Planet Waves

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Sign Language for the Insane

Dear Friend and Reader:

Adding a touch of irony to the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, it turns out that Thamsanqa Jantjie, the supposed sign language interpreter hired to stand three feet from the podium and be broadcast to hundreds of millions of people, was talkin' jive.

Planet Waves
Pres. Obama speaks during Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela, having his words translated into gibberish by Thamsanqa Jantjie -- who said he was having a psychotic episode.
His assorted hand gestures and moreover his stiff posture and deadpan expression were not South African sign language for the deaf -- it was all an act. Sign language utilizes facial expressions and shoulder movements, in addition to signs with the hands and arms. It's not High German in pantomime.

Given that Mandela's whole life was about inclusion, and that the purpose of a sign language interpreter is to include the deaf in the world of sound and speech, it's fair to say that this pushed the line into something truly cynical.

One would think that when a country is hosting a long-expected global event honoring the life of one of the most revered men of our lifetimes, knowing they would be host to some 90 heads of state, and knowing the whole affair would be broadcast on global television, they might cover that kind of detail well in advance.

It gets better. Questioned this week by the Associated Press, Jantjie said he was having a psychotic episode. Yes, standing three feet from the president and a diversity of other world leaders, he claimed that his anti-schizophrenia meds were not quite doing the trick. In other words, he took the insanity defense to fraud.

"What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium," he said, adding, "I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don't know the attack of this problem, how will it comes. Sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me."

Planet Waves
In happier days, Obama gives the thumbs up for the health insurance program that got his name. This is a viral image that right wingnut websites love to publish for its irony value.
Wait, he didn't put that on his employment application? I guess we'll have to wait till the PDF goes viral, but the chances are he just knew someone who knew someone and got the 'good enough' rating. You know, I'm not a sign language interpreter, but I play one on TV.

His stunt reminds me of The Yes Men, who do things like get on the agenda as the keynote speakers at conferences for oil executives, then give presentations on climate change.

The Yes Men, who exist with a purpose, prove how easy it is to pass through the flimsy or nonexistent vetting process no matter how important something is, as long as you're wearing a business suit that cost at least $10. And, in true Yes Men tradition, as long as they invite you.

"I was in a very difficult position," Jantjie added, explaining his predicament, standing there with everyone (as in everyone) watching, not being able to do the one thing he was supposed to do. "And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I'll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn't embarrass my country."

Well, so much for that idea. And wait: he thinks that the president is armed? And why panic? He could just say he was seeing angels and go to the First Aid tent.

It gets better. The Associated Press reported, "Jantjie said he was due on the day of the ceremony to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine whether the medication he takes was working, whether it needed to be changed or whether he needed to be kept at a mental health facility for treatment" (emphasis mine).

The only difference between South Africa and the United States is that in South Africa, you find out this kind of thing. Here in the U.S., we don't want to spoil the show.

Planet Waves
Metro-North train derailed after the engineer "zoned out" while coming around a 30 mph curve at 82 mph. Image: CNN video.
I could easily see this translated onto the recent mock government shutdown a couple of months ago. Imagine this in an AP report: "WASHINGTON, DC -- In a press conference held several hours after the government re-opened, Speaker of the House John Boehner apologized to the American people and said that it was not really he who shut down the government, it was the demon he's possessed by."

"Actually, to tell the truth, I am a demon in human form and I was in possession of the government," Boehner said. "I'm sorry to have put you all through that. I don't really belong here. I'm kind of lost. I thought this was one of the hell worlds, but it turned out to be a lot nicer than I imagined. I have to compensate by smoking a carton of cigarettes daily and spending six hours a day in a tanning bed."

The shutdown was the perfect product of a fake House of Representatives that repeatedly passes fake bills designed to roll back women's rights to some time around 1913. The House of Representatives is controlled by a mock political entity called the Tea Party, which is supposed to be populist but is supported by billionaires.

Speaking of -- the minimum wage is not a wage; it's essentially slave labor, supported by the fact that half of all fast food workers are on some form of public assistance. The rather wealthy people at the top of McDonald's and KFC, all of whom take the "free market, free enterprise" point of view, and the stockholders who reap the profits, are subsidized by the government. Of course they don't want to raise the minimum wage.

Then there was Who needs a real e-commerce site when you can have something that looks just like one? It's a fake, so who needs to do a beta test? The fact that it cost more than $300 million to create adds to the illusion that it might be real.

Planet Waves
Lara Logan, the faux reporter for 60 Minutes, interviewed a faux witness for her faux story. But she looks great in red. AP photo.
And who needs affordable medical insurance when a healthy, relatively young person still has to pay $500 a month to have coverage?

