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.

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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.

Relocation

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.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/02/10/national/part-u-s-osprey-found-floating-off-okinawa/#.WoXrgiXwbIV

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180119_18/

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Okinawa-local-election-signals-fatigue-toward-fighting-new-base

image retrieved from http://www.boeing.com/defense/v-22-osprey/

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

 

I inherited my Grandparents’ Stubbornness

I have been called many things, some good and some very hurtful. For the most part, words don’t bother me all that much. The last time a word really hurt me was when I was called a loser by somebody who I loved very much and dedicated five years of my life to. But since I refuse to dwell in the past and insist on moving forward, what hurt me then, cannot hurt me now. As the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. Growing up, I was bullied and was called almost every terrible thing in the book. I’ve never had an issue with embracing labels for they do not matter as long as you know the truth. One thing that I have been called throughout my life is “stubborn”. And this is truly a label that I’ve come to accept and a trait which I inherited from my grandparents, though I don’t see it as being stubborn, but rather determined.

My grandparents never had a lot of money, in fact—at one point they were so poor, my mom recalls living in public housing on the south side of Chicago when she was very young. Eventually, my grandfather was able to get an office job with General Motors’ Frigidaire division, the pay wasn’t great, but it helped get the family out of the projects. My grandmother also worked various jobs here and there. They were stubborn in the sense that they refused to allow their children to go without food and shelter. And when my grandfather was forced to retire from GM early and take his pension, he got into real estate and did alright, but he never became wealthy by any means. My grandparents worked a lot of hours and made a lot of sacrifices to take care of themselves and their children. They wouldn’t let the injustices of society keep them down, instead, they were stubborn enough to fight the system and get by in a rich man’s world.

My mother inherited this trait as she made great sacrifices to take care of her children, especially me when it was just us for many years. Stubborn? No. A good parent? Yes. I too inherited this trait, and the reason I bring it up at all is because, when talking to my mom recently about pushing hard, hard, hard to launch my freelance journalism career, and build up an extensive portfolio within the next six months to a year so that I can land a job with a stable and respected media outlet, she said that I will succeed because I’m stubborn like my grandparents. As stated, I see myself as determined. When I was in college, I struggled with math and had to take a few of the remedial math courses more than once. Whereas most students drop out because of these classes, I was determined to pass them and earn my degree in the two fields that I studied. Eventually, I got through them and graduated with a high GPA. My mom made the point, that I’m so stubborn (or determined) that I’ve never let anything stand in my way before, and when it comes to my passion and to my dream, I shouldn’t let anything hold me back now. In all of my struggles, setbacks, and pain—and in my battle with depression, I’ve never let anything keep me down, for as down as I may get, my stubbornness or determination will get me to where I want to be and hopefully soon. So I say, screw it, be stubborn because it usually works out for the best in the end.