Hurricane Amelia, only miles from landfall, strengthens further; Congress approves aid package unanimously

Hurricane Amelia has strengthened even further as it approaches landfall in District 4, according to the Panem Weather Service.

The storm, previously recorded as having a wind speed of 175 mph 1-minute sustained winds and 899 millibars, now has been recorded at a 1-minute sustained wind speed of 200 mph and a minimum pressure of 872 millibars.

“It is without a doubt that this hurricane is incredibly dangerous, and should any citizen remain in the path of such a storm, they will die. If you haven’t evacuated, leave immediately,” said the Panem Weather Service in their advisory on the system.

It is predicted that Hurricane Amelia will make landfall later tonight without further intensification, but the Panem Weather Service says the threat does not end with landfall. They are urging surrounding districts, specifically Districts 9, 10, and 11, to be prepared for torrential rain, destructive winds, and higher threats of tornadic events.

Congress, in other news, has unanimously passed an aid package through both houses of the national legislature to the tune of $10.2 billion as requested by President Mellark. The money will go to District 4 specifically, with potential other aid packages considered as needed.

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Hurricane Amelia strengthens while bearing down on D4 coastline

The situation with Hurricane Amelia has only worsened in recent days as the storm has shown signs of strengthening.

Hurricane Amelia, the first notable tropical cyclone to threaten the nation of Panem in well over a century, was previously recorded as having a 145 mile per hour one minute sustained wind speed with a minimum pressure of 924 millibars. The storm at the time was around 300 miles from the coastline of District 4, sitting in the Gulf of Mexico. The discovery of the hurricane triggered mass evacuations from District 4 due to the chance of catastrophic damage and potential fatalities.

Following the most recent observations of Hurricane Amelia, the storm has strengthened to wind speeds of 175 miles per hour sustained over one minute and a minimum pressure of 899 millibars. Researchers indicate that such wind speeds will result in such catastrophic damage that entire municipalities will be leveled, resulting in the displacement of millions of D4 citizens.

President Peeta Mellark in response to the crisis has established under the Department of the Interior the Panem Weather Service, which will function as a forecasting agency to predict not just hurricanes but also other weather events. He has also requested in advance of the storm $10.2 billion in recovery funding in order to aid District 4.

Wilkie confirmed as AG; Erickson confirmed as SG

The Senate convened again today, finally confirming former D7 Senator Calvin Wilkie as Attorney General and former Attorney General Karina Erickson as Solicitor General.

The two nominations had been sitting before the Senate for weeks due to a summer recess following Judiciary Committee votes that had split on party lines.

Attorney General Calvin Wilkie, a former Liberty Party senator from District 7, was selected by the president in a surprise decision. Wilkie previously served as District 7’s Attorney General and as a federal attorney representing District 7 before running for senator, where he served until his nomination for Attorney General. Following his nomination, Wilkie resigned his seat in order to avoid what he called a “conflict of interest,” leading then-Solicitor General Jacqueline Warner to be appointed by Governor Mason Wallace as his replacement.

Solicitor General Karina Erickson was also considered a surprise pick for the office based on the fact that she served previously as Attorney General under President Katniss Everdeen (Liberty-D12). According to reports, President Mellark, Everdeen, Vice President Tarson, and Senator Warner all encouraged her to take the position despite Erickson almost turning it down. Erickson has had an accomplished career in law, serving first as a federal attorney over District 13, then as D13’s Attorney General, and of course as the Everdeen administration’s Attorney General.

Alexandra West confirmed as Associate Justice, succeeding Malcolm Lowell

Alexandra West was confirmed today as Panem’s newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, succeeding the late Malcolm Lowell. She will be the second person to serve in that seat after Lowell.

West also resigned from her position of Attorney General following her confirmation. This now allows for confirmation hearings to begin for Calvin Wilkie, President Mellark’s nominee to replace West at the Justice Department. Wilkie previously served as senator of District 7. His resignation as senator, ironically, led to another series of appointments. His successor in the Senate was Jacquelyn Warner, who had to resign her post as Solicitor General in order to take office as D7 Senator. This led to Karina Erickson, a former attorney general, being named Solicitor General. Wilkie’s hearing will occur on Monday, with a recommendation vote from the committee on Tuesday. Following that, Erickson’s hearing will begin.

