In 1834, from his location on the south bank of the River Thames, the celebrated English painter J.M.W. Turner sketched the burning Houses of Parliament.
Burning of the Houses of ParliamentThe summer had been unusually hot  and the Thames and many of its urban tributaries were overflowing with sewage. Consequently, the warm weather had encouraged bacteria to thrive and the resulting smell was so overwhelming that it affected the work of the House of Commons. Countermeasures had even included draping curtains soaked in chloride of lime.
It was hoped that heavy rain might finally ended the heat and humidity of summer and close-off the immediate crisis of the "Great Stink". But when the temperature rose further, matters became intolerable and members considered relocated upstream to Hampton Court and the law courts were evacuated to Oxford and St Albans.
A House of Commons select committee was appointed to report on the Stink and recommend how to end the problem. But the wider consideration of the fire hazard entered the deliberations, and it was decided to abandon the premises. And two months later, the buildings were burnt to the ground. This disaster presented an opportunity for new thinking, to build a forum for London (later known as the Metropolitan Board of Works) based upon an amphitheatre that could adequately seat all members . But instead the development of the first local government entity for London away from the permanent national seat in Hampton Court would have long-term implications for the devolution of power. Because the assembly would be built upon the old site of the Palace of Westminster on the north bank of the Thames. The implications of this location came into sharp contest with the failed attempt to close the Greater London Council in the early 1980s .
In 456 AD, on this day Emperor Avitus was extremely fortunate to retain the mastery of the Western Roman Empire by securing Visigoth assistance to defeat Magister militum Ricimer at Piacenza.
Visigoth Relief at PiacenzaIt was a remarkable turnaround because the imperial position had become untenable - after a failed campaign, the Vandals had blockaded Rome. But fortunately for Avitus, King Theodoric had recently returned from his own campaign in Spain  and agreed to provide Visigoth reinforcements that saved the City.
A representative of a Gallic-Roman aristocracy, he opposed the reduction of the Western Roman Empire to Italy alone, both politically and from the administrative point of view. For this reason, as Emperor he introduced several Gallic senators in the Imperial administration; this policy, however, was opposed by both the Senatorial aristocracy and by the people of Rome, which had suffered because of the Vandalic sack of the city in 455.
In 1886, leading political officer of the Greater Zionist Resistance (GZR) David Grün (David Green) was born on this day in Płońsk, Congress Poland.
Cast a Giant ShadowFollowing the assassination of Astrid Pflaume in 1935, he emerged as the de facto leader of the GZR. Under the iron-like grip of his leadership the movement grew even stronger, giving the neo-Nazis little choice but to begin shuttling weapons of the future into the past. And within a decade, the tide had turned and the Zionists were fighting for their lives in a strip of land in Free Poland. Tragically, it was a far cry from his trademark greeting "Next year, in Jerusalem!".
In the Free World, Green was perhaps most famous for the iconic images (pictured) of him serving as a pragmatic mentor to the former United States Army colonel David Daniel "Mickey" Marcus who disobeyed orders from President Lindbergh to assist the GZR during this calamitous period. When he perished in the fall of Warsaw, Green personally wrote the letter of commiserations to his wife in New York City, noting "Emma, he was the best man we had". But against the odds, Green himself survived until December 1973, living to the ripe old age of 87 in Lower East Side New York, not far from the home of the Marcuses.
Part one of the novel can be downloaded here and continues as a thread on this site.
In 1758, on this day the fourth US Attorney General Noah Webster, Jr. was born in West Hartford to an established Yankee family; his father, Noah Sr. was a descendant of Connecticut Governor John Webster; his mother Mercy (née Steele) was a descendant of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Alexander's CourtDuring the American Revolutionary War his studies were interrupted and he served in the Connecticut Militia while reading Law at Yale College. After graduation, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and continued his legal studies under the mentorship of the future Senator and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth. He also adopted a strong political vision in this period of his life.
Although he had married well and joined the elite in Hartford, he did not have much money. But in 1793, his fortunes changed when Alexander Hamilton lent him $1500 to move to New York City to edit the leading Federalist Party newspaper. When Hamilton assumed the Presidency, he naturally chose Webster to succeed Charles Lee as Attorney General. After he leaving office, he would win his mentor's seat and serve for many years as US Senator from Connecticut.
In 1859, on this day a group of raiders led by the Northern abolitionist John Brown seized the coastal fortification located in Charleston Harbor sending the Federal soldiers away in small boats.
Siege of Fort SumterWith merchant shipping diverting to safer ports, the immediate lost of commerce forced the South Carolina Militia to launch a strike on Federal Property that would be viewed as an Act of War by US President Matthew C. Perry.
In fact the complete surprise achieved by the raiders was due to Allan Pinkerton's tight control of operational security. Brought into Brown's confidence as security enforcer, he had soon discovered that the original plan to seize the arsenal at Harper's Ferry had been compromised such that it was unlikely they would achieve their goal of arming freemen and slaves to create a general servile insurrection.
In 1781, on this day seven thousand British soldiers and German Mercenaries under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis pulled off a miraculous escape from the siege of Yorktown by crossing the York River to Gloucester Point where the American line was thinly held.
The World Turned Upside Down The following day the British Commander-in-Chief in North America Sir Henry Ciinton dispatched a reinforced fleet and seven thousand troops from New York. Ordered to the relief of Yorktown, Admiral Graves set off far too late to prevent a British surrender. Because Cornwallis had been besieged by a double concentration of forces comprising George Washington's Continental Army and the French Fleet which was in firm control of the bay.
And when Cornwallis discovered that Clinton had belatedly sent the reinforcements he had requested, he ordered his troops to return to Yorktown and attempt to pull off a remarkable countersiege that might force a decision in the campaign. Because Washington's force of nine thousand Americans and six thousand French troops were numerically outnumbered by the British and Germans. According to Cornwallis' calculations, it might be just enough to turn the world up-side down...
