Tag Archives: Atomic Bomb

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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The Unforgettable Fire

Dear Friend and Reader:

Recently, a friend suggested that I visit Youko Yamomoto at the Gomen-Kudasai noodle restaurant in New Paltz. She told me that Youko was organizing a traditional Japanese dance event called Bon-Odori, and that the event had an anti-nuclear theme. It was one of those “you have to know this person” conversations, with the suggestion I try to speak at her event on Sunday, Aug. 5, which coincides with a solemn time of year in Japanese history — and that of the United States and in truth, the world.

Planet Waves
Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also called the Atomic Bomb Dome or A-Bomb Dome. Originally it was Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, one of the few buildings left even partly intact after the bomb fell over the city. Photo: Wikipedia.

On a rainy Saturday in mid-July I was in New Paltz and stopped in to meet her in her restaurant, where the Main Course used to be located. I learned that she had emigrated from Japan after spending part of her childhood living in Hiroshima, which was the first city struck by the United States with an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945 toward the end of World War II.

Then three days later — as if to make a point — the United States bombed another city in Japan, Nagasaki. Between the two cities, at least 300,000 people were killed, whether instantly or of eventual radiation sickness. This does not include multigenerational effects of the radiation. These were the only times that atomic weapons have been used in warfare — and it was at the hands of the United States of America.

This is a topic that most people would prefer not to talk about. More often, we rationalize it by arguing how many American lives were saved. They’re days on the calendar typically remembered only if there’s a mention on TV or the newspaper, otherwise they pass like any other day. I am one of the people who remembers; Planet Waves publishes some commemoration every year, reminding our readers of what, though they may not consider it consciously, they definitely don’t want to happen.

In the course of her life, Youko had become an anti-nuclear activist, and her concern includes nuclear power. She was one of the few people I’ve ever spoken to who understands that atomic bombs and nuclear energy are the same thing. Both are based on splitting Uranium and Plutonium atoms, and both emerged from the same program — the Manhattan Project, which evolved into the Atomic Energy Commission, which we now know as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Nuclear power was not invented because it was such a great idea; it was invented as unemployment insurance by the scientists who were about to lose their jobs after the atomic bomb project was finished. There are no “peaceful atoms.” A nuclear power plant is a nuclear bomb going off in slow motion — that is, till it malfunctions. Then, the longterm effects are much worse than a bomb.

“We all grew up in fear of the nuclear bomb,” she said, “and now we live with fear of a nuclear meltdown.” Then she changed the topic to Indian Point, a nuclear power generator located just up the Hudson River from New York City. She expressed her commitment to closing down the plant, something that many activists have been trying to do for years.

Planet Waves
Estimates that Indian Point supplies a third of New York City’s power are grossly over-estimated, according to Clearwater. It’s more like 10%, which can easily be made up for through conservation and alternative sources. Photo by Daniel Case/City Limits.

There’s a joke that nuclear power plants are extremely sophisticated devices for finding earthquake fault lines. That would be true of Indian Point — it’s situated on two fault lines, one of which was just discovered.

One is the well-known Ramapo Fault, which passes less than a mile north of the plant. The other was discovered by researchers from Columbia University in 2008, running from Stamford, Connecticut, to Peekskill, close to where the plant is located.

This combination of fault lines, the age of the facility and its proximity to New York City, make it the most dangerous nuclear power plant in the United States. It’s also extremely profitable, generating profits ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million per day, per reactor (Indian Point has two reactors that are still functioning) — potentially up to $1 billion a year, selling energy at high rates to many customers in New York City and the surrounding region.

There’s a problem, however: there’s nowhere to run if there’s a meltdown. If you listen to people in the nuclear industry, that’s never going to happen — which is the whole problem with that industry. Journalism Prof. Karl Grossman from SUNY Westbury, the author of many books on nuclear weapons and power, calls executives of the industry “nuclear Pinocchios” who cannot open their mouths without lying, exaggerating about safety or denying any dangers at all.

Speaking of dangers, it’s emerged recently that the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi was caused not by the tsunami but by the earthquake that preceded it. There will probably never be a tsunami in Westchester, but sooner or later there will be an earthquake. And when that happens, there’s a lot that can go wrong. When a nuclear power plant is not generating power, it consumes power to keep both the fuel core and the spent fuel ponds cool. If outside power to the plant is cut, there’s a limited amount of time that backup cooling systems will work. Those systems could be damaged in the quake, and if roads are also damaged, extra diesel fuel may not be available to keep the generators running.

An earthquake is not the only thing that can cause such a problem. We live in a time with a lot of solar flare activity, and a burst of energy from the Sun can take out a huge swath of the power grid. Such an incident could cut many nuclear power plants off from outside power, damage computer equipment that runs the plant and create a multi-site problem. Note: this is not a local issue for New York. These plants exist everywhere, and the effects of a disaster can be far-reaching. In other words, when a nuclear meltdown happens in Japan, the infant mortality rate goes up not just on the West Coast of the United States, but also in Philadelphia. What happens to a nuclear power plant happens to the whole planet.

Planet Waves
Hiroshima before and after the bombing. American military engineers chose a “virgin target” — a city that had not been bombed — for the first use of the atomic bomb, to better understand its effects.

Here in New York, we have a special issue — we’re the most densely populated region in the United States. More than 8 million people live in New York City and an additional 10 million live in the surrounding areas. While evacuation plans have been described as “inadequate,” I think that “nonexistent” would be a better way to put it. All of Westchester would have to be evacuated, and the prevailing winds would likely carry the radiation right over New York City and Long Island.

Manna Jo Greene, who works with Hudson River Sloop Clearwater on its project to close down the plant, points out that many of the evacuees would head straight for our neck of the woods.

“If people think we live far enough away, remember that this is the most likely area where people will flee,” she said in a recent conversation. “We’ll be receiving vehicles that are coming from the hottest part of the hot zone, plus the drift that could come in this direction. The radiation is more likely to go south and east with the prevailing wind, but you will have millions of people fleeing in our direction. That’s something that hasn’t been thought about very much — how serious the impacts are on the receiving areas.”

