In 1866, on this day Ministerpräsident Otto von Bismarck was assassinated by a German student called Ferdinand Cohen-Blind as he walked across the Unter den Linden boulevard in Berlin near the Russian Embassy. Bismarck's death occurred later in the evening in the presence of King Wilhelm I and the King's physician Gustav von Lauer. Ferdinand Cohen-Blind committed suicide after being taken to police headquarters by members of the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Guard.
Otto von Bismarck dies earlierAt the high point of his political career, the "Iron Chancellor" had been killed by a radical democrat who desperately wanted to stop the possible outbreak of a war between Prussia and Austria.
Even if it was the end for Bismarck the assassination was certainly not the end of his expansionist policies. However his more cautious successors favoured the peaceful absorption of most of the South German States into the North German Confederation. And instead, their focus turned to faster colonial expansion, ensuring that the new Germany would have its "place in the sun". This is a companion article to the Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia dies earlier blog post.
In 2009, the eleventh Star Trek movie bombed at the box office principally due to a serious miscommunication that had occured during production.
"Kirk Prime" controversy causes Trekkies to boycott Movie #11A fresh cast led by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto had sought to remodel the characters in the swashblucking tradition of Horatio Hornblower, a concept conceived during the original pilot in 1966. For example, Pine sought to act Kirk's characteristics of "humor, arrogance and decisiveness", but not William Shatner's speech pattern, which he felt would have bordered on imitation.
However Quinto went a step further and befriended Leonard Nimoy, seeking to explore the Vulcan "notion of how to evolve in a responsible way and how to evolve in a respectful way. I think those are all things that we as a society, and certainly the world, could implement". So much so, that Nimoy would agree to reprises his role as an elder Spock, referred to in the ending credits as "Spock Prime".
Director JJ Abrams and the writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman met Nimoy at his house; writer Roberto Orci recalled the actor gave a "Who are you guys and what are you up to? vibe" before being told how important he was to them. He was silent, and Nimoy's wife Susan Bay told the creative team he had remained in his chair after their conversation, emotionally overwhelmed by his decision after turning down many opportunities to revisit the role. Had Nimoy disliked the script, production would have been delayed for it to be rewritten. He was "genuinely excited" by the script's scope and its detailing of the characters' backstories, saying, "We have dealt with [Spock being half-human, half-Vulcan], but never with quite the overview that this script has of the entire history of the character, the growth of the character, the beginnings of the character and the arrival of the character into the Enterprise crew". Abrams said "it was surreal to direct him as Spock, because what the hell am I doing there? This guy has been doing it for forty years".
But Shatner wanted to share Nimoy's major role, and did not want a cameo,Yet the real surrealism would follow. Because Orci and Kurtzman wrote a scene for William Shatner, where old Spock gives his younger self a recorded message by Kirk from the previous timeline. "It was basically a Happy Birthday wish knowing that Spock was going to go off to Romulus, and Kirk would probably be dead by the time," and it would have transistioned into Shatner reciting "Where no man has gone before". But Shatner wanted to share Nimoy's major role, and did not want a cameo, despite his character's death in Star Trek Generations.
Orci and Kurtzman gave an assurance that the character of Kirk Prime would be written into the plot, which Shatner misunderstood to be an offer of a serious role in the movie. When it became clear that a voice over was planned to run with the credits, Shatner released a furious tirade in a Youtube movie, Watch William Shatner Responds to Star Trek Director JJ Abrams forcing Trekkies to boycott the movie out of respect for William Shatner.
In 1954, the 56-day battle of Dien Bien Phu ended with the destruction of Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh guerrilla forces by tactical nuclear weapons supplied to the French defenders by the U.S. military at the order of President Dwight D. Eisenhower (pictured).
Siege Lifted at Dien Bien PhuPresident Eisenhower, who in 1953 had successfully pressed the recalcitrant North Korean government to accept an armistice in the Korean conflict by threatening to use nuclear weapons if Pyongyang did not agree, had concluded that providing the French with a nuclear option was the only way to prevent their defeat, which he believed would inevitably lead to a Communist takeover of all of "Indochina".
