Tag Archives: Edward Snowden

Democracy Now! — Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016


Edward Snowden speaking yesterday. Image: video still

It has been three years since National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden released classified NSA files to media outlets that exposed global mass surveillance operations by the U.S. and British governments. If he returned to the United States from Russia, where he now lives in exile, he would face charges of theft of state secrets and violating the Espionage Act, and face at least 30 years in prison. This week his supporters launched a new call for President Obama to offer Snowden clemency, a plea agreement or a pardon before the end of his term.

The show examines whether he could get a fair trial if he returns to the United States to be tried for violating the Espionage Act. Snowden has said the Espionage Act does not allow a whistleblower or public interest defense, which means his motivations would not be considered in court. Under the act, “it would literally be inadmissible for [Snowden] to tell the jury his motivations,” argues Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Meanwhile, Bradley Moss, a national security attorney who has represented whistleblowers, says Snowden “could have gone to the intelligence committees” with his revelations and stayed within legal guidelines.

A sweeping new investigation has raised questions about the little-known Trump Organization and potential conflicts of interest should Trump become president. The investigation published in Newsweek magazine reveals the Trump Organization is a vast financial network that stretches from New York City to India, Ukraine, China, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey and Russia. It’s connected to Russian mining, banking and real estate billionaire Vladimir Potanin, who himself is closely tied to the Russian government. Trump’s frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin has already sparked concern among national security experts about U.S. foreign policy under a possible Trump presidency. The report concludes, “If Donald Trump wins this election and his company is not immediately shut down or forever severed from the Trump family, the foreign policy of the United States of America could well be for sale.” The report’s author spoke to Amy Goodman.

Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.


Eric has completed the 2016 Midyear Reading, BALANCE. We strongly recommend you get all 12 signs. If you prefer, choose your individual signs here. Photo by European Southern Observatory.

Democracy Now! — Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016


This morning, Amy Goodman had Oliver Stone on Democracy Now! talking about Snowden, his new film, which will be released this weekend. Amy devotes the whole program to Stone and the history of what happened to Snowden. Stone is a longtime friend of many people connected to Democracy Now!, and this is an extraordinary interview.

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Let Me Recognize the Problem So it Can Be Solved

Dear Friend and Reader:

Working with my collaborators at Planet Waves, I set out on a mission of finding signs of progress amidst the many strange and tragic news events of 2013. Americans, as a lot, are people averse to following current events, and when we do, we rarely look back in an honest way.

It’s true, there’s hardly time these days. Yet part of not looking back means not remembering what we’ve learned in the past, not taking advantage of our mistakes. It sounds good to praise the power of now, but that serves little purpose if you forget a discovery about yourself that you made a day or a week ago and never put it to use.

Planet Waves
Butters prays to the all-knowing NSA, asking for protection for his friends, his family and even Cartman. Image: South Park Studios.

By many accounts, we are alive in a momentous era in history, and events of 2014 are going to ramp this up by a few orders of magnitude. Astrology describes this scenario in a longterm aspect called the Uranus-Pluto square, part of a cycle that you can trace back through history and observe the upheavals, revolutions and transformations of society. This one pattern is enough to shake up any skeptic who claims astrology isn’t real.

The last time we experienced a major phase of this cycle was in the mid-1960s, when Uranus and Pluto formed a conjunction. It’s only in hindsight that we can see the positive developments of that era. Yes, it was an exciting time to be alive if you were not wracked with anxiety or paranoia. There was great music, better drugs than we have today and the social environment was far less uptight. Many people felt the calling to get involved politically. Yet sadly, many look back and describe their experiences of that era as empty.

There were also the assassinations of many progressive leaders, and while that was happening, tens of thousands of 18-year-old boys were being shipped to Vietnam and coming home in flag-draped coffins a year later, or soaked with dioxin and terror three years later. Many people lost close friends, boyfriends, fathers, husbands and brothers to a war that just about everyone now admits was a pointless disaster. Yet who stands up to the equally corrupt, profit-driven war machine today? Do you?

Mars retrograde in Libra is going to send a jolt of energy through the Uranus-Pluto square, and precipitate many events long in development.

In searching for the positive, just about everything fell into one category — the revelation or acknowledgment of a problem that had been previously concealed or denied. The main developments seemed to be evidence of people waking up to injustice in one form or another.

There is a lesson in the workbook for A Course in Miracles that is titled, “Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.” It begins, “A problem cannot be solved if you do not know what it is. Even if it is really solved already you will still have the problem, because you will not recognize that it has been solved. This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized.” [Full text of lesson.]

Problem 1: NSA Spying Is Unconstitutional

In June, a man named Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the Obama administration had expanded the program of spying on the American people, created by the Bush administration. This caused an actual fuss.

Snowden, fearing for his life and his freedom and preferring not to be tortured, went first to Hong Kong, then to Moscow, where Vladimir Putin gave him a visa to stay for a year.

Various courts have litigated the program and in logic befitting Alice in Wonderland, managed to find it constitutional.
Then in late December, a federal judge named Richard Leon came out and said the obvious: the program is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Planet Waves
Judge Richard Leon. Photo from Suffolk University Law School.

That is the one that supposedly guarantees that the American people shall be secure in their papers and their possessions, which will be subject to search only with warrant specifically naming the thing to be seized.

Leon was appointed by Pres. George W. Bush, which may seem a little strange — but a true conservative believes in following the Constitution, and federal judges are appointed for life to make it possible for them to think with their own minds.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Judge Leon wrote in a 68-page ruling. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

We contacted Judge Leon’s chambers to get his date of birth, so we could look at his chart. The court clerk said that we could have the data as long as we promised to keep it private. So I will not be publishing the chart, but I can tell you about his chart. Judge Leon has a conjunction of the Sun and Chiron in Sagittarius, the sign of the higher courts. Sagittarius is a sign known for its guts and its love for freedom. Sun conjunct Chiron is the very image of a maverick willing to hold Big Daddy government accountable.

Sun-Chiron in Sagittarius emphasizes teacher of ethics quality of Chiron. Mars conjunct Saturn in Virgo is someone who actually cares about the details, and who doesn’t want to be pushed around.

With a little tuning up, it’s easy to get a potential birth time, which emphasizes his willingness to take responsibility (Nessus rising, ‘the buck stops here’, in Taurus based on truly-held values) and that characterizes his nature as a public figure who wants to keep some vestige of privacy in his own life by not publishing his private data. It’s also interesting that he trusted us enough not to — that tells you something about him.

“He loves Beethoven and he loves rock-and-roll,” Richard Hauser, a vice president and assistant general counsel at Boeing, as well as a former law partner of Leon’s, told The Washington Post. Now that explains everything.

Judge Leon’s ruling will work its way up through the D.C. circuit appellate court and most likely to the Supreme Court. Whether it’s upheld or not, the ruling was a shock to all the apologists who made excuses for how it was ok to mass harvest data, including for example MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, who really seems to think that we’re being spied on for our own good.

The same week, a panel commissioned by Pres. Obama recommended that the president remove NSA authority over phone data, leave it in the hands of private companies, and put the NSA under civilian control.

We are very close to recognizing this is a problem. Why most people don’t get angry about it is interesting, and can be explained by the idea that someone cares enough to listen to them. I proposed this in one of my columns, and then South Park noticed the same thing and used the concept in an episode from September (Let Go, Let Gov), featuring Butters praying to the NSA for the protection of his friends. NSA spying plays into a God complex that both the government and its citizens have. At its essence this is a spiritual problem.

Problem 2: Government-Subsidized Minimum Wage

In 2013, protests about below-poverty wages erupted outside fast food restaurants and big box stores like Walmart. It actually made the news when Walmart suggested that employees donate food to one another so they could have a good Thanksgiving.

Planet Waves
Fast food workers stage a protest against McDonald’s outside one of its restaurants in NYC. Photo by Eduardo Munoz.

One of my favorite facts of the year is that megacorporations that pay minimum wage (and often, minimum taxes) have massive numbers of employees on public assistance. An astounding 52% of McDonald’s employees receive food stamps or other forms of public assistance, costing the government $1.2 billion a year, while the company makes $5.46 billion in profits.

McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson is paid $6,875 an hour. Were he paid the federal minimum wage, he would have to work 1.89 million hours a year.

Conglomerate Yum! Brands comes in second place for pumping the government, with Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC eating $648 million in public assistance; Subway is next, costing $436 million, Burger King $356 million, Wendy’s $278 million and so on. Fast food corporations chiseling their employees costs the government $3.8 billion each year.

It is good news that we know this. It makes it a lot easier to see that those who advocate for “free market” capitalism are full of shit. This kind of information may take a little time to sink in, and it has to sink in deeper than the public’s addiction to fat, salt, sugar, cheap meat and carbs, but it still counts for raising consciousness.

Problem 3: Monsanto (and it’s now a household word)

I have covered the crimes of Monsanto since 1991, so it’s always been a household word wherever I live — and a secret just about every place else. This year, Monsanto came under the spotlight after a worldwide protest was called against the agricultural nightmares it creates.

Planet Waves
March Against Monsanto — the first-ever global protest against a company — in Venice Beach, CA. Photo by Lizanne Webb.