Clearwater is using several strategies to get the two remaining units of Indian Point shut down when their licenses expire in 2013 and 2016, each after an approximately 40-year run. One problem that Greene is concerned about is how the spent fuel ponds are kept dangerously over-filled, “far beyond the design basis. These overcrowded fuel ponds can go into criticality and cause a spontaneous fire.” Criticality means that a self-sustaining reaction can start, but there’s no way to stop it. If the cooling water boils off, the rods can burst into flames, spreading many isotopes that concentrate in the spent fuel.

Planet Waves
Map shows how close Indian Point nuclear power plant is to New York City and Long Island. The prevailing winds blow toward the population center — south and east.

This is a real problem. Over in Japan, thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel are dangling in pools above the melted-down reactors, with severely damaged Unit 4 being in the worst shape. In the event of even a modest earthquake, the fuel could fall or the water could leak out of the pool, and the whole disaster scenario could repeat itself.

As for preventing this at Indian Point, Greene wonders: “What the heck is stopping them from doing something that would make an extremely unsafe condition a little less unsafe?”

Once you’ve been subjected to nuclear logic for a while, you might notice that no risk is too enormous to ignore. Nuclear logic resembles a religious cult more than what you think of as a scientific institution. It’s a world where the dangers are either considered imaginary or the product of hysterical people. It’s a world where nothing can go wrong, and when it does, it was a freak accident where nobody got exposed to more than a few dental X-rays worth of radiation.

I recently spent a few hours with Prof. Karl Grossman, who is one of the most prolific anti-nuclear authors, in his home in Sag Harbor. He explained that for a while, public policy makers used to consider the potential for low-probability, high-impact events in their risk assessments. Now, he says, those potential worst-case scenarios are ignored as if they don’t exist.

That’s pretty crazy — putting the most dangerous machines ever created into the hands of people who spend their lives denying that anything can go wrong, who lie about it when it does, and then insist that they are perfect. And as we know, things do go wrong. The nuclear business is an ongoing minor disaster, which is like saying that they put out a lot of small fires in the hay barn, only it’s plutonium hay. Indian Point for its part has had a long litany of problems, and the place is starting to fall apart.

Planet Waves
The Enola Gay dropped the “Little Boy” atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In this photograph are six of the aircraft’s ground crew with mission commander Paul Tibbets in the center.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Grossman the story of how New Yorkers got rid of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant in the 1980s, after the plant had been built for $6 billion. It was completed in 1984, though public opposition to its operation surged after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Still, it’s difficult to get rid of such a massively expensive project once it’s completed and tested (making it more expensive to decommission).

“Essentially, it was stopped by any means possible,” Grossman said, requiring the cooperation of politicians, the media, citizens and lawyers, who took on the Long Island Lighting Company. LILCO’s problems began in the 1970s, in the wake of Three Mile Island, when new federal rules required that operators of nuclear plants have evacuation plans in cooperation with state and local governments. That was just the beginning, however.

“People worked to defeat pro-nuclear politicians. Shoreham was defeated by massive demonstrations and civil disobedience. In one, 600 people were arrested and thousands participated. It was defeated by an end-run around the federal nuclear juggernaut” using the state’s power of eminent domain to take control of the property. Grossman said that, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has never denied an operating license anytime, anywhere for a nuclear plant in the US” — and this was the challenge (as it’s likely to be for Indian Point).

Some clever local attorneys worked within the political system and created the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which would eliminate pro-nuclear LILCO (the local private power company) if it persisted with its plans for Shoreham. “Ultimately, LILCO gave up, turned Shoreham over to LIPA for a dollar for decommissioning as a nuclear facility. And it was decommissioned.”

Planet Waves
This picture taken on Aug. 21, 2010 — before the meltdowns — shows a fuel storage pool inside Fukushima No. 1 plant. Similar spent fuel ponds at Indian Point are as serious of a concern as are the reactors themselves. The spent fuel ponds can experience spontaneous criticality (an uncontrollable reaction) and they can also burst into a nuclear fire if the water drains from the tank.

Grossman said that getting rid of Shoreham also prevented the use of Long Island as a “nuclear park” that would have placed 11 nuclear power plants on Long Island. That is a miracle.

In the nuclear dilemma we face, we see the very worst attributes of human thinking: our ingenuity and industriousness combined with our inability to consider actual dangers or future consequences. Most of us don’t dare to look at this nightmare or its potential to burst into physical reality. To solve this problem we will need to summon the very best in the human spirit: foresight and the ability to stand up to authority.

Clearwater is a party to the Indian Point relicensing procedure, having filed what’s called an intervention in the process, stating its objections as part of the legal record. They are a small organization up against a corporate giant — Entergy, which owns the plant and operates many other power stations of every kind.

Clearwater is also working on first-responders — firefighters, EMS workers and hospital staff. They’ve distributed thousands of copies of a DVD about the dangers and the lack of evacuation procedures to first-responders.

And Youko Yamomoto, who runs a Japanese noodle restaurant in New Paltz, does her work every day as if her actions have the ability to make a change — and they do. She knows that having a traditional Japanese dance festival with an anti-nuclear theme is a modest effort, but she’s doing what she can.

That event, called Bon-Odori, starts at 1 pm Sunday, Aug. 5 in New Paltz, on the Blueberry Patch along Water Street. I will be speaking at about 4 pm, and if you happen to be in the Hudson Valley and can make it out to the event, I look forward to meeting you there.


Planet Waves
RIP Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island, spitting distance from Manhattan. You sure were a terrible idea — and you were defeated by public outrage and common sense. Hear the story of how Shoreham was defeated in my interview with Karl Grossman. Photo by Paul Searing / Wikimedia Commons.


Planet Waves

Just a Few More Days of Mercury Retrograde

There are those Mercury retrogrades that seem like they will never end; we may be in one now, though the end is near — that happens Wednesday, Aug. 8. The most interesting phase of the experience has yet to come.

