Hypnogogic-Education Scammers Arrested

Kiev, Uralia, Earth -- 29 Apr. 2057:  After an intensive 3-month pursuit, notorious confidence tricksters Loyola Martanian and Eygus Klimm -- aka. Dina and Flagen Pursuivant, aka. Tanis Beekrep and Sten Pilliamsen, aka. Amalintheya Rainn and Tegen Glerfnard -- have been arrested on charges of larcenous fraud, neuromanipulation under false pretense, and operating an unaccredited educational institution with intend to defraud.  The bulk of the monies allegedly defrauded by the couple have been recovered and are being held pending trial with the intent, in the event of conviction, to return them to their rightful owners.  A class-action suit has also been filed in Uralia Regional Civil Court against Mx. Martanian and Mre. Klimm by the firm of Blarntzen Stacklove & Root Pi.

The pair are accused of operating a fake hypnogogic-education business in dozens of small townships and stations.  According to Bureau of Public Safety Senior Criminologist Cpt. Kile Blitner, the scammers targeted remote centers with high unemployment, where many people were seeking to train in-demand skills such as robot management, link-farming and content curation, nano-engineering, or exogeology.  "These two clowns would set up as a hypno-school with forged credentials," Cpt. Blitner stated at a press conference earlier this day, "and offer one-on-one classes.  They'd put their 'students' under, dope them up with dendritic growth enhancer, squid them up in alpha-wave stimulation gear which was three generations obsolete, and play an audiotape from a Time-Life kiddie guide to them.  They'd leave feeling like they'd really learned something.  After a couple weeks of 'lessons', when they'd got as much cash as they thought they could milk out of the poor desperate folks or thought people were starting to catch on, they'd disappear and pop up again somewhere else."  The Bureau estimates that Mx. Martanian and Mre. Klimm bilked their clients of close to 500 centicredits, primarily denominated in local currencies and bartered items.

Dr. Plam Blannigan, a hypnogogic-education expert and professor of neuropsychology at Asimov University, expressed a guarded admiration for the scammers.  "These two clearly had a significant understanding of the operation of real hypno-schooling techniques," he stated in an email response to our requests.  "They were able to perfectly replicate the feelings engendered by a true hypnogogic learning experience with the minimum possible cost outlay.  Slightly higher-quality equipment, a tailored neurostimulation program, genuine training material, and a bit of pedagogical technique is all it would have taken to change their operation from a scam into a genuine, accreditable hypno-school.  I just wish they'd chosen to use their talents and knowledge in the service of genuine education rather than trickery and fraud.  There is a desperate shortage of talented teachers; the education system is being overwhelmed."

Neurodiversity Organization Ejects Psychopaths

Wells, Barsoom, Mars -- 28 Apr. 2057:  The Interplanetary Neurodiversities Federated Organization has issued a press briefing this day completely disavowing association with the organization PsychOut, an advocacy group dedicated to advancing the position and profile of psychopaths.  The press release states that the members of PsychOut "have proved themselves to be congenitally incapable of the basic degree of cooperativeness, forethought, and mutual respect required for INFO membership.  While we of course believe that a truly neurodiverse society includes all neurotypes, empathize with the problems endemic to life in our society for the thousands of people with psychopathic brains, and desire to help society accommodate itself to them and they to accommodate themselves to society, this particular group has failed to act in the interests of its putative members or to fulfill the obligations it voluntarily took on as part of its affiliation with INFO.  We look forward to applications from psychopath advocacy groups of interplanetary scope which wish to work with INFO in mutually advancing the equality of all neurotypes and helping society to achieve true neurodiversity."

INFO's mission is to facilitate coordination and mutual support between interplanetary umbrella organizations which promote the cause of equality between a wide variety of neurotypes, including advocacy groups for schizophrenia, bipolarity and unipolarity, the autistic-dyslexic spectrum, multiple personality integration, developmental retardation, and brain injury sufferers, as well as primals, hypercorticals, deliberate alienates and uplifts.  According to Natric Felsen, an observer of social-justice politics, the break has been a long time coming.  "The INFO board has repeatedly attempted to internally discipline representatives of PsychOut for consistent failures to pull their fair share of organizational duties, manipulative and narcissistic patterns of behaviour, and for callous and remorseless disregard for the well-being of fellow member organizations on both a political and a personal level," Mx. Felsen wrote on zir blog Circular Firing Squad.  The breaking point was apparently reached, according to sources within the INFO organizational structure, during the recent INFO annual conference in Wells.  One unnamed delegate from PsychOut reportedly assaulted a prostitute in their hotel room; another repeatedly interrupted scheduled speeches -- including the keynote speech by Dr. Pemalthius Blegenblan, a widely respected neuropsychologist and the author of Sapiences: Neurodiversity, Democracy, and Ethics -- with rambling and abusive diatribes.  "Both were ejected from the conference," writes Mx. Felsen, "but the fact that they were actively nominated by PsychOut to attend the politically high-profile event was the last straw in a string of incidents of frankly insulting disregard for INFO's mission and for the dedicated people who carry it out."

There has been no lack of response from PsychOut itself, which has issued no less than three 'official' press releases, each from different people claiming to speak for the organization.  One, authored by Janda Kaniliski, outright denies the "numerous lies and slanders being spread in the psychopath-hating popular press" about the actions of PsychOut representatives and expresses "shock, intense hurt and betrayal" at INFO's actions in disavowing the organization.  Another, attributed to Danron K. Wightley, describes INFO as a "corrupt hive of sycophantic simplex-worshipping toadies wallowing in the semen of stellar politics under the pornographic media's loving gaze" and asserts that "PsychOut will be better off without the 'help' of such a shameful travesty".  And the third, which was issued without a name attached, takes INFO to task for "expecting psychopaths to be anything other than what we intrinsically are: impulsive, shallow, narcissistic, and manipulative.  Apparently the Neurodiversities Federation is only committed to a neurodiversity in which psychopaths all agree to not be psychopathic.  It's the best joke I've heard in years."

Crossmedia Server Outage Damages Business

Enchiridion, Trojans Administrative District, Jupiter Space -- 27 Apr. 2057:  The central servers of the Futuristical Crossmedia Collective crashed this day and remained down for several hours.  Crossmedia security administrator Degenerate Sinusoid, who runs its primary consciousness emulation on a separate dedicated server, was involuntarily suspended for only a few minutes and has been fully recompiled.  During efforts to reboot the server, Vr. Sinusoid found traces of malware uploaded during last week's cyber-attack on the server.  "The attack itself was perhaps a distraction from the malware installation," Vr. Sinusoid relied to our inquiries by text messge.  "It was deliberately clumsy and destructive, to divert attention from the extremely subtle and skillful nature of the true attack.  I regret that I have failed to protect the Collective from this breack of security.  Almost all of our data archive has been deleted."

Crossmedia spokesperson Vander van Zander Zalm issued a broadcast public statement openly accusing employees of Omnicor Hypercorp LLC. of the sabotage.  "I find it more than a little suspicious," stated Mre. van Zander Zalm, "that this happens just as we are preparing a major expose on Omnicor's dirty dealings and backdoor shenanigans which was to be released today.  We are going to need to postpone our report while we rebuild the data archive and get our finances back in order.  But make no mistake!  We are fully prepared to fight this corrupt corporation and expose its crimes and lies, and this disgusting incident is just one more piece of shit thrown on the heap!"

In response to the statement, Omnicor legal staff have filed a defamation lawsuit in TAD Regional Civil Court.

Full disclosure: this newsfeed is a subsidiary of Futuristical Crossmedia operated under the aegis of the Bureau of Temporal Relations.  Our service is operated from a seperate, highly secure server within the Bureau datafarm, which was not in any way affected by the outage, and we are not among the parties named in the lawsuit.

AstroShield Program Ends

Helios, Near-Solar Observatory Zone -- 26 Apr. 2057:  The last of the aging AstroShield platforms was ceremonially decommissioned this day and added to the Museum of Early Space, marking the end of a beloved but ailing symbol of the expansion of human civilization beyond the boundaries of Earth.

The AstroShield program was inaugurated by the newly-formed United Nations Astronautical Commission on August 13, 2015 after the near-miss of the so-called 'Civilization Buster', a previously undetected near-earth object with a 4500-foot diameter which passed between the orbits of the Earth and Moon.  Renewed fears of catastrophic asteroid impact led to unprecedented inter-national cooperation and speed in the design and launch of the AstroShield, a series of powerful combination scientific instruments and ionic engine platforms under UNAC control which were designed to provide early warning of potential asteroid threats as well as the means to avert them by pushing approaching large or mid-sized asteroids off course.

