Now, before you get your knickers in a twist, Old Joe is the name of an asteroid, not just an agist slam on Joe Biden, whose 81st birthday occurs Monday, 20 November 2023. With vast numbers of Americans, even Democratic supporters, leery about Biden’s ability to continue four more years in the notoriously high-pressure job due to his age, the point seems an increasingly apt celestial moniker to represent the 46th President of the United States.
It may be long past Fourth of July, but GOP lawmakers treated the public to a variety of fireworks displays on November 15th, 2023, as tempers flared in both legislative houses. In the hallowed halls of Congress, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) allegedly elbowed fellow Republican Tim Burchett (R-TN), one of eight GOP members who voted for his ouster last month, while passing in the corridor. On the Senate floor, a hearing threatened to dissolve into fisticuffs when Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) challenged witness Sean O’Brien, Teamsters President, to take it outside, with a mano a mano bareknuckle brawl. Meanwhile, back in the House of Representatives, Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) verbally sparred with committee member Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), who accused Comer of eerily similar financial transactions with his brother, compared with actions between President Biden and his own brother, which Comer characterizes as corrupt.
Only today’s GOP could take a bad situation and make it worse. After weeks of wrangling following the ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with multiple abortive attempts to install at least four nominees, the Republican caucus unanimously chose Mike Johnson (R-LA) as their new Speaker on October 25th. Johnson is a MAGA diehard, one of the architects of the attempt to override the 2020 election results; his elevation is a clear signal that the Party has no desire to reform its ways, and is intent more on obstructionism and culture war posing than true governance.
Fall 2023 has been a fairly dismal one for me, with total knee replacement surgery impairing my movements and limiting my decorating capability. A month housebound in recovery isn’t conducive to getting out to see the sights, smell the aromas, taste the cider or pick the pumpkins of a Pennsylvania autumn in the foothills of the Poconos, and a Halloween shorn of all but the most recently-acquired decorations is certainly a huge step down from the norm at this time of year. I haven’t even been able to carve a jack-o-lantern, for the first time in … well, forever.
On Wednesday, 25 October 2023, the peace of a Down East autumn evening was shattered by gunfire which took the lives of at least 18, wounding 13 more. At this early date (October 26), names of the victims have not been released, and police are engaged in a statewide manhunt for the suspect, 40-year-old Robert Card, missing after separate attacks on a bowling alley and a restaurant bar. Card, who has been dealing with mental illness, has a military background and worked as a firearms instructor; his car was found abandoned in nearby Lisbon, but there is no trace of the suspect. [Author’s note: Robert Card was found dead, an apparent suicide, late on Friday the 27th.]
If the implications of the situation weren’t so dire, and the dysfunction of the Republican House caucus so manifest for the world to behold, I’d love to have the popcorn concession for what’s playing out now on Capitol Hill. It’s certainly must-see political theater, as Republicans continue to set records for ineptitude and incompetence, becoming the poster children for inability to govern, even themselves, let alone the country.
US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) passed away peacefully at her Washington DC home on 29 September 2023, bringing an end to an era. Her health had been in decline for some time, but the death itself was sudden and unexpected. At 90, with some thirty years in the Senate, Feinstein had become a Washington institution, initially elected in 1992 as California’s first female Senator, and first female Jewish Senator in the US. Reelected five times, in recent months ill health had kept her absent from Judiciary Committee meetings for long periods, imperiling the Democrats’ fragile majority and delaying numerous judicial appointments. In February 2023 she announced she would not run for reelection when her term expired in 2024.
On 26 September 2023, I underwent total knee replacement surgery for my right knee. Both joints have been bone-on-bone for years, and while I have not experienced much pain from the situation, it has severely restricted my mobility. This, in turn, had negatively impacted my weight and overall health, as someone who always used walking as a means of weight loss and control.
I’ve been told repeatedly from anyone with a mouth that I will be so very happy with this decision, once the dust clears on my recuperative period. Let’s just say that at this point, I remain in the “I’ll believe that when I see it!” camp.
After a grueling nine months as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, attempting to herd the mangy strays of the GOP caucus, on September 3, 2023, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) lost the job he had coveted all his adult life, as a motion to vacate passed by 216-210, booting him from the Speakership. Eight MAGA Republican radicals joined Democrats to remove McCarthy from his lofty perch, the first time ever that a sitting Speaker has been fired.
