Search Global Astrology Topics

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Cardinal Crisis -> Mercury, Venus, Mars & Jupiter Rising: The New Era Kicks Off > President Obama & Birthers: Racism & Ideology At Its Worst? > La Nina's Impact: Severe Storms Strike South > Mexico Rages With Mass Murder Of Innocents > Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Spreads Radiation Worldwide > Attack On Dissent In Syria > Generation X And The Economy> Also, Concentrated Wealth In The Hands Of A Few?

The Cardinal Crisis
In this citizen journalism image from a mobile phone, a little Syrian boy carries a board which reads: ' Stop the Killing,' during a protest in Daraya, southwest of Damascus, Syria, on April 25, 2011. In a terrifying escalation of Syria's crackdown on dissent, thousands of infantry soldiers backed by tanks poured into the southern city of Daraa, on the Jordanian border, the city where the uprising began. The soldiers opened fire indiscriminately on civilians, killing at least 11 people, witnesses said. Meanwhile, knife-wielding Syrian security agents went on illegal house-to-house sweeps in what activists say is a campaign to frighten and intimidate demonstrators.
Image: AP

Transits Of May/June 2011


President Obama & Birthers:
Ideology At Its Worst

Severe Storms & La Nina's Impact

Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Disaster


Mexico Rages With Mass Murder


Attack On Dissent In Syria


Generation X And The Economy


Concentrated Wealth In The Hands Of A Few?

Global Astrology
By Theodore White, mundane Astrolog.S

Peace and Goodwill to all Humanity.

Praise and Glory Be To the Immortal God.

"It has been said that wisdom lies not in seeing things, but in seeing through things."

Manly P Hall; What the Ancient Wisdom Expects of Its Disciples

In a new astrological year, the world events of late continue the theme from 2010 with the inclinations of the cardinal crisis transits of the outer planets relative to our Earth.

 The early years of the Twenty-Tens, while challenging, also show the promises of a decade of significant changes leading, we all hope - to a better world emerging out of the last century.

In these times of economic confusion and forced austerity on nations, the gap between 'rich' and the 'poor' continues to widen amid outrageous acts of corruption from the 1990s and 2000s - now evident in the 2010s.

The complexities of issues facing the people of the world are as diverse as they are challenging; however, this does not mean we cannot triumph as we find meaning in the events of our times and play our roles to make things better.

But in order to do this require gnosis - which is to awake from the deep sleep of the world around us so we can make positive impact on the world.

For in the end, we are what we either do, or do not do.

How people choose to awaken from their slumber depends on adjusting one's views to the physical and metaphysical realities around us, and this can be done not only by noting the astrological transits but also by achieving and then strengthening gnosis.

We all know the world has become a strange place over the past ten years and appears to get weirder all the time.

However, if we follow the advice of Manly Hall, we gain wisdom by seeing through things. 

You may notice the thing about Global Astrology is the time which elapses in- between editions. The reason for this is that I take these intervals to observe the night skies over several weeks during my astrological work.

Among the planets, along with Earth, one of my favorite planets is Jupiter, a planet that has recently emerged from the far side of the Sun.

The movements of Jupiter and the planets correlate to events - past, present and future - to the mundane happenings here on Earth.

Jupiter is now moving quickly and has recently begun a new cycle in the constellation of Aries, signalling the start of our new era - the Twenty-Tens.

I observe and examine Jupiter's condition and that of its many moons as the planet rises in the eastern skies. 

I contemplate on their revolutions in combination with their astrological aspects to the planets and fixed stars; which comprises the bulk of my mundane forecasts. 

These are the kinds of things I see when I observe the space around the planet Jupiter.

The Cardinal Crisis
Jupiter & Mars Rising

May 2011
Patience By Proxy?

Astrological Outlook By
 Theodore White, mundane Astrolog.S

In May 2011, if you rise before the Sun and look east, you will be able to see a sparking line of planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter - rising on the eastern horizon along the ecliptic, the path the Sun rides on during the day.

Uranus and Neptune are also rising, but you will have to use binoculars or a telescope to see those planets in the eastern skies.

I've been doing so for a month now, in my astronomic forecasting work it is essential to observe the physical skies to confirm forecasts with astrological calculations.

The rising planets in the east are signs of continuing change and progress I have been forecasting for some time now regarding the cardinal crisis transits.

However, our present times require patience by proxy.

You see, a proxy variable is not something in and of itself to be of great interest at the time, but from where some gains can be made.

In order for that to be the case, the proxy variable must have a close correlation to what is happening, but is not necessarily apparent straight away. 

Things may not be considered positive at first, but some things and events do have an inferred value later. 

So patience is essential because anything is possible once you get over the hurtles and put yourself on the right track.

Planets Rising In The East
click on chart to enlarge

In this way, you can understand and properly use the months of May, June and July 2011.

For the last two months, the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter have been behind the Sun as viewed from Earth.

In May, these planets emerge from the Sun's far side. The positions of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus in tropical Aries signifies the new astrological age the world has entered.

It is a time of new starts, and promises; however the month of May features inclinations that forecast slow, steady progress for people. Promises of opportunities are evident, but these opportunities are not just yet readily available.

May begins with a New Moon at 12-degrees Taurus.

New Moon, May 3, 2011, at 2:51 a.m., EDT - New York, U.S.A.
click on chart to enlarge

After a long winter season and contentious early spring in the northern hemisphere, the New Moon of May 3, 2011 takes position in the Second Mundane House, along with Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter - all positioned in the Second House of Finance in the chart above. 

This is clearly financial. The pressures to make money and gain some progress after three years of recession continues to frustrate people.

The month of May signifies concerns over financial realities and the economic outlook but transits ask us to proceed carefully, as haste, impulse and frustration mount from obstacles and unwillingness of others to cooperate. 

Three of the four (4) lunar phases of May are "fixed" in the Signs of Taurus, Leo and Scorpio with the last phase, that of the last quarter Moon, is mutable in Pisces by May 24. 

Therefore, May's inclinations tell us there is a need to navigate carefully by controlling our desires for immediate progress with prudence and patience. 

Take things steady while avoiding impulsiveness, negativity and frustrations. 

Changes are coming which lead to improvements, but those who continue to block advancement stubbornly remain in their positions, but not for long. The idea for May, June and July is to take things step-by-step, rather than trying to take giant leaps with empty promises. 

With a little perseverance though, you can get things done. At the May 3 New Moon in Taurus, transiting Mercury's opposition to Saturn in Libra highlights problems from negative mental outlooks with people in positions of power who are unlikely to warm to new proposals. 

Venus, conjoined to Mercury in Aries is also opposed to Saturn, so the feelings of frustration from delays in progress are likely during the month. 

Aries desires action, however the opposition to Saturn can make people hesitant and uncomfortable about financial limitations in light of the ongoing economic recession and unemployment. 

Saturn transits in the western skies, opposing the stellium of planets in Aries, so there are the 'people' against 'old leaders' who represent the past, the status quo, against the demands of the people who desire and seek the future and positive change. 

Saturn's inclinations encourages 'want' and 'economy,' while highlighting 'responsibility' which can feel unwarranted, heavy and time-consuming. This often leads to frustration. 

During May, Saturn's transit in Libra wanes as it sets further west against the rising of planets in the east, so what is needed is patience while searching for signs of real support. 

The month of May is not the time for public relations or for trying to impress others. Social manners under these transits lean towards conservative and reserved attitudes. 

Delays in progress through poor communication and lack of cooperation are contrasted against the desire for action, movement and progress. The transits of May remain energized on a transpersonal scale worldwide. 

Mars is conjoined to Jupiter in Aries in early May with both planets in fire trine aspect to the North Lunar Node in Sagittarius. 

There are opportunities, but these will require faith and persistence to see one's aspirations, goals and objectives achieved in the long run. 

Saturn, retrograde in Libra until June 13, performs a square aspect to Pluto in Capricorn during May. The inclinations of this square features power struggles, corporate plots and the inability to cooperate. 

The economic, political and business struggles are typical of Saturn-Pluto squares. Any attempt to use dishonesty to gain advantage is bound to backfire under the transits of this spring and summer, but that will not stop those ignorant of these inclinations. 

Also rising with Jupiter in tropical Aries, is the planet Mars. This planet, during 2011 makes transit through the Zodiac, and will come to a close approach to the Earth in early March 2012.

Mars Rising

Back on  February 4-5, 2011, the planet Mars emerged from the far side of the Sun at 15-Aquarius. 

For several days prior, Mars was 'combust' to the Sun before emerging in the cold early dawn skies of a cold month. 

Our current planetary is from that 4-5 Feb 2011 conjunction of Mars and the Sun, with Mars opposed to the Earth - this is when Mars is in the same direction as the Sun from the point of view of us on Earth. 

On that same day, transiting Jupiter moved north by declination, signalling the coming conjunction of Mars and Jupiter in the month of May, in tropical Aries, rising in the pre-dawn skies.

The position of Mars rising in Aries, into Taurus, then Gemini between April and early August 2011 are bound to see spikes in demonstrations, violence and military acts. By August, transiting Mars will enter Cancer, then Leo in September. 

Mars will enter tropical Virgo on November 11, 2011 and will remain in tropical Virgo for seven (7) months until early July 2012.

Mars will retrograde in Virgo by January 24, 2012 and will be close to the Earth, shining a bright red-orange as the Earth will conjoin Mars between March 3-6, 2012.

This Mars phase with Earth begins with its conjunction cycle on 3 March 2012 at 20:35 03 UT. Mars will have a visual magnitude of -1.23, at about 13.9 arc seconds and be 1.66 AU away from Earth. 

Mars will be at the coordinates 11h06m, +10°21' in sidereal Leo, where you will see a waxing gibbous Moon about 40 degrees to west of Mars. 

Mars will appear as a bright reddish-orange object that should rise at about the same time the sun sets (and set at about the same time as the next sunrise). 

The season on Mars will be late spring in the northern hemisphere and late autumn in the southern hemisphere. At opposition to the Sun, the entire disk of Mars will be illuminated in full phase, like a full moon. 

Before and after opposition, it will be in gibbous phase; so it can never have a crescent phase since Mars is further away from the Sun than Earth and thus can never be between Earth and the Sun.

Due to the high ellipticity of Mars' orbit, the closest approach to Earth will occur at 16:55 05 UT on March 5, 2012, when Mars will be only 101 million km (0.674 AU) or 62.6 million miles away. 

Mars will retrograde in tropical Virgo from mid-January 2012 to April 14, 2012, when Mars stations direct at 3-Virgo.

The transit of Mars for seven months in Virgo, along with its retrograde cycle and conjunction to Earth in March 2012, along with additional transits show malefic inclinations from this year and into next.

Transits of June 2011
'A Need For Speed'

The New Moon arrives June 1 at 11-degrees Gemini. The Taurian inclinations transfers into June as Jupiter enters tropical Taurus on June 4.

Today, we see people texting away, using their cellphones ad infinitum while having problems talking with people face to face. Society, seemingly obsessed with the uses of social media technology produces much quantity, but often lacks quality.

Substance lacks in June as many people are off to the races with 'a need for speed' under the Gemini skies. 

This is the time of year when school comes to an end and people begin to seriously make their plans for summer in the northern hemisphere.

In the month of June, the transits from Taurus into Gemini feature a transitional month of diverse movement.

June 1 will open with a partial solar eclipse at 11 degrees Gemini. These eclipses occur over the Earth's polar regions. This one is over the north pole.

The lunar eclipse can be seen over northern Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland and portions of northeastern Asia. 

The path of the partial solar eclipse will begin at sunrise in Siberia and northern China at 19:25:18 Universal Time (UT.) The shadow path will travel northeast, ending at 23:06:56 UT, just north of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean.  

Greatest eclipse occurs in far northwestern Russia, near Cheshskaya Bay at 21:16:11 UT at a magnitude of 0.602. This happens two hours after the eclipse begins its path from Siberia where the eclipse's magnitude of 0.601 will be visible from the Arctic coast of western Siberia.

Observers in Iceland will see a magnitude of 0.462 just before the Sun sets. sunset while northern regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden will witness a midnight solar eclipse.

Jupiter's motion continues to be rapid in May and June. Having entered Aries on January 22, by June 4 transiting Jupiter will have entered tropical Taurus. 

So Jupiter has raced through tropical Aries in just four months and by early June makes ingress into Taurus.

This is an important transit for those interested. Jupiter's transit shows that there is time to make progress, but within limits since the overall tempo involves an opposition to Saturn. More on that in a bit...

By the end of August, Jupiter will station retrograde, remaining so until Christmas Day 2011, so there is a need to try to get as much accomplished by the month of August.

Jupiter's inclinations are for progress, so the months of May, June and July are the best months to get as much done as is possible before things slow down in August.

Jupiter has begun a new 11-12 year cycle in Aries, so the inclinations are for new starts in lives, careers and projects. Expansion is on the mind of many, however the overall world transits, especially Jupiter's opposition to Saturn show how barriers and obstacles continue to frustrate.

Saturn stations to direct motion June 13 at 10-Libra after being retrograde since late January. 

There are air trine aspects coming to Saturn from the transits of Mercury, Venus, then Mars in June and July 2011 which are helpful to make some progress.

On June 15, there will be a rare central lunar eclipse at 24 Sagittarius. 

This is where the Moon will pass in front of the center of Earth's shadow. The last time this occurred was July 2000. The next central total lunar eclipse will occur in July 2018.

click to enlarge

The June 15 lunar eclipse will be seen over Africa and Central Asia. The eclipse will rise visible over South America, western Africa and Europe. 

The eclipse highlights international events continuing to be major news, much of it around violence and military action. The inclinations from late June into July shows a need to diplomacy and adjustments to reduce violence worldwide.

The Moon's June 15 central eclipse will be seen setting over eastern Asia. 

While over western Asia, Australia and the Philippines, the Sagittarius lunar eclipse will be visible just before sunrise.

The position of Saturn transiting tropical Libra, in opposition to Jupiter in Aries, is reflective of the tension of the times.

The Jupiter-Saturn Opposition

We've highlighted this before on Global Astrology. The first Jupiter-Saturn opposition since 1989-90 is now in effect worldwide, so I am not bullish on improvements in the economy until next year.

This opposition will continue through the year 2011, until finally moving out of orb in March 2012.

The main effects are those that affect domestic, professional and business affairs with unfavorable inclinations:
  • Red tape & obstacles
  • Poor timing
  • Legal problems
  • bankruptcy
  • Negative overall business climate
This is not the time to expand in business and professional matters related to cultural affairs, long-distance commerce, education, law and travel.

The opposition between Jupiter and Saturn inclines towards conflicts, disagreements and general lack of support from institutions or from those in establishment positions.

There may be ulterior motives associated with attempts to break out of the economic doldrums with conflicts around status and money issues between friends, family and associates.

The opposition also inclines towards hypocrisy in the actual practice of ethics and morals.

The general atmosphere that the Jupiter-Saturn opposition will be felt in frustrating attempts to get things going.

Unemployment rates remain stubbornly high with a lack of balance between conservative and optimistic attitudes.

The moral conflicts are contrasted against the need to make business and professional adjustments amid rigid and uncompromising attitudes.

Overwork for those who have jobs are also inclined by the Jupiter-Saturn opposition as the economic recession continues in 2011.

This is because of the generational transition, now underway in its early stages.

 Anyone who has business/professional goals should continue to carefully be patience while waiting for the opposition to wane out of orb. This will happen by March 2012.

The 'old' against the 'young' feature strongly in 2011 and 2012 - mainly by way of the outgoing establishment of aged baby boomer generation and the incoming establishment of Generation X.

The great majority of people out of work in the world are under the age of 51, this reflects the populations of people between the ages of 18-49 who suffer high rates of unemployment and lack of opportunities more than the baby boomer generation, all who are over the age of 58.

The situation will soon reverse itself as it becomes crystal clear that the economy cannot improve without Generation X and Generation Y getting back into the world of work. 

The Jupiter-Saturn opposition helps this to happen. The last opposition of 1989-90 preceded the baby boomer becoming the new establishment in the early 1990s.

The same is about to happen for Generation X.

The transition will not be smooth because the baby boomer generation has never faced the realities of aging, but nonetheless must. 

The demands of this generation to keep the status quo, or things as they are, cannot be treated seriously since time does not stand still.

The corruption, greed, hegemony, cynicism, sarcasm and rampant ideology of the present era is reflective of the inclinations of Jupiter-Saturn on those who should know better.

I remind those who would listen that in order to gain the future one must embrace it - even if this means being left behind. 

For we all get older but must not break the intragenerational contract purely on selfish interest, as has already been done by the baby boomer generation.

Viewing the world transits to come in the Twenty-Tens, the baby boomers who have come to realize that their generation is now past its prime, will do better than those who want to deny it.

Have no doubt - the next two decades are for the new generational establishment and Generation X is that establishment. 

Transits show that members of this new establishment should being to walk, talk and behave as the new leaders that they are. 

The era just ahead call for leadership, creativity, command and practicality for society to improve and it will fall on the shoulders of Generation X to make a reality.

So, the idea between now and March 2012 is patience, as world transits signify initiative and significant change on the horizon.