Then we have the Republicans accusing "Obamacare" of being socialism -- when it was really the rightwing Heritage Foundation that thought this scheme up, to enrich corporations. This is being called a government takeover of health care, when really it's a corporate takeover. But you wouldn't know that because the Heritage Foundation has been on the front lines of attacking its own idea.

Meanwhile, right before the most dangerous maneuver ever conducted in civilian nuclear power -- the removal of spent fuel from Fukushima Unit 4 -- CNN broadcast a movie-length infomercial about how wonderful, efficient and perfectly safe nuclear power is. Hardly anyone thought to mention the spent fuel removal project, which basically has the world on the brink of a very quiet nuclear war.

Then there was a Metro North guy acting just like a railroad engineer who obviously had never played with electric trains. Everyone knows when you take a turn too fast, the whole train falls over. (And all passengers of that line know that the track angle leans out of the curve rather than into it.)

Then there was Lara Logan, the pretend news reporter for 60 Minutes, who interviewed Dylan Davies, who didn't really know what happened that night in Benghazi; he made it all up, but it sounded good. That went along perfectly with the whole made-up story about a protest at a fake "embassy" in Libya (it was a CIA outpost in a fairly typical weapons buyback program, hence everyone on all sides had to do the dance and pretend it was something else).

Along the way, George Zimmerman was found innocent of both first and second degree murder after killing Trayvon Martin after a mock trial with fake prosecutors whose only job was to piss off the jury. In the perception of many, Zimmerman was as pure as the driven snow, lending true meaning to Second Amendment rights -- the right to 'defend' oneself against black people. Which he seems to have thought also applied to women; he was arrested for pulling a gun on his (ex) girlfriend -- though she dropped the charges and he's free again (until the next time).

Planet Waves
Newspapers from late 2012 focused on the Sandy Hook School massacre. Photo from
The year began with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. We all put on a sad face and then allowed
Congress and our state legislatures to do nothing about the problem, not even close the gun show loophole -- except that twice as many state laws were passed laws opening up the flow of weapons than were passed restricting them.

The solution to gun violence is more guns. Wayne LaPierre offered the brilliant idea of arming teachers. The NRA, which has a quarter-billion dollar budget, called my office this week seeking a donation. They are, after all, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

How come so many of these mass shooters, from Columbine to Sandy Hook, are on mood-altering medications? Seriously -- these drugs have a suicide problem. Anybody paying attention? That does not mix well with depressed, angry boys with assault rifles. But hey we can just paper that over with pride in our Constitution.

Astrological note: Mars is about to take a long retrograde in Libra. One thing about Libra is that it's the sign of appearances. Everything in Libra has to look good, and where you have Libra in your chart is one aspect of life where you will aspire to beauty and a sense of perfect presentation. Even horrid things that happen under the influence of Libra can have elegance and beauty to them.

Mars retrograde is going to get underneath all of those appearances, and peel back the layers one by one. As it makes repeated encounters with the Uranus-Pluto square, and the Sun in the primary chart of the United States, we are likely to have a long sequence of 'truth revealed' kind of events that expose what is behind the facade.

There is plenty. It's about time we had a look.


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
A Comment on Jupiter Trine Saturn

Depending on your time zone, today is the second occurrence of Jupiter trine Saturn. There are three points of contact for this aspect in the current cycle. The first took place on July 17, the second is/was Dec. 12/13 depending on your time zone, and the last will be May 24, 2014. Jupiter is in Cancer and Saturn is in Scorpio. Chiron in Pisces makes this aspect into a grand water trine, which will be close to exact on May 24.

Planet Waves
Probably rendered (but still cool) image of Saturn from Cassini Space Probe, taken from free wallpaper.
For reference, the next trine between these two planets takes place in 2026. Therefore it's something of a rare resource, to be taken advantage of consciously. It has the feeling of a reward for a job well done, which might come in a moment of relative ease and a kind of harvest, and also as a new opportunity. That opportunity can be squandered; as a natal placement, if taken unconsciously, this is the "easy come, easy go" aspect. If taken consciously, one can build things of a lasting nature.

The Rev. Dr. Marc Edmund Jones, one of the founders of modern astrology, noted that any contact between Jupiter and Saturn is significant. From his point of view, they describe the story of the current lifetime in relationship to others; from a worldly point of view, these planets represent two of the most necessary qualities of the psyche.

