Inflammation and stories on pop culture

Top 10 Facts About JFKIt has been over 50 years since the tragic day of former president John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential presidents of the United States, JFK led an astounding life. He was successful both socially and politically. He has done much for the country and most of his policies are still implemented in modern U.S. society. These are the top 10 facts about JFK.

Top 10 Facts About JFK

  1. Before his time as president, John F. Kennedy served in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant and commander of a patrol torpedo boat, the PT-109. He eventually received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his astounding service during WWII.
  2. JFK served in the House of Representatives shortly after his service in the Navy for six years and would be elected to be a part of the U.S. Senate in 1952 for the state of Massachusetts.
  3. JFK was a strong advocate for foreign policy during his time in the House of Representatives, supporting the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. He also supported various other Cold War policies. This further shaped his political career, both as he ran for the presidency and during his time as president.
  4. As a senator, JFK approved President Eisenhower’s reciprocal-trade powers which give the president the power to have reciprocal trade agreements with foreign countries. He had also supported the St. Lawrence Seaway which would allow for more trade routes between Canada and the United States.
  5. JFK wrote the book Profiles in Courage (1956). It won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957, demonstrating his talent as an author.
  6. He also founded the Peace Corps in 1961, which is an agency providing social and economic assistance to countries in need. This agency is a volunteer-based program.
  7. JFK suffered from Addison disease, in which the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient hormones for the human body causing fatigue, darkening of skin and dizziness.
  8. JFK strongly advocated for foreign aid to nations in Africa and Asia while in the Senate during the 1950s.
  9. In 1961, Kennedy visited West Berlin to protest with citizens again Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to sign a peace treaty with East Germany, which would threaten U.S. relations with Berlin during the Cold War.
  10. JFK established the Alliance for Progress in 1961, which sought to establish economic cooperation and improve social relations between Latin America and the U.S.

These are the top 10 facts about JFK. From his service during WWII to his service as president, he has greatly impacted this world, socially and politically.

Elijah Jackson
Photo: Mary Ferrell Foundation

we are the world michael jackson

In 1985, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie joined forces to write a song titled, “We are the World.” The hope was for the song to highlight the poverty crisis in Africa and generate much needed aid for the country. The song brought many artists together for a cause and actually created a legacy for other artists to follow.

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie jumped all in when it came to creating, “We are the world.” The duo handled long nights and experienced emotions of sadness and empathy during the process.

The idea behind the song came from Harry Belafonte and Ken Kragen. Belafonte a long time human rights activist wanted deeply to help the starving people of Africa, more specifically Ethiopia. At the time, Ethiopia lost over 1 million people to famine from 1983 – 1985.

Belafonte’s dream was to not only help poverty stricken Africa, but to help end hunger in the U.S. as well. The long time activists had heard of a charity song created in the UK that had great success in generating aid for Africa, thus sparking the idea for the project.

The sales for the album were shocking. Less than a week after the release the entire 800,000 copies available were sold.

The single also remained number 1 on many billboard charts for weeks and received multi-platinum status. It is said that “We are the world” is the bestselling single of all time. Over 50 musicians and artists worked on the song. Some artists include Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, and many others.

In total, over 63 million dollars through album and merchandise sales were made. It was agreed that 90 percent of these sales would go toward relief for Africa and 10 percent would stay in the U.S. Half of the money allocated for Africa went to emergency aid relief, such as ready-made food. The remainder went toward funding programs that would create lasting change for the country.

Thus far over 70 projects have been created in 7 countries around Africa. These projects help in areas of agriculture, fishing, water management, manufacturing and reforestation. The 10 percent set aside for the U.S. helped with hunger relief and homelessness.

Michael Jackson and the many other involved with the production of We are the World, sparked a legacy for other artists to maintain. In 2010, artists gathered to create another song for charity to raise funds for Haiti after a devastating earthquake left thousands dead and injured. The song was called “We are the World 25 for Haiti.”

