Tag Archives: peace

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

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

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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

Breaking News: Grannies meet with Chuck Schumer’s NYC staff on Palestine

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Why is this breaking news: As we told Alex Katz, an aide to the Senator on Monday, June 10, 2015, the Granny Peace Brigade has tried, unsuccessfully for over 5 years to get an appointment with the Senator, OUR Senator!

What did we learn that was new/news:

What did we hear:
Alex Katz, an aide to Senator Schumer for many years, often accompanying him on his travels in the USA, was very courteous to our group comprising Carol Husten, Barbara Walker, Jenny Heinz, Marty Rajandran. He listened to each of our comments on Palestine/Israel and made a few comments which are summarized as:
-On the illegal occupation of Israel of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements: He noted that the Senator is not in favor of any new settlements. However, he seemed to waffle a bit on the status of the existing ones and the Senator’s taking a stand on any restrictions on our relationship with Israel because of these illegal settlements.
-On Chuck Schumer’s views on the current Israeli Government: He felt that the current Israeli government does not represent the will of Israelis and that it is delaying efforts towards a two-state solution. He however continues to be considered “a hawk” for Israel.
-On Chuck Schumers role vis a vis US policy: Alex indicated that Chuck Schumer does have a positive working relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu and is able to facilitate communication between him and President Obama.
-On a deal with Iran, he noted that the Senator supports a deal that will keep “our allies” safe.

We asked him to:
–arrange a meeting between us and the Senator this summer. He agreed.
–request the Senator to make a public statement that said “Speaking out on Israel does not make one an anti-semite.” He agreed.
–propose to the Senator to reduce our funding for Israel, esp as Israel is one of the most developed countries in the world, 19th as per the Human Development Report and to increase funding for Palestinians. No specific comment on this. (Actually, we also mentioned that we would like to stop all US military assistance to Israel, as well as Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
–urge the Senator to consider proposing that the International Court of Justice be involved in the peace process, as a non-violent, legal approach towards a just solution to the rights of the Palestinian people. (no comment on this)
–encourage the Senator to use his good auspices to pressure Israel to abide by International Law, UN 242, among others. (no comment)
–discourage the Senator from making statements that he speaks for New Yorkers. He does not speak for Palestinians, many Jews, and others throughout the state on his position of virtual unconditional support for the illegal actions of Israel.
–encourage the Senator to take a lead in recognizing Hamas as the elected government of the Palestinians in Gaza. There are other governments we consider close allies that do NOT recognize Israel, e.g. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, 19 others.
–refrain from making further statements such as one made on Gaza: “…to squeeze them (Gaza) until they do what Israel wants”. The Israel blockade is harmful to the people of Gaza. And we would expect the Senator not to like the growing success of the BDS movement against Israel. This movement is gaining more support as people and countries are fed up with Israel’s denial of the rights of the Palestinian people.
–understand that in view of the human rights abuses done by the Israeli military as viewed globally through social media, at some point, there may be pressure to apply the Leahy Amendment which prohibits US funding through the State Dept or Defense to countries charged with human rights abuses. (He commented that he was unaware of this law)

Short summary of specific points made by Grannies in the discussion:
Carol was stunned by the sights and her experiences during a visit to the West Bank several years ago. She stated, among other views, the advisability of the U.S. decreasing its financial contributions to Israel — Israel being economically advantaged — and increasing its aid to Palestine. Mentioned was the annual military assistance financial aid grant of $3 billion. Noted also was that a RAND Corporation report which put American aid to Israel at $118 billion since World War II — not including classified programs, and that a RAND Corporation economist put American aid to Palestinians at less that $10 billion