Planet Waves
Mercury stationing direct, on the left side of the diagram. The Sun is just past the Leo midpoint (marking a holiday called Lamas, when we’re halfway between the solstice and the equinox). The pink thing is Transpluto, a hypothetical point involved with the theme of self-criticism, working its way toward Virgo (it’s been in Leo since the 1930s) and finally at the right, Mars and Saturn get ready for a conjunction that’s exact on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Mercury has been retrograde in Leo since July 15. It’s about to station direct in a quincunx to Neptune in Pisces, which is another way of saying “slippery when wet.” Speak the truth and when in doubt, don’t say anything.

Speaking of wet, we’re entering what’s called the Mercury storm phase, a turbulent phase when the little troublemaker has slowed down to a near stop (moving a small fraction of a degree per day). This stretches across both sides of the station — that is, it will last for about four or five days after Mercury goes direct on Wednesday.

Yet regardless of the storm, the moment Mercury goes direct can come as a relief, and it can come with a revelation of some kind. I suggest you apply this astrology in a practical way and be alert for a discovery, or seeing through the veil of deception or denial that may be hanging around like a fog.

I suggest that the moment you discover something that is not true, pause and figure out what just happened, going as far back into the past as you need to go in order to understand what’s happening. You may be “keeping a secret from yourself” (that’s called denial) or your mind may be distracted by some other factor.

In matters of business, contracts and purchases, I suggest you wait until Mercury stations direct, and plan for an extra couple of days till you really have a sense of what information is relevant, and which is not. Be cautious of errors in judgment associated with alcohol or other mind-altering substances. At the moment, this factor is more significant than usual, which is saying a lot.


Planet Waves

I’ve Got a Rocket in My Pocket

Planet Waves

Ever since the Cold War ended, the missile business just hasn’t been as exciting as it used to be — but it could be if government employees and contractors don’t stop watching Internet porn on the job. Last week, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency issued a memo warning them to stop using their government computers to view and email web porn. This is the new kind of sex scandal — pictures and videos.

“These actions are not only unprofessional, they reflect time taken away from designated duties, are in clear violation of federal and DoD regulations, consume network resources and can compromise the security of the network though the introduction of malware or malicious code,” wrote the agency’s Executive Director John James Jr., in a one-page memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

Everyone wastes time surfing the web on work computers. Unfortunately, downloading porn if you work for the government could compromise national security. Porn sites are often infected with malware. An anonymous government cybersecurity specialist who spoke with Bloomberg News said that criminals and foreign intelligence services use them to gain access to and harvest data from government and corporate computer networks. Looks like the missile designers who spend their days and years figuring out how to murder vast numbers of people will just have to wait till they get home. But it’s got to be tough when your job is all about exploding phallic symbols.


Planet Waves

This Week In Politics: It Was Really Weird

Political psychosis reached a new depth this week. It must have been that plump Full Moon stirring things up. Wednesday, a provision in the Affordable Care Act took effect, requiring employers to cover contraception in health plans without a co-pay. In response, Rep. Mike Kelly, a freshman Republican rep from Pennsylvania, said, “I know in your mind you can think of the times America was attacked.”

Planet Waves
Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Arrested at “Occupy Fannie Mae” Protest in Center City Philadelphia. Photo via Philadelphia Weekly. See video and blog here.

“One is December 7 — that is Pearl Harbor Day. Another was September 11 — that was the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August 1, 2012 — the attack on our religious freedom. That is a date that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.” Sure Mike, let’s check back in 50 years.

Then there was the currently developing Chick-Fil-A situation. As we speak, thousands — perhaps millions — of wing nuts are speeding to their local store to support the boss’s stance on same-sex marriage. The chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, believes only in “biblical marriage,” and has made his stance known in what may be the cleverest publicity stunt since, well, pick another really clever thing that got someone a lot of press.

Speaking on a talk show this week, Cathy said, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” he said, adding, “We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”

Jon Stewart pointed out that flocking to Chick-Fil-A to stuff their faces with fast food was finally a form of activism Americans could relate to, proposing that it was our version of a Gandhi-styled hunger strike. Meanwhile, same-sex couples were also flocking to their local Chick Fil-A for a kiss in; they will be making out in the midst of the Christians eating their sandwiches.

Jackson Pearce created a video that went uber-viral explaining just what “biblical marriage” is all about (see CREATE section below).

Planet Waves
Jan Ebeling, 53, competed in his first Olympics with Rafalca, a mare that is owned in part by Ann Romney. Photo by Victor J. Blue for the New York Times.

Mitt Romney continued to come under scrutiny for not releasing his tax returns. Some are speculating that Romney, whose net worth exceeds $240 million, paid no income tax for many years. He told ABC News that he would look into whether he paid a tax rate below 13.9% at any time in the past decade, then decided not to produce the information.

Meanwhile Romney threw his wife under a bus (in the political sense of that) by claiming that he had no plans to watch the family horse Rafalca (upkeep costs: $77,000 in 2010) compete in the Olympics. He said in an interview that the whole horse thing was his wife Anne’s business and that he really was not interested — a pathetic attempt to distance himself from what’s perceived as a sport a little too posh for the common man to relate to (along with car elevators in one’s summer home and being buddies with NASCAR owners).

And finally in some news that actually makes sense, Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her vice presidential running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested during an Occupy protest at the offices of mortgage company Fannie Mae on Banker’s Row in Philadelphia.

Arrested along with Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala were labor lawyer James Moran and Sister Margaret McKenna of the Medical Mission Sisters, among others. The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign organized the protest to demand that Fannie Mae halt foreclosure proceedings against two Philadelphia residents — an all-too-common proceeding in the four years since the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

“It’s time for this game to end. It’s time for the laws be written to protect the victims and not the perpetrators,” said Stein. She noted that the Obama administration has only released 10% of the aid that Congress had promised to homeowners.


Planet Waves

Maddow Gives Air Time to Koch Brothers Fracking Advocate

Monday night, Rachel Maddow proudly hosted someone named Richard Muller, a scientist funded by the Koch brothers (petrochemical moguls who are also sponsors of the Tea Party and Romney campaigns). Muller, a former climate-change skeptic, has had an incredible revelation: global warming is real, and it’s being caused by humans. [See video here.]