The song’s lyrics from the original, “We are the World,” were revised and a rap section highlighting Haiti’s tragedy was added. Artists were able to raise money for the thousands of wounded and displaced citizens.

We are the World will continue to represent the coming together of humanity to create change for a better world. The continuation of humanitarian efforts such as this will ensure that countries faced with tragedy, whether it is disease, famine, or destruction will continue to be supported.

Amy Robinson

Sources: YouTube , The History Channel, Song Facts

Celebrities Help the Poor

With today’s technology, it seems as though there’s an endless number of places for people to share any and all thoughts and ideas — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and now, Ripple.

Ripple is changing the social media game and reinventing the way celebrities help the poor by turning content into currency. Donors’ options are no longer limited to expensive and exclusive events. Instead, Ripple establishes a platform that makes it possible for all people to positively impact the world.

How exactly does Ripple work? By simply viewing and sharing posts from participating celebrities and charities listed on social media platforms, one can help to raise money without spending anything. Ripple converts fan engagement into donations for charity using a unique ad-based revenue model.

Essentially, the more Ripple content that is viewed and shared, the more donations are generated. With a reliable partner to its causes, Ripple accurately measures the amount of money being raised and gives 100 percent of the funds to the participating charities with no risk or associated costs.

Several celebrities and organizations have already joined Ripple, such as the Tiger Woods Foundation (TWF), which works to improve the health, education and welfare of children in America. TWF helps students reach their full potential through STEM and after-school activities, college preparatory opportunities, as well as a golf development program to learn the value of sportsmanship.

Likewise, on July 14, 2016, musician and singer-songwriter Jeffrey Osborne and the Jeffrey Osborne Celebrity Classic joined Ripple. Osborne provides music and art-based scholarships to deserving individuals and also supports non-profit organizations that assist families in need.

The launching of Ripple has yielded undeniable results, for example, thousands of dollars have already been raised for military and veteran’s affairs, children’s health initiatives and programs that benefit the homeless. Eric Ortner, a key contributor to the Ripple Team and member of the Advisory Board, is a Board Member of The Global Poverty Project and a Partner at the Truman National Security Project, both of which lead on issues of national security and foreign policy and work toward social change.

Ripple falls in line with The Borgen Project’s mission of taking action against extreme poverty and inspires anyone and everyone to get involved. As users interact and watch their favorite celebrities help the poor, they too are making a difference, creating a ripple effect like no other.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Global_Poverty_Project
Hugh Evans, CEO and co-founder of the Global Poverty Project, received the Humanitarian Award at the 12th annual Billboard Touring Awards on November 19 for his efforts to end extreme poverty.

The award show was established in 2004 and is  sponsored by Billboard Magazine to honor the top entertainment artists and professionals, as well as recognize box office and entertainment achievements.

The Billboard Touring Awards honor the industry’s top achievers in categories including Top Festival, Top Arena, Top Manager and Top Comedy Tour.

Founded in 2008, the Global Poverty Project aims to connect everyone around the world using social media to express the need to end extreme poverty.

By joining the conversation, the Global Poverty Project believes it can grab the attention of government, businesses and NGO’s to restructure the systems and policies that are trapping people into poverty worldwide.

The Global Poverty Project began hosting the Global Citizens Festival in 2012 with the slogan, “We Are Not A Generation Of Bystanders.”

The annual festival in New York City brings both musicians and activists together and urges world leaders to make more contributions toward ending extreme poverty. Since launching the festival, the event has helped secure $1.3 billion commitments to help end extreme poverty.

“In an industry filled with people who are dedicated to helping others through the power of music, Hugh Evans stands out for his ability to rally both artists and executives around the common cause of ending global poverty,” said Ray Waddell, executive director of Content & Programming for Touring & Live Entertainment at Billboard.

This past year, a crowd of 60,000 people filled Central Park with live performances from Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Pearl Jam. High-profile leaders and activists including First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Hugh Jackman, Bill Gates and members of the UN General Assembly were also in attendance.

Through combined efforts, the European Commission closed the festival by pledging $530 million dollars to aid the Syrian refugee crisis.