Still, the world opposition of Jupiter and Saturn inclines unfavorably when it comes to making significant progress in 2011, so pace yourself well going into early 2012.

In this edition of Global Astrology we take a diverse view on current and coming events at hand in the world: from the Generational Transition now underway that shows itself in the Birther's attacks on President Obama, to the bloody uprisings and battles in North Africa - this time featuring Syria.

We also look at the extent of Japan's nuclear crisis; at the incredible violence in Mexico and we ask, what's next with the global economy?

First, we examine generational transition as seen through the ideological and ridiculous "Birther" Movement attacks on U.S. President Barack Obama:

The Cardinal Crisis
Can We Get Serious Now?
 By Theodore White, mundane Astrolog.S

It never ceases to amaze me just how ideology, sarcasm, and racism plays itself out in the world amid serious and challenging times.

Since Barack Obama announced he was running for the American presidency the generation of baby boomers, who claim that they 'above racism' continue to act out in ways that prove just how worn and outdated they've become.

We can see this is the so-called 'Birther' movement: where a collection of ideologists claimed that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, a requirement of anyone who ascends to the nation's highest office.

In a world where the boomer establishment has clearly failed on all levels, the ideologists who would prefer to see things fall apart have nothing better to do than to continue the foolishness that began 2.5-years ago in claiming that President Obama was not born in America.

I remember having to take on some "astrologers" in 2008 and again in 2009 who also claimed that Obama was not born in the U.S.

I had to remind them that other than the Obama's birth certificate that there was also the 1961 newspaper announcements of Obama's birth.

I knew this because as a journalist I had to confirm and write birth announcements and obituaries for newspaper publication.

Most people do not know that print reporters not only interview people, explore subjects and write articles, but also have to confirm, check and write birth announcements, press releases, wedding announcements and obituatires as part of their duties. I wrote thousands of them.

The easiest way to confirm a birth was to see if there was a August 1961 newspaper announcement because it was standard procedure well into the 2000s for newspapers to announce local live births.

So, if Barack Obama was born in the United States it was simply an act of seeing his birth certificate that was published online during the 2008 campaign and then to find the newspaper 1961 birth announcement - and I did.

Below, you will see the newspaper, The Honolulu Advertiser announcement of Barack Obama’s Aug 4, 1961 birth.

It was published in the Sunday edition of the August 13, 1961 newspaper and can be found on page B-6. It is available on microfilm in Hawaiian libraries which is standard for reading past editions of newspapers.

For some reason during the start of the Birther controversy, it was never  posted online in spite of the extensive controversy over Obama’s birth certificate (I wonder why.)

The birth announcement is 4th from the bottom of the left hand column.

 click to enlarge image then magnify and scroll down

click to enlarge

In November 2008, The Advertiser reported that the first published mention of the future president appeared in the Sunday Advertiser birth announcement that ran on Aug. 13, 1961:

"Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy., son, Aug. 4."

The identical birth announcement ran the following day in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper.

This is where it gets weird.

Birthers wave off those birth announcements, saying that Obama family members 48 years ago could have phoned in false information to both newspapers.

But I know from direct professional experience that such vital statistics are not sent to the newspapers by the general public, but by the Health Department and they receive birth and death information directly from hospitals.

This was common procedure. As a reporter, I would always confirm the birth announcement by calling the hospital and the health department which sent the information in the first place. 

The same is done regarding obituaries, and death announcements from hospitals and coroner's departments.

Wedding and birth announcements from the public ran elsewhere in both papers and usually included information such as the newborn's name, weight and time of birth.

"Take a second and think about that," wrote Robert Farley of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

"In order to phony those notices up, it would have required the complicity of the state Health Department and two independent newspapers - on the off chance this unnamed child might want to one day be president of the United States?"

Yet, for two years, the president, taking the high road, rebuffed the claims with proof of his citizenship with his birth certificate, which was not enough for the ideologists who on Talk radio, TV and the Internet who rather than accept the facts - preferred the kool-aid they made themselves.

This all quieted down last year, but was resurrected again by the 1946 baby boomer egomaniac Donald Trump - who again made Obama's birth an issue.

So, on Wednesday, April 27, President Obama made a surprise appearance in front of the U.S. press corp to put an end to what clearly has been a distraction in light of the serious issues this American president faces.

The president's appearance came as a surprise to reporters who did show up for the early-morning White House briefing.

When word spread  the president would be making a 9:45 a.m. statement on the matter the top anchors at all the networks rushed into the briefing room.

Once there, they received a presidential scolding for their concern with "silliness."

Obama began his five-minute statement with the complaint that he wouldn't be able to get the networks to break into their regularly scheduled programming for a speech on policy proposals.

"I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest," Obama said.

"But I am speaking for the vast majority of the American people as well as for the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve.

"We are not going to be able to do it if we are distracted, we are not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other ... if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers," the president declared earlier.

Of course, the president, without naming him, obviously made reference to Donald Trump, who for weeks has been using Obama's birth as fuel to position himself for a possible presidential run in 2012.

The document released by the White House differs from the one that Obama's aides made public during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Instead of a "certification" of live birth, this was a "certificate," clearly recording that the president was born on Aug. 4, 1961 in the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

Huffington Post reports that: "For years, Obama's circle of aides had resisted calls to make the latter form public, noting that a certification is legally sound and what any citizen of Hawaii receives upon requesting documents of birth.

And indeed, for some time, that explanation - supported by a a wide swath of other contemporaneous evidence - seemed to suffice.

But some who challenged the president's citizenship remained unsatisfied, and in recent weeks they found a high-profile megaphone for their cause: business tycoon and presidential flirt Donald Trump.

Donald Trump speaks at an April 28, 2011 event put on by several Republican women's groups at a Las Vegas casino.  
Image:David Becker/Getty Images

Trump, 64, a billionaire businessman turned TV reality star, has been testing the waters for a possible presidential run in recent weeks while claiming that Obama wasn't born an American citizen. That is the claim of birthers.

The birth document released by the White House differs from the one that Obama's aides made public during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Instead of a "certification" of live birth, this was a "certificate," clearly recording that the president was indeed born on Aug. 4, 1961 in the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

For years, Obama's circle of aides had resisted calls to make the latter form public, noting that a certification is legally sound and what any citizen of Hawaii receives upon requesting documents of birth.

And indeed, for some time, that explanation -- supported by a a wide swath of other contemporaneous evidence - seemed to suffice.

But some who challenged the president's citizenship remained unsatisfied, and in recent weeks they found a high-profile megaphone for their cause: business tycoon and presidential flirt Donald Trump.
"This issue was resolved in 2008. It has not been an issue," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said during a morning briefing in which he and other officials took care not to mention Trump's name.

"None of you have asked about it, called about it or reported on it until the last few weeks ... [not releasing it] would probably be good for the president politically. Despite that, the president said he was struck by how this was crowding out the debate."

On April 20, the president himself wrote Loretta J. Fuddy, the director of health at the State of Hawaii, requesting "two certified copies of my original certificate of live birth." Fuddy complied.

Shortly thereafter, the president's counsel, Judith Corley of the firm Perkins Coie, flew to Hawaii to pick up two copies of the form. The trip was not taxpayer funded but rather, paid out of the president's personal account.

Corley returned April 24 at roughly 4 p.m. with the copies.

 click on official birth certificate to enlarge

The White House announced a "morning gaggle" for reporters shortly thereafter. One aide explained that they did not want to "hold" on to the documents for release on a later date.

Many members of the press confessed to being "stunned" as it became clear what was about to be discussed.

White House press assistants handed out a six-page stapled packet of photocopies showing the new and old birth certificates as well as the White House's legal correspondence with Hawaii's Department of Health.

And yet it was the press that played a large role in forcing the administration's hand.

CNN's Ed Henry had pressed White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on the issue just one day earlier, despite the fact that his own network had done a thorough investigation debunking the Birther claims.

"There will always be some selection of people who will believe something.

That is not the issue," Pfeiffer said, when asked if this would silence the doubters?

 What 'Birthers' will say, highlighted in red.
click fantasy to enlarge

"This issue is, this is not a discussion happening just among conspiracy theorists. It is happening here in this room, on all of the networks, and it is something that every major political figure of both parties - instead of talking about real issues - is being asked about this. So the president decided to release this."

Yes, these are strange times. As a mundane astrologer I cannot say I am surprised by these shenanigans, considering the sources, however what is disturbing is that a generation that claimed it was all about 'peace and love' would allow themselves to be so inclined as to perpetuate the very racism they claimed they were past?

On Wednesday the president of the United States was subjected to a humiliating moment that no president of the United States should ever be forced to experience, to prove he's an American citizen and therefore qualified to be president.

Yes, other presidents have had their moments of public humiliation, not least Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, but in Mr. Nixon's case and Mr. Clinton's their humiliation resulted from illegal and immoral conduct.

Neither is true of Mr. Obama.

Barack Obama's humiliation was brought on by circumstance over which he has no control - the color of his skin.

The birther movement was born by Barack Obama's blackness.

Those who lead the campaign questioning Mr. Obama's birthplace did so because they cannot accept that a black man is President of the United States.

They will deny their racism because to acknowledge it carries legal, societal and political consequences; but there should be no confusion - their hatred of President Obama is centered in the color of his black skin.

And what the election of 2008 denied they have sought by other means to counter - no matter how dishonest or despicable those means.

It is no small irony of our history that the political party that has sought to benefit from challenging the president's citizenship is the party of Abraham Lincoln, the man considered by most historians as America's greatest president.

But Republicans who signed on for the crusade to destroy Barack Obama's legitimacy as president have no shame, and being known as "The Party of Lincoln" is valued only to the degree it is useful against charges of racism.

But their defense won't stand, because what's happened is racist at its core  - and the party of Lincoln stands in ruin.

Ample opportunity has been given Republican leaders to denounce the birther movement, but almost always they answer in the language of evasion.

Except, of course, for Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump has used the birther movement to gain the lead among potential Republican candidates for president in 2012; potential candidates that otherwise might have been expected to claim that lead -  Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin - now trail Mr. Trump.

There can be no other reason for Mr. Trump's ascendancy than his endorsement of the birther movement, as he alone claimed to have "agents" in Hawaii searching for proof of Mr. Obama's birth.

(In this he was given a free media pass since no one demanded the identity of his "agents.")

Mr. Trump denies racism is the cause of his birther sympathies.

He cites "friendship" with prominent blacks as proof he's no racist, but it's too late in the game to make that claim, because the birther movement is a race-based movement.

But in the most profound sense this isn't about Donald Trump or the Republican Party or the collective failure of its leadership to have stopped the birther movement at its inception, because here's the hard truth, we are all to blame - and white America most of all.

Every white American that has allowed this crusade against the first black president of the United States to continue stands under indictment for its moral failing - yours and mine.

Because ultimately this isn't about political parties or philosophy of governance or religious views or none, at its core it's about human values, about whether we as a people embrace The Framer's belief: "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

That's what we claim.

That's what we say we believe. That's who we say we are.

And from this noblest of sentiments we have forged our national identity. 

But where in the birther movement does such evidence exist?

The birther movement is about skin color and class and social standing and is thereby a denial of The Framer's vision for America.

The consequences of this immoral and corrupt political movement, which is ultimately what the birther movement is, have damaged our national interest by damaging our standing in the world.

Beyond our shores there must be great puzzlement as to what kind of people would allow a president's birth certificate to dominate its national debate?

At a time when our common problems call for shared sacrifice we must face a difficult truth - we have permitted our country to be divided by a movement racist in origin, racist in meaning, and racist in denial of man's equality.

Mr. President, I cannot speak for anyone else. I have no authority to apologize in behalf of others.

I can only tell you, Mr. President, I am sorry I waited until now to witness against the indignities and evil to which you, your wonderful wife, and your lovely children, have been subjected to.

I know you believe in the power of forgiveness. I ask now, Sir, that you forgive me for my silence.

Now that is showing good class.

Anyone who has had a problem with the president's "birth" should do more soul-searching within themselves rather than projecting their bias, racism and stupidity onto others.

We get back to some serious issues, here in the real world.

As forecast, the climate and weather continues to make world news. This time in the northern hemisphere.

After a long, wet and colder than normal winter in the northern hemisphere, people have emerged into a violent early spring season as severe storms of heavy rains and tornadoes struck the United States in April - cutting a swath of destruction as La Nina's impact continues to inflict damage around the world.

The Cardinal Crisis
Severe Storms Strike South
Record Storms: A tornado moves through Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. A wave of severe storms laced with tornadoes strafed the South on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people around the region and destroying buildings across swaths of several states.
Image: Dusty Compton/The Tuscaloosa News

Tornadoes devastate South, killing at least 329+

By Greg Bluestein & Holbrook Mohr

April 28, 2011- Pleasant Grove, Alabama – Firefighters searched one splintered pile after another for survivors, combing the remains of houses and neighborhoods pulverized by the nation's deadliest tornado outbreak in almost four decades.

A misplaced family is assisted by emergency responders near 15th St. in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the wake of a powerful tornado that struck the city on April 27, 2011.
Image: Dusty Compton/The Tuscaloosa News

At least 329 people were killed across six states - more than two-thirds of them in Alabama, where large cities bore the half-mile-wide scars the twisters left behind.

 Aerial view of Tuscaloosa tornado damage.

The death toll from Wednesday's storms seems out of a bygone era, before Doppler radar and pinpoint satellite forecasts were around to warn communities of severe weather.

Residents were told the tornadoes were coming up to 24 minutes ahead of time, but they were just too wide, too powerful and too locked onto populated areas to avoid a horrifying body count.

Homes and businesses along McFarland Blvd. are completely destroyed in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Wednesday, April 27, 2011. A wave of severe storms laced with tornadoes strafed the U.S. South.
Image: Dusty Compton/The Tuscaloosa News

"These were the most intense super-cell thunderstorms that I think anybody who was out there forecasting has ever seen," said meteorologist Greg Carbin at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

"If you experienced a direct hit from one of these, you'd have to be in a reinforced room, storm shelter or underground" to survive, Carbin said.

The storms seemed to hug the interstate highways as they barreled along like runaway trucks, obliterating neighborhoods or even entire towns from Tuscaloosa to Bristol, Va.

One family rode out the disaster in the basement of a funeral home, another by huddling in a tanning bed.

In Concord, a small town outside Birmingham that was ravaged by a tornado, Randy Guyton's family got a phone call from a friend warning them to take cover. 

They rushed to the basement garage, piled into a Honda Ridgeline and listened to the roar as the twister devoured the house in seconds. Afterward, they saw daylight through the shards of their home and scrambled out.

"The whole house caved in on top of that car," he said. "Other than my boy screaming to the Lord to save us, being in that car is what saved us."

The aftermath of overnight tornadoes that left neighborhoods in ruins include a house pictured here that was taken off its foundation in Pratt City, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, April 28, 2011. 
 image: Marvin Gentry/Reuters

Son Justin remembers the dingy white cloud moving quickly toward the house.
"To me it sounded like destruction," the 22-year-old said.

"It was a mean, mean roar. It was awful."

At least three people died in a Pleasant Grove subdivision southwest of Birmingham, where residents trickled back Thursday to survey the damage.

Greg Harrison's neighborhood was somehow unscathed, but he remains haunted by the wind, thunder and lightning as they built to a crescendo, then suddenly stopped.

"Sick is what I feel," he said. "This is what you see in Oklahoma and Kansas. Not here. Not in the South."

 Image: Michelle Lepianka Carter/The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said his state had confirmed 194 deaths. There were 33 deaths in Mississippi, 33 in Tennessee, 14 in Georgia, five in Virginia and one in Kentucky.

Hundreds if not thousands of people were injured - 600 in Tuscaloosa alone.

Some of the worst damage was about 50 miles southwest of Pleasant Grove in Tuscaloosa, a city of more than 83,000 that is home to the University of Alabama.

A tower-mounted news camera there captured images of an astonishingly thick, powerful tornado flinging debris as it leveled neighborhoods.

 That twister and others Wednesday were several times more severe than a typical tornado, which is hundreds of yards wide, has winds around 100 mph and stays on the ground for a few miles, said research meteorologist Harold Brooks at the Storm Prediction Center.

"There's a pretty good chance some of these were a mile wide, on the ground for tens of miles and had wind speeds over 200 mph," he said.

The loss of life is the greatest from an outbreak of U.S. tornadoes since April 1974, when 329 people were killed by a storm that swept across 13 Southern and Midwestern states.

Brooks said the tornado that struck Tuscaloosa could be an EF5 - the strongest category of tornado, with winds of more than 200 mph - and was at least the second-highest category, an EF4.

Search and rescue teams fanned out to dig through the rubble of devastated communities that bore eerie similarities to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when town after town lay flattened for nearly 90 miles.

Image: Dusty Compton/The Tuscaloosa News

President Barack Obama said he would travel to Alabama on Friday to view storm damage and meet Gov. Robert Bentley and affected families.

As many as a million homes and businesses there were without power, and Bentley said 2,000 National Guard troops had been activated to help.

The governors of Mississippi and Georgia also issued emergency declarations for parts of their states.

