Tag Archives: Pandora’s Promise

Notes from Downwind

Dear Friend and Reader:

Most people think of the nuclear incident at the Fukushima Daiichi power-generating station as something that happened in the past. You don’t see it mentioned on network or cable news, and it’s not on most news websites or in major newspapers.

Planet Waves
Cranes have been installed over the spent fuel pool inside the No.4 reactor building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, shown Nov. 6, 2013. Photo: Kyodo News Service.

You may have heard that in March 2011, Units 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima plant experienced total meltdowns after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the cooling systems of the nuclear reactors.

What you probably have not heard is that in each unit, more than 200 tons of radioactive material got so hot that it turned to lava and melted through the containment structure and into the ground under the plants. It’s currently unaccounted for and is threatening the water supply for 40 million people in the greater Tokyo area.

The most recent mention of anything related to the Fukushima situation in The New York Times was an editorial one month ago focusing on the politics of nuclear power in Japan, with the former prime minister saying he was now in favor of a total ban. The editorial mentioned that a large majority (76%) of Japanese citizens are now opposed to the continued use of nuclear power plants.

On Nov. 11, The Washington Post carried a short item about wind-generating stations off the coast of Fukushima, and the next day referenced the same issue that the Times covered in its editorial — how the former prime minister is urging a nuclear power ban.

If you’re not actively researching the topic, or reading news outlets with a specific focus on the issue, you would think it’s over and done with — and have no way to know that the worst may be ahead.

Planet Waves
The future: Fukushima Mirai, a wind turbine off the coast of the crippled nuclear plant, feeds electricity to the grid on the shore. The turbine was built by Marubeni Corp., which is leading the consortium building the offshore wind farm. Photo via Marubeni Corp.

For example, if you’re following Energy News, you might have noticed they carried this Reuters article about structural damage at Fukushima Unit 4.

It’s more likely you were watching CNN a week ago Thursday night, and saw a program called Pandora’s Promise that assured the world that nuclear power is absolutely safe, and that it is the only thing that can save the planet from global warming.

Instead of real news reporting about a serious, immediate issue, we got an extended infomercial for nuclear power that was packed with more lies and omissions than I could count.

Nuclear power is an obsolete technology. One of the most interesting things I learned this week is that the last nuclear power plant to be commissioned and put online was ordered in 1973. That’s correct: the most recent nuclear reactor to be put online was ordered 40 years ago. That’s because nuclear power is simply not financially tenable. The industry had its meltdown long before Three Mile Island had its meltdown in 1979.

The Unit 4 Spent Fuel Problem

The most significant Fukushima-related issue that the news is barely mentioning involves the spent fuel pool that’s dangling in the air above the Unit 4 reactor — fuel that engineers hope to remove beginning this month. If successful, removal of the fuel will be the first real mile marker in what may be a 40-year process of fully decommissioning the Fukushima plant. But engineers have a long way to go before they get there.

Planet Waves
Interior view of the Unit 4 spent fuel pond room after it was devastated first by an earthquake, then by a hydrogen explosion.

The Fukushima Daiichi station had six reactors: Units 1, 2 and 3, all of which melted down, were operating at the time of the quake and tsunami; and Units 4, 5 and 6, which were shut down for inspection at the time of the quake and tsunami. That means their fuel had been removed and was being stored in the reactors’ spent fuel pools, the bottom of which is located 60 feet above ground level. Both new and recently used nuclear fuel must be stored under water at all times, to keep it cool, to prevent it from burning up and to shield against radiation.

In all, Unit 4’s spent fuel pool has 1,331 old fuel assemblies and the 204 working ones that had been removed for the inspection process. Spent fuel is not radioactive enough to boil water efficiently, but it’s still fissionable; that is, even though it’s ‘used up’, it can reach critical mass and a reaction can start. The spent fuel pool is outside the reactor’s containment structure and there are no control rods to slow down any reaction that may start. Worse yet, the used fuel contains many radioactive isotopes that make it more toxic than new fuel — for example, it’s contaminated with types of radiation that attack specific organs, such as the bones or the thyroid gland.

Unit 4 sustained serious damage as a result of events that started with the earthquake. Units 3 and 4 shared a common ventilation system. The meltdown in Unit 3 released hydrogen gas, which caused that reactor to explode. Some of the hydrogen got into Unit 4, which experienced an explosion that badly damaged the structure. This has left hundreds of tons of nuclear fuel suspended above the Earth in a building that is listing over, and is vulnerable to another earthquake. In addition, the fuel removal equipment was damaged beyond repair, and the spent fuel pool was filled with debris that fell from the partially collapsed building.

Planet Waves
Exterior of Unit 4 after it was damaged by an earthquake, tsunami and then by a hydrogen explosion. Note the truck on the lower right side of the image, near the tunnel — that gives you a sense of the scale.

The main problem is that if the water leaks out of the pool, or if an earthquake causes the partially collapsed building to give way, the fuel will be exposed. It will likely catch fire, and critical mass (nuclear fission) will resume. There would be no way to control or contain such an event.

Engineers have known for a while that they have to get that fuel out of there, though between delays and the extensive preparations necessary, it’s taken till now to be ready to begin.

Since the March 11, 2011 quake, there have been 12 aftershocks or quakes in the region of the plant, which the damaged structure has thankfully survived.

There is, in effect, a race against the clock to get the 1,534 fuel assemblies out of the spent fuel pond and onto safer ground before a large earthquake knocks the building down, taking more than 400 tons of highly radioactive material with it.

But this is an extremely dangerous process. The fuel assemblies must be under water at all times, or they will overheat. The water also prevents the fuel assemblies from ramping up their radioactive reaction and keeps them from reaching critical mass.
Fuel rods within the assemblies are coated in an explosive, flammable metal (zirconium alloy), which cannot be exposed to the air, overheat or make contact with anything else.

If one small thing goes wrong, we could experience a disaster “of hemispheric proportions,” in the words of Paul Gunter, who heads the organization Beyond Nuclear.

By that, he means that a radioactive plume created by hundreds of tons of fuel burning would be far worse than the original incident at Fukushima and deliver a deadly stream of contamination to North America in a matter of days.

Such an event would also render the entire Fukushima site off-limits to people, yet every individual issue at the site requires constant human intervention. If the site is so radioactive that no humans can manage it, the situation will inevitably get far worse.

Planet Waves
TEPCO employee tests an anti-scattering agent, designed to contain radiation, on the shared spent fuel pond located near Unit 4. The pond, which is outdoors, holds more than 6,000 spent fuel assemblies. Photo via World Nuclear News.

For example, there are an additional 6,375 fuel assemblies in a spent fuel pond that was used by all six reactors. It’s located so close to Unit 4 that a chain reaction could be set off if there is a loss of control of the nuclear material during the Unit 4 procedure.

“The key is getting that first domino not to fall,” Gunter said in a Planet Waves interview this week [listen to the full interview here]. But he said he’s concerned that TEPCO — the Tokyo Electric Power Co. — is still in charge of the situation.

“We run an unparalleled risk to put this in the hands of the utility that brought us this problem and that has a record for obfuscating and falsifying safety records in order to cut financial corners,” he said. “Really, this should be in the hands of an independent group of scientists and engineers with total transparency. But we are not going to be afforded that level of care.”

TEPCO exercised astoundingly bad judgment in developing the plants. During construction, it removed 80 feet of natural grade that would have protected the site from the tsunami, by the ocean in a tsunami zone. This was done for the convenience of moving construction machinery in and out, and so that it would be cheaper to pump water into the plant.

The utility moved the reactor site closer to the ocean, and then planned only for a maximum 10-foot tsunami when the one that struck the plant was 40 to 50 feet high.

We All Live Downwind from the GE Mark 1

It’s easy to think that because this is happening in Japan, it cannot really hurt people in other parts of the world. But when the radioactive plume was first released in March of 2011, it reached North America in a matter of days.

Planet Waves
Scene of devastation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after earthquakes, the tsunami and hydrogen explosions. Shown are the three reactors that had total meltdowns. Unit 4 is to the left of Unit 3.

EPA data shows that the highest U.S. levels of radioactive Iodine-131 (I-131) in drinking water after March 17 were found in Philadelphia. I-131 is a direct product of a nuclear meltdown.

Philadelphia, in the part of the U.S. furthest from Japan, also reported a 48% increase in the mortality rate for babies immediately following the incident.

Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, said, “Philadelphia infant deaths reported to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control, a U.S. government agency] averaged 5.0 per week for the five weeks ending March 19. The average jumped to 7.4, a 48.0% increase, in the following 10 weeks.” Other American cities experienced infant mortality rate increases, but Philadelphia had the highest level of increase.

Gunter, the director of Beyond Nuclear, said he’s concerned that the public will not have access to accurate information if something goes wrong.

“Once they lose control of the nuclear reaction, typically with all these accidents — Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima — they seek to control the information,” Gunter said. “And that is where we remain behind the information curve. The lack of transparency, the fact that Tokyo Electric Power Company who ultimately were responsible for the cost cutting that led to the vulnerability that now has us in this potentially hemispheric catastrophe — they are in charge of this potentially hemispheric catastrophe. They are in charge of this very precarious game of pick-up sticks with these radioactive fuel rods.”

The problem potentially can come home in other ways as well. The type of nuclear plant that failed at Fukushima Daiichi, called the General Electric Mark 1, is widely used in the United States. There are 23 Mark 1 reactors at 16 locations in the U.S. The Mark 1 is high on the long list of things that should be a scandal but are not.

Planet Waves
Diagram of the GE Mark 1 reactor, three of which melted down at Fukushima. The structure is about 40 meters high. Note the location of the spent fuel pool, next to the reactor core, high above ground level. The backup generators — to keep the plant cool in the event of a power loss emergency — are located in the basement, and flooded the moment the wave struck the facility.

The problems with these reactors were so well established, Gunter said, that in 1976 three General Electric engineers resigned their positions because they knew that the Mark 1 was not a quality product. Gunter called the design a “pre-deployed booby trap.”

Among other strange design features, the reactors have their spent fuel ponds high above the ground, where they can fall to Earth, especially in an earthquake zone. The backup generators for this type of plant are in the basement. This was done even when the plants were installed in a tsunami zone, right on the water. When the wave came, they flooded instantly that’s why they were destroyed at Fukushima, resulting in failure of the backup power, then the cooling systems, and thus leading directly to a meltdowns of the reactors.

And their control rods are inserted upwards from underneath, which requires electric and hydraulic power, rather than having them drop down from above with the help of gravity. Except for an atomic bomb, the Mark 1 seems to be the stupidest thing ever invented, with each unit loaded with 200 tons of uranium or uranium/plutonium mix.

According to a March 2011 New York Times article in response to the Fukushima incident, in 1972, Joseph Hendrie, who would later become chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said it would be a good idea to ban the design. But he said that the technology had been so widely accepted by the industry and regulatory officials that “reversal of this hallowed policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power.”

This is atomic logic at its purest: save the plant design, to save nuclear power itself — and threaten the planet.

The Nuclear Axis: It’s About Saturn

The astrology of the nuclear issue is one of the most interesting and revealing astrological case studies I’ve ever encountered.

The base chart for astrological nuclear studies is set for the time of the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction, which took place at 3:25 pm on Dec. 2, 1942 in Chicago. Scientists know this as Chicago Pile 1, an experiment that took place beneath Stagg Field at the University of Chicago under the supervision of none other than Enrico Fermi. This chart is sometimes called the Nuclear Axis because its backbone goes across Gemini-Sagittarius; that is the axis.

Planet Waves
The original Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, beneath which was hidden Enrico Fermi’s lab where the first self-sustaining nuclear reaction was created in 1942. The stadium is shown in 1927 and has since been demolished. Photo from the Encyclopedia of Chicago via Wikimedia Commons.

In May, I was made aware by Mark Lerner, former editor of Welcome to Planet Earth, of a controversy involving the time zone. For years, astrologers who used this chart used Central War Time (the equivalent of Daylight Savings Time). Once the U.S. entered the war, the whole country was on War Time, including at the time of the experiment in 1942.

However, documentation has recently surfaced which states that the time of 3:25 pm should be in Central Standard Time. [Those curious may refer to footnote 995 in The Book of World Horoscopes by Nicholas Campion, 2004 edition, which explains the issue.]

Both charts have Taurus rising, so by the classical whole-sign house method, the houses remain the same. Over the past few weeks I have looked closely at both of the Nuclear Axis charts (original and revised) and checked them against several major nuclear incidents, including the first atomic bomb test in 1945 (the Trinity Test), the bombs dropped on live targets in Japan, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and several others.

The revised (CST) chart has some validity, but it does not leap out as being inherently correct or better than the original chart (in CWT). Based on my research so far, I can find no compelling astrological reason to change the time zone. Note that a one-hour shift of the time zone does not change the positions of the planets by more than a fraction of a degree; rather the change moves the ascendant forward by about 22 degrees.

Besides the original chart standing up to years of use, and the gut check, there’s at least one compelling reason to keep it: the positions of two of the original three centaur planets. The original (CWT) chart has Nessus on the ascendant and Pholus on the midheaven.

Planet Waves
The nuclear axis chart, the horoscope for the first self-sustained atomic reaction. Note the position of Pholus, in light green, to the left of the midheaven, and Nessus, in light blue, just above the ascendant. Both help clarify the nuclear issue.

I have seen these points turn up angular for significant disasters enough times that they are making a clear statement in the CWT chart. Understanding Pholus and Nessus seems essential to understanding the nuclear issue.

Nessus, which tells the story of the manifestation of karma in a cyclical way, is an important planet in the nuclear charts. Nessus is about what is inflicted on someone (in the myth, a poison) that comes back to kill the original poisoner. The bottom line with Nessus is, who ultimately takes responsibility? That’s the name of the game with nuclear issues: everyone is trying to pass the buck. When the time comes for someone to take responsibility, it’s a little too late.

Pholus, which is about the release of something that cannot be re-contained, and multigenerational issues, is on the midheaven in Capricorn, right at the beginning of the 10th house of government. The nuclear endeavor is very much a government enterprise. It is not profitable. Industry cannot afford to pay for the results of nuclear disasters. Government is involved in every step of the process. But it has no magical power to stop a meltdown or to contain radiation.

This whole issue of the Nuclear Axis chart and what it says (along with the time controversy) deserves an extensive article or even a monograph. For now, I’ll note that I am aware of the one-hour time discrepancy, I am tracking both charts and for now, I’m sticking to the original CWT chart.

The ‘axis’ in the nuclear axis runs across Gemini and Sagittarius, occupying the first 15 degrees of those signs. When planets come along and make transits to the axis, nuclear incidents seem more likely to occur.

Planet Waves
Enrico Fermi designed the Chicago Pile 1 experiment that is the basis of the nuclear axis chart. In his own natal chart, he had the opposition of Uranus and Pluto across the Nuclear Axis, in mid Gemini-Sagittarius.

The most sensitive point in the Nuclear Axis chart appears to be Saturn. It’s placed at 8+ degrees of Gemini. And, with dependable consistency, in most of the charts for nuclear incidents, Nuclear Axis Saturn is taking a transit — sometimes even from transiting Saturn. Currently, Chiron is square Nuclear Axis Saturn.

Neptune is in early Pisces now, making a wide square to Saturn (it will be exact in March 2015). Later that year, Saturn arrives at 8+ Sagittarius, opposing Nuclear Axis Saturn. So we will be dealing with this for a while — and 2015 promises to be an extremely important turning-point year for the nuclear issue. From the look of the chart, it could be the time of another major incident, since that Saturn is so sensitive.

One of the most compelling current transits to the Nuclear Axis chart is that Neptune, currently in Pisces , is exactly square Nuclear Axis Uranus in Gemini. That is the picture of a disinformation campaign. We cannot trust anything we’re hearing now, which is very little — with nuclear issues, no news is bad news.

Or as was the case with Pandora’s Promise, the purported documentary turns out to be a propaganda film, designed to obfuscate the issue entirely, deny the dangers and push an antiquated technology on the public.

Neptune making a square to Uranus is also the picture of uranium (Uranus) breaching containment (Neptune penetrates boundaries; neptunium is also a radioactive element). And perhaps the most troubling picture this aspect presents is denial of the dangers of radiation, and denial of the fact (Neptune) that these accidents happen spontaneously (Uranus). Everything can go great for 30 years, then one day the plant blows up. With nuclear power, precedent has very little value.

The Fukushima Chart

Let’s check in with one other chart and see if we can find a message. That’s the chart for the earthquake on March 11, 2011. What is remarkable about this chart is that Uranus is at 29 degrees of Pisces and 57 minutes, at the very, very, itty, bitty, last little tip of the zodiac.

Planet Waves
Chart for the Fukushima earthquake. Note Uranus, in blue on the upper right side of the chart, is in the last degree of Pisces. Note as well the prevalence of planets in Pisces, plus Pholus in Sagittarius and the Moon in Gemini — all influencing the Nuclear Axis.

It’s just hours away from making its final ingress into Aries. The chart is set for 2:46 pm Tokyo time, which is about 12 hours ahead of New York time. I remember that night well — for some reason I woke up at about 3 am and turned on the television and saw the news report, which of course said that there were a lot of nuclear power stations in the area but that everything was fine.

Here is our first blog post from that morning, by Karl Grossman, which explains the problem with vivid clarity, describing the chain of events likely to unfold.

In the earthquake chart, the nuclear axis is loaded — Neptune, Chiron, Mars, Pholus and the Moon are all there. Saturn in the Fukushima chart is making a square to Pholus in the Nuclear Axis chart. There are many other aspects, and both the Nuclear Axis and the Fukushima charts are taking many transits now.

Perhaps the most unusual bit of astrology surrounding Fukushima happened the week before. Exactly one week before the incident, I published my first article on the planet Borasisi, a Kuiper object just a bit past Pluto. I called the article With Love from Borasisi.

The article addressed the lies of science and why people are so often inclined to believe them. Borasisi comes from the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat’s Cradle. He was inspired to write this while working as a PR man at General Electric. The book is essentially a GE-inspired protest against the bomb. The nuclear power industry was essentially a jobs program for scientists who had developed the atomic bomb once the war had ended. In the article, I commented on my personal knowledge of GE’s ethics.

If I were to call up the GE pubic relations department right now and say, “Hello, I’m a reporter. Are PCBs toxic?” they would fax back a press release that says they’re no more toxic than table salt. That is GE, and this attitude — along with all the lies connected to the atomic bomb — is what propelled Vonnegut to write Cat’s Cradle. He says so in this interview.

One of his comments is that science is supposedly interested in pursuing ‘the truth’, but doesn’t care what happens with the results of its discoveries. In the interview, he gives the example that ‘the truth’ is what exploded over Hiroshima.

I continued:

Vonnegut challenges his readers with the idea that [the lies of religion] are actually fairly harmless contrasted to the ‘truths’ of science. He’s not exactly offering any commendations to either, just showing us the contrast. The lies lead to people being temporarily happier. Truths lead to mushroom clouds and Superfund sites so large nobody knows how large.

One week later, the GE-designed nuclear power plants in Fukushima blew up — and now we have a problem so large we don’t know how large.

We know that ocean contamination has reached northern Alaska and may have immediately caused a spike in infant deaths in Philadelphia. Radiation knows no boundaries. This is in reality a problem without a solution.

Planet Waves
Fukushima before the accident, containing six Mark 1 reactors — the prefabricated booby traps. TEPCO lowered the grade 80 feet to make the plants closer to the ocean — and the Great Wave that has been a respected feature of Japanese life for many centuries — till now.

It’s a situation that might be mitigated, but which we’ll have to deal with for the rest of our lives. We might be able to prevent future problems — some world leaders do seem to be catching onto this, such as Andrea Merkel in Germany, who shut down her country’s nuclear plants after Fukushima happened.

The nuclear issue is the result of science: that is to say, science without conscience, oblivious to common sense right down to the existence of gravity, which has devised the most expensive conceivable way to boil water, with hundreds of them strewn around, often placed on fault lines, any one of which could one day easily contaminate the entire Northern Hemisphere. As Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear pointed out, electricity is the “fleeing byproduct” of a nuclear plant. The real product is radiation, which future generations will inherit having seen no benefit of the electricity that was generated.

The fuel removal from Unit 4 is set to begin sometime in the next week or so; nobody knows exactly when. Enormous preparations have been made to secure the process. This webpage explains the process, and don’t miss the video that gives a nice illustration of how it will be done — and makes it seem really simple, and assures us that nothing could possibly go wrong.

Not even an earthquake.


This article was the result of months of research conducted by Planet Waves Alpha Class interns Elizabeth Michaud and Chad Woodward. You can find some of that research here, including a good selection of nuclear incident charts. Special thanks to Dr. Karl Grossman.

PS — I didn’t cover half of what I wanted to cover in this article. I will be back next week with a discussion of food contamination and why you don’t want to eat any fish out of the Pacific Ocean or anything at all from Japan.