The use of nuclear weapons at Dien Bien Phu was a military success, allowing France to reassert control over its rebellious Asian colonies. It was, however, a political burden for the United States, whose role in the matter was an open secret. Throughout the Third World, America was increasingly seen as all too willing to use nuclear weapons against non-white adversaries, even as it found excuses to avoid a nuclear strike against the white-ruled Soviet Union. The fact that the Soviets had their own nuclear arsenal was not seen as convincing disproof of this charge, since the U.S. had enjoyed a nuclear monopoly from 1945 to 1949 but had not, even during the Berlin crisis of 1948, used atomic bombs against the USSR.
In 2009, twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Japanese citizens celebrated re-unification. And yet the anniversary reopened an old debate. Should President Harry S. Truman have prevented the Soviet invasion of the north island by ordering unrestricted civilian - or even atomic - bombing in the summer of 1945?
This Awful ThingTruman had been vice president for just eighty-two days when President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. And so Truman was unexpectedly propelled into the Presidency less than three months into Roosevelt's fourth term, telling reporters "Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now. I don't know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me".
"Operated on this morning. Diagnosis not yet complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations. Local press release necessary as interest extends great distance. Dr. Groves pleased. He returns tomorrow. I will keep you posted". ~ Secretary of War's Fateful telegramAnd at the Potsdam Conference which ran from July 16 to August 2, 1945 events began to move fast, too fast for a President who had not even been taken into his predecessor's confidence. Because even as Truman and Churchill argued with Stalin over the joint occupation of Germany, it occured to Truman that a similiar argument over Japan was over the horizon. Perhaps it no longer made sense to encourage the Soviet Union to declare war on Japan, surely, there would be a heavy price to pay. And then a historic opportunity arrived in the form of a telegram from Secretary of War Henry Stimson ~ "Operated on this morning. Diagnosis not yet complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations. Local press release necessary as interest extends great distance. Dr. Groves pleased. He returns tomorrow. I will keep you posted". The Trinity Test had been successful, and suddenly America had the capability to detonate an atomic bomb and potentially bring the war in the Far East to an early conclusion, perhaps on exclusively American terms. The capability, but not the desire. Because resistance would arrive from an unexpected quarter, the American military.
Probably the person closest to Truman, from the military standpoint, was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Leahy, who deplored the use of the bomb and strongly advised Truman not to use it, "Mr President, we will regret this day. The United States will suffer, for war is not to be waged on women and children". Due to Leahy's intervention, the advice of service chiefs was sought in utmost secrecy, and their judgement was universally against dropping the bomb. Chief of the U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, Ernest J. King, stated that the naval blockade and prior bombing of Japan in March of 1945, had rendered the Japanese helpless and that the use of the atomic bomb would have been both unnecessary and immoral. Also, the opinion of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was that "The Admiral took the opportunity of adding his voice to those insisting that Japan had been defeated before the Trinity Test". General Eisenhower urged Truman, in a personal visit, not to use the atomic bomb. Eisenhower's assessment was "Its not necessary to hit them with this awful thing . . . to use the atomic bomb, to kill and terrorize civilians, without even attempting [negotiations], would be a double crime".
And so the Manhattan project, staffed by 200,000 scientists and engineers, and secretly financed to the tune of $2bn without congressional oversight, was a white elephant. Operation Downfall proceeded with the invasion of the southernmost main Japanese island, Kyushu, with the recently captured island of Okinawa used as a staging area. And the direst warnings of the "pro-bomb" faction led by Churchill and Truman proved untrue. Far from the 1,200,000 casualties predicted by Churchill, in fact less than 50,000 Americans died in the invasion of Japan. And yet there was a price to pay. The Allied invasion could not begin before October / November, and by then the Soviets were ready too. As Truman had predicted, the Soviet Union required a quid-pro-quo, the "temporary" occupation of the northern island.
In 1941, on this day Radio Moscow announced the surrender of the last remaining German troops in Warsaw.
In 2009, the science magazine Current Biology dropped a bombshell on the world biological sciences community: while studying the habits of the basking shark, a group of biologists from the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries had found tangible evidence of the existence of a sea serpent -- a creature thought for centuries to be strictly the figment of sailors' imaginations.
On, this day in 2008, the Federal German Defense Ministry sent additional hazmat teams to Egypt to expedite the disposal of the chemical weapons found at Cleopatra's tomb six days earlier.