This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 01:45 PM EDT shows a band of clouds stretches into the Gulf of Mexico. A low pressure system moving through the Northeastern U.S. produces a strong front that triggers periods of heavy rain fall with scattered thunderstorms. Meanwhile, to the south, a few patchy clouds develop over the Greater and Lesser Antilles. Only a few light rain showers cover these areas, severe storms have not developed.

"We can't control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it," Obama said.

"And I want every American who has been affected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover and we will stand with you as you rebuild."

The storm prediction center said it received 164 tornado reports around the region, but some tornadoes were probably reported multiple times and it could take days to get a final count.

In fact, Brooks said 50 to 60 reports - from the Mississippi-Alabama line, through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham and into Georgia and southwestern Tennessee - might end up being a single tornado.

If that's true its path would be one of the longest on record for a twister, rivaling a 1925 tornado that raged for 219 miles.

Brooks said the weather service was able to provide about 24 minutes' notice before the twisters hit.

"It was a well-forecasted event," Brooks said. "People were talking about this week being a big week a week ago."

Gov. Bentley said forecasters did a good job alerting people, but there's only so much they can do to help people prepare.

Carbin, the meteorologist, noted that the warning gave residents enough time to hunker down, but not enough for them to safely leave the area.

"You've got half an hour to evacuate the north side of Tuscaloosa.

How do you do that and when do you do that? Knowing there's a tornado on the ground right now and the conditions in advance of it, you may inadvertently put people in harm's way," he said.

Officials said at least 13 died in Smithville, Miss., where devastating winds ripped open the police station, post office, city hall and an industrial park with several furniture factories.

Pieces of tin were twined high around the legs of a blue water tower, and the Piggly Wiggly grocery store was gutted.

Lee Henderson sits amid the rubble of his Smoothie King store after a tornado ripped through it Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Image: Caroline Summers/AP

"It's like the town is just gone," said 24-year-old Jessica Monaghan, wiping away tears as she toted 9-month-old son Slade Scott.

The baby's father, Tupelo firefighter Tyler Scott, was at work when the warning came on the TV.

"It said be ready in 10 minutes, but about that time, it was there," Monaghan said. She, Slade and the family's cat survived by hiding in a closet.

At Smithville Cemetery, even the dead were not spared: Tombstones dating to the 1800s, including some of Civil War soldiers, lay broken on the ground.

Brothers Kenny and Paul Long dragged their youngest brother's headstone back to its proper place.

Unlike many neighboring towns, Kenny Long said, Smithville had no storm shelter. 

"You have warnings," Long said, "but where do you go?"

Some fled to the sturdy center section of Smithville Baptist Church. Pastor Wes White said they clung to each other and anything they could reach, a single "mass of humanity" as the building disintegrated around them.

The second story is gone, the walls collapsed, but no one there was seriously hurt. The choir robes remained in place, perfectly white.

Seven people were killed in Georgia's Catoosa County, including Ringgold, where a suspected tornado flattened about a dozen buildings and trapped an unknown number of people.

"It happened so fast I couldn't think at all," said Tom Rose, an Illinois truck driver whose vehicle was blown off the road at I-75 North in Ringgold, near the Tennessee line.

Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers said several residential areas had "nothing but foundations left," and that some people reported missing had yet to be found.

In Trenton, Ga., nearly two dozen people took shelter in an Ace Hardware store, including a couple walking by when an employee emerged and told them to take cover immediately.

Lisa Rice, owner of S&L Tans in Trenton, survived by climbing into a tanning bed with her two daughters. Stormy, 19, and Sky, 21.

"We got in it and closed it on top of us," Rice said. "Sky said, `We're going to die.' But, I said, `No, just pray. Just pray, just pray, just pray.'"

For 30 seconds, wind rushed around the bed and debris flew as wind tore off the roof.

"Then it just stopped. It got real quiet. We waited a few minutes and then opened up the bed and we saw daylight," she said.

The badly damaged Moore Funeral Home, meanwhile, sheltered the woman who cleans Larry Moore's family business.

When the first of three storms hit and uprooted trees in her yard, she figured the funeral home would be a safer place for her two children. As shingles began sailing past the window, she headed for the basement.

"That's what saved her, I guess," Moore said. "It was over in just a matter of seconds. She called 911 and emergency crews had to help her get out."

The storm system spread destruction from Texas to New York, where dozens of roads were flooded or washed out.

It was unclear how high the death toll could rise. In Mississippi, Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson and a crew of deputies and inmates searched the rubble, recovering five bodies and marking homes that still had bodies inside with two large orange Xs.

"I've never seen anything like this," Johnson said. "This is something that no one can prepare for."

 Climate Change Comes From Space, Not Humanity
La Nina's Power Of Destruction
By Theodore White, astrometeorologist.S

Since mid-2009 more than half the planet has been in the climate throes of ENSO, or El Nino Southern Oscillation. ENSO is the abbreviation for El Nino/Southern Oscillation.

For years, climate science has been perverted by ideologues who promote 'man-made global warming' - something that is not real.

As a forecasting astrometeorologist, I have always known that the climate and resulting weather are caused by astronomic forces. It always has. The natural world includes outer space, and this is where all of our weather comes from.

Many people tend to forget that our planet, the Earth, lives in space. The climate of the Earth is a Hydrosphere - with three-fourths of the world covered in seawater.

Our weather is forced by the interaction of the Earth's hyrdosphere with forces in space - mainly that of the Sun: the driver of all life on our planet with solar winds comprised of a diverse menu of cosmic rays and magnetic resonance modulated by the motions of the planets in our solar system.

Coupled to the inclinations and causes of the Moon, our planet's weather is highly variable and always in motion - like the celestial bodies.

The Sun regulates the ocean patterns and jet streams that produce cold and warm pressure systems along with the modulation configurations of the planetary bodies. 

What the ENSO phenomena comes down to is a recurrent and astronomically-forced oceanolgraphic phenomenon that does produce extreme weather in many parts of the world. 

Back in 2006, I forecasted ENSO for the 2009-2011 period of which we are now emerging out from. 

The causes for all climate and weather come from space, by the motions and configurations of the Sun, Moon and planetary bodies relative to the Earth. 

Since we know where celestial bodies will transit in the future, astrometeorologists are able to forecast medium and long-range weather.

This surprising result stems from the fact that the oceans and the atmosphere interact with each other and land through a system of astrophysical to geophysical causes and effects.

 Southern Oscillation was named by the British scientist Sir Gilbert Walker. During the 1920's, when South American scientists were busy documenting the local effects of El Nino, Gilbert was in India scanning meteorological data in hopes of discovering how to predict the severity of the Asian monsoon. 

He discovered barometric pressure readings obtained from stations on either side of the Pacific fell into a remarkable pattern - that rising pressure in the east would almost always be accompanied by falling atmospheric pressure in the west. 

The reverse held true as well. Gilbert described the atmospheric system in the Pacific as a teeter-totter rocking back and forth. 

Because the wind's direction and magnitude are generated in response to pressure differences, extreme swings in either direction yield El Nino or La Nina years as wind patterns move surface waters and change the distribution of heat in the equatorial Pacific. 

The Southern Oscillation is thus an east-west seesaw of pressures that can be used to predict the occurrence of El Nino or La Nina. Today, the Southern Oscillation index is heavily relied upon in forecasting. 

Walker was the first to link such regional observations to conditions across the globe. He noted that a monsoon season characterized by "low-index" values often corresponded with drought in Australia, Indonesia, and portions of Africa. 

He also noted that Western Canadian winters in "low-index" years were unusually mild. Though chided for linking such distant events, we now know that El Nino and La Nina spread their influence around the globe.

The El Nino/La Nina oscillations have been the reasons for last year's heavy rains and monster floods that wrecked such damage and loss worldwide. 

In 2011, the cold, wet and stormy spring season in North America is testament to the power of planetary transits that regulate the world's weather and climate. 

La Nina will continue to have impact as it wanes; as it was the mix of cold and warm air masses across the American South and Midwest produced the super cell tornado super cells to strike and La Nina fueled that. 

As La Nina wanes approaching the winter season in the southern hemisphere, I expect the atmosphere to become colder than normal as chilly masses from the south pole gain intensity.

This colder atmosphere will extend to the center south region of Brazil, one of the biggest producers of arabica beans - or coffee. I expect coffee prices to rise this year and next.

Bloomberg news reported April 29 that: 

"Arabica-coffee futures for July delivery closed at $2.9985 a pound in New York. Yesterday, the price surged to a 14-year high of $3.034 and has more than doubled in the past year.

Cocoa futures are up 4 percent for the same period and raw sugar is 46 percent higher.
Kraft, based in Northfield, Illinois, increased U.S. prices on Maxwell House and Yuban ground coffees by about 22 percent on March 16, spokeswoman Bridget MacConnell said. 
Orrville, Ohio- based Smucker, maker of Folgers coffee, raised them by 10 percent in February, Vincent Byrd, director and president of U.S. retail coffee, said on a conference call that month.
Global food costs tracked by the United Nations reached an all-time high in February and the World Bank says that contributed to 44 million more people being driven into poverty in the past year. 
Inflation is accelerating worldwide, spurring central banks from China to the euro region to increase interest rates, potentially curbing consumer spending.
Arabica coffee, preferred by coffee shops such as Starbucks Corp., climbed as rains associated with La Nina damaged crops in Colombia, the fourth largest producer last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Brazil’s crop will be 13 percent smaller than last year, Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry estimates."
What we see happening are rising food and commodities affected both by climate conditions and rampant market speculation with coffee expected to rise 40% in the coming months.

The Earth's climate is always changing, always highly variable. What I like to remind people is the fact that we live in a hydrosphere with three-fourths of the world covered in water. 

The configurations of the Sun, Moon and planets cause and regulate the Earth's climate. We are currently in the 30-31st year of solar-forced global warming in my astrological estimation. 

There are six (6) years left of climate warming, so we are on the downward phase of global warming and heading to a new world climate cycle - global cooling - again, forced by the Sun.

As a crime reporter, I've seen and reported on a wide variety of topics, including accidents and murders that left its victims dead. Yet, never have I witnessed the rampant bloody carnage taking place in the beautiful nation of Mexico, just beyond the U.S. border. 

"During this astrological supputation, harmonized with the Holy Scriptures, the persecution of the Ecclesiastical folk will have its origin in the power of the Kings of "Aquilon" [the North], united with the Easterners. This persecution will last for eleven years, or somewhat less, for then the chief King of "Aquilon" will fall.

Thereupon the same thing will occur in the South, where for the space of three years the Church people will be persecuted even more fiercely through the Apostatic seduction of one who will hold all the absolute power in the Church militant. 

The holy people of the Immortal God, the observer of his Law, will be persecuted fiercely and such will be their affliction that the blood of the true Ecclesiastics will flow everywhere." 

- Michel Nostradamus, mundane Astrolog.S

We head south, to Mexico, where vicious drug cartels continue their lawless onslaught on society's innocent with horrid acts and shocking abuses of human rights that surely will send the perpetrators to the very depths of Hades itself in eternal punishment for all their evil and unspeakable acts.

The Cardinal Crisis
Mexico Rages With Mass Murder
A Mexican police officer guards a refrigerated truck carrying bodies that were found in mass graves in northern Mexico, after it arrived in Mexico City, Thursday April 14, 2011. Mexican investigators found a clandestine grave with six bodies in Tamaulipas state, bringing to 183 the number of bodies found in pits in a region near the U.S. border wracked by battling drug cartels, authorities said.
Image: Marco Ugarte/AP

Six More Victims Found in Mexican Border Pits, Climbs To 177+ Bodies Discovered In 40 Secret Graves

By E. Eduardo Cartillo

April 26, 2011 - Mexico City, Mexico - Security forces have unearthed six more bodies in a northeastern Mexican border state where a drug gang is believed to be kidnapping passengers from buses and hiding their victims in secret graves, authorities said.

Morgue workers remove a body, found in a hidden mass grave, from a refrigerated truck at the entrance of a funeral home in Mexico City, Thursday April 14, 2011. 
Image: Marco Ugarte/AP

A total of 177 bodies so far have been discovered in a month - buried in 40 secret mass graves.

The horrific discoveries have intensified criticism that lawlessness reigns in Tamaulipas state, where the Zetas drug gang has terrorized migrants trying to make their way north to the United States.

It is the same region where authorities say the Zetas killed 72 Central American migrants in August.

Meanwhile, a different search over the last month in the capital of northwestern Durango state has yielded 96 bodies in two mass graves as of Tuesday, said Gerardo Ortiz, spokesman for the state attorney general's office.

State investigators led by federal agents have exhumed 79 bodies in a car repair shop of a working-class neighborhood of Durango city, Ortiz said.

Seventeen other decomposed bodies were found in mid-April next to a well-known hacienda in the city, less than a mile away from the car shop.

Ortiz said the bodies appear to have been buried under dirt for anywhere from six months to six years, but authorities don't know for sure because they haven't done tests.

He wouldn't say who the victims likely were or the motives. But unlike in Tamaulipas, where states across Mexico sent reports of missing persons and families lined at up morgues to give DNA samples, no one has been calling Durango.

Very few families have inquired about loved ones, Ortiz said.

He said perhaps families were afraid to come forward, but he didn't want to speculate.

Both excavations are part of an investigation by the federal Attorney General's Office, Ortiz said.

But an official in the federal office disputed that. The official, who insisted on not being quoted by name, said state authorities are in charge of the Durango invesigation.

Federal Attorney General Marisela Morales said at a news conference Tuesday that six more bodies had been discovered in the San Fernando area of Tamaulipas, just south of the U.S. border.

Workers put up tarps to block the view before the transfer of a tractor trailer containing the bodies of 76 people found in secret mass graves in northern Mexico. The bodies were parked outside the La Piedad's Embalment building in Mexico City April 14, 2011 to collect forensic tissues and DNA to hopefully identify the victims.
Image: Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters

Security forces began exhuming the corpses on April 1 after they were led to the site by suspects who confessed to kidnapping and killing bus passengers traveling through the area.

The motive for the bus abductions remains unclear, though prosecutors have suggested the gang may be forcefully recruiting people to work for it.

Using a makeshift raft, pro-migrant activists and Central American migrants cross the Suchiate River as they participate in a Via Crucis near the Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo, on the border of Guatemala and Mexico, Wednesday, April. 20, 2011. Mexican authorities say they have rescued 68 people, including 12 Central American migrants, allegedly kidnapped by a drug cartel in northern Mexico. The banner at right reads in Spanish, 'No more kidnaps, rapes, deaths, operations.'
Image: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Morales said the Zetas have also been extorting migrants for up to $2,000.

Those whose families pay are led across the border to the U.S. by the Zetas themselves, she said.

The discoveries of the mass graves have sparked sporadic protests by citizens.
Alejandro Poire, the government spokesman for security issues, insisted "the government is in control of Tamaulipas."

He said the government has sent more federal police to the state and is aggressively investigating the mass killings and working to prevent more deaths.

He said the increased federal presence has led to the rescue of 119 kidnapped people in the northern Tamaulipas city of Reynosa in recent days, including Mexican, Central American and Chinese migrants.

Morales said 74 suspects have been arrested in the Tamaulipas killings, including 17 officers in San Fernando's municipal police force who were identified as collaborators of criminals by some of the detainees.

Only two of the 183 victims have been identified, Morales said. Mexican authorities have declined to reveal their identities, but the Guatemalan government has said one was a Guatemalan national.

A number of mass graves have been discovered over the past in areas of Mexico where drug gang turf wars have been the fiercest.

President Felipe Calderon stepped up the fight against drug traffickers when he took office four years ago, deploying thousands of federal police and soldiers to cartel strongholds.

Several gang kingpins have been brought down, leading to the splintering of several of Mexico's cartels. Drug gang violence has since surged, claiming more than more than 34,600 lives.~

What is most amazing about our present times is how much more violent the world has become. 

The violence is a result of decades of failure to respect human life and freedom, ignored by those who falsely believe that money and power is worth more than human life.

click graphic map to enlarge

The world transits over Mexico continue to reveal that evil forces intent on power and control have no respect for the sanctity of human life.

For instance, on Saturday, April 23, 2011 Reuters reported that five women were found brutally murdered in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco, according to state police. 

The semi-naked and bound bodies of two women and a 14-year-old girl were discovered in a beauty salon in the early hours of Saturday morning. All three had their throats slashed. 

Police later discovered the corpses of another two women with their throats cut and dumped in the streets. Mexican media said both victims worked at the beauty parlor. No motive was given for the killings. 

Acapulco, famed in the 1960s as a glamorous haunt for Hollywood stars, has been convulsed by drug violence in recent months as powerful cartels battle for smuggling routes, prompting the United States to warn tourists against visiting the downtown center of the resort.

Mexican officials have been anxious to downplay the impact of the violence on tourism, one of the country's main foreign exchange earners, pointing out that the number of visitors arriving in Mexico has continued to rise in recent years.

Spreading drug violence that killed more than 15,000 people last year has prompted foreign governments to issue a number of travel warnings for parts of Mexico. 

In astrology, we look at what's happening in the real world to gain more of a sense of the times.

Let's gain more of an overview of the situation in Mexico:

click graphic to enlarge

Transiting Saturn and Pluto are in a waning world square cycle. This cycle is part of the 38-year Saturn-Pluto 1982 conjunction that ends in the year 2020.