I like to think of myself as a fairly tolerant person. At least when it comes to other species (with humans, I’m not always that patient). I far prefer a policy of “live and let live.” There are exceptions. I will not suffer a mosquito to live in my presence (buy, hey! they started it!). And an ant discovered in the kitchen has a very short shelf life, though I often turn a blind eye to scouts I find elsewhere in the house. Silverfish and my library don’t mix, and thousand leggers skeeve me out, to the point of hysterics, so I am usually unable to take direct action against them. I positively cosset spiders of all kinds, which help me deal with other unwanted insects (sorry, spiders, I know you’re actually not insects, but arachnids; it’s just easier to phrase it that way).
On Monday, 11 September 2023, the New York Jets pro football franchise saw half of their $75 million investment evaporate when starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked just minutes into his first game with them, resulting in a torn Achilles tendon and the loss of the entire season. It was just August 1st when the two-year contract was signed, and the injury, coming at age 39 for Rodgers, could well signal the end of his career.
On Sunday, 3 September 2023, Republican presidential nomination contender Vivek Ramaswamy was muffled by the collapse of a huge banner reading “TRUTH” as he stumped in Lancaster, New Hampshire. Footage of the event shows the massive backdrop slowly folding forward onto the unexpecting Ramaswamy, in a moment of cosmic irony worthy of a Wes Anderson film. Unhurt, except perhaps in his pride, the incident has led to a plethora of Tweets and internet memes calling attention to the aptness of the visuals, for a candidate who can’t seem to keep his stories straight about his opinion of the prior president.
On 1 September 2023, word came of the death of singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who passed away at his Sag Harbor, NY home, surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs, after a four-year battle with an aggressive, rare skin cancer. Buffet was best known for his patented brand of “tropical rock,” celebrating a back-to-the-beach, “island escapism” aesthetic, especially epitomized by “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” from the 1970s. But Buffett was also a gifted businessman and entrepreneur, with a net worth at his passing of over a billion dollars, making him one of the richest musicians on the planet, albeit most of his wealth stemmed from these other sidelines, and not record sales.
On 30 August 2023 the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season kicked off with a bang, as Hurricane Idalia battered the northern Florida coast with 125 mph winds and a 7-foot storm surge, making landfall as a category 3 storm at Keaton Beach, in the Sunshine State’s Big Bend region, at 7:45 AM EDT. Earlier projections had seen the storm coming ashore somewhat further south, in more populous areas, but despite the already swampy terrain and smaller communities in its path, Idalia is estimated to have caused some $9 billion+ in damage. Thankfully, loss of life was minimal, with three traffic-related fatalities attributed to Idalia’s effects.
On Saturday, 26 August 2023, a 21-year-old white male, clad in a tactical vest, shot up a Dollar Store on King Road in Jacksonville, Florida, killing three black persons before turning the gun on himself when police arrived on the scene. Ryan Christopher Palmeter had been remanded to state care in 2017 after a mental health breakdown which should have precluded his access to firearms, but was able to legally purchase the AR-15 style assault rifle and Glock semiautomatic pistol used in this crime, earlier this year. Palmeter, who has a history of racism, adorned the rifle with swastikas and ordered all “non-Black” people to leave the store when he entered. Police are investigating the murders as a hate crime.
As the proud owner of a Stationary Direct Mercury, I must say that in general, I’m fairly immune to Merc retro effects. I guess it’s the stalwart, embedded stance of my natal Mercury, which turned direct within ninety minutes of my birth – nothing shakes it. But the recent retrograde period was a notable exception, backed up by unfortunate asteroid placements, resulting in a blown tire the day of the station.
On Saturday, 29 July 2023, Erin Patterson of Leongatha, Victoria, Australia, invited her estranged husband Simon, his parents Don and Gail, and his mother’s sister Heather and her husband Ian Wilkinson, a local minister, to lunch, sending her two children to the movies. The purpose of the gathering was to try to work through the differences that had separated the couple, with a view to their reconciliation. Simon backed out of the luncheon at the last minute, but the four elders attended, with Reverend Wilkinson attempting to counsel Erin in his absence.
