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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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December 7

In 1941, on this day at 7:48 AM, Hawaiian time, the air raid on the American fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor began as the Japanese Operation Z came to completion.

Pearl Harbor Raid Destroys Two Carriers For several hours, cacophony and pandemonium reigned over the base, with more than three thousand killed, thousands more wounded, and nine ships sunk with another dozen damaged. It was truly a date that would live in infamy, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt would report to the American public the next day as Congress began its proceedings to vote a declaration of war that would bring the United States into World War II.

What was a haven of misfortune for the American Pacific Fleet became even worse as fateful flukes brought two of America's three aircraft carriers to the harbor. Bad luck had haunted the USS Lexington as it had prepared to venture with Task Force 12 to carry marine aircraft in reinforcement of Midway Island, long expected to be the battleground for a Japanese attack, if any. Engine troubles had kept the Lexington at Pearl Harbor with engineers baffled and working to improve repairs that had been overly hasty some time before. The Enterprise, meanwhile, had seemed to carry good luck, arriving into port a day ahead of schedule on December 6 thanks to catching favorable current from a distant storm. The two carriers were well placed near Battleship Row for the Japanese torpedo-bombers to destroy both.

By afternoon of December 7, the USS Saratoga was the only American carrier in the Pacific. It raced into action to reinforce Wake Island, stopping at the devastated Pearl Harbor along the way only long enough to refuel, but was forced to turn back when the Japanese conquered Wake with the remainder of its attacking fleet on its return from Hawaii. Running patrols and hoping to recoup, the States soon launched the USS Hornet, which had been laid down in 1939 and commissioned only two months before. In a strike that would be tactically negligible but key to American propaganda, the Hornet would serve and the launching platform for the Doolittle Raid against Tokyo on April 18, 1942,, showing the American and Japanese public alike that the US could strike wherever it wished.

In retaliation for Tokyo, Yamamoto realized the need for a strong buffer from US ships and determined to strike at Midway. The US Navy had always anticipated the attack, and the battle would be the second large-scale altercation of the Pacific War after the devastating loss at Coral Sea. Despite having broken Japanese code and inflicting heavy losses, the Americans would be forced to surrender with the sinking of the Hornet as they simply did not have the manpower to throw back the Japanese attack, much as had happened at Coral Sea the month before, where the Lexington had been sunk.

With these two major losses, the Japanese Empire stood almost unopposed in the Pacific. The Aleutian Campaign saw brutal US Marine defense against a Japanese island-hopping campaign that inflicted frustration among commanders. Meanwhile in the South Pacific, the Japanese fleet transported its army into swift invasions of New Zealand and Australia. While principle population centers such as Sydney and Auckland and important resources such as Australian copper mines were firmly controlled, the Aussies and Kiwis launched guerrilla campaigns from the mountains and Outback. Japanese soldiers would struggle through the war simply to maintain a semblance of control amid ambushes, sabotage, and assassination, which were traded by death-marches through the Australian desert and bitter treatment in prisoner-of-war camps.

It would not be until 1944 that Allied fortunes in the Pacific began to change for the better. The successful taking of the Gilbert Islands led to a new campaign that brought the liberation of New Zealand that June, followed by Australia that August. Challenging the Japanese oil supplies from the Dutch East Indies, General Douglas MacArthur finally made good on his promise to return to the Philippines in the counter-attacks of the fall of 1945. That December 7, four years after the war had begun, at President Truman's authorization, the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. A second would be dropped shortly after, and the Japanese emperor, citing specifically the pressure of Soviet invasion from occupied Korea, surrendered.

While many speculate what might have happened had the US Pacific Fleet been at full strength with its carriers after Pearl Harbor, it is a somber memory of what did in fact occur. From the agony of occupied Oceana to the jungle warfare of Southeast Asia to the genocide in China and the vicious bloodlettings in the Aleutians, the Pacific theater of WWII serves as a grave reminder of the terrible actions of war-hungry men. Since then, we have seen the marginal peace of the Cold War and Pax Americana interrupted at times by greed and wrath such as communist Korea's periodic baiting missile-launches toward capitalist Japan.

November 2

In 1976, former California Governor Ronald Reagan, whose regressive policies had been the focus of the presidential debate, is defeated by President Carl Albert, the accidental president.

Accidental President Carl Albert Re-electedAlbert, speaker of the House of Representatives in 1974, had been elevated into office when Nixon resigned with no vice-president to leave the presidency to.

Because in order to stop the investigations into Watergate, he tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, which required the Attorney General to actually do the firing. Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused to do so and subsequently resigned, as did his deputy, William Ruckelshaus. Solicitor General Robert Bork was the last person in the chain of command who could fire Cox, which he ultimately did. Nixon's attempt to muscle the Justice Department became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, when Bork resigned as well, the subsequent outrage forced Nixon's resignation.

In 1967, on this day the Wise Men Recommend Focusing on the Tunnel, Not the Light. War in French Indochina, later Vietnam, had been raging for almost twenty years. It had begun as campaigns against colonial domination and developed into a movement supporting the growth of Communism.

Wise Men Recommend Focusing on the Tunnel, Not the Light Determined to check the Domino Theory, the US first began to send military advisers in 1950 and surged US troops into involvement under the Kennedy Administration. With war still sitting at a stalemate in Korea, Washington approved only of the idea of a "limited war" rather than a bloody northward invasion like the one pushed by MacArthur ten years before.

As the years dragged on, more and more American soldiers came home under their flag, and the public began to question why troops were there in the first place, President Lyndon Johnson sought help in solving the war weariness. He called a meeting of "The Wise Men", a group of political and business leaders who had formed under Truman's administration to dictate American foreign policy. Theirs had been the plan of containment and anti-communism that had guided the early days of the Cold War. Originally powerful bankers, lawyers, and diplomats, the men considered themselves statesmen needed to advise elected officials.

LBJ called a conference on the first of November in which the Wise Men were briefed about the situation at hand. The notables included General Omar Bradley, General Maxwell Taylor, Justice Abe Fortas, and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., among many others. There was progress being made in Vietnam, but the battlefield casualties wore away at American public support. The Wise Men agreed that simple departure from Vietnam was unacceptable and the influence of communism needed to be held back. While some suggested a positive PR campaign, after much discussion and a brandy or two, they decided that a more aggressive method than simple reassurance was necessary.

The men dusted off old recommendations from the days of Wilson's war effort. While propaganda machines had changed over the last fifty years, many of the ideas still stood. LBJ and the War Department began to lead calls of an end to the attacks from North Vietnam, echoing speeches of the Minute Men of the 1910s denouncing the Kaiser. Rather than focusing on numbers, stories of war heroes were brought to the forefront of war news. The public reacted in a dower opinion, still skeptical of the war but not that American troops should be there.

When the Tet Offensive began January 31, 1968, LBJ became vindicated. The press carried stories of the overwhelming atrocities in the sudden Viet Cong attacks. Battles raged for two months, and the American public threw their support behind the troops with marches and calls for reinforcements. The second and third waves of attack began that summer, and the Americans regrouped, taking back much of the gained territory. While a tactical success initially, the Tet Offensive would prove a strategic loss, and the VC found themselves nearly devoid of supplies.

At the time of election, the American public seemed torn whether to turn toward the Republicans calling for an end to the war or the Democrats with their strategy of counterstrike to defend foreign allies. The polls came in very close with Hubert Humphrey narrowly defeating former Vice-President Richard Nixon. Within months of Humphrey taking office, the proposal for ceasefire would be announced, and a demilitarized zone along the 14th Parallel would be drawn separating the two countries akin to that in Korea.

South Vietnam would match its predecessor South Korea as a bastion of capitalism and industry. Under the Humphrey administration, a great deal of economic influence would flow to Vietnam, and its cheap factories would prove to outpace Japanese production of inexpensive goods in the 1990s. The tag "Made in Vietnam" is seemingly ubiquitous among high tech electronics today.

October 30

In 1987, on this day the first 16-bit (fourth generation) video game console, the PC Engine is released in Japan.

NEC wins the Bit WarsAnd despite a mad last minute rush to add the Hitachi 6309 (a 16-bit CPU) and a second player control port, NEC engineers also manage to export the console under the name TurboGrafx-16 and get the product shipping before Christmas in the US at a price point just below $100.

Having stolen a march on Nintendo Entertainment and Sega Master Systems, NEC then began to develop TurboGrafx-CD, a better-than cartridge release mechanism for shipping feature rich games into the US market while dramatically increasing audio and visual power. The battle for video game supremacy had begun in earnest.

October 29

In 1974, on this day Richard Nixon died at Memorial Hospital Centre, Long Beach, CA. Exhausted and weak, he passed away during emergency surgery to remove a worsening blood condition from the phlebitis he had suffered in his left leg.

Nixon dies before pardonSince his resignation in August, Nixon and his successor Gerald Ford had been negotiating terms for a pardon with Ford insisting upon a statement of contrition. However from the unrepentant tone of his resignation speech (more than half of which described his accomplishments) it always seemed improbable that a form of words could be agreed that satisfied both men. Evidencing the deep divisions in the country, the Press had responded surprisingly well to Nixon's address, only Roger Mudd had spoken out against him. This reaction even tempted Ford to consider a "full, free, and absolute pardon" but Nixon's declining health had overtaken events.

In a televised speech from the Oval Office that evening, Ford announced that with the passing of the former President, our national nightmare was over. He might have been addressing his fellow Republicans, because although the party suffered horribly in the mid-terms, they managed to recover and Ford sneaked over the line by narrowly winning re-election in 1976. But of course the next bad dream is never far away in the Oval Office - especially if you manage our affairs through closed communication - and so it proved. Because three years later, Ford secretly instructed the Iranian officer corps to get their troops out of their bases and suppress the Revolutionary forces sweeping the country [1].

In 1935, on this day the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, popularly known as the "Hoover Committee" or the "Hoover hearings" recommended that the US Government grant a one-off tax amnesty to regularise revenue collection from organized crime.

Out of the ShadowsFollowing the passage of the "Volstead" Act, the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol was banned for thirteen years. Even though Prohibition was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed it had the adverse consequence of stimulating the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity. Because the Federal Government did little to enforce prohibition and by 1925, in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs serving alcohol.

A new story by Steve PayneNew and terrifying levels of violence entered American cities. Something had to be done. And then on February 14, 1929 a South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone - dressed as police officers - executed seven members of the North Side Irish gang led by Bugs Moran. It was a watershed.

To mitigate such wild excesses, a transnational grouping of highly centralized enterprises was formed under which Organized crime created its own chamber of commerce. An early indication of the opportunity for self-regulation was the ordering of Bugsy's Siegels' execution by his boyhood friend Meyer Lansky who had him murdered to eliminate a conflict in the criminal underworld.

In addition to the Justice Systems desire for structure, the on-set of the Depression meant that the US Government was desperate to generate further income. A petition to Congress for a deal on a tax amnesty was welcomed. And the result was a one time tax payment, whereby organized criminals could get a pardon and come out of the shadows.

October 26

In 1947, as Britain prepared to grant India its independence during the scaling down of an empire upon which the sun could not set, the question of the mountain kingdom of Kashmir seemed easily solved as the population was 77 percent Muslim and it stood at some of the headwaters of the Indus River; it would simply go along with the newly created Dominion of Pakistan.

Kashmir Remains Independent However, when its King Hari Singh was slow to act after the British left, Pakistan funded the Azad ("Free") Kashmir army to press the king into acceptance through guerrilla terrorism.

Kashmir had not long been its own nation. It originally stood as the Kashmir Valley, a geographic feature of the Himalayas that carved a rich valley nearly surrounded by the world's tallest mountain range. Long populated by Hindus and Buddhists, the Muslim influence came gradually and harmoniously. After centuries of increasing corruption, the reigning Hindu Lohara were overthrown in 1339 by the Muslim Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir, who began a long dynasty of Islamic rule in a period where Islam became the dominant religion. Kashmir would eventually lose its self-determination as it come under control of the Mughal Empire in the 1580s and was passed on to the Afghani Durrani and Sikh empires over the next centuries.

Gulab Singh, a grandnephew and courtier of the Sikh's first Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was awarded Kashmir as a subsidiary kingdom after his excellent services in northern campaigns that helped secure the region. He went on to conquer nearby Jammu and worked with the increasing British presence in the region. In 1846, the First Anglo-Sikh War would knock down much of the Sikh's power in favor of the growing British Empire, and Gulab would prove himself an able negotiator after British victory at the Battle of Sobraon. Gulab's son and successor Ranbir sided with the British in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which prompted another award as the British officially named him ruler of the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu. For the next century, Kashmir was a relatively quiet subordinate kingdom with its own maharajas.

After World War II and the success of India's independence movement, the partition of Pakistan and India led to humanity's largest mass migration as Muslims and Hindus tried to sort themselves out amid the new borders. When King Hari Singh did not move to join Pakistan after the British officials left their posts, the Pakistan government attempted to force the land into submission with scare tactics and raids. Hari Singh turned to Louis Mountbatten, the man who had been the last Viceroy of India and oversaw its transition as Governor-General of the Union of India; Mountbatten replied that aid could only be given if Kashmir were part of his jurisdiction in India. After great thought, Hari Singh refused to the offer and addressed his people with a speech relayed by radio of the decision to remain free and the importance of standing up to Pakistani aggression. Pakistan became embarrassed by the international outcry, and the resulting UN resolution gave foreign aid while a plebiscite was held. The votes to remain independent narrowly won out, and many commentators agreed that if Pakistan had not moved so harshly, that the people would have eagerly joined.

In 1950, across the Himalayas, China would march into Tibet nearly unopposed. Taking note from the lack of international action, Pakistan would make its own march into Kashmir. King Hari Singh simply fled, and the people were largely complacent. India led a cry for Kashmiri independence, prompting an Indian army marching into Kashmir to restore the king, which resulted in an outpouring of aid from China, who feared an Indian supremacy in the region. While China sent only a few soldiers, their influence in Kashmir increased greatly and soon funded, ironically enough, the violent separatists, many of them minority Hindu and Sikh.

The disappearance of the Mo-e-Muqaddas (the Hair of the Prophet) relic from the Hazratbal shrine on December 26, 1963, prompted swift crackdown on minorities and violations of human rights such as illegal arrest, searches, and seizure of property. Although the relic was found again only days later, the policies remained, prompting another invasion from India in 1965 in an effort to liberate the oppressed Hindus in Jammu as well as to capture high ground for tactical advantage. The war reached a standoff, and Kashmir remained bloody and tense until the USSR's occupation of Afghanistan sparked another conflict in the Third Kashmir War. Using American arms and reinforcements, Pakistan held its advantage.

Since the 1980s, Kashmir has remained one of the most notoriously troubled regions in the world. The development of nuclear weapons in both India and Pakistan has caused a sense of nervous peace, though skirmishes crop up, such as gunfire in 1999 and raiding following the 2005 earthquake.

October 22

In 1960, White House Press Secretary James Hagerty issued a statement noting the President's disappointment at hearing the "cheap shot" comments made by Senator Kennedy at the televised debates.

Cheap ShotsPrivately he was infuriated by Kennedy's allegation that Harry Truman's successors had turned American foreign policy soft. Hardly "weak on defence" the architect of the bloody D-Day Landings had simply ensured that not a single American soldier died in combat on his eight-year watch. However the issue that actually drew him into the election debate was the so-called "missile gap". Like the bomber gap of only a few years earlier, it was self-evident that the gap was illusionary, being used solely as a political tool. On previous occasions Eisenhower had refused to publicly refute the claims, fearing that public disclosure of this evidence would jeopardize the secrecy of U-2 flights.

Nevertheless Kennedy had crossed the line by repeating inaccurate information that he knew was patently false in the form of estimates from Senator Stuart Symington, the former Secretary of the Air Force. Because at the debate he still remarked

Mr. Nixon talks about our being the strongest country in the world. I think we are today. But we were far stronger relative to the Communists five years ago, and what is of great concern is that the balance of power is in danger of moving with them. They made a breakthrough in missiles, and by nineteen sixty-one, two, and three, they will be outnumbering us in missiles. I'm not as confident as he is that we will be the strongest military power by 1963.
Such a damning charge could not go unchallenged because it would give the wrong statement to the Soviet Union. But having made his point, Eisenhower decided to keep his own counsel. And yet he was giving serious consideration to issuing a warning in his farewell address, pointing to the inherent danger of civilian politicians losing their head and disrupting the military-industrial complex during the "cut and thrust" electoral cycle. He was forced to change his mind because only six weeks later, President-elect Kennedy was killed by a mentally disturbed ex-postal worker by the name of Richard Pavlick. Still, he surely lived long enough to regret the omission of that warning when President Johnson bungled the Cuban Missiles Crisis.

October 17

In 1806, on this day the Haitian rebel leader Dessalines survived an assassination attempt. The nation of Haiti had undergone a brutal past. Its natives had been wiped out by plagues brought by the Spanish, and its primary colonists had been pirates, specifically on the nearby island of Tortuga.

Dessalines Survives Assassination Attempt In 1664, the French West India Company formally claimed the western side of Hispaniola and established a lasting colony. Plantations grew up and prospered from the blood and sweat of African slaves.

When the French Revolution broke out, revolution spread to Haiti as well. Freed black men claimed rights as citizens, and war spread as planters, supported by the British, tried to keep power from the mulattoes. While the slaves gained their freedom amidst the battles, war with France arose as Napoleon moved to reconquer Haiti and rule eastern Hispaniola directly. Much of Napoleon's expedition was destroyed by disease, and the vicomte de Rochambeau fought brutal tactics of tit-for-tat atrocities with the rebel leader Dessalines until the final Battle of Vertiéres in 1803 led to French surrender.

Dessalines continued to maintain power after the war from republican ideals and even proclaimed himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti on October 6, 1804. He went about a pogrom of massacre on the whites of the island early in his rule. Planters and the white upper class fled or faced brutal execution, leaving behind the class of gens de couleur, wealthy, darker skinned freed men, as the higher class of the island. While many called for republican reform, Dessalines held his power and imposed a system of tyranny, practical slavery, to keep the sugar and coffee plantations running to pay for the new government.

Conspiracies began to rise up against Dessalines. He had served the country well, but now he had grown consumed by his power. Henri Christophe, a military subordinate to Dessalines, began a revolt in the north with his own autocracy while gens de couleur leader Alexandre Pétion worked to champion democracy in the south. On October 17, 1806, Dessalines began the march out of Port-au-Prince where he had been containing the ideals of Pétion to put down by force the rebellion of Christophe. An ambush sprung around him, but Dessalines managed to dodge assassins' bullets, rally his men, and route the assailants.

The march to the north crushed Pétion's rebellion. While he exacted victory, Dessalines pondered how it could be that his beloved Haitians would rise up against him in an attempt of assassination. He was a hard man of sharp discipline, but that had been what allowed the defeat of Rochambeau in the fight for independence. He demanded a great deal from his people, but government was expensive, and an economy crippled without forced workers would reduce the island to poverty and anarchy.

Dessalines returned to Port-au-Prince with a parade in his honor. He met with Pétion (whom he would later execute as a member of conspiracy) and took a good deal of republican advice. Launching into a new propaganda campaign, Dessalines related to the people how hard work was necessary and vowed to ensure that payment returned to the people. The elected bureaucracy expanded to meet needs of food, clean water, housing, and health, and taxes could be paid in cash or by "voluntary" work on the state plantations. Meanwhile, Dessalines worked to fix the fear and anger of the people upon differing targets, which had worked well against the French and later all whites. He turned against the Spanish Empire, then against the "terror" of the Dominicans to the east. Later invasion would unify the island once again in 1822.

The emperor died in 1827 and was succeeded by Jean Pierre Boyer, Emperor Jean I, who would rule until his overthrow in 1843. While many hoped for a return to the liberal ideals of the revolution, the rule of the state had become ingrained over generations. Strong government held the island, working to keep Santo Domingo united under Haiti and forcing internal improvements through construction projects and public factories. For centuries to come, the island of Hispaniola would be viewed at times as a model of stability and productivity for Latin America while at other times a tropical Orwellian police state.