The vote tally for West’s confirmation is as follows:

Voting aye (25): Bass (Lib-D1), Benson (Lib-Capitol), Briscoe (Lib-D7), Debroff (Lib-D11), Delacruz (Lib-D5), Delsont (Lib-D11), Descoteaux (Lib-D14), Ellsworth (Lib-D3), Folsom (Lib-D8), Garrett (Centre-D15), Hampton (Lib-D2), Harrison (Lib-D4), James (Lib-D2), Oppenheim (Lib-D13), Quaker (Lib-D12), Qurius (Lib-D5), Randall (Centre-D9), Roydon (Centre-Capitol), Sanford (Lib-D15), Talton (Lib-D13), Thibault (Lib-D14), Trent (Lib-D12), Wallace (Lib-D4),  Weston (Lib-D1), Wilkie (Lib-D7).

Voting nay (7): Canstrom (Lab-D9), Kennedy (Civic-D6), Kramer (Civic-D6), Newsom (Civic-D3), Richards (Lab-D10), Wallace (Lab-D8), Walters (Lab-D10)

SC nominee Alexandra West faces tough crowd at Judiciary Committee hearing

Attorney General and Supreme Court nominee Alexandra West faced a tough crowd at her confirmation with the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

The committee is comprised of the following members:

  • Hanley Trent (Liberty-D12), Chairman
  • Valère Descoteaux (Liberty-D14)
  • Sophia Delacruz (Liberty-D5)
  • Jacob Ellsworth (Liberty-D3)
  • Iris Canstrom (Labor-D9), Ranking Opposition Member
  • Patrick Newsom (Civic-D3)
  • Clark Randall (Centre-D9)

During the hearing, West was spared no verbal punches by the opposition, nor did her own party go easy on her. It is the first time in Panem’s history that a former Senate Judiciary member testified before the committee during confirmation proceedings.

Iris Canstrom, ranking member from the Red-Green Coalition, very openly attacked West for her previous time in the Senate along with her record as Attorney General. “Considering that you have made your career around controversial legal cases, some of which are ongoing, will you be able to rule impartially on cases that you feel strongly about or that you currently oversee at the Justice Department? Furthermore, in the latter case, would you seek recusal from such decisions as it would be nothing short of a massive conflict of interest?”

West responded sharply, as is characteristic of her. “I believe that Justice Thompson said this in her confirmation hearing, and I will say it again as it applies here: Everyone has a political bias. The issue lies with those who govern on that bias. If I feel strongly over a case, I will seek to familiarize myself with the case and its details. I will seek the truth of the matter. I will listen to both sides of the argument, as both sides matter in any legal matter. Regardless of what you believe of me, Senator, I am in charge of upholding the law. That does not mean that I am a partisan hack. It does not mean that I prosecute people for political purposes or because I’m a mean, bad person. I am simply making my decisions based on an impartial consideration of the facts and the law, which is exactly what a justice does. As for cases that I previously presided over as Attorney General, it matters in regards to degree of familiarity with the case. Should I have been directly involved, I would recuse myself. However, if it were something that my employees handled that I simply presided over, I may not need to.”

Senator Randall, a new addition to the committee and a well-known swing vote, noted that former President Rick Canth was appealing his conviction in a federal appeals court at the time of the hearing. “Ms. West, would you recuse yourself from this case, considering your previous involvement with the joint select committee that investigated the Canth administration that eventually led to his impeachment and conviction?”

West noted that while she served on the Senate side of that committee, “I did not have direct involvement with his impeachment. I served as a member of the body that was forced to make that horrid decision, but at the time of the convening of that committee, based on what we knew, we found no wrongdoing by the President. So, no, I believe there is not a legitimate cause for recusal in that circumstance.”

Senator Ellsworth, the junior-most Liberty senator on the committee, pressed West on her credentials. “Ms. West, I understand that you have spent the last three years of your life as the chief law enforcement officer in the nation of Panem. I understand that before you entered politics, you were a very successful trial attorney. However, as anyone could contest, serving as an attorney does not necessarily mean that you are qualified to be on the Supreme Court. How can you assuage our concerns over a perceived lack of experience, considering as the last two nominees for the Court were previously judges?”