Late on 14 August 2023 Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis finally issued her long-awaited indictment against former US President Donald J. Trump and 18 cohorts in the 2020 election interference case. The 98-page indictment contains 41 counts of alleged criminal activity, mostly charged under Georgia’s RICO racketeering laws, created for dealing with organized crime groups. In addition to the codefendants, 30 more individuals are mentioned as unindicted coconspirators, making it one of the largest such cases on record. Also charged with Trump are former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump lawyers Rudy Guiliani and Sidney Powell. Willis alleges in the indictment that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result, including the now-infamous taped phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where Trump asked him to “find” the number of votes needed to flip the state his way.
On the evening of Sunday, 6 August 2023, 74-year-old Giacomo Chiapparini entered the storage room of his family-run dairy farm’s cheese factory near Bergamo, Italy, to check the robot used to clean the wheels of Grana Padano as they aged, stacked on floor-to-ceiling shelves. No one knows what went wrong, but one of the metal shelves buckled, spilling its store of hundreds of 40 kg (approximately 88-pound) cheeses and creating a domino effect, whereby the entire stock came crashing down, crushing the septuagenarian.
In late July 2023 a trio of notable performers exited earth with swan songs of their own. American icon Tony Bennett passed on July 21, Irish singer Sinead O’Connor and Eagles founding member and vocalist Randy Meisner both died on the 26th. They were accompanied by a host of lesser-known (to US audiences, anyway) singers cross the globe, with no less than 10 others passing during that five-day period, from lands as disparate as India, Kenya, Brazil, Chile, Greece, Jamaica and the UK.
It has certainly been an odd growing season. In the six weeks from May 1 to mid-June, normally a fairly wet period, we recorded just a quarter inch of rain on the property. The ensuing six weeks, to late July, normally a fairly dry period, saw seventeen inches! About an inch a week is sufficient to keep most plants going without hydration support, but unfortunately the effect isn’t cumulative – those 17” bunched together won’t last 17 weeks, and now, as August begins, it’s looking drier again. But I’ve enjoyed the break from the Gunga Din routine that kept me hopping through last summer’s drought.
Here we go again. If you’re counting, this makes three criminal indictments in four months, in three separate jurisdictions. I’m going to step out on a limb here and opine that this has got to be a record. On August 1st, 2023, Special Counsel Jack Smith dropped the other shoe he was holding, indicting Donald J. Trump on four charges in relation to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
Let me say up front that I have seen neither of the summer blockbusters, “Barbie” or “Oppenheimer,” which combine in this article’s portmanteau title, nor do I intend to. That said, it simply isn’t possible to ignore them, or be unaware of their existence. “Barbie,” in particular, has been cross-publicized in a dizzying variety of promotional tie-ins to other products and services, everything from fast food to auto insurance. Watching commercials for the two weeks prior to its release was like living a Pepto Bismol fever dream.
Nevertheless, Barbenheimer is fast on its way to becoming a cultural phenomenon, and as such, worthy of celestial consideration. And the cosmos has been paying attention, no doubt.
After a very dry spring in much of the eastern US evoked widespread drought conditions, the climate change worm turned dramatically in late June and early July 2023, deluging these same areas with more rain than they could handle. Vermont quickly became the poster child for Northeast flooding, with new records set for rainfall in the Green Mountain State. Wastewater treatment facilities were among the hardest-hit, with 33 impacted statewide, and the plant in Johnson inundated by eight feet of water, leaving “total destruction” in its wake, with “just the shell of a building” remaining.
On June 30th, 2023, the last day of the term, the US Supreme Court issued a bizarre ruling regarding free speech and the ongoing culture wars over gay marriage, siding with a Colorado website designer who balked at having to design wedding websites for same-sex couples. But here’s the thing – in 2016, when the suit was filed, Lorie Smith wasn’t designing wedding webizes at all, for couples of any sexual persuasion; she claimed to have been approached by a gay couple whom she refused the services she wasn’t offering to anyone, based on her religious objections to same-sex unions. So, Lorie Smith’s suit against Colorado’s antidiscrimination law was hypothetical or, shall we say, prophylactic?
