanced weaponry to the Saudis and, recently, reported sold cluster bombs, deemed illegal under a UN treaty.

Two groups of protestors formed, one marching to the US UN Mission, with a group wearing vests with the photo of an infant/child from Yemen, immediately blocking the entrance. A crowd of about 50 supported their action! A second group proceeded to the Saudi Arabia UN Mission.

At the US Mission, the group was left unhindered for almost an hour, but then the police moved in, normal warning to leave or be arrested given, and then proceeded with the arrests. Alice, (Raging Granny/GPB) said one officer was a bit nasty commenting that they were wasting police time on a day when NYC faced its first suicide bomber attempt.

Alice responded, that as grandmothers, we are concerned about children dying here, Yemen, anywhere. Later, she mentioned other police at the jail were more supportive specifically saying they have the right to stand for what they believe. Bev and Joan also felt the police were generally polite.

Photo by Eva-Lee Baird

Joan though had a problem. In the jail, she was asked to remove her shoelaces. Then the cop noticed the string around her trousers. He asked her to remove it, but Joan said she had nothing underneath! He relented to allow her to keep her pants up!

At the Saudi Arabia Mission, a smaller group gathered. There was no indication that the Mission was there….in the Institute of International Education (II E) office building. So a protestor held a sign indicating the site was also the Saudi Mission. There were more police than demonstrators! We peacefully blocked the main doors, but a side door remained open. Just before the arrests at the US Mission began, all but two remained. At that time, with only two of us (Florino-peace action and I) there, security said we were blocking the door.! We thought they were going to arrest us! To our surprise, not today. As people entered and left, I called out: “end the blockade; stop bombing Yemen.” A man came out, looking particularly distinguished, walking towards a black diplomatic car, with someone who looked like a bodyguard. So I shouted my mantra! The gentleman turned his head to see where it was coming from. He didn’t look happy. Was he the Ambassador? Senior person in the Mission? Don’t know. But think they got our message.

What was achieved? The crowd today was limited as much of the city was closed due to a bombing attempt. Media coverage limited to bloggers and some international news agencies, as NY media was across town. But still our presence was registered. And we will be back! Until the dying/killing in Yemen ends.

We thank the organizers of the day’s events: Felton Davis, Carmen Trotta, and their colleagues from Catholic Worker; Isaac Evans-Franz, Action Corps NYC, among others. It is noted that other demonstrations were also underway this day in LA and Washington, DC by CodePink.

Join the weekly vigils every Saturday 11-1pm currently at the CUBE at Astor Place.

We urge calls and letters/emails to our Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and to our House members: Let Yemen Live!

– Marty Rajandran with Eva-Lee, Joan, Bev, Barbara H, Barbara W, Nydia, Alice

Minutes of December 2017 Meeting with Senator Gillibrand’s Staff

Resources for lobbying for peace in Yemen

 

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December 4th, 2017

STUDENTS NOT SOLDIERS – Grannies Hit the Streets

Last month, the Granny Peace Brigade walked up 5th Avenue with Vets for Peace in the Veterans Day commemorations. As usual, we were virtually at the end, followed by high schoolers, both boys and girls, proudly marching in proper soldier form, from various J-ROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training) groups In the city. Teens marching as soldiers, sometimes with mock rifles, is not our vision for these children.
And so we were at City Hall once again on 30 November, a day all city councilors would be present, to continue our campaign to get the military out of our schools.

$1.5 million of NYC taxpayer money is spent on J-ROTC. The balance funded by the Defense Department. Our vision for these young students is a well-rounded education. Too many of our high schools no longer have sports, music, art, vocational-skills classes, all of which also teach discipline, team-work, communicating and other skills.

Join us on 7 December at City Hall, first on the streets at 12 noon and then to a session of the City Council Education Committee.

