And Now The News

Anchorwoman: Good evening, I'm Jenny Delaney and this is NewsDigest Double Daily, the evening edition for North American Sector. Our top story for the hour is a terrorist assassination yesterday in Jeddah, MidEast Sector.

[embedded vid clip -- Imam Faisal Alem speaking at a mosque]

Imam Faisal Alem: "If humanity had never turned away from Allah, and the path of righteousness that the Prophet Muhammad laid down for us in the Qur'an, these demonic spirits called the Q would never have been able to imprison us here! We must return to righteousness, and modesty, and submission to the will of Allah!"

Delaney (v.o.): Imam Faisal Alem was formerly of the world Grace of Allah, one of the few Earth colonies to retain strong religious traditions even into the current century. Here on Earth, he has been a major proponent of the "Righteous Path" movement, which seeks to regain the favor of their god by returning to their ancient religious traditions. They hope that if they can gain favor with God -- called Allah in their tradition -- they can call on Him to defeat the Q and restore humanity's place in the universe. But some within the same religious tradition challenged the Imam's strategy.

[embedded vid clip -- Professor Adrah Al-Qasemi at Riyadh University]

Professor Al-Qasemi: The problem is that Righteous Path's version of traditional Islam is the version from nearly two thousand years ago -- the version as laid down directly by Mohammed, when women were considered property of men and preserving their chastity for their husbands was a major concern. At the time Mohammed lived, many of the Qur'an's tenets were quite progressive toward women, with laws restricting how severely a man could beat his wife, passages calling clearly for the education of women and representation of women as businesspeople. If they were to be interpreted literally now, however, they'd be horrifyingly backward. But of course, nowadays the Qur'an is primarily interpreted metaphorically; the fact that culture evolves clearly indicates that Allah intended His laws for the understanding of the people who lived at that time, not all people for all time.

Interviewer: But Imam Alem doesn't agree?

Professor Al-Qasemi: Correct, he wants to see women restricted from showing their faces in public, and made essentially property of men, denied the right to make a separate living and needing permission from husbands or male relatives to do almost anything. Under Imam Alem's vision, women wouldn't even be allowed to use transporters unless their husbands permit it.

Delaney (v.o.): Most of the objections to Imam Alem's fiery rhetoric about the proper place of women were raised by academics and human rights organizations. One group, however, had such strong objections to his beliefs that they took violent, and fatal, action.

[embedded vid clip -- four women and one man, all standing, surround a naked, beaten, bound man, kneeling on the floor, who is clearly Imam Alem. The man holds the Imam's hair as one of the women waves a knife. Another woman speaks.]

Spokeswoman: We are the Equality Front! We protect the equality of all human beings! This man, Faisal Alem, has proven himself to be a traitor to his own kind, a human who argues for the subjugation and enslavement of other humans, and for this crime there can be only one penalty!

[Main news studio]

Delaney: After reciting a manifesto in which they declared that anyone seeking to subjugate women, or any other separate group of humans, is a traitor to humankind, they executed the Imam by cutting his throat. I must warn you, if you were planning on pulling up the full linked clip, it is graphic.

After the execution, the Equality Front released this clip via broadcast push, where it ended up in the video queue of every newsbrief consumer in the Mideast Sector. Police quickly determined that the images of the conspirators in the recording were actually popular holosuite character templates, and for a while, there was hope that this meant the entire recording might be a holosuite fiction. Unfortunately, the body of Imam Alem was found three hours after the recording was released. He had been beamed into the main road on the outskirts of Mecca, where true believers in the Islamic tradition make pilgrimages to the place where they believe their god spoke to their prophet, and he was found by pilgrims within minutes of being beamed there, according to Mideast Sector police.

Most world organizations have condemned the tragedy, including organizations such as the ECLU and the Human Rights Commission which had been vocal opponents of Imam Alem's philosophies. In Jeddah, where Imam Alem lived and preached his beliefs, six monads have reported an unusually high number of rapes, domestic violence incidents and even acid attacks on women since the Imam's death yesterday, and some of the victims have reported that their assailants explicitly claimed that these acts were in retaliation for the murder of the Imam, or simply because the victims were not considered sufficiently "righteous" by the attackers.

Additional Starfleet troops have been dispatched to Mideast Sector to help in peacekeeping operations if the violence increases to the level of riots or uprisings. NewsDigest Double Daily will keep you posted on further developments with this situation.

Closer to home, in Europe Sector, there have been developments in the case of the Lautermann Monad disaster.

[flat images of Lautermann Monad transporter victims]

Police have now released a statement that the horrific transporter accident which claimed 409 lives in Lautermann Monad in January of this year and necessitated a shutdown of the world transporter grid was in fact not accidental at all, but caused by a computer virus. Three arrests have been made in the case earlier today. Thus far the police have not released the names of the suspects, and for security purposes it is expected that they won't do so until after the suspects have been tried. There has been speculation that the virus was created as part of an organized terror plan; however, when NewsDigest attempted to talk to Commissioner Masaru Ohmura regarding this speculation, he could not be reached for comment.

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Delaney: Here in North American Sector, in Iowa, the James T. Kirk Memorial Park Arcology was the site of another tragedy, as park officials found 67 dead, including 16 children, in a cult-related murder-suicide. The bodies were identified as those of Ranit Parvati, founder of the cult called Blood of the Lamb, and his followers and their children. Apparently they had all consumed poisoned root beer. One of the children, 8-year-old Sheila Winks, survived; the child claims that she dislikes root beer, and only pretended to drink it.

[flat images: Ranit Parvati; Parvati speaking in a monad auditorium, sparsely populated; Sheila Winks, looking adorable]

Parvati preached that the Q were angels sent by God to punish us for ceasing to believe in the ancient religion of Christianity, and often talked about the sacrifice of human lives being required to atone for humanity's sins. No video records were available of the cult's final meeting in the park, as they were out of range of cameras, but the audio records indicate that Parvati persuaded his followers that their suicides, and the deaths of their children, were heroic sacrifices necessary to free humanity from the blockade.

Some family members of the cult are outraged that no action was taken against Parvati earlier, although he has been openly preaching the value of human sacrifice for several months.

[embedded vid: Sarah Ndube, mother of cult follower Janine Ndube and grandmother to Janine's children Brian and Konte Ndube, both victims of the killing -- images of the deceased Ndubes show superimposed next to Sarah's head as she speaks]

Sarah Ndube: Didn't they think this nutjob might actually kill someone? Hello, his holoflyers plainly talk about the need for people to die so humans can break the blockade and get back into outer space! I don't care about freedom of religion -- he was shouting "Fire" in an enclosed stadium. He was talking about killing people. They should have arrested him just for that. (tears well in her eyes) Now my daughter is dead, and my grandsons, and for what? Because some crazy asshole thought the Q would care? They don't care.

Delaney: Normally I don't interject personal notes into these news briefings. But I served with Captain Kathryn Janeway, on Voyager. My captain actually met the Q. And I agree with Ms. Ndube. The Q don't care. They aren't interested in what gods we choose to believe in, they're not interested in anything we do. They locked us up for reasons of their own, alien reasons we'd probably find incomprehensible. They aren't gods, demons or angels; they're powerful alien beings, and they quarantined us the way the Cardassians used to quarantine pre-warp societies with philosophies they were afraid of their own people being exposed to, before they started simply conquering them. If you're at all inclined to kill yourself, or anyone else, because you think the Q are somehow paying attention and they'll respond in any way at all... don't. Because they don't care.

Now, back to the news. Over in Europe Sector, again, police have been warning citizens to avoid the Jam Zone of Free London. It shouldn't be surprising that the people who felt strongly enough about avoiding surveillance to put signal jammers all over historic London would turn out to be criminals, but tourists haven't been getting the message.

[embedded vid clip: Male Tourist]

Tourist: They held me captive for two weeks... until my vacation time ran out.

Interviewer: How were you treated?

Tourist: It was horrible. They gave me stale homemade bread to eat, and water that I'm fairly sure was full of impurities, and they made me sleep in a room with no windows, with twenty, twenty-five other captives all sleeping in bags. And there were bugs in the sleeping bags!

Interviewer: Was there any violence?

Tourist: They kept beating up one fellow because he refused to use his replicator credits for them. But they didn't rape the women, at least; there was a woman in charge and she wouldn't even let the men near the room they were keeping the women in. I was allowed in to visit my wife, once, with a woman for a guard, and she said they were being treated about the same way as us -- terrible food, awful accommodations, but no violence if they cooperated.

Interviewer: And all they wanted was for you to order things from the replicator?

Tourist: That's right, things like decent food, which they wouldn't even let us eat, and clothes, and toiletries... all that kind of thing.

Delaney: Police believe the Jam Zone is full of unregistered people, people living off the grid where they can't be identified, counted, or sterilized, and they need a steady supply of kidnapped tourists with voiceprints and replicator credits to supply their illicit activities.

The leader of the Jam Zone kidnapping ring is thought to be James Moriarty, a former sentient hologram modeled after the Victorian criminal mastermind who was Sherlock Holmes' nemesis. Moriarty was programmed by the singer/entertainer Song, who himself is a former android.

[embedded vid clip: Song]

Song: Professor Moriarty does have his own code of honor, but I created him to be Sherlock Holmes' nemesis, and since I was playing Sherlock Holmes and I was a highly intelligent android at the time, he was programmed to be very, very intelligent. And he would hardly have been a criminal mastermind without being a criminal. I regret that he's taken on a life outside the holodeck, but I didn't foresee him developing sentience, let alone that the Q would grant sentient holograms reality as human beings.

Interviewer: How serious do you think the threat presented by Professor Moriarty is, realistically?

Song: Well, I don't think he has any motivation to become a terrorist, and I believe he will try to enforce his own form of order in the Jam Zone. Perhaps humans need some sort of region that's free of surveillance and control. Although, in this solar system, it's quite possible for individuals to lead a very free life in space, if one is able to obtain a spaceship, so perhaps there doesn't need to be a place for that sort of lawlessness here on Earth. Still, I do not think Professor Moriarty is the greatest threat humanity faces; I would be much more concerned with the various cults that have been springing up lately. At least Professor Moriarty is a man of reason.

Delaney: A man of reason, perhaps, but a man willing to kidnap innocents to support those who want to live outside the law.

In South American Sector, talks broke down again between FedGov and the First Nation, and the possibility of Earth's first planetary civil war since First Contact looms closer. First Nation continues to refuse to abide by the population codes, insisting that their history as victims of frequent genocide and forced relocation, including as recently as the aftermath of the Cardassian War when their homeworld was given to the Cardassian Empire and many were killed by the Cardassians at the end of the Dominion War, should exempt them from the one-child requirement. Here's a statement by First Nation spokesman Steven Running Deer.

[embedded vid: Steven Running Deer of the First Nation]

Running Deer: When the Europeans came to North and South America, they wiped out as many of the indigenous peoples as they could, with disease, with war, with forced relocations at the point of a gun. During the 20th century, neglect, bigotry, deforestation, and programs of forced sterilization destroyed even more of us. By the time the Vulcans helped Earth become peaceful, the traditional lands of the indigenous peoples of South America had all but been destroyed, while the peoples of North America had suffered anarchy and lawlessness for much of the 21st century.

So we sought the opportunity to move to a new world, to terraform it with the traditional plants and animals of our forebears, and for two centuries we had peace. We restored our numbers to what they had once been, and more... but all the other branches of humanity did much, much more. While humans of European descent account for two and a half trillion humans, and Asians account for two trillion, and Africans another trillion and a half... the population of the American Natives reached barely half a billion.

And then we were driven off our world again when the Federation ceded it to the Cardassians. Not only did the Federation refuse to assist us when we fought the depredations of our new overlords, but they actually called us terrorists and prosecuted us for the crime of protecting our homes and families. And then the Cardassians wiped out two-thirds of us in bloody war.

When the Q sent all of humanity to Earth, they sent us here, to the rainforests of South America. Many of us are actually of North American descent; many who come from South America have ancestors who hail from the mountains or deserts, not the rainforest. But we have chosen this place to found our nation, the First Nation of the Americas, and to make our stand.

We will not cooperate with the self-genocide you demand of us. There are fewer of us than there are of any other branch of the tree of humanity, by several orders of magnitude. Restricting us to one child per couple will destroy us. And you have tried so many times to destroy us. But this time we will stand.

Delaney: Starfleet's Commander William Riker had this to say in response to Running Deer's comments:

[embedded vid: Commander William Riker of Starfleet]

Riker: Look, I'm sympathetic to their position. But let's put this in context. There's nothing special about any one human culture or any one human genetic family; there are six trillion humans in the solar system and it's killing us. And the rainforests supply about 70% of Earth's oxygen. Are they going to try to have a traditional American Native lifestyle when there are two hundred million of them trying to co-exist with the trees and wildlife we need for the survival of the entire planet? We can't build monads in the area; the deforestation that would require is just unacceptable. And they want to be able to reproduce at replacement rate, to have two babies each instead of one, and they want no enforcement of this either, no forced sterilizations. Well, I'm sorry. But no one likes the sacrifices they have had to make to survive together in this situation. They want to have more kids, they can move into space stations the way everyone else who wants more than one child has to, because Earth cannot support three trillion people indefinitely.

Delaney: On one side, people who feel their ancestry has cheated them out of the place in the human tapestry they deserved. On the other side, people who feel that fairness demands blind adherence to the same rules for everyone. And all life on the planet is at stake; if war should break out in the South American rainforest, the oxygen levels for the entire planet Earth could drop precipitously. Here's Commander Chakotay of the First Nation with his beliefs about the situation.

[embedded vid: Commander Chakotay of the First Nation]

Chakotay: No one with any intelligence fights in a burning building, and I think Commander Riker and I both agree that the building is very much on fire. The First Nation doesn't want to risk Earth's oxygen supply any more than Starfleet does. But you have to understand, the Federation -- including all the people of Earth who weren't out with us in the demilitarized zone at the time -- turned its back on us when we needed your support, and so we're really not inclined to agree that now that you need us, we should cooperate in our own gradual destruction for the sake of all the people who ignored the plight of the Maquis and the displaced colonists. We're not asking for the moon here -- either of them. We only want the right to regulate our birth rate ourselves, without forced sterilizations or the execution of unauthorized children. And we're willing to do what we have to, under the circumstances.

Still, I'm optimistic that we can work something out. I respect Commander Riker a great deal, and I think he's a reasonable man. And I think the leaders of Starfleet and of FedGov are overall reasonable people. Since what we're asking for isn't really that much, I am confident we'll be able to negotiate our way to a peaceful resolution.

Delaney: Finally, our last note for this broadcast. In two days, it will be June 17th, the third anniversary of the day the Q sent us all to our solar system and locked us in. As the anniversary approaches, our thoughts are with our friends in the galaxy. Are you thinking of us, out there? We think of you, and we miss you, and we will continue to do everything reasonable in our power to escape and join you again someday.

Humanity does not forget, and we don't give up, either. And Earth abides.

That's it for today. For NewsDigest, I'm Jenny Delaney, and you've been watching the Double Daily, North American Sector, the evening edition.

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