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 on: Today at 12:44 PM 
Started by Deva - Last post by Deva
Thanks to all who participated in EA study group! The next class is scheduled for Saturday 10/24/15 starting at 10-11 AM  Pacific Time (this is a rescheduled EA study group originally scheduled for 10/3)
     The study group has recently completed reviewing Pluto in the natal chart through each house/sign (Pluto in Aries/1st house through Pluto in Pisces/12th house) and the planetary method of planetary of chart interpretation.  We will begin a new series which reviews the meaning of Chiron from an evolutionary point of view. To begin the next class We will review core EA principles (open Q and A as needed) and begin to discuss the specific meaning of Chiron in the natal chart. (the class will utilize case studies to demonstrate how to interpret Chiron in the natal chart).

Birth Data: (Chiron in Libra/7th house)

1)Susan Sarandon: October 4, 1946, 2:25 PM New York (NY) (United States)

2) Dane Rudhyar: Born:   March 23, 1895, 1:00 AM Paris (France)

Dial-in Number:    1-605-475-6333
Participant Access Code:    9890099

Recordings of previous classes are available (please contact Deva via email at


Deva Green, Jeffrey Wolf Green's daughter, has stated a monthly phone class for all who are interested in learning and discussing the core principles of E.A. These phone classes will be a forum in which we can discuss and apply the main principles of Evolutionary Astrology as an interactive group (study/practice group).

     The first class was Saturday Oct.19th 2013, from 10am- 11am PT.  We began with the core correlations of Pluto and their meaning from an evolutionary point of view in the birth chart.  We discuss Pluto and its correlation to the Soul, its meaning from an individual as well as generational point of view, and practice interpreting specific Pluto placements (house and sign locality) in the birth chart. The classes are open to Q and A as well. We are applying the various components of the “Pluto Paradigm”  using case studies, and review/discuss core principles that students/study group want to develop/understand further. If you would like to participate in these monthly classes, please contact
Deva at

Dial-in Number:    1-605-475-6333
Participant Access Code:    9890099

Recordings of previous classes are available (please contact Deva via email at

 on: Today at 10:17 AM 
Started by Daniel - Last post by Daniel
EA community,

Has anyone recently looked at the transits to the United States chart lately? (7° Gemini rising)

Pluto has been opposite the US Sun since January 2014, perfecting in February, June, and December. It will move out of orb on November 19th, 2015. 

Pluto moved into a square with Saturn in November 2015, where it will remain through 2016. It was exact in February and June, and will perfect again on Christmas Eve 2015.

Saturn will be opposite the US Uranus from December 3rd,  2015 through August 2016, perfecting on Dec 11th, opposing the US Ascendant on November 27th.

Saturn opposes Mars from December 19th, 2015 to January 5th, 2016, perfecting on December 28th, 2016.

Saturn opposes US Mars from December 2016 to September 2017, exact on December 28th.

Uranus moved into square with the US Sun in April 2011 where it will remain essentially through March of 2017. 

Uranus has squared Pluto since April 2015, will go out of orb on November 5th, and then move back into orb from February 26th, 2016, perfect 3 times, on June 14th, 2017, September 22nd, 2017 and again on April 2, 2018, before finally moving out of orb in February 2020.

Neptune has been in square to US Uranus since January 2016, exact on February 12, 2016, will perfect in February 2016 and leave in January 2017.

Neptune has been in square to the US Ascendant since January 2011, exact on May 4, 2014, July 17th, 2014, February 25th, 2015, and again on October 21st, 2015, finally moving out of orb on April 9th, 2019.

Neptune will square Mars from April to August 2016, and then again from February 2017 to February 2026, perfecting twice in June 2020, and twice in 2021, finally leaving in February 2026.

Jupiter will conjunct Neptune on December 4th, 2015, through August 7th, 2016 with perfections December 16th and January 30th.

Jupiter will conjunct Saturn, on and off, from November 2016 through July 2017.

Jupiter will square US Mars roughly from November of this year, through July 2016, with 3 perfections, November 30th, 2015, February 15th, and July 25th 2016.

Jupiter will square US Venus from December 15th, 2015 to January 31st, 2016, and then again from August 2nd to November 6th, 22016, perfecting on September 20th.

Jupiter will square itself from in October to November, 2016 perfecting on October 6th, 2016.

Jupiter square the US Sun from August 20th 2016 to September 4th, 2017, exact on November 8th, 2016.

