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January 9th, 2017

Climate Deniers, Torturers — We Say No

Today in NYC two members of the Granny Peace Brigade joined hundreds of climate activists in a rally at the NYC offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.

Four climate deniers have been nominated for key environmental positions in Donald Trump’s cabinet.

  1. Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, for Secretary of State
  2. Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator
  3. Rep. Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior
  4. Ex-Gov. Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy

It is time for our senators to stand up to Donald Trump and reject these climate denying nominees. And it’s time for us to make very sure our senators have stiff spines.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC two other members of the Granny Peace Brigade joined Witness Against Torture for their annual demonstrations to close Guantanamo.

President Obama has failed in his pledge of eight years ago to close the US detention camp at Guantánamo.  Congressional obstacles, misinformation perpetuated in the media, and the president’s own lack of will are all responsible for this policy disaster.  Guantánamo remains a living symbol of US torture and other human rights abuses, and a place of misery for the 59 men it still houses.  Most of them have never been charged with, let alone tried for, any crime.

In the remaining weeks before he leaves office, President Obama must do what he still can: expedite the release of cleared men and release the full 2014 Senate Torture Report documenting CIA abuses.

Human rights and the United States’ standing in the world face a new danger:  the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump will reinstate the use of torture.  He has also called for increasing the prison population at Guantánamo. (read more)

– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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December 17th, 2016

A Wall That Speaks For Us – Union Square Station, NYC

Our vigil to recognize International Human Rights Day came complete with a serendipitous discovery. After 35 minutes in the cold, six ferocious women in golden szmatas (that would be us) beat it down the subway steps by Food Emporium, just east of Broadway, and there we found a paradise with much pedestrian traffic. We didn’t even have to swipe a Metrocard  to be there. So lovely were we (or maybe pathetic would be a better word), that some women thrust dollar bills at us. A trifle embarrassing, but hey, now we know what to do if times get tough. As Eva-Lee, Eleanor and I headed into the subway to make our way home, we found more than 25 folks hypnotized by a wall with thousands of post-its expressing the loves and concerns of citizens of the world, written one by one by all of us. The City Council official photographer was there, pursuing his own portrait project. He recognized me from City Council meetings and told me what a great bunch of activists we are. Then Eleanor and I got to break yet another camera lens.

Joan Pleune
video: Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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December 16th, 2016

BRRRRRing for Human Rights/Children’s Rights

The Granny Peace Brigade, together with friends from Vets for Peace and Pax Christi, weathered the coldest day in NYC this season (7F with wind chill) to commemorate Human Rights Week (Dec. 10-17th an actual designated week by the UN) with our focus, the rights of children everywhere to live in peace, dignity, provided with health care and education and protected from harm. We have all been shocked by the images of Aleppo this week, but fewer images of children dying in Yemen, fewer still of the endless war in Iraq, and the fate of children and their families in Gaza, Flint, Standing Rock, Myanmar, to name just a few of places where basic rights for children and their families are being denied.

We say: “US stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia; giving weapons to Israel and to “rebels” in Syria. End our endless wars.” Join us! We were so encouraged by a few passers-by who thanked us for our action, when we escaped the cold to the subway station below.
We will never make America “great” on the battered minds and bodies of children here and around the world.
And, tonight we also remember, Lillian Pollak, our 101 year old Granny, who was with us last year for Human Rights Week at Union Square, on a balmy 75F evening. “Peace in Gaza” was her plea! Her spirit lives on!

— Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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December 9th, 2016

Don’t Buy War Toys/Gifting that promotes life, learning and peace!

Dear Holiday Shoppers – War Is Not A Game

The Granny Peace Brigade continued its annual “Don’t Buy War Toys” campaign in one of the best known shopping areas in the USA: Herald Square…the home of Macy’s among others. In the blustery cold wind, our songs were a bit muted, but even then we were joined by a Raging Grannie from Rochester, who just happened to be walking by, and could not resist a protest song!  As usual, many thumbs ups and thank-yous and just one or two who disagreed.As we wish our friends a Merry Christmas, Happy Channuka, Happy Kwanza, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy etc.,  consider giving gifts that promote life, learning, and peace!

– Marty Rajandran with Barbara H., Bev, Edith, Eva-Lee, Joan,  Nydia, Regina, Tibby
for the Granny Peace Brigade

More photos on Facebook

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November 23rd, 2016

Granny Peace Brigade Awarded 2016 Pathmakers To Peace By Brooklyn For Peace

Brooklyn for Peace, a non-sectarian, non-partisan active peace and justice organization had its annual fund raising dinner on November 17, 2016.  It was held at the historic Plymouth Church, which has a history of abolitionism and resistance to oppression, in Brooklyn Heights.   For the fourth year, individuals who have played leadership roles in forging new pathways to the elimination of war and the struggle for peace, equality and social and economic justice were honored with the Pathmakers To Peace award.