In 37 AD, the Roman Emperor Gaius died on this day. According to historian Philo of Alexandria, only months into his rule, young Emperor Gaius became ill with a terrible fever. The populace of Rome was driven to public mourning at the dark news of their beloved new emperor. After years of heavy taxes and harsh discipline under Tiberius, the young Gaius had been a breath of fresh air.
Emperor Gaius DiesAs soon as he was named emperor, he freed many of Tiberius's captives accused of treason, gave bonuses to the military, and began reforms throughout the empire. He was friendly with his family, such as keeping his oaf uncle Claudius around him despite the man's clear deformities. Gaius even adopted his former co-heir and grandson of Tiberius, Gemellus, as his own son.
A new story by Jeff ProvineGaius had picked up the nickname "Caligula" from his youth following his father in the German campaigns. He had been given a miniature uniform complete with armor, and the much-amused troops called him "Little Boots". As he had come to adulthood, he had shed the nickname, and only those most disrespectful toward the emperor used it. Instead, the people loved their emperor. When word of his illness spread, people waited patiently every morning outside the palace gate for news. Each day, a black flag was hung to show that he had not yet recovered. Temples were flooded with sacrifices, and well-wishers picketed the palace holding signs that read, "Gods, take my life for his!"
Shortly before his death, Gaius proclaimed his sister Drusilla (with whom there were horrid rumors of incest, but surely only rumors) as heir. When he succumbed to the fever, Drusilla herself announced to the people and proclaimed a week of mourning. Temples were closed, the Senate would not meet, and market days were canceled. During this time, Drusilla worked to secure her position. Rome had never had an empress or queen, and when the Senate reconvened, there would be much intrigue against her. Instead, she pushed political maneuvering so that she would step aside from direct rule (though inheriting great wealth), which would set up Gemellus as emperor. The grandson of Tiberius was much lauded, though few knew anything about him. He had been kept distant from the rest of the highly political family; his coming of age ceremony had not even been celebrated until he turned 18, four years after it should have. Gemellus was not much used to attention and fell on the support of many advisers. They pulled his attention in many different directions, and it was Drusilla who kept him most in power. Upon her death of fever, like her brother, in the spring of 38, Gemellus became something of a rubber stamp.
The weak emperor led a push from the Senate for a return to the Republic. Seneca, one of their leaders, conducted a plan where Gemellus cut back on the payment of soldiers while Senate bills began to grant bonuses. With the army's loyalty changed to the Senate, the senators began to strip his powers, breaking the rule of imperator into the many offices it had been before Julius and Augustus had collected them. Taxes notoriously increased to pay for the growing bureaucracy, causing people to wish again for the rule of the lost Gaius, which caused Gemellus to make a sudden push to retake power. The political maneuver failed, and Gemellus was stripped of his final title, the family name Caesar, and made senator in a bill to reestablish rule by many.
With its focus of power upon internal affairs, the empire began to disintegrate. Britons remained independent when many in Rome felt a single campaign could take hold of the whole island. Conquered German barbarians from the north declared an end to their tribute, and the Senate debated the issue to death. War in the east allowed the Parthians to march into Roman Syria, which finally spurred action from the General Titus, son of General Vespasian who had helped defend the border from Briton raids. After years of fighting, Titus made great demands on the Roman coffers if he were to win this war, and the Senate instead opted to sue for peace. Armenia was granted to the Parthians, and Titus set about building forts in the east to protect Asia Minor as well as the Judaeans, who had held close to Rome in fear of Parthian invasion. Over the next few generations, the Jews would rebel as well, winning their freedom and reestablishing Judaean kings.
Rome would decline, breaking off piecemeal as a province became unprofitable with defense outgrowing taxes and income. Germans expanded through Europe, as did the Huns, and later Arabs arising from the Middle East. When the German horde began to encroach into Italy itself, the Romans turned back to their old system of dictators in time of troubles, electing the famous Constantine to defend the city. Constantine would manage to secure the oldest provinces, but much of the rest of the empire had already fallen. Instead, he consolidated and fortified Italy, which would remain a united force through the Middle Ages. Because of his fanatical support of Christianity, it would be dubbed the "Holy Roman Empire".
In 1979, on this day disgraced ex-KGB chief Yuri Andropov died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 65. Since being sacked five years earlier in the aftermath of the Harold Wilson assassination, he had fallen into a steady, irreversible mental and physical decline; the post-mortem autopsy on Andropov turned up substantial amounts of alcohol in his system, confirming long-held suspicions that he had been drinking illicit home-brewed vodka on a daily basis for most of the time he was confined at the Siberian labor camp to which he'd been exiled since his dismissal as KGB chairman.
The demise of a disgraced spychiefAlthough manufacturing bootleg liquor had officially been prohibited in Soviet labor camps for decades, unofficially Andropov's jailers had long since turned a blind eye to his drinking.
A new installment in Necessary EvilVery little mention of Andropov's death was made in the state-controlled Soviet media, but it got considerable press coverage in the West-- particularly in the United States, where veteran CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite called it "a potential turning point in the history of Russia". Cronkite was more accurate than he realized; even as arrangements were being made for Andropov's funeral, the ideological disputes that had been roiling the CPSU's upper echelons behind closed doors in the five years since the Soviet intel network in Great Britain collapsed were reaching heights not seen in Russia since the Trotsky-Stalin struggle for the right to succeed Vladimir Lenin as CPSU leader following Lenin's death in 1924. And outside the Kremlin walls, a political reform movement whose ranks included nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov and agriculture official Mikhail Gorbachev was gaining traction among the increasingly discontented Soviet masses.
The repercussions of the CPSU's internal crisis weren't confined to the Soviet Union's borders; in Cuba, Fidel Castro grumbed about deep cuts in Soviet aid to Havana, while in Afghanistan a largely Islamic insurgency was threatening the survival of the Soviet-backed Marxist regime in Kabul. Two of the USSR's foremost Warsaw Pact allies, East Germany and Hungary, were sufficiently concerned about what was going on in the Kremlin that they were contemplating an action which under other circumstances would have been unthinkable: pulling out of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Moscow. Last but not least, a nervous Chinese government had placed its Siberian border defenses on full alert, understandably worried the turmoil racking its Soviet neighbor might sooner or later spill over onto China's own soil.