All of this is in context to:
•   US Pluto return from March 2021 to December 2023
•   Neptune-Neptune opposition from March 2021 to January 2023
•   Uranus squaring the US Moon in 2020-2026
•   Jupiter conjuncts US Pluto in 2020
•   Jupiter conjunct the US Moon in 2021
•   Saturn opposing the US Sun in 2019
•   Saturn conjuncts US Pluto in 2020
•   Saturn conjuncts the US Moon in 2022

I know that some of these dates reach pretty far out into the future. I am not looking for predictions here. I would like to understand the dynamics of our country’s Soul. Clearly we all are observing the themes that are in play: equality, freedom of expression, extreme political and economic polarity, militarization of our local police, extinction level natural resource crises, geopolitical instability and arms buildup, global immigration issues, and a pervasive, almost imperceptible deconstruction of the values our country was reputedly founded upon.
“Were we ever really a ‘democracy’?”
“Where are the strengths and distortions of the US culture evident in the chart?”

I hope that this question is not out of scope for the MB. I am very interested to learn about the US chart from an EA perspective.  TIA.

Prayers for peace,


 on: Today at 08:51 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
NASA: Water found on Mars - 2015 Discovery Science Universe Documentary

Click to watch this documentary:

Universe Documentaries 2015: Latest Secrets of Mars..National Geographic Documentary

Click to watch:

 on: Today at 08:45 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
After Mars, hunt for water and life goes deep into the solar system

The Guardian
03 Oct 2015 at 22:50 ET                   

Without water, life as we understand it would be impossible. It is the one substance upon which our existence depends. And now it has been found streaking down the red, dusty slopes of the hills of Mars.

The discovery, announced by Nasa last week , that the Red Planet has running water has provided scientists who are seeking life there with a major boost. As Jim Green, Nasa’s director of planetary science, put it: “If you look at Earth, water is an essential ingredient. Wherever we find water, we find life.”

Hence the international acclaim for the discovery, although the hunt for water, and life, in the solar system is not restricted to Mars. Indeed, astronomers have recently found that our solar system is awash with tantalising pools of the stuff, including several moons of both Jupiter and Saturn. Now researchers are competing for funds to back projects to study these very different, remarkable worlds, even though some are found more than a billion miles from the nurturing warmth of the sun.

It is a tour of the solar system that takes us deep into space, though it begins at Mars, one of our nearest planetary neighbours. Space engineers have been sending probes there for decades, but until recently their record was poor, with a substantial number either missing or crashing into their target s. Success rates have improved over the past decade, however. As a result, there are now five satellites in orbit round Mars, all returning data, while two robot rovers continue to trundle across its surface.

Nevertheless, it has taken this armada a very long time to find evidence of water on the planet, which shows how inhospitable and arid conditions are on Mars. Its atmospheric pressure is only 0.6% of Earth’s and its surface is bombarded by ultraviolet radiation. Any reservoirs of water or deposits of lifeforms will exist only underground, scientists believe. Finding them will be tricky.

One bold effort will be made by Europe’s ExoMars lander mission in 2018. Launched on a Russian Proton rocket, it is designed to set down a robot rover that is under construction at Astrium’s construction plant in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The rover will be fitted with a long drill that will allow samples to be taken from depths of two metres. These will then be analysed for signs of biological activity.

“ExoMars is designed to identify complex organic materials, but in a way that will allow scientists on Earth to determine if they were produced by living organisms or by straightforward chemical activity,” said Ralph Cordley, a project leader for the ExoMars mission. “The fact that we now have found signs of running water on the Martian surface is tremendously encouraging, of course.”

Water on Mars remains a tantalising prospect, nevertheless – in contrast to several other parts of the solar system where it exists in abundance. Of these, Europa – one of the main moons of Jupiter – is probably the most striking. Covered in a coat of ice, it is the smoothest object in the solar system (with the possible exception of George Clooney) and is known to have a reservoir of water, mixed with organic materials, deep below its surface.

This alien ocean is also considered to be a likely place to find life and two separate missions – to be launched around 2020 – are now being designed to study Europa: the US Europa mission and the European Juice – Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer – mission. The latter will also investigate Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Callisto. By contrast the US mission will concentrate on Europa, making dozens of sweeps over its surface in an attempt to detect any complex, organic material that might evaporate from its surface.

