APFELHAIN — A federal judge has ruled in favor of over 1,000 citizens who filed a lawsuit against the City of Norman, located in northern Shasta near the Sierra-Rainer border, alleging the city council intentionally designed speed limits around the city to be sporadic and confusing in order to trap motorists. In his opinion, Judge Allan Shepard III wrote that the city "Showed callous disregard for the spirit and intent in laws meant to regulate the speed of motor vehicles," and that the city had collected around $80 million as a result of "...this abuse of local authority".
The issue had a long history. As early as 1998, the city, which has a population of approximately 6,700, had become notorious among tourists and travelers for its strict enforcement of speed limits. Although it has a small population, the city's official limits extend almost 21 square miles in area. A financial report obtained by citizens during the case showed 68% of the city's revenue was through traffic citations. The city's practice continued until 2010 when the city council passed a measure to reform the city's speed zones, drastically altering some areas of the city. On one road called Maple Ave., the speed limit was changed from 45 MPH to 25 MPH, which prompted complaints from citizens who argued the road ran through an area too sparse to justify such a slow speed. The city declined to address the matter further, which prompted a class-action lawsuit against the city in 2014 after a citizen's group called Norman Residents for Fair Enforcement (NRFE) conducted a study and concluded the new speed zones were designed to be confusing and erratic as to make it easier for police to trap violators. After four years of litigation, and two more suits filed for separate, but related, reasons, the NRFE won out. As per the settlement, the citizen's group will be paid the majority of the settlement sum, which will in turn decide how to distribute the funds. In addition, the city was ordered to re-work its speed zones to make them more, as Judge Shepard put it, "Reasonable to the typical motorist."
As mentioned, two more suits against the city are still pending. The first alleges the city violated federal road standards and was filed in 2016. The second, filed that same year, is against the Norman Police Department and alleges they unfairly targeted motorists who had out-of-province license plates for traffic citations. One Rainian traveler was cited $400 for speeding 5 MPH over the limit. He contested the citation and it was thrown out for being too excessive (the citing officer also failed to appear in court).
The city council disagreed with the ruling, stating "The City of Norman has always prided itself on its safe roadways and we have always ensured that the protection of those roadways is fair and in the interests of the community that resides here." The council went on to state "Although we disagree with the Honorable Allan Shepard's ruling, we will nevertheless review our city's traffic policies to find where as a community we can improve."
Norman is not the only city taking heat for its speed enforcement. Over 30 cities across Sierra have had some sort of formal complaints lodged against them regarding traffic enforcement. NRFE spokesman John Dallard said he hopes the ruling will "...encourage other cities to review their practices and start enforcing for safety and not money."
SAN FRANCISCO CITY — The Prime Minister suggested Parliament should implement a tax credit for women who own firearms Wednesday afteroon, while attending a conference hosted by the Sierran National Women's Convention (SNWC). The convention, which saw the appearance of the most influential women in Sierra and the world, was hosted in San Francisco. Heartwell's presence was not without controversy. A group of about one hundred people protested the Prime Minister's arrival, bearing signs calling her a "Traitor" and a "Tool of the Patriarchy". She further inflamed the protests during a impromptu press conference wherein she fielded questions from various media outlets. Kim Barrista of The Berrington Journal asked Heartwell "How should the government act to prevent violence against women?" to which she responded "A tax credit for women gun owners could do a lot. Parliament should introduce a measure like that. It would generate a lot of discussion." The Prime Minister continued, "We need to stop being victims and take action. I hear a lot of stories of women who get viciously attacked for something minor like turning down a man's advances. If she was carrying a gun, well then maybe men would think twice." Political analysts were quick to question the Prime Minister's proposal, arguing it would be in violation of many anti-discrimination laws. Jonas Pfiffer, from the University of Berkeley's political science department stated "What the Prime Minister proposes goes against every anti-sexism law we have. Not to mention the wrong way she believes more guns are the answer." Hannah Seung-hui, a spokeswoman for the Social Democrats told SPN "Women shouldn't have to carry a deadly and dangerous weapon just because men can't understand 'no' means 'no'."
The Prime Minister's comments received praise from the other side of the aisle. Emil Alexandrecu, who made a name for himself acting as Heartwell's biggest advocate during even her earliest senate days, said "Once again, Heartwell drops knowledge on the left and they don't know how to react." He continued, "Rapists and women-beaters aren't ever going away. But if one or two or ten get shot next time they f--ck with a woman, maybe she can feel safe at night again. I'm gay. I carry. I'm not scared."
