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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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August 11th, 2016

Carol Husten Presente

Oh Carol, Old Pricey,
I have known for several years now Carol from the Granny Peace Brigade and Peace Action. For me, she was like a tree,strong protective,seemingly eternal- but a tree with a great sense of humor. When the Grannies made a trek from New York to DC in 2006, we created actions and performances along the way. Carol had the idea of embodying the odious Barbara Bush: with a white wig and large pearl necklace, she hilariously impersonated the cold calculating mother of the mindless, scary cipher occupying the White House.

After she returned from a trip to Palestine,like all of us who have had the privilege of actually traveling there and meeting many of the incredibly courageous and resilient Palestinian people, Carol was changed. Not that she didn’t have great empathy for the terrible situation before she went. But having seen the brutality and destruction of the Israeli Occupation first-hand, she called a meeting and we formed a Palestine Committee, gathering in her beautiful kitchen, fortified by an abundance of delicious ethnic specialties from the neighborhood. Unfortunately, her hard work didn’t result in the range of actions she and we hoped for and I think this was a disappointment for all of us.

Even when she became ill and was unable to come to meetings or be physically present, Carol was with us. In one of her emails, she made suggestions about whom to contact and what research to do, adding ” Can I be on the phone. (Listening to all u r planning???”)

Carol never hesitated to speak her mind. She was always thinking, planning, working to solve the problem and bring light to every issue. I can hear her wonderful gravelly voice telling me: “Annie, here’s what we gotta do”, and off she went, ideas, creative ideas, overflowing.

Overflowing. A word I associate with Carol. Ideas, laughter, love, kindness, endless generosity, overflowing, all without an ounce of self-interest. When she was interviewed for Ahmad’s film on the grannies, Carol said,2006-09-19_un_protest_Ann photo

“I often think to myself, “You could be playing bridge.You could be playing tennis. But there is something inside of me that does not allow me to just go and make believe that nothing is going on in this world.” 2006-09-19_UN-protest

Carol’s home overflowed with beauty and hospitality, her heart overflowed with love for her family and endless pride in her grandchildren, and with boundless love and respect for all people, everywhere.

When I received the shocking news that Carol had died, the words of a popular song immediately came to mind:

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down…

Sail on, silver girl.

You are extraordinary.

We will always miss you.

– Ann Shirazi
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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August 9th, 2016

U.S. Must Act to Resolve Israel/Palestine Conflict

The June 6, 2016, Granny Peace Brigade ‘Letter to Senator Schumer re U.S. Involvement In Israel/Palestine,’ mailed to the Senator,  was posted as a blog, June l7th, 2016.  We sent a copy of the letter to U.S. government offices and to presidential candidates shown in the transmittal note, July 25, 2016 (below).

July 25, 2016 –To:  The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States; The Honorable John Kerry, Secretary of State; The Honorable Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; The Honorable Senator Charles E. Schumer; Secretary Hillary Clinton; The Honorable Senator Bernie Sanders, The Honorable Senator James Rich, Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism; The Honorable Congresswoman Ileana Ros-lehtinen, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; The Honorable Congressman Danny K. Davis; The Honorable Congressman Keith Ellison; The Honorable Congresswoman Barbara Lee; Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential Candidate.

The Granny Peace Brigade submits to you, a copy of our letter dated June 6, 2016, addressed to Senator Charles E. Schumer, which expressed to him our concern about lack of United States effective action for resolution of the ongoing conflict between the Government of Israel and the Palestinians.  In brief, given the United States support for the 1947 United Nations partition plan for British Mandatory Palestine, which called for decrease in the area of the Palestinian ancestral land available for Palestinian settlement and which was followed by armed conflict and subsequent occupation of Palestinian land and massive violation of Palestinian human rights, including the taking over of Palestinian land, it has a responsibility to the Palestinians.  Our government  has shown responsibility for support of the Government of Israel.  However,  as is known and is mentioned in our letter, Martin Indyk, former U.S.  Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, has recently stated that the U.S. has not been neutral in these negotiations. The human rights violations which apply are certainly dealt with in international law.  Why are protracted negotiations necessary?  The Granny Peace Brigade views it as vital that our government assume forthrightly its responsibility to the Palestinians for the recognition and the effecting of their human rights – including the integrity of all Palestinian territory. This is respectfully submitted for your review and  consideration for appropriate action.

– Marty Rajandran, Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade–Israel-Palestine Conflict Committee

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