Garneldo Free Press

Ronin Criticizes Police Defense InitiativeFARAMOUNT CITY – Councillor Sean Ronin (N-FA) broke with the Nationalist Party today, criticizing President Christopher Arctoris’ police defense initiative.

Ronin told the Faramount Times in an interview today that he strongly opposed the President’s plan to provide military-grade weaponry to most police departments. “The job of the police is to keep order, enforce the law, and respond to emergencies, and this work is best completed by friendly officers with close connections to the community,” Ronin said, “when we begin to give officers assault rifles, body armor, and helmets, those connections are lost, that friendliness is lost, and a real adversarial relationship can develop between officers and civilians.”

President Arctoris proposed the police defense initiative last month, citing it as the logical next step in Arctoris’ years-long campaign to prepare the nation for a potential Pax invasion. “We can invest in aircraft, ships, tanks, and troops, but ultimately, the military will not be able to address every landing Pax troop pod,” Arctoris said in a speech in Port Zalebano, “and that’s why we need local forces to be appropriately armed, equipped, and trained to hold off the Pax until reinforcements arrive.” Arctoris called for every department to be provided military equipment within 2 years.

Arctoris faced an immense challenge in the form of Ronin’s opposition, given Ronin’s rising influence in the Nationalist Party. Arctoris will need all hands on deck in order to push his proposal through Parliament, given strong opposition from the Progressive Party, Centrist Party, and Reform Party. Ronin himself holds a key swing vote in the Alliance Council, and if he carries other moderate Nationalists with him, it could spell the demise of the president’s proposal. The Blue House already faced substantial public opposition to the plan, which only base Nationalists strongly support.

Nationalist Party leaders denied any substantial division within the party, instead insisting Arctoris and Ronin merely possessed differing opinions representative of the Nationalists’ big tent nature. “The Nationalist Party has always been a party in which people of many differing views can come together to generally support a strong national defense, a strong economy, and strong individual liberties,” said a Nationalist Party spokesperson, “Ronin and Arctoris may not agree on this subject, but their disagreement is respectful, and the party is confident it can still pass this initiative.”

Yet many Parliament staffers indicated that a strong rift was developing between Arctoris and Ronin. “The President and Councillor Ronin disagree on a great deal, and frankly, do not like each other very much,” said a majority staffer that spoke on condition of anonymity given that he was discussing inner-party maters, “there are a lot of people that think Ronin might try to gain the council chairmanship in 2017, unseating Ronin’s allies, and some think that Ronin might even be setting himself up for a presidential run in 2016.”

More immediately, Ronin and Arctoris appeared set to square off regarding the police defensive initiative, which should come before the council in the next few weeks.

Arctoris Signs Controversial 2016 BudgetLIBERTY CITY – President Christopher Arctoris signed his controversial 2016 budget proposal into law today, overcoming strong Progressive and Centrist opposition.

President Arctoris finally signed the controversial budget bill into law today, following ten months of heated debate in Paraliment. The Progressive Party and Centrist Party jointly pursued a no-holds-bar strategy of seeking to defeat the budget, going so far as to propose hundreds of amendments to slow debate. But the Nationalist Party ultimately pushed through the conservative proposal with few changes, most made to please the Reform Party, whose support was key in passing the appropriations bill. The legislation featured a number of statutory provisions in addition spending, most notably a substantial tax cut for upper-income earners.

The Blue House argued that the $1.90 trillion spending bill strengthened national defense while laying the foundation for continuing economic growth through tax cuts. “The legislation that I sign today will strengthen our national defense, continue strong investments in education and and infrastructure, and preserve the programs that our poorest citizens rely upon,” Arctoris said at the bill signing, “but at the same time, it will promote growth by allowing Free Pacificans to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.” Arctoris also noted that for the second time a decade, his budget was expected to yield a surplus, a fact that ultimately gained the support of Reform Party legislators.

But Progressive and Centrist Party leaders argued that the budget represented a continuation of Arctoris’ policies of helping the wealthy while abandoning the poor. “The President has sacrificed a federal budget surplus in order to provide tax cuts for the nation’s richest citizens, all the while continuing to underfund welfare,” said Alliance Councilwoman Samantha McClellan, the Chairwoman of the Progressive Party, “the President has cut welfare spending by 8% since taking office, damning those that are struggling to get by.” McClellan also criticized Arctoris’ decision to once again increase defense spending, saying that “we’re already spending enough money on weapons, particularly given [Pax Emperor] Noi’s moderate policies.”

The President submitted his 2016 budget in January, immediately sparking immense controversy. The Blue House called for $1.90 trillion in spending, and for tax cuts reducing total revenue to $1.88 trillion. Arctoris called for defense and intelligence spending to be increased by 5%, bringing the military budget to $376.9 billion, and bringing the intelligence budget to $44.7 billion. Arctoris asked for funding for most other agencies to be increased to account for inflation, which the Blue House estimated would remain steady around 2.3% amidst a projected economic growth rate of 5.3%.

The Nationalist Party worked quickly to push Arctoris’ proposal through Parliament, but faced immediate Progressive and Centrist opposition. The Progressives demanded that the tax cut be replaced by an increase in spending on welfare, which has been effectively cut by 8% in the last ten years. When Arctoris refused any compromise. Assembly Progressives proposed hundreds of amendments to block the budget, while Council Progressives initiated a lengthy filibuster. Centrists assisted in both efforts. Ultimately, thanks largely to the support of Reformists happy with the tax cuts, the Nationalists were able to force the budget through despite the opposition.

Most analysts expected the budget to continue to contribute to strong economic growth, but predicted continuing issues regarding the substantial cuts to welfare. Tilden and Columbia have stepped up state-level welfare programs to make up the difference, but in West Malaysia and Codex, the welfare cuts have undermined efforts to revitalize “old town” ghettos. Nationalist Councilperson Sean Ronin, a strong advocate of eliminating the “old town” ghettos that plague most Free Pacifican cities, fought to increase welfare spending this year. But his efforts failed, despite Progressive and Centrist support.

While the welfare system was the biggest loser in the budget, the military was undoubtedly the biggest winner. Defense spending accounted for just 2% of GDP in 2006, but when including military aid, was set to account for 5.6% of GDP in 2016. Proponents of defense spending argue it an absolute necessity in the face of the Pax threat. But opponents have noted that the Pax have taken a much more moderate policy that makes the spending not only necessary but counter-productive.

Those opponents ultimately failed to stop the budget, though, granting the President another major political success.

Diplomats Meet for International Law SummitLIBERTY CITY – Representatives from ten nations met at the International Building today for a summit to create international laws to regulate the conduct of nations.

President Christopher Arctoris invited representatives from across the world to travel to Liberty City this month to “develop a uniform set of rules for writing treaties, conducting diplomatic affairs, and conducting consular affairs.” Nine nations including the Pax agreed to send representatives, who arrived in the Free Pacifican capital over the weekend. Those representatives will work with former President Matthew Terrus to establish “international laws,” to facilitate future cooperation. Terrus told reporters that he planned specifically to establish rules for treaties, rules for embassies, and rules for diplomatic personnel.

President Arctoris’ effort to establish international laws represented a landmark change in Free Pacifican foreign affairs. Arctoris largely spurned global relations since taking office in 2009, re-establishing the isolationist policies that defined the Federated Alliance from the 1950s to the 1980s. But the president took a new direction this month, seeking to establish several universal agreements to facilitate future close relations. A Blue House spokesperson said that Arctoris did not intend to become “wrapped up in foreign affairs,” but merely sought “to establish some baselines for our relations with other countries.”

Yet academics viewed Arctoris’ efforts as historic, representing an actual effort to codify informal rules long recognized by numerous nations. “There has long been talk at universities about ‘international law,’ the idea that there are rules that nations must abide,” said Dr. Ernest Minate, PhD, a professor of international affairs at Shiro Academy at Tilden University, “but until now, these were purely academic thoughts, devoid from any application. We’re now seeing nations seek to establish global rules for conduct – a complete break from the to-date effort to promote mutual cooperation solely through alliances and organizations.”

Terrus and the nine foreign representatives gathered at the International Building today to seek to establish those global rules for conduct, though this process was expected to take weeks.

Vekaiyun Union Invades ElphanaAKIYABI – The Vekaiyun Union invaded Elphana yesterday, deploying thousands of Listonian troops to annex the strategically important Biyongo region.

A force of as many as 20,000 Listonian troops poured across the Listonia-Elphana border at dawn yesterday, while Vekaiyun national forces amassed along the Isklevyu-Elphana border. The highly experienced Listonian forces reportedly advanced quickly through the mostly rural Biyongo region, facing only limited resistance from the small Elphanan military. Details regarding the invasion remained scant today, however, given the small international media presence in Elphana.

