Graham City crisis worsens, Quentinsburgh, Vandover to sacrifice transit expansion funding to help with recovery

BERKELEY RIDGE- Construction on the QLine 7 train extension to Berkeley Ridge came to a halt today, as federal funds going to QUARTA’s expansion have been reallocated effective immediately. President Rosenthal and the Freedemian Legislature passed the Graham Emergency Recovery Act today at a special session. The bill takes funding away from transit and roadway expansions in other states temporarily and puts that money towards housing and transportation projects in Graham City.

It is common knowledge among Freedemians that Graham City is in very sorry shape. Entire square kilometers of once-beautiful buildings have been entirely abandoned. Elevated subway lines have been condemned, some even demolished. Some roads have potholes several lanes wide. The city has lost more residents than the entire population of Franklinsburgh over the last three decades. Tourism and trade have all but died, taking the city with it. Unemployment is over 30%. Power Outages happen almost daily and crime rates are the highest in the country.

The situation has gotten so bad that on Thursday, President Rosenthal and current Graham City Mayor, Jennifer Felderman, announced that the federal government would be taking over the city. Currently Graham City is solely under federal control, and on Monday it is expected to officially become an “emergency territory”, meaning it will temporarily no longer be part of Graham state and will be almost an emergency site where the government is attempting to help it recover. This comes after findings of corruption among several high level officials in the state of Graham, including current state executive Andrew Carmichael. An investigation has forced him to shut down his campaign for reelection.

The provision for emergency territories has been generally accepted since 1936, when the government had to take over a small region in Henshaw after an accident left a large portion contaminated with toxic waste. In fact, this was a large part of the reasoning behind President Doofenschmidt’s Tri-State Plan in the late 1940s. However, no situation has ever been bad enough since then to require its use until now.

President Rosenthal called the plan surrounding the bill the “New Start Deal”. The plan creates several Graham-based agencies and programs, such as the Building and Infrastructure Restoration Agency (BIRA), the New Development for Graham Agency (NDGA) and the Off the Streets, Off to Work Program (OTSOTW) in hopes of creating jobs, reducing crime, and rebuilding the city at the same time. BIRA gives local men and women jobs renovating and restoring old buildings, fixing roads, working on power infrastructure, and cleaning up debris from newly demolished buildings. NDGA puts more people to work building new government-owned developments like affordable housing and new office and commercial space for new companies moving in. (The developments will be sold to private owners once the city has recovered enough to do so.) The Off the Streets, Off to Work program offers youth just out of school basic jobs assisting in other agencies. On top of this large incentives have been given for large companies to choose to move in and help with the effort, such as lower taxes.

President Rosenthal has stated she and the Freedemian Legislature hope to turn the city back over to Graham State by June, and that with the programs still going full force they hope to see some positive changes in Graham by 2017 and they hope to see the city back on its feet by 2019.

Most people have absolutely no problem supporting Graham City, even if that means reallocating funds and losing federal funding for some projects. Still, many wish this had been gone about a different way. Nearly 80% support helping Graham, and nearly 64% support the New Start Deal, yet only 10% support the Graham Emergency Recovery Act.

“I support the idea of taking federal funds from QUARTA and other successful programs for a while to help Graham. After all, we’re doing well enough here in Quentinsburgh that even just state funding can help fund the rest of our transit expansion. Most of the big stuff here is done. Graham needs it way more than we do. I just wish we had been given prior notice,” QUARTA planner Geneva Patterson said in an interview with PWN. “So many plans that perhaps could have been done without any federal money were started with federal money and are now in an awkward limbo as we struggle to catch up using state and local funds. It’s definitely doable, just a lot harder done retroactively and it could lead to several projects here and elsewhere being suspended for months.”

But Patterson was not bitter.

“All that federal money that was going towards new lines and freeways in other Freedemian cities can all be funneled into Graham now. I’m hopeful that this will make a large difference.”

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Opening of the new Vinnish embasssy in Kirchenburg

BERLES – The embassor of the Kingdom of Vinnmark in Welstand-Westrijk, Marvin Berg, inaugurated the new embassy in the capital of the duchy of Welstand-Westrijk, Kirchenburg this morning.

The new embassy was built in front of the Parliament, in Kaiseresloskai and features a three floor building near the Koban and Esthiensian embassies.

The process of building started last year, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georg Schwarzkopf declared the needing of an embassy in Welstand-Westrijk.

The embassy will create 73 jobs and will help to strengthen ties between the two nations.

