All news stories are submitted by participants in Ill Bethisad, all of whom are welcome to submit stories from their respective parts of Ill Bethisad. Submissions may be edited for clarity, language or style.
N.A.L. TODAY-- 3.FEB.2008-- Punxsetauni Peder Sees Shadow, Predicts More Winter
Punxsetauni, Pennsylvaania-- The famous woodmarmot known as Punxsetauni Peder emerged from his burrow early Saturday morning and saw his shadow, which, according to local legend, means that North America will have to suffer through another six weeks of winter.
Thousands of tourists from across the SLC, as well as a few curiosity- seekers from abroad, booed and groaned as Peder's handler, Riding Council member Frank Schraeder, announced the woodmarmot's bad news. He advised the assembled throng to "have a blessed Candlemas, and keep warm-- we have plenty of local cafes right here in Punxsetauni where you can cuddle up with a warm drink and think about warmer times ahead... far, far ahead."
The small Pennsylvaanish community has held offical woodmarmot ceremonies on the second of February since at least 1887. Settlers brought the custom from their homeland in the Rhineland-Palatinate, where it was traditionally believed that if a hibernating creature sees its shadow on the holiday, winter will continue for another six weeks, that is, the day of the Equinox in March.
What had been a quaint, purely local ceremony has become a League- wide phenomenon since Gwillam Murray's 1993 movie "Candlemas". Said Schraeder during an interview over a steaming mug of thick Pensylvaanish coffee, "It's been incredible to see the way that our tradition has become such a part of American culture over the last ten years or so. Has it made people appreciate Pensylvaanish culture more? Yes, I think so."[DZ]
BBC World News Service -- 13.APR.2008 -- "Private Investor for Tokelau?"
Sydney, Australasia -- The dire straits of the Provisional Government of Tokelau has apparently drawn the attention of at least one wealthy private investor. Details have not been released, but we have learned that as of yesterday morning, "a European investor" is interested in an outright purchase of the whole territory and developing it.
Much will undoubtedly depend on Fiji's response to the investor's bait. If the offer is too low, Fiji will undoubtedly scoff; and only the Tokelavians will suffer. If the bid is accepted, Tokelau could be poised to see some invigorating investment capital come their way.
What also seems certain, is that if the bid were accepted, Fiji could also see some increase in foreign investment.[DZ]
FLORENCE OBSERVER -- 7.MAY.2008
Ancona, Italy — This morning, the International Sports Festival Committee National Chapter of the Marches and Ancona (ISFCMA) has announced its intention to bid for the right to host the 35th World Games in the Metropolitan Duchy of Ancona, Italy. This makes it the first city to announce its bid for the World Games that year, although Voldemaravas in Free Lithuania has issued a bid for the Winter Sports Festival that year. The ISFCMA's official bid statement acknowledged that the next two World Games are scheduled to be held in Europe (Athens in 2009 and London in 2012), but said that it believes that Ancona is a "strong contender" to host the summer Games, which have not yet been held in Italy."[IC]
Polynesian United News Agency-- 28.APR.2008-- Tokelau: Help us!
FAKA'OFO-- The Malo Faka'auau (Provisional Government) of Tokelau issued a general request for humanitarian aid Saturday as its food and energy supplies dwindle from a nearly two-month stoppage of services from its ruling nation of Fiji. Fiji has cut off all post, ferry service, and money from the islands until the Malo Faka'auau dissolves itself, which it has so far refused to do.
The plea for aid is Tokelau's latest and most desperate attempt to garner international sympathy for its troubled path toward self- government, which both Tokelau and Fiji agreed to before a referendum last year, but which has been bogged down for months as the two island groups argue over details. Last week, Fiji's Parliament rejected Tokelau's proposal to place it under the protection of Kereineke I, O'ahu's billionaire king.
According to interviews with delegates from all of Tokelau's three main islands, the would-be republic especially hopes to receive help from its supporters in the Commonwealth. These include Aotearoa and Tahiti, both of which have formally recognized the Provisional Government. Thus far the Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by Secretary-General Stephen Biko of the South African Union, has remained neutral on what is being called the Tokelauan Question, and it is hoped that the request for aid will force the Commonwealth's governing body to confront Fiji on the issue.[BK]
Newshour, BBC World Service-- 14.MAY.2008 (EXCERPT) [BEGIN TRANSCRIPT]
...happily reports that no parrots were involved.
Turning now to the Pacific, Fiji's long dispute over the Tokelau Islands may have ended. BBC Pacific reports that Fiji has agreed agreed to sell Tokelau to England's wealthiest subject. BBC Pacific's Siosiua Hu'akau reports.