The cardinal transits of the planets into the early to mid-Twenty Tens shows us that unless this serious problem is solved that we haven't seen anything yet when it comes to the troubles in Mexico and Central America.

What we see happening now are intense drug cartel battles to control the multi-billion dollar drug flow, mainly into the United States and Canada, where a generation of aged Baby Boomers consume massive amounts of drugs, willing to pay top dollar even as society heads into economic decline.

Most of the victims of the drug wars are the young, who suffer so an aging generation can continue to deny reality at the expense of shedding human blood?

This is yet another reason why I am not positive about the Boomer generation and their total failure as the establishment to society.

Meanwhile, cartels with access to military-grade U.S.-made weapons seem to find it easy to ambush Mexican military forces struggling to contain and then end the rampant murders.

The transpersonal world transits of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto during the Twenty-Tens indicates that unless Mexico's problem is resolved within a few years that the situation will cause other nations to deal with the drug wars directly.

Saturn's coming transit in tropical Scorpio from autumn 2012 to summer 2015 is a warning of even more malefic acts to come.

This transit of Saturn in Scorpio clearly shows an intense rise in violence that could eclipse the tens of thousands of horrendous murders that have already taken place in Mexico.

The brutal violence of 2010 continued into 2011:
  • January 4, 2011 - Monterrey, Mexico: Female kidnapping suspect Gabriela Muniz, also known as 'The Redhead' was found tortured and hanging by the neck from a pedestrian overpass in Mexico's wealthiest city, Monterrey. 
She had been in prison since July 2009, accused of leading a gang of kidnappers and extortionists whose victims included wealthy ranchers, truckers and restaurateurs. 

After being sprung from prison, Muniz, in her early 30s, was discovered over the 2011 holiday weekend. Her body was found naked from the waist up with letters that may have formed a man's name painted on her back. 

Although she showed signs of having been beaten, forensic specialists said the hanging appeared to have been what killed her. 

Muniz had been in prison since July 2009, accused of leading a band of kidnappers and extortionists whose victims included wealthy ranchers, truckers and restaurateurs.

As Mexico's industrial and commercial hub, Monterrey had long been immune to the drug-trafficking warfare plaguing Mexico.

In 2010, as two cartels battled for dominance of Monterrey, this city also suffered the same kinds of broad-daylight shootouts, kidnappings and abuse by traffickers, who seized control of parts of the city.

The murder rate rose tenfold in just a single year - from 2009 to 2010.
  • January 8, 2011 - Acapulco, Mexico: Fifteen of 25 bodies found in Acapulco decapitated: The bodies of at least 25 people, 15 of them with their heads cut off, were found in the resort city of Acapulco, authorities said. 
The grimmest discovery came as police were investigating a burning car in a shopping center parking lot early in the morning: the decapitated bodies of 15 people. Security officials of the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, said all were men younger than 30 years old.

Police discovered messages attached to the bodies, and journalists said the notes claimed responsibility on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel accusing the dead men of being extortionists. 

Later, six more bodies were discovered in a minivan taxi in the Rebirth neighborhood of Acapulco. All had been shot in the head and were in their late teens or early 20s.

In late 2010, at least 20 young men from the neighboring state of Michoacan were kidnapped by drug hit men in Acapulco. 

Weeks later, the bodies of 18 of the men, whose families said were taking a vacation, were discovered in a mass grave about 40 minutes from the city.

Officials surmised that the men were seized by gunmen working for a faction of the Beltran Leyva cartel who had mistaken them for members of the rival La Familia gang, which is based in Michoacan. 

If members of the Sinaloa cartel were responsible for the slayings and have moved into Acapulco, a nasty fight may be in store between them and Beltran Leyva gang members.

Both groups were once allies but have been deadly rivals for several years. The Beltran Leyva group, dominant in Acapulco, is now seen as greatly weakened after the killing or capture of several of its leaders. 

The Sinaloa cartel is probably the most powerful drug-trafficking organization in Mexico, according to law enforcement authorities.

The Spirit of A Christian Woman

January 26, 2011: San Fernando, Mexico: A U.S. missionary died at a southern Texas hospital after her husband rushed her, mortally wounded, over the Rio Grande from Mexico.

Sam Davis told police he and his wife Nancy were traveling about 70 miles south of the border when gunmen in a pickup truck tried to stop them. 

 When the couple sped up, the gunmen fired, wounding his wife in the head, he said. 

Pharr police and U.S. customs agents converged on the Davises' truck just before 12:30 p.m. January 26, 2011, after Sam Davis stopped in the middle of bridge traffic to seek help.

Nancy Davis was bleeding from a head wound in the passenger seat.

She died in a McAllen hospital about 90 minutes after her husband drove the couple's truck against traffic across the Pharr International Bridge, according to a statement issued by the Pharr Police Department. 

A police statement said the Davises live in the lower Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas but did not specify where or provide details about Nancy Davis' missionary work.

Here on Global Astrology, we remember the loving and giving people who have become victims of evil. 

I also warn those who have been threatening Mr. Davis that they are being watched and who is watching them is to be truly feared.

The United States lost a very spiritual woman who gave freely to others and is a model for all Christians.

Nancy Davis, 59, pictured here with her husband Sam, was a American native of Dellroy, Ohio, a town in the eastern part of the state where she grew up. Married for 38 years, the couple believed very much that people needed to know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and were willing to face whatever dangers came about.

Sam Davis and his wife Nancy worked tirelessly as missionaries. They built churches and medical clinics in Mexico before she was killed by suspected drug smugglers. 
Though returning would be dangerous - maybe fatal, he admits - Sam Davis said wants to continue the work to his beloved "Nanz" dedicated her life.
Nancy Davis was buried in a quiet ceremony on Sunday, January 30, 2011.

Family members passing in and out of the house remembered her as a small woman who played the piano with such enthusiasm that it shook.

She was a master of sewing and pie baking and counseled lady friends so often that her phone earned the nickname, “Nancy's Hope Line.” 

She helped build churches, get children to school and brought doctors where they were needed. “She finished what God had for her to do,” her son Davis Jr. said. 

“Lots of good has been done. Momma's life has not been in vain.”

Speaking with The Associated Press in late February 2011, exactly two weeks after the couple were ambushed in their pickup truck, Davis said he doubts his wife's attackers will be brought to justice. 

But he prays for them.
"I miss her terribly, but those people who killed her need to be saved," Davis said during a telephone interview from his home in South Texas. "I pray for them, that God will have mercy on them and help them to know Him."
"Only God knows why I made it through," he said later. "It's been the most horrible experience of my life."
Nancy and Sam singing the gospel of Christ
Davis believes the gunmen wanted his truck and weren't targeting him and his wife, a registered nurse who helped deliver newborns in clinics they built through their Gospel Proclaimers Missionary Association. 
But now, after speaking publicly about the shootings, Davis knows he's a target.
He said a friend called to tell him that his home in Mexico was being watched by drug cartel members. A Mexican prosecutor plans to interview Davis.
"I know it's the drug cartel and the Zetas and the guys who shot at us, shot up my truck and killed my wife," Davis said. "They know who I am."
The couple was returning from a visit to one of their churches when they encountered an illegal roadblock Jan. 26, on a highway just south of the border city of Reynosa. 
The couple had been pursued 15 times before during their years in Mexico, and Sam Davis decided not to stop.
He then heard gunfire from semiautomatic weapons.
The back window of the truck shattered - and the woman he married more than 38 years ago, whom he described as perfect, fell motionless.
"I felt and heard the impact of the bullet that hit her in the back of her head," Davis said. 
"She instantly slumped over unconscious . . . blood began pouring out all over the console and seat. I laid my hand on her neck and could feel her heart was still beating. But I still had over 70 miles to get to the border."
He drove 137 mph, "but it still seemed like forever" before they made it to Texas. Nancy was pronounced dead at a hospital. She was 59 years of age.
The pickup Sam Davis Sr. and wife Nancy were is in Pharr police custody. A bullet entered the rear window, passed through the passenger seat head rest and fatally wounded Nancy Davis.
Image: Courtesy Pharr Police Dept.

Earlier that day, the couple had talked about what they would do if they were ever kidnapped. After hearing about recent violence - tortures, rapes, beheadings -  they both agreed "we were not going to stop and surrender without fighting. That's why I did what I did," Davis said.
Because of escalating violence, Davis was able to convince his wife to stay behind for the last few weeks when he went into some remote villages to check on their pastors and congregations. 
After his last trip, his wife told him she couldn't stand being without him. 
They'd been working in Mexico together for nearly four decades.
"We've been together through thick and thin. She said, 'please let me go, take me with you,'" Davis recalled. Granting that request, he said, is something he'll always regret.
He acknowledged that the shooting "was simply one more in a long chain" of drug-related violence in Mexico. 
If he could go back in time, Davis said, he maybe would have packed up his family and fled Mexico with other missionaries, then waited for the violence to quell before returning to their work. 
Through donations, their Gospel Proclaimers Missionary Association supports 15 churches on a 2,000-mile circuit through Mexico.
"We had counted the cost and were very aware that it was going to take our lives, but I didn't know what that would mean," he said.
He has found some solace speaking with Tiffany Hartley, the Colorado woman whose husband was shot by pirates as the couple rode Jet-Skis on a Texas-Mexico border lake. His body was never found.
"To know and sense what we've been through, the trauma of watching your mate be killed, the suffering of that. 
The agony is beyond words," Davis said.
Yet he wants to continue the mission for which his wife died. The couple has two adult sons and seven grandchildren, and Davis said both his sons have decided to help.
The scene of his mother's fatal shooting came to Sam Davis Jr. via his cell phone. “Momma and I were texting,” Davis remembered from the porch of his rural home, next to the place his parents used to rest and resupply for the next mission into Mexico.
It was a Wednesday morning. “She texted and said, ‘We're being followed. Pray for us.'”

The next messages came as his parents pulled over at a diesel stop, knowing that the young men following them were likely going to radio for an ambush.

Their pickup, the presumed target in a carjacking gone out of control, sits in a police garage in Pharr, Texas, the passenger seat blood-stained from the head wound to Nancy Davis.

The generations-old nondenominational family ministry to Mexico was likewise dead, Davis Jr. said, though that hadn't yet set in for his dad, who was interviewed by state of Tamaulipas police officers.

“Dad says, ‘I'm going back,'” Davis Jr. said. “I pray that he wakes up.”

Amid escalating violence during the past two years, the family continued making trips, weighing the dangers against what they saw as spiritual poverty in the poorest and most remote regions of Mexico.

They relied on a mix of faith, prayer and premonition. But the drug war just continued to get worse, with Nancy, a nurse, seeing a few of the many babies she delivered end up working for the cartels.

“I believe it's a lost cause due to the fact that the people and places that could do something about it won't,” Davis Jr. said of his adopted country. 

“It's like a rattlesnake. They're cutting off a rattle at a time. You don't kill it that way.”

The Davises were boxed in by two white pickups. Davis Sr. broke away and sped up, and someone fired. He raced the truck some 70 miles to the U.S. border. Nancy was pronounced dead at a McAllen hospital.

Pharr police have been handling the U.S. end of the case, but the incident itself was in Mexico's jurisdiction, Pharr police Sgt. Santiago Solis said. Police met with their Tamaulipas state counterparts for several hours.

Davis Jr. said he knew cartels had impunity in Mexico. He himself had been pursued, once phoning his mom to “talk to the Lord and tell them to fix it because they're about to kill me.”

He said he's seen shot-up vehicles, burned buildings and bodies on the street, yet continued to live and work there because he thought he was needed.

It was his grandfather who started what became the Gospel Proclaimers Missionary Association Inc. A pastor and contractor in Indiana, he drove down to Mexico after reading a newspaper article that troubled him and found himself in a village with people who had never seen a Bible.

He sold his business, bought a bunch of Bibles and headed south of the border with his family and $50.

Sam and Nancy raised their children in Mexico, sometimes each night in a different village. 

Sam preached; Nancy motored around on a three-wheeler. They found their calling in the backwoods missioning to the poor.

Davis has established a memorial fund to build a new church honoring his wife. 
He has seen lives transformed as people come to embrace faith, and he wants to keep experiencing that beauty.
"I am not angry with God that my wife is gone," Davis said. "I don't understand why he took her. But I know that he has a plan that is working out and it's part of that plan. And so, I remain committed and surrender to His will even though my heart is hurting and I'm grieving."

February 15, 2011 - between Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico:

A U.S. federal agent was shot dead and a second wounded when they were intercepted by gunmen as they drove from Mexico City into a part of central Mexico increasingly under the influence of violent drug traffickers, officials said.

The two special agents were with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and were apparently ambushed at the kind of fake roadblock often set up by traffickers and their henchmen. 

The agents were attached to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. The agent who was killed was stationed in Laredo, Texas, according to a U.S. source. He was on temporary duty at the embassy in Mexico City.

The pair were driving from the capital toward the northern city of Monterrey when they were attacked in the state of San Luis Potosi, U.S. authorities said.

There were conflicting reports on exactly where in San Luis Potosi state the agents were shot. Several Mexican sources put the shooting on Highway 57 between the cities of Queretaro and San Luis Potosi, roughly a third of the way from Mexico City to Monterrey. 

The attack occurred about 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15. The gunmen apparently blocked the road, placed their vehicles across the highway and forced the agents to stop. Then they opened fire. 

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the second ICE agent was in stable condition with gunshot wounds to an arm and leg.

A group of women take part in a performance during a protest against the killing at a commemoration of International Women's Day in Mexico City, Mexico, on March 8, 2011. 
Image: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

February 26, 2011 - The Reyes Salazar family has become a case study of the unrelenting violence. First they killed activist Josefina Reyes Salazar who was murdered on Jan. 3, 2010, in the town of El Sauzal outside of Juárez.

Then they killed her brother. 

Then they burned down her mother's house. 

Gunmen dressed in black kidnapped Reyes' sister, sister-in-law and another brother. On Feb. 22, 2011, their bodies were discovered, shot and dumped on the side of a windswept road in Chihuahua state.

The Reyes family has become a case study of the unrelenting violence ravaging northern Mexico. Surviving relatives angrily blame government authorities for failing to protect a family "so historically aggrieved."
"This is part of a growing wave of systematic harassment of the Reyes family by the state" and by criminal forces, the family said in a statement.
Carlos Gonzalez, spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office, said the bodies of Maria Magdalena Reyes, 45; Elias Reyes, 56; and his wife, Luisa Ornelas, 54; were discovered with handwritten signs suggesting that they had worked for drug traffickers - an allegation the family vehemently denied.
Other members of the Reyes family said they have been targeted because they are resisting a campaign by "outsiders" - presumably drug traffickers - to drive them and other families from their homes in the Juarez Valley around the town of Guadalupe, south of Ciudad Juarez. 
The region is coveted by organizations smuggling drugs into the United States, and Juarez has become Mexico's deadliest city as rival drug gangs battle for control despite a stepped-up presence of federal police and army forces.
"There are powerful interests that want to silence the Reyes family," Josefina's sister, Marisela, 39, said in an interview this week. She had come to Mexico City and erected a protest tent in front of the Senate to draw attention to her relatives' disappearance.
As is so often the case in Mexico, the story of the Reyes family's suffering is complex and not written in black and white.
Josefina Reyes became an activist after the 2008 kidnapping and slaying of her son. She openly blamed the army occupying parts of the Juarez Valley for her son's death. There were persistent reports at the time that he worked for one of the drug cartels disputing territory around Ciudad Juarez.

  • March 7, 2011 - Thousands of people have vanished without a trace – some caught up in violence, others for no reason anyone can fathom. Relatives remain in agonized limbo.

They had scraped together money for a vacation in the port city of Veracruz. Four couples, owners of small fruit and taco shops, from the quiet state of Guanajuato.
After checking in to their hotel and spending the day by the pool with their children, the husbands wandered off, still in their shorts, to buy ice at a nearby 7-Eleven. Maybe they decided to pop into a bar, one the hotel guard recommended.

At first, the wives weren't too worried when the men didn't come back. Even the next morning, the women figured they had tied one on and slept it off somewhere. They took their children on a tour of the city. 
But by nightfall, the wives became nervous, and as cellphone calls went unanswered, they became terrified.
Where were their husbands?
That was nearly a year ago. The four men have not been seen since. Their families have received no ransom demand, no information, no clues whatsoever. Their bodies have not turned up.
"It was as if the earth swallowed them," one of the wives said in an interview.
In a chilling byproduct of the drug war raging in Mexico, thousands of people have disappeared. Not killed, as far as is known; not taken for ransom. Simply vanished, leaving families desperate and broken, and a society confused and frightened.
Some are low-level drug gangsters "lifted," to use the local vernacular, by rivals, then killed and dumped in secret mass graves. 
Some are last seen in the hands of the military or police, picked up for questioning, fates unknown. Thousands of others are immigrants who can't pay their smugglers.
And some, in the most unsettling instances, disappear for reasons no one can fathom.
Families tell themselves their loved ones were taken by traffickers and forced into slave labor in marijuana fields and methamphetamine labs. It may be true in some cases, but more often it is a form of self-deluding comfort.
The disappearances are a disturbing echo of a tactic employed by dictatorships in the so-called dirty wars that plagued parts of Latin America in the last half of the 20th century.
Whether practiced by governments or by criminals, it is a form of control and intimidation that in some ways has an even more profound effect on society because it is an "ambiguous loss," said psychologist Carlos Beristain, a Spaniard who has counseled families of the missing throughout the region.