Jupiter offers the ability to expand boundaries and Saturn is the ability to contain them. Jupiter asserts itself within the environment, and Saturn describes response to the environment. Jupiter can describe what one offers; Saturn describes leadership and the way one interrelates with those in authority. When they're not working, Jupiter comes to represent excesses and Saturn represents scarcity. It's fair to say that how the two planets blend addresses how one uses opportunity and resources; how one works with the energy of a benevolent uncle (Jupiter) and of a parent with the tendency to discipline (Saturn).

Mastering either calls for a high degree of self-knowledge and cooperation with others. These are the transpersonal planets, neither deeply intimate (such as Venus or Mars) nor alien and working below the level of consciousness (such as Neptune or Pluto).

Planet Waves
Jupiter is actually denser than Saturn, though the astrological interpretation has Saturn being the planet of form and structure.
Looking at the placements and contact of your Jupiter and Saturn can tell you about how you handle your personal role in the greater world around you. If they are not in an ordinary aspect in your chart, check the 'minor' aspects (septile, novile, sesquiquadrate, etc.). Also check what is at the Jupiter-Saturn midpoint -- that is a kind of superaspect that will tell you a lot.

Jupiter trine Saturn shows up in the charts of a few people with an unusual degree of spiritual evolution, skilled at stretching boundaries. They include John F. Kennedy, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Ralph Nader, Gertrude Stein, Gloria Steinem, Alan Watts, Kate Millett, Thomas Merton, Carl Jung, Elton John, Aldous Huxley and J. Edgar Hoover. The lack of women in astrology databases is somewhat compensated for, in this case, by three pioneering feminists having this aspect. All of these people seemed to have the gift of redefining boundaries in some way; many were significant trailblazers who saw their role as establishing a new order.

Previously, Jupiter and Saturn were trine one another in 1993-1994 (Libra to Aquarius; then Scorpio to Pisces in three contacts). Then they were trine again in 2007 and 2008 (Sagittarius to Leo, then Capricorn to Virgo in five contacts). When they are trine next in 2026, it will be from Leo to Aries.

-- Written by Eric Francis

Gemini Full Moon, Sun Conjunct the Galactic Core

Mars entered Libra Saturday -- an energy we're just beginning to get acquainted with, but which we'll come to know intimately in the coming months (including through a long retrograde). It's a complex placement for Mars, whose expression can swing the arms of (Venus-ruled) Libra's scale from one extreme to another, calling for patience and diplomacy as we relate to each other.
In fact, those qualities are always worth practicing any time we approach a Full Moon (the Gemini Full Moon is Tuesday, Dec. 17). This monthly opposition between the Sun and the Moon heightens emotions and reactions between us and our partners, coworkers and friends -- thanks to the light of the Sun (consciousness) projecting onto and being reflected back by the Moon (the subconscious). In other words, we see something about ourselves reflected back at us by others, and that can be provocative in relationships.
Planet Waves
Shop window, Portland, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.
The Gemini Full Moon is exact at 4:28 am EST Tuesday, with the Sun in late Sagittarius and the Moon in late Gemini. With the Sun very close to its annual conjunction to the core of our galaxy, the sense intensifies that ‘there's more to this life' than what we usually perceive. It stokes an urge to explore -- whether distant lands, inner worlds, a new corner of your neighborhood or the bounds of your perception.
The Moon won't get to Gemini until 1:41 am EST on Sunday, Dec. 15 (it entered Taurus yesterday, Dec. 12, at 3:40 pm -- making the weekend excellent for taking sensual breaks from your Christmas shopping for beautiful things, and then for extra fun, balancing your checkbook).
Once the Moon is in Gemini, it loses some of its sensual-emotional flavor and detaches a little into an airier mode -- better for talking about anything at all. The emotions get filtered through the mind, and could just as easily go one way as another. That tendency is worth noting, as the Full Moon will be in aspect to an asteroid (Juno) and a centaur planet (Nessus) that are conjunct in Aquarius.
In Aquarius, both Juno and Nessus speak of crystallized social expectations around relationships (especially regarding jealousy, marriage, sexuality and abusive behavior), which we've internalized from endless conditioning -- and the potential to give them a push and update our files. The Gemini Moon is trine these two objects, suggesting ease -- and that you could just as easily stay set in those patterns and cling to those social expectations as not.
Or, you could use the mutable-sign energy of Gemini and Sagittarius to light a fire under these expectations; melt them, evaporate them, shatter them, morph them -- whatever works. The Sagittarius Sun is also in a helpful aspect to Juno and Nessus (a sextile). You have to make some conscious effort to use that energy. But if you're willing to take what you're learning with the broader perspective, fiery spirit and bold calling offered by the Sagittarius Sun, you might find your choices are not only truer to who you are, they make the world a little larger for you to explore.