STUDENTS NOT SOLDIERS

Marty Rajandran with Ann, Barbara H., Eva-Lee, Joan, Regina, Nydia and Phyllis
Parade photos: Bud Korotzer
City Hall Photos: Eva-Lee Baird

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November 13th, 2017

Veterans for Peace – The Peace Contingent in the Vets Day Parade

On Saturday, Nov 11 members of the Granny Peace Brigade were honored to join Veterans For Peace in the parade up Fifth Avenue in NYC…

“…to increase public awareness of the Costs of War, restrain our government from intervening in the internal affairs of other nations, End the arms race, Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, seek justice for Veterans and all victims of war, and to Abolish War as an instrument of national policy….
“This year with a rise of hate and fear, we must end reckless rhetoric and military interventions that endanger the entire world. Instead of celebrating militarism, we want to celebrate peace and all humanity. We demand an end to all forms of hate, patriarchy and white supremacy and we call for unity, fair treatment and equality for all. We call for tearing down of walls between borders and people. We call for an end to all hostilities at home and around the globe. Today the U.S. has a president who says diplomacy with North Korea is a waste of time. Diplomacy is in fact the only hope.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

War is an immoral and tragic waste.
The world has said it before and is saying it again now.
NO to WAR!”*

First two photos and first slide show – Bud Korotzer
Second slide show – Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

* Veterans for Peace – NYC Chapter 034

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November 12th, 2017

Students not Soldiers – Parent Teacher Conference Night Action 11-09-2017

Volunteer activists and parents attending Parent Teacher Conference night met briefly in front of 12 NYC public high schools. Parents were at the school for a scheduled conference with their child’s teacher, and volunteers were distributing 2 flyers providing anti-military educational information. Parents accepted the flyers with much appreciation.

Questions to Ask – Points to Consider Before Enlisting offers questions to be asked military recruiters as well as responses to the information and ‘promises’ made to students. This helps families and youth better understand the recruiting jargon and to not accept misleading information. Leave our kids alone.
The Options for Life after High School flyer gives families a helping hand to survey many college websites, resources for job skills training, technical and trade programs, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities. Parents appreciated receiving this flyer.
It became obvious that parents do not want their children to enlist. Many expressed an anti-war message. This is an action where you realize how many want to end war and provide a non-military educational experiences for their children during their years in high school.

At John F Kennedy, Jr. High School a male volunteer had the opportunity to talk for several minutes with a group of five male teenagers. One of these young men was considering a military career, but decided to think about it more deeply after he told him, “Trump wants you.” He also asked them, “Do you want to fight their wars?” Rod gave them a role model.
A mother offered a sign of relief. I’ll look at the Options websites with my child. I wanted info about City College financial aid. We were confused, and I haven’t received any assistance from the guidance counselor.
A volunteer chatted with one teacher who was interested in our materials, took 4 copies and promised to distribute them to her students – it doesn’t get better than that.

Volunteers receive gratitude from parents for the information. All who volunteered, although they had little time for conversation with parents, made a difference. It is appreciated when someone cares about their child’s future, is willing to stand in front of the High School, and generously reaches out with educational information and advice they rarely receive.

Thanks to the volunteers for their commitment to this action – to provide families with non-military educational information and options. We will be back at the high schools March, 2018. Keep posted – perhaps you will join us at that time.

Students not Soldiers!

Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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November 1st, 2017

An update on GPB JROTC campaign activities

Dear Friends,

A meeting last week with NYC Council-member Barron went very well. We met for about 1 1/2 hours.
Also in attendance: CM Barron’s Legislative Aide, Jan Atwell, CM Dromm’s Legislative Aide, Betty Davis, from CM Barron’s district.

CM Barron was a HS Principal for 20 years. She was not aware of the details of the program and most disturbed by:

1/ military recruiters lack of teaching certification, a non-certified person teaching during school class hours should have a certified NYC teacher in the room during the lesson. ( I didn’t know this)
2/ no oversight of the curriculum
3/rifles in the classroom, during drills, etc.
She, personally, was going to bring these issues to the attention of Chancellor Farina and demand response and explanations. She’ll get back to me by the end of November.

