Category Archives: Demonstrations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STRAGGLING AND NETWORKING AT THE WOMEN’S UNITY RALLY

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

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

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

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Thanks again Bud!

See you in the streets,

Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny peace Brigade

Bases Bases Everywhere!

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

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

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

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

Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Bud Korotzer

YEMEN CAN’T WAIT

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

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

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

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

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

VOICES RISING FOR YEMEN

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

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

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Photos by Bud Korotzer

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

Nydia Leaf
for the GPB

JROTC, Discipline and Children Playing Soldier

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Is it good for to children dress up like soldiers and march around with mock rifles? Should they be doing this in our schools?

We say no, but some say yes.

Wednesday, January 31 – Seven of us were outside New York City Council offices asking Council Members to stop allotting 1.5 million of our tax dollars each year to the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) programs in NYC schools. We want City Council to move the money to programs that help students develop into strong, creative, resourceful adults.

Two career military men stopped to talk. The first thanked us for being there saying we were doing a good thing. The second military man who had worked as a recruiter and also with JROTC was angry. He said the JROTC program was good for kids because it gave them discipline. He talked about discipline a lot. We’ve heard that defense of JROTC from many other people who are passionate and sincere.

I want kids to have discipline too. But it should come from inside them like in Marie Curie or Rosa Parks or Laura Poitras or these gals in yellow.

– Eva-Lee Baird with Barbara H, Eleanor, Joan, Nancy, Nydia, Pat
for the Granny Peace Brigade

STUDENTS NOT SOLDIERS – Grannies Hit the Streets

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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

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

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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.

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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