-- Written by Amanda Painter.

Planet Waves
The Opposite of Progress is Congress, but They Pass a Budget

After wasting most of 2013 on fake abortion laws, pretending to repeal the Affordable Care Act and shutting down the federal government, the House of Representatives yesterday approved a federal budget that covers spending for the next 21 months. The plan was passed by the House 322 in favor to 94 against. House members then went home for the holidays, hoping they had done something that would save them from their 1% approval rating.

While the plan represents progress -- for example, it prevents the kind of government shutdown that we just experienced -- it does little to address real problems with the balance between spending and revenues. It calls for no new taxes, a topic which seems to be a political taboo in these years, leading you to pay more income tax than General Electric.

Planet Waves
Woo hoo! We finally got something done, even if it wasn't very much.
The new law, which has to be passed by the Senate and signed by Pres. Obama, does not extend unemployment benefits that run out at the end of the year. The Farm Bill was not extended, though the supposed "dairy cliff" was not reached -- that is, milk prices will remain subsidized and not double, as threatened; food stamps for the poor (including many veterans) will be cut. 

The right wing spin machine spun into action immediately, attacking the plan as (among other things) something that would destroy the American Dream. House Speaker John Boehner actually went on the offensive against right wing organizations (such as the Heritage Foundation) that he said were trying to use members of Congress to advance their own agenda.

The deal seems to have been brokered, at least symbolically, by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash). In the beginning of the negotiations Murray's proposed $975 billion in new tax revenue projected $1.85 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade. Ryan's approach was to block increased taxes, calling for balancing the budget with cuts to Medicare.

The deal that was reached sets discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion, which will then rise to $1.014 trillion in fiscal 2015. It also replaces sequester cuts slated to take effect in January with more specific spending cuts. The sequester relief is set at $63 billion with $85 billion in total savings -- a tiny amount of money by federal standards. 

Also, new federal employees will have to pay more into their pension plans to the tune of $6 billion. Another provision of the law leaves the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba open.

What the deal does not include is raising the debt ceiling, which is being pushed off until next spring -- leaving the door open for Republicans to throw in another red herring. The debt ceiling is the borrowing limit that the government imposes on itself, under which funds are used to pay back old debts.

Reaching the debt ceiling can shut down the government on its own, thought that's less likely to happen due to repercussions to the federal government's bond rating. 

Planet Waves
Homeland Insecurity: Military Mindset Driving Police/Civilian Clashes

In Charlotte, North Carolina, it was a man seeking help after a car accident. In Des Moines, Iowa, a 19-year-old driving recklessly on a college campus in a truck he'd stolen from his dad. In Escambia County, Florida, it was a 60-year-old man in his own driveway. In Texas, yet another college student driving recklessly.

Planet Waves
If they were wearing white, they'd look like the Storm Troopers they are; police break up demonstrators protesting the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago. Photo: Norbert Schiller/Mint Press.
Relatively small mistakes -- resembling someone a complaint has been filed against; failing to coherently identify yourself; behaving in an agitated manner; or brandishing absolutely anything at all that could be mistaken for a weapon -- get civilians shot by police with rising regularity.

In extreme cases, such as that of a New Mexico cop who shot at a minivan full of children after a traffic stop, the episodes result in a cop's being fired; far more often, officers are placed on "paid administrative leave" while an investigation takes place.

Shootings are but one symptom of an ugly divide between civilians and paid enforcers. Revelations accumulate: in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ATF officers went to great lengths to make cases by blatantly manipulating disabled teens. "Zero-tolerance" policies have become a basis for harassment, as happened in Miami Gardens, Florida, or in the case of New York City's "stop and frisk" mandate.

As Fourth Amendment rights erode in the era of pervasive NSA spying and a steady stream of returning combat personnel turn to careers in civilian enforcement, as even small-town police departments are encouraged and funded by the Department of Homeland Security in acquiring military equipment like armored vehicles and grenade launchers, there has been little to no corresponding growth in any effort to equip police with the skills of non-violent conflict resolution.

Other systemic factors in play include forfeiture procedures that allow police departments to keep seized assets regardless of legal outcomes and private prisons that contractually require states to keep prison cells full. Just how extreme do things have to get before we take steps to correct the police state we're living in?