Police, bus companies failed to act as graves filled in Tamaulipa

There were clues but nothing was done, and now at least 177 bodies have been unearthed. Demand grows for dismissing the state's elected but apparently ineffective officials.

April 25, 2011 - A worker transfers the body of a victim discovered in a mass grave from a refrigerated truck into the morgue in Matamoros, Mexico, this month. 
Image: Alexandre Meneghini/AP

By Tracy Wilkinson
Los Angeles Times

At least 177 corpses have been recovered in the last few weeks, most of them, officials now say, passengers snatched from interstate buses, tortured and slaughtered. 

Women were raped before being killed, and some victims were burned alive, according to accounts from survivors who eventually overcame their fears and came forward.

The slayings have horrified a Mexican public already awash in violence and led commentators to call them "our Auschwitz" and a "Mexican genocide."

Worse yet is the realization that the killing in Tamaulipas state has been going on for months - including the brutal slayings of bus passengers - and no one, not the bus companies, nor the police, nor the officials in charge, acted to stop it.

Elida Martinez, a gray-haired woman in her 60s, was one of dozens of mothers, fathers and siblings of the missing who were waiting in the morgue here the other day to offer blood samples for DNA testing.

Two of her daughters disappeared in February, one kidnapped from the hotel in San Fernando where she worked and the other seized from her home in the middle of the night a short time later. Between them they left behind four children.

"You pray to God you won't find them here," she said. Yet the gut-wrenching uncertainty tears her apart. "You don't sleep. You can't work. You live in anguish."

After the massacre last year of 72 mostly Central American immigrants near San Fernando, the government of President Felipe Calderon promised the world, including angry Central American authorities, that justice would be done and the popular routes through northern Mexico toward the United States would be guarded.

It now appears, however, that the killings continued, and not just of immigrants but Mexican citizens and, perhaps, a handful of Americans. 

On Wednesday, April 20, 2011 authorities said they rescued a group of 68 Mexicans and Central Americans who had been seized by gangsters from buses or from bus stations in the same area.

The motives behind the bus kidnappings remain unclear. Gangs may seize the passengers hoping to extort money from them, to forcibly recruit them or because they are searching for rivals.

The killings have galvanized an unusual if belated consensus, even among conservative commentators and politicians, that parts of Mexico have indeed been lost to criminal gangs such as the Zetas and the Gulf cartel that control (and are battling each other to dominate) the northeast. 

What does it mean, they ask, when the federal government cannot keep the nation's highways safe from brazen predators?

Even worse is the near-certainty that the police who are meant to be protectors have been involved. 

Among the more than 50 people arrested in connection with the latest killings are 17 local police officers accused of providing protection to the cartel gunmen believed responsible.

There is growing demand for a new government strategy and that the national Senate take the highly unusual step of dismissing the state's elected but apparently ineffective officials, a move that would also involve Calderon suspending civil rights in the region.

"If Tamaulipas is not a failed state, or a narco-state, it sure looks like one," political analyst Alfonso Zarate said. "The institutional powers are incapable of upholding the law."

Calderon has steadfastly resisted that characterization.

The top official in Tamaulipas is something of an accidental governor. Egidio Torre Cantu was elected last year, standing in at the last minute after his brother, a shoo-in for the job, was assassinated by a drug gang.

"We are prisoners in towns that we cannot leave," said Mario Alberto Alejandro, 43, who came to the morgue looking for his brother, Rigoberto, a U.S. citizen who vanished Feb. 23 on the road to Matamoros. "In whose hands are we?"

Alejandro echoed other families in saying authorities were giving them the runaround, sending relatives from the morgue to one government office after another and even in some cases to Mexico City, where most of the bodies have been taken, in part because the Matamoros morgue was full.

Alejandro said his brother Rigoberto has lived for 13 years in Texas, where he works as a forklift operator. He was in Tamaulipas to visit family, a trip he makes often.

"He never thought it would be this dangerous," Alejandro said. "There is no security."

So many families have shown up at the Matamoros morgue that locals set up a tent with chairs and a table offering coffee and water. Doors have been plastered with dozens of pictures of missing people.

Francisco Garcia's nephew Jose was on his way to Chicago from central Mexico when last heard from in early March. He was traveling with two friends, who are also missing, and all were going to join family in the U.S.

"We have not received any information, no phone call asking for ransom, nothing," said Garcia, a farmer. Too terrified to travel to Matamoros, Garcia was among scores of people who instead went to the morgue in Mexico City.

"Jose is just gone."

The Times reported in early March that several thousand people have disappeared since Calderon launched the crackdown on drug gangs in December 2006. 

Most vanished without a trace. Families nurse the hope that their loved ones were taken as forced laborers on marijuana farms or in meth labs. 

But the mass graves, here in Tamaulipas and in other parts of the country, are slowly destroying those hopes. At least 58 bodies were recovered last week from clandestine graves in Durango state.

The main bus companies that run through Tamaulipas have altered their schedules and eliminated nighttime trips through San Fernando. But they have not spoken publicly about the killings. 

One manager, speaking through a representative but insisting on anonymity, confirmed the existence of unclaimed suitcases but would not discuss why authorities were not informed about them.

"Maybe it's fear, or they didn't want to lose the business," said Jose Javier Saldana, a regional human rights official. "Maybe the drivers didn't report it up the chain [of management], either."

Although some of the families said the bus companies' failure to sound the alarm was unconscionable, most put the blame on authorities. Several families said authorities tried to pressure them not to speak to reporters. 

Furthermore, officials in three central states, Guanajuato, Queretaro and San Luis Potosi, say they have been asking the Tamaulipas government about numerous missing citizens as far back as 2009.

In the San Fernando case, in addition to the police officers, the arrested include Martin Omar Estrada, a.k.a. "El Kilo," whom authorities describe as a ringleader responsible for the latest dead as well as last summer's migrant massacre. 

If true, that means Estrada, who was arrested this month, and his gang continued to operate with impunity for months.

Calderon recently promised to take back Tamaulipas and flood the zone with troops. It was virtually the same promise he made five months ago.


The Cardinal Crisis
Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

By Theodore White, mundane Astrolog.S

The nuclear crisis at Fukushima, Japan, caused by a massive March 11, 2011 9.0-magnitude earthquake is by no means out of the news.

Although mainstream media continues to avoid overall coverage of the crisis - it is by no means over.

As of late April 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, says it aims to begin disposing of highly radioactive water in June.

The contaminated water is hampering efforts to reactivate the cooling systems in the plant's reactors.

On April 26, TEPCO announced it would set up a treatment system to eliminate radioactive materials.

The utility firm says 87,500 tons of contaminated water has accumulated in the No. #1 to No. #4 reactors.

TEPCO estimates up to 200,000 tons of the highly contaminated water will be produced by the end of year - if all the water used to cool the reactors becomes highly radioactive.

The company also says it plans to start installing the system in early May which will begin operating in June.

It hopes to dispose of 1,200 tons of highly contaminated water per day once the system is in place.

Radioactivity from the nuclear plant continues to be picked up worldwide with radioactivity exceeding safety limits detected in fish and spinach from the Fukushima Prefecture.

On April 26,2011, it has been estimated that 2,600 to 3,200 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in two samples of a fish species called sand lance that was caught off Iwaki City.

That is 5 to 6 times higher than the permissible level.

Spinach harvested in Otama Village, Japan was found to contain 960 becquerels of cesium and 510 becquerels of cesium was detected in spinach from Tamura City, Japan.

The Japanese government set the safety standard for the leafy vegetable at 500 becquerels.

The government has already banned shipments of some kinds of vegetables and fish harvested or caught in Fukushima Prefecture and is warning people not to eat them.

click on graphic to enlarge

The crisis that began with the March 11, 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami that damaged the nuclear facilities will continue for years.

Sadly, reading and interpreting the astrological transits over the stricken site, it is clear to me that there are very good reasons to leave Japan.

Moreover, the radioactive transfer continues to spread around the world. 

Several meltdowns at the nuclear reactors have already taken place in March into early April and radioactivity continues to be emitted into the natural environment.

The longer it takes for TEPCO and the Japanese government to seal the site the more radiation will escape.

Review of Japan's INES Class 7 Nuclear Accident

By Stoneleigh
The Automatic Earth

The Fukushima disaster continues and will do so for a long time to come. This is hardly surprising given the overwhelming force the plant was exposed to, which far exceeded the worst case scenario it was designed to withstand.

Photo of Fukushima Dai-Ni

Photo of Fukushima Dai-Ni as tsunami strikes

The immediate devastation from the earthquake and tsunami was immense, even before the accident began.

As we have seen over the past several weeks, the loss of power to the site, and subsequent inability to circulate coolant in the reactors and the spent fuel pools, led to explosive consequences.

We saw a series of hydrogen explosions at Units 1, 3 and 2 and 4, and have seen at least three partial meltdowns, with varying degrees of apparent containment breach.

Hydrogen is produced as an exothermic reaction when the fuel cladding reacts with water steam at high temperatures (Zr + 2 H2O -> ZrO2 + 2 H2), indicating damage to the reactor core from loss of coolant.

The first image below shows the four units, with Unit 4 on the far left and unit 1 on the far right.

The second image below shows a close up of Units 3 and 4, where the buildings sustained the greatest visible damage.

Unit 4 is particularly interesting, since the reactor had been offline for maintenance at the time of the earthquake, with its fuel removed and stored in the spent fuel pool.

The explosion in this unit must have been related to this accumulation of fuel.

The pool is believed to have been damaged, leading to loss of cooling water and partial exposure of the fuel rods.

The first overhead image below is of Unit 4.

The second image below is a close up view inside the unit taken by helicopter:

It is not difficult to see how the spent fuel pool, which is situated above the reactor, could have come to be damaged.

 Operators have been spraying the ground surrounding the plant with resin in order to prevent radioactive dust from the debris from becoming airborne:

 Engineers have been working intensively to restore power to the site under very difficult conditions:

 In the meantime, essential cooling has been ad hoc through the use of seawater, but this results in a salt build up that leads to further difficulty cooling the plant and also to rapid corrosion at high temperatures.

Salt accumulation will need to be flushed out with fresh water.

Seawater spraying into cracked vessels has also led to the accumulation of large quantities of radioactive water.

As a result, 10,000 tons of contaminated water (measuring about 500 times above the legal limit for radioactivity) were emptied into the sea in order to make room for much more highly contaminated water.

The world's largest concrete pumps are being sent to Japan, first to pump water and later perhaps to create a concrete sarcophagus. Here’s one that arrived on an Antonov plane:

 Pumps used at the site would have to be abandoned there as they will be too radioactive to recover.

The dimensions of a sarcophagus entombing at least four (4) reactors would have to be truly gargantuan - considerably larger than the pyramids at Giza, per reactor.

This would be no small undertaking. Alternatively, Japan may attempt to drape the plants with fabric.

There are clearly no easy long term solutions.

 The accident process is being reconstructed, often from foreign sources through nuclear forensics.

French nuclear company Areva initially (inadvertently) provided a particularly detailed explanation of the accident sequence in the early days, indicating a more serious accident in Unit 2 than in Units 1 and 3.

At Unit 2, the condensation chamber at the base of the reactor appears to have been damaged, leading to the loss of highly radioactive water into the environment.

Thus, while unit 2 appears to the least damaged from the outside, the internal damage poses a larger threat than units 1 and 3.

This analysis fits with subsequent events:

Operators faced a leak of highly radioactive water from a maintenance pool associated with Unit 2.

This took desperate measures to plug.

Concrete initially failed to harden, whereupon operators resorted to sawdust, shredded newspapers, special polymers and screens were used.

According to TEPCO, the leak was plugged on April 6th.

The leak caused radiation levels to spike in the sea surrounding the plant. according to the L.A. Times:
"The operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it had found radioactive iodine at 7.5 million times the legal limit in a seawater sample taken near the facility, and government officials imposed a new health limit for radioactivity in fish.

The reading of iodine-131 was recorded Saturday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. Another sample taken Monday found the level to be 5 million times the legal limit.
The Monday samples also were found to contain radioactive cesium at 1.1 million times the legal limit."
It has also caused diplomatic difficulties with neighbors:
Regarding the release of radiation contaminated water into the ocean from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the South Korean government conveyed its worries to Japan's Foreign Ministry through its Embassy in Japan at night of April 4 [when TEPCO started dumping], that "this may cause problems in international law."
India has already banned the import of produce from Japan, and other countries are likely to follow suit. 

Seafood is likely to be the most affected. 

The Japanese authorities are still saying this is safe, although they have imposed new standards:
The plant operator insisted that the radiation will rapidly disperse and that it poses no immediate danger, but an expert said exposure to the highly concentrated levels near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant could cause immediate injury and that the leaks could result in residual contamination of the sea in the area.

The new levels coupled with reports that radiation was building up in fish led the government to create an acceptable radiation standard for fish for the first time, and officials said it could change depending on circumstances.
Some fish caught on Friday off Japan's coastal waters would have exceeded the new limit.
Nuclear analyst Arnie Gundersen more recently identifies Unit 2 as the reactor of most concern. There is a combination of temperature above boiling point and no additional pressure inside the reactor. 

The implication is that Unit 2 is not currently water cooled and likely contains hot air or hydrogen instead.

There is also not pressure in the containment system at Unit 2. 

A containment breach in the bottom of Unit 2 would be consistent with these observations.

Unit 1 has both high temperature and elevated pressure inside the reactor, indicating perhaps a water/steam combination. Unit 3 has low pressure and a temperature at boiling point, indicating relative stability. 

Both these units have somewhat elevated pressure inside the containment structures.

Operators at Fukushima have sent robots (see two photos below) into the damaged units to assess the radiation currently present:

The data released by TEPCO for Units 1 and 3 are translated as follows:
Reactor Unit 1 building:

Date and time: 4:40PM to 5:30PM, April 17, 2011
Radiation (1st floor, through the north door): 10 to 49 milli-sievert/hr

Reactor Unit 3 building:

Date and time: 11:30AM to 1:30PM, April 17, 2011
Radiation: 28 to 57 milli-sievert/hr.  
According to TEPCO, there were a lot of debris inside the Reactor 3 building, and the robots had a hard time moving forward and didn't go much beyond the door.  
Part of the reason why they had the robots enter through the north door was because of the high radiation level at the south door.
On April 16, the radiation level at the south door to the Reactor 1 building was measured at 270 milli-sievert/hr. 
The distance between the north door and the south door is about 30 meters, according to TEPCO. The radiation right outside the north door was also measured on April 16, and it was 20 milli-sievert/hr. 
Apparently, the Unit 2 building was too steamy for the robots to record readings. This is also the location where readings are most urgently needed. 
Official Japanese radiation data have shown some disturbing values over the last couple of weeks. See for instance this screen shot for Unit 1 taken April 9th:

click on screenshot to enlarge

On April 17th the same site had the following radiation levels recorded for units 1-3:

Reactor 1  
Dry Well: 121.4 Sv/hr  
Suppression chamber: 97.5 Sv/hr 

Reactor 2  
Dry Well: N/A  
Suppression Chamber: 131 Sv/hr 

Reactor 3
Dry Well: 253.2 Sv/hr
Suppression Chamber: 103.9 Sv/hr

 A single dose of about 5Sv would be fatal in about 50% of cases according to the IAEA.

 The allowable emergency dose for nuclear workers has been climbing recently.

It was originally 100 mSv/yr, was raised to 250 mSv/yr and is now to be raised again, likely to 500mSv/yr.

Translated from Nihon Television News 24 on April 18, 2011:

 "The radiation exposure limit for workers at nuclear power plants is 100 milli-sievert/year, but the limit has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year to deal with the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. 

According to the government sources, the higher limit is being considered because it is getting increasingly difficult to have enough workers to work on the plant. 

Also, the radiation inside the Reactor buildings is high, and the annual limit of 250 milli-sieverts may not be high enough to achieve the goals laid out by the TEPCO road map.

 The international standard allows 500 milli-sievert/year in an emergency work, but it hasn't been decided how high the new limit will be. 

The government will carefully assess the timing of announcement, keeping in consideration the health concerns of the workers and the public opinion."

 It continues to be difficult to secure skilled and experienced workers at Fukushima, likely because they know what happened to their counterparts at Chernobyl.

In my view the Japanese government is being far too sanguine about the risks in the neighborhood of the stricken plant, while risks far from the plant are often overstated.

The evacuation zone may be extended in light of continuing aftershocks, but probably not by enough, for logistical reasons:

One reason for the reluctance of the Japanese government to widen the evacuation from 20km to 40 km is because it will need to relocate another 130,000 people from the affected zone on top of the 70,000 people who are already evacuated from the 20km zone. 

So where are they going to resettle this 200,000 people as they can never return to their homes for the next few hundred years.

If the evacuation zone be enlarged to 80 km as recommended by the IAEA, it is estimated that  they need to evacuate another 1.8 million people or making the total of 2 million residents out from the danger zone. 