October 1

In 1860, unwilling to be separated from her beloved husband, Her Majesty Queen Victoria chose to accompany Prince Albert on a business trip to Coburg1.

The Royal tragedy that saved Central EuropeThis rash decision was taken because the previous evening, Albert had experienced a chilling premonition that his "time was up". And as cruel fate would have it, their horses suddenly bolted just three miles from their Châteaeu. The carriage crashed into stationary wagon waiting at a railway crossing and the Queen was instantly killed by the impact. Albert, who might otherwise have jumped to safety, suffered fatal injuries from which he never fully recovered.

Although this accident would create long-term consequence throughout the British Empire, it would have more immediate repercussions for the German Confederation. This loose association of thirty-nine autonomous states in Central Europe had been created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 in order to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries and to replace the former Holy Roman Empire. By the time of the tragedy at Coburg, the significance of the German Confederation was its vital role as a buffer state between Austria and Prussia. But its future was in doubt because of the growing desire for German unification, and some of the states were planning to make a bolt much like the royal carriage with equally disastrous consequences. Then, four years later, the Prussians tried to annex Schleswig and Holstein, but fortunately the outbreak of a Second Schleswig War was prevented by the intervention of King Edward and his Danish Queen.

September 30

In 1399, Henry Bolingbroke is captured and executed by supporters of the true English king, Richard II (pictured), as he attempts to usurp the throne.

The Usurper Henry Bolingbroke is executedAlthough Richard was often perceived as a weak and indecisive king, he was still the one true king, and Bolingbroke had little popular support.

With this rebellion dealt with, Richard II reigned without incident until his death in 1415. He left behind a young son, Richard III, who was 12 when he assumed the throne from his father. He was a virtual puppet for his grandfather, Charles VI of France, until his 18th birthday, when his mother convinced him that the English deserved a king who was his own man. Queen Mother Isabella had detested her father ever since he had given her to Richard II as a bride when she was a mere 7 years old, and had come to love the country in which she had spent almost all of her life. It was rumored that she sang a happy little song when King Charles died in 1422, but it is certain that she advised King Richard to press his claim on the French throne, which he did with little opposition, since France was in great disarray after Charles' death. Richard III proved to be nothing like his father, owing to his mother's strength as an advisor, and ruled for 65 years, expanding English dominion over half of Europe.

September 28

In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, lands on the coast of England only to be met by the forces of Tostig Godwine and King Harald of Norway - the English King, Harold Godwine, had masterfully negotiated an alliance with the pair and used them as a buffer against William's initial assault.

Normans repulsed at HastingsAlthough William won the day against England's erstwhile defenders, he was weakened by the battle, and was easily defeated by King Harold at Hastings a few days later.

As Harold executed Duke William for his crimes against England, he supposedly insulted the Duke's lineage by saying, "No tanner's bastard could ever sit upon the throne of England".

September 25

In 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev and US President Adlai Stevenson meet at Camp David in Maryland to discuss peace between their two countries.

Camp David SummitPremier Khruschev agreed, in principle, to pull troops from East Berlin and reduce the number of Soviet soldiers in eastern Europe, and President Stevenson promised trade and a lessening of hostile espionage against the Soviets. President Stevenson temporarily halted the U2 spy plane program while he saw where this line of talks went.

By the time he and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson stood for reelection the following year, there were treaties working their way through the US Congress and the Soviet Politburo to seal these agreements into law. Unknown to Khruschev, Stevenson had NASA working on a spy satellite program, and was able to maintain surveillance of the USSR without the spy planes that had been such a concern to the Soviet leader.

In 1978, Californians were surprised to see former Governor Ronald Reagan's statement reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle of September 24. "The Gipper" was stating his convictions on California Proposition 6 or Proposition 6, more commonly known as The Briggs Initiative, an initiative on the California State ballot. Sponsored by John Briggs, a conservative state legislator from Orange County, the failed initiative would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in California's public schools.Reagan endorses Proposition 6 (The Briggs Initiative)The Briggs Initiative followed similar legislation that had passed in Oklahoma and Arkansas, banning gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. It stated that any teacher that was found to be "advocating, imposing, encouraging or promoting" homosexual activity could be fired.

It was opposed by then-President Jimmy Carter. There were many "gay Republican" groups and organization through the country beginning in the '70s. The most prominent of these, in 1977 California, founded Log Cabin Republicans, as a rallying point for Republicans opposed to the Briggs Initiative, which for a time was winning in polls conducted prior to the election with about 61% of voters supporting it while 31% opposed it. It was the first attempt to restrict gay and lesbian rights through a ballot measure.

The timing is significant for Reagan because he was then preparing to run for president, a race in which he would need broad support. As Lou Cannon (Reagan biographer) puts it, Reagan was "well aware that there were those who wanted him to duck the issue" but nevertheless "chose to chase the swing voter" (of course from his Hollywood Background, he had made the acquaintance of many gays).

Despite the legend, student worker, Grant Grays, at the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota Libraries discovered that there was no editorial penned by Reagan but rather he sent a letter to a pro-Briggs Initiative group in which he supported the initiative. The entire text of Reagan's letter of opposition was never printed in the public media. The most extensive excerpts from his statement were reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle of September 24, 1978 where it was revealed that the future President supported the Briggs Initiative.

Reagan's actual letter allegedly stated, in part, "Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual's sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child's teachers do not really influence this". Assuming this is true, this was a remarkably progressive thing for a politician, especially a conservative one about to run for president, to say in 1978.

The Briggs Initiative was passed on a marginal vote, it was even close in Briggs' own Orange County. Its sponsors cited Reagan for the victory.

September 8

In 1974, President Gerald Ford, the nation's first chief executive appointed to office, refuses to grant a pardon to former President Richard Nixon.

An Honest RepublicanNixon claimed to have Ford's word on tape guaranteeing such a pardon, but several prominent Republicans wanted Nixon excised from the party altogether, and pressured Ford to prosecute him.

Nixon's trial was a media circus, but it became very apparent very quickly that he had abused the office of the presidency and committed countless crimes while trying to suppress his political enemies. As this news came out, virtually every Republican leader in the nation denounced him, even those who had defended him prior to the trial. When he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in a minimum-security prison, Ford's popularity soared. Although the Democrats padded their Congressional majorities in the 1976 elections, Ford himself was elected to the office he held by appointment by running under the slogan "An Honest Republican".

In 1966, the most influential science fiction series in television history debuts on NBC.

Bob Wesley's Star Trek DebutsStar Trek, the dream of El Paso-born producer Bob Wesley, suffers through a couple of dismal seasons at the beginning, but spent its 4th, 5th and 6th seasons at the top of the Nielsen ratings, and stayed in the top ten until the series was finally canceled in 1977. Its final episode, The Final Frontier, became the most-watched television episode of the 1970's, seen by over 60% of the households in America.

This prompted Desilu, the company that produced the series, to put together a motion picture deal with the cast while they were still available, and the crew of the Enterprise made 4 popular feature films before William Shatner, one of the stars of the franchise, announced that he was not going to appear as Captain Kirk anymore.

Desilu then put together a second series based around the Sulu character played by George Takei, entitled Star Trek: Excelsior. Takei's Captain Sulu became the first Asian-American lead character on American television, another ground-breaking move by a series that had been hailed for its multicultural diversity. When Excelsior left the small screen in 1996, its crew also made 4 feature films. Although not as popular as the original series' films, they did generate enough interest to spawn a 3rd series in the universe, which debuted in 2006. Star Trek: Dark Mirror, set in the violent parallel universe of Imperial Earth as seen in such episodes as Mirror, Mirror, Dark Reflection and Broken Mirror, hit the television world with a bang, claiming the top spot on the ratings since its debut and not letting go. Although Wesley himself has passed on, his vision is still enjoyed by millions around the world, and will probably remain popular for as long as people hope of a future where humanity is united at last.

September 2

On this day in 1983, Charles Barkley officially enrolled at the University of Alabama.

 - Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley

August 31

In 1939, in a false flag operation a small group of SS operatives led by Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks seized the Gleiwitz radio station and broadcast an appeal in the name of the Polish government in exile.

Gleiwitz incident throws Western Allies into confusionUnder a secret protocol laid down in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet forces had invaded on 17 September and were on the verge of gaining full control of the country. Repulsion of this exclusively Soviet-led action had not been fully anticipated by the Polish-British Common Defense Pact which was signed on 25 August as an annex to the Franco-Polish Military Alliance. In this accord, Britain committed itself to the defence of Poland, guaranteeing to preserve Polish independence. Somewhat disingenuously the Nazi Government had used that accord to justify their own lack of response to the Soviet aggression, a ploy which appeared to re-open the possibility of a tripartite anti-Communist alliance.

Although the British Government had war gamed such a scenario indeed were focused on a retaliatory strike on the Baku oilfields, the Western Allies had not jointly planned for war with the Soviet Union and therefore the continent was deadlocked in a state of "Phony War". The conundrum for Paris and London was that should the Western Allies succeed in restraining the Nazis from acting on the Gleiwitz incident and invading Poland from the West, then they would simply be sanctioning Soviet occupation. Since there was almost no prospect of restoring the sovereignty of the Second Polish Republic, it was of course a lose-lose situation, but there was an even deeper game afoot than Hitler's cynical attempt to form an anti-communist alliance. Because Marshall Stalin was planning to use Nazi Germany as a proxy (the "Icebreaker") to defeat the West. He surely knew this master plan was on track when President Roosevelt offered a Lend-Lease programme to give secretly aid to the Soviet Union should he agree to join with the Western Allies in a co-ordinated, pre-emptive attack on Nazi Germany.

August 26

In 1723, on this day the "father of microbiology" Antonie van Leeuwenhoek died in Delft, Dutch Republic. He was ninety year old.

Leeuwenhoek BlindedHe was born in Delft in the Netherlands, the baby seemed well enough: he cried, he reacted to his mother, he ate and grew. As little Antonie grew, his family came upon troubled times. Two of his sisters and his father died, and Antonie suffered a terrible fever that would blind him by his sixth birthday. The boy recovered, but he now faced a terrible handicap.

