Russian and Chinese Leaders Tighten their grips on Power as Tension with the West mounts


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 In 1981 the Communist Party of China amended the country’s constitution so that no one person could rule for life in an attempt to make the nation actually look like a “republic”. Leaders also made the change hoping that it would help the country recover from years of bloody turmoil and political campaigns under Mao that killed millions. But now those days are gone as the party overwhelmingly voted to do away with presidential term limits as they selected Xi Jinping to serve another term. His vice president Wang Qishan also selected by the National People’s Congress has long been a close ally of Xi and is expected to further Xi’s agenda of shoring up power in the Communist Party and ending poverty in the nation.

All 2,970 members of the NPC voted in favor of the change and supported Xi remaining in power. With his unlimited tenure as president, Xi was made once again the head of the commission that controls the nation’s military. Chinese officials defended the move saying that it would bring the presidency in line with Xi’s vision of China and give him more leeway as head of the armed forces.

The 64-year-old is said to be the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

Not everybody is happy with the move, however; critics say that the change will lead to further political repression and conflict within the party as various factions try to push their own candidates within what is a closed system.

Xi became president in 2013 and has not stated how long he intends to remain in power.

NPR reports that the government claims that overwhelming polls show that the majority of Chinese from the wealthy to the “commoners” support the NPC’s decision to allow Xi to rule for an unlimited amount of time, however, there have been no polls released nor has anybody been able to conduct any such polls. And when people are asked on the streets, they seem content with Xi remaining in power and cite that they like his tough foreign policy stance.


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On Sunday Russians go to the polls to vote in an election that is expected to place Vladimir Putin in power for another six years. In the Far East, polls have already opened where 109 million voters are eligible in 11 different time zones.

The election is said to be lop-sided favoring Putin who has no real competition and Putin’s only real opponent, Alexei Navalny has been barred from participating.

In 2012, Putin won in a landslide victory but this time, there is a lot of anti-western rhetoric to pave his path to victory. In what is more or less a controlled media in the country, Russians seeing what Putin and the government want them to see such as the diplomatic shortcomings between Moscow, England, and Washington according to them, Putin is not worried about losing power. However; voter turnout could be an issue as many Russians lost faith in the system due to a number of scandals and rampant corruption. There were also protests last year as many took to the streets to make the unsatisfaction with the government, public. Navalny has even called for a protest of the election.

Past polls have shown that Putin is popular among the Russian people as they believe that he has led the country out of the turmoil that was rampant following the post-Soviet days.

Where America comes in

As leaders who have typically been anti-American and in general, anti-west tighten their grip on power, the United States must play its cards smart. As President Trump continues to talk tough on North Korea and is planning on meeting with Kim Jong Un, he must keep in mind China’s tight alliance with Pyongyang, remembering their aid to the communists in the Korean War. U.S officials must not forget the hacks conducted by the Chinese and the recent hacks by Russia on the American power grid. And we must not forget the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, whether they helped Trump or not. Russia is also suspected of interfering in numerous elections in Europe.

As the UK has expelled Russian diplomats over the suspected poisoning death of a former spy, Moscow has pushed back expelling British diplomats as well. The Kremlin has even promised retaliation against the U.S for sanctions it has placed on Moscow over the election hacks.

Two men who are nothing less than dictators are trying to crack down in their own countries and looking to expand their dominance in other parts of the world. The U.S must remain strong and not allow Xi and Putin to influence other nations especially those who may already have some hostilities towards the west. The U.S must be ready for anything and keep an eye out for further Russian interference and hacks in the future.


Trump meets Kim Jong Un. What will happen?

From the day Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, he has not been short on words when it comes to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, going as far as calling him “little rocket man” before the UN General assembly which prompted Kim to call Trump a “dotard”. For years the Kim family has requested a face-to-face meeting with a sitting U.S president but has been denied due to its refusal to cease its nuclear program and for various human rights violations. But now, the president who has labeled himself as “the dealmaker” will be the first sitting U.S President to meet with any North Korean leader since the Korean War ended in 1953 and the discussion will be denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula. Whatever the result of this meeting is, it will be crucial to global security and stability as well as an important moment in history.