In 1987, a team of reporters discovers President Hart in a compromising situation with a good-looking blonde aboard his private yacht. The blonde will turn out to be Donna Rice, whom the President had met at a New Year's Eve Party the previous December. In a twist seemingly too good to be true from the newsmen's standpoint, the boat bears the name Monkey Business. The story appears in the evening editions of both the Miami Herald and the Washington Post, as well as on the nightly network news programs, and will be picked up the following day by papers throughout America and in foreign countries.
Hart's recklessness in allowing himself to be caught after publicly daring the press to do so proves shocking even to many of his strongest supporters. Previously, he had seemed all but assured of renomination; within days, however, pundits and top Democratic Party officials are openly speculating that he may be forced to drop out of the presidential race. In addition, several Democrats who had previously decided not to challenge the incumbent now begin reconsidering their options; among them are Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, Jesse Jackson, and Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis.
In 1999, Sir Lance du Lac sends word to King Arthur II in Wales that more assistance is needed to penetrate the Swiss defenses. His planes, although effective at bombing, are unable to transport enough troops across Switzerland's mountains to maintain more than a toehold in the Central European Empire's capital. He needs Arthur to obtain more transport aircraft from the Commonwealth allies, who have been reluctant to provide them to du Lac without assurance from Great Britain's monarch that they will be paid for the use. Unfortunately, the message to King Arthur is intercepted by Queen Gwen, who destroys it. When a servant sees her burning the paper, she says, 'The King is here to rest, not to tend to the whims of those who serve him.'
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright returns to the Nebraska headquarters of the troubled Kansas siege with the bad news that the new governor of Missouri intends to provide no support to them. Lt. Colonel Theodore Monteith tells him that there are similar rumblings from Nebraska's leadership. 'It's not looking good, Mark,' Monteith says. 'We need some kind of concrete victory against Simpson, something that will wipe out the stain of the Missouri massacre. I've got something in mind - but it means you're going back into Kansas. I won't order you to do it, but I'd like you to volunteer.' Wainwright, weary as he was of this war, nodded.
In 1997, America's surviving Constitutionalist government officially surrenders to the British, Egyptian and Chinese allies in Yorktown, Virginia. It is a symbolic surrender, since fighting had already stopped and the Constitutionalists had lost power in most of the country long before President Ralph Shephard killed himself.
In 1985, one day before a scheduled appearance at a wreath-laying ceremony at a German military cemetery at Bitburg on the fortieth anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe intended to demonstrate the strength of the friendship between modern West Germany and the United States, President Gary Hart is informed that the chosen cemetery contains the graves of 49 members of the Nazi SS.
It is a major embarrassment. The President cancels the visit, opting instead to visit a former concentration camp. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is humiliated and furious, and the German media play up the President's decision not to come to the cemetery as 'an insult to the German people,' in the words of one editorial.
'When,' the same opinion piece asks, 'will the Germans of today cease to be punished for the sins of their ancestors?' Meanwhile, at home and in Israel, the fact that Hart had even considered visiting what Elie Wiesel describes as 'a ceremony to honor mass murderers' ignites waves of protest.
In 1763, Ottawa chief Pontiac, having been lobbied by Mlosh for 5 years, joins the Iroquois Confederation. He sees the coming unification of North America and wants to make sure that his people aren?t left behind. The joining of the Ottawa to the Confederation prompts many smaller native nations to seek entrance to the Confederation, swelling its importance.
In 1985, with the teenage Patience Redding in tow, Chelsea Perkins and Debra Morris find a witch that Miss Morris knows in the future and attempt to sort everything out. All the talk of witchcraft fascinates Redding, who makes a vow to become one herself. Chelsea attempts to persuade her otherwise, saying, 'You have no idea how unglamorous it all is.'
In 2003, in the middle of performing the Broadway comedy The Play Wot I Wrote, Roger Moore collapses and dies of a heart attack. The former James Bond actor's funeral was attended by all the remaining Bondsmen: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.
In 1969, child actress Nora Kuzma was born in Steubenville, Ohio. Her mother moved the family to Los Angeles after divorcing her husband in the 70's, and concentrated on getting her children into the movies. Young Nora caught the eye of a couple of commercial directors, and her career took off from there. She became a B-grade sci-fi staple until her breakout role in Blade as a vampire security chief.