In 1943, from Liechtenstein where he was receiving the protection of the Third Reich, Pope Pius XII issued an offer to the Western Allies to serve as a peace mediator in forthcoming negotiations.
Save the Pope!The text of the declaration made it clear that Stalin rather than Hitler was the enemy of the Church, emphasising that the Holy Pontiff was understandably keen to prevent Europe falling into the hands of the Soviets after an Axis Defeat. There was some logic to this position, because Rome itself was now in the hands of the Communists who had seized power when Marshall Badoglio and King Victor Immanual III had fled the city following the ouster of Mussolini.
A rather different story emerged after the war. Soldiers of the 8th Division of the SS Florian Geyer Cavalary had launched a night attack on the Vatican disguised in Italian uniforms. Troops of Herman Göring's panzer division had then surged into the Vatican to "rescue" the Pope. Various documents had also been seized, enabling the Füehrer to establish leverage over the Pope. One of those documents would cause the Vatican much trouble long after both Hitler and Stalin were both dead.
In 1859, on this day a company of US Marines intercepted a hijacked Baltimore & Ohio train in West Virginia. Onboard was a stolen cache of weapons which had been seized from the United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry by a band of murderous abolitionists. Their leader, "Captain" John Brown (pictured, left) advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end slavery, having led the infamous Pottawatomie Massacre at "Bleeding Kansas".
All Change on the Baltimore & Ohio ExpressDuring the fierce fire fight that ensued, Brown and his two sons Owen and Oliver were all killed.
Modern history would malign the anti-hero of Harper's Ferry as a demented dreamer, a special category of terrorists reserved for the likes of Timothy McVeigh and Osama Bin Laden. Because an African-American baggage handler on the train named Hayward Shepherd had confronted the raiders but was rescued by the timely intervention of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry (pictured, right).
The brave rescue of a freed slave made Lee a national hero, and the award of a Badge of Military Merit doubtless influenced his later decision to accept the command of Union forces during the brief War of the States in 1861-2.
In his memoirs, President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged that Lee's style of audacious military leadership had saved the lives of a great many peace-loving Americans. Because at Bull Run, Lee forced an early, decisive battlefield victory over the Confederate Army in northern Virginia by appointing a like-minded subordinate who seized the armoury at Harper's Ferry.
In 2001, on this day Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-SD) was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital after a letter he had opened was found to have contained anthrax spores.
Anthrax kills Daschle by Eric LippsEmergency treatment failed to stem the development of the disease, and on Oct. 23, 2001, Daschle died. The tragedy exacerbated partisan tensions in Washington, D.C., already high despite calls for unity from leaders of both parties in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The situation was not helped when it developed that several other senators, all Democrats, had apparently been targeted as well, though the quick lockdown of twelve Senate offices apparently prevented the anthrax letters addressed to them from reaching their intended victims.
Interparty paranoia would hobble efforts to enact antiterrorist legislation and would put President George W. Bush on the defensive. When in October 2003 he sought authority for military action against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, that division would lead to the defeat of the war powers resolution he had asked for.
In 1962, on Tuesday Morning, October 16 the group later to be known as "Ex Comm" (the Executive Committe of the National Security Council) met in the Cabinet Room at the White House.Second Cuban Fiasco, Part Two
Robert F. Kennedy recalled "At 11.45 .. a formal presentation was made by the Central Intelligence Agency to a number of high officals of the government. Photographs were shown to us. Experts arrived with their charts and their pointers and told us this if we looked carefully, we could see there was a missile base being constructed in a field near San Cristobal, Cuba.
I, for one, had to take their word for it. I examined the pictures carefully, and what I saw appeared to be no more than the clearing of a field for a farm or the basement of a house .. this was the same reaction of virtually everyone at the meeting, including President Kennedy.
I passed a note to the President: "I now know how Tojo felt when he was planning Pearl Harbour". ~ Thirteen Days - A Memoir of the Second Cuban Fiasco by former Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy (1969)
"In San Cristobel, America saw a vast conspiracy against itself". ~ Foreword to the Memoir by former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara
"Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John McCone released reports from agents within Cuba indicating the presence of missiles in September 1962. Most of the reports were false, we heard later in a post mortem study. The air strikes were ordered on the basis of misinformation, there were no Soviet missiles in Cuba". ~ Foreword to the Memoir by John F. Kennedy, former US President.
Continued from Part One.
In 1946, on this day ten war criminals of the Second World War, condemned in the Nuremberg trials are hanged.
An immense debtThe eleventh criminal, a First World War flying ace, escapes the hangman's noose by obtaining cyanide which had likely been hidden among his personal effects when they were confiscated by the Army.
In 2005, a former Army private claimed he gave medicine hidden inside a gift fountain pen from a German woman the private had met and flirted with. The pen was used for a two sentence suicide note "I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier. In spite of all that happened at Hamburg, bombing proved a relatively humane method". Signed Arthur Travers Harris, RAF Bomber Command.
By the reckoning of the German historian Jörg Friedrich around 600,000 German civilians died during the allies' wartime raids on Germany, including 76,000 German children. "If you destroy a landscape of 160 cities, most of medieval origin, you do something to the cultural identity of a people". he said.
In 1951, the political tensions which had been mounting in Spain since the Bellus-Zyra disater reached the boiling point when Francisco Franco was assassinated at a Falangist youth rally in Cadiz.
The dictator was shot and killed by one of his own bodyguards, who in turn died at the hands of a lynch mob of enraged Franco loyalists; within a week of the assassination pro-Falangist and anti-Falangist militias would be skirmishing with each other as Spain was plunged into civil war for the second time in fifteen years.
This day also marked a tragic postscript to the Watts riots in Los Angeles as National Guard patrols in South Central LA found the body of budding actress Marilyn Monroe in the rubble of an abandonded grocery; Monroe, who had made her cinematic debut the previous year with the drama All About Eve, was reported missing after she didn't return home from a volunteering stint at a Red Cross station in the heart of the Watts district. A post-mortem coroner's exam concluded -- and investigation by LAPD detectives confirmed --that Monroe had died while defending herself against a pack of looters. Two weeks after her body was discovered, her suspected killers were arrested in East L.A. on an unrelated charge.
On this day in 1969, Apollo 6 successfully carried out the second lunar landing in the history of the American space program.
|Chief of Staff|
On this day in 1941, the Wehrmacht defenses at Kursk collapsed as Red Army cavalry punched through the left flank of the German lines; future military historians would define this moment as the crucial turning point in the Second Battle of Kursk.
Hitler blamed then-German army chief of staff Franz Halder for the collapse and sacked him even though Hitler had repeatedly overruled Halder's strategic recommendations for averting that collapse.
On this day in 1962, a group of White House advisors known as the Executive Committee -- "ExComm" for short -- met with President John F. Kennedy to debrief him on some disquieting news regarding the Soviet presence in Cuba.
Reconnaissance flights over the island had confirmed the presence on Cuban soil not only of Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range nuclear missiles but also of an invasion force numbering close to 100,000 troops.
|In Cabinet Office|
Both the troop presence and the missile bases constituted a direct violation of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's pledge not to place any offensive weapons in Cuba. A few days later, the CIA would obtain information suggesting that the invasion force's intended landing site was somewhere along the southern tip of Florida.
|Mr. Saito |
On this day in 1982, Rocky Johnson & Pedro Morales finally won the WWF world tag team belts from Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito at a WWF live card in Manchester, New Hampshire.
In 1941, on the worst day of the panic in Moscow, an Air Force officer saw Stalin sitting at his desk asking himself again and again, 'What shall we do? What shall we do?' Two days later, the Soviet leader went to the station where his special train was waiting.
In 1914, Belgium leaves the peace talks.
Cardinals at the Vatican chose the first non-Italian Pope for more than 400 years. Catholics around the world have been astonished by the choice of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla
, the Archbishop of Krakow. Few people had suggested him as a possible successor to John Paul I, who died last month after just 33 days in office. He is barely known outside his native Poland. After two days and eight votes, the result of the final, conclusive vote giving a two-thirds majority plus one to the Polish bishop was signalled with a plume of white smoke above the roof of the Sistine Chapel, in accordance with ancient tradition. The new Pope, who will be known as John Paul II, is also the youngest this century, at 58 years old. His papacy was cut brutally short in 1981, when a Turkish fanatic, Mehmet al-Agca, shot and seriously wounded him in St Peter's Square.
as part of the Stop the Draft Week
protests are forming part of a nationwide initiative organised by a group calling itself 'the Resistance'. Rallies across America have taken place in 30 US cities, from Boston to Atlanta, to protest against the continuing war in Vietnam. In Oakland, California, at least 40 anti-war protesters, including the folk singer Joan Baez, were killed when the National Guard storm a sit-in at a military induction centre. As many as 250 demonstrators had gathered to try and prevent conscripts from entering the building when the arrests were made. Detractors of President Barry Goldwater indicated that his draconian measures were in great danger of converging the anti-war and civil rights movement into a popular front.
In 1991, Suzanne Gratia becomes a hero to the NRA and many other like-minded citizens when she guns down a deranged man who had driven his pickup into the restaurant when Gratia and her family were eating. Gratia had taken her pistol with her into the restaurant concealed in his purse; Gratia's heroism led to the repeal of concealed handgun laws in Texas, since her actions were technically illegal at the time.
In 1793, former Queen of France Marie Antoinette is pardoned by the revolutionary committee controlling France. Her sentence is lessoned because it is discovered that she is pregnant; since her husband, King Louis, had been executed some 9 months prior, she confesses that she has been having an affair with her guard in order to secure better treatment. On her release, she is married to the guard, and lives the rest of her life in mild seclusion in Paris.
In 2000, Mel Carnahan, governor of Missouri and candidate for the U.S. Senate, narrowly survived a plane crash while campaigning. Carnahan was knocked out of action long enough for his opponent, Senator John Ashcroft, to gain a crucial advantage and win re-election. It was a bittersweet night for Republicans, though; while they retained control of the Senate, Vice-President Al Gore won election to the Presidency with over 50 million votes, the most votes a Democratic candidate had ever received.
In 1964, Soviet leader Georgy Melenkov is ousted by Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin. The harsh Stalinist rule of Melenkov had pushed the Soviet Union to the brink of another revolution, which Brezhnev and Kosygin were unwilling to allow. Over the next few years, The two worked out an arrangement where Brezhnev controlled foreign matters and Kosygin controlled domestic. This lasted until Brezhnev's death in 1981, when Kosygin briefly assumed full control of the Soviet Union until his death the following year.
In 1951, the future Reverend Richard Penniman recorded the gospel tune, How Great Thou Art at a studio in Atlanta, Georgia. Penniman had been tempted to join a rock and roll band, ironically enough, before choosing the path of the Lord in his music. He was later instrumental in getting rock and roll banned in California.
In 1946, blonde sexpot Suzanne Mahoney of Charlie's Angels fame was born in San Bruno, California. Mahoney played the blonde member of the trio, Jill Munroe, and used the part to promote her modeling career. After leaving the series in the 4 season, she studied drama and made a name for herself in later life in such gripping family dramas as The Burning Bed.
In 1854, Irish revolutionary hero Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. Throughout his short life, he fought the reactionary forces of the United Kingdom and worked to secure the freedom of Ireland from its oppressors. He is mainly responsible for the fiery writings that drove Irish-Americans to support the Irish People's Army with their dollars and with their political influence. The Soviet States (then United States) of America joined the cry of their comrades across the sea in fighting for the freedom of the Irish people due in large part to Wilde's writing. He was executed by the crown for a laundry list of mostly bogus crimes in 1900, including debt, homosexuality, sedition, murder and rape; but his spirit lives on.
In 1758, Nouh Webstir, grate reformir uv thee Eenglish laingwige, wuz born in Hartfird, Koneticut.
In 1915, on this day an incomparable commander of the Greater Zionist Resistance (GZR) Icchak Jaziernicky was born in the predominantly Jewish village of Ruzhany in the Russian Empire.
A Thorn that Stabs
An installment from "Elders of the Protocols of Zion"He was the son of Perla and Shlomo the co-owners of a leather factory. Tragically, both of his parents died during the Holocaust. His father was stoned to death just outside his birthplace by Poles who had been his childhood friends, after he had escaped from a German train transporting Jews to the death camps. His mother and a sister died in the camps and another sister was shot dead.
After studying at a Hebrew high school network in Bialystok, and while he was still as a youth, he joined the Greater Zionist Resistance (GZR) movement. He later adopted as his surname the name he used on a forged underground identity card, Shamir meaning a thorn that stabs.
The GZR had recently lost their inspirational leader Astrid Pflaume and the conventional war with the New Reich was going very badly indeed. Shamir could see that to win, the GZR needed to fundamentally change the nature of the struggle, and he forced the organization to accept a primary strategy of terrorism instead of all-out battlefield confrontation which the Zionists could never win. To prove his point, he used high explosives to devasting effect, blowing up the Polish foreign minister, a lousy anti-semite called Beck. And then six months later, the greatest prize of all, detonating a bomb that blew up a trestle underneath a train carrying Adolf Hitler.
Unbeknown to the GZR, the neo-Nazis from 1968 had actually steered the crazed Führer away from the levers of power. But the elevation of Herr Garbitch, Reichsmarshal Goering caused endless problems that set the New Reich back years.
Against the odds he died peacefully in his bed at the ripe old age of ninety-six.
All of Robbie Taylor's novels are available for download at Amazon.
In 1581, just when it appeared that science and magic were set to diverge, the English arch-conjuror John Dee (pictured) invented the scrying mirror.
Breakthrough in MortlakeHaving turned towards the supernatural as a means to acquire knowledge, he had sought to contact angels through the use of a "scryer" or crystal-gazer which would act as an intermediary between Dee and the angels. Despite the initial skepticism in Catholic quarters, the device was convincingly demonstrated to the crowned heads of Europe.
And despite the fact that it was later destroyed by religious authorities, the scientific students of crystallmancy have subsequently determined that although images do not actually appear in the crystal itself, the featureless interior of the stone facilitates the crystal-gazer in clearing his/her mind of distractions so that future truths or events will become known to them. Right until his death in 1609, Dee maintained that the communication itself was conducted in the Enochian Language, a claim which appeared to be supported by his contribution to the enciphered Book of Soyga and of course the Voynich Manuscript.
In 1981, on this day the Nobel Peace Prize was posthumously awarded to Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley the chief advocate of the "One Love" healing in the community programme that rescued Great Britain's inner cities from the widespread ethnic violence that Enoch Powell had incorrectly predicted in his apocalyptic "Rivers of Blood" speech. Click to listen to Bob Marley & the Wailers
One LoveBecause of his mixed racial ancestry, he suffered prejudice as a youth and indeed faced questions about his own ethnic identity throughout his short life. His father Norval Sinclair Marley was a caucasian-Jamaican of English descent. A captain in the Royal Marines, as well as a plantation overseer, he married Cedella Booker, an Afro-Jamaican then eighteen years old.
Norval provided financial support for his wife and child, but seldom saw them before dying of a heart attack when Bob was only ten years old. Plunged into poverty, he almost starved to death in Trenchtown but for the charity of Tarter's household kitchen. His fortunes improved moderately, and as a young man, he managed to board a vessel bound for London, arriving at a dangerous time when British public opinion had turned against unchecked immigration from the Commonwealth.
The first wave of Jamaican immigrants had actually set sail on the Empire Windrush in 1948 as a result of an advertisement appearing in a Jamaican newspaper offering cheap transport for anybody who wanted to come and work in the UK. Onboard were Jamaican RAF pilots who numbered amongst "The Few" having fought bravely in the Battle of Britain when it looked like a sudden influx of German immigrants was very much on the cards. But by the time Bob Marley arrived in London twenty year later, this warm gratitude had dissipated, and right-wing mainstream politicians such as Enoch Powell were talking seriously about large-scale population displacements in a manner not entirely dissimiliar from the would-be Nazi assailants of 1940.
Only weeks later, the England Cricket Selectors picked Basil D'Oliveira. Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, he was classified as "coloured" under the apartheid regime, and hence barred from first-class cricket. South African prime minister BJ Vorster had already made it clear that D'Oliveira's inclusion was not acceptable and despite many negotiations the tour of South Africa was cancelled. In a suitable reposte to both Powell and Vorster, four white South African cricketers (Eddie Barlow, Mike Proctor, Graham Pollock and Barry Richards) joined the great West Indian batsman Gary Sobers in conducting a rebel "Rest of the World" tour of England, demonstrating that they had absolutely no issue in sharing a dressing room with a black man.
This sporting development led to a new breakthough in which Bob Marley organized diverse community football matches, initially throughout London and Birmingham (pictured). It was the spark of his "One Love" community programme that would transform the nation into the enlightened modern multiracial society that we enjoy today.
Taken from us at the young age of just thirty six, it was typical of Marley that for a man given every reason to nurture racial hatred, he left this world with nothing but love and peace.
In 1950, despite the prediction of an easy victory without Chinese intervention given at their Wake Island Conference, U.S. President Harry S. Truman rejected General Douglas MacArthur's brilliant but reckless plans for a conclusive invasion of North Korea.
Wide AwakeThe stunning success of the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter had turned into a rout and very soon UN Forces had reached the 38th paralell, effectively liberating South Korea. Truman now faced a ruthless executive decision. His calculations were based on opinion polls which revealed that 65 percent of Americans favoured US intervention and yet 57 percent also believed that World War Three had begun.
To avoid an escalation in the Far East, Truman had wisely described the intervention as a "police action" in stark contrast to South Korean President Rhee's pre-war belligerent ambition to "march north" and unify the Koreas by force of arms.
"I'll handle the political affairs" ~ Harry TrumanHis doctrine of containment policy in fact required Truman to halt the invasion at the 38th paralell. Hawks seized on this order as a strategic setback pointing to the President's other failures notably "losing China" and "allowing" Soviet spies to steal atomic secrets. MacArthur did not need much support to fuel a firestorm of criticism from anti-communists who saw containment policy as a formula for defeat. A cartoon (pictured) by John Chase caricatured him as commander-in-chief, not qualified to wear MacArthur's hat.
Within two years, Truman would be out of office and asian perimeter defence was no longer his concern. But his adversaries Stalin, Mao and Kim were, and they absolutely refused to accept the existence of a garrisoned client state. Their thoughts now turned to Mao's original idea, to force Chiang Kai-shek out of Taiwan before forcing a decision in Korea.
In 1818, on this day "Napoleon" arrived at St. Helena. Emperor Napoleon I had taken Republican France from its position being torn apart like a steak by dogs and nearly conquered Europe. From 1803 to 1815, he had consolidated power in France, launched expeditions, and broken apart five Coalitions united against him.
Napoleon arrives at St. Helena Many of these lands came under his direct rule while he set up his siblings as kings over satellite states such as Naples and Westphalia. In 1812, he turned on Russia, a former ally and former enemy, in a catastrophic invasion that would signal the beginning of the end for his rule.
A new story by Jeff ProvineThe Sixth Coalition of Austria, Bavaria, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, Saxony, Sicily, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Württemberg united in 1814 to finally defeat Napoleon. He was banished to the island of Elba, where he would later escape and be welcomed back to France. The Europeans fought him again, and the loss at Waterloo in 1815 led to Louis XVIII being restored while Napoleon was once again exiled, this time to Saint Helena in the southern Atlantic, one of the remotest islands in the world.
While all of this went on, Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, had served as a dashing captain for the British so successful in battle that the French had nicknamed him "Le Loup des Mers", "The Wolf of the Sea". In 1814, a news story broke that Napoleon had been killed by Cossacks, which charged the populace and make the stocks in the Exchange skyrocket. As the hoax was proven, the investigation turned up several men who had sold at great profits, including Lord Cochrane, his uncle, and his stock-broker. Anonymous tips caught the hoaxer, who was tied to Cochrane by having visited him the day the story appeared. Cochrane was condemned, though the evidence was circumstantial and he had simply told his broker to sell whenever his stock had raised one percent, much lower than the profits he would have made if planning a fraud. He was dismissed from the Admiralty, expelled from Parliament, lost his knighthood, fined, imprisoned for a year, and made to stand in the pillory for one hour.
Humiliated and betrayed by what he felt was "higher authority than the Stock Exchange", Cochrane decided to leave the United Kingdom. In May of 1817, Bernardo O'Higgins requested Cochrane's assistance in the Chilean War of Independence. Cochrane agreed and arrived in Chile in November of 1818 and would become commander-in-chief of the Chilean navy. He had brought his wife and children with him, along with an older, balding manservant who, when asked, said he was Corsican. As time went on, it became obvious that the man was Napoleon Bonaparte, and he was quickly granted position as general.
When news of the great dictator in South America arrived in London, the British were shocked. On October 5, 1818, the man supposed to be Napoleon had arrived in St. Helena. While on the journey, the man had often been drunk and several times flew into rages, shouting in Italian that "this was not what had been agreed". His guard expected better of the former emperor and took him as whining about the demands of past treaties. At St. Helena, he continued to drink, shrugging the offered friendship of the Balcombe family and routinely spitting at Governor Hudson Lowe. An investigation began, and it was found that Cochrane had used the last of his political favors to sneak Napoleon away and replace him with a Genoan drunkard who had been paid a hefty sum.
The Crown launched an expedition to fetch the rogue emperor, but by the time they had arrived in 1820, the Chileans had won their war and secured Bernardo O'Higgins as leader. Napoleon had served as an adviser in the war, saying often, "I have ruled. I don't intend to try it again". Instead, he spoke long hours with O'Higgins, telling tales and giving advice on how to keep his people in love with him. The expedition did not carry a declaration of war, and, as Chile guarded the emperor, they returned to England, leaving the warning that if Napoleon ever left Chile, he would be arrested and hanged. Cochrane was dubbed a traitor, to which he laughed and replied, "Only to those who have betrayed me". He would live out his days as a wealthy plantation owner with numerous Chilean titles.
Napoleon did not leave Chile. Many historians consider him using O'Higgins as a puppet as well as another great warrior, Simòn Bolìvar, who first visited him in 1825. Napoleon admired the young general and president, talking with him and analyzing his battles. Napoleon offered his advice on maintaining order and encouraged O'Higgins to create a tight alliance with Bolìvar's nations of Gran Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia. It is said that the fast and harsh end to the 1828 movement in Bolivia against Bolìvar was plotted in the mind of Napoleon, remembering his days in the streets of Paris with cannons full of grapeshot.
Napoleon died in his palace in Santiago June 8, 1838. His visage is popular among coinage in South America, as are banners baring his insignia. It is said that much of Latin America's military stability and keen justice system belong to Napoleon's influence.
In 1066, on this day the Anglo-Saxon Advisory Council known as the Witenagemot proclaimed that the new King of England would be a fifteen year old youth, Edgar the Ætheling, noble son of the royal house of Cerdic of Wessex.
Noble Son by Ed & Jackie SpeelDespite his blood primacy as the late Edward the Confessor's nephew, under normal circumstances the commitment of these powerful members of the English elite would be highly questionable at best. Because when Edward had died just eight months before, the Witenagemot had overlooked Edgar, instead selecting the powerful nobleman, Harold Godwinson.
Admittedly Harold was the man best placed to defend the country against the competing foreign claimants, an undeniable fact that was later proven during his short reign by his glorious victory over Duke of Normandy, William the Bastard and also King Harald III Hardrada of Norway.
After crushing the Normans at Hastings, Harold had force marched his English Army to Stamford Bridge where they had defeated the Norwegians led by King Harald III and also his own brother, Tostig Godwinson. Yet at the moment of triumph, Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye. And so by October, England had been secured from foreign invasion, the other claimants to the thrown were all dead, and it mattered not at all if the King was still too young to be an effective military leader. And his coronation of the re-united Kingdom the following month would bring to a climax the most incredible succession.
He was born in Hungary, where his father Edward the Exile, son of King Edmund II Ironside, had spent most of his life, having fled to safety abroad after the conquest of England by the Danish king Cnut in 1016. And in 1057 the childless King of England, Edmund Ironside's half-brother Edward the Confessor, who had only recently become aware that his nephew was still alive, summoned Edward back to England with his family to take up his place at court as heir to the throne. The returning exile died in uncertain circumstances shortly after his arrival in England. Edgar, still a small child, was left as the only surviving male member of the royal dynasty apart from the king. However, the latter made no recorded effort to entrench his grand-nephew's position as heir to a throne which was being eyed by a range of powerful potential contenders including England's leading aristocrats and foreign rulers.
In 1963, newspapers report ~ DIEFFENBAKER CLAIMS HUMANITARIAN NEED TO ANNEX USA TERRITORY. AMERICA REMAINS SOVEREIGN, PLEDGES RUSK.
Canadian Rep Expelled by Raymond SpeerThe Canadian representative to the American refugee capital in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, was expelled by President Dean Rusk today, following the Prime Minister's declaration that Canada's full strength and attention was needed to save the United Sttaes from a fatal calamity later this year.
"I wish the situation was less urgent," said Prime Minister Dieffenbaker. "I would enjoy Mr. Rusk's attempt to build a comic opera statelet in his little cave, if it wasn't for the millions in North America who would die for his failure to tend to essential business".
In his press conference, President Rusk says that "the Prime Minister forgets that there is still more left of the United States after World War Three after the missiles than there ever was of Canada, Our best figures, confirmed for me by Vice President McNamara, is that we had 180 million Americans in October 1962 and that we lost 25 million in the Third World War. The relatively few of us that died outnumber the Canadians alive today".
Secretary Rockefeller predicts that "our Canadian cousins will renounce their dreams of conquest and apologize for ever having them". Further, the Secretary of State promised to "continue unstinting aid to our allies, such as the free men of South Vietnam".
In 1963, the Prime Minister of Canada John Dieffenbaker announced at a televised session of the Parliament at Ottawa that "the heavily damaged United States is in need of radical and all-inclusive aid or else many more millions shall die in the second year of the post-nuclear apocalypse".
The Dieffenbaker Plan by Raymond SpeerAs a consequence, Dieffenbaker stated that Canada would claim the territory once possessed by the United States of America and would rehabilitate that land "back to a standard of civilization".
Secret records kept confidential until 2006 reveal that Dieffenaker first announced plans to annex territory of the USA on October 24, 1962, less than ten hours after the United States and the Soviet Union had a nuclear exchange of missiles and bombs over the Soviet Union's installation of missiles in Cuba.
From his command center at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, Dean Rusk (once secretary of state, who had proclaimed himself president only eight days earlier) denounced the proclamation and its planner. "The United States even now is bigger and more successful by any measure to our neighbor to the north. We shall remain independent of Canada and decide our own destiny".
Over in Great Britain, where London is an immense burned swath of radioactive rubble, King Charles III announced the retirement of Prime Minister Harold McMillan, who has been replaced by the Conservative majority in the UK Parliament by the Earl of Home, the Foreign Secretary. The British Government endorses self-government for the United States, though it conceded that Canada's "resources and organization" will require that Canada will take a primary role in the rebuilding of Europe and North America.
In East Europe, shelled horribly by nuclear weapons as late as November 4, 1962, the remnants of the Warsaw Pact govern the area out of Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Ministers of the Warsaw Pact have made no statement on the Canadian threat to seize the United States.
Nebraska Governor Morrison has created the North Plains Agricultural Association, from the Great Lakes to the Rockie Mountains and from Canada to Kansas, and has credited that measure with preventing famine conditions in the northern Great Plans. Morrison is going to Ottawa within the week to confer with Dieffenbaker and his people.
Businessman Walt Disney in California distributed a television broadcast in color that said that he hoped there would be no difficulties arise between Prime Minister Dieffenbaker's plans and the EPCOT project. Disney's plan for the Experimental Project for a Community of Tomorrow is supposed to bring America back to full productivity within 25 years, starting in California.
In 1976, during the vice-presidential debate between Democrat Walter Mondale (pictured below) and Republican Robert Dole, Sen. Dole (pictured top) asserts, "If you add up all the people killed in Democrat wars in this century, starting with World War I and continuing through World War II and Korea to the present conflicts in Cuba and Vietnam - and yes, they were all started by Democrats - you get a total of over 1.6 million American dead, more than the population of Detroit". Click to watch the Youtube
Unbelievable by Eric LippsHis Democratic opponent responds, "Unbelievable. Does Senator Dole seriously expect Americans to believe my party started wars which began years before America entered them? World War I began in 1914; we got in in 1917. World War II started in 1939; as Mr. Dole, a veteran of that war, must recall, the U.S. didn't get in until December 1941. Even in the case of Korea, the U.S. sent forces in response to a United Nations Security Council resolution following the North's unprovoked and deadly assault on the South. Even Cuba and Vietnam don't prove his point: planning for the Bahia de Cochinos intervention which began the conflict was initiated under the Republican administration of President Eisenhower, and it was Eisenhower, too, who sent the first 'advisers' to Indochina after the French collapse at Dien Bien Phu.
Or does the Senator mean to suggest that we shouldn't have become involved at all? That we should have stood aside while our friends in Europe were torn apart in the world wars? Does he mean to suggest that we should have let the Communists prevail on the Korean peninsula and in Indochina and maintain their grip on an island nation ninety miles off our own shore? And if not, what would he have said of Roosevelt, or of Truman, or of Kennedy had they avoided the confrontations he wishes to blame not on foreign aggressors but on my party?
"I am as opposed to war as anyone, but there come times when it cannot be avoided. And for Senator Dole to attempt to exploit the sacrifices of our troops in past and present wars for partisan advantage is - well, frankly, Senator, I thought better of you". Mondale's peroration stuns the audience, which had expected Dole to be the aggressor. Post-debate polls detect a significant shift toward the Democratic ticket and a distinct rise in voters- favorable impressions of Mondale himself. Following Carter's razor-close victory in November, political analysts will mark Mondale's debate performance as a crucial tipping point in the campaign.
In 1968, on this day Ellington Air Force Base confirmed the tragic loss of fighter pilot George Walker Bush.Defending Texas from Oklahoma
Tributes were paid to this brave Air National Guardsman who had lost his life defending Texas from Oklahoma.
Favourable references were made to his father George H.W. Bush, who at only eighteen years old had become the youngest naval aviator in US history after the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. And now a disaster far worse than Pearl Harbour was engulfing America. Tragically, there would be no opportunity for his son to follow in his father's steps and become a Third World War hero. And yet heroes would surely need to emerge, and soon. For the territory within his father's House of Representatives seat in the 7th District of Texas was being threatened by the Soviet forces now launching aerial assaults from Oklahoma.
In 2001, U.S. jets bomb a location in northern Afghanistan identified by the CIA as an Al Qaeda encampment.Afghan Bombing Fails by Eric Lipps
Intelligence reports had suggested that Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was present at the site, and there is briefly hope that he has been killed in the raid.
However, a videotape of bin Laden quickly surfaces in which he refers gloatingly to the attack as a failure on the part of America's "infidel" government.
Osama is hardly harsher on President Gore than are his domestic political opponents. On the right, Republicans point to the unsuccessful assault as evidence of the President's "incompetence". The left, led by Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, blasts Gore for "recklessness". Both right and left draw unpleasant comparisons with the earlier failed attack on bin Laden under President Bill Clinton, in 1998.
In 1962, just a fortnight after the iconic news anchor John F. Kennedy (pictured) announced the tragic death of Walter Cronkite, a transformative event occured that would in time bring to a crashing halt the progress of the Civil Rights Movement.
Gone Crackers 2 Civil Rights Movement enters Stormy Waters after the loss of an anchorAfter watching the footage of an armed confrontation between the Federal and State Troopers at the University of Mississippi in which Cronkite was killed, the media elite had jumped to the conclusion that the country was teetering on the verge of Civil War. And yet as shocking as those images were, they were soon overshadowed by a new set of photographs taken by Major Richard Heyser in San Cristóbal, Pinar del Río Province, in western Cuba. Because the U-2 flight of Heyser had obtained unequiovacal photographic evidence that the Soviet Union was constructing a launch site for medium range ballistic missiles.
As a result, the very future of the Federal Government itself would be determined during the course of October. Should the continental United States suffer catastrophic damage, then the odds favoured a long period of martial law. And if the seat of Government was destroyed, then perhaps states rights might prevail and potentially the desegregation progress of the previous decade reversed in the Deep South.
In 2001, Pakistani president Pervez al-Musharraf decides not to remove Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed as head of his country's secret police, the Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, despite the fact that the general is a hard-line Islamist.
Ahmed has been an ally of Musharraf's for years, and the Pakistani leader does not wish to antagonize him or his considerable following.
It will prove to have been a fateful mistake. The following May, Ahmed will lead a coup which will overthrow Musharraf and install a government dedicated to 'Islamic law' and hostile to the ousted leader's patrons in the U.S.
On this day in 1942, Captain Francis Urquhart of the US Army was transferred from the Pacific to the Mediterranean theater, where he would play a small but crucial part in gathering intelligence on German defenses in North Africa as part of the final preparations for Operation Torch.
On this day in 1988, Tom Brady and his parents attended the first game of the 1988 World Series. In a moment the future Red Sox ace would never forget, Brady ended up catching Kirk Gibson's dramatic game-winning home run when it dropped into the stands; the ball became apersonal lucky charm for Brady, who would eventually make it a habit to put it in his locker before an important start.
In 1914, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Romania declares an unilateral cease fire on the eastern front.
In 1991, after a bitter Supreme Court confirmation battle, Clarence Thomas is rejected by the Senate by a vote of 49-51. President Bush and most of the Republican leadership thunder against the racism of the vote, but few African-Americans are swayed by their rhetoric. The Supreme Court is left with only 8 members for the rest of Bush's presidency, as he is unable to find anyone else to fill the seat. It eventually goes to moderate Justice Oscar Sanchez, the first of President Bill Clinton's 3 Court appointees, and the Court's first hispanic justice.
In 1919, Dutch dancer Mata Hari was spirited away seconds before her execution by a French firing squad; her daring rescuers lobbed a smoke grenade at the French squad, obscuring them long enough to get the famed spy away. Hari's legend grew by leaps and bounds after this bold move, and tales of her spying prowess far outstripped the reality. It is thought that her rescuers were actually French lovers.
In 1905, former President Grover Cleveland wrote an article for Ladies Home Journal about the issue of women's suffrage. Cleveland had originally intended to speak out against allowing women to vote; however, his young wife convinced him that he was in the wrong on this issue. So he wrote, 'while some sensible and responsible women do not wish to vote, the voice of half of our population should not remain silent simply because society deems it inappropriate at the moment.'
In 1955, rock and roll music lost its momentum as youth in America tuned in to a new TV show from Nashville, Tennessee, The Grand Ole Opry. The country and western music that were the mainstay of music in the south became the most popular music across the nation, and many southern rock and rollers such as Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley embraced its soulful rhythms and forgot the music they had started with.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.