The President’s decision to meet with Kim was sudden and has not come without criticism from his opponents who claim that he’s doing it for show. Others believe that the president shouldn’t meet with Kim until he shows that he is willing to put an end to his nuclear program and end the human rights violations that are taking place in the country. Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren stated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” “Before they get that kind of prize, we should insist that they make some real changes, verifiable changes to their programs”. The administration maintains the position that the meeting is not about theatrics or about Trump getting attention but that it is strictly business.  On the meeting, Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said of Trump, “He’s going to solve a problem”. Pompeo also stated on CBS’s “Face the Nation” “This administration has its eyes wide open, and the whole time this conversation takes place the pressure will continue to mount on North Korea”.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fear that Kim is setting a trap for President Trump and luring him into something. Analysts believe Kim is trying to sweet talk Trump into easing some of the sanctions the U.S and its allies have put on the country and Senator Elizabeth Warren stated that she fears Kim is going to try and take advantage of Trump. Even South Korean officials who are reaching out to China and Japan to take part in the talks are doubtful that anything will come of the meeting and that Kim is going to try and “cheat” Trump. Kim’s late father and former leader of the reclusive nation, Kim Jong Il cheated and fooled the administrations of Clinton and George W. Bush and Kim Jong Un fooled Obama. Whether Kim is attempting to blow smoke and buy time to farther his nuclear program and ease sanctions or is sincerely dedicated to peace talks and putting an end to his nuclear intentions, the outcome will be important. On the issue, the president said while at a Republican Congressional rally, “Hey, who knows what’s going to happen? I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world.”

Earlier in the year, Trump promised, “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” if North Korea doesn’t give up its nuclear program and put an end to its aggression in the region, although I am against war unless it is undoubtedly the only solution and keeping in mind that preemptive strikes never work out well, case-in-point, Iraq, Trump must stick to that threat and not back down to the dictator. With 40,000 U.S troops in Japan and another 35,000 in South Korea, not to mention submarines and aircraft carriers in the waters, it would be suicide for Kim to seek armed conflict. Trump must let Kim know that unless he can prove to the U.S and to the world that he is putting an end to his nuclear program that the pressure, the sanctions and the military exercises with South Korea and Japan will continue. Trump must also put pressure on China, North Korea’s biggest ally and get them on board with the idea of a North Korea without nukes. Trump must also not allow Russia to interfere as Putin likes to do when it comes to U.S foreign policy. Lawmakers from both parties are skeptical of Trump’s ability to reach any real deal with Kim as he has failed to win any major legislative victories at home, aside from a tax cut despite his party having the majority in both houses of Congress. Others believe that because the President talks more than seeking action on issues such as gun control, that things will be no different with Kim.

Whatever happens, Trump will have to keep his cool and keep his eyes and ears open for Kim’s tricks. He must not back down and he mustn’t let Kim get the upper hand. Trump says he wants “good deals for America”, now is his chance to get one not only for the U.S but for the world. I myself am doubtful not because I don’t have confidence in Trump’s ability to make something happen but because I don’t trust Kim, but if Trump by some miracle walks out of this with a denuclearized North Korea, it may be one of the greatest foreign policy success stories in American history. It will bring a sense of security to the U.S and to the Northeast region of Asia as well as the world. We can only know for sure after the meeting takes place.

Note: At the time of this writing, it’s been reported that President Trump fired U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson due to disagreements over the Iran Nuclear Deal and how to go about the talks with North Korea. Trump claims that he and Tillerson “got along well” but couldn’t come to an agreement on these matters. Tillerson learned of his firing as it was being reported by the Washington Post Tuesday, March 13, 2018, and via Trump’s tweet regarding the matter. Trump plans to nominate CIA Director Pompeo for Secretary of State.

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The Continious Disrespct of the Japanese People by the U.S military

In two previous blogs, “It’s Time to Shut Down the U.S Marine Base in Okinawa” and “A Followup on Okinawa”, I talked about the ongoing issues regarding the U.S Marine base in the Japanese prefecture and the problems the base is causing the island’s citizens. From crime to propellers and windows falling off of military aircraft flying over peoples’ homes and schools. The U.S government has taken a passive approach on this issue, more or less ignoring the concerns of Okinawans and the Japanese government has maintained the stance that the base is vital for security in the region, but has stated that the U.S military should make some minor changes in regards to flying over populated areas. The government of Okinawa has passed resolutions to have the base closed and has asked for aircraft to cease flying above their towns. These resolutions have been ignored.