Federated Alliance Public Television journalist Jill Ronin reported “chaos” in Akiyabi, one of the larger cities in Biyongo. “The few foreign citizens here are fleeing, as are many Elphanans,” Ronin said via satellite telephone, “the Elphanan government seems entirely unequipped to handle the crisis, and though its forces are preparing a defense, few in the public seem hopeful that it will be successful.” “There are rumors flying around that the Listonians have been brushing aside all resistance without issue,” Ronin also said, though she noted that “these rumors are as of yet unconfirmed.”

The Listonian military reportedly invaded Elphana under the instructions of Vekaiyun Union General Secretary Lso Yiskevi. Yiskevi issued an ultimatum on October 9 for Elphana to cede the Biyongo region by October 16, stating that the “historically Vekaiyun” region needed “to be returned to Listonia.” Listonia last controlled Biyongo in the Middle Ages, and Elphana did not respond to the ultimatum this month. Yesterday, after close to a month, Yiskevi finally lived up to his threat to use force to secure the region. The Vekaiyun Union is ostensibly an alliance of independent nation, but most experts view it as a single Vekaiyun-dominated state in effect. Most analysts suggested that the Vekaiyun government was likely behind the invasion as such.

The international community reacted minimally to the invasion, despite several weeks of warning. The Federated Alliance of Free Pacific States condemned the move, joined by the Lyon Federation. The Vulshain Confederacy reportedly put troops on standby for a potential deployment to Elphana, and Free Pacifican forces in Reziel were also reportedly put on alert. But most nations displayed little reaction, public or private. The Council of Nations had yet to issue any statement today regarding the issue.

The Vekaiyun Union took little notice of the few foreign responses it did receive, continuing an invasion expected to completed in months if not weeks.

Listonia Halts Invasion, Declares Cease FireELDURA – Listonia halted its invasion of Elphana today, imposing a cease fire and calling for peace talks, while blaming a rogue general for instigating the two-day military operation.

The Listonian government unilaterally announced a cease fire yesterday, ordering its troops to immediately cease advancing, and asking Elphanan forces to halt any counter-attacks. Listonian, Vekaiyun, and Vekaiyun Union officials simultaneously denounced the Listonian invasion of Elphana as the act of a rogue general. Vekaiyun Union leaders reported that the renegade officer died in combat early yesterday morning, though comments made by Vekaiyun Premier Ikrisia Levinile indicated that the Listonians may have executed the commander. A force of approximately 15,000-20,000 Listonians remained in Elphana today, controlling a sizable portion of Biyongo, but no longer advancing against overwhelmed Elphanan troops.

Vekaiyun Premier Levinile and Listonian Premier Stapen Evesuni announced the cease fire at a diplomatic summit in Liberty City, where the two leaders have spent the last several weeks. “I am certain most if not all have heard about the Listonian invasion into Elphana,” Evesuni said, “such movement was not authorized by proper authorities and has instead been taken as a premeditated decision to disobey orders.” “Evesuni has frozen all troop movements and a cease-fire has been issued,” Levinile went onto say, before noting that Vekaiyu was not involved in the conflict, and wished for a peaceful resolution. Evesuni himself made no comments, but made it clear that he supported Levinile’s statements. After Levinile answered a few basic questions, the conference continued with little attention paid to the matter.

Yet a great deal of international attention focused on the Listonian-Elphanan crisis with many experts contesting the Listonian-Vekaiyun explanation of the invasion. Observers noted that a substantial number of Vekaiyun, Listonian, and other Vekaiyun Union military units mobilized prior to the invasion, indicating a level of organization far above the ability of a Listonian field commander. Experts also noted that Vekaiyun Union General Secretary Lso Yiskevi had previously demanded Elphana cede Biyongo, and that Yiskevi had effectively threatened to use military force unless Elphana complied. These commentators suggested that Yiskevi took advance of the absence of Levinile and Evesuni to order the invasion, taking advantage of the overlapping authority of the various leaders of the Vekaiyun Union to overstep his technical authority.

A number of observers pointed towards the convenient death of the ostensibly renegade Listonian field commander as evidence of this alternative theory. Military analysts noted that it would be highly irregular for an officer commanding 15,000-20,000 troops to be found close enough to the front-line to be killed. And even casual observers took note of Premier Levinile’s conflicting statements in Liberty City. Levinile noted at one point that the rogue military commodore “was killed in the line of duty prior to daybreak,” but then later said that “I feel that we have quickly and swiftly dealt with a disobedient subordinate.” Journalists present at the event said that Levinile’s demeanor suggested that she felt the VU had remedied the problem – and that her words made it clear that the VU had remedied the problem by killing the officer. But detractors noted that the Listonian government summarily executing a rogue officer would not be beyond the pale of reason.

Speculation regarding the cause of the invasion, and the cause of the sudden cease fire, ultimately mattered little on the ground in Elphana. Federated Alliance Public Television journalist Jill Ronin reported continuing chaos in Biyongo and throughout Elphana today as civilians fled a potential war zone, and as the Elphanan government scrambled to prepare some defense against the Listonians. “There is very little hope here that the invasion is going to completely stop, no matter what Levinile and Evesuni are saying,” Ronin told FPSNN, “and given how quickly and effectively the Listonians were advancing before the cease fire, there is a lot of speculation regarding how quickly they’ll cross through the territory when hostilities resume.”

The Listonian effort to annex Biyongo reflects a longstanding Listonian desire to reclaim territories it once controlled several centuries ago. The Listuran Empire controlled a large portion of Northern Yasteria in the middle-ages including parts of modern Dveria, Elphana, and Vekaiyu. The new Listonian government has fought since gaining independence in 2009 to regain some of these territories including Biyongo. The refusal of Vekaiyun officials to support these reclamation efforts played a key role in causing the 2011 Vekaiyun-Listonian crisis. Listonia finally appeared to be getting its chance to size Biyongo this year, when Vekaiyun Union General Secretary Yiskevi issued an ultimatum to Elphana to yield Biyongo. But the sudden cessation of the advance into Biyongo seemed certain to dash those hopes.

Major questions remained today, though, most notably regarding the future of the portion of Biyongo already occupied by Listonian troops. Vekaiyu has called for peace talks to resolve this issue, but the Elphanan government has yet to respond, and most Elphanans are reportedly strongly opposed to ceding any territory.

((OOC: Please note that this post pre-dates Hobbes’ post for IC purposes. I had written most of it when Hobbes posted; I decided after some consideration to just finish and post.))

Yasteria Mobilizes after Nuclear AttackVILINES – Militaries across Yasteria mobilized today after an unknown actor detonated a nuclear device in Listonia, killing thousands.

The Pax Empire, Federated Alliance, South Hills Council, and Lyonese Republic all mobilized military forces today following the nuclear attack. The Pax Empire put its armed forces on high alert hours later, ordering a general conscription in an apparent preparation for war. The Pax movement prompted the Federated Alliance and Lyonese Republic to activate their reserves, and to order their active-duty personnel to prepare for a potential Pax assault. The South Hills Council additionally mobilized a portion of its Navy in a more measured response. The Listonian, Vekaiyun, and Elphanan governments had already mobilized their militaries in connection with the Listonian invasion of Elphana.

Yasteria mobilized hours after an unknown actor detonated a 20 ton nuclear device in Vilines, killing as many as 10,000 people. The perpetrator of the terrorist act struck the Vilines city center around 9AM local time, demolishing a 100 meter area, and severely damaging most main government buildings. The Listonian government declared a state of emergency within an hour of the blast, deploying forces from across the nation to fight fires, treat the wounded, and close off a substantial area of irradiated city. Vilines gained notoriety in 2009 for being the basis of the ultimately successful Listonian effort for independence, making the strike both an actual and a symbolic attack upon Listonia.

The Listonian government immediately deemed the nuclear attack an act of terror, and pledged to act quickly against those responsible. Listonian Premier Stapen Evesuni and Vekaiyun Premier Ikrisia Levinile together spoke to reporters following the attack, addressing the Vekaiyun Union from Liberty City, where the two premiers had been attending the Convention on Diplomacy. Premier Evesuni promised that those responsible “will be brought to justice,” while Premier Levinile pledged that " I will fight for [Vilines], and I will seek justice." The Vekaiyun and Listonian leaders led a chorus of officials from across Urth in condemning the attacks, which Free Pacifican President Christopher Arctoris called “unforgivable, cowardly, and heinous.”