Planet Waves

Full Moon and Venus-Pluto Coverage

I didn’t have time to write a new SKY article this week; the nuclear thing took a while. However, I have covered the passage of Venus through the Uranus-Pluto square, and Sunday’s Taurus Full Moon, in Thursday’s edition of the Planet Waves blog. Also, the horoscope below is focused on the Full Moon square Nessus in Aquarius. — efc


Planet Waves

Bumpy Ride Continues for Health Care Law

 Since the rollout of the healthcare.gov website on Oct. 1, nearly a million people have created accounts and determined their eligibility, and nearly 400,000 have been determined eligible for Medicaid. The number who’ve actually signed up is considerably smaller — 106,185 as of Wednesday, with only a quarter of those having done so through the federal website rather than state-established exchanges.

Planet Waves
Even Jon Stewart can’t seem to help Obama; a recent NPR story notes that the Daily Show’s ACA jokes may be souring the needed millennial generation on enrolling.

On Thursday, Pres. Obama put the brakes on certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, telling insurance companies they could delay one year in implementing certain provisions of the law.

Meanwhile, millions of people have gotten cancellation letters from their insurance companies with offers of more expensive policies that will comply with the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act. Obama’s oft-repeated statement that “if you like your health care, you can keep it,” has been widely denounced as a lie, thanks to his failure to add, “unless your current policy is really awful.”

The healthcare.gov website has been subjected to 16 cyber-attacks during its snarled rollout, and a woman who allowed her image to be used on the front page (it’s since been removed) experienced a massive wave of cyber-bullying as a result.

It’s impossible to guess how many of the 900,000 or so who window-shopped but didn’t buy might be waiting to see what will happen when the dust settles, but if so they’re likely to have a long wait. Each new scrap of news surrounding the ACA is met with howls of right-wing outrage and savage glee; Obama’s apology for misspeaking has not sufficed, nor, apparently, his offer to allow the policies currently being cancelled for not meeting ACA minimum standards to continue for another year. Bills introduced by both Democrats and Republicans would do the same.

What’s ironic is that the ACA, in its current form, was developed with a great deal of input from the insurance lobby, resulting in the complex, 2,000-plus-page bill that required a massive new system instead of single-payer or Medicare for all. The controversial individual mandate section originated in a right-wing think tank in the late 1980s. Also largely forgotten: the rocky launch of George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D, which also experienced initial glitches and low numbers back in 2005, and is now wildly popular.

Bet Canadians Wish They Had Recall Elections

Unsavory revelations about Toronto mayor Rob Ford have come thick and fast over the past week. First a long-rumored video of him smoking crack surfaced. Then came the video of his drunken rant in which he threatened violence against some unidentified adversary. On Wednesday, documents were released that detailed law enforcement concerns about Ford’s drugging and drunk driving.

Planet Waves
“Hey Sister, mind if I hide my stash under your habit? They’ll never frisk you.” Toronto mayor Rob Ford, after receiving the OMFG You’re A Mayor? award. Photo: City of Toronto / Wikimedia Commons.

At a heated city council meeting Wednesday night, Ford admitted to having bought drugs while in office. All but two of 43 city council members voted in favor of asking him to step down, at least temporarily, which he’s repeatedly refused to consider.

He responded by suggesting that drug use is a commonplace open secret among Toronto’s leadership. The council has no legal power to remove a sitting mayor.

Ford, who had already built a track record of loathing for things like bike lanes, gay rights and poor folks, was elected in a conservative pushback from suburbanites who felt that “their” Toronto was in danger of becoming too liberal.

One wonders how those good suburbanites are feeling now. U.S. citizens in comment threads have repeatedly offered to trade Texas Republican Ted Cruz for Ford, an offer most Canadians don’t seem inclined to accept.

Toronto’s next municipal elections will be held in 2014.


Planet Waves

Poisonous Fruits of War: Soldiers’ Crimes at Home

We all know war is toxic in the places it’s waged. In They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars, journalist and humanitarian aid worker Ann Jones rips aside the veil of denial about how toxic it is for the invaders, something the mainstream media avoids like the plague, favoring “Support Our Troops” memes instead.

Planet Waves
Trained to kill, they kill at home, too; also, violent sex crimes by soldiers have almost doubled over the past five years. Photo: US Army file photo.

Jones, whose past works include War Is Not Over When It’s Over and Winter in Kabul, embedded herself on the front lines in 2010-2011 and then took a step further, tracing the paths of wounded combat veterans as they came home to Walter Reed hospital and eventually to their families, still bearing the scars of mind-rape.

Piecing together crime stories from local news outlets around the country, it became clear to her that returning soldiers are often unable to shed the combat-ready mindset they’ve been saddled with, leaving them prone to committing further violence.

“A lot of them kill their wives or their girlfriends or their children. A lot of them, quite surprisingly to me, kill other soldiers. Many of them kill perfect strangers. And of course a great number of them kill themselves. And then there’s the drinking and drugging and all of that that goes on. And I think that the press has been remiss in [not] putting that all together,” Jones told Salon magazine’sJosh Eidelson.

Jones places the blame for all this right where it belongs: on our government’s addiction to pointless warfare and the insufficient support systems back home, including mass drugging of veterans with Big Pharma’s offerings. The problem is nothing new — there are 223,000 veterans currently in prison, and 50,000 veterans of World War II were still in psychiatric institutions 20 years later. But with two very long wars winding down, she argues, it’s not going to be getting better.


Planet Waves

Veil Thins for the Families of Those Buried in Mass Grave

Unbeknownst to the vast majority of New Yorkers, the nondescript Hart Island in Long Island Sound is the largest mass grave in the United States. Gizmodo’s feature story on Hart Island, one of New York City’s strangest open secrets, published just as Mercury in Scorpio was beginning to trine Neptune and preparing to station direct, with the Sun also in Scorpio — perfect astrology for news of the dead.

Planet Waves
Inmates completing a burial at Hart Island, 1992. Photo by Joel Sternfeld, from Melinda Hunt’s book Hart Island.

Nearly 900,000 unclaimed bodies are buried on Hart Island — anyone who cannot be identified and claimed in the city morgue for more than two weeks — without grave markers, without ceremonies, and often without the knowledge and consent of their families.

Infants stillborn to grief-stricken (and often poverty-stricken) parents who check off the box for a “city burial” end up here, buried by Department of Corrections inmates who, according to the article, “earn 50 cents an hour digging gravesites and stacking simple wooden boxes in groups of 150 adults and 1,000 infants.”

But if those parents ever try to find their child’s grave, the search can feel futile; there is no official map of gravesites, and many burial records were destroyed in a fire in 1977. Remaining records are in the Municipal Archives in Manhattan or held by the prison system.

In response, artist Melinda Hunt initiated The Hart Island Project, a non-profit organization seeking to assist families in their searches, and to shift control of Hart Island from the DOC to the Parks Department. Hunt would like to make it a true public cemetery and park, and in the process of publishing a book about Hart Island in 1998 and helming her non-profit, she has become its most knowledgeable historian and the only real political and legal advocate for the families of those interred there. In 2008, the Hart Island Project was granted 50,000 burial records through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The publicity is good news for anyone wondering about the final resting place of a lost loved one in New York — but publicity is a double-edged sword. As one friend of Planet Waves who lived near Hart Island wrote in, “[I] hope they don’t get too much publicity — developers have always drooled over it. … but Hart Island, desolate still, an inadvertent bird sanctuary — maybe not a bad place to be buried, amid the metropolitan hurly burly.”


Planet Waves

Swiss Study Points to Arafat Poisoning

Swiss scientists have found at least 18 times the normal levels of the radioactive element polonium-210 in Yasser Arafat’s bones. They are 83% confident that the late Palestinian leader was poisoned with it — yet there’s no clue who did it.

Planet Waves
Yasser Arafat.

Al Jazeera’s 2012 documentary Who Killed Arafat? triggered a French murder investigation that led to the exhumation of Arafat’s remains last November. Arafat, the first president of the Palestinian National Authority, died in a Paris hospital in November 2004 after falling ill suddenly the previous month.

Samples of his remains were shared by the Swiss team, a French team of judges and forensic experts, and a Russian group invited at the request of the Palestinian National Authority.

The University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne announced the findings in a report obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera. The Russians are expected to disclose their results soon; the French are not expected to release their results before the murder investigation concludes.

Chief suspects in the poisoning are Arafat’s Palestinian rivals. Most point to the Israeli government, which denies it had anything to do with Arafat’s sickness or death. No evidence has surfaced implicating Israel, though it had control over all provisions coming in and out of the Palestinian territory.

One source told Planet Waves: “At the top has to be the Russians or one of their proteges — and that is a big circle in which are a lot of Arab/Muslim power players who wanted him out of the way for a multitude of reasons which run the full spectrum.”

“We can’t point a finger at anyone,” Suha Arafat, Yasser’s widow, said in an interview with Al Jazeera. “The French are conducting a serious investigation. It takes time.”


Planet Waves

‘Contested Science’: Distorting the Truth

When a government or company disagrees about the validity of the results of a scientific study, one way to handle that is to come up with other research that contradicts it, and declare the original study ‘contested science’.

Planet Waves
Anne Glover is the science advisor to European Union President Manuel Barroso. Photo courtesy of Friends of Europe.

While not always the case, it can be a red flag for hidden, and sometimes deadly, agendas; be sure you know the back-story of who is doing the contesting.

‘Contested’ has been deliberately misused to imply ‘invalid’. All a company has to do is say the evidence of its product’s harm is ‘contested’, and the public can — and does — assume it is safe. Sometimes this is based on actual research; sometimes it’s fabricated. As long as there is a controversy, the purpose of creating doubt is served.

This strategy appears to be behind European Union’s choice to back GMO crops in Europe. This is significant because the European public has not supposed GMO crops, and has indeed been consistently opposing their use.

Anne Glover, the chief science advisor to EU president Manuel Barroso, in September backed a review by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), saying studies linking GMO crops with serious life-threatening effects on the environment and animal and human health are contested science — making the leap to the notion that as a result, these crops are actually safe. She suggested EU countries should rethink their bans on GMOs.

At the heart of the controversy is a study conducted at the University of Caen in France, published in September 2012, which found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 — a maize seed variety doused with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide — or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet.

The EU food agency’s review said the analysis contained in the study, led by biologist Gilles-Éric Séralini, was insufficient and asked for additional evidence to prove that here is really a danger. The one danger that the EU was concerned about is economic — the “grave scientific, economic and social consequences of current European Union policy towards GM crops,” that policy being a ban.

Glover then leaped to the conclusion that there is no evidence that GM technologies are any riskier than conventional breeding technologies and this has been confirmed by thousands of research projects,” speaking to EurActiv, the official EU public relations agency.

Note that the logic here is that the EU government is demanding that the food be proven dangerous rather than having the manufacturer prove that it is safe. Opponents to GMO technology noted that Caen study also received backing from the national science academies of all EU member states, plus Norway and Switzerland.