Now, as if to add insult to injury a U.S F-16 fighter jet dumped fuel tanks into a lake in the Northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori. The lake is a vital fishing spot for the citizens of the prefecture, especially for clams. The jet took off from the Misawa Air Base in the same prefecture and shortly after an engine fire occurred, resulting in the two fuel tanks being dropped.

Although no injuries were reported, a Japanese fishing boat was 400 meters away, less than a mile. They reported the incident to local authorities long before the U.S made any acknowledgement. The tanks were reported to be 5 meters in length or just over 16 feet. One fisherman who witnessed the incident noted the smell of oil. The incident resulted in an oil slick forming which has, for now, closed the lake to fishing operations until it is determined safe to fish once again. While the fuel tanks were being recovered, the road to the lake was closed by local police. Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura stated that is “regrettable” that the incident has effected clam fishing operations and that the U.S should compensate the fisherman for their losses.

Is it not bad enough when propellers and windows are falling from the sky over peoples’ homes without fuel tanks being dropped into their lakes? The outdated U.S military occupation of Japan has over the course of years, especially the past several months, caused so many problems for the Japanese people, and the U.S government does nothing more than offer apologies but never takes any action to stop flying over populated areas or to close its bases. What would the people of the Aomori prefecture do if their water was so polluted by U.S military accidents and the clams were no longer safe to eat? Would the U.S help them or just apologize? The U.S, in my opinion, has no right to be in Japan and has no right to continuously endanger the lives of Japanese civilians. Again, what would Americans say if a foreign power were doing these things on our soil? We would be angry and demanding change, so why does the U.S continue to ignore the pleas of the people of Japan, continuing their occupation and endangering their lives and livelihoods?

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Enough is Enough. It’s time to seriously discuss guns

These days, it seems to be the norm in the United States that every week there is another mass shooting. Whether it’s at a concert in Las Vegas, a nightclub or a most horrific of all, schools. I for one am sickened by the violence that has consumed American society and the lack of interest by our lawmakers to take action. How many people, especially children have to die before those in Washington, including the President, start to take gun violence seriously?

Now I am by no means anti 2nd Amendment because there are a lot of good and law-abiding citizens who responsibly and legally own guns. They use them to hunt or for recreation at the shooting range and in some cases, they use them to defend their homes from intruders. The problem in itself is not guns, it is that it is too easy to get them. In states such as Texas, one only has to go to a gun show, put the cash down on the table and have a gun and we’re not talking about handguns and rifles, we’re talking about military-grade weaponry that was created to kill large numbers of people in a very short amount of time, case, and point, the AR-15 which has been used in numerous shootings as of late including the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The most disgusting issue with gun violence is that the NRA refuses to admit that there is a problem and consistently touts that more guns would make our children safer. They refuse to advocate for the ban on assault weapons and are playing along with the right-wing politicians, President Trump included and right-wing based media outlets who accuse those who want something done as “communists” or “socialists” and other words that they can’t even define without consulting Google. What sickens me, even more, is that the NRA attacks the kids who survived the most recent shooting and the grieving families who lost their child and are now demanding that something be done as paid pawns of “the left”. These people are not being paid, they are both sad and angry and for NRA President, Wayne LaPierre to talk down to these people goes to show you what kind of person he is and I guarantee you, that if somebody shot up the school that he kids attend, he would be singing a different tune, and if not, then there’s something seriously wrong with the guy. Even Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio talked down to his constituents in a recent town hall meeting saying that “there are those who support my agenda” when asked if he would not take campaign donations from the NRA. What agenda are you supporting Mr. Rubio? Death?

For better or for worse, guns are a part of American culture and that is not likely to change anytime soon. But what we can change is the process of buying guns by making it difficult for those who are mentally ill and show signs of malice to purchase guns and to put an end to the legality of being able to buy and own military-grade weapons which NO civilian needs to have. The truth is that we can make guns more difficult to get, but at the end of the day it is just as easy to get them illegally as it is drugs on the streets. So until we are able to have a serious discussion about this issue and put life before politics and find a way to regulate gun purchases, tackle organized crimes on our streets, and stop listening to the propaganda of the NRA, more people including children are going to die. And with every shooting and the continuous lack of lawmakers including the President to care aside from eating from the gun lobby’s hand and wanting to arm teachers and janitors and turn our schools into war zones, the rest of the world will continue to view the United States as a country full of savages and that is not how I want my country to seen.