In 1968, piano-playing British rocker Reginald Dwight thought about changing his rather staid name to something more glamorous, and came up with Reggie Dee, under which he recorded his songs Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man and Honky Cat. His flamboyant style and rather scandalous personal life as an out-of-the-closet homosexual made him a top-flight rock-star in the '70s and '80s.
In 1960, Tsar Nicholas III appoints Leonid Brezhnev his Ambassador to the Soviet States of America. Brezhnev had flirted with American-supported communists in his youth, and the Tsar wanted him out of the country because of his popularity with these groups. Brezhnev, once he saw the reality of communism, was put off by it and became an ardent Russian capitalist.
In 1954, in spite of stiff political opposition, NATO allows the Soviet Union to join. Although their presence in the alliance creates tension for a few years, the tie to western Europe does open them up when reformers gain control of the Kremlin and Politburo in the late 50's. This gesture, hard-fought at first, is often given credit for avoiding a Cold War between the east and the west that might have lasted many years.
In 1812, poet Robert Browning was born in London, England, to a wealthy banker of the same name. Browning was the very picture of the tragic poet pining for his love, since he lost his heart to Elizabeth Barrett, who married American author Edgar Allan Poe.
In 2011, the fourth movie in the popular Spider-Man series was released, with actor Toby McGuire repeating his dual role as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst returning as Mary Jane Watson. Dylan Baker costarred as Dr. Curtis Connors (whose CGI-aided transformation into the monstrous Lizard and then back to human form would win an Oscar in the special effects category), John Malkovich as the Vulture and Anne Hathaway as Mary Jane's romantic rival Gwen Stacy.
Release of fourth Spider-Man movieCreative differences between producer Sam Raimi and Sony Pictures nearly threatened to derail the film, as producer Sam Raimi feared he could not meet the release deadline without compromising the film. Ultimately, however, the disputes were resolved, with Raimi scaling back the script by eliminating, among other things, a planned appearance of the villain Venom. That character, along with another longtime Spider-Man foe, the Sandman, was instead slated to appear in a fifth, as yet unproduced film, although actors McGuire and Dunst have hinted that they are not interested in appearing in another Spider-Man movie, suggesting that their roles may need to be recast.
In 1864, on this day the commander of First Corps  of the Army of Northern Virginia Lt Gen James Longstreet was killed by friendly fire on the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness.
An installement of the Federal's Lost Cause thread.
Federal Lost Cause Part 2: Death of Old War HorseBy incredible coincidence he was accidentally shot by his own men only four miles away from the place where General Jackson was injured under identical circumstances a year earlier . And if the demise of the South Carolinian was a setback, then the timing appeared a disaster for the South. Because panic was fairly underway in Hancock's II Corps and Longstreet might well have been able to force Grant to retreat back across the Rapidan. Instead, the Yankees disengaged and headed south.
But as events developed, it didn't matter. Because three weeks later General Jackson won an improbable field victory at the Battle of North Anna and the electorate moved firmly into the Peace Camp. Months later, General McClellan edged Lincoln at the Polls, and the Civil War was at an end. Dedicating the victory to Longstreet, Jackson praised his colleague as "the best corps commander in the conflict on either side" . Perhaps unfairly, by comparison Jackson drew a lot of harsh criticism in the post-war era, particularly for his poor performance at Antietam. But Longstreet was held up high as the standard bearer of the Confederate forces, basking in the glory of what was after all a stalemate brought to a climax by the Yankee electoral cycle.
In 1865, on this day Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, Judah Benjamin and the Cabinet Ministers of the Confederate Government-in-Exile arrived in Granada where they received a warm, sympathetic welcome from General William Walker on behalf of the slaver's republic he had established in Nicaragua nine years before.
Due SouthKeen to avoid a trial which would re-open the dispute about the legal right of secession, Abraham Lincoln had decided to permit the rebel leadership to make their escape. And to ease reconstruction, he ordered Union forces to allow over one hundred thousand die hard supporters to head due south and join Jeff Davis et al in Nicaragua.
History would judge that the avoidance of a potentially messy end to the Civil War was achieved by cynically moving the institution of slavery offshore. But at the time, Lincolns supporters would argue that the President was merely following his regular policies by shaping his decision-making around the need to preserve the Union at all costs.