Planet Waves
Prof. Richard Muller has come out of the closet and now believes global warming is real. It took him 20 years.

He came out of the closet in an op-ed in The New York Times. Maybe it took a lot for Muller to catch up with the past 20 years of climate science, or maybe his position is a ruse, but then live on the Maddow show, he proposed a solution: burn natural gas instead of coal. Where would we get that natural gas? Fracking, of course! Or as he put it, “clean fracking,” which does not exist and is unlikely ever to exist except in the hallucinations of PR people.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a way of violently extracting gas from miles below the ground. In the process, it consumes tons of water, injects toxins into the aquifer, causes flammable drinking water and destroys communities.

Notably, her program has been sponsored by fracking propaganda ads for years, and continues to be, as recently as the Thursday night edition. The ads state outright that fracking — which is not mentioned by the name everyone would recognize — is safe and protects both communities and drinking water supplies. It’s fair to say this is an outright lie, given the problems that have been exposed about fracking over the past few years. For most people who get dragged in, it becomes a living nightmare that is destroying their lives.

Muller thinks developing “clean fracking” is the answer to lure underdeveloped countries like India and China off of their coal dependence. Muller — a physicist at UC Berkeley and former MacArthur Genius Grant winner — and his awakening were touted by Maddow as evidence of the impossible.

Maddow noted that Muller’s recent research through his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) study was funded by the infamous right-wing oil gazillionaires the Koch brothers, making Muller’s findings on global warming that much more surprising. More shocking still was Maddow’s failure to call him out on his support of fracking — a yet-to-be-developed clean version or otherwise.

Instead of calling Muller out on his claims, Maddow jokes about developing fracking that does not cause earthquakes or flammable drinking water (she shows B-roll video of someone who lives near a fracking well whose kitchen sink bursts into flames when they strike a match next to running water).

We think it’s time for her to get an earful and drop ExxonMobil. Fracking is a destructive, toxic process; “clean fracking” is a red herring. We already know where we can get clean energy; we’re orbiting it. If you want to let her know that what she’s doing is bad for the planet and bad for her credibility — and amounts to selling her soul for what she calls “the best job in the world” (her own) — please write to her at rachel@msnbc.com.


Planet Waves

Massive India Blackouts Become PR for Nuclear Power

Two massive blackouts in India this week cut power to 620 million people — half of the country. This was the world’s biggest blackout (and by some odd coincidence happened with Mercury retrograde). Power went out Monday, was restored and then failed again Tuesday. [See interesting video here.]

Planet Waves
Stuck on a train during the biggest blackout in history. I can read his mind; he’s thinking, I want to live in the shadow of a nuclear power plant.

Recent extreme heat (also seen in many parts of the world) had led to increased usage, and a later-than-usual monsoon season required additional energy needed to power irrigation. Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh promoted his plan for a $400 billion overhaul of India’s power grid, which calls for increased generation from nuclear power.

About a third of Indian households lack electricity, and the blackout area included some of the country’s largest and poorest states. In Uttar Pradesh, with nearly 200 million people, only 36.8% of households have electricity; in Bihar, with almost 100 million, the rate is only 16.4% of households. But the blackouts also took out everything from streetlights to crematoria.

India has since restored electric power across the country, but a blackout like this points to the frailty of India’s economic and electric infrastructures in comparison to its ambitions. The American power grid, while better than India’s, has some serious problems; for example, it’s not a ‘smart grid’ that can distribute power where it’s needed the most.


Planet Waves

Planet Waves

Jackson Pearce explains “biblical marriage” to anyone who thinks it’s about one man and one woman. Her video went viral and ended up everywhere from Maddow to Jon Stewart. Watch the video here. It’s fun.


Planet Waves

Planet Waves FM: What is Tantra?

In this week’s edition of Planet Waves FM, my guests — Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels — talk about a topic of interest to many, but explained by few: Tantra. They explain that tantra is different from Kama Sutra, which is about sexual technique.

Planet Waves
Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson in their teaching space. They live in Westchester County, NY.

Tantra is a cosmology, a way of approaching existence and a way of life wherein sexual energy is understood as flowing through everyone and everything. There are no strict rules to the practice, as you will hear; true tantra embraces everything.

This philosophy can inform our relationships, our ideas about life and death, and can provide some grounding as we seek to understand who we are.

I’ve waited a long time to bring on guests who are from the “sacred sexuality” angle of life, because until now I have not met people who I thought could relate the topic in a way that was down to earth, grounded in tradition and relevant in the modern world. I think I’ve found them… please let me know what you think.

My guests can be reached at their website, TantraPM.com. They are the authors of several books which are described on their website, they teach classes, do private work and host a social event in New York City once a month. This is part one of a two-part series, which will continue next week. Note that there is a substantive — and informative — discussion thread for this edition developing at a separate link.


Planet Waves

Planet Waves monthly horoscopes provide a broader perspective that surveys the themes of the coming month and often, the weeks that follow. The August Monthly horoscope was published Friday, July 27. Inner Space for August was published Tuesday, July 31. The most recent Moonshine horoscope by Genevieve Hathaway (for July) was published on July 3. Please note a change in the publishing pattern. For a few months we were publishing the monthly horoscope on Wednesday evenings, but that was proving to be too confusing. We have shifted the monthly to be incorporated into the Friday issue after the Sun has entered a new sign; Inner Space still publishes on Tuesdays.


Planet Waves

Friday, August 3, 2012. Weekly Horoscope #912 | Eric’s Zodiac Sign Descriptions

Leo Birthdays this week

Tread carefully, as if you’re walking on a wet floor. Be careful what you say; ideas could slip out of your mouth, or pass through the usually tight filters of your mind, that turn out not to make any sense. This is a year of figuring out what’s true for you and what is not, and I suggest you take this as a longterm devotion. This will be particularly true where joint financial matters are concerned. Take nothing for granted in those situations. It’s not that something is wrong; it’s that you have a vulnerability, and need to maintain extra awareness. I suggest that you be meticulous in all matters involving taxes, investments and financial accounting of any kind. This extends to understanding the agreements in your relationships, particularly the ones where sex is involved, or may become involved. Take things one step at a time and allow the truth of your feelings to come out in layers. To learn more about your astrology for 2012-2013, listen to your birthday audio reading, which I finished last week.

