16 December 3300 was the day President Halsey declared the onionhead narcotic illegal in Federal systems.
The outrage amongst the Farmer's Cooperative may be tempered by the fact that her edict doesn't seem to have had much effect on Commanders' activity, quite the oppostite in fact, with Kappa Fornacis' finest produce being eagerly distributed to the black market throughout the galaxy, and especially within Federal systems.
We've heard a whisper that Madame President's dismay at this may lead her to start flexing her metaphorical muscles.
Meanwhile Senator Torval is looking to shore up her powerbase in the deadly game of Imperial succession that is being played out. Her wealth is built on slavery, and from the 26 million credits claimed by Commanders willing to offer Sorbago's slaves the 'opportunity' of a better class of slavery in the Empire via Mastopolos Mining Inc's links with the Senator it looks like she is gaining traction.
Senator Denton Patreus, meanwhile, is engaged in a more even fight. Ever the one to manipulate strife to his own ends whilst disguising his intentions with grandiose sentiments, Patreus has thrown his considerable resources behind the Jera Nationalists. The incumbent Jera Social Democrats are currently managing to hold their own in the battle for control in the system, with Commanders' support evenly split.
In a popular move, Senator Denton Patreus has announced the already low tax regime for all Imperial Citizens under his patronage will be lowered to zero. Before boarding his private yacht he said to reporters present:
"It is the duty of the successful to provide well for their loyal supporters. Our many successes abroad have brought us vast wealth. I take pride that those under my patronage get the best medical care, the best assistance if they fall on hard times, and because of their support in the past, the lowest taxes."
Patreus is said to earn vast sums in interest payments on the many loans he has made to foreign governments to buy Imperial weaponry, which he also supplies.
In a move that is sure to worry some independent governments, Senator Denton Patreus has announced his forces have been sent to aid the long-suffering rebels in the Jera system.
He answered questions on the steps of the Imperial Opera House on Conversion in the Achenar system.
"The left-leaning government in Jera has long been oppressing hard-working minorities. This is the fundamental problem with democracy - the bullying of the aspirational minority by the indolent majority. That bullying has to stop."
Arguably the most powerful person in the galaxy, Emperor Hengist Duval, is sick.
He has ruled the Empire now for 67 years since his coronation in 3233 following the death of his father, Hesketh Duval.
Emperor Hengist is only 118, born only a week before the death of his grandfather, Hender Saik Duval. Some say Hender's spirit had already transferred to Hengist at that time.
The Duval Imperial line has been unbroken for almost a thousand years. There have been power struggles in the past, but the usurpers have been successfully dealt with behind closed doors.
This time is different.
Hengist has been not involved himself in politics for a long time, relying on his Chancellor, Senator Blaine and has taken a laissez faire attitude towards a handful of increasingly powerful and ambitious Senators whilst Harold, the current heir, quickly made a name for himself as a feckless playboy.
The warlike Senator Denton Patreus, last seen trying to destabilise the Eranin system during the conflict surrounding its 30th Anniversary of Independence from the Federation, continues his manipulative power-broking in the galaxy at large.
The preposterously rich Senator Zemina Torval is using her slaver corporation supporters and personal fleet of Majestic-class Interdictors to suppress revolts and to further her ambitions.
Commentators expect others to show their hand, too.
Much like in Imperial Rome on ancient Earth, Senators determine the tax rates of their supporters and both Patreus and Torval have become hugely popular back home as they have each used their huge wealth to lower taxation to zero.
There is a real prospect of the next Emperor not being a Duval. And the bitter fight for succession is about to spill out into the open.
Meanwhile, the Federation and Alliance of Independent Systems are watching with keen interest.
Perhaps rather than conflict, Imperial Senator Denton Patreus' characterization of the situation around Eranin yesterday as 'civil war' is growing more accurate by the day...
Commanders continue to fly in support of both sides of the conflict, although with a slight majority on the Federal side - the side of the rebellion.
We spoke to representatives from both sides last night.
A source close to the communist Eranin government passed on this message for broadcast:
"The Federation-backed rebels are determined to undermine everything Eranin stands for. Comrades! It is time to take up arms and fight the capitalist aggressors!"
