Theresa May’s day, or Mayday!?

As we know by now, Theresa May has survived the no-confidence vote against her. It was not by a large margin, though, which would be troubling for her. The final vote count was 306 to 325. In fact, it was a win only by a slim margin. This is less than 25% of the margin by which she won her last confidence vote back in December. Clearly, confidence in the government is slipping fast. After the vote she was still vowing to carry through with Brexit, to find some sort of compromise that would be suitable to the House, but held mum about taking the no-deal Brexit off the table when pressed on the matter by Jeremy Corbyn. To her mind, nothing has changed. One gets the sense, though, that something is in the works. Continue reading “Theresa May’s day, or Mayday!?”

The wobbly state of Brexit

On the evening of 15 Jan 19 the sitting British government suffered its worst defeat in a House of Commons vote – ever. In a resounding rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the House voted it down by a margin of 230 votes, the largest since 1924. In fact, the three next-largest defeats were all in 1924. Two of those were on the same day and related to the Campbell case, the third relating to the defeat of a motion on Housing Bill on 3, all three under the first Labour government in Britain. The magnitude of May’s loss points to the divisiveness of the Brexit debate ongoing in the UK. Immediately after the vote was announced, the Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion for a vote of no confidence in the government, which was accepted. That vote is scheduled for tonight at around 6:00 PM. If she survives the vote, which is expected, then the government will have to come up with a ‘Plan B’ for debate and a vote on Monday, the day of the full moon/eclipse, and it should be no less interesting that yesterday’s vote. Continue reading “The wobbly state of Brexit”

The Hare, the Moon Maiden and the Magpies: The Meaning

Legend has it that Cháng’é was a beautiful woman married to the master archer, Hòu Yì. He was so legendary that he shot down nine of ten suns that had risen together in those distant times, which were scorching the Earth and causing hardship for the people, thus leaving the one sun we have to this day. As a reward for his skill and valor, he was given the elixir of immortality. We don’t know who gave him this magic elixir. We assume it was the gods, but who can say? Anyway,  Yì decided not to drink it just then, but instead hid it away at home in the care of his wife, Cháng’é. Continue reading “The Hare, the Moon Maiden and the Magpies: The Meaning”

The Hare, the Moon Maiden and the Magpies: The Mission

This year has already been a big year for space exploration. The New Horizons probe has just sent back the first pictures of the pink snowman – otherwise known technically as (486958) 2014 MU₆₉ – in the Kuiper belt. We also know it as ‘Ultima Thule’. Ultima Thule is the nickname given the little contact binary by NASA. But it is also a traditional term for worlds far beyond our own. The first pictures came through on Jan 2nd, but the closest flyby (chart) took place on New Year’s Day at 12:33 EST. It was discovered on 26 Jun 2014 at 08:52 UT (chart) in the constellation of Sagittarius in its retrograde phase. Its current astrological position is at about the halfway point of Capricorn. I haven’t bothered to calculate the exact degree, but it is a little past 19 hrs. RA. There is no online ephemeris that has this one in its database that I know of. But that is not our biggest story, although it is grand enough. Continue reading “The Hare, the Moon Maiden and the Magpies: The Mission”

A Christmas story…of sorts

It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas. Americans are getting a special gift this season, with the announcement by the Trump administration that the US troops in Syria are starting their withdrawal from Syria. The Pentagon has since confirmed it. State department employees begin their withdrawal from the 20th of December. The complete draw-down is supposed to take between 60 – 100 days. Continue reading “A Christmas story…of sorts”

French unrest and Yellow Vests

Emmanuel Macron has seen happier days. Eighteen months into his five-year term his approval rating has plummeted from a high of 62% when he was elected to less than half now, as low as 20% by some accounts as of this writing. It is likely to fall further still. The reason? It is symbolized for us in yellow vests in the form of what might seem to some readers to have all the appearances of yet another color revolution – the gilet jaunes protests that began on 17 November this year. Those protests are ongoing and were triggered by yet another rise in prices for the French. Continue reading “French unrest and Yellow Vests”

Brexit or not, here is what is important for the UK

The big topic in Britain now is all about Brexit – will it happen, will in not, what it will mean for the British public and international relations, and on and on. Commentators on all sides are throwing in their two pence, and much of what I have seen is either pro or con, with very little in between. So, I may as well throw in my few cents on the issue as well. Speaking as an American, but also an Australian, seeing that both Trump and Brexit happened in the same year, there may be some common ground here. Continue reading “Brexit or not, here is what is important for the UK”

The fractious state of Ukraine

Following on from the previous post it would probably be useful to look at Ukraine in  more detail, given what is taking place there, and what we might expect there in the near future. There are also the issues of Western meddling in that country, bad government within Ukraine, the neo-liberalization of Ukraine under Western direction, neo-Nazism, religious schisms and the fractious and fraught relations it has with its neighbors and internally. Ukraine is not a happy place, not where you might want to take your significant other for a vacation at the moment. Continue reading “The fractious state of Ukraine”

The Sea of Azov incident and Poroshenko’s gamble

As you may have heard, there was an incident on the Black Sea near the entrance to the Sea of Azov on the morning of 25 November between three Ukrainian military vessels and the Russian coast guard. No one was killed, and only three Ukrainian sailors slightly injured. The incident took place beginning at 6:10 am Kerch time and went on for most of the day. It started when the three Ukrainian vessels – two naval artillery boats and a naval tugboat – left Odessa headed for Mariupol, entered Russian territorial waters without following agreed protocol and regulations and proceeded to attempt to enter the Kerch Strait, over which the new Russian Kerch Strait bridge now crosses. The Russians are quite protective of their new bridge. Continue reading “The Sea of Azov incident and Poroshenko’s gamble”