Planet Waves
Evidence Found that Organic Whole Milk Increases Heart Health

A Washington State University research professor, Charles Benbrook, and his team on Monday released a study finding that organic whole milk has more omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial for the heart, than conventional milk. The study is the first large-scale nationwide study of the fatty acids in organic and conventional milk. Scientists looked at 220 organic milk samples from the Organic Valley cooperative and 164 conventional milk samples.
Planet Waves
If it's not organic milk, you might as well be... Photo: LadyDrgonflyCC/Wikimedia Commons.
At issue is the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in organic versus conventional milk. Omega-3 is the fatty acid most needed for heart health, and overall health, with omega-6 (and omega-9) being less beneficial.

In the modern American diet, the use of soybean and corn oil in fried and processed foods, and the amounts we eat of these types of food, have dramatically increased the intake of omega-6 and -9, and decreased the intake of omega-3.
Conventional milk had an average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 5.8, and organic milk had a ratio of 2.3. Organic milk had 25% less omega-6 fatty acids and 62% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk. The organic milk also had high concentrations of the individual types of omega-3 fatty acids, too, the authors wrote.
The study "provides consumers with some pretty powerful evidence that choosing full-fat dairy products is going to help bring about a greater degree of balance" between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, said Benbrook, lead author of the study at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.
Increasing full-fat organic dairy products alone won't make you heart-healthy, the authors point out. That and eating less food containing vegetable oil may, however, by dramatically improving the diet's omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
A crucial difference -- and one that was noted by Benbrook -- is that cows on organic farms are grass-fed and pastured (their natural method of feeding) and are rBGH and antibiotic-free. Cows on conventional dairy farms are fed grain (containing pesticides), are pastured less and receive pharmaceuticals as part of their regular diet, even when healthy.
So a glass of ordinary milk is a cup of dead mucous, water, proteins and pus, contaminated by drugs, hormones and genetically modified material. Just yummy.

Planet Waves
It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Caught Spying

In the latest news stemming from Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, online gamers geeking out the world over have been the targets of U.S. and British spies.
Planet Waves
Yep, she's gotta be FBI. But are the big furry things CIA or terrorists? Image: Blizzard Entertainment.
Games such as the crazy-popular "World of Warcraft" have internal messaging systems that allow gamers -- also known to the spooks as ‘potential terrorists and informers' -- to communicate to each other undetected. Or so they thought.
It is unknown at this time just how much personal information spies were able to collect -- though so far, according to documents acquired by The Guardian UK, no counterterrorism successes have been reported.

Yet apparently while running around virtual lands populated by magical creatures, digital ladies with impossible breasts and so on, the government's undercover gamers had to take steps not to inadvertently spy on each other:
"So many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a ‘deconfliction' group was needed to avoid collisions," noted a New York Times article this week.
It's bad enough that the GPS data from our phones is being collected, tracing our every move, and that the NSA uses Google cookies to track which porn sites we visit. Now we can't even play video games without being snooped on?
In related news, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo! have written an open letter to President Obama and Congress calling for the need to reform surveillance practices around the globe, citing the violation of U.S. Constitutional rights, and based on five principles addressing all governments. You can read their stance at -- and decide for yourself whether they're more concerned about individual liberties or their own bottom lines.

Planet Waves
Climate Activists Risk Life and Liberty As Resistance Grows

Last year, amid the fuss over the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar and the possible ‘end of the world', four women in Canada organized a teach-in about fossil fuel extraction and indigenous rights that would grow into Idle No More, one of the largest resistance movements in Canadian history, and spark solidarity demonstrations in the U.S., Europe and Australia.

Planet Waves
The founders of Idle No More: Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilson.
Around the world, as petro-capitalism ramps up its assault on the environment and basic human rights, citizen resistance has been growing, too. Nonviolent blockades and encampments have sprung up in Montana, Oregon and Texas, in Romania and the U.K., in Taiwan and Tanzania.

Authorities have been pushing right back on behalf of their paymasters, exposing still more of the ugly face of greed.

The arrest of the Arctic 30, Greenpeace activists who climbed on an oilrig in Russia in September, sparked solidarity protests in 30 cities across India. Clashes between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and activists in New Brunswick have solidified opposition to fracking throughout the province and across Canada.

Riot police and private forces in the employ of Chevron have been beating and incarcerating protesters in the poverty-stricken Romanian village of Pungesti, sparking still greater resistance.

Romanian environmental defender Alex Summerchild sums it up:

"We know that if we do not defeat them they will leave behind a poisoned landscape where we and our animals can no longer survive ... We also know we can win, if only we fight hard enough."

