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Hugo Chavez: A Voice From Long Ago

Dear Friend and Reader:

Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, died this week. A towering figure on the global scene, many are grieving his loss and yet I just heard one American commentator say she hoped he was burning in hell. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper got in some trouble when he offered his condolences to the people of Venezuela but not the Chavez family.

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Hugo Chavez, 1954-2013. Photo by Kimberly White/Reuters
That was intended as an insult, because (in the words of many American journalists) Chavez was a 'leftist', a slur for someone who has some authority yet who is not a conservative, Neocon, Republican, stock market trader or banker. This is a long story, as is that of Chavez, and a little background may help put things into context.

For more than 40 years (starting after World War II), the United States and the USSR waged what was called a Cold War, that is, a prolonged military and political standoff that cost the U.S. alone nearly $8 trillion before interest (inflation adjusted to 2012 dollars). That was merely the financial cost, to which we must add the emotional damage, careers destroyed and opportunities lost -- and the impact of rigging the planet with atomic bombs on which we are all currently sitting. In theory, we were arming ourselves against an equally armed enemy. What we were really doing was trying to wage war against an idea.

That idea was communism. It's difficult for people in today's world to understand the power that concept had, particularly to instill fear. If you want a taste, look at some footage of the McCarthy hearings, and consider the paranoia that led to them. There was allegedly a commie waiting around every corner, hiding in trash bins or working in the Congressional mailroom, waiting to bring the United States to its knees or at least threaten our way of life. Many were were waiting around actively preparing for the USSR to bomb us. In 1987, Sting released a song with the line, "I hope the Russians love their children too."

Planet Waves
Anti-communist fear mongering.
Communism was considered so evil, if it was not addressed, all the countries of the world would eventually fall to the menace one by one, like dominoes lined up on a table. It became the perfect (and permanent) excuse for the U.S. government to go after anyone who it did not like, who dared to stand up to it, or who was in some way inconvenient.

Accordingly, the U.S. waged wars in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile and many other countries, many of them proxy battles in the Cold War. Countless millions of people were killed, injured or displaced. Many were sickened or killed by radioactive contamination from atomic bomb manufacturing.

Meanwhile, there were numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro or to start wars with Cuba, which I covered in a recent article on the Kennedy assassination.

The notion of a 'commie' did not mean communist in the politically pure sense of the word. It was a kind of slur that pertained to anything or anyone that might make American-styled imperial capitalism look bad. Any other idea, such as that of a government taking care of a country's poor people, became the cause for a frantic reaction, as it still is today. American conservatives still gag when someone says the word 'socialist', unless they are accusing Pres. Obama of being one.

To give one particularly horrid example, through the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the U.S. waged a covert war against Nicaragua, bombing schools and farming cooperatives, burning homes and raping and executing civilians, all in an attempt to turn people against the Sandinista government. It did not take much for a small country to incur American wrath, and pay a heavy price.

The Cold War seems to be a thing of the past, but in case anyone hasn't noticed, there's still an endless stream of paranoia about communism and socialism coming out of FOX News and other allegedly conservative 'news' outlets. Our current president is continually accused by college-educated people of being one or both of these things, though they would benefit from looking the words up in a dictionary.

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'Contra' militants training in Honduras for U.S.-backed terrorism against Nicaraguans. They were funded by illegal arms trades with Iran, orchestrated by the Reagan-Bush administration, that became the Iran-Contra scandal.
And to this day Americans are still banned from going to Cuba, as if they might become a commie from rum, cigars and hot Latinas. The U.S. still has its zero tolerance policy against dissent by small nations, particularly anywhere near its own borders.

When we think of Hugo Chavez, that's the context we must see him in, if we want any understanding of who he is: someone who was willing to stand up to American threats, manipulation and the possibility of assassination, attack or coup. This is not some idle possibility: you really do risk your life when you go against the Gringos.

Chavez, who died Tuesday after a two-year struggle with cancer, described himself as a socialist, but aligned himself with Castro, placing himself on the certified list of enemies of the United States. He was willing to be a lightning rod. That of course was his political brand -- to confront, to stand up to his enemies, and to make himself an enemy when necessary.

While we're on the topic of cancer, I will make one point: we are too casual about this disease, which afflicts nearly half the population. Every day, we consume hormonal toxins, radiation and many other carcinogens that our food, air and water are laced with.

We don't need the 'cure for cancer' -- we need to learn how to prevent it, and this is mostly about the choices we make on an hour-to-hour basis. You have a right to be angry about cancer, but not if you smoke, and not if you eat every bite of food out of plastic and/or the microwave oven.

Natal Chart of Chavez

Chavez died at the time of his second Saturn return, at age 58. In any life this is going to be a key transitional moment; for him, it was his exit from this plane of existence.