Where are they going to put those 2 million refugees?

Another reason for the reluctance to widen the evacuation zone is due to logistics. 

The Tohoku expressway is a national expressway in Japan and links Tohoku region in the northernmost region in the Honshu Island  with the Kanto region and Greater Tokyo.

So if the government decided to entomb the Fukushima reactors, it will need to cordoned off an area with a radius of 50km from Fukushima. 

Hence the cost of not being able to move people and goods from Tokyo to Northern Honshu will be staggering.

Moreover it will also prohibit traveling using train services as the main train track passes through the region in Sendai-Fukushima-Iwate and runs parallel to the coast. 

The risk of further adverse events at the unstable plant will remain high for months, if not years, to come, and the reactors at Onagawa and Fukushima II may also be vulnerable.

Many other locations should urgently review their safety standards and design-basis accident scenarios in light of the catastrophe that is unfolding in Japan.

The transits of the Cardinal Crisis will be with the world for most of the Twenty-Tens. 

One of the major problems associated with planetary transits are that often, people and policymakers make things worse by clinging to outworn and outdated views and methodologies, which often emerge in the world through dysfunction and neglect.

We can observe this in North Africa, where geopolitics plays out inclined by the cardinal crisis transits.

Since January 2011, the world has witnessed massive uprisings in Bahrain, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

The uprisings signify the inability of one generation to step aside from the halls of power in their failure to feed, shelter and provide jobs to younger generations who say they want to direct their own future.

The new cycle of Uranus in Aries has ended the last vestiges of the old order of the late 20th century, but many of the oligarcy and outgoing establishment continue to refuse to accept their failures over the last 42 years.

Nonetheless, as Uranus moves closer within orb of its first series of cardinal world squares to Pluto in Capricorn, we can expect to witness ever more battles between the 'old' and the 'new' - with the 'new' being young people who are killed simply for demanding the right to determine their own futures.

We go to Syria, another North African nation inclined powerfully by world transits.

 The Cardinal Crisis
Attack On Dissent In Syria
In this video frame a young man is shown dead after being shot in the back of the head. The victim is said to be among other people killed by Syrian plainclothes security forces who also conducted hundreds of illegal arrests of citizens across the country since March 2011. AFPTV obtained this horrific image from YouTube. I have been able to verify the videos were indeed shot in the Syrian cities of Zabandani, Douma, Maaret al Nouman and Homs. I can confirm these images were filmed in April 2011 and are from Syria.

[Editor's Note - This article contains disturbing images of violence from Syria.]

Syrian Security Forces Kill Their Own Civilians In Bloody Crackdown

By Bassen Mroue & Diaa Hadid

April 26, 2011 - Filed From Beirut - Residents of the southern Syrian city of Daraa braved sniper fire to pull the bullet-riddled bodies of the dead from the streets and hide them from security forces, a day after a brutal government crackdown on the popular revolt against President Bashar Assad, witnesses said.

As heavy gunfire reverberated through Daraa, a Syrian human rights group said authorities detained dozens of people across the country, mainly in several Damascus suburbs, including the town of Douma and in the northern coastal city of Jableh.

A relentless crackdown since mid-March has killed more than 400 people across Syria, with 120 dead over the weekend, rights groups said. 

That has only emboldened protesters who started their revolt with calls for modest reforms but are now increasingly demanding Assad's downfall.

The Syrian army, backed by tanks and snipers, killed at least 22 people in a raid launched before dawn Monday on Daraa, where the uprising began more than a month ago. Security forces also conducted raids in the towns of Douma and Jableh.

Rocks versus Tanks: A video grab released by AFPTV from YouTube shows a Syrian youth throwing a stone at an army tank in the flashpoint town of Daraa. AFP is not authorized to report from Syria, so is using photos from alternative sources. AFP has been able to verify that the pictures were shot in Daraa.

World leaders expressed concern at the mounting bloodshed, with the United States starting to draw up sanctions against Assad, diplomats hoping to send a strong signal to Damascus from the United Nations, and the prime minister of neighboring Turkey telephoning the Syrian leader to urge restraint.

The assault on Daraa appeared to be part of new strategy of crippling, preemptive action against any opposition to Assad, rather than reacting to demonstrations.

It took more than a day for residents of Daraa to start pulling many of the bodies off the streets of Daraa, with rooftop snipers and army forces firing on people who dared to leave their homes. 

 click on graphic to enlarge

One man, Zaher Ahmad Ayyash, was killed as he tried to retrieve the bodies of two brothers, Taysir and Yaser al-Akrad, said a resident, who asked to be identified only as Abdullah for fear of reprisal.

The corpses were hidden away after they were retrieved from the streets, Abdullah said, suggesting that residents might face reprisal if troops discovered they had taken the bodies. 

A Syrian protester shouts slogans next to a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a protest in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman April 24, 2011.
Image: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

As he spoke on the phone, gunfire popped in the background.

"We can't bury the dead in the cemetery because it's occupied by Syrian soldiers," said Abdullah.

"We are waiting to find another place to bury them."

Snipers also targeted water tanks on rooftops in Daraa — the last source of clean water for many desperate residents of the parched region of 300,000 people, Abdullah said.

Even as the military crackdown intensified, Abdullah said there was quiet, defiant resistance. He said some soldiers were disobeying orders and allowing residents to pass through military checkpoints.

Palestinian refugees - generally the most hardscrabble of all Syrian residents - smuggled flour, water, bread and canned food into town. "We are so grateful to them," the resident said.

Earlier in the day, another resident said Syrian special forces were in the streets of the impoverished city, and tanks had opened fire in the city.

Soldiers take up position near a tank on a street in a location given as Deraa on April 25, 2011, in this still image taken from an amateur video. Syrian troops in tanks and armored vehicles poured into the southern town of Deraa and opened fire, residents said. This is the latest bloodshed in a crackdown on protests that has escalated sharply.
Image: Reuters

"We are being subjected to a massacre," another resident screamed over the telephone above the sound of gunfire. "We have been without electricity for three days. We have no water."

The witness, contacted via a Jordanian cell phone, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, as did other witnesses and residents contacted across Syria.

Scenes similar to those in Daraa took place in Jableh, with residents hiding their dead from Friday's assault and then furtively burying them in private plots of farmland - some as late as Tuesday - out of fear that the families of those killed might be arrested, a resident said. 

Also like Daraa, gunmen had shot holes in water storage tanks on rooftops in a form of punishment, he added.

In a continuation of the crackdown, hundreds of people were targeted and arrested by Syrian secret security forces operating on the streets Tuesday, he said.

Syria has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted access to trouble spots since the uprising began, making it almost impossible to verify the dramatic events shaking one of the most authoritarian, anti-Western regimes in the Arab world.

In Douma, which saw an intense crackdown Monday, houses were raided again at dawn Tuesday, with forces detaining anyone suspected of participating in demonstrations.

Soldiers at sandbagged checkpoints also held men deemed suspicious. Phone service was cut off, a resident said.

The streets of Douma were almost empty, with schools and most shops closed and uncollected garbage piling up.

Security was heavy, with agents at checkpoints asking people for their identity cards.

Another resident said Syrian authorities closed the private Hamdan Hospital after ordering all families of patients to take them home.

A distressed man prays for the life of his wounded brother in Syria

No reason was given for the closure, and three doctors there were detained, the resident said.

 A protester bleeding from the head is carried away during a protest in Damascus in this still image taken from an amateur video footage uploaded to social networking websites on April 23, 2011.
Image: social media/Reuters

In the seaside city of Banias, divided between Sunni Muslims and Alawites - the sect of the ruling Assad family and many key officials - about 5,000 people demonstrated peacefully in support of the citizens of Daraa, and there was no interference from security forces, activists said.

Life was almost back to normal in the central city of Homs, except for intense security, a witness said. A few hundred people demonstrated there Monday in support of Daraa, the witness said

Daraa has seen some of the worst bloodshed in the past five weeks as the uprising gained momentum. Recently, the city has absorbed many rural migrants who can no longer farm after years of drought.

The White House has stepped up its condemnation of Assad's regime, but stopped well short of demanding his ouster.

U.S. officials said Washington has begun drawing up targeted sanctions against him, his family and his inner circle to boost pressure on them to halt the repression.

Washington was conferring with European countries and the United Nations about options.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain also was working with other members of the U.N. Security Council "to send a strong signal to the Syrian authorities that the eyes of the international community are on Syria."

The U.N. says they will discuss Syria.

In Rome, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed concern over the crackdown.

Sarkozy said the current situation was "unacceptable."

The United States told all its nonessential staff and the families of all its embassy workers to leave the country, but kept the facility open for limited services. 

It also advised all Americans to defer travel to Syria and advised those already in the country to leave. Britain urged its citizens to leave Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Assad and urged him to show "restraint."

Turkey's ambassador met Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar to express "deep concern and sorrow" over the many lives lost, the prime minister's office and the Turkish media reported.

 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, who provided the death toll of more than 400 people since the uprising began last month.

He also said that figure did not include those killed in the raids on Daraa and the Damascus suburb of Douma. 

It did, however, include Syrian troops.

Abdul-Rahman couldn't provide a precise figure for those arrested Tuesday because it was difficult to get through to Daraa after authorities cut telephone service in the city 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Damascus, near the Jordanian border.

The uprising was touched off by the arrest of teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on a wall, with protesters inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.

Last week, Assad fulfilled a key demand by abolishing nearly 50-year-old emergency laws that had given the regime a free hand to arrest people without cause. 

But he coupled the concession with a stern warning that people would no longer have an excuse to hold mass protests, and any further unrest would be considered "sabotage."

When protesters defied his order and held demonstrations Friday - the main day for rallies around the Arab world - they were met with a gunfire, tear gas and stun guns.

The attack on Daraa was by far the biggest in scope and firepower. Video purportedly shot by activists showed tanks rolling through streets and grassy fields with soldiers on foot jogging behind them.

Image: Reuters

State-run television quoted a military source as saying army units entered the city to bring security "answering the pleas for help by residents of Daraa."

Syria has a pivotal role in most of the flashpoint issues of the Middle East - from the Arab-Israeli peace process to Iran's widening influence. 

Instability has thrown into disarray the U.S. push for engagement with Damascus, part of Washington's hopes to peel the country away from Hamas, Hezbollah and Tehran. 

The Cardinal Crisis
Why North Africa?
A protester outside the Syrian Embassy in Cairo in April 2011 holds a poster with a picture of Syrian President Bashar Assad with the Arabic words, "Bashar, his highness the Killer."  
Image: Misam Saleh, AFP/Getty Images

by Theodore White, mundane Astrolog.S

In mundane astrology we always look to the bigger picture to gain a better sense of what happens on the local, regional, national and international scales.

For years I have been monitoring the now present Cardinal Crisis world transits, as I knew that the configurations of the outer planets would incline towards historic events taking place.

The most recent developments in North Africa as of early May 2011:

The Syrian military intensifies its assault on Daraa, the besieged city at the center of the country's uprising. Defiant residents who have been pinned down in their homes for nearly a week struggle to find food, pass along information and bury their dead.
Syrian tanks shell the city's old quarter as reinforcements roll in. Snipers nesting on rooftops and hiding in high mosque minarets keep people cowering in fear inside their homes.
The death toll has soared to 545 nationwide from government forces firing on demonstrators.
- LIBYA - 
Angry mobs attack Western embassies and U.N. offices in Tripoli after NATO bombed Moammar Gadhafi's family compound in an attack officials said killed the leader's second-youngest son and three grandchildren. 
Russia accuses the Western alliance of exceeding its U.N. mandate of protecting Libyan civilians with the strike.
The vandalized embassies are empty and nobody is reported injured, but the attacks heighten tensions between the Libyan regime and Western powers, prompting the United Nations to pull its international staff out of the capital.
A deal to end Yemen's political crisis nears collapse after the country's embattled president refuses to personally sign it, leaving a deadlock that threatens to plunge the impoverished Arab nation and key U.S. ally deeper into disorder and bloodshed.
The opposition says it will not sign it unless Saleh does too and the loose alliance of oil-rich Gulf Arab nations sponsoring the deal indefinitely postpones the signing ceremony, blaming Yemen's president for the impasse.
Under the deal, President Ali Abdullah Saleh would step down within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution. 
The January 4, 2011 total eclipse of the Sun was observed over North Africa and the Middle East. The eclipse in Capricorn extended from England to Spain in the north and west. 
The eclipse cast its shadow over North Africa.
Soon after the January eclipse, the uprisings began in Tunisia and Egypt which spread throughout the region. 
click to enlarge
This region of the world of North Africa lies along the 35-degree parallel north latitude, which happens to be the latitude where we observe planetary crossings incline strongly to the regions on this latitude.

The 35th parallel north is a circle of latitude located 35 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane beginning at the Prime Meridian. 
Heading eastward, this latitude crosses Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean.

It includes the same countries in North Africa at this latitude experiencing major accidents, violence and uprisings - among them:
South Korea

World transits over North Africa signaled by the January 4 total eclipse, brought to a peak the feelings which underpinned the Arab regimes of the region. High food prices caused by rampant speculation added to the distrust of repressive governments that were routed in Tunisia, then Egypt. 
The Cardinal inclinations of the outer planets: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto - are all in play into this new astrological year. 
We see with Uranus in Aries the violence of injuries to the head, mostly by military-grade weapons, from snipers and the handguns of secret security officials threatened by the demonstrations and calls for change. 
Moreover, we will gain a taste of more to come with the near exact square between Uranus-Pluto this year with their strongest squares between 2012-2015.

Overall, the cardinal crisis transits ensures that the transition from the era of the late 20th century into the early 21st century will take wisdom and careful navigation to avoid the historic mistakes of the past.
Generation X And The Economy

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. 

Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

– Abraham Lincoln, November 12, 1864

By Theodore White; mundane Astrolog.S

For many months, I've been hearing from clients who are very worried about the future and the world economy. And, I often say that they should be.

I continue to state that until the current generational establishment of baby boomers and their parents, the oligarchy, have left the stage that the economy will not improve.

And yes, the blame can be placed on both generations. They screwed up - big time - and cannot expect to be rewarded for their neglect and failure, nor should they.

My overall mundane analysis of the decade of the Twenty-Tens clearly shows a world economy suffering. 

The configurations of the outer planets relative to the Earth over the next 9-10 years reveals the need to clean-up the diverse levels of messes left behind by two generations.

Geopolitical and socially, the result of the failures and neglect by the dying oligarchy and the baby boomer generation will be with the world throughout the Twenty-Tens and into the 2020s until Generation X finally announces that the clean-up is complete.

 One of the biggest lies perpetuated is that baby boomers are the largest generational demographic in the United States.

Here are the facts:

Generation X - 1961-1975 = 56 million people
Post Gen X - 1975-79 =  23 million people
Generation Jones (Post boomers) - 1953-1960 = 28 million people
Baby Boomers - 1939-1953 = 38 million people

What is clear is that the incoming establishment Generation X, including those born in the Gen X post years of 1975-79 comprise the largest generation.

What happened is that the establishment of boomers, in an attempt to make their generation appear larger, co-opted the birth numbers of first-wave Generation X, born in the early 1960s, thus tacking on millions more people who are not of their generation.

Age is a sensitive subject with the baby boomer generation as we all know; however, there never has been - in the history of the world - a generation that has broken the generational contract that passes the establishment from one generation to another.

What is a generation? In astrology, the outer planets of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto signify the boundaries of each generation. The transit of Pluto over 14 years clearly shows that it is a generational planet.  

Pluto takes 248 years to orbit the Sun once.

The erratic orbit of Pluto has the planet spending 32 years in one Zodiacal Sign: Taurus; yet Pluto spends 12 to 14 years in the signs of Libra and Scorpio.

A generation is the aggregate total of all persons, born over roughly the span of a phase of life, who share a common location in history and common collective persona. 

Like a person but unlike a gender, culture or religion, all generations are mortal. 

All of members of a generation understand that in time, they must pass on. 

So all generations  surely feel the same historical urgency individuals feel in their personal lives. This dynamic of aging and dying enables society to replenish its memory so as to evolve over time.

Every time a younger generation replaces an older generation, the societal life cycle changes and becomes something new and this fundamentally changes the behavior, outlook and mood of the entire society.

Generation X: A View

People ask me what is the future? 

As a mundane astrologer, I often answer with another question:

What do you want the future to be?

In this way, I also answer the same way about the economy.

Waiting for the old establishment to somehow revive the economy that they broke is not going to lead to a recovery. 

So, if you are out work and under the age of 50, then believe it or not, you are in the best possible position you can be in.

Yes, a surprising comment. How, with double-digit unemployment and anemic economic news, just how can this be good news?

Well, consider this:

In my analysis of the next 20 years by way of mundane astrology we are just entering the transition from the outworn methodologies of the late 20th century, but entering what is effectively a new age.

Every new age has its challenges and trends; yet most people looking forward do so optimistically.

The clue to who is not optimistic will be those who look back, are not spiritually, emotionally and mentally balanced and settled.

The new era we've emerged into may not be yet apparent to everyone, but will be in a few short years.

The transits of the outer planets show that the corruption, greed, lies and rampant theft of trillions in money and resources must be seen in light of the forced austerity and revolts against it that follows.

