Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Big Sister Is Watching You - Or Is She?

Legislation is shortly to go before the UK Parliament allowing the intelligence agency GCHQ to monitor the phone and internet activity of everyone in the UK. They won’t be able to look at the content of calls, emails etc without a warrant, but they’ll be able to see who you’ve been in contact with. Similar legislation failed under Labour and was opposed by the Tories. Let's see what happens now it's the other way round.

The civil liberties groups are up in arms, but it seems like common sense to me. Through mobile phones and the internet, new worlds of communication have opened up and it is the government’s job to make sure they don’t become a secure haven for harmful activities such as terrorism, paedophile rings and organised crime.
It’s always been the government’s job to prevent criminal activity, and it would be failing in its most basic duty – to maintain an ordered, safe society – if it didn’t introduce such legislation.

You need to be able to look at certain activities in real time, and monitor extensive patterns of communication without having to go to a magistrate each time. Note the police won’t be able to do this, and even GCHQ won’t be able to look at content without a warrant.

It’s easy to react to this sort of legislation and feel invaded, but let’s imagine a real situation. You have Slimey the known paedophile. I would hope that GCHQ is already monitoring his electronic communications for signs of contact with other known paedophiles.
But supposing Slimey is suspected of being part of a paedophile ring with people who are not known to the police? What you need to do firstly is to monitor all his communications, and then those of all the people he is in contact with, and then all the people they are in contact with, and so on. It's immensely complex. And what do you find? 3 steps down the line Gropey, another known paedophile, turns up. Gropey and Slimey are not stupid enough to contact each other directly, but who are these intermediaries? And one particular email or text was recklessly sent from Sri Lanka, hotspot for paedophile sex tourism. Dodgy. And all this is without even opening any texts etc.

Now I know very little about most of my Facebook friends (let alone my friends’ friends). For all I know, one of them could be Gropey. It’s perfectly possible. He just happens to be interested in astrology, for example. GCHQ would then need to monitor my electronic communications and those of all my other Facebook friends, and then their friends in turn, at least for a while, to see if a pattern emerged. And it probably wouldn’t be some prurient bureaucrat fingering through my messages, but a computer algorithm trawling through millions of connections and looking for patterns.

If you lived in a village 100 years ago – as most people did – everyone would have known your business. If someone did something, people would have a fairly good idea who did it. Nowadays we have people we don’t know – or maybe just computers - knowing some of our business, instead of people we do know - and may not like - knowing all of our business. I think I prefer it like it is now.

The issue is not the creation of these powers for GCHQ. It has to happen. The issue is ensuring the powers do not get abused. Spying on people for political reasons. Or being paid to by journalists: the recent phone hacking enquiry has proved what we all knew, which is that the police can be bought. Presumably, so can some people working at GCHQ.

And if the government didn’t introduce these powers, we’d probably find we were being snooped on anyway, but in an unregulated manner. So for this reason as well, the legislation is needed.

Of course there will be abuses, in the same way that the police will always do bad things, like framing people when they are under pressure to get a result, or being prejudiced against the minorities that many of us are also secretly prejudiced against, or taking bribes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a police force.

This issue is current in the US too. 2 days ago, in the New York Times, a headlined article began:

Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.

And in yesterday's New York Times we read:

The director of the F.B.I. said cyberattacks would soon replace terrorism as the agency’s No. 1 concern as foreign hackers, particularly from China, penetrate American firms’ computers and steal huge amounts of valuable data and intellectual property... the executive assistant director of the F.B.I. told Congress last week of an American company that had all of its data from a 10-year, $1 billion research program copied by hackers in one night. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, head of the military’s Cyber Command, called the continuing, rampant cybertheft “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

Because it is fearful that government monitoring would be seen as a cover for illegal snooping and a violation of citizens’ privacy, the Obama administration has not even attempted to develop a proposal for spotting and stopping vast industrial espionage. It fears a negative reaction from privacy-rights and Internet-freedom advocates who do not want the government scanning Internet traffic.