In 1640, Leeuwenhoek's mother remarried, and he was sent to a monastery in Germany that cared for the blind. While unable to read, Leeuwenhoek would be taught songs and oral passages from the Bible by the monks. He was considered the brightest of the children in the care of the monks, and they came to give him special privileges. Sometime when Leeuwenhoek was about sixteen, he was with a scribe who told him about the illuminations in the book he read to Leeuwenhoek and offered him to touch the gilt and thick medieval paints. Leeuwenhoek's later letters described the sensation of feeling images as almost as if he could see again with his mind's eye.

When he became sixteen, the monks encouraged Leeuwenhoek to pursue a trade beyond simple manual labor. He considered several options before becoming a draper, being able to measure by a grooved ruler he carved himself, having the monks check its accuracies for him. When his skills were approved, he moved home to Delft and secured an apprenticeship with a cloth merchant. While he worked, he considered his system of grooves and the illuminations, and, by 1653, he developed a method of "writing by texture".

Leeuwenhoek worked in business until he had built enough capital to set himself up as a teacher. He did not know Latin, and he had never attended university, but his drive to develop a written alphabet for the blind pushed him. Over the course of months and perfected over years, he built a set of mirrored letters. His method of writing was to etch each backward to be used as a mold. He experimented with systems of carving wood and pouring wax, but the wax was prone to melt under the warmth and pressure of fingers. Lead proved too soft, and tin plates warped. Finally he settled upon glass, and the glass books he produced became the first written code for the blind.

Leeuwenhoek's school attracted the attention of parents of blind children among the growing middle class of the early Enlightenment, and he soon found himself with no shortage of students. His methods spread across Europe and were translated to match the alphabets of French, English, and German. Only two of his original glass books are known to survive due to breakage and the glass being worn down by generations of fingertips. In place of glass, Leeuwenhoek experimented later with typesetting machines into plates of alloys, adding mechanical engineering and metallurgy to his life's impressive list of feats.

His contributions to science are held among the greatest of the Enlightened Age. Along with the creation of calculus, natural law, and principles of physics. It would not be until the Industrial Revolution that discoveries in biology and anatomy would catch up with the science of microbiology founded in part by Charles Darwin, whose theory of the sexual reproduction of microorganisms would cause scandal among the Victorian world, though later contribute to Sir Alexander Fleming's germ theory.

August 10

In 1874, Herbert Clark Hoover was born on this day in West Branch, Iowa. Although he served out two full terms as President, power slipped from his hands immediately after the stock market crash.

Banker's Committee Stops Panic of '29 By 1929 the wild financial speculation of the Roaring Twenties came to a sudden halt in October when the stock market began to slide. Worries spread through the economic community about the passing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Tariffs had always been a point of contention among Americans, even spurring South Carolina to threaten secession over the Tariff Act of 1828. Producers such as farmers and manufacturers called for protective tariffs while merchants and consumers demanded low prices. The American economy soared while post-war Europe rebuilt in the '20s, and the Tariff Act of 1922 skimmed valuable revenue from the nation's income that would otherwise have been needed as taxes. The country barely noticed, and the economy surged forward as new technological luxuries became available as well as new disposable income.

Meanwhile, however, the nation faced an increasingly difficult drought while food prices continued to drop during Europe's recovery. Farmers were stretched thinner and thinner, prompting calls for protective agricultural tariffs and cheaper manufactured goods. In his 1928 presidential campaign, Herbert Hoover promised just that, and as the legislature met in 1929, talks on a new tariff began. Led by Senator Reed Smoot (R-Utah) and Representative Willis C. Hawley (R-Oregon), the bill quickly became more than Hoover and the farmers had bargained for as rates would increase to a level exceeding 1828 for industrial products as well as agricultural. The revenue would be a great boon, but it unnerved economists, who wondered if it could kill the economic growth already slowing by a dipping real estate market.

The weakened nerves shifted from economists to investors, who took the heated debate in the Senate as a clue that times may become rough and decided to get out of the stock market while they could. Prices had skyrocketed over the course of the '20s as the middle class blossomed and minor investors came into being. Another hallmark of the '20s, credit, enabled people to buy stock on margin, borrowing money they could invest at what they hoped would be a higher percentage. The idea of a "money-making machine" spread, and August of 1929 showed more than $8.5 billion in loans, more than all of the money in circulation in the United States. The market peaked on September 3 at 381.17 and then began a downward correction. At the rebound in late October, panicked selling began. On October 24, what became known as "Black Thursday", the market fell more than ten percent. On Friday, it did the same, and the initial outlook for the next week was dire.

Amid the early selling in October, financiers noted that a crash was coming and met on October 24 while the market plummeted. The heads of firms and banks such as Chase, Morgan, and the National City Bank of New York collaborated and finally placed vice-president of the New York Stock Exchange Richard Whitney in charge of stopping the disaster. Forty-one-year-old Whitney was a successful financier with an American family dating back to 1630 and numerous connections in the banking world who had purchased a seat on the NYSE Board of Governors only two years after starting his own firm. Whitney's initial strategy was to replicate the cure for the Panic of 1907: purchasing large amounts of valuable stock above market price, starting with the "blue chip" favorite U.S. Steel, the world's first billion-dollar corporation.

On his way to make the purchase, however, Whitney bumped into a junior who was analyzing the banking futures based on the increase of failing mortgages from failing farms and a weakening real estate market. He suggested that the problems of the new market were caused from the bottom-up, and a top-down solution would only put off the inevitable. Instead of his ostentatious show of purchasing to show the public money was still to be had, Whitney decided to use the massive banking resources behind him to support the falling. He made key purchases late on the 24th, and then his staff worked through the night determining what stocks were needlessly inflated, what were solid, and what could be salvaged (perhaps even at a profit). Stocks continued to tumble that Friday, but by Monday thanks to word-of-mouth and glowing press from newspapers and the new radio broadcasts, Tuesday ended with a slight upturn in the market of .02 percent. Numerically unimportant, the recovery of public support was the key success.

With the initial battle won, Whitney spearheaded a plan to salvage the rest of the crisis as real estate continued to fall and banks (which were quickly running out of funds as they seized more and more of the market) would soon have piles of worthless mortgaged homes and farms. Banks organized themselves around the Federal Reserve, founded in 1913 after a series of smaller panics and determined rules that would keep banks afloat. Further money came from lucrative deals with the wealthiest men in the country such as John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and the Mellons of Pittsburgh. Businesses managed to continue work despite down-turning sales through loans, though the unemployment rate did increase from 3 to 5 percent over the winter.

The final matter was the question of international trade. As the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act continued in the Senate, economists predicted retaliatory tariffs from other countries to kill American exports, but Washington turned a deaf ear. Whitney decided to protect his investments in propping up the economy by investing with campaign contributions. Democrats took the majority as the Republicans fell to Whitney's use of the press to blame the woes of the economy on Congressional "airheads". Representative Hawley himself lost his seat in the House, which he had held since 1907, to Democrat William Delzell. President Hoover, a millionaire businessman before entering politics, noted the shift, but remained quiet and dutifully vetoed the new tariff.

By 1931, it became steadily obvious that America had shifted to an oligarchy. The banks propped up the market and were propped up themselves by a handful of millionaires. If Rockefeller wanted, he could single-handedly pull his money and collapse the whole of the American nation. Whitney took greater power as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose new role controlled indirectly everything of economic and political worth. As the Thirties dragged on, the havoc of the Dust Bowl made food prices increase while simultaneously weakening the farming class, and Whitney gained further power by ousting Secretary of Agriculture Arthur Hyde and installing his own man as a condition for Hoover's reelection in '32.

Chairman Whitney would "rule" the United States, wielding public relations power and charisma to give Americans a strong sense of national emergency and patriotism during times like the Japanese War in '35 (which secured new markets in East Asia) and the European Expedition in '39. He employed the Red Scare to keep down ideas of insurrection and used the FBI as a secret police, but his ultimate power would be that, at any point, he could tamper with interest rates or stock and property value, and the country would spiral into rampant unemployment and depression, dragging the rest of the world with it.

July 15

In 1995, on this day William Baldwin was cast in the starring role of Batman Forever, part three in Warner Bros.' lucrative saga of the Caped Crusader.

William Baldwin plays BatmanHaving starred in Batman and Batman Returns, Michael Keaton had dropped out over creative differences, and so it was rumoured, disagreement over excessive financial demands. However the first reason was probably closer to the truth because the film's new kingpin, Joel Schumacher had replaced Keaton's friend Tim Burton as director.

Schumacher produced a "eclectic, diverse" short-list of four suitable candidates, Val Kilmer, William Baldwin, Daniel Day-Lewis and Ralph Fiennes. But the Studio's favourite, Kilmer, pulled out because of a feeling that the protagonist was being marginalized in favour of the two villains1, Two-Face and the Riddler. Daniel Day-Lewis and Ralph Fiennes were non-starters and yet the significance of their very inclusion on the short-list highlighted the key problem with the whole saga, casting a single actor in the two quite distinct roles of Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Therefore in choosing the least well known actor, Schumacher was forced to make the fateful decision to split the character role by making extensive use of voice actors and stunt doubles. Fortunately Baldwin himself played the role with great humility commenting that "I was very excited to do this. I wasn't really thinking about any past Batman, but more of letting the material sort of dictate the choices that I make as an actor. What's happening physically, what's happening emotionally, what's happening in the writing. That's what really drives your performance". And quite unexpectedly the result of this fusion of talent was a resounding commercial success that became the highest grossing movie of the year.

Author's Note: Although he never got to play Batman, William Baldwin did voice the Dark Knight in the DC animated feature Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths

July 4

July 4, 1866. President Pendleton had a miserable fourth. The Republicans were accusing him of "snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory" by ending the war ever since he ended it and the voices were getting louder now it was close to election time.

Victorious Dixie goes down in flames Part 5True, Sherman was marching towards North Carolina when the war ended but the country needed the war to end. The war never would have started if the damned abolishinists simply let law abiding Americans take their slaves west!

President Davis's day wasn't that much better. Although the economy was improving it was far from good and the weather was poor for crops. Worst of all the damn Yankees had an economy that was still booming, particularly compared to the CSA. It was slowing down a bit however due to the end of war slowdown.