The celebration of Independence Day in the US is, tragically, often bound up with a deadly expression of Americans’ Second Amendment rights, coinciding with an uptick in the already ubiquitous incidents of mass shootings. Although Founding Father John Adams, after the signing of the Declaration, wrote to his long-suffering wife Abigail that “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” I doubt that murdering fellow citizens was the type of celebratory gunplay he anticipated, nor the parade of lost and shattered lives.
[Alice and Annabelle hydrangeas relax in the shade, with a less-than-usually-troublesome squirrel standing guard]
Or is that “heaven”? It’s been awhile coming, but now, in their third summer here, the hydrangeas are really beginning to come into their own. I have five varieties, four Oakleaf and one arborescens, and all are showing improvement over last year’s output.
A bizarre story emerged on Father’s Day 2023 in Kellogg, Idaho, where a 31-year-old father of two shot dead his 18-year-old neighbor, for masturbating fully nude in front of his bedroom window. Majorjon Kaylor told police he “snapped” after seeing Devin Smith swinging and stroking his penis in full view of Kaylor’s wife and young daughters. Police were called and interviewed the recent high school graduate after the masturbation incident on June 13, telling Kaylor afterward that charges would be filed.
On Sunday, 18 June 2023, the Titan submersible, some 13,000 feet under the waters of the North Atlantic, lost contact with its support vessel on the surface. The craft was carrying a crew of five, including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and four others who had paid $250,000 apiece for a chance to view the wreckage of the Titanic, part of OceanGate’s underwater tourism service. Last contact came at 9:45 AM local time (11:45 AM UT), and a multi-nation search was instituted after the sub failed to return to the surface at about 3 PM as expected. With an estimated 96 hours of reserve oxygen, by Thursday the 22nd, the operation became one of recovery rather than rescue, as little hope was offered for survivors.
On June 9, 2023, 39-year-old Mark Anthony Batista, a New York firefighter and EMT with Brooklyn Engine Company 226, drowned at the Jersey shore while trying to rescue his daughter, who had become trapped in a rip current. Batista was unsuccessful, losing his own life in the attempt; his daughter was rescued by first responders called to the scene at 8:30 AM, and his body was discovered and retrieved about 10:00. A 15-year veteran of the FDNY, Batista is survived by his eleven-year-old daughter, his wife and two stepsons. The tragedy occurred at Sylvania Beach in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ.
On Monday 5 June 2023, I went into a local hospital for a heart ablation. I’ve had rhythm issues for almost twenty years, originating in a heart defect when I was born, with a hole in a ventricle. I had open-heart surgery to repair this at age 3, in 1963, when such things were still a novelty. The surgery was a complete success, I’ve never had an issue with my heart since, but as I aged into my forties, arrhythmias developed, as I understand is common among pediatric heart patients.
Donald Trump’s 77th year promises to be a ballbreaker, if I may use the vernacular. The effects of a lifetime of skirting, circumventing or outright flouting the law look to be finally catching up with him. As the fatal date approaches, Trump was gifted with an early birthday present of a 37-count indictment from the Justice Department, alleging violation of the Espionage Act in his unlawful possession, retention and obstruction in returning several hundred classified documents, kept in bathrooms, closets and storage rooms at his Mar-a-Lago residence. We already know of at least one trial date in 2024, set for late March when the porn star hush money payoff trial is slated to begin in Manhattan (more on that later); this case will likely come to trial in 2024 as well, and several more may be in the offing.
Well, the US Department of Justice, at any rate; we’ll see how the real thing plays out in time.
Yes, he’s done it again – Donald J. Trump has set another record! Not content with being the first US President to lose the popular vote in both elections, the first to be twice impeached, the first to incite an insurrection against his own government, the first to be found liable in a sexual assault and defamation case, and the first to be indicted on state criminal charges, The Donald proudly becomes the first former prez to be indicted on federal criminal charges as well.
Well, they did what they could. They tried to produce a unique, groundbreaking announcement of a presidential run by scheduling Florida Governor and GOP presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis to make his big announcement with Elon Musk on Twitter’s audio platform. The wisdom of that decision aside (I mean, who wants to share the spotlight with a notoriously maverick, highly polarizing eccentric billionaire who won’t even endorse you, in a format where nobody can actually see you?), the DeSantis team had the timing right, in theory. They successfully avoided the Mercury retrograde, eclipse season, Pluto station energy that clouded Joe Biden’s re-lection bid, but the production went seriously sideways regardless.
