A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

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January 31

The titanic battle of Stalingrad finally ended in stalemate after five months and two million Axis and Soviet casualties. Although the military decisions would be analysed for decades, the strategic consequences for each side would be quite profoundly different.

Western Allies fight Hitler down to the Last RussianThe furious Joseph Stalin was keenly aware that the large relief force assembled by von Manstein Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein was only made possible by the cancellation of Operation Torch. This freed up three Wehrmacht divisions and other air transport resources that would otherwise have been uselessly tied down in Tunisia.

Because of course the Fuehrer was not seeking Lebensraum in North Africa he had only been drawn into that mess by his obligations to Il Duce who was essentially trying to build a new Roman Empire in the parts of the war-zone that least interested the Nazis. Nevertheless, Hitler's brutal decision to order General of the Armoured Troops Friedrich Paulus to hold "fortress Stalingrad" to the last man was vindicated in so far as it appeared a brilliant strategic pause while von Manstein could break the Soviet ring that had encircled the German Sixth Army and their Hungarian and Romanian Allies. But what he had really achieved was to insert a bitter wedge between the Allies, ensuring that whatever the final outcome, the Grand Alliance had been exposed as a shambolic attempt by the Western Allies to fight the Nazis down to the last Russian.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announces his decision to negotiate an international ban on the development of the hydrogen bomb, a doomsday weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

No Hydrogen BombFive months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan.

But then, several weeks after that, British and U.S. intelligence came to the staggering conclusion that German-born Klaus Fuchs (pictured), a top-ranking scientist in the U.S. nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to conclude that both sides were locked into an expensive and pointless zero-sum game. Ironically, much of the espionage had been conducted by scientists nervous of either side gaining an edge and therefore this conclusion was their ultimate goal.

In 1941, on this day future Democratic Presidential Nominee Richard Andrew ("Dick") Gephardt was born in St. Louis, Missouri. An article from the No Chappaquiddick by Eric Lipps in which EMK's car only almost went off that bridge on July 18, 1969.

Dick Gephardt the best President we never hadDuring the year of Ted Kennedy's Presidential re-election, he won a seat in Congress in the St. Louis-based 3rd District, succeeding 24-year incumbent Leonor Sullivan. After his arrival in Washington in 1977, Representative Gephardt quickly rose to prominence. Fellow Missouri Congressman Richard Bolling, then chairman of the House Rules Committee, arranged his assignment on the House Ways and Means Committee, a rare honor for a freshman legislator. Two years later Gephardt won a seat on the House Budget Committee. Through service on the Budget Committee Gephardt established his reputation as a fiscal conservative. In 1982 he and New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley sponsored the Fair Tax Act, popularly known as the Bradley-Gephardt Bill, which eventually became the Tax Reform Act of 1986. By 1984 Gephardt had joined the "inner circle" of House Democratic leadership with his selection as chairman of their caucus, the fourth-highest post behind speaker, majority leader, and majority whip.

To launch his own bid for the Presidency against incumbent Gary Hart, he ran hard and early in 1987-88 and finally started moving ahead in Iowa after running the "Hyundai ad" that criticized what he thought were unfair trade barriers by Korea and Japan.

His victory in the Iowa Caucus sent shock waves through the Democratic Party and talk that Hart would be denied renomination began to intensify (although the President's supporters tried to argue that Iowa was unrepresentative of the nation as a whole, the result pointed up the erosion in his political support since the Donna Rice scandal emerged). This was proven to be the case when Gephardt won South Dakota primary in February while finishing a strong second in New Hampshire which made him one of the serious contenders for the nomination. Meanwhile the Hart campaign did its best to play down the significance of his back-to-back defeats, but privately, Hart's advisers warned that he was in danger of becoming another Lyndon Johnson, defeated for renomination. Polls indicated that the continuing stigma of the Donna Rice episode was one reason many primary voters have turned away from him.

On "Super Tuesday" President Hart won in Maryland, Texas and Massachusetts. Rev. Jesse Jackson took Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Gephardt won Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma, as well as his home state of Missouri. The Hart campaign was badly disappointed by the primary results, which indicated a further slippage in the President's political support even within his own party. Moreover, the split outcome suggested that the Democrats would be at a disadvantage in November no matter whom they nominate: in general, the party whose presidential nomination is locked up earlier tends to win, and it appears the Democrats may go all the way to their convention without settling the matter.

Inevitably (given its location in Jackson's hinterland) the Convention opened amid controversy at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia. Since the withdrawal of President Hart, Gephardt of Missouri had been the leading candidate, but the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was number two, and had made it clear he expected to be nominated for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket. Many Gephardt supporters were furious with what they consider to be an attempt at political extortion. Jackson's people, on the other hand, lost no opportunity to insist that if the Reverend were white, his inclusion on the ticket would be a given.

Three days later, Richard Gephardt received the Democratic presidential nomination. In his acceptance speech, he announced that he had chosen Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate. Jesse Jackson was furious that he had been rejected for vice-president a second time. The Reverend believed he had a better right to the number-two spot, given that he had won numerous primaries while Biden had not won anywhere. Nevertheless, he delivered a speech in which he pledged "solidarity" with the party and its presidential ticket.

Partly due to the mis-steps taken by the Democratic Party, Representative Jack Kemp won the general election. The election had been a roller-coaster, with President Gary Hart, once considered likely to win re-election in a walk, instead forced to drop out of the race after the embarrassment of the Donna Rice episode, Gephardt emerging seemingly from nowhere to capture the Democratic nomination in the President's place, and the Republicans jolted by the surprisingly powerful candidacy of television preacher Pat Robertson.

In 1913, on this day the assassin Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (pictured) disembarked from the Krakow train at Vienna's North Terminal station. Of dark complexion, he sported a large peasant's moustache and carried a very basic wooden suitcase.

The Arrests at the Central Cafe, Part 2Inside was a passport bearing the false name Stavros Papadopoulos, because "Agent Koba" was in fact on the official bloody business of the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. And so he was met at the station by a "junior" party official N.I. Bukharin whose only real involvement was that he had recently agreed to start writing for a left-wing magazine called Proveshchenie ("Enlightenment").

Bukharin took him to the lodgings of a "senior" party member - Leon Bronstein - who was inner circle, not only a powerful figure but also the editor of a radical newspaper called Pravda or "Truth". In his diary that evening he recorded the encounter "I was sitting at the table, when the door opened with a knock and an unknown man entered. He was short.. thin.. his greyish-brown skin covered in pockmarks.. I saw nothing in his eyes that resembled friendliness".

Of course to the Imperial Police tasked with maintaining law and order in polyglot Vienna, all three men where subversive intellectuals. But these members of the underworld were linked by an ulterior purpose. Because Agent Koba had been sent to assassinate Emperor Franz Joseph and in so doing drag Austria-Hungary and Tsarist Russia into an imperialist war that would overthrow the status quo.

But of course these men were only allied by the mutuality of their frustrated ambitions. When the "Usual Suspects" were rounded up in the Café Central, they decided to break with their backers and overthrow the Habsburgs their own way. In this venture, they were joined by a cell mate, Adolf Schicklegruber, who had decided to revert his family after receiving the counselling of Dr Sigmund Freud woh advocated a fresh start. And when Freud was shot dead by Austrian Police, his furious anger propelled him into the leadership of this new revolutionary cell.

In 1876, in a move that prevented open war across the Northern Plains, President Ulysses S. Grant issued an executive order extending the deadline set previously for all Native Americans to return to their reservations.

Grant Extends Indian Reservation Deadline The initial date for the deadline had been carefully calculated two months before by Grant and his generals Philip Sheridan, commander of the Division of the Missouri, and George Crook, commander of the Department of the Platte, to be unreachable by the Indians, who had settled into their winter quarters. When the Indians did not move (General Sheridan noted that the Indians would not move no matter the date, though Lakota leaders had already decided they would travel to the agencies that spring), they would march troopers into the Indian camps and force them into submissive positions on the reservations.

The matter at the core was gold. White encroachment on Indian lands had gone on for decades, and the Indians had gradually migrated and dealt with the growing White settlement. Several wars had raged, but none were as large as the surprise attack Sheridan and Crook were planning to clear the Indians quickly and effectively out of the Black Hills, where gold had been discovered by the Custer Expedition in 1874. A gold rush was in full sway and expected to boom. The Federal government had ended stopping trespassers onto the Sioux hunting grounds as an initial part of the plan and offered to pay the tribes $25,000 and reservations south in Indian Territory. Spotted Tail summarized the feelings of the Sioux leaders who had traveled to Washington with, "You speak of another country, but it is not my country; it does not concern me, and I want nothing to do with it. I was not born there".

Yet, the land was needed both to open for the glut of would-be miners following the Panic of 1873 as well as for railroad projects. Grant had previously reversed the objectives of the Federal government, which had been anti-Indian since its founding. Johnson's order to General Sheridan years before about the Cheyenne and Arapaho had been, "I want you to go ahead, kill and punish the hostiles, capture and destroy the ponies". Grant later confronted Congress on the policies, saying, "Wars of extermination are demoralizing and wicked" and "A system which looks to the extinction of a race is too horrible for a nation to adopt without entailing upon itself the wrath of all Christendom". Despite his advances in upholding treaties, in his second term the question of the Black Hills had turned him to the same policies he had derided.

In late January, a telegram from the US Indian Agent at Standing Rock reached the president, saying that his requests to extend the deadline had been repeatedly denied despite that travel in the midst of winter was impossible. He noted that any God-fearing, decent man would be reasonable rather than start a war, and Grant felt his spark of conscious. The Whiskey Ring scandal that had implicated his secretary Orville E. Babcock had destroyed Grant's popularity among Republicans, and he decided that acting in favor of the Indians could not do any more damage, saying famously, "If I'm going to be unpopular, I might as well do the right thing".

In spring of 1876, the majority of the Indians came to their reservations as had been agreed. Sheridan and Crook were allowed to mop up the stragglers and then ordered to maintain some kind of peace amid the Indians and the swarms of prospectors centering on Deadwood. Methods of herding the remaining buffalo were organized by the Sioux and government agents, who finally were able to work a deal for the Northern Pacific Railroad giving the Indians a toll based on transport. When the gold began to give out, the prospectors deserted, and the Sioux gradually came back into control over much of the area. Conservationist Theodore Roosevelt hunted the buffalo in 1893, and his political actions back East helped give funding to rebuilding the Northern Buffalo Herd, which had been barely saved from the extinction that had struck the Southern.

Despite decades more of politics and needless violence, the White and Native Americans gradually learned to live alongside one another, perhaps best exemplified by the peaceful demonstrations at Wounded Knee in 1890 where invited government officials understood the severity of breaking up the Great Sioux Reservation and determined to honor the previous treaty.

In 2010, Darwin Catholic asked the question ~ what would things look like today if Lincoln had simply allowed the CSA to leave and recognized it as a separate country?

What If Lincoln Allowed Secession? Given Lincolns character and beliefs, this seems almost impossible to imagine, but these sorts of alternative history exercises can be an interesting diversion, if only because they make us think about the interconnectedness of history.

A few thoughts of my own:

One of the major questions there would, of course, be: Which CSA? The deep south seceded immediately after Lincolns election, but the mid and upper south didn't secede until after Lincoln responded to the attack on Fort Sumpter with a call for the states to raise militias.

Personally, I think you'd also have to imagine that a Union which let the South secede would probably have broken up further over the following 60 years. Once the precedent for peaceful secession was made, it would be an obvious answer to regional tensions between East and West, etc.

A final factor which shouldn't be overlooked: If the CSA had been left independant, Wilson would clearly never have become president of the US - and the presidency of Wilson (who said his earliest memory was of huddling with his family in the steeple of his father's Presbyterian church and watching the flames of Sherman's army passing through Georgia) was one of the formative influences on the US in the 20th century and on the modern Democratic Party.

In 1968, on this day the weirdest unrealized Beatle movie project became a psychedelic reality with the nation-wide release of the Stanley Kubrick-directed film "Lord of the Rings".

Lord of the RingoThe live-action version featured an choice of casting that in an odd kind of way reflected the natures of the musicians, with Paul McCartney as Frodo Baggins, Ringo Starr as Sam Gamgee, George Harrison as Gandalf, and John Lennon as Gollum.

Due to their megastar status, the band managed to entice a number of talented actors - most notably Peter Sellers - to provide a semblance of balance to the movie. As a result of this level of mainstream interest, plans to shoot cartoon voice overs for "Magical Mystery Tour" and the "Yellow Submarine" were scrapped in favour of an even more ambition project than LOTR: an adaptation of "The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe" to be shot during 1969.
Click to watch the Peter Jackson Interview

In 2012, on this day James Cameron's long anticipated, blockbuster movie Avatar 2 premiered in cinemas across North America.

The premiere of Avatar 2Set in 2175, twenty five years have passed, and whilst many things have changed, some have not. Because stocks of the rare mineral unobtanium (valued at $20m per kilo) are running low back on Earth, an ultra republican US President (played by Will Ferrell) orders a re-establishment of the RDA Mining Operation on Pandora. The surprising application of unobtanium is also revealed at this time. However, on the return voyage, unobtanium is also discovered on the moons of Polyphemus and the Alpha Centauri A solar system. This peaceful outcome is of course a huge disappointment to Colonel Miles Quarich (reprised by Stephen Lang) who is out for revenge having been reanimated from DNA ("Its not over whilst I'm breathing!") after his untimely death from two poisoned Na'vi arrows to the chest.

Ironically, the Na'vi are now desirous of a such re-engagement because lacking advanced medical technology they are unable to defeat a slow-acting virus introduced during mankind's first visit. In desperation, Jake Sculley (pictured) travels to the interior of the planet to seek a cure. To add depth to the drama, flashbacks are shown - including the related events that led to Sculley's disabling injury, and the death of his brother Tommy (and by exploring the President's complicity we discover that Jake's arrival on Pandora was no accident at all).

In a dramatic final scene, Jake appeals to the mother goddess Eywa to re-animate his human body and find a cure for the Na'vi. The stage is thus set for the third movie expected before 2015.

In 1957, the following notice was published ~ following sworn testimony from his God-fearing sibling Jesse Garon, No Music Except With Human Tongue

without prejudice of family loyalty, Elvis Aaron Presley sentenced to trial by water, by magistrates of this good parish of Tupelo, Mississipi, persuant to Holy Scripture, Make No Music Except With Human Tongue Saith The Lord God refers, on this day of our Lord, 1958. Not the potter, but the potter's clay. Amen.

"Indian"

In 1967, on this day the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 41-14 in Super Bowl I; much of the Packers' success was credited to the third down plays devised by their new quarterbacks coach, former Winnipeg Blue Bombers star "Indian" Jack Jacobs.

"Indian" - Jack Jacobs
Jack Jacobs
Apollo One

On this day in 1967, NASA began a thorough overhaul of Apollo 1's electrical systems and air circulation equipment.

Apollo One - Crew
Crew

On this day in 1983, newly crowned WWF world heavyweight champion 'Psycho' Tommy Rich made his first title defense, beating Syracuse University alumnus Mike Rotundo in a bout televised on Monday Night Raw.

Psycho
Psycho - Tommy Rich
Tommy Rich

In 1955, the CIA submits to the White House intelligence on recent Soviet tests of a massive intercontinental ballistic missile more powerful than anything in the U.S. Arsenal. Eight days later, President Eisenhower summons NASA administrator Glennan and chief agency scientist Werner von Braun to the White House for an urgent meeting. The President reveals what the CIA has shown him regarding the Soviets' new missile capabilities and informs Glennan and von Braun that for the time being, any further space efforts will have to take a back seat to closing the 'missile gap' with the Soviets.

 - Glennan
Glennan

Dr. Glennan objects, pointing out that America's success in space has significant political value. He invites Eisenhower to consider the black eye the U.S. might have suffered if the Soviets had been first into orbit. The President acknowledges the point, but goes on: 'None of that matters now, Dr. Glennan. We won the race into space, and the world knows it. Now we must consider more practical matters.' When Glennan attempts to say that the space race may not be over, Eisenhower cuts him off and ends the meeting. Afterward, a fuming Glennan is consoled by Werner von Braun: 'The President will come around, and if he doesn't, his successor may.' The rocket engineer observes that Eisenhower's fixation on building bigger, more powerful missiles to throw at the Soviet Union may actually work in NASA's favor in the long run, by encouraging the advancement of rocket technology which can eventually be applied to space missions.

In 1958, after a number of embarrassing public failures, the U.S. finally orbits an artificial satellite, Explorer I.

Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had demanded a congressional investigation after the Soviets beat the U.S. into space the previous October, rushes to take credit. 'This is what happens when you hold these eggheads' feet to the fire,' he says at a news conference.

 -

McCarthy's comments fuel resentment among space scientists and the Senator's colleagues on the Hill, who will band together to strip him of authority over the Sputnik inquiry he had instigated and to change its focus from rooting out 'traitors' in the scientific community to building up America's scientific and technological infrastructure.

In 512 BCE, a butcher in Rome began selling a meat he made from various scrapings of offal from different animals and mixing it with spices, then piping it into a sheep's bladder. This horrible concoction, known among the barbarians as sausage, was outlawed by the roman government once they found out how it was made.
Element: Who row: 3971

In 2000, and bang on schedule according to the Hubbert peak theory the world enters Peak Oil. As described by the bell-shaped production curve suggested by M. King Hubbert in 1956, Peak oil is the point or timeframe at which the maximum global petroleum production rate is reached, after which the rate of production enters its terminal decline. If global consumption is not mitigated before the peak, the availability of conventional oil will drop and prices will rise, perhaps dramatically. Of course global consumption had not been mitigated, far from it, it had been soaring. The vast oil reserves of Russia put that previously failed nation in the box seat for the twenty-first century.

Element: Who row: 3971 -
In 1990, the retrial of Ray Buckey of the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, brought into the open the hideous ring of Satanists that were running most of America's nursery schools and day-care centers. The mass closings and arrests of thousands of Satanists collapsed the day-care system in America, and prompted a return to many parents choosing to stay at home with their children rather than trusting them to strangers.
In 2005, the Save Earth camp site where Jeanna Best and Dave Lange are being kept is raided by Texas Rangers, who start shooting anyone who tries to flee. In spite of this, Lange and Best make a break for it, along with several others. Losing their pursuit in the hills, they try to double back and see what is happening to the camp. When they find a hill where they can observe the campsite unseen, they see the supposed 'Rangers' executing the Save Earthers that have been captured.
In 2005, Chelsea Perkins and Alma May Watson discover a book of spells written by an ancestor of Perkins' in the Great Tree. Delving into it, they see that this ancestor, one Morris Perkins, had been more than willing to dabble in Ingredients that the Council of Wisdom had outlawed centuries before. Her curiosity peaked, Miss Perkins begins gathering some of the less-illegal Ingredients together to cast one of the least-harmful looking spells.
In 1990, the retrial of Ray Buckey of the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, brought into the open the hideous ring of Satanists that were running most of America's nursery schools and day-care centers. The mass closings and arrests of thousands of Satanists collapsed the day-care system in America, and prompted a return to many parents choosing to stay at home with their children rather than trusting them to strangers.
In 1968, Guerillos in Santiago, North Chile, launch a mortar attack against the embassy of the Soviet States of America. 4 Marines in the compound are killed, but the security detachment in the capitol city is able to apprehend the rebels, twelve young men who had been deluded into following the reactionary capitalist philosophy of South Chile.
In 1937, pop composer Phillip Glass was born in Baltimore, Maryland. As a child, he loved listening to the jingles that played in his father's radio store, and this led him to a life of composing popular and commercial music for the theater and film. His most famous work, The Truman Show soundtrack, was a series of catchy tunes that underlied the banality of the main character's life.
In 1918, Velma Porter reminds her husband, Mikhail von Heflin, that this date will be the day they meet for the first time in 1952. In spite of the virulent racism around them in the southern port city of Charleston, South Carolina, they enjoy a night of romance; unknown to them, they are watched the entire time by Milo Cranston.
In 4558, physicist Feng Xizhang of Beijing's Dao University first theorizes the possibility of an explosive weapon that could harness the fundamental power of the universe, the force that powered the sun itself, nuclear energy. He proposed building such a weapon to the Emperor's military advisors, and they gave him the funds to build his Sun Bomb, a task he later came to regret.
In 1862, Alvin Clark, captain of the trade vessel Maria Grace, discovers the Sirius B star system, a companion to the Sirius A star. In honor of his discovery, Sirius B is now known as Clark's Star. Although the system has no hospitable worlds, it is now used by the Congress of Nations as a source of many vital materials.
In 2008, in Washington US President George W. Bush was yet to receive a credible explanation as to the mysterious disapperance of WD-5. Only Valentine Michael Smith knew that the Old Ones of Mars would intercept WD-5, just as they had destroyed the fourth planet and created the asteroid belt so many years before.
In 1947, the United States made the Greenland purchase.

After the war, the Pentagon was keen to retain control over the world's biggest aircraft carrier' and pressed the Truman administration to buy Greenland from Denmark.U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC) were given free reign to use Thule as a launching pad for Armageddon. In the fall of 1956, Thule-based B-47s made repeated deep incursions into Soviet airspace (Operation Home Run) that were designed to push Kremlin nerves to the limit. Later Curtis Le May, the singularly sinister commander of SAC, wistfully recollected that 'with a bit of luck we could have gotten World War Three started back then. '

'Bombs Away' only had to wait five years.

In 1961 SAC commanders ordered a nuclear strike after they lost contact with Thule due to a technical glitch that they misinterpreted as a Soviet attack.
In 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced a program to develop the hydrogen bomb. Truman needed a quick payback for the new superweapon, American gains in south-east Asia were unravelling very quickly.

In 1961, the North American Space Agency (NASA) reported the good news 'Chimp returns safely after space flight - A chimpanzee sent into space in a United States rocket is recovered alive and well from the sea near Florida.'.

Behind closed doors, NASA were desperately trying to understand how the chimp had developed the power of speech, and the location of this Ape City he was describing.

Chimp
Chimp - Planet of the Apes?
Planet of the Apes?
In 1948, the bullet-ridden dead body of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lay in state in New Delhi. Bapu ('Father') travelled in serenity to the gateway of worlds where he was met by great soul-deeps. A Navajo guide looked up quizzically; nodding a respectful greeting, 'Ya'aa'tey' ('It is good') by way of explanation. 'Brahmacharya' ( 'Control of the senses in thought, word and deed') replied Bapu in his native Hindu. It was a reference to the one aspect of his worldly existence that required closure. When Gandhi was 16 his father became very ill. Being very devoted to his parents, he attended to his father at all times during his illness. However, one night, Gandhi's uncle came to relieve Gandhi for a while. He retired to his bedroom where carnal desires overcame him and he made love to his wife. Shortly afterward a servant came to report that Gandhi's father had just died. Gandhi felt tremendous guilt and never could forgive himself. He came to refer to this event as 'double shame.' The incident had significant influence in Gandhi becoming celibate at the age of 36, while still married.
In 1948, the bullet-ridden dead body of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lay in state in New Delhi. According to his wish, the majority of Gandhi's ashes were immersed in some of the world's major rivers, such as The Nile, Volga, Thames, etc. A small portion was sent to Paramahansa Yogananda from Dr. V.M. Nawle, (a publisher and journalist from Pune (formerly Poona), India) encased in a brass & silver coffer. The ashes were then enshrined at the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine within a thousand-year-old stone sarcophagus from China. Paramahansa Yogananda had met Gandhi at the latter's Wardha Ashram in 1936 and Gandhi had requested and received Kriya Yoga diksha from him.
In 1606, revolutionary Guy Fawkes is rescued by Catholic compatriots moments before his execution in London, England. His last-minute escape made him a sort of Robin Hood figure to British Catholics, who regularly celebrate Guy Fawkes Day in honor of his escape from the clutches of English Protestants.
Mind Control

In 1977, Senator Edward Kennedy received a visit from two unexpected guests who alleged that America's recent victory in Vietnam was not what it seems.

Jacob Singer's former unit in Air Cavalry were amongst the first US troops to receive a chemical boost to their fighting power - without their knowledge. At least, until a week before when they had been contacted by a chemist working with the Army's chemical warfare division in Saigon.

Mind Control -

Michael Newman worked on creating a drug that increased aggression in soldiers. Tests of the drug (code-named 'the ladder' in reference to the effect) were first given to monkeys and then to a group of enemy POWs, with gruesome results. Later the ladder was given to Jacob's unit, through the platoons' C-rations. The drug was named for its ability to cause 'a fast trip straight down the ladder, right to the primal fear, right to the base anger'. Positive results in the Mekong Delta in October 1971 had encouraged the Pentagon to mount the decisive campaign that had finally ended the war.

In 2003, Dick Cheney suffered a very bad night's sleep. It was one thing to ignore Martin Brundle and recommend the continued military application of his technology. Quite another to be the new Commander in Chief who sent Frankenstein's monster into battle against the objections of Dr Frankenstein.


January 30

In 1649, Charles the Last, the final British monarch was beheaded for treason in front of the Banqueting House at Whitehall.

Charles the LastHe was deposed by Oliver Cromwell's forces in 1646, and despite several attempts to restore the monarchy over the next couple of decades, the people of the UK were never to follow a king or queen again.

Although Cromwell was followed by his son as Lord Protector of the Kingdom, Parliament began electing the Lord Protector in 1660 and the office was filled at the pleasure of the people from then on.

Other monarchies in Europe were disturbed by the loss of their British cousin, and financed many of the pretenders who tried to raise armies to retake the crown, but none were successful. Indeed, the agitators were sometimes toppled by British counter-espionage tactics - the French king fell in 1684, the Russian tsar was ousted in 1692, and the Swedish monarchy was replaced by a democracy in 1704. The rest of Europe's non-democratic governments gave up after the brutal execution of Sweden's nobility, and pretenders to the British Crown disappeared in the 18th century.

In 1948, on this day General Leslie R. Groves' appointment as Chief of Engineers [1] was confirmed by Chief of Staff of the United States Army, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Chief of EngineersThe promotion was a fitting reward for his incomparable war-time record; he was after all the genius that had built the Pentagon and led the Manhattan Project. Much more than a figurehead, he had become intimately involved in all of the big decisions, and what is more, he got them all right.

Nevertheless, Ike had received a long list of complaints about Groves pertaining to his rudeness, arrogance, insensitivity, contempt for the rules and maneuvering for promotion out of turn. Under normal circumstances, this performance evaluation would have turned out very differently. Moreover Groves himself feared that he would never gain another suitable challenge and was seriously considering an opportunity in the private sector (and anyway both men knew that his misbehaviour was simply a temporary expression of his frustration). But circumstances were anything but normal; President Truman needed his best engineer in charge of a project every bit as exciting as his former glories. To build a shared spaceport under the Nevada Desert with the friendly aliens that had crash landed at Roswell.

In 1947, having taken the pivotal decision that Frodo must die and Aragorn (pictured) should become the new Ringbearer, J.R.R. Tolkien began to redraft Return of the King (a title which now assumed a vastly different meaning, recasting Aragorn as the forsaken king who must die so his people may live).

Wizard! Part 6
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
The death of Frodo was the bittersweet climax to the Battle of Isengard in which Saruman's army (reinforced with the ten thousand orcs at Helms Deep) is eventually beaten by the heavily outnumbered Rohirrim after the Ent's release the dam. Entering the Wizard's Tower, Gandalf casts down Saruman and retakes the Ring. But after discovering that the dying Frodo has succumbed to a mortal wound inflicted by the Witch-king of Angmar's Morgul blade, Aragorn takes up the Ring, and vows to finish the quest.

Based on an idea from Steven FisherWith the defeat of Saruman, The War of the Ring is reduced to two combatants. Having prevailed at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the forces of the Dark Lord move into Rohan.

In a desperate race against time to prevent the Fall of Edoras, Aragorn is forced to look for aid from the Elves and the Men of the Mountain. And learns that Faramir might be alive after all. He then travels to Rivendell where Elrond reforges Andúril, the blade that was broken.

He leaves the mustering army to journey through the Path of the Dead under the White Mountains where he uses the reforged sword of Gondor to bind the Dead men of Dunharrow to his service (they were cursed to remain in Middle Earth after they betrayed Isildur in the War of the Last Alliance). With the Sword of Isildur returned to him, he forces the Dead Men to fulfill their oath and find the Dark Lords's forces.

With the Grand Alliance in place, the stage is set for a climatic Great Battle that will decide the very future of Middle Earth (a mirror image of the close-out of the Second Age).
This article is part of the Wizard thread.

In 1835, just after leaving the East Portico of the United States Capitol, President Andrew Jackson, twice-elected to the nation's highest office, was gunned down by the deranged English housepainter Richard Lawrence.

President Jackson Assassinated Jackson had fought in the War of 1812 and in numerous altercations with Indians as well as participating in thirteen duels, but now his luck seemed to have run out. Lawrence stepped from behind a column with two pistols and fired them into Jackson's back on the unseasonably dry winter's day. Reportedly, Jackson, when shot, turned, shouted, and charged at Lawrence before he fell dead.

Lawrence was apprehended by the crowd, including Congressman Davy Crockett. He was taken into custody and questioned first by police, then by doctors, whom he told that he had a great deal of money coming from the Federal Government, but was held up by Jackson. Lawrence went on to explain that he would use the money to retake his place as king of England as he was, in fact, Richard III, who had died three-and-a-half centuries earlier. When taken to trial that April, Lawrence was quickly deemed not guilty by reason of insanity, but prosecutor Francis Scott Key and the many mourners of Jackson would not let the matter rest. The trial went to the Supreme Court, where a precedent of execution for the homicidally insane would be set. Lawrence was hanged that winter, and mental asylums around the nation were purged of those deemed "dangerous to mankind". The deplorable conditions of the insane would continue for decades, prompting reformer Dorothea Dix to champion for the rights of "harmlessly mad". In her early work, she had made attempts to help all those mentally troubled, but the stigma in America ran too deeply to overcome. The policy would continue through the early twentieth century where gas chambers became popular among asylums before giving way to the experimental lobotomies and drugs in the 1940s and '50s.

Just as national mourning turned to rage at the insane, it also poured out against Jackon's enemies in politics. It was discovered that Senator George Poindexter of Mississippi had hired Lawrence some months before, and he was brought under charges of conspiracy. Poindexter was eventually declared innocent, but his political career would never recover. More notably, Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, former vice-president under Jackson, was also suspected. Though he testified to his innocence on the Senate floor, he was not reelected in 1838 and eventually moved to Texas. The new Whig Party, who had formed in 1833 opposing Jackson's assurance of Federal power over nullification, became crippled by the desertion of Henry Clay and soon ceased to be a credible political unit.

Vice-President Martin Van Buren assumed the presidency and won his own election in 1836 and again in 1840 amid chaos of the border war with Britain dubbed the Canadian War brought about by the Caroline affair and the Pork and Beans War, which would ultimately lead to a divided Canadian republic, British colony, and substantial gains in the Pacific Northwest for the Americans. He pushed for Jacksonian ideals, many of which he helped create, suppressing bids for a national bank and instead offering Free Soil and limiting slavery in the territories in aid of the poor White. Polk continued the Jacksonian dynasty with war against Mexico, expanding Manifest Destiny in the Southwest.

After fifteen troubled years, the United States seemed to settle in the 1850s. The economy rebounded with its war-speckled depression over, and immigration filled up the new territories gained. Questions over slavery still boiled, but the matter had been largely settled by legally maintaining the status quo and refusing expansion. Slavery would gradually die out as it became economically infeasible in the face of the growing Industrial Revolution and Abolitionist movement. The question of secession, of course, had been dealt with by Jackson during the Nullification Crisis in his famed "Proclamation to the People of South Carolina" stating, "Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error".

While the United States enjoyed great prosperity over the latter half of the nineteenth century thanks to the strong base of Common Man economics built by Jacksonians, its laissez-faire policies would become a bed of corruption leading to fresh outbreaks of revolution as the twentieth century dawned.

In 1649, on this day that the House of Stuart sought to close the book on the Puritan Revolution in Great Britain, King Charles I's republican nemesis Oliver Cromwell (pictured left) was executed in front of the Banqueting House at Whitehall. The poet Andrew Marvell would immortalise the scene ~ "That thence the Republican actor borne the tragic scaffold might adorn: While round the armed bands did clap their bloody hands".

Did Clap Their Bloody HandsYet Charles Stuart had fatally misjudged the mood of the nation. Because Cromwell's submissive dignity on the scaffold would for ever change the character of the conflict. In short, Cromwell had become the martyr, and Charles the bloody tyrant.

"That thence the Republican actor borne the tragic scaffold might adorn: While round the armed bands did clap their bloody hands". ~ Andrew MarvellMilitary defeat in the civil war would force a sharp change in direction for the republican movement. Henceforth the leadership would be passed to the intelligentsia, a Benjamin Franklin, rather than a George Washington would drive the republican movement

That man would be the author John Milton (pictured right) who fiercely criticized the monarchy in The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. Published in 1650, the treatise expressed his support of a republican form of government ~ "If men within themselves would be govern'd by reason, and not generally give up thir understanding to a double tyrannie, of Custom from without, and blind affections within, they would discerne better, what it is to favour and uphold the Tyrant of a Nation".

And so the death of Cromwell would also shape Milton's destiny. Invited to serve as the Lord Protector after the overthrow of Charles I, it would be for Milton to build the platform of today's modern republic, by being the first Head of State to govern the British people by reason.

In 1835, President Andrew Jackson is killed when a deranged man named Richard Lawrence shot at him while he was speaking in the House of Representatives.

President Andrew Jackson AssassinatedLawrence carried two guns to make sure that he would hit the Democrat, "and end the stain of his people on the face of the nation".

President Jackson's assassination opened up hostile feelings between the northern and southern states of the nation, and led to the Civil War of 1841.

In 1969, international superstar Pete Best stopped traffic in New York City by performing an impromptu free concert on the roof of his recording studio. 'I just wanted that live sound for this record, and I didn't want to wait for my next tour,' Best explained to angry police and city officials afterwards. 'Sorry about all that.' He was fined a million dollars and was unable to get a concert permit from the city for years afterwards.

In 1980, Republican presidential candidates Ronald W. Reagan and George H. W. Bush issue the first of a series of denials that the fix was in for Reagan at their debate the previous evening, as President Kennedy had suggested when asked his opinion of the encounter. Their protests only help to keep the idea alive, even though the two continue to spar energetically through the remainder of the primary season. When Reagan receives the GOP presidential nomination at the party's convention in July and chooses Bush as his running-mate, cynics will suggest that the two of them have had a deal at least since the January debate.

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Alfred Hugenberg

In 1933, President Hindenburg of the Weimar Republic appointed Alfred P. Hugenberg of the German Nationalist Party as Chancellor.

With Wehrmacht troops still in effective control of the country under the emergency decrees of the previous April, the President expects the industrialist-politician to serve essentially as a front man for the military, an arrangement the increasingly senile Hindenburg finds appealing.

Alfred Hugenberg - Chancellor
Chancellor

He is doomed to disappointment. He has underestimated Hugenberg, who has spent the time since the April crisis cementing his ties to important military officers and his peers in the business community, while maneuvering to seize control of the weakened National Socialists. With SA chief Viktor Lutze in prison along with Nazi Party leader Heinrich Himmler, Hugenberg has been able to quietly take the reins of the SA and SS. The Nationalist leader will be no one's puppet.

In 1942, Air Marshall Arthur Travers Harris received confirmation of his appointment as Air Officer Commanding of Bomber Command, setting the Royal Air Force to the task of large-scale night area bombardment of German cities.

The destruction of city centres not only destroyed factories, houses and railways, but damaged and degraded the telephone network. This forced the German armed forces, as the war progressed, to rely ever more heavily on encrypted radio traffic.

Great Hall Exhibit
Great Hall Exhibit - Adolf Hitler Platz
Adolf Hitler Platz

Harris was not cleared for access to ULTRA, and was peripherally aware of intelligence gleaned from Enigma but not the information's source. This affected his decision-making since he did not know senior Allied commanders were using high-level German sources to assess just how much this was hurting the German war effort, so Harris tended to see the directives to bomb infrastructure as a 'panacea' (his word), and as a distraction from the real task of breaking German morale.

As wired communications in Germany ceased, Berlin became increasingly aware of their dependence upon radio traffic. Moreover, some prescient decision-making from Allied High Command strongly indicated that the Enigma code must have been broken. Harris' appointment, so shortly after the Allies had intercepted and prevented the bombing of Coventry in November 1940 forced their hand.

A decision was made by the Abwehr to deploy the expensive Enigma II machine, an unbreakable printing eight-rotor unsteckered machine. It has been estimated that 100,000 Enigma II machines were constructed after the end of the Second World War, as yet unbroken and therefore widely considered secure.

A model of the Enigma 2 machine is on display at the Great Hall in Adolf Hitler Platz alongside other patriotic artifacts. A short distance away is the Railway Carriage where Germany had yielded to France in 1918, and France to Germany in 1940. The first Panzer to enter Moscow. Behind thick leaded glass, the twisted radioactive remains of the Liberty Bell, excavated by expendable prisoners from the ruins of Philadelphia in 1970.

Harris himself was executed for his war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.

In 2005, Jeanna Best and Dave Lange are taken to a Save Earth camp site in the Texas Hill Country, where they are deprogrammed from the brainwashing that they received when they heard the lecture from J. Burton Howell. The SE deprogrammers tell them that the information they have gained will help the movement immeasurably.
In 1918, after Mikhail von Heflin withdraws a hefty sum to cover their expenses, he and his wife, Velma Porter, book passage on a ship to England. Milo Cranston, who has been following them since Bermuda, also books himself on the same ship.
In 1904, Ambassador Li'Kanto'Mk of earth asked to see the historical records that the Mlosh homeworld had of the period when his ancestors left. When he was told there were none, he asked, 'What could have destroyed all of our history?' He was told by his hosts, 'It is the time that we do not speak of.'
In 1889, Austria Baroness Maria Vetsera was found shot to death in a hunting lodge near Vienna. Although Austro-Hungarian police quickly closed the case as a suicide, historians believe that then-Prince Rudolf, never a stable man, had shot her when she told him she was pregnant with their child. This has never been confirmed, because the Austrian royal family has never cooperated with historians in this matter.
In 1933, Adolf Schicklgruber is sworn in as Chancellor of Austria. Schicklgruber set out to restore the shattered nation from the ashes of the Hapsburg defeat in World War I. His greatest triumph was of course the resistance of Anschluss (annexation) by Fuehrer und Reichskanzler Kurt von Schleicher of Germany.
In 1913, the House of Lords approved the Irish Home Rule Bill leading to the formation of the Free State on the very cusp of the First World War saving thousands of unnecessary deaths in the trenches.


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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.