The Caen was called ‘contested science’ despite the research providing some of the strongest evidence to date of how deadly GMOs are. Caen scientists exposed rats over their entire lifetimes — not just for 90 days as is typical. The rats were found to be at higher risk of suffering tumors, multiple organ damage and premature death.

Planet Waves
Manuel Barroso is president of the EU. His science advisor is Anne Glover. She is recommending that he dismiss studies indicating that GMO foods are dangerous, despite widespread concerns in Europe. Photo by Eric Francis.

Monsanto, which is the leader in biotechnology and GMO crops, has often tried shoot down studies in an attempt to prove that their products or byproducts are safe. Perhaps the best example is dioxin, known to be one of the deadliest substances on Earth, just one tier below plutonium.

In the late 1970s Monsanto scientists produced a series of studies on dioxin, seemingly as independent researchers. Many of Monsanto’s chemical processes created dioxin as a byproduct. One was called the Zack-Gaffey study, which concluded that dioxin is not a serious carcinogen. This was dropped into the midst of a debate spurred by vets returning home from Vietnam sick with Agent Orange poisoning, the Love Canal incident and an incident which resulted in the closure of an entire town, Times Beach, Missouri.

Though entirely fraudulent, relying on made-up data, the Zack-Gaffey study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, contributing to the idea that dioxin is not so bad.

In the early 1990s, the paper industry, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a New York Times writer and editor conspired to plant a series of stories on the front page which concluded that, despite considerable evidence of dioxin’s dangers, the chemical was no more dangerous than sunbathing.

This created the illusion of ‘contested science’ — though no scientific study was ever conducted that came to that conclusion. It was just the author, Keith Schneider, and his editor at the Times who came up with the idea.

How can you spot “contested science?” The easiest way is by following the money — see if you can figure out who funded the study. Look for the associations of the scientists. Who do they work for, or what entities are on their resume? If the study was done at a university, investigate its history, and especially its directors. Often industry officials and board members of companies sit on the boards of universities and blatantly control the science produced. Examine vested interests — they usually lead to useful information.


Planet Waves

Typhoon Haiyan Raises Climate Conference’s Stakes
Nature is sending a message: for the second year in a row the UN Climate Change Conference has coincided with a devastating storm in the South Pacific. Last December, Typhoon Bopha ravaged the Philippines while the UN held its summit in Doha, Qatar. Four days before the start of the 2013 UN climate conference in Warsaw, Poland, another category 5 typhoon hit the Philippines and neighboring countries.

Called Yolanda in the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan was so strong it exceeded the scales used to measure satellite weather intensities.

Planet Waves
Yeb Sano, the Philippines’ climate commissioner, as he begins a voluntary fast in protest at the lack of action on global warming. Photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters.

Initially the death toll was feared to exceed 10,000; as of yesterday, the official toll stood at 2,357. At least 11 million people have been affected, over 600,000 displaced.

Typhoon Haiyan made landfall with 195 mile-per-hour winds, pushing a storm surge of water similar to a tsunami onto land.

Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, told Amy Goodman this week that rising sea levels caused by global warming increased the size of the storm’s surge.

Warming oceans are also a factor in creating more extreme storms, because the storm systems draw all of their energy from the heat in the ocean.

Jamela Alindogan, a reporter for Al Jazeera in the Philippines, described experiencing Haiyan on Democracy Now! Tuesday:

“And all of a sudden the entire roof is gone, and we were exposed to this beast, this incredible power that is really unimaginable. The sound is absolutely terrifying. It is horrific. I mean, it’s beyond what anybody else could imagine. I have covered armed conflict, but there is nothing like this, nothing as incredible and as scary as covering a natural disaster like Typhoon Haiyan.”

With poverty in the Philippines as high as 36 percent, the need for food, water and medicine is dire, highlighting the inequities between developed and developing nations that impact their willingness to push for meaningful action on global warming.

Naderev “Yeb” Sano of the Philippines Climate Change Commission implored attendees of last year’s talks in Doha to take real action. This week, his hometown in ruins after Haiyan, Sano wept openly during his Warsaw address.

“The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw.”

Sano ended his speech with an unscripted pledge: “In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home … I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate … I will refrain from eating food during this [conference] until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”


Planet Waves

Planet Waves

Kyle Thompson’s website offers more of his other-worldly photos; let them fuel your own imagination.

Pull the Veil Aside and Step Through

Have you ever wanted to step into a surreal world and let its hinted-at stories of curious joy and dark-edged mystery take you to strange places within yourself? Try the fantastical self-portraits of Kyle Thompson. Without any formal photography training, the introspective 21-year-old began visiting abandoned houses in the woods two years ago. From those early adventures have grown unreal scenes in quietly real places.

It’s no wonder that Thompson’s art went viral as soon as it was posted to the Internet. His early-Aries Moon and an incredible stellium of planets in Capricorn have been enjoying direct contact with the Uranus-Pluto square these two years, and will be for several more.

Thompson has a Mars-Ceres-Mercury conjunction in early Cap (his ideas and actions feed each other in structured, technically proficient ways). Also in Capricorn are the North Node, Uranus, Neptune and his Sun. His Self-consciousness (Sun) expresses itself through in these surprising (Uranus), dreamlike (Neptune), technically proficient and composed (Capricorn) photos that are what he was meant to share with the world (North Node). His artistic evolution is one to watch.


Planet Waves

Our Scorpio Sky and our Scorpio Son — Neil Young

Link to program.

In this week’s double edition Planet Waves FM, I cover the current astrology, including Venus passing through the Uranus-Pluto square, the Taurus Full Moon and a look back at Mercury stationing direct. Note, this edition includes the full interview with Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. It is the second audio player on the page. Our musical guest is Neil Young, whose 68th birthday was Tuesday. I read Neil’s natal chart and share some of my responses to his compositions. Neil has Chiron conjunct Jupiter — this aspect being a gem, focusing the wisdom of Jupiter into a practical, tangible effect. For lots of additional information and resources, including Neil’s chart, please see the full post.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

The extended monthly horoscope for November  was published Friday, Oct. 25. Inner Space for November was published Friday, Nov. 1. Moonshine for the Scorpio New Moon  was published Tuesday, Oct. 29. We published Moonshine for the Taurus Full Moon Tuesday, Nov. 12. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign; Inner Space usually publishes the following Tuesday.

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 #975 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You may have some hard and fast ideas about what is good for you and for everyone else, though I suggest you tap into the more flexible, sensitive side of your being. There’s plenty you don’t know, and you will have greater access to missing information if you take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to open up to your deeper sensitivity. Be aware that what you learn may inform you of the ways in which your needs are different from those of someone you care about. That doesn’t mean a relationship or some kind of emotional exchange is not possible; what it means, though, is that any exchange must take into account specific differences, especially in the realm of values. You share enough common ground to have some space to explore, though you won’t find your way there if you’re busy judging yourself or others. Slow down and listen; you will learn.


Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You might feel like you’re balanced on an emotional brink where a sensitive personal relationship is concerned. Take in the view and observe what you can, though I don’t think you’re in as precarious a spot as it may seem. One thing for certain is that you’re being changed by your experiences. This is rare enough for most of humanity and can feel especially deep for one born under your sign. Yet the depth that certain emotional encounters are taking you to can raise your psyche to a hot enough temperature to shape your entire being. At the same time, you seem to be keenly aware of wanting your independence from what ‘other people’ say you should do or feel. You’ve never been one to go along with the crowd, even though you’ve been persuaded to at certain points. Now is the time to declare your independence from public opinion.


Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Mercury has finally let itself loose and is now moving in direct motion in Scorpio. This may come with the slow unraveling of certain problems, hang-ups and emotional stiffness. However, even as these circumstances work themselves out, you need to pay attention to what is bubbling up from the deeper levels of your being. I know you would rather take the opportunity to feel better and move on, though I suggest that instead you feel better and go deeper. Work with the idea that every effect has a cause — and you’ve just experienced some unusually powerful effects. That suggests that there are some equally powerful causes working themselves through you and out to the surface. Rather than being a passive player, go toward the source of the energy and discover what is there. You’re likely to be surprised — it’s not what you were thinking.


Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — People around you may be having unusually powerful transformational experiences, and you may seem to be involved with them. That is possible, though I suggest you observe the ways in which they are being carried by their own momentum. You are a kind of facilitator in the process. The smaller of a role you assign yourself the happier you will be. Start with holding space for whatever comes up. (That space might actually be in your home.) I would say be a bit ‘impersonal’ but we don’t really have a word for leaving a kind of psychic buffer around you so as not to interfere with what someone is experiencing, while being available for them if they express a direct need, or want to exchange some ideas or feelings. The more effectively you can hold this space open, the more love and healing can enter the scenario — which is the whole idea.


Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You may find yourself in a leadership position requiring the utmost diplomacy, which in turn will prompt you to summon your gift for psychological insight. Once you understand where someone is coming from, their conduct will have a different meaning, and you will have a much better idea how to approach them. One thing described in your solar chart is allowing any potentially hot situation to cool off. Another is bearing in mind the places that a person is hurt without playing into their pain or sense of injury. Finally, taking responsibility for your part will show others that it is safe for them to take responsibility for what is theirs. You are definitely in a lead-by-example moment. And in this moment, you will learn a lot more listening to your intuition than you will from attempting to verify things in words. Save that project for next week.


Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You may be finding it especially easy to think what you might not ordinarily think, which is a hint that you can say what you might not ordinarily say. There is a rare condition in the sky right now involving Mercury (your ruling planet) and Mars (which is occupying your sign) that is allowing you to take multiple viewpoints simultaneously. For example, you might discover that you can speak from two or more distinct points of view, expressing yourself equally deeply, and coherently, from any of them. You may notice you have a similar listening skill, to hear anything related to you from a number of points of view. This will be helpful at getting you to transcend some of the intense criticism or self-criticism you may have been experiencing lately. Whatever you may think, there is always another point of view. There is always another way of looking at the world.


Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Events of the past few days seem to have cracked your shell and set you free from a binding you may not have known was there. Or did you? The way you’ve found out other times was through a similar experience of a boundary giving way. You often live in what seems like a Chinese puzzle, consisting of many intricate, interconnecting chambers, and you always seem to be exploring or bursting out of one or another. Lately, however, you’ve come through a big one, which may have been initiated by inner circumstances, outer ones, or some invisible force for transformation. I would remind you that you’re still vulnerable as a result of this. Be cautious who you share with. I suggest you move slowly and gently, and not overestimate your strength. A lot of your emotional blood is rushing in the direction of a world of feelings that you’ve discovered, most likely pleasant, certainly a bit strange, potentially associated with a loss of some kind. Easy does it. What you experienced is real and it has taken you to a new space within yourself.


Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Be conscious of the presence of any ‘third parties’ in your intimate encounters, or even in the space of your most private fantasies. It could be some sensation of a group influence, including that of your family and what you think they want from or for you. It could be your closest friends and the rules that they’ve set for one another. Or it could be a pattern that you’ve internalized based on any or all of the above. This presence is likely to feel like it ‘wants you’ to put the brakes on any passionate experiences you may have, or want to have. It may be such a consistent inner presence that you have no idea what life would be like without it. This weekend’s Full Moon in your opposite sign Taurus is giving you a rare opportunity to feel and see this conditioning for what it is, and to make a conscious choice whether it really serves you. You may need to choose again every time you feel it, which is part of the process of taking charge of your life.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Just because you’re questioning a commitment, or your idea of commitment, does not suggest you want out. What it does suggest is that you’re ready to make adjustments to your situation that are oriented on establishing some balance. I don’t suggest you get too carried away with that idea, however. A little goes a long way, and nature has a way of evening things out over time. Stick to the very basics of nourishment. Make sure whatever situation you’re in provides the food, water and sufficient rest for everyone involved. Ask if you have any desires or needs that have been left out of the discussion entirely — and check in on the same topic with anyone who you might be involved with. In truth, a real exchange requires everyone to be open, so that they may give and receive. Open implies vulnerable. Where do you stand with that?


Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) –Recent aspects have brought out a side of your nature that you might have never considered ‘going public’ with, though you just might be having that idea now. One persistent question is, why are certain things we’re supposed to keep secret really in that category? What is the purpose of a general ban in admitting your deepest inner reality when it matters the most? There is a purpose — though it has nothing to do with YOUR purpose. It seems like you’ve arrived at the point where you’re ready to start openly asking questions you’ve been brewing for a long time. There’s no need to do this in The New York Post. The place to have the discussion is among friends. One quality of your sign is that it’s essential for you to share actual values with the people you spend time with. Speaking your mind and your feelings will pull that issue into focus, so you can get a good look at it.


Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Events over the next few days may raise your awareness of an internal influence associated with controlling others. Under certain circumstances it may spook you a little, because you recognize it’s a little creepy. However, you’re not the only one who has this experience — it’s something that influences all of society; you just happen to be picking it up on your inner tuner. Think of it as a distorted impulse to take responsibility for yourself, your choices and your actions. Once you see it that way, it’ll make a lot more sense, and your intuition will guide your focus away from others and onto yourself. You may then grapple with the issue of whether you should, or can, control you. I would note that control is a different thing than making conscious choices, or being accountable for your own feelings. Very, very different.


Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Whatever you do the next few days, reserve some of your creative energy for yourself. It’s true that you’re busy and that your life is moving fast right now; relationship or partnership experiences may be distracting you (though thankfully things are making a bit more sense than they did with Mercury retrograde, as it was recently). Devote some of your primetime and prime resources to doing what you want to do the very most: what you consider your real art, your personal, intimate or impassioned writing, and spending some time with the people you care about most dearly. Part of the challenge of having a successful life is making sure that you have some balance between what you must do (even if you like it) and what you want to do, even if you consider it optional. In truth, it’s anything but.



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Mercury Direct and News from Japan

Dear Friend and Reader:

Mercury stations direct on Sunday, arriving with several days of extraordinary and rare astrology — a kind of once-in-a-lifetime event as Mercury in Scorpio holds a long trine to Neptune in Pisces, covered in greater detail below.

Planet Waves
On Sunday, we had a rare hybrid solar eclipse similar to this one that happened in 2009. The astronomy is illustrated above. The total eclipse on the left was photographed by Fred Espenak aboard a ship 2,200 km west of the Galapagos; Stephan Heinsius photographed an annular eclipse, positioned in Panama for the same event.

On the most basic level of this astrology, many aspects of life that were caught in weird entanglements or confusion may already be working themselves out. You may discover the missing information that you need to make some progress on matters that have seemed stuck. The ‘truth revealed’ aspect of Mercury stationing will be in full force this weekend as well.

These past few weeks of Mercury retrograde in Scorpio have arrived with a kaleidoscope of news that reminds me of the occasional headline summaries in Robert Heinlein’s novel Stranger in a Strange Land — the story of the Martian who came to visit the Earth, which scenario unfolds while all kinds of other weird stuff is going on. Reduced to a synopsis, the news starts to sound like a description of some wild future, when in fact it’s our present moment, right now, even if right now feels like shooting the rapids without a paddle or a life vest and in some cases, without the canoe.

It’s been humorous to watch how the top story during Mercury retrograde has been a $300 million website that did not (and apparently still does not) work. It’s charming how they launched the site just as Mercury entered shadow phase and the issues only got worse. The fact that just 248 people were able to register by the third day is a good reason to pay attention to astrology.

Along the way certain other facts have emerged (in harmony with ‘the truth revealed’ quality of Mercury retrograde), such as what a scam the individual health insurance market is, and how it’s possibly becoming an even bigger scam in the changing environment of the insurance business — especially as participation becomes mandatory.

Planet Waves
Current issue of The New Yorker spoofs the Obama Administration’s attempt to fix the Healthcare.gov website. But they seem to have got the idea from The Onion.

Pres. Obama’s often-repeated assertion that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” came unraveled as many people got cancellation notices, and some got fake cancellations from their insurance carriers designed to get them to upgrade to much more expensive insurance.

Lurking under all of these questions of high finance, huge profits and who is going to pay for $20 Tylenol capsules is the question of what we need to do to actually be healthier. I’m not seeing this question being asked, in all this talk of supposed health care.

How much disease in the United States is the result of just a few factors — genetically modified crops, high fructose corn syrup (pure GMO corn by the way), hydrogenated fats, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, diets based on simple carbs (such as bleached flour) and, as a result, rampant malnutrition?

What would addressing the vitamin D deficiency do to knock down the epidemics of cardiac disease and cancer? (Apparently quite a lot, for very little expense.)

As some look to the government to save them from themselves, the question of one’s health is deeply personal. While everyone should have access to the medical system when they need it, that bears little resemblance to what prevents illness and helps us to be healthy.

What we are seeing is not exactly a national movement for wellness. So far, it’s been little other than a vast corporate (not government) takeover of the medical system with a lot of faux political controversy mixed in.

For example, what has been termed Obamacare was engineered not by the ‘left’ but rather by the right-wing Heritage Foundation. It’s not the progressive solution (the government actually intervenes, or single-payer) but rather the fascist solution (government turns control over to the corporations, which are vested with government power).

Next, in News from Inner Space

Whatever has been going on within the confines of your personal cosmos in these weeks may have had the sensation of swirling events that may still feel unresolved. You may feel like you’re in the midst of a surrealist film, the kind without a script.

Planet Waves
Saturn with auroras visible on the south pole seen by the Cassini Space Probe in 2010. At the time, Space.com reported: “Saturn’s aurora, a ghostly ultraviolet glow that illuminates the gas giant’s upper atmosphere near the poles, has a heartbeat that pulses in tandem with the planet’s radio emissions, scientists have discovered.”

There’s the sensation of ongoing reorientation, and the message that your transitions are happening whether you feel you’re ready for them or not.

Apropos of transitions, one week ago we arrived at the midpoint of the Uranus-Pluto square, the seven-stage aspect spanning from 2012-2015 (with a wide margin on either side) that has been defining what I’ve been describing as the 2012 era. This is an urgent, tense aspect between the planet of revolution and upheaval (Uranus) and that of evolution (Pluto), which is putting everything it touches under some strain and the necessity to reconsider its entire existence.

The fourth of seven squares happened Nov. 1, which has the feeling of a tipping point in the long experiment of social progress and the attempt to set things right that (from one point of view) characterizes our phase of history. Looked at differently, many are asking themselves what will wake up the population. The real question is what will get you out of your comfort zone and out onto the edge of personal progress, learning and challenging experience.

This past Sunday’s rare, combined annular-total solar eclipse in Scorpio vented some pressure, kind of like when your ears pop from the altitude, only reaching down to your soul and equalizing the pressure between levels of yourself you may have had no idea existed.

Planet Waves
The largest-known volcano in the solar system — the Olympus Mons, three times higher than Mt. Everest — is located on Mars. Photo: NASA.

The eclipse conjunct Saturn was and remains a reminder that while we are in physical bodies, time is a limited resource. What are you doing with the time that you have? What limits on banality are you setting for yourself?

Along the way, Mars and Chiron came to full opposition on Oct. 31, and because Mars has been slowing down a bit (just ahead of a monumental retrograde that takes place early next year in Libra), the opposition has lasted a while.

This is an aspect illustrating and calling for clarity and contrast; it represents the full expression of both Mars and Chiron, which work beautifully together, as both are in the warrior spirit. I could summarize its message as: get over yourself and do what you have to do. If you’re going to play the game, play it to win. Make your seeming disadvantages work for you.

Events of the past few weeks have represented one of the peak moments of our grand water trine, which consists of Jupiter in Cancer, Mercury, the Sun and Saturn in Scorpio, and Chiron and Neptune in Pisces. Water is that beautiful Sun-drenched stuff that surrounds your sailboat or extends along the beach, in which you can drown in a matter of seconds.

Mars in Virgo has provided the remedy to all this water: keep your focus. Make decisions based on real information. Work with precision. Use your energy wisely.

Then, Mercury Stations Direct

The next major event on the horizon takes place as part of the water trine, and it is impressive. This weekend, Mercury slows to a station in early Scorpio, making an exact trine to Neptune. Actually, there are two exact trines, one on each side of the station direct, with the three events each separated by about 24 hours.

Planet Waves
Sholem Aleichem crater on Mercury. Photo by MESSENGER spacecraft, 2008.

Mercury trine Neptune is one of the most clairvoyant aspects, particularly when Pisces and Scorpio are involved. Intuition is worth more now than ever. There can be a miraculous flow of creativity, intuition and empathic contact with others, including those in realms besides this one. Remember we are still in the ‘thin veil’ territory of Scorpio; Mercury trine Neptune is about as thin as it gets.

The first exact trine is Saturday, Nov. 9 at 4:35 pm EST. Then the station direct happens about 24 hours later, on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 4:12 pm EST. Then the second exact trine happens 24 hours after that, on Monday, Nov. 11 at 3:46 pm EST.

The overall result is an unusually long experience of an exact Mercury trine Neptune aspect, blended with the shifting perspective of the station direct. Normally this would last for a day or so; but due to Mercury’s minuscule daily motion as the station direct happens, we will have access to it for about six days, which began Thursday or so and lasts until Wednesday.

