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Scott Hixson

My heroes are predominately literary figures. Some are authors. All are dead. I like to collect antiquated things. My prized possessions in this world are two typewriters and neither one of them has ink. You could say I like useless things, and you’d be right. Between my typewriters, vinyl, library of yellowing pages and English major I am, in essence, utterly useless. In a past life, I was a drop of ink on page 57 of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” I then became a sandy rock and I have not moved since. I often like chain-smoking because I find I would rather worry about killing time than killing myself slowly. I pretend my freckles are constellations. I’ve yet to find any discernible shapes. My teeth are too big for my head. I’m just like everybody else, but stretched out. This has led many to feel like they can criticize, as if skinny people are less conscious about their weight than obese people. I’ve had nicknames ranging from the relatively tame “Tree” to the more absurd, and frankly offensive, “Ethiopian dynamite." I got a brain tattooed on my chest to remind me to think more. It didn’t work. I’ve noticed since I reached manhood that elderly men hit on me more than any other demographic. I can’t quite figure out why. I like ghost stories though I don’t believe in the existence of ghosts. I stole yard gnomes from a neighbor’s garden when I was much younger. I thought I was part of something coined the National Gnome Liberation Front. I’m pretty sure the statute is up for that so I have no qualms. Also, they were mean neighbors. I consider the smell of old books an aphrodisiac, I think it’s the sign of a serious mental condition. I think MDMA is a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and an Oreo on top on a rainy day. Whisox!

The Scream painting sells for record amount

The Scream painting fetches extraordinary amount, $119 million

The Scream painting has fetched an extraordinary amount at auction Wednesday, a record $119 million.

The Scream painting is easily one of the most recognizable works of expressionism in the world. Its distorted figure and streaky blood-red sky are known the world over as a modern expression of human angst.

Edvard Munch’s 117-year-old work of art fetched a record $119,922,500 at Sotheby’s auction in New York City. No details we given regarding the identity of the buyer.

The 1895 piece exceeded pre-auction estimates by a wide margin, approximately $40 million, in fact.

The Norwegian artist, born in Oslo in 1863, stated of the experience that brought the painting to life: “I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”

The inspiration for The Scream painting can be seen in Munch’s own experiences. The artist was surrounded with tragedy throughout his life, suffering the death of both his parents and beloved sister by the age of 25. He also witnessed his sister, Laura, committed to an asylum shortly afterwards.

The seller of the item, Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, remarked that he thought “the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work.” Olsen is the son of a former friend and patron of Munch.

The previous record for a work of art sold at auction belonged to Pablo Picasso’s, “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,” which sold for $106 million at Christie’s auction house in 2010.

Simon Shaw, a member of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department, stated of the renowned Munch painting: “If ever there was a work of art of true shock-and-awe, it was Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream.’”

John Edwards battles personal details in trial

Cate Edwards, daughter of the embattled politician, leaves courtroom in tears

John Edwards, former Presidential candidate, remains under scrutiny after riveting testimony in his campaign-finance trial drives his daughter from the courtroom.

John Edwards faces six counts stemming from alleged violations of campaign finance laws after reportedly using nearly $1 million to conceal an extramarital pregnancy. John Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all counts stemming from the investigation. Edwards faces 30 years in prison if convicted on the charges, alleging he funneled campaign cash into a slush fund used to conceal his infidelity.

The issue began in 2007 with a National Enquirer article revealing the extramarital affair of John Edwards and Rielle Hunter. Hunter’s initial refusal to deny the report ultimately led Elizabeth Edwards, former wife of the disgraced former Presidential candidate, to confront her husband in an airport parking lot before tearing her shirt and bra from her body and yelling, “You don’t see me anymore.”

Elizabeth Edwards was at this time battling terminal breast cancer and has since passed away in 2010.

The revelation of the testimony detailing her mother’s hysterical reaction led Cate Edwards, daughter of John Edwards, to flee from the courtroom in tears.

This revelation marks yet another bizarre turn in coverage of the trial. Recently, it was agreed that testimony relating to a steamy sex tape made by Hunter and Edwards can be used in the trial. The defense team for John Edwards claims the tape was stolen by a former campaign aid, Andrew Young. Despite claims about how the tape was made public, Judge Catherine Eagles declared testimony relating to it could be used in the trial; though, jurors would not be shown the contents of the tape.

Jurors have heard twice in trial that Edwards believed he was not breaking any campaign finance laws during the affair. Former campaign aide, Andrew Young, has stated that he was told by Edwards that there was nothing illegal in how they were hiding Hunter’s pregnancy.

Junior Seau found dead at 43

Junior Seau found dead of apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Oceaside, California home

Junior Seau found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 43 in his California home on Wednesday.