Extreme Is The New Normal as Planet Convulses

Publications like Forbes and The Wall Street Journal may still be able to find writers who'll debate the narrow issue of whether carbon emissions are driving global climate change, but ordinary citizens facing hail the size of boulders, unprecedented tornadoes and typhoons, fires, floods and beaches littered with dying sea creatures have little doubt that the planet's trying to tell us something.

Planet Waves
Survivors of typhoon Haiyan walk through the remains of Tacloban city, Philippines, on Nov. 10. Photo: Bullit Marquez/AP.
In January, Las Vegas froze while folks in New Hampshire took off their jackets. Los Angeles saw record highs and lows in the same month and, in one instance, in different places on the same day. And just this month, as much of the U.S. experiences frigid arctic air, Alaska's been experiencing record high temps. In between, anything could happen and usually did; these are just a few highlights:

The northern hemisphere experienced record cold temperatures last spring, which climate researchers tied to a major loss of arctic sea ice.

Summer brought seven times the usual number of dying dolphins to beaches on the East Coast. Meanwhile a raging wildfire season in the west consumed some four million acres, including the Rim fire that threatened Yosemite, and in September, Colorado's Front Range saw catastrophic flooding (Planet Waves coverage here and here).  
Sea stars (starfish) are dying off and dissolving in massive numbers everywhere along the west coast of North America.

In late October, a severe coastal storm brought rare hurricane-force winds to the U.K. and Western Europe, in a "stormageddon" event that killed 13 and was nicknamed after St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes.

In November, Typhoon Haiyan decimated the central provinces of the Phillipines (Planet Waves coverage here); later in the month, seven volcanoes in widely scattered locations erupted almost simultaneously, one creating an entirely new island off the coast of Japan.
Fasten your seat belts, folks, and keep those emergency kits handy. It seems highly unlikely that we can expect things to return to "normal" anytime soon -- if ever.

Planet Waves
Continuing Coverage: Women's Healthcare, Military Sexual Assault

Women's health care rights and the military's handling of sexual assault have been hotly contested topics this year, and this week brought more news. In the first category, Michigan has become the ninth state to approve a measure requiring insurance companies to charge extra fees for abortion coverage.
Planet Waves
The legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a hearing in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2013. Photo: AP.
Such insurance is often referred to as "rape coverage," since it requires women to buy special policy riders. A report by the Guttmacher Institute outlines the various ways states are restricting abortion coverage under the Affordale Care Act insurance exchanges, both for private insurance policies and for public employees.
As Michigan state senator Gretchen Whitmer pointed out this week, the law basically demands that women "plan ahead and financially invest in healthcare coverage for potentially having their bodies violated and assaulted."
Michigan's pro-life Republican governor Rick Snyder actually vetoed a similar measure passed by lawmakers earlier this year, saying it went too far and interfered with the private insurance market. However the current law was a voter initiative, and does not require Snyder's signature.
Meanwhile, in continuing coverage of sexual assault in the U.S. military, a Pentagon policy has been approved by Congress that will keep military sexual assault cases within the chain of command. This comes despite vigorous efforts by Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and others to take sexual assault cases out of the let's-cover-our-asses good ol' boys' club, and instead appoint independent military prosecutors.
The policy includes new protections, including not allowing officers to overturn jury verdicts in sexual assault cases -- but it's not enough. As Planet Waves reported earlier this year, approximately 19,000 military sexual assaults were reported in 2011, with fewer than one in 10 perpetrators held accountable in any way.

Planet Waves
Planet Waves
Metro Meteor's original paintings may be a little harder to come by since his newfound fame via NPR last month, but you can enjoy some of his art in your home -- and still support retired racehorse adoption -- through ecologically produced pillows and tote bags. Image: "Spumoni" by Metro Meteor.
Who Says Centaurs Aren't Real?

Metro Meteor was a promising racehorse until recurring bone chips in his knees (partly congenital, but likely made worse by racing) put an end to his demanding athletic career. Adopted by Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, artist Ron Krajewski and his wife, Wendy, to ride for pleasure, it soon became clear that his knees could not even take a rider. The Krajewskis were told that within two years, Metro Meteor's knees would lock up -- and he would have to be put down.
But Ron Krajewski noticed the horse's tendency to bob his head and decided to try putting a paintbrush in his mouth and a canvas in front of him, and Metro Meteor's new art career took off. Better still, with the money from his paintings, the Krajewskis were able to afford an experimental treatment that has reversed the bone spur growth in his knees.
Now, Metro Meteor's paintings sell so well his humans are able to donate half the proceeds to the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, helping other retired racehorses find new, loving homes. Chiron might not be one of the centaur planets the Sun is currently conjoining in Sagittarius, but chances are "the wounded healer" is looking fondly on this real-life centaur's work.