Barbara said she visited East Jerusalem and the West Bank in January 1967, prior to the Six Day War, and that she was posted in Jerusalem with the UN for one year, 1990-1991. She noted that in 1948 Israeli authorities-to-be acceded to the UN resolution authorizing partition of Palestine but that the Government of Israel has not acceded to UN resolutions calling for withdrawal from Occupied Territories. She asked how could the Government of Israel claim continuing control of the west side of the Jordan River Valley — West Bank land/West Bank shore? How can the U.S. accept this? We do have a responsibility to the Palestinians. In this connection, how is Eretz Israel/Land of Israel being defined — is it being defined as the whole of British Mandate Palestine? If so, are the Palestinians invisible as a people? This is their ancestral home — what was authorized by the UN was partition. She expressed the hope that Senator Schumer would encourage our Government to view positively the French initiative (resolution) which is currently under refinement. The resolution, according to a draft published in ‘Le Figaro,’ will set out an 18 month time-table for ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza [see: ‘Le Figaro Premium,’ “Paris fait une nouvelle offre aux Israeliens et Palestiniens,” by Cyrille Louis, May 19, 2015].

Marty noted her activism against the Occupation began 50 years ago as a university student. She mentioned several visits to Israel and neighboring countries on work duty and personal visits. She asked the question of Israel’s needing so much of our tax dollars when it ranks 19th among developed countries – hardly a struggling nation. And in response to Katz’s comments about Hamas not recognizing Israel, she asked about Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that don’t recognize Israel either and yet are U.S. allies. She mentioned the violation of the Leahy amendment re banning aid to countries with human/child rights violations but regrettably, Ban Ki-Moon, U.N. Secretary General, just took Israel off the list.

Jenny spoke very forcefully, expressing personal outrage as a Jew that Schumer claims to speak on behalf of Jews and New Yorkers. She touched on the glaring issues facing Palestinans: seizure of land and destruction of homes, murder of children and civilians, torture and harsh imprisonment of dissent, however she felt that a back and forth on these points was not useful in today’s meeting. She emphasised that Mr Schumer’s hawkish position on Israel encourages their continued violation of international law. She requested Alex to request the Senator to make a public statement: “Speaking out against Israel does not make one an anti-Semite.”

– Barbara Walker, Carol Husten, Jenny Heinz, Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Letter to Senator Schumer Regarding the Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Issue

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November 17, 2014

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
780 Third Avenue, Suite 2301
New York, NY 10017

Dear Senator Schumer:

We, members of the Granny Peace Brigade, have been continually concerned with the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.   Thank you for your response of March 11, 2014, to the individual letter on Israel-Palestine from one of our members.  Our desire, of course, is to prepare useful activities for encouraging public interest in U.S. Government action aimed at conflict resolution.  Knowing of your concern, we have been in communication with helpful staff of your office since June requesting an appointment to meet with you for direct clarification of our point of view.  We were informed that no meeting could be considered before next Spring.

The 47 year conflict between the Government of Israel as Occupying Power of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and  Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is truly tragic.  This is not a dispute between political equals.  Israelis and Palestinians have suffered in their homeland — Palestinians inordinately.

Having supported the 1947 United Nations partition of Palestine and recognized the State of Israel in 1948, does not the U.S. have a responsibility to promote the viability of the Palestinians as a people in their homeland?  It is of interest that they are Semites, are ‘children of Abraham,’ most are adherents of one of the three major Abrahamic religions, the whole land of ‘Palestine,’ once shared, was their home.  Of course, factors of cause and effect and action/reaction operate in perpetuation of the conflict. Continue reading Letter to Senator Schumer Regarding the Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Issue

Parent Teacher Conference Night – November 5, 2014

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As volunteers handed out flyers to parents and students entering high schools for a meeting with teachers, the White House was deciding to send 1500 more troops to Iraq.

2014_11Stopping War Where It Begins

The information being shared with parents  includes Non-Military Options for Life After High School (link) as well as Questions to Ask and Points to Consider Before You Enlist (link).
How very important this action continues to be as wars are endless and new military recruits are needed.  For the military – where best to look than in the high schools.
To respond, we’re at high schools to counter military promotions and offer pro-peace alternatives.

