Countries Which Don't Exist (Self-Declared; Unrecognized; etc.)

rynner2

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I've previously used this dispute as an example of the fatal flaws that undermine the EU, but it also deserves a mention here! 8)

The language divide at the heart of a split that is tearing Belgium apart
Belgium doesn't exist, only Flanders and Wallonia as Dutch and French communites live apart.
Ian Traynor, Brussels The Observer, Sunday 9 May 2010

Twenty minutes north of Brussels, in Belgium's medieval royal seat of Mechelen, there's a science playground, just the place for the kids on a boring, wet Sunday afternoon.

Technopolis is stuffed with interactive gadgets and games, making education fun. There is also another message. When entering the complex, the paving stones are inscribed with a simple, direct statement. The message is in Dutch only, the language of Flanders, the bigger northern half of the country. You are told the size of Flanders in square kilometres and its population density.

There is no mention of Belgium. That does not exist. You are in a country called Flanders. That does not exist either, but if many of the politicians running this divided society get their way it is only a matter of time.

"Long live free Flanders, may Belgium die" was the battle cry ringing out in Belgium's federal parliament on Thursday as the 150 elected deputies cleared their desks and returned home to prepare to fight an early election next month, triggered by the latest collapse of the national government.

Following the last election in 2007, Belgium went without a government for six months because of the divisions and squabbling between Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north and French-speaking Wallonia in the south. Three years later, the same conflict has brought down the government again.

In most countries of western Europe, the third prime ministerial resignation in three years would be cause for alarm. In Belgium, the latest resignation – of Yves Leterme, the Christian Democrat prime minister – after only five months has instead been greeted with shrugs of indifference and expressions of relief.

"We are incredibly lucky to be here; this is one of the luckiest countries in the world," says a senior government official. "We are very successful." Which is true in many respects. But the political class running this wealthy state of 10.5 million people gives a very good impression of caring little for a country called Belgium.

"I'm Flemish, not Belgian," says Willy De Waele, mayor of the small Flemish town of Lennik, just south of Brussels. "There's no loyalty to a country called Belgium. There has never been a country that has lasted so long in conditions like this."

Only a few miles to the east, but on the other side of the language barricades, Damien Thiéry, a French speaker, is more sorry than angry, but similarly pessimistic. "We've been arguing about this for 30 years. I'm not sure we will ever find a solution."

Language is the fundamental flaw at the core of Belgium's existential crisis, taking on the role that race, religion, or ethnicity play in other conflict-riven societies. The country operates on the basis of linguistic apartheid, which infects everything from public libraries to local and regional government, the education system, the political parties, national television, the newspapers, even football teams.

There is no national narrative in Belgium, rather two opposing stories told in Dutch or French. The result is a dialogue of the deaf.

"When I was studying in Brussels in the 1970s," says a Flemish former deputy prime minister, "I knew all the Walloon colleagues because we were on the same campus. But then they split the universities and now there's no contact."

Indeed, the two sides seldom interact. Intermarriage between Flemish and Walloons is low. Nor do they clash. They keep themselves to themselves.

etc...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/ma ... ench-dutch
 

brejones

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What a thought-provoking topic. It was especially interesting reading about the supposed "Republic of Lakota", considering that I am applying for college/univesity and planning to live in an area which is located right in the middle of supposed Lakota territory. Such a claim seems almost nonsensical, considering there is little support for it, and on the rare instance that it becomes independent, the already horrifying poverty amongst the American Indian population would increase substantially, and without U.S. aid, one might expect a Biafra-like situation
Still, very interesting topic
Made a good read while eating breakfast this morning :D
 

rynner2

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UK refuses to grant visas to Iroquois lacrosse team

The UK has said it will refuse to allow a Native American lacrosse team to travel to the country using passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy.

Officials told the team they would be granted a visa at immigration only with documents considered valid by the UK, including US or Canadian passports.

The announcement came after the US cleared them to travel at the behest of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The team says using other passports would be an attack on their identity.

The Iroquois Confederacy of six Indian nations oversees tribal land that stretches from upstate New York into the Canadian province of Ontario.

The UK's decision not to accept the confederacy's travel documents came a day before the opening day at the Lacrosse World Championships in Manchester, during which the Iroquois team were due to play England.

Only hours earlier, team members born with US borders had been granted a "one-time-only waiver" by the state department at the request of Mrs Clinton allowing them to make the trip without US passports.

The team, which ranks fourth in the world in lacrosse, have always travelled on the confederacy's documents as an expression of their Iroquois identity, but US officials had said they do not meet new, stricter passports standards.

"There was flexibility there to grant this kind of one-time waiver given the unique circumstances of this particular trip," state department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

The Canadian-born players were also experiencing problems obtaining leave to travel from Ottawa when British officials spoke to the team.