“If there is life in Europa, it almost certainly was completely independent from the origin of life on Earth,” said Robert Pappalardo, the mission project scientist. “Europa is so important because we want to understand: are we alone in the universe?”

Not everyone agrees with this idea of Europa’s prime importance, however. John Zarnecki, a director at the International Space Science Institute in Berne, Switzerland, believes an even more distant target provides richer promise of finding watery life in the solar system: Titan. Orbiting the planet Saturn one billion kilometres from Earth, the moon, which has a thick atmosphere of nitrogen, has been revealed to be a world with lakes and seas of methane on its surface.

“It also has great stretches of dunes and complex hydrocarbons,” said Zarnecki, who helped design key instruments for the Huygens probe that landed on Titan in 2005. “Most exciting of all, however, are the signs – provided by radar studies of Titan – that it also has a subsurface ocean and that could provide a home for primitive life,” said Zarnecki. “Titan probably has a warm core which is keeping that layer of water in a warm liquid state. Thus, we have the prospect of a rich soup of hydrocarbons, created on the surface, and which could be filtering through Titan’s crust to a subterranean ocean. Perfect for life. There could be colonies of bugs thriving down there.”

Titan is remote, and drilling down through its surface to an underground ocean will be extraordinarily difficult. One idea is to land a spaceship on one of Titan’s lakes of methane, where it could sail around searching for complex organic chemicals, the precursors of life. However, the mission – the Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) – was recently vetoed by senior Nasa officials , although Zarnecki and others hope it will be resurrected.

Titan is not the only moon of Saturn to attract attention, however. Observations by the robot craft Cassini, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, have shown that, at the south pole of Enceladus, an underground ocean appears to rise close to the surface. And at a few sites cracks have developed, allowing water to bubble to the little moon’s surface before being vented into space. In addition, complex organic chemicals appear to have built up in its sea. The importance of this combination of factors is stressed by Nasa astrobiologist Chris McKay. “Enceladus is a small world with an ocean below its icy surface. Even better, plumes from that ocean are vented into space and that means easy access. This is the place to go,” he insists.

Detailed plans have been prepared to launch a probe that would sweep across Enceladus’s surface to gather droplets of water in its plumes. Instruments in the spacecraft, called the Enceladus Life Finder, would then analyse those droplets for amino acids, carbon isotopes and other features that would indicate biological activity. “We would also study Enceladus’s ocean in detail as well as the plumes of water it produces,” said the project leader, Jonathan Lunine. “It may be a sterile ocean – or it could clearly be a place where there is life.” If the latter, then a later mission would be designed to bring samples back to Earth.

The project has been backed by several leading scientists, but recently suffered a major setback when Nasa removed it from its list of forthcoming planetary missions. “We will redesign the project and resubmit, but there is no doubt this has set us back two or three years,” said Lunine. It is doubtful that a mission could reach Enceladus before 2030. Nor is there much prospect, at present, for a mission to Titan to get there any earlier.

“Mars and Europa are the two frontrunners now,” Lunine acknowledged. “Whether it stays that way is another matter.”


A molecule of water consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. The origins of these elements are intriguing. The former are the direct leftovers of the big bang 13.8 billion years ago, when the universe exploded into existence, spraying out particles that eventually coalesced into protons and electrons, the building blocks of hydrogen. Later those hydrogen atoms formed clouds, which began to shrink and rotate. Stars were created from these clouds and the nuclei of hydrogen atoms fused to form those of helium. These fused, in turn, to make carbon and then oxygen. Then the stars exploded, spraying space with oxygen, which later combined with hydrogen to form water.

 on: Oct 03, 2015, 10:33 PM 
Started by Linda - Last post by Sree
Hi Rad
Thanks for  clarifying

 on: Oct 03, 2015, 08:46 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Slavery in America was much worse than you probably imagined

Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
03 Oct 2015 at 09:58 ET                   

This August, when Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter protesters, they told her that ongoing violence and prejudice against blacks was part of a long historic continuum where, for example, today’s prison system descended from the old Southern plantations. Slavery, Clinton replied, was the “original sin… that America has not recovered from.”

But how much do modern Americans really know about slavery in colonial America? In the genocide of Native Americans? In the War of Independence or the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? Or afterward for decades until the Civil War? Chances are, not very much. Not that slaves, for example, were money in the antebellum South—currency and credit—which led to the enforced, systematic break-up of black families in generation after generation. There was no national currency, and little silver or gold, but there was paper tied to slaves bought on credit whose offspring were seen as a dividend that grew over time.