HU'AKAU: Leaders from Fiji and Tokelau have been meeting here on Nukunonu, part of the disputed Tokelau Islands, for nearly a week. Joining them have been representatives of Andrew Morris of England. Morris, reputed to be the Commonwealth's richest man, has ruled the Dumnonian Isle of Lundy as a personal possession for nearly thirty years.
Rumors that a European investor was offering to buy the islands have circulated for months, with secret meetings taking place in Fiji, Aotearoa, and now here on Olohenga. The purpose of this latest round of talks was also kept mum, but Morris's identity was soon leaked to reporters by local residents.
Reactions in Tokelau have been decidedly mixed. Olohengans have compared Morris with the wealthy American autocrats who ruled their island in the nineteenth century, while elders on other islands have angrily denounced the idea that their land, considered the sacred inheritance of the Tokelavian people, could ever be sold like any other commodity. Members of the islands' provisional government have scrambled to justify the secret talks, citing the need to pay for services and the potential for tourist investment represented by Morris's money.
One Fijian diplomat, speaking anonymously, told the BBC that Morris's offer was enticing, and may represent a real solution to the Tokelavian Question that has gone unresolved for several months. He also said that Fiji has been offered a sizeable package of incentives to sell its dependancy to a man known throughout the Commonwealth as a wealthy eccentric.
With BBC Pacific, this is Siosiua Hu'akau.
JONES: Next, an interview with Jovian Prime Minister Susanna Ivauma. This is [END TRANSCRIPT][BK]
Pacific Press Association-- 17.MAY.2008-- Official statement: Tokelauans to vote on sell-out
FAKA'OFO-- Officials from Fiji, Tokelau's Provisional Government, and the Cambrian Isle of Lundy offically announced that they have reached a decision to transfer power to ecotourism investor Andrew Morris, in exchange for a generous package of investment in both countries. They called their plan a "partnership" between Morris's corporation and the Tokelauan people, who will retain complete local autonomy.
The announcement comes after local residents leaked news of the sell- out to reporters last week. The news has polarized opinions around the Pacific, with leaders and journalists from Henua to Papua denouncing or praising the decision, which is virtually without precedent in Oceania's histoy. Tokelau's provisional government immediately voted to hold another referendum in late June over whether to accept the offer. Fiji's Parliament is expected to quickly confirm the Tokealauan government's decision.
As a temporary measure, Fiji has again begun to supply government services to the islands, with the intention of gradually turning them over to Morris and his company.
The Capitalist, English Edition, 18 June 2008 Asia/Pacific Cheques on the Beach: The sale of the Tokelau Islands has won tentative approval from a League of Nations committee-- and may have opened the door for a new concept of privatised nationhood.
THE HAGUE, Batavian Kingdom-- A League of Nations committee meeting is nothing unusual in this, the world's diplomatic capital. But the Commission on Very Small States, an often-overlooked committee for extremely tiny countries, prefers to conduct its business away from the rest of the world. Its five-day meeting in the Palace of the Nations that concluded last week came in response to a new wrinkle on the normally smooth landscape of tiny countries: Englishman Andrew Morris's bold purchase of the Tokelau Islands from the island's people and its coloniser nation, the Fijian Kingdom. Since the deal was announced one month ago, it has raised questions in the hallowed halls of the Hague adn in governments the world over: Can a nation be privately owned? And how can the needs of small economies be met in today's rapidly specialising global economy?
The Commission on Very Small States debated the issue all last week. At issue was whether Tokelau would be able to support itself without some sort of dependency. Fijian rule had fettered the island, tying it to a backward system of mandated cash crops that inhibited local business initiative and killed any possibility of, for example, tourism. For nearly a year, Tokelau and Fiji had been in a political standoff that had resulted in a virtual blockade of the little atolls, leading to reported months of hardship and shortage and an aid request to the global community that embarassed Fiji. Morris promises that his privatised rule will lead to a modern infrastructure and the growth of an ecologically conscious tourist industry.
Under the unusual arrangement, Morris and his ecotourism company will assume full sovereignty from Fiji in Tokelau's four atolls and their territorial waters. In return, he will invest heavily in both Fiji and Tokelau. Under a draft constitution and treaty set still in the works, Tokelau's people will be guaranteed complete autonomy forever. This means that the Tokelauans will be governed like they always have, by village elders and island faipules chosen by community consensus, all under the benign, hands-off leadership of the scion of Tokelau's long-disenthroned chiefly line... who will, of course, be responsible to the islands' owner, Mr. Morris.