Let's take a look at the natal chart of Hugo Chavez and see what it tells us about who he was. If you're an astrology student or even if you're curious about your own chart, the steps I take to unfold the chart are applicable to other nativities. Note, this is not a complete reading -- I can only cover some salient points.

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Rectified chart for Hugo Chavez with Gemini rising. He also has many planets in Cancer and the Sun in Leo. He knew himself well and had an extremely strong presence in the world. The sign Cancer means he was a natural caregiver to others, and Jupiter suggests he brought in a vast inheritance from previous lives.
The first issue with any natal chart is the time of birth. It always matters. There are tools available for when an accurate time is not available; we will use some of them here.

It's better to time it accurately to the minute, though that's not always possible. This is a somewhat complicated story with Chavez, though I've seen a lot worse. The date of July 28, 1954 is verified, as is the place of birth, Sabaneta.

We know he's a Leo Sun -- everything about him says that, such as his regal posture; his charm; his natural leadership skills; his generosity. I believe that Leo is primarily about service, in the sense of noblesse oblige.

Most sources put his time of birth between 3 am and 5 am, which was stated by his mother, who did not remember the exact time. That time spread might seem useful; it's not a terribly wide range. However, where he was born, the ascendant (that is, the rising sign) changed from Gemini to Cancer at about 3:30 am. That fact is actually helpful, as rising signs have very different presentations in the world. Also, when the rising sign changes, the planet that rules the ascendant changes. In this case, the ascendant ruler is either the Moon or Mercury. We can ask: which planet does this person resemble more? That's a pretty easy call: think about it. Mama Moon, or Trickster Mercury?

A time of 5:08 am is used widely in South America, from what I have read -- which would give him late Cancer rising. My take is that Chavez had Gemini rising, mainly because of his oratory skills, his dependency on spoken language and his knack for using the media. He was persuasive, at times he had a sharp tongue, he was great with clever speech and had a love of making long television broadcasts. Those are not the traits of Cancer rising, if Gemini is an option.

It's said he valued his privacy (who does not), though he had plenty else in Cancer to support that, as we will see. But that dominant trait of the ascendant -- the person you see and know in the world -- to me was clearly Gemini.

Chavez was a warrior who could use language as a weapon. That requires being extremely clever. After his failed coup attempt in 1992, he was able to leverage his whole political future, and that of Venezuela, on one television appearance after his surrender to the government. Some have said that he succeeded based on the use of two words in that address -- for now. Here is the quote:

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Her glasses say, "I am Chavez."
"Comrades: unfortunately, for now, the objectives we had set for ourselves were not achieved in the capital city. That is, those of us here in Caracas did not seize power. Where you are, you have performed very well, but now is the time for reflection. New opportunities will arise and the country has to head definitively toward a better future."

An astrologer in Caracas named Carlos Dum has done extensive research on the chart of Chavez, and rectified the time to 3:25 am. Dum told me Thursday that this is the same time adopted by the National Federation of Astrologers (FEVA).

This gives Chavez 28+ degrees Gemini rising. We have seen that degree often over the past few years. It shows up in many, many charts for global-scale events, including the Sept. 11, 2001 incident, the 2004 Indonesian earthquake and tsunami, Wikileaks, the Fukushima earthquake and meltdowns, and Japan itself. I started calling this the Atlantis Degree, and then discovered that in the chart for the Titanic, asteroid Atlantis was occupying that degree. It seems that 28+ Gemini is making a comment on many of the most important issues of the times we're living in.

I am going with the 3:25 am chart in part because it's been carefully worked out by astrologers whose work I trust. Yet mainly I am clear that he had Gemini rising, and because the presence of that degree -- 28+ Gemini -- connects him to something much larger than himself.

[Note to astrology students: I've just put more than 500 words, about a quarter of this article, into the discussion of his birth time and the degree rising; that's how important it is. That is the answer to the frequently asked question, "Does the birth time really matter?" You can read more in my recent article on the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court.]

The Other Side of Gemini Rising

There are always two distinct sides to anything with Gemini. As well, where we have Gemini in our own chart will reveal where there are most likely to be two somewhat opposite or contradictory sides to the story. Many signs illustrate dualism (indeed, nearly all of them) but experience rather than astrology books demonstrates that nothing has two sides to it quite like Gemini.

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Hugo Chavez welcomes linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on Aug. 24, 2009.
Chavez was a populist, who is said to have helped lift his country out of poverty. He was willing to use its incredible oil wealth for the benefit of the people (it has more proven oil reserves than any other country). He's famous in the United States for selling cheap home heating oil to the Citizens' Energy program, which delivered oil to needy Americans at greatly reduced prices.

He was also accused of being a threat to democracy by one of his heroes and best friends among Western nations, MIT professor and political historian Noam Chomsky.

In a 2011 interview pertaining to an allegedly corrupt judge who Chavez wanted to put in jail for 30 years, Chomsky accused Chavez of amassing too much power and of making an "assault" on Venezuela's democracy.

