CHERRY TREES – New Craitish Prime Minister Iņa Aärnesen has set down her party’s plan for her premiership, with the much-anticipated USSO membership referendum planned for parliamentary discussion before the end of the month.
Aärnesen was elected in September in an unprecedented Liberal-Centre Alliance (LCA) majority victory, becoming only the second Prime Minister from the agrarian-minded party. As the nation’s second ever female to hold the position, Aärnesen has gained a plethora of support from the public, sealing all but three of the available 33 county seats through a platform promising citizens a referendum on Craitland’s membership in the USSO.
Craitland became a founding member of the USSO in early 2017 under the administration of Social Democrat Hjaņ Berntsen. While the USSO is a primarily military alliance, Berntsen’s justification for Craitland’s membership was to allow for a means of effectively providing humanitarian aid to civilians during the Hammish Civil War. Since the apparent cessation of conflict in central Keltia, the USSO has focused on establishing trade amongst its members, though recent developments have led to an air of unease.
Antagonistic behaviour from Daocheng has subsequently culminated in Jingdao and Shireroth ending an unofficial armistice; a move which could once again drag a traditionally peaceable Craitland into warfare, while activities in the Florian Republic have seen its USSO membership terminated following considerably increased involvement from Shirekeep.
LCA head of communications, Alexandrian Marc-Antoine Sacriches – whose expertise has been credited with masterminding the party’s successful election campaign – gave an announcement which was seen to praise the Florians’ latest news as inspiration for the future of Craitland, “The Florian people have shown that USSO membership does not equal straight subjugation by the Jingdaoese. We are in control of our own future in this country, and that means all of us. Ms Aärnesen’s vision will give every Crait the right to decide our nation’s path, and together we will choose the best route forward and forget the mistakes other parties have made without our support.”
Popular opinion polling in Craitland suggests that a referendum asking a direct in-or-out question would receive a narrow majority in favour of leaving the organisation, though the format is yet to be confirmed and further influential campaigning is surely expected prior to the day Craits once again make their way to the ballot box.
SVORGAS – This year’s FMF World Cup, the first since 2015, is underway in Senya as the Micras community comes together once more in it’s most popular international competition. Today marked the conclusion of the first week of the five-week tournament.
If there was one take away from the past week, it is that this year’s tournament will be marked by an unusually high goal scoring. A total of 64 goals were scored across the 16 matches played, including 8 between Natopia and Elwynn in their July 10th match. The week also included two 6 – 0 shutouts, as Craitland and Mercury dominated Gotzborg and Jingdao, respectively.
The result was particularly disappointing for Gotzborg, which finished at the top of its group with 14 goals-for during the qualifying round. It will attempt to recover when it plays next on July 17th; it faces Birgeshir, which it last played to a one-all draw in 2015. Jingdao, meanwhile, fell further back today in a scoreless draw with Nova England. It will seek its first win as a World Cup competitor on July 18th against the also winless Natopian team.
As the tournament moves into the second week, Lakkvia, Alexandria, Craitland and Mercury lead their respective groups with six points apiece.
NORTHERN SEA – For the past month, civil war has been raging through the mainland of the Commonwealth of Hamland. A confusing war with several groups changing sides, losing and winning allies and receiving military, financial and diplomatic support from several groups, threatens to expand in an even larger conflict.
While the Hammish possession of Neo Patrovia in Northern Apollonia stayed relatively untouched by the devastations and immense cruelty during the civil war, as the Ravaillac Loyalists had succesfully seized power. This changed when the National Provisional Authority, backed by a Shirerithian proxy organisation, launched an invasion and attack on the coastal fortresses.
The sudden emergence of conflict in the region, together with the mining of the Cameleo River and increase in pirate activities, worried both the Jingdaoese and Gerenian authorities. The thought of having another nation (Natopia already shares a border with Jingdao) at its borders with friendly ties to arch-nemesis Shireroth could also have played a role to trigger alarm bells in the Heavenly Palace of Daocheng.
A joint proclamation between Jingdao and Gerenia was made to keep the peace in the region. Peacekeeping forces were raised and a naval blockade was announced, to limit the import of enemy soldiers and supplies from overseas. Food and other non-military goods have to pass through custom services in East Gerenia, after which they are send through Jingdao and land routes to the Hammish cities. Those actions would all be executed under supervision of the Batavian-Stormarkian organisation Noblesse Oblige.
This peacekeeping action, however, met with a sharp reaction from the Ministry of Military Affairs, which started mobilising its navy. The Jingdaoese countermeasure – mobilisation of both land and naval forces – reflected those increasing tensions.
At this moment, to avoid a further bloodshed, both parties have come to an informal agreement to limit skirmishes to the Northern Sea.
On Sunday the 19th of June, the Empire of Jingdao, a simulated micronation, user of the Bastion Forums and a member of the Micronational Cartography Society, announced its decision to withdraw from participating in micronationalism in order to focus on a creative-writing orientated ‘conworld project’. 
The request generated a fair amount of controversy as Jingdao sought to retain its place on the fictional map of Micras, maintained by the MCS, whilst wiping the slate clean (literally: a blank map with two cities; ‘Lily Plantation’ and ‘Garden Shed’. This was queried by the MCS on aesthetic grounds, with one councillor, Jack Lewis, going so far as to state that the proposed change was “a modification that will leave the MCS map look quite awful”. Echoing this concern, the Administrator General of the MCS, Craitman Pellegrino, noted that a shift in focus for Jingdao “doesn’t mean [its] back-up land has to be a blank blob” before adding that a detailed map would at least allow the preservation of a semblance of what he termed ‘geographical realism’.
These concerns were echoed in the wider community of MCS members by the veteran micronationalist Krasniy Yastreb who observed that some of the details contained in Jingdao’s old claim were “around long before any Jingdaoese – some of the names erased by this claim have been on the map for almost the entire duration of Micras’ existence” before suggesting that the Jingdaoese decision may have arisen on account of a desire for “retaliation for recent misfortunes on Micras experienced by certain Jingdaoese”.
It was perhaps inevitable that, with the current state of world affairs, somebody would so misguided to attempt to venture a new portmanteau word to describe the act of secession. Step forward and take a bow Lord Erion, who now earns lasting infamy for coining the word ‘Jexit’. May the Gods have mercy on his soul.
The discussion prompted the MCS Council to issue a new directive on internal claim modifications, affording it the discretion to depart from its longstanding policy of automatically accepting ‘domestic’ changes if the proposed changes are deemed by the council to be contrary to the MCS Charter or to contain offensive material. 
Rasmus, the leader of the Jingdao, responded to these objections by submitting a revised modification request, this time with detailed boundaries and place names, the latter of which contained a number of surprises for those curious to peruse the claim; the cities of Boredom, Kangaroo Ride, Two Cocks, and Never Change, might be deemed a satirical commentary on the perils of having to co-exist with micronationalists for any length of time. Rasmus was obliged to clarify that the two cocks in question were fighting cockrels, as opposed to the other kind of cock and as such the revised map looks set to be accepted by the MCS for its next update. 
Concurrently, post-micronational Jingdao announced to the Bastion Forum that Rasmus would be resigning as an administrator for that community and that Jingdao’s forums hosted on Bastion were to be renamed as the ‘Flower garden of the Heavenly Light’ to serve as a backup site and archive for its new forum 
As for the reason for this departure, Rasmus alluded to it being on account of personal conflicts in his resignation notice submitted to the MCS Council on the 6th of June. Jonas, his long time associate and collaborator in the various iterations of Jingdao subsequently elaborated that the disagreement was with those individuals whom he, somewhat colourfully, termed “Natopian bovic goat worshippers”. 
To get to the bottom of what this means for the Bastion community and simulated micronationalism in general, the CS arranged an interview with Nathan, the founder of Natopia, to get his perspective on the disagreement.
Coprieta Standard: Nathan, thank you for agreeing to give the time for this interview.
Nathan: My pleasure! An honor to be interviewed for the Standard.
The citizens of Natopia have been cited by Rasmus as one of the principle reasons for his recent resignation as an MCS Cartographer and an Administrator on the Bastion Union forum. In particular he has claimed that you sought “to profit from [his] work on Walstadt but then removing [him] through OOC (Out of Character) deceit”(1). This then, presumably, is the personal conflict he is alluding to in his resignation notice over at the MCS (2). It may be considered that this once again highlights the rather fraught tension that exists between the simulation of a geopolitical dispute and the demands of running and participating in a fairly small community of hobbyists.
Q) The idea of Walstadt, a fictional whaling station on the southern continent of Cibola, first originated with Ric Lyon, whose various characters have included many citizens of Natopia, how did Rasmus come to be involved in the first place?
A) Walstadt, I think, started as part of Sangun-Treisenberg, and then was part of the Dominion, and then was part of Jingdao-South Batavia. I’m a bit hazy on the exact chronology, but one of Rasmus’ characters, Sisera, became directly involved in Walstadt around this time when one of Ric’s characters, Elijah, was crucified. It then became independent briefly before becoming part of Haifa. Natopia traded away St. Andre to Haifa for Walstadt, and Walstadt became a Natopian Demesne (Natopia’s term for our territorial subdivisions) with Ric in charge. Last summer, Ric left Rasmus in charge of Walstadt while Ric was going to be away for a few months. Walstadt’s history is the basis for why the population of Walstadt has had a resurgence in sympathy towards Jingdao and the Siseran religion in particular this past year.
Q) Although the source material has been obscured by Rasmus decision to hide many of the most recent Walstadt posts within Jingdao, the roots of the latest Walstadt dispute lie in an in-character conflict connected to the Euran War. Do you feel that this, combined with other in-character pronouncements constituted an effort on the part of Rasmus and Jingdao to draw Natopia into a wider geopolitical conflict?
A) Oh yes, I think so. Natopia’s client state, Athlon, was the actor in that war, not Natopia, and only in a limited scope to provide aid to Constancia. Although I don’t think Rasmus’ escalation was malicious, and I admit the prospect of a good ol’ fashioned world recwar sounds fun (until you actually have to do it, then all fun is drained) but Walstadt’s actions did leave the wrong impression on almost everyone involved on the Natopian side, sending us into crisis mode which put things into motion by reacting to Walstadt’s secessions.
Q) As a result of those conflicts, previously mentioned, there were steps taken by Natopia to curb the influence of characters played by Rasmus, within your sphere of influence, I mean of course the Act that was put before the Frenzy (the Natopian legislature) to proscribe those characters and to transfer the title of Walstadt to a more cooperative vassal. It is this step that appears to have prompted Rasmus’ claim of being removed by ‘OOC deceit’. What is your view on this – does the dismissal of a character or set of characters from a fictional nation count as an in or out of character move?
A) I think this is the crux of the crisis, Walstadt’s back to back secession attempts were declared “in character” because of an “out of character” lack of response from Natopia’s imperial government (there was a week-long lull, which even triggered an automatic regency, that coincided with this whole affair, compounding all of it). I felt this was rather unfair and the secessions, mobilization, and collusion with Jingdao escalated the situation to the brink. Those legislative safeguards were also in response to the “in character” complaints from Walstadt, which suffered a pirate attack, so we also tried to build a naval base there. Naturally, if a regional government is seceding, the central government has to act somehow, and removing the family that has been declaring independence is the first step. Although the characters of Rasmus were placed on Natopia’s “watch list” they were named specifically, which does not preclude Rasmus from continuing in Walstadt with other characters. His characters were listed as Category B, which allows his characters full access to common forums and allows each Demesne to decide whether or not to allow that character in. Our laws are written, as best we can, to make sense “in character” so we can only restrict or exile characters, not real people, so there is no “ooc ban” against Rasmus in Natopia, just a few of his characters (and they aren’t even banned, unless a Demesne makes that decision on its own, or his characters commit a crime, its essentially just a probation list). We did want to make it difficult for him to immediately regain control of Walstadt, because of the concern over additional secession attempts.
Q) This is, as we will all be aware, not an especially large community, as a consequence, there are quite a number of overlapping levels and competing spheres of influence, within the game as it were, where individuals may find themselves in a political conflict yet, at a community level, are obliged to cooperate with each other in order to ensure the proper functioning of the Bastion Union or the MCS. Do you feel it is inevitable that there will always be a blurring of the lines when it comes to the separation of in-character and out-of-character actions?
A) Unfortunately yes. It does make things hard to follow at times, when a conflict suddenly shifts to the out of character realm. Nobody wants that, but all of our projects are inherently personal so there will always be a blurred line between the characters we create and the people at the keyboards. I think that’s one of the best parts of Micras, people trying on new hats and new masks to tell a new story. But, we’re also on the internet, and it can be impossible to interpret tone, intent, motive, all of that.
Q) It has been said that Jingdao wanted to engineer a recwar (recreational war) with some of the other Bastion Union members, yet this was rebuffed in Shireroth and counter-acted by political, judicial and legislative actions in Natopia. Only in Constancia did a simulated war occur by the consent of both parties. Could Jingdao have acted in a different manner that might have obtained the support and participation of a greater portion of the community rather than leaving Rasmus isolated to the point that he felt he had no choice but to quit as an Administrator and, effectively, to remove Jingdao from the Bastion Union?
A) It’s true that Natopia was against a recwar, we haven’t had one in a long time and we weren’t really ‘feeling it.’ We were wary of the possible endgame of such a war and of Jingdao’s motives. When I learned that Constancia and Jingdao had worked out a framework, rough narrative, and a defined ending point, I was intrigued which is why Athlon entered in a limited role. If I hadn’t heard of the war’s “plotline” beforehand, I never would have given it a second thought. I think Jingdao’s carefully crafted xenophobia and extreme nationalism is off-putting to most other nations, and has resulted in Shireroth’s official policy of non-interaction, even Natopia had an unofficial policy of not engaging with Jingdao’s more severe actions. Jingdao created itself and presented itself as “superior” and was fiercely proud of that. I don’t see how they could have come together with other nations in a spirit of cooperation, building the trust necessary for frank discussions of recwar and/or political plotlines to be played out. Over time it became very difficult, for me, to separate their in character jingoist propaganda, speeches, mannerisms, slogans, chants, etc, from their out of character intent for how their micronation was supposed to interact with us “inferior” micronations. I honestly don’t know how they expected the rest of Micras to deal with them short of just sterilizing ourselves and ceding our land to them.
Q) Now that Jingdao has moved to a separate forum, it is reportedly planning to focus on ‘conworlding’ (the construction of fictional worlds), how in your opinion, does that differ from the ‘micronationalism’ practised by our community and the ‘Micras Sector’ as a whole?
A) I think there’s a parallel to Jingdao’s move and Minarboria’s move a few months ago. Both of those groups of people wanted greater control over their work. Minarboria is just a “connation” instead of conworld. I think conworlding, in the context the Jingdaoese are using it, is a more controlled narrative than Micras could ever have. There will be no unknowns on Jingdao’s new world and they can tell their story exactly how they want. I think the Micras Sector is actually too big to be a conworld, there are too many people with too many different ideas. I think Micras Sector nations, at their heart, their core identity, still want to “pretend to be real” but the magic, dragons, spaceships, and all that stuff get thrown in because we’ve been doing this so long we get bored, so we make outlandish things to entertain ourselves and try to surprise each other with something neat.
Finally, it would only be fair to note that Jingdao appears to have wholeheartedly embraced the term ‘Jexit’ and now intends to use it as a name for its residual holdings on the MCS map, seemingly with the intent of becoming a parody of the United Kingdom’s Brexit era… which has to be a first for (post-)micronationalism. 
Shirekeep (Shireroth): The Imperial Republic was today stunned by a suicide bombing carried out in the Landsraad Chamber, followed within the hour by a further blast in the Imperial Assembly of the Jingdaoese Empire in Epoli.
The first explosion in Shirekeep came as members were debating a resolution to invite the newly acclaimed Kaiser to address the Chamber on the details of his domestic and foreign policy.
One of the points in which the proponents of the resolution had sought more clarity was the recently announced decision of the Jingdaoese Empire to rename the city of Aracigrad in the former Duchy of Kildare. The point of contention was the implied repudiation of a treaty between the Imperial Republic and the ‘Allied Forces’, of which Kildare was a party, wherein the status of Aracigrad was guaranteed as a quid pro-quo for Shireroth recognising Kildare’s independence. Kildare was subsequently subject to a takeover by Jingdao, which subsequently declared itself unable to fulfil the terms of the aforementioned treaty with Shireroth.
It was at this point in the debate that the security of the Landsraad was inexplicably compromised by an Elwynnese hospital porter, believed to have been involved in an earlier incident in the Emirate of Alalehzamin & Utasia, who gained entrance to the debating chamber and made a mad dash towards the Praetor, before detonating himself prematurely, killing only himself.
Not long afterwards, a further detonation occurred on the floor of the Imperial Assembly in Epoli, where Servant J5671 rushed at Prince Joseph Myksos of Batavia and, apparently, once he had approached close enough, was detonated. We say, was detonated, because it has been reported that the explosive charge he delivered was contained within his person, put there surgically. It has subsequently been reported that Servant J5671 was in fact Elwynnese national Reginald Smythe.
Elements in the Jingdao Government have sought to make great play on this, declaring that there was no way that Shireroth could have responded with like for like retaliation without prior knowledge of the impending terror attack on Shirekeep. Yet this is not a credible stance to uphold. Reginald Smythe was an employee of the ESB-Jörmungandr Group and a former Petty Officer of the Imperial Shirerithian Navy, a level-headed family man with a wife and sixteen year old daughter, who was working as a Prospector in the southern island archipelago known as Yardistan. He was, by all accounts, successful and well liked, being listed by the ESB Group as one of its select band of ‘notable employees’. With a family and good prospects, Mr Smythe did not and still does not fit the profile of a suicide bomber.
What then could account for his behaviour? His wife, Lucille Smythe, is at present being questioned by the Corps of Gentlemen-at-Cudgels, yet she is reportedly unable to account for his actions. Sources within the Corps allege that to her knowledge Reginald travelled back to the island county of Yardistan a week ago to follow up on a lucrative trade deal with some new overseas clients. The ESB has no reports of any such meeting, but it is not unknown for prospectors to undertake private trading in addition to company work. It is a practice the ESB secretariat is trying to stamp out but which nonetheless persists.
Suspicion therefore turns to the Tegong, the notorious and fanatical secret police devoted to the Emperor of Jingdao, the so-called Heavenly Light, a tyrant who does not hesitate to unleash weapons of mass-destruction against his own cowed and indoctrinated subjects. From Elijah Danielionto their own allie Taodosius of Kildare, the Tegong have a proven track record of luring, abducting, brainwashing and murdering foreigners in pursuit of their master’s own depraved ambition. How is their ambition served now? By seeking to discredit Kaiser Hjalmar, by drawing Shireroth into a dispute and conflict that would permit Jingdao to animate its moribund Blackrock Pact into that it was always intended to be, a project to drive Shireroth from the last remnants of what was once its integral Duchy of Kildare, but more than that, the agenda of the ‘Heavenly Light’ is a war against life itself. Jingdao is a regime which, to this day, continues to quote a lecture by the Empress Sisera with glowing and uncritical approval:
[…] a single murder is just the beginning, only a percent of the population is willing to do this so if they kill one person that is not enough to stop the growth of the living. Kill enough to make a difference and do it in Germania’s name. […] this is done by the killing of someone close, your parents, your sister, your boyfriend…
Given such a mindset it is impossible for the Shirerithians not to harbour doubts.
EPOLI (Jingdao) – The citizens of the Jingdaoese Empire watched in shock when news footage of the terrorist attack in the Imperial Assembly was released by the Grand Secretariat’s press office. Tensions between the Shirerithian and Jingdaoese Empires keep increasing while both nations keep pointing their finger to the other for being at fault.
It was during a meeting concerning the controversial debates about the Jingdaoese name change of Aracigrad that John, a sanitary employee at the Tokaray al-Osman Hospital in Aliswell entered the Shirerithian Landsraad and ran towards the Praetor while shouting righteous demands like “Long live the Heavenly Light! No Shiretits on Apollonian Soil! Death to the Shiretits!”. What followed was a suicide attack, with his limbs flying to all corners of the conference room.
The chaos, however, was far from over, as not long afterwards an attack on the Imperial Assembly, the elected parliament of the Jingdaoese Empire, followed. The terrorist, Reginald Smythe, who was an Elwynnese / Shirerithian, had purloined the badge of one of the bound servants who worked at the Assembly. He used this to go near the Prince Joseph Myksos of Batavia, who at that moment was holding a furious anti-imperialist speech against Shireroth. Once Reginald was close enough, a four pounds of Torpex surgically implanted in his gut exploded. The Prince and other Members of the Assembly survived the blast and bravely started singing the Jingdaoese anthem in response to the terror.
While Jingdaoese authorities have not yet published any official statement concerning what happened, and only tightened border controls, the Shirerithian Ministry of Military Affairs released a statement regarding the recent terrorist activity.
Minister Layla Jacobion-Verion described the man – also an Elwynnese – who did the suicide attack in the Landsraad as a result of frequent use of cabbage extract. The use of cabbage extract to flee their miserable lives has been a frequently used drug by the common folk in the Imperial Republic, but it has never had such profound consequences. In an attempt to save face, the Minister blamed Jingdaoese propaganda for influencing the mind of the man.
At the same time the cruel terrorist, Reginald Smythe, who dared to attack the heart of Jingdaoese democracy, was revered and honoured. The Minister announced: “Today, we also mourn the passing of Reginald Smythe, a young man on holiday to the Jingdaoese Empire […] We offer our sincere condolences to his family”.
And even more shocking was the following comment of the Minister: “It speaks for itself that the Ministry of Military Affairs, where Reginald was an employee, will provide the poor family with financial assistance.”
With such attitudes the Jingdaoese authorities, both the Grand Secretariat and Imperial Assembly, seem to have good reason to distrust the Shirerithian Administration, which seems to be unable to battle its internal cabbage problems and even honours terrorists.
EPOLI (JINGDAO) – Relations between Shireroth and Jingdao reached a new low point today after Kaiser Hjalmar of the Imperial Republic of Shireroth committed a faux-pas at the Micronational Cartography Society.
The Kaiser’s objection to the Jingdaoese decision to rename one of its own cities led to a public outcry in Jingdao. The change of Aracigrad, which would be renamed in recognition of Bastion’s overlord Ari, to Zhu Ari Cheng (Jingdaoese for City of Lord Ari), led to official protests of the Shirerithians.
This distasteful protest, which saw to diminish any respect for the great work of Ari Rahikkala, who has hosted the Bastion Union for many years, was quickly pushed aside by Craitman Pellegrino, the Administrator General of the MCS. Pellegrino explained that the city was Jingdao’s property and Jingdao could do with it what it liked.
In a far past the Shirerithians controlled the city of Aracigrad, but it was lost by them when the Kildarians attained independence. The Kildarians promised that they would not change the city’s name, which is part of Shirerithian mythology. Of course, the Jingdaoese who would later conquer Kildare and annex it into their magnificent empire did not care much for that. They were nice enough to inform the Shirerithians of their decision.
The Jingdaoese filed their request to the MCS on April the 18th and informed Shireroth the next day. It wasn’t until the 26th that Shireroth responded. Thorgils Tarjeisson, a Landsraadsman, offered a resolution which asked the High Kaiser to clarify his position on the issue. Only then did the Imperial Government spur into action.
As both the Shirerithian Landsraad and the Jingdaoese Imperial Assembly were discussing the problem, terrorist attacks occurred. A deranged Shirerithian national from Elwynn made his way into the Landsraad and splattered the chief legislative organs with his internal organs. Only minutes later was the Shirerithian Ministry of Military Affairs able to execute a similar attack on the Jingdaoese Imperial Assembly. This raises the question if the MoMA knew beforehand if an attack on the Landsraad was going to take place. If they were, why didn’t they try to stop the attack? Indeed it is more likely that both attacks were planned in Shirekeep.
The strange objections against an internal modification at the MCS, the terrorist attacks …. It seems that Shireroth is out of control. Who will stop this madness? The peace loving people of Micras will have to put their faith and loyalty in the hands of the Heavenly Light.