In the first half, historian of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, continued his commentary begun last month on the current relations between the US and Russia, and the emergence of a dangerous new Cold War between the two superpowers. President Trump's increasing polemics against Iran is "the last thing Russia would want," he said, as they view the Islamic nation on their borders as a very important neighbor. If the US got into a military conflict with Iran, Russia would prefer to stay out of it, "but it's not clear that's possible. It's a major weapons provider to Iran," he noted, and has "a political-diplomatic alliance with Iran which emerged during the Syrian War." Putin's foreign policy strategy, he explained, is to have good relations with any country which seeks to have good relations with them-- the opposite of the old Soviet attitudes that were based on ideology.
Alliances are changing, Cohen continued, and interestingly, Russia now has excellent relations with Israel, as many of its former Jewish citizens have migrated there. He spoke about some of the complexities in the Ukraine/Russia conflict. For instance, a large number of Ukrainians are native Russians who are more sympathetic to Moscow than Kiev. If Russia does invade or move more deeply into Ukraine, Trump (accused of being pro-Putin) may overreact to the situation, he warned. The new Cold War between Russia and America includes competing over selling weapons to Turkey, as well as the impulse by the two powers to weaponize space-- we need a treaty to forestall that, Cohen suggested.
In the latter half, student of astrology for over 30 years, Leslie McGuirk discussed the astrological phenomenon called Mercury retrograde, which is in effect this month. A calculator on her website allows people to determine which sign their Mercury is in, something she considers to be even a more significant factor in an individual's life than their sun sign. Mercury rules communication, and during retrograde periods (which happens around three times a year), the planet appears to move in a reverse direction to Earth. While some astrologers warn of communication breakdowns and advise people not to travel or sign contracts during these times, McGuirk believes they represent opportunities for people to learn and grow in different ways, and that they should not be immobilized or overly fearful.
During Mercury retrograde people can practice changing their behaviors or slowing down and being more observant, she cited. Venus and Mars and the outer planets "are much more indicative of bigger life changes that happen," she added, while Mercury retrograde just deals with temporary inconveniences. McGuirk pointed out that like 20% of the population, she was born during a Mercury retrograde, and thus these periods have the opposite effect than the general population-- things actually run smoother and more efficiently for them! But conversely, during the majority of the time when it is not Mercury retrograde, the 20% born under its sway, can experience the stalled effects. The current Mercury retrograde ends on August 2nd. A third cycle runs from October 31st through November 20th.