Freedemian Legislature passes Restroom and Water Access Act, first steps taken

QUENTINSBURGH- The reforms started by WAWAA (Water Accessibility and Affordability Act) will continue, as Freedemian Legislature just passed a bill known as the Restroom and Water Accessibility Act (RAWAA) aimed at solving the public restroom shortage in Freedemia.

For clarification, the bill is very different from gender-based restroom bills being passed in other nations. The goal of the restroom portion of the bill is to solve the massive shortage of public restrooms in Freedemian cities and crack down on what President Rosenthal calls an unfair and predatory “restroom tax”, where businesses and organizations say only paying customers are allowed to use restrooms.

The bill makes it where if a building is open to the public and has a restroom in an area that is open to the public, the restroom must also be open to the public, unless there is already another public restroom provided. The bill also bans “customer only” restrooms, and limits employee only restrooms.

The water portion of the bill requires new public squares and parks to have at least one water fountain, and multiple if the park is large enough, as well as to provide at least one public restroom in larger parks and squares. It also puts aside some money to help parks and businesses create new or renovate old public restrooms and water fountains.

The bill acts as the first step towards acting to solve the restroom crisis in Freedemia and to make further steps towards water accessibility and affordability.

Former Bluesage leader Gordon Itani rules Bluesage Prefecture again, launches long-term tourism expansion project

Varella (Belphenia State Television, Angel News Channel) – Gordon Itani, the former Fisher’s Gate guild master and leader of Bluesage Prefecture who tried to get the Government of Belphenia to overturn the theocratic nation’s ban on the Siikesilla, was ordered by Great Heart’s governing body to rule the country’s southernmost prefecture of Bluesage in the state of Seralia Division again until his death under the Constitution of the Theocratic People’s Kingdom of Belphenia. Effective immediately, Itani must return to Varella as Bluesage leader and Fisher’s Gate guild master within 24 hours or risk expulsion from Great Heart.

Saitoko Haiki, a Shikashime of the governing body of Great Heart, said that the actions of Itani resigning as Bluesage leader over the attempted abolishment of the Siikesilla ban in September 2015 before his death violated the Constitution laws of the Theocratic People’s Kingdom of Belphenia, Great Heart’s shirarume laws, and the “golden rules” policy on ruling the theocratic nation.

“Itani must return to Varella by order of the governing body of Great Heart and the Government of Belphenia to rule the southernmost prefecture of Bluesage as the Leader of Bluesage, and must comply with the laws of Belphenia and the laws of Great Heart. Failure to comply with the government and Great Heart will result in Itani to expulsion from the state religion as shirarume.” Naomi Edeleria, a Shikashime of Great Heart warned the former Bluesage leader at the High Court of Seralia Division in Seralia City.

“Under Belphenia’s strict laws on ruling the prefecture and Great Heart’s governing body’s religious concerns, Itani must rule Bluesage once again within 24 hours until his death. Failure to cooperate with Great Heart and the Government of Belphenia will result in expulsion from the nation’s state religion.” Eliari Shiraishi, the Seralia Division state leader said. She also gave Itani a warning that “if he resigns before his death or by other serious means again, he will face the consequences when he will face expulsion from Great Heart as shirarume.”

Within six hours, Gordon Itani apologized to the Belphenian government, Great Heart’s governing body, and the Seralia Division State Government for his actions in September and October 2015, and was forgiven by them and many Bluesagers and the Seraliani. He eventually went back to Varella from Tsugumi Beach in Seraphina Prefecture to regain control of Bluesage as leader and guild master again.

“From now on, as a pirate, I will lead Bluesage again. And this time, I have learned my lessons about my mistakes in the past, including my resignation as Bluesage leader and guild master of Fisher’s Gate. I will take the oath once again that I will promise to Great Heart that I will launch new tourism expansion project instead, and never try to abolish Belphenia’s Siikesilla ban, and after I learned what our late First Leader Elena Heartfilia wrote about giving up ruling Belphenia before death in the past… I will never again resign as Bluesage leader before my death. And today, I am back as a stronger person, because I do not want the Prime Minister of Belphenia to call me weak. I will not regret it… I look forward. Bluesage serves as the Frontier of the Sound of Sunda, and we will accomplish by means of looking ahead to what’s in store for the southernmost prefecture in the nation.” Itani said when he gave his address from the Bluesage Prefecture Office in Varella.

Itani will also launch a long-term, tourism expansion project across Bluesage starting on April 20. The expansion of tourism will bring economic benefits to Bluesage Prefecture and will be completed in May or June 2019.

A half-decade later, Belphenia pauses to remember April 5 massacre

Remiville (Belphenia State Television, Sakura News Center, Earthland News Now, Angel News Channel, BNN News 24) – In the Belphenian state of Sakura, those whose lives were lost in the massacre are remembered in the Belphenian capital of Remiville.

The theocratic nation marked the 5th year anniversary of the April 5 massacre when Sasuke Volkman sent his comrades including Heidi Law and Aiden Tremont, and the terrorist organization Destructive Prime to attempt to assassinate Reiko Beard and Ilani Nakashima in a series of terrorist attacks in the capital city and across Belphenia over the exposure of the late dictator’s cult of personality and human rights abuses that resulted in the massacre took the lives of 160 victims, 288 were injured, 240,000 were sent to Commonia as slave victims, and the Destructive Prime faction launched terror attacks, a series of territorial disputes, political conflicts, and economic collapse in a six-hour long tragic day that rocked the nation as an isolated, secretive state and triggered the overthrow of the late dictator’s regime and the first stage of the Battle of Shirahoshi in 2011.

In Remiville, Sakura Prefecture, a traditional roll call of the names of the 160 victims began at 9:41am (10:11am Seralia-Zerephine Summer Time, 10:31am East Belphenia Summer Time) at the Volkman Period Memorial near Olympia. The roll call readers included journals about the victims’ wishes of living in Belphenia in freedom, truth, and peace, and one victim, Aoi Murakani wanted to become a samurai and a shikashime of Great Heart.

The Great Heartists and the Belphenian government of the Clear Heart period condemned the actions of Sasuke Volkman and Destructive Prime when Belphenia became a democracy again before the events of the Battle of Shirahoshi where the samurai and pirates, and the Guilds of Belphenia fought with supporters of the late dictator to regain control of ruling Belphenia.

Others reading names included Tadashi Shiiragi, a Lornesse victim who saved Erza Beard’s life killed by Heidi Law on 4/05, Minori Tokushimi, a Meredy victim who was a samurai working for the Knights of the Eraede, and Yuji Menjou, an Astigoth bookwriter who documented the deteriorating world conditions during the Volkman period.

In Remiville’s Ryushime samurai district, Reiko Beard, the nation’s ceremonial leader, and Erza Beard, Prime Minister of Belphenia and her members honored the 160 victims of 4/05 with a moment of silence at the North Garden of Great Heart Castle and tolling bells across the city at 10:24am local time, the moment the Destructive Prime faction executed 190 victims.

Masahide Shiroma, the nation’s Deputy Prime Minister, spoke at the Scarlet Heart Gardens commemoration after one of the Great Heartists used a horagai at 11:41am local time, the moment the Destructive Prime sent the first slave victim from Yalobusha Prefecture to Commonia under Volkman’s order.

“It has been a half-decade since the massacre took place on a rainy, Tuesday day on April 5, 2011. This post-Volkman period shows that Belphenia is no match for domestic terrorism, slavery, torture, and the lie.” Shiroma said at an event only to families of the victims. “From the time being, we will keep remembering and honoring our dear Belphenians who did not ask for death and torture over these 5 years. The scourges of wickedness will not crumble the foundations of the theocratic nation’s spirit of truth, and most of all, not to erase the wondrous gift of life in each Belphenians’ lives as long as they live in a normal, happy life course without the lie and the terrible influences of Sasuke Volkman.”

In the current Moka period, the names of the 160 victims are currently being named on trunk roads in the outskirts of Remiville, the samurai using horagai to honor the victims who lost their lives, national flags flying at half-mast, ringing Great Heart’s Bells of Truth, and Sakura petals falling down onto the streets, canals, rivers, and the freeways of Remiville, Sakura.

Franklinsburgh begins final preparations for International Foosball World Cup

FRANKLINSBURGH- Large preparations are underway in the heart of Franklinsburgh, a city preparing for an opportunity of a lifetime, as the International Foosball World Cup comes to the city.

2016 is the first year in IFWC history that a city other than Quentinsburgh will host the International Foosball World Cup. Starting in 2018, the games will be open to be hosted by cities around the world. As the games will come back to Quentinsburgh every 10 years (every 5 games) and generally will be international for the other 4 games, the chances that the games will come back to Franklinsburgh anytime soon is very unlikely. This will possibly be a one time experience for Freedemia’s third largest and third most popular city, one that city leaders and residents hope to take advantage of.

Freedemia used to be the largest home for foosball heritage in the world, but as the sport’s popularity has grown so much recently, the IFWC board felt it was the right time to allow the world to be further involved.

