Merchants and Shipping Companies Join in Protest.
Dateline Y18, Quadrant 7 3204.225
Biomass merchant Hansel Panton says the price of off world shipping is horrific.
Dozens of merchants and independent shippers staged a go-slow protest in the space traffic zone of Y18 Station over rising docking prices arising directly from Government taxation.
The 80 ships, including 60 shuttles, travelled in convoy at about 0.1g along the main approach lanes to parking orbit, and then the protestors met at Y18 Station Hall. They said the protest was organised to make politicians of all parties aware of their plight with election day on Y18 looming. They say that docking charges have almost doubled in the past year and the protesters say they cannot pass on the rise to their consumers.
“The shipping industry needs looking at, otherwise we will be crippled” said Captain Richard Gray of the SS Shining Wit.
Biomass merchant Hansel Panton said: “Some of us are just one-man bands, some are big operators with masses of ships but the cost is horrific because we are big exporters and port users. “In four months’ time we will be in to harvest and that is our busy, busy time for using the port and the costs will just escalate.”
On top of fuel prices truckers are also worried about the new 48-hour working time directive and a shortage of skilled shuttle pilots. “The orbital haulage industry needs looking at, otherwise we will be crippled,” said shuttle operator Richard Gray. The merchants and shippers insisted their peaceful protest was not in any way party political but they want whoever gets into power in the forthcoming elections to listen to what they have to say.
Crisis Erupts into Conflict
Dateline Lardec Q3 3204.245
The Colonies of Hopeful Arrival and Regeneration Creek on the Southern Continent of have failed to reach agreement over recent border disputes, and they have resorted to armed conflict to resolve the issue. Heavy fighting started as skirmishes between heavily armed teams of rival prospectors, which then escalated into more major involvement from local militia forces. Earther Colonial Government has acted quickly to intervene in the matter, and Marines and GF forces have been deployed to keep the two sides apart while and Imperial Audit Team examine the situation in more detail. As a result of the crisis, the planetary Governor has reportedly offered her resignation.
Gryt In Trouble
Dateline Gryt Q7, 3204.209
The Eastern Continent of Gryt has been suffering unprecedented poor harvests and bad weather causing damage to the local infrastructure and something of a humanitarian crisis. This is proving to be a major embarrassment to the local Sirian Colonial Government which has its seat on Gryt. An anonymous member of the government is reported as saying “This would never have happened under Fex-It”. Controversial Governor Fex-It left the colony last year under something of a cloud and is currently fighting for his political life back on Sirius. Meanwhile, local aid and support services appear to be inadequate to the task of supporting the destitute framers and colonists on the Eastern continent. The interim Governor of Q7 was unavailable for comment as he was ‘in a meeting’.
Massive Security Lockdown
Dateline Anderson Q6. 3204.209
Esteeler forces have increased security dramatically at Anderson Q6, apparently following major forerunner funds there – some, it is rumoured of a technological nature. Local authorities are neither confirming or denying rumours that a number of scientists lost their lives in an alien technology-related ‘accident’. Wild rumours are still coming out of Anderson – including that the contact has been made with alien intelligences, wonder weapons have been found, and that it is the second coming of the Holy Elvis. An official spokesperson said “Look, this is silly – we’re just securing the place to discourage free-lance looters and other criminal elements. There is really nothing to see here, so move along buster.”
Venerian Police crack down on ‘Space Vagrants’
Dateline New Venus Q0, 3204.271
Over 650 people, all spacers, have been arrested at stations throughout Venerian space in Q0 on a variety of charges related to identity irregularities. The police have been picking on what they are calling ‘itinerent spacers with no fixed abode’. Anyone unable to give a full account of their movements over the past several years is being rounded up, charged under an obscure and little known Venerian law, tried and swiftly imprisoned. When asked if this is related to the Republic’s recent big anti-piracy drive, a spokesperson said “These people are not being charged with piracy. If we have evidence of piratical activity with regard to them, we will, of course, be treating them appropriately.”. Observers from outside Venerian space are speculating whether this is a means of arresting ‘the usual suspects’ implicated in piracy without actually having to go to the bother of collecting evidence of piracy.
Human rights activists in the Republic have tried to complain about this new quasi-legal action, but say that the authorities simply ignore them, and they have no means of publicising the issue within the Republic due to the absence of non-state controlled press. After speaking to INN, a number of human rights activists were later arrested for illegally circulating an non-approved newsletter on the subject.
News of the Stars (the official press organ of the Republic) announced the success of ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ in its leader article “Home Stations Swept Clean of Rifraf, thanks to Our Brave Boys n’ Girls In Grey”.
NeoPope Slams Imperial Policy
Dateline Earth Q0, 3204.279
NeoPope Her Tranquility Dolores Pieta XIV, head of the Universal Church touched on a note of controversy in her annual address at the Garden of the Gods in Seesars Palace, Lasvegas City, Earth..
In what Neopope watchers regard as a coded attack on the policies of current First Minister of Earth, Dolores Pieta XIV talked about the risks to the soul of consorting with the enemies of freedom and democracy. It is thought to be a reference to the sudden warming of relations with the Venerian Republic. Many on Earth, including the Neopope still remember the Great Rebellion when New Venus became independent of the Empire. Dolores Pieta went on to talk about ‘lost sheep returning to the fold’ as being the only sensible course when the ‘wolves circle the fires of civilisation’.
It is believed that privately, the Neopope has many who share her view within the Senior Citizens of Earth.
GFA Senator Missing
Dateline Asteel Q0, 3204.268
It is believed that Professor Leroy Squash, Secretary of Education and Science in the Federation has gone missing. Never known for keeping strict office hours since his appointment by President Potato, Prof Squash has now not been seen in his department for over a year. Senior civil servants have, of course, been carrying on without him -and when asked a presidential spokesperson said “Missing is he? Oh dear, we hadn’t noticed. We thought he’d been quiet recently”. INN investigative reporter Ivan Rainstorm has discovered that Prof Squash hasn’t appeared in public for 18 months, and his home is empty. His very few friends and relations thought he was just busy with secret government work. Conspiracy theorists within the GFA suggest he has been abducted by, variously, the secret service, shapechanging lizardmen, grey aliens, organised crime or some such usually because ‘he knew too much’.
GFA Police have reluctantly started to conduct a missing person investigation. Meanwhile, political opponents are using the issue to score points against the Potato administration for, once again, not having their eye on the ball (or their own staff, come to that). This certainly isn’t enough to affect Potato’s nomination for the next Presidential election, but it has certainly knocked his administration’s popularity a little.