"Concentration of executive power, unless it's very temporary and for specific circumstances, such as fighting World War II, is an assault on democracy. You can debate whether [Venezuela's] circumstances require it: internal circumstances and the external threat of attack, that's a legitimate debate. But my own judgment in that debate is that it does not."

So, who was he, deeper down? We need to remember that there are always contradictions in the lives of world leaders. They all must do things that contradict their ideals, their values and their stated goals. Here, we have one glaring example of that.

Cancer Stellium on the South Node

If we want to find out who Chavez was, we get a clue a little deeper into his chart -- in what looks like the 1st house but which is also just as much the 2nd house. I say that because Cancer is the second sign from his rising sign, and using an old rule called 'whole sign houses', the entire sign Cancer can serve as his 2nd house -- which reveals his true values.

For those studying these methods, whole sign houses and traditional houses don't contradict one another. Using both at the same time deepens the story and provides other potential interpretations.

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Eastern section of Chavez' chart, showing 28+ Gemini rising, as well as his groupings in Cancer and Leo.
Here is that section of the chart; this is part of the eastern sector. You can clearly see that 28+ Gemini is rising, but this is followed by a great many planets and points in Cancer. This includes Mercury, the ruler of that Gemini ascendant.

Take a look at the grouping of planets right below the horizontal line, beginning with the Moon, then proceeding downward in order, Jupiter, the South Node, Mercury, the Part of Fortune and Uranus. The really striking thing about this are the four planets clustered at 14+ and 15+ degrees -- all crammed into one half of a degree.

Right at the center of that cluster is the South Node. That's a marker of a point in the lunar orbit and it's also a hint at where the next eclipse will be. In practical terms, the South Node says, "There is a connection to the past." If phrased as a question, it is, "What is the past connection?" or "How far back does this go?"

For those who doubt that the South Node is a reference to the past, consider the many ways that Chavez was an anachronism -- how he represented values that are out of the usual time sequence, and to some, constituted a threat seemingly from the past.

The planets around the South Node (sometimes called Ketu or the Dragon's Tail, depending on your tradition) give some clues. They indicate what you’re bringing with you from the past, including (and especially) from past lifetimes. These include Jupiter, which means he was bringing in considerable knowledge and experience from the past. We know this is probably a good thing because the Moon and Jupiter are both very strong in Cancer. They served as a kind of anchor for him, that is, a powerful point of attraction to who he was, what he knew and what he had to offer.

That's how he saw himself and it's how many, many people perceived him: as someone with a great gift who was here to help. His chart says he understands abundance (both of material things and of knowledge), and the ways that it's relevant in this world. Mainly, one must do something with it in order for it to be relevant.

The Moon in its sign of rulership (Cancer) is right there. That can also indicate a past connection, as well as public contact. Of all the points in astrology, the Moon is one of the most helpful at connecting a person to the public. Of itself, it can represent the public. Then there is Mercury, which rules his Gemini ascendant, and which gives a communication gift. Said simply, he had a lot of knowledge, he knew how to use it intuitively in public forums, and he was able to express himself both intellectually (Mercury-Gemini connection) and emotionally as nurturing and assisting others (Moon-Cancer connection).

Planet Waves
Hugo Chavez.
In my view, Hugo Chavez came a long way to be where we picked up his story. He brought in a vast gift, what you might think of as a full spiritual bank account. He was also authentic in his desire and motivation to care for people. He shows up as a true nurturer.

The thing about having The South Node in the 2nd house is that it puts the North Node in the 8th house -- where one must encounter the values of others, often in a confrontational way. The North Node is in Capricorn and the 8th house, where he is encountering capitalism: institutionalized money and power for its own sake.

Another perspective of what he was fighting shows up as Mars retrograde in Sagittarius: what in this chart looks like the infidel -- the person of false faith or of misguided faith.

My take is that these things are what wore him down. It's truly difficult having so many enemies, at the same time as having so much responsibility -- and a social vision. Imagine the stress on any world leader who dares to do something different, going against the current of so much that is so wrong.

I have not studied the chart carefully enough to tell you whether he was killed. I believe that it's possible. It's certainly historically precedented, and within the realm of possibility. I have read that Chavez attributes his illness to his brief imprisonment in 1992.

Chavez had Chiron in the 8th house. He lived on the edge, very close to the line between life and death. He may not have been fearless, but he knew how to rise above his fears, something we could all use as a model. This is called courage.

Chavez was also not afraid to be exactly who he was, though from the look of his chart, he had a lot of experience; it's fair to say that he had little choice in the matter.


PS, If you're on Facebook (we know that some of you despise the thing) would you please 'like' the new Planet Waves company page? There are excellent discussions, frequent news updates and generally a fun experience of microblogging.