How the generational transition plays out by the passage of time, will also depend on the ability of the incoming establishment of Generation X to break free of the ignorance and blind adherence to materialism and back to the principles and truths of the Founding Fathers which are not bent by mere opinion, ideology, nor the thirst for power.

For we know that absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

The Cardinal Crisis
Concentrated Wealth In The Hands Of A Few?

Wealth, Income and Power

By G. William Domhoff

This presents details on the wealth and income distributions in the United States, and explains how we use these two distributions as power indicators. 
Some of the information may come as a surprise to many people.
In fact, I know it will be a surprise and then some, because of a recent study (Norton & Ariely, 2010) showing that most Americans (high income or low income, female or male, young or old, Republican or Democrat) have no idea just how concentrated the wealth distribution actually is. More on that a bit later.
As far as the income distribution, the most amazing numbers on income inequality will come last, showing the dramatic change in the ratio of the average CEO's paycheck to that of the average factory worker over the past 40 years.
First, though, some definitions. 
Generally speaking, wealth is the value of everything a person or family owns, minus any debts. 
However, for purposes of studying the wealth distribution, economists define wealth in terms of marketable assets, such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, leaving aside consumer durables like cars and household items because they are not as readily converted into cash and are more valuable to their owners for use purposes than they are for resale. 
Once the value of all marketable assets is determined, then all debts, such as home mortgages and credit card debts, are subtracted, which yields a person's net worth. 
In addition, economists use the concept of financial wealth - also referred to in this document as "non-home wealth" - which is defined as net worth minus net equity in owner-occupied housing. 
As Wolff explains, "Financial wealth is a more 'liquid' concept than marketable wealth, since one's home is difficult to convert into cash in the short term. 
It thus reflects the resources that may be immediately available for consumption or various forms of investments."
We also need to distinguish wealth from income
Income is what people earn from work, but also from dividends, interest, and any rents or royalties that are paid to them on properties they own. 
In theory, those who own a great deal of wealth may or may not have high incomes, depending on the returns they receive from their wealth, but in reality those at the very top of the wealth distribution usually have the most income. 
(But it's important to note that for the rich, most of that income does not come from "working": in 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries.
As you read through these numbers, please keep in mind that they are usually two or three years out of date because it takes time for one set of experts to collect the basic information and make sure it is accurate, and then still more time for another set of experts to analyze it and write their reports. 
It's also the case that the infamous housing bubble of the first eight years of the 21st century inflated wealth numbers.
So far there are only tentative projections - based on the price of housing and stock in July 2009 - on the effects of the Great Recession on the wealth distribution. 
They suggest that average Americans have been hit much harder than wealthy Americans. 
Edward Wolff, the economist we draw upon the most here, concludes that there has been an "astounding" 36.1% drop in the wealth (marketable assets) of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. 
By contrast, the wealth of the top 1% of households dropped by far less: just 11.1%. So as of April 2010, it looks like the wealth distribution is even more unequal than it was in 2007. (See Wolff, 2010 for more details.)
One final general point before turning to the specifics. 
People who have looked at this document in the past often asked whether progressive taxation reduces some of the income inequality that exists before taxes are paid. 
The answer: not by much, if we count all of the taxes that people pay, from sales taxes to property taxes to payroll taxes (in other words, not just income taxes). 
And the top 1% of income earners, who average over $1 million a year, actually pay a smaller percentage of their incomes to taxes than the 9% just below them.
Wealth Distribution
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. 
As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). 
In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%. 
Table one and Figure 1 present further details drawn from the careful work of economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University.

Total Net Worth
Top 1 percentNext 19 percentBottom 80 percent
Financial Wealth
Top 1 percentNext 19 percentBottom 80 percent

Total assets are defined as the sum of: (1) the gross value of owner-occupied housing; (2) other real estate owned by the household; (3) cash and demand deposits; (4) time and savings deposits, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts; (5) government bonds, corporate bonds, foreign bonds, and other financial securities; (6) the cash surrender value of life insurance plans; (7) the cash surrender value of pension plans, including IRAs, Keogh, and 401(k) plans; (8) corporate stock and mutual funds; (9) net equity in unincorporated businesses; and (10) equity in trust funds.
Total liabilities are the sum of: (1) mortgage debt; (2) consumer debt, including auto loans; and (3) other debt. From Wolff (2004, 2007, & 2010).

click graphic to enlarge

In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock, 60.6% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. 

The top 10% have 80% to 90% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75% of non-home real estate. 

Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.

Table 2: Wealth distribution by type of asset, 2007

Investment Assets
Top 1 percentNext 9 percentBottom 90 percent
Business equity62.4%30.9%6.7%
Financial securities60.6%37.9%1.5%
Stocks and mutual funds38.3%42.9%18.8%
Non-home real estate28.3%48.6%23.1%
TOTAL investment assets49.7%38.1%12.2%
Housing, Liquid Assets, Pension Assets, and Debt
Top 1 percentNext 9 percentBottom 90 percent
Pension accounts14.4%44.8%40.8%
Life insurance22.0%32.9%45.1%
Principal residence9.4%29.2%61.5%
TOTAL other assets12.0%33.8%54.2%
From Wolff (2010)

Figure 2a: Wealth distribution by type of asset, 2007: investment assets

Figure 2b: Wealth distribution by type of asset, 2007: other assets
click graphics to enlarge

Inheritance and Estate taxes

Figures on inheritance tell much the same story. 
According to a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, only 1.6% of Americans receive $100,000 or more in inheritance. 
Another 1.1% receive $50,000 to $100,000. On the other hand, 91.9% receive nothing (Kotlikoff & Gokhale, 2000). 
Thus, the attempt by ultra-conservatives to eliminate inheritance taxes - which they always call "death taxes" for P.R. reasons - would take a huge bite out of government revenues (an estimated $1 trillion between 2012 and 2022) for the benefit of the heirs of the mere 0.6% of Americans whose death would lead to the payment of any estate taxes whatsoever (Citizens for Tax Justice, 2010b).
It is noteworthy that some of the richest people in the country oppose this ultra-conservative initiative, suggesting that this effort is driven by anti-government ideology. 
In other words, few of the ultra-conservative and libertarian activists behind the effort will benefit from it in any material way. 
However, a study (Kenny et al., 2006) of the financial support for eliminating inheritance taxes discovered that 18 super-rich families (mostly Republican financial donors, but a few who support Democrats) provide the anti-government activists with most of the money for this effort. 
(For more infomation, including the names of the major donors, download the article from United For a Fair Economy's Web site.)
Actually, ultra-conservatives and their wealthy financial backers may not have to bother to eliminate what remains of inheritance taxes at the federal level. 
The rich already have a new way to avoid inheritance taxes forever - for generations and generations - thanks to bankers. 
After Congress passed a reform in 1986 making it impossible for a "trust" to skip a generation before paying inheritance taxes, bankers convinced legislatures in many states to eliminate their "rules against perpetuities." 
This means that trust funds set up in those states can exist in perpetuity, thereby allowing the trust funds to own new businesses, houses, and much else for descendants of rich people, and even to allow the beneficiaries to avoid payments to creditors when in personal debt or sued for causing accidents and injuries. 
About $100 billion in trust funds has flowed into those states so far. 
You can read the details on these "dynasty trusts" (which could be the basis for an even more solidified "American aristocracy") in a New York Times opinion piece published in July 2010 by Boston College law professor Roy Madoff, who also has a book on this and other new tricks: Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead (Yale University Press, 2010).

Home ownership & wealth

For the vast majority of Americans, their homes are by far the most significant wealth they possess. 
Figure 3 comes from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances (via Wolff, 2010) and compares the median income, total wealth (net worth, which is marketable assets minus debt), and non-home wealth (which earlier we called financial wealth) of White, Black, and Hispanic households in the U.S.
Figure 3

click to enlarge

Besides illustrating the significance of home ownership as a source of wealth, the graph also shows that Black and Latino households are faring significantly worse overall, whether we are talking about income or net worth. 
In 2007, the average white household had 15 times as much total wealth as the average African-American or Latino household. 
If we exclude home equity from the calculations and consider only financial wealth, the ratios are in the neighborhood of 100:1. 
Extrapolating from these figures, we see that 70% of white families' wealth is in the form of their principal residence; for Blacks and Hispanics, the figures are 95% and 96%, respectively.
And for all Americans, things are getting worse: 
As the projections to July 2009 by Wolff (2010) make clear, the last few years have seen a huge loss in housing wealth for most families, making the gap between the rich and the rest of America even greater, and increasing the number of households with no marketable assets from 18.6% to 24.1%.

Do Americans know their country's wealth distribution?

A remarkable study (Norton & Ariely, 2010) reveals that Americans have no idea that the wealth distribution (defined for them in terms of "net worth") is as concentrated as it is. 
When shown three pie charts representing possible wealth distributions, 90% or more of the 5,522 respondents -- whatever their gender, age, income level, or party affiliation - thought that the American wealth distribution most resembled one in which the top 20% has about 60% of the wealth. 
In fact, of course, the top 20% control about 85% of the wealth (refer back to Table 1 and Figure 1 in this document for a more detailed breakdown of the numbers).
Even more striking, they did not come close on the amount of wealth held by the bottom 40% of the population. 
It's a number I haven't even mentioned so far, and it's shocking: the lowest two quintiles hold just 0.3% of the wealth in the United States. 
Most people in the survey guessed the figure to be between 8% and 10%, and two dozen academic economists got it wrong too, by guessing about 2% - seven times too high. 
Those surveyed did have it about right for what the 20% in the middle have; it's at the top and the bottom that they don't have any idea of what's going on.
Americans from all walks of life were also united in their vision of what the "ideal" wealth distribution would be, which may come as an even bigger surprise than their shared misinformation on the actual wealth distribution. 
They said that the ideal wealth distribution would be one in which the top 20% owned between 30 and 40 percent of the privately held wealth, which is a far cry from the 85 percent that the top 20% actually own. 
They also said that the bottom 40% - that's 120 million Americans - should have between 25% and 30%, not the mere 8% to 10% they thought this group had, and far above the 0.3% they actually had. 
In fact, there's no country in the world that has a wealth distribution close to what Americans think is ideal when it comes to fairness. 
So maybe Americans are much more egalitarian than most of them realize about each other, at least in principle and before the rat race begins.
Figure 4 below shows the actual wealth distribution, along with the survey respondents' estimated and ideal distributions:

Click on graphic to enlarge

Note: In the "Actual" line, the bottom two quintiles are not visible because the lowest quintile owns just 0.1% of all wealth, and the second-lowest quintile owns 0.2%.
Source: Norton & Ariely, 2010.  David Cay Johnston, a retired tax reporter for the New York Times, published an excellent summary of Norton & Ariely's findings (Johnston, 2010b; you can download the article from Johnston's Web site).

Historical Context

Numerous studies show that the wealth distribution has been extremely concentrated throughout American history, with the top 1% already owning 40-50% in large port cities like Boston, New York, and Charleston in the 19th century. 
It was very stable over the course of the 20th century, although there were small declines in the aftermath of the New Deal and World II, when most people were working and could save a little money. 
There were progressive income tax rates, too, which took some money from the rich to help with government services.
Then there was a further decline, or flattening, in the 1970s, but this time in good part due to a fall in stock prices, meaning that the rich lost some of the value in their stocks. 
By the late 1980s, however, the wealth distribution was almost as concentrated as it had been in 1929, when the top 1% had 44.2% of all wealth. 
It has continued to edge up since that time, with a slight decline from 1998 to 2001, before the economy crashed in the late 2000s and little people got pushed down again. 
Table 3 and Figure 5 present the details from 1922 through 2007.

Table 3 - Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99% and Top 1% in the United States, 1922-2007.

Bottom 99 percentTop 1 percent
Source: 1922-1989 data from Wolff (1996). 

1992-2007 data from Wolff (2010).

Figure 5 -
Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99% and Top 1% in the United States, 1922-2007.
click to enlarge

Here are some dramatic facts that sum up how the wealth distribution became even more concentrated between 1983 and 2004, in good part due to the tax cuts for the wealthy and the defeat of labor unions: 
Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy in that 21-year-period, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. 
A whopping 94% went to the top 20%, which of course means that the bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth generated in the United States during the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s.

The Rest of the World

Thanks to a 2006 study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research - using statistics for the year 2000 - we now have information on the wealth distribution for the world as a whole, which can be compared to the United States and other well-off countries. 
The authors of the report admit that the quality of the information available on many countries is very spotty and probably off by several percentage points, but they compensate for this problem with very sophisticated statistical methods and the use of different sets of data. 
With those caveats in mind, we can still safely say that the top 10% of the world's adults control about 85% of global household wealth - defined very broadly as all assets (not just financial assets), minus debts. 
That compares with a figure of 69.8% for the top 10% for the United States. 
The only industrialized democracy with a higher concentration of wealth in the top 10% than the United States is Switzerland at 71.3%. 
For the figures for several other Northern European countries and Canada, all of which are based on high-quality data, see Table 4.

Table 4: Percentage of wealth held in 2000 by the Top 10% of the adult population in various Western countries

wealth owned
by top 10%
United States69.8%

The Relationship Between Wealth and Power

What's the relationship between wealth and power? 
To avoid confusion, let's be sure we understand they are two different issues. 
Wealth, as I've said, refers to the value of everything people own, minus what they owe, but the focus is on "marketable assets" for purposes of economic and power studies. 
Power, as explained elsewhere on this site, has to do with the ability (or call it capacity) to realize wishes, or reach goals, which amounts to the same thing, even in the face of opposition (Russell, 1938; Wrong, 1995). 
Some definitions refine this point to say that power involves Person A or Group A affecting Person B or Group B "in a manner contrary to B's interests," which then necessitates a discussion of "interests," and quickly leads into the realm of philosophy (Lukes, 2005, p. 30). 
Leaving those discussions for the philosophers, at least for now, how do the concepts of wealth and power relate?
First, wealth can be seen as a "resource" that is very useful in exercising power. 
That's obvious when we think of donations to political parties, payments to lobbyists, and grants to experts who are employed to think up new policies beneficial to the wealthy. 
Wealth also can be useful in shaping the general social environment to the benefit of the wealthy, whether through hiring public relations firms or donating money for universities, museums, music halls, and art galleries.
Second, certain kinds of wealth, such as stock ownership, can be used to control corporations, which of course have a major impact on how the society functions. 
Tables 5a and 5b show what the distribution of stock ownership looks like. Note how the top one percent's share of stock equity increased (and the bottom 80 percent's share decreased) between 2001 and 2007.

Table 5a: Concentration of stock ownership in the United States, 2001-2007

Percent of all stock owned:
Wealth class200120042007
Top 1%33.5%36.7%38.3%
Next 19%55.8%53.9%52.8%
Bottom 80%10.7%9.4%8.9%

Table 5b: Amount of stock owned by various wealth classes in the U.S., 2007

Percent of households owning stocks worth:
Wealth class$0 (no stocks)$1-$10,000More than $10,000
Top 1%7.4%4.2%88.4%
Bottom 20%84.7%14.3%2.0%
Both tables' data from Wolff (2007 & 2010). Includes direct ownership of stock shares and indirect ownership through mutual funds, trusts, and IRAs, Keogh plans, 401(k) plans, and other retirement accounts. All figures are in 2007 dollars.

Third, just as wealth can lead to power, so too can power lead to wealth. 
Those who control a government can use their position to feather their own nests, whether that means a favorable land deal for relatives at the local level or a huge federal government contract for a new corporation run by friends who will hire you when you leave government. 
If we take a larger historical sweep and look cross-nationally, we are well aware that the leaders of conquering armies often grab enormous wealth, and that some religious leaders use their positions to acquire wealth.
There's a fourth way that wealth and power relate. 
For research purposes, the wealth distribution can be seen as the main "value distribution" within the general power indicator I call "who benefits." 
What follows in the next three paragraphs is a little long-winded, I realize, but it needs to be said because some social scientists - primarily pluralists - argue that who wins and who loses in a variety of policy conflicts is the only valid power indicator.
And philosophical discussions don't even mention wealth or other power indicators.
Here's the argument: 
If we assume that most people would like to have as great a share as possible of the things that are valued in the society, then we can infer that those who have the most goodies are the most powerful. 
Although some value distributions may be unintended outcomes that do not really reflect power, as pluralists are quick to tell us, the general distribution of valued experiences and objects within a society still can be viewed as the most publicly visible and stable outcome of the operation of power.
In American society, for example, wealth and well-being are highly valued. 
People seek to own property, to have high incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, to enjoy the finest in travel and leisure and to live long and healthy lives. 
All of these "values" are unequally distributed, and all may be utilized as power indicators. However, the primary focus with this type of power indicator is on the wealth distribution sketched out in the previous section.
The argument for using the wealth distribution as a power indicator is strengthened by studies showing that such distributions vary historically and from country to country, depending upon the relative strength of rival political parties and trade unions, with the United States having the most highly concentrated wealth distribution of any Western democracy except Switzerland. 
For example, in a study based on 18 Western democracies, strong trade unions and successful social democratic parties correlated with greater equality in the income distribution and a higher level of welfare spending (Stephens, 1979).
And now we have arrived at the point I want to make. 
If the top 1% of households have 30-35% of the wealth, that's 30 to 35 times what they would have if wealth were equally distributed, and so we infer that they must be powerful. 
And then we set out to see if the same set of households scores high on other power indicators (it does). 
Next we study how that power operates, which is what most articles on this site are about. 
Furthermore, if the top 20% have 84% of the wealth (and recall that 10% have 85% to 90% of the stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity), that means that the United States is a power pyramid. 
It's tough for the bottom 80% - maybe even the bottom 90% - to get organized and exercise much power.
Income and Power
The income distribution also can be used as a power indicator. 
As Table 6 shows, it is not as concentrated as the wealth distribution, but the top 1% of income earners did receive 17% of all income in the year 2003 and 21.3% in 2006.
Table 6: Distribution of income in the United States, 1982-2006
Top 1 percentNext 19 percentBottom 80 percent
Source: Wolff (2010).