PORCIÚNCULA — A federal jobs guarantee, to be networked and implemented in cooperation with participating provicinal governments, has been added to the Prime Minister's official legislative agenda Monday afternoon. Although she has made no official statements on this proposed program as of yet, on the Royalist Party's website (specifically www.royalists.org/primeminister/agenda), Heartwell outlines why she believes such a program is necessary for the Kingdom and how it would be implemented. "During times of economic hardship, the state should act as an employer of last resort. In many cases, employers cannot hire because it is not profitable to do so. What we propose would absorb the costs of putting honest Sierrans to work so they can have a shot at a better future." The program has no estimated costs for taxpayers but the proposal goes on to say "The cost of this program would be shared by the federal government and by provincial governments, who will cooperate to create basic standards for private sector employers who wish to participate." The program, if implemented, would also target convicted felons and provide a means for reintroducing prisoners back into society, especially those convicted for non-violent offenses. The proposal has been seen as a left-ward shift for Heartwell but others dispute this. Emil Alexandrescu, a journalist who is known for his far-right views, says he disagrees with the idea but "Sees value" in it. The Social Democrats, led by Susan Kwon, applauded the idea and said they were "Looking forward to working with the Prime Minister to get this onto the Parliament floor." According to analysts, the most challenging part of passing such a proposal would be cooperation from the provinces. Allison Heartwell (no relation to Nemesis Heartwell), a fellow at the Political Sciences Association of San Clemente, says "Not all provinces are equal. Some will have better means of paying for this than others. And some will be flat out not interested." Within the Royalist Party, the idea has opposition, namely from politicians who believe the jobs created by it will be useless or redundant jobs that do not actually benefit the economy. Luis Kevin Mendez, a MP from Clark, told SPN "Creating jobs for the sake of creating jobs is not how we improve the economy. We could create so many jobs tomorrow if we abolished all technology and did everything by hand. Some jobs need to be phased out and I'm afraid this program could keep obsolete jobs alive, which becomes a drain on the economy and the taxpayer."
PORCIÚNCULA — Drawing comparisons to fascist aesthetics, the Prime Minister made waves on Sunday morning with the release of new promotional poster entitled "RISE" which shows Heartwell standing triumphantly in front of a purple gradient background with the same words behind in her in black. The poster has drawn mixed reactions on social media with Social Democratic leader Susan Kwon saying on Twitter: "Rise? Rise of what? Are the Royalists planning a second cultural revolution? Certainly the vibe we get from this poster." The poster was uploaded to the Royalist Party's official Twitter page and garnered 34.3k 'Likes' within one hour. Even figures supportive of the Royalist Party and the Prime Minister were apparently scratching their heads. Conservative pundit David Suth said: "Nemesis is living up to her name. I fully expect these to be posted en masse in every dark alley way in Porciúncula." The Prime Minister herself had yet to comment on the poster but nevertheless it has spawned various memes within the first hours of its posting. Internet analyst Kathleen Wu says this could help Royalists in upcoming elections. "Any publicity is good publicity, in essence," she explains. "Achieving 'meme status' is definitely a factor in how candidates perform in elections, especially among the youth."
RIVERSIDE — Hellen Page, who was among the ten people who accused former Prime Minister Daniel McComb of sexual harassment, made an apology on Twitter Tuesday afternoon after a recording of her surfaced last week. In the recording, which was found and published by Hamlin O'Riley, an editor for right-wing publication Starware, Page states that being harassed by McComb was "...probably the best thing that's happened to me." She goes on to say "...I'd still, I'd still be working at that one sh-t place down in Porci. I'm not supposed to say this, but like, I actually enjoyed the attention a bit...". The comments prompted outrage on social media. Page, since she made her accusation against the former Prime Minister, has made a living as a public speaker and anti-sexual harassment activist and has been a featured guest at numerous talks and conventions on the subject. Tanya Neimer, a spokeswoman at the Brutain Institute for Sexual Abuse Studies (BISSAS), said "These remarks paint a dangerous picture of sexual assault and molestation victims as opportunists and should be condemned." O'Riley published the recording on his own Twitter page in which he said "'Sexual harassment' is a farce. Women love the attention and McComb was character assassinated. Here's the proof." Although his own comments received similar condemnation, the backlash against Page compelled her to make a statement of apology in which she writes: "I have said some things that de-legitimize the real experiences many women and men have with sexual assault. My comments do not accurately reflect who I am and I sincerely apologize to anyone I have offended. I will be spending the next week reflecting and working to do better as a public speaker and advocate for women everywhere." Emil Alexandrescu, a notable far-right figure, said on his Twitter page: "This is why due process is important. I don't think she's a liar, but there is definitely profit to be had in victimhood. Watch out!". Other alleged victims of McComb also spoke out against Page, including Ellen Pick, Grace Chagnon, and Sean Peng.