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Pisces New Moon: Envisioning Yourself

Monday is the Pisces New Moon. This is the last New Moon of the astrological cycle of the year; Pisces is the last sign and the New Moon is a kind of concluding event. As the Moon moves through Aquarius today and Saturday, you might have that sensation of one phase drawing to a conclusion and another beginning. This won't necessarily be a dramatic change, but more like the moment that the tide turns.

Pisces is a full house at the moment. Currently its occupants include Mercury, which stations direct on March 17, as well as Venus, the Sun, Mars, Chiron and Neptune. There are a number of minor planets present as well, which I covered in a blog post earlier in the week.

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Pisces New Moon set for Kingston, NY. See glyph legend here.
Focusing on the minor points that aspect the New Moon, there is a lot going on; there are 14 points in the mutable signs, within just two degrees of this event. The closest is a conjunction of asteroid Arachne and centaur Pholus in Sagittarius, which the New Moon squares. That is, the New Moon is exactly 90 degrees from this conjunction. The conjunction points to a mystery factor, a source of energy that is about to be released.

This could feel a few different ways: one is like things are about to go out of control. The mutable signs work a little like that -- there can be a long buildup, apparently without results, and then suddenly the battery discharges. However, that can come with the sensation that something is about to happen, like a static charge building up.

The energy source is Pholus and the mystery source is Arachne; as well, Arachne suggests that there is a network involved, that is, what is developing can spread its energy around. Asteroid Pandora is right there as well; that's also hinting at the fear that things could run wild.

This may not feel like the kind of thing you have control over, but you do have influence. The main influence you have is to keep your awareness on, rather than being lulled back to sleep.

Note that Mars is about to change signs from Pisces to Aries. At the time of the New Moon, it's in a conjunction with asteroid Photographica. Not all the asteroids have such literal manifestations as Photo, but perhaps apropos of the concept it represents, this particular asteroid is ridiculously literal. When you add Mars to it, there's an assertive, active visioning process. You can play with putting the concepts together in a sentence: photograph of desire, photo of what you want, how you perceive your image, and what you want your image to be.

Making this especially interesting is that the conjunction is in the last degree of Pisces, that is, the last degree of the zodiac. This is the one that has the Sabian symbol about the boy who sees the profile of an old man in a mountain, and takes that as a model or as an ideal; as he grows up his face gradually takes the shape of the profile.

The message is about having a model, a mentor or an ideal to which you aspire. There are two clear signs that this is about a visual approach, partly at least: Photographica and that Sabian symbol about the boy and the mountain.

Exemplars are important for growth. We don't need to imitate them exactly, but rather know which of their attributes we want to adopt. It's also critical that you notice the examples that you don't want -- and choose consciously not to be like them. Work both sides of the process: being aware of what you don't want, and then place a little more emphasis on what you decide you do want, and who embodies those qualities.

Then, find them in yourself, and bring them into being.

Planet Waves
This Week in the Anti-Sixties

Political events this week have shown us clearly why we each need to stay actively invested and informed when our government clamps down on basic civil and human rights. This clamping down is nothing new, though many progressives thought it was simply a relic of the Bush administration; unfortunately that era has influenced the Obama administration, the Supreme Court and many state governments in insidious ways.

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Republican Senator Rand Paul mid-filibuster. Photo: AP.
At the top of the list this week has been the ongoing question of potential domestic use of drone strikes on American citizens, as raised by Republican senator Rand Paul and evasively countered by Attorney General Eric Holder during the delayed confirmation (finalized Thursday) of new CIA director John Brennan.

Paul has been persistent in asking the Justice Department to state conclusively whether the government's drone program could target Americans on U.S. soil. In a written response to Paul, Holder said such a strike would only be possible in an "extraordinary circumstance," such as an attack on the scale of Pearl Harbor or 9/11. For Paul, this was not enough, calling Holder's response "more than frightening."

In a bizarre twist, typical Republican obstructionist techniques intended to block anything Obama does actually landed on the side of protecting civil liberties. Senator Paul held up Senate proceedings for more than 12 hours on Wednesday with a filibuster against the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan, on the basis of Brennan's defense of the use of drones overseas at his confirmation hearing weeks ago. Under George W. Bush, Brennan served as deputy executive director of the CIA and director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

"I will speak until I can no longer speak," said Paul as he filibustered. "I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court."

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2005 postage stamp commemorating the Voting Rights Act, featuring a photo by Bruce Davidson.
Senators from both sides of the aisle joined Paul in calling for the White House to release additional legal memos on the assassination program. Also on Wednesday, Holder pledged that Obama will soon explain the legal rationale underpinning targeted assassinations. This followed an announcement by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday that the Obama administration had agreed to provide the Senate Intelligence Committee access to all opinions authored by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel regarding the targeted killing of suspected terrorists.

Paul fell about 12 hours short of Strom Thurmond's filibuster record of 24 hours, which was set while attempting to block the Civil Rights Act in 1957. Meanwhile conservative justices on the Supreme Court bench are circling around a related civil rights provision, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, like sharks that smell blood.

Shelby County, Alabama, is arguing that the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act has outlived its usefulness. The preclearance requirement mandates that certain counties in mostly Southern states with strong histories of racial discrimination against voters receive federal approval before enacting any election-related changes.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the act a "perpetuation of racial entitlement." The Supreme Court's four liberal justices seem to agree with Congress that more progress needs to be made before freeing states from the special federal monitoring.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in particular, has refuted Scalia, noting that this is about a basic, fundamental right, not racial entitlement. Sotomayor addressed Shelby County, noting that as recently as 2008 it was found by the Justice Department to be discriminating on the basis of race, by attempting to eliminate one of the only black districts in a city in the county -- and therefore have no standing to make their claim.

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Photo by Richelle Wardell/peace chicken/flickr.
Questioning by Scalia and other conservative justices coincides with the 48th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" -- the March 7, 1965, crackdown on civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, that ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

That was not the only setback for 1960s-era civil rights milestones this week. In what amounts to yet another attack on Roe v. Wade, Arkansas' state General Assembly voted to override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a measure banning abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Twelve weeks is the earliest at which an abdominal ultrasound can detect a fetal heartbeat. The measure is the harshest anti-abortion law in the country.

Federal law gives a woman double the Arkansas limit -- up to 24 weeks of pregnancy -- to legally have an abortion. This gives reproductive rights advocates a foothold for overturning the law before it is enacted later this year, which is expected. Also encouraging is that on Wednesday a federal judge struck down a 2011 Idaho law banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"It is believed to be the first time a federal court has declared such measures unconstitutional, likely setting a precedent for challenges to similar measures nationwide," reported Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. But given the continual attempts to restrict access to reproductive health services for women, this is no time to get complacent or fail to speak up.

"Eighty-eight percent of abortions are performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, making it easy to lull the public into thinking this is no big deal. It's simple enough for moderates to convince themselves that women who have abortions later in their pregnancies do so because they're fickle, foolish, or lazy," writes Amanda Marcotte at Slate. But in actuality, most later-term abortions are performed on teens who are unaware of pregnancy symptoms and have had poor or nonexistent sex education, and women who have to travel far or cannot afford the procedure.

We're living in the "anti-Sixties" thanks to the Uranus-Pluto square, and evolution won't happen without each of us agreeing to stand up, speak out and step forward -- for women of all ages, voters of all races and those who might be targets by drone aircraft, whether on American soil or abroad.

Planet Waves
South American Courts Hand Monsanto a Mixed Bag (of Beans)

As Monsanto finalized the purchase Wednesday of an Israeli biotech company, some South American countries are saying "not so fast" to its aggressive business practices.

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Rosetta Green Ltd., based in Rehovot, Israel, develops improved plant traits using RNA technology. In other words, it identifies unique genes in major crops such as soybeans, corn and cotton and genetically engineers them "to guide key processes" in their growth, according to a Monsanto press release.

On the other side of the world, in South America, Monsanto's genetic engineering is not so easily tolerated. Many South American farmers have a close relationship to the land and see modern technology conflicting with their traditional farming practices.

Late last month, an Argentinean court blocked construction of a corn seed-drying plant in the central province of Cordoba. Provincial Labor Court judges based their suspension on potential "environmental risks," after local residents held protest marches against the plant.

Then in Brazil, the world's second-largest soybean exporter and a major market for Monsanto, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled against the company in a patent-extension case for its Roundup Ready soybean seeds. Monsanto was seeking to extend the Brazilian patent on the technology to 2014.

Finally, a Paraguayan court disregarded the wishes of soybean farmers who oppose Monsanto's bid to extend another soybean patent in their country. A judge rejected their request for emergency action again Monsanto. Paraguay is the world's fourth-largest soybean exporter; 95% of the beans produced there are Roundup Ready.

Planet Waves
New York Cautious on Fracking Without Further Study

In a striking move aimed at buying some time to study hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), New York's state Assembly voted on Wednesday for a two-year suspension on any action that would allow the controversial method of drilling for natural gas.

The moratorium still has to pass the state Senate, where its fate is less certain. If passed and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this will in theory delay final decisions on fracking in New York until May of 2015.

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Fracking doesn't even look healthy -- and the above-ground view isn't the worst of it. Below ground, the injected mix of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals can destroy the water supply for entire communities. This photo is from an article in the New York Law Journal, describing the mess fracking creates for homeowners.
The two-year suspension would allow the Cuomo administration time to examine state, federal, university and private studies, including the Geisinger study -- a Pennsylvania health review that will compare data on residents pre- and post-fracking in their communities.