West replied, “Prior to the creation of the Supreme Court, not one of the future justices served as any judge. Under Snow, no fair judges were appointed. As such, every one of the seven justices, which was further expanded to eleven, had served as a judge in any formal capacity. This includes Justice Lowell. While he was a fantastic attorney, he had no judicial experience. And yet, over 21 years, he proved that judicial experience is not necessarily required. What is required is a sound legal mind, which I promise I can provide. While I may not have had the honor to have served on a bench as of yet, that should not disqualify me as there is longstanding precedent in Panem’s history that some of our best judges have had no judicial experience at all.”

Following the conclusion of the hearing, the Judiciary Committee voted to recommend Alexandra West to the full Senate for a complete vote. The committee vote tally is below.

Voting aye: Delacruz (Liberty-D5), Descoteaux (Liberty-D14), Ellsworth (Liberty-D3), Randall (Centre-D9), Trent (Liberty-D12)

Voting nay: Canstrom (Labor-D9), Newsom (Civic-D3)

 

President Mellark formally asks Congress to allow intervention in Greece; Congress approves

Following this week’s nuclear debacle in Greece, President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12) formally asked Congress to approve articles allowing for an intervention in Greece.

Earlier this week, it was determined that nuclear weapons previously controlled by the rebel Greek military had become unaccounted for. Since then, it has been determined that while the Greek military was in the process of moving the stockpile under the possible intent of using the weapons on their own, several nuclear weapons were misplaced in the process and fell into the hands of terrorist organizations. It is currently unknown which organization has the nuclear weapons.

Congress easily passed the articles allowing for an intervention. The House passed the articles by a vote of 134-66. The Senate vote tally is below.

Voting aye (24): Bass (Lib-D1), Benson (Lib-Capitol), Briscoe (Lib-D7), Debroff (Lib-D11), Delacruz (Lib-D5), Delsont (Lib-D11), Descoteaux (Lib-D14), Ellsworth (Lib-D3), Folsom (Lib-D8), Hampton (Lib-D2), Harrison (Lib-D4), James (Lib-D2), Oppenheim (Lib-D13), Quaker (Lib-D12), Qurius (Lib-D5), Randall (Centre-D9), Roydon (Centre-Capitol), Sanford (Lib-D15), Talton (Lib-D13), Thibault (Lib-D14), Trent (Lib-D12), Wallace (Lib-D4),  Weston (Lib-D1), Wilkie (Lib-D7).

Voting nay (8): Canstrom (Lab-D9), Garrett (Centre-D15), Kennedy (Civic-D6), Kramer (Civic-D6), Newsom (Civic-D3), Richards (Lab-D10), Wallace (Lab-D8), Walters (Lab-D10)

 

BREAKING: Grecorussian nukes reported missing

BREAKING: According to the Grecorussian Defense Ministry, nuclear weapons that were in the hands of the Greek military due to the presence of the nuclear arsenal in the Grecorussian province of Greece are now unaccounted for.

The Grecorussian Empire, behind Panem, has the second-largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world. The Empire began production on their stockpile following Panem’s win in the Panem-IANO War with the intent of keeping the weapons for defensive measures. The weapons were kept in two provinces: the province of Greece, which is obviously ground zero for the civil war, and the province of Moscow, which also contains the capital of the Grecorussian Empire.

It is unknown where the nuclear weapons are or who has control of them. The two most likely possibilities are:

a) Greece has taken the nuclear weapons stockpile and moved it to another location as a means of preserving set of “last resort” weapons

or

b) Another group of dubious origin has gained control of parts or the entirety of the stockpile with intent to harm sovereign nations.

Due to this escalation, it is likely that Panem may seek to step in and intervene in the conflict in order to recover the weapons. President Peeta Mellark has already dubbed the possibility of lost nukes a “disturbing scenario that would require our intervention.” Such an intervention would require the approval of Congress, who will almost certainly pass an approval of the intervention as the majority belongs to the President’s party. However, the Red-Green coalition has gained support from the Conservative Party in opposing a potential intervention.