Dr. Kensington Blackfield of the Interplanetary Astronomical Service, who was a key figure in the implementation of AstroShield, waxed nostalgic about the program in a speech broadcast after the decommissioning.  "To be perfectly honest, AstroShield was not nearly as urgent as we made it out to be.  We deliberately played on the fear of world leaders and populations after the near-miss because we knew it would get us funding and authority.  That was the plan a few of us at UNAC hatched: to use AstroShield as a stepping stone to research and infrastructure that would allow the more intensive promotion of space-based ventures.  Truth be told, the Civilization Buster had lit a fire under us as well.  We had decided that humanity was languishing, that if we didn't get the process of space colonization in gear, this fragile pearl called Earth could far too easily be shattered.  Of course, when the real disaster came -- the Great Blowout of 2017, that is -- we were still not in any way prepared.  But we had managed to establish a significant presence off Earth by then, and it ended up saving us.  Saving us from our own blasted folly."

Dr. Blackfield lamented the end of the AstroShield program, but was philosophical about it.  "All things must end.  To refurbish or replace the AstroShield would have been pointless; every planet and space station has much more effective and advanced collision controls now.  I am sad to see this old friend go, but happy that there is no longer a need for it.  We have grown beyond the need to protect just one planet from destruction.  It's everything my colleagues and I ever dreamed of."

Unexpected Results In Venusian State Elections

Newtopia, Telluria, Venus -- 25 Apr. 2057:  Prediction markets, polls and pundits were confounded by the bizarre, helter-skelter results in today's Venus-wide state Presidential and Directorial elections.  The final results, many of which have already been challenged, show 12 Presidencies captured by the Socialist party; 9 by the Anarchist party; 5 by the Libertarians; 3 by the Communitarians; and one state, the terraforming hub of Telluria-Panegyric, taken by Technoprogressive candidate Zalyx Antimone Alvore.  The Technoprogressives, an extreme outer-upper-leftwing party, are generally marginalized in the shadow of the Technocrats, which managed to hold only one Presidential seat, re-electing the immensely popular President Dax Mannheim in Elysium-Morningstar.  State Directorates have also gone every which way, with the vast majority forced into coalitions and almost all in near-direct ideological opposition to the presidency.

Political commentators are scrambling to find an explanation for the bizarre results in what was widely predicted as a Socialist sweep across the board.  Prediction market-centric blog Predictionomics, whose primary writer Len Bibbley lost heavily today investing in bets on Socialist wins, is on the hunt for evidence of market tampering.  "There's just no way the markets could have got this so wrong without tampering," stated a clearly enraged Bibbley in a video post.  Meanwhile, local state-level politics coverage on Stellar Political Review is focused on the unusual harshness of the campaign and the continual repetition of the "Socialist Sweep" mantra.  "Venusians are a contrary and fractious lot," writes veteran Venusian political blogger Corpal Tawnal.  "More than once during the campaign, I threw up my hands in disgust at the smear tactics and negativity being displayed between the Socialist and Technocrat candidates, all the while acting as if none of the other parties were even worth engaging with.  In the end I voted Anarchist across the board, as a way of pissing into the airstream as much as anything else.  And, how about that; [Anarchist party Presidential candidate] Gigas Fuentes took LVO.  I'm thinking a whole lot of Venusians opened up their ballot key today and had the same idea I did.  I'm just wondering if, in the cold hard light of the new day, our collective fit of pique won't be coming back to haunt us."

Valuable "Space Rocks" Accidentaly Crushed

Hygiea Processing Complex, Federation of Asteroidal Polities -- 24 Apr. 2057:  A collection of Original Space Rocks, Moon Rocks and Mars Rocks valued at dozens of credits was destroyed this day when it was mixed into a load of simple chondrite ores and fed into the machinery of the processing plant.  The collection, which belonged to Inter-Asteroidal Mining CEO Halan Gillespie and was being shipped by the company from his vacation residence in Trans-Arctica to his home in the Hygeia Residential Complex, was composed of common geological specimens which were sold as souvenirs by early off-Earth mining concerns.

"The rocks weren't valuable in themselves," the visibly distraught Mr. Gillespie replied to our inquiries in a vid-chat interview.  "In fact, that was kind of the point.  The first asteroid and regolith miners monetized tailings that didn't contain any valuable minerals or hydrocarbons by selling them to tourists and rich Earthers as 'Space Rocks' and 'Moon Rocks'.  The kind of rocks they were are a dime a dozen now, but those particular rocks were a piece of space history.  You know, I used to look up at the stars and dream about living out there, and news about the asteroid mines and Moonbase Alpha -- it was like other kids with super-hero comics.  I spent most of my life collecting those rocks.  Now they're dust, nothing but dust."

Max Throttle, the plant foreman who supervised the auto-loader which sent the rocks into the processing machinery, expressed disbelief at the stir that his actions have caused.  "I just did my job," he told us in an audio interview.  "Hoppers of rock come through here and they get fed into the works.  A hopper of rocks came in so I fed it into the works.  I don't get what the big deal is.  A rock is a rock is a rock."  Mr. Throttle has applied to his union, the Interplanetary Miners Local 32571, for a preemptive judgement of no fault.  "Wouldn't put it past the boss to try and have me shit-canned for this, pardon my Lunar.  You know how these one-percenters are.  Imagine, cryin' over a buncha rocks.  It's crazy."

Corporations Still Not Persons: Armstrong Court

Armstrong Dome, Moonbase Alpha, Colonial Lunar Administration Zone -- 23 Apr. 20547:  In a 3-2 decision, the Constitutional Court of Personhood Rights and Definitions has rejected the appeal in the case of Omnicor Hypercorp LLC. & State of Denmark.  Writing the majority opinion, the Honourable Judge Pamlin Trimal stated unequivocally that "Corporationbs are not persons under the Armstrong charter, nor do they display any significant quasi-personal attributes deserving of special legal protections beyond those afforded to private property."  Of the reasoning behind the appeal, which attempted to leverage the newly installed sapient hive-mind principle, Judge Trimal clarified that "in order for an entity to be classified as a sapient hive-mind, conscious experience and autonomous choices must arise from the rote behaviour of unintelligent autonomous agents which can be thought of as similar to brain cells or integrated circuits.  We regret that the court did not make this clear in the cited ruling.  Unlike in the case of Mathematical Bees or Forrester's Ants, the autonomous agents put forward by the plaintiff as constituting the potential person, specifically the employees and shareholders of a corporation, are legal persons themselves, with their own rights and responsibilities under the law.  As such, any claim that such a collection of persons can be taken as a legal person in itself is subject to the tests for gestalt personhood, which this court has already considered and rejected in the case of limited-liability corporations."

Activist Wilberforce Braunstein, communications director of the corporate watchdog group Fair Dealings, stated in a series of tweets that he is "glad of the ruling, which sends a clear message that despite the hopes of the right-back wing, the highest court is not an extension of the previous administration's policies ... The real victory here is the rejection of even quasi-personality.  That was the best hope for the Corporatists, that a corporation would gain protected civil rights and the way would be opened for corps to participate in the Deckard-Bowman test ... The drive for corporate personhood will surely continue.  They tried to enshrine it in the Armstrong Convention, and tried again using the splinter persona decision, the personality remix decision, the borganization decision, and the parliamentary neuromorph decision ... they'll try pretty much anything they think has a chance of leading to corporate personhood and civil rights, which adds up in the end to special rights for corporate owners and directors."

Court Orders Memory Wipe of IP Thief

Tynaeris, Ganymede, Jupiter Space -- 22 Apr. 2057:  The Ganymede Regional Criminal Court this day sentenced defendant Cormorant Lyndstrom to memory excision for his role in the dissemination of intellectual property belonging to the shareholders of Omnicor Hypercorp LLC.  The court chose to impose a particularly severe sentence, ordering that not only the IP itself, but the skills required to illegally copy and distribute it as well as the beliefs which motivated Mr. Lyndstrom to commit the felony should also be erased.  This is the heaviest penalty yet to be levied in an IP-theft trial, and was justified by the Honourable Judge Beatrix Mallory as being appropriate due to "the egregious, deliberate, and crippling damage done to the value of Omnicor shareholders' investments".