Jan & Betty added so much to the meeting from their political and educational experiences and knowledge. Betty Davis was amazing – on top of the issue and outspoken. She was an assistant principal in a high school for many years.
Jan is a strong supporter of our campaign and presented CM Dromm’ concerns very clearly and decisively.

Many questions were posed and I had lots of info and ‘most’ of the answers for them. It was very congenial and positive.

It was suggested that I speak at a CPAC meeting (Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council – www.cpacnyc.com). They meet for one day usually during the first week of the month. It was suggested that I have a Vet join me to speak about the issue as well. We’ll only get 1 chance to present our concerns and reasons for reallocating the funding.

If you have any ideas about a Vet you know who might be interested in speaking to this parent group? We know there are Vets that go into classrooms to speak with students, but this is a different issue to take on.
I would appreciate any advice and recommendation so I can set up a meeting with CPAC for possibly Nov. or Dec.
Should I send this info to others as well?

Photo: Erik McGregor

As usual – I’m cautiously optimistic. But, at least, we’re being heard and taken seriously. Everyone in the room knows the Granny Peace Brigade. Our presence in the street and at City Hall does make a difference.

Students not Soldiers,
Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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October 12th, 2017

PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT – at NYC PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS 2017

PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT – at NYC PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS

Call for Volunteers – Thursday, November 9, 2017

Resist Military Recruitment * Reject Militarism

President Trump has been quite outspoken about ensuring a strong military “the most tremendous”. To realize his mission, $92 billion has been added to the military budget in support of Department of Defense war activities and for increased recruitment in all military branches. At the same time, an estimated $9.2 billion will be cut from the public school Education Budget.*

Military recruiters continue their relentless pursuit of high school students as potential soldiers. Endless war and the threat of new military involvement require a trained and ready young military force. A recruiter’s work is never done. High school students are their bread and butter and enlisting students is their goal. It’s our responsibility to counter the recruiter’s outreach.

Join us for the Parent Teacher Conference Night Action:

Thursday, November 9th, 5:00pm -6:30pm at high schools throughout the city.

Volunteers distribute 2 flyers to students and parents:

1. A resource guide highlighting non-military job training programs, college financial and scholarship opportunities, and community service programs for students to reach their goals.

2. Questions to ask recruiters, the truth and reality of military service, and facts underlying the military recruiter’s promises.

To volunteer for the Parent Teacher Conference Night leafleting action please contact us for more details. A brief training session can be arranged at your request.

Let’s end war one youth at a time. Your time will be well spent and may make a significant difference for a student and family.

Teach Peace,
Barbara Harris

Counter Recruitment – Granny Peace Brigade NYC

For additional information on counter-recruiting and materials that you can download, go to: www.grannypeacebrigade.org and select the Counter Recruitment page.

*President Trump’s budget proposal, released in March, seeks to cut education funding by $9.2 billion overall. It would take away some federal support, such as money for the Special Olympics and a reading initiative, while promoting school vouchers and boosting dollars for charter schools.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, said the plan is “an historic investment in America’s students.”

To others, it is anything but. Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Assn., called it a “wrecking ball”, California Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said “it fails,” and Obama administration Education Secretary John B. King Jr. called it “an assault on the American dream.”

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June 1st, 2017

Regarding a US Senators’ Letter to the UN about Israel and Palestine

A letter dated April 27, 2017, prepared by Senator Mario Rubio and Senator Christopher A. Coons and signed by 100 U.S. Senators, was addressed to Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General. Two of the concerns stated were ‘the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias’ and ‘the anti-Israel boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) movement’ (reference: ‘Washington Post’ – 100 Senators’ letter to United Nations Secretary General).  Below is copy of letter May 15, 2017, from Barbara Walker, addressed to the Senators and copied others:

Dear Sirs:

Respectfully, I write concerning the letter of April 27, 2017, by Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Christopher A. Coons signed by 100 members of the United States Senate, addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, asking that he address perception of entrenched bias against Israel in the world body, particular reference made to, inter alia, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.  Whether I support the BDS movement or not is not relevant here.  A former United Nations staff member, now retired, I certainly am supportive of the work of UN bodies for improvement of world conditions.