Fracking is a process of injecting chemically treated water at high pressure into shale formations to release trapped natural gas. The gas industry says the practice is 'safe'; environmental groups point to contaminated ground water -- sometimes to the point of being flammable when coming out of a faucet -- as a primary reason why the practice should be banned.

About 750 chemicals can be used in the fracking process. More than 650 of those are toxic or carcinogenic, according to a report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2011.

"Safeguarding the health of the public and our invaluable natural resources remains the Assembly's priority," said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee and the sponsor of the bill. He added, "A greater danger lies in haste than in the deliberate safeguarding of our clean air and water, our health and the health of the generations to come."

If passed by the New York senate, the bill would give time for a comprehensive review of fracking, independent of energy industry pressure, and the state's Department of Environmental Protection would not be able to issue any fracking permits. Under the bill, a SUNY school of public health would also complete its own health impact assessment of the practice.

If you live in New York and would like to encourage your senator to vote for the two-year fracking moratorium, contact information is available here.

Planet Waves
A Portrait of the Internet, Three Ways

The Internet is vast and a little mysterious -- yet if you were able to see the whole thing it might be easier to comprehend. A new free app is out that can give you that picture, showing 3-D maps of the Internet from three different perspectives -- not exactly a "series of tubes" getting clogged when Mercury is retrograde.

Planet Waves
Image of the Internet by Peer 1.
Map of the Internet, from Peer 1 Hosting, an Internet hosting company, shows the physical location of the Internet’s 22,000 nodes, or communication hubs, on the planet. Users can spin the globe around or zoom in to find these locations.

The network view shows the nodes’ interconnections and places individual nodes near other nodes they’re closely connected with, forming a jellyfish-like structure. Users can click and search individual nodes for more information about them.

The third view shows the Internet's make-up over time, from 1994 to the present and predicts how it will look in 2020. A timeline shows important events in the Internet's history.

The app can be used with iPhone, iPad and Android devices -- even while Mercury is retrograde.

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Who Needs Emoticons With Punctuation Like This?

While it seems most people are experiencing the current Mercury retrograde in Pisces as a creative inward journey, communication gaffes are still a hallmark of this thrice-yearly astrological phase. Mercury is, after all, nicknamed "The Trickster."

Just in the nick of time, the website College Humor has created a special set of eight alternative punctuation marks that will surely make it easier to be understood accurately in the digital age. Even without a retrograde Mercury, the tone-deafness of email has gotten just about everyone in trouble at one time or another. But punctuation like the "I'm Not Angry" Mark, the Superellipsis, the Sinceriod and the truly inspired Morgan Freemark are sure to help -- and you can actually download a useable set of the new punctuation.

Planet Waves

Pisces Kaleidoscope and Elisa Novick's World Tour

This week I take you deeper into our ocean of Pisces, our rare moment. I also introduce the world tour of one of our resident spiritual teachers at Planet Waves, Elisa Novick. Here is the schedule of her travels to Paris, London and Amsterdam.

Planet Waves

Your Monthly Horoscopes -- and our Publishing Schedule Notes

The March monthly extended horoscopes were published Friday, Feb. 22. Inner Space for March was published Tuesday, Feb. 26. Note that the longer monthly horoscope is being incorporated into the Friday issue after the Sun has entered a new sign; a new Inner Space is still emailed on the following Tuesday. We published the Moonshine Horoscope for the Pisces New Moon on Tuesday, March 5th.

Planet Waves

Pisces Birthdays: Envision Yourself

If you have a birthday anywhere in the neighborhood of Monday's New Moon in Pisces, this is a time to envision your life. I mean this literally: describe to yourself, draw, sketch or photograph (or all of the above) what you want to be, and who you want to become. I recognize that you would be doing this in a time when the world is in a state of chaos and confusion, and when there seem to be ever-increasing demands on our time and resources. That's exactly what I'm proposing this visioning exercise will help you work around. Yes, there is a lot going on and yes, there are aggressive forces churning up the world around us and often, within us. Don't let this get in the way of your vision for yourself. It may take a little extra effort or 'suspension of disbelief' to see yourself the way you want. Take the time. Invest the creativity. Take the risk and do this in a tangible way. This will help you clarify your objectives, desires and goals, and give you a hint at how flexible existence can be when you open to the possibilities. Hello Pisces and Pisces rising -- your birthday reading is ready to go. It's two sessions of astrology covering all of the current wild astrology in your sign, a tarot reading and an extended sign description, plus charts and photos of the spread. All this is yours for just $19.95, money-back guarantee if you don't love it.

