December Astromusings – Saturn Square Neptune, Inequality, Paris Climate Change Conference

9 SagiHappy Birthday to all the Sagittarians who celebrate their birthdays from 23 November to 22 December. The illustration my sister and I chose for our card for Sagittarius depicts Arjuna, the warrior and seeker of spiritual truth in the Indian epic song, Bhagavad Gita, and Lord Krsna urges Arjuna to adopt a path of action freed from fear, reaction and inner conflict, offering a vision of the Self which is shining, limitless and untouched by sorrow. This could be a parable for our times, encapsulating the role of Sagittarius – the visionary, optimist and adventurer.who aims his arrow at the heavens.

Saturn in Sagittarius square Neptune in Pisces

Saturn moved out of intense Scorpio and into idealistic Sagittarius in September 2015. In November and December Saturn makes a square with Neptune in Pisces. Both Sagittarius and Pisces are mutable signs so there is flexibility there. This square will continue into 2016. There will be three hit of this square between Saturn and Neptune. The first one was on 26-27 November 2015 at 7 degrees Sagittarius and 7 Pisces. The next hit will occur on 17 – 18 June at 12 degrees Sagittarius and Pisces. The third and final hit will be on 10 September 2016 at 10 degrees Sagittarius and 10 Pisces.

Saturn in Scorpio a fixed sign is very rigid  but in the mutable sign of Sagittarius there is room for more fluidity and experimentation. Saturn’s restrictive energy is diametrically opposed to the freedom loving, idealistic energy of Sagittarius whereas Neptune, the ruler of Pisces, is completely at home in Pisces. This challenging energy forms a backdrop for the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Mali and Beirut where the perpetrators of violence are prepared to die for their beliefs and ideologies.  The Western world was reeling with shock at the terrorist attack in the heart of Paris and ‘Je suis Charlie’ morphed into ‘Je suis Paris’. Prior to this there was an attack on civilians in Beirut but critics rightly noted that it did not arouse the same condemnation that it did when a terrorist attack occurred in a Western country.

Sagittarius is about beliefs, ideologies and zealotry when unchecked. It also rules freedom, travel and adventure and optimism. The aim of the terrorists is to strike fear into the hearts of all ‘infidels’ and restrict our freedom of movement. People had already expressed fears about travelling but it is important for us to remain positive and not give in to fear and hate which is the aim of the terrorists.

Thomas Piketty – Inequality in Middle East fuels ISIL

Piketty_in_Cambridge_3_crop

Thomas Piketty

A year after his 700 page opus Capital in the Twenty-First Century rose to the top of America’s best-seller lists, Thomas Piketty is propounding a new theory about income inequality. It may prove more controversial than his book, which continues to generate debate in political and economic circles.

The new argument, which Piketty spelled out  in the French newspaper Le Monde, is as follows: Inequality is a major driver of Middle Eastern terrorism, including the Islamic State attacks on Paris earlier this month — and Western nations have themselves largely to blame for that inequality.

Piketty writes that the Middle East’s political and social system has been made fragile by the high concentration of oil wealth into a few countries with relatively little population. If you look at the region between Egypt and Iran — which includes Syria — you find several oil monarchies controlling between 60 and 70 percent of wealth, while housing just a bit more than 10 percent of the 300 million people living in that area.

This concentration of so much wealth in countries with so small a share of the population, he says, makes the region “the most unequal on the planet.”

Within those monarchies, he continues, a small amount of people controls most of the wealth, while a large proportion— including women and refugees — are kept in a state of “semi-slavery.” Those economic conditions, he says, have become justifications for jihadists, along with the casualties of a series of wars in the region perpetuated by Western powers.

His list starts with the first Gulf War, which he says resulted in allied forces returning oil “to the emirs.” He implies that economic deprivation and the horrors of wars that benefited only a select few of the region’s residents have, mixed together, become what he calls a “powder keg” for terrorism across the region.

Piketty is particularly scathing when he blames the inequality of the region, and the persistence of oil monarchies that perpetuate it, on the West: “These are the regimes that are militarily and politically supported by Western powers, all too happy to get some crumbs to fund their [soccer] clubs or sell some weapons. No wonder our lessons in social justice and democracy find little welcome among Middle Eastern youth.”

Terrorism that is rooted in inequality, Piketty continues, is best combated economically. To gain credibility with those who do not share in the region’s wealth, Western countries should demonstrate that they are more concerned with the social development of the region than they are with their own financial interests and relationships with ruling families. The way to do this, he says, is to ensure that Middle eastern oil money funds “regional development,” including far more education.

He concludes by looking inward, at France, decrying its discrimination in the hiring of immigrants and the high unemployment levels among those populations. He says Europe must turn away from “austerity” and reinvigorate its model of integration and job creation, and notes that the continent accepted a net 1 million immigrants per year before the financial crisis.

Yanis VaroufakisAYanis Varoufakis on Q&AThe Global MinotaurYanis Varoufakis – The Global Minotaur

Another vocal critic of  inequality and the austerity measures imposed on Europe is the former professor of economics and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis who is currently on a speaking tour in Australia. In his book The Global Minotaur,  Varoufakis argues that the current financial problems are connected to the emerging fault lines of the international monetary system. The US (the Minotaur) used to govern the international monetary system, but no more; and this crucially means that there is no surplus recycling mechanism that can reliably stabilise the world economy. He makes the following analogy: Just as the Athenians maintained a steady flow of tributes to the Cretan beast, so the ‘rest of the world’ began sending incredible amounts of capital to America and Wall Street. Thus, the Global Minotaur became the ‘engine’ that pulled the world economy from the early 1980s to 2008.Going beyond this, Varoufakis lays out the options available to us for reintroducing a modicum of reason into a highly irrational global economic order.

Paris Climate Change Conference

Paris has not only been the centre of attention because of the recent terrorist attacks but is also now hosting the Climate Change Conference. Nothing has polarised Australian leaders more in the recent years than the bitter debate over climate change with climate change sceptic former Prime Minister Abbott leading the charge against climate change advocates. The bitter dispute caused the demise of Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader, a strong climate change advocate who was replaced by Tony Abbott. PM Kevin Rudd lost his nerve about following through on an ETS. Abbott cartoon re carbon taxWhen Julia Gillard replaced Rudd as PM promising a carbon tax  Abbott and his supporters carried out a  relentless and vicious campaign against Gillard. Since Malcolm Turnbull replaced Abbott as PM he has been treading very carefully not wanting to rile the extreme right wing rump of the LNP. Turnbull’s caution has lead to the opposition’s taunts that Turnbull atended the Climate Change Conference carrying Abbott’s baggage with no new propositions to bring to the table.

The Plight of the Pacific Islanders

FRANCE-DIPLOMACY-OBAMA-SMALL-ISLANDS

US President Barack Obama poses with leaders of small island nations

The Labor leaders’ Bill Shorten’s and Tanya Plibersek’s recent trip to the Pacific islands highlighted the plight of the small island nations whose leaders are pleading for urgent action at the Paris Climate Change Conference to prevent their islands being submerged. President Obama stood with the pacific Island leaders declaring that he was an island boy born in Hawaii and knew only too well the beauty but also the fragility of islands’ ecosystems.

The Goal of the Climate Change Convention

The overarching goal of the Convention is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. As ministers from around the world arrive for the final days of the climate talks in Paris there is a sense of optimism that solutions to some of the toughest disputes are starting to emerge.

Bill Gates leads Coalition of Entrepreneurs Supporting Action on Climate Change 

Previous conferences have failed to reach their targets with vested interests of some countries conflicting with the common goals, especially between the developing and developed nations . The polarisation over the validity of the science the climate change is being replaced now reaching a critical mass where the evidence of climate change is now undeniable. Sagittarius is about optimism and we have to remain optimistic if we are to reach some consensus on this most pressing issue facing humanity.

Bill Gates at Paris Climate Change

Breakthrough Energy Coalition

It is heartening to see entrepreneurs led by Bill Gates putting their money where their mouth is.  Bill Gates and other wealthy entrepreneurs announced the creation of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a global group of private investors committed to “early-stage investing in potentially transformative energy systems” with “near zero carbon emissions.”

The coalition includes those with experience in clean energy investment, including Virgin’s Richard Branson, and venture capitalists John Doerr, and Vinod Khosla. But it also brings into the fold supporters new to the field – including Amazon’s AMZN -1.44% Jeff Bezos, LinkedIn’s LNKD-2.47% Reid Hoffman, Facebook’s FB -1.59% Mark Zuckerberg, as well as hedge fund titans and leading industrialists from around the world.

To work effectively with this Saturn in Sagittarius Neptune in Pisces Square we need to remain positive and open to new possibilities and ideas so that we can manifest (Saturn) our visions (Neptune). This planetary configuration may pose challenges but it can also allow for a paradigm shift in our world view.

 

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