Yet the perpetrators of the assault remain unknown. Speculators immediately looked to Elphana, given that it was recently invaded by Listonia without provocation, and the Pax, given its sudden mobilization following the attack. Those responsible posted anonymously online, claiming that Elphana was not involved, and that the atomic strike represented an attempt to “clear the washroom.” A substantial number of Urth powers possess the capacity to make a 20 ton nuclear device including the Pax, but the poverty-stricken Elphanan government has not in recent years had an active nuclear program. Vekaiyun and Listonian officials indicated that an investigation was underway already today.

Listonian emergency workers in the meantime continued the brutal work of assisting the thousands injured or killed in yesterday’s unprecedented attack.

Terrorists Strike MatthewsMATTHEWS – Terrorists plunged the capital of the South Hills into darkness yesterday, bombing a key power station in the large city, and reportedly killing over a dozen law enforcement personnel.

An unknown terrorist group bombed a major South Hills power station yesterday, plunging most of Matthews into darkness, and killing as many as dozen law enforcement officers. The terrorists struck the power station during the early morning local time, killing two security guards, and then later detonating a bomb that killed a dozen responding police officers. The Matthews power grid failed almost instantaneously after the detonation, leaving most of the city in the dark. Officials have promised to restore power as soon as possible, but no timeline has been provided, and the city has ground to a halt amidst the darkness.

The terrorists struck just four days after an unknown group detonated a 20-ton nuclear device in Vilines, Listonia, killing approximately 4500-6000. No terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Vilines attack, and as of today, no terrorist group had claimed responsibility for the Matthews attack. Many media commentators speculated that the same group might be responsible for both attacks, though no evidence existed to prove, or disprove, this theory. The attack on Listonia certainly dwarfed the attack on South Hills in size and scale, devastating much of a major Listonian city, while Matthews remained intact albeit temporarily without power.

Listonian and South Hills authorities were reportedly investigating the attacks today, though there was no word regarding any cooperation between the two governments.

Maloney Plans Vilines Relief TelethonFARAMOUNT CITY – Famous actor Richard Maloney announced plans today to host a major telethon on Friday to benefit the victims of the nuclear strike on Vilines.

Maloney announced the telethon in a press conference in Faramount today, four days after terrorists detonated a small nuclear weapon in the Listonian city of Vilines, killing an estimated 4500-6000. The actor made headlines in 2006 when he hosted a six-hour telethon to benefit victims of the Drone Insurrection, ultimately raising over $400 million. Maloney said he planned for the telethon to last just two hours this time, though he said that many of the celebrities that joined him in 2006 planned to join him again. Actress Sarah Conner, singer Jimmy Melendez, and comedian John Belzer joined Maloney for the press conference, and director Stephen Selgon tweeted soon after that he planned to make an appearance. Former Presidents Matthew Terrus and Jackie Suzie are also scheduled to appear. The Free Pacifican Broadcast Network plans to broadcast the event this Friday from 7PM to 9PM on all of its affiliates, and also to make it available to other networks for free.

The actor-organizer told reporters that he still needed to work out many details, but that he planned to have the event finalized by Wednesday. “I’ve been working for three days straight to get commitments from celebrities, to get FPBN onboard, and to get other channels to simultaneously broadcast,” said Maloney, “we’re still working to select specific charities with whom to partner, but we’re getting close.” Maloney said that he hoped to raise anywhere from $10-$30 million, and urged his fans to take the time out to watch. “We experienced the tragedy of war, the tragedy of loss, ourselves just 9 years ago,” Maloney said, “I hope that the Free Pacifican people will come together on Friday to help those in need, just as they came together during those difficult days.” The actor said he planned to visit Listonia in the future, though likely not until well after the attacks, “as I do not want to be a burden on government services that are surely already busy enough.”

An unknown terrorist group detonated a 20-tonne nuclear device in central Vilines on Thursday, killing an estimated 4500-6000, and injuring thousands more. The weapon devastated the government district of Vilines, a large city known symbolically as the birthplace of the independent Listonia. The terrorists struck just after Listonia invaded neighboring Elphana without provocation, but the Elphanans have denied any involvement, and the Listonians have claimed the invasion was the work of a renegade commander. Many doubt the veracity of both claims, though experts note that poverty-stricken Elphana has never had a nuclear weapons program. A posting on the well-known 4-Chan site that claimed responsibility for the attack specifically absolved Elphana. Listonia has mobilized mass relief efforts in the aftermath of the attack, and the nuclear strike has prompted military mobilizations across Urth.

Maloney told reporters that he hoped his concert would refocus attention on relief efforts, which he said had received far too little attention as nations across the globe mobilized.

Terrorist Attacks Devastate Rhodesian EconomyDUVALL – A two-part terrorist strike devastated the Rhodesian economy yesterday, staggering its stock market, devaluing its currency, and killing 37 people.

An unknown terrorist group conducted strikes on two targets in Rhodesia yesterday, causing immense economic damage, and killing 37. The terrorists stormed the Rhodesian headquarters of the International Bank of Business and Credit during the mid-afternoon yesterday, while simultaneously taking control of an off-site data storage center. The assailants proceeded to steal millions in government gold from the bank, before detonating explosives in both buildings, destroying much of the information technology support infrastructure for the stock market.

The terrorist strike severely impacted the Rhodesian economy, causing a currency devaluation, stock market plunge, and minor bank runs. The terrorists got away with five percent of Rhodesia’s gold reserves, a staggering amount considering Rhodesia’s usage of a gold standard. Rhodesian currency immediately dropped nearly five percent in value, a massive deflation that was already rippling across the Rhodesian economy today. Yet the Rhodesian economy took an equally substantial hit from the destruction of the stock data centers, which sent stocks plummeting across the nation.

The Rhodesian government pledged to remain strong in the face of the attack, and to punish the perpetrator, though no group has taken credit for the strike. Listonia, South Hills, and Rhodesia have all suffered major terrorist attacks in the last week including a nuclear terrorist strike in Listonia. The perpetrator of these attacks remains unknown, and Rhodesian President Marion Heleck has suggested a single group is responsible. But most experts have contrarily argued that different groups carried out the different strikes, pointing out that each attack featured very different tactics.

Most Urth nations nonetheless remained on high alert today as leaders feared further attacks. Many major Urth powers including the Pax and Federated Alliance continued to mobilize military forces in case of further assaults, while stock markets in many nations including the Free Pacific States remained closed. A meeting of heads of state in Liberty City continued after a four day pause today, but only under extraordinarily heightened security. The Liberty City conference is focused on developing a set of treaties as a basis for future international negotiations, though it is possible the conference might turn to focus more on the recent terrorist incidents.

Nationalists Surge in State PollsLIBERTY CITY – The Nationalist Party surged in the polls ahead of next week’s state elections, bolstered by the political impact of a series of terrorists attacks on foreign nations.

The Nationalists gained strength significant strength in polling this week, improving upon an already advantageous political position. The Nationalist gubernatorial nominee in every state took the lead over the last several days, whereas the Nationalists previously appeared set to secure only three state houses. The Nationalists gained similar strength in state legislative races with polling indicating Nationalist gains in every state. Nationalist candidates picked up in most local elections as well, though Liberty City remained strongly centrist. The Nationalists previously led thanks largely to the ongoing economic boom.

Most analysts agreed that the Nationalist rose in the polls because the public viewed the Nationalists as the safest party amidst a series of major terror attacks on foreign nations. “The Nationalist Party is widely viewed as the party that is strong on defense, so it makes sense that voters are attracted to the Nationalists amidst recent events,” said Dr. Mats Ramo, PhD, professor of political science at Shiro Academy, “to add to that, the incumbent generally benefits from crises in the short-term, so this ongoing string of terrorist attacks is making people view the Nationalists in a more favorable light for that reason as well.”

The Nationalists stood in a much weaker political position before this week. The Nationalists had been expected to lose control of the Codexian and Wachovian state governments, and to take significant hits in every state. “The Nationalists have benefitted greatly from the current economic boom, but their cuts to welfare, and their high military spending, have also prompted controversy,” Professor Ramos noted in an interview, “they looked set for a noteworthy defeat.”

President Christopher Arctoris, the leader of the Nationalist Party, suggested that the Nationalists’ rise resulted from general support for the Nationalist agenda. “My administration has delivered economic prosperity, national security, and lower taxes over the last six years, just as we had promised,” Arctoris told reporters today, “and I think voters are expressing their support for my colleagues at the state level because they recognize that the Nationalist Party can bring prosperity, security, and liberty to every part of this country.” Arctoris declined to predict the outcome of the elections, but said he was “hopeful.”

The leader of the Progressive Party, Councillor Samantha McClellan, contrarily argued that the Nationalist surge was temporary. “There’s still a few days until polls open, and when they do, I think we’ll see the support for the Nationalists return to a lower level,” McClellan said, “the reality is that the Nationalists haven’t delivered much progress at the state-level – their agenda of gutting government just doesn’t work well when people can more directly see the results.” “I’m confident that these polling numbers are soft,” McClellan said, “and that, ultimately, the Progressive Party will make gains next week.”

Yet many political insiders expressed doubt that the Nationalists would lose much ground. “These are soft numbers, but everyone I talk to recognizes that with just two days until polls open, the numbers are hard enough,” said a Centrist political strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing internal party deliberations, “we’re certainly hopeful we can pick up some ground, but I don’t think anybody that’s closely following this election has much hope for the progressives, centrists, or reformists. This is going to be a Nationalist week, and for the time being, a Nationalist government.”

Polls for state and local elections will be open 8AM-8PM local time every day next week from Sunday through Saturday. Voters may register at the polls. Voters must apply for an absentee ballot by Saturday at 5PM, and postmark the ballot by Wednesday, for it to be accepted. Voting locations, sample ballots, and candidate information can be found at www.voterinformationcenter.fa.

Vilines Telethon Raises $38MFARAMOUNT CITY – Last night’s celebrity charity telethon raised approximately $38 million to benefit the victims of the Vilines nuclear terrorist attack, host Richard Maloney announced today.

Maloney declared the two-hour celebrity telethon a “complete success,” in a press briefing today, flanked by a dozen famous figures. “The Free Pacifican people opened their hearts to Listonia, and did their part to help Vilines recover from this horrifying attack,” Maloney told reporters, “I am so proud to be a Free Pacifican today, and I am so proud that this effort has succeeded.” Maloney noted that “we had expected to raise, at most, $30 million,” but said that “as always, our expectations were blown away by the overwhelming empathy of the Free Pacifican people.” Maloney said that the funds would be distributed in the upcoming days to several carefully selected relief organizations.

The Free Pacifican Broadcast Network, Federated Alliance Broadcast System, and Free Pacific One all broadcast the telethon, along with twenty-seven other channels. Some forty million Free Pacificans tuned in to watch performances by Maloney, actress Sarah Conner, singer Jimmy Melendez, comedian John Belzer, and many other well-known figures. Stephen Selgon directed the broadcast, the first time he has involved himself in a television production since he directed Maloney’s 2006 celebrity telethon. Former President Matthew Terrus, former President Jackie Suzie, and President Christopher Arctoris all made appearances during the broadcast.

An unknown terrorist group detonated a 20-tonne nuclear device in central Vilines last Thursday, killing an estimated 4500-6000, and injuring thousands more. The weapon devastated the government district of Vilines, a large city known symbolically as the birthplace of the independent Listonia. Several days later, terrorists attacked Matthews in the South Hills, killing a dozen law enforcement officers, and destroying a major power plant, causing a temporary power outage. Several days after that, terrorists struck the central bank in Rhodesia, causing an economic panic, and killing 37. Nations across Urth have mobilized military forces following the terrorist attacks, the perpetrators of which remain unknown.

Maloney told reporters that he hoped that the concert would ensure that “even as we mobilize to combat this threat, we do not forget those that need assistance in these difficult times.”

Levinile: Elphana Should Join VULIBERTY CITY – Vekaiyun Premier Ikrisia Levinile yesterday urged Elphana to join the Vekaiyun Union, claiming that such a merger would be mutually beneficial, especially in the wake of the series of recent terrorist attacks.

Premier Levinile recommended the annexation of Elphana during a public meeting with senior Vekaiyun officials in the Free Pacifican capital yesterday. She argued that Warre and Vulshain actually controlled Elphane, despite its official independent status. She suggested that this foreign “meddling … has prevented the nation from prospering and growing over the past six years.” “The logical choice would be for Elphana to drop all past allegiances and instead turn to its nearest neighbor: the Vekaiyun Union,” the de facto leader of the VU went onto say, before suggesting that the VU should annex Elphane “peacefully, in order to neutralize all terrorism from our backyard and give the Elphene people a new lease on life.”

Levinile called for the annexation of Elphana several weeks after a nuclear terrorist strike killed 4500-6000 in Vilines, a city in Listonia, a member-state of the VU. The Vekaiyun Union government has traced the atomic material used to Prussia, a close Pax ally, but has not demonstrated how terrorists got ahold of those nuclear materials. The Prussian government has declined to comment regarding the situation, and it is unknown at this time if the Prussians are even undertaking an investigation. But that may ultimately be irrelevant as the vast majority of Vekaiyuns including most Vekaiyun leaders blame Elphana, not Prussia. Levinile herself indicated that she blamed Elphana in her speech, suggesting that there were terrorists in Elphana that needed to be neutralized.

The Elphanan government has strongly denied any involvement in the terrorist attack, however, and has rejected any call for the Vekaiyun Union to annex Elphana. “The Elphanan people are committed to retaining our independence, and we reject this obvious Vekaiyun attempt to provide political coverage for their unwarranted invasion of our nation,” said Elphane Prime Minister Loxodonta Cyclotis, “we call for an international investigation into this attack with a focus on Prussia, and we demand the withdrawal of all foreign invaders from our homeland.” Cyclotis denied that his nation was a puppet for either Warre or Vulshain, noting that “if these nations are our masters, then where are they now? Would they not want to protect their client state? These allegations are simply baseless.”

The Free Pacifican intelligence community remains undecided about the culprit behind not only the Vekaiyun attacks, but also the South Hills and Rhodesialund attacks. “There’s just not a lot of information out there regarding any of this, and with the exception of the Dragomans, nobody is really cooperating with us,” said a senior Free Pacifican Intelligence Agency officer, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, “the Elphanans have no nuclear program, but it would seem odd for the Prussians to have launched this attack.” The officer noted that the South Hills Vice President had claimed that the series of terrorist attacks were unrelated, but also noted that neither Free Pacifican nor Vekaiyun intelligence has confirmed this. “We do not have enough information to draw any conclusions here,” he said.

Most nations appeared happy to remain neutral regarding the ongoing incidents given the lack of available information, but Free Pacifican President Christopher Arctoris told reporters today that the FPS strongly opposed any forceful annexation of Elphana. “The Vekaiyun invasion of Elphana, even if accidental, was unjustifiable, and Vekaiyun troops in Elphana should withdraw immediately,” Arctoris said in a press briefing, “the Federated Alliance will condemn any attempt to annex Elphana by force.” The Free Pacifican President urged caution and restraint in responding to the recent attacks, saying that “we need to carefully investigate these attacks before undertaking any actions – and particularly any military actions – based off them.”

The Vekaiyun Union invaded the neighboring state of Elphana last month after previously issuing an ultimatum for Elphana to yield a substantial amount of territory to Listonia. The VU halted its invasion amidst international outrage after only a day, claiming that a rogue general undertook the military operation without authorization. But many experts have rejected this explanation, given the size and scope of the attack. Debate regarding the military action ended suddenly on November 5, when terrorists detonated a nuclear bomb in downtown Villines, killing 4500-6000 Listonians, Vekaiyuns, and others. No terrorist group took responsibility for that attack, but most Vekaiyuns have blamed Elphana, even though the terrorists used nuclear material originating from Prussia.

The nuclear strike prompted a massive, worldwide military mobilization, which continues today. Reservists in many countries including the Federated Alliance and Lyon are active, and the Pax are engaging in mass conscription. Amidst these heightened tensions, terrorists struck a power station in Matthews in the South Hills on November 8, killing over a dozen law enforcement officers, and temporarily plunging Matthews into darkness. Just a day later, terrorists strike a major bank in Rhodesialund, killing 37, stealing enough gold bullion to severely devalue Rhodesialund’s currency, and destroying enough market data to cause a panic in Rhodesialund. No group claimed credit for either of these attacks, and it was unclear if they were linked to the Villines nuclear strike, though very different tactics were used in each of these three major terrorist assaults.

The series of terrorist attacks, and the worldwide mobilizations, left Urth on edge today, making Levinille’s statements all the more significants.

Nationalists Sweep Gubernatorial ElectionsFARAMOUNT CITY – The Nationalist Party swept the 2015 gubernatorial elections last week, retaining control of three state governments, while picking up seats in the other two.

The Nationalists scored an impressive victory in the 2015 gubernatorial elections, winning a clear majority of the total national popular vote. The Nationalists retained control of Codex, Wachovia, and West Malaysia, while gaining seats in both Tilden and Columbia. This marked a major victory for the Nationalists, who had been expected to lose seats in all five states. Indeed, most analysts had predicted a major victory for the Progressive Party, given continuing controversial regarding Nationalist cuts to welfare and social programs. The Progressive Party retained control of Tilden, Columbia, and the territories despite the Nationalists’ gains, while the Centrist Party remained dominant in Liberty City.