Planet Waves

Nelson Mandela -- Return to Orius and a Musical Tribute to the Anti-Apartheid Movement

Link to program.

Before I introduce this week's awesome edition of Planet Waves FM, first a reminder that LISTEN, your 2013 annual reading, is open to all readers and listeners as our gift this week through the weekend). All 12 signs and rising signs, written and audio, are open to everyone.

Planet Waves
Nelson Mandela and the flag of the African National Congress.
This edition is a tribute to the music of the anti-Apartheid movement, to Nelson Mandela and the extraordinary astrology of the newly discovered centaur planet Orius. My ideas for what music to play came from both my readers and also the LA Times pop music critic Randall Roberts (visit his compilation here).

I discuss Mandela's chart as well -- you can find one version of the chart here.

Later in the program, I discuss the collection of planets gathered in Sagittarius, which you can see here as a graphic or here as a list from

Because this edition addresses delineating the minor planet Orius and also many other points in Sagittarius, here is a link to an article about how that is done, which I wrote for The Mountain Astrologer in 2012.

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. 13, 2013, #979 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- Don't let your idealism be used against you. You have plenty of it right now; you seem to be fully conscious that there is a future and that you are being shown what is possible. You know that you have much more potential than you're expressing now. Others are picking up on that, and you may have noticed that your enthusiasm is contagious. You will make some genuine friends now who may co-create some beautiful things, and travel with you for quite a while. Be aware that not everyone's positive response is equally deep or meaningful. In your excitement you may be vulnerable to being taken advantage of, or being told things that you want to hear. Therefore, be discerning. Channel your positive vibes in deliberate ways, be conscious of how you allocate your resources and make sure that others back up their words with actions before you invite them in on your plans.
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) -- You seem to be making up your mind about something, trying to sort out your original impulses from what your past conditioning is telling you. This could be a longterm career or life-path question, though it's connected to a deeper spiritual issue. I think it's a good idea to consider the possibilities, especially what you would do if you could do anything at all. Then you can refine and narrow down the possibilities. While you're doing this, be aware of the sometimes subtle shades of what you're saying to yourself and what is being said to you from people in the past who lacked your sense of potential and, moreover, your devotion to self-esteem. Those who came here before you may have been snagged in the trap that the only thing possible today is what was possible yesterday. You have other ideas.
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) -- Pull in the reins on your spending. I know it's the holiday season and you may be feeling generous, and like you want to make an impression on people. I would count that as sincere. With gifts, it really is the thought that counts -- not the thought that you did anything, but rather that you actually considered who a person is and therefore what would have real meaning. Gifts really matter, and when they are conscious, they can convey a message of acknowledgement and affirmation. And they don't need to be expensive to do that. This also counts for the gifts you give yourself, and the way you support your own efforts. Over the next few months you're going to learn a lot about value, finances and shared resources. Many of these will be once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities; treat them as precious.
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) -- You may feel inclined to talk, and even to reveal some of your secrets; you have a lot brewing around in there and it will feel good to let some of it out. I suggest you be aware what you're sharing with whom. Select appropriate people when you want to open up -- those who you know are most inclined to receive and appreciate you; those who you know will give you space to be yourself. If you're going to experiment with that, start in small ways and feel the response. The thing is, the energy over the next few days, as the Full Moon reaches its peak, has anything but a selective, reserved or cautious feeling to it. As the Moon aspects the chart for your sign, it lights up an inner world that you may have never considered, and the idea that you don't need to have so many secrets, or any at all. Still, take a moment to feel the relationship into which you're expressing yourself.
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 are a creative and sexual powerhouse right now, and the more you want to be one, the more energy you will dial in. Once you get going it will be difficult to stop, or more likely, you will wonder why you would have to stop. You might want to consider things like whether you need to get up in the morning or alternately, whether you can rearrange your schedule to accommodate your passion. The crest of the wave is from Friday through the peak of the Full Moon on Tuesday of next week. You have a rare opportunity on your hands to explore and stretch your potential; if you've been feeling blocked or restrained in any way, this is the time to break through to the next level. While this particular cosmic wave passes through pretty quickly, it's tapping into much deeper forces that will be with you for a long time.
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) -- The past is much closer than you may think, which means that resolving old problems and tapping into your reservoir of experience are also closer than you may think. You are working through a legacy that has been passed to you by prior generations; this is true of everyone, but it's an especially vivid aspect of your life experience. Anything you have to say to your ancestors -- parents, grandparents and beyond -- say it now, whether these people are in-body or not. Consider the idea that some of the more messed-up people in your family line (particularly those who are deceased) are now aware of the problems they caused for you, and are willing to provide help from the 'other side'. You will open up to that help if you remember that you are never dealt a disadvantage without some corresponding gift of power. It's your choice what to emphasize.