No longer spring, but not quite summer – it’s Sprummer in the garden! Emerging as the last of the spring bulbs are fading, and the first of the summer perennials are starting to bud, Sprummer is that liminal time between seasons, populated florally by a few choice plants with roots in spring and tips in summer.
“Queen of Rock” Tina Turner passed into the celestial firmament on 24 May 2023, to the sorrow of her many fans globally. A literal rags to riches, to rags to riches, American success story, Turner’s music galvanized the 1980s, becoming the soundtrack to our lives, and her personal saga of rejection of a life with an abusive spouse gave hope to millions of women. Already on her way to becoming a music icon by the early ‘60s, Turner’s career slumped after her separation from Ike, but an amazing comeback in the mid-‘80s inspired all performers of a certain age.
Almost four years ago, an infant newborn was found abandoned in a wooded area of Forsyth County Georgia, near Cumming, left in a plastic shopping bag. Alerted by cries initially thought to be those of a cat, police were called to the scene when teenager Kayla Ragatz and her sisters investigated the sounds, finding the squalling baby, just hours old, with umbilical cord still attached. Nicknamed “Baby India” for her apparent ethnic heritage, the girl was put into foster care and eventually adopted. Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman promised justice for the foundling, and more than three years later was able to identify the child’s father, based on advanced DNA investigative processes.
With national Republican figures, from the highest to the lowest, being indicted, tried and convicted of multiple crimes in both civil and criminal cases, the GOP runs the serious risk of becoming identified as the party of lawlessness as the 2024 elections careen toward us. Two major developments in as many days in early May added fuel to the fire of Republican miscreants, much in the way a spate of stories involving GOP corruption and sexual misconduct led to Democrats reclaiming the House in 2006. On May 9th, Donald Trump was found liable for sexual assault and defamation in the E. Jean Carroll civil rape suit, and on the following day Trump Mini-Me George Santos, with aspirations to ascend to Liar-in-Chief, was arrested and charged with 13 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and lying to Congress.
The spectacle of a British royal coronation is something we haven’t seen in 70 years, but there’s one on deck for 6 May 2023, when King Charles III finally comes into his long-awaited inheritance. The United Kingdom may be in financial tatters, made worse by Brexit, but nobody does panoply, pomp and circumstance like the Brits, and the coronation at Westminster Abbey in London promises to be a sight to remember.
Joe Biden officially threw his hat into the ring for the 2024 US presidential election, announcing his candidacy in an online video that crossed just after 6 AM EDT on 25 April 2023. Hardly shocking news, Biden had been signaling his intention to run for reelection for months. The moment chosen seems to be an auspicious one at the micro astro-level, but its placement in the midst of eclipse season, with a stationary Pluto and a retrograde Mercury, makes it an ill-timed choice over all.
On Monday, 24 April 2023, the cable news universe was rocked by the sudden and unexpected announcement that Fox News had parted ways with Tucker Carlson, who had been anchoring the coveted 8 PM weeknight spot for six years with his eponymous “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, the network’s top-rated news/opinion show. The split came barely a week after a record $787.5 million settlement in the defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems, in which Carlson was a scheduled witness, one among several Fox News anchors who promoted the “Big Lie” that Donald Trump had won the 2020 election, but had it stolen from him by rigged Dominion machines. Carlson’s embrace of the stolen election fraud was legendary, as was his attempt to paint the January 6th insurrection as a peaceful protest or conspiracy from the left.
April 25, 2023 witnesses the opening of the first salvo of courtroom dramas involving former US president Donald J. Trump, although as a civil case, he’s not required to attend in person, and likely won’t do so. The case is brought by journalist and author E. Jean Carroll, who alleges Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-1990s. No, the charge isn’t rape – it’s defamation of character, following statements Trump made after Carroll publicly accused him in 2019, when he denied ever meeting her, much less assaulting her, in terms peppered with his patented brand of denigration and misogynistic dismissal.
