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50 years ago, the unspeakable happened with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In keeping with its historical importance and interest, there has been a predictable wave of media accounts filling airspace and newspaper columns. There have been commemorative books, both new and freshly republished, dissertations, personal remembrances, print, video and radio clips of the day, and on and on.
If one man is correct, what has been missing to this point has been a rendering of a major book of this time in graphic novel form. That person is Seth Reuben Jacobson, co-author of“JFK and the Unspeakable” along with the print book’s original author, Jim Douglass.
“When I first read the book Seth declared, “I knew that I had to see it released as a graphic novel. In this way it could reach a modern audience that may never have – or will – pick it up as a hard-bound copy.”
Graphic Novel? This could never have happened in Kennedy’s day, as this media had not as yet elevated itself into the sophisticated artistic and social instrument we are familiar with today. Back then, it was known only as the lowly “comic book.”
Which leads me to ask if portraying the JFK story through this medium is either respectful or appropriate. That may take some convincing. In this interview with Seth Jacobson you will learn the motivation behind this work and why you and I, his potential audience, may want to pay attention.
For those who want to learn more about this work, or to contact Seth, this can be done on the Internet through Facebook here: www.facebook.com/jfkunspeakablegraphic?ref=hl. The first chapter is now available on Amazon.com.
I encourage my fans to help keep stories like this in front of an audience which is sick of Main Stream Media and their sanitized stories. Please follow me at the HuffingtonPost as Jerry Ashton, on Twitter as @WrittenOffUSA, and at my website, www.WrittenOffAmerica.com.
We have had some interesting guests on 15 Minutes of Fact over time, and explored some compelling topics. When it comes to the intricacies of economic theory and abstract financial systems, however, I get a bit nervous. Even with the promise of requiring no more than 15 Minutes of attention on any subject, my listeners do tend to become a bit skittish and ready to “turn that dial” when it comes to the “dismal science.”
This likely won’t happen in this interview, and here’s why. Our guest today, Zeus Yiamouyiannis, makes it easy to be smarter.
Somehow, he is able to bypass the economic jargon generally used to describe our submerged economy and to reduce all this to simple accounting and common-sense equations.
Which is all the more impressive considering that he has a Ph.D, is an economics blogger, a futurist, and author of the newly published book Transforming Economy: From Corrupted Capitalism to Connected Communities.
When it comes to describing solutions to the economic disaster we are calling the Great Recession, Zeus is of a mind that “either change will happen TO us, or BY us” and provides some excellent reasons for taking the latter path. “We can’t avoid “a reality that is already upon us.”
Although romanticized notions of change and “New Age Fantastic Thinking” are debunked, consciousness is absolutely necessary to effect change. And, as a good (great?) teacher, he describes the consciousness required and then chunks information down to straightforward, manageable action items.
Much of this can be found in his “Five Courageous Steps to Transform Your Economy” (which impacts our personal practices), or his “10 Shocking Practices” (which highlight the truly-criminal acts that have been employed to strip us of our wealth). Both are companion pieces to his book. The first is free at his www.TransformingEconomy.com website, and the second available at no additional cost for those deciding to purchase one or more copies of his book).
What will catch the ear of the Occupier is his recommendation – requirement even – for debt forgiveness. “When you have something built on fraud…debt forgiveness is the last and only remedy,” Zeus claims with authority, describing an approach which he calls “Democratic Capitalism.”
One of the key requirements to make changes happen? “We need voice,” Zeus says. “Voice is the start of action,” and applauds the Occupy movement for being exactly that: the spearhead. No other group has so successfully identified toxic practices and demanded socially-responsible alternatives.
Occupy seems to embody Zeus’ coined phrase: “I am a more fulfilled me by a more effective we.”
It’s not easy being a student today. It’s even less easy being a current or former student coming face-to-face with a ton of debt from different lenders and trying to figure out how to manage paying different amounts at different times to different entities.
Way back when you took those loans out (can you remember being 17 or 18?), no one told you that you that you would also need a minor in math and economics just to deal with their complexity. Studies tell us that some 65% of all students seriously misunderstand their loan obligations…and that’s on over $1 TRILLION in student debt!
It would appear almost…predatory…if it all weren’t so legal. Lenders, at least up to the present, have no problem saddling students (few of them qualified to make an educated decision) with tens of thousands of dollars of obligations.
And, why shouldn’t you sign those papers placed in front of you when you are the most vulnerable? You are young, you have a great future before you, and that degree is a ticket to a better life. That is, if you don’t default. That is, if you keep your payments up to date. That is, if you can determine the best survival financial strategy when things do get tight. And there’s that job thingee.