The Granny Peace Brigade was among the honorees.  We were honored for our “…role model of sustaining hope with activism in demonstrations opposing war, the violence of poverty and racism, and standing for human rights and justice globally and locally.”

Ann speaking. Lrft to right, Joan, Vinie, Jenny, Phyllis and Connit

Left to right, Ann Shirazi, Joan Pleune, Vinie Burrows, Jenny Heinz, Phyllis Cunningham & Connie Norgren

 

This year’s other honorees include; author and English professor Moustafa Bayoumi at Brooklyn College for his work addressing “War on Terror” on the Muslim American community; Frances Fox Piven, social theorist and political science professor at the Graduate Center, City University of New York for her work on issues of income inequality and political participation; and Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Officers of Brooklyn for Peace as well as honorees spoke about the dangerous times we are in, the enormous issues we are facing and, with the results of the recent elections identified that it will take “a broad unity of forces to lead the fightback and resistance to actions taken by Trump and the GOP Congress yet to come.”  The sense of not despairing and the need to increase activism in meeting challenges was apparent.  The audience applauded, cheered and gave standing ovations throughout the program indicating agreement with the work that has to be done, ongoing.

All in all, it was an encouraging and memorable event.  Now, to continue carrying on the fight for justice and peace.

– Phyllis Cunningham
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo – Matthew Weinstein

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November 20th, 2016

November 17, 2016 – Granny Peace Brigade Counter-Recruitment Action

PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT at NYC PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS

On Parent-Teacher Conference night volunteers went to high schools throughout the 5 boroughs. Distributing flyers in front of a high school building for more than an hour to parents and students who are rushing into the school to meet with teachers may not seem like an upbeat activity.  But it’s remarkably rewarding for volunteers and parents.

Our goal is to provide educational and non-military options to parents and students and counter military promises and programs with relevant information concerning truth in recruiters’ hype.  We believe wholeheartedly that students and their parents should be aware that there are alternatives to military service and an education can be secured without risking lives in needless wars.

Non-Military Options for Life after High School flyer gives families a helping hand to survey many websites and resources for job skills training, scholarships, financial aid, community outreach, volunteer programs.
Questions to Ask – Points to Consider flyer offers information on recruitment practices and promises as well as questions to ask and responses to expect in order to inform families and the student of misleading or unclear information.

It was obvious that parents do not want their children to enlist.  Many expressed an anti-war message – a rejection of their kids going into the Armed Forces.
A father remarked,”Oh yeah, I’m 100% with you.”
A parent said she was going to make copies of the flyers to give out in connection with her work.
A student mentioned an interest in starting a Peace club.
A teacher asked about a speaker on the issues and non-military options in her classroom.

During the evening parents at every school thanked volunteers for the flyers and caring enough to provide this information to them. The feedback from parents was heartfelt and a connection that someone cares about their child’s future.
Many thanks to the 24 volunteers who participated in the counter recruitment action at 12 high schools throughout the 5 boroughs. Families received your largesse and benefited from the information.

Ending war one student at a time.
– Barbara Harris
Granny Peace Brigade
Anti-Military Committee

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October 28th, 2016

Ask Charlie Rangel to Vote Against the TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the trade deal negotiated in secret during the past 7 years among 12 Pacific Rim countries including US, Canada, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand.

The TPP was signed by ALL countries in 2015. BUT its not a done deal until it is agreed by national parliaments and in our case the Senate and House of Representatives. Rumors abound: will it be brought to a vote during the lame duck session of Congress (time between 8 November and the new Congress on 3 Jan, 2017)? Some say it will, since President Obama is pressuring Congress; some say the votes are not there to pass it.

Charlie Rangel has not clearly stated his position on the TPP. He is quoted as saying “Incentives could get traction for the TPP. .” e.g. if it were linked to a national infrastructure package, which might generate local jobs. As a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, he has significant influence within the Caucus. In addition, in a call to his DC office, an aide once stated: “if the President calls him and asks for his support, he will be there…”

We want him to support a NO Vote on TPP or if it does come up for a vote, To Vote NO!

Reasons to oppose the TPP :
-more US jobs will move overseas where costs of production are cheaper
-drug prices are likely to increase as patents will be extended
-no enforceable provisions for environmental, health safety, or labor protections
-no reference to the impact of TPP on climate change
-Worst provision: ISDS Investor State Dispute Settlement provision, which supercedes federal, state, and even local laws should a company from one of the participating countries considers that its right to conduct business is denied and thereby they can claim compensation, including for projected lost profits. Those administrating this are a 3-person corporate-led panel. This is already happening: Trans-Canada (Keystone XL Pipeline) is suing the US Government for $$$Billions under the ISDS for President Obama’s decision to stop the construction of the pipeline in the USA.