As asteroid Thomas moved toward its retrograde station, a pair of stories erupted into the American consciousness, with yet another mass shooting at a Louisville, Kentucky bank, where five died, including bank VP Thomas “Tommy” Elliot; and allegations of ethics violations in nonreporting of gifts to US Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas emerged. Both stories broke within two weeks of Thomas’ cosmic turnabout on April 20th at 25 Sagittarius, a period fraught with peril for those terrestrial entities associated with this celestial body, provoking a literal “turning point” in their lives. Sagittarius is the sign ruled by Jupiter, which is associated with both banks and the judiciary, making Thomases involved in these fields even more susceptible to asteroid Thomas’ fallout.
On 6 April 2023, the lower chamber of the Tennessee State House took an unprecedented step – voting on the expulsion of three members who had violated floor protocols by joining an anti-gun demonstration during a lag in official proceedings. State representatives Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson briefly took a bullhorn to the well of the House to express solidarity and support for hundreds of students and others who had come to protest lax gun laws in the Volunteer State, in the wake of a mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville the week before, that had left six dead, including three nine-year-olds.
March 2023 was hopping with activity, from US bank closures and mass protests in Israeli streets, to yet another record-setting development in the Donald Trump saga. Pluto dipped its tootsies into Aquarius for the first time in a quarter millennium, and whenever an outer planet makes a major ingress the energy flux is palpable. Aquarius is the Sign of the marketplace, and modern commerce wouldn’t get very far without a healthy banking system; it’s also related to rebellion and protest, as well as the concept of fairness and equal treatment, where not even a former President is above the law.
Another day, another mass shooting in the US. 2023 so far has averaged roughly 1.5 such incidents per day, defined as shootings where four or more persons are killed or injured. We’ve covered many of the more sensational of these at AAA over the years, and all betray the same pattern, of shooter PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) in stressful placement, victim PNAs clustered and tied to death indicators, and placenames forming significant aspects.
At 11:24 AM EDT on March 21, 2023, in Nazareth, PA, my dear girl Ashes passed peacefully into eternity. We had been together 15 years, with never a cross word between us, a wonderfully close and affectionate relationship. I brought Ashes in off the West Philly streets in 2007, along with two of her kittens, one of the first beneficiaries of Leo’s Cat Rescue, which I ran with my friend John Mignone for over ten years.
The 95th Academy Awards are now history, and it was a night of firsts and record-setting nominations. Angela Bassett was the first actor to be nominated for work in a film from the Marvel Comics franchise (for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”), and sixteen of the twenty nominees in the acting awards were up for the accolade for the first time. Michelle Yeoh became the first performer of Asian descent to win Best Actress, Ke Huy Quan became the second to win Best Supporting Actor, after a gap of nearly forty years, and Daniel Kwan won for Best Director (all for “Everything Everywhere All At Once”). Composer and conductor John Williams became the oldest Oscar nominee ever, at age 91, though he failed to take home the gold statuette.
The traditional first anniversary gift is paper, but no peace treaty looms on the horizon between Russia and Ukraine as the war grinds on into its second year. Perhaps the modern version, the gift of a clock, would be more appropriate, to time the conflict’s duration. What many predicted would be a triumphal progress for the Russian army a year ago, with expectations that Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv would fall in a matter of days, has turned into a long, hard slog, mainly serving to illustrate the resilience, spirit and determination of the Ukrainian people, and the relative weakness and ineffectuality of the Russian armed forces.
On Sunday, 19 February 2023, transit asteroid Troemper exactly conjoined transit Pluto, symbol of criminality and devastating change or transformation, inaugurating a new cycle for the former president. For this update on Donald Trump’s legal woes, I’ll be focusing on progressions, an astrologic technique I rarely employ. The birth chart is a dynamic thing, continuing to evolve and unfold as we age; secondary progressions are a method of forecasting which equates one day of planetary movement with one year of life. So, if you want to know what things are highlighted and on the move for age 30, for example, you look to a month after birth.
On Valentine’s Day 2023, former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley jumped into the 2024 GOP presidential nominating pool. It remains to be seen whether it was a swan dive or a belly flop. In a three-minute video Haley touted her credentials and philosophy, taking a few sideswipes at Donald Trump, in the shallow end of that pool, by calling for a new generation of leadership, reminding folks that Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight recent general elections, and asserting that she’ll stand up to bullies.