Our guest today, Andrew Josuweit, CEO and Founder of Student Loan Hero, was motivated by his own painful experience with student debt to develope an online technology which will go a long way towards making your life easier.
To remind my listeners of my own background in the credit and collections industry, I cannot stress enough the very real dangers involved in getting over one’s head in debt. Be particularly aware that certain student debts – regardless of your financial situation in the future – cannot be discharged in a personal bankruptcy. This is a distinction that defaulted students share with one other social class: convicted felons.
Let’s see if this interview – and the tools discussed – can make this an unlikely future for my student and ex-student listeners.
You can find Andrew Josuweit by way of email at Andrew@studentloanhero.com, on LinkedIn as Andrew Josuweit, on Twitter as @StudentLoanHero, and at his website, www.StudentLoanHero.com.
If there is one phenomenon created out of the Occupy Wall Street movement beginning with its birth in Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011 that has caught my attention – and that would be its full capture by the camera lens.
Forget about the ones who (like myself) were busy snapping pictures of everything and anyone that moved, marched or carried a sign. I’m talking about the “professionals,” the cameramen and women who know the difference between an f stop and a shutter speed. Theirs is not a random point-and-shoot, but a determined hunt to catch exactly that moment in time that will express the essence of an Occupy action.
We are fortunate to have such Tracie Williams here on 15 Minutes of Fact. We found her in Sydney, Australia, where she and her work, “Beauty,” was accepted as a featured exhibitor at the HeadOn Photo Festival. No small honor, as this is the 2nd largest festival in the world and features an amazing array of international photographers.
There are always “defining moments” in people’s lives – an instant in which we truly understand who we are, where we are, and what we must do about it. Tracie experienced that on November 15, 2011 – two days short of Occupy’s two-month anniversary at Zuccotti Park – when the police raided the sleeping compound.
Enjoy her description of this life-defining event, and cull through it to learn more about how-and-why “revolutionaries” are born and what they do about it afterwards.
My own friends and followers can find me here at WGRNradio.com, on Facebook as Jerry Ashton, on LinkedIn with the same name and on Twitter as @WrittenOffUSA. Oh yes, and at the Huffington Post where I blog about Occupiers, Activists, and those who love them.
Smile, Occupy, Your Picture is About to be Taken. Again, and Again, and Again.
Among the unsung heroes (and heroines) of Occupy are the people who – at very real risk to themselves – professionally photograph and document the movement. These citizen journalists put “human faces” to those who Occupy in a way that both chronicles and respects their subjects. They are more than documentarians – they are artists.
Our 15 Minutes of Fact guest, Stacy Lanyon, is just that sort of person. She is an environmentalist, animal rights, social justice activistand blogger. You may not know her by name, but you may likely have seen her work which has appeared in The Village Voice as well as a myriad of Occupy sites on Facebook and scores of related websites which have discovered Stacy and incorporate her work.
Here is a woman who has also been the subject of police assault during her attempts to photograph rallies and marchers – sometimes violently.
That has not discouraged her. If anything, it has galvanized Stacy in her efforts to see that every aspect of Occupy – from the worst to the best – will be out there for people to see. It’s all part of supplying that “informed decision” that we expect people to make
Stacy has been documenting the Occupy movement practically since its inception and it is rare not to see her at practically every NYC rally or event catching just the right shot expressing just the right experience.
And, there is more – the words she uses to add color and perspective to her portraitures. Her writing for “At the heart of an occupation” (http://attheheartofanoccupation.blogspot.com/) is equal to her photography skills.
So, this interview should tie this all together – her pics, her writings, and now her voice. Enjoy.
Want to know learn about Stacy Lanyon? You can reach her directly at email@example.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stacylanyon/photos. Her twitter name is @StacyLanyon and her blog is at http://attheheartofanoccupation.blogspot.com/.
Does “Idle No More” Spell The End for the XL Pipeline?
Considering the importance of our guest and today’s topic, I will need to provide background for those of you who not tuned in to an ongoing and fierce war against the controversial XL Pipeline and the backlash it has created in the minds and hearts of north America’s indigenous peoples. Specifically, the American Indian and the First Nations of Canada.
Marty Cobenais (a Red Lake Ojibwe) is the Pipeline Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN). Having led resistance to Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper pipeline and fighting TranCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline and Exxon/ Imperial Oil’s Heavy Haul in Montana and Idaho, he is an acknowledged leader in pipeline safety issues and a significant activist for the environment.
Marty has been arrested at least twice when protesting in front of the White House and he and his fellow activists have had many clashes with authorities both in Canada and the U.S. Which leads me in this interview to ask, just what “woke up” the Canadian peoples and how did that awareness spread to the U.S.?