Weekly Horoscope for Friday, March 8, 2013 #941 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Aries (March 20-April 19) -- Over the weekend, I suggest you pull out old photo albums or online galleries and study photographs of yourself. Study how your image has changed, and how your self-image has evolved over time. Try to identify the relationship between how you feel, what you look like and what you're trying to project. Really focus on this carefully and reflectively. We are under a rare combination of astrological factors that may indeed never happen again in our lifetimes, which suggest that photographs and your relationship to them are an unusually powerful force for healing and also for creativity. If you have a friend you trust or are good with self-portraits, take photos of yourself that are designed to be the person you want to become. Create the image as if it's something you're going to grow into (this is true of nearly all good portraits -- they can offer a glimpse of the future). Photography has never been easier or more available and affordable; right now it has the power to change your life, in the best possible ways.

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) -- It's time to loosen up your perspective and your perception. You know all the times you were seeing the world in black and white, and then it turned out that you could see in many colors? That's where you are at right now. Yes, the spectrum of possibilities, of personalities, of what is simply interesting rather than being a moral issue, is more than most people think they can handle. However, your own sense of potential is directly linked to what you're able to perceive and be at peace with in the world around you. The more you embrace what is so, without any need to judge it, the more you will expand into who you are and what you're becoming. Most notions of right vs. wrong make no sense at all, and to some extent, we're all carrying around the residue of moralism. If you take even one step toward freedom, you're likely to feel like an anarchist. That's not really true; that sensation is just an indication of how wound up you were in the past, and how much you're letting go of today.

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).

Gemini (May 20- June 21)
Gemini (May 20-June 21) -- Mercury is about to change directions in the angle of your chart associated with your career, your reputation and your sense of responsibility. Take nothing for granted over the coming week. Use the approach of doing as little as possible, in terms of staking out new ground, trying to move up or claim new territory. This is the time to watch, and observe carefully what you see. Things are not as they might seem at first look, and your role is likely to be considerably different from what you now imagine it is or might become. When you get new, possibly long-sought-after information, pause rather than act on it. Timing is everything. Therefore, all the information you obtain needs to be considered in terms of when it is relevant, and for how long. Just remember, it's unlikely to be right now. There's likely to be a built-in delay, and you need to keep that in mind. Even if you determine that something must be acted on 'right now', you will likely have an hour or a day. Therefore, take your time -- in the literal sense of that expression.

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).

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Cancer (June 21-July 22) -- Monday's New Moon in Pisces is designed to open up the horizons of your life, which will begin with feeling the sensation of potential. I cannot emphasize this point enough: potential starts with the feeling that something is possible. It's not about the plan that will get you there; it's not a reasoning process. It's an emotional experience that feels like you have space to open up, expand and be something different and more interesting than you are. From that feeling, you can then move into a more creative mode, and then into some planning. Yet through this process, the most significant element is being aware of what you want, and tuning into the feeling that you can create it. That is what your current astrology is about. There does appear to be a secret that you're keeping from yourself, though rather than trying to root it out, I suggest you listen, observe and notice when it bubbles to the surface. When it does, say hello, be friendly and establish a relationship to what you discover.

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) -- If you're negotiating an arrangement with someone right now, take it slow. This is true for emotional, sexual or financial situations. This is what you might think of as a developing story; viewpoints and positions are changing, and information is gradually emerging. At the moment, you're not on a journey with a destination, but rather one that pauses in interesting places. Rather than being about fixed patterns, your relationships and the agreements that support them are continually evolving. I would remind you that part of the developing story is about how you respond to information that emerges from behind the scenes. Some of what comes out you will have known all along. Some you would never have guessed. All of it will prove to be useful, and there are a good few discoveries on the way that will prove to be essential. Just don't get ahead of what you know; pause and allow the next revelation to come to the surface.

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) -- You may not know where you stand with a relationship for a few weeks. Remember though that the information you're waiting for is coming from you, not from someone else. You may think you're waiting to figure out what they want, or what is happening with the relationship. What you really want to know is how you feel and where you stand. Don't assume you know that today, because your opinion could change several times between now and when the Sun leaves your opposite sign Pisces on March 20. And even then, you may still feel like you're standing on a shifting foundation. If you keep coming back to the same feeling and the same basic analysis day after day, that's something to take careful note of. That said, you're likely to make a series of discoveries, particularly around the time Mercury changes directions on the 17th, which will very likely serve to shift or evolve your point of view. Remember that the new information is likely to obviate old information and therefore, your prior point of view. Keep your files current.

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 see the possibility of two different paths ahead of you, though it looks like they have a lot more in common, and can be supportive of one another. Said differently, this is not a case of either/or, but rather one of integration, and organizing your life so that the various elements work in a state of synergy. You can stop thinking of your life as existing in parts or in pieces and shift your perspective to the sensation of being a whole person, expressing yourself many different ways. If you find something that does not seem to support the larger whole, ask yourself how you can bring it into the mix. You, your existence and your environment are all far more flexible than you have given them credit for being. The way to make the best use of your abundant opportunities is to stretch yourself into them; experiment like you would mixing colors, combining words and pictures, music and sculpture. Remember, this is about you; there is no 'it'.