YUMA — A terrorist plot to kill Social Democratic leader Susan Kwon and other members of parliament was foiled in Imperial, the Royal Bureau Investigation announced Friday afternoon. The federal law enforcement agency said they had been tracking the development of the plot for several months, which involved using an array of firearms and explosives to kill Susan Kwon and approximately fifteen other members of parliament, as well as cause "Severe amounts" of destruction in the capital. The RBI did not state if the Prime Minister was a target in the attack plan. The RBI said the plot was part of a greater ideological scheme in which the perpetrators wished to ignite a race war by framing the attack on various ethic groups using bot networks to spread homemade propaganda across various social media platforms. The RBI said it was "A very sophisticated plan." The RBI arrested three men and one woman, whose names have not been released. They have been charged with, among other things, conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, conspiracy to commit murder, and attempting to incite rebellion. If convicted, they face up to life in prison. The RBI said the investigation into this plot is ongoing and are looking into other possible co-conspirators.
CLARK — YouTube comedian and musician Thomas Winslow, (actual name Anthony Hanaran), was killed in a car accident while partying with friends in Las Vegas, Clark. He was 21 years old. Police say Hanaran was sitting in the front passenger seat while the vehicle was driven by a friend when his side of the car was struck head on. Witnesses said the driver of the car who struck Hanaran's was drunk, although police have not confirmed this. Hanaran was reportedly dead by the time medics arrived on the scene and the driver was seriously injured but is in stable condition. The driver of the other car was arrested but it is unknown on what charge.
Winslow was known for being a YouTube comedian and a hip hop artist. He was born in Japan to Sierran parents and moved back to Sierra at the age of 7. Before his death, he was involved in several controversies involving anti-Semitic remarks and conspiracy theories. Many fans and fellow artists have offered their sympathies, taking to social media to express their sorrow. On Twitter, the hashtag #RoostInPeace has become number one trending in Sierra.
CERRITOS — The Secret Service in conjunction with the Royal Bureau of Investigation have announced that an agent assigned to Prime Minister Heartwell's security detail was killed Friday night, in what authorities believed was a robbery gone wrong. Security footage and witness testimony stated that Lance Cregg, a five-year member of the Service, entered a convenience store while off-duty in Cerritos, GC when he interrupted an armed robbery. He subdued one suspect but failed to notice another, who shot him three times in the chest. Cregg was unable to return fire, authorities said. The two suspects then fled the scene and Cregg was dead by the time police and paramedics arrived. The RBI said they have identified the suspects but are not releasing their names at this time.
The Prime Minister personally phoned Cregg's family to inform them of his death and to offer her condolences. She ordered that the national flag atop the parliament building and Getty Palace be lowered to half-mast for one day. She is expected to make a statement later this week. Cregg was 31 years old and had been with the Secret Service for five years. Prior to that, he was a Royal Army veteran and an officer in the Porciúncula Police Department. He was assigned to Prime Minister Heartwell's detail in 2017 shortly after she assumed office. He left behind a wife and two children.
Nationwide manhunt underway
The RBI stated they have launched a nationwide manhunt for the two suspects believed to be responsible for agent Cregg's death. Details around the search, including the names of the suspects, are being restricted as not to compromise the integrity of the investigation. The RBI says they are not seeking assistance from the public but encourages anyone with direct knowledge of the murder to submit a tip to the RBI's Porciúncula Field Office. Tips made to the RBI can be anonymous.
Quick Release: Secret Service arrests two suspects in agent's killing
The Secret Service announced Sunday afternoon that they have arrested the two men wanted for the killing of an agent on the Prime Minister's detail two days ago. The two men have been identified as Daniel Leon, 26 and Charles Chu, 23.