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LAST QUARTER MOON - May 11-17

The first half of this week will be spent in a bubble of reflection and waiting, with some possible economic concerns. The next steps at work may appear uncertain and cloudy, though everything starts again quickly from the middle of the week — at the urging of Mars, in favor again. In love, a spiteful Venus could lead to nervousness or small tremors for couples who have recently moved in together.


Finally a week that brings back your good mood, soothing the economic anxiety that has, for some time now, darkened your thoughts. A proposal or beginning of negotiations can bring new revenue by the end of spring. It's sunny in love too — those in the early stages of relationships can resume more exciting dialogue after a period of apart or a time of uncertainties. The "new" Venus makes you want to "create a home" together.


This will be a lively week, after a period in which fatigue was at an all-time high! Mercury and Mars will be in your sign from mid-week: the perfect blend of intelligence and initiative. And, thanks to the beneficial transits of Venus from the second house, it's also a time to start afresh. In love, you are right to ask for more, especially if this is the beginning of a new relationship. Do not settle — make them understand from the start. Most importantly: Stay away from indecisive exes who reappear only to disappear again.


All of these planets in the Twelfth House make you feel like you're watching life through clouded glass. At times, you have been unable to actively intervene; sometimes you don't really understand certain dynamics at play around you. The arrival of Venus in your sign restores a harmonious balance. Dialogue will be relaunched, the best way to strip the glass away, bringing you back to the center of your choices.


This is a week with a strong "+" at work. Things start moving at normal speed again; performance anxiety and work concerns calm down. Members and associates begin to be active and efficient, triggering opportunities and enlarging the circle of your friends. Love proceeds in a uniform motion — no great revolutions. You are awaiting the imminent arrival of Venus which will remain in your sign for six months! Then, for those who want it, the fireworks will begin ...


If I were you, I would shake off this anxiety and nervousness now that you are beginning to feel the imminent arrival of Jupiter in your sign! It's time to roll up your sleeves and find some optimism. From the end of the summer you will have very little free time and will be glad to be so busy. The sky will give you an important gift — get ready to receive it.


In Rome there is a beautiful bike path that leaves the city and follows the river for eleven kilometers, alongside green hills with flocks of animals, lakes and beautiful scenery. Then, the track abruptly ends, without even a terminus. This path doesn't lead anywhere, but it's full of beautiful views and great inspiration. In your professional life, commitments are many and perhaps not always aimed in the direction of your goals, but they can train your mind and enrich your experience and insights. Even if it doesn't seem that way, they are part of your path. Treasure them.


This period is an uphill struggle and up to the summer there will be some chattering teeth — but it's OK, smile anyway. Over the course of this week, Mars comes out of the quadrature that has made you more nervous, tense and irritable for the past month. Venus enters a beautiful trine that returns your desire to love — and especially love for yourself. The last ballast of your sky will fall, as if by magic on Monday. At that point, you will have paid every "training" debt and can finally return to flying.


With Mars and Mercury in opposition, there is a slight risk of seeing the glass half empty, not realizing that instead it's half full of wonderful news. Those who have faced a recent change are focusing on the difficulties and uncertainties of new scenarios, rather than on growth opportunities that are offered. Even love floats suspended, especially for lonely hearts. Shortly, Venus' formidable trine will bring a refreshing change and novelty all summer.


The concentration of planets at work makes you efficient and dynamic, always up to date with everything. But you should try to give yourself some time to relax. Learn the precious value of "useless" activites: Treat yourself to a massage, a day off, etc.. You'll find that it's not useless at all — especially because in the middle of the week Venus will enter your opposition and create anxiety for most.


Mars has left the quadrature! It's about time. Have you felt like you were driving with the handbrake on? That the shock absorbers had gone and you dipped into a pot hole? Oscillating between nervousness, aggressiveness and discouragement? Well, it was Mars' fault and those hostilities will stop from Wednesday. Things will reinitiate, flow smoother and less strenuously. This will also benefit the heart, which will open your partner or, for singles, to the surprises that this heaven can offer.


Mercury is causing confusion and making it hard to concentrate, while Mars brings nervousness. There is a risk of making careless mistakes or lighting up over nothing. Fortunately, Venus stops its quadrature and is back in favor, meaning prosperity and harmony for couples after a few weeks of long faces. And there will be some chances of meetings for lonely hearts. These are the last planetary hostilities: From the end of the spring the sky will clear and it will be bright all summer.

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Geopolitics

How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.


But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

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