A Followup on Okinawa

On February 1 I wrote a piece on this blog about the growing controversy over the U.S Marine base in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. That piece detailed the history of the base and the poor behavior and criminal acts of U.S Marines and staff stationed at the base over the years, as well as the recent accidents involving U.S aircraft that puts the residents of the prefecture in danger. I mentioned that the Japanese people want the base to be closed and that the base should be closed based on the grounds of Japanese sovereignty. However; it is unlikely that the base will be shut down due to the Trump Administration’s tough stance on North Korea. Recently there have been talks between the U.S and Japanese governments to relocate the base but in the midst of these talks, more aircraft accidents have taken place.

On February 9 a large piece of a U.S Osprey (photo of this craft is the featured image of this article) was found drifting near the prefecture by local police and the Japanese Defense Ministry bureau.  Not long after its discovery, the U.S Marine Corps confirmed that it was, in fact, part of an engine inlet which fell off of the tilt-rotor aircraft as it was in flight. The piece weighs just over 28 pounds or 13 kg. Once again, the prefectural government has asked the U.S to keep the MV-22 Osprey aircraft grounded. This particular craft belonged to U.S Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa’s main island.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told Japanese media that he believes the U.S military may have known about the situation prior to the inlet being discovered by Japanese officials as the Osprey in question made an emergency landing on the island that day. Later in the day, the U.S military had admitted that the landed Osprey had lost the piece in question.  Masanori Tamaki, 61, the head of the Ikei residents’ association, told the Japanese Times, “The same thing will happen again and again as long as our airspace is controlled by the U.S. military. Is Japan really an independent state?” This, of course, is not the only incident involving an Osprey as of late. The aircraft is also very noisy which is a nuisance to the prefecture’s residents.

NHK World reported that it is occurrences such as this that led to the Okinawa prefectural assembly to unanimously pass a resolution that calls for the U.S military to cease all flights over private property. The resolution also calls for any accidents to be publicized and that the U.S military should be removed completely from the country. The prefectural assembly will be sending the resolution to the US embassy, the US military in Japan, and the commanders at the Futenma base.


On February 4 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that he plans on going ahead with the controversial move to relocate the U.S Marine base from Futenma to nearby Nago which has a population of 60,000. The call from Abe to move ahead with this plan comes after the election of Nago Mayor  Taketoyo Toguchi who was backed by Abe’s ruling party and has supported the plan. Toguchi took office on February 4 defeating his opponent, incumbent Susumu Inamine who opposed the relocation of the base and called for its closure. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that exit polls showed that 30 percent of Nago voters were against the base being moved to their city, but may have voted for Toguchi due to the fact that they are exhausted and tired of fighting a losing battle to oppose it.

Calling for a nation’s sovereignty and the removal of a foreign military is difficult when the country’s own government is in favor, for whatever reasons of that military remaining and when the country’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the base’s relocation in 2016. The Japanese and American governments are not listening to the wishes of the people who call the island home and whether or not Japan is a sovereign nation due to the decade’s old American occupation still remains a question.

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A Breakdown of the Nunes Memo and What it Taught Us

Since the Nunes Memo has been released, the Republicans have been holding it up in every House and Senate discussion, on every Sunday morning news show as definitive proof that the probe into President Trump’s ties to Russia is nothing more than a smear tactic or as the President himself has called it, “a witch hunt” by the Democrats and their bitterness over the fact that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. As far as I can tell, the memo doesn’t prove that Trump or any of his aides had any communication with Russian officials or Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, nor does it prove that Trump didn’t have Russia’s assistance.  However; the memo does tell us a few things.

  1. Campaigns and political parties hire people to dig up dirt. This may not be new information to anyone nor would it be any surprise if it is. According to the memo, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton Campaign, along with  Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS paid Christopher Steele, a longtime FBI informant over $160,000 to compile a derogatory dossier on Donald Trump during the campaign.
  2. The FBI is fair when informants break the rules and this is evident when Steele was fired as an informant when he disclosed to the media his relationship with the FBI in a Mother Jones article by David Corn, as the memo states. Nunes argued that this firing was biased as Steele should have been fired earlier for disclosing information to Yahoo news and other outlets in September and for concealing his speaking with the media from the FBI. Nunes argues in the memo that is it for this reason that Steele was an unreliable source as he broke the unbreakable rule of “maintaining confidentiality”.
  3. Those who work in the DOJ have opinions too as is evident according to the memo as then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein was Steele’s connection to the DOJ after his termination. Nunes claims that shortly after the election, Ohr began to document his communications with Steele and admitted in September 2016, he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not, being president.” At the same time, Ohr’s wife was paid by Fusion GPS to assist in the opposition to Trump and Nunes states that this fact was concealed from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court  (FISC).
  4. The FBI didn’t try to hide anything from Trump as before he even took office then- FBI Director James Comey briefed the President-elect on the Steele-dossier and even testified in June 2017 that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.” To this point, Nunes argues that the FISA either ignored or concealed Steele’s anti-Trump “financial and ideological motivations”.
  5. FBI agents have preferences in who they would like to be President as shown in the text messages between FBI agent Pete Strzok and his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page as they showed that they were both opposed to Trump and that they favored Hillary Clinton however: Strozk also investigated Clinton. He may have had a preference but he did investigate the candidate that he favored—what got him in hot water was that he and Page had extensive discussions about the investigation,  plans to leak to the media and to have a ” meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an ‘insurance’ policy against President Trump’s election”.

The only thing that seems to be wrong is how the investigation initially started out, and that was the fact that according to the memo “On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received an ISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC”. The memo claims that at first the application was certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI and was followed up with approval by “the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division”. Nunes argues that the three renewals of the surveillance which are to occur every 90 days and requires new findings for probable cause did not take place and that then-Director Comey signed off on three, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one and Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein also signed one all on behalf of the FBI. The memo states that this violates ISA rules for surveillance on American citizens which Carter Page is. He was also an unpaid aide to Trump during the campaign. I don’t think that this shows bias towards Trump from the DOJ or FBI. What it does show is that everyone has an opinion and that procedure was not followed, not due to opposition to Trump but the FBI not following protocol.

Again, the memo does not prove that Trump is guilty of working with Russia to win the election, nor does it show that he’s innocent. What it does show is negligence on behalf of the FBI and that the Republicans will use any little detail that comes to the surface to defend Trump and that the blame game from both sides is only beginning in Washington. The only thing that will tell us whether or not Trump worked with the Russians to steal the election is the results of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller.

You can read all 4 pages of the memo here:

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It’s Time to Shut Down the U.S Marine base in Okinawa

In all reality, the U.S Marine base officially named Camp S. D. Butler named for a former marine located in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa just outside of the Japanese mainland, is not going to close anytime soon, especially with the Trump Administration in power and its ongoing rhetoric and hostility towards North Korea. If the United States were to take military action against North Korea, Camp S.D Butler would be the primary launch site of an attack, just as it was during the Vietnam War, due to its close proximity to the Korean peninsula. Despite any strategic benefits that the base may provide the U.S, the Japanese people especially those who live near the base are calling for its closure due to the behavior of U.S Marines stationed at the base and the accidents that have been occurring as of late, putting civilians in potential harm. The base is a result of the American occupation of Japan following its surrender in World War II and today, is nothing more than a direct violation of the nation’s sovereignty.

Following the end of World War II, Japan was under an international occupation led almost entirely by U.S forces under the command of General Douglas McArthur from 1945-1952. During this time, arms manufacturing was dismantled, political prisoners were released and wartime leaders were brought to trial for war crimes. Japan would draft a new constitution establishing a democratic government, reducing the emperor to nothing more than a ceremonial role and shift its economy from one based on farming to one that focused on manufacturing. In addition, it split up the business monopolies that ruled the economy and even encouraged labor unions until the fear of communism struck the nation just as it had in the U.S and elsewhere. The education system which was viewed as one that benefited the elites was also dismantled and reorganized to mirror the U.S model. Following the end of the occupation, the United States began construction of what would become Camp S.D Butler in 1955 on the island of Okinawa. Today Camp Butler is made up of four bases that are scattered throughout the prefecture.

For years the base has been a nuisance for the civilians who live nearby. Everything from the noise and emissions which are a result of aircraft overhead, the behavior of the marines stationed there and recent accidents involving aircraft has caused concern among those who call the island home. In 2008 Condoleeza Rice, then Secretary of State under George W. Bush apologized for a string of crimes that had been committed by U.S Marines on the island, including the arrest of one marine who was charged with the rape of 14-year-old girl on the island which comes after the 1995 gang rape of a 12-year-old girl by U.S serviceman, which led to riots and protests among the Japanese who demanded that the base be closed and the Marines be moved out. Other crimes that have led to arrests of U.S military personnel are drunk driving and trespassing which forced the U.S military to set an indefinite curfew for the serviceman and their families living on or near the base.

Recently a number of U.S aircraft accidents once again has nearby civilians concerned, however; accidents involving aircraft date back to 2004 when a helicopter crashed into the main building of the Okinawa International University and burst into flames. In November 2007, while drunk driving, a Marine whose blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit collided a with another vehicle killing the 62-year-old driver. Following this incident, U.S military personnel and contractors working for the U.S military have been restricted from leaving the base or their place of residence. In January of this year, NHK reported that a helicopter made an emergency landing on an Okiwanian beach due to a faulty rotor. Another helicopter made an emergency landing on the grounds of a hotel, another burst into flames after crashing in a field, and a helicopter window fell out and landed in a schoolyard where children were outside exercising. U.S Secretary of State James Mattis has apologized for the recent accidents saying that they “cause fear on the part of local residents and should not happen.” Mattis also stated that the U.S would take all of the appropriate steps to avoid accidents in the future.

How many times can the United State apologize for the wrongdoings of its military personnel on the island? How many apologies can it offer regarding crashed military aircraft that puts the locals in direct danger? How much longer are we going to ignore the calls of the locals and citizens all over Japan that we shut the base down and leave? If we are to truly call Japan our ally then we need to respect their wishes and end our military occupation if that is their wish. Be certain that if another country had a military base on American soil and their troops were committing crimes in our communities or crashing aircraft where we live and where our children go to school, putting them in danger, we too would be furious and demanding the base be closed and the military leave. What makes the United States so special that we have the right to violate another country’s sovereignty and ignore the cries of its people? It’s time to close the base in Okinawa and return the island to the Japanese people.

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Are Writers Rude, Seclusive Addicts?

When those who don’t write think about those of us who do, many stereotypes may come to mind. They might view us as “hermits” who never leave their homes and sit in front of a typewriter (or today a computer) jamming away at the keys and cranking out words. They might think that we’re drug addicts and drink alcohol like a fish drinks water. They might think that we’re lonely, depressed, miserable souls who hate the world and live in our own. They might think that we are rude and that we are sex addicts. We as writers, know that this is far from the truth as many of us are still trying to make it; we have day jobs, we have families to take care of and we go to college. These stereotypes are as old as the written word itself as the issues of Hemmingway and others always seem to come to mind, and TV and Hollywood as of late have embraced the stereotype of the writer and used it as the basis of its plots. I will provide a couple of examples.

The FXX show You’re the Worst depicts the life of British-born writer Jimmy Shive-Overly, living in Los Angeles who wrote one semi-successful book titled, “Congratulations, You’re Dead” and hasn’t written much since, aside from pieces for various magazines at the request of his agent who is simply trying to ensure that Jimmy has an income. Jimmy drinks constantly, sleeps around, and is downright rude, he excuses his behavior by claiming that he “tells it as it is” and has a phobia of committing to relationships after his prior engagement was called off. His fear of commitment does change however when he meets Gretchen, a PR rep for a local rap group who is almost the mirror image of him with her own alcohol and drug problems and anxiety and depression issues. Together, they make each other happy in a miserable sort of way and keep their relationship going, based on the fact that they both know that they can bail out at any time. The show will be entering its fourth season later this year.

Californication aired on the Showtime network from 2007-2014 and revolved around the life of novelist Hank Moody, played by David Duchovny. After writing four successful novels, Moody is plagued by alcoholism and writer’s block. For several years Moody hasn’t written a word aside from blogs, especially one that is owned by the fiancé of his former partner, Karen. Moody also sleeps around, in some cases, with a different woman in every episode. This is do-in-part to his lack of the ability to say “no”. These and many other things, he blames for his inability to produce new material. Despite his flaws, he is a good father to his teenage daughter Becca and is still a reliable partner for Karen who has some of her own issues. Moody also holds onto the hope that one day, he and Karen will get back together.

The 2000 film, Finding Forrester starring Sean Connery, focuses on the reclusive stereotype of the writer. Connery plays William Forrester who wrote one successful novel and retires into seclusion. Living in a Bronx apartment, Forrester spends his days watching the neighborhood teenagers play basketball on the court below. When the teens take notice, they dare Jamal Wallace, sixteen-years-old to sneak into the apartment and steal something. When Jamal takes up the bet, he is surprised by Forrester and leaves his backpack behind. The next day, Forrester drops Jamal’s backpack out of the window. When Jamal retrieves it, he finds that Forrester wrote notes in his notebooks. Jamal returns and asks to read more of Forrester’s work and asks for advice on his own writing. After some hesitation and refusal, Forrester eventually agrees and the two form a relationship where Forrester helps Jamal improve his writing abilities. Eventually, Forrester does leave his home, walking into an empty Yankee Stadium with Jamal. There’s much more to the plot, but since I am focusing only on the stereotype of the writer in the story, you will have to read the plot or watch the movie for yourself.

These are just a few examples of how stereotypes of writers are ingrained into the minds of the general public, in the minds of those who themselves, are not writers. When Hollywood and TV focus on only these aspects of what a writer is and fail to look at the reality that the majority of writers are actually normally functioning people, with no addictions, healthy families, and relationships; who work days jobs because we haven’t sold the number of books that Stephen King has, people, will always have the wrong impression of what and how we truly are.

My advice for those who think all writers are rude, seclusive, drug and sex addicts, is to get to know a writer. It’s really the same as learning to understand a person of a different ethnic or religious background, you can’t judge a book by its cover (pun intended) just the same as you can’t judge a person by their appearance or by what you’ve heard about the group from which they come, the same goes for writers. Get to know us and realize that the negative viewpoints that have been placed on us pretty much since the written word was invented, are false, they are not always true and remember we in our own right are artists. Imagine how boring the world would be without music, without literature, without creative minds to entertain you with words, whether it is on the pages of a book or on the screen. Stereotypes do hurt, they don’t so much bother me, but when the view of my profession is always negative, it does become slightly bothersome.

I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t watch the shows and the movie I referenced above. I have watched them all and they are very good. They are worthy of your time, just remember that the images of the writers depicted in them are not always true.

-Brett T. Mazzoni

Photo retrieved from



Can we have a Common Sense Challenge?

Over the past several years, there has been a lot of “challenges” floating around the Internet, and every one of them has been more insanely stupid than the one that preceded it.

First, there was the “gallon challenge” in which the idea was to chug a gallon of milk as quickly as possible or drink an entire gallon within an hour without vomiting. A similar challenge existed, chugging a gallon of water which resulted in the 2007 death of a California woman after she consumed a gallon of water as part of a radio station contest where the winner would win a Nintendo Wii. Then there was the cinnamon challenge which became popular around 2012, where one would post a video of themselves on Youtube eating a spoonful of ground cinnamon and not drinking any water for 60 seconds. Generally, the result was the person choking and lunging for water. This led to a rise in calls to poison control centers. The risk of this challenge was that cellulose which is an inert substance which doesn’t easily break down could get lodged in the lungs and suffocate the person foolish enough to take on this so-called challenge.

Finally, there was the “bath-salt challenge” where teens would snort or ingest large quantities of synthetic drugs that can be purchased at convenience stores, liquor stores, and various other places. The drugs are advertised as “safe” and legal alternatives to illegal drugs that when taken, produce the same amphetamine-like stimulation and hallucinations one would experience if they took ecstasy. This was the suspected cause of death of a 28-year-old woman in Wisconsin in 2011.