Then Mercury makes the last of three trines to Chiron — just as good, not as long-lasting. To sum up, in the ‘truth revealed’ tradition of Mercury retrograde and especially Mercury stationing direct, there is a hearty message of ‘seek the truth and you will indeed find it’. It’s not the unavailability of truth that makes it seem so elusive — it’s the unpopularity.

And Finally, News from Japan’s East Coast

Now for the freaky, surrealist story you may not have heard about. The problems persist at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.
As everyone knows, there was a massive quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 that caused a series of catastrophic failures in nuclear reactors. [Note, we have compiled a list of articles, resources and astrology charts related to Fukushima.]

Planet Waves
Photo of the tsunami striking the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The wall designed to hold back the sea was crumbled as the huge wave washed in. Photo: US EPA.

The three plants that were operating — units 1, 2 and 3, all experienced total meltdowns. That is, the reactors ran out of control, overheated and the blend of uranium, plutonium and many other toxic radioactive isotopes melted through the containment structure and have disappeared into the ground.

Yes, three massive nuclear reactor cores melted into the Earth, never to be recovered. If those cores keep melting, they have the potential to reach the deep aquifers that provide water to the 40 million people in the greater Tokyo area.

It is astounding to think that an electric utility lost three reactor cores, which are gradually boring a hole in the Earth on the way down to the water table.

This, however, is the lesser of the two problems. The more serious problem involves Unit 4, which was closed for inspection at the time of the incident and therefore did not melt down. But the containment structure was severely damaged by the explosion in a nearby reactor.

Each of these plants has something called a spent fuel pool. Nuclear fuel, whether new or spent, must be kept immersed in water at all times, so that’s where the old fuel is placed and, in the case of Unit 4 (because it was being inspected), where the new fuel was being kept.

Planet Waves
Fukushima Unit 4 was damaged by an explosion in an adjacent reactor. Offline at the time of the tsunami, a vast amount of fuel in its reactor pool is vulnerable to another earthquake.

There are more than 1,500 fuel assemblies in the Unit 4 pool, which is so fragile it cannot withstand another serious earthquake — and earthquakes happen frequently in that part of the world. These rods must be removed, one by one, by manually controlled robots.

TEPCO, in cooperation with U.S. engineers, are about to begin the process of removing the fuel from Unit 4’s pool. This is an extremely risky process, by which I mean that if it goes wrong (if the fuel assemblies are not immersed in water, if they touch, or if there is another earthquake), there is the potential for a far worse situation than we’ve already had at Fukushima.

Even spent fuel can reach criticality (the fission process can begin). This is similar to what happens when a nuclear plant is functioning, with one difference — a working nuclear core has control rods that can slow down the reaction. The spent fuel pool is like a reactor core without the control rods. If a reaction starts, it can run out of control.

The scene could become so radioactive that it cannot be entered by workers ever again, and also be emitting so much radiation and heat that even robots cannot function there. A mishap could quickly soak the West Coast of the United States and eventually all of North America in nuclear fallout.

Planet Waves
View into the the spent fuel pool of Unit 4, suspended in a fragile building 100 feet above the ground. All the fuel must be removed by manually controlled robots, which could take years.

The fuel is covered in zirconium alloy cladding, which is flammable and explosive. One small mishap can set off the entire pool, which could spread to a nearby common fuel pool, where 6,375 more spent fuel assemblies are kept.

Removal of fuel from Unit 4’s pool was originally scheduled for this month, after many months of preparation. It may still begin in November and is expected to take well over a year to complete, if it goes well. Decommissioning the entire site will take decades, if it’s ever complete.

Now, here’s a question. Have you read about this anywhere, or seen it mentioned on cable news, or network news? I have not. It’s as if the whole thing is not happening, except if you go looking for the information. On one level it’s available, and on another, the gatekeepers who could inform many people what’s happening are not doing so.

Instead, we got a propaganda film shown on CNN on Thursday night, called Pandora’s Promise, about how nuclear power might be the only thing that can save the environment.

They must be talking about some other planet.


Additional research on Fukushima: Chad Woodward, Elizabeth Michaud and Susan Scheck. Their work is collected here.


Planet Waves

We’ll be back after a word from our nuclear propagandists

Just as engineers at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima nuclear plant get ready to move 1,524 fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool, CNN aired a 2013 “documentary” called Pandora’s Promise by Robert Stone.

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The premise of the film is how alleged ecological activists have thought about it for a while and have come to the conclusion that nuclear power is good for the environment.

Its takeoff point is that we have to do something about global warming — and that something is to build a lot of nuclear power plants, so that we can power up every place from New Jersey to Namibia (spreading the gospel of cheap electricity to the developing world).

The “documentary” had so many problems (or rather, innovative design features) I am having trouble deciding where to begin analyzing them. I think, however, that the most serious was the point of view of its director, stated in a panel discussion hosted by Anderson Cooper, that as a result of nuclear power, “Nobody has died, nobody has gotten sick and according to the best science in the world, nobody ever will.”

Nobody? Ever? Right. He tried to make the case that everyone who responded to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is fine (well, except for a few who are not, who don’t matter that much), and everyone who responded to Fukushima are all doing great. The American nuclear industry has an impeccably perfect record.

To put it politely, everything in this movie is a lie or delusion told by people who are seduced by the seemingly supernatural power of nuclear technology and who have succumbed to the dark side. Physicists explain how it’s fantastic in theory, skipping over what can go wrong.

Like the rest of the nuclear industry, the documentary does not address any worst-case scenarios, which must be ignored if the agenda is to persist. For example, what happens if there is a power grid outage with the plants shut down, and there’s no electricity to run the cooling systems?

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Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, PA, became the visual symbol for all that was wrong with nuclear power. Unit One to the left is still operating; Unit 2 melted down and has not been used since the accident. Photo: Atomic Archive.

Nuclear power plants make energy when they’re on and draw power when they’re off. An energy ejection from the Sun could knock out a huge swath of the power grid. Then what? Not discussed; not mentioned.

What about a meltdown near a big city? You cannot evacuate Tokyo or the metro New York area; there are no plans to do so. Not mentioned.

The idea that the potential for a low-probability but catastrophic event has to be ignored is a central argument of my nuclear power mentor Karl Grossman, who documents how the atomic bomb and nuclear power are the same thing — a fact that the film went to some length to dismiss.

Among those featured were Stewart Brand, devoted pro-nuclear founder of the Whole Earth Catalog; Mark Lynas (a British climate change author and activist), Richard Rhodes (journalist and historian, and author of the Pulitzer-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb) and Michael Shellenberger (alleged environmental policy expert), all of whom came to the conclusion that nuclear power is the only thing that can save us from global warming.

Helen Caldicott, a doctor and anti-nuclear activist, makes a cameo. Actual environmental advocates were portrayed as fear mongers who are the real problem. This is the ‘blame the messenger’ / An Enemy of the People argument that is getting so old I am surprised anyone falls for it, but hey, we’re talking about humans.

Planet Waves
What could possibly go wrong? Aftermath of 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine.

Anderson Cooper’s panel, aired several times through the night, included Ralph Nader, whom Shellenberger accused of being the problem. He said that frantic ’60s- and ’70s-styled Earth Day-types — not radiation — were to blame for unfair public perception of the industry as dangerous. That, in turn, shut down development of new nuclear plants after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident (therefore, the industry could not be given a fair chance).

Watching Pandora’s Poison reminded me of my teenage conversations with my father, who was on the public relations team that tried to clean up after the Three Mile Island accident. Prof. Coppolino went on to be a nuclear power industry communications consultant. What I learned from my father is that the nuclear industry believes that its product is absolutely, perfectly, unquestionably safe.

“We don’t know what to do with the nuclear waste,” I once said.

“I’ll give you that,” he replied. Turns out that was extremely generous of him.

Pandora’s Promise would not go that far — they argued that the problem of nuclear waste was solved perfectly by above-ground, dry cask storage. All the waste generated by all the nuclear power plants in the U.S. so far would merely cover a football field. And hey, it’ll be perfect after a few millennia — except of course for the plutonium, which takes a little longer. Unless the fuel in some storage facility reaches criticality and an uncontrolled fire starts. Or unless someone bombs the place, or if there is a quake and the casks break or…

— Eric Francis


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Mercury direct; Jupiter retrograde

Mercury, which has been retrograde in Scorpio since Oct. 21, finally stations direct this Sunday, Nov. 10 at 4:12 pm EST. This means we’re entering the ‘storm’ phase now: the two or three days on either side of a Mercury station, when communication, travel and electronics can be especially problematic. Notice when you’re not fully focused on the task at hand.

Planet Waves
Jordan Pond in the mist, Acadia National Park, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Planets do not actually change directions — retrogrades are a trick of perception, giving the illusion of reverse movement relative to our position here on Earth. Astrologically, however, the days around a station carry some tension as Mercury, the fastest of planets, seems to slow down to a stop. It takes a while to pick up speed after its station; so should you, through at least the beginning of next week.

Imagine a large ship throwing its engines in reverse to stop and back up (or vice versa): the water churns. With Mercury in Scorpio, a water sign, that churning could very well stir up all kinds of surprising insights from our darker depths. There is often a sense of ‘the truth comes out’ when Mercury stations direct — as though after a three-week journey of introspection, the planet representing our minds finally releases its discoveries into full consciousness.

Mercury’s retrograde in Scorpio has likely focused you on themes regarding your sexual history; the role of denial in your intimate life or in how you handle your resources (including but not limited to money); secrets regarding sex or death; and what factors determine when you do or do not communicate these things to your partner(s).

If you have not been tracking these themes in your life over the last couple weeks, consider taking a few moments to think back to spot any patterns or trends. Doing so might help you notice subtler “a-ha” moments during the station direct.

Planet Waves
Chart showing the moment Mercury stations direct in Scorpio. Planets in aspect to Mercury include: Pluto and Venus in Capricorn (top of chart), in a loose sextile to Mercury; and Neptune in Pisces (far left), exactly trine Mercury. See glyph legend here.

Eric has described Mercury stations as “bring[ing] out a layer of awareness or understanding that can feel like pulling back a curtain on the obvious.” That pretty much sums up coming out of denial, a theme of recent weeks.

Mercury will station direct in a trine (aspect of ease) to Neptune in Pisces. A Mercury-Neptune trine emphasizes creativity, psychic awareness, and a poetic but practical type of idealism. Sounds like whatever truth is revealed to you Sunday can be used toward inspired or visionary purposes; pay attention to your dreams over the next few days.

Finally, it is worth noting that Jupiter stationed retrograde in Cancer Thursday — “trading places” with Mercury in a sense. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, and in Cancer, that quality is being applied to all things domestic and nurturing, and our emotions. Jupiter’s retrograde is long — lasting until March 6 — so we’re in for a four-month review of how we’ve been handling the things and people we’re charged with nurturing and caring for, including our material success.