The International Foosball World Cup will be the week of April 19th- April 23rd, culminating with Saturday’s championship series at Callenday Stadium. Some of the early series will take place at Sesame Harrison Memorial Stadium on the State Fairgrounds. Each stadium can support 2 games at one time, and since a series takes about an hour and a half, several games can happen in one day.

The downtown area is being redecorated for the event, with new banners and other things lining downtown streets. Special bus lines are being added, and the subway line to the airport is going to be given new signage to direct tourists. Special regulation foosball tables have been brought to Freedemia, and the stadiums are, for the first time, being set up for a major foosball tournament. PWN Sports is preparing to provide exclusive coverage of the event.

Tickets are nearly sold out, and nationalism among Freedemians and other countries surrounding their teams is growing. Several Freedemian fans have made it clear they plan to camp out before the game. Pictures of men and women with their chests painted red, white, and blue for Freedemian colors have already gone viral. Watch parties are planned in cities across the nation, including Franklinsburgh. Other countries have been seeing similar bouts of team pride, and this year is expected to be one of the most competitive IFWC yet. Some teams have been practicing trick shots, and several teams have been almost undefeated in practice games. Analysts predict that Freedemia will only make it as far as the 3rd tier of the last 8 teams before getting knocked out by one of the superior teams in the games this year. Either way, it is sure to be entertaining and keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Race ended closer than expected, but Patrick Houser still wins Vice Presidency

QUENTINSBURGH- In a city that almost caused a last minute upset in the race for the Vice Presidency, Former VP Marco Nelson supporters were both pleasantly surprised and disappointed by the close result.

Quentinsburgh, a city once expected to go to Former VP Anne Redsten before she dropped out and tied between Nelson and Houser for the past week, actually ended up voting for Marco Nelson 82%, over Newscaster Patrick Houser with just 18%. It appears the nation’s second largest city and capital and the surrounding state, also the home to two of Freedemia’s most important military bases, sided with Nelson due to his isolationist policies and the trust that he could better protect the nation from threats by Woolonian Traditionalist Rebels. A similar trend was seen in other large areas with military bases, including Anneitasburgh and Fort Elwood.

Marco Nelson in the end, managed to close the gap in the past week- just not enough. At 100% of the nation’s districts reporting, underdog Patrick Houser won with 52.7% of the vote, with Marco Nelson getting 47.1%. Anne Redsten apparently got 0.2% of the vote as a write in.

It seems what prevented the Nelson comeback was an upset in Graham state, still home to the largest city in Freedemia, Graham City. Graham City residents believed Patrick Houser would do a better job of helping the embattled, impoverished, half-abandoned, and crime-ridden city get back on its feet, with about 78% choosing Patrick Houser. Coupled with a huge Houser landslide in highly populated home state Franklins (a whopping 96.4%!!!!!!!) and a surprise win in Laneston and Vandover due to his green policies (around 59%), it was too much for Nelson to overcome.

This is the first time in Freedemian history where both the president and the vice president are both complete outsiders and non-politicians. President Angela Rosenthal, a former teacher and principal, won in a similarly close race back in 2014, but then vice-president Tom Morganton had been mayor of Franklinsburgh. Ironically, Patrick Houser is also a Franklinsburghian.

While this result was mostly expected for the last 2 months or so, it really is a huge upset. At the announcement of VP Tom Morganton’s resignation, Nelson was expected to win with 70% or more, Anne Redsten was expected to come in second, and Houser was polling at about 4%.

Houser and his supporters, at a “Hoping for Houser” watch party in Downtown Franklinsburgh, were quite antsy watching the results, as the race was much closer than previously predicted. However, when the initial verification came in on Sunday morning that Patrick Houser had officially won, the crowd bust into cheers, as the local newscaster previously expected to get pummeled by Nelson won by a sliver. Even his normally politically neutral home news network of KFRA 10 celebrated during the evening news.

“Thank you, Freedemia, for bringing me a victory previously thought impossible!!! We won! Against all odds we won!!!!!!!!!”

Marco Nelson was a little less excited, understandably, but he was a very good sport, saying “Congratulations to Patrick Houser, a man I respect a lot in many ways and with many good ideas I believe will help this country.”

President Rosenthal released a statement saying “We are very happy with the result and congratulate Patrick Houser’s amazing win! We also want to congratulate Marco Nelson on his comeback and hope that we can continue to gain from his knowledge and understanding of foreign policy to keep our nation safe.”

Houser’s inauguration will be this morning at the Capitol Mall in Quentinsburgh.