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) -- All sex is an experiment. When it ceases to be so, the life, the vital force, has gone from the experience. Where the conversation begins, pleasure is soon to follow, and that is the way to tap the astounding depth, diversity and richness of sexual potential. Start by revealing yourself, or asking someone else to. Describe what you've done, what you want, or what you're feeling. You can also express yourself in words and pictures, though I suggest that you stay as close to direct, relational experience as you want -- there will be plenty of time to reflect. Your chart is hinting at a secret desire that you have not been quite up to admitting to yourself, much less expressing to someone else. Now may be just the right time to make contact with that desire, and step into full awareness and embrace it. Yes, you may feel a little awkward, especially if you ask yourself, "Is this who I really am?" This is a question to hang out with for a while, rather than answer immediately.

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) -- People in your family were not, and are not, saints; it's unlikely that many of the saints were saints. Therefore, you don't need to hold yourself to any moral or ethical standard except what is right for you. When the contents of the subconscious are examined, we discover all kinds of rules, expectations, contradictions and double standards. It's enough to drive anyone insane, and in fact we all verge on that insanity when it comes down to the expectations that family lays on us as children and even as adults. That is a complex issue; the thing to remember now is, don't deceive yourself by attempting to hold yourself to anyone's standard for moral purity. You want what you want, you like what you like. It's up to you to discern whether your conduct hurts anyone. It's also up to you to deal with people who tend to 'get hurt' by your basic choices some way other than pruning yourself back. Anyway -- the whole 'getting hurt' game is worth careful analysis. It's not what it seems.

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) -- Are you ready to let go of jealousy? Are you ready to let go of the need to have power over others? By others, I mean the people close to you, and those you're aware of in your environment. Jealousy and its cousins, such as envy and guilt, only serve to keep everyone bound up in a state of frustration and limited potential. You seem to be feeling the craving to unravel all of that, and to set free your mind and your feelings. You can do this, if you remember that pleasure is the opposite of power. Those are essentially the choices you have, which you can think of as existing along a spectrum of experience. From where you stand now, here is what's possible: that no idea is threatening; that no experience of another person is threatening; that no fear is necessary in relationships. You would be surprised how these emotions are not the 'bottom line' we often experience them as, but rather emotional habits that you can release by decisions, and in the end, simply by loving more.

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).

Planet Waves
Note to Aquarius and Aquarius rising readers: Your birthday reading is ready. I cover entirely new territory from what I did in LISTEN, the 2013 annual edition. I review the ways in which Aquarius itself has been changing and evolving. I describe your process of discovering your sense of mission; of opening up your inner life; and relationships based on creative exploration first and 'commitment' second. It's two sessions of astrology plus tarot, with an extended description of your sign -- and access to last year's reading so that you can verify my accuracy. You can get instant access here.

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) -- Among the most significant decisions you can ever make are the ones about what is the most meaningful to you, which are a reflection of yourself. Right now you are making some profound decisions about what you want, what is possible, what you believe and what you deserve. You can safely think of this as the very core of growth or evolution. There seems to be one critical point that you're struggling with, one belief that has the power to throw your whole life out of alignment. If not for that one thing, you would have the freedom to be fully present in your own life. I will offer a few words from A Course in Miracles that I've quoted a number of times, and which seem relevant to you in this moment of your journey. "Every decision you make stems from what you think you are, and represents the value that you put upon yourself. Believe that little can content you, and by limiting yourself you will not be satisfied. For your function is not little, and it is only by finding your function and fulfilling it that you can escape from littleness." Or translated into two words: Be Bold.

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).
Planet Waves
Hello Pisces! So many planets in Pisces means this is a brilliant moment for you, and your 2013 birthday reading looks at this astrology carefully. Chiron, the planet of healing, Neptune, planet of inspiration, and Mercury retrograde are all included. You now have the ability to develop a gift for business and financial success, if you focus your creative talents and work cooperatively with others -- and I explain how to do that effectively. This reading is two 40-minute sessions of astrology, a tarot reading and an extended written description of your astrological sign. I've also included access to last year's reading so you can review the past 12 months and check my accuracy. Here is a link to that affordably priced reading -- which is like an extended, personal meditation on your life. You will love it -- promise.

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) -- I suggest you not occupy your mind with why people do what they do, or think the way they think. It's a good way to get caught in the very darkness you would be trying to figure out. When you see a mystery that is perplexing, just let it be a mystery. The thing you really want to understand are your own motives and your own goals. Most of the time you're not a "the ends justify the means" kind of person, however, the choices you make this week may seem to lean in that direction. Once you know what you want and why you want it, you're likely to become aware of the fact that there is a way to make it happen, if only you have the courage or motivation to make it so. If you determine that something is questionably ethical, then the thing to do is to question the ethics, and remember that any real question has an answer. Your ability to pause and reflect on the nature of your options and the actual impact of your choices is your most important boundary.

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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