Jupiter stationing retrograde is a caution against getting stingy (with money and with intangibles) for the next few months. First, however, the Mercury storm: be focused and careful with financial transactions and emotionally charged communication over the next several days.

— Amanda Painter
Note to Readers: News items below are written and edited by a team consisting of Anne Craig, Eric Francis, Amanda Painter, Susan Scheck and Carol van Strum, with research assistance by the Planet Waves staff. Special thanks to the Fact Checkers List, which goes over each edition on Thursday night — and to our main astrology fact-checker Alex Miller, and Amanda, who goes over all their suggestions. Our editions are also proofread and fact-checked by Jessica Keet.


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Hardcore Conservatives Not Celebrating Much These Days

New York City voters elected public advocate Bill de Blasio, the first Democratic mayor since David Dinkins left office in 1993, by a record-breaking 49 point spread. The race was widely considered a referendum on the past two decades of Republican leadership.

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Bill de Blasio and family at the Park Slope Armory YMCA after winning the New York City mayoral election. Photo: James Keivom / New York Daily News.

Outgoing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was perceived as a standard-bearer for the city’s wealthiest, and continued his predecessor Rudy Giuliani’s uber-authoritarian law enforcement tactics, such as stop-and-frisk, where pedestrians are detained, frisked and asked to empty their pockets. They are then arrested if they have a small amount of marijuana, which would have been legal had it remained in their pocket.

De Blasio campaigned against stop-and-frisk, and has promised a tax on residents making over half a million dollars a year that will fund universal pre-kindergarten.

Virginia residents chose the lesser of two evils and elected former Democratic National Committee chair and Clinton intimate Terry McAuliffe over Ken Cuccinelli by a two percent margin. Cuccinelli’s loathing for women and sexuality — he supported “personhood” bills that would have criminalized not just abortion but birth control, and had a curious obsession with Virginia’s anti-sodomy law — helped Virginians overcome any distaste for political insiders or lingering doubts about the Affordable Care Act, which the Cuccinelli campaign had hoped would swing votes their way.

And in an outcome that surprised no one, New Jersey’s governor won a second term over Democrat Barbara Buono. While hardly a progressive darling, Republican Chris Christie sounds moderate enough (and was seen in photos with Pres. Obama) to have aggravated the far right on numerous occasions. His win adds to speculation that he may be a contender for a spot on the 2016 Republican ticket — but he has problems in his past that could make that unlikely.

Numerous races that didn’t make it onto the national radar turned out well for progressive candidates and causes. Among other cheering tidbits, three out of four anti-fracking measures passed in Colorado, liberals swept city council races in Missoula, Montana, and the small town of Coralville, Iowa, resoundingly rejected a well-funded takeover attempt by Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity candidates.


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SCOTUS Refuses Attempt to Preserve Sodomy Law

Ken Cuccinelli II, Virginia’s attorney general and Republican candidate for governor defeated in Tuesday’s election, apparently shot his campaign in the foot with his effort to preserve an outdated sodomy statute. Virginia’s “crimes against nature” law — which bans oral and anal sex — became a tipping point for voters in his race with Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, who won.

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“Open wide and take it like a…” Virginia is for lovers after all. AP photo of Ken Cuccinelli.

All state laws of this sort, known as sodomy laws, were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2003 ruling Lawrence v. Texas, which decided that private sexual conduct by consenting adult civilians is protected by the U.S. Constitution under the due process clause. Before 2003, 47 states, Washington D.C. and four territories had repealed their sodomy laws on their own, despite their being legal.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Cuccinelli’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that had struck down Virginia’s anti-sodomy law in March 2013. That decision had focused on a 2005 case convicting a 47-year-old man who had solicited oral sex from a minor. Cuccinelli and his supporters claimed the law was necessary to protect children from sexual predators.

However, the Virginia General Assembly has had 10 years to update the law so that it could be used to prosecute predators without conflicting with the 2003 SCOTUS ruling and the Constitution.

A claim by Cuccinelli that the anti-sodomy law “is not — and cannot be — used against consenting adults acting in private” is belied by a 2009 statement suggesting his true agenda: that “homosexual acts are wrong and should not be accommodated in government policy.” Said another way, he’s trying to reestablish the old assertion that homosexual = child molester.

Perhaps given the history of Virginia’s sodomy law, the lag in fixing the wording should be no surprise: in 1778, Thomas Jefferson drafted a law (rejected by the Virginia State Legislature) mandating castration as the punishment for men committing the act — intended as a ‘softer’ punishment than the death penalty.


Planet Waves

Pussy Riot Update: Siberian Silence

News that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of two jailed members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, is being transferred to a new penal colony has been a mixed blessing — at least her loved ones know she’s alive. Two weeks of silence from prison officials about the 23-year-old had been raising fears of the worst among her supporters.

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Three members of Pussy Riot were originally arrested: (L to R) Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Aliokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich. Samutsevich was acquitted. Photo: Sergei Chirikov /EPA.

Tolokonnikova and another member of Pussy Riot were jailed after they participated in a February 2012 protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

In September, she penned an open letter in The Guardian UK detailing the horrific treatment of prisoners in her Mordovian penal colony — considered one of the worst in Russia — and announcing her decision to wage a hunger strike in protest (see Planet Waves coverage here).

Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, announced on Twitter Tuesday that a reliable source had confirmed she is being moved to a penal colony in a region of Siberia four time zones away from Moscow. He wrote that she is being transferred “as punishment for the resonance of her letter.”

Russia still transfers prisoners in secret, often by train and with an unknown destination. Depending on the number of stops at “transit prisons,” a transfer can take anywhere from two weeks to two months — all the while keeping a prisoner’s family in the dark. (Prisoner transfer is also often secretive in the U.S., but takes less time.)

According to Russia’s rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin (as reported by Huffington Post via Interfax), prison officials claim her health is acceptable after having been put on an IV drip while on hunger strike; she is eating; and she is being accompanied by a doctor during the transfer. Tolokonnikova is set to be released in March.


Planet Waves

Washington GMO Labeling Law Referendum Still Uncertain

Most news outlets are saying the Washington State measure to adopt mandatory GMO labeling on food failed to pass in Tuesday’s election. Supporters are saying: Not so fast. If passed, it would become the second state to have a GMO law on the books, after Connecticut — which seeks to turn labeling into a regional affair.


Initial reports from the Washington Secretary of State said the initiative is trailing with 45 percent of the vote (55 percent opposed) with about 60% of the vote counted. However, Washington is a mail-in vote state, and final results may not be known for a week or more, with an official number due by Nov. 26. According to an email from Food Democracy Now, about 600,000 votes remain to be counted.

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State Senator Maralyn Chase shows the first election results of I-522 to Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap CEO David Bronner CQ during the Yes on I-522 campaign party in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. Photo: Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times.

The Yes on I-522 campaign is still optimistic. Those who live in Seattle and surrounding counties, who have supported the measure in polling, tend to mail their ballots at the last minute, and so election results are often late, said a spokesperson. They believe that these late votes will be enough to pass the initiative.

The initiative was first submitted in February 2013 by grassroots labeling advocates who had collected more than 320,000 signatures, enough to place it before the legislature. Since there had been no resolution in the legislature by April, when the session ended, the measure was placed on the ballot. A similar measure in California was defeated in the November 2012 election.

As in California, the initiative was hotly contested, with opponents — led by Monsanto, DuPont and the Grocery Manufacturers Association — throwing $22 million into the ring, three times the amount as did proponents Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Mercola.com and others. A complete list of supporters can be found here, and previous Planet Waves coverage here and here.

Connecticut’s governor signed the nation’s first mandatory GMO labeling law in June 2013, but it contains some conditions that must be met before it can go into effect: four other states must enact similar legislation, one of which must share a border with Connecticut, and the combined population of the Northeastern states that enact GMO-labeling laws must total more than 20 million in population based on the 2010 census.

The conditions were set to protect “local farming by ensuring that the regional agriculture market has adopted the new labeling system before placing an undue and disproportionate burden on Connecticut farmers that requires them to analyze and label products,” according to a press release from the Connecticut Governor’s Office.

In 2013 nearly half of U.S. states have introduced bills requiring labeling or prohibiting GMO foods, according to the Center for Food Safety. CFS has several model bills for those wishing to get an initiative started in their state. Contact them at office@centerforfoodsafety.org.


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You’re Only as Sick as Your Secrets

The allied nations and the American body politic have been dragged kicking and screaming into some family therapy, with 30-year-old Edward Snowden in the role of the courageous problem child — or rather the chess prodigy — who makes the family rethink everything.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel shows her displeasure over the alleged tapping of her very official-looking cell phone by the NSA. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / AP.

If you’re German Chancellor Angela Merkel, you can call Obama on the phone and tell him to quit listening to your phone calls. Ordinary folk lack that option, but a consensus seems to have emerged in the wake of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden’s disclosures about NSA practices: the agency overstepped.

Some of the mind-boggling breadth of the snooping-in-progress is simply the result of there being just so much more data out there to collect in the information age. Spying itself is nothing new.

From Merkel’s phone call to Obama to the about-face of Patriot Act authors (who are now sponsoring the “Freedom Act” in an effort to restrict warrantless wiretaps and mass data collection and increase transparency), a lot that was under the table is now squarely on top of it.

Last weekend featured much discussion of whether Snowden, currently granted “limited asylum” in Russia, should be granted clemency; not on the table, say U.S. officials. Snowden hasn’t requested it, although he has asked for the support of the worldwide community and, in a manifesto published in Germany on Sunday, says that the debate taking place proves he did the right thing.

Snowden reportedly took some 50,000 files when he left the NSA, and has released only about 1 percent of the information so far. A former NSA director told The New York Times recently that spymasters should lay all of their cards on the table and ‘fess up to everything Snowden could possibly say.

What’s unclear is whether any reform imaginable can ever fully restore the level of individual or international privacy presumed and taken for granted before the era of Homeland Security forming an alliance with the age of info-tech. Private corporations routinely partner with public agencies in “fusion centers” where the mission has shifted from counterterrorism to protection against “all hazards.” Apparently, we’re all “hazards” now.


Planet Waves

Planet Waves

Porno Sex Versus Real Sex: The Foodie Version

Much has been written recently about how easy it is to view Internet porn, and to what extent it is influencing the way people think sex is supposed to happen. Finally, here’s the perfect video (posted by Egotastic!) to put the super-human body parts and skills in porn into better perspective… using food. Laugh at the imagery, and take comfort in the statistics: chances are, you and your partners are perfectly normal. And tasty.


Planet Waves

Mercury direct, Sun conjunct Saturn and Monogold

Link to program.

As the Scorpio sky continues to deepen, Planet Waves FM explores the themes coming along with that — a conjunction of the Sun and Saturn Wednesday, introspective Mercury turning direct on Sunday and a recap of the eclipse cycle we just experienced.

Planet Waves
The incredible Monogold, musical guest on Planet Waves FM.

Closing up the first set, I look at the issues the world is facing at the Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan.

My musical guest is the magnificent, incomparable Monogold, who I saw play at BSP last Friday evening.

In Act 2, I continue my sexual advocacy rant, pulling back the veils one by one and getting a look at what is back in the shadows. Note to Scorpios — on Tuesday I recorded your astrology reading for the 2013-2014 solar year.
The reading consists of two sections of astrology and one of tarot, presented in patient, clear detail, light on the astro-talk and rich in psychological insight.

By the way — there’s now a second podcast on Planet Waves FM, featuring indie music. It’s centered at Backstage Studio Productions but you hear about all kinds of great stuff you might not discover otherwise. This week I host with my guitar teacher Dan Sternstein. Here is a direct link.

Behind the Veils of Scorpio – Reading by Eric Francis

Listen to 15 minute preview — and order.

This year has brought the most interesting Scorpio astrology that I ever remember. An unusual eclipse, Mercury retrograde and Saturn all in your sign — plus Pluto in the spotlight of history — I cover all of this and more in your birthday reading.

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Topically, I guide you through the process of aligning with your environment, creating clear agreements with others and the use of time as an ally rather than as something you might struggle with.

In the second section, I take the journey inward and guide you through the process of getting to know the most intimate aspects of who you are, and revealing your innermost secrets to yourself.

While that will be happening for you with or without an astrology reading, being in tune with your planets and knowing something about their message for you will make the process easier and open up the potential for greater creativity in your growth and evolution.

I also include a 30-minute tarot reading using the Voyager tarot by James Wanless, photos of your cards and the chart that I’ve used, access to prior years’ readings and a few other things as well.

Listen to 15 minute preview — and order.
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We are happy to offer once again one of our most popular products: the Planet Waves All-Access Pass for 2014. The All-Access Pass is for members who want access to everything we offer in a calendar year. In recent years our product line has grown considerably, and the response from our All-Access subscribers has been overwhelmingly positive. You can read about everything that’s included with an All-Access pass here. For those who can’t get enough Planet Waves astrology, it’s an unbeatable value. Plus, if you order now, we’ll include the rest of the readings that come out in 2013, and you’ll save $100.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

The extended monthly horoscope for November  was published Friday, Oct. 25. Inner Space for November was published Friday, Nov. 1. We published Moonshine for the Aries Full Moon  Tuesday, Oct. 15. Moonshine for the Scorpio New Moon was published Tuesday, Oct. 29. Please note, we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope on the first Friday after the Sun has entered a new sign; Inner Space usually publishes the following Tuesday but for now it’s substituting for one Friday horoscope a month.


Weekly Horoscope for Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 #974 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — If you have something to say, then say it. I understand you may be hesitating, but I suggest you not miss this opportunity, and that in support of that, you not give yourself excuses to chicken out. Yes, this is one of those situations where you don’t know the effect that revealing something intimate may have on a personal relationship. But you can surmise the effect of not doing so, which is to remain stuck or feeling like there’s no space for you to be yourself. In fact there is space, and you can test that out by being clear, straightforward and explicit, and not holding back any aspect of what you think, what you feel, or what you want. You risk flipping the whole situation from something that feels stagnant to something that actually turns you on.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — The ongoing revelation known as your life is about to teach you something about yourself. This is likely to fall into the ‘what you’ve known all along’ category but somehow missed or failed to take conscious note of. With Saturn making its way across your relationship angle, it’s essential to keep your eye on the bottom line, whatever that is for you. You know that stability and commitment are your basic foundations. What the stars are now saying is that in any structured relationship, there must be room to change, grow and exchange ideas that can actually influence the situation. You have a safe container. Now, the question is how far you will go to use it in a creative and evolutionary way. In other words: you have selected your relationship style for a purpose. Now is the time to put that purpose to use.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Any health issues you’re facing are likely to be stress related. Those are the ones that don’t show up on X-rays, blood work, urine tests, CAT scans or dog scans. They’re the ones that most doctors miss or cannot quite identify. If you’ve recently sought medical advice, you might want to seek a second opinion from someone who specializes in the mind-body connection; but more to the point, I suggest you personally look at the connection between what you are feeling and what you’re experiencing physically. This may involve your role in a sexual relationship. You may be over-exerting yourself in some way — that is, trying to impose your will on someone, or alternately, someone may be trying to exert their will on you. Time management could be a question; it’s become clear, if nothing else, that you must pace yourself, and that others must support you in that.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Your life will not spin out of control if you give yourself a little room to experiment. It may seem like existence has been denying you some of the deeper pleasures you desire, though it’s also true that on some level you’ve been avoiding them. This may be because you’re not in the mood to take risks, or because you’ve been pursuing what you regard as more practical matters. In any event, the weather and the tides are shifting, and you’ve been seeing signs of this on your personal horizons for a week or so now, perhaps longer. This is a deeper re-evaluation than it may seem on the surface, involving harmonizing your personal needs and desires, your desire to play and express yourself, and a spiritual dimension. As for the latter, Jupiter in your birth sign is reminding you that the whole concept of ‘spiritual’ is useless unless it leads to happiness and pleasure.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You seem to be doing a pretty good job at avoiding being emotionally overwhelmed, despite having a number of excuses to feel that way. You have the ability to withdraw part of yourself into a secret location. I suggest you avoid that tendency, though, and move in the opposite direction — that is, stay close to the surface of your awareness. Be present for yourself and the people around you. Maintain some equilibrium between your inner life and your immediate environment. Said simply, you’re better off if you reveal to others how you feel, which may not involve explaining it in detail but rather with a simple statement and allowing yourself the space to be exactly as you are. This is not about there being no place to hide; it’s about opening the windows and allowing in fresh air and sunshine.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — There is little point trying to organize the mental details, an exact plan or trying to get control by collecting all of the information that’s out there. You’re probably feeling the inclination to exert your power that way, an impulse that can be better directed. There’s a very good point to knowing where you stand with yourself at all times, even if you don’t have words for it. In other words, the most vital information you can have is your own opinion, and what your intuition is telling you. You don’t need to know what everyone else thinks or what is motivating them; you merely need to know what is motivating you, and put that information to work. While you’re sometimes reluctant to trust your intuition if you don’t have some other form of data, you’re now in territory where your hunches can trump what seem like hard and cold facts. That’s the problem with them — their inflexibility. Notice that your intuition will keep you responsive to your feelings and your environment from moment to moment, updating you constantly.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — I suggest you respond to a burning desire rather than denying it or trying to pretend it’s not affecting you. You may have tried to compartmentalize this one many times, and it hasn’t worked. Now you get to burst out of those compartments, and it’s probably going to feel awesome. It could be awesome in that orgasmic way, or like when a shard of glass that got embedded in your skin years ago finally makes its way to the surface, tearing the skin to get out but it feels awesome because it’s finally getting out. Or as is most likely, a deep inner truth that you’re finally coming to terms with, which is arriving with an awesome sense of relief. It’s a beautiful thing to actually feel committed and passionate, and to put the two together. It’s awesome when you allow yourself to acknowledge the love that you feel.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.



Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) –Think of this moment as a focal point where numerous themes, issues and story lines both intersect and diverge. Everything you’ve done has led you to this point, and you can take your life many different directions from here. You may know this on one level, yet you seem poised to discover it on another. There is an image in your chart about bringing these two levels of awareness together — and stepping fully into what you know, including what you know about where you’ve been. There are some experiences you don’t want to repeat, and others that you want to explore more deeply; you’re also becoming aware of what you’ve never done before that you simply must experiment with. Most significantly, there are places you want to go, by which I mean with every cell of your DNA sending the same message, and I suggest you make plans to visit at least one of them within the next six months.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — At a certain point, you’re going to have to think of yourself as being something other than emotionally wounded. It’s true that you’ve suffered some injuries; everyone has, and you have a few that stand out in comparison to the people you know. It’s just that carrying around that idea makes something that happened in the past realer than it is, and realer than it needs to be. You may not be able to directly address the past situation; you may not be able to resolve it. But information is becoming available from another part of your consciousness which may show you two things: one is how you’ve put what happened in the past to good use, and I do mean very good use. The other is that while you may have some memory or personality matrix organized around this past event, you have in fact moved beyond it, and no longer need to define your personality or the trajectory of your life around this thing.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) –It’s not easy to take even a single step outside of the reasoning that love is good and lust is bad, which reasoning is based on the notion that there is some actual distinction to be made. Sure, checking out someone’s ass as they walk down the street is different from deep and abiding friendship. Yet that fact alone does not make one bad and the other good, or one fake and the other real. Both are natural, and for your purposes, what is natural is healthy and related to everything else that’s a fact of nature. At the moment your tendency is likely to be running in the direction of lusty passion, a sensation that’s going to grow stronger over the next few days. This is more likely to put you into the company of people you’re in harmony with.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You can finally divorce your parents. It’s about time. The thing about some divorces (if not all) is they make it easier to move on and be friends. The thing about divorcing your parents is that this makes it possible for the kid who is grafted to them, or to an idea of who they are (or were), to step up and be an adult. It’s not easy to see the influence that unhealthy bonding with mother and father has, especially if that influence is everywhere. You have reached the point in your life when you know it’s time to be your own authority. That’s the only way to get over what some call ‘authority issues’. It’s not necessary to project authority onto others, then rebel against it. I would say that if you want to be happy, it’s necessary to claim the right to run your own life. It’s not easy but it is possible — now.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.


Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — If you knew how protected you are, you would worry a lot less. Yet you still have a layer of learning, or programming, that says you have to be vigilant every minute, and to discern, in advance, the influence that something will have on you. I would point out that vigilance and fear are two different things, and that you’re now at a different level of learning. You have mastered, or at least reached, an advanced level on certain skills, including problem-solving. While at one time you may have learned that it’s not a good idea to use your ability to get out of trouble as an excuse to be careless, you can now count on it a little more. Yet something else is working for you, which is a guidance system that it’s taken you years to cultivate. This is a form of vigilance operating beyond normal awareness, working in the background, and with considerable support from what you might think of as spiritual agency. You can trust it; events in the coming days will show you that.

Wondering about how astrology is influencing your life now? Eric has prepared a written and recorded reading for you that tells the story. You can get all 12 signs of LISTEN, your 2013 reading, for the special reduced price of only $29.95. LISTEN gives you a detailed reading, available immediately, covering work, relationships, personal growth and creativity.



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