In a move causing shockwaves throughout Federal space, President Halsey has announced Federal tax increases.
"I am sorry and I appreciate people are frustrated about this, but I have to announce further Federal tax rises. This is to cover our ever increasing welfare burden, and high military spending."
Federal taxation is already a problem throughout Federal space, and this squeeze where the frontier worlds are effectively supporting the rich core systems is causing unrest amongst the frontier states.
Commentators have suggested the Shadow President's speech yesterday was triggered by some inside knowledge or leak from the President's staff. Confidence ratings of the President are now at an all-time low.
In the traditional speeches that mark the re-opening of Congress after the holiday, Congressman and Shadow President Zachary Hudson has outlined his views for the coming year.
In a long speech highly critical of his opponent President Halsey, the only new element was his criticism of Federal youth.
"We need to get the unemployed lazy youth of our core systems off their backsides. They need to get off their sims, and in to the real world to do something useful. We need to counter the Imperial threat. Let's get them into the Marines and the Navy. Let's spend our tax credits on protection, not sloth. The Navy never did me any harm."
Senator Torval has already blamed outside forces for the recently suppressed rebellion in Sorbago. Last night on the political debate panel show 'Question Everything' she went further.
"Yes, these are terrible events, but sometimes people are easily led. My forces have reported ships coming from Luluwala supplying guns to the rebels. It is completely unacceptable, especially when it is a Federal-backed system like this."
Many commentators have been surprised at Senator Torval openly accusing the Federation for the rebellion. When contacted a Federal embassy official dismissed the accusations as "nonsense".
In what is usually a quiet time for politics the Shadow President has given an interview to support Admiral Vincent.
"Our military forces have always operated independently of government. In fact some of the worst events in our long history were caused by political meddling in military matters. President Halsey is out of order to distance herself as she has. Our forces need to be able to enforce the law in far flung systems, and we should be pleased that they do so very well. It is clear that sometimes the law they are enforcing is the problem, and it is up to Halsey to change that."
If it is indeed the case that these actions took place without direct orders from the President it suggests a rift between the beleaguered President and her top Admiral.
A peaceful Christmas demonstration which started on Christmas Day continues on the steps of the Congress building in Olympus Village on Mars.
This year Christmas falls during the cold season, and the students are wrapped up warm, mostly dressed in red and white Santa outfits. Above them a giant repeating holo of the burning warg running from the field of flames plays. The protestors chant "Babykiller" in between renditions of various carols with amended words to reflect the protest.
Newsfeeds are now carrying this story throughout the Federation, but members of the government have been unavailable for comment.
Commanders' assistance helped Imperial Senator Zemina Torval gain a crushing victory and 76% influence in the Sorbago system. Torval used the Mastopolus Mining Corporation as a front to acquire slaves and bolster her power base in the manoeuvring to succeed the ailing Emperor Hengist Duval.
Senator Denton Patreus was dealt a bloody nose in the Jera system, with Commanders weighing in to ensure that the incumbent Jera Social Democrats remained in power despite Patreus's best efforts.
The Emperor himself has been making quite an impact for such an allegedly frail man. Days after appearing in the Senate to pronounce his son and heir Harold 'not of sound mind', Hengist Duval announced his intention to marry his sweetheart from their younger years, Florence Lavigny.
Even in his condition, the Emperor will be fully aware of the focus this throws on his and Florence's illegitimate daughter Arissa. The soon-to-be Princess Arissa immediately announced her intent to change her surname to Duval, seemingly putting her in pole position in the succession race.
Undeterred by his defeat in Jera, Senator Patreus has declared all out war on the tiny feudal system of Durius for defaulting on massive loan payments to him. Commanders are taking this fresh opportunity to earn credits whilst influencing the wider battle for Imperial succession. Although support for the Durius government has risen slightly since Patreus's intervention, the outcome is still very much in the balance.
The Federation are also active. After blockading Kappa Fornacis and then apparently sending Federal dropships in to bomb its Onionhead farms, President Halsey yesterday surprisingly sought to deny responsibility for the outrage - she suggested Admiral Vincent was acting without her authority.
Senator Torval has long criticised slavery outside the Empire or 'unregulated slavery' as she refers to it.
Even though she doesn't celebrate Christmas, for the last few years she has freed slaves she has found for sale in Federal systems. Speaking from her yacht the 'Xanadu' she said:
"Today, as with previous years, I am freeing 10,000 unregulated Federal slaves bought from private traders in Federal systems for their Christmas celebration. The barbarism of unregulated slavery in the Federation is unforgivable. The Federation needs to pass laws to regulate slavery rather than pretending the practice doesn't exist."
After the traditional Presidential Christmas Eve banquet in New York on Earth in Sol last night, the President was confronted by a crowd protesting against ‘Oniongate' - and the bombing of fields and farms on Panem in Kappa Fornacis.
Struggling to speak above the noise of the crowd chanting “Babykiller”, President Halsey answered questions from the press.
"I have heard about the terrible events on Panem. I did not issue any orders to crack down on the narcotic onionhead, and certainly did not authorise bombings of the surface. Admiral Vincent has operated without my authority and I have asked for an enquiry to see how this happened."
This is a surprising development, as it seems unlikely Admiral Vincent would have acted without support from the top. Some are saying this is Halsey washing her hands of the problem.
Christmas celebrations and official public holidays have begun throughout Federal, Alliance and some independent systems.
In ancient times the date once marked the shortest day on Earth and developed into a key date for various ancient religions still observed by some. The now traditional Christmas celebration of commercial excess, parties and present-giving is in full swing.
In Imperial systems the focus of the present-giving celebrations is the New Year in the standard calendar, and of course Empire Day, the day after.
Speaking to press in the jungle retreat on her yacht 'Xanadu' this morning, when asked about the comments Aisling Duval made on the chat show 'Celebrity Pets' Zemina Torval stated:
"That illegitimate child Aisling Duval speaks out against slavery, but she knows nothing of it. Look at our streets. We have no beggars. No graffiti. No one goes hungry. Our streets are safe.
Look at the Federation. The girl's never been of course. People die of starvation despite their crippling taxes. Is that what she wants, because it seems popular? Go to the Federation then!
She speaks for her father because he can barely talk and is only lucid for a few moments at a time. It's not as if her father will ever ascend to the throne. Everyone knows he wrecked his brain many years ago."
We couldn't reach Aisling Duval for comment.