As the Global Poverty Project continues to gain activists, Evans shows the world that extreme poverty can end by 2030. “No movement is about an individual,” said Evans of his organization’s mission. “It’s about an amazing group of people coming together from different backgrounds.”

Alexandra Korman

Sources: Billboard, Global Citizens
Photo: Flickr

z1 village
Roger Federer is an all-star on and off the court, scoring major points for his contributions to ending global poverty.

The tennis player recently visited Malawi to check out the progress of the preschools built through his nonprofit, the Roger Federer Foundation. The Swiss athlete created the charity 10 years ago to help poverty stricken countries in Southern Africa.

The organization is committed to providing quality education for all children, seeing education as a basic and necessary human right. As a supporter of the Early Childhood Development program in Malawi, the Roger Federer Foundation is making major progress in providing quality education for primary learners.

In Malawi, they’ve built 50 preschools and benefited 37,000 children. During his visit to the country, Federer sat in on classes, helped out in the kitchen and played with the kids during recess. He also had the opportunity to attend the launching of a new childcare facility.

Federer and his foundation aren’t just about sending funds to build preschools; they want to see the impact they are making and physically be apart of making education happen. In addition to their work in Southern Africa, the organization also promotes quality education in impoverished areas of Switzerland, Federer’s home country.

The Roger Federer Foundation believes that the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and would like to empower children affected by poverty by providing them a sustainable and accessible education. So far, the foundation has benefitted 215,000 children in seven countries, with plans to reach a million children by 2018.

Quality education is fundamental to ending the cycle of global poverty. Education contributes to sustainable living and stronger livelihoods, and preschool education serves as the foundation of learning.

Despite his tough loss at Wimbledon, Federer proves admirable success through the accomplishments of his foundation in bringing education to impoverished youths.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Independent, Roger Federer Foundation 1, Roger Federer Foundation 2

world_globe_borgen_africa

Pop radio in recent decades has featured a considerable amount of hip-hopping crossover tunes, courtesy of some of the music industry’s fascinating producers. And with a heavy helping hand of these talents, ten of these following beat-maker producers have long held interest in relieving regions of catastrophic-induced conflicts.

10. Controversial rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs is synonymous with charitable causes supporting medical research of HIV/AIDS and cancerous diseases. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the frequent Biggie Smalls producer’s philanthropic work would include his 1994 New York City-established Daddy’s House Social Programs, an international foundation that provides education to the underprivileged and homeless.

9. When auto-tuning-favorite T-Pain isn’t in the booth cranking out hits for Jesse McCartney (“Body Language”) or Flo Rida (“Low”), the “Blame It (On the Alcohol),” the rhymer is certainly making a worldly impact with his digital foundation “If I Could Change the World.” The program, which gives any user the ability to produce a philanthropic idea or select a global charity of their choosing, has been made popular by aid of T-Pain’s recurring concert series “Come to the Crib,” as means to enhance charitable awareness.

8. Certain singles from Michael Jackson’s legendary “Scream” to Janet Jackson’s comeback-knockout “No Sleeep” would not be possible without the help of iconic music-making duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The non-stop reinventing pair have helmed a remarkable feat in captivating groundbreaking awareness for the medical support in treating AIDS, cancer and leukemia; effective enough for the two-man unit to receive a 1996 humanitarian accolade from the T.J. Martell Foundation and personal friend Janet Jackson.

7. Hip-hop superwoman Missy Elliott, who has produced for the likes of Beyoncé (“Signs”) and Madonna (“American Life–American Dream Remix”), is not a newbie when it comes to charitable occurrences. Among her most profound causes include her dedication to alleviate domestic abuse and AIDS cases by involvement in fundraising activities with organizations Break the Cycle and the MAC AIDS Fund (the former appointing Elliott as global spokesperson).

6. He’s the brains behind notorious headphone gear Beats by Dre, yet Dr. Dre has stamped his name outside the musical mogul world for the advocacy of a safer environment. Securing iconic production roles in Eminem’s “Hi, My Name Is Slim Shady” and Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair,” Dr. Dre has generously donated $1 million to organizations relieving the aftereffects of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina; moreover, Dre’s “Beats Electronics” division has helped create seasonal camps for African schoolchildren.