June 15

In 1944, on this day General Dwight D. Eisenhower the architect of the disastrous Operation Overlord General was relieved of his command. He was later demoted back to his permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Dismissal of General EisenhowerThe success of his invasion plan had depended on the meteorological advice of Group Captain James Stagg. But the break in the weather that Stagg had predicted never came. Most of the Allied landing craft did not even make it to shore, and on the few that did, the Allied soldiers were quickly killed or captured by the defending Germans. Several pockets of British and America airborne troops did manage to hold out for several weeks, but they were eventually annihilated. In his formal report, Eisenhower carefully noted that "Our landings in the Cherbourg Harbor have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone" [1].

His appointment as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe backfired on President Roosevelt who would be defeated in the general election by Republican challenger Thomas E. Dewey. In hindsight, Chief of Staff of the Army George Marshall would have been a far better strategic planner, but Roosevelt had been reluctant to lose his advice and guidance in Washington.

June 11

In Ol. -407, on this fateful day King Agamemnon withdrew the united Greek armed forces from the siege of Troy.

Troy EternalThe decision was prompted by a violent argument with Achilles, king of the Myrmidons. Only the intervention of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, had spared his life. It was enough for his brother Menelaus, whose jilting by Helen had started the Trojan War. He told Agamemnon it was time to go home.

This in-fighting among the Greeks secured the independent sovereignty of Troy, but the long-term future of the Hittite city state lay within the Athenian Empire which it joined some six centuries later. And from its strategic position, Troy would change the future of Greece, by enabling Athens to win the Peloponnesian War.

June 10

In 1977, the Orient, one of the first mass-produced microcomputer products, goes on sale.

John and Woz change the worldAlthough the Orient was the brain-child of the Jewish American Inventor Steve Wozniak [1], "Woz" had originally conceived of the far simpler idea of selling a fully assembled printed circuit board. But he had been dissuaded by his friend Abdulfattah "John" Jandali-Schieble, Jr. who convinced Woz that even if they were not successful they could at least say to their grand-kids they had had their own company.

Together they sold some of their possessions (such as Wozniak's HP scientific calculator and John's Volkswagen van), raised USD $1,300, and assembled the first boards in John's bedroom and later (when there was no space left) in John's garage. Wozniak's apartment in San Jose was filled with monitors, electronic devices, and some computer games Wozniak had developed.

The reason that John really wanted a microcomputer product only became clearer with the release of an Arabesque graphical user interface. And even though the Orient would eventually become the world's leading home computer, that was just a side-bar to an even more significant development. Because in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the peaceful advocacy of a billion dollar Jewish-Arabic business partnership was a bulwark to the wave of Arabophobia being whipped up by neo-conservative right-wing extremists.

June 7

In 1329, on this day Scottish rebel warrior Robert the Bruce succumbed to the leprosy that had increasingly incapacitated him for the past two years.

Sad Death of Robert the BrucePrior to his demise, his movement was restricted to his tongue. This was somewhat ironic given that he had been "silenced" by the Roman Catholic Church in 1306 for murdering John Comyn Earl of Buchan (his great rival for the Scottish throne) inside a monastery in Dumfries.

Realizing his sacrilegious error, he had traveled to Glasgow, but his pleas had fallen upon deaf ears and Bishop Robert Wishart had excommunicated him [1]. This punishment prevented him from inheriting the claim to the throne when his father died twelve months later. Instead the "great cause" would be led by William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, a cynical outcome which revealed Wishart's reluctance to forgive him.

June 6

In 1976, former Governor Ronald Reagan secures the Republican presidential nomination from President Gerald Ford, and goes on to win in the general election against another former governor, Jimmy Carter of Georgia. Part of the Reagan wins in 1976 thread by Robbie Taylor.

Gov Reagan nominatedUpon taking office he enacted sweeping tax cuts, mostly aimed at the well-to-do, but with some at lower ends of the economic spectrum. They didn't prove to be the stimulus he expected, though, and the nation plunged into a deep recession. Further trouble followed a couple of years later. In 1979, the trial of Guillermo Novo and Alvin Ross is suspended by President Ronald Reagan for "national security reasons" as Judge Barrington Parker prepares to deliver a blistering indictment of the CIA and the American government for the rather blatant assassination of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier. Parker's public feud with Reagan's administration fed the public's dislike of Reagan and contributed to his defeat in the following year's election.

His presidency is only one term long, due in large part to a hostage crisis in Iran at the end of his presidency. He sent a small team of Marines into Iran to attempt a rescue of the 50 American hostages being held in Tehran. Unfortunately, desert storms knocked the choppers out of commission, killing 8 of the Marines. President Reagan took full responsibility for the mission's failure, and this more than anything was why Senator Kennedy beat him in the presidential elections that year.

Also his wife, First Lady Ann Frances (Robbins) Reagan also caused controversy that damaged his credibility and reputation. Her anti-drug campaign (somewhat ridiculed by people who had experienced quite a few drugs first hand), and her personal belief in astrology, which many claim hurt her conservative husband Ronald politically. But to his credit, he never did, saying that it was a weak politician who blames his wife for his defeats.

June 5

In 2004, on this day the academy award winning Irish American Actor Ronald Wilson Reagan passed away in Los Angeles, California. "Dutch" was ninety-three years old.

Dutch passes away
By Ed & Scott Palter
Part of the Hollywood scene since 1937, his big break came with the lead role of Rick Blaine in the 1942 movie Casablanca, where he starred with future wife Ann Sheridan. Of course the movie has since grown into such a legend that it almost transcends mere cinema. Its lines of dialogue can be quoted by people who have not even seen the film: "Here's looking at you, kid,", "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," and the oft misquoted "Play it, Sam".

Reagan went on to enjoy three more decades at the top, going out as the voice of Darth Vader in the 1977 blockbuster Star Wars. In this signature role, he announced the destruction of the planet Alderaan "We begin bombing in five minutes" dismissing the verbal assault from former Jedi master Obiwan Kenobe with the withering remark "There you go again!".

June 4

In 1961, with matters continuing on a downward spiral six months after declaring a State of Emergency, Confederate President Lyndon Baines Johnson was forced to appeal to his northern neighbour for military assistance.

Centennial CrisisDuring World War Two, the Two Americas had fought on the same side if not as formal allies given their un-coordinated command structures. However that alignment was something of a historic accident, with the CSA fighting alongside their long-term military partners, the British and the French while the Union was swept into the conflict due to unprovoked German attacks on Federal shipping.

This crisis was something rather different, an entirely home grown affair rising out of the Civil Rights disturbances. Rather ominously, British Prime Minister Harold McMillan had delivered his "Winds of Change" speech in Richmond [1] twelve months before. But he had been ignored and now those winds were howling through Southern capitals, as the Confederacy tried hard to celebrate its century of statehood.

For Union President Kennedy, the appeal was enraging. Because the British had played a large part in bringing slavery into the Americas, and then supported the Confederacy at their moment of separation. But the once great country was now a shadow of its former self, and wholly incapable of giving Richmond the level of military assistance required to restore law and order. If that were indeed possible, because Federal involvement in such a messy quagmire could very well provoke reactions across the northern states of the "Rump" Union.

May 31

On III Shemu day 27, Ramesses II ascended to the throne of Egypt.
An article from the Happy Endings thread

Ascension of Ramesses IIA fearsome military leader, he built an enormous army of one hundred thousand men and used it to conquer territory across the Levant from Libya to Canaan to Nubia. He also built great cities, temples and monuments. It seemed certain that he would be long as remembered at the great Pharaoh of all, a symbol of the greatness of mankind's rulers. But of course there was one far greater than he, who watched Ramesses II and eventually decided he need to teach the elite leadership of Egypt an important lesson in humility.

And it was in his new capital of Pi-Ramesses that the most transformative event of his rule occurred. Challenged to release the Jewish slaves, his adoptive brother Moses turned his staff into a snake to show him the power of the Lord. Confronted by the undeniable evidence of this powerful demonstration, he embraced Yahweh as the one true God and renounced the false deity Ra.

May 15

In 1937, on this day sixty-fourth United States Secretary of State Madeleine Korbelová Albright born in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

Blank CzechAfter serving as 20th United States Ambassador to the United Nations, she became the first woman to become the United States Secretary of State. A gifted if somewhat idealistic foreign affairs person conversant into six languages, she was routinely re-appointed following Bill Clinton's third-term re-election in 2000. But as events would transpire, continuity carried with it a heavy cost.

Clinton had listened to his Intelligence Services through his second term, closely monitoring the rise of al-Qaeda. Although follow-up actions were taken after the bombing of the USS Cole, the Administration failed to prevent the September 11th attack. In the aftermath, Albright played a leading role in building an international consensus, contextualizing the War on Terror as a global threat requiring co-ordinated actions.

But unfortunately trust was a double-edge sword and she was undone by events on the Korean peninsula. Having advocated food for disarming agreements, her credibility was destroyed by the jaw-dropping revelation that North Korea had developed nuclear weapons.

In 1968, [1] on this day Alabama Governor George Wallace was assassinated by Arthur Bremer in the Confederate State of East Maryland while campaigning to become President. Running as a Nationalist, he was hoping to succeed 19th POTCS Lyndon Baines Johnson whose single six-year term was due to end on March 4, 1969. An installment of the Federal's Lost Cause thread.

Federal Lost Cause Part 10: Assassination of the Fighting Little JudgeThe shooting occurred in the city of Laurel in northern Prince George's County. But the assassin had been seen earlier that day at another Wallace rally. The tragedy was the latest episode in a long series of disasters that had struck the Chesapeake Bay State over the course of a century and a half.

  • During the War of 1812, British redcoats had marched through the county by way of Bladensburg to burn the White House. On their return, they kidnapped a prominent doctor, William Beanes. Lawyer, Francis Scott Key was asked to negotiate for his release, which resulted in his writing the Star Spangled Banner.
  • With sympathies between the Union and the Confederacy following an East/West boundary, the ham-fisted policies of Acting President Hannibal Hamlin caused the geographical splitting of the State at the outside of the Civil War.
  • In April 1865, a Marylander John Wilkes Booth had made his escape through Prince George's County after shooting President Hamlin in the Ford's Theatre (by then the Federal Government had returned to Washington, D.C having spent much of the war in Philadelphia). Booth was on his way to the Confederate Capital, Virginia.
However it appeared that Bremer was an apolitical crazy and yet ironically his intervention ended the career of one the South's most segregationist politicians. Without knowing it, Bremer had turned the page of history.