The committee reached a consensus of its own that projects a guarded open-mindedness. Geoffry Richards is a delegate from Hay-on-Wye, a little known English-speaking kingdom of a few thousand people located in the middle of Cambria. He explains, "Morris's own island, Lundy, has been affiliated with our committee for a very long time, so a number of us were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. But at the same time, there's this sense that a person shouldn't just be able to buy up countries whenever the fancy strikes him. So as a committee we very much want to assess this situation on its own terms rather than make assumptions." Lundy is a de facto independent 850-acre island in Cambrian waters, which Morris has ruled as "Master" since the Seventies.
To that end, the delegates approved a resolution that praised Tokelau's "confident pursuit of self-determination" and acknowledging that "nations of our size have always been places of political innovation." However, the meetings were far from a five-day celebration of Morris's growing private empire. Delegates from the Pacific nations in particular gave Morris a long, steady grilling, and the committee debated adding caveats to their resolutions warning against "paternalism" and "the greed inherent in modern venture capitalism."
"It was the autonomy guarantee where many of us on the commission were the most suspicious," says Jessaulenku Appi, committee delegate from the eight-square-mile Confederate Republic of Nauru. "If the island is his personal property, who will hold Mr. Morris to his promise? I worry that the Tokelauan people have sold away their rights and liberties along with their god-given land." It is safe to assume that one of Tokelau's greatest challenges will be winning the trust and approval of its Pacific neighbors, nearly all of which hold to very traditional views on land ownership.
It is abundantly clear that Tokelau's economy will benefit from Lundian leadership, which promises to shower the islands with resources. But what about the long term? One of the Tokelauans' most serious complaints about Fiji was that local entrepreneurs had no room to explore amid the tight government regulation of the economy. In a state where everything belongs to a proprietor, the same danger may exist. Even if Morris takes a liberal attitude toward local business, the danger lurks that the people of his islands will prefer indolent reliance on the Morris fortune to working to build a robust locally driven economy.
Tokelau joins the growing club of private ventures into statehood, heretofore seen in the light dusting of private fiefs and compounds in the wilds of Australia and North America. What sets Tokelau apart is its insularity: it is the center of two thousand people's world and the birthplace of all their ancestors since time immemorial. The Tokelauan experiment will allow us to see whether privatisation is a viable solution for struggling nation-states.
The Commission's diminutive Secretariat will relocate itself to the High Chiefdom of Banaba, a location more convenient to observing the outcome of the experiment, with regular missions of observation going to check in on Morris's growing enterprise. The rest of the world will be watching as well.
Haqayat News, 05 Tamuz 2008
In a surprising turnaround, the government of Turkestan today made a new offer of a deal with the Russian Federation over Qazaqstan. If accepted, this proposal could result in a Turkestani-Russian condominium over the northern Qazaq territory.
Qazaqs and other Turkic peoples on both sides of the border have long called for a reunification of the two Qazaqstans (one Russian, one Turkestani) under Turkestani authority, but the large Russian population of the northern Qazaqstan has steadfastly refused to countenance such a move. In the three referenda held on this subject (in 1991, 1996 and 2003) the polls showed a consistent split of almost 50%-50%, reflecting almost exactly the ethnic division of Russian Qazaqstan.
Turkestan has until now seemed adamant that nothing less than a full reunification under Turkestani rule would be acceptable, so today's compromise announcement by Foreign Minister Nuraslan Nazbek-uli came as something of a surprise to many.
"We in Turkestan must accept the reality that the northern Qazaqstan is also the homeland of many Russians," he said in a statement to the press. Turkestani political watchers are taking notice of his use of the word 'homeland', a word which carries quite a strong emotional meaning in Turkestan. "...and it is entirely proper that they should wish to remain Russian," Nazbek-uli Ministiri continued. "However, it has always been our contention that the Qazaq people are one nation, not two, and that they should be allowed to return to their brothers and sisters in the south.
"We hope that this offer of a middle way in northern Qazaqstan will help to allay the unfortunate suspicions that a minority of Russians in the north seem to have towards us, while cautiously allowing the Qazaq people on both sides to move closer to their historic unity."[GH]
NAL TODAY -- 8.AUG.2008 -- Shakeup at NBC
Breuckelen -- Rhoberth Fox, creator and executive producer of the television series MARINER (a spinoff of the hugely successful SV: 2245), has left the staff of the North American League Broadcasting Company following what spokesmen have described as "creative differences." Most insiders confirm that NABC executives were dissatisfied with MARINER's ratings and demanded changes Fox was unwilling to make in the series.