5. Enormously responsible for composing Mariah Carey’s Grammy-winning “We Belong Together” and Kris Kross’ party-thumping “Jump,” Jermaine Dupri favors in helping underprivileged youth and repairing national tragedies; showcasing his advocacy via his separate launched initiatives Hip-Hop 4 Humanity and The Jermaine Dupri Foundation; the former raising more than $25,000 in aid of 9/11 victims and the latter helping those victimized in Hurricane Katrina. Aside from producing chart-toppers, Dupri served as the perfect power source in 2001 for his remixing role in charitable “What’s Going On,” an anti-AIDS anthem featuring the philanthropic likes of Lil’ Kim and TLC.

4. Swizz Beatz, super-producer known for drafting hit records among Busta Rhymes (“Touch It”) and Whitney Houston (“Million Dollar Bill”), has voiced advocacy for the betterment of health; so passionate that he would be bestowed the title as New York City’s first ever Global Ambassador of Health and Hospitals Corporation. Additionally, Beatz has recorded charitable tunes (“Stranded [Haiti Mon Amour]”); collaborated with City of Hope for the battle against cancer; and launched various events in support of wife Alicia Keys’ anti-AIDS Keep a Child Alive foundation.

3. Innovation and futurism are always laced in the production sounds by freaky sensation Pharrell Williams, who holds an endless catalog of hits and a groundbreaking list of donative accomplishments. From assembling philanthropic numbers with Beyoncé to headlining global humanitarian concerts, the “Let’s Get Blown” producer has launched several astounding projects, such as the NASA-associated Pharrell Williams Resource Center and the globally-interactive “Happy Party” campaign, which acts in a form of a petition to urge global leaders in fixing climatic issues.

2. Though the mainstream hip-hop crowd have not been thoroughly introduced to Immortal Technique as of yet, the intensive “Dance with the Devil” spitter has been making favorable headlines regarding his independent hard-working philanthropic efforts pertaining to activities such as constructing orphanage centers, clinics and schools in war-ravaged Kabul, Afghanistan. One would assume that proceeds collected per an independent musician’s work would be utilized for further entertainment purposes, however the underground producer immediately discards that notion, effectively noting that profits gained from his music are utilized strictly for humanitarian projects, especially in work of constructing homes for the impoverished, like those hailing from Haiti.

1. Largely responsible for bringing Lady Gaga front and center to the spotlight with breakout number “Just Dance,” Akon continuously makes buzz around the world for his recent progress with initiative Akon Lighting Africa (ALA), in supplying electricity to an estimated 600 million African rural natives in need. With the charitable “Oh Africa” adding shine to his name, Akon’s initiative has already implemented solar street lights and home kits to over 14 African regions, and has moreover produced the Solar Academy to teach natives of how solar arrays are installed.

To an unaware audience, music producers endeavoring in “to go” genres seem like the last people you’d expect to make a charitable contribution, especially considering their busy schedules allotting studio time; but these ten producers manage to redefine that aspect and brush away any further misconception. In 2001, when loosely questioned on the nature of hip-hop producers participating in charities, rapper-turned-mogul Dr. Dre proclaimed: “…Money [isn’t donated] to get big recognition […] I did it to help, strictly just to help… a million dollars is the least I could do to help.”

Jeff Varner

Sources: The Huffington Post, Lubbock On, hinkProgress, HipHopDX, The Indie Spiritualist, The Independent, BORGEN, PRNewswire, NBC Bay Area, EBSCO, PRNewswire, CNN.com, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, Black Celebrity Giving, BET

Angelina Jolie and Daughter Shiloh Visit Turkey for World Refugee Day

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, Turkey is the top refugee-hosting country in the world, with just under two million asylum seekers. A vast majority of the refugees are Syrians, Kurds and Iraqis fleeing the violence of the Syrian Civil War and the ongoing crisis involving the Islamic State. In an effort to bring awareness to one of the largest refugee crises in history, Angelina Jolie embarked on a U.N. tour of the affected region. The movie star and long-time humanitarian was joined by her daughter, Shiloh, and stopped at the Midyat Refugee Camp in Turkey on June 20th to commemorate World Refugee Day. Jolie was also accompanied by U.N. Special Envoy Antonio Guterres. The group met with Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to discuss the challenges that Turkey faces given an unprecedented number of refugees.