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) -- Any sense of being emotionally stuck deserves a closer look. This may manifest as feeling more complicated than usual, hesitating expressing yourself, having anxiety attacks related to your personal security or feeling like your sexual energy is blocked. What you're feeling is starting as one thing and then as it bubbles up to the surface, expresses itself as something else. So I suggest you not be overly concerned with the form that any of your emotions are taking, but rather that you go deeper and see if you can learn more about the source of the energy. One possibility is that you're feeling the extent to which you're dependent on others for affirmation. That in turn may be a manifestation of some abandonment fears that are usually concealed below the surface. You might test your perceptions against a simple question of how this relates to that particular theme. Remember, too, that guilt is never what it seems to be; it always travels incognito.
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) -- There are at least two sides to the current intrigue, and rather than see one as right and one as wrong, try to see matters from all points of view. You will not lose anything by doing this, so you can afford not to be insecure. By seeing all sides, I mean really considering the different positions involved, giving them each the benefit of the doubt. This will help you step away from the influence of someone to whom it seems you've handed over your power. While that may seem frustrating, your ability to see the situation from many points of view will prove to be empowering. You may have the notion that if you exert your awareness or authority over yourself, some sensitive issue or secret is going to be used against you, though I don't think that's true. Just don't remind anyone of anything you don't want them to know.
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) -- You are the master of your destiny, but for that to have any meaning, you must remain in fidelity to what you know is right and true for you. That means understanding your motives and setting aside anything driven by jealousy, the sense of being unfairly treated or thinking that someone else is supposed to meet your needs. Anything of that general variety is a ruse or a distraction, a kind of ego game that can block you from awareness of your true strength. This is a moment when your choices have more power than you can imagine; when you have more personal influence than you've ever acknowledged; and when the karmic stakes are unusually high. Therefore, this is a time to think your options through and to make your choices carefully. Small decisions can lead to great things, though that's too much power for most people to handle.
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) -- You must be bursting at the seams of your soul. You are being flooded with etheric energy, which seems to have its source deep inside you. This is opening up what you can think of as a direct spiritual connection to something that seems beyond yourself -- though you're really seeing, and experiencing, what you're made of. But...spiritual? I know, it hardly seems like an accurate way to describe the diversity of strange, steamy, potentially socially transgressive thoughts that are coming through you. These could also be manifesting as fear, though if so, that would be a sign of resistance. You might have the idea that if you let yourself indulge just a little, you will lose control entirely (and this idea didn't come from you). You are safe witnessing and feeling whatever is coming to the surface of your consciousness. I suggest you not seek others for validation, but use this occasion as a reminder that who you are is natural, and that if freedom means anything, that would include the freedom to know yourself.
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're probably aware that you have the reputation among your friends of being an advanced soul. You know what you must go through in order to maintain your sense of balance and to resolve the inner wrinkles and twists that seem so natural to who you are. This may, at times, lead to you feeling like there is a contradiction between how others see you and who you are inwardly. There are moments when you might feel like a hypocrite for not living up to the ideals that others perceive of you. Events of the next few days will go a long way toward allaying any such fears. It is your transparency that people respect the most; what you may not recognize is that people close to you, and even those who just meet you, already understand that you're a complex individual with many inner dimensions and contradictions. These are nothing to hide from but rather something to embrace. People love you and you can love yourself.
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) -- I suggest you take full advantage of the professional reputation you've built. You might hesitate, because to own your reputation would mean to invoke a kind of personal power, perhaps claim an entitlement or to exert influence onto others. This would only be a problem if you have some value that conflicts with it, such as the belief that it's not right to impose your will or even your vision onto people. That would be a valid issue if you could actually do it. In truth, everyone chooses what influence they want to accept. Everyone has volition and the right to decide what works for them. Therefore, it matters not whether you influence one person or a million people; it amounts to the same thing. The universe does not care whether you're mildly successful, wildly successful or struggling to succeed -- though it matters considerably to you. Therefore, be proud of what you've achieved, step into your strength and creativity, and trust that your positive message (and example) will benefit everyone -- though especially you.
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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