May 13

In 1958, on this day a mob swarmed over Vice-President Richard Nixon's car during a trip through Caracas, Venezuela.

VP Nixon killedIn spite of the Secret Service's best efforts, the vice-president was pulled from his car and beaten to death, as are several of the Secret Service agents.

Ironically, the trip had been planned as a goodwill mission to the country after it had overthrown the American-supported dictator Marcos Jimenez.

The violent killing of Nixon threw the 1960 GOP nomination to Nelson Rockefeller who chose Illinois Sentator Everett McKinley Dirksen to shore up the conservative base.

In 1859, on this fateful day the Sequoyah Tribal Council agreed to the formation of a coherent self-government of the Indian Territory of Eastern Oaklahoma. An installment of the Federal's Lost Cause thread. Federal Lost Cause Part 8: State of SequoyahMore than a triumph of common sense, it was a personal victory for Lyncoya Jackson [1], an Indian orphan adopted by the former President after the Creek War. He had fought hard to convince the tribal leadership that the upcoming conflict between the North and the South was a not-to-be-missed bargaining opportunity for indigenous sovereignty.

As events were to transpire, the force of his presence was still required at the re-accession talks organized by President McClellan in the summer of 1865 [2]. Although his status as the adopted son of a former President drew respect, it was of course necessary for him to negotiate from the position of strength reserved for a quasi-official regional spokesman. Because his peers were Confederate Generals and Southern State Governors who represented coherent (if un-recognized) systems of government formed during the War of the States.

Other regional spokesman brought other diverse issues to the top table. Representatives of the plantation class wanted to re-assert veto power over the Federal Government, calling for a form of government akin to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch [3] [4]. Still others sought to put the cork back into the bottle with a reversion to the libertarian values of the pre-war era. Needless to say, it was a long, long agenda item of conflicting interests, requiring McClellan to pull off a second miracle of Philadelphia. But in a larger sense, it was a conversation about the future that had been waiting to happen ever since that Constitutional Conference broke up in 1787.

May 12

In 1994, on this fateful day Professor Mike Besser of Saint Bartholomew's Hospital saved the life of John Smith, Leader of the Labour Party.

The Opportunity to ServeAt a fund-raising dinner at Park Lane Hotel the previous evening, he had delivered a keynote speech humbly declaring "The opportunity to serve our country - that is all we ask". The following morning, at 8:05am, whilst in his Barbican flat, he suffered a massive heart attack. His wife Elizabeth phoned an ambulance and he was rushed to Saint Bartholomew's Hospital where he regained consciousness. Only two weeks before this incident, on 28 April, Smith had visited the same accident and emergency department to campaign against its proposed closure. The doctor who had served as his tour guide, Professor Mike Besser, saved Smith's life.

Having suffered a previous heart attack six years before, it was clear that he would have to step down. But the timing was terribly unfortunate for the Labour Party which was on the verge of regaining power for the first time in fifteen years. Fearing a split caused by a divisive leadership struggle before the upcoming General Election, he took the guarded decision of backing another fine public servant, his loyal Deputy Margaret Beckett. A conviction politician, she was like Smith a sincere and capable leader if perhaps lacking in charisma. Certainly, she was no television personality. His predecessor Neil Kinnock had given the limelight to two media-savvy young politicians, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. But Smith feared that their competitiveness rivalry would turn sour, deciding it was in the best interest of the Labour Movement for them to wait for another electoral cycle. Perhaps, he figured, working together as Cabinet peers might even impress upon them a greater political maturity, that was his well-meaning intention at least.

But as events transpired, he had been far too cautious. In 1994 it was clear that there was no way back for Tories after "Black Wednesday" but over the course of the next three years, they totally ripped themselves to shreds over Europe. Also, they had their own divisive leadership and - in the damning words of former Chancellor Norman Lamont - "were in office, but not in power". And so Beckett entered Number 10 Downing Street with a healthy, but less than spectacular, one hundred seat majority. And the new opposition would not be led by an older generation figure like John Major, instead it would be the emergence of precisely the same kind of self-serving,media-savvy political figure that Smith had feared. A television personality that could dazzle the voters with his charisma. Because over the ballot box she would be outshone by a re-invigorated neo-Conservative Party that had under Michael Portillo taken a dramatic shift to the right wing [1] that was un-paralleled in modern history. In the face of Beckett's lacklustre performance, he would recover Tory fortunes, becoming Prime Minister just months before the September 11th attacks.

May 11

In 1940, on this day Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax was appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Our Greatest Prime MinisterBeing a peer of the realm he was unable to fully direct the conflict from the House of Lords and therefore had been deeply reluctant to take up the post. However at a meeting in Number Ten chaired by out-going Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, it had been agreed that the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill would be promoted to the newly created position of Chief Minister of War and Labour Leader Clement Attlee brought into Government as Deputy Prime Minister.

Perhaps Halifax on his own would have sought a peace settlement, one can never know, but in outlook he was even more anti-Nazi than Churchill. Both he and the Tory Leadership feared national bankruptcy. However the key difference was that he didn't believe that total victory was possible, nor that the Class System or the British Empire should be destroyed in the attempt. Fortunately, Halifax, Churchill and Attlee managed to concoct a great British compromise. At times, this was strained to the absolute limit, particularly when Churchill hot-headedly threatened to resign over the rejection of his proposed intervention in Greece. But he was overruled, and Wavell kept the resources necessary to triumph in North Africa.

To the fury of the French allies, Britain saw no reason to continue the fight after the success of Operation Compass. Both Germany and Britain agreed to a spheres of interest agreement and the European Conflict was over. Over the course of the next six months, Wavell and his resources were transferred to Singapore. And when the war in the Pacific got under-way, the Empire of Japan was confronted by the full might of two nations un-distracted from European matters. It was a master-strike that earned Halifax the sobriquet "our greatest Prime Minister".

April 21

In 1920, in exchange for the acceptance of a national border on the Zbrucz river, Polish Chief of State and First Marshal Józef Piłsudski promised the Ukrainian People's Republic military help in the Kiev Offensive against the Red Army. Of course the Ukrainians needed more, much more help, but fortunately that was soon to arrive in the unlikely shape of a people's army led by their very own White Military Leader, a so-called "knight in rusty armour", Archduke Wilhelm von Hapsburg. This article is part of the Ukraine 1920 thread.

The Polish-Ukrainian Alliance is signedThe odds were long because Kievan Rus was the origin of the Russian Civilization, and so the Ukrainians desperately needed to establish their hard-fought independence in this contested territory long before the Soviet State could win (let alone fully recover from) the bloody Civil War. However this simple fact was not fully accepted by the All-Ukrainian Governing Council known as the Central Rada. They conspicuously failed to properly organize the three hundred thousand men that had spontaneously organized themselves into all-Ukrainian unit under the command of General Pavlo Skoropadsky.

When Skoropadsky failed to overthrow the Rada, he turned in desperation to the Colonel of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (logo as pictured), Archduke Wilhelm von Hapsburg. Despite the ruthlessly expedient logic of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" he was after all an aristocratic throwback to the pre-Great War Royal Houses of Central Europe that had brutally suppressed Slav nationalism for centuries. And yet against the odds, together with their Polish allies, they launched an unlikely bid to save Independent Ukraine from Russian chauvinism in its latest guise, Communism. And in achieving this goal, they changed the future of Europe by establishing a cordon sanitaire between the totalitarian rogue states of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

Addendum by Jeff Provine

Hapsburg had initially determined the Polish treaty to be a betrayal by Western Ukraine, the revolution ousting the Rada proved to quell his feelings. The treaty stood with the new government, and Hapsburg climbed the military ladder by leading multinational forces to eventually drive out Russian threats. Many called for Wilhelm to become king, but "Vasyl Vyshyvani" as he dubbed himself refused out of his respect for commoners, although his overwhelming popularity gave him king-like powers in politics in the east.

In 1938, another European leader, Adolf Hitler, approached Ukraine about breaking off its treaty with Poland and retaking territory lost in the 1920 agreement. The Ukrainians came into agreement, but only on the condition of a new alliance that forced Germany into an anti-Soviet stance. Poland fell, bringing Western Europe to war with Germany at an inopportune time as alliances demanded German forces aid Finland in its own war with the Soviets alongside Ukrainian troops.

In 1920, a military committee led by General Abram Dragomirov in Sevastopol replaced Anton Denikin with Baron Pyotr Wrangel as Commander-in-Chief of the White forces based on the island of Crimea1. Upon assuming command he called a prayer vigil that closed with the prescient re-assurance "Patience in the battle is victory". This article is part of the Ukraine 1920 thread.

Patience in the battle is victoryHe put forth a coalition government which attempted to institute sweeping reforms (including land reforms) and he also recognized and established relations with the new anti-Bolshevik independent republics of Ukraine and Georgia, among others.

However his northern advance was a disaster and after defeats in which he lost half his standing army he organized a mass evacuation on the shores of the Black Sea. Wrangel gave every officer, soldier, and civilian a free choice: evacuate or stay behind and form an anti-Bolshevik mini-state:the autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Further north, events in the Kiev Offensive produced a military set-back for the Bolsheviks. And so by the end of the Civil War, they were forced to accept that a large population of ethnic Russians living outside their borders. By and large their attempt to reverse the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk had ended in failure, and the irony was, instead of German Monarchs, the successor states would be ruled by ethnic Germans such as Wrangel and the Archduke Wilhelm von Hapsburg. And the true significance of this outcome would become clear with the rise of Nazi Germany, growing quickly behind the protective shield of a cordon sanitaire. Perhaps the Baron had been right all along, after all, he had fought his way though the Russo-Japanese and Great Wars and knew a thing or two about crushing defeats.

In 1509, on this day Arthur Tudor ascended the throne of England on the death of his father, Henry VII. But the country would experience a sharp diminution in status during his ill-fated reign.