There has been a massive surge in Eranin celebratory liquor being smuggled into Federation-controlled Chango Dock. The Eranin government wants to see even more destinations targeted with the now-symbolic liquor to spread support for their cause. Off the record they are also keen for more practical assistance from Commanders in fighting.
A spokesperson for the Federation-backed rebels, who wished to remain anonymous, told us:
"We want to be free to live our lives! Help us kick some Commie butt and break this centralist oppression - every form we fill in, every eye-watering taxation increase, every permit they deny, a little something dies inside us. They will not control us!"
We are getting reports that the Independent Alliance are about to formally intervene on Eranin's behalf with Federation representatives.
There are still commanders such as CMDR Pheyes who are ambivalent about their allegiance and appear to be indiscriminate in their targeting.
Many more, however, appear to be aligning themselves strongly with one camp or the other. CMDR zenoic neatly summed up Eranin supporters' feelings.
"Freedom, yes. Freedom to trade legitimate goods, freedom from Federal sponsored terrorism, freedom from Federal bullying. Long live the Eranin revolution! 30 more years!"
CMDR Nemesis T Warlock in his Anaconda is rapidly catching up with CMDR BlueFalcon at the top of the Most Wanted list in Federal space, and CMDR Mark0 continues to uphold Independence for Asellus and Eranin.
CMDR DeGrimmy is taking it upon himself to arrange more organised activity.
"A group of pilots, myself included, will be taking the fight to the Federation by attacking their forces at i Bootis B. A broadcast will be available at 8pm BST (~5 minutes from posting). The USS can be found ~10Ls away from I Bootis B. If they are not stopped at Eranin, they will not stop at all. I found a bulletin at Federation occupied Magec earlier, asking for "Federation Patriots" to fight any independent system security force in return for a handsome sum of credits. This has to stop."
CMDR Ozric's assertion of:
"Better dead than red!"
Would seem to indicate that he is firmly on the side of the Federation-supporting rebels. CMDR 2H@RD 2H@NDLE is putting his lasers where his mouth is by heroically defending Federal assets in i Bootis with a Cobra, whilst CMDR Cryo is doing a similar job in Dahan.
The tension is cranking up and rumors are spreading like wildfire. CMDR MarktJones messaged:
"Getting dozens of 'Request Denied' responses from the station, at first I thought the traffic control had got their hands on some of the celebration liquor. But then I realised, the Federation has hacked the docking control system at Azeban City."
It seems yesterday's blithe denial by Imperial Senator Denton Patreus hasn't convinced all of you.
CMDR knowles2 says:
"The Empire senator sounds like he could barely keep a straight face during that interview. I wonder how long it will be until an Imperial fleet is spotted above Eranin to protect them from Federal aggression."
And of course there are those such as CMDR Lukozer, who are fiercely loyal to the Empire.
"Death to the Federation! My loyalties are with the Empire, but ... the independent systems get my support, particularly Eranin which seems to have some 'unofficial backing' from the glorious Empire"
We are working our data sources hard in order to bring you behind the scenes information on that spectacular Faulcon deLacy price deal which is throwing fuel on the fire of the Eranin / Federation tensions by militarizing both sides.
Who stands to gain from the Federation and a member of the Independent Alliance being embroiled in a struggle?
The Empire's well known Senator Denton Patreus visited our local area of space some months ago, and is known to have wined-and-dined key Eranin dignitaries onboard his sumptuous travelling embassy.
Senator Patreus, you will recall, is a popular figure who travels the galaxy with his substantial entourage in a giant white Imperial Cruiser, 'maintaining good relations' with numerous independent governments throughout human space.
One of our correspondents managed to grab a word with him yesterday as he hosted a banquet back in Imperial space, and asked him if he had any involvement.
"I visit dozens of systems each month. I have no idea what they are planning, but the notion that a Senator of the Empire would lower himself to dabble in local business like this is preposterous."
"The entry requirements for a system to join our wonderful Imperial fold are pretty high, and what looks like a civil war is hardly going to help their case."
Our correspondent was ushered out of the banquet shortly afterwards.