Culture ministry completes new holiday list

NEW MERCY – On 1 September, the Duchess of Bellevue, Minister for Culture, approved the addition of 34 holidays and observances to Überstadt’s official holiday list. 16 cultural holidays were recognized, some new and some already widely practiced in the Kingdom, while 18 public observances joined the national calendar.

Recognized cultural holidays include significant days in Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism, reflecting the diversity of citizens’ religious practice. Five secular holidays were listed as having national cultural significance, including the Winter Solstice, LGBTQ+ Pride Day, and two new holidays created based on citizen suggestions: Day of Rest and Knowledge Day. Raspberry Day was listed as significant in Rosewood, where raspberries are the dominant crop and an important aspect of local culture.

Some of the18 codified public observances are internationally-recognized days, like Indigenous Peoples Day and World Water Day. Others are specific to Überstadt, including Victory over Fire Day, which dates to the country’s oldest holiday laws as a commemoration of the 2009 fire that devastated Edmount Island, the first land Überstadt claimed.

After April 2021’s Renewal Act repealed all existing Überstadti legislation, the Kingdom had no legal holidays until Parliament passed the Holidays and Observances Act this March. The act listed six state holidays and authorized the culture minister to publish official lists of cultural holidays, defined as those “culturally significant to Überstadt as a whole or to specific cultural groups within Überstadti society,” and public observances, “designated for general remembrance…but not classified as state or cultural holidays.”

New royal residence annexed and made capital by name of New Mercy

NEW MERCY – King Adam has signed a decree annexing into Überstadt the apartment he shares with Queen Laurel, naming it New Mercy and designating it as the Kingdom’s capital.

King Adam sits in New Mercy in naval uniform and signs the decree.

New Mercy, surrounded by Boston, USA, is Überstadt’s first territory outside the Seattle metropolitan area and its first territory annexed since 2014. The last change in national capital occurred in 2013, when Rosewood joined Überstadt and assumed the status.

The new capital is the first exercise of a theory being developed by the King and other Überstadti leaders that allows for sovereign claims over portions of buildings without necessarily claiming the underlying land, a departure from traditional Westphalian sovereignty that sometimes occurs de facto in urban small nations. Anticipating the Kingdom’s further urbanization, Parliament allowed this type of claim in an act passed earlier this year.

New Mercy is named for Mercy House of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Seattle, where Queen Laurel lived during a service year and where Their Majesties conducted much of their courtship.

The King’s decree makes New Mercy, formally a barony, part of the newly-formed Sophia County and Duchy of Massachusetts. The county is named for the classical personification of wisdom in a nod to the royal couple’s academic pursuits, while the duchy is named for the surrounding U.S. state of Massachusetts and the region’s indigenous Massachusett people.

Parliament approves culture programs, territorial changes, health and environment ministry

SEATTLE – At a meeting on Independence Day, 6 March, Parliament approved the King’s proposals for new cultural programs, territorial reforms, and a broadening of the environment ministry’s portfolio to include health.

Two of the four acts empower the Minister for Culture to give government sanction to aspects of national and local culture by publishing them on official lists. The Holidays and Observances Act defines six state holidays and directs the minister to maintain a Holiday and Observance List. The list will recognize cultural holidays and other observances observed by Überstadtis generally and by specific cultural and religious groups. This act also permits government workers leave on state holidays and cultural holidays they observe.

The Monuments and Heritage Act similarly establishes a National Monuments List and a National Heritage List to record sites, artifacts, and intangible heritage of national significance.

The Territory Act’s most important provisions clarified aspects of Überstadt’s territorial philosophy. It declared that Überstadt’s oldest territory, Edmount Island in Lake Ballinger, is a claim of “historical and cultural significance to the Kingdom and an acknowledgement of stewardship, not an assertion of exclusive control or usufruct rights.” The act also asserts that Überstadt may exercise sovereignty over parts of buildings without claiming spaces above and below them, essentially allowing territorial claims of individual units in multifamily residences. These changes follow King Adam’s speech at MicroCon 2019 that urged micronations in historical settler colonies to rethink their approach to land claims and reflects the increasing number of citizens who live in dense urban neighborhoods.

The Territory Act also created the county as a subdivision of the Kingdom’s duchies and relinquished Überstadt’s claim to Creekbed Colony, a small piece of parkland near the capital, Rosewood.

This meeting’s final agenda item was the Health and Environment Act, which renames the Ministry for the Environment to the Ministry for Health and the Environment. It requires the minister to publish quarterly reports on public health in Überstadt and an annual report on environmental issues.

King announces interim cabinet

ROSEWOOD – On Monday night, 21 June, King Adam I announced his cabinet’s new composition in Parliament’s online venue. The appointees will serve on an interim basis until the next meeting of Parliament votes on whether to confirm them.

The King’s appointments are as follows:

  • Himself continuing his present roles as Secretary of the Treasury and Minister for the Economy;
  • Crown Prince Aaron assuming the role of Minister for the Environment;
  • The Duchess of Bellevue continuing as Minister for Culture.

The King acknowledged the current cabinet’s domination by the Royal Family and expressed an intent to diversify its membership in the coming year. He invited citizens to suggest any offices that they feel should be created and noted his interest in finding another person to serve as economy minister.

The economy minister role holds heightened significance during Überstadt’s ongoing negotiations with Sandus on the governance of the Common Economy they share. By treaty, the minister has a seat on the Commission for the Common Economy, which governs the association.

Parliament passes Renewal Act, giving government clean slate

“Obsolete” laws repealed, Parliament moved to semiannual meetings, Social System citizens granted equal rights

SEATTLE – As part of King Adam I’s agenda to reinvigorate Überstadt’s social life and government, Parliament approved this last Sunday a constitutional bill that repeals most existing law and changes how the legislature operates.

The Renewal Act, written and sponsored by the King, repeals all prior Acts of Parliament except the Constitution Act, which is the foundation of Überstadt’s uncodified constitution. The new statute’s full title refers to “repealing obsolete legislation.”

Much of the act changes the rules governing Parliament. Most significantly, the body must meet at least twice a year in synchronous meetings instead of existing as an online chat or forum. Parliament remains a direct assembly of Überstadti citizens, so there are provisions for absentee participation in debate and voting.

The act also states that citizens of Überstadt through the Social System partnership with Sandus share equal rights of citizenship. This establishes reciprocity of “social citizen” rights between the two states, as Überstadti citizens have long been able to vote and hold high office in Sandus.

Under the new law, the King must present Parliament with a comprehensive bill on citizenship within three months. In the interim, he may grant naturalization at his pleasure.

The King also gains certain powers that he says will allow the government to function fully between meetings of Parliament. During the body’s recesses, he may annex territory and appoint cabinet ministers. These actions still need parliamentary approval, but they are now effective immediately and subject to a confirming vote at the next legislative meeting.

With similar rationale, royal power to declare states of emergency without consulting Parliament is expanded. States of emergency declared by the King may last up to three months before requiring parliamentary approval, lengthened from one week under previous law.

In meetings with cabinet members and political advisors in recent months, the King has emphasized the need for many of these reforms to make Überstadt more engaging for citizens and sustainable. He has indicated his belief that Überstadt’s existing laws were inconsistent and largely irrelevant, necessitating a complete overhaul.

In Parliament, the King also proposed that the change in format for Parliament “will allow Parliament to become a social occasion, perhaps coinciding with major holidays.” This aligns with his stated goal of a more vibrant social and cultural scene in Überstadt.

The expansion of social citizen rights also corresponds to growing collaboration between Überstadt and Sandus, especially ongoing economic integration talks.

First census announced

ROSEWOOD – On Monday evening, King Adam announced in a printed statement that Überstadt is to hold its first annual census this month. Citizens will receive census forms on the 11th, and responses will be due the 25th.

Last year’s law on nationality directed that a census occur each year, and made it mandatory for all Überstadtis. Those who do not participate are subject to losing their citizenship. The king emphasized in his statement that the data collected will help the government better serve the people and produce insightful statistics.

The census questionnaire will ask citizens about their languages, religions, levels of education, and other demographic information. According to the king’s office, supplemental questions meant to help the government integrate new citizens will also be included.

During the two weeks of the census, the government will not process naturalization petitions.

King opens Parliament, nominates ministers

ROSEWOOD – King Adam gave a speech opening Überstadt’s ninth parliament tonight, announcing his government’s priorities and welcoming new citizens. He then submitted his cabinet nominations for the legislature’s approval.

A major emphasis of the king’s speech (text available here) was building national unity. The government proposes integrating new citizens through actively working to find them roles in national life, as well as through distributing Überstadti flags to citizens free of charge. A system of grants to fund cultural celebrations is also proposed.

Sustainable development was another focus of the speech. The king’s announced program for economic growth and environmental protection largely follows existing precedent, highlighting watershed health and the control of industry-related pollution, with a focus on conservation as a way of preserving indigenous rights. One major policy shift is new support for transferring public-owned economic cooperatives to the control of their workers, similar to Juclandia’s 2013 reforms promoting a socialistic private sector.

For the first time since 2016’s moratorium on welfare and taxes, the government will address the question of public revenue by implementing what the speech described as a “voluntary head tax,” which would recommend a specific level of financial contribution from all citizens. Since this practice would technically be a continuation of the current practice of all-volunteer donations to the treasury, it may move forward without legislation. The king’s speech also endorsed the creation of an online shop for selling Überstadti memorabilia.

Toward the end of his address, Adam turned to national security, declaring that “more must be done to prepare our citizens and infrastructure for emergencies of all sorts.” He proposed using the military as a vehicle for increasing citizens’ preparedness against physical and cyber threats.

After completing the ceremonial speech and seeing it posted to the online venue of Parliament, the king nominated his new cabinet. He seeks to retain himself as environment minister and the Baroness Rosewood as culture minister, appoint citizen William H. economy minister, and himself take charge of the treasury.

Crown Prince Aaron resigns posts, commences mission

ROSEWOOD – On Tuesday night, Crown Prince Aaron resigned command of His Majesty’s Navy and leadership of the Treasury, prior to the Wednesday start of his missionary service.

As previously reported, King Adam is to take custody of the Treasury, and intends to offer naval command to a retired American general. Other high-level shakeups are anticipated in the next month, with the King’s office indicating its intention to open a new session of Parliament.

Crown Prince Aaron will spend about six weeks in the Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before proceeding to his two-year proselytizing assignment in the vicinity of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Kennedy, Austenasians rebuke fascism as party politics revive

BELLINGHAM, Washington – Last Sunday evening, Austenasian Prime Minister Joseph Kennedy condemned a new far-right party, prompting protest by the party’s leader and vocal support for Kennedy among Austenasian politicians. The furor led to the prime minister joining the Imperial Party, which some anticipate could lead to a revival of partisan politics in the empire.

Kennedy published his statement after Daniel Dankovsky, Austenasia’s intelligence director, drew international attention for making racist statements. Co-signed by two senior officials in the Austenasian Prime Minister’s Office, it distanced the government from Dankovsky before going on to openly condemn the Organisation of Austenasian Nationalists (OAN) as “repugnant to the values…on which Austenasia was founded.”

Dankovsky founded the OAN in September with a platform calling for political centralization, absolute monarchy, and aggressive militarism. Despite many Austenasians deriding it as fascistic from its creation, Dankovsky is known to have tried recruiting senior Austenasian officials into its ranks. According to high-ranking sources, he described the OAN as the party of any true patriot.

After Kennedy posted his statement in the Austenasian general Skype room “Wrythe Pub,” Dankovsky called the prime minister a coward and suggested he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He insisted that the OAN would win the next election, although he is its only known member. Other government members present defended Kennedy and mocked Dankovsky.

Kennedy then announced his new membership in the Imperial Party, a small center-right faction led by deputy PM Eren Scott.

“Though I initially ran as an independent, I feel like having a political party as a support base will allow me to continue to unite Austenasians under the beliefs that I ran for office with,” he said.

“Furthermore, it will allow me to better combat the Organization [sic] of Austenasian Nationalists.”

Scott made a brief statement affirming his party’s opposition to “the Fascist organization.”

The following day, Emperor Jonathan I ordered Dankovsky to apologize to Kennedy for making insulting statements. He thanked Dankovsky for his service in the intelligence agency, but warned him to “behave more appropriately.”

“Please do not force our hand,” the monarch concluded.

Citizenship reform expected in Überstadt

BELLINGHAM, Washington – Überstadt’s parliament is likely to pass citizenship reforms, dramatically expanding the availability of full Überstadti citizenship.

King Adam has informed The Chronicle of his intention to bring forth a bill within the coming week that will alter the structure of Überstadt’s citizenship system. The partial-citizen rank of Auxiliary Citizen, created last September to allow more people abroad to become Überstadtis, is to be absorbed into full citizenship. The only nonstandard status will be Social Citizenship, an element of relations between states of the Social System which Überstadt shares with Kumano and Sandus.

New regulations on who may vote on what matters in Parliament are anticipated in the forthcoming bill. Überstadt is a direct democracy, a fact that prompted debate on potential political restrictions for non-residential citizens. Because the reforms will make residents into a minority of citizens, provisions will be included blocking non-residents from voting on matters pertaining exclusively to Rosewood, the kingdom’s sole population center.

In a 2 March debate in Parliament on the proposed change, the possibility of preventing non-residential citizens from holding cabinet office was also considered, although non-residents have held such posts before. This idea was abandoned in deference to royal discretion on ministerial appointments.

At this same debate, Adam emphasized the potential for more governmental activity and cultural advancement that would accompany a broadening of citizenship. He argued that the success of the Auxiliary Citizen program proved the willingness of people not directly connected to Überstadt to identify with and work for it.

The Baroness Rosewood expressed concern in that meeting about preserving Überstadti identity as it now exists.

“I would not like for us to be overrun with those who would do things differently,” she said.

The king replied that citizenship applications would rightfully include affirmations of core Überstadti values. The bill he intends to propose will also give him discretion over whether to grant individual citizenship requests.

In his Independence Day speech to Parliament, Adam described the anticipated reforms as a return to the inclusivity of early Überstadt.

“Everyone who shares our values, is willing to work for the Kingdom, and believes in the idea of Überstadt should get to be a full citizen,” he said. “I hope that in 2017, we find a way to make Überstadt work for everyone who truly wants to be part of it. Doing so will restore the inclusive spirit of 2010, and will only make us stronger.”