Ascension of King Arthur IIThe problem was at the age of just two, he was betrothed to Joanna of Castille as part of the Treaty of Medina del Campo. However Queen Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon ("Ferdinand the Catholic") were reluctant for the marriage to proceed because of the instability of Tudor Rule. In fact, they only acquiesced with the executions of the potential pretenders Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick.

The marriage could then proceed although these carefully laid plans were very nearly destroyed when the Prince of Wales almost perished from consumption. Fortunately, Joanna saved his life, and while their marriage was blessed with children, her younger sister Katherine was not so fortunate. She suffered from infertility and a tortured marriage. Her megalomaniac husband Philip the Handsome would dominate everyone on the continent reducing the power of Catholic England to a mere vassal state within a truly global Spanish Empire. It was a diminution that made a mockery of the Arthurian association with his illustrious predecessor from the House of Pendragon.

In 753 BC, on this day Remus, the legendary founder of the Remorian Republic murdered his brother Romulus in cold blood.

Remus kills his brother RomulusThe brothers had argued bitterly over the best site for the new city. Romulus favoured the Palatine Hill; Remus wanted the Aventine Hill. They agreed to select the site by divine augury, took up position on their respective hills and prepared a sacred space; signs were sent to each in the form of vultures, or eagles. Remus saw six; Romulus saw twelve, and claimed superior augury (foresight) as the basis of his right to decide.

Remus made a counterclaim: he saw his six vultures first. Romulus set to work with his supporters, digging a trench (or building a wall, according to Dionysius) around the Palatine to define his city boundary. Remus criticized some parts of the work and obstructed others. At last, Remus leaped across the boundary, as an insult to the city's defenses and their creator. For this, he was challenged by Romulus, but Remus prevailed and his brother was killed.

But perhaps Romulus was proven right after all, because the city ruled by Remus never developed further than an obscure Latin city in the shadow of the Etruscans. And of course the Remorian Republic was utterly destroyed by Hamicar Barca in 223 BC.

In 1793, when "Citizen" Genêt informed General Washington of inappropriate remarks made in private by Thomas Jefferson the President had no choice by to summarily dismiss his Secretary of State for a serious breach of political integrity.

Citizen Genet
How the French Connection destroyed the duplicitious career of Thomas Jefferson
Ultimately the outbreak of the Anglo-French War would force the President to make a Proclaimation of Neutrality denying support to Revolutionary France in spite of the crucial role that France had played in America's own Revolution. But where Washington and the pro-British Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton saw a looming threat of American involvement, the anti-Federalists "Generalissimo" Jefferson and "General" James Madison saw a popular opportunity to strike a blow for the Democratic-Republican Party.

The political question of American foreign policy was of course a matter of fierce debate, both in public, and also in private with both Hamilton and Madison publishing articles under the pseudonyms of Pacifus and Helvidius. But even the exposure of those intrigues would not have led to a split in the Cabinet - that required the arrival of Citizen Genêt (pictured) in early April.

At least in the overfertile imagination of Jefferson and Madison, if not in fact, the American public was overwhelmingly in support of the French Government, both for fighting the hated British, and for launching their own bid for liberty. Regardless the arrival of French Ambassador Edmond-Charles Genêt was over-enthusiastically toasted by the senior members of the Federal Government, encouraging Jefferson to declare the rekindling of the spirit of '76.

Because he had served as the American Ambassador to France for almost a decade, Jefferson not only had an extremely developed sense of empathy, he saw Genêt as a junior protege. Perhaps this intimacy encouraged him to excuse "The Terror" with the observation that "My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is". It was this ill-disciplined comment that enraged Washington, convincing him that Jefferson was the most dangerous man in America.

In AD 33, on this day Jesus was deceived into giving the Jewish leadership an unmistakeable sign that he really was the Messiah by miraculously restoring the dismembered ear of the Temple Guard Malchus which had been cut off by Simon Peter during the struggle which preceded the arrest at the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Last TemptationThe disciple had been tempted into an overzealous act of violence by Satan who knew that a crucifixion would ensure that he was defeated once and for all.

Jesus, who through his ministry had endured the temptations both of Satah and also the Jewish leadership, succumbed to pity and at the last, Satan triumphed.

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" ~ Matthew 3:2Of course the Sanhedrin trial was transformed by the verifiable testimony of Malchus and the Jewish authorities were forced to accept Jesus to be the Messiah.

But because Jesus could not become King unless He went to the cross, the declaration of a Kingdom of Heaven was premature, triggering a holy war between Satan and his angels against the Messiah.

In 1836, at the Battle of San Jacinto, Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna defeated the forces of U.S.-born Gen. Samuel Houston, commander in chief of the revolutionary forces of the breakaway state of Texas, and captured Houston himself, after the latter's attempt to counter the superior Mexican numbers with a surprise attack failed.

Santa Anna wins the Battle of San Jacinto by Eric LippsThe battle would deliver a crippling blow to Texan morale, and would prove to be the tipping point in the failed struggle for Texan independence. The American Texans, or "Texians" as they were commonly called, had been retreating toward the border with the United states since the fall of the Alamo. Now that retreat became a rout, joined by many American settlers whose presence complicated the efforts of the Texian army to regroup. Tattered remnants of the once-proud force eventually limped across the border into Louisiana along with several thousand civilian refugees.

Houston would be freed by the Mexican government as a result of diplomatic efforts on the part of President Andrew Jackson. He would, however, return home in humiliation. He had emigrated to Texas originally to avoid the stigma attached to his name by a fight with Ohio congressman William Stanberry which had led to a high-profile trial and conviction for assault for which he had escaped serious punishment only with the help of influential friends.. Now his failure in Mexico was added to that burden. An ambitious man, he saw his political prospects shrivel. He resumed his long-abandoned practice as a lawyer, but found his reputation a serious hindrance in attracting clients.

Houston's disgrace and the defeat of his "Texians" meant the end of the idea of Texan independence, Ironically, Houston himself had preferred not independence but annexation of Texas by the United States. Texas would remain the property of Mexico despite periodic efforts by U.S. "filibusters" to foment a new rebellion. The last such effort would come in 1859, as civil war loomed in the United States and slaveholding Southerners sought to add one or more new slave states to the Union to strengthen their position. Its failure arguably shortened the war, which ended in Northern victory in November 1864, just after the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln.

In 2005, on this day NINE, LLC released a computer animated short film featuring a sentient rag doll living in the ruins of a decaying parallel world. Click to watch 9 By Shane Acker.

The Making of "Twelve"Founded by a student called Shane Acker, the company employed only five animators and three lighters who took four and a half years to create the movie "9" on a three-computer dual-processor render farm using regular "commodity" software comprising Maya 1.5-5.5 for 3D modeling, Photoshop for the textures.

Nevertheless, Ackers enjoyed a string of awards which included Student Academy Award - Gold Award for Animation, SIGGRAPH - Best in Show, Animex - First Prize, 3D Character Animation, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation College Awards - First Prize, Non-traditional Animation, Florida Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival - Best Animated Short. "We had such potential. Such promise. But we squandered our gifts. And so, 9, I am creating you. Our world is ending. Life must go on. " ~ the ScientistMore importantly, the fanfare brought the movie to the attention of Film Director Tim Burton who was greatly impressed with Acker's artistic vision.

Tim Burton proposed a feature-length adaptation to be directed by Acker and distributed by Focus Features. In so doing, Burton eliminated a "plot hole" from the original ten-minute movie. Because the Scientist states he is afraid of The Machine because it lacks a human soul. However, The Machine begins to operate only once #2's soul is transferred inside it, and it ceases to function once all the souls are drained from it. This would suggest it has to possess a soul to operate at all, contradicting the Scientist's claim.

From this chance focus on the spiritual dimension, Burton and Ackers re-evaluated the completeness of the artistic vision, deciding to imbue the movie with a stronger biblical subtext. Released on 12.12.12 for Christmas 2012, the protagonist is more strikingly an apocalyptic Jesus figure, and the remaining stitch-punks are also characterised from the disciplines. Click to watch the Trailer.

April 19

By 1647, things looked quite bleak for the settlements of the Dutch West India Company's settlements in North America. New Amsterdam, the company's most important trade centre, was lost to the English in 1665 and it was a bold stroke that the Dutch naval captain Jurriaen Aernoutsz captured the French settlements of Acadia along the Kennebec River during the Franco-Dutch War of 1674.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.

The Foundation of Nieuw Zwolle and the Republic of New HollandNaming the place New Holland, Aernoutsz appointed a governor and went to the Dutch West Indies to find willing colonists for the WIC's latest acquisition. Returning with a shipload of them, the experienced skipper managed to slip behind three English men-of-war out of Boston who tried to intercept him and land in what was to become the capital Nieuw Zwolle at the mouth of the Kennebec in Penobscot Bay. This day, April 19th 1674, marks the actual beginning of New Holland.

Settling various differences with His Majesty's Colony of Massachusetts and the English, Aernoutsz and his new governor Cornelius van Steenwyk pushed northwards towards New France and the St Lawrence River valley. Without resources to speak of from the mother country, Aernoutsz rose above himself in diplomatic skill, managed to form an alliance with Massachusetts' governor Josiah Winslow and the Iroquois Confederation and his colony of New Holland and captured Montreal in 1678 and Quebec early in 1679.

Teeth-gnashing, the French had to accept a major loss of their New France territory with the Treaty of Nijmegen. The Dutch Republic was with one stroke one of the players in the round of North American colonial powers again.

Grown rich on the fur trade, New Holland participated actively in the War of the Spanish Succession and gained the French territory of New Brunswick under the Treaty of Utrecht and the Seven Years' War saw them expand to the Eastern shores of the Great Lakes.

The relationship between the New Hollanders and the English in Rupert's Land on the Hudson Bay and the East Coast was never easy and took a while to heal after the colony joined the mother country in declaring war on the British during the American War of Independence, ending with a territorial status quo of the colonies after the Peace of Paris in 1783.