The new “challenge” that is trending is being referred to as the “Tide Pod Challenge”, where people bite into the pods that contain Tide laundry soap or fry them in pans and quickly chew them before spewing the soap from their mouth. This is the most bizarre challenge as of yet, at least to me. With the cinnamon challenge, the risks may not have been known at first, after all, most of us eat cinnamon and it tastes great! But Tide Pods? It would simply be common sense to know that consuming laundry detergent would be toxic. It’s common knowledge that there are chemicals in it that when consumed, could be fatal. There are even warnings on every bottle and container that clearly relay the dangers of putting the substance into your mouth, let alone swallowing it. It would be one thing if it were a young child mistaking the colorful, scented pods for candy and popping them into their mouths as toddlers often do with things. This was a problem a while back and Tide responded by telling parents to keep laundry detergents out of the reach of children. That should also be common sense to any parent. But those who are doing this “challenge” are teenagers who should know a little better and exercise slightly better judgment, at least to the best of their ability. Tide has responded to this epidemic by warning people of the dangers and are urging people not to participate, YouTube has also removed videos of people engaging in this ludicrous trend.

The key words in the paragraph above are “common sense”. The problem, I think, is that there is not enough of it in today’s society, or as the old saying goes, “sense isn’t common” and things like the Tide Pod Challenge are proof of that. This is why I think the new trend or “challenge” should be dubbed “The Common Sense Challenge” where people use their common sense and not ingest, snort, or whatever hazardous materials or do things that would put themselves or others in danger and post it online so that it goes viral, and even better, if people would exercise their common sense and not repeat the idiotic thing they saw somebody else doing, we could cut down on hospital visits and calls to poison control centers for reasons of stupidity and negligence. Use your common sense, be a part of the Common Sense Challenge and put an end to this craziness!


Trying to Figure it Out (Confused)

One of the hardest things about life is, trying to figure out what it is you want to do. You grow up hearing, you can be anything you want, but that isn’t always the reality. It’s getting harder and harder to get ahead these days and finding manufacturing jobs these days is very difficult as many of those jobs are being lost to automation or are being shipped overseas. The days of finding a good paying factory job and being able to buy a home and support a family on your wage are gone. A high school diploma doesn’t hold water anymore and a Bachelors’ degree is beginning to spring leaks of its own as a Master’s degree is increasingly becoming the standard in order to find a job.

This is the problem I’m running into. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies and Political Science and despite three internships and extensive research throughout my college days, I’m having a difficult time finding work. Every type of job I want to hold requires either a Master’s degree or five plus years of experience or both and my experience doesn’t add up to enough. I’m currently working a job that is sort of in tune with my fields of study but the pay is fairly low and there is a lack of work/life balance and upper management doesn’t care about your needs outside of work all that much. I would still like to get my Mater’s in Public Administration but recent trends show that the job outlook for people with such a degree is shrinking. I’m asking myself, do I want more debt in student loans if I’m not guaranteed a good paying job to pay off that debt and live on? The shrinking job market is why I decided not to pursue journalism which was my childhood dream, because the need for journalists is shrinking and is projected to continue to dwindle away, and the odds of landing a high paying job with a major network are pretty rare and getting anywhere as a freelance journalist is much more difficult than some make it out to be.

I always told myself that no matter what happened, and no matter how many of my goals I failed to accomplish, the one dream that I refuse to fail at is being a writer. Writing has been my dream since I was eight years old which is when I picked up a pen for the first time and wrote a story. Ideally, I would have liked to have some things published by now, but life and college got in the way. I’ve thought about getting another degree in creative writing but again, is the extra debt worth it? And what kind of job outside of a low-paying job will I find with that? I’m better off sticking with my current degree or pursuing another one that will earn me a decent paycheck and continue to write and work towards publication.

I often think, how great would it be to be able to be a stay at home dad when I have children? I would do the housework, take care of the kids and spend the rest of my time writing. It’s 2017, gender roles don’t or at least shouldn’t exist where it’s unacceptable for the man to stay home. The problem is, I have my own debt, student loans especially. I can’t expect somebody else to pay that off if I’m not making a good chunk of change off of my writing. There’s self-publishing yes, but even that, even with more affordable outlets, it takes time to get a name for yourself and start making enough money to live on. Not everybody will sell as many books as Stephen King even though that is the dream of every writer.

This is what I’m trying to figure out. What would you suggest if you were in my shoes? What are you trying to figure out for yourself? Are you in a similar position? If so, please share in the comments. I hope you figure it out. Let’s figure it out together. In the meantime, I’ll keep job hunting and continue to write and hope to have something ready to go for publication this year, even if it’s a shorter work that is self-published.

-Brett T. Mazzoni