At a couple of schools, the Question to Ask Before You Enlist flyer was received with greater interest than in the past.  A volunteer noted that it seemed avoiding the military was as important to parents as education after high school for their child.   I met with a mother who was thankful for that flyer and noted that the questions posed and answers provided were very pertinent. “Few kids know what enlistment really means. I want to show this to a few boys I know.”

At New Dorp High School on Staten Island, 3 students from a sociology class joined the volunteers.   It was their first time doing a street action, and they were effective in making a difference by adding their voice to the conversation. Youth helping to build the movement as apprentice activists.

Murry Bertraum HS Robotics Team(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Members of the Robotics team at Murry Bergtraum Campus were psyched over the Options flyer (photo).  Their plans are focused on college.  While speaking with the guidance counselor at this high school, she mentioned  that career counseling is the last item on her agenda.  A shortage of guidance counselors leaves many students in the dark concerning future goals and non-military options. She took our handouts as well.

All those 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 a high school, and generously reaches out with educational and informational advice that they rarely receive.

Feel free to download our flyers and give them to friends, students, and teenagers you meet along the way.  You never know – you may well provide  the information they are seeking and change their future direction.

Many thanks to all the volunteers – in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

New Yorkers Speak Out On DRONE Use By NYPD

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“Should it be legal for the NYPD to use weaponized drones against individuals or groups?”

This was one of several questions posed to New Yorkers last Friday (October 10, 2014) as they walked by Nick Motern’s model Reaper drone and a gaggle of the Granny Peace Brigade, who set up a display and survey table in front of the State Office Building in Harlem. It was a perfect fall afternoon.

The survey attracted a lot of interest as well as questions by the passers-by. One young woman asked “What is a drone?” For Eva-Lee, the perfect question for a discussion on not only what is a drone, but how they are used world wide by the US military and the concerns about their use in the USA, leading up to asking the young woman to express her opinion in the survey. And she did: reading each of the 8 questions and choosing a colored pompom, red for No, white for Yes, to cast her vote. She was one of almost 70 survey participants that day, with all but one responding “NO” to the question of use of weaponized drones in NYC.

All the Grannies had a chance to chat with the survey takers, and to pass out copies of the two excellent handouts: Are Drones coming to your neighborhood/NYC Council Resolution on Drones and the NY Daily News re-print on the discussion of drone procurement and use. We encouraged them to contact their city council representative and express their views on the proposals to use drones in NYC.

Alice had a long session with Sarah, a high school student who was on a break and enjoying the afternoon. She took the survey, asking questions about drones and their use, as well as about the activities of the Granny Peace Brigade and KnowDrones. She sat with Alice for quite a long time, successfully attracting more young people to take the survey. And, before Sarah left, she mentioned that she has to do a project for one of her classes on “changing the world” and she would think about doing this on drone attacks.

Phyllis noted that one young man, yelled with both arms extended in the air, “There should be drones in every bad neighborhood ” three times. When he walked by me I asked him what he considered a “bad neighborhood?” An interesting discussion ensued: who and what determines “a bad neighborhood”, who determines who is a bad person, who would determine when to use drones for surveillance, who would make the decision to use weaponized drones and for what justification would these decisions be made. Much to ponder. The young man stated that he then thought that privacy would be invaded by drones and he certainly didn’t want them to hurt people as he moved to participate in the survey.

A man from New Jersey had his is own encounter with a drone. A local real estate agent was using one to survey a neighborhood. He found the humming sounds and the hovering frightening. In describing how the Reaper drones work to an elderly man, I described the constant humming sound, which can go on all day and night. For the villagers in Pakistan or Yemen, they never know when a missile will be launched. They all, especially the children, live in daily terror.”Do we want drones hovering above us in NYC?” A question most people responded “NO.”

I may have had the pleasure of chatting with the one who person who voted yes on the use of weaponized drones in the city! This was a pleasant middle age man. He felt that it is only a matter of time before drone technology will be used in the city. He felt that drones would help to curb crime, especially drug sales on the streets and crimes against persons. However, he did think that it was essential that controls be established on when, where, how drones could be used by the NYPD and that any use of drones be announced in advance so the public is aware of their use and reasons why. He did accept that NYPD may take liberties with any guidelines on drone use, as has happened in the controversial “Stop and Frisk” approach to law enforcement. During the discussion, it did come out that he had family that were in NYPD.

This was the first use of these questions and approach with the “Ms Gizmo” technique. It worked well! It generated interest and good discussions. And for those taking the survey, a thoughtful process. What we learned: some questions were confusing. Maybe there were too many questions, especially for street use on a working day. We look forward to feedback as we make adjustments for the next action. Date and Time to be announced!

We, the Granny Peace Brigade, stand by our position: No Weaponized or Surveillance Drones in NYC. Do speak to your City Council representative and share your views with them. We urge the NY City Council to set in motion an expansive process of public hearings prior to any actions to procure drones by the NYPD. Any decision on drone use will have far reaching implications on all of us!

Thanks to Alice, Eva-Lee, Nydia, and Phyllis for sharing their experience.

– Marty Rajandran
Photos: Marty Rajandran and Eva-Lee Baird
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

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?

SONY DSC

 

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

Investigate and Re-Investigate Drone Strikes… Or Stop Them Now

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The NYU School of Law sponsoreda panel discussion titled “Views from the Ground: Investigating US Drone Strikes on October 29, 2013. The GPB was there, and here’s what happened:

First, Robert Greenwald, director of the new documentary, “Unmanned: America’s Drone War,” introduced a clip from the film.

Unmanned-header

The clip vividly describes a drone strike on October 24th, 2012 in North Waziristan, a strike that killed Momina Bibi, while she was picking okra for dinner with her granddaughter Nabila. Momina Bibi’s son and grandson, Rafiq ur Rehman and Zubair ur Rehman joined Greenwald on the stage. They described the strike and the death, the heartache, the injuries, and the fear and hatred the strike has produced. Zubair ur Rehman who was injured in the strike is always scared now and is afraid to go outside.

Next, panelists from Amnesty International (Mustafa Qadri), the UN (Christof Heyns, download his report “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions”), Human Rights Watch (Letta Taylor), and the American Civil Liberties Union (Hina Shamsi) told us how their organizations are either gathering information about drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, or discussing what might and might not be legal in the killing department. At the end of their speeches during the question period, Phyllis Cunningham of the Granny Peace Brigade posed this question for each panelist. “Based on the evidence we now have, do you think that the US should stop completely its drone attacks, right now, right now?” Panel moderator Steve Coll gave an embarrassed little laugh and said, “Well that question is clear.”

You can’t say that for the answers. Not one of the panelists said yes! They didn’t answer no either. Letta Taylor of Human Rights Watch did say this: 1. Public opinion is not in favor of ending drone strikes and, 2. Public tolerance in the U.S. for deaths by terrorist attacks is zero, and she added that we need to rethink this. Then she said people in other countries die in large numbers in terrorist attacks. She didn’t follow the logic of this thread any farther. Where might rethinking take us?

We can shed some light on public fear of death by terror attack by looking at how we assess risk. Sudden, rare, out of control events like terror attacks or nuclear power plant meltdowns capture our imaginations. We drastically over-estimate risks from these events while underestimating risks of frequent occurrences like car accidents, toxic emissions from coal plants, accidental ingestion of illegal drugs or falling down the stairs.

Ms. Taylor did call attention to an issue we need to address: hysteria in the U.S. about terrorism. Who profits from this hysteria? Who encourages it? In order to stop drone strikes we need to change public opinion. It looks like we won’t be getting much help from any of these panelists. So it’s up to us. Let’s get to work.

In peace always,
– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade