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New high-speed train route delayed until 2022
Claumont

The high speed train route, planned to connect Claumont and Pillau, will be delayed until 2022 says the Imperial Train Bureau. "The majority of the route has been completed. However, geological setbacks have seriously hindered our completion" the Bureau said in a statement. Construction began in 2017 and has consistently run over budget and behind schedule. The Bureau came under close scrutiny of the Imperial Assembly and reportedly, the Emperor, in 2019. This scrutiny resulted in the dismissal of much of the Bureau's senior leadership- though circumstances remain unclear at this time. The Imperial Train Bureau is planning to bypass previous plans and go with an alternate route over a distance of 56 miles. This is expected to add a further 1 billion Francs to the cost.


Emperor Paul to visit region
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Chagny


The Emperor's media office has announced that His Imperial Majesty will be visiting the region to "better define shared goals with the Empire's regional partners". The Emperor's tour will be the first in nearly 3 years. With the Imperial Assembly demanding more oversight over the Foreign Ministry, the Emperor is likely using this tour to shore up his position as the head of the Empire's foreign policy and as head of the Imperial Government. After the Leroux Incident in 2019, the Emperor has left much of the diplomacy to the foreign office. Political experts say that His Majesty is likely moving to see that he retains personal control over external matters.
 

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Largest Frankish airline, Minerva Air, abruptly stops service. Leaves thousands stranded worldwide
Claumont

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The largest Frankish airline and 3rd largest airline in the world, Minerva, has abruptly stopped service the day after Christmas. The move has stunned thousands of would-be passengers and left many holding useless boarding passes. The announcement was made this morning at 8 o'clock. Minerva has failed to state reasons for the halt. Members of the Imperial Assembly have already launched an investigation. Sources tell Le Moniteur that the Emperor himself has appointed an inquiry team to determine the cause of the stoppage.

In addition to passengers, thousands of employees have been left in limbo as the airline has stated that only essential staff would be receiving pay and workers are to expect severance packages. The Transportation Ministry has called the event a "magnificent disaster".
 

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Trans Westernesse Airlines
Public Communique

It is a sad to see anyone become stranded on the day after Christmas when so many are looking to get home to their families and jobs after celebrating the birth of our lord savior Jesus Christ. That is why in the spirit of giving TWA will offer to transport those who a stranded home or to the nearest airport where they may find further transport at little or no cost to those who have found themselves with useless boarding passes. We will also offer transport through our subsidiary Balért in Bajorország. We ask that those of you who are stranded bear with us as we attempt to route you through our own network of routes and cities. If we cannot find you transport on one of our aircraft we shall work with our partner airlines to route your through their routes. We hope that the employees of Minerva airlines will find gainful employment with another company or perhaps with TWA itself or our subsidiary Balért. Merry Christmas and remember to treat others with compassion and respect in these stressful times.

John Hughes
CEO of Trans Westernesse Airlines
 
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Emperor warns of potential humanitarian crisis. Plans to offer to Tarusa to assume Ostmark's natural gas debt.
Chagny

The Emperor announced that he was watching the developments in Ostmark very carefully. His Imperial Majesty said in a press conference that he is fearful of a humanitarian crisis in Ostmark as energy concerns are gripping the country in the dead of winter. The Emperor went on to state that the Frankish Embassy would be open in the evenings for up to 300 elderly as a warming shelter. The embassy, opened only in 1992 after relations were normalized, is expected to provide a haven for the elderly for the next week until diesel for generators runs out. The Emperor warned that if Ostmark continued to be placed in such a state, thousands would potentially be at risk of death.

The Emperor noted that Ostmark was becoming a 'new nation' and that Tarusa was committing an act of extortion. "These nations should be partners. If we can bridge that gap to ensure Ostmark a new beginning, then I believe we should". The Emperor has offered to assume the debt by making the payment to Tarusa. In return, Ostmark would repay the Empire on a plan commensurate with their abilities.
 

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Emperor and Tsar reach temporary agreement. Natural gas supply to Ostmark will resume
Chagny

Through diplomatic channels, the two imperial governments forged an agreement to ensure that @Ostmark will not face a humanitarian crises. The Frankish Empire will assume the natural gas debt of Ostmark. Imperial sources say that @Tarusa will receive the full payment required. No further details have been made public from the Frankish end. Statements from both governments are reportedly forthcoming.

The agreement comes as @Ostmark is in turmoil with potential criminals escaping justice, mountains of economic questions, and severe energy challenges. The Imperial Government has pledged its basic assistance to the elderly. Meanwhile, Tarusa has remained highly critical of the power transition within Ostmark. The Tsar's government has decried the destruction of millions of documents- many covering internal security measures taken by the former regime.

The Emperor has noted that he is "extremely concerned with the methodology being applied" and says that he is "praying for a true reconciliation with truth, love, and forgiveness at its heart".
 

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Imperial Navy will retire only aircraft carrier in February. Forces reorganization continues.
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The backbone of the Imperial Navy since the 1960's, the carrier FSI Mercure, will be retired in February as the Imperial Government continues to downsize the fleet. Mercure is now over 60 years old and has continued to serve despite the rising costs for upkeep. The navy will reportedly also be scrapping the helicopter cruiser FSI Gloire and two destroyers. "We will be consolidating the surface fleet into two distinct squadrons instead of three. It is both financially and strategically more efficient" said a statement from the admiralty. The reduction in power projection and size of the fleet is in line with Imperial directives and transformation of the greater vision of a future force. A new aircraft aircraft carrier will be commissioned later this year but will have a far more narrow scope of operations.



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New carrier FSI Audacieuse in sea trials


The Army is also facing immense changes as the long-term plan is to transition from a mixed professional-conscript force into a smaller standing professional army. While the size of reserves will increase, the expenditures will be drastically reduced by 2025. As the Imperial Air Force continues to grow, the Imperial Assembly has also asked the Emperor for a concrete review of defense spending. About 100,000 personnel are planned to be trimmed from the Imperial Forces by 2024 and 175,000 by 2026. "There are many reasons to modernize. Cost. Strategic deployment. Geography. We must view all of these reasons with serious consideration" said the Emperor last week.
 

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First Minister Aucoin to step down
Chagny
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First Minister Marcel Aucoin has announced that he plans to step down. Since taking the office 3 years ago, Aucoin has had a reportedly contentious relationship with the Emperor. Aucoin has stated that he plans to return to Arches for retirement. The choice to step down as First Minister has come as a shock to many. Aucoin's leadership in the Imperial Assembly has been universally celebrated by its members. In the press conference today, Aucoin stated that "I have reached a point where I feel I have done all I can do. I have spent 26 years in service to my country and the Empire. When a servant reaches a point where he can no longer make progress or to pursue their agenda; they must ask themselves the question if they can be effective in their role".

Aucoin is largely credited with the Universal Medical Code and the Agricultural Support Law. The Agricultural Support Law was universally passed as an Imperial Mandate in 2019 and provided farmers a direct path to compensation for agricultural aid. After the 2006 drought, several attempts to pass an Imperial bill failed. The bill ensures that all constituent states and kingdoms follow the same steps to protect farm and farmers. In 2019, Aucoin became the center of an alleged disagreement with the Crown over an Imperial wage law which the Emperor vetoed twice. Sources say that the event soured relations between the Emperor and Aucoin. "I am proud of my actions as First Minister and have always fought for the people and the Empire. I feel I have left the Empire in a better place and that is all that one who holds office can hope for" said Aucoin.

Many expect Orange Party leader Louis Dusset to take the vacant post. Sources close to the palace say that Dusset and former Energy Minister Edmond Bernard are the two being considered. Dusset, a long-time Assembly member, is considered to be bipartisan and well experienced. Former Minister Bernard is known for his commitment to the Conservative Party. Many expect the Emperor to announce his pick Tuesday or Wednesday.
 

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60 years on, the memory of Emperor Baldwin II looms large


EDITORIAL

By Wilhelm Brandt

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Emperor Baldwin greets a crowd of Franks sometime in the 1940s.


Wednesday marks 60 years since the passing of Emperor Baldwin. Though his passing was over a half-century ago, Baldwin's shadow is large. Considered to be the key Frank of the 20th century, Baldwin is also considered to be one of the most influential emperors in modern history. Social, economic, and cultural changes dominated his 40 year reign along with war and personal tragedy. Baldwin remained popular among peers, the people, and internationally.

Born the third son of Emperor Hugh, Baldwin was never expected to be King. At age 19, Baldwin entered into the Military University. Eschewing privilege, he took the position of Captain in an infantry regiment. His accession to the throne was a close run thing following the assassination of his two brothers. The House of Cuvier nearly lost the throne to the von Lippe's- the Landgraviate family of Pillau. His early years were full of internal turmoil as war and nationalist politics coursed through the Empire. By the mid 1930's, the ancient union of kingdoms and electorates seemed poised to collapse. Through charisma and persistence, Baldwin managed to not only preserve the union- but invigorate it. "His personality was a force that was unmatched" said First Minister Mortier in 1974.

Baldwin's reign was tinged with tragedy. He escaped an assassination attempt in 1942 and saw his own daughter, Princess Marie, die in 1949 during childbirth. Baldwin watch as Empress Zsofia slowly lose her health until her death in 1946.

His personality often translated to humility. He rarely wore expensive suits or ceremonial attire- choosing a simple military uniform or gray suits from common tailors. He is known to only have worn the Imperial Crown twice. Once at his coronation and the other time at his wedding. "I am a simple soldier. A uniform suits me fine" he would say. Baldwin was known to disappear into crowds of common people to hear their concerns and their plight; much to the frustration of his security team. He would walk in Chagny's parks on Saturdays, speaking with up to a hundred people in a day.

Baldwin's popularity, both domestically and internationally, created a precedent of humility and outreach. Some are questioning if Emperor Paul possesses enough of the ability to reach out to the common people. His quiet approach to foreign policy seems at odds with his grandfather's eagerness. Though few question Emperor Paul's abilities, we simply have not had the time to gauge them. It is perhaps unfair to compare Paul's reign with that of his Grandfather. After all, Baldwin was a man of a different age- literally. born into the 19th century. Comparing monarchs of the modern age is perhaps inevitable. But we must do so with context. We must understand that the benchmark is not always the goal. The Empire needs stability, safety, and prosperity. Reflecting on the past provides context for the future. If this is taken to heart, Emperor Baldwin's shadow will not only serve to teach future monarchs, but future citizens as well.

[Page 2, 3]
 
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Louis du Pont selected as new First Minister

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The Emperor has appointed Louis du Pont as First Minister, replacing Marcel Aucoin. The Emperor made the announcement late Friday following a lengthy press conference. du Pont, a former deputy minister of the interior, comes a surprise pick. Known as a bi-partisan member of the center-left Orange Party, du Pont is reportedly held in high esteem by party leadership. The Burgundian is most known for his investigations into corruption in the Health Ministry in 2013. As a member of the Imperial Assembly from 1998-2009, du Pont has sponsored a number of petitions and chaired both the Veterans Committee and the Education Committee. Prior to joining the Assembly, du Pont served as Professor of Ethics at the Imperial University of Monterfil.

du Pont was sworn in Saturday morning during a special session of the Assembly and met with the Emperor. According to sources, His Imperial Majesty shared his concerns over the current domestic budget and business tax rates. du Pont allegedly has an agenda to overhaul the education system and to implement a new infrastructure package.
 

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Minerva Air saved. Government takes 1/3 ownership
Chagny


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160 million passengers is how many flew worldwide on Minerve Air in 2019. Yet 2020 saw a complete stoppage of services during one of the busiest times of the year- leaving thousands stranded and thousands in employment-limbo. A government investigation determined that the airlines management was "grossly incompetent" and "completely mismanaged its finances". The report states that the board essentially spent like "a drunken Vistaran". Former First Minister Aucoin and the Emperor both took a personal interest in discovering the mismanagement as well as interest in developing a solution. Trans Westernesse Airlines graciously saved many passengers from limbo. Yet many Minerva employees had already begun a job search by the time First Minister du Pont announced a compromise to save the airline today.

The Imperial Government will take a 1/3 ownership stake in the company. In return, the airline is reportedly receiving 30 Billion Francs. Additionally, the entire board and CEO will be replaced by February 1st. The government will have two special administrators who will sit on the board with complete veto power. A monthly report to the Imperial Assembly will be tendered. Additionally, Minerva will be responsible for being profit generating in 2021. Under the agreement, the airline must be profitable in 2021. If it is not, the government maintains the right to sell its shares to another airline. First Minister du Pont remained positive today- saying that "Minerva is a staple of international travel. Despite the recent complication, we feel that the airline will remain in high regard".
 

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Editorial: Ostmark, CSEAC highlight strengths and weaknesses of an old system
by Hans Grossman, Assistant Editor

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Emperor Paul visits Eiffelland, 2018

For nearly 150 years, the federal imperial system has ensured a balance and a shared identity across the nations that make one. For 900 years, an Emperor has sat on the throne. These two features play an intricate dance to ensure a stable Empire. There have always been strengths and weaknesses. Wars, economic depressions, and vast cultural changes have brought their challenges to the Frankish people. Yet, the Empire persists.

Domestically, the Empire is relatively modern in political terms. An elected legislature. A prime minister in the form of the First Minister. Yet the Emperor still maintains a level of control with a nearly all-powerful veto. His ability to make decisions and appoint the entire cabinet is in many ways unchecked. Despite this, the Assembly still represents the people. Internationally things are so very different. The foreign policy of the Empire rests in a single man- the Emperor. Though he does not control an international budget, the Emperor remains free to set policies. We have seen as of recent, Emperor Paul's intervention into Ostmark's move to democracy. Threatened with the loss of natural gas during the harshest months of the winter, Ostmark was in peril. Swift negotiations by the Emperor helped curb damage by temporarily seeing gas service resume. On the other hand, Emperor Paul has reportedly been on the fence regarding the CSEAC. Invited to join, the Emperor has been in conference with many of his advisors. Though pledging to attend the first meeting, no representative was sent. However, on Friday, His Imperial Majesty pledged to join the organization.


Therein lies the question. Is the Empire's foreign infrastructure manageable without legislative oversight? Nobody is questioning the monarchy or its place in government. But rather, why the Assembly does not have a more expansive say in foreign matters aside from budgeting? His Imperial Majesty is neither incompetent nor incapable. Quite the opposite. The question boils down to this- why has the Imperial Constitution not been more thoroughly revised over the decades? Without question, His Imperial Majesty has had great successes- resolving Ostmark's potential disaster, the establishment of an international committee to protect cultural treasures during conflict, and trade deals. However, the Emperor has failed to ensure the Empire's voice is heard within CSEAC. Furthermore, His Imperial Majesty has left the ambassadorship to Eiffelland vacant for nearly a year. These are seemingly easy enough to resolve. True. But why does the Imperial Assembly not get its voice?

It is clear that the federal-imperial system remains strong. The monarchy remains a pillar for stability. In truth, these questions are not questions of circumstance nor of politics- but of time. With the world ever growing closer, we owe it to ourselves as proud citizens of the Empire to have our voices heard internationally.
 
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