Were it not for continuing violations of Palestinian human rights by the Government of Israel (an example, the taking of Palestinian land over time, for the building of homes for people from Israel), there would be no reason for the call for BDS.  Organized opposition to the Government of Israel’s violations of the Palestinians’ human rights in their own homeland is not an expression of bias against Israel.  Should the taking of Palestinian land, though against international law, be ignored by the world body?  Is recognition of and expression of opposition to long-standing unaddressed human rights violations to be considered discrimination or in this case an effort to have international law effected?

Would that the U.S. Senate, in addition to providing support for generous financial/military assistance to the Government of Israel, required that Israel observe international law with respect to the Palestinians’ homeland [West Bank, East Jerusalem, an Gaza] and human rights.  We (the U.S.) have a not observed but profound responsibility to the Palestinians, our having supported United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (November 1947), which included the plan for partition of British Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state (now Israel) and an Arab state (since June 1967 the occupied territories — West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza).  As is known and understandable, affected Palestinians were not happy about the loss of a major part of their ancestral homeland and they revolted.  [We Americans know about revolution (our own) to claim ‘a land of our own’;  the Palestinians — Christians, Jews, Moslems — were for centuries living in that land of their own; true, under the Ottoman and then League of Nations British Mandate rule; nevertheless, it was their homeland.]

That ’cause and effect’ operates is obvious. One observes that the Government of Israel, in effect, treats the whole of former British Mandate Palestine as if it were Israel, although it is not.  Palestinians’ human rights are violated in their homeland and they react.  The weight of past U.S.  positions vis a vis the Israeli and Palestinian parties is known.  There is ongoing worldwide support for efforts to end the ongoing violations of Palestinians’ human rights.  This support for application of international law — for ‘rule of law’ — is neither bias nor discrimination against Israel.

By what authority could the Government of Israel claim for the State of Israel part or all of any Palestinian homeland territory?  By what authority could any government, including the U.S. Government, allow the Government of Israel to claim for the State of Israel part or all of any Palestinian homeland territory [particular reference here to East Jerusalem]?

Relevant to the matter of U.S. foreign policy and humanitarian concerns as related to the Israel-Palestine conflict is Senator John McCain’s  ‘New York Times.’ Op-Ed, article of May 8, 2017, ‘We Must Support Human Rights’ — in it he refers to and discourages application of a certain counter-view to the strong statement of his title — article quoted in part as follows:

“In the real world as lived and experienced by real people, the demand for human rights and dignity, the longing for liberty and justice and opportunity, the hatred of oppression and corruption and cruelty is reality.  By denying this experience, we deny the aspirations of billions of people, and invite their enduring resentment.”

“… We have long believed moral concerns must be an essential part of our foreign policy, not a departure from it. …”

“To view foreign policy as simply transactional is more dangerous than its proponents realize. …”

Respectfully, this letters is submitted in consideration of perception of responses to Israel-Palestine conflict matters.  Attached concerning this subject are a copy of our letter dated April 21, 2017, addressed to Ambassador Haley and Ambassador Rosselli, and ‘Palestine — Some Considerations,’ prepared by the Granny Peace Brigade for the Hunter College Justice Fair, March 16, 2017.

Sincerely yours,
Barbara Walker
United Nations – Retired
[United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
Chief Civilian Personnel Officer – Jerusalem — 1990-1991]

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May 6th, 2017

Honoring Vinie Burrows with the Clara Lemlich Award

The Granny Peace Brigade congratulates our sister, Vinie Burrows on her receiving the Clara Lemlich Award, together with five other honorees on May 1st, 2017. The Lemlich Awards is a  celebration of the achievements of older women, and if anyone fits the description of someone who qualifies for this award it’s Vinie, though it was fascinating to hear about the lives of all the honorees; all were different and all deserving.

