The Word from the Sparrow

**The Word from the Sparrow

The Word from the Sparrow is a news service operated by the Office of Records. Every citizen receives one copy free daily.

**The Word from the Sparrow
Harry Potter Enchants Audiences and the Assembly
The latest Harry Potter novel by J.K. Rowling has continued the franchise’s popularity in Gollifray. Once again, the reviews have been exceedingly positive, but there are still some who disagree with the novel’s message.

The first Harry Potter novel was published in 1997, and since then has enjoyed fantastic success across the globe. In Gollifray, there is a national Harry Potter Fan Club, of which Head Justice Robert Gertman is famously a member. Said Gertman at the latest book release party, “Whenever I feel bogged down by too many cases, I just take a moment and enjoy the latest novel. In fact, I am convinced I should have received my Hogwarts letter ages ago!”

Not everyone approves of the books’ popularity, however. A number of religious groups have come forward to condemn the series as a poor influence on children, and urged the government to ban Harry Potter from the country. Mary Pushkin, a religious leader, said in a statement before the General Assembly, “we should remove this book from the shelves, salt it thoroughly, and burn it.”

Teachers and librarians rushed to the book’s defense, pointing out the book was completely harmless, taught messages of friendship and courage, and most importantly got children excited to read. In the end, Harry Potter worked his magic, and the Assembly not only declined to ban the book, but passed new legislation forbidding any ban on books based on religious or political content.

J.K. Rowling was unavailable for comment on this story.

Private Sector Grows, Government Backs Off
In a country famous for an economy where government spending accounts for 90% of the GDP, the Gollifrian private sector has made some impressive strides recently. Led by a growing book publishing industry, the private sector increased by over 40% recently, and now accounts for 13.2% of the country’s economy, contrasted with only 9.4% before.

John Felman, the proud owner of the new Felman Cafe, states, “Yeah, I opened this up just last week. I, uh, lost my girlfriend, and she had always made dinner for me. So I had to cook myself, and…I discovered I could cook! So, now I make a fair amount of money, and now she wanted to get back with me, but…oh crap, the lunch rush!” John had to leave in the middle of the interview.

When asked about the recent shrinkage in the government’s control of the economy, President Harold Darrence replied, "This growth in private industry represents a new era in our country. Our economy has remained devastated since the War of Rebirth, and our efforts have been concerned with establishing civil rights and political freedoms. Now that those have been solidly set down, the government’s attention focuses on improving the national economy.

“While the Assembly and I can help things along, we ultimately can only do so much. It will be up to individuals to see a need and fill it, and we applaud ambitious people like that. Hopefully this trend will continue without bringing back the corporate corruption which plagued our nation before.”

**The Word from the Sparrow
Uranium Mining Starts Amid Controversy
The government gave the green light for uranium mining to begin two days ago, prompting outrage from environmentalist groups. Surveyors from Nukes4U had recently located a massive deposit of the element underneath protected rainforest reserves, and immediately requested the area opened for mining.

After an intense debate within Assembly, compromising legislation was eventually decided on. Explaining the new law upon signing, President Harold Darrence sought to ease concerns over the bill.

“Our goal is to build up the economy,” he stated, “without sacrificing the ideals we believe in, one of those being the preservation of our natural resources. This new legislation places strict guidelines on where mining can take place. Altogether, no more than five percent of the existing rainforest will be directly affected by the industrial activity. Meanwhile, the ore that is extracted will provide a much needed boost to our prosperity.”

Both sides of the debate express dissatisfaction with the result. Nukes4U continues to demand more land opened for uranium mining, while the Green Party has warned of a slippery slope effect.

“Where does it stop?” Howard Ferngrass pondered aloud, “You open up a little now, and the businesses will think they can chop up and sell whatever they want!”

Exactly which side will gain ground remains to be seen.

Public Cameras a No-No, Rules Assembly
The Assembly passed legislation recently that prohibits the police force from deploying surveillance cameras in public places, thanks to a strong libertarian argument.

The police media liaison presented the plan before Assembly last week, which called for major public areas to be monitored by camera. He pointed out how public places already offer no expectancy of privacy, and that the surveillance program would “be extremely helpful in reducing the national crime rate”.

However, the argument was quickly countered by a small group of esteemed representatives who cited a popular libertarian blogger. They denounced the plan as “a blatant invasion of the right to privacy”, and argued that national crime is already almost non-existent.

The Assembly voted against the plan on a vote of 93 against, 55 for. They then proceeded to draft legislation outright banning the use of surveillance cameras by the government, which passed 85 for, 63 against. President Darrence signed the bill soon after.

Right-Wing Rally Draws Derision
Nazi supporters held a rally in the city square yesterday, much to the behest of many local residents, and were met with a group of satirical emulators.

The government upheld the right of freedom of speech when it gave the go-ahead for the rally to occur. Additional police officers were assigned to the area, though, in order to keep any potentially violent outbreaks under control.

Far from violence, however, the rally-goers found themselves confronted with a rival group, which declared a rally at the same time. The second group calls themselves “Gay Black Jewish Nazis for Love and Tolerance”, and ironically ended up outnumbering the fascist supporters.

The leader of the Gay Black Jewish Nazis, who resembled Hitler dressed in drag and called himself Faildolf, was delighted to speak to The Word from the Sparrow, and momentarily broke character to do so, “I just want to show people that it is possible to respect political freedoms while not sitting by quietly when you disagree with something. And this is our way of laughing at this horrible guy, and laugh at the people who came here to broadcast hatred.”

Both rallies ended around 1 PM.

Strikes Hit Book Industry
Major strikes have hit several book-publishing firms across Gollifray, threatening to fracture the already fragile economy. Both management and unions ended up taking their concerns to the Executive Office of Commerce for arbitration.

Jennifer Frederickson, labor leader, represented the unions at the negotiation meeting. She voiced the demands of the workers: a 20% raise in every worker’s wage, and said that if their demands are not met, that they would “shut this whole industry down.” Given that book-publishing is a backbone of the Gollifrian economy, the threat was considered very serious.

On the other side, Declan Lee served as the employer representative of the United Printers Association. He argued that such a move would “make our entire industry uncompetitive”. Lee said that the labor strikes were hurting the global position of Gollifray’s economy, and called for a relaxation of industrial laws concerning employment.

Ultimately, the Office of Commerce declined to fully support either side. The arbitrator ruled that the government would not force the 20% wage increase, but also upheld the workers’ right to organize. Some presses have since come to terms with their workers, on varying terms, and the industry is beginning to recover.