That's up from 12.8% for the top 1% in 1982, which is quite a jump, and it parallels what is happening with the wealth distribution. 
This is further support for the inference that the power of the corporate community and the upper class have been increasing in recent decades.

The rising concentration of income can be seen in a special New York Times analysis by David Cay Johnston of an Internal Revenue Service report on income in 2004. 
Although overall income had grown by 27% since 1979, 33% of the gains went to the top 1%. 
Meanwhile, the bottom 60% were making less: about 95 cents for each dollar they made in 1979. 
The next 20% - those between the 60th and 80th rungs of the income ladder - made $1.02 for each dollar they earned in 1979. 
Furthermore, Johnston concludes that only the top 5% made significant gains ($1.53 for each 1979 dollar). 
Most amazing of all, the top 0.1% -- that's one-tenth of one percent -- had more combined pre-tax income than the poorest 120 million people (Johnston, 2006).
But the increase in what is going to the few at the top did not level off, even with all that. 
As of 2007, income inequality in the United States was at an all-time high for the past 95 years, with the top 0.01% - that's one-hundredth of one percent - receiving 6% of all U.S. wages, which is double what it was for that tiny slice in 2000; the top 10% received 49.7%, the highest since 1917. 
However, in an analysis of 2008 tax returns for the top 0.2% - that is, those whose income tax returns reported $1,000,000 or more in income (mostly from individuals, but nearly a third from couples) - it was found they received 13% of all income, down slightly from 16.1% in 2007 due to the decline in payoffs from financial assets (Norris, 2010.)
And the rate of increase is even higher for the very richest of the rich: the top 400 income earners in the United States. 
According to another analysis by Johnston (2010a), the average income of the top 400 tripled during the Clinton Administration and doubled during the first seven years of the Bush Administration. 
So by 2007, the top 400 averaged $344.8 million per person, up 31% from an average of $263.3 million just one year earlier. (For another recent revealing study by Johnston, read "Is Our Tax System Helping Us Create Wealth?").
How are these huge gains possible for the top 400? It's due to cuts in the tax rates on capital gains and dividends, which were down to a mere 15% in 2007 thanks to the tax cuts proposed by the Bush Administration and passed by Congress in 2003. 
Since almost 75% of the income for the top 400 comes from capital gains and dividends, it's not hard to see why tax cuts on income sources available to only a tiny percent of Americans mattered greatly for the high-earning few. 
Overall, the effective tax rate on high incomes fell by 7% during the Clinton presidency and 6% in the Bush era, so the top 400 had a tax rate of 20% or less in 2007, far lower than the marginal tax rate of 35% that the highest income earners (over $372,650) supposedly pay. 
It's also worth noting that only the first $106,800 of a person's income is taxed for Social Security purposes (as of 2010), so it would clearly be a boon to the Social Security Fund if everyone - not just those making less than $106,800 - paid the Social Security tax on their full incomes.

Do Taxes Redistribute Income?

It is widely believed that taxes are highly progressive and, furthermore, that the top several percent of income earners pay most of the taxes received by the federal government. 
Both ideas are wrong because they focus on official, rather than "effective" tax rates and ignore payroll taxes, which are mostly paid by those with incomes below $100,000 per year.
But what matters in terms of a power analysis is what percentage of their income people at different income levels pay to all levels of government (federal, state, and local) in taxes. 
If the less-well-off majority is somehow able to wield power, we would expect that the high earners would pay a bigger percentage of their income in taxes, because the majority figures the well-to-do would still have plenty left after taxes to make new investments and lead the good life. 
If the high earners have the most power, we'd expect them to pay about the same as everybody else, or less.
Citizens for Tax Justice, a research group that's been studying tax issues from its offices in Washington since 1979, provides the information we need. 
When all taxes (not just income taxes) are taken into account, the lowest 20% of earners (who average about $12,400 per year), paid 16.0% of their income to taxes in 2009; and the next 20% (about $25,000/year), paid 20.5% in taxes. 
So if we only examine these first two steps, the tax system looks like it is going to be progressive.
And it keeps looking progressive as we move further up the ladder: the middle 20% (about $33,400/year) give 25.3% of their income to various forms of taxation, and the next 20% (about $66,000/year) pay 28.5%. 
So taxes are progressive for the bottom 80%. But if we break the top 20% down into smaller chunks, we find that progressivity starts to slow down, then it stops, and then it slips backwards for the top 1%.
Specifically, the next 10% (about $100,000/year) pay 30.2% of their income as taxes; the next 5% ($141,000/year) dole out 31.2% of their earnings for taxes; and the next 4% ($245,000/year) pay 31.6% to taxes. 
You'll note that the progressivity is slowing down. As for the top 1% -- those who take in $1.3 million per year on average - they pay 30.8% of their income to taxes, which is a little less than what the 9% just below them pay, and only a tiny bit more than what the segment between the 80th and 90th percentile pays.
What I've just explained with words can be seen more clearly in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Share of income paid as tax, including local and state tax
Source: Citizens for Tax Justice (2010a).

We also can look at this information on income and taxes in another way by asking what percentage of all taxes various income levels pay. (This is not the same as the previous question, which asked what percentage of their incomes went to taxes for people at various income levels.) 

And the answer to this new question can be found in Figure 7. 

Figure 7: Share of all income earned and all taxes paid, by quintile
click to enlarge

For example, the top 20% receives 59.1% of all income and pays 64.3% of all the taxes, so they aren't carrying a huge extra burden. 
At the other end, the bottom 20%, which receives 3.5% of all income, pays 1.9% of all taxes. 
So the best estimates that can be put together from official government numbers show a little bit of progressivity. 
But the details on those who earn millions of dollars each year are very hard to come by, because they can stash a large part of their wealth in off-shore tax havens in the Caribbean and little countries in Europe, starting with Switzerland. 
And there are many loopholes and gimmicks they can use, as summarized with striking examples in Free Lunchand Perfectly Legal, the books by Johnston that were mentioned earlier. 
For example, Johnston explains the ways in which high earners can hide their money and delay on paying taxes and then invest for a profit what normally would be paid in taxes.

Income inequality in other countries

The degree of income inequality in the United States can be compared to that in other countries on the basis of the Gini coefficient, a mathematical ratio that allows economists to put all countries on a scale with values that range (hypothetically) from zero (everyone in the country has the same income) to 100 (one person in the country has all the income). 
On this widely used measure, the United States ends up 95th out of the 134 countries that have been studied -- that is, only 39 of the 134 countries have worse income inequality. 
The U.S. has a Gini index of 45.0; Sweden is the lowest with 23.0, and South Africa is near the top with 65.0.
The table that follows displays the scores for 22 major countries, along with their ranking in the longer list of 134 countries that were studied (most of the other countries are very small and/or very poor). 
In examining this table, remember that it does not measure the same thing as Table 4 earlier in this document, which was about the wealth distribution. 
Here we are looking at the income distribution, so the two tables won't match up as far as rankings. 
That's because a country can have a highly concentrated wealth distribution and still have a more equal distribution of income - both Switzerland and Sweden follow this pattern. 
So one thing that's distinctive about the U.S. compared to other industrialized democracies is that both its wealth and income distributions are highly concentrated.

Table 7: Income equality in selected countries

Country/Overall RankGini Coefficient
1.  Sweden23.0
2.  Norway25.0
8.  Austria26.0
10.  Germany27.0
17.  Denmark29.0
25.  Australia30.5
34.  Italy32.0
35.  Canada32.1
37.  France32.7
42.  Switzerland33.7
43.  United Kingdom34.0
45.  Egypt34.4
56.  India36.8
61.  Japan38.1
68.  Israel39.2
81.  China41.5
82.  Russia42.3
90.  Iran44.5
93.  United States45.0
107.  Mexico48.2
125.  Brazil56.7
133.  South Africa65.0
Note: These figures reflect family/household income, not individual income.

Impact of "transfer payments"

As we've seen, taxes don't have much impact on the income distribution, especially when we look at the top 1% or top 0.1%. 
Nor do various kinds of tax breaks and loopholes have much impact on the income distribution overall. 
That's because the tax deductions that help those with lower incomes - such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), tax forgiveness for low-income earners on Social Security and tax deductions for dependent children - are offset by the breaks for high-income earners. 
For example: dividends and capital gains are only taxed at a rate of 15%; there's no tax on the interest earned from state and municipal bonds; and 20% of the tax deductions taken for dependent children actually go to people earning over $100,000 a year).
But it is sometimes said that income inequality is reduced significantly by government programs that matter very much in the lives of low-income Americans. 
These programs provide "transfer payments," which are a form of income for those in need. 
They include unemployment compensation, cash payments to the elderly who don't have enough to live on from Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (welfare), food stamps, and Medicaid.
Thomas Hungerford (2009), a tax expert who works for the federal government's Congressional Research Service, carried out a study for Congress that tells us about the real-world impact of transfer payments on reducing income inequality. 
Hungerford's study is based on 2004 income data from an ongoing study of a representative sample of families at the University of Michigan, and it includes the effects of both taxes and four types of transfer payments (Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps, and Medicaid). 
The table that follows shows the income inequality index (that is, the Gini coefficient) at three points along the way: 1.) before taxes or transfers; 2) after taxes are taken into account; and 3) after both taxes and transfer payments are included in the equation. 
The Citizens for Tax Justice study of income and taxes for 2009, discussed earlier, included transfer payments as income, so that study and Hungerford's have similar starting points. But they can't be directly compared, because they use different years.

Table 8: Re-distributive effect of taxes and transfer payments

Income definitionGini index
Before taxes and transfers0.5116
After taxes, before transfers0.4774
After taxes and transfers0.4284
Source: Congressional Research Service, adapted from Hungerford (2009)

As can be seen, Hungerford's findings first support what we had learned earlier from the Citizens for Tax Justice study: taxes don't do much to reduce inequality. 
They secondly reveal that transfer payments have a slightly larger impact on inequality than taxes, but not much. 
Third, his findings tell us that taxes and transfer payments together reduce the inequality index from .52 to .43, which is very close to the CIA's estimate of .45 for 2008.
In short, for those who ask if progressive taxes and transfer payments even things out to a significant degree, the answer is that while they have some effect, they don't do nearly as much as in Canada, major European countries, or Japan.

Income Ratios and Power: Executives vs. Laborers

Another way that income can be used as a power indicator is by comparing average CEO annual pay to average factory worker pay, something that has been done for many years by Business Week and later, the Associated Press. 
The ratio of CEO pay to factory worker pay rose from 42:1 in 1960 to as high as 531:1 in 2000, at the height of the stock market bubble, when CEOs were cashing in big stock options. 
It was at 411:1 in 2005 and 344:1 in 2007, according to research by United for a Fair Economy. 
By way of comparison, the same ratio is about 25:1 in Europe. 
The changes in the American ratio from 1960 to 2007 are displayed in Figure 8, which is based on data from several hundred of the largest corporations.

Figure 8: CEOs' pay as a multiple of the average worker's pay, 1960-2007

It's even more revealing to compare the actual rates of increase of the salaries of CEOs and ordinary workers; from 1990 to 2005, CEOs' pay increased almost 300% (adjusted for inflation), while production workers gained a scant 4.3%. 

The purchasing power of the federal minimum wage actually declined by 9.3%, when inflation is taken into account. 

These startling results are illustrated in Figure 9.

Figure 9: CEOs' average pay, production workers' average pay, the S&P 500 Index,corporate profits, and the federal minimum wage, 1990-2005 (all figures adjusted for inflation)
click graphic to enlarge

Although some of the information I've relied upon to create this section on executives' vs. workers' pay is a few years old now, the AFL/CIO provides up-to-date information on CEO salaries at their Web site
There, you can learn that the median compensation for CEO's in allindustries as of early 2010 is $3.9 million; it's $10.6 million for the companies listed in Standard and Poor's 500, and $19.8 million for the companies listed in the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. 
Since the median worker's pay is about $36,000, then you can quickly calculate that CEOs in general make 100 times as much as the workers, that CEO's of S&P 500 firms make almost 300 times as much, and that CEOs at the Dow-Jones companies make 550 times as much. 
(For a more recent update on CEOs' pay, see "The Drought Is Over (At Least for CEOs)" at; the article reports that the median compensation for CEOs at 200 major companies was $9.6 million in 2010 - up by about 12% over 2009 and generally equal to or surpassing pre-recession levels. 
For specific information about some of the top CEOs, see
If you wonder how such a large gap could develop, the proximate, or most immediate, factor involves the way in which CEOs now are able to rig things so that the board of directors, which they help select - and which includes some fellow CEOs on whose boards they sit - gives them the pay they want. 
The trick is in hiring outside experts, called "compensation consultants," who give the process a thin veneer of economic respectability.
The process has been explained in detail by a retired CEO of DuPont, Edgar S. Woolard, Jr., who is now chair of the New York Stock Exchange's executive compensation committee. 
His experience suggests that he knows whereof he speaks, and he speaks because he's concerned that corporate leaders are losing respect in the public mind. He says that the business page chatter about CEO salaries being set by the competition for their services in the executive labor market is "bull." 
As to the claim that CEOs deserve ever higher salaries because they "create wealth," he describes that rationale as a "joke," says the New York Times.

Here's how it works, according to Woolard:
The compensation committee [of the board of directors] talks to an outside consultant who has surveys you could drive a truck through and pay anything you want to pay, to be perfectly honest. 
The outside consultant talks to the human resources vice president, who talks to the CEO. The CEO says what he'd like to receive. 
It gets to the human resources person who tells the outside consultant. And it pretty well works out that the CEO gets what he's implied he thinks he deserves, so he will be respected by his peers. 
The board of directors buys into what the CEO asks for because the outside consultant is an "expert" on such matters. 
Furthermore, handing out only modest salary increases might give the wrong impression about how highly the board values the CEO. 
And if someone on the board should object, there are the three or four CEOs from other companies who will make sure it happens. It is a process with a built-in escalator.  
As for why the consultants go along with this scam, they know which side their bread is buttered on. They realize the CEO has a big say-so on whether or not they are hired again.  
So they suggest a package of salaries, stock options and other goodies that they think will please the CEO, and they, too, get rich in the process. And certainly the top executives just below the CEO don't mind hearing about the boss's raise. 
They know it will mean pay increases for them, too. (For an excellent detailed article on the main consulting firm that helps CEOs and other corporate executives raise their pay, check out the New York Times article entitled"America's Corporate Pay Pal", which supports everything Woolard of DuPont claims and adds new information.)

There's a much deeper power story that underlies the self-dealing and mutual back-scratching by CEOs now carried out through interlocking directorates and seemingly independent outside consultants. 
It probably involves several factors. At the least, on the workers' side, it reflects their loss of power following the all-out attack on unions in the 1960s and 1970s, which is explained in detail in an excellent book by James Gross (1995), a labor and industrial relations professor at Cornell. 
That decline in union power made possible and was increased by both outsourcing at home and the movement of production to developing countries, which were facilitated by the break-up of the New Deal coalition and the rise of the New Right (Domhoff, 1990, Chapter 10). 
It signals the shift of the United States from a high-wage to a low-wage economy, with professionals protected by the fact that foreign-trained doctors and lawyers aren't allowed to compete with their American counterparts in the direct way that low-wage foreign-born workers are.
On the other side of the class divide, the rise in CEO pay may reflect the increasing power of chief executives as compared to major owners and stockholders in general, not just their increasing power over workers. 
CEOs may now be the center of gravity in the corporate community and the power elite, displacing the leaders in wealthy owning families (e.g., the second and third generations of the Walton family, the owners of Wal-Mart). 
True enough, the CEOs are sometimes ousted by their generally go-along boards of directors, but they are able to make hay and throw their weight around during the time they are king of the mountain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The birther issue IS divisive. And I hand some of the blowback of it to President Obama. In fact, other presidents -- and presidential contenders such as McCain -- did need to establish their birth creds so I don't see the racist angle of that argument as going far.

But as to the President's share of the blame in this, he could have and should have put this matter to rest long ago by producing a certified, long form copy of his birth certificate. I believe part of his delay was arrogance and part of it was for political gain.

And it still continues to the extent that he will not release records such as school transcripts, etc. that every president and presidential contender has done in the last decades. There's a reason for it. Be it stubborness or arrogance or embarassment or what have you is beyond my knowledge. But still, there it is.