Vinie is an actor, author, radio host, teacher and fighter against war, violence and racism for decades. She continues her activism as well as her acting career, currently starring in the off-Broadway production: Samara. She started her acting career on Broadway as a teenager with Helen Hayes in the Wisteria Trees, quickly followed by six more Broadway productions. However, frustrated by the quality and quantity of roles offered the actor of color, Vinie took control, ultimately developing eight original one-woman shows. She has toured four continents  and performed over 6000 times. As a Granny Peace Brigader though, she has been a staunch advocate and defender of peace, justice, human and civil rights on the street, at political and other fora, and in the theater.

Vinie was introduced to the audience by Kalie Kamari, a young rapper, in classical rap fashion. He also said a few personal remarks moved by the stories of the women honored and the value, the importance of these lives to influence and inspire younger generations.

The Clara Lemlich Awards was named after the union organizer and social activist who lived and fought for the rights of women working in the garment industry over one century ago. Other sisters in the Granny Peace Brigade honored to receive the Clara Lemlich Award are: Lillian Pollak, Louise Meriwether, Marie Runyon and Joan Wile in 2011; Molly Klopot in 2013; and Lillian Lifflander in 2015. We are so very proud of their achievements and continue the struggle for peace, justice and resistance!

Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
photos: Bud Korotzer

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April 20th, 2017

Why Yemen? What have Yemenis done to the USA?

While…

We have bombed them killing civilians and children. We helped Saudi Arabia kill over 10, 000 (still counting) with the sale of weapons and refueling of the bombers we sold them. And now FAMINE threatens this country, one of the poorest in the world! Millions!

The GPB  joined a week long action across from the UN from 10-16 April organized by the New York Catholic Worker Community with many other groups. Around 20 fasted in support of the Yemeni people calling for:

  1. Ending of all drone attacks and military special operations within Yemen;
  2. End to US weapon sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia;
  3. Compensation to those who suffered losses due to US air strikes.

And…
the UN to end a blockade and air strikes, a silencing of all weapons, and a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen.
Fifty-five US Congress Members including NYC’s Nadler have signed a letter to POTUS expressing concern for our actions in Yemen. This is just a first step. We must ensure the blockade ends and that UN food aid reaches starving children.

What can we do when so few seem to care?
Let your Congress members know YOU care!

Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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March 31st, 2017

NYC Parent Teacher Conference Night – Spring 2017

NYC Parent Teacher Conference Night provides an opportunity to bring non-military alternatives and educational opportunities to families.  On the evening of March 23, 2017, volunteers were at 11 high schools handing out 2 flyers to parents as they arrived to meet with their child’s teachers. Flyer information includes websites for colleges, training programs, community service, scholarships and financial aid as well as questions to ask recruiters in order to better understand the hype of enlistment promises and military service requirements.

With just a few words, “Consider non-military alternatives to the military for your child, check out the many websites, learn more about financial aid and the many opportunities available for your child” parents accept the information often with a thank you included.

Several parents stop to speak with volunteers for more information or to share their thoughts.
One parent commented that there had been some kind of assembly to inform parents about this, but that it was perfectly useless. She was so happy to have all the info in the palm of her hand.

One mother told a volunteer that her son was approached by recruiters as he got out of the subway at the 125th St station on his way home from school. The mom said the recruiters gave her son appealing stuff, for example, a water bottle. Her son seemed to be considering enlisting and she was concerned.

A mother who had been approached by recruiters when she was in dental assistant school never knew how the recruiters got her personal contact info. She said they were persistent. She didn’t want recruiters to be taking to her kid.

The reward of meeting a parent and hearing ‘Thank you for helping me understand and providing information’ is the reward volunteers receive. And thanks to all the volunteers for their time, effort and commitment to providing non-military alternatives to families – you have made a difference.

We hope you will join us in November when we will bring our message and information to parents at NYC high schools again.

Students not Soldiers,
Barbara Harris
Photos: Eva-Lee Baird

for the Granny Peace Brigade

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