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You need to find a creative outlet, or use one you already have. This could be to address some anxiety or concern that’s troubling you; or you may have an idea or desire brewing, though you’re not sure it’s worth acting on. Whatever the energy source, your solar chart says it’s time to get it out. Your doubts seem to be as active as your curiosity is, so there may be an element of daring or courage required. A straightforward reading of your current aspects describes acting on a fantasy or desire. This may be something you have to tease out of yourself, or persuade yourself to stop pretending you don’t want — though if you’re too persuasive you may end up talking yourself out of it. Lead with your curiosity, which means curiosity about yourself. If you have a playmate to explore with, be open about the fact that you want some help playing out the scene you’re envisioning, for your own sake. This may involve role play that casts you as someone other than who you’re comfortable being in ‘real life’ — but who you’re burning with curiosity to experience.

Hello Aries — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You seem to be trying to work out the details of a decision, with no obvious options and a very high ideal in mind. I suggest you simplify matters, and focus your most basic goal. Then ask yourself what, exactly, you need to do in order to meet that goal. Once you have an understanding of this, it’ll be a lot more obvious how to proceed. If you find yourself bouncing back and forth between possibilities, or plans, that’s a sign that you need to focus your goals. There seems to be an overload of emotional energy clouding your mind, and for the next week or so you will need to sidestep this. The way to do this is by making step-by-step plans toward your minimal objective — not your ideal destination or the grand plan. Clarity is going to be key to this process. You will know you’re moving in the right direction when you start to feel a little insecure or outside of your comfort zone. That’s the feeling of energy moving into manifestation. Keep going.

Hello Taurus — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed) If you would like to hear your Taurus birthday reading, please visit this link.

Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — As a Gemini, it’s difficult for you to get your life, or your mind, onto solid ground — and the current astrology is throwing one curve after another. However, the place where you can anchor yourself is with your words. This is always true for one born under your sign, however, now that language is being reduced to either biased spin or two-sentence chirps, I can not say this more emphatically. For the next week, Mercury will be slowing to a station, holding a long, exact aspect to Neptune. This rare event is a personal message to gather your thoughts and your creative vision, and to focus your mind — in writing. I don’t care how little time you think you have. Stop several times a day and write in your journal, and/or your blog, and/or develop a short-term plan of action (preferably all of the above — and if you don’t have some way to express your ideas to the community, now is the time to create one). You will feel better, your mind will relax and you will orient yourself on a new flow of income.

Hello Gemini — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). Your Gemini birthday reading is ready! Click here for an hour of astrology plus a tarot reading by Eric.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — How are you feeling after this week’s Full Moon? There was, and still is, a theme of focusing your financial plans, and getting clear in any contractual or tax matters that you may be looking at. Taking action sooner rather than later will save you energy and effort. The interests of more than one person seem to be involved — check in with your relationship to a group, family or organization. Though you may be tempted to put the needs of others above those of yourself, this isn’t the week for that. I am not advocating unmitigated greed; I am suggesting that you keep your priorities in order, and make sure that your books are balanced and your financial house is tidy before you devote yourself to the needs of others. There would be one exception to this: you may be depending on the success of the whole group or organization for your own success, in which case I suggest you focus your priorities to that worthy objective.

Hello Cancer — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). Your Cancer birthday reading is ready! It includes more than hour of astrology plus a tarot reading, and has been wildly popular (also great for Cancer rising people). Use this link to order.

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Over the next few days, you have access to a power source that may seem like an infinite well of creativity. This is so potent you may want to approach it with respect. One way you can do that is to avoid acting on a rebellious impulse. And while I am normally an advocate of curiosity, I suggest that you monitor that particular thought form with care and caution as the week progresses. Your curiosity is so powerful right now that you have to handle it with the care of a laser. It’s a force that can activate all kinds of processes, including some that you may not find so easy to bring under control. Therefore, in addition to curiosity, I suggest you monitor your motives, and that you be clear what you want to learn, experience or discover. You also need to do something that’s exceedingly difficult for most humans, which is monitor when your judgment may be off, or when you may be working with incomplete information. When either of those conditions is true, pause.

Hello Leo — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed). See below for a description of your 2012-2013 birthday reading, which is available now.


Planet Waves

Hello Leo and Leo Rising! I’ve finished your 2012-2013 birthday reading. This is composed of two 35-minute astrology sessions, plus a combined tarot and astrology reading. It covers all of the major astrology happening now — with an emphasis on recovering a childhood dream. I also cover the influence on your relationships, your home environment and your finances. Astrologically this includes Mercury retrograde in your sign, the Leo New Moon, the Uranus-Pluto square, Saturn in Scorpio and more — all in clear, easy to follow terms. This report is designed for those born with the Sun in Leo but is equally applicable for Leo rising. Visit this page to get access.


Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You’re in unusual territory in a relationship or partnership, and it may be difficult for the next few days to be clear who is really coming from what point of view. First, account for your own position and keep track of your own motives. That may not be easy, but it will be essential; the integrity of a relationship — and your part in that relationship — depends upon it. We are in a time of history when there’s not really an understanding of the word ‘honest’. This is related to the concept of honor, and that’s the very thing that’s at stake right now. I suggest you refrain from making any promises or commitments over the next few days, and instead emphasize maintenance of the ones you’ve already made. If you discover there are some things that you cannot come through on, you will have a few days early next week when you can have that discussion. Make sure you take responsibility for any over-commitment or misunderstanding on your part.

Hello Virgo — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You’re beginning to emerge from a challenging time in your life, when it’s seemed that you could get very little right. I suggest you set aside that feeling — whether it’s true or not — and consider the ways in which you have come through a kind of initiation phase. Imagine yourself looking back on this time in your life from a distance of 10 years. Consider the before-and-after factor; what was your life about before this year, and what did it become in the years after? Well, you get to decide that second piece, though remember that you’re at the fulcrum right now. It’s easier to point yourself in the direction you want to go now than it will be, say, in five years. The first step is getting a sense of that new direction. I suggest you consider this on the basis of what you would do if you had exclusive authority over your life, along with what you’d do if you really felt comfortable in your own skin.