The death of Junior Seau comes as a shock to many who continually are witness to the ever-increasing incidents of self-inflicted violence, depression and dementia in former football players.

Junior Seau was a 20-year veteran of the NFL where he was a well-respected and dominant inside linebacker for franchises such as the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. The career of Junior Seau was one of incredible success in the sport, having been elected to 12 straight Pro Bowls, a Chargers franchise record.

Junior Seau was selected to the NFL’s all-decade team for the ‘90s and was honored as the league’s man of the year award in 1994.

Junior Seau was a member of the Chargers only Super Bowl title following the ’94 season.

The death of Junior Seau has left many shocked and surprised. The Miami Dolphins former coach, Dave Wannstedt, said of the passing that it is “just so tragic” and “hard to believe.”

Gina Seau, the ex-wife of Junior Seau stated, “We have no clues whatsoever. We’re as stunned and shocked as anyone else. We’re horribly saddened. We miss him and we’ll always love him.”

According to police, no suicide-note was found at the scene and it was not immediately clear who owned the gun found near the star’s body. Drugs and alcohol are not suspected as influencing the star’s death.

“You just don’t know what to say. There are so many things you’re thinking about that you did with him, through some good times we had here and some difficult times with the team. I think all of us are going to sit back in the next couple of says and reflect upon our relationship with him over the last years, however long you knew him. I want to remember all of the good thins about him because there are so many great things about this man and what he meant. . . . He was a great leader in this community.” Stated San Diego Chargers President, Dean Spanos, at a news conference,

In 2010, Junior Seau was involved in a car accident after he was arrested during an incident at the Oceanside, CA home he shared with a girlfriend. Drugs and alcohol were not suspected in the 2010 incident either.

The death of Junior Seau brings revived attention to the problem of brain injuries in the NFL. A number of lawsuits have arisen in the past year directed at the NFL including a wrongful-death suit against the league filed by the family of former Chicago Bears safety, Dave Duerson, whose 2011 suicide brought increased scrutiny to how the league handles concussions in its players.

Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling died just last month after suffering from depression and dementia, a condition many former football players face during and after their playing career.

However, the league intends to address the problem of concussions, depression, dementia and violence in its players it is clear that the football community has lost an admirable man whose passion for the game and energy will cause many to miss him dearly and question the dangerous impact of concussions in players.

Joseph Kony remains at large

Joseph Kony may be receiving support from the South Sudanese government

Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the African nation of Uganda, is reportedly receiving support from the South Sudan government and may even be hiding out in the southern province of that nation.

A captured LRA fighter claimed that Kony was recently in a region of South Sudan, Uganda’s neighbor to the north, according to a statement from Ugandan forces commander Gen. Aronda Nyakairima on Monday.

The Ugandan military spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye, stated that some of the captured LRA rebels appeared to have been wearing uniforms supplied by the Sudanese government though no Sudanese weapons were found in the hands of the rebels.

Sudan’s information minister, Abdulla Ali Masar, denied his government has ever supported Joseph Kony or the LRA.

Joseph Kony rose to internet stardom in the U.S. and globally after the circulation of a Youtube video created by the Invisible Children organization in an effort to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers in sub-Saharan Africa.

Joseph Kony is a convicted Ugandan war criminal and fugitive from the International Criminal Court but his reputation in parts of Uganda varies. Many remember the initial days of his insurrection and the oppressive Museveni government he battled.

The wife of Joseph Kony and mother of two of his children was abducted when she was 13 and forced to be one of his dozens of wives. Adye Sunday, 25, said of the fugitive warlord: “I don’t see Kony as a bad person. Everything done in the bush is blamed on Kony, but to me he’s not a bad person.”

Many see Jospeph Kony as no more than a murderous criminal; however, and his fugitive status does little except infuriate and confound many.

Joseph Kony is infamous for the horrid tactics he has implemented in waging his rebellion, including reportedly cutting the lips off women that ring the alarm of his advance, and ordering abducted children to kill their parents. Over 3,000 children have been abducted by the LRA since 2008, according to the United Nations and Human Rights Watch. Many families worry that their children may be killed in the search for Joseph Kony as soldiers may not be able to distinguish between rebels and abducted children.

In 2010, President Barack Obama sent 100 military advisers to Uganda in order to help the Ugandan government secure the capture of Joseph Kony but the rebel leader remains at large.

Cinco de Mayo approaching rapidly

Cinco de Mayo promises parties

Cinco de Mayo is only a few days away, and many are beginning preparations for one of the most celebrated “minor” holidays in our nation. So break out the margaritas, Mexican cuisine or, better yet, the dreaded bottle of tequila and make room for plenty of friends.

Cinco de Mayo, this Saturday, will be celebrated across the nation as not a celebration of Mexican independence, as many believe, but instead as a celebration of Mexican heritage.

Many erroneously believe Cinco de Mayo commemorates the anniversary of Mexican Independence much in the same way we as Americans also erroneously celebrate our nation’s liberation from the English on July 4 each year. The historical reason for the holiday dates back to 1862 when Mexican forces defeated an overwhelmingly larger French battalion at the Battle of the Puebla.

French forces landed in Veracruz that year accompanied by British and Spanish soldiers in a collaborative effort to reclaim debts owed to France by the Mexican President Benito Juarez.

Cinco de Mayo has become more than just a commemoration of victory. The holiday has come to represent the pride and passion many Mexican citizens and Mexican-Americans feel toward their country. The day is celebrated in Mexico as an optional national holiday; students are given the day off from school, banks and federal offices may or may not be closed depending on what state they are in. Puebla, the site of the original victory, commemorates with parades and even a mock-battle.

In Mexico, the holiday is a matter of national pride. In the U.S. it’s no different; though, it is often high-jacked by revelers searching for any occasion to celebrate. With the diversity of our nation increasing each year, it is no surprise that many states find their Mexican-American populations increasing as well.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, there were approximately 32 million residents of Mexican heritage, and the Mexican-American population outnumbers any other Hispanic groups in 40 out of the 50 states.

Cinco de Mayo can be celebrated by members of any ethnicity in a variety of ways; however, one key thing should be kept in mind- that of Mexican pride. Partiers can take in a night of Mexican-themed music, enjoy a tasty meal of Mexican cuisine or appreciate the diverse and significant cultural artifacts produced by Mexicans or people of Mexican descent. Whatever you end up doing, remember to keep in mind the many aspects of Mexican heritage that make many so proud.

Painkiller Addiction surges among mothers and others in U.S.

Painkiller Addiction increases across the country

Painkiller addiction is a rising problem nationwide, according to a recent Associated Press analysis that saw overdoses as a result of prescription painkillers skyrocket in some states, as much as sixteenfold, in the period between 2000 and 2010.

Painkiller addiction and its surge can be attributed to a variety of reasons, for instance, the growing number of senior citizens in this country. That is certainly not the only reason sales of the two most common prescription painkillers have skyrocketed in recent years.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, in 2010 pharmacies distributed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone, the two main ingredients in the nation’s most popular prescription painkillers; OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab. That amount is enough for every U.S. citizen to receive 40 5-mg Percocets and 24 5-mg Vicodins.

The AP analysis collected the drug data quarterly based on the DEA’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System that tracks shipments from distributors to pharmacies, medical practitioners and teaching institutions. These figures were combined with census data to figure the approximate per capita sales.

Some states saw a drastic increase in painkiller addiction and distribution for a variety of reasons, either they have a shipping center for mail-order pharmacies or a military base or hospital treating injured soldiers returning from overseas, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies executive director, Carmen Catizone.

The rise in distribution of prescription painkillers coincides with increasing overdose deaths in numerous states across the nation, including; Florida, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico, among others. The nation has also seen a rise in pharmacies becoming the target of robberies as painkiller addicts target them for their lack of security and vast supplies of the drugs. It is believed that many states, such as Florida, have problems with doctors that give out painkiller prescriptions “no questions asked.”

Painkiller addiction is as dangerous to someone’s health as addiction to any other illegal substance and the abuse of painkillers without a prescription is considered illegal as well.

In 2009, there were reported 39,147 overdose deaths related to drug-use; more than the 36,216 traffic fatalities and 31,347 gun-related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics.

Painkiller addiction is reportedly responsible for 15,500 deaths in this country annually. That is more than the rates of overdose death among heroin and cocaine users combined, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

According to the ONDCP, about two-thirds of prescription pain pill abusers obtain them from a friend or relative.

With the rise in the number of prescription painkillers in the U.S. and subsequently the increase in painkiller addiction, the Federal government and other organizations caution about disposal of unused pills. Flushing the pills down the toilet, as many do, can contaminate local water supplies and is strongly advised against.

Another negative aspect of painkiller addiction is that many young users do not see the harm in abusing the drugs recreationally. Many do not realize that painkiller addiction can inevitably lead to heroin or other opiate addictions; as such drugs are typically cheaper than prescription pills and just as dangerous.

Nursing mothers are particularly advised against abusing prescription painkillers as babies born to mothers using such drugs can develop what is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Symptoms of NAS in newborns can include trouble breathing, tremors and seizures, difficulty feeding and low birth weight, according to the American Medical Association, which also showed an increase in painkiller use among nursing mothers from 2000 to 2009. The study found an increase of fivefold, from 1.19 cases per 1,000 births to 5.63 per 1,000 births annually.

The rate of infants born with NAS also rose during the same period from 1.2 cases per 1,000 births to 3.39 per 1,000.

Doctors at the University of Maine, Marie Hayes and Mark Brown, stated: “These medications provide superior pain control for cancer and chronic pain, but have been over prescribed, diverted and sold illegally, creating a new opiate addiction pathway and a public health burden for maternal and child health.”

May Day protesters and Occupy members team up

May Day brings global protests

May Day has arrived and laborers are marking it with protests around the world.

May Day is celebrated on May 1 each year and is recognized by many as “International Worker’s Day.” This year many organizations have called for an international day of protest, urging people to skip work or school.

Protesters, along with immigration activists and Occupy movement members, are calling for a day of action to demonstrate for the “1 percent” what the other “99 percent” can do.

This May Day is being marked with plans by Occupy Oakland protesters in California to “occupy” the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Organized labor protesters in Washington, D.C. plan a similar march to the White House. In New York, plans are to gather in midtown Manhattan at Bryant Park and the neighboring Bank of America tower to picket and protest unjust conditions for laborers worldwide.

“All civilians stand by for GENERAL STRIKE at 08:00. No Work, School, or Shopping. All out in the streets!” stated a text message broadcast from an Occupy Wall Street address late Monday.

This May Day is important as it marks the convergence of numerous protest groups, including Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy groups nationwide, in an effort to convey the drastic effects of the widening gap between rich and poor, owners and laborers- an issue that is reminiscent of the spark that brought May Day to the sacred forefront of protest movements.

Occupy protesters have targeted financial institutions in this country since their beginning following the pro-Democratic revolutions known as the “Arab Spring” last year. Their intentions are to not only bring attention to the apparent disparities between those in power and the laborers who support them but also to bring about change to the financial institutions that play such an integral part in this nation’s economy.

Protesters plan to camp out across the street from the New York Stock Exchange. The Stock Exchange reported no problems shortly after opening Tuesday. 

Domestic Workers United outreach coordinator, Joycelyn Gill-Campbell, commented, “We have to show the 1 percent what democracy looks like. The domestic workers take care of their children, their homes, and they’re treated like less than human beings.”

Protests in Chicago include a gathering at Union Park at noon accompanied by a march downtown at 1 p.m.

Chicago is especially relevant to this year’s May Day in that it is the center for protest centering on the NATO summit scheduled for May 20 and 21. The city of Chicago has already made drastic preparations for what is expected to be an immense crowd of protesters flocking to the city.

Chicago also has another important connection to May Day as it was the site of the Haymarket riot in 1886, which is seen as the foundation for May Day and international recognition of laborers. The 1886 incident occurred on May 4 as laborers protested for an eight-hour work day. An unknown assailant threw dynamite into the crowd, killing both police and protesters. Eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy in the case, four were executed in 1887.

Pete Dutro, 37, a protest organizer from Brooklyn, N.Y., stated of the correlation between this year’s May Day and the 1883 Chicago incident. “The labor conditions were not good back then, people were being exploited and you had a huge disparity in income. And that’s what we’re facing right now.”

Delmon Young suspended 7 games without pay

Delmon Young suspended for alleged hate-crime

Delmon Young, Detroit Tigers left fielder, has been suspended without pay by Major League Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, for an alleged hate-crime while the team was in New York for a series with the Yankees this past weekend. Delmon Young reportedly made anti-Semitic comments to a group of individuals before supposedly tackling one of the men. New York police reported the incident occurred early Friday morning outside a Manhattan hotel, the New York Hilton, where the team was staying for the trip.

Delmon Young, 26, is charged with aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Young was arraigned Friday night and released on $5,000 bond.

Selig stated, “Those associated with our game should meet the responsibilities and standards that stem from our game’s stature as a social institution. An incident like this cannot and will not be tolerated. I understand that Mr. Young is regretful, and it is my expectation that he will learn from this unfortunate episode.”

The suspension of Delmon Young is retroactive to Friday. He will miss five games and will be eligible to return Friday, May 4. Detroit Tigers President and General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, stated he would be reinstated to the team that day. Dombrowski also stated Young would not appeal the suspension and that the Tiger organization is not able to enact its own disciplinary action. Tigers Manager, Jim Leyland, was not available for comment Monday during the team’s series in Kansas City.

According to a statement from the Commissioner’s office, Delmon Young will be required to participate in a treatment program.

Young was initially taken to Roosevelt Hospital as he was believed to be intoxicated. Dombrowski commented that he was “not in a very good state as far as his sobriety.”

The Tiger’s outfielder will lose approximately $257,240 of his $6,725,000 salary. He is batting .242 in 18 games with the Tigers this season with one home and five RBIs.