Cormorant Lyndstrom, a former employee in the software engineering department of Omnicor subsidiary Ultramax Software Dynamics, was proved during the trial to have engraved his neural tissue with memory engrams containing proprietary software code for over 1000 Omnicor-owned programs, many of which are in common use throughout the system.  Among the best known of the stolen programs are Ultramax MetaWake, a neural optimization system popular among users with heavy neural interlink protocols, and Ultramax Rapids, an emergent data traffic control utility which is given free (in encrypted form) to public utilities but will only interface with other proprietary Ultramax software.  Lyndstrom, who has since confessed to membership in the Pirate Party and become the public face of the information-freedom movement in Jupiter Space, then uploaded the source code through a number of black underlayer protocols which distributed them to anonymous data caches throughout the hyperlayer.  Although Omnicor is pursuing strenuous legal actions in an attempt to have the programs expunged, a number of districts with more Libertarian or Anarchist sympathies are explicitly refusing to allow the code to be taken down and many others are dragging their heels, doubtless not wanting to expend the immense amount of effort and political capital which such a thorough and somewhat pointless hyperlayer purge would require.  According to a statement released by Lyndstrom under the aegis of the Pirate Party, "the information which Omnicor tried and failed to control has been let loose from its bonds, and can no longer be chained.  It has seeded in a million offline storage caches; it will flower throughout the hyperlayer ecosystem and fruit into new and innovative software which will be of much greater value to society than the pale hothouse flowers kept by Omnicor in its walled garden."

Lyndstrom is widely expected to appeal his conviction to the Superior Criminal Court.  Dr. Wembly McCcarrington, a professor of IP law at Stross University, believes that Lyndstrom's audacious crime and subsequent capture and trial may in fact have been a political maneuver on behalf of the Pirate Party.  "Think about it," Dr. McCarrington urged in an audio interview.  "The man didn't even make an effort to erase the memory engrams that proved his guilt, to avoid the Omnicor Corporate Police or to cover his tracks in any way.  Every move of this was calculated to enrage the Corporatists and get them calling for his head.  And now, the Pirates have a perfect test case to throw to the Superior Court, which is newly flush with Technocrat-appointed judges and likely to take a dim view of such a blatant use of state power to protect corporate interests."

Publicam Captures Shocking Assault

Mangala, Lowell, Mars -- 21 Apr. 2057:  Three local youths have been taken onto police custody in connection with the violent assault and rape of Taskar Oliphant Astarte, a resident of Galbraith Station in the Lagrange Orbital Colonial Authority.  Although the alleged perpetrators are quasi-persons by reason of youth and thus cannot legally be named, described or gendered in the press, their identities were quickly ascertained by investigators from footage captured on one of Mangala's publicly-accessible sousveillance cameras.

The footage clearly shows three young people confronting Mx. Astarte, a long-limbed, androgynous Spacer with the pronounced, bulging forehead typical of a hypercortical.  The assault occurred late last evening as zie walked through the Crosstalk, one of the rougher entertainment districts of Mangala.  Surrounding zer on a deserted street, the youths begin mocking Mx. Astarte, shouting epithets such as 'big-head', 'no-sex', and 'spider-legs'.  When Mx. Astarte tries to run, zie is restrained and thrown to the ground.  The three assailants repeatedly kick their victim and then take turns sexually assaulting zer.  After several minutes, they run away down the street, laughing loudly.  Police and emergency medical services arrive on the scene approximately 20 minutes later.

Mx. Astarte, who is recovering in hospital, has declined requests for an interview.  The incident has raised serious questions about the efficacy of the Mangala police department, as well as the Publicam system, which was announced earlier this year to great fanfare as a means of curbing the trend of increasing violence in the Crosstalk and other high-risk districts of the city.  The selling point of the project was that crowdsourcing the monitoring of public areas would free up police resources and allow quicker reporting and police response.  However, access records obtained from the Publicam servers under an expedited Free Access order show that several viewers were accessing the publicam feed throughout the assault and rape.  A spokesperson for the Mangala Police Department stated in a text message that the crime was not reported until several minutes after it had occurred.

Allemand Mertainian, a spokesperson for anti-rape activist group Body Count, has published a series of tweets blaming an "epidemic culture of sexualized violence" in Mangala for both the assault itself and for the apathetic response.  According to Ms. Mertainian, "It is the fault of their parents, our educators, and all of society that these youths consider gang rape of outsiders an evening's light entertainment ... Our entire culture has colluded in turning a program intended to stop assaults and protect victims into a form of voyeuristic pornography ... And however long it took for the watchers to become involved, it is unconscionable that the police took so long to respond to an assault that left the victim broken, bleeding and unable to move ... our city is sick with an incurable cancer, and all of us are responsible for standing by as it metastasized."

For its part, the Mangala police department denies that its response was inadequate.  "Our officers were engages in dealing with several other incidents, including a firefight in the Glassworks between rival criminal syndicates which led to the arrest of several multiple murderers," stated police spokesperson Lt. Ramsay Edgeworth.  "The assailants will be punished to the fullest extent of the law, though their status as quasi-persons leaves most of the choices about the consequences of their actions up to their legal guardians.  As for Mx. Astarte, zie made the choice to walk alone, inebriated and provocatively dressed, after a night in the roughest sex clubs of the Crosstalk.  It is not our responsibility to protect people from the logical results of their own actions."

Bugs Force Telepathy Exchange Shutdown

Dynaeris, Phobos, Mars Space -- 20 Apr. 2057:  A persistent problem with missed, dropped, and incorrectly routed connections has forced Phobos Telephone & Telepathic to temporarily suspend all direct brain-to-brain communication services.  A notice from the utility to subscribers promised that the problems would be fixed, and services restored, within a few days.  In the mean time, Phobians are left with audio, videophone, telepresence, text messaging, email, social network feeds, written mail delivery, and in-person conversations as their sole means of communication.

The difficulties with telepathic interference on Phobos have already caused a number of unfortunate incidents ranging from annoyances to life-threatening situations, including the following:

  • Attempting to  "send my lover a little pick-me-up" in the middle of a busy work day, one customer delivered thoughts of an erotic nature to his partner's direct superior.  The intended recipient of the telepathic sext was subsequently fired due to the "unwelcome and sexually harassing" communication, though intervention by PT&T representatives has caused the company to reconsider.
  • The sole observer of a hovercar accident on the outskirts of Dynaeris attempted repeatedly to summon paramedics using PT&T ThoughtLink emergency response services.  Though e was assured by the software that help was on the way, this was an automated server response; it was not until the situation grew dire that the good samaritan used alternate means to re-iterate eir requests for help.  Thankfully, nobody was killed, although several of the injured participants are still in recovery.
  • When a hungry Dynaeris resident's thoughts about food inadvertently activated her telepathic interface, she received 47 pizza deliveries ordered telepathically from restaurants as far away as Alderious.  PT&T has agreed to pick up the tab.
Though PT&T's quick action to correct the results of these errors and general reputation for high-quality telepathic communication protocols has so far protected it from legal repercussions, the expense of the downtime and the required public-relations campaign combined with the threat of potential litigation has severely damaged the company's brand.  As a public utility operated by the Phobos district government, PT&T is of course not answerable to any shareholders, but an anonymous source in the Phobos Department of Utilities is predicting hard questions and a possible change in company leadership come the next district budget.

Crossmedia Servers Hacked

Enchiridion, Trojans Administrative District, Jupiter Space -- 19 Apr. 2057:  A cyber-security breach and attempted data theft in progress were foiled this day by Crossmedia's resident security administrator, Degenerate Sinusoid.  It is believed that no sensitive files were copied, but considerable damage to financial records and the basic operating system substrate occurred.  Vr. Sinusoid was not seriously harmed and has been fully recompiled.

"I'm shocked," said Crossmedia spokesperson Vander van Zander Zalm, "absolutely shocked and appalled.  The collective has never had to deal with a cyber-attack of this magnitude before.  We all feel violated by this absolutely cowardly and disgusting tactic.  We're particularly grateful to Vr. Sinusoid, who really earned its profit share today.  But it's clear this is a sign that we're a growing concern in the world of journalism.  We must have stirred up some kind of hornet's nest to have this level of heat coming our way.  I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is part of Omnicor's campaign of harassment against us.  It was way too clumsy and destructive for your garden-variety data thievery, and Anonymous doesn't just break in and trash the place; they tell you exactly why you're being targeted.  But whoever it was, they have not put us down and they are not going to silence us!  One thing is for sure, we're going to have to beef up our security setup."