Federation of International Lacrosse spokesman Ron Balls said in a statement on the championship website on Wednesday that the Iroquois team would forfeit their opening game if it did not arrive on time.

The Iroquois helped invent lacrosse, as early as 1,000 years ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us+canada-10634044

Life gets complicated...
 

Peripart

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rynner2 said:
UK refuses to grant visas to Iroquois lacrosse team

The UK has said it will refuse to allow a Native American lacrosse team to travel to the country using passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy.


Life gets complicated...
Unnecessarily so, IMO. Surely the team realised that most states don't recognise the Iroquois Confederacy as a country?

I'm all for national pride, and I consider myself to be English and British in equal measure. However, if I want to travel abroad, I'm fully aware that I can't cobble together a passport with "England" on the front. I'm sure that, despite the talk of Scottish, or even Cornish, independence, that folk from those two proud peoples will still see the sense in travelling on a UK passport, possibly with "EU" stamped somewhere. The piece of paper which allows you to travel does not force you to adhere to any particular ideology.
The team says using other passports would be an attack on their identity.
Would it? Would it really?

It's fine for Hillary Clinton to allow the team to travel out of the US on these passports, but to go without checking that they would be accepted on arrival seems to be a classic case of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

Surely some sort of compromise was available? Normal US or Canadian passports, but with "Iroquois Nation" emblazoned on the cover, or something like that?
 

Kondoru

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I doubt these people would accept such a sensible compromise...

They should count themselves lucky; most US citizens have no passport.
 

Peripart

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Kondoru said:
Most US citizens have no passport.
Is that true? I wonder why that is, and what the proportion is for other countries? I'd guess that relatively few people in the UK don't have a passport.

I let my own passport expire a few years back, although I'm considering renewing it this year. In the meantime, I feel like I'm in some tiny, eccentric minority for not having a current one.

Here's a stupid question, only tangentially related to the thread: do soldiers posted overseas require a passport, or is membership of the Armed forces considered sufficient?
 

PeniG

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Sigh.

Most US citizens have no passport because we only travel within the United States and until recently it was possible and legal to travel to the adjacent countries on day-jaunts without one. No US citizen with a passport is "lucky" to have one - anybody who passes the application process can have one at little trouble to himself.

The issue here is not simple and hinges on the relationship between the Iroquois Nation and the United States. Consider these facts:

Until 1924, American Indians were not automatically considered to be citizens of the US.

The Iroquois and other Nations have always had certain rights and limitations vis-a-vis the US, similar but not identical to the rights of states under the Federal government. The use of the term Nation is not an accident but has real legal meaning.

Until THIS YEAR, US immigration did in fact accept passports issued by the Iroquois Nation as legitimate for purposes of re-entry.

This change in status is a change in administrative policy, not in law - no laws have been passed on the issue. It implies a profound, but undefined, unilateral, and undiscussed shift in the relationship of the two governments and the legal definition of the term "Nation."

The Iroquois, and other Indian Nations, can't let that slide. It's not just about getting the athletes back into the country - it's about the authority and autonomy of the subject nations within the United States, and whether one party can change the rules without consulting the other.

A number of historical faultlines are fracturing again here. The European geographical notions of nationhood and ownership and the American social notions of the same thing have, through mutual incomprehension, created vast amounts of confusion over the centuries; and here we are again. At some point someone is going to call the change in policy "yet another broken treaty," invoking decades of both legitimate grievance and he-said-she-said history.

Now, maybe you believe that the Iroquois should have no authority; but do you really expect the Iroquois to give up what they've had in the past without a fight? Get real. Nobody does that. Anybody who has managed to wield some power from outside the dominate power elite who sees that elite casually attempting to usurp that power to itself would be insane to let it go.

Maybe you believe that the Nation status of the Iroquois was always a fiction maintained at the whim of the government and the government can withdraw any rights it sees fit any time it wants. But that's not the way the system is supposed to work. We had a Revolution about it. Government works with the cooperation of the governed or not at all.

In any case, people who don't understand a situation don't have any call to judge it. This is one for the courts and the legislature and I don't know how it will resolve, or should resolve, but I know there's going to be more heat than light generated in the media coverage.

And ultimately? It's an internal American affair, not anybody else's business until and unless human rights violations appear.
 

Kondoru

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I always heard that US passports were expensive and beyond the means of a lot of people.

(but foreign travel from the US would be the same)

This Iroquis stuff? its that same stuff as that US civil rights stuff that GB schools and colleges are so keen to teach in history, yes??

(Forgive me, Im just an Ignorant limey with no passport...but to go outside my village is a big adventure.)
 

Peripart

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Peni, thanks as ever for your considered take on what is clearly a knotty issue. I intended - and, I hope, caused - no offence with my post. I know very little about the history of the Iroquois, but I do understand their wish to have their historic nationhood recognised. It's similar to situations the world over. As I hinted at, many of the citizens of Cornwall, here in England, see themselves as separate to the rest of England, and their is a burgeoning independence movement. OK, it's not quite the same situation as that in which the Iroquois find themselves...
PeniG said:
In any case, people who don't understand a situation don't have any call to judge it. This is one for the courts and the legislature and I don't know how it will resolve, or should resolve, but I know there's going to be more heat than light generated in the media coverage.

And ultimately? It's an internal American affair, not anybody else's business until and unless human rights violations appear.
Point taken about judging a situation, but all I was commenting on was the issue of foreign travel for these people. To say that it's a purely internal affair is all well and good, but if other states do not always recognise the Iroquois passport, then it's a battle best kept internal, surely?

It's all very well to try to enter the UK (in this instance) using an Iroquois passport, but when UK immigration refuse to recognise it, who gains? Maybe it's up to the US to issue dual nationality passports, maybe the lacrosse players could carry both, but make a point of always showing their preferred ones first? As I said in my previous post, the fact that I consider myself to be English does not mean that I will refuse to carry a UK passport.

A passport is not a political statement or an oath of alliegance - it's adocument to make travel easier. As and when the Iroquois Confederacy gains some degree of independence from the US, I am sure that other countries around the globe may re-consider their stance.
PeniG said:
Sigh.

Most US citizens have no passport because we only travel within the United States and until recently it was possible and legal to travel to the adjacent countries on day-jaunts without one.
Sorry to exasperate you, Peni. My question was honestly meant, I promise!
 

OldTimeRadio

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So we now need a passport to enter Canada.

It's hard to believe now but grade school students living near the western US/Canada border a century and more ago oftentimes walked across the border to attend the neighboring country's schools, if those schools were geographically closer than their own. (I learned this from veterans of the experience.)

"More complicated" does not automatically mean "better."
 
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Peripart said:
Here's a stupid question, only tangentially related to the thread: do soldiers posted overseas require a passport, or is membership of the Armed forces considered sufficient?
We still require an in-date passport, though we don't actually have to show it through customs or get it stamped or anything, just handover your deployment paperwork. (Got mine renewed for free too!)
 

rynner2

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We've discussed old county names on this thread, so...

Royal Mail set to delete counties from addresses

The names of counties appear set to be dropped from official postal addresses.

Royal Mail has been consulting on a plan to delete counties from the 28 million-strong address database used by companies and public bodies.

It follows complaints by customers to postal watchdog Postcomm about the use of out-of-date county names, such as North Humberside, Dyfed and Gwynedd.

Any changes, which will not happen until at least 2013, will not affect deliveries, experts say.

They say the postal service requires a house number, street and postcode for delivery purposes, but the county name is not strictly necessary.

The official address database is known as the Postcode Address File and lists the addresses of every home and business in the UK.

Under its current licence, Royal Mail is required to maintain the database and make it available at a reasonable charge to private companies and public bodies who want to send out items or use it for market research.

Ian Beesley, chairman of the board that advises the Royal Mail on running the database, said county names had become "a kind of vanity attachment".

"People will still use counties, but for postal purposes you don't need it," he told the Daily Telegraph.

He added that some people might get upset as counties were part of the country's heritage, but insisted they were no longer necessary for business and administrative purposes.

In a document on the possible changes in May, Postcomm indicated that it recognised the strength of feeling against the use of out-of-date county information and encouraged Royal Mail to stop providing such information "at the earliest opportunity".

The regulator said this would result in a gradual phasing out over a number of years of instances where people received addressed mail which included the "wrong" county information.

...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10825499

Next, the EU will say that country names are no longer necessary either! :evil:
 

rynner2

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Long article (plus comments) on the dropping of county names from addresses:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10853705

(It was news to me that the upstart Avon was abolished in 1996.)

ryn - a Middlesex lad (along with Russell Grant, who wrote 'The Real Counties of Britain').
 

rynner2

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I guess this can be squeezed in here:

Denmark Christiania: New challenges for Copenhagen's hippy zone

The hippy commune of Christiania in Copenhagen battled for decades for the legal right to run its own affairs. Now that it has won, the BBC's Anna Holligan asks how will it cope with the responsibility, and particularly an alarming illicit drugs market.

"'It's not a perfect society, but one of the nice things about being here is that it doesn't have to be," says one resident, who calls himself only Vesinger.
Vesinger delivers his assessment of Christiania with obvious affection. He has lived here with his two little boys for six months, a recent convert to the Christianian way of life.

And it is not hard to see why this tiny enclave just south of Copenhagen's city centre is an attractive location for a family.
Trees and plant life thrive free from human interference and pesticides. It is more racially diverse, culturally open and creatively expressive than your average Danish neighbourhood.

Christiania has been a squat for nearly 40 years, ever since a group of enterprising hippies broke down the fences and set up in the disused military barracks.
And after a recent government ruling, this small society is celebrating its independence as a kind of semi-autonomous region. They call it Freetown Christiania.

Kerstin Larson, a flame-haired, straight-talking social anthropologist, moved here 31 years ago after falling in love with a local.
"It gave me the chance to have a life that was not boring."
Now she takes curious tourists on guided tours through the graffiti-adorned streets of her adopted hometown.
"As you can see we have invested so much of our time and our heart into this place, we have made it what you see here.
"I'm very proud of what we've done. It's an artists' free town, we are eco-friendly but, yes, it's not an ideal society - it's an alternative society."

For years, the residents have been fighting for the right to remain in Christiania.
Ever since its inception, various governments have tried to have the squatters forcibly evicted, arguing that it was an unregulated hotbed for drugs and other illegal activities.
After months of negotiations, they have finally reached an agreement that keeps the politicians and most of the people happy.

Under the new rules, residents are allowed to buy their land at knock-down prices and the remainder will be put up for rent by the state.
Although this effectively turns a hippy haven into a local council for Ms Larson, it means for the first time they can exist in security as well as peace.

"It will be a new way of living," she says.
"We do not have to worry anymore about whether the government will throw us off our land. Hopefully now that we have won our right to own the land, then we will be able to feel more secure and start to deal with some of the problems that exist here."

Because life in Christiania is not all peace and free love.
The residents' liberal attitude towards cannabis, coupled with a rather inconsistent police approach to its sale, has made way for a darker force to infiltrate the otherwise carefree society.

Vesinger says Christiania's hippy dream has now made room for organised crime There have been outbreaks of violence including gun battles on the streets as rival gangs fight for control of Christiania's drugs trade.
On the notorious Pusher Street, skinheads with pitbulls glare menacingly from behind their stalls draped in camouflage netting at anyone who looks like they might be there to do anything other than buy drugs.
Khaki pants and bandanas make it look more like downtown LA than part of the leafy society that surrounds it.

The founding fathers built Chistiania with an ideological vision of openness, love and altruistic living. To these dealers, that freedom is there to be exploited for financial gain.

Back in the relative safety of Vesinger's chaotically charming back garden strewn with homemade children's toys and random items of ageing furniture, he acknowledges that their freedom has come at a price.
"I think if you'd have looked at Pusher Street 10 years ago, it would have been the perfect hippy dream," he says.
"There were booths full of flowers, people had painted their little cannabis sales stands, but that's changed.

"There's been zero tolerance towards cannabis from the government, a lot of police presence in Christiania, raids and things and that's meant only the strong survive.
"The soft hippy pushers who were there to make just a little money to get by have found it hard to survive in that environment - whereas the more organised crime element who know how operate as proper businesses have stayed and are thriving here."

If Christianians want their free society to thrive, they believe they have to weed out those who are "killing the vibe".
As Copenhagen's second most popular tourist attraction, it is perhaps in the new community council's interest to expel all those who threaten the founding principles that this land of overgrown bushes, life-sized Buddhas and giant recycled bird statues was built upon. And now they have more power to do that.

"A lot of Danes do see Christiania as a place full of crime and drugs," Vesinger concedes.
He led the negotiations with the government and hopes that in time they can use the newfound unity to deal with the drugs issue - not just locally, but on a national level too.
"I would like to see the discussion of legalising marijuana taken on rather than just pushed under Christiania's carpet," he says.
"I hope that now the power is in our hands, we can start to show the world that Christiania is so much more than just somewhere to come to buy a joint."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14496193
 

stu neville

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a year ago said:
..(It was news to me that the upstart Avon was abolished in 1996.)
Most of us that lived within it didn't acknowledge it. Bristol was its own county until 1974 and become one again in 96, and Glos and Somerset residents resented the hell out of Avon.

Interesting point about South Glos, and North Somerset come to that - once Avon was abolished there were moves to make Greater Bristol into a proper metropolitan authority, as most of South Glos and a fair bit of North and North East Somerset are contiguous with Bristol city limits: people in the next street frequently pay their council tax to a separate authority, get their bins collected on a different day, etc. There's about a million people in the wider urban area, but with four different councils, four different transport authorities, etc, none of whom can agree on anything. As a result we have among the highest rates of Council Tax in the UK, the worst traffic congestion outside London, the most expensive public transport bar none.. so why wasn't it all unified in 96?

Gerrymandering. Redrawing the boundaries would have altered the elective profile - and while half of Bristol itself is staunch Labour, the other vacillating between LibDem and Tory, the surrounds were at the time traditionally Tory, at both local and Parliamentary level. So the Major government gave us the pantomime horse set-up we have now to try and hang on to what electoral fingerholds they had. Labour promised to revisit it when they came in in 97 - nada. The local populace are all for unification - economies of scale, uniform tax rates, integrated transport system - but the political will is strangely anti.

Never mind what the people want, eh?

Ho hum. Back to the thread.
 

Spudrick68

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Ask people from Southport and Oldham where they are from, and nearly all of them will say Lancashire. Southport is actually in Merseyside and Oldham is in Cheshire.
 

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stuneville said:
a year ago said:
..(It was news to me that the upstart Avon was abolished in 1996.)
<snip!>
The local populace are all for unification - economies of scale, uniform tax rates, integrated transport system - but the political will is strangely anti.

Never mind what the people want, eh?

Ho hum. Back to the thread.
Stu, it may be worth starting an e-petition on the new site (based on what you've said I can't see them going for it but if there's enough signatures they at least have to go through the charade of discussing the possibility)

Spudrick68 said:
Ask people from Southport and Oldham where they are from, and nearly all of them will say Lancashire. Southport is actually in Merseyside and Oldham is in Cheshire.
Same goes for many residents across the whole of Liverpool, especially the outer areas such as Huyton and Prescot, and even more so with St. Helens (which has Warrington postcodes but always seems to be classed as Merseyside.)

I'm not far from Liverpool and I still write Lancashire as the county on letters for any Liverpool postcode and probably always will.
 

James_H

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In the north of Oxfordshire people will call the area they live in 'Banburyshire' as Banbury is the main centre of commerce.

I was also surprised to learn that large swathes of Oxford's outlying suburbs (as well as towns like Abingdon and Wallingford) were once part of Berkshire, which is now miles off. Fancy!
 

rynner2

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Here's a place that doesn't exist - yet:

Floating cities: PayPal billionaire plans to build a whole new libertarian colony off the coast of San Francisco
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:19 PM on 25th August 2011

PayPal-founder Peter Thiel was so inspired by Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand's novel about free-market capitalism - that he's trying to make its title a reality.
The Silicon Valley billionaire has funnelled $1.25million to the Seasteading Institute, an organisation that aspires to launch a floating colony into international waters, freeing them and like-minded thinkers to live by libertarian ideals.
Mr Thiel recently told Details magazine: 'The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?'

The floating sovereign nations that Mr Thiel imagines would be built on oil-rig-like platforms anchored in areas free of regulation, laws, and moral conventions.
The Seasteading Institute says it will 'give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get'.

Mr Theil, the venture capitalist who famously helped Facebook expand beyond the Harvard campus, called Seasteading an 'open frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government'.
After making his first investment in the project in 2008, Mr Thiel said: 'Decades from now, those looking back at the start of the century will understand that Seasteading was an obvious step towards encouraging the development of more efficient, practical public sector models around the world.
'We’re at a fascinating juncture: the nature of government is about to change at a very fundamental level.'

Mr Thiel and his colleagues say their ocean state would have no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.
Aiming to have tens of millions of residents by 2050, the Seasteading Institute says architectural plans for a prototype involve a movable, diesel-powered structure with room for 270 residents.
The long-term plan would be to have dozens and eventually hundreds of the platforms linked together.

Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer who is working on the project told Details that they hope to launch a flotilla of offices off the San Francisco coast next year.
'Big ideas start as weird ideas,' Mr Friedman said.
He predicted that full-time settlement will follow in about seven years.

But while some Ayn Rand acolytes may think the idea is brilliant, it's not without its critics.
Margaret Crawford, an expert on urban planning and a professor of architecture at Berkeley, told Details: 'it's a silly idea without any urban-planning implications whatsoever.'

Mr Thiel told an audience at the Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009 that: 'There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible.
'That's a good thing. We don't need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don't think it's possible they won't take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it's too late.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1WJmxRrne

That last sentence has an ominous ring to it, methinks...
 

rynner2

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Here's a place that does exist, but is it a country?

Italian town Filettino declares independence
By David Willey, BBC News, Rome

A small town in central Italy has declared its independence and started to print its own banknotes.
The authorities in Filettino, 100km (70 miles) east of Rome, are protesting against austerity measures.
It has only 550 inhabitants and under new rules aimed at cutting local administration costs it will be forced to merge with neighbouring Trevi.
Town mayor Luca Sellari, who stands to lose his job because of the eurozone crisis, came up with the idea.

He created his own currency, called the Fiorito. Banknotes have his head on the back, and they are already being used in local shops and being bought as souvenirs by tourists who have started to throng the normally quiet streets.
The mayor says there is enormous enthusiasm about declaring the independence of the new principality.

There has been such an outcry by small towns across Italy at the government move to abolish local councils and merge them with larger towns that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's coalition may be forced to backtrack.

In the meantime the new Principality of Filettino - complete with coat of arms and website - is suddenly enjoying international fame.
TV stations from as far afield as Russia have been running news features about Filettino.
After all, the mayor says, Italy was once made up of dozens of principalities and dukedoms. As he says, the landlocked republic of San Marino still manages to survive, so why not Filettino?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14774526

Italy to be Filetted? 8)
 

rynner2

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Not a country, but it has a flag:

Council under fire for plan to fly Romany Gypsy flag on pier front
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:05 AM on 6th October 2011

Council chiefs are planning to fly a gypsy flag on Aberystwyth's seafront promenade.
The plan will mean either removing another national flag from the display, or splashing out on a new flagpole.

Aberystwyth prides itself on the 52 flagpoles which grace its seafront, all flying European or other national flags.
But town councillors have now provoked a row by agreeing to include the Romany Gypsy flag.
Supporters of the move say they want to mark the area's 'long tradition of gypsies'.

But councillor Aled Davies suggested the move was a waste of money.
He said: 'I was wondering why they supported it, as those flags are supposed to be for small nations, and the gypsies don't have a nation as such.
'Should we really spend money on a flag and flag pole during the current economic climate? In my view, no we shouldn't.
'And I don't believe we should get rid of another flag to make way for this one.'

Town councillors in Aberystwyth agreed to display the Romany Gypsy flag - a blue and green flag with a red wheel - despite the concerns of some members.
It was officially adopted as the Romany flag in 1971.
The flag was invented in 1933, and adopted by the World Romany Congress in 1971.
After receiving a letter asking for their backing, town councillors agreed it was something they would support, although the final decision will rest with Ceredigion County Council.

Plaid Cymru councillor Mark Strong said at Aberystwyth Town Council's meeting: 'There's a long tradition of gypsies in mid and north Wales and they've done quite a bit for the culture over the centuries, so I think this is something we should strongly support.'

However, with no empty flagpoles, the county council will now have to decide whether to replace an existing flag or erect another flag pole.
The flags along the promenade are all either: flags of the minority nations of Europe; flags of other EU member countries; or flags of countries which send significant numbers of visitors to Ceredigion.

A Ceredigion County Council said: 'The display of flags on Aberystwyth promenade has attracted a great deal of interest over the years and is viewed as a popular attraction for visitors from all over the world.
'We receive many suggestions with regard to the display of new flags, however, the display is dictated by the limited space available and adherence to the guidelines is therefore necessary.'

------------------------------------------------------------

FLAG WITHOUT A STATE
Although there is no Romany state, the gypsy people have had a flag for 40 years.
The background of the flag is supposed to represent sky (blue) and earth (green).
The spoked wheel represents travelling as well as the Indian origins of the Romany.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1ZzcrPsDZ
 

Peripart

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Which part of the flag represents their traditional respect for planning regulations?
 

rynner2

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Peripart said:
Which part of the flag represents their traditional respect for planning regulations?
Ah, I think that's on another thread! ;)
 

rynner2

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Viewpoint: I'm Palestinian - but where am I from?
As a Palestinian bid for full state membership of the United Nations appears to be foundering, the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti reflects on the very practical benefits that statehood would have brought.

For years, the Facebook team has been reminding me that I have to edit my profile and add the country I come from. As a matter of fact, I deliberately left this out because of my irresponsible fancy that writers belong everywhere and to everyone.

Fed up with the dogged persistence of that dialogue box, I finally complied and clicked the "edit" button to write down "Palestine". Oh, it was not as easy as I had thought. I am not allowed to type, I must select from an alphabetically prearranged list of countries.

Under the letter "P" in that list I found the following: Palestine Texas-USA, Palestine Arkansas-USA, Palestine Illinois-USA, Palestine Alabama-USA, East Palestine Ohio-USA, New Palestine, Indiana-USA, and Palestine Ecuador. Where was the original Palestine? The old one where I was born 67 years ago?

It didn't exist. I went through the list many times and of course I found "Israel" under the letter "I". I am four years older than the state of Israel. There was no Israeli state in 1944.

The same thing happened when I had to fill an application for a visa to visit the USA. Again, there was no Palestine in their given list.

In newspapers, political discussions and even in the obscene peace negotiations (which have given us the process but not the peace) you will find references to the Territories, the Occupied Territories, Judea and Samaria, the Holy Land and the West Bank. West Bank of what? Of the River Jordan. But the west bank of the River Jordan is the east bank of Palestine - so why not name it?

For Palestine to be lost as a land, it had to be lost as a word too. If the west of the country is now called "Israel" and the east is called "the West Bank", where is Palestine?
Every time I hear the term "West Bank", I think of the pollution of language that has led to the assassination of the word "Palestine".

The Chinese poet Bei Dao found out about this the hard way when he visited the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco to get a visa. He told the young man standing in front of the building that he wanted to go to Palestine, and received the riposte: "There is no such country on the map, sir!"

Some years ago, PEN International Magazine published on its front cover - an undoubted honour - a complete poem of mine. However, instead of writing in the list of contents "Mourid Barghouti-Palestine", the magazine wrote "Mourid Barghouti-Palestinian Authority".
When I asked them to explain, they said there was no country called Palestine. To which my response was, "Is the Palestinian Authority a country?"

Back in the mid-1980s, I was visiting my elder brother in France, close to the Swiss border. It was summer, and other members of the family were with us. We decided to visit Geneva, travelling in two cars.

The border guard stepped out of his tiny kiosk and asked for our passports. He was amazed - in his hands were passports from all over the world, Jordan, Syria, the United States, Algeria, Britain, and even Belize. And the names in all of them showed that their holders were from one family, all Barghoutis.
He asked for an explanation of this cocktail of travel documents. But soon after my brother began, he started laughing, and interrupted - "That's enough. I don't want to understand!" He wished us a good time in Geneva.

We continued on our way, carrying with us the Frenchman's surprise at our situation. "You know, everybody," one of us said, "we really are a scandal."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15682672
 

staticgirl

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This is great:

Hill’s hunger strike leaves him unbowed
Monday, 30 July 2012 | Written by Pete Bevington

ENGLISH maverick Stuart Hill remains unbowed in his campaign to “expose” Shetland’s right to declare itself independent of outside authority, despite a 12 day hunger strike in Aberdeen prison.

The 69 year old from Cunningsburgh was thrown behind bars after he failed to appear in court on 12 July to explain why he had not carried out an order for unpaid work.

Hill said he had been working on his tri-maran boat when he was arrested and brought to the dock the following day, where he was remanded in custody until last Wednesday.

In court Hill said he would be prepared to complete his community service, but insisted this did not amount to accepting the jurisdiction of the court.

“It was a compromise,” he said at the weekend. “I don’t propose to get into the criminal system again, but having been there it now offers no threat.”

However he has now vowed to take his case to the Criminal Case Review Commission, and further if necessary, in his campaign to prove the Scottish, British and European political and legal systems have no say over his life, or that of anyone else in these isles.

The short jail sentence is the most severe consequence Hill has faced since 2008 when he stepped up his campaign after declaring a 2.5 acre islet off Shetland as the independent state of Forvik.

His latest court appearances come after he was arrested for driving two vans without tax, MOT or insurance, saying they were consular vehicles for his island state.

He was ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work, but stopped after completing 42 of them. When he failed to explain why, he was arrested and sent to Craiginches prison on remand.

As soon as he was arrested he refused to eat or drink, but after five days he started taking a cup of water morning and night until his release.

“It was a protest. I thought it was completely unwarranted and heavy handed for me to be there,” he said.

He also asked to be placed in a cell on his own after becoming unnerved by his cell mate’s behavior.

“He was a drug dealer who had been using marijuana for a long time and I believe that makes you paranoid. One minute he would be talking perfectly normally about Shetland and the next moment he became really agitated.”

He said that he had not felt at all intimidated “despite being a well spoken Englishman surrounded by Glaswegian and other drug dealers”, and the experience had left him feeling “buoyed”.

“The more extreme my treatment gets, the closer I know I am getting to a proper answer.

“This is certainly not an ego trip. I could well do without it, but I feel there is a basic injustice which has been perpetuated on Shetland which I aim to expose.

“It matters not to me what people do when it is exposed. I am not telling Shetland what to do. I believe I am doing what is right.”

He says he lives in hope of finding an impartial judge to hear his arguments, outlined in a 71 page document he has sported at various courts around the country.

At the same time he appears to accept he has little ground for such hope. “Can you imagine a sheriff, a judge or three judges sitting together coming to a decision in my favour. It’s just not politically possible.”

Meanwhile he is at home regaining the stone in weight he lost while refusing food in prison, working on his boat and preparing his next step in annoying the authorities.

He says he will also be contesting his bankruptcy, after having his claim for £23 million damages from Royal Bank of Scotland thrown out by Lord Pentland, who affirmed earlier this month that Shetland is legally part of the UK.
http://www.shetnews.co.uk/news/4551-hil ... bowed.html

The Shetland news has a great masthead - Great is the Truth and it Will Prevail.
 

rynner2

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This has been mentioned on the Modern Art thread, but it deserves a mention here too:

An entirely new nation, 'Nowhereisland', arrives in Devon
When artist Alex Hartley discovered an unmapped island in Svalbard in 2004, he towed it down to the UK, established an embassy and started recruiting citizens. Christopher Middleton meets him.
By Christopher Middleton
12:39PM BST 06 Sep 2012

It’s not every day a floating island comes to Ilfracombe, and the townspeople have turned out in force to welcome the 144-foot-long chunk of Arctic rock currently sitting in their harbour.

There’s a party of pupils from Ilfracombe Arts College, dressed up as sailors and singing sea shanties. There’s a grown-up choir from Barnstaple, in citrus-coloured shirts, who are singing, too (“We are one world”). And there’s a procession of 200 people making its way along the quayside, some wearing pirate costumes, some waving freshly painted placards.

At the head of this throng, a brightly coloured banner is held aloft, like those you see at trade union rallies. Only instead of the name of some amalgamated society of steel workers, it bears one word, much larger than the others – Nowhereisland.

More accurately, perhaps, this should read Nyskjaeret, since that’s the original name, in Norwegian, for the rocky land mass that’s lying 100 yards off the Devon shoreline, attached to to the tugboat that’s taking it around the south-west coast.

It is here as part of the Arts Council-funded Cultural Olympiad, and it’s travelled not just from Weymouth, via Torquay, Plymouth and Newquay (it’s headed to Bristol at the end of this week), but from the High Arctic region of Svalbard, just south of the North Pole.

The person responsible for it being here is a rather unusual British artist called Alex Hartley, who, having discovered this hitherto unmapped island in 2004, had both the nerve and the determination to ask the Norwegian government if he could detach a bit of it, and bring to the UK.

Which raises the question – why?
“This project has actually got a lot bigger than I originally envisaged,” admits Hartley, as he surveys the queue of people waiting to sign up for “citizenship” of Nowhereisland (20,800 and counting).

“To start with, I thought it would be an interesting project just to bring back one rock from this undiscovered island, a bit like bringing back a souvenir from the Moon. The more I thought about it, though, it seemed that bringing the whole island would be even more interesting.

The aim is to encourage people to think about what it would be like to start up a completely new nation; to get them to make proposals for what life should be like on Nowhereisland, what the constitution should consist of, and so on.”

They are doing so today, in large numbers. Once they’ve signed up for citizenship (no charge), and rung the official welcoming-bell on the Nowhereisland “embassy” (a travelling horsebox converted by Hartley himself), the newly enfranchised islanders are invited to submit suggestions for how things should be ordered in the new nation-state
.

These range from the predictable (no war, no discrimination) to the downright inspired. Among the most voted-for measures are those banning call centres and requiring Nowhereians not to take themselves too seriously, plus the rule that, after work, every citizen is entitled to a free drink.

There are plenty of ticks, too, beside the proposal that there should be free parking all over the island, and that there should be one day of the week in which all shopping is prohibited. Not to mention the notion that there should be free ice cream every Friday, and that the national currency should be not money, but stories.

As well as this public input, though, there are contributions from the island’s 52 “resident thinkers”, who include among their number all kinds of prominent personalities from Vidal Sassoon to Yoko Ono, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Giles Fraser, the St Paul’s Cathedral canon who resigned over the treatment of the Occupy protesters.

All have submitted thoughts that the floating island has stirred up, sometimes in the form of meditations on the nature of boundaries and ownership, sometimes in the form of practical policy proposals, as in the case of Sir John Tusa, former managing director of the BBC World Service, whose request to the Nowhereisland government is that: “Every child will have time in its curriculum to do nothing and learn to be bored.”

As with everything pertaining to Nowhereisland, the reflections of these thinkers are stored within the nation’s embassy, a mobile cabinet of curiosities and delights, alive with drawers that you are invited to pull open, and glass cases you are encouraged to peer into.

Some of the exhibits are items brought back from the Arctic: a walrus fibula, a canister of melted glacier water, a muddy wellington boot that set foot on Nowhereisland when it was Nyskjaeret. It is all rather fun, as are the various tangentially relevant objects, such as the tins of Fox’s glacier mints, the Polar exploration cigarette cards, and the DVD of Ice Station Zebra.

There is also, however, a more serious archive section, containing laminated documents that form the correspondence between Hartley and the Governor of Svalbard, requesting permission to remove the island and take it to Britain. As you might expect, there’s a fair amount of paperwork involved in sailing off with a bit of someone else’s country.

“In the end, I think there were a number of things that persuaded the Norwegian government,” says Hartley. “A major factor was that Nyskjaeret had only appeared during the 1990s, when the glaciers around it melted; what’s left there is continually being eroded, too, so it’s quite likely that in 15 years’ time, the whole island will have vanished, anyway.

“What also appealed to them was the opportunity to tell the story of global warming to more people. Plus they’ve a history of other countries laying claim to territory in that part of the world, so I think they welcomed the chance to highlight the issue of international borders.”

...

So what next for this go-anywhere bit of the Arctic? It is going to be given to the people – not metaphorically, but literally.
“When the citizenship list closes on Sunday (9 Sept), we are going to break up the island and distribute it physically, to anyone who applies,” says Situations director Claire Doherty.
“It’s the ultimate form of citizenship. As from next weekend, and for ever more, the people of Nowhereisland will not just belong to the nation, they will own a part of it, too.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/cult ... Devon.html

Beautifully bonkers! :D
 
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