As Lincoln had shrewdly predicted, the pathetic remant government of Davis came to naught. But the flimsy state created by Walker, and sustained by Napoleon III, received a boost that would spur the next generation to seek out Anglo-British imperial support and carve up Central America.
The problem of dealing with the Confederate successor state would be inherited by President Theodore Roosevelt during the construction of the Panama Canal. And the angry Anglo-French investors who had just funded the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal.
In 1983, the PLM captured the Soviet government naval base at the Black Sea port of Odessa, seizing tons of ammunition and equipment and thwarting the Kremlin's hopes of reinforcing besieged Red Army troops in the Ukraine via amphibious landing.
Fall of OdessaPost-Cold War historians would later cite the rebel victory at Odessa as the point where the tide of the Russian civil war began to turn against the Communists once and for all; the events at Odessa seriously damaged morale in all sectors of the Soviet regular armed forces, and in the late stages of the war Red Army commanders found themselves increasingly plagued by desertions. By 1986 some 200 Red Air Force pilots had gone over to the PLM side and fifty Soviet naval personnel had been executed on suspicion of mutiny.
By the time the war ended in 1987 only a handful of combat troops were still fighting on the Communist side-- the rest, with the conspicuous exception of a shrinking cadre of hard-line generals, had all chosen to throw in their lot with the insurgents. In fact, the very week of the final Communist surrender to the PLM one of the few remaining Russian naval warships still under Kremlin control was torpedoed by a rebel submarine in the Baltic; the submarine's captain would later be appointed chief of staff for the post-civil war Russian navy.
In 1941, on this day the British Government lost a vote of confidence by just three votes triggering the immediate resignation of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Anthony Eden.
Churchill's Government falls after Greek MisadventureEden had embarked on a long tour of the Middle East in a futile attempt to save the Balkans from Axis Occupation. In fact the decision to overrule military advice and intervene in the Balkans was Churchill's alone. Nevertheless both Field Marshall Sir John Dill and Commander-in-Chief (Middle East) Sir Archibald Wavell were both forced from position after the failure of the mission, a savage outcome that soured relations between the political and military leadership. First Eden, and shortly afterwards Churchill were on their way too.
"The decision to go to Greece was a political one and from the point of view of a professional it was a military nonsense" ~ Lt-Col BelchamOn returning to London, Eden was required to provide the House of Commons with a "full and as clear an account as I could of the events of the last two or three months", but instead gave a disasterous performance that required Churchill's intervention. "Nothing can excuse a disaster. It was due to very woolly thinking before it was launched" ~ Gen FreybergAnd his claim that the coup in Belgrade was orchestrated by British intelligence was exposed as a desperate lie to extract some value from the whole dismal episode. Worse, a golden opportunity to end the North Africa Campaign had been thrown away by the transfer of Allies forces to Greece.
"[The Balkan nations] are such a poor lot that they would only add to our military commitments and we should gain nothing". ~ Maj-Gen KennedyChurchill claimed that "everything in human power was done by us and that our honour as a nation is clear". Shortly afterwards the House voted on the motion "That this House approves the policy of His Majesty's Government in sending help to Greece and declares its confidence that our operations in the Middle East and in all other theatres of war will be pursued by the Government with the utmost vigour".
Having warned that Balkan states faced the isolated defeat of Scandinavian nations a year before, it now appeared that another fall of Government might in the offing after the defeat in the House of Commons. Because the German propaganda image of the Luftwaffe bombing the unprotected Acropolis (pictured) struck at the heart of the confidence issue, that the future of civilization was imperilled by the accident-prone leadership of Winston Churchill. His successor, Lord Halifax would sign an armistice with Hitler that would permit the Germans to concentrate on a common enemy, the Soviet Union.
In 2002, on this day the former head of South Africa's Chemical and Bacterioligical Warfare (CBW) unit, Daan Goosen offered the FBI the entire collection of pathogens developed by his research group during the Apartheid era.
Bioweapons for SaleThe pricetag was a mere five million dollars in cash and nineteen U.S. passports for his associated and their dependents. As a gesture of goodwill, Goosen provided a vial of genetically altered bacteria that he had freeze-dried and hidden inside a toothpaste tube for secret passage to the United States. A retired CIA officer couriered the microbes eight thousand miles for the drop-off with the FBI.