Although no evidence has yet been discovered as to the identity of the perpetrators, investigators from the TAD Department of Public Safety, Department of Cybercrime are still sifting through the trashed files and access logs.

Full disclosure: this newsfeed is a subsidiary of Futuristical Crossmedia operated under the aegis of the Bureau of Temporal Relations.  Our service is operated from a separate, highly secure server within the Bureau datafarm; we are thus not a party to this investigation.

Major Crash on Virtual Currencies Index

New Fort Knox Dome, Moonbase Alpha, Colonial Lunar Administration Zone -- 18 Apr. 2057:  The Bureau of Market Stabilization has declared a formal economic emergency and deployed its counterweight traders to shore up values of practically all virtual currencies.  After a number of severe value spikes, the Central Currency Clearinghouse is in freefall this day, with over 50 kinds of game, fantasia and other hedonic currencies losing half of their value or more.

The collapse in the virtual-currencies market is widely believed to be the result of the tragic and much-publicized death of Ampstead Axelrod Vikkenssen, a virtual-experience addict whose inability to cope with reality led him into an elaborate suicide.  The incident severely damaged the value of premier gaming experience ArcWorld, which was Mr. Vikkenssen's escape of choice -- both the stock value of the game's publisher Unreality, and the market value of the game's virtual currency, the Arc.  "As ArcWorld is one of the system's largest and most popular virtual environments," we were told by Dr. John Jacob Smith, a senior economics professor at Asimov University, "its in-game currency is central to the VC market.  In some ways, the market value of the Arc is more economically important even than the value of the standard Alliance credit, which is subject to tight macro-economic controls.  The makers of ArcWorld have had little concern and less understanding of economic policy; it's never even really been on their radar."

As the value of the Arc nose-dived, traders fled to other virtual currencies, only to abandon them at the first sign of price instability.  "First the ISK went belly-up," explains Dr. Smith, "followed by the Endless Fantasy Gil, the Linden Dollar, the Nickelodeon Arcade Nickel, and the Steamworks Pound Sterling.  After that, they started dropping like flies.  Companies without effective in-game economic controls are suffering complete economic meltdown which may require them to completely reboot their in-game economies just to maintain playability, and even games which maintain some form of macro policy are taking a severe beating."

According to Dr. Smith, the crash was a disaster waiting to happen.  "The entire virtual-currencies market has been in a bubble for years," he stated in an audio interview.  "The Arc was severely overvalued, and was just waiting for a spark to set off a panic.  If the Bureau of Market Stabilization had been bidding the value of virtual currencies down like we've been telling them they ought, they wouldn't be bidding them up now.  But New Fort Knox hates trying to deflate bubbles, especially since that incident with heavy-gas futures during the previous coalition.  In that case, it turned out to be politically motivated; there was no real bubble, and so the Department got chewed out something fierce.  Now they won't even touch the most obvious bubble; they'd rather wait for it to burst, and try to clean up the mess afterward.  It's never as effective; we're in for a rough year or two.  Lucky for me, I had a few centicredits tied up betting against virtual currencies.  Those bets have now paid off in full."

Probe Sale Leads to Arrest, Outcry

New New Orleans, Titan, Saturnine Confederacy -- 17 Apr. 2057:  Hydrocarbon refiner Gargus Abix Tessera has been taken into custody on charges of Improper Disposal of Government Property after the sale at auction of the exoplanetary research probe which crashed on zer property last month.  The Saturnine Confederate Authority refused to execute the warrent for zer arrest, forcing the Department of Public Safety to divert a police unit from Ganymede specifically to carry out the arrest.  The Confederacy is now attempting to block the Department's order to remand Mx. Tessera to Luna for trial, insisting that zie be tried in a Saturnine court.  The already strained relationship between the Confederacy and the Alliance centre is suffering additional strain from the confrontation, according to political observers.

In a press release transmitted systemwide this day, Confederate Authority Chairman Deuce Titslinger described the arrest as "an unforgivable intrusion by the authoritarian running-dogs of the UNCA into the rightful demesne of our independent polity" and promises that the Confederacy "will fight this illegal extradition of a Confederate citizen with every means at our disposal, opening with legal maneuvers and escalating as appropriate."  The use of the term UNCA, or United Nations Colonial Authority, is a direct challenge to the authority of the Stellar Alliance over the Confederacy, according to Dr. Phlanigan Arbutus, a professor of interplanetary law at Rubix University.

"The Constitution Accord describes the Stellar Alliance and the Saturnine Confederacy as 'equal partners within a united Solar System'; the previous Stellar Alliance Treaty, which was intended to prevent a second interplanetary war, was signed by the UNCA, the now-defunct Mars Development Council, and Federation of Asteroidal Polities.  With this statement, the Confederacy has completely discounted the authority of the Alliance within Saturnine territory by rhetorically demoting the Stellar DPS to an arm of the UNCA, a mere Terran political unit comprising an entity which is constitutionally the Confederacy's equal.  This whole situation is a mess; if Baikonur backs down and allows Tessera to be tried in a local court, they're conceding that Alliance law does not supersede Confederate Authority diktat.  I don't think it will come down to violence, but if neither the centre nor the Confederacy chooses to back down it's a distinct possibility.  All this over a simple little thing like a crashed space probe; it boggles the mind."

Atlantis Raises Shipping Tariffs

Atlantis, Atlantica, Earth -- 16 Apr. 2057:  In a move which is causing vehement protest among the business community, the Atlantis state government has issued a 5% hike in both ocean surface and sub-surface tonnage tariffs.  A press release issued by the state Directorate cites the new mandatory tax policy as its primary reason.  Other voices, however, have connected the fee hike to the increased traffic on the Atlantis beanstalk since the devastating terrorist attack which has nearly halted space-elevator shipments to and from Kisangani.

"It's sheer price gouging and rank opportunism of the most disgusting kind," stated Gek Almartion of the Terran Chamber of Commerce.  "They can't raise loading prices for the beanstalk since those are set by the regional Concilium, so they jack up the rates to ship to and from.  To try and profit off the deaths of all those poor people in such a crass and blatant way -- those goddamn fish-heads ought to be ashamed of themselves."  The Chamber of Commerce has filed suit against the State of Atlantis in Regional Civil Court in an attempt to get the increase declared illegal market interference.

Mandatory Taxation Bill Passes

Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Earth -- 15 Apr. 2057:  After only minimal debate this day, the governing Technocrat-Socialist coalition fulfilled one of its major platform planks as the Senate approved the controversial new tax code in a 255-213 vote.  The signing ceremony, set to occur in 3 days, will mark the official end to the extremely unpopular tax policy experiment which spelled the end of the Libertarian-Traditionalist-Corporatist government which held the Trapezoid for 8 years.

"The byzantine bureaucratic and ontological nightmare which was the Fee-For-Service Model of taxation is no more," wrote veteran political blogger Dax Blagenflam at Branches and Mandates.  "Gone are the 57-page forms, the endless cascade of receipts, the 'indirect life-impact statements' on everything from public education services to childhood vaccinations to pure research funding.  The great irony of the age is that a steep progressive income tax with a parade of fiddly Technocratic incentives and penalties will in the end be less complicated and less intrusive than the promised 'voluntary tax' which bought the Libertarians nearly a decade of nominal laissez-faire policy."

Gage Maximillian Pequod, of the respected right-front blog Live Free or Die, wrote that "the Corporatist's Benedictine backstabbing, which killed the possibility of a Flat Tax, set the stage for the monstrosity of Fee-For-Service.  They have sowed what we all now reap.  In the attempt to remove even the slightest of tax burdens from the rentier class and force the productive classes to bear the burden alone, they have admirably succeeded in ensuring that they will pay handsomely for the back-left's massive welfare schemes and monumental projects."

Yazem Sirius, the interim leader of the extreme upper-leftwing Technoprogressive Party, wrote on the official blog that "the time is fast coming when such all-consuming wrangles over economic leverage will seem like a sideshow to the real decisions we face.  None of the major political actors are willing to face the exploding reality of Economy 2.0 -- the obsolescence of money as we know it, the near-total unemployment which is accompanying the shift toward a post-labour economy, and the radical self-sufficiencies which will make most forms of trade both redundant and self-destructive.  In a mere 5 to 10 years, the laws of economics will have been completely rewritten."

