by Max Barry

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Region: Northern Utopia

Presidential Palace Chief of Staff Leo McGarry Steps Down

After serving beside the President for three years, Chief of Staff Leo McGarry has announced he will be stepping down after being hospitalized for severe pneumonia.

McGarry collapsed three days ago at the Presidential Camp in Jamestown and was rushed to the hospital where he had to undergo surgery and was placed on a ventilator. His doctors appeared before the press yesterday where they announced he is in stable but critical condition and will remain at the hospital for the foreseeable future.

First thing this morning, President John Williams announced that he was promoting Presidential Palace Press Secretary CJ Craig to the position of Chief of Staff until Mr. McGarry returns,

"After surgery 36 hours ago I am relieved to announce that Leo McGarry is in stable condition and headed for a full recovery. Though he will always be a very valuable part of this administration, he will not be returning to his post. I am therefore pleased, and terribly proud to announce that effective immediately, the Presidential Palace Chief of Staff will be filled by Claudia Jean Craig"

Space Shuttle Aquarius Launches from Jamestown

The shuttle Aquarius, the newest craft to the AusValia fleet took off at 9:30pm local time. The mission will bring the next six astronauts to the AusValia lunar lab located on the Fra Mauro site.

This will be the second crew to land on the site since it was built. They will remain for seven weeks for a two part mission. First, they will work to improve communications between the station and earth as well as a drilling operation.

Aquarius is expected to touchdown on the moon Sunday morning.

Both Houses Pass the President's Economic Security Bill

After months of negotiations, the Upper House finally passed the last phase of the President's Economic Security Bill, which mandates that a person can only engage in five day trades a week within the stock market if they have less than $25,000 in their portfolio.

The bill came after the economic recession nearly four years ago, in which many people were driven into debt by day trading (buying and selling a stock within one business day). The new bill works to protect those who are not financially safe to engage in such trades and offers federal protections.

Some Conservative members felt that it was too much government oversight, but eventually agreed. The bill won't officially take effect until the end of the year.

United One Trust Cuts Deal with the Justice Council

United One Trust which has been under investigation by two city attorneys, the Upper House, and the Justice Council for three years, announced today they have reached a deal with the AUS government.

Justice Council Director David Rosen,
"Good morning, today I come before you to say that United One Trust will be held accountable for the stunning lack of oversight. UOT has admitted its guilt. Today, the Justice Council announces that United One Trust is being charged with two counts of violations of the AusValia banking laws and codes of ethics. As part of it's resolution of these charges, UOT has agreed to forfeit 1.9 billion dollars. They have also agreed to pay civil penalties of 665 million dollars. UOT has engaged and agreed to partially defer from bonus compensation for its most senior executives and they have a agreed to this for a five year term, along with a corporate monitor and a requirement of ongoing cooperation."

There was a deferred prosecution agreement with the UOT, meaning there will be no prosecution of the bank or its top executives, despite more than a decade of dealings with criminals and terrorists.

Dozens of past District Attorneys, and even United Future Party Councilmen has harshly criticized the Justice Council's decision,

"They cut a deal, plain a simple. They paid a fine of nearly two billion dollars, which for a bank of this size, is roughly five weeks of profit. No individual was charged with any crime, no individual was fined any money. This is just a big bank, that was essentially let off the hook.", Former Attorney General for the City of Perth Derrick Grains.

"If you are caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you are going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life, but evidently if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine. That is fundamentally wrong. That is not equal justice under the law. That is not accountability.", UFP Councilwoman Elizabeth Smart, Upper House.

Justice Council Director David Rosen has stood by his decision,

"Look the goal here is not to bring the bank down, it is not to hurt our economy and leave tens of thousands of people without jobs."