Taking over at the helm of the program is veteran television producer Fred Larson, Jr. who has previously run such programs as SUPER-COPS and an updated version of Juliette Verne's A YEAR BENEATH THE WAVES (retitled YEARS BENEATH THE WAVES), as well as the very popular THREE'S THE CHARM about a trio of sisters who are also practitioners of magic.
Larson has already indicated he intends to "revitalize" the series.[DZ]
11.AUG.2008 -- ION EDWARDS QUITS CABINET -- National News Service
Philadelphia, NAL - In a speech before Parliament today, Whig Senator Ion Edwards of Carolina announced he would be resigning his position in the cabinet as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs effective September 1, 2008. He declined to go into detail, but stated that "personal matters" had come to overwhelm his "time and energies" which meant he was "unable at this time" to fullfill his duties as a member of the Cabinet. Spec
ulation about the reason for this resignation began almost immediately, with prevalent theories including health problems and/or a looming scandal of some kind. Edwards' departure is yet another blow to the General Moderatorship of his mentor, Albert Gore, who was clearly grooming the Carolina politician as his successor. A replacement for Edwards, who took over the Foreign Secretary position from Josette Biden following the last General Election in 2006, has not been announced. It will almost certainly be another Whig, since to give such a powerful job to one of Gore's Covenant Loyalist coalition partners would necessitate a Cabinet reshuffle to maintain the balance of power.
12.AUG.2008 -- GORE PICKS DEPUTY AS NEW FS -- National News Corporation
Philadelphia -- In a surprise move, GM Albert Gore has announced that Deputy Rhoberth Bolton (Whig-Tel Mair) will replace Senator Ion Edwards as Foreign Secretary, effective September 1. The bellicose Bolton, known to many as "Walrus Bob" because of his mustache as well as his fondness for NoMoreEagleZ, is considered a political purist of the NeoLeft. He is viewed as an extremely unlikely successor to Gore, but most likely is a way for Gore to re-affirm his ideology even from within a coalition government with the Covenant Loyalists.
The Foreign Secretary position usually goes to a Senator.[DZ]
12.AUG.2008 -- Newshour, BBC World Service (Transmission begins)
I am standing before the beautiful St. Sussana's Church in Rome, a beautiful structure dating back perhaps as far as the third century of the common era. That makes the church behind me older than the English language. It predates the Norman Conquest, the discovery of the New World, and even the birth of Charlemange. It has seen the rise and fall of empires, in its time, but in three weeks time it will play host to a different kind of history. A marriage. Specifically, the much-debated marriage between the heirs of two very different political entities.
Antonia Guelph is the sister of the Duchess of Mantua. As such she is in line to inherit the ducal title, which has been traditionally held by women for generations. Nicolae Vlas-Florea is the nephew of the current Prince of Oltenia, and is his heir presumptive in that nation that has a de facto if not written Salic law.
Yet that is the least of it. Months of negotiations have laid out rules and regulations about the bride's and the groom's respective titles, how their offspring might fit into various lines of succession, even how some of their personal property is to be treated in the event of their deaths. The rules make up a good-sized book. Even more extensive are the security arrangements surrounding the ceremony.
Come August 26, this church will be filled with many of the crowned heads of Europe and the world. The Queen Dowager herself will be attending, as will the newly crowned Juan Carlos of Tejas. Queen Elena I of Muntenia and her family will be there, as will the young King Aurel II of Moldava and the Khedive of Egypt. The bridegroom's first cousin is movie star Nicola Vlas-Florea, and she brings with her a veritable who's who in Breuckelen.
And then there are the controversies. The new Emperor of Greece is said to be attending. Likewise, the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania, despite this being a Catholic ceremony. The North American League's Moderator General himself will attend, while nearly every major nation on earth have some representative present.
Which makes for a security nightmare. In a world still reeling from the double assassinations in New Orleans, from no less than two atomic wars within the last decade, and ethnic tensions on the rise, can anyone doubt this happy event holds the potential for world-shaking disaster? Coordination between different security forces has taken on the level of bureaucracy unseen since the Florida War or perhaps even the Second Great War. Air clearance on the day of the wedding will require stringent adherence to the most draconian of rules, with the armed might of the host country united with that of Oltenia especially to defend same. Members of the press must undergo security vetting worthy of high government appointments while we've been warned every single camera will be disassembled prior to being allowed within a mile of the church.
One can hope that the vast majority of the world's peoples wish this couple to have this day be nothing but joyous. But the sad fact is, to insure it requires the kind of resources and organization that seems akin to a military invasion. Because the alternative is not simply a spoiled day for one bride and one groom, but perhaps a true disaster for every single human being now alive.[DZ]