New Holland almost faced Civil War, when Napoleon occupied the Netherlands in 1795 between the pro-Napoleonic faction and the Onafhankelijkheid party who wanted their own, independent North American Republic. The later President of the Republic of New Holland, Willem van Steenwyk, a descendant of Cornelius, won the relatively bloodless conflict and the country was proclaimed a republic on June 21st 1796 in Nieuw Zwolle.
An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

Since 1949, with independence the status of New Guinea had been a bone of contention between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Shortly before the independence the Dutch government had unilaterally decided that New (West) Guinea would remain Dutch even after the official recognition of Indonesian independence.

War in New GuineaIn the decade that followed Indonesian president Sukarno would repeatedly call for annexation of New Guinea, and in 1958 the tensions started to boil over. A more conservative Dutch government, backed by guarantees from American minister of Foreign affairs John Foster Dulles, started reinforcing the Dutch military presence and created a law that would allow Dutch soldiers to be stationed overseas.

The Indonesian government also upped the stakes, parachutists were landed on New Guinea and leaflets dropped. Although direct confrontation was avoided for now the Indonesian military was clearly flexing it's muscles.

The first combat action happened in january 1962, when three Indonesian motor torpedo boats loaded with infiltrators were intercepted by the Dutch navy. One MTB was sunk by a Dutch frigate another ran aground and the third was damaged by Dutch fire. In the intervening years Indonesia had gotten closer to the Soviet Union and the Soviets started sending troops to Indonesia started sending alongside the weapons that were already being sold to that country.

The Dutch government decided to up it's military presence in the region with extra soldiers and an anti-aircraft battalion to bolsters it's . While tensions mount the US tries to pressure both parties into a diplomatic solution, but in early august negotiations break down as Indonesia demands the transfer of New Guinea on 1 january of the next year.

On 15 August the invasion fleet takes to the sea, and a Soviet submarines slips into the harbour while 5 others take up position to block any seagoing vessel entering or exiting the waters around New Guinea.

Although the Dutch forces were in a state of readiness the attack still takes them by surprise. The fuel tanks in Mankovari harbour go up in flames, followed shortly by the frigate anchored there, in the chaos the Soviet submarine escapes unnoticed.

One of the other two frigates is badly damaged by a torpedo attack as it sails to Mankovari and barely manages to limp into port.

The third frigate attempts to intercept the Indonesian invasion fleet, but is itself intercepted by the Soviet submarines and turned back. Meanwhile thousands of Indonesian and Soviet soldiers start disembarking.

Although US president John F. Kennedy sharply denounces the Indonesian actions no military aid will be forthcoming, and any mention of the Soviet forces is studiously avoided. With the Americans tied up in Vietnam the Dutch soldiers conduct a valiant but vain defence of the Island. Within two weeks the main Dutch positions have all been taken and the threat of Soviet submarines is preventing reinforcements. Even the Dutch aircraft carrier Karel Doorman which has hastily steamed towards the East is kept at bay by the submarine threat.

Back in the Netherlands the government unilaterally declares a ceasefire as it's last act before resigning. Although Indonesia now holds all of New Guinea it will take months before this is officially recognized, the parliamentary elections fail to create a stable coalition. It is not until 19 april 1963 that a peace agreement is signed, and even then the agreement is little more than a recognition of the status quo in exchange for repatriation of all Dutch prisoners of war.

In 1713, with no living male heirs, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, issued the Pragmatic Sanction to ensure that Habsburg lands and the Austrian throne would be inherited by his daughter, Maria Theresa of Austria (not actually born until 1717). But unfortunately Maria Theresa did not survive her father for long and the Austrian Throne was left empty.

Austrian Throne Left Vacant On an October day twenty-seven years later Charles decided he would like some mushrooms for dinner. Delighted, he shared them with his daughter and heir, Maria Theresa, whom he had kept near him for fear of his death since 1738. He had worked throughout his reign to secure the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, which would allow a daughter to secure the throne of Austria. Female rulers, while sometimes seen in Europe such as England's Elizabeth and Poland's Jadwiga, were simply unheard of in the traditions of the ruling empires of the Continent. All of Charles' work would be undone in a quick lapse of thought as the mushrooms would prove poisonous.

Charles died, and Maria Theresa followed him soon after. It was believed that Maria Theresa was pregnant, but autopsy upon a royal was forbidden, and there was no reasonable way to be sure beyond the whispers of her nurses. Maria Theresa's husband, Francis Stephen, stood to directly inherit the titles, but he was distrusted by many of his people, and his claims were hardly locked in iron-clad law. Instead, a surge of Austrian nobles, as well as the Hapsburgs in Spain, looked to take up the throne. Civil war would break out in the empire and then all through Europe in what became known as the War of the Austrian Succession.

Austria proved itself unable to secure a ruler. Its coffers had been emptied by the expenses of the War of the Polish Succession and the Russo-Turkish War. Charles had ignored suggestions to focus on restoring the imperial treasury as well as expanding the military, which had dwindled to 80,000 soldiers who had not been paid in months. Instead, Charles focused on the security of his Pragmatic Sanction, but now there was no ruler at all. Austria unable to defend itself, Frederick the Great of Prussia would begin the international move carving up the empire with his invasion of Silesia on December 16. The Hungarian Diet would declare its independence early in 1741 and drop out of the war.

The rest of Europe would hurry to grab what it could. France and Spain turned on each other and fought bitterly over duchies in northern Italy. Frederick, meanwhile, began a campaign to unite the German states not as Holy Roman Emperor, but as Emperor of Germany, a Kaiser as he called it. Saxony would initially fight, then yield, as would most of the others. England joined Spain against France in a bid for domination in the colonies of North America and India. Russia, meanwhile, became embroiled in a two-front war with Sweden while attempting to block the Prussians' move south.

When the war ended and the dust settled on battlefields in 1756, Europe reached a new balance of power. Spain made great gains in Italy, Germany stood united under the Prussian crown, and Russia gained a sphere of influence in the Balkans. The French were removed from North America while the British came to dominate Canada and India. Expenses would be charged upon the colonies, spurring a reprisal from the American colonists that demanded representation to determine their taxes. As one of his last actions before his death, George II promoted new ministers of parliament from the colonies, a rash decision in the minds of many, but what he considered best rather than leaving the matter to his grandson who would "foul it up".

Austria itself would become a shadow with only its lands east of the Alps under the new Austrian King Leopold. The many subordinate peoples broke free and named their own kings, which each had to be approved by the Great Powers to ensure a return to European stability.

April 18

In 1912, unable to either resume normal mode of business operations or otherwise resolve the serious financial difficulties caused by the consequences of the so-called "supermoon", the prominent British shipping company White Star Line was forced into a declaration of bankruptcy.

The White Ghost of DisasterHaving paid millions of pounds to Harland and Wolff to construct the next generation of Olympic-class ocean liner in Belfast ship-building yards, maiden voyages had been postponed due to freak weather conditions in the North Atlantic. This was the result of extraordinary gravitational forces unleashed by the closest lunar approach for fifteen hundred years that had re-floated hundreds of icebergs. Heading south this swarm had soon forced the closure of international shipping lanes operated by passenger liners from White Star Line and its main competitive rival Cunard.

But unfortunately all-too human errors leading to the catastrophic loss of the Olympic had given the now-bankrupt company far more deep rooted problems than Cunard. Philip A. S. Franklin, vice president of the International Mercantile Marine Company (White Star Line's holding company) stated after being told of the sinking "I thought her unsinkable, and I based my opinion on the best expert advice available. I do not understand it".

Because on 20 September 1911, the Olympic was involved in a collision with the Royal Navy Warship HMS Hawke in the Brambles Channel near Southampton. The two ships were close enough to each other that Olympic's motion drew the Hawke into her after starboard side, causing extensive damage to the liner - both above and below its waterline (HMS Hawke was fitted with a re-inforced "ram" below the waterline, purposely designed to cause maximum damage to enemy ships). An Admiralty inquiry assigned blame to the Olympic, despite numerous eye-witness accounts to the contrary.

In 1864, motivated by their exclusion from German Confederation on the basis of language the Danes under General Læssøe proved a point by narrowly winning a hard-fought victory over the Prussians at the Battle of Dybbøl.

Denmark wins the Second Schleswig WarAlthough Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia had larger forces in reserve, they were needed to repel an unexpected attack by their erstwhile ally, the Austrians.

Ironically, it was Læssøe's actions taken after the First Schleswig War that had fatally undermined Bismarck's project for the formation of a German Empire. Seriously wounded at Isted1, the iconic status of Læssøe's prestige enabled the Danish elite to suppress the rise of parliamentarism. Instead under a strong national leadership, they convinced the British and French that Bismarck wanted to annex the whole of Jutland, Sjaelland and the smaller island to project greater naval power. This was of course highly disingenuous. Because in 1460 King Christian I of Denmark guaranteed the nobles of Holstein that Schleswig and Holstein should remain "forever undivided" as they accepted him as their ruler. By the 19th century that was the main argument why the Danish attempts to fully integrated Schleswig into the Danish state were invalid, while that would weaken or dissolve the union of Schleswig and Holstein.

With Britain and France already on high alert, the defeat at Dybbøl was enough to encourage the Austrians to step-in before the Russians did so. This timing was extremely fortuitous because in a few years, the French were forced to commit thirty thousand troops to Mexico, and would have been in a much weakened position had they been forced to confront a German Empire.

April 17

In 1941, from intercepted Japanese signals that repeatedly used the tell-tale keyword Icebreaker Marshall Stalin learns that his master plan for the Soviet invasion of Europe has been betrayed to the Nazis.

Icebreaker is betrayedIntent upon using Nazi Germany as a proxy (the "Icebreaker") against the West, Stalin had provided significant material and political support to Adolf Hitler, while at the same time preparing the Red Army to "liberate" the whole of Europe from Nazi occupation. Keen observers of the Marshall had been taken by surprise by the level of trust that he had shown in the Fuehrer, not only was this out of character, but it was diametrically opposed to his entire system of thinking.

But of course it was a ploy and Stalin's future plans were based on his own calculations rather than trust. Since there was no universal military draft in the Soviet Union until 1939, by enacting the universal military draft on 1 September 1939, and by changing the minimum age for joining the Red Army from 21 to 18, Stalin triggered a mechanism which achieved a dramatic increase in the military strength of the Red Army. Therefore the Red Army had to enter a war by 1 September 1941 or the drafted soldiers would have to be released from service.

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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.