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Special Report: Making News Where There Is None

Hello all out there,

A news service sends us a package of news on a daily basis and our Communications Operator formats it into ‘Aurora News’ for people on board to read. Funnily enough after a while we tend not to have much interest in what’s happening elsewhere so the paper is quickly scanned and passed on. Recently we were getting heartily sick of some political news seemingly endlessly repeated so Gordon and another guy put their heads together and decided to create something of real interest.

So, over five issues of the paper with an item every two or thee days the paper ran the following story which we thought you might enjoy. The early episodes started some chatter, some disbelief but ‘who knows what those Americans will do’.

Episode 4 was the one which really got the conversations running. Even now some are not at all sure whether this was real or a hoax or some making a hoax of a real story or .....

Enjoy, Rookey (for those who know him) and Gordon had a lot of fun putting it together. We don’t know if the word escaped the ship but people outside must have been puzzled at comments or questions coming from here. The Captain and Voyage Leader were told after Episode 2 in case they decided official communications became appropriate!!!!

Episode 1: US submarines bound for Antarctica
San Diego, Ca: Following recent controversy over the Australian Government’s decision to allow US Nuclear Submarines to travel through the Great Barrier Reef in north eastern Australia, the US Government has announced it is sending nuclear submarines to the Antarctic. A spokesman for US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, said that Antarctic icebergs and sea ice were ideal testing grounds for US experimentation with new generation torpedos using top secret revolutionary sonar technology. Cold waters and the compressed ice which makes up icebergs, were perfect proving grounds and far superior to the warmer waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Secretary Albright stressed that the program was not about military systems but the use of underwater vessels and technology for non-strategic purposes, for example in the undersea deployment and recovery of scientific instrumentation packages, krill and plankton research and sea floor studies.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and Defence Minister John Moore welcomed the development as another element in bilateral cooperation and said there were significant spin offs for Australia’s interests in the region, but did not elaborate.

Episode 2: Downer supports Americans over subs, Premiers squabble
Esperance, Western Australia: During a surprise visit to this tranquil fishing settlement Foreign Affairs Minister Downer was besieged by reporters pressing for elaboration over his statement welcoming America’s announcement of its plans to trial undersea technology in Antarctica using nuclear submarines. Mr Downer said that many of Australia’s ports would benefit from periodic visits by the submarines. He also said that Australia’s interests in the protection of rare and endangered fisheries in the southern oceans would also be served by the US presence. Australia’s efforts to stop illegal poaching of such species as the Patagonian Toothfish had been ineffective and Australia needed to be more visibly supportive of measures to limit catches to those set by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, or CCAMLR. He said that Australia’s Antarctic program would also benefit by making some areas of research easier to achieve.

As he did in the recent arguments over the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Premier Beattie was furious over the Federal Government’s attitude. He was however not supported by fellow Labour Premier of Tasmania Jim Bacon who welcomed the initiative. "We need to continue to enhance Tasmania and Hobart’s reputation as a haven for visiting ships of all types, and especially those involved in Antarctica", Mr Bacon said.

Episode 3: Greenpeace rally to arms over subs
San Diego, Ca: Australian Navy Chief Vice Admiral Shackleton on a visit to the large American Naval Base in San Diego said that he understood the USS Tomahawk was to be the first of the nuclear powered submarines to visit Antarctica for the revolutionary torpedo and sonar trials. He said that while American defense officials were coy with the details, he understood that the program would commence this Austral spring and summer. Interest would focus in the Prydz Bay area and adjacent to the massive Amery Ice Shelf. While in the region the submarine would be capable of detecting and apprehending illegal fish poachers operating in the southern ocean in the vicinity of the Heard and McDonald Islands.

US officials were quick to say that the trials posed no threat to humans or animals and the ice was a great absorber of energy. A spokesperson for various Ethics Committees around Australia said the American statement was laughable and they should put up for international scrutiny the bases on which they had made their judgement.

Greenpeace International immediately began plans to deploy the Rainbow Warrior 2 and the Gondwana captained by veteran Antarctic sailor Arne Sorensen to the area and called upon all sister organisations to rally to support Greenpeace. A spokesperson for the organisation said that this was the greatest affront to international efforts to make Antarctica truly a land of peace and science.

Episode 4: Hill resigns over subs controversy calls colleagues "wimps"
Canberra: In a dramatic announcement today Senator Robert Hill, leader of Government Business in the Senate and Minister for the Environment resigned from Parliament. He said that despite the stand he had taken in approving US nuclear submarines transiting the Great Barrier Reef, the US proposal to use nuclear submarines in Antarctica was unacceptable and he could no longer support the current Government. He said that he had vigorously opposed the proposition in Cabinet but he could get no more than lukewarm support from other members of the Government referring to some of his colleagues as ‘wimps’. His position and resignation were warmly welcomed by Democrats nuclear spokesperson Lyn Allison, who said there would be an opening in the party for Senator Hill whenever he wanted it.

At the same time in Hobart, a bemused Robert Clifford founder of International Catamarans said he found the whole idea of using nuclear submarines laughable. He said that on the slips at the Company’s yard in Derwent Park was a new generation high-speed semi-submersible hydrofoil catamaran which would more than adequately deal with the sort of trials the Americans were talking about and would also be ideal craft for resupplying Australia’s bases in Antarctica and more than capable of apprehending any number of fish poachers.

Episode 5: Russians have the last laugh over subs debacle
Moscow: Weighing into the debate about American submarines in Antarctica for the first time, a joint statement was released today by Russian President Vladimir Putkin and Russian Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov. The Russian statement said that the whole thing was an attempt by dissidents to distract the world from the problems that Russia had had with its submarine Kursk in the icy waters of the Arctic and to make a mockery of the American approach to anything.

The statement said that Russian investigators had established that the whole matter was an elaborate hoax. The perpetrator, who went by the shadowy nickname Viktor, had genuinely worked in the interests of his mother Russia by shifting focus to the antics of the Americans and the western world in general. In fact in doing such a service to Russia, Viktor who had done time in the Davis area of Antarctica during the 1980s was to made a Hero of Russia.

The Americans and Australians were suitably red faced and concerned people on the Aurora Australis are no longer concerned.



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