To say that he, the First Nations people and the Native Americans are passionate about this subject would be one of the singular understatements of the year. This is a “Red Alert” of momentous import to all citizens of North America.
Stopping the XL pipeline is not just a protest against the undermining of environmental protections and indigenous sovereignty – it is a call-to-arms human rights issue for people of every race and color on this continent.
The fashion by which these protests came about should resonate with anyone who aware of governmental/industrial manipulations of land rights.
The Canadian government proposed a bill which included provisions that were patently objectionable, such as making it easier to open indigenous lands to “development” – that sanitized word for commercial exploitation of natural resources without regard to any impact on landowner rights or damage to the environment.
This same incursion into the U.S. – Follow the (Dirty Oil) Money!
The very act of constructing new oil and gas pipelines directly through First Nations lands and territories and across sensitive waterways to get this tar sand oil to the shores of British Columbia – referred to as “Canada’s Keystone XL- would stretch 730 miles from Alberta.
If you follow the U.S. proposed pipeline, which travels southward and to the east of Billings, MT, Rapid City, Iowa, Steele City, KS, Oklahoma City, OK and Dallas and Houston, TX before reaching the Port Arthur terminals, you will see that it either crosses over or skirts tribal lands and reservations.
If it is up to Marty and hundreds (thousands?) like him, this pipeline will not be allowed to reach the gulf. Listen to this interview intently; the environment saved may be your own.
(Ours is not the only “15 Minutes” devoted to Marty and his causes. He is also found on a Youtube 15 minute segment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv7_3MwaIRw) in which he shows what this oil sand material looks like and provides some eye-opening facts about the dangers of tar sands oil.)
Occupy In Its “Terrible Two’s.” People Come and People Go. Why – and Why Not?
The problem with any cause, whether it be for civil rights, or anti-war, pro-choice or anti-fracking is that it is constantly confronted with the need to remain viable. This requires large numbers of people who are active, involved and responsibly directed by dedicated leadership.
What is whispered in the OWS, and quietly acknowledged by many in the community, is that infighting and ideological disputes are causing an exodus of talented leaders.
It’s one thing to lose a “sunshine patriot” or weekend warrior, but an entirely different thing to lose people who have the savvy and credentials to move things forward. What is it within a system, or movement, that discourages or drives away such people? Is this a healthy, or is it an unhealthy sign for Occupy?
Brooklyn resident and early-on activist, Amin Husain, seems to occupy the “people go” space having sent a formal and very public note early this month to one of the Occupy Working Groups that he was “stepping back and moving on to other things.”
Coming from a 37-year-old Palestinian-American who grew up poor in that country, was caught up in the Palestinian uprisings of the ‘90’s and spent prison time for that, who moved to the U.S. to become complete his education and land a job as a corporate lawyer only to leave that to become an artist and then a core OWS activist – this was a shock.
In spite of the public pronouncement that Occupy had no lack of leaders as it was “leaderful” and that each and every member could step up to that role, there were key people who assumed that mantle and were essential in that role. Amin was one of those people.
To use Occupy language, he stepped up and stepped back as needed. Two working groups, in particular, attracted his attention and time. Coincidentally (?) these two have been Occupy’s most public and successful displays of its energy and capabilities – Occupy Sandy and Rolling Jubilee.
The general public is more aware of Occupy Sandy by way of newspaper headlines and MSM (main stream media) attention. Within hours after the hurricane, Occupiers seasoned by Zuccotti Park and organized rallies immediately went into action. Hundreds of their members worked shoulder-to-shoulder with other volunteers, the Red Cross and FEMA to aid Sandy victims.
At one point, Occupy Sandy was feeding thousands of Sandy survivors daily out of local churches. Headlines became more friendly, and public figures praised their efforts.
Rolling Jubilee had already been busy answering another major American disaster – medical debt. A brainchild of people in the Strike Debt working group, its stated purpose was to go to the debt buying industry, negotiate to purchase medical debt that ordinarily would have been sold to (and pursued by) collection agencies – and forgive it!
Yes – a famous “bailout of the people, by the people” which hoped to raise $50,000 to buy $1,000,000 in hospital and medical practice debt. The intent was twofold: to make a dent in at least one person’s debt struggles, and then to make a public case that this sort of debt should never exist in a society that cares for its own.
Occupiers flooded social media sites with calls for help and a fund-raising marathon was livestreamed from a club in Manhattan. The $50,000 goal was met and surpassed – by an astounding $500,000.
Thus armed, Rolling Jubilee was incorporated into a 501( c) 4 operation, sought out exceptional legal and accounting talent, brought on board consultants with expertise in the collections industry, and proceeded to create more headlines for OWS. Millions of dollars in debt has been abolished to date, and many more millions to come.
Now, why would anyone – especially Amin Husain – want to step back from such successes? And, what does it mean to Occupy overall?
This 15 Minutes of Fact interview at WGRNradio.com will give you many of the answers. It will be up to the listener and others in OWS to step forward with their own.
Amin, assures us that he has not left Occupy at large. His time and attention is now centered on being Editor of the Tidal (www.Tidalmag.org) and a laundry list of other chores. Want to learn about him and his work? You can reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/13Wk9YD.
If you find this interview of value and would like to help me to continue recording and amplifying the voices of Occupy, please visit my blog at the Huffington Post and friend and follow me on Twitter as @WrittenOffUSA.
Do Numbers and Letters Involve Flesh and Blood – ask Economist Stephen Zarlenga
The problem with letters and numbers – as example H.R., or the numerals 2 9 9 0 – is that nothing is revealed that causes the blood to boil, the nostrils to flare and senses to sharpen. Just numbers and letters. (The next such offender is the acronym in which letters are strung together, such as N E E D).
But, do numbers and letters compel, or even require, our attention?
If you are an Activist, or an Occupier, letters, numbers and acronyms can propel us forward. That is. depending on what the letters and numbers stand for, and if we do something about it. Witness, 15 Minutes of Fact guest, Stephen Zarlenga, knows how to breathe life into them. Stephen is the Director of the American Monetary Institute and someone who helped draft the H.R. 2990 Bill introduced into the House of Representatives in 2011 by then-Representative Dennis Kucinich. The NEED acronym stands for National Emergency Employment Defense Act.
The very fact that this bill was caused to die in a House sub-committee last year should give you an idea of its importance. In fact, if we can reintroduce this bill into the 113th Congress, Stephen feels it could be an “earthquake” to our banking system.
This will be one of the passionate cases to be made on Sunday, May 12, from 1-5 p.m. at Coopers Union here in NYC. The title of the event is Fixing Our Money System and its stated purpose is to clear the fog around the headline-grabbing items like Sequestration, trillion dollar
coins, financial cliffs, and closing down the government as well as educate the audience in alternative economic approaches which can end – as Stephen puts it – “all the nonsense being spread about.”
“Yes, it’s all a heap of nonsense, which gives the appearance of mainly being to further enrich the one tenth of one percent when the nation should be heavily taxing their wealth instead, the way Roosevelt did.” (But consider that) “…another important part of the nonsense is to further demoralize the nation and make good people sick! The antidote is monetary reform, and learning which media and internet sources to listen to and which to avoid.”
You don’t have to have “occupied” Wall Street to find these words and this mini-workshop to be of importance. At the very center of Occupy’s message has always been the outrage over a broken financial system. What has been missing up to this point is a single, coherent message and the answer around which such activists can rally.
Completely change the monetary system – stopping, once and for all, the creation of money by private financial institutions as interest-bearing debts! Could this be that missing lightning rod?
To put that message across at Coopers Union, Stephen gathered together a lecture team of some of the most advanced monetary thinkers in the country.
Among them are people such as Professor Nic Tideman of Virgina Tech, William Batt, a leading Georgian economist, and Kaoru Yamaguchi of Japan, a world leader in applying system dynamics methodology to monetary reform.
Enjoy this interview, and put this conference on your calendar. Who knows, while falling in love with letters and numbers you just might learn how to apply them to change our world. Just a question: Do any of my listeners know of a Representative who would introduce H.R. 2990 this year?
To attend Fixing our Broken Money System – Achieving Justice, Avoiding Austerity, Reducing Debt, and Creating Jobs” visit (www.Monetary.org) for details. Tickets are a $10 by eventbrite in advance, or $20 at the door.
Want to know learn about this man and the work his institute is doing? Write Stephen directly at email@example.com. I suggest that you go to Wikipedia and Google him as well for some excellent background material found about him and his institute. For my earlier interview with Stephen on WGRNradio.com, go here: http://bit.ly/10molMQ
Beware Greece’s Toxic Export – the “Golden Dawn” Movement
When most Americans are reminded of Greece, it is usually through an inflammatory headline on TV or in a news article decrying its debtor status – with the most recent excitement being the attempt to fleece bank account holders in Cyprus of monies owed banks in the EU.
But, the real tragedy wreaked upon Greece by the Great Recession has yet to receive attention.
I speak of the “Golden Dawn” movement. This is the Greek right-wing extremist group and political party which has gained considerable strength in that country and which is now spreading its tentacles to other countries – and is working its way to America.
Are they dangerous? Only if the terms Neo-Nazi and Fascist carry an emotional jolt for you. This group rejects those labels, but makes use of Nazi symbolism and involves itself in brown-shirt, street gang attacks on immigrants as well as on university students, and the vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries. Yes, they are dangerous.
Our 15 Minutes of Fact interview today will connect us with a particularly important source on today’s subject – Yannis Aktimon. I first met Janis here in NYC shortly after Occupy’s own Zuccotti Park protests where we discussed the parallel protests in the U.S. and Greece. You can catch that interview in the archive at WGRNradio.com (http://bit.ly/ZBHkE8)
In the U.S., fascism is a cheapened swearword used by Democrats and Republicans to describe each other, but it has some very real import to its original victims in Europe. That term can more correctly be used to describe “Golden Dawn.” Yannis educates us as to why it is feared – and fought – in Greece, and why we need to exterminate it here in the U.S. where it has not yet taken root.
If there is a silver lining, it is that Golden Dawn and the “New Totalitarianism” with which it is associated has created a backlash which Yannis believes is bringing about a deepening and broadening role of Democracy and the implementing of radically improved approaches to the economic system. His organization in Greece, Void International, is working hard to bring this about. (http://voidnetwork.blogspot.com/)
My conversation with Yannis brought to my mind one of my favorite American geniuses, Buckminster Fuller. Fuller stated that you never change things by fighting an existing reality. Rather, “build a better model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Is this the future path for Activism?
Enjoy the interview, and if you would like to learn more about Yannis, you can reach him by way of firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by way of the Void International site linked above. Be sure to search me out as well where I blog at the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jerry-ashton/ and follow me on Twitter as @WrittenOffUSA.
Occupy & the Native Indian – Becoming the Warp and Woof for a Renewed America?
It has become my opinion over time, given my experience with the Occupy Movement and before that in working with Native Americans to bring economic development to what is called “Indian Country” that these two would one day have to join forces.
For the native, it will be because they are answering the call to be the compelling “Idle No More” movement among indigenous activists against the XL pipeline. For the rest of us, it will be because we finally heard the call to “Wake the hell up!”
Historically, there is no ethnic group in North America more victimized by Big Business and Bad Government than its indigenous peoples. Their plight, mostly tucked away and out of sight on reservations, have gone unnoticed.
It is only now, after the onset of the “Great Recession” in which the rest of us are getting a taste of what Indigenous peoples have had to bear for literally hundreds of years, that both peoples can find good reason to begin to care for each other.
I am not the only person who sees the Indian as natural allies to join in fighting for economic and social justice. Edward “Ted” Hall’s experience in both worlds eclipses mine, and I was fortunate to interview him for my ’15 Minutes of Fact’ show on WGRNradio.com recently.
Ted is a supporting organizer of a three-day series of “Lakota Grandmother’s” meetings, teach-in’s, and a march to the U.N. to take place in NYC (http://bit.ly/16tk6Dd) the week of April 8-10th, 2013.
Although a non-native, Ted has family members who are Laguna and Hopi and his godfather was Plains Indian. He has worked with tribal nations and participated in their activist projects and worked with Chief Standing Bear, a chief of the intertribal nations since the start of Occupy.
Ted facilitated and led the first General Assembly in NYC, helped to draft key documents for Occupy at its inception, and led the march dubbed “The Battle of Wall Street.” He can honestly claim pre-Zuccotti Park credentials, having worked earlier with activist groups such as the Free Network Foundation to provide internet, translations and organizing efforts with the Ancampadas leadership of Madrid.
He finds his Occupier and Indigenous friends to be only now growing in mutual appreciation. As is true in any alliance, there are shared values as well as differences.
Both honor nature and the sanctity of the land. Occupy shows this is in its fierce opposition to fracking, and the native in their even-more-fierce opposition to both the XL Pipeline (http://rol.st/13V8HjM) and uranium mining (http://bit.ly/10fmhtu). Natives claim that both defile their
lands and often desecrate sacred spaces. Occupiers feel a similar outrage against Monsanto and genetically-modified products.
However this union has come about, and whatever its outcome, this time may be looked back at as being a watershed moment for the realization of the need for and power of native and non- native alliances.
The Indian, at least, has awakened. I am not so sure about the rest of us.
Want more details? Ted can be reached personally at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook as http://on.fb.me/14HndL9, on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/tedwardhall, and on Twitter as @Tedwardhall. Learn about the Lakota Grandmothers at http://www.lakotagrandmothers.org/.
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