On May 25, the March Against Monsanto was staged, with protests in cities around the world. While this was not exactly the Occupy movement, it was a miracle that people came out to protest a corporation that until recently was known mostly to farmers and people who visited Disney World as a kid.

The battle over labeling genetically modified foods did not go well, but it’s now on the surface of awareness. On the eve of the March Against Monsanto, 71 senators voted against an amendment that would have guaranteed states the right to enact mandatory GMO labeling laws. Meanwhile, the FDA tried to run interference on state labeling, saying that it could not conflict with federal labeling regulations. It all comes down to money, and everyone involved in the issue knows that.

One problem is the bribery known as campaign contributions. One of GMO’s biggest apologists, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, received $739,926 in campaign contributions from agriculture firms in 2012, which would give her a reason to chirp endless lies about how wonderful GMO crops are, how they resist disease and feed the poor and resist droughts. All of this is now out in the open.

One problem getting the country on board is junk food. Those who chow down on Doritos don’t really care what kind of corn it is.

Problem 4: Relationship Bigotry

We actually made some progress on this one. The Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act, one of the most ridiculous laws ever written, passed thanks to two serial adulterers, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton.

California’s referendum allowing same-sex marriages was also upheld by the Supreme Court. There are now 17 states that allow same-sex marriage and 33 that ban same-sex marriage. That may seem lopsided, but the cat is out of the closet. The important thing is that the Supreme Court has set a precedent, and any law that is challenged could easily fall on its face.

Planet Waves
Pope Francis just likes to have fun, he loves women and he doesn’t think that the church should judge gay people.

Many places with a ban have populations that are not nearly as bigoted as their neanderthal, religious-nut politicians. Speaking of neanderthals, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and Alec Baldwin got spanked — to the tune of millions — for making homophobic comments. Baldwin lost his program after making an anti-gay slur to a photographer.
Phil Duck took a public flogging from A&E for stating in an interview with GQ magazine (among other things) that the United States has a problem with sin.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

For additional emphasis and color, he added: “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

His apologists are saying he has a right to express his views under freedom of speech, which is true — and A&E has a right to dump him for the same reason. Let’s see if they do. It’s too bad Anything That Moves is not in print anymore — I would buy him a gift subscription.

Meanwhile in Rome, the new Roman Catholic pope even got into the act, telling reporters, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a very beautiful way, but says, wait a moment, how do you say…it says, [that] these persons must not be marginalized for this, they must be integrated into society.”

Then came the best surprise of all. In December, a federal judge ruled that laws prohibiting what the Utah law called ‘cohabitation’ — that is, a word in the statute substituting for polygamy — violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion and assembly. The law said that, Clark Waddoups quoted Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, saying that the Constitution provides people with “an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.” Judge Waddoups was also appointed by George W. Bush. Go figure.

It’s worth adding a bit about Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist minister who officiated at the wedding of his gay son. He was suspended from the ministry after a church ‘trial’ in November, but he has refused to step down.

And Then There’s Us

It seems in hindsight that the collective awareness has indeed cracked open within a relatively short amount of time. Much of what I’ve just reported is indicative of raising consciousness. What seemed totally impossible just years ago is now a palpable reality. Each of these developments offers some evidence of actual change.

Planet Waves
A high school student at an anti-government protest in Paris sees her reflection in a riot officer’s shield. Photo by Eric Francis.

Yet those of us who have been aware of these problems for a while know there is still a long way to go. Fortunately, we are in the midst of an acceleration process indicated by the Uranus-Pluto square.

Awareness is a crucial first step. That’s where we are, on the verge of fully recognizing what we know. Many people are observing that an old order is dissolving. Yet for real change to happen, many individuals need to take up the work in a deeply personal way. With awareness comes the need for incredible responsibility; for a kind of impeccability.

New consciousness can start to rise, and then be blocked by old hangups, habits, the fear of change and other facets of the past weighing on people who say they want to move ahead. Progress requires more than hope and good intentions. There is the reality of the road ahead.

Those who have already treaded the path of real change for a while know how deep and dark the journey is; how uncomfortable; the extent to which any seemingly outer issue must be embraced as an inner reality in order for actual change to come. We know how much therapy, spiritual work and experience it can take to unravel deeply ingrained patterns.

It is challenging to take that kind of responsibility and do something about what we feel and see; it’s much easier to stand in dumbfounded paralysis, completely shocked and desensitized, or to entertain ourselves to death, watching events unfold like a circus. How we respond is ultimately a personal choice. The moment of decision is arriving.


— Additional writing: Chad Woodward. Additional research: Hillary Conary, Elizabeth Michaud and Len Wallick.

Note to Readers: Subscriber editions will be off next week for the Christmas holiday. We will resume subscriber editions on Friday, Jan. 3. The blogging team will be working as usual, and I plan to keep doing Planet Waves FM as I work through the 12 signs of your annual readings.

Section Writing and Editing Credits: News items below are written and edited by a team consisting of Hillary Conary, Anne Craig, Eric Francis, Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Painter, Susan Scheck, Chad Woodward and Carol van Strum. Page assembled and coded by Anatoly Ryzhenko. Special thanks to the Fact Checkers List, which goes over each edition on Thursday night — and to our main astrology fact-checker Alex Miller, and Amanda, who goes over all their suggestions. Our editions are also proofread and fact-checked by Jessica Keet.


Planet Waves

Venus Retrograde: Something Old, Something New

We are hours away from the southern solstice, when the Sun aligns with the Tropic of Capricorn. That’s also known as the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice, or summer solstice for our readers in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Planet Waves
Sculpture by Jim Dowd made from redwood driftwood, on the Grandmother Land in High Falls, New York. Photo by Eric Francis.

For those of us on the northern side of the globe, we are pointed as far away from the Sun’s rays as we will get — therefore, we’re having the shortest days of the year. The Sun appears to rise and set at the same position on the horizon (sol + stice, the Sun seems to stand still), and if you have not noticed yet, winter begins.

The short days and seeming remoteness of the Sun create what I call a compression effect, which is sensory (fewer hours of sunlight, cloudier days, standard time imposed on us), nutritional (vitamin D starvation, unless you like super chilly nude sunbathing or supplement heavily), plus emotional and psychic, as the Earth reaches an extreme of its annual cycle. The days fly by this time of year even more swiftly than usual. It’s not just because of the holidays.

Despite the cold weather, the Earth is actually closer to the Sun this time of year. This reminds me of Ali G’s interview with Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut who accompanied Neil Armstrong to the Moon the first time people went there in 1969.

Ali G: Do you think man will ever walk on the Sun?

Buzz: No. The Sun is too hot. It’s not a good place to go to.

Ali G: What happens if they went in winter, when the Sun is cold?

Buzz: The Sun is not cold in the winter.

Entering Capricorn, the Sun jumps onto the cardinal cross, where it will make aspects to many other planets positioned there, including nascent Mars in Libra, the Uranus-Pluto square and Jupiter in Cancer.

Planet Waves
Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen) asks his ‘main man’ Buzz Aldrin whether man will ever walk on the Sun, perhaps in winter.

This year the solstice comes with a special twist — Venus stations retrograde a few hours later. Just as the Sun enters Capricorn, Venus stations retrograde in Capricorn. Venus retrograde lasts about six weeks, ending on Jan. 31.

Venus is retrograde least of all the planets, just over 7% of the time. By contrast, Mercury is retrograde 19% of the time, and it sure seems that way.

Note that this is the first Venus retrograde since the Venus transit of the Sun in June 2012 — that day when Venus could be seen walking across the surface of the Sun (even if we can’t do it, she can). Venus retrograde (or Mercury for that matter) happens when Venus passes between the Sun and the Earth.

Venus retrograde is one of those conditions that tends to evoke the past. Old lovers and friends can reappear, or you might find yourself visiting old places or remembering things that you have not thought about since you experienced them. In Capricorn this can feel nostalgic, or like family karma can be being stirred up (and it may be, especially with Pluto in the neighborhood), so make sure you wear your psychologist hat to family gatherings rather than your ‘they push my buttons’ hat.

Images of Venus retrograde in Capricorn include romantic relationships with older people (which implies older people having relationships with younger ones), spending time with older people in any context, seeing the value in prior ways of doing things, curiosity and passion for history and poring through old photos and nostalgia. (Remember this for your late holiday gift purchasing — here are some hints).

Planet Waves
Venus transit of the Sun from 2004. The corresponding event was in June 2012. The next will happen in 2117, many Venus retrogrades from now. Photo series by Anthony Ayiomamitis in Athens.

I have a theory, somewhat supported by experience, that the more unusual the astrological event, the more unusual is whatever it represents. At the end of its retrograde, Venus stations direct in Capricorn on Jan. 31; this seems to be something that happens every eight years in our era. However, for all of those Venus stations direct in Capricorn going back many decades, the retrogrades started in Aquarius and ended in Capricorn.

I had to go back to the Venus retrograde of 1802-1803 to find one that happened exclusively in Capricorn, to the days when Pres. Jefferson was in office. So we’re about to experience something that has not happened in about 210 years.

Around this time in 1802, a war between Sweden and Libya (then Tripoli) ended. In January 1803, Almanach des gourmands was published, naturally, in France — forerunner of Zagat, the first guide to restaurant cooking (the Italian restaurant had not been invented yet). The inventor of the “first practical steamboat” demonstrated his invention, in Scotland. And speaking of France, future president James Monroe headed to Paris to discuss purchasing New Orleans — and completed the Louisiana Purchase.

Venus retrograde in Capricorn will remind us that the past is not as far away as we like to think, try as we may to escape, pretend or forget what we have learned. As William Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

For the coming weeks you might discover that it’s very much alive.


Planet Waves

Activists To Be Included in Russian Amnesty

An amnesty bill put forward by Russian president Vladimir Putin and passed by the Russian parliament has sparked cautious optimism among supporters of the two jailed members of the band Pussy Riot and the Greenpeace members facing trial as part of the Arctic 30.

The conviction of the punk pranksters of Pussy Riot for “hooliganism” following an anti-Putin protest staged in a Moscow cathedral, drew condemnation from free speech advocates, artists and human rights groups worldwide. The band, whose members cite the riot grrrl movement in the U.S. as an inspiration, is vocal in support of feminism, eco-awareness and LGBQT rights.

Planet Waves
Protesters calling for the release of Greenpeace activists imprisoned in Russia, on Oct. 31, 2013, in Paris. Photo by Pierre Andrieu.

Two band members were sentenced to serve two years; a third was acquitted (see Planet Waves coverage here). Both the imprisoned women — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina — are mothers of young children, one of the groups targeted in the amnesty bill along with minors, pregnant women, women over 55 and men over 60, the disabled, Chernobyl cleanup workers and military veterans.

The Arctic 30 members, all but one of whom have been out on bail pending trial, were facing charges stemming from an attempt to board an oil rig in September of this year. The activists, who come from 13 different nations, originally faced charges of piracy that were reduced to “aggravated hooliganism” in late October, and were facing up to seven years. (See Planet Waves coverage here.)

The amnesty is a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution,and will affect 25,000 people in all, freeing 1,300 prisoners convicted of minor offenses and relieving others of pending charges and non-custodial criminal sanctions. Supporters of the activists are holding their breath until actual freedom’s achieved.

Family members of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina say the amnesty is “too late” so close to the end of their sentences; given Tolokonnikova’s description of the conditions, however, any time shaved off imprisonment may well be precious.

In other pardon-related news, President Obama has extended an olive branch to eight federal inmates convicted on crack cocaine charges and sentenced under laws that have since been changed. Six of the eight faced life in prison. All eight are now expected to be freed within 120 days.


Planet Waves

GMO Seeds at Heart of Alleged Conspiracy to Steal Secrets

A glamorous James Bond spy story this isn’t. Yet two cases of alleged international espionage by Chinese nationals have rocked the halls of Monsanto and other biotechs, with the intellectual property contained in their GMO corn and rice at stake.

Planet Waves
Weiqiang Zhang and Yan Wengui, accused of trying to steal samples of seeds from a research facility in Kansas. Photo: Reuters.

The FBI filed two separate cases last week. In one, Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, a Chinese citizen lawfully residing in Miami, was the alleged head of a plot to steal GMO corn seeds and send them back home to his employer, Kings Nower Seed, a subsidiary of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Company.

For several years, Mo drove around Iowa and other Midwest states in rented cars, with a changing cast of Chinese companions — followed by FBI agents down dusty back roads — stopping at secret test fields owned by Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer to gather seeds. He also bought seeds from farmers, but refused to sign the standard paperwork required by the companies for their use.

Mo has been jailed in Florida, awaiting transfer to Iowa where the charges were filed. He has not yet been indicted, according to his attorney, who says the FBI cannot prove the seeds were proprietary property of Monsanto or DuPont.

Mo may have had help from “several potential ‘insiders’ at U.S.-based seed companies,” said the FBI. These individuals may have provided Mo and his alleged co-conspirators with information on where the companies were growing seeds from an “inbred line.” Inbred lines are the parents of the hybrid corn that seed companies sell to farmers, and are patented.

“Pioneer executives estimated that the loss of an inbred line of seed would result in losing approximately 5-8 years of research and a minimum of $30-40 million,” the FBI filing stated.

In Kansas, charges were also filed last week against Weiqiang Zhang, a Chinese lawful permanent resident of the U.S., accused of stealing genetically modified rice  from Colorado-based Ventria Bioscience and providing the seeds to scientists in China.

From a letter filed with the court documents, Zhang — a Ventria agricultural seed breeder who got the rice from a company farm in Kansas where he worked — apparently was angling for a job in a research facility in China, and thought access to Ventria’s technology might make him an attractive candidate.

Planet Waves
Monsanto Co. DeKalb brand seed corn sits on a pallet at a farm in Princeton, Illinois. Photo by Daniel Acker.

It’s unclear whether anyone in China asked him for the seeds, although he was also accused of handing them to agricultural officials from China. A second man, Wengui Yan, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has been named as a co-defendant in the case.

The Chinese are in a hot debate over allowing GMOs into their food supply. The general public strongly opposes it, while government officials see it as an answer to their country’s expanding food needs. China has been importing GM soybeans since 1997, and also allows the import of some varieties of genetically modified corn, though both are subject to strict controls. GM corn and soy are only approved for processing into soy oil, soymeal and animal feed, not direct human consumption.

In November 2009, the agricultural ministry issued bio-safety certificates to two strains of pest-resistant GMO rice and one variety of corn, approving them for use on experimental plots. Commercial planting of GMO crops is strictly prohibited, thought to be due to the government’s concern with fierce public opposition.

“China doesn’t need to develop GMO. If we cultivate land well and waste less feed (don’t throw dead pigs into rivers), China’s agriculture can feed the Chinese people,” Gu Xiulin, a Yunnan University of Finance and Economics processor, wrote on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging website similar to Twitter. “GMO is a magic knife that can annihilate mankind and destroy the environment… don’t be fooled.”


Planet Waves

Targeting Target — and Possibly You

As many as 40 million people who used credit and debit cards at Target stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their private banking information stolen, the corporation revealed in a notice to consumers released on Dec. 19.

Planet Waves
If only the dog had stolen the card numbers, shoppers would still be okay; most dogs can’t read or type that well.

The theft, first reported by Krebsonsecurity.com and confirmed by Target’s CEO one day later, took place at brick-and-mortar Target stores across the United States and involved the data encoded in the magnetic strip that’s swiped through card-reading machines. Thieves of the data would be able to use it to create counterfeit cards. Online transactions at Target.com were apparently not affected.

Data that may have been stolen during the breach includes names, card numbers, expiration dates and three-digit security codes.

Target advises all customers who used major credit or debit cards or Target store cards during the period when security was breached to watch their statements for any suspicious transactions, and says it is working with a “leading third-party forensics firm” as well as major financial institutions and the Secret Service to investigate the matter fully.

The news comes at an inauspicious time for Target, whose executives recently reported great success in enticing consumers to sign up for its own store credit cards.


Planet Waves

Year in Review: Abortion Rights and Women’s Reproductive Health

The Guttmacher Institute has not yet released its comprehensive ‘year in review’ report detailing the setbacks and advancements in women’s heath care policies and abortion rights in the United States. But Guttmacher’s midyear report painted a clear picture for the first half of the year, one easily extrapolated with some highlights (and lowlights) from the full year.

Planet Waves
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis voting against a motion during her filibuster. ‘V’ is also for ‘victory’; as temporary as hers was, it empowered pro-choice activists. Photo by Eric Gay.

During the first half of 2013, state legislators enacted 43 provisions aimed at restricting access to abortion.

“Although this is significantly lower than the record-breaking 80 restrictions that had been enacted by this point in 2011,” notes the Guttmacher Institute, “it is nonetheless a higher number of restrictions than in any year other than 2011 and as many as enacted in all of 2012.” (Emphasis added.)

The report also notes that, “Although initial momentum behind banning abortion early in pregnancy appears to have waned, states nonetheless adopted myriad restrictions on access to abortion. However, this year is notable also for positive action on other reproductive health issues in a few states, including important new provisions enacted to expand access to comprehensive sex education, expedited partner treatment for STIs and emergency contraception for women who have been sexually assaulted.”

2013 began with the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January, the landmark Supreme Court decision upon which abortion rights in the U.S. are founded. According to Democracy Now! a poll at that time indicated that for the first time on record, a majority of Americans (70%) opposed overturning Roe v. Wade.

Much of the lawmaking this year indicated otherwise, although in March a federal judge struck down a 2011 Idaho law banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the time, it was believed to be the first such instance of a federal court ruling such a law to be unconstitutional; abortion rights supporters hoped it would set a legal precedent for challenges to similar laws in other states.

In fact, a kind of legal back-and-forth actually looks like a hallmark of 2013, with a noticeable trend of federal judges blocking (even if temporarily) extreme and potentially unconstitutional abortion restrictions in a number of states including North Dakota, Alabama, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The harshest anti-abortion bill in a decade to come before the U.S. Congress was approved by the House in June. Pres. Obama vowed to veto the bill and it got no traction in the Senate, but its appearance at all raises a red flag. The previous week, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), pissed off many when he remarked that the number of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low” — as though only rape survivors deserve choice over their pregnancies and bodies (but only after being violated first).

Planet Waves
Opponents to an abortion bill in the Senate chamber as Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters against the abortion bill. Photo by Eric Gay.

Perhaps the most memorable highlight for pro-choice activists also came in June: Texas state senator Wendy Davis helmed an 11-hour filibuster of a bill that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization and imposed harsh regulations that would have closed nearly all abortion clinics in Texas.

Sadly, the bill was passed in a special legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry — but not before hundreds of people on both sides gave public testimony, highlighted by Katie Heim’s “If my vagina was a gun” poem.

Hopes were raised in October, when one federal judge ruled parts of the Texas law unconstitutional — only to be dashed the next month, when a federal appeals court reinstated the law.

On a slightly different tack, just last month Michigan became the ninth stateto require insurance companies to charge additional fees to women for abortion coverage, often referred to as “rape insurance.” (Planet Waves coverage here).

In November and December, we’ve had some mixed birth-control news. On the one hand, the Guttmacher Institute has released a report showing that the Affordable Care Act is getting something right, enabling a significant wave of women to receive birth control without paying a copay. However, the Supreme Court also recently announced it will hear claims by two for-profit companies that think they should be able to deny employees birth control under their insurance plans. (Planet Waves coverage here.)

In short, we’re still trying to prove that women are people and corporations are not. It will take more than luck to make 2014 the year that we do, and full-on vigilance to ensure Roe v. Wade stays intact — along with its predecessor, Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized birth control.

For an outline of major abortion law developments, use this link; or access all 2013 Democracy Now! headlines and stories on the topic here.


Planet Waves

Planet Waves

Your Capricorn Solstice Tunes

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, the first official day of winter is Saturday as the Sun enters Capricorn. What could be a better soundtrack to your solstice rituals than the four musicians of Ethnobeat, from Irkutsk, drumming on the thick, melodic ice of Lake Baikal in Siberia in this video?

Lake Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface freshwater (presumably during the summer), making it the largest by volume (and it’s the deepest, at 5,387 feet/1,642 meters). Even better, it is thought to be the oldest lake in the world at 25 million years — and you know how much Capricorns love the past!


Planet Waves

Gemini Full Moon: Federal Judge Rules Against NSA

Link to program.

In this week’s edition of Planet Waves FM, I cover Tuesday morning’s Gemini Full Moon and the revelation that came with it: there is a federal judge who was willing to go on the record and say that the NSA spying program is unconstitutional. I also cover the chart for the solstice and Venus stationing retrograde. My musical guest is MISSION TO MILO.

In the program, I reference the natal chart of Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on the NSA harvesting of phone records. You can see his chart and my article about it on the blog of The Mountain Astrologer on Snowden’s chart.


Planet Waves

Have you pre-ordered your 2014 readings by Eric Francis yet? The Mars Effect (our 16th annual edition!) will be out in January, and will include in-depth audio and written readings for your Sun, Moon and rising signs. We always receive a flood of positive feedback for these readings, and it shows just how meaningful they are. One customer wrote, “I’m so grateful to you for the illumination and the reassurance this reading has bestowed.” We’re offering you a special package price of $79 for all twelve signs, available only to current Planet Waves members. Or you may purchase individual signs for $19.95.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

We published the extended monthly horoscope for December Friday, Nov. 29. Inner Space for November was published Friday, Nov. 1. Moonshine for the Sagittarius New Moon was published Tuesday, Nov. 26. We published Moonshine for the Gemini Full Moon Tuesday, Dec. 10. 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, Dec. 20, 2013, #980 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — To accept the idea that ‘this is the way things always were’ is an excuse, especially if you know the theme of your life is change. The question seems to be, will you take initiative, or are you expecting someone else to do it for you? I suggest you make your own decisions and initiate your own moves rather than expecting something in your environment will start the process. What you come up with will be a lot more interesting than what anyone else does, even if others talk louder. Just think your plan through a couple of times, especially if it’s work-related. Things are changing around you, and I suggest you see where they shake out over the next five or six days before doing anything too radical. The best idea will be a simple, easy-to-understand and, most of all, useful one.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Imagine that you visit an older relative you have not seen in years, and while you’re there you wander up to the attic. You see a trunk that seems to be for you, illuminated by the light from a small window, and you open it up. It’s full of artifacts from a century ago, stuff belonging to people to whom you’re related but who came through the planet decades before you. Old diaries, letters, newspaper cuttings, photographs, physical objects from life in the past, are all neatly, lovingly preserved in this trunk, and as you go gently through them, you figure out that they were indeed intentionally left for you. But who left it there? And how did they know you would find it? This is all a metaphor, and from a psychological point of view, you’re the one who has left a gift, an inheritance or a trousseau for yourself. There’s a lot in there, as will slowly become obvious over the next month or so.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Be careful not to take on the issues of others. You may be especially reactive over the next few days, especially if people around you are in an intense mood. I suggest you choose your influences and your company carefully, especially through the 24th. Don’t let anyone push you into any agreement, longterm or otherwise, that you don’t really want to make, no matter how infectious their enthusiasm or persuasion may be. Events of the next week or so will help you figure out where you really stand with yourself, and therefore, put the opinions and feelings of others into context. It is this context — remember the concept — that is essential to your making healthy decisions for yourself. You’re someone who is inclined to consider the wellbeing of others in the choices you make, so you don’t have to worry about that factor; at the moment, you cannot count on others to do so.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Keep your heart and mind open and you’ll be better able to receive what others are offering you in your intimate relationships. You may sense that there’s a lot to their feelings, and you may be hesitant about allowing yourself to experience that. Phobia about intimacy, and hesitation in matters of the heart, do little to foster your happiness. Every relationship experience requires taking a risk, though in truth most of that involves allowing yourself to be vulnerable. A little self-therapy on that topic would be a great place to start. Ask yourself what you fear, when it comes to getting close to someone you care about. Is it about hurting someone else? If so, how long can you keep that up for? Or is it about the way a relationship might change your life? You already know how you feel. You know what you want. That’s actually worth something.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You may have health matters on your mind, though I don’t suggest you stress about them; stress seems to be the problem. There’s also some missing information that will clarify matters considerably, and you won’t need to wait for long. I suggest that you strictly maintain a few guidelines, however. Make all your own decisions, based on what you know and understand. That’s another way of saying pay attention, take an active role and use what you know. Don’t succumb to anyone’s authority merely for its own sake or on the assumption that someone else must know more than you do. Your vitality is what helps you heal, grow and create your environment, and all three of those elements are interrelated. Your existence is holistic — part of an integrated whole, with each aspect influencing the others. You don’t need to treat symptoms, but rather, seek deeper understanding, shift your orientation and keep reminding yourself that everything is connected.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You seem to be experiencing boldness and hesitancy at the same time. The combination, if left unaddressed, could create delays and waste energy; there’s no point spinning your wheels to get nowhere. And you have plenty of places to go, and experiences you want to have. If you have any form of mixed feelings, take the elements in the mix one at a time and see what they are trying to tell you. See if you can notice your source. The self-assertiveness you’re feeling does indeed seem to be about you; the insecurity and hesitancy seems to be coming from somewhere else, perhaps even someone’s influence from the deep past. It would not vaguely surprise me if that turned out to involve another person’s religious baggage that was leaking into your environment. In plain terms, you don’t have to worry about what others will think. You don’t have to be pure or give the image of being ‘not a slut’ to project some kind of faux conservatism. What you feel is more meaningful than what anyone else thinks.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Venus, the planet traditionally associated with your sign, stations retrograde over the weekend. That’s a fairly rare event; no planet is retrograde less than Venus, though this event happens entirely in Capricorn, where Venus has not been exclusively retrograde since 1802. The next two months are a truly beautiful time to resolve old family issues, particularly on your father’s side of the family. The material may surface on its own; you may be aware of topics or themes that you’ve been brewing for a few years, which you’re now ready to address as a conscious choice. Please use this time well. Nothing like it will happen again for years to come. For you, making peace with the past also means understanding what happened, why it happened, and how it influenced you. Nobody is going to hand you easy answers, but you are eminently capable of putting the pieces together. Take your time; be both careful and intuitive.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You’ve got to let some of this pressure off. It seems as if you think you’re supposed to feel a certain way in certain situations, as if the ‘correct’ emotional tone were prescribed in advance. This extends to your opinions about things and the specific way you’re supposed to think. None of this is valid; much of the pressure is your attempt to respond to the illusion that it might be. I suggest you question that assumption, and consider the possibility that it has a source. Once you make the decision to express yourself rather than suppress yourself, you will feel less depressed, more alive, and more in control of your life. You may feel that to do those things, you have to change your whole way of thinking, though it’s easier and subtler than you were told, especially with the kind of cosmic support you have right now.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.



Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Consider carefully the influence you have on someone close to you — you’re a much more potent force than you may imagine. That includes on individual people and also on your total environment. You may be going through so much interesting, intense, strange or curious inner movement that you may not be noticing how it’s radiating out into the world around you. Take the time to get some feedback from others about what they perceive about you. Open up the space for a dialog and put more energy into listening than into speaking. Trust that people already get what’s on your mind. You will learn a lot from what they have to say and from slowing down enough to get a sense of what they are feeling. While this theme is focused right now, it’s going to be a recurring theme for the next two or three seasons. So, take a deep breath.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — The sky is now focused on your sign. The Sun makes its annual return to Capricorn on Saturday (the southern solstice), and just a few hours later, Venus stations retrograde in your sign. This is a combination of factors that are likely to ignite your passion, help you focus your energy and feel how strong, loving and creative you can be. The reason you can be these things is because you are them already, so this is really a matter of emphasis, and of bringing out what is already inside you. I suggest, in that spirit, that you remove as many encumbrances on your time and energy as you can for the next few weeks. Make room for yourself. Take time to reflect and to appreciate who you have become and what you’ve created for yourself. This will be a meaningful time of reflection that will have the power to shape the course of your life.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You seem to be asking yourself some deep questions about a relationship, and about the meaning of all intimate partnerships. This is not a fleeting inquiry but rather a crux point where you are finally getting to the heart of the matter. These questions involve whether you’re able to fully express your emotional needs, what kinds of commitment you’re comfortable with, and the role of marriage in your life. There is the ever-present question of negotiating your independence. This is a moment to consider all of your reasoning around the concept of permanence, and the way that it influences your emotional climate. There is also the not-so-small matter of how and why resources are exchanged. What falls under the category of an obligation, what do you feel is taken from you, what is a fair exchange and what is freely given? Once you have unpacked these subjects, you’ll find it a lot easier to relate to others in a way that is fair, and that you understand.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Take advantage of excellent opportunities to expand your income the next few weeks, beginning immediately. You already know of some prospects; there are others you have not thought of, and still others that you came up with and set aside or forgot about. You may find it easier now than ever to cast off any doubts or misgivings you have over the so-called profit motive, which you can replace with the elemental fact that your work and your ideas have value and worth to the people who get the benefits. However, you don’t even need to go there; it still has the feeling of an excuse. Look at your life, size up your resources, consider what you’re capable of doing and decide what you want to do. Develop a strategy that you adapt as necessary, but use as a guideline. In worldly terms, this should involve income for work and services provided, how to efficiently handle debt and tax-related matters, and an overall business plan. Get competent help when you need it.

Looking for an in-depth reading for the coming year? Pre-order THE MARS EFFECT, your 2014 annual readings, for a special rate of $79 for all twelve signs. It’s a great package of audio and written readings (plus bonus articles) that gives you access to your Sun, rising and Moon signs (and those of your loved ones). You may also pre-order individual signs for $19.95 here.


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Father Knows Best

Dear Friend and Reader:

Today’s article is from the “too scary to think about” file. One problem with this particular genre is that it leads most people into shutdown or mindless diversion mode just when what’s most necessary is to stay awake and pay attention. These days, it’s a thick file. Everything we hear about of any relevance tends to be so overwhelming that one’s nervous system goes into overload.

Planet Waves

This is a fundamentally spiritual issue. I say this recognizing that most definitions of spiritual ignore politics and social justice issues, though what I mean is that how we respond to difficult situations has everything to do with one’s relationship to existence, and one’s relationship to truth. That is spiritual if anything is.

This week I want to start with a personal story. Through all of my investigative reporting career, there was just one project I thought was too hot to handle. In 2000, I accepted an assignment from Covert Action Quarterly, the only publication devoted to covering the CIA, on something called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. I trusted my editor — vital for this kind of story — and was honored that I was chosen for such a sensitive assignment.

FISA court is a top-secret entity that issues secret warrants for spying on just about anyone and anything. It’s a federal body whose judges are recruited from the regular federal judiciary, appointed to the assignments personally by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

I got far enough into the research to learn that based on a secret order from this secret court, federal agents could enter a person’s house, copy all of their data and papers, and leave without a trace, and that they did so regularly. At the time, the Oklahoma City bombing was being used as the excuse-du-jour to ramp up surveillance on the American people.

Naturally, exposing the FISA court’s activities made me a little nervous, which is saying a lot, given what I had reported on up till that time. Well, more than a little nervous. With my editor’s consent, I passed the assignment to a trusted colleague, Philip Colangelo. His article, FISA Court: Rubber Stamping Your Rights, was published in CAQ‘s November 2000 edition.

In the FISA court’s first 22 years in existence, Phil wrote, it had denied only one of 7,500 requests to spy on Americans in the name of national security. It would basically do anything that the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA) or the Dept. of Justice wanted.

When the warrantless wiretapping story broke in 2005 — the one about how the Cheney/Bush administration was eavesdropping on everyone, the “warrantless” (i.e., without a search warrant) piece was about how they were going around the FISA court and doing whatever they wanted. It seemed strange that they would need to go around a court that automatically approved everything — and my theory as to why was that the requests would have seemed outrageous even to the FISA court’s judges.

For example, under this program, the NSA installed what became known as a “splitter” in room 641A of AT&T’s Folsom St. facility in San Francisco. The splitter divided the fiber optic signal for the entire Internet in two; one stream was routed to where it belonged and the other identical stream was routed directly to the NSA. That’s absurd even on the scale of what the FISA court was used to being asked to approve: to spy on the whole country.

Splitter: The Next Generation

Last week we learned that federal agencies were still at it. Under the new, improved version of the New World Order, headed by a constitutional lawyer — Barack Obama — the administration went to the FISA court to get approved its plans to, once again, spy on everyone and everything. Under the new, improved Internet, that meant direct access to the servers of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and 50 other services that we use all the time.

Planet Waves
Bill Schaap, lawyer and co-founder of Covert Action Quarterly, testifies on the surveillance of Martin Luther King.

The story began with the revelation last week that Verizon was handing over phone records to the NSA. We were told that these were just the records of calls, not the content of the calls. On Thursday I spoke with William Schaap, my editor at Covert Action Quarterly, and he explained that phone records are a lot more meaningful than they may seem on the surface.

He has had people from the NSA explain to him that just based on someone’s calling record, their whole life pattern can be discerned: what time they wake up, when they go to bed, who they talk to and for how long, how much alcohol they drink (repeated one-digit misdials are considered evidence of being drunk), and many other details even before there was GPS capability on telephones.

The Internet (which means nearly everyone connected to a mobile device all the time) and the ubiquitous use of credit cards has multiplied the government’s surveillance capacity.

[In this series of videos, Schaap explains how the CIA uses the world media as a propaganda machine, at one point spending about a third of its budget to do so.]

As sometimes happens these days, one person, a former NSA contractor named Edward Snowden, had documents exposing the behavior of the government and was willing to risk his life to come forward and tell us what was happening. Snowden was working under the NSA for a company owned by the Carlyle Group — the Bush family business. He didn’t have a formal education (his highest degree was a GED). He was one of those people who is a born “IT genius,” in the words of a close friend of his who I saw interviewed Wednesday night.

Snowden gave up his cushy $200,000 a year job, a loving, hotter-than-hot girlfriend and a life in Hawaii to exile himself in Hong Kong. He understands that he could be “rendered” by the CIA, that is, abducted and taken to a secret location and tortured, face life in solitary confinement or even the death penalty. He did all of this to get the truth out and put it to the American people to decide what they want to do with this knowledge.

Not So Random Acts of Conscience

Snowden joins the ranks of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Tim DeChristopher as people willing to personally intervene not just with a protest or a statement but by exposing the truth or stopping injustice. After spending years in solitary, Manning is currently facing court martial and life in prison. Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. DeChristopher served two years in federal prison (now the subject of a film called Bidder 70). Snowden has applied for political asylum in Iceland and says that he never expects to see home again.

Planet Waves
Edward Snowden, former sub-contractor for the NSA. He’s currently in a secret location in Hong Kong. Photo: The Guardian.

It’s interesting that some talking heads on the left and the right are defending the surveillance; some are calling Snowden crazy, a glory-seeker, delusional, a liar and a traitor — only occasionally referencing the possibility that what he did was an act of conscience. I have no reason to believe that he’s someone other than who he says he is. As John Steinbeck noted, the truth occasionally gets into the newspaper.

As far as I can tell, Snowden saw something happening that he knew was wrong, and was willing to give his life for his country. One common theme of both Manning’s trial and that of DeChristopher is that they were not allowed to use a defense that demonstrated that what they did was an act of conscience.
It’s as if conscience itself is being prohibited — one’s individual right, privilege and authority to distinguish right from wrong, and act on that determination.

If we’re not supposed to be surprised that the surveillance is happening, the American government should not be so surprised that people have been willing to give their lives to stop it, given the hundreds of thousands of patriotic people who have been willing to risk life, limb, irradiation, brain trauma and psychological damage by going to Afghanistan and Iraq.

I would note that the wars, the PATRIOT Act, and the massive expansion of the national security state were all the result of the Sept. 11 incident, still regarded as sacrosanct as a purported miracle. What we know for sure is that trillions of dollars have been handed over to military suppliers such as Halliburton and Carlyle Group, and their countless contractors and subcontractors, all to pay for the resulting “defense” and “security” related activities.

When someone blows the whistle on the NSA spying on the public, it’s not somebody’s honor, career, reputation or even criminal liability that’s the threat. Rather, it’s that ocean of money.

The Family and the Government

We might want to ask why there is so much emphasis on spying on individual people. The ruse, of course, is that it “prevents terrorism.” Many people actually believe that they are safer for having their life pried into, a belief that begs for psychological analysis. The docility with which this is tacitly permitted, or ignored, all in the name of safety, describes issues on the parts of the spies and those spied on that need to be addressed in therapy but rarely are.

Planet Waves
Dr. Wilhelm Reich mapped out the relationship between government authorities and what he called the “authoritarian mini-state,” the family.

I’ve said many times — referencing political theorists of the 1960s and 1970s — that the personal is political; that there is no private life that is not influenced or even determined by some larger public life. In the situation of total government intrusion into our lives, we are expected to be submissive and totally transparent while the authorities are expected to be all-knowing and totally opaque.

The history of modern psychology includes many discussions connecting the government to what Wilhelm Reich called the “authoritarian mini-state,” the family. We are nearly all raised in a family system where everything is known about us and where we get to know very little about our environment.

People know things about us to which we’re not even privy. As a child, one cannot see one’s own school records, and now as adults, we’re even told we cannot see our own medical records. The FBI keeps records on many people and we don’t get to see them — unless we take the risk of requesting them and calling attention to ourselves.

These experiences prepare us for life in society, a life that is fundamentally abusive and invasive. When people become mature adults and claim their personal space and their autonomy, this involves the overthrow of family tyranny and coming to terms with the tyranny of corporate authority, though this is rare.

Most of the time we remain subject to strict parenting in the form of being policed by official authorities or marrying someone who takes the place of our parents. These authorities have what you might call boundary issues — they know no limits. The child internalizes the behaviors of the dominant authority figure as guilt and shame. This leads to problems with intimacy and isolation later in life.

Violation as ‘Love’

The child also learns to see the intrusion as an expression of love and concern from the authority figures. To compensate, the child projects the feelings of shame and guilt onto others — then engages in intrusive behaviors to show love. This is the root of “if you’re not jealous, you don’t really love me.”

In some situations, the problems with intimacy, shame and intrusion become so extreme that the person suffering from them ‘needs’ an emotionally external object on which to displace these conflicts — something like the state and the public.

Planet Waves
Dr. Carl Jung associated the father with the force in the psyche that restricts impulses — sexual and otherwise.

Victims of the worst abuse often become the worst abusers, acting out their authority issues as taking power over others or an entire population. Most of the people they act out on themselves have unresolved pain from family intrusion, and the process cycles to the spot where it is now.

In this kind of compromised environment, particularly one that’s been weakened further by extremes of fear (lately of domestic terrorists, school shooters, Muslims, and of government intrusion), government surveillance can proliferate and few will object. And the person who calls it out can seem crazy to many who have not questioned any of this.

Carl Jung said that the role of the father was to limit and block impulses — sexual and otherwise. The father’s role in Jung’s view is to set up a situation where the only thing that’s to be trusted is imposed from outside.

Given that so much of what is communicated privately on the Internet is sexual in nature, the presence of the government can be seen as an overwhelming external limit placed on what is appropriate to say, feel or do. Because most people feel guilty about sexual pleasure, the limiting presence feels like it belongs there — it’s an extension of their own desire to limit their impulses, conveniently imposed from outside.

The rules always say that you don’t make up your own rules. When an Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning violates that and changes the game, there can be an extremely harsh response, mainly because daddy wants to emphasize the point. But one thing is clear: people who violate this dictum in a conscious, well-planned way can get results, even if they are punished for it. Many others look on in amazement, shock or secret envy, wishing they had the guts to do something so brave and, in truth, necessary.

What we are seeing with the NSA eavesdropping is not merely the result of technology, though technology is often what sets the limit on what can happen (of which there is apparently none today). Neither is it the result of an authentic need for a benevolent authority to guard the perimeter. Even crows have lookouts stationed around fields, and deer warn one another of an invasive presence in a forest. Everyone understands that there is some legitimate need for the government to watch the boundaries and be alert to invasion and betrayal. The problem we are facing is when a legitimate need is confused with a totally illegitimate abuse of power.

‘Cheaters’ — Making Surveillance Normal

In a column in The Guardian from last November, Naomi Wolf described a British reality show called Cheaters. The premise is that someone suspects they are being cheated on by their spouse or partner. They report their “case” to the show and if accepted, the program pays for a private eye and makes a spectacle of the bust.

She describes the setup: “A seemingly sympathetic interview detailed the young woman’s fears and suspicions; then, the camera follows a private investigator, who in turn tracks and surveils the boyfriend or husband (or girlfriend or wife) who is under suspicion of committing infidelity. We, the audience, are treated to grainy footage recording the dalliance with the other woman or other man.”

Planet Waves
Promos from the website of the British reality show Cheaters, which makes it seem like it’s normal to hire an investigator to see whether your partner is being ‘faithful’.

She describes how the plot of each program progresses. “Creepily, the betrayed lover is encouraged to call the deceiver so that we can see his or her verbal betrayal in real time — dialogue like, ‘Honey, when are you coming home? It’s so late!’ ‘Baby, you know I am working’. This exchange, while we witness the man on the phone, but with his arm around the other woman in a restaurant. ‘I am working to get money to, uh, take you out!'”

Wolf comments: “You could not dream up a piece of pop culture better designed to normalize the surveillance society. What is alarming is how directly the series models a blurring, or mission creep, from television surveillance into inviting ordinary citizens to accept and even embrace the role of surveillance and spying in their daily private lives.” Most people don’t have the budget to hire a private investigator and have to suffice with DIY prying into email accounts, their chat history, installing cameras in someone’s private space, or relying on reports from lookout crows who keep an eye on things around town. You can buy apps that retrieve deleted chats from someone’s phone.

No matter how “normalized” or “commonplace” it may be, living in an environment of ubiquitous surveillance, it’s still a sign of cultural and individual sickness. And it’s never, ever for a friendly purpose. All of the most repressive regimes in history start their projects by regulating the most private affairs of people, keeping files on individuals and fomenting mistrust.

When you don’t know who might turn on you, everyone is a potential enemy — and in that situation, it’s easy for the corporate state to rule everything. Under this plan, it becomes the only place you have to turn for comfort, cold though it may be.

Meanwhile, as you watch this story go by, notice how you feel about your relationship to your parents and early caregivers. As you watch pundits and politicians spout their ideas, I suggest you ask whether they’ve addressed their family baggage and therefore whether they have even the faintest hope of clarity on this issue and everything that it represents.

Think of it as a vast family drama — where father supposedly knows best.


Additional research and writing: Maria Padhila, Amanda Painter, David Rosen, Joseph Trusso.

Note to Readers: David Rosen, who has collaborated on many Planet Waves articles, is a political psychology consultant. You’re invited to visit his website, called First Person Politics.


Introducing the Queer Astrology Conference

If you ever had the notion that mainstream astrology conferences could be a little more queer, I’m here to introduce you to the Queer Astrology Conference on July 20 and 21. Where else could it be but San Francisco? I am one of the presenters and I thought I’d let you know about it.

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There are going to be some fun presentations — they all sound great. Over the next few weeks, check Planet Waves FM for interviews with some of my teaching colleagues.

“The  conference agenda is rich with two days of presentations, conversations, and instigation. We are thrilled to present both well-known and new voices in astrology, offering historical, theoretical, practical, topical, and mystical lectures,” its organizer, Ian Waisler, writes.

Among many interesting presentations are Lilith and Adam: Tales of Gender, Sex and Deviance by Chani Nicholas. Christopher Renstrom will talk about the Saturn Return of AIDS. My own presentation is called Sexuality in Every House. (Here is a version of that talk that I gave in Portland, OR recently.)

Waisler notes, “The intent is to work smarter in the present and to generate queer-specific resources for future astrologers. Through sharing audio, video and written record of the proceedings, we hope to further the research, scholarship, and practice of astrology relevant to ourselves as queer people.” Be aware that registration fees increase on the solstice, so you’ll want to book now for the best price!

I would add this. Everyone is queer, which is to say, ‘different than’ everyone else. Astrologers will benefit from understanding the nuances of sex and gender, which they’re unlikely to hear much about at any other conference and are likely to depend on with many clients.

I will be available in San Francisco for a few private consultations. My schedule is not set but if you’re interested please write to me at dreams@planetwaves.net.


Planet Waves

A Whole Lotta Somethin’

There’s a whole bunch of something in the air.

Two things are happening at the moment. The first is that we’re getting another visit from the Uranus-Pluto square — what I’ve been calling the 2012 aspect. That’s the longstanding pattern of Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn that lasts from 2012 through 2015.

Planet Waves
This is what the core of our galaxy looks like. The plane of the galaxy slants upward to the left from our point of view, looking across the spiral. Photo by Anthony Ayiomamitis.

The way that kind of aspect works is that it’s kind of waiting there, setting the tone of our era in history, and then when other planets come along and make aspects to it, it jumps out from the background. For example, Mercury and Venus have just passed through the aspect from the sign Cancer, and we’re seeing many effects — the protests in Turkey, and the fuss over the National Security Agency bringing the ‘war on terra’ to Facebook and Google.

The other distinctive current event is that Jupiter is in Gemini, making its one and only opposition to the Galactic Core in Sagittarius. Our spiral of stars called the Milky Way has a supermassive black hole at the center, and that’s the core of our galaxy.

Jupiter is now opposite that point. The Galactic Core is to one side of the Earth and Jupiter is to the other side. This sensation can feel like being overwhelmed by something invisible.

Jupiter moves slower than the inner planets, so this opposition will last for a while — in truth, it will be noticeable until Jupiter changes signs from Gemini to Cancer later in the month, then the sign change will become the feeling that’s emphasized.

Speaking of — when Jupiter changes signs on June 25 (June 26 in some time zones), it will go onto the cardinal cross and join the Uranus-Pluto square, forming what is called a T-square. It will soon move into the position now occupied by Venus, with a much larger effect.

For many months, Jupiter will be opposite Pluto and square Uranus, which will be pretty exciting. Jupiter will also join Saturn, Chiron and Neptune in the water signs. This is a whole new kind of energy environment, unlike anything we’ve ever felt in our lifetimes, with an exception being some moments in the mid-1960s (of which this astrology is reminiscent).

Now all we have to do is put being such wonderful, gifted and enlightened people to work for some useful collective purpose.


Planet Waves

Monsanto Gets a Pass from Justice — Yet Again

A U.S. appeals court this week threw out a lawsuit against Monsanto by organic and non-GMO farmers and seed suppliers since the company has promised to ‘be nice’.

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Jim Gerritsen of Bridgewater, Maine, addressing the “Farmers’ March” to Zuccotti Park in 2011. Gerritsen is president of the lead plaintiff group against Monsanto. Photo courtesy of Jim Gerritsen/Bangor Daily News.

The court ruled that they were not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not “take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).”

“Even though we’re disappointed with the Court’s ruling not to hear our case, we’re encouraged by the court’s determination that Monsanto does not have the right to sue farmers for trace contamination,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “However, the farmers went to court seeking justice not only about contamination, but also the larger question of the validity of Monsanto’s patents. Justice has not been served.”

The plaintiffs still have the right to ask the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision and ultimately reinstate the case, and their attorney said they are considering doing so. If they do, let’s hope the increasing public hostility towards Monsanto will help the justices see the bigger picture.


Planet Waves

Here Comes the Sun — There Go the Nukes

Southern California Edison, operators of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, announced Friday that they will be shutting the plant down for good. It has been idle since the discovery of a radioactive leak more than a year ago.

Planet Waves
Surf’s up next to the San Onofre nuclear plant. Photo by Jebb Harris / The Orange County Register.

Several environmental groups are praising the move, although the remaining nuclear waste is an issue without a real solution — the fly in the ointment that supporters of nuclear power refuse to acknowledge.

“We are now left with one of the largest, most concentrated nuclear waste piles on the planet,” said Ace Hoffman of Carlsbad, California, who has written extensively about the serious safety problems at San Onofre. “This will be an eternal problem, but thankfully it is no longer a growing problem.”

Karl Grossman, writing for the Huffington Post, noted that the San Onofre announcement comes amidst two other nuclear plant shutdowns, plus the abandonment of plans to build at least five new plants in the U.S. — all in the last month or so. He echoed the sentiments of Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, who remarked that, “This industry is on its final trajectory downward.”

Supporters of nuclear power often cite it as being ‘clean’ with regard to its carbon footprint. Such claims, however, ignore that “the ‘nuclear cycle’ — the mining, milling, fuel enrichment and other components of nuclear power — emit greenhouse gases and contribute substantially to global warming,” writes Grossman.

With its many days of sunshine and a long, windy coastline, California is poised to become a significant non-nuclear economy if it transitions to solar and wind power, made available on-demand through various energy storage systems.


Planet Waves

Sounds Like a Plan: Emergency Contraception Without Restrictions

Good news broke this week for sexually active women who believe in having some control over their reproductive health: the Obama administration has stopped trying to block over-the-counter availability of Plan B One-Step for women and girls. It will now be available without a prescription, regardless of age.

Planet Waves

Last year President Obama had supported the decision of Kathleen Sebelius, his Secretary of Health and Human Services, when she blocked a decision by the FDA to allow unrestricted access on a nonprescription basis.

The Justice Department had been trying to appeal the April decision by U.S. District Court judge Edward R. Korman, who had ordered the government to make all morning-after pills available without a prescription and without any sales restrictions.

Korman had called Sebelius’s decision “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent.”

Withdrawal of the Justice Department’s appeal was most likely to avoid having to take the matter to the Supreme Court if they lost. Such a move could have put Obama in a challenging situation.

The lack of age restriction applies only to the one-pill form of Plan B, not the two-pill form. The FDA cites concerns that young teens might not understand how to take the two-pill form correctly. Plan B prevents conception if taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse.

It remains to be seen whether individual pharmacists will comply with the new regulations; an undercover survey in 2012 found that pharmacy employees often told 17-year-olds they could not get Plan B despite being legally allowed access.


Planet Waves

Is Nature Only Nature When It’s Human?

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that companies cannot patent parts of naturally occurring human genes. The case involved the validity of patents held by Utah-based Myriad Genetics for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Planet Waves
The DNA/Memory card from the Sustain Yourself deck of oracle cards by James Wanless.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the court’s decision, said that Myriad’s assertion — that the DNA it isolated from the body for its proprietary breast and ovarian cancer tests were patentable — had to be dismissed because it violates patent rules. The court has said that laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable.

“We hold that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent-eligible merely because it has been isolated,” Thomas said.

The court said that synthetically created DNA, known as cDNA, can be patented “because it is not naturally occurring,” Thomas said.

The ruling begs the questions: What is a “product of nature”? Using this definition, aren’t plant and animal genes also “products of nature”? Applying this logic to agriculture and the food industry, do these genes cease to be “products of nature” once they’re manipulated by Monsanto and made into GMO food?


Planet Waves

Indie Underdog Wins Pulitzer

In a publishing industry upset (and small-business coup), the non-profit, all-digital publication InsideClimate News beat out such legacy heavyweights as The Boston Globe and The Washington Post to win the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting this week.

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The underdog, headed by executive editor Susan White and with a full-time staff of 7 who work from various cities across the country, won for their three-part series, “The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of.”

Despite its limited resources, in 2010 InsideClimate News sent reporter Elizabeth McGowan to interview farmers and residents who would be affected by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline — long before any major media players had caught the scent.

McGowen kept hearing about a spill in Michigan but couldn’t find out much about it. White sent her to the site in 2011 and had another reporter with limited journalism experience but a strong science background ferret out the scientific facts.

In bringing on veteran reporter David Hasemyer to help out, White stretched her organization’s budget — which relies heavily on grants — to the max. But the investment of resources and focused determination paid off.

“We didn’t have the time, money, or any real bells or whistles,” White said in an article at Editor and Publisher. “But it was the right story to tell, so you just push forward and do your best to tell it.”

Many larger news outlets have shut down their environmental reporting desks in recent years. Ironically, this creates opportunities for outfits like InsideClimate News, whose stories get picked up by Bloomberg, McClatchy, and The Associated Press, driving traffic to the Little Indie Mag That Could.


Planet Waves

Planet Waves

Are You Listening to This, NSA?

Whenever a national scandal breaks, we can always count on the very funny late-night comedy send-up and the very indie protest song. Brooks Rocco of San Francisco (where else?) has the latter wrapped up with “Tinfoil in Every Hat (Hey Hey, NSA).”

Rocco reportedly wrote, performed and recorded the entire song himself in one night.

“After yesterday’s [revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden], I went out for a bike ride and started singing into the wind,” Rocco told The Huffington Post. “It was a sunny day, not a drone in the sky, and all of a sudden a lyric popped into my head. ‘Hey hey, NSA,’ I sang, hoping they might hear me. At the time, I wasn’t plugged into any PRISMs or anything so I had to bring the song home and record it.”


Planet Waves

Who is Reading Your Email and Why You Should Care

The National “Security” Agency is compiling our private communications and even has the power to scan our entire profile, track drafts of emails and bug our computers. In this week’s edition, I take a look at the astrology behind it and explain why you should care.

In this program I refer to an edition of Fresh Air in which Terry Gross interviews a writer named James Bamford. Here is the link to the full program.

Here is the full Edward Snowden interview in The Guardian.


Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes — and our Publishing Schedule Notes

The June monthly extended horoscopes  were published Friday, May 24. Inner Space horoscopes for June were published Friday, May 31. I recommend reviewing the previous month’s horoscope at the end of the month; you can see May’s monthly horoscope here. The Moonshine horoscopes for the Gemini New Moon were published Tuesday, June 4. We will publish the Moonshine horoscopes for the Capricorn Full Moon Tuesday, June 18.


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Weekly Horoscope for Friday, June 14, 2013, #954 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Aries (March 20-April 19) — I suggest that as you make decisions and attempt to organize yourself in what may be an unsettled moment, you follow the idea that a home is best organized from the kitchen outward. The kitchen used to be the hearth — the fire at the center of life, used for warmth, cooking and as a spiritual focal point of the home. In any situation you find yourself, see if you can determine the fire at the center of the situation. Notice the most pragmatic elements and focus on them. Arrange the situations you’re involved with in such a way that you ensure that everyone in your immediate household or sphere is taken care of, and that nobody is left out. There is plenty to eat; there is plenty of space; offer what you have to those around you when you notice that someone has a need you can fulfill. Any confusion or ambivalence you may feel will resolve itself when you put your priorities in order, and right now those can easily be described by a concept that’s easy enough to understand: nourishment.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Any troubles or challenges that a partner is going through will be responsive to a spiritual approach. That starts with being open to healing, and you may be the one who guides the discussion out of the dark and into that direction. Yet I suggest you notice what you can about what anyone else’s situation says about you. Some say that ‘relationships are mirrors’, though I’ve never been fond of that — it seems too accusatory. I would say that relationships can be reflective, they are the basis of a dialog, and that people can compliment one another in unusual ways. At the moment, you have resources that can be helpful to those around you. You have a perspective, both intellectual and emotional, that can improve your situation and those of close partners or associates. Whether you agree with that notion or not is one form that the ‘reflection’ aspect of the relationship will take.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

Great Astrology Readings for You, and No Ads Here

Dear Planet Waves Subscriber:

Over the past few years, I’ve expanded my offerings of astrology projects, such as birthday readings, 12-sign reports such as the Invocation of Spring and the LISTEN annual edition.

For those who love my horoscopes, I think you’ll like these readings even better. Many have commented that my weekly and monthly horoscopes are somewhat unusual and speak to them more deeply than they ever imagined possible from a horoscope.

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Photo by Zoe West.

Actually, the horoscopes are a summary of what I see in the charts, condensed into poetic summary form. There’s so much more to tell you. I offer expanded versions of your astrology in my audio readings, using the same techniques, though working in a larger format so that I can go deeper and bring out more information.

When my readers write in and say they cannot believe how deep they go, and how they are better than custom readings they’ve received from other astrologers, I am not surprised — I feel the energy come through when I do the work. I learn something significant every time I record one. Each reading enters new territory.

They are presented as part astrology reading and part motivational talk. My intent is to use astrology to show you your opportunities, clarify your decision-making and get you excited about your life. I speak directly to you in these sessions, in plain language, presented in studio-quality audio.

Best of all, they are affordable and available immediately. There is a reading available to fit nearly every need. And they are guaranteed.

You may have noticed that we don’t clutter up Planet Waves (or your mind) with advertising. Your product purchases help us do the advanced level of work that we do. My astrology products are designed to support you and your life, and then the proceeds go to make Planet Waves the best astrology magazine it can be. This is a true win-win.

If you haven’t tried one of my readings, I would humbly suggest that you check one out. You may be asking, “How can you do this without my birth chart?” Most of my customers cannot get enough of them. They’re nourishing, truly positive, and as they used to say in Paris, “sweet and cheap.”

Thanks for being a Planet Waves member and a valued customer.



Gemini (May 20- June 21)

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — I suggest that over the next week or so, you try a few things you thought were impossible. Include among them something that you really, really want to go well in the long run; something you’re sure would require an immense amount of luck. Can you think of anything? You’re likely to come up with something, or several things, over the next few days. What will help is if you make sure you’re clear about what you want. Eliminate any extraneous goals that will only weigh you down like water in your feathers. Keep your thinking light and remember what matters to you. I cannot emphasize this enough — success involves knowing your priorities and honoring your real intentions. We have all noticed the ways that we make decisions and want things that go against our own needs, desires and best interests. While you have this unusual opening in front of you, make sure you tidy up that unseemly bit of human nature.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).

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Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Planets are gathering in your sign now, which is offering at least some relief from the sense of pressure you’ve been feeling, and offering some tangible sense of improvement in your circumstances. Yet despite the improvement, you may still be feeling some sense that you’re trying to look into a blind spot or dealing with too many unknowns. Over the next few weeks, these mysteries will unravel, and you’ll have a lot more information to work with. The Sun and Jupiter are about to change signs, and as they do, you’ll begin to realize what pressure you were really under. As you start to get answers, you will see how deep the questions you were asking really were. As you start to feel your life gather even more positive momentum, you’re likely to want to let that carry you even further. I would add one thought, which is that there seems to be a purpose to this all. It’s not merely improvement for its own sake. Discovering and embracing that purpose will be the greatest gift of all these changes.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — A Course in Miracles in one of its many sobering moments says, “You do not ask too much of life, but far too little.” This is the time to ask a little more from life. Of course, to do that, you have to know what to ask for, and I think that over the next few days you will get some clear ideas. Yet you may also have some priorities that you’ve set aside or that you’ve pretended matter less than they do; get those into focus now. Rather than make a list of everything you want to accomplish immediately, consider what you would feel good about achieving in three months, one year and three years. Allow yourself to explore the idea that time is your ally rather than something you have to fight against. Time is a space in which to do what you want and what you need. We tend to use time in a microscopic or myopic way, knowing where we will be next Tuesday at 3 pm. I suggest you take a more spacious view. Give yourself some room to move around.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Unusual events may bring people together around you. They may be related to a personal goal you have; they may be related to a family situation. Therefore pay attention to when people are gathered, including spontaneous encounters. Meanwhile, on the professional front, this is the time to get your priorities in order, and to focus your vision. You’re looking at what may be the potential for a once-in-a-lifetime advancement. The scenario may not come to full fruition immediately; there may be a delay involved. What’s important is that you initiate the changes when you have the opportunity to do so, and that you think forward and not in reverse. The experience and even the idea of going forward are likely to bring up some concerns and attachments related to the past, though you have time to resolve those and work out the details. For a little while you will need to address matters of the future and the past with equal emphasis; maintaining a balance between the two is what will get you to your destination.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Libra (Sep. 22 - Oct. 23)

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You may be a little too focused on what you think you have to give up rather than what you think you will gain. In truth, any significant improvement you make does require you to give up something, even if it was the situation that was not working out for you. That kind of thing can be more difficult to let go of than most of us would care to admit. The first thing to investigate are family situations that are demanding too much from you. Once you see beyond those, you may have a lot clearer perspective on the rest of your existence. You’ll be able to evaluate whether recent career developments were really the best thing for you, and explore other options. What is essential is that you really take the time and evaluate each situation, and that you be mindful of your own prejudices and those that were imposed on you by someone in the past (such as your mother). This is the time to see the world and your life through your own eyes, as things exist now.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — There’s enormous emphasis in our world on loss and death. These things influence nearly every perception we have of life, every priority and every relationship. What would your life look like, and how would you feel, were you not always negotiating with your worst fears? It may actually take you some time to notice the many ways in which you do this, and to identify the compromises you think you’re forced to make as a result. I suggest you be vigilant about these things. In truth it’s enough to recognize that everything changes over time. Make peace with that and everything on Earth makes a little more sense. It’s not really possible to control your thoughts, but it’s eminently possible to notice and observe them. In doing so, you can see your negative expectations go by and as part of that, shift your emphasis to what is more positive and life-affirming.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 22)

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Unexpected developments in a relationship are almost certain to work out in a way that you’re happy with but could not have predicted. You may have noticed that when you get to the edge of any territory, life becomes more interesting. Whether it’s the region near the border between two countries or the edge of an era in your own life, the transition zone is where life often offers the most potential. You have seemed reluctant to take an emotional risk of some kind, or to believe a promise that’s been held out to you. If you look underneath that, you may notice the ways in which your hesitancy says more about you than it does about whoever you’re involved with. That recognition may influence you to be more courageous and more accepting of your own potential. It’s not like you to be this cautious or hesitant, though you get to decide whether that is really helping you. The risk you’re concerned about is not as big as it may seem.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You may be figuring out that the work you do is fully dependent on the relationships that you have. This includes the collegial relationships with your co-creators and the influence that the work you do has on your intimate relationships. I suggest you consider this one environment, which for shorthand we can call the Love-and-Work-o-Sphere. There are likely to be significant developments where these two seemingly different areas of life cross over, blend and enhance one another. There are those who say that it’s best to keep one’s home life and one’s work life separate. When one’s work is truly meaningful, I don’t see how that’s possible. You’re not two different people, or one person with a watertight compartment dividing your character. There’s creative synergy to be had if you allow your one life to be one, and your purpose to be something that informs everything you do.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You seem to be drawn in many directions, with many options to choose from — and all you want to do is feel good. There’s a relationship between the two sides of that equation, that is, between having the sensation of perhaps confusing or ambivalent potential and your desire to take it a little easier. I suggest you cultivate some receptivity: some time to listen to yourself, to explore some of the experiences and ideas that nourish you, and to give yourself space to think and express yourself. Then the potential you’re feeling will be less confusing and more oriented on something inwardly relevant. Let me say this another way. Accessing creative potential in any satisfying form is less associated with activity and more associated with making contact with an inner reality, and then expressing what you notice. The content of what you express means a lot more than the form in which you express yourself.

Order your 2013 reading from Eric Francis now, in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition of Planet Waves. As a subscriber you can still get all 12 signs for the price of three. This is a detailed written and audio reading that you will love. You can also purchase signs one at a time (including audio and written, prior to our splitting those two products).
Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You may feel like you’re taking a long walk along the edge in the dark, though I don’t think you’ll feel that way for long. I suggest you not try to do anything too fast or especially declarative, particularly if you have more questions than answers. You can afford to let events and situations develop over the next week and see what discoveries you make. In honor of a magnificent Sun-Jupiter conjunction that’s now developing, I would propose one other thing: set one goal for yourself and start taking steps to make it happen. We can take for granted that you want a happy life, a dry roof over your head and good company. I mean one truly ambitious goal, something you might even think is impossible or improbable. Focus on that to the exclusion of whatever trivia you can get out of the way. Take tangible, fully conscious steps toward that one thing, and then keep paying attention. Remember that last bit.

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