Political analysts termed the election as a “Nationalist landslide,” similar to the 2008, when the Nationalists seized control of the presidency and Parliament in a single swoop. “The Nationalists convinced the vast majority of undecided voters to support them, and also inspired immense turnout amongst their base,” said Dr. Mats Ramo, PhD, professor of political science at Shiro Academy, “and as a result, they scored an impressive victory, completely shafting polling dynamics in just three weeks.” Ramo noted that “except for the brief period where the Centrists dominated Free Pacifican politics, no party has remained dominant for this long.”

The Nationalist Party hailed the victory as an affirmation of its policy programs. “The Free Pacifican people spoke last week, and their message was clear: they want a strong defense, lower taxes, and a continued devolution of powers to the states,” President Christopher Arctoris told reporters during a press briefing, “Nationalist policies have secured our borders and grown our economy for the last few years, and in this election, we saw the Free Pacifican people once again applaud those results.” Arctoris projected a similar victory in 2016, when he will unprecedentedly run for re-election for a third term. “I’m confident that just as they did last week, the Free Pacifican people will in 2016 approve of Nationalist leadership,” Arctoris said, “and I’m hopeful that our nation can continue to thrive through traditional Free Pacifican values.”

Yet most Nationalist, Progressive, and even Reformist politicians blamed the Nationalist victory on a campaign of fear-mongering regarding recent terrorist attacks and military mobilizations. “The Nationalists convinced people, yes – they convinced people that the nation was facing an imminent threat when that, in fact, was far from the truth,” said Alliance Council Minority Leader Samantha McClellan (P-TI), “had this election been held on November 4th, or in mid-December, the result would have been completely different. The only reason the Nationalists have done so well is because of shock over the nuclear terrorist strike in Villines, fear regarding the Pax military mobilization, and concern regarding our own unnecessary military activation.” McClellan said that she was confident that “in 2015, Free Pacificans will reject the Nationalists’ failed governance.”

Most experts attributed the Nationalist sweep primarily to recent foreign events, but also significantly to the continuing economic boom. “Unemployment is plummeting, household income is rising, and most Free Pacificans feel very positive about the direction of the country, especially given the laxening of immigration regulations, something that really plays to people’s compassion, so the Nationalists were already in good shape,” said FPSNN commentator Phil Harmon, “but it’s certainly true that Nationalist polling skyrocketed after the Villines attack and after the military mobilizations, and the Nationalists’ political advertising campaign – which featured truly frightening images of attacks on Free Pacifican soil, and of the devastation after the Drone Insurrection – played on rising fears regarding foreign threats.”

Regardless of the reason, the Nationalists certainly gained a great deal during the election, and stood poised to continue dominating policymaking. Wachovian Governor-Elect Benjamin Baker told reporters today that he planned to act quickly to address the state’s deficits, to eliminate waste in the state’s government programs, and to cut taxes. “The nation is enjoying an economic boom, but Codex is still facing high taxes, deficits, and immense welfare spending,” said Baker, “during times like these, the very opposite should be true – so that when the nation is faced with an economic crisis, it has a low amount of debt, an ability to raise taxes, and an ability to avoid skyrocketing welfare payments.” The Nationalist governors of Codex and West Malaysia, both of whom were re-elected easily, promised to continue pushing low taxes, low spending, and fiscal responsibility.

Progressive and Centrist leaders promised to “continue to fight for good governance,” however, despite these losses. “We may have taken a hit last week, but I will tell you this: we are not going to accept reactionary Nationalist policies lying down,” said Centrist Councillor, and former Vice President, Henrik Kroidrik, “Free Pacificans deserve a government that will respond to their concerns, that will help them when they are down, and that will ensure prosperity, security, and equality.” “We’re going to fight for just such a government, even if we are in the minority,” said Kroidrik, whose party won the third highest number of votes nationally, “we will not allow the Nationalists to gut our government.” Progressive leaders expressed similar sentiments with McClellan promising to strongly oppose any further cuts to federal spending.

The Nationalists’ ability to overcome this Progressive and Centrist resistance was unclear today, but this much was clear: the Nationalist Party has scored a major victory at the state level.

Rhodesia Invades GenoshaCAPE HOPE – Rhodesia invaded Genosha today after thirteen missiles originating from Genosha struck this Rhodesian city, killing thousands, though independent experts questioned Genosha’s culpability.

Rhodesian troops launched a large-scale amphibious invasion of Genosha yesterday, deploying thousands of troops onto Genosha’s shores. The massive Rhodesian military easily overwhelmed Genoshan naval and coastal defenses, taking advantage of Genosha’s weak armed forces. Genosha nonetheless succeeded in sinking two Rhodesian warships, likely through the use of shore-to-ship missiles. But Rhodesian forces quickly established a beachhead, and began moving inland today, easily defeating Genosha’s poorly coordinated efforts at counter-attack. Rhodesia had reportedly established complete aerial superiority over Genosha as of today.

Rhodesia attacked Genosha fourteen hours after a group of cruise missiles struck the Rhodesian city of Cape Hope. The thirteen cruise missiles killed thousands of civilians, and wounded thousands more, causing an immense humanitarian disaster. The catastrophic attack overwhelmed local emergency services, and the national government mobilized to provide assistance to local forces. The bombing of Cape Hope came just weeks after a terrorist group assaulted one of Rhodesia’s premier banks, stealing millions in gold bullion, destroying sensitive stock market data, and causing severe economic issues.

The Rhodesian government immediately blamed Genosha for both the missile strikes and the terrorist attack. “Intelligence gathered has made confirmed reports of the cruise missiles originating from Genosha from our maritime patrol aircraft,” Rhodesian Vice President Valintino Saar’bac said in a televised address eleven hours after the attacks. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them. Parliament has given an official declaration of war against Genosha." Saar’back assumed temporary authority as president as President Marion Heleck was in Liberty City attending an international conference. In his speech, the acting president promised that the nation would recover, and said that he would ensure the perpetrators of this heinous act were brought to justice.

Yet many experts questioned Rhodesia’s version of events, suggesting the Rhodesian government overreacted. “The Genoshan government lacks any motive for attacking Rhodesia,” said Dr. Ernest Minate, PhD, a professor of international affairs at Shiro Academy at Tilden University, “we’re talking about a small, isolationist republic that invests very little in its military. It makes little sense for this country to attack Rhodesia, a large, powerful nation.” “It is indeed questionable whether Genosha even has the technology for this type of a successful, multi-missile strike,” Minate went onto say, “and at the time of this strike, Genosha had not mobilized its armed forces, something unthinkable on the part of a nation starting a war.”

Analysts also questioned the speed with which Rhodesia carried out its assault. “There were Rhodesian troops on the ground in Genosha within fourteen hours of the missile attack, and within a few hours of the declaration of war,” said Vice Admiral James Hoar (FPSN, Ret.), a FPSNN commentator, “you don’t pull that off on a whim. They must have had their forces mobilized, and their logistics in place, well in advance.” Hoar admitted that the military mobilized “might just have been a response to the terrorist attack on Rhodesia’s bank,” but he said that “the Rhodesians are definitely understating how prepared they were for a war with Genosha.” Hoar also expressed disbelief that Genosha could carry out such sudden, effective attacks on Rhodesia, given its military’s weakness.

Rhodesian officials stood by the accusations against the Genoshan government, though, and were able to point to some independently generated evidence. The Free Pacifican Intelligence Agency confirmed in a statement today that it had, using radar data and satellite images, confirmed that the missile attack was launched from Genosha. Several Free Pacifican officials also admitted that intelligence indicated that the bank terrorist attack was masterminded from within Genosha. But those officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing sensitive international issues, said that there was no evidence proving the culpability of the government of Genosha.

President Christopher Arctoris condemned the sudden invasion in a press briefing, stating that the Rhodesia “has failed to provide sufficient public justification for an invasion that it has carried out in a suspiciously rapid manner.” “The Free Pacifican people offer their deepest condolences and sympathies to the people of Rhodesia regarding these attacks,” Arctoris said, “but this sudden invasion of Genosha is unjustifiable. The Rhodesian government should have sought to address this issue through peaceful means before undertaking an all-out invasion, and it should have commissioned an independent investigation before invading a nation with only circumstantial evidence of that nation’s government’s involvement.”

Lyonese Prime Minister Alexis Jacobs also condemned the invasion. “War should always be the last resort, and it should always come after numerous diplomatic efforts, and after significant coordination with the international community,” Jacobs said, “Rhodesia has broken every one of these rules – using force first, making no effort towards diplomatic solutions, and making no effort to work through the international community.” Jacobs told reporters that “Lyon questions the evidence against Genosha, and believes an independent investigation should have been conducted. We cannot by any means condone this action, and indeed, we must condemn the Rhodesian invasion of Genosha.”

Activists planned protests outside the Rhodesian embassies in Liberty City and Port Lyon tonight, calling for a march for peace. But as Rhodesian troops rapidly moved across the Genoshan countryside, it seemed unlikely that minor protests halfway across the world would have any impact. And while the Federated Alliance and Lyon condemned the invasion, officials in both nations indicated an unwillingness to become involved in the conflict. The rapidity of the invasion has caught most other nations by surprise, and there has been little other international response.

Most expects project a complete Rhodesian victory in Genosha within days at the current rate.

FPS, Lyon DemobilizeLIBERTY CITY – The Federated Alliance and the Lyonese Republic both demobilized this week after going to military alert a month ago following the nuclear attack on Villines.

Reservists, guardsmen, and contractors stood down to regular duty in both countries this week at the respective orders of President Christopher Arctoris and Prime Minister Alexis Jacobs. The two leaders issued demobilization orders within minutes of each other, surprising few given the highly integrated nature of the Free Pacifican and Lyonese armed forces. Both militaries remained at a heightened state of readiness today given the continued mobilization of the Pax-Draconian armed services, but reserve units, national guard units, and other special units were finally sent home.

President Arctoris and Prime Minister Jacobs both expressed public confidence regarding the move. “The Pax would have unleashed an assault days, if not weeks, ago, if they actually planned the Villines strike as the beginning of a greater campaign,” Arctoris told reporters, “at this point, I think it’s clear that we’re not going to have a war on our hand immediately, and so it is time for our reservists to return home.” Jacobs expressed similar sentiments, saying that “we must stand ready for the potential of an attack, but we must also recognize that such an attack does not appear to be forthcoming.”

Yet despite Arctoris’ and Jacobs’ public statements, many in both the Free Pacifican and Lyonese governments expressed deep concerns regarding the Pax mobilization. Senior officials said that fiscal concerns drove the demobilization, which occurred despite a great deal of worry over the Pax’s intentions. “We cannot continue to spend billions of dollars on keeping the reservists active,” said a high-ranking military officer that spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, “but at the same time, we don’t know what the Pax are up to, and that worries us.”

Many experts have suggested that Pax-Draconica might be in the midst of a power struggle between military and diplomatic leaders over the replacement for recently deceased Pax leader Noi. “It’s very possible that the Pax mobilized at the direction of the military, but haven’t done anything more at the direction of more moderate leaders,” said a senior Free Pacifican Intelligence Agency officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, “it’s hard to predict what is going to come next as a result – will they demobilize in time? Will they invade? Or will this mobilization just become the normal? Only time will tell.”

The Federated Alliance and Lyon Republic mobilized their militaries over a month ago. Terrorists had just detonated a nuclear device in Villines, a device that originated in Prussia, though this was not widely known at that time. Just after the attack, the Pax ordered a general conscription, mobilizing their armed forces. Many other nations followed suit including the FPS and Lyon, both of which called up reserves, cancelled R&R, and generally shifted to a war footing. But while several more terrorist attacks occurred across the world, nothing came of the Pax’ actions. FPS and Lyon finally stepped back to a regular footing today, given the lack of Pax activity.

Rhodesian VP, Arctoris MeetLIBERTY CITY – Rhodesian Vice President Valintino Saar’bac travelled to the Blue House yesterday, reportedly to solicit Free Pacifican President Christopher Arctoris’ public endorsement of the Rhodesian invasion of Genosha.

Saar’bac met with Arctoris for close to an hour yesterday at the Blue House, where the two reportedly discussed the Rhodesian-Genoshan War. The Blue House remained tight-lipped regarding the meeting, but officials at the Department of Diplomacy indicated that Saar’bac delivered a lengthy presentation justifying Rhodesia’s widely condemned invasion of Genosha. Arctoris and Saar’bac were scheduled today to meet again Thursday afternoon, reportedly for Arctoris to provide a response to Saar’bac’s request for support.

Blue House Chief of Staff Julia Brenner declined to comment on the meeting a press briefing, except to say that Arctoris was honored to receive Saar’bac. She said that for the moment, the Federated Alliance remained steadfast in its condemnation of the invasion of Genosha. But she noted that the President was always open to changing his position “when it comes to such a fluid, intricate situation.” Most analysts agreed that Brenner was setting the state for Arctoris to more easily lift the condemnation, should he decide to do so.

Several hundred gathered in the rain outside the Blue House yesterday to protest Saar’bac, and later continued the rally outside the Rhodesian embassy. Several dozen activists have demonstrated outside the Rhodesian embassy each day since the invasion, though a major protest scheduled for Saturday was delayed due to storm warnings. Given the clear forecast for the next several days, a much larger protest against the war was scheduled on Thursday outside the Rhodesian embassy. Hundreds were expected to attend.

Rhodesia controversially invaded Genosha last week after a missile strike killed thousands in the Rhodesian city of Cape Hope. The Rhodesians justified the invasion as the response to an act of terrorism by the Genoshan state. Yet the Rhodesians provided no evidence that the Genoshan government itself authorized the attack, and Genoshan leaders died any involvement. The small Genoshan government has little control over substantial portions of its territory, making it possible that the Genoshan leadership knew nothing of the assault. Furthermore, Genosha does not have an active rocket weapons program, and many have expressed doubts regarding its technical capability to carry out the missile attacks. Activists criticized Rhodesia’s overnight decision to invade, and questioned how Rhodesia was able to put troops on the ground in under 24 hours if it was not previously preparing for war.

Numerous non-government organizations condemned the invasion as a result, as did a number of governments including the Federated Alliance. Several more states were reportedly considering denouncing the Rhodesian military operation today, and there were rumors that the Council of Nations might consider the matter. The Council of Nations made headlines earlier this year when it imposed sanctions on Rhodesia; those sanctions remained in effect as of today. While nations considered the situation, demonstrators took to the streets outside Rhodesian embassies in several countries to protest the war, most notably in the Laitanese Federation, Federated Alliance, and Lyon Republic.

Saar’bac’s effort to solicit Free Pacifican support stood particularly strategically significant given the widespread opposition to the invasion. “Gaining the endorsement of the Federated Alliance would be a major public relations coup for the Rhodesians,” said Dr. Ernest Minate, PhD, a professor of international affairs at Shiro Academy at Tilden University, “it would represent a major power’s support for the Rhodesian’s controversial military operation. And it would very likely lead Lyon to endorse Rhodesia’s actions as well.”

Experts noted that the Federated Alliance and Rhodesia have developed somewhat close relations in recent years. FPS famously adopted a Rhodesian-designed battle rifle as the basic small arm for its armed forces several years ago. Since that time, a number of economic links have been established between the two nations. FPS notably remained neutral when it came to the Council of Nations’ sanctions against Rhodesia. But this would be the first time that FPS would take an active role facilitating Rhodesian interests. And for Arctoris, it could be a difficult time, given public Free Pacifican support for the Genoshans, and given the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Most commentators projected that a final decision on the major would be made by Thursday morning.[/big]

Arctoris: Rhodesian Motives “Genuine” but Condemnation StandsLIBERTY CITY – President Christopher Arctoris described Rhodesia’s motives in invading Genosha as “genuine” in a press conference yesterday, but said that FPS continued to condemn the military operation as premature.

President Arctoris staked out a middle-ground position on the invasion while speaking to reporters at the Blue House. “I am confident that Rhodesia is genuine in its stated motive of improving both Genoshan and Rhodesian lives by combating terrorism,” Arctoris said, “and I am certain that Rhodesia is justified in pursuing those guilty of perpetrating the attack on Cape Hope.” But Arctoris repeated his condemnation of Rhodesia’s invasion, saying that “Rhodesia should have pursued diplomatic avenues before using military force,” and that “the Federated Alliance must condemn military action when it is used as a first resort.”

Arctoris spoke just after meeting with Rhodesian Vice President Valantino Saar’bac, who authorized Arctoris to make volumes of classified Rhodesian intelligence available to other governments as a showing of good faith. Saar’bac traveled to Liberty City to convince Arctoris to drop FPS’ condemnation of the Rhodesian invasion of Genosha. While he clearly fell short of that goal, Saar’bac still scored a victory by convincing Arctoris to endorse Rhodesia’s motives, and by getting Arctoris to agree to distribute information supporting Rhodesia’s action. Arctoris told reporters that FPS’ Department of Intelligence would also be including non-sensitive information regarding the issue.

Arctoris and Saar’bac met as Rhodesian forces advanced into the Genoshan capital, continuing a lightning takeover of the smaller nation. Rhodesia first invaded Genosha two weeks ago after a missile strike killed thousands in the Rhodesian city of Cape Hope. The Rhodesians justified the invasion as the response to an act of terrorism by the Genoshan state. Yet the Rhodesians provided little evidence that the Genoshan government itself authorized the attack, and Genoshan leaders denied any involvement. The small Genoshan government has little control over substantial portions of its territory, making it possible that the Genoshan leadership knew nothing of the assault. Furthermore, Genosha does not have an active rocket weapons program, and many have expressed doubts regarding its technical capability to carry out the missile attacks. Activists criticized Rhodesia’s overnight decision to invade, and questioned how Rhodesia was able to put troops on the ground in under 24 hours if it was not previously preparing for war.

Numerous non-government organizations condemned the invasion as a result, as did a number of governments including the Federated Alliance. Several more states were reportedly considering denouncing the Rhodesian military operation today, and there were rumors that the Council of Nations might consider the matter. Aelitia made headlines earlier this year when it led several nations in imposing sanctions on Rhodesia after Rhodesia sought to annes several previously independent islands. Rhodesia attracted little international attention with that move, but the Rhodesian invasion of Genosha sparked protests across Urth. Thousands gathered outside the Blue House yesterday to protest Saar’bac, and continuous demonstrations against the war have been held outside the Rhodesian embassies in the Laitanese Federation, Federated Alliance, and Lyon Republic.

No nation appeared interested in actually intervening in the Rhodesian-Genoshan War, however, likely dooming the Genoshan government’s small military to defeat.

Genosha Surrenders UnconditionallyHAMMER BAY – The Genoshan government surrendered unconditionally to Rhodesia today, marking the formal victory of Rhodesia in its highly controversial invasion of Genosha.

Acting Genoshan Prime Minister Yvette Blackburn signed the formal unconditional surrender today, several days after Rhodesian forces captured the Genoshan capital of Hammer Bay. Blackburn, a senior member of parliament, took charge of the government in the final few days of the Rhodesian invasion after most senior Genoshan leaders fled. The career Genoshan politician agreed to a cease fire in one of her first acts, and then today, granted Rhodesia complete control over Genosha. There were no terms to the surrender that Blackburn signed, and Rhodesian forces were expected to immediately occupy the entirety of Genoshan territory. The senior Genoshan military officer, General Karl Sunnet, also signed the surrender, effectively ordering the few remaining Genoshan military units to immediately stand down.

Rhodesia achieved absolute victory through Blackburn’s surrender, effectively eliminating the Genoshan government, and seizing complete control over Genoshan territory. Rhodesian forces had already secured most of Genosha over the last few weeks, deploying military police behind invading troops in order to maintain order, restore government operations, and impose Rhodesian authority. Most of the Genoshan military had surrendered, deserted, or been killed as of today, though a few final units were holding out in the well-fortified Southwest of the nation. Those troops were expected to surrender over the next several days, and Rhodesian personnel were expected to quickly move to take control of the remainder of Genoshan territory. Most of the Genoshan government had collapsed as of today, and Rhodesia was expected to take complete control of Genosha immediately.

Criticism of the Rhodesian invasion of Genosha reached a fever pitch immediately following the surrender declaration. Thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Rhodesian embassies in the Federated Alliance, Lyon Republic, Laiatanese Federation, and elsewhere in order to protest what pundits termed an obvious land grab. The Laitanese Federation implemented numerous sanctions on Rhodesia, though those sanctions had been ordered just following the Rhodesian capture of Genosha’s capital. Genoshan leaders in exile again condemned the invasion as illegitimate, though most encouraged an end to the fighting given the hopelessness of continued resistance. Most Genoshan embassies ceased operation only after sending out final pleas for assistance, and many abandoned embassy buildings were left marked by staff with anti-Rhodesian slogans.

Rhodesia appeared unfazed by this criticism, and seemed set today to immediately take full administrative control of Genosha. Most experts found this unsurprising, given the unwillingness of most nations to get involved in the conflict. Indeed, the Laitanese Federation took the most severe action in response to the invasion by imposing sanctions. A few other states including the Federated Alliance and the Lyon Republic condemned the Rhodesian military operation, but stopped short of taking any action. President Christopher Arctoris actually expressed some support for Rhodesia, prompting widespread domestic condemnation. Major powers including Pax-Draconica and the Vekaiyun Union did not even comment on the affair. “The general international response here was to shrug,” said Dr. Ernest Minate, PhD, a professor of international affairs at Shiro Academy at Tilden University, “so its unsurprising that Rhodesia has not been particularly impacted.”

Rhodesia invaded Genosha several weeks ago after a missile strike killed thousands in the Rhodesian city of Cape Hope. The Rhodesians justified the invasion as the response to an act of terrorism by the Genoshan state, noting that the missiles were launched from Genoshan territory. Yet the Rhodesians provided little evidence that the Genoshan government itself authorized the attack, and Genoshan leaders denied any involvement. The small Genoshan government had little control over substantial portions of its territory, making it possible that the Genoshan leadership knew nothing of the assault. Furthermore, Genosha did not have an active rocket weapons program, and many expressed doubts regarding its technical capability to carry out the missile attacks. Activists criticized Rhodesia’s overnight decision to invade, and questioned how Rhodesia was able to put troops on the ground in under 24 hours if it was not previously preparing for war. Criticism only intensified as Rhodesia continued its invasion, culminating in today’s surrender.

Rough estimates indicated that approximately 18,000 Genoshan military personnel, 6,000 Rhodesian military personnel, and 4,000 Genoshan civilians died during the now-finished Rhodesian-Genoshan War.

Rhodesia Intervenes in Oynenyuan Civil War Amidst Ethnic CleansingDUVALL – The Rhodesian military carried out air strikes in Oynenyua today in preparation for a full-scale intervention in the Oynenyuan Civil War after evidence emerged of ethnic cleansing in the anarchic Gondwanan nation.

The Rhodesian Air Force carried out a series of air strikes against the Oynenyuan Tribal Alliance today. The Rhodesians sought to strike the few noticeable command, logistics, and supply centers of the OTA, a coalition of tribes that inhabit the sparsely populated Central-Eastern portion of Oynenyua. The Rhodesians reportedly achieved success without losses, likely in part thanks to assistance provided by air units of the National Army for a Free Oynenyua. The NAFO, a Rhodesian-backed militant group, made public an alleged campaign by OTA forces to forcibly expel Felinds from OTA territory. The NAFO provided significant evidence to back these claims including witness testimony, images of mass graves, and testimony from surrendered OTA fighters.

Rhodesian President Marion Heleck pledged to end those atrocities today, announcing the deployment of Rhodesian marines to kickoff a comprehensive peacekeeping effort in Oynenyua. Heleck made it clear in his speech that Rhodesia planned to fully back the NAFO, and he strongly indicated that he planned to commit Rhodesian forces to defeating the other major Oynenyuan factions. “We act to protect thousands of innocent people in the Oynenyuan region from a mounting military offensive,” he said, “we act to prevent ethnic cleansing and instability. We act to stand united with our ally for peace. By acting now, we are upholding our values, protecting our interests, and advancing the cause of peace.”

The leaders of the OTA denied the charges of ethnic cleansing, however, arguing that the NAFO had manufactured evidence to promote its political goals. “The Alliance absolutely denies that it has engaged in any organized campaign against the Felind peoples,” OTA chairwoman Leyla Guleed told the Maxtopian Times Herald, yesterday, “the OTA is a confederacy, wherein numerous tribes operate mostly independently of the central authority. Certain tribes did engage in atrocities, and my administration responded by sanctioning those tribes, by ordering central forces to prevent any further atrocities, and by ordering an investigation of those atrocities.” “Rhodesia is intervening here not to prevent ethnic cleansing, something it could have done through purely diplomatic means, but to prop up its dictatorial NAFO regime,” Guleed went onto say, “and the OTA shall resist Rhodesian oppression just as we resisted the oppression of the Oynenyuan Free State for 31 years.”

Independent analysts suggested that the truth lay somewhere between the claims of Heleck and Guleed. “There is clear evidence that numerous OTA tribes engaged in ethnic cleansing with the tacit endorsement of the OTA,” said Dr. Ernest Minate, PhD, a professor of international affairs at Shiro Academy at Tilden University, “but there is no evidence that the OTA actually endorsed, supported, or organized those efforts, except when it came to prisoners of war, many of whom the OTA has executed regardless of race.” “The OTA did order an end to any actions against Felinds, but that order has been largely ignored,” Minate went onto say, “but on the other hand, it is possible that diplomatic pressure could have forced better enforcement of the order.” “Ultimately,” Minate concluded, “the OTA is rather guilty, but Rhodesia is likely acting in large part to further its interests in Oynenyua.”

