We at The Baltic Times have always prided ourselves on giving our readers the freshest information possible, and as a special New Year's treat, we have decided to do one better: we're going to report on events before they've actually happened. Based on consultations with our seven in-house psychics, a super-computer and a guy called Phil, we've managed to put together the following list of what we believe will be the 10 biggest headlines of 2008. Please bear in mind that there's no guarantee that any of these events will actually take place. In fact, in most cases we're sincerely praying that they won't.
Lithuania buys Chernobyl reactor
After negotiations to form a national energy utility fall through and Estonia and Poland, who were meant to be partners in the new Ignalina power plant project, pull out of the deal, Lithuania decides to secure its energy future by purchasing reactor three of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Plans are that the reactor, which was decommissioned in 2000, will be dismantled and shipped piece-by-piece to Ignalina, where it will be reassembled by Ukrainian experts. Economy Minister Vytas Navickas calls the purchase the "deal of the century," pointing out that the Cesium-137 leftover from the 1986 disaster has a half-life of of "only" 30 years.
Latvian tourist arrested for peeing on Buckingham Palace
A 29-year-old Latvian man is arrested in London for peeing on Buckingham Palace. Police say that the man, who was wearing Latvian traditional garb and screaming rude Latvian phrases, was visibly intoxicated at the time of the incident. "He lowered his trousers and began flapping it," a representative of the Royal Guard tells The Baltic Times. An outraged British press decries the act, calling on all Latvians to "Go back to Poland where you came from."
Estonia creates 'virtual' Bronze Soldier
In an effort to ease continuing tension over the 2007 removal of the Bronze Soldier monument from downtown Tallinn, an innovative government project creates a "virtual" version of the statue that Web users can place wherever they like on a grid map of the city. "They can put it in the middle of Town Hall Square or in a trash dump, and it won't offend anyone. It's a perfect solution," says the project's creator. Visitors to the site are first asked to click which version of World War Two history they prefer for the plaque, while an additional module allows them to alternatively place flowers or splash red paint on the soldier.
Experts predict Lithuania will be empty by 2013
Citing the continuing exodus of workers from Lithuania which only increases after Schengen zone expansion, demographers predict that the country will be completely empty by June 2013. Prime Minister Kirkilas downplays the prediction, calling it "alarmist." Speaking from his overcrowded flat near the Hounslow West Underground Station, he says that Lithuania's economy is robust and that the workers will eventually return. When pressed, he refused to give details, claiming he was late for his job washing vegetables at the local Tesco.
Vilnius city government bans rainbows
Taking its efforts to stifle public demonstrations in favor of gay rights or tolerance one step further, the Vilnius city government declares that all rainbows are to be banned from the city. "We do not discriminate against anyone in our city, but we cannot have outsiders imposing their moral views on us," says an unnamed city official. Critics claim the money spent on cloud seeding to prevent rainbows from forming would be better spent on just about anything else.
Savisaar stars in reality TV show
Following his complaints that his political opponents have a stranglehold on the Estonian media, Tallinn Mayor and Center Party Leader Edgar Savisaar takes up an offer by Kanal 2 to star in a fly-on-the-wall reality TV show, along with other members of his family. The Osbournes-style show initially boosts the aging politician's popularity, but TV audiences quickly become more interested in the antics of Savisaar's attractive daughter, who then launches a music career.
Finance Ministry predicts 0.2 percent inflation
New Latvian Finance Minister Aivars Lembergs predicts that Latvian inflation will drastically fall to 0.2 percent by the end of 2008, allowing for eurozone membership as soon as Jan. 1, 2009. The economy, however, is due to continue its rapid rise, Lembergs claims. The surplus will be invested into the struggling American economy.
Cops prohibited from driving
In an effort to reduce Lithuania's shameful rate of road accident deaths 's the worst in the EU 's the interior minister decides that members of the country's police force will no longer be allowed to drive. Though the plan, which involves paid professional drivers, is initially criticized as insane, the public warms to it after death tolls drop by 30 percent.
Nord Stream revealed as hoax
Years of bickering over the controversial Nord Stream pipeline come to an abrupt halt when its backers reveal that the deal was actually an elaborate hoax played on Baltic countries. "We really got you guys," laughs German ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, "You should have seen your faces!" Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown in tears at a press conference, barely able to inhale between giggles. "Pipe ze gas here, pipe ze gas zere," he sings.
Latvia's chimpanzee government a success
When the newly formed Latvian government, hastily thrown together by Prime Minister Godmanis after his Dec. 14 appointment to the post, crashes within a month of its formation, President Zatlers and the remaining members of Parliament replace the entire cabinet with chimpanzees, reasoning that the alternatives would be worse. After several weeks the public ceases to mind, grateful for a respite in the constant political scandals that have rocked the country. "I always said a group of trained monkeys could do better," says former president Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Critics point out that technically, chimps and monkeys are different species.