The FBI refused the offer and skeptical agents turned the matter over to South African authorities, who twice investigated Goosen but never charged him. Yet during this critical period, Goosen was tricked by agents of Saddam Hussein's regime masquerading as FBI Officers.
The program known as "Project Coast" has been commissioned in 1981 by P.W. Botha as an offensive weapon for operations in Angola against Soviet-backed SWAPO, Cuban and Angolan troops. "The weapons programs were ostensibly terminated, yet clearly they weren't able to destroy everything," said Jeffrey M. Bale of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, who carried out a study of South Africa's weapons programs. "The fact that Goosen and others are providing samples and being approached by foreign parties suggests that these things never really went away".
These CBW now entered the arsenal of Saddam Hussein on the eve of the Second Gulf War. And US President Bush's "State of the Union" assertion that Saddam had obtained weapons of mass destruction from Africa was suddenly transformed from a ridiculous falsehood to a cold hard fact.
In 1915, B-Movie director George O. Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
B-Movie director Orson Welles born by Jake DominguezThrough a nearly 40-year career, Welles produced over 450 motion pictures, the vast majority of which were obscure, low-budget science fiction yarns or monster thrillers. After his October 30, 1938 broadcast adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds for the CBS radio network, Welles quickly realized the potential of fantastic fictional concepts and creatures to thrill and overwhelm the populace. He quickly moved to Hollywood where he convinced RKO to fund his first and most-acclaimed cinematic 'achievement', Venusian Kane. Despite the rather pithy story of a man from another world's struggle to adapt to Earth society, the film featured a number of directorial innovations that quickly placed it among the most well-critiqued films of 1941.
However, the success of the film seems to have wilted Welles' ambitions to transform Hollywood's creative process, and he soon became comfortable churning out an average of a dozen low-grade films per year for a multitude of lesser-known film studios, chief among them American-International Pictures, for whom he directed the cult classic I Was A Teenaged Biker Werewolf in 1962. Toward the end of his life, as the B-movie market dried up with the growing popularity of the expensive genre movie, Welles moved on to performing voiceover work for popular cartoons and television programs, as well as hosting the Saturday Night horror film showcase program Creature Features for a nearly 10-year stint.
Welles died of a heart attack in 1985, and at his own request was memorialized only by having his image and voice inserted in the role of a doomed citizen in the then in-production Japanese film Godzilla vs. Biollante.
In 1613, a group of British colonists in the Massachusetts Bay region of New England established what is today the city of Boston.
In 2015, on this day the last remnants of what had been the British Army's Ulster contingent left Belfast.
In 1994, the Egyptian military surrendered Madagascar to the South African forces of President Terreblanche. With defeat coming so quickly for the allies in both the African and American theatres of war, gloom lowered over the heads of state in Cairo, Peking and London, and they considered surrender to the right-wing machine of Terreblanche and American President Ralph Shephard.
In 1985, Chelsea Perkins and Debra Morris run into a young girl who is being bullied in the streets of London and decide to teach the bullies a little lesson. A small spell from Miss Morris sends them running with small dogs from all around the neighborhood yapping at their heels. Chelsea helps the girl gather her things back together and is a little shocked when the girl introduces herself as, 'Redding, Patience Redding.'
In 1940, Comrade John Steinbeck wins the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Grapes of Wrath, a story of migrant workers in southern Europe. Banned in the monarchies, it became one of the most widely-read books in the western hemisphere. Comrade Steinbeck was even nominated for a Nobel Prize before the Swedish monarchy stepped in and squashed the enthusiasm over this 'peasant writer.'
In 1937, Greater Zionist Resistance fighters destroyed the Hindenburg, the flagship of the German Underground's civilian air fleet. The Hindenburg was a passenger jet built with technology from 1968 smuggled through to the G.U. The loss of this jet was a major propaganda blow to the G.U., who had been touting their air craft as invincible.
In 1915, as their minds break from the pressure of the stray Kainku telepathy, Dr. Argus McCloud and his crew work feverishly on a way to extend the power of the neural neutralizer he developed to let them stay near the alien race. Just as they are losing control, Dr. McCloud hits on a substance in the Kainku water itself that allows them to handle each other's thoughts; with this ingredient mixed in with his neutralizer, Dr. McCloud is able to restore sanity on his shuