2946-07-27 - Editor's Loudspeaker: The New Rheims Committee Hearings

Delegate Sylja Nisi-Bonn's committee began holding hearings this week in Congress on the New Rheims cover-up. While I was not able to catch the past three days' hearings live - our studio and Yaxkin City are nearly on opposite sides of Planet - I have viewed the recordings of all the hearings to date. I know that many people in this audience are very interested in what comes out of the investigation, who don't have the time or bandwidth to view fifteen hours of recordings. As such, I will provide a brief list of highlights in a text feed post after the last hearing this week (on the 29th).

Some of you likely took my advice the last time the investigation was mentioned in this space, and added ingestion rules for Delegate Nisi-Bonn's datasphere releases related to the investigation; however, I have already spotted several concerns which her press office has chosen not to highlight, or perhaps which nobody on her staff recognized the significance of immediately.

As there have only been three days of hearings so far, it is too early to determine whether Congress is going to play along with the Navy's evident desire to keep the actual cause of the disaster secret from the public, but given how heated discussions between Admiral Godfrey and Delegate Nisi-Bonn became on the second day, I remain optimistic about our chances of learning what happened. Members of this audience should be cautioned that congressional investigations take months to reach even the simplest conclusion; though we can watch its progress day to day, we may not have answers before the end of the year.

2946-07-01 - Editor's Loudspeaker: New Rheims Investigation

This studio is not a news service; however, I'm sure you'll fogrive me for breaking that rule for this brief message.

The Confederated Congress has initiated an inquiry into the cause of the New Rheims disaster. While until now Sylja Nisi-Bonn, the delegate from Mars who is chairing the investigation was unheard of here on Centauri, her hypercast conference yesterday gives me hope that we'll eventually learn what happened. She seemed to indicate that she will treat Navy representatives as hostile witnesses, which is, as far as I'm concerned, the right step. It's been the better part of a month since news of this disaster reached the Core Worlds, and still we've learned nothing about how a supposedly ecologically stable climate suddenly collapsed.

I highly recommend setting up some ingestion filters to follow public releases from the investigation. If we're going to learn anything, they're likely to be the source.

2946-06-21 - Editor's Loudspeaker: New Rheims Ecological Collapse

This Editor's Loudspeaker post was written with the consultation of the rest of the Cosmic Backgrounds staff. Opinions contained within it are a consensus reached by the employees of Cosmic Background, not the sole opinion of the specific writer, Duncan Chaudhri.

It's time to clear the air about New Rheims. Because Cosmic Background - on the vidcast and on this feed - has avoided reporting directly on events there, we've been inundated with messages asking why we haven't, and by others promising an inside account of what happened there.

To be clear, Cosmic Background is not a news operation. If you want a news feed, there are thousands of them out there to choose from. We are an entertainment program for the interstellar community - a variety show for spacers, about spacers' interests. It is not our intent to find out "what really happened" in any current event. We will offer perspectives on current events that our audience might find interesting, but we leave the journalism up to the journalists.

We don't have any answers as to what happened, but we know who almost certainly does. We are worried that the Navy had something to do with the New Rheims disaster. That is, to be sure, a sensational claim, and we're going to take heat from Naval Intelligence for submitting it to our text feed - but we have reasons for this conclusion.

While this is not the proper medium for a full breakdown of all the reasons we suspect this, we can point out a few key observations which led Ashton, Sovanna, myself, and the others to this conclusion.

Peculiar Timing

Most of us here in the Core Worlds learned about the disaster on New Rheims on 06-10, when the story went from being a datasphere rumor to being picked up by some of the largest newsfeeds out there all at once. Oddly enough, there was no official announcement at first. The Navy, which had ships already on the scene evacuating the planet's residents less than six shifts after the disaster had begun, didn't formally announce the crisis until the twelfth, when private relief organizations had already begun to mobilize. This delay is odd, as in the navy's own published version of events, it had ships - an entire patrol group no less - on scene by no later than the last shift of the 06-09.

Moreover, six shifts is too soon for a response from a nearby system. To have been on-scene within that time, the responding vessels would have to have already been deep in the system. I can find no good reason for a patrol group deployed to the Hegemony border to have been in the vicinity of New Rheims.

Censorship of Images

Until the announcement, all we knew was that the world of New Rheims in Riviera des Soleils was suffering an ongoing natural disaster of some type which was quickly rendering it uninhabitable. Hard data beyond that was difficult to find. For a while, orbital images of gigantic, dusty-brown storms growing and multiplying on the planet's surface were available, but by the time of the Navy representative's official announcement, they had all been removed from the datasphere here in Centauri. As of this writing, I am still unable to find these images on any public datasphere resource. The Navy's announcement did not feature any pictures except those of the refugees, possessions in hand, being herded onto shuttles and settled into spartan accommodations hastily prepared aboard the Arrowhawk, the light cruiser which was, as per the Navy's account, on scene within six shifts. No other visual evidence of the disaster has been available since.

I didn't think anything of the images at the time, but evidently someone in the Navy or the government thought they were harmful enough to send takedown notices. The only kind of takedown notice that would be so universally honored is, of course, the sort issued by Naval Intelligence.

Lack of Military Response

The Navy hasn't mobilized any warships, beyond those already on the scene. No battle groups have been diverted to Riviera des Soleils. The only ships ordered into the region have been military haulers. I can find no evidence of these convoys being escorted more heavily than usual. The Navy claims it hasn't ruled out any possibilities, but the lack of movement from its combat squadrons, and the unescorted nature of its relief effort, suggests that they've ruled out enemy action. As of this writing, the Navy's official story still asserts that the investigation is ongoing and has not yet ruled out any cause of the sudden ecological collapse of New Rheims.

There needs to be a full investigation of New Rheims. I personally hope we, and the other personalities I've seen who have noticed that the Navy appears to have had a hand in the disaster, are wrong - but we'll only know for sure if there's an open inquiry. The Navy, for its own sake, needs to open its records about the matter, whether or not military personnel are culpable.

Cosmic Backgrounds supports the military forces of the Confederated Worlds, but this support does not extend to concealing misconduct. We call the Navy's reputation for honorable conduct into question only reluctantly, and we hope that the Admiralty lives up to the reputation built by generations of heroic officers in this matter.

2946-06-07 - Editor's Loudspeaker: Responding to Audience Feedback


Firstly, thank all of you who have sent feedback to the Cosmic Backgrounds team about this new feature - it's not even three shifts old, and we've already had hundreds of messages from the audience suggesting things we could focus on. Given that we know based on ingestion metrics that approximately ten to twelve percent of our audience members are out of range of any Hypercomm Relays at any given time, and far less than a third of our audience ingests our new content within the first twenty-four hours of its being published, this bodes well for the future of the Tales from the Inbox text feed feature.

Secondly, I need to address a common themes I've seen in the messages we've gotten Almost two thirds of the input I got suggested that I specifically focus on publishing stories related to the Reachers, the Angels, or both. A third of them suggest that I use this feed to catalog the frontier encounters which may be first sightings of the vessels of new xenosapient species.

  • While I do expect that we'll have content that touches on the Angels occasionally, be aware that Cosmic Backgrounds is subject to the law of the Confederated Worlds, and we cannot publish anything Naval Intelligence designates as a military secret, and that includes almost everything related to the Angels. If military secrets are broadcast to the datasphere from our studio, the resulting fines would probably put us out of business. If we are handed a story about the Angels, it is studio policy to give our local Naval Intelligence office the right to veto whatever content we make out of it, before it is published. Most of our audience know this already, but just as a reminder, those rules apply to the text feed, too.
  • The Reachers, by contrast, are legally fair game, and most of you already know how much we like to talk about them. Cosmic Backgrounds has been at the forefront of the re-entry of these odd, elusive sapients into the cultural forefront, after centuries of being considered nothing more than a data point in the historical record. Where I find reasonably plausible accounts of Reacher involvement in human affairs, I will of course share those stories, if they are sufficiently interesting. Since this is a text feed, I will leave playback of simple visual recordings to Sovanna, and focus on encounters which have a more interesting course of events.
  • The intent of this feed was not to turn it into a repository for stories about mysterious xenosapient encounters. We will have some content which fits that description, but not all of the dramatic events which take place on the Frontier have something to do with rare xenosapients. If you only wish to see accounts of a certain type, you can always configure your data ingestion protocol to search for the desired meta-tags.

Check your ingestion queue tomorrow for another exciting audience submission on Tales from the Inbox!