On 7 January 2023, another traffic stop gone horribly wrong claimed the life of Tyre Nichols, when Memphis police pulled over the 29-year-old for “reckless driving.” After an initial confrontation involving pepper spray and a taser, Nichols broke free and fled on foot. When apprehended by five officers, he was beaten so badly that he died three days later. Body cam footage release by Memphis PD after the officers themselves had been arrested on January 26th and charged with second degree murder, among other offenses, reveals a shocking level of brutality and escalation of a situation that had never placed any officer in danger.
Well, that was fun! The 118th Congress kicked off with a bang on January 3rd, and an impressive showing of just how incapable of governing the House GOP majority truly is. Far from running the country, they couldn’t even pick a Speaker! Pardon me while I indulge in a bit of schadenfreude, a marvelously descriptive turn of phrase which in German means “shameful joy,” taking pleasure in the misfortune of another. I really should be mourning the tragic state of politics in America, and I do, truly. But somehow, I can’t help smiling at Kevin McCarthy’s discomfiture.
One standout in the 2023 GOP Congressional Freshman class is Representative-elect George Santos (R-NY), the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican elected to the House. In November 2022 Santos managed to flip a redrawn district in metro New York from Blue to Red, adding to the slender House GOP majority. But he did so under what seem to be increasingly false pretenses, with virtually no part of his life history and resume holding up to public inspection.
On November 20, 2022, US President Joe Biden turns eighty years old, the oldest person ever to serve in that office. Although he has not made his candidacy official, Biden routinely offers, when asked, that it is his “intention” to run for reelection in 2024, just shy of 82, which would make him 86 when he hands off to the next president in January of 2029. We’ll see.
On November 14, 2022, Charles III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will celebrate his 74th birthday, the first as King. Having served the longest apprenticeship in British royal history, Charles had been heir apparent for seventy years before his mother passed away in early September and the Prince of Wales finally came into his inheritance. It had been a long road. Once the world’s most eligible bachelor, Charles became half of the fairytale wedding of the 20th century, followed by scandal and divorce, and a second, controversial marriage with the love of his life. While kicking his heels for three-quarters of a century, Charles established The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, founded in 1979, which awards money to grant applicants in six categories: heritage and conservation, education, health and wellbeing, social inclusion, environment, and countryside. He is also a noted proponent of efforts to combat climate change and species extinction.
On 21 September 2022, New York State Attorney General Letitia James won the race to be the first to charge Donald Trump with a crime. The former US President faces legal jeopardy on a variety of fronts, and the civil suit brought against Trump, his adult children Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka, and the Trump Organization may be the least harrowing, though, if successful, would devastate his business. A civil suit carries no threat of incarceration, but AG James stated in her press conference announcing the indictment that both state and federal laws were broken, and she will be making criminal referrals to both the US Attorney’s office at the Southern District of New York and the IRS.
Although national mourning and celebration of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s life has been protracted for more than ten days after her passing, the official State Funeral ceremony is slated to begin in Westminster Abbey at 11 AM BST on Monday, 19 September 2022. Much of the passing chart remains in effect, but there are significant changes and additions which reflect the funeral itself.
She advised 15 Prime Ministers, interacted with 14 American presidents and 7 popes, but the long life and seventy-year reign of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II came to a peaceful close on 8 September 2022, when the 96-year-old sovereign passed away in her sleep at her private estate of Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Most of the United Kingdom’s population – indeed, most of the world – cannot recall a time when Elizabeth was not Queen; her reign spanned the post-World War II era to our post-Modern society, and her life saw massive technological change, from telegraphs to Twitter.
It didn’t quite make it to fifty, but for almost half a century legal abortion has been the law of the land here in the US. No more.
On June 24, 2022, the gavel fell on Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision guaranteeing reproductive rights, overturned 5-4 by the current US Supreme Court. The test case which led to Roe’s reversal was Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which sought to prevent a Mississippi state law virtually eliminating abortion after 15 weeks from conception. That law was upheld 6-3, but Chief Justice John Roberts joined the progressive minority on the Court when Roe itself became the target of his conservative colleagues.
Election Day 2022 promises to be quite a stunner, a supercharged day which is, ultimately, unpredictable. Held November 8, the day features multiple activations of Uranus, the planet of the shocking and unexpected, disruption, turmoil, revolution and change, including a conjunction by the Moon and oppositions from the Sun and Mercury. As well, it’s the day of the Sun/Mercury conjunction, and the Sun/Moon opposition, which just happens to be a total Lunar Eclipse!
Vladimir Putin has dominated Russian politics for almost a quarter century. A former KGB officer, Putin entered politics after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event he describes as the greatest tragedy of the Twentieth Century. In 1996 he joined Boris Yeltsin’s administration; appointed as prime minister in 1999, he filled the role of acting president when Yeltsin resigned later that year, being elected to the office in 2000. At the time, Russia had a prohibition on an individual serving more than two consecutive terms as president, so after being reelected in 2004, in 2008 Putin swapped jobs with then prime minister Dmitry Medvedev for a term, only to assume the top spot again in the following election, four years later. That would have entitled him to two more terms, but Putin changed the law to allow himself to run for an additional two terms uninterrupted, potentially continuing his occupancy of the presidency indefinitely.
On Thursday, 24 February 2022, at approximately 5 AM local time, Vladimir Putin’s Russian Army invaded Ukraine, accelerating a process of intimidation and aggression that had begun eight years before with the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, and had continued with support for separatist movements in Ukraine’s easternmost sectors, bordering Russia, specifically portions of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, in the Donbass region. Since the beginning of the year, a series of planetary stations had reflected the inexorable march to war, eight cosmic turning points which built upon each other like tumblers in a lock, eventually unleashing the conflict.
Tensions continue to increase on the border between Ukraine and Russia, where more than 100,000 Russian troops have recently been stationed, in what appears to be a build-up to an invasion. Russia began a piecemeal takeover of its neighbor in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea, followed by further border incursions into adjoining Ukrainian enclaves dominated by its military and local separatist groups wanting to reunite the two nations, as they were under Soviet hegemony. Reports that families of Russian diplomatic staffers in Ukraine were evacuated in early January heightened the sense of impending crisis.
Not since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019 has a freshman congressperson made such a stunning impact in the House of Representatives as Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), quickly emerging as an avatar for the extremist fringe of her Party. Greene latched onto the Trumpist base with all the furor of a Sarah-Palin-inspired “pit bull in lipstick”, hawking every conspiracy theory to come within range while endorsing the lynching of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump strongly supported her candidacy, calling her “a future Republican star.” Since his departure from the Oval Office, he and Greene have exchanged phone calls frequently, with the newly minted Representative planning a visit to Mar-a-Lago soon, to kiss the ring: “Great news is, he supports me 100%, and I’ve always supported him,” tweeted Greene.
By Constitutional fiat, all US administrations begin at 12 Noon on the January 20th following a general election, regardless of when the oath of office is actually sworn. This provides a celestial continuity from decade to decade, with all administrations having an early Aquarius Sun conjunct a late Capricorn MC, and a mid-Taurus Ascendant (unless begun by the death or resignation of the previous office holder). But within that rigid framework, the permutations are virtually endless, especially when asteroids are considered.
On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, the Feast of the Epiphany, Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol to prevent Congress’ counting and certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, preparatory to his inauguration two weeks later. Doors were forced, windows broken, as insurrectionists fresh from a Trump rally mere blocks away which featured an in-person address from the President took control from Capitol Police and security, who offered minimal resistance to the crowd, estimated in the tens of thousands. The Senate and House were evacuated, put on lockdown, as legislators cowered in safe spaces or barricaded themselves in their offices to avoid the mob.
On Thursday 25 April 2019 former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Biden’s Macbeth routine, “letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’,” was wearing thin, and at his announcement Biden joined an already crowded field of some twenty rivals who dove into the political (cess)pool ahead of him. Before officially becoming a candidate, Biden’s name recognition kept him at the top of most polls; now that he’s an actual contender, that may change. Fast.
On Sunday, 27 January 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign in her home town of Oakland, California, before a crowd estimated at some 20,000. Harris is the former Attorney General of California, elected to the US Senate in 2016. As a mixed race child of a Jamaican father and a Tamil Indian mother, Harris is the first potentially viable candidate who is a woman of color to run for president. Her candidacy will electrify liberals and promote progressive goals, such as universal pre-K, debt-free college, and Medicare for all, and a long career in law enforcement may help to remove the “soft on crime” sting that many conservatives will attempt to apply.