Hello Libra — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Are you really under as much pressure as you think? I suggest you get a handle on that question. At the moment you’re likely to be feeling an enhanced drive to succeed, or to stand out. Yet in your ambition you could easily make an error in judgment that will lead to anything but success. Therefore, over the next few days, it’s imperative that you choose your words carefully, and not make any moves prematurely. In other words, when in doubt, delay. You seem to be formulating a plan for a career move of some kind, which could work out brilliantly for you, if your timing is correct. Now is the time to clarify your plan, and the steps you need to take. Work on getting the language correct. There’s something about the enterprise I’m describing that feels like mixing oil and water — which may turn out to be metaphors for creativity and authority. Remember that seen one way, authority means authorship. And this brings us back to clear words and clear ideas, which must support your goals, or be set aside.

Hello Scorpio — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You may be finding it difficult to get a read on where a colleague or partner is coming from — or to figure out where anyone is coming from, for that matter. I suggest you be wary of lofty principles and rules for living, and translate everything into basic ideas that you understand. If you cannot do that, the chances are it’s not especially important now. You might, however, keep tabs on what you don’t understand, because over the next few days, as Mercury changes directions, you just might figure it out — and wonder why you hadn’t seen the obvious. This is another way of saying give the people around you room to experiment with what they believe. Rather than agonize over whether you think it’s true or accurate, step back and let them go through their process. The more ridiculous you think someone’s opinion is, the more distance I suggest you give them. You will be surprised at the results, when they figure themselves out.

Hello Sagittarius — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You want to think like a chess player when it comes to your professional aspirations. Clearly, you’re brewing something up, though it’s now time to think five steps ahead. It’s true that you cannot exactly predict the choices of others, though you do know their general tendencies. Over the next week or so, however, there’s going to be a shift in the planetary pattern — and the pattern of your life — that may have you rethinking your most important goal. The feeling will be of something ‘settling in’, as if you shift from the mental level of a topic to understanding how you feel about it. That information will make it easier to map out your game plan. As part of this, you’re likely to have a collaborator at some point soon, at least on the level of understanding your agenda. I suggest you open up your thought process, once you’ve identified someone as truly having your best interests at heart. The emotional grounding piece is the one they will be able to help you with.

Hello Capricorn — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You seem to be wrestling with your faith in yourself. If you tune in to that quality, you may
notice that you’re angry about something. I just want to tell you — that’s okay. Anger is energy, and if you use that energy consciously, it can provoke you to have a spiritual breakthrough of some kind. You can then take that to the next level, which would be making a decision and acting on it. Starting in the autumn you will be amping up your career and your responsibilities. These next couple of months are the time to invest in your inner process — with a focus on a decision that you may feel has to be finalized in the next two weeks. I think you have longer than that, but within the first half of August I suggest you strive to understand what the issues really are. You’re weighing and balancing something, and you have to look exactly at what is on each side of the scale.

Hello Aquarius — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Work has not been easy the past few weeks, with Mercury retrograde in the house that covers that topic for you. You may have many backed-up projects, though I suggest you can ease off of the throttle for the next week or so while you do the most significant thing you can do — get clear. You need to be putting at least a third of your time and energy into recreation. By that I mean ‘recreating’ yourself, as well as taking some stress off of your mind and spirit. This may take some discipline (like closing the laptop at a certain time), though it will pay off because by having a fresh mind you will add to your efficiency. That’s the thing you want, and any plans you make from this point forward need to be thought through with that one concept in mind. What you give you tend to give from your spirit, and that cannot be measured accurately in worldly terms. Less effort does not translate to less value, less beauty or less of anything else.

Hello Pisces — Eric has written a new description for your sign that you have access to from this link (no password needed).

Back From the Edge

Dear Fellow Traveler:

Today is the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I do have some good news to report in today’s short edition (which does not include a horoscope), but first I suggest we pause in remembrance of the people who unexpectedly met their end as the American B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb over them on a warm, cloudless morning. Three days later, in a move that made no sense for strategic purposes, the American military dropped another bomb on the city of Nagasaki.

Born in Quincy, IL, in February 1915, then-Col. Tibbets (center) was one of the pilots who tested the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the world’s first atomic bomber. He was the commander of the mission that dropped the first atomic bomb on a population. Photo retrieved from BBC obituary of Paul Tibbets. See gallery here.

To glimpse the mentality behind the use of the atomic bomb, let’s consider that Col. Paul Tibbets, the commander of the mission, named the B-29 after his mother — her name was Enola Gay. As if to emphasize the point, the ship was codenamed Mother. The bomb was codenamed Little Boy. And 65 years later we are still killing mothers and fathers and small children, and it is rare that I hear a word of dissent. So while we’re asking how this could have possibly happened, we need to ask how the same thing is happening today.

I have covered the astrology of Hiroshima previously, on the Planet Waves blog. That entry includes the chart. I did the astrology of Paul Tibbets for Jonathan Cainer’s site several years ago — here is a link.

The Hiroshima chart has an image of mother and little boy — an exact Moon-Saturn conjunction: exact as if someone had planned the chart (I’m sure nobody did). Saturn, ruler of the feminine sign Capricorn, is often an image of mother and matriarchy. The Moon is an image of mother, or of child. The implicit message is sick: blame mom for this ethical and technological disaster. And it has the signature of craving an emotional high, one that is typically expressed sexually: a Venus-Chiron square. Most significantly, the chart picks up something called the Nuclear Axis — the defining moment of the nuclear age, when an atomic reaction first took hold — from every corner. Currently there are two potent, slow-moving minor planets dancing around the Nuclear Axis, which forms a cross through the early-to-middle mutable signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.

They are the centaur Pholus (small cause, big effect) and Ixion (anyone is capable of anything). Isn’t that charming? So we — whoever ‘we’ is — need to be careful. And they form a conjunction from March 2011 through September 2014. This happens near the Great Attractor, which is like a giant energy magnifier in the middle of (go figure) Sagittarius. So we have another image of what 2012 is about, and that sounds like sorting out this nuclear issue both politically and spiritually.