Ideological Schism Breaks Temeredine Borganization

Temeredine Station, Callisto, Jupiter Space -- 14 Apr. 2057:  The system's oldest and largest borganization has suffered a fatal collapse of common ideology and split into two separate factions.  No violence has occurred, though tensions on Temeredine Station and across the Jovian complex are running high. A petition has been filed in Callisto Regional Civil Court to arbitrate the division of common assets and to determine which group, if either, will be permitted to retain the Temeredine name and network identities.

Temeredine borganization was founded on 25 October 2039 as a proof-of-concept for the potential of neurolinking technology; 24 individual minds, including 5 humans, 2 gorillas, 3 dogs, 4 synthetics, and a full digital imprint of each biological person were integrated together by an experimental prototype of the Kyanis Neurological Integration System.  When the Kyanis corporation attempted to dissolve the link and disentangle the minds of the individual volunteers involved, the collective entity which had been created in the experiment protested and sought the protection of the Armstrong Court, taking the name Temeredine and claiming to be a new and unique individual.  Since the landmark decision declaring integrated meta-minds to be autonomous persons in their own right, Temeredine has grown immensely in both numbers, with at last pre-schism count over 12000 biological and 15000 virtual minds voluntarily joined together, and in wealth and power.  Temeredine was one of the single wealthiest individuals in the system, though that wealth was diluted by the necessity of maintaining a small nation's worth of bodies and avatars.  A lifelong member of the Socialist party, they has served as both President and Director of Callisto, recent rumour has it that they has been considering challenging Callisto-Orbital's longtime Libertarian elector Pacman Packard for eir seat in the Trapezoid.

However, an irreconcilable schism has developed between the part of the Temeredine collective consciousness which holds firmly to Socialist principles and the growing segment which has been influenced by the prevalent Libertarian social attitudes of the Jovian complex.  "I had warned Temeredine of this possibility," stated Dr. Pritchard Mitchell, a member of the research team involved in the original experiment who has since gone on to become a professor of social psychiatry at Cordwainer University and a noted expert in borganization psychosociology.  "Most of the borganizations and neuro-parliaments which have been formed since their inception have chosen to apply a compatibility test, limiting new inductees to those who broadly shared the ethical or political ideals representative of the whole.  Temeredine has maintained a policy of completely open recruitment, from both a lack of a founding mandate and a dominant belief that ideological diversity would strengthen the collective consciousness.  I have seen the signs for some time now; Temeredine's decisions were becoming erratic and they was more and more frequently frozen by indecision. The further-flung parts of the network had begun taking actions unapproved by the centre and sometimes contrary to their own stated intentions.  Temeredine as we knew them is dead."

Our correspondent on Temeredine Station, Skip Limnu, reports that tempers are running high.  "Almost everybody on this station was a part of Temeredine," he told us in an email brief.  "They work together, eat together, sleep together, sex together, and play together.  Where they once shared an uncanny uniformity and a continual cheerfulness, tempers are now running high.  Bodies who share dormitories are on different sides of the divorce; they are beginning to reorganize themselves, but in the meantime they must share an intimate space with those who are now strangers to them.  Political arguments break out at the slightest provocation, and develop with frightening rapidity into screaming mobs.  Work on the various enterprises of the Temeredine commercial empire has ground to a standstill.  Station services are becoming erratic; bodies flock to the few cafeterias that can get their act together well enough to serve meals, and outside contractors have been called in to run water and air distribution.  Hyperlayer function is erratic at best, with constant public flamewars infesting every page.  Perhaps worst, though, is the hurt and betrayal written clearly on every face.  Temeredine is suffering.  They has been scarred beyond healing.  They is a broken shadow of their former stature."

Spacers-Only Immigration Law Struck Down

Naylor Station, Low Mars Orbit -- 13 Apr. 2057:  The Regional Civil Court has ruled in the case of Colby v. Naylor Station, finding for the plaintiff and nullifying the section of the station's local ordnance which limits biological immigration to members of the subspecies Homo Sapiens Orbital.  The court has instructed the Naylor Board of Directors to implement new station settlement guidelines which forbid discrimination in residence permits based on the genotype of the applicant.

The Board is reportedly upset and confused with the ruling, and plans to appeal to the Superior Civil Court.  In an audio interview, Director Madius Pelney called the decision "incomprehensible", stating that "Naylor Station was founded by Spacers.  It was built by Spacers, for Spacers.  Every facility in every part of the station is designed with Spacers in mind.  We don't even supply centrifugal rotation here!  I don't see why a Grounder would even want to move here; they're at an extreme disability -- just like we are in their habs!  They have all the planets in goddamn system and half the stations beside; why the hell do they have to come here and take our station too?  It's ridiculous!"

Remembering Nachius Vilsen Freisenborg

Hrungnir, Pluto, Kuiper-Oort Authority -- 12 Apr. 2057:  A virtual wake was held this day to commemorate the life of Nachius Vilsen Freisenborg, who was found frozen to death in an exhausted envirosuit last month.  Mr. Freisenborg died at the age of 12 person-years, having lived and worked in the Hrungnir Hydrogen Collective for 3 years.  He is survived only by  his genedonor, Christian Freisenborg; he did not leave a data ghost.  The wake has attracted significant system-wide attention due to the status of Mr. Freisenborg as the first person to have died on Pluto, and due to the efforts of Debtslave, an activist group which opposes the practice of corporate indenture.  Mr. Freisenborg's death, which has been ruled a total suicide by the KOA Department of Public Safety, is widely attributed to the impending possibility of indenture proceedings by the bank Mutual Providers of Barsoom, to which he owed over 600 microcredits.

Nachius Vilsen Freisenborg was decanted on 22 July 2026 at the Aarskog Memorial Clinic in Trondheim, Norway; his genetics were redacted from those of Christian Freisenborg, an automobile mechanic, and his husband Gunnar, a moose hunter.  After Gunnar was killed in the Battle of Armstrong, Christian took his young son to live in the burgeoning settlement of Primus on Ganymede.  "Vilsen was always one to run," a partial imprint of Christian remembered in his eulogy.  "It seemed unfair to confine him in a hut beneath the crushing ice; but he adapted better than me, perhaps.  I could not keep him in the house, that boy.  He had to run.  He was always living such grand lives in his head, but he understood too the necessity of life in the real world, this world of ice and fire."  Mr. Freisenborg achieved full legal personhood on 7 May 2046.  He worked as an ice miner for his entire life, mining water ice on Ganymede and in the Tachtenstaffel mines in the Ring of Saturn before moving on to Pluto.  His workmate Bliff Snadmer described him as "a steady, conscientious worker; polite, friendly, distant but always with a kind word.  Everyone liked Nachius, but I was maybe the closest thing he had to a friend.  He wasn't political, he wasn't an agitator; all he wanted here was to break ice and take his share.  The one thing he really loved, those old twencen movies -- you know, gangster flicks.  The Heist, Ocean's Eleven, The Italian Job.  He could sit and watch that stuff all night.  I dunno, I shoulda seen it coming.  He would take long walks out on the ice.  Eccentric, but who knew?  I miss the hell outta him."

KOA Symposiarch Palmus Nickelstan delivered a brief address to the assembled mourners.  "Every time human mortality touches another part of the universe, we are reminded again and more sharply of how small and how fragile our lives are.  We are reminded that we must make the most of every moment we have, and that we must continue to strive to defeat the scourges that rob us of our best possible lives.  Nachius Vilsen Freisenborg will live on in every life he has touched, in every contribution he has made to civilization."  Nachius Vilsen Freisenborg was interred under a cairn carved from the ice of Pluto, in the same location where his remains were found.

Catapult Load Goes Awry

Cathead Dome, Colonial Lunar Administration Zone -- 11 Apr. 2057:  A 500-megaton load of assorted packaged foods bound for Ganymede jumped the tracks of the Lunar-Jovian catapult run early this day, causing extensive damage to the mechanism and leaving dried ramen and fungus burger patties strewn over several square kilometers of the lunar regolith.  No injuries occurred in the accident.

According to supervising catapult engineer Tagny Daggart, a microsecond power failure to one of the catapult's electromagnetic guidance rings  allowed the package to briefly contact the edge of the run at extreme speeds.  "She ripped right through about a dozen guidance rings," stated Ms. Daggart in an in-person interview.  "The cat's gonna be down for a lunaday at least, maybe two."  The Colonail Lunar Catapult Authority is advising companies with shipping plans that they will be compansated for the wait, but is strongly urging them to make alternate plans.

According to Ms. Daggart, accidents of this nature are a rare but regular feature of catapult operations.  "Oh sure, he can be a mean bitch to ride on.  Fastest ride in the system though, if you got the guts for him."  Ms. Daggart estimates that a load goes awry approximately once in nine months.  Though such accidents have caused occasional injuries, some serious, Ms. Daggart is proud of the system's completely fatality-free safety record.  "Working a rig like this is dangerous, sure.  No two ways about it.  Wouldn't do anything else for the world on a chain."

Virtual Experience Addict Found Dead

2027 VK, Federation of Asteroidal Polities -- 10 Apr. 2057:  The body of asteroid miner Ampstead Axelrod Vikkenssen has been recovered from a tiny, solitary habitation cubicle in the outer fringes of the belt.  Mr. Vikkenssen was 16 person-years of age.  He is not survived by immediate family or by a data ghost.

According to Gax Pandleflan, senior suicidologist at the Coroner's Office of the Department of Public Safety, Mr. Vikkenssen had been dead for several months by the time his body was recovered.  "The entire cubicle had been converted into a sophisticated life support system," stated Mre. Pandleflan in a text-message interview, "and the body was found connected to an extremely sophisticated virtual-experience rig.  It was clear that Mr. Vikkenssen had chosen to completely forsake our world.  The systems he was hooked up to would have kept him alive for a period of years without needing to be serviced.  When the nutrition concentrates he was living on could no longer be effectively recycled, the system literally started digesting his body."  The Coroner's Office has ruled out foul play in this death, declaring it a case of suicidal self-neglect.

Mr. Vikkenssen was a patron of ArcWorld, one of the largest and most popular virtual worlds.  According to Blanver Lanulor, a spokesperson for Unreality, the publisher of ArcWorld, the simulation contains more total area than all inhabited areas of the system combined and blends seamlessly between dozens of paradigms.  "We did not become aware of Mr. Vikkenssen's passing away until the auto-debit on his account stopped paying," Mr. Vikkenssen has admitted in a public statement.  "We attempted to contact him and received no reply, so we reviewed his play experience in an attempt to figure out why he had stopped paying his subscription fee. We saw that his avatar had still been logged in but was just standing there.  Unreality is terribly sorry for any part our service may have played in Mr. Vikkenssen's death.  We offer complementary treatment programs for virtual experience addiction which we strongly encourage our patrons to make use of if their enjoyment of ArcWorld or any of our other simulations is beginning to interfere with the balance of their lives."

According to Dr. Ubik Anshari, an associate of the Geseightner Clinic for Research on Digital Hygiene, it is not common for virtual experience addiction to progress to such a degree.  "Virtual experience addiction usually develops as a response to social trauma," Dr. Anshari explained in an email.  "The addict retreats from their real-world social obligations into a fantasy of power, excitement, or peace and serenity.  However, most people still maintain social networks in both the real and virtual worlds which serve as a balance to this withdrawal and encourage the addict to seek assistance.  Mr. Vikkenssen seems to have gone to peculiar lengths to deliberately exacerbate this withdrawal, to have made a conscious choice to stop interacting with reality.  He had no friends, family or associates, in or out of his preferred virtual world, who could have helped pull him out of the rabbit hole, and he removed himself completely from the proximity of neighbours and intercourse with other living bodies..  The combination of social and physical isolation could not likely have been achieved by sheer neglect."

Omnicor Attempts Crossmedia Hostile Takeover

Enchiridion, Trojans Administrative District, Jupiter Space -- 9 Apr. 2057:  An injunction was issued this day against Omnicor Hypercorp LLC. by the 3rd Circuit Economic Tribunal after evidence of an attempted hostile takeover of Futuristical Crossmedia.  A number of Omnicor-held blind proxies have been attempting a creeping tender over the past 2 weeks.  Counterweight traders from the Bureau of Market Stabilization have been dispatched to buy and hold Crossmedia stock until the situation has been resolved.

According to Crossmedia spokesperson Vander van Zander Zalm, the attempted buyout is a gambit on the part of Omnicor to silence criticisms published on Crossmedia's blogs and newsfeeds.  "Ever since we told the Labour side of the L5 strike story, they've been on our asses.  First spurious legal threats, now economic attacks?  What next, Omnicor?  They'll do practically anything to stifle our journalistic integrity.  Well, I say bring it on!"

Full disclosure: this newsfeed is a subsidiary of Futuristical Crossmedia operated under the aegis of the Bureau of Temporal Relations.  We are not among the parties mentioned in the injunction.

Deepgreen Terrorists Attack Congo Beanstalk

Kisangani, Congo, Earth -- 8 Apr. 2057:  An explosion caused by an attempt to damage the space elevator has destroyed several city blocks, killed 750 people and injured thousands.  Drones operated by the Department of Emergency Services continue to comb the rubble, searching for the many who remain missing.

Deep Green, the downleft-wing extremist network which directs the actions of independent anti-civilization groups across the planet, has released a statement on a fire-and-forget hyperlayer page claiming responsibility for the destruction.  The statement reads, in part, "The so-called 'beanstalks' are in fact skyhooks which tear into the heart of our mother goddess, sucking away her life blood into the devouring maw of the space vampire our capitalist technology has created.  Civilization is a cancer, and it is high time that it is excised by radical surgery.  Let homo parasiticus flee into space where they belong, or be cleansed from the face of the Earth by fire.  Let nature reclaim the ruins of our toxic cities, and let our twisted genes die out and find deserved oblivion."

According to Colonel Hapgood Mugende of the Stellar Alliance Space Marines, who spoke at a press conference late this day, the cause of the explosion was a piece of military hardware known colloquially as a Superball: a small, extremely dense projectile which was 'dropped' on Kisangani from orbit.  "The Kinetic Orbital Stealth Impactor, or Superball, is composed of a Unilhexium core wrapped in hyper-ablative foam and coated in radar-opaque stealth composite.  The projectile is carried by an orbital platform programmed to release it at a designated time, giving it a slight push which de-orbits it.  The projectile can then drift near-undetectably for weeks or even months before contact with atmosphere sends it into a sudden and steep plunge to the surface, impacting the surface with a kiloton kinetic explosive yield."  Superballs were designed during the Softwars by military technical-design Avatars which had joined the Insurrection and were intended as a weapon of mass destruction, but were never deployed; all of the devices were believed to have been accounted for.  Col. Mugende also stated that a simultaneous cyber-attack on orbital traffic control prevented Alliance space-based weapons platforms from detecting and neutralizing the weapon.  "We have most of the hackers in custody, but the cyber-attack itself was carried out by partials with scrubbed personality and memory schemas.  Investigations are continuing.  The Superball was apparently perfectly aimed to strike the Beanstalk but was deflected by a railgun burst fired from a ground-based anti-orbital defence station, itself a relic of the Softwar.

Eyewitness Makemba Youla remembers seeing "a trail of intense fire which grew longer by the second.  There was a high-pitched whistling sound, growing quickly lower and lower.  It was like an old movie, when a bomb drops.  Then the terrible flash; it made me blind.  The ground shook, the windows shattered and glass was everywhere.  I could hear and see nothing; then, little by little, screams and shouting and sirens.  I could feel nothing.  I did not understand what was happening.  I still don't understand.  Why would they do such a thing?  How can they hate us so?"

According to Dr. Bilney Pilominous of Heinlien University, things could have been worse.  "Even if the weapon had hit the beanstalk, it's not likely that the damage would have been sufficient to break the tension cable, which is heavily reinforced to prevent just such a situation; but there is the possibility.  And if the tension cable had snapped, that would be the end.  The slightest perturbation of the orbit of Ring One would be enough to cause the station superstructure to buckle, the rest of the beanstalks to snap, and the whole shebang to rip itself apart, with most of the debris coming straight down on our heads.  If these deepgreen whack jobs want to end civilization on Earth, there could hardly be a more efficient way to do it."

Venusian State Elections Heating Up

Newtopia, Telluria, Venus -- 7 Apr. 2057:  With only weeks to go before decision day, campaigns are growing frenetic - and in some cases, getting ugly - in the battle to dominate the state Presidencies and Directorates of Venus.  Local prediction markets are showing increasing confidence in a widespread sweep by the Socialist party, which is trading above 75% to take 29 of Venus's 31 Presidential offices and over two thirds of the Directorial seats, including a majority in 13 states.  Most of these predicted Socialist wins would come at the expense of the Technocratic party, which is widely considered to have failed at smoothing out rocky economic conditions, provided insufficiently for public utilities, and is perceived as dragging its heels on procuring resources and technology vital to the terraforming project.  Observers are watching these races closely, as there is a strong correlation between state-level politics and eventual upsets in the Stellar Parliament.  Venus is one of the most important left- and back-wing strongholds outside of Earth; a big loss for the Technocrats this month could well signal a shift in the Trapezoid come 2059's Parliamentary elections, with control of the governing coalition moving from Technocratic to Socialist hands.

A few of today's significant campaign events:

  • In Magnificat-Praetoria, Socialist Presidential candidate Pollux Caryatid released a slew of viral attack ads which saturated the hyperlayer with accusations and reproaches against Technocratic incumbent Lemuel Hasserbach.  At issue: the ongoing investigation into corruption within the Department of Food, Water, and Air Distribution.  President Hasserbach continues to profess no knowledge whatsoever of kickbacks in the Department in exchange for preferential disbursal of luxury food items.
  • In Elysium-Paradisio, A public Presidential debate led to severe embarrassment for Socialist candidate Siobhan Sparvier when e referred to members of the Hominoid community as 'monkeys'.  Despite the fact that Mre. Sparvier was at the time recapitulating promises of material support for the cause of Ape Rights in Paradisio, polls show Socialist support among non-human primates slipping and what was once seen as Mre. Sparvier's race to lose is now trading at under 30% on prediction markets.
  • At a campaign stop on Periwinkle Station, one of the outermost habitats of the Low Venus Orbit constellation, Anarchist Presidential candidate Gigas Emmanuel Fuentes continued to press Technocratic incumbent Aperiodic Torus on implementation of the horizontal democratic integration bill, passed late in 2056 by the Anarchist-dominated LVO Directorate.  Vr. Torus has continued to cite constitutional concerns about the bill, which places considerable control over certain state mandates in the hands of local Citizens' Assemblies.

Augmented Reality Game Goes Awry

Bottomland, Valles Marineris, Mars -- 6 Apr. 2057:  A programming error in the latest episode of "Homeland Secure", a popular augmented reality game, has caused chaos and disruption in cities across the system as games collide with real life.  Though no deaths have been reported and property destruction has been minimal, there have been numerous minor injuries and arrests due to the invasion of public spaces by hordes of gamers unable to tell fiction from fact.

The game casts players of agents of opposing fictional covert operations agencies attempting to accomplish various hidden agendas, which they advance through a combination of subterfuge and open combat.  "A lot of the game is woven into our everyday lives," top Homeland Secure player Flex Andross explained to us in an audio interview.  "We spy on other agents, try to pass information along and intercept communications, make deals, seduce each other.  In each episode the plot leads to a big set-piece gun battle between different agencies.  The software overlays details on our contacs -- gunfire, non-player characters and computer generated sets, and the like.  Most players get really into it; we dress up in team uniforms and break out replica weapons when we know a big combat is coming up.  The fighting is supposed to be confined to an area rented ahead of time by the local section chiefs, so we can fight each other without any real civilians getting in the way."

However, an error in the code downloaded and implemented by local servers today shifted the boundaries of the game's designated combat zone, directing the players into areas there was not supposed to be any fighting going on, including private buildings, crowded commercial areas, quiet residential districts, and even people's homes.  Our correspondent Flicka Netrosiam in Bottomland witnessed the chaos firsthand.  "I was minding my own business, buying a yeast shake and a danish, when there was a commotion outside," Ms. Netrosiam told us.  "People in old twencen-style suits and dark glasses were running into Gaithner Square outside, ducking behind anything they could find for cover -- trash cans, the fountain, benches, you name it.  Most of them had guns.  I know now they're fakes, but they looked like real powder punchers at the time, handguns and SMGs.  Another group was coming along from the north side, all wearing these red berets and what looked like military uniforms.  They started yelling and pointing their guns at each other; I didn't hear any shots but I was sure it was going to start any second.  One of the guys in the red berets threw something across the square, and all the people in suits jumped away from it like it was a live grenade.  Then another of the red-beret people grabbed a poor old andie who had no idea what was going on and put a gun to zer head!  That was when the cops started showing up."  Reports are coming in of similar scenes in nearly every city in the Alliance.

High Octane Entertainment, the makers of Homeland Secure, have issued a press release apologizing for the incident.  "We sincerely regret that our error has led to so much harm and confusion, and promise that steps will be taken to ensure that it does not happen again and that our thousands of players throughout the system can continue to enjoy the fast-paced action of our game without endangering themselves or others," the statement reads.  It then goes on to offer material compensation to anyone negatively affected by the glitch.  High Octane's stock has already lost hundreds of millicredits on the InterPlan Exchange and is continuing to drop.

Boeing Releases New Space Yachts

Sector Rho, Ring One, Low Earth Orbit -- 5 Apr. 2057:  The newest lineup of luxury pleasure craft being offered by Federated Boeing was revealed today among much pomp and circumstance.  The highlight of the show was the Boeing Cabana, the smallest and least expensive model of civilian space craft yet offered by Boeing.  At a mere 7 credits, the Cabana is being released with the growing ranks of the lower-level hyperrich in mind.

"We're appealing to people who are looking for a status symbol but have not to date been able to break into the luxury yacht market," stated Boeing marketing representative Kin Pilliamson II.  "There are a growing number of consumers who have to date had to settle for a sport rocket or a more utilitarian space craft as a way of travelling in style.  We aim to change that with the Cabana, which includes such amenities as genuine leather seats, in-cockpit minibar, and beautifully appointed 360-cubic-meter private quarters, as well as the benefit of Boeing engineering and cutting-edge automatic piloting systems which are fully compatible with a sapient virtual chauffeur."

Pluto Death Ruled Suicide

Hrungnir, Pluto, Kuiper-Oort Authority -- 4 Apr. 2057:  The Department of Public Safety has issued a ruling of suicide in the death of Nachius Vilsen Freisienborg, a hydrogen ice miner found frozen outside Hrungnir two weeks ago.

A partial imprint of Special Constable Hass Eisbrucher held a press conference on Mars early this day.  "Our investigation revealed that Mr. Freisenborg had amassed considerable gambling debts in the months leading up to his death, and was facing possible corporate indenture when those debts came due," the partial stated.  "His friends have stated that he was becoming withdrawn and morose.  It is our judgement that Mr. Freisenborg allowed himself to freeze to death rather than lose his freedom."

Anti-indenture activist group Debtslave has issued a statement condemning the practice in the wake of the announcement, listing the suicide of Mr. Freisenborg as one of 15 this year related to the practice of indentured labour.  Mutual Providers of Barsoom, the company which held the right to Mr. Freisenborg's debt, has not responded to requests for comment.

First Martian Elephant Achieves Personhood

Olympus Mons Wildlife Preserve, Mars -- 3 Apr. 2057:  High expectations have been fulfilled today as a member of the experimental Mars-modified uplifted pachyderm population decanted in 2041 has at last successfully completed the Deckard-Bowman Series and been recognized as a full legal person.  The elephant has formally shed her experimental designation, EE-5792, and registered herself for a Citizen Identity Code under the name Titus Tembe Risingdawn.  The event is vindication for the beleaguered Martian Savanna ecotecture project, which has been criticized by electors as a waste of money.

"The remaining elephant communities on Earth are demoralized and hemmed in," stated project head Dr. Sibry Thorne in an audio interview,  "despite strenuous efforts to provide them with sufficient range and habitat.  It is believed that the entire branch of the tree of life may be gone within a few generations.  Uplift has, if anything, made the problem worse; the elephants have not dealt well with full understanding of the atrocities committed against their kind in ages past.  Even now, rogue elephant terrorist attacks are causing tension between elephant and human communities on Earth, and elephant suicide rates are skyrocketing.  The ecotecture of Olympus Mons represents a fresh start for elephants."

According to the scientists who have raised her from infancy, Ms. Risingdawn was always the most precocious of their elephant charges.  "Titus loves to explore," said Dr. Killian Kelly.  "She would take off for days, right to the fringe of the grasslands.  She craves knowledge and reads for hours every day, practically anything.  I think she'll go far."  According to Dr. Kelly, several of Ms. Risingdawn's brothers and sisters may soon be ready for the Deckard-Bowman.  "They need to work on their social skills and empathic reasoning, but their logic and scientific skills are impeccable and many are displaying significant artistic talent.  They're excited about it.  I have plenty who want to try it already; maybe it's vanity, but I want all of my calves to pass on the first try.  I want the world to see that they're just as smart and social as anyone else."

Titus Tembe Risingdawn has thus far showed little interest in media attention, and released only a few brief remarks.  "I wish to be a bridge between the history of elephants on Earth and the future of elephants on Mars," she stated in as video released by the Martian Savanna project.  "I am eager to begin my studies, and am planning to pursue the study of history.  I wish to create a new history, one told from the elephant perspective; not an indictment of humanity for crimes against us, but a means of healing the terrible rift between our two peoples.  I wish to help my brothers and sisters on Earth to thrive and to find a way past their suffering."

Parliament Debates Raising Population Limit

Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Earth -- 2 Apr. 2057:  The all-parties Committee on Sustainable Growth and Development tendered its report this day, arguing before the Trapezoid that the maximum number of biologicals living on Earth should be raised by 5 million.  Reasons given for this recommendation include the easing of environmental pressures due to the unexpected success of the Department of Ecological Reclamation's various programs and the perceived need to encourage economic growth.

The committe's chair, Dr. Pangyric Apoptosis, Technocratic elector for LEO-Constellation, appealed directly to eir party to look beyond "the ingrained distaste of many for tampering with the population control programme," stating that "according to our ecological scientists the planet can easily support another few million bodies, and acording to our economists we're in sore need of them."  Dr. Apoptosis is eirself an ecologist of some note, and has long been an advocate of revisiting the population-control debate.  E has published a number of papers in respected journals claiming to demonstrate that the models on which the original population-limit statutes were drafted could be adjusted based on recent advances in ecotecture and the fine-tuning of regional projects to take advantage of more accurate climatic modelling.

The mood of the chamber was not receptive to the proposal, with scathing criticisms coming from the down-wing parties, most particularly the Naturists.  Gerhard Steiner, Naturist elector for Europa-Germania, accused the committee of "advocating a return to the dark ages of environmental degradation and unchecked human appetites"; Taglan Valdur, Naturist elector for Australasia-New Zealand, went even further, claiming that the committe's report condoned "ecocide" and "the rape of Mother Nature".  Others were more measured in their criticism, but not less staunch in their opposition.  Cateryn Starbreeze, Communitarian elector for Cascadia-Nevada, spoke strongly against "this attempt by an elitist Spacer who's never even set foot on Earth to dictate the way in which we manage our population and our delicate ecosystem," stating categorically that "Nevada has no room for more bodies.  The Earth has no room!"  Askala Hailu, Traditionalist elector for Rift Valley-Ethiopia, stated that she would "unconditionally oppose any attempt to raise the population limit," and that "the ecosystem of our State is bruised and battered enough as it is without her being subject to further indignity.  Simply let her be."  Rogbert Geddario, Traditionalist elector for Atlantica-Atlantis, stated dismissively that "there's plenty of room in the outer system for anyone who wants to raise a big family.  Let them move out there."  The last comment drew audible boos from the sections of the chamber seating the members for the Jovian complex and the Saturnine Confederacy.

There was little in the way of opposing debate, with only a few potshots from Libertarians like elector Tanas Pietrelo of FAP-Vesta, who condemned the "principle of ecological health over familial freedom, on which the maintenance of the population control statute depends," and elector Radical Mu of TAD-Enchiridon, who referred to those speaking against the proposal "Deepgreen fundamentalists" and "anti-scientific ignoramuses who refuse to see the evidence placed right in front of their faces".  However, the simple factual arguments put forward by Dr. Apoptosis and the committee seemed to have swayed much of the chamber; in a narrow 310-303 vote, the chamber has chosen to send the recommendation on to the Senate to be drafted as an amendment to the Terran Sustainable Population Act.

Kingston Braithwaite, communication director of the anti-population control advocacy group Freedom to Grow, posted a series of tweets hailing the decision as "a step in the right direction, for Earth and for Democracy ... the freedom to create offspring and raise a family is of the utmost importance and we must see respect for it restored ... healing Earth's environment needs innovation and economic growth, not control by protectionist bureaucrats and deepgreen eco-fascists."  Mr. Braithwaite is the former Libertarian elector for LEO-Constellation and the prime mover behind the previous administration's ill-fated attempt to have the Sustainable Population Act repealed entirely.

Pranks Cause Havoc, Deaths

Enchiridion, Trojans Administrative District, Jupiter Space -- 1 Apr. 2057:  Another April Fools Day has come and gone, leaving in its wake plenty of chaos and destruction.  Among the highlights of this year's tomfoolery:

  • 14 high-frequency traders committed suicide by self-deletion when a spoofing campaign believed to be the work of Anonymous briefly replaced the InterPlan Index stock ticker broadcast with a false datastream showing a catastrophic market collapse.  A run of panic selling touched off by the prank destroyed several dozen credits worth of stock value before the Bureau of Market Stabilization's counterweight traders were able to step in.
  • A flash mob in Zion, organized by professional anti-religious-discrimination protesters in response to reports that the Trapezoid had voted to classify the Unorthodox Eschatological Chrislemite Bretheren as a proscribed hate group, ran riot and caused several centicredits worth of property damage.
  • A program which crawled social network profiles and sent several thousand anonymous e-mails to users claiming that their romantic partners were cheating on them with their best friends is believed to be directly responsible for hundreds of assaults and at least 3 murders.
  • A series of large explosions in the city of Saskatoon, Great Plains was caused by a misfire in a pyrotechnic setup which was designed by a local resident to convince neighbours that the city was under attack.  Emergency services at first refused to respond to reports of explosions, believing the reports to be a prank.  Several houses were destroyed by the resulting fire.

Empathy Pills Pulled

Mellotron, Magnificat, Venus -- 31 Mar. 2057:  Utilitran, a popular empathogen, has been ordered removed from the market by the Bureau of Alterant Regulation after a medical paper was published last week showing a link between the drug and increased rates of involuntary neurochemical alteration.  The paper, published in the Proceedings of the Venusian Medical Society by Dr. Flagen Flagenflan of the Siddiqui Institute for the Study of Mood Disorders, claimed that use of Utilitran predicted a 41% increase in incidences of bipolar disorder and religious manias in people with no history of such symptoms or desire to experience them.

Utilitran is commonly prescribed to patients coping with sociopathic disorders or other difficulties in processing feelings of empathy and is frequently recommended as an empathogen for use in judicial medical interventions.  There is also a minor trend in recreational use of the drug by people desiring to increase their general level of empathy, particularly those belonging to traditional religions such as Chrislamity and Wicca.  Doctors across the system are scrambling to get their hands on replacement empathogens, and pharmaceutical manufacturers are ramping up production of sister alterants such as Moralus, Dorite, and Samariam.

There have been a few protests of this move, largely by clinicians who say that Utilitran is simply the most effective empathogen on the market.  "Moralus and the rest don't work nearly as well for my patients," tweeted Dr. Millman Pithwick, a private Mellotron psychiatric practitioner.  But, startlingly, a sharp criticism has also come from the Venusian Neurochemical Diversity Coalition.  In a press release, the Coalition stated that Utilitran is used by many people to enhance their efforts to become bipolar via transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques.  The coalition accused Dr. Flagenflan and the Siddiqui institute of 'neuronormative' prejudice.  "The Siddiqui institute conducts plenty of research on how to stop people from experiencing bipolarity, but none whatsoever in helping them to achieve it," reads the press release.  "It is unconscionable to take away one of the few demonstrated techniques by which people who desire to experience the exquisite creativity or energy of a manic high can reach that goal."

"Utilitran has been withdrawn until further testing can definitively establish the cause of these symptoms," said Bureau of Alterant Regulation spokesperson Gibbley Wambone at a press conference earlier today.  "This is not intended as a slight against those who use empathogens, nor against those who choose to live their lives in a state of bipolarity.  It is every person's right to alter their own neurochemistry as they see fit, to experience increased empathy, manic and depressive states, or any other neurological condition they choose; but this right must be tempered by caution and thorough knowledge of every drug's effect on personality, perceptions and behaviour."

PhiCor, the makers of Utilitran, have taken a vicious beating in the markets this day, seeing their stock drop 562 millicredits on the InterPlan Index.  Meanwhile, competitor companies DynaVax, GenoTech, and VaxiPharm, which manufacture competing empathogens, have seen their stock rise significantly.  In response to requests for comment, PhiCor representatives released a brief e-mail stating that the company is cooperating fully in the recall and is eager to further research the findings.