Currently Pluto is stationing in Capricorn, just as the UK government has released these legislative plans. Government (Capricorn) control (Pluto) is an issue here, highlighted by Pluto’s being stationary. Whether you see the plans as the shadow side of Pluto in Capricorn – authoritarian, over-controlling government – or as a necessary exertion of power (Pluto) by the government (Capricorn) probably depends on your political position.

My opinion is that it is mainly the latter motive, though over time it will tend to shade into the former motive. But it would be wrong to try to use astrology to justify my opinion. Astrology doesn’t tell you what to think. It just indicates what principles, what archetypes, what gods are at work.

For the UK, Pluto is stationing at a very significant point, around 9.30 Capricorn: the UK IC is at 9.20 Capricorn and the UK Sun is at 10.11 Capricorn. What is happening with the GCHQ legislation is therefore very significant in terms of the government taking control. The astrology tells us that. What it doesn’t tell us is what value to place on it. We will each have our own opinion.

Something I object to is the reflex reaction against the legislative plans by the educated liberal consensus, that they are simply a bad thing, Big Brother, end of story. Like GM food is simply a bad thing to be opposed. Or nuclear power. Nothing is like that. It is unthinking. Being educated is unfortunately not the same thing as being able to think - being able to weigh up emotive subjects dispassionately and to question one’s own values and attitudes. I think these plans need intelligent opposition. There will be abuses, there will be too many of them at times, and governments have to be kept on their toes.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Uranus-Pluto Part 8 of 8: The Arab Spring and the Downsizing of the UK

So we’ll look at a couple of charts from the Arab Spring. I won’t be doing the sort of extensive analysis that I did for the US Chart. I just want to show the activity of Uranus-Pluto. And then we’ll look at the UK and Scotland.

The Arab Spring seems to be a revolt against secular dictators, something had obviously been brewing for years. But we don’t know what the final outcome will be. Islamist theocracy, Uranus-Pluto in its repressive form of ‘this is the only way’, could be the outcome in many cases. That doesn’t make democracy necessarily the non-repressive option. Americans, for example, see their style of democracy as the only way and are quite prepared to impose it on other countries. (With natal Sun conjunct Jupiter, which rules the Ascendant, the US easily inclines towards fundamentalism in its beliefs.)

First of all, Libya.

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This is the chart for its independence, and its recent revolution occurred under Uranus square Sun – the overthrow of the leader, which is classic. The Pluto conjunct Sun transit was over, suggesting that a feeling of revolt had been growing for some years. That is the way Pluto transits work sometimes: something grows unseen and then eventually pushes through into life, and it’s only when you look back that you can see the process.

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This is the Chart for the Gaddafi regime, and the obvious transit is the Uranus opposition, the mid-life crisis. Uranus rules the Descendant, foreign partners, so there is the foreign intervention in its mid-life crisis.

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Syria is still having its attempted revolution, and we don’t know which way it’s going to go for now. The rebels are not receiving the same help from the west that the Libyans did. This year Uranus and Pluto are hard-aspecting the Syrian Sun, the leader, and they will go on to hard-aspect the Angles over the next couple of years. So it is a very difficult process that is going to continue. But it's hard to see how in the longer-term the present leadership can survive when you've got such a demand for change from the outer planets.
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Time for the UK. The usual UK Chart is the 1801 Chart, the Union of Britain and Ireland. And as you can see, we are going through a Uranus opposition. A country has a Uranus opposition every 84 years or so, and the last one was around 1927-28, when we also, interestingly, had a coalition government.

It’s as though under a Uranus opposition you can’t decide who you are any more, all these possibilities are there, but you no longer have a foundation from which to decide. Particularly when Uranus is so prominent in the chart, being conjunct the Ascendant and square the Sun and MC. It is what makes us the awkward squad in Europe, and Uranus in the sense of a splitting off suggests the UK as island nation. It also gives us our inventiveness.

This year and next year are particularly pokey. The Uranus –Pluto transit will this year almost, but not quite, square the Sun and MC, but will exactly hard aspect the Ascendant.

So it’s a huge period in terms of who we think we are. And there are 2 tanks in the garden: Scotland and Europe. Scotland is holding a referendum on independence in 2 years. And Europe is drawing ever closer together, leaving the UK potentially adrift on the outside, lacking power within Europe.

The UK may well be downsizing in the next few years due to the splitting action of Uranus. It’s like the very last vestiges of Empire going. And we may decide to consider ourselves European in a way that we haven’t so far. And the English may also reclaim being English in a way they haven’t for a long time.

And it’s about Pluto sitting right on the bottom of the chart, conjunct the IC and Sun. The last time this occurred was before this chart came into existence, in 1767. And that was a time when conflict was building with the American colonies, resulting in the Declaration of Independence 9 years later. So there’s a theme of Empire there.

Pluto at the bottom of the chart is saying the foundations are no longer adequate. Pluto kind of says that anyway, even without Capricorn and the IC. Britain has been in this weird situation for a long time now, thinking of itself as one of the major powers, feeling it has a duty to go in there where there is trouble in the world – with the say-so of the US of course - and having a seat on the UN Security Council. But the Empire and wealth are no longer there to justify that attitude, and haven’t been since WWII really.

So I think this transit could be very good for us, it could bring us down to earth, it could mark the English knowing who they are again not just after the kind of misfit of the post-Empire years, but in a way after the inflation of having an Empire in the first place. It’s an inflation that has been there for several hundred years. When a country gets successful, when it gets to be top dog as the British were, you can forget who you are. And Pluto can bring you back there, back to your foundations.

I think this Pluto transit will be doing the same for America too as China snaps at its heels. Not to the same extent as Britain, not by a long way, because America will be top dog for a long time yet. But it’s the beginning of that process of in a way coming back to itself. Pluto brings humility and the self-knowledge that can come with that.

So, something about Scottish Independence.

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Nick Campion has a speculative chart for Scotland, which is the 842 Aries Ingress. It works well in terms of transits. Over the last few years Uranus and Pluto have been hard aspecting the Sun as their leader, Alex Salmond, has promoted the idea of independence.

He is taking it to the people, the Moon, in 2014, and look at that Moon, 7 degrees Aries conjunct Uranus at 13 Aries. The Aries-Uranus symbolism suggests a people for whom independence is vital, and that is being hugely activated by Uranus-Pluto over the next couple of years.

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In considering Scottish Independence, the UK 1707 chart would seem to be the one to work with, because that is the chart for the union of England and Scotland. In 2014, Pluto and Uranus will be hard aspecting the ascendant, and Saturn will be crossing the Midheaven. The ascendant is how we give expression to ourselves, and an easy interpretation of that is to say by splitting, by dividing, Uranus.

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The referendum will be in the autumn of 2014. On the 4th of October that year, the progressed Ascendant moves into Sagittarius. So a major new beginning, a freedom in a sense. Freedom for the Scots, and in a way freedom for the UK from having to be this falsely imperial nation. And a new sense of what gives meaning (Sagittarius) for both countries. Prog Sun exactly square prog Moon: what the people, the Moon, want, and what the government wants are at odds. And then the fiery Grand Trine between the Moon, Pluto and Venus, suggesting some new vision that will unfold very naturally. And the Progressed Chart Ruler, Jupiter, conjunct the Prog Midheaven, adding to the sense of expansion.

The idea of division, of split, also applies to the UK 1801 Chart, not just because of the square from Uranus to the Sun and MC in 2012/14, but because Uranus goes on to exactly square the UK 1801 Moon, the people, at 19 Cancer in 2015. So something big will be happening, and putting all the factors together, it looks very like independence for Scotland.

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