When we think of our great country (and by that I include the UK and allied Europe), we need to remember Aug. 6, 1945. When we think of our constitutional democracies and the lifestyle that it’s possible for us to attain here, we need to remember this holocaust — literally, an all-consuming fire. Holo means whole, as in holistic. Caust means burns, as in caustic. When we wonder what it’s possible for humanity to do to itself, and wonder about Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot, we need to remember Harry Truman and the Enola Gay.

The bomb went off over the Shima Surgical Clinic. Truman came on the radio shortly after the bombing and described Hiroshima as a military base. He was lying. (Like many cities, it had one, but it also had a large civilian population.) He told his fellow Americans that we had done God’s work. It is incredible that there hasn’t been more outrage or even philosophical pondering of the use of an atomic bomb on a civilian population. It happens occasionally. Few people are aware of the reference in U2’s The Unforgettable Fire.

The Shadow of the Bomb

I have a theory about the nuclear issue, which is that it lurks in the background of our minds all the time. Those of us who were born before the Berlin Wall came down were basically raised on the idea that humanity could blow itself up within 15 minutes any day of the week. We’ve all heard of the near-misses caused by geese being picked up on radar as incoming missiles, which may be urban legends — but that doesn’t matter. It is very much the thought that counts.

The first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima early in the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. The explosion and radioactive fallout killed 140,000 immediately and many more in subsequent years. The bomb was extremely inefficient, fissioning just 1.6% of its fuel. Photo retrieved from BBC obituary of Paul Tibbets. See gallery here.

So when we wonder why the people who run the world, and we who are part of the world, can live with the many games of brinkmanship that go on every day, we have an example of how we are trained to live with this as an emotional state. I am asked several times a week whether “the world will end” in 2012 and what stuns me every time is that people seem to accept that this is a possibility.

And it is true, it’s technologically possible to wipe out a lot of humanity using manmade devices in a very short time. As kids, we all spent time, perhaps a lot of time, thinking about this, and it is soaked into our cellular memory. The vision of the mushroom cloud is something that everyone exposed to books, movies or television has seen, and we all know what it means. And this potential did not exist before Aug. 6, 1945, when the great and good United States of America became the first and so far only nation to drop a nuclear bomb on a population.

For those who are interested in considering the implications of the nuclear issue, I can recommend two books: American Ground Zero, a book of photos from the testing era in the American Southwest; and The Fate of the Earth by Jonathan Schell. If I had my way these books — particularly the first — would be out on a table in every classroom. The first describes the nuclear testing program centered in Nevada and New Mexico that conducted 140 air burst detonations in the 1950s and 1960s, including extensive human and animal experimentation; and the second describes the consequences of nuclear war and how we can avoid it.

This really is our problem. It may seem that awareness of how it influences our psychology and emotions is all we can gain from understanding history, but that is where the healing process begins. On a deeper level, I believe we need to understand what humanity is capable of, and the depth of shadow we possess — at least those of us who want to be empowered members of our race, devoted to creating a sane and peaceful world.

And in News from Vesta

On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco has ruled that Proposition 8, the Mormon-backed amendment which banned gay and lesbian couples from marrying in California, is unconstitutional. This is a victory both symbolic and real. It won’t take effect immediately — the judge made his ruling and then stayed the decision until appeals can be filed by the losers. Everyone knows how this is going to shake out. Everyone knows that [some] heterosexual people don’t have the right to claim that marriage is exclusively for them.

Hon. Vaughn Walker.

This is a truly incredible decision, which sorts out the issues in a clear and declarative way. After an exhaustive trial, court found no evidence that heterosexual couples do a better job raising kids than homosexual couples. Heterosexual marriage is not harmed by the creation of homosexual marriage.

Here is a little taste of the ruling’s language:

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

Gee whiz. Those of us who are civil rights freaks live for paragraphs like that. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who tried the case and wrote the decision, was first appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan (his nomination was stalled) and then nominated a second time by George H.W. Bush (it was approved by the Senate). So he is supposedly a conservative’s conservative. Now the chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, he is also gay.

As Time put it, “Instead of ‘gay marriage’, Walker wrote in a 138-page ruling, there is just marriage — and everybody is entitled to it, no matter what gender they and their would-be spouse happen to be.” This is called equal protection under the law, which is provided in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is the same amendment that grants citizenship to any child born in the United States, and which has recently come under attack by the Tea Party.

This is also the case where supposedly archconservative attorney Ted Olson (solicitor general under Bush) joined forces with supposedly uber-liberal attorney David Boies to sue the State of California on behalf of their clients, a gay couple and a lesbian couple, who sued because their rights were being denied.

Richard and Mildred Loving sued the Commonwealth of Virginia for the right to marry, which even in the 1960s was banned by state law. Today we look back at that and wonder what flavor crack everyone was smoking. As a result of their lawsuit, all race-based restrictions to marriage were ended in the United States. In a few years we will be wondering what people who favored banning gay and lesbian couples from marriage were thinking. Wire service photo.

As this decision came out Wednesday, Venus was conjunct Vesta. Conjunct, as in you would think they planned it that way — again, I am sure nobody did, except the great cosmic dance of synchronicity. We have a glimpse into this marvelously complex asteroid that few astrologers seem to notice has everything to do with sex, sexual orientation and sexual shadow material such as guilt and shame.

Why do certain people rabidly oppose homosexuality and try to push their position on the whole population? Well, it doesn’t take much of a psychology background to figure out that they’re not dealing with some of their own issues. At the end of the day, homophobia is fear of oneself. Homo means same, and you cannot get more same as you than you. Homophobia is self-hatred, and when these folks make laws or constitutional amendments that affect what millions of people can and cannot do in their most private lives, they are projecting their self-hatred onto society. The personal is indeed political.

This case is headed for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and almost invariably to the Supreme Court. All the legal scholars I’ve heard comment on the decision say it’s impeccably well-crafted and it’s going to hold up under scrutiny. The facts of the case are set in stone; now it’s up to the higher courts to see if the judge applied the law correctly. Just like in the 1960s when the ban against interracial marriage crumbled (in 1967, during the last Saturn-Uranus opposition), we are watching history being made before our eyes.