That’s just one of the riveting and revolting details from a new book, The American Slave Coast: A History of The Slave Breeding Industry, by Ned and Constance Sublette. They trace other telling details that are not found in traditional American history books, where slavery is usually described as an amoral but cheap labor system. For example, have you read about the rivalry between Virginia and South Carolina, which had competing slave economies?

Virginia was the epicenter of a slave breeding industry, in which enslaved women were expected to be constantly pregnant, were sold off if they didn’t produce children, and sometimes were force-mated to achieve that end. The offspring were sold to newer settlers and those migrating west. Charleston, South Carolina, in contrast, was colonial America’s slave importing and exporting port. In the late seventeenth century, Carolina exported captured native Americans as slaves to Caribbean plantation islands, gradually replacing them with imported laborers. As the South was emptied of native Americans and American plantations grew, South Carolina became the major slave importer in the colonies and in the early republic. Virginia eventually won out when Congress, at President Thomas Jefferson’s urging, banned slave importation as of January 1, 1808—protectionism, say the Sublettes, for Virginia’s slave-breeding industry, and sold to the public as protection against the alleged terrorism of “French negroes” from Haiti. After that, a new interstate slave trade grew, propelled by territories and new states that wanted slavery, and by the breeders who wanted new markets. Thus, the slave-breeding economy spread south and west, driving the expansion of the U.S. into new territories.

Slavery, as the Sublettes describe it, wasn’t a sidebar to early American history and a new nation’s growth. It was front and center—protected by law and prejudice, custom and greed. The enslaved were unloaded, sold, and taken (women’s necks tied with rope, men’s necks put in chains) via major roads, steamboats, and passing through cities and villages to their destination. Newspapers, owned by Benjamin Franklin, sold advertising for buying and selling slaves. All of this unfolded in full sight, with prosperous settlers assuming that slaves were a necessity for daily living and accumulating wealth. For generations, the property value of slaves was the largest asset in America.

The authors, Ned and Constance Sublette, are not traditional scholars, but gifted cultural historians. Ned Sublette, who was born in Lubbock, Texas, and lived in Natchitoches, Louisiana as a boy, was trained as a musician and created the record company Qbadisc  in the 1990s—featuring top Cuban artists long before Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club. His book Cuba and Its Music is considered by many to be the most authoritative on the island’s unique mix of African and European traditions and musical heritage. He realized that the conditions of different forms of slavery—French, Spanish, American—accounted for key differences between Afro-Latin and African-American culture. His second book, The World That Made New Orleans, deconstructs how successive waves of slave importation, under Spanish, French and then American rule, created that city’s music. But throughout his research, working with his wife, Constance, the Sublettes realized that the history of slavery—especially its most vicious form that took hold in North America—was largely untold, unknown, and explained much about the violence, racism and exploitation that is at the core of U.S. history. The American Slave Coast is the result of 15 years of inquiry.

It’s an epic volume—668 pages before footnotes and citations—and a lot to digest. But if Americans are ever to come to terms with the anti-black violence that endures today, it is necessary to understand the roots of an economy and culture that has needed and feared Africans. For example, take Jefferson and America’s founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Most Americans know that slaves had no rights. Or they know that the slave-owning Jefferson cynically wrote, “All men are created equal” in the Declaration, and owned slaves and had several slave children. But they probably don’t realize how the Constitution and Bill of Rights enshrined into law an economic system where the major form of property was slaves, and created a government to protect the wealth of that system’s upper class.

Today’s right-wing fetish about the Constitution’s perfection ignores input by prominent Virginians and Carolinians, including many signers of the Declaration of Independence, to protect slave property. As their book points out, the gun-toting militias sanctioned by the Second Amendment were a guarantee that slave owners could hunt and kill escaped slaves and Native Americans. The Sublettes stunningly trace how fear (of slave revolts) and self-interest (protecting slave-tied wealth) played a major role in framing America’s founding documents. But they go further and demonstrate why Jefferson is the the founding theorist of white supremacy in America.

It’s not just that Jefferson owned slaves, including his own children who were 7/8ths white. Nor was it his letters with the leading men of his day—like George Washington—explaining how owning slaves was better than other investments. Nor was it his ugly and racist description of blacks in Notes From The State of Virginia, where in the 1780s he wrote, “Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions… are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection.” Mostly, it was Jefferson’s lifelong belief that slaves could not be freed but had to be deported en masse, because sizeable numbers of ex-slaves would take up arms and annihilate slave-owning whites. These prejudices, fears and draconian remedies reverberate today—such as Donald Trump’s bid to deport 11 million migrants.

