gay marriage IRS

Bye Bye, State Housing – Hello, Normal Life

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This is my last post about living in subsidized housing.

When I came to Santo’s Place, a subsidized apartment complex in Sand Point area, I had suffered a nervous breakdown and some pretty intense, extreme and dark depression. I thought the world was a wretched and broken place. Maybe it is but I felt the way I felt the world was. I don’t now. I don’t feel like I belong in a place of people who have socialized themselves to dependency and victimhood.

In a sad way, many of the people – not all certainly – but many of the people who I lived with deserved the disrespect and disdain they got. Like when I lived in Blakely Village, a subsidized housing program for university students with families not too far from where I lived, snitching was almost a habit. One of my first memories is a girl living there who stole most my toys and whose mother then said our family was harassing and stealing from her to the housing authorities. I got complained about a lot at Blakely Village – I’ve been an anarchist from the start.

Where I’ll be living next is only $500 more than I was spending in “subsidized” housing. When you combine that cost between two people and omit the nonsense and crap I was spending my leftover money on before, it’s plenty affordable and well worth the price given the nonsense I will be free of. Having a spouse or child also gives you the incentive to go out and work (as well as play alpha dog protector) more than you ever would normally.

I’ve had a whole bunch of talks with the people in charge of Santo’s Place. I don’t think they have bad intentions – they took many of my complaints serious. However, the departure of the man who ran the place effectively for ten years, Roger Shands, was extremely strange as was his replacement by a half dozen people who don’t seem to know what they are doing. I made it clear that Jennifer and I would be here through to the end of April and my new apartment has shortened that to the 20th, thank God.

What do I really think needs to change? There’s all sorts of things wrong with subsidized housing – various punitive rules keep people from living normal lives – working, having relationships or friends – and therefore transitioning, the very purpose of the programs themselves. My best friend lived in the projects for a period and he said that people there lacked a real drive to achieve. I was certainly disengaged and didn’t really feel much incentive to get up and get out until Jennifer entered my life and nonsense drama I had already dealt with suddenly involved her.

Santo’s Place, only today, put up various signs warning tenants about substance abuse and saying how use of drugs could jeopardize their housing. Given some of the things I’ve seen from some living here, it’s a fair warning but it does reflect a disengaged and somewhat reactive authority structure at Solid Ground. I’m not really as mad as I was when I wrote about Solid Ground originally for Gonzo Times and had to live in its social atmosphere every day but my leaving in a week comes with a feeling of sadness for a community lost. It is being seriously mismanaged and the Seattle City Council should look further in to how it operates. Meanwhile, I’m moving on.

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionBye Bye, State Housing – Hello, Normal Life

Why Democracy Isn’t Easy

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If the Oxford dictionary chose a ‘political word of the year’, it would probably pick ‘democracy’. Across continents and countries in the modern world, ‘democracy’ seems the buzzword. It is causing rebellion, anxiety and aspiration, all in equal measure.

At the time of this writing, two very different nations in South Asia go to the ballot box – Afghanistan and India. One is a fledgling democracy, rising up from the ashes of decades-long war and conflict. The other is the world’s largest democracy, the poster boy of electoral freedom in the East. In the meantime, several nations around the world are in political jeopardy. From Syria to Turkey, Ukraine and Thailand, civilians are rebelling against their governments and Heads of State. Everyone wants democracy. Some want to reform democracy. Others wonder why democracy fascinates ever so much.

 

Casting Destiny: Afghan democracy still needs to survive

 

What we are likely witnessing today is the second wave of worldwide democratic movements since the turn of the 20th century. The last wave was in the years following the Second World War, when European colonies liberated themselves and ushered in an era of freedom. Not every nation that liberated itself back then really succeeded in transforming into a democracy. Barring India and South Africa, every other major nation went through dictatorship and disaster before finally emerging. Even today, Myanmar remains on the tenterhooks, although democracy has come a long way in recent years.

Democracy isn’t easy. In fact, despite the flow of information and greater public awareness in recent times, achieving democracy is only going to get more difficult today than it was post-World War II. But why?

 

Unlike other forms of government, democracy isn’t a one-man show. It isn’t merely about ballot boxes and elected leaders. It is about the rule of a consensual code of law. If law must exist, it needs a constitution to validate it. If a constitution must be written, it needs a body of representatives who have the will and respect of the local people. But even that is insufficient. The law must be upheld and enforced, and for that, you need independent institutions – Election Commissions, a Supreme Court and other courts of law, an Army with the right hierarchy and the right bosses, and so on. Democracy is the sum total of all these institutions, respected and trusted by the citizenry. In the absence of these legitimate institutions, electoral freedom is non-existent. Even dictators hold elections in their countries, but one wouldn’t call them ‘elected representatives’.

Building institutions isn’t quite as easy as it seems. That is because the only people who can build these institutions are those who will eventually be governed by them. No foreign country camping out in their land can secure enough legitimacy amongst the local populace to do it for them, no matter how powerful they are.

This is where the British Empire was laudable. The reason India survives as a democracy today is, ironically, because the country was formerly a British colony. During their term as rulers of the land, the British built European-style bureaucratic institutions and legislative assemblies to aid in their rule. With reforms brought about in the early 1900s, Indians too were allowed to have a fair share of seats in the law-making bodies. Those legislative seats might not have been very powerful, but they were an important training ground in democracy. From there, many aristocratic freedom fighters got a full view of governance and bureaucratic decision-making, gathering valuable experience for succeeding generations. Perhaps the greatest contribution at the time were the Indian Civil Services (ICS) – the bureaucratic machinery which the British built to aid in administration.

When India’s last Viceroy, Lord Edwin Mountbatten approached the last days of his Empire’s stay in the country, he and his team went about building democratic foundations in the country. Through some highly passionate elections by the people, they appointed a Constituent Assembly to draft and pass a Constitution for the soon-to-be independent India. In the meantime, they appointed Jawaharlal Nehru as a caretaker. Finally, years after the British left, India unveiled its Constitution – the bulkiest in history – as it became a Republic. The institutions that the British built remained and oversaw the country’s first ever democratic elections in 1951. It is now 63 years since that great moment and despite the tidal waves lashing at its borders all around, India’s democracy has survived and, in fact, even thrived.

The British could be lauded for the institutions they built but what is crucial to note here is the fact that they did not attempt to build the Indian democracy per se. That job was left to the people and a brilliant band of leaders including Pandit Nehru, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Rajendra Prasad. The British merely facilitated the whole process. Had the British attempted to build democracy in India without giving Nehru and Ambedkar the spotlight, there would have been reason to doubt India’s survival. After all, what legitimacy would a nation of people give to the democracy built by an empire they fought against for nearly 200 years? The homegrown leadership was far more essential than the democracy itself.

Unfortunately, modern-day democratic movements lack the kind of cohesive leadership and bureaucratic institutions that India had in its days. Look across the Middle East and you’d find that there is not one single person in all the protesting crowd who is readily recognizable and widely respected. Even in Afghanistan, where the United States has attempted to build democracy, legitimacy is an issue due to a lack of local involvement in building it. The Afghans came out in droves to cast their vote but it remains to be seen if they can sustain that exercise and faith for the generations to follow. India was fortunate. Not everyone is.

Author: Mohamed Zeeshan
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Mohamed ZeeshanWhy Democracy Isn’t Easy
juveniles on trial as adults

Pros and Cons of Charging Juveniles in Adult Court (Sponsored)

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The justice system has historically been more lenient towards juvenile offenders. Children that commit crimes are usually committed to a detention center until they turn 18. However, lawmakers have become increasingly worried about the number and severity of serious crimes committed by teenagers. They have passed stricter laws that allow adolescents to be prosecuted in adult court.

There are strong arguments on both sides of the issue. Here are some of the factors that lawmakers need to consider as they decide whether or not juveniles should be tried in adult court.

Debates on Rehabilitation

Behavioral psychologists are still trying to decide whether or not children can be rehabilitated. Some point out that the frontal lobe is still developing until early adulthood. They argue that juveniles lack impulse control and have more difficulty feeling empathetic until it is fully formed.

Other experts argue that a smaller frontal lobe can’t fully explain seriously violent behavior. They argue that children that choose to commit violent crimes are likely suffering from the early stages of antisocial personality disorder. They feel that these children have little chance of rehabilitation.

Arguments over Impact of Incarceration

Experts are also debating what impact incarceration has on young adults. Research from the Cross-National Comparison of Youth Justice indicates that the consequences of incarcerating young adults may far outweigh the benefits. There are a number of problems that could arise:

  • Incarcerated kids are more likely to fall behind with their education. This limits their future career opportunities, which causes them to become more of a drain on the system.
  • Children that are incarcerated often develop worse behavioral problems. This largely because they are influenced by other delinquents or inmates, face bullying while in juvenile justice systems or become extremely bitter after losing years of their freedom.
  • Prisons and juvenile detention facilities have few rehabilitation services. They are usually setup to confine inmates and keep them out of trouble.
  • They face a serious stigma after being incarcerated. Children that have been tried as adults will not have the charges sealed, which makes it much more difficult to get a job.

Experts debate whether it is wise to incarcerate juveniles if the problems outweigh the risks.

Need to Protect Society

While most people have reservations about trying juveniles as adults, they tend to make exceptions for violent crimes. A poll from ABC News found that 55% of people believe that children that commit violent crimes should be tried in the adult justice system.

People generally understand that kids make mistakes while they are young, but clearly feel the need to protect people from dangerous offenders. Proponents of adult punishments for juveniles point out that some of serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgeway are believed to have committed their first violent crimes while they were still children. They argue that society would be much safer if children that commit serious violent crimes are sentenced to life in prison.

Do you feel that juveniles should be charged in adult court? Share your thoughts below!

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionPros and Cons of Charging Juveniles in Adult Court (Sponsored)

On War, At Least, Rand Paul Is The Man

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Rand

Rand Paul is the man.

He is back at being awesome again and this time he has pointed his target at the last Republican Vice President, Dick Cheney:

“He’s being interviewed (in 1995), I think, by the American Enterprise Institute, and and he says it would be a disaster, it would be vastly expensive, it would be civil war, we’d have no exit strategy. He goes on and on for five minutes — Dick Cheney saying it would be a bad idea,” Paul said. “And that’s why the first Bush didn’t go into Baghdad. Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton. Makes hundreds of millions of dollars — their CEO. Next thing you know, he’s back in government, it’s a good idea to go into Iraq.”

I may be wrong but I think Rand Paul may be the first United States senator to say what we all know deep down about the Iraq war, no matter what justifications we make to ourselves. I don’t think George W. Bush is a bad person and I admire Oliver Stone’s biopic of him for recognizing that. However, he was bamboozled along with much of the country in to a war that most people regret and see as pointless. It killed over one million people.

Worse yet? The current administration tried to repeat it in Syria. People are talking about Jeb Bush (the brother of the man who sold the Iraq war) and Hillary Clinton (who has supported every US military effort since she came in to public life) – how will that solve any problems in this country? There’s really only one person I think provides any sort of radical solutions to our difficulties and that’s Rand Paul.

BTW, if you want to avoid Hillary and Jeb, you can help by buying our shirts.

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionOn War, At Least, Rand Paul Is The Man

The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fist Fight In Heaven: Looking Back At A Modern Native American Literary Classic

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Lone Ranger and Tonto in more tense times.

Smoke Signals may be the first real adulthood comedy that impacted me. I had seen Forrest Gump in my elementary years but the absurdism, despite deep moments of Forrest Gump was nothing like Smoke Signals. The 1998 film, which follows two Eastern Washington Native Americans, Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds The Fire, as they go on a journey from Washington to Arizona to find Victor’s newly deceased father.

The screenplay, which was written by native writer Sherman Alexander, is great. Victor’s father is a boogeyman to him – a man who played a nurturing role in early life but an abusive, neglectful and abandoning role later on. As someone who has never met his own father, I relate to scenes like that of Victor purging by fire the remnants of his father from this earth, much as Mark Hamill’s character Luke Skywalker did in Return of the Jedi.

That entire sequence, however, is only one of many in a more brief book by Alexie which was published originally in 1993 for The Atlantic Monthly and the next year through HarperPerennial. I came across this book recently, entitled much differently as The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fist Fight In Heaven.

It’s an esoteric book and a very strange one. Very strange. Alexie wrote a very mainstream screenplay but he wrote a very boundary-breaking novel. The narrative switches from first to second to third person regularly. Whereas the film reflected a coming of age story in which a protagonist faces family demons, The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fist Fight In Heaven is more like Valley of the Dolls, the novel by Jacqueline Susann, which documented the prescription drug addiction among many young girls seeking to prosper in the entertainment industry. Like Valley of the Dolls, it jumps around from character to scenario which are not directly related to one another (the only unity being that everyone lives on an Indian Reservation). The narrative changes and concise writing style also hinted of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club.

When the founder of Gonzo and myself were more involved with one another in this project, there was an effort to focus on native culture and native politics. We even started a website – Voice of the Migrant, which is now nonexistent. I lived for nearly half a year on the island of Guam, whose native Chamorros fit the description of indigenous as much as one can while still having one foot in the modern world. I found myself taking notes in the margins of this book and relating far more than I thought I would. If any readers suggest similar books, please let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionThe Lone Ranger And Tonto Fist Fight In Heaven: Looking Back At A Modern Native American Literary Classic

There Is Room For Hope – But It Depends On All Of Us!

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Jesus

Dennis Kucinich is retired. Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul are the only significant American political figures saying the things that I think most Americans believe in their heart – that we need to rebuild our own country, stop playing God with others, end the military industrial complex and lead by example instead of by the barrel of a gun. This is a serious issue and our country could collapse like the USSR if we don’t ease back, cut down our 1000 plus military bases and encourage our kids to choose career options besides the military.

I don’t really care what party they are from, what they did in college, if they lifted parts of WikiPedia or skimmed answers on an optometrist test, or who they took a picture with at a convention, what their personal views on homosexuality are (which means nothing unless it means anti-gay legislation). If political figures like the Pauls or Sanders are on the right side of this one critical issue, that is the only thing that really matters. As long as they are on my side on that issue, I will (and have since 2008) voted for them whenever they are on a ballot.

Sanders, a socialist from Vermont, has been talking about running for president, reluctantly but out of duty – as it should be. If it were Sanders versus Paul, Sanders would get it fast. However, Rand Paul versus Hillary Clinton? C’mon. Paul also is a firm opponent of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders – a legacy of the Reagan and Clinton era that left many petty drug users and sellers, mostly minorities, with the scar of a drug offense for the rest of the life. Hillary Clinton has been on policies like that for years and has supported all the wars and conflicts the US has been immersed in since she entered public life. Is the choice really so gray between those two?

We should also put more of a grassroots effort in to curbing back the serious limits faced by third party candidates int the United States. Most developed countries have two or three parties instead of just our two. The world is complex and doesn’t fit in to two paradigms. Kshama Sawant got to victory in the Seattle City Council as a Socialist, outside of the Democrats and Republicans and earning enough money to run a successful campaign without their help and with the support of Seattle voters, non profit groups and magazines. A $15 minimum wage is not something the City Council would have considered without her.

I voted third party in 2012 and I voted for Sawant last year. It is NOT a wasted vote. Vote your conscience, whether it takes you left or right. This country belongs to YOU.

We don’t need to spend every day thinking how fucked everything in the world. There is room for change and that change can come through us. We ARE the world and we don’t need to accept the laws of people we know are wrong. Let’s do it!

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
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The Importance Of Family Of Choice

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Family Is Something Of Choice

Both my wife and I came close to a terrifying sexual assault by a drug addicted lunatic in our apartment building. Jennifer also has a final MRI set to show what is causing her extreme back pain. I also have faced extortion from the Property Manager of my building. Jennifer L. Reimer’s doctor has been comforting and the head of Residential Services at my building is taking what happened seriously.

Myself, Mr. Asperger’s syndrome who could never live on his own, along with my wife Jennifer, who had similar bullshit thrown at her growing up, survived and maneuvered through this and prevailed.

Guess who has been totally quiet, despite my calling her for help all week in this extraordinarily stressful situation? Family is described as “inclusive community” on Wikipedia and I have a lot of people who qualify as that but none of them are genetically related to me. I literally called the only parent I have while waiting for Jennifer to get her medical result at Polyclinic and was told by her to “please do not come to my house” and to not contact her – I was hoping maybe she could console my wife. I respected her wishes and got no thanks for it. I guess I’m old fashioned to hope for things from my parents.

She’s not alone – my whole family has treated me like a space alien for over twenty years and made me suffer for messed up stuff they did before I was born that they won’t even tell me about when I ask and I have a strong suspicion I would get similar responses if I called them up. They have literally told me to die when I’ve told them they look nice. I did nothing ever to deserve any of this but I have internalized it at times. Multiple “family” members have said that to me, without even knowing me very well.

Karma is a real thing – when you walk over someone who has fallen, you will be stranded when it happens to you.

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionThe Importance Of Family Of Choice

7 Tips to Start Rebuilding Your Credit the Smart Way (Victoria Silverman)

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Having bad credit can make your financial life very difficult. Lenders are going to look at your credit score before they are willing to give you any kind of loan. If your score is bad, you could be turned down for a credit card, car loan, mortgage or other loan.  Even if you are approved, you are going to end up paying a lot more money because your interest rate will be much higher.

 photo credit_score_zps85683474.jpg

Fortunately, bad credit does not have to leave you doomed forever. You can improve your credit over time and restore a good credit score that will allow you to get favorable loan rates. Here are eight tips to help you to rebuild and improve your credit so you can get your financial situation in order.

  1. Open one credit card- make it a secured card or a store card if you have to. You need to have credit in order to improve your score. If you do not already have any credit cards open (because of bankruptcy or because you or the lender closed the accounts), you will need to have one credit account open.  Store cards can sometimes be easier to get than other kinds of credit cards. If your credit is really bad, you may need to think about a secured card. Be sure that the creditor reports to the three major credit reporting agencies, otherwise the car won’t do you any good.
  2. Avoid applying too quickly for many different kinds of credit or for multiple cards.  While you do need to have a credit card, you do not want to apply for a lot of different cards or a lot of different kinds of credit all at once. Every time you apply for credit, an inquiry goes on your credit report. The result of this is that your credit score can go down with too many inquiries because lenders become concerned you are about to go on a spending spree or that you are too dependent on debt.
  3. Keep your credit card balances low and avoid maxing out your card. Credit utilization is another factor that creditors consider when deciding on your credit score.  You should try to keep the balances on your credit card to 30 percent or less of the available credit at all times.   When lenders think you are maxing out your cards, this makes them nervous. A low credit utilization shows you have a handle on your spending and aren’t too dependent on borrowing.
  4. Avoid carrying a balance on the card whenever possible.  It is best to have no balance at all on your credit cards over the long-term. Carrying a credit card balance costs you a lot of money in unnecessary interests and you are vulnerable to falling behind on payments and hurting your credit if you have financial problems. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to carry a balance on your credit card in order to rebuild your credit score.  
  5. Make all payments on time.  The best way to build your credit score is to have one credit card, make a small charge on that card every single month and then pay it off on time. You should make it a habit to pay all bills on time, including rent and utilities. Over time, the history of your good payment record will improve your credit score.
  6. Add a different mix of debts slowly. Once you have started to improve your credit score, you may wish to apply for different kinds of credit like a mortgage loan or a car loan. According to the lenders at TitleMax, One factor that is used to determine your credit score is proving that you can be responsible with lots of different types of debt.
  7. Give it time to improve your credit score. Improving your credit score is not going to happen overnight. Bankruptcy and foreclosure can stay on your credit report for as long as seven to ten years. The older negative information is, the less of an impact it will have on your credit score and the better your score will become.

 photo credit_report_scrabble_zps5029814f.jpg

By following these 7 simple tips, you can rebuild your credit and hopefully end up with a score that gets you favorable rates.  Remember, it takes time and commitment, but it can be done!

Victoria Silverman has been writing about personal finance for more than 10 years. She’s a regular contributor to finance blogs around the web. 

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
Orion7 Tips to Start Rebuilding Your Credit the Smart Way (Victoria Silverman)

Re-defining Political Correctness

MuadDib Anarchism, Class War, Gender & Sexuality, immigration, Racism, Social Justice, Syndicalism Leave a Comment



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Political correctness is a term thrown around by reactionaries and people of conservative nature. It is a natural reaction to people gaining the same rights and equality the dominant race in a society has had for some time.

We are speaking of Americans, who typically have had a society that exists primarily in a white supremacist paradigm. African Americans were 3/5th’s of a person in the original constitution that liberty purists defend until death.

It was constructed by white landowners, who owned slaves and private property. They broke away from another empire in order to establish their own state of dominance, savagery upon minorities ranging from Indians to Africans in order to control land, resources and of course human beings.

Throw in Capitalism and you have full spectrum dominance of a populace, from land to sea.

Political correctness is therefore not the fault of the minority seeking justice. It is a term used by the terrified white people to demonize those fighting to attain dignity in a society that has spent years trying to abolish it through previous wars, land theft and drug wars and the creation of ghettos via economic warfare upon black citizens.

Therefore the term Politically Correct is misunderstood and wrongly used and is used to blame the victim.

Author: Joshua Deeds
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I currently write for Gonzo Times, Street Speech, and The Angry Syndicalist. My first book titled "Modern Habitual Disenchantment" is live on Google Play. I write for the working class. When I'm not reading comics, I'm playing Skyrim. Check me out on twitter@DirtyDeeds08, DeviantArt@DurtyDeeds93. Thanks for reading!
MuadDibRe-defining Political Correctness

Down the Rabbit Hole: Well Maintenance and Cleaning (Blain Johnson)

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The U.S. produce about 11,104.51 thousand barrels of oil per day and consume about 18,490.21 thousand barrels of oil per day in 2013. The demand for oil increases year after year. In 2003, oil production was at approximately 5,600 thousand barrels of oil per year. 10 years later, oil production increased to about 7,500 thousand barrels of oil per year, a 34% increase.

 

Americans heavily rely on oil for a number of purposes including fuel for transportation as well as heating and the production of a number of goods. Goods such as detergents, phones, roads, glue, bottled drinks, medicines, shampoos, fertilizers and much more are necessities many Americans cannot live without. It is imperative that oil production keep pace with the high demand. Any slight decrease in oil production can cause a dramatic change in lifestyle due to price hike of oil shortage.

 

Just as oil production is important, so are the maintenance of oil wells and equipments that are central to the production of these oil. When a major oil and gas producer noticed persistent declining production in its wells, it knew there were three likely culprits: 1) paraffin crystallization fouling, 2) asphaltenes fouling, or 3) formation blockage incident to condensate rings (water). Every year, thousands of oil wells experience a major decrease in production and are altogether abandoned due to significant build-up of these culprits in the perforation of the wells.

 

Traditionally, introducing aromatic and/or mutual solvents, non-ionic surfactants, and hot oiling, are the methods employed to clean and stimulate a well that is underperforming. But in the case of the wells in question, utilizing these traditional processes would be problematic in terms of handling and proper environmental disposal, and mean time in between treatments.

 

The question became what treatment is suitable for each of these potential blockages, appropriate for the formation, and can increase mean time between treatments? More to the point, the solution needed to be one that they could use to increase oil production capacity in the long-term, as a part of their six-year strategic plan to boost revenues, without relatively little additional investiture.

 

The company decided to evaluate a proprietary well stimulation solution derived from food-grade and completely biodegradable substances. The solution was engineered to address each possible blockage and featured non-reactive fluids designed specifically to rehabilitate oil and gas wells. Laboratory tests of each formulation showed they each performed well, in terms of compatibility and efficacy, and the company decided to proceed with deployment.

 

Subsequently, five wells that had been rendered dormant for years were selected for treatment. With dual-oversight, treatment commenced and the wells responded positively, each coming back online to full production. A standout of the solution was that it kept the treated wells open for nearly two months, resulting in increased production while reducing the costs associated with re-treatment was significantly. Moreover the company’s Director of New Technologies elaborated that out of 100s of products evaluated, the plant-based solution they selected yielded unequalled positive results at several well locations that had been dormant, or various types and blockages, while adding the added benefit of being more environmentally-friendly than traditional methods.

Blain Johnson has been studying the oil & gas industry for many years and seeks to find an environmentally-friendly solutions for oil spills such as heavy duty degreaser concentrate by E&B Green Solutions.

Author: Michael Powell
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I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionDown the Rabbit Hole: Well Maintenance and Cleaning (Blain Johnson)

Evicted!

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So it happened. When I wrote an open letter last month on Gonzo Times last month, I knew retribution would come. Solid Ground, which runs several apartment buildings for homeless and at risk people, was harsh enough to let go of Roger Shands, a man who had worked for the organization for ten years, with little to no explanation. Why would they possibly respect me, a dude who had been only been there since late 2012?

So I got an eviction letter today. The staff person who sent it was even dumb enough to sign his name on it – I promptly sent a message saying that the last time I documented mistreatment of tenants by Solid Ground staff, it had been forwarded to former staff and sixteen others, by a friend’s account. It’s so stupid to send me this message, it’s unbelievable:

It’s a 10 Day Notice to comply with the lease. The “guest” who overstayed is my fiancé – my wife to be. I consider it a great accomplishment of my own transition that I went from homeless to being in a relationship that could indicate marriage. Of course, that doesn’t mean a sack of grapes to anyone at Solid Ground – they aren’t interested in success stories. I’m not sure what they’re interested in because getting rid of us essentially means getting rid of their jobs.

As one of our writers, Josh Deeds, wrote on Facebook when I posted this, “Unauthorized guest” what are they? Fucking chaperones? Seriously, I just moved in with my gf a month ago and according this woman i’m an “illegal occupant.”

I also got told by staff, much higher up than the individual above, that Jennifer Reimer was fine to stay on if she signed on to the lease, which I was fine with but which has still not been presented to me. Sending this little letter is so dumb and disrespectful but that is pretty much the Solid Ground M.O., no matter what they say on their website. I was told that she could stay on for the two years that my living there promised if she signed on to the lease but given their behavior, I’m not sure that Solid Ground will comply with their own obligations. As I said here before, I think they want to push as many of us out as possible.

The building I live in, which was an attractive and thoughtful community when I came in, is now spiteful and depleting. It’s still possible people will come to my defense and I won’t end up homeless with Jen, looking for work and a sublet somewhere (which I can survive) but if I do end up having to go through that, part of me is seriously relieved. I lived in student housing during college with few problems but hadn’t lived in subsidized housing since I was little and I’m not going to miss it.

No matter how many friends I made, every day was a trip of fear in which I had to fear that anything I said or did might break some sort of regulation. I’m sure there’s probably 1,000 grounds for eviction and anyone living in that building could damn well qualify.

A little update: I’ve been on the hunt for a good apartment in the neighborhoods near where I live. There are more than a few prospects and my fiancé and I’s combined income should make more expensive haunts more possible than before. I was given some information on lawyers who specialize in Washington state public housing and I may contact them but my priority right now is get out of this situation.

I’m not out yet though and may have to stay at least a week with Jennifer in this dump. I lived in public housing with my mother when I was a little kid. It was public housing not too far from where I am now – developed for families of students at University of Washington. Just like here, there was a hardcore snitch culture – I remember my mom having a few panic attacks about the fact that she was keeping a cat, which was against the policy of the housing company. I remember a wicked woman across the street who was always ratting out on what “the Powells” were doing across the playground from her – things haven’t changed.

In retrospect, this arrangement disincentivized all sorts of things – searching for work (one had to worry about overstaying your income limit), marriage (no extended guests), abstaining from loneliness (no pets!). Of course all of those rules were violated but they were there to make people’s lives miserable. Basically, normal human behavior was a problem. Good riddance.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionEvicted!
pain patients denied medicine

The Latest Victims of the System: Chronic Pain Patients Denied Medicine

Jennifer Reimer Featured, feminism, Social Justice Leave a Comment

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cannot get pain medication in washington state

Previously Published in Practice of Madness Magazine, “Undermedication Hurts: Patients Invisible Casualties of the War on Drugs”



cannot get pain medication in washington stateSometime after OxyContin hit the market, in certain areas it almost entirely wiped out the market for heroin.  OxyContin, or oxycodone, the opioid component of this most effective painkiller ever created, in Percoset, Percodan, and other pills that drastically improved the lives of people living in pain.  If you have never been in constant, unrelenting pain – either because of a chronic illnesses like cancer, or a traumatic injury/injuries such as a serious car accident or physical assault, or a painful condition that “doctors are just beginning to understand”, like fibromyalgia, neuropathy, an autoimmune disorder not otherwise classified (like Lyme Disease) – you cannot fathom it.

No, it’s nothing like the worst migraine you ever had.  Migraine headaches are awful, but have a beginning and end.

No, it is nothing like when you got your wisdom teeth removed.  Or developed a dry socket.  Not even that root canal, though it was, admittedly, a bitch, it was in many ways the opposite from chronic pain.  When there is no end in sight, pain takes on a much more frightening character.  Time shrinks and expands at once.

Chronic pain is quiet, and so are most people who are in chronic pain.  Try to imagine that migraine, but located in your mid back and radiating up your neck, down to your lower back and abdomen, and mixing things up with knives to the back and cramps that cover half of your body, burning, and soreness to touch, never mind the aftermath of movement.  I know, you cannot, really, and that’s not your fault.  I had no idea either, and was quite happy that way.

Chronic pain is quiet because people who are in chronic pain make terrible self-advocates.  Not only are you physically crippled, which impairs mental functioning – I have trouble speaking in sentences sometimes – but you walk into any doctors’ office, any specialist, even the guy that is supposed to be responsible for “pain management” knowing that your every move and every word are being judged, because you are guilty until proven innocent.  You are guilty of being a drug addict.

Female?

Young?

Thin?

You are screwed.  Evidently, many of the people that starting obtaining oxycodone for “recreation” were among my same age and gender demographics, and had similar body types (I was taunted for being skinny from age eleven and still am to this day) – you know the story, <em> “it all started with one prescription before you started getting them off the street, spending hours and days at emergency rooms and doctors’ offices feigning pain”</em> , a story that one blows my mind, because I never want to see the inside of another ER or medical office again, so if I am present, which I despise, it is not for a quick buzz.  The story is over, though, as Miss “Victim” of “One Prescription” could not afford a $300/day pill habit forever, and then heroin returned, since it was far cheaper (single pills go for $30), and provided drug addicts a time-trusted, and, evidently, best option for those seeking an opiate high.

Heroin is actually a very poor painkiller.  It gets you high.  I am not interested in a high, and would really like to know what on Earth the fact that some people spend their weekends crushing up the pills that save me from being tortured from my own body and inhaling them or smoking them or whatever, should have any affect on how I – someone that spends weekends working, writing, reading, and once in a blue moon watching a movie or going out to eat – am treated by physicians.

It seems quite predictable, not at all surprising or shocking, that when the most effective painkiller to be discovered to date was released, some (young, thin) people that take pain medicine for kicks, found out about the new slightly different version of the same buzz or faster version of the same buzz or longer version of the same buzz – it being an opiate, like heroin and opium are – and started trying to acquire the new painkiller to mix the “fun” up a bit and catch the latest buzz. As a chronic pain patient that only takes such medicine to get the machete out of my mid-back for a few hours or alleviate the aching after the spasms are over, so severe I sweat and struggle to catch my breath.  Instead of getting addicted to one high, some fell into OxyContin/oxycodone addiction.  And who really cares, because they rediscovered heroin and lived happily ever after.

Yes, I am being ironic about the “lived happily” part.  I know that most long-term addicts are not happy people and the fun stopped for them long ago.  My problem and what is becoming a problem for most chronic pain sufferers in Washington state and several others, however, is pain.  Not addiction.  Physical pain due to severe injuries and illnesses, and addiction, are most often completely mutually exclusive of one another.

So why are most doctors refusing to write anyone a prescription for pain medicine, regardless of whether they have cancer, or survived a horrific motor vehicle accident (and lived to feel the pain), or have no documented reason to be in pain but a bunch of slightly different stories and do not appear to be in pain like the other two do?  All three hypothetical young women are requesting the same painkiller – cancer patient, trauma survivor, and someone who mixes up the particulars but insists she needs it.  Is it really that difficult, doc, to ascertain who is sincerely in the throes of life-sucking pain, and who woke up and felt like going to the doctor instead of the dealer?

There has to be a reason why most doctors have suddenly lost their ability to assess pain, not only as a clinician, but as a person with any common sense.

After asking through sobs what the reason is for their seeming inability to empathize with other human beings, doctors have enlightened me.

It’s the DEA (the United States Drug Enforcement Agency – the federal police given the task of waging war on illegal drugs)!  Purportedly, DEA agents are “after doctors’ licenses”, over and above the fact that, in this particular time and place, doctors are trained to reflexively assume patients will almost always snort the pills or sell the pills or swallow pill bottles whole.  Even though statistics reveal that almost all patients swallow one or two tablets as needed for pain, as is instructed on the prescription bottle.  Or at least when painkillers were still being used, they were distributed in bottles labeled with such instructions.

When I am given medicine, the idea of making it into some kind of powder and inhaling it, amazingly, does not cross my mind.

I pay a lot for insurance, and selling some painkillers would not put a dent in my monthly premium.

I guess the DEA and others in power are concerned that insurance fraud, public and private, is going on?

Selling my pills does not cross my mind because I need those pills.  They are the difference between living my life or enduring constant suffering while I wish I could just live my life.

Doctors also warn, “Those pills are dangerous!”

The acetaminophen (Tylenol) in Percoset would do permanent damage to my liver before I ever “overdosed” on oxycodone.  Percoset are mostly Tylenol, and Tylenol is the cause of 65% of liver-related ER admissions.  I happen to know this because of research on acetaminophen/paracetamol when I worked as a medical writer.  No one ever tells you this. Tylenol is far more dangerous than oxycodone! Look it up!


And if I was depressed??  I would not care to seek treatment, because I would have no desire to function.  Trust me, I’ve been there – which of course increases your suspiciousness, though, mind-blowingly, the third of Americans that suffer from depression sometimes also get cancer or are hit by cars.  The statistics of the two coinciding are not more or less than the occurrence of not having a history of depression and getting cancer or being hit by a car.  I have been suicidally depressed, but, as the Universe laughs, that was resolved long ago, and I am now happy, and my personal goals and dreams are on my doorstep.

If only I could get to the door before they left.

“She’s probably on drugs.”

pain a lonely disease

The thing is, I envision my fiancé leaving me, and see the book deal walking away because I cannot type for long enough to produce material, and I see the evaporation of my life just as it started to happen.  I imagine becoming dependent on the same government that the DEA works for because I cannot be a productive citizen of society, or my household, or a workforce.  Not when it hurts to be awake, no one wants to be near me, I cannot take care of myself, and I have no other choice.  I hate this so-called “life”.

I hate being a victim of the system, yet again.

 

I hate the doctors’ appointments determining my schedule.

I hate being treated like a criminal because chronic pain patients are the new black.

I hate being.

Being forced to live like this because a doctor who has never physically examined you, seen your medical records, or your MRI, is paranoid about the DEA, and cares a hell a lot more about his license than the Hippocratic Oath or reading over your file or listening to you speak.

I eventually reach for the last option.  After taking Neurontin (gabapentin, similar to Lyrica) for two years, I feel like it damages my nerves when I take it.  My joints swell.  But, I will feel a little “off”, and the pain feels different.  My physiatrist’s office keeps telling me that my Primary Care Physician will surely take care of getting me a handful of Percoset – even they do not realize that he cares about his medical license, not about my pain.  They have not had to go through this, and I hope they never will.

But I’m paralyzed, because doctors are no longer treating pain.  Washington State has been one of the hardest places hit by strict regulations about pain medicine,Jennifer L. Reimer
My doctor will not even return my calls.  I lie in bed for hours, sobbing.  I am scared of the pain and even more scared of it taking over my life, that it already has, that the people closest to me think of me differently.  I cry because I want to get out of bed.  I want to do laundry and dishes, I want to cuddle with my fiancé, I want to read and write, I want to return emails, I want to make money, I want to make a meal, I want to make a garden.

But I’m paralyzed, because doctors are no longer treating pain.  Washington State has been one of the hardest places hit by strict regulations about pain medicine, that even pharmacies must abide by.  Strangely, things changed even more, increasing the number of patients like me who cannot function because their doctors also chose to stop prescribing medicine that can help us to function, since January 1st, 2014.  The day the ACA became effective.  I pharmacist I spoke with thinks that there is likely a connection, but neither or use could imagine what it might be, and she looked quite afraid.  And she felt sorry for me.

dea doctors stop prescribing painkillersThe intake staff at hospitals, pharmacists, paramedics, and children that look at me when I am in pain – they can tell I am suffering.  But only a medical doctor is allowed to help me, and I do not know of any medical doctors, here in Seattle, that prescribe pain medication to chronic pain patients.  Evidently, their licenses are more important to them than treating patients.  Amidst all of the noise about OxyContin abuse and “overmedication”, a new epidemic is spreading - under medication.  It is not yet known to be lethal, but it will make you wish it was.

Lucky me, maybe one day I’ll be pain-free and functional and sue.  Maybe one day I’ll get up in the morning and not be afraid of the pain, that only I can feel.  I know this is hard on everyone around me, but I cant help but think, “at least you do not have to live inside my body!”  Maybe one day doctors will start writing prescriptions for chronic pain patients again – the people who need these medicines, and right now, are enduring cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of some combination of changes in the “healthcare system”, the specters of people who abuse the system full-time, the DEA, and medical doctors.

 

Maybe one day you’ll be a lot more worried about your medical license because you caused me needless pain and suffering, because of discrimination and selfishness.  It seems rather odd to have a license to practice medicine when you stop treating the sick human beings that you are supposed to help using everything available to you, including your prescription pad.  To treat people in pain like criminals for being in pain?  Now that sounds like a crime.

 

Author: Jennifer Reimer
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Jennifer ReimerThe Latest Victims of the System: Chronic Pain Patients Denied Medicine

The Socially Conscious Superhero Part One

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Josh Deeds posted this screenshot from the infamous Green Arrow/Green Lantern run for DC Comics back in the 1970s. The 1970s were the beginning of the politically charged comic books that continued in to the 1980s with works like Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns and V For Vendetta. (The 1990s were decidedly apolitical compared to those two decades.)

GL Racist

Josh found a deep cut there. More infamous is the “My ward is a junkie!” revelation. Look here:

Arrow_Junkie

Pretty crazy, right? I personally knew about that last one for quite a bit but I didn’t really appreciate the depth of how socially conscious the Dennis O’Neil run on that series was until recently when I read Grant Morrison’s book Super Gods.

The socially conscious superhero story has been around for a few decades and obviously fits a demographic of comic book reader that has been in the audience for a while, not just overgrown and emotionally dimwitted fanboys like Alan Moore likes to complain about:

Alan Moore has been talking about the state of superhero comics and films in the 21st century, stating that he no longer likes the genre, and saying that he finds audiences going to see The Avengers in their droves “alarming.”

“I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen,” the writer told The Guardian while promoting his latest work, Fashion Beast. “I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine-to-13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently.

Moore goes on:

“These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal.

“This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”

Alan Moore is wrong. Comic books have been doing this a long time. It’s no big secret that Alan Moore has a lot of resentment against the comic book industry and it comes out in spurts of hatred in interviews – often directed at the people who made him famous in the first place.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionThe Socially Conscious Superhero Part One

“The Last Jihad” And Why We Do This Oil Confrontation Thing Every Few Years

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The Last Jihad

I’m trying to up the literary dose on Gonzo Times and in the big pile of books is one I happened upon in my apartment building’s bookshelf, The Last Jihad.

Last Jihad is written by a hired hand conservative writer (saying “hack” would be mean), Joel C. Rosenberg, and was written as propaganda during a pretty brief period in American history – right after 9/11 and before the United States invaded Iraq. I still am not one who buys in to 9/11 inside job conspiracies (both the build up for an attack on World Trade Center by Al Qaeda and the beef between the US and Iraq over Gulf oil resources had been building up for well over a decade) but it is amusing and alarming that Joel C. Rosenberg could have the timing to pound a propaganda book so fast (though the precedent certainly was set back during World War II).

The book had the endorsement of all the conservatives who were big on the radio back then – Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh. Ten years on, both Limbaugh and Hannity have lost a lot of their syndication as the country has gone in a more progressive direction. I could only make it through the beginning of the book – the whole thing was sheer propaganda meant to market a war against Saddam Hussein back in 2002.

Nevertheless, the book is still precedent – the jacket describes Saddam Hussein as an Iraqi butcher who is dispatching assassins to various parts of the west and seeks to bring the Persian Gulf to a cataclysm, one that could possibly be nuclear. (Cue in the Bush administration’s warning of “weapons of mass destruction.) Fiction and reality is certainly blurred as this work of fiction sounds a lot like the warnings the Bush administration was sounding back in 2002 while there was a degree of truth involved – Hussein had tried to kill George H.W. Bush and people certainly were worried about mass murder happening after 9/11.

Most people right now, in 2014, are talking about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Like Hussein, Putin is a Dr. Doom style figure who operates outside of the western sphere of governance – he has clearly been taking his government more to something resembling an authoritarian dictatorship than the sort of parliamentary democracy people hoped for back in the 1990s. Peculiarly, he is the darling of many of this country’s conservatives, from Pat Buchanan to Ron Paul, despite the fact that he is clearly an autocrat. Most people view him as a villain (something international politics seems to need) and his invasion of Ukraine has resulted in Russia’s expulsion from the G8.

Another confrontation with Russia happened indirectly last year when the Obama administration was building a case for war with Syria. The language of the Obama administration was so eerily similar to the Bushes back in 2002 – chemical weapons, human rights violations, pre-emptive strikes, etc. John Kerry sounded a whole lot like Donald Rumsfeld as he told congress that a war with Syria wouldn’t be “war in the classical sense.”

Putin’s own aggression was a key factor in keeping Obama from creating a third Middle East war for the United States, along with single digit support for such a war in the U.S. and a lack of support from our traditional allies.

Rosenberg is still on this nonsense ten years on and even as a liberal black president led the charge for another war in the Middle East, he didn’t join the Rand Paul team. Last year he published a book called Damascus Countdown. You can imagine what that one’s like.

As theatrical and unreal as all these wars seem, it’s not hard to figure out what they are about. In the book jacket for 2002′s Last Jihad, Rosenberg describes a “historic peace treaty” which would spell “enormous wealth for every Israeli and Palestinian.” It’s about the planet’s natural resources, something President Barack Obama spelled out surprisingly bluntly last year:

“The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region. We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War. We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world.”

The Last Jihad is a book that many people may have forgotten – but it’s propaganda should serve to remind us of what we are fighting over. We need these resources to carry on the sort of lifestyle we like and are used to. People die in these wars – it’s not a game. I don’t know what it would be but it’s worth investigating if there are alternative ways of distributing such resources than having a military confrontation with a villainous Dr. Doom dictator every few years.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
Orion“The Last Jihad” And Why We Do This Oil Confrontation Thing Every Few Years

Marijuana: Legalization vs Decriminalization

MuadDib Anarchism, Class War, Featured, Musings, Racism, Social Justice 1 Comment

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Given the fact there is Marijuana legalization on the horizon, I wanted to bring up this topic.

Marijuana has been subject to propaganda dating back to 1936 with the infamous “Reefer Madness” where it insinuates that if someone did smoke weed, they would rape, murder and commit suicide.

Which obviously didn’t come from experience.

However, we have moved forward towards reform which has its upsides and downsides. We will not get a RiffTrax with this either. Though, Mike, Kevin and Bill’s commentary on Congress would be humorous.

I am in favor of medical marijuana use, I am in favor of people being able to own it and use it at their free will. I am not in favor of broad regulations, other than retroactively reversing people’s sentences for possession or selling.

With legalization and decriminalization fines are still present and the government will benefit from theft. With legalization the government will regulate it, tax it and let it be sold as a commodity.

Obviously your friendly neighborhood anarchist isn’t it favor of putting another plant on Wall Street, so they can bleed it dry, genetically modify it and use their patent to deny people heirloom seeds.

Ohio is currently decriminalized and while I represented this position, it seems that they can still ruin your life for owning or selling a large amount of cannabis they do not approve of.

So, 20 grams sold or gifted you will pay a fine and be gifted a misdemeanor. Possessing more than 200 grams will result in a grab-bag of felonies.

Obviously these laws were crafted for a reason.

Before we can claim to be a free country, minorities need not be punished disproportionately for something, the majority of the population does.

Whites in America, just by virtue of their numbers, make up about six times more than the black population and majority of drug users. However, black males were jailed six times more than white males as of 2007, and black men are 11.8 times more likely than white men to be incarcerated for drug use or possession. African-Americans comprise 54 percent of all those convicted of first time drug offenses, the report states.

The drug war is also a systemic race war that needs to end. It is the highest injustice that black males are incarcerated, lose their dignity and chance at livelihood, while struggling in inner cities.

It is just another part of the structural violence of Capitalism. We should put it down.

Along with this legalization comes a new cash crop, that will result in taxes wasted on wars, failed weapon systems and welfare for the business sector. It should be OUR plant, it is part of the commons before Con Agra, Monsanto and Big Ag destroy the integrity of nature once more.

Neither route will make this plant free, neither route will end up keeping us out of jail, it is time to remove it from the schedule and keep it for ourselves.

Author: Joshua Deeds
Visit Joshua's Website - Email Joshua
I currently write for Gonzo Times, Street Speech, and The Angry Syndicalist. My first book titled "Modern Habitual Disenchantment" is live on Google Play. I write for the working class. When I'm not reading comics, I'm playing Skyrim. Check me out on twitter@DirtyDeeds08, DeviantArt@DurtyDeeds93. Thanks for reading!
MuadDibMarijuana: Legalization vs Decriminalization

Why I Am Not Giving Up

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As you may know from reading my statuses on Facebook or reading Gonzo Times, my fiancé and partner Jennifer Lauren Reimer died two nights ago.

I am not sure why. Contrary to what is portrayed on television, a toxicology takes weeks to be reported. Believe me, I am destraut – I have trouble sleeping and I think that my screams of horror at what I woke up to may haunt my former neighbors for some time to come.

Jennifer had serious problems. As I said on Facebook and on Gonzo, it was difficult to get her to eat healthily and much of her time was spent searching for various pain relief medication. She was on a number of medications – some of which, like Effexor and Klonopin, I had been on before. While she did gain weight during her time with me, that wasn’t saying much – she was creepily thin before.

There is no way that life was going to sustain itself with that lifestyle. Perhaps long term drug use can be sustained if one eats and exercises properly but when she seemed unable to do either, what happened was unfortunately preordained. I have all sorts of anxieties about what happened to her effecting me – all worries I didn’t really initially have.

I was not naive. I felt uncomfortable leaving her alone and when I left, even for a short while, often asked her to promise not to do anything to harm herself. She was such a sweetheart – she would tell me that what we had was forever and she would never hurt me like that. I am still not sure if she did die intentionally – her pain was genuinely intense. She would have trouble simply walking down a street corner without crying – a condition her father told me had gotten much worse and which he cringed over the phone at the reality of. She would often cry at the fact that she couldn’t go on daily errands with me due to the pain she felt – it was hard to respond and it felt as if everything I tried to do for her was disappointing.

My best friend asked me if I was at risk of suicide after this great loss. That is understandable. I have been on the edge of depression before but I do not feel those feelings now at all. I saw the horror clearly in the morning and it was a startling reality check. I am blessed to be alive and I want to do all that I can to make sure my loved ones never have to see that.

No, I will not be joining my sweetheart for a good long time. I am here to stay. The outpouring of grief on Facebook represents that Jennifer touched many people’s lives and that people cared for her much more than she may have been able to appreciate.

I have started a Jennifer L. Reimer Memorial Project and many of her friends from Canada and around the world have joined in support of her. Almost every person I know has shown grief and solidarity with me, something which has helped me at least somewhat. I have a lot of trouble sleeping now and, as opposed to feeling suicidal, I now find myself obsessing somewhat at the fact that I am still alive on this earth – the sound of my heartbeat, my breathing and my ability to express myself, all things Jennifer no longer has.

I am still not sure of what killed Jennifer – it may take weeks to really find out – but I know from the response that her leaving has brought that I do not want to do that to others. The death may actually have been natural – many of the medications she obtained were actually still unattended at that point. I am going to keep going in life – I hope to obtain the level of education she had (she completed graduate studies in Canada). She will always be watching over me – my beautiful angel. I love you, Jennifer.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionWhy I Am Not Giving Up

What Is Suddenly Losing The Love Of Your Life Like?

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Jennifer Reimer

At some point during last night, the love of my life left this earth.

The fear had been in the back of my mind – it always is when someone seemed to devote so much of her time to obtaining substances as Jennifer did. I’m not sure what the cause of death was – it could have been a combination of factors. She may have been doing things I was unaware of – yesterday was the most I had left her alone since she got here.

I have done drugs – legal and illegal. The illegal drugs I’ve done are limited – marijuana and mushrooms. And I only ever did those when someone brought them out – socially, much the way someone would drink alcohol. I have done legal drugs and still take Tegretol to treat seizures. I never did the amount that Jennifer did, however, and certainly never sought them out the way that she did.

Much of the brief period I spent with her in my life was spent obtaining pain pills – legally and illegally. I have no idea how much she did. She smoked, did pills and did a number of things that I would never think to do and that I know my body would react violently to if I tried to do them (I have vomited strongly every time I have tried marijuana or mushrooms and I have never smoked a cigarette, for instance – I also have vomited several times after eating fast food. My body has a pretty good awareness of what and what is not digestible.). She even suspected me of throwing away some of these substances that were killing her, yelling at me about it knowing full well that I was as suspicious as the doctors she was frequently at odds with.

Jennifer did a lot for me and for Gonzo Times. She totally redesigned the site and even monetized it.

We are still waiting for the cause to be ascertained. The pain that plagued her body, and which got one doctor to even say that she “had serious problems,” was so horrible that she would scream with tears streaming down her face at the pain she was in. I have no doubt that the combination of that didn’t lead to her being conservative about the pain medication she used. There are any number of factors that could have caused this, however. One of her close friends relayed to me that she had been worrying the day before about the possibility of a brain aneurysm, something that can kill you very, very quickly. My drug-based analysis prior may turn out to be completely wrong.

I can’t say I didn’t expect this – it was a fear of mine. She was a very fragile woman and came from fragile stock. Her family was rife with other young deaths, including her mother. She didn’t treat herself with that fragility kept in mind – but I have trouble judging my sweetheart even if she is gone and I am heartbroken. The horror of waking up to it, though, and knowing it’s not some horrific dream or nightmare – ugh. It’s disgusting. I will never get over it. I love you, Jennifer. May you finally be at peace and free from pain.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionWhat Is Suddenly Losing The Love Of Your Life Like?

Modern Habitual Disenchantment

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Here is the link to my 1st book published by myself and my friend under the title of Solilique Press. Please consider checking it out it’s currently on sale.

Author: Joshua Deeds
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I currently write for Gonzo Times, Street Speech, and The Angry Syndicalist. My first book titled "Modern Habitual Disenchantment" is live on Google Play. I write for the working class. When I'm not reading comics, I'm playing Skyrim. Check me out on twitter@DirtyDeeds08, DeviantArt@DurtyDeeds93. Thanks for reading!
MuadDibModern Habitual Disenchantment

The Perversity of Trade Unions

MuadDib Anarchism, Class War, Musings, Syndicalism Leave a Comment

Trade Unions are the result of perverted bureaucracy, the workers pay “intellectual” business representatives, to not represent them as they truly wish. Trade Unions foster a crippling hierarchy that is authoritative in nature, due to the fact the workers do not speak for themselves truly, as compared to a horizontal union like the Industrial Workers of The World.

My experience with the Teamsters has shown me this, when I left they had grievances in the double-digits that had not been solved. I’d have thought to file a grievance myself, but with how well they represented me, really it was the Steward who did the heavy lifting, the Union did absolutely nothing to retrieve what was owed to me.

These people are often untouchable, unreachable and are not subject to the will of the workers who pay them dues.

Trade Unions also foster nationalist tendencies which propagates attitudes toward foreign workers that are pervasive and deny the fact that ALL workers suffer under this current system.

I myself, was glad to have a Trade Union at my back for reasons that involved benefits and wages, but for solidarity they suck. Any other day of the week, I’ll take an Industrial Union at my side.

Author: Joshua Deeds
Visit Joshua's Website - Email Joshua
I currently write for Gonzo Times, Street Speech, and The Angry Syndicalist. My first book titled "Modern Habitual Disenchantment" is live on Google Play. I write for the working class. When I'm not reading comics, I'm playing Skyrim. Check me out on twitter@DirtyDeeds08, DeviantArt@DurtyDeeds93. Thanks for reading!
MuadDibThe Perversity of Trade Unions

Can a Boxing Decision be Reversed? (Sponsored)

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As instant replay and other forms of review become more prevalent in many mainstream sports, the idea of over-turning rulings has become an increasingly evident facet in the institution of sport. As much as we often hear about calls being over-turned in football, or even baseball or hockey, we do not often hear about reversals of final decisions in boxing matches. According to allpro the often-subjective nature of these decisions, one would think that they would many times be subjected to review. Although this is somewhat rare, there are several prominent instances in which the ruling of a boxing match has been over-turned, granting victory to a once defeated participant.

   One recent example of a match in which a ruling was over-turned involved American boxer Bernard Hopkins. In 2011, Hopkins was taking on Chad Dawson for the light-heavyweight championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. At the end of the match, Hopkins missed a punch and ended up being tangled up with Dawson. This entanglement eventually resulted in Hopkins being shoved down to the mat, dislocating a joint near his shoulder. Unable to get up, Hopkins was ruled by officials to have been technically knocked out. Since no foul was called against Dawson, he was awarded the Technical Knock Out despite never landing a punch. The World Boxing Council ultimately declared the fight a draw. They had declared that Hopkins was intentionally lifted up and thrown by Dawson, and that therefore a Technical Knockout was the proper ruling. They ruled that the championship belt was to stay, at the time, in the hands of Hopkins. Although their rulings are not official, the California State Athletic Commission, officially presiding over the fight, ruled it a No Contest.

   The over-turning of rulings in boxing matches is not uniquely American phenomenon. Changing of rulings has also occurred in Olympic boxing. In the 2012 London Olympics, Indian boxer Krishan Vikas was awarded a decision 13-11 against American boxer Errol Spence Junior. The decision had been shocking to many who were observing the fight. Prior to the ruling, the referee had already begun to raise the hand of Errol. The gesture was premature, as the ruling would ultimately go in the opposite direction. After a strong first round for Vikas, Errol took control of the match. Vikas had been, in the eyes of many, committing an incessant amount of holding throughout the match. To the surprise of many, the judges ruled in favor of Vikas despite what was viewed as being a fight clearly controlled by Errol. The International Amateur Boxing Association, in light of the excessive holding being done by Vikas, reversed the ruling of the match and awarded Errol the victory. They based their rationale on their perception that Vikas had committed nine holding fouls during the third round, none of which were called. In assessing those fouls, four points were awarded to Errol, ultimately giving him the victory in the match. This reversal came on the heels of a previous reversal in a match involving Japanese boxer Satoshi Shimizu, who had knocked down his opponent five times in the third round of his bout, but had been ruled to have lost the round.

   Like many other sports, boxing rulings have came under must scrutiny in recent years. In response, regulating organizations have now been more inclined than before to reverse rulings. This inclination reflects a general trend in contemporary sports. 

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionCan a Boxing Decision be Reversed? (Sponsored)

Washington State’s Schizophrenic Drug Policies

Jennifer Reimer Featured Leave a Comment

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Drug policy in my home state is all over the place. The Washington State Liquor Control Board used to control distribution of liquor pretty strongly – now I can buy a Corona or Jack Daniel’s at Target or Bartell’s (a local Walgreen’s style drug store). In that same time, marijuana has been all but legalized but pain medicine has been heavily restricted, with people who genuinely need treatment for pain now being treated much the same way people looking around for booze or pot used to be treated:

Charles Passantino stared at his doctor in disbelief.

A 64-year-old patient with a crippling liver disease, Passantino had received treatment for eight years for chronic pain. He took small doses of oxycodone, a generic painkiller, to free his muscles from stiffness and swelling.

With the pills, he got by. Without them, just walking from bedroom to living room proved unbearable.

Now, with little explanation and no warning, he was being dumped.

In March, Passantino’s doctor told him that his Pierce County clinic, part of the Community Health Care network, was no longer treating chronic-pain patients. The doctor wrote one last oxycodone prescription — 25 pills, 5 milligrams each, good for maybe a week — and suggested that Passantino cut the tablets into pieces, to make them last longer.

Good luck finding another doctor, the physician said.

What happened to Passantino is a scene that has played out in medical offices across Washington, thanks to new state rules governing the prescribing of painkillers. Those rules — which, among other things, impose restrictions upon doctors once certain dosage levels are reached — have driven so many health-care providers from the field that many pain patients now struggle to find care.

State officials say Washington’s new pain-management law will help reverse a rising tide of overdose deaths.

But the law does nothing to specifically address the risks of methadone — by far, the state’s number-one killer among long-acting pain drugs.

What’s more, hundreds if not thousands of patients have been denied life-enabling medications, cut off or turned away by doctors leery of the burdens and expense imposed by lawmakers, according to hospital representatives and consumer advocates.

At least 84 clinics and hospitals now refuse new pain patients, and some have booted existing patients, The Times found.

On one level, it is comforting to know the hell you are going through with a loved one is something that a large group is going through and that you’re not really alone. On the other, that makes it worse because it shows how little thought lawmakers put in to how their legislation impacts people’s lives.

Oh, and there are no laws on antidepressants, even simple regulations like an age restriction or needing a prescription, despite all sorts of danger warnings, and hospitals in the area dole them out not just if you are feeling blue but also if you’re there for a broken leg, a seizure or – guess what – chronic pain. I think they do this because antidepressants are their only real option with regulations on all the other traditionally available medication.

I can’t help but think antidepressants, which are drugs that fit the definition of “controlled substance” as much as painkillers do, will be legislated on in a couple of years and people coming in to hospitals for a new dose will be treated like criminals by the people who got them hooked in the first place. It’s like a big circle of prohibition and legalization that leaves one confused about where addiction and treatment end and begin.

Almost all medicine is dangerous – especially in large amounts. Tylenol, Ibuprofen and a host of other drugs that don’t even need a prescription can be dangerous in large enough amounts – even vitamins can be hazardous. By it’s very nature, medicine messes with the body and the mind in potentially destructive ways. It is designed to alter one’s state, for better and for worse.

We’ve tried prohibition over and over in this country – the laws of human behavior are not going to change and haven’t changed. It’s strange that we are tightening our grip on some substances while loosening our grip on substances we prohibited for decades. We can pass common sense regulation or keep playing God with people’s lives – those are the choices.

Author: Jennifer Reimer
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Jennifer ReimerWashington State’s Schizophrenic Drug Policies

Review: Iron Man – Noir

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Iron Man

I wrote this back in 2012, while homeless and trying to stay sane due to my family’s insanity. Pretty impressive that I was able to keep writing despite that nonsense. Enjoy.

The Avengers movie is arriving in theaters in only a couple of days, bringing a cadre of heroes to the screen in a way I never thought I would see. Times really do change – a little over ten years ago Marvel Comics was literally bankrupt. They got bought up by Toy Biz, a toy company that certainly didn’t carry the legendary gravitas that Marvel did. Then Wesley Snipes as Blade happened, followed by X-Men and then Spider-Man, and suddenly comic book movies were in the mainstream. Things have cascaded since then considerably until the point in which superhero names once only known by the extremely socially awkward are now socially acceptable. Old Navy is currently selling Avengers T-shirts in full display next to its most fashionable ware. Marvel’s quality of work has doubled up in recent years and the characters that make up the film to be released on Friday have been some of the most benefited.

Among some of the best recent work featuring Avengers characters is Iron Man Noir. Iron Man Noir has several copies available in the Seattle Public Library system, indicating its popularity. The concept of this edition in the Noir series (the Noir portrays various Marvel characters in the environment of the 1930s, often complete with very clever elements of that decade’s culture and society. The Great Depression and 1930s concepts in the Noir series has usually stretched things to fit – the idea of Peter Parker as a Marxist revolutionary didn’t really seem to make all of that much sense. With Iron Man, however, things really actually fit. Tony Stark fits very well in to the archetype of Howard Hughes. Like Hughes, this version of Tony Stark adventures across the globe – past the comfort zone that his wealth allows for him. Like Hughes, this boldness masks some very serious problems – for Hughes, it was a debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder that eventually led to Hughes escaping a world he had simply grown tired of dealing with while, for Stark, it’s a heart condition (much more serious than OCD) that haunts Stark and proves the basis for his Iron Man costume.

Stark’s assistant Rhodes comes with racial connotations that are hinted at (though not as much as the sexist connotations fitting Pepper Potts, who the Depression version of Namor openly looks down upon as part of an American effort of “allowing women to run around like men. In the Noir series, Potts is actually a much tougher woman – following Stark as she writes pulp novels, featuring Stark’s adventures, under a male pen name) but not explored all too much. That’s probably fitting, as bringing that whole can of worms in would only make the whole story all of the more complicated. The aforementioned Namor is one of the most interesting elements of Iron Man Noir and it would be really cool to see a Fantastic Four series in this universe. Namor, in this world, is a rogue fishermen who mutilates his ears to be pointed, marking him as a rough sort that can make it through the horror and toughness of the Great Depression world.

Tony Stark’s complex relation with his father is explored quite a bit as well. In this world, Stark’s father is a veteran of the First World War who, while Tony is growing up, experiences frequent flashbacks to the horrors of that war. As far as I’ve seen, there haven’t been Noir incarnations of the Hulk, Iron Man or Captain America (the latter may be redundant) but a Noir version of the Avengers would be excellent. The basis is already there.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionReview: Iron Man – Noir

Putting Michael Crichton’s “Micro” Under The Scope

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One of many covers used for

Michael Crichton died suddenly in 2008. Crichton reportedly had been a smoker for years and the verdict was throat cancer but his family has been understandably tight lipped about the details. Crichton should be famous with most people who were conscious during the 1990s – he was the creator of two Jurassic Park novels, which spawned three films, a theme park and all sorts of licensed action figures and video games.

Crichton was a productive writer all throughout the 2000s. His personal philosophy and possibly his background in industry made him doubtful of global warming and at about the same time Al Gore was producing An Inconvenient Truth, Crichton produced the book State of Fear, one of his more boring efforts which argued, through fiction, that global warming was really a scheme to get more environmental lobbying money for folks like Al Gore.

Whether you agree with it or not, it wasn’t his best book. He started to get much better right before his death. Next came out in 2007, right before he passed, and told the tale of cloning gone awry much in the manner of Jurassic Park but this time involving our mammal cousins, monkeys. I really recommend that one – his publisher produced a pretty good audiobook version.

Micro was released in 2011, three years after Crichton died. It was a bit weird having this posthumous book on my shelf next to Hitch 22, Christopher Hitchens’ memoir, since they both died at fairly similar times of fairly similar causes and had fairly similar views of the world. Harper Collins got an appropriate writer to fill in the blanks on Micro – Richard Preston.

The introduction to Micro is left untouched and unfinished, which is just as well, and there is a big portrait of Crichton, alive and well, on the back. Crichton wasn’t the best writer – his style was very similar to the filmmaker George Lucas, who comes up with some great ideas but provides wooden dialogue and not very lively descriptions, a bit more like a movie script than a novel. Like Lucas, Crichton is excellent when his concepts have others helping him fulfill them – as Stephen Speilberg did with the Jurassic Park films and now Preston has with Micro.

The plot to Micro is insane and terrifying. Vincent Drake, working as a contractor for the government, develops “micro drones” originally designed to help administer medical work by being able to access all parts of the human body. This is Michael Crichton, of course, so technology goes awry. Drake starts to use the drones with hopes of military use and, when fellow investors catch wind of where he is going with the company, he uses the generator that makes these originally refrigerator size drones microscopic on investors and graduate students who became involved in the project.

What follows is insane – battles with insects, larvae infecting one graduate student’s arm and the horror of a showdown with a solitary wasp. It’s pretty terrifying and is not for the squeamish. Preston does a great job of executing Crichton’s original ideas but his more literary delivery becomes very apparent. One of my favorite scenes in the book was clearly written by him and not Crichton, when Honolulu Police Chief Don Makale is seen ruminating about how delicious spam sushi is and Preston writes about the history of spam in the Pacific Islands (something I know a bit about personally).

Micro is a great book and the science-gone-awry tradition of Aldous Huxley onward that Crichton dedicated his life to is very much honored. I’m going to check for Richard Preston’s work more in the future – this is definitely a sign of more to come.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionPutting Michael Crichton’s “Micro” Under The Scope
gay marriage IRS

Does the IRS Say We’re Married or Not? Same-Sex Couples Filing Jointly and Separately (By Ella Gray)

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As long as a same-sex couple is legally married, and are considered spouses in the eyes of the law on the federal level, they will enjoy the same tax benefits—and suffer the same disadvantages of filing taxes—as heterosexual couples do from the tax filing year of 2013 forward.

According to the IRS, same-sex married couples have the option to file their taxes jointly or separately, which can be a big relief for those couples who have a double income family structure. With that said, the rules for same-sex couples do change from state to state, but not on the federal level since the passing of the same-sex marriage law on the federal level in 2013.

But just like heterosexual married couples, same-sex couples that are legally married may not file their 2013 taxes with either partner listed as the “head of household.” This is one way that they are on equal footing with the rest of US taxpayers. Additionally, same-sex couples may claim children as dependents, but only one of the partners may do so for the purposes of a tax deduction, child tax credit, or additional child tax credit.

When it comes to retirement plans for those in same-sex marriages, the same federal laws will apply just as they do for heterosexual married couples—and interestingly, even in states and other jurisdictions that do not recognize same-sex marriages as a legal union, the same rules apply, and the married couple must be awarded the same rights in terms of qualified retirement plans as any other couple.

It is also important to note that same-sex married couples in which one partner is a sole proprietor employs his or her spouse may not claim an unemployment refund for said spouse working for the sole proprietor; because this spouse received earnings through the sole proprietor, and because they are married, the earnings of the employed spouse will be considered as part of the earned income for the same-sex couple who file jointly.

The good news is that things are definitely moving in the right direction on the federal level for same-sex married couples, and states are for the most part following suit—or being forced to follow suit even if they have not passed laws that recognize same-sex marriages. And certainly by the time the 2014 tax year rolls around, many more states will have laws in place that recognize gay and lesbian married couples for the purposes of filing joint or separate taxes.

Nonetheless, even though the federal government and the IRS have confirmed that they will allow gay and lesbian married couples to file as married (jointly or separately) some states are pushing back, and trying to make it illegal for such married couples to file as married, suggesting the only way they should be allowed to file their 2013 taxes is as individuals. Many states have passed laws that make same-sex marriage unconstitutional for their specific state, but the federal and Supreme Court ruling supersedes these states’ rulings. But some states, including Kansas, North Dakota, and Idaho, have passed (or tried to pass) state laws that will disallow married same-sex couples to file jointly or separately. Naturally, this has the LGBTQ community in an uproar, and the states that are making these legal rulings may well find themselves in legal trouble with the federal government, even to the point of being sued for not recognizing federal law and the 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court.

Please feel free to contact Ella Gray at ella.l.gray@gmail.com with any questions or concerns you may have. 

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionDoes the IRS Say We’re Married or Not? Same-Sex Couples Filing Jointly and Separately (By Ella Gray)
masato yamaguchi plastic painting

The Art of Masato Yamaguchi (By Ella Gray)

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Japanese artist Masato Yamaguchi has never been afraid to experiment with blending the old and the new in his work. He draws inspiration from the greats as easily as he does from advertising and pop culture. Yamaguchi’s newest series, Plastic Painting, remixes the imagery of his favorite artists in handcrafted plastic structures that blend the boundaries of originality and imitation in contemporary art. The Tokyo-based artist is aware of the derivative quality of his plastic paintings, and he begs the question of whether true originality still exists in today’s highly connected world.

Why plastic? Yamaguchi grew up in Tokyo, a city which he felt drew much of its culture from Western societies. On his website, he claims that this mash-up of cultures made it “difficult to identify what ‘original’ Japanese culture existed in [Tokyo] society”. Yamaguchi wanted to reflect this sampling quality in his work, and after years of struggling to find his own identity, he decided that plastic was the perfect physical material to convey his message.  

“I see the world as overflowing with artificial things; an aggregation of plastic.” Yamaguchi’s plastic paintings draw on the superficiality of this material to reflect the plastic quality of contemporary culture. He talks about how the Internet inundates us with artistic images taken out of context. Anyone can Google the paintings of Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein, but this does not compare to the experience of seeing these paintings in a live, immersive atmosphere. Without that first-person experience, the works lose much of the intricacy and dimension that are crucial in conveying their message. 

Yamaguchi draws on the styles and iconic qualities of these artists while putting them in a new context of his own making. While the works are called Plastic Painting, the pieces are actually plastic sculptures, delicately crafted using plastic welding and molders. While the artists who inspired Plastic Painting used natural substances—paint, canvas, wood—to create the originals, Yamaguchi uses plastic welding to create an artificial remix of their various works. The resulting “paintings” are complex, intricate structures that make a powerful whole out of the disparate pieces. This mash-up of famous, “high” art and pop culture in a plastic medium creates a superficial quality that reflects contemporary culture.

Yamaguchi compares his work to a butterfly collector pinning specimens in display cases. Out of its natural context, the specimen can take on a new meaning. At the same time, by remixing these copied styles in a unique medium, Yamaguchi asks the viewer to question whether contemporary art can truly be original. This blend of originality and imitation reflects the assimilative culture in which Yamaguchi was raised, and is representative of the sampling and mash-up movement that has become prevalent in various mediums from hip-hop music to Internet memes.  

Plastic Painting is a powerful example of the vast opportunities available to contemporary artists to explore new forms. Through the use of plastic welding equipment and 3D printers, artists can create works that classical painters could only dream of. Imagine what Salvador Dali could have done with welding equipment and plastic molders at his disposal. The question that Masato Yamaguchi asks us to consider is whether these new forms can be considered original or whether all art—all culture for that matter—is simply a superficial derivative of the culture that preceded it.  

Please feel free to contact Ella Gray at ella.l.gray@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

Author: Michael Powell
Visit Michael's Website - Email Michael
I started writing at Gonzo Times years ago. I am a long time libertarian who jumped to anarchism out of disgust for bigotry and militarism. I am helping manage Gonzo right now and hope to bring in as many diverse voices as possible. My political work can also be found at the Hampton Institute.
OrionThe Art of Masato Yamaguchi (By Ella Gray)