In addition to Venus-Vesta, which clarifies a theme, this decision came in what we will remember as a momentous summer of the cardinal T-square on the Aries Point.

Plugging the BP Well

And in yet another not-so-random bit of good news, BP killed — as in really killed, with a cement plug — its runaway oil well Thursday. The well blew its five million or so barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico concurrently with Chiron in Pisces, nearly to the day. The rig exploded about 22 hours after Chiron entered Pisces, and was initially capped July 15, stopping the flow of oil five days before Chiron retrograded back into Aquarius.

We learned a lot from this process. This week we were also told in a NOAA (the federal agency that regulates the oceans and the atmosphere) report that most of that oil had mysteriously disappeared; that the Gulf of Mexico had somehow cleaned itself up. We will know something close to the truth when Chiron returns to Pisces in February, or rather, that is when the real damage assessment will begin.

Venus in the Cardinal Cross; Leo New Moon

On a strictly personal note (there is no such thing, of course), Venus enters Libra today, and joins the cardinal T-square. It will make conjunctions to Saturn and Mars, square Pluto and oppose Uranus and Jupiter — that’s a lot of Venus action in a few days. Then tonight the Moon enters Cancer, joining the cardinal cross as well. The whole arrangement aligns with the June 26 lunar eclipse, shaking a few fruits and nuts out of that cosmic tree.

Simplified chart for Venus ingressing Libra late tonight (early morning Saturday in Europe and the UK). The Moon is at 3+ Cancer, precisely opposing Pluto for the event. This is an emotional, fast-moving setup where events, feelings, love affairs, opportunities and various forms of drama can precipitate quickly. Pay attention! More details are in the free weekly audio.

It might be a lot of fun — Venus is an eccentric planet, and loves to get up off the couch and become a totally different cat from time to time — or it could be emotinoally stressful. The Moon is suggesting that our feelings could go through a whirl of hot water, passion or indulgence. These would be a fine few days to cultivate the art of avoiding drama and imbibing trust, and learning how to let loose and experiment with your feelings in a creative (rather than destructive) way. We do a lot of suppressing our feelings and desires here in our moment of the Anti-Sixties, and the charts are saying that there are plenty of other possibilities.

For those curious about the Leo New Moon on Monday, I have covered that in the latest free weekly audio, along with an introduction to the forthcoming Mercury retrograde in Virgo. The Leo New Moon is opposite a conjunction of Nessus and Damocles — not asteroids, but high-voltage minor planets — and is something of a game of psychological chicken, played out on a cosmic scale. This New Moon seems like the perfect opportunity to keep your sense of self, and your esteem of self, when faced with those who perpetuate psychological abuse as a way of life.

The two aspect patterns — Venus-Moon joining in with the cardinal cross, and the New Moon opposite Nessus and Damocles — are related. What they have in common is that we need to learn how to make better relationship choices, and to discover the limits of when to stop identifying with another person and their role in our life. The missing piece is our sense of self: literally, our sense of existence. As I have suggested before, many of us barely know we exist, and we would be a lot happier if we had the revelation that we do. Often we need to figure it out. In that process of deductive reasoning, we can start with making a list of all the people we think we would betray by existing — and proceed from there.

I will not be writing Tuesday, and there are no more August horoscopes to distribute; I’ll be back Friday, one week from today. I’ll send out a reminder Tuesday. Daily Astrology & Adventure, our positively awesome blog, will continue updating, and I do plan to do Wednesday’s audio — so listen for me there.

That’s the news! We’re living through once-in-a-lifetime astrology. You can taste the freedom that brings sanity.

Yours & truly,




Eyes Wide Shut

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

Sometimes it feels like we, the people, are just spitting into the wind. For reasons I cannot fathom, there are those who think that the way things are is the way things are supposed to be. They think out-of-control Wall Street is a necessary evil, that adventure capitalism is the only way to keep the boat afloat. They believe insurance companies are a necessary middleman dedicated to our wellbeing, leaving us to fight for our right to be victimized. They think militarism is still a way forward toward stability and power even as we borrow to invest in unnecessary wars. Maybe they aren’t thinking at all, and that’s the problem: they just don’t want to know the reality of our situation.

An article in The Wall Street Journal this week floated the notion that the rich no longer need the working class to sustain them, because thanks to NAFTA, their money is invested and yielding profit overseas. This outsourced economy is the logical consequence of decades of stagnant wage growth — essentially flat-lined since 1973 — and constant erosion of the middle-class for more than a generation. Remember failed Democratic candidate John Edwards, who was wrong on so many levels? He was right on the one that counted: we live in two Americas, but few are willing to admit it. The rest are not only in a state of denial, but use every possible pretense to keep from recognizing the ugly truth about our political, military, financial and social systems.

For instance, documents examined recently by The Washington Post reveal a shadow government of more than 850,000 employees with top secret clearance overseeing our national interests. With neither public oversight nor fiscal accountability, homeland security has metastasized into a huge, unwieldy, ever-expanding secret government. The Washington Post tallied up “more than 1,200 government organizations and more than 1,900 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S.” Given this level of overkill, I’d have expected someone to sound the alarm on this as either blatantly un-American or overblown bureaucracy run amok. I didn’t hear a peep.

In addition, Wikileaks has provided an unwholesome picture — in 76,000 leaked documents — of Afghani and American incompetence and cultural limitation during many years of war. The reports, which mainstream media and government dismiss as neither news nor secret, reveal American attempts to prop up an illusionary Afghani government to be as effective as herding cats. The record shows that our intention to root out Taliban and al Qaeda quickly dissolved into supporting thugs and coddling traffickers, giving us little to celebrate ethically or militarily. What is most disturbing about the Wikileaks revelation is that the flap about leaked state secrets didn’t even phase us: we’re so used to being lied to that we fully expect a truthful version of events to surface eventually, and we’re so apathetic we can’t even rouse ourselves to defend the whistleblower.

Continued at this link…