– Marty Rajandran

for the Granny Peace Brigade

For more information: http://www.Flushthetpp.org

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October 20th, 2016

Ms Gizmo Takes A Break

“How would you spend your own tax dollars?”
is the question we asked on the sidewalks of New York.

Ms. Gizmo has had a good run and now will wait indoors until the weather gets warmer.

2010_10_21gizmo

The chart below depicts results of our Penny Poll — Voters’ Preferences — at various locations around the city on twenty different days where, after careful thought, 3,018 people cast their 20 pennies into the Gizmo’s eight tubes. Each tube represents a Federal Budget category. There are hundreds of other budget categories of course, but we felt people could vote more quickly with fewer tubes. We’ve taken Ms. Gizmo to East Harlem, Brooklyn Boro Hall, City Hall, Union Square, Hunter College and 72nd Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side.

2012_08_28gizmochart_totals

Categories:
Arts & Culture
Education
Environment & Clean Energy
Health Care
Housing
Jobs
Military
Transportation

How would you spend your own tax dollars?
Please let us know —  Email us

We welcome people of all ages.
There is work to do. — In peace always.

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September 23rd, 2016

Asking Senator Schumer to work for a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis

Granny Peace Brigade letter of September 9, 2016, to Senator Charles E. Schumer, regarding U.S. position on Israeli/Palestinian conflict matters

September 9, 2016

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3203

Dear Senator Schumer,

On behalf of the Granny Peace Brigade, thank you for your letter of July 6 in response to our letter of 6 June.  However, we find  the issues presented in our letter were not fully addressed.

In this regard, requesting your consideration and views we again express our concern with the generally unaddressed unfortunate circumstance of the Palestinians during the ongoing 49 year conflict — a conflict clearly rooted in Palestinian reaction to loss and occupation of large areas of their ancestral homeland, once shared with others.  We realize that in 1973 Security Council recommendations were set out aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.  Specific concerns —

— Socially, economically, culturally disruptive settlements have been provided by the Government of Israel for Jewish Israeli nationals, and the process of settlement expansion by Israel in occupied land continues, clearly against international law; US aid continues in spite of this.

— US continues to provide military and other financial support to Israel in spite of the numerous human rights abuses by the IDF.  (Refer – the Leahy Amendment, which we understand applies to all countries, including our allies, should they be abusers of human rights)

— Israel arms industry, the 6 largest in the world exporting armaments to over 100 countries, obviously does not require the US$billions that we continue to provide.  These US$ are certainly at the expense of US domestic spending, much needed to re-build our own country, its water systems, schools, other infrastructure.  Is it not time to begin to wean Israel off our handouts and allow it to manage on its own something it does very well?  (The Israeli Human Development Index is among the highest and improves; USA HDI is on the decline.)  US consideration should also be given to a “Marshall Plan” for the Palestinian territories, the US having supported partition of Palestine.

Senator Schumer, we feel that these issues require a further response from you as we believe these are among issues which affect the future of a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.  Recent report, especially the continued expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied land, does not bode well for a two-state solution.  International law is applicable here and does not infringe upon the right of Israel to defend its own national borders.  Indeed we are aware of and are in agreement with the need for security within Israel [realizing the UN Partition Plan for Palestine provided for a Jewish state, as well as for an Arab state], which we understand excludes land occupied by military action.

The Granny Peace Brigade is an informal group of  senior citizens, dedicated to social and economic justice. Our average age is 78!  Two members of our Palestine Committee, Lillian Pollak, aged 101, and Carol Huston, aged 85, recently passed away.  They were among those hoping to meet with you on these issues.  We hope that this meeting will take place before more of us pass.

Therefore, as we have written on earlier occasions and requested of your staff in meetings, we appreciate an opportunity to discuss these and related matters with you directly, in NYC when you are available or in Washington, DC , at your convenience.

Sincerely yours,

– Marty Rajandran and Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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August 30th, 2016

Ms Gizmo at the East Harlem Youth Fair

Thursday, July 21st the granny Peace Brigade brought our Fund School Educational Programs message to the East Harlem Youth Fair. Our table attracted 74 gamers, mostly students, to participate in the Ms. Gizmo Penny Poll. They were asked to considered the programs they would like to see in their schools, by distributing the 20 pennies they were given to select their choices. The  Ms. Gizmo cylinders filled up as they considered their interests and needs.

Youth Fair Ms. Gizmo 7-20016

Once again it was a rewarding experience for all as well as an opportunity to speak with the community youth and hear what matters to them and why.

The GPB  message: It’s time to reallocate the $1.5 million funding for Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) in 18 NYC high schools to  programs students want and need. No to JROTC military programs.  We support peaceful educational alternatives.

2016_07_21_youthfair_pie_chart

Click for a larger image.

Here are the results of the penny poll which focused on student’s educational interests and needs.

Peace,
– Barbara H, Nydia, Edith, Marty, Barbara W, Joan, Nancy
– for the Granny Peace Brigade

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