The international community appeared to strongly support the Rhodesian intervention despite this fact. Free Pacifican President Christopher Arctoris lauded Rhodesia for intervening, saying that “I applaud President Heleck for acting swiftly to end these atrocities, to restore order in this war-torn nation, and to promote peace.” The Xiopothan and Lyonese governments issued similar statements of support for the peacekeeping effort, though Xiopothan and Lyonese officials urged Heleck to pursue peace negotiations amongst the various Oynenyuan factions before authorizing aggressive military action. Maxtopia, Bigtopia, and Equatorial Kundu, the major foreign supporters of the OTA, withdrew their support following the Rhodesian strikes, though each nation encouraged autonomy to be granted to the tribal peoples of Eastern Oynenyuan.

Rhodesia stood in an immensely superior strategic position today given its willingness to commit ground forces, and given the withdrawal of foreign support for the OTA, but experts warned against counting the OTA out. The OTA successfully waged a guerrilla campaign against Oynenyuan Free State forces for thirty-one years, preventing the dictatorial regime of Hanif Mifsud from ever gaining complete control of Eastern Oynenyua. Given the likelihood that it will take 4-6 weeks for Rhodesian forces to arrive in significant numbers in Oynenyua, the OTA will have a great deal of time in which to prepare once again to engage in asymmetrical warfare. “The OTA has never engaged in conventional warfare,” Professor Minate noted, “and they won’t here, either – but that doesn’t mean they’ll give up.”

The Rhodesian intervention nonetheless marked the most significant opportunity in years for order to be restored in Oynenyua, a former Codexian colony that last enjoyed domestic harmony in 1973. Army Colonel Hanif Mifsud overthrew the Oynenyuan Republic in a coup that year, taking advantage of widespread unhappiness with the corrupt, wasteful, and incompetent central administration. Mifsud established a highly effective regime that provided unprecedentedly efficient, consistent, and fair services. Yet Mifsud viciously targeted his political enemies, and he abolished the local autonomy that had long defined the nation. A number of Eastern tribes formed a coalition that year to resist Mifsud’s rule, leading a 31-year insurgency against the dictator. Mifsud remained popular through most of the rest of the nation, however, until an economic slump in the 1990s. A number of rebel groups rose up to oppose his regime over the next decade, ultimately overthrowing his administration in 2004.

A civil war broke out in late 2004 when these various rebel groups failed to agree upon a new government. A dozen factions emerged, and fought an increasingly brutal civil war over the next twelve years. Five factions ultimately gained supremacy: the Rhodesian-backed NAFO, the Transmassian-backed communist Democratic Republic of Oynenyua, the breakaway Matamban-backed United Abakamoso Democratic Front, and the OTA, which received Maxtopian, Bigtopian, and Equatorial Kundun support. The NAFO controls most of the Northwest of the nation, the DRO the Northeast, the UADF the Southwest, and the OTA the South-center. Mifsud, who survived the revolt, still holds the capital of D’hana-Oza. Forces loyal to Mifsud, who have the backing of neighboring Nambutu and Tsumebia, hold a sliver of territory in the South of the country. The Federated Alliance, along with most other foreign governments, have remained neutral in the conflict, refusing to endorse any faction, shuttering their embassies, and issuing harsh travel warnings.

The Rhodesian intervention might finally put an end to that dynamic, though if President Heleck wishes to permanently restore order, his work will be cut out for him.

Major Rebellion Rocks Sydonia-ApposimaKILMARTIN – A rebellion in the breakaway Borishill municipality rocked Sydonia-Apposima today, leaving government forces scrambling as revolutionaries struck at hotels, police stations, and military bases.

The NRFS rebel group launched a surprise full-scale offensive today that caught the Sydonian-Apposiman government off-guard, leading to pitched battles for control of Borishill today. The New Republic for a Free Sydonia insurgents, who had previously only carried out isolated bombings and attacks, scored a string of victories against police and military forces that were unprepared for a conventional assault. Using the seized Borishill Pacific Hotel as a base, the revolutionaries reportedly ambushed police convoys, attacked military bases, and even shot down military fighter aircraft. Witnesses in Borishill describes scenes of absolute chaos before all telecommunications was cutoff by the federal government, which took direct control of the situation following the resignation of most local officials in the independent municipality.

Activists supportive of the NRFS cause simultaneously engaged in a mass self-immolation outside the Wachovia Hotel in Liberty City, where Sydonian-Apposiman representatives were arriving to attend the Convention on Diplomacy. Eleven Sydonian-Apposimans, who had reportedly traveled to the Federated Alliance on tourist visas, lit themselves on fire, using gasoline as an incendiary. Police quickly doused the blazes, and rushed the self-immolators to the hospital, but to little avail. Six of the eleven died on the scene, and two more at the hospital. “It was absolutely horrifying,” said Regina Calwell, a Liberty City resident that was protesting the presence of the Pax at the convention, “they formed a circle, then poured gasoline on themselves, and then just lit it. I’ll never forget the screams. The police came quickly, but…I just cannot even imagine. It was so terrible.”

Yet the horror of the gruesome protest in Liberty City paled in comparison to that of the heavy fighting Borishill. The NRFS rebels seized the Borishill Pacific Hotel this morning, fortifying the building after allowing guests and staff to safely depart. The insurrectionaries then used the hotel as a base for a full-scale campaign against Sydonian-Apposiman forces, attacking police convoys, military bases, and other government installations. Eyewitnesses in Borishill reported gunfire and explosions throughout the morning, and said that artillery and mortar fire was falling across the city. A walkout by Borishill local officials worsened the situation, preventing a well-organized response by the state. Ultimately, the federal government stepped in by declaring a state of emergency, cutting off telecommunications, and reportedly ordering the deployment of troops to the city. But the telecommunications blackout left reports few and far between, leaving little picture of what was occurring on the ground in Borishill.

Most foreign governments responded to the uprising by issuing stern warnings against travel to Sydonia-Apposima, but otherwise remained uninvolved in the long-time battle by Borishill for independence. The city of Borishill once stood as the capital of Cariesland, one of Sydonia-Apposima’s five semi-autonomous counties. But Cariesland unsuccessfully sought independence in the 1970s, sparking a civil war that ended with the dissolution of the Cariesland county government. The other four counties partitioned Cariesland’s lands other than Borishill, which was made into a special municipality jointly administered by the other counties and the federal government. These authorities paid little attention to the war-torn city, though, allowing poverty and internal strife to fester for several decades. The NRFS launched an insurgent campaign in the 1990s aimed at gaining independence for Cariesland, but until today, limited its campaign to blowing up buildings, but only after giving sufficient notice for inhabitants to evacuate.

The rebels gave no notice before today’s full-scale uprising, though, leaving the government scrambling to restore order in the breakaway city.

Conference May Usher in New Age of Diplomacy
LIBERTY CITY – The ongoing diplomatic conference in Liberty City may lay the foundation for a new age of diplomacy featuring international laws that bind most nations.

Representatives from most major world powers are engaged today in a months-long effort to develop a series of basic global agreements to facilitate diplomacy. Former President Matthew Terrus organized this effort, convincing the Blue House to invite leaders to Liberty City to negotiate three treaties. These three agreements – one on how treaties should work, one on how nations should conduct diplomacy, and one on how nations should serve their citizens abroad – are hardly controversial. The decision at the summit to negotiate a fourth treaty, which establishes a multinational group to provide basic administration services for nations that sign a treaty, is not any more contentious. Coverage of the ongoing negotiations has been dismal to say the least, and for good reason, given that little of public interest has occurred.

Yet the Liberty City summit has the potential to usher in a completely new age in international affairs, despite the seemingly mundane nature of the matters being discussed. By establishing regulations for diplomacy, standards for treaties, and a multinational group to record treaties, the diplomats meeting in the International Building have established a foundation for future efforts to create rules that all nations must follow. They’ve created a precedent for such global rules – by creating rules for how embassies operate – and they’ve established a framework for those rules – saying how they should be made, interpreted, and recorded. Moving forward, countries could use these frameworks to create rules for things like sea travel, air travel, and even warfare. The term “international law” has to date mostly referred to informal rules that most nations recognize; it could, moving forward, instead to refer to actually laws that bind all countries.

It is a major development – but, like many major diplomatic changes, it is coming slowly, and its impact will only be seen in time.