The American Slave Coast starts with the horrible truth that America—unlike the French and Spanish colonies in the Caribbean—was a slave-breeding society from colonial times through emancipation. There was no path to freedom for slaves, because, say the Sublettes, “no escape from the asset column could be permitted.” Black families were intentionally broken up as part of creating an economic system for a new nation. As Ned Sublette said, “Writing this book revolutionized our understanding of our history.” Constance Sublette adds, “No matter how bad you thought slavery was, it was worse than that.”

 on: Oct 03, 2015, 07:43 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Texas veterinarian who killed elderly couple’s cat with bow and arrow may soon lose license to practice

Bethania Palma Markus
02 Oct 2015 at 15:42 ET                   

A Texas woman who shot an elderly couple’s pet cat through the head with an arrow may soon lose her veterinary license, the Dodo reports.

Kristen Lindsey, who was a vet at the Washington Animal Clinic before being fired in April, bragged on Facebook about killing the cat, named Tiger, with a bow and arrow. The gruesome post contained a picture of a smiling Lindsey holding up a big orange-and-white tabby by the arrow embedded in the cat’s head.

“My first bow kill, lol,” she had written on the photo. “The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s sic head! Vet of the year award … Gladly accepted.”

Not so much. The photo elicited outrage that included death threats against Lindsey. People organized under the banner “Tiger’s Justice Team.” And the cat was not feral. It was a pet cared for by an elderly couple that liked to ride around on their farm tractor and even had a pet sitter.

The cat had gone missing the same day Lindsey posted the photo.

As a result of the outcry, Lindsey was fired from the animal clinic in April.

In June, a grand jury chose not to indict her on animal cruelty charges, citing insufficient proof..( a dead cat with an arrow through it's head, and the evil women holding it, is not enough 'proof' for the grand jury in Texas ). But that wasn’t the end of it. The cat’s self-appointed justice squad wanted to see to it that Lindsey would face some punishment for killing the cat.

Now the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has voted to revoke her license. Lindsey has rejected the call to voluntarily comply, meaning her case will go before the State Office of Administrative Hearings, where a final decision is expected to be made in early 2016, KBTX reports.

“While Lindsey still has a license to practice veterinary medicine in Texas, we are encouraged to see this matter moving in the right direction,” wrote the Animal Legal Defense Fund in a Facebook update.

“I was a federal agent 32 years in law enforcement and I know that serial killers start with animals,” Lynne Jennings, director of dog rescue organization K-9 Airlift, told KBTX outside the court house in June.

Watch video of Tiger riding around on a tractor with his pet sitter, Amy Hemsell, posted to YouTube here:


Texas veterinarian fired after bragging online about killing a cat with a bow and arrow

Arturo Garcia
Raw Story
17 Apr 2015 at 20:46 ET                   

A veterinarian in Brenham, Texas lost her job and has allegedly received death threats after posting a picture online of herself with a cat she killed with a bow and arrow, KBTX-TV reported on Friday.

Officials at the Washington Animal Clinic terminated Kristen Lindsey’s employment after the picture from her Facebook page surfaced on Thursday. Lindsey can be seen holding the arrow, which is stuck inside the animal’s head.

“My first bow kill, lol,” she wrote. “The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s [sic] head! Vet of the year award … Gladly accepted.”

Lindsey took down her page after criticism began flooding in, but at one point she bragged that she would not lose her job over killing the cat, stating, “Like someone would get rid of me. I’m awesome!”

Instead, her name was covered up on the facility’s sign by Friday afternoon. The clinic reportedly received more than 500 phone calls denouncing Lindsey’s actions.

“Our goal now is to go on and try to fix our black eye and hope that people are reasonable and understand that those actions don’t anyway portray what we’re for here at Washington Animal Clinic,” said another veterinarian at the clinic, Bruce Buenger. “We put our heart and soul into this place.”

While Lindsey apparently believed that the cat was feral, a local animal rescue organization, True Blue Animal Rescue, identified it as a missing 6-year-old foster cat that had been taken in by a local elderly couple.

The San Antonio Express News reported that Lindsey also faces possible criminal charges for animal abuse.

“This kind of stuff shouldn’t happen in our society,” Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes said. “It’s a very sad thing. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it and get the truth, 100 percent truth, and get it to the DA and put it in his hands if it needs to go any further.”

WBTX also said on that it disabled comments on its website regarding Lindsey’s actions “due to repetitive violations of our terms of use, including death threats made against the veterinarian.”

 on: Oct 03, 2015, 05:22 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Moscow and Kiev in 'positive mood' over talks to end east Ukraine conflict

Paris talks also involving France and Germany see Russia pushing for Ukraine to take back legal control of territories

Shaun Walker in Moscow
Friday 2 October 2015 23.47 BST

Russian and Ukrainian officials have expressed cautious optimism following a long bout of negotiations in Paris to end the conflict in east Ukraine which has raged for a year and cost more than 8,000 lives.

A Kremlin spokesman described the talks – which involved the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – as “businesslike”, although Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko cautioned that the conflict would only end when “the last piece of Ukrainian territory was freed”, according to Interfax Ukraine.

“There is a hope that despite the delays in implementing [the Minsk agreement], steps have been made and overall we can talk about a positive mood that we could have this meeting today and discuss important things,” said the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, after the talks.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande at a press conference
Angela Merkel and François Hollande in Paris. Before the Ukraine summit each held bilateral talks with Vladimir Putin on Russia’s intervention in Syria. Photograph: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

When the four leaders last met in Minsk, Belarus in February, they spoke for 16 hours in marathon overnight talks which resulted in a new ceasefire agreement to augment the first Minsk agreement signed in September last year. The ceasefire was largely ignored for months but in recent weeks there has been almost full quiet on the front lines, as Russia pushes for Ukraine to take back legal control of the territories. Russia has denied military involvement in the conflict despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

François Hollande, the French president, said the elections planned for October in the rebel territories, which Kiev had denounced as illegal, would “probably” not take place yet and said he hoped Ukraine would pass a new law which allowed the vote to take place and would guarantee a full amnesty for all those taking part. This suggestion, which could effectively see rebel military commanders elected under Ukrainian law, will be unpalatable to many in Kiev.

The Donetsk rebels had planned to hold elections on 18 October, while the Luhansk statelet had set elections for 1 November. The compromise plan would involve the Ukrainian parliament passing a law stating these elections were indeed legal, but they would be organised by the rebels. Aside from the emotional issue of the amnesty, Ukraine had been uneasy about this suggestion, feeling it would push the territories back inside Ukraine legally and financially, but Kiev would still have no political control.

The long-planned talks were overshadowed by Russia’s dramatic entry into the Syrian conflict this week, with Vladimir Putin holding bilateral meetings with Merkel and Hollande before the four-way meeting.

It has been a busy diplomatic week for Putin, who has not been a frequent guest in western capitals over the past year; starting at the UN general assembly in New York on Monday, where Putin gave a speech calling for a global coalition against Islamic State and spent 90 minutes in talks with the US president Barack Obama.

The four leaders met alone for an hour and a half, before moving to broader format talks that included ministers and aides for the rest of the discussions.

As Russia enters war in Syria, conflict in Ukraine begins to wind down..Read more:

With the rebels, Kiev and Moscow all fatigued by military action, some kind of imperfect and uneasy solution appeared possible in the runup to Friday’s meeting.

In an interview last week in Donetsk, rebel leader Alexander Khodakovsky told the Guardian that the military stage of the conflict had come to a close, even if it did not please radical voices on all sides.

“We will be de jure inside Ukraine but will live by our own laws and leaders. Depending on how the political situation inside Ukraine and Russia develops, the next stage will be either increased stability leading to some kind of lasting settlement, or renewed conflict.”

 on: Oct 03, 2015, 05:19 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Obama says Russian strategy in Syria is ‘recipe for disaster’

US president’s comments follow coalition’s expression of deep concerns over targeting in Russian bombing campaign

Shaun Walker in Moscow Lauren Gambino in New York Ian Black in London and Kareem Shaheen in Beirut

Friday 2 October 2015 23.02 BST

Russia’s failure to distinguish between Islamic State fighters and moderate opposition forces battling against Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, is a “recipe for disaster,” Barack Obama has said, as more evidence emerged that Moscow is targeting anti-regime rebels and not just Isis.

The US president said his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, “doesn’t distinguish between Isil [Isis] and a moderate Sunni opposition that wants to see Mr Assad go. From their perspective, they’re all terrorists. And that’s a recipe for disaster.”

A statement released earlier on Friday by the US-led coalition fighting Isis expressed deep concern about attacks by the Russian air force on Hama, Homs and Idlib. The attacks did not hit the jihadi group but caused civilian casualties.

“These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalisation,” said the statement by France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the US and Britain. “We call on the Russian federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting Isil.”

Speaking at the White House, Obama said that only Assad and Iran supported Russia’s intervention in the conflict, but he pledged that he would not turn the Syrian civil war into a “proxy war” between the US and Russia. “This is not some superpower chessboard contest,” he said.

Moscow’s strategy, he said, was a self-defeating exercise which would strengthen Isis, drive the moderate opposition underground and further complicate any hopes of a political settlement.

“A military solution alone – an attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population – is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work,” he said.

'People are angry and boiling': Syrians tell of Russian airstrikes..Read more:

After a meeting with Putin in Paris, the French president, François Hollande said: “Russia’s position hasn’t changed, it has always been about support for Assad and his regime.”

Emphasising to the Russian president that a political solution was needed, the French leader told Putin that Russian airstrikes “should be against Isis and only Isis”.

During the meeting, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said: “We shouldn’t forget what has happened in Syria over the past year: hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives before the Islamic State appeared and this was a result of what Assad did with his people.”

The US-led coalition announced that its planes had targeted Isis in 28 airstrikes on Thursday in Iraq and Syria. The UN said it had been unable to deliver humanitarian aid in support of a ceasefire agreement “due to the recent surge of military activity” – which diplomats said was a reference to the Russian bombing.

Amid heightened tensions on the third day of the Russian campaign, an unnamed senior official in Tehran denied a report that Iran was sending hundreds of troops to fight with the Syrian army – a move that would constitute a dramatic departure from Iran’s normally low-profile support for Assad.

It seemed likely the claim, attributed to sources in Iran’s Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, was intended to reinforce the impression of a powerful alliance backing Assad in the face of western and Arab demands he step down. Analysts have said they expect Syrian government forces to launch a new offensive in the wake of the Russian air campaign.

Syrian state media has been highlighting the “destructive capabilities” of new aircraft.

Moscow’s strategy appears to be to mainly attack central and north-western Syria, areas that form the gateway to Damascus and the coast. But Russian planes also bombed targets west of Raqqa, the capital of Isis’s self-proclaimed caliphate – apparently the first time likely Isis positions have been hit.

Alexei Pushkov, a top Russian foreign affairs official, told French radio he believed the air campaign could last about three to four months. He also hit out at western criticism, tweeting: “The US is criticising Russia for ‘lack of selectivity in our targets’ in Syria. So what stopped them from picking the right targets over a whole year, rather than just pointlessly bombing the desert?!”

Russia admits targeting non-Isis groups in Syria as airstrikes continue..Read more:

Russian officials have denied claims that some of their airstrikes missed their targets and dismissed suggestions from the west that planes were mainly bombing rebel groups opposed to the Assad regime, rather than Isis. “The main target are the Daesh [Isis] groups situated closest to Damascus,” Pushkov insisted.

In fact, Russian targets include fighters who have received limited backing from the US as well as more hardline Islamist groups. The Russian defence ministry said its aircraft carried out 18 sorties in Syria in the past 24 hours, including 10 overnight.

The airstrikes primarily hit non-Isis rebel positions, including in Darat al-Izza – a town in western Aleppo held by rebel fighters including the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra – and Maarat al-Nu’man, a town in Idlib province held by Jaysh al-Fateh, a coalition of rebel fighters that also includes Nusra.

Syrian state TV said Russian aircraft also struck rebel positions in Hama province, where opposition fighters are battling to wrest control of the strategic al-Ghab plain from forces loyal to Assad’s regime, in an effort to advance towards his coastal stronghold of Latakia. Attacks also took place in Idlib, where residents told of widespread destruction.

Russia’s foreign ministry and Putin have spoken of an “informational campaign” against Moscow by the west, reminiscent of the language they used when repeatedly denying the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine over the past year and a half despite evidence to the contrary.