Jolie issued a statement at the camp in which she calls on the world to act. She said, “we are here for a simple reason: This region is at the epicenter of a global crisis. Nearly 60 million people are displaced from their homes. That is one in every 122 people on our planet. Our world has never been richer or healthier or more advanced. Yet never before have so many people been dispossessed and stripped of their basic human rights.”

Later in her speech, Jolie stressed the impact that refugee camps have on the people that house them. While providing more security than war torn cities and villages, the camps more often than not make the poor even worse off. Jolie mentioned “Familes like the six young people I met yesterday, living in Lebanon without parents, on half food rations and paying $100 a month to live in a tent because UNHCR does not have the funds or capability to take full care of everyone.” Already with limited resources, and away from home, refugees have the burden of coming up with funds to keep their temporary shelter even though, as refugees, they “cannot legally work in their host countries.”

There is hope, however. Jolie made her speech on a key day, one dedicated to bringing light to the very issues at the core of her delivery. Her celebrity status will ensure that more people listen to her message, and in turn act to help. Jolie and other media figure have even inspired governments to act. Jolie thanked the governments of Turkey and other refugee-hosting nations for taking in millions who are fleeing. To finish, the actress wished all the families she spoke to, and by extension the refugee families across the globe, a good Ramadan with “Ramadan Kareem.”

Joe Kitaj

Sources: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, US Magazine
Photo: People

Rock the Vote
#EndPoverty2030 is one of the most recent campaigns supported by The World Bank. For the first time in history, it is possible that we will eliminate extreme poverty across the world. It is up to the millennial generation whether or not this utopian dream becomes a reality. Rock The Vote has relaunched their campaign this year with the goal of getting 1.5 million voters registered by this coming November, 400,000 of whom would be 30 and under.

The Center for American Progress reports that the majority of the millennial generation supports and strongly identifies with progressive ideologies such as foreign aid and equity. Rock The Vote will help capitalize on this support by getting more millennials to the voting booths. Founded in 1990, Rock the Vote is a nonprofit campaign that utilizes popular culture to help engage young voters in the democratic process. The organization has gained support from cultural icons such as Madonna, rapper Snoop Dogg, rock group Aerosmith and singer Miley Cyrus.

The newly revamped Rock The Vote campaign will focus their efforts on the web and social media to account for the change in where young people now “hang out.” Rock the Vote will be making use of an updated website, online engagement tools and voter registration programs they have developed.

The organization is teaming up with Voto Latino to register 100,000 Latino voters by the November elections. Representatives are currently traveling with the Vans Warped Tour to encourage young citizens to register to vote. Rock The Vote is also fundraising for organizations that protect the right to vote and fight against restrictive voting policies such as the proposed voter ID law.

President Ashley Spillane of Rock The Vote explains, “We have run the largest voter registration drives for young people on record during the past six presidential elections.” Since the organization’s founding, the organization has been responsible for registering a total of six million voters. Now, Rock The Vote has become a valuable ally in the cause for eliminating extreme poverty.

– Christopher Kolezynski

Sources: Music For Good, Rolling Stone, The World Bank, Center for American Progress, Politico
Photo: Princeton Scoop

Homemade Jams concert series
When most people hear the phrase “homemade jams,” the first images that comes to mind are mason jars filled with fruit preservatives. The WhyHunger organization knows a very different meaning of the phrase, though. Their definition of “homemade jams” is not a food at all. It is, rather, a method for providing food for those experiencing hunger worldwide.

WhyHunger’s “Homemade Jams” is a concert series started by the organization’s Artists Against Hunger & Poverty program. The program created the Homemade Jams concert series in response to many Americans’ desire to help alleviate world hunger on a personal level. Participants in the Homemade Jams campaign register to host house concerts to raise money for WhyHunger.

The campaign, which began last June, set a goal of receiving donations from 100 house concert hosts. Since then, the concerts have ranged from showcases of budding artists that want to use their own talents to raise money to performances hosted by fans of more well-known artists. One house concert in California featured local artists with enough credibility to charge 100 dollars per ticket.  All proceeds went to WhyHunger.

Artists hosting house concerts through Homemade Jams can be sure that their donations will be used effectively. WhyHunger, formerly known as World Hunger Year, provides relief to people experiencing hunger in the United States and in underprivileged areas around the world. After 28 years of advocacy, the organization has been ranked the highest in terms of donations, financial standing and accountability by Charity Navigator when compared to organizations that support similar causes.

The Artists Against Hunger & Poverty program specifically channels the power of music and the arts to fight global poverty. Among the many performers linked to WhyHunger’s AAH&P program are Chicago, O.A.R.  and Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen is one of the program’s founders. He has donated funds and raised awareness for WhyHunger for over 20 years. In 2009, when Springsteen released the 25th anniversary edition of his “Born in the U.S.A.” album, he sold commemorative hats, pins and t-shirts to raise money for AAH&P.

While famous artists can generate awareness and raise money on a very large scale, the AAH&P program enables Americans to make a difference by gathering donations from local communities. By registering to become one of the 100 concerts to end hunger with the Homemade Jams concert series, anyone can join artists like Springsteen in the fight against world hunger.

– Emily Walthouse

Sources: WhyHunger 1, WhyHunger, Homemade Jams, Charity Navigator
Photo: Homemade Jams

gabriel-marquez
The world lost one of its greatest literary voices and most popular celebrities on April 17, 2014, with the death of Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In his 87 years of life, Marquez touched the hearts and lives of individual readers around the world, and is renowned for his poignant words and heartbreaking characters. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Marquez’s anthology of works is all-encompassing. He wrote novels, short stories, screenplays and poetry. The most famous of his texts are “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” The genre of magical realism is what it is today because of his foundational and groundbreaking approach to it as a writing style.

Arguably his most groundbreaking narrative, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” speaks to the realities of many impoverished or rural communities across the developing world. In it, he creates the fictional village of Macondo, and follows its various trials and tribulations through the span of several generations, such as death, disease and abuse. Underlying these problems though, is his constant tone of hope and love, which are even more accurate realities of such communities.

Beyond his specific works, he is remarkable as a writer in general for the position from which he writes. Having grown up and spent the majority of his life living and working in developing nations of South America, he is what can be called a post-colonial writer. That is, his writing seeks to validate the voices and experiences of the inhabitants of regions of the world still reeling from colonialism.

Such countries tend to have large populations of socially repressed communities, historically silenced because of their low economic, racial or cultural status. Writers and activists, such as Marquez, are vital to opposing and subverting the disadvantageous system that continues to subjugate.

He is a constant testament to the power of love, friendship and the inherent beauty of life. He never ceases to affirm the life of the individuals he writes:

1. “Humanity, like armies in the field, advances at the speed of the slowest.”

2. “The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good.”

3. “Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

4. “A true friend is the one who holds your hand and touches your heart.”

5. “There is always something left to love.”

6. “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

7. “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

8. “Nobody deserves your tears, but whoever deserves them will not make you cry.”

9. “Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.”

10. “I would not have traded the delights of my suffering for anything in the world.”

These quotes give us not only a glimpse into Marquez’s mind and soul, but also into the incredible beauty of life for all of us. He reminds us to never take anything or anyone in life for granted, and that we are always in control of our own happiness. These are messages valuable to all of us, regardless of our socioeconomic status.

– Stefanie Doucette

Sources: Thought Catalogue, Philly Enternatinment, New York Times, BBC
Photo: srednja