Analysis Who's who in the Syrian conflict, and what happens next? Russian targets so far include secular fighters who have received limited backing from the US, and more hardline Islamist groups..Read more:

Walid al-Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, attacked Israel, the west, Gulf states and Turkey for backing terrorists. Addressing the UN general assembly on Friday, Muallem said Damascus was committed to a “national dialogue” to resolve political differences. But only Syrians could decide the president’s future, he said.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have continued to insist that Assad must go, but a senior Arab diplomat denied reports that Qatar had stepped up arms deliveries to Syrian rebels in response to the Russian attacks. The US, Britain and others have signalled that Assad could remain during a political transition to end the four-and-a-half-year-old war. The hope in western capitals is that Moscow will use its influence to ensure a transition does indeed take place.

An aide to the French president said Hollande and Putin had an in-depth discussion in which they “tried to narrow down differences on political transition”. But both leaders looked stern as they exchanged handshakes in a yard of the Élysée palace. The talks focused on the goals of the Russian intervention, the safety of civilians and a future transition, Palace sources told Le Monde.

The two also held talks with Merkel and the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, that were meant to focus on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine. There has been speculation that Putin might attempt to link the two issues, offering cooperation in Syria for de-escalation in Ukraine and a lifting of western sanctions imposed over Russia’s actions there.

There has been edgy diplomacy ahead of the meeting, with Ukraine’s presidential administration claiming Putin had asked for a separate bilateral meeting with Poroshenko on the sidelines of the meeting, which Kiev was considering.

 on: Oct 03, 2015, 05:13 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
From the archive, 3 October 1838: Darwin’s miniature primaeval monsters

Marine iguanas found by Darwin on the Galapagos Islands confirm the existence of sea-dwelling dinosaurs
Marine iguana: Darwin discovered the Galapagos Island species in 1835.

Saturday 3 October 2015 05.30 BST

The following passage from Lyell’s Elements of Geology may startle many - an account of miniature primaeval monsters yet existing in

    “Some bright little isles of their own,
    In a blue summer ocean far off and alone.”

The author has been describing the gigantic creatures whose fossils attest their existence. “For the last twenty years anatomists have agreed that these extinct saurians must have inhabited the sea, although no living reptile was known. They argued, that, as there are now chelonians, like the tortoise, living in fresh water, and others, as the turtle, frequenting the ocean, so they may have been formerly some saurians proper to salt, others to fresh water. The recent discovery, however, of a maritime saurian has now rendered it unnecessary to speculate on such possibilities.

“This creature was found in the Galapagos Islands, during the visit of H. M. S. Beagle to that archipelago in 1835; and its habits were then observed by Mr. Darwin. The islands alluded to are situated under the equator, nearly six hundred miles on the westward of the coast of South America. They are volcanic, some of them being three thousand or four thousand feet high; and one of them, Albemarle Island, seventy-five miles long. The climate is mild, very little rain falls, and, in the whole archipelago, there is only one rill of fresh water that reaches the coast. The soil is for the most part dry and harsh, and the vegetation scanty.

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“The birds, reptiles, plants, and insects, are, with very few exceptions, of species found nowhere else in the world, although all partake in their general form of an American character. Of the mammalia, says Mr. Darwin, one species alone appears to be indigenous - a large and peculiar kind of mouse; but the great number of lizards, tortoises, and snakes is so great, that it may be called a land of reptiles. The variety, indeed, of species is small; but the individuals of each are in wonderful abundance. There is a turtle, a large tortoise (Testudo indicus), four lizards, and about the same number of snakes, but no frogs or toads.

“Two of the lizards belong to the family Iguanidae of Bell, and to a peculiar genus (Amblyrhynchus) established by that naturalist, and so named for their obtusely truncated head and short snout. Of these lizards, one is terrestrial in its habits, and burrows in the ground, swarming everywhere on the land - having a round tail and a mouth somewhat resembling in form that of the tortoise; the other is aquatic, and has its tail flattened laterally for swimming.

“‘This marine saurian,’ says Mr. Darwin, ‘is extremely common on all the islands throughout the archipelago. It lives exclusively on the rocky sea-beaches, and I never saw one even ten yards in-shore. The usual length is about a yard, but there are some even four feet long. It is of a dirty black colour; sluggish in its movements on the land, but, when in the water, it swims with perfect ease and quickness, by a serpentine movement of its body and flattened tail, the legs during this time being motionless, and closely collapsed on its sides. Their limbs and strong claws are admirably adapted for crawling over the rugged and fissured masses of lava which everywhere form the coast. In such situations a group of six or seven of these hideous reptiles may oftentimes be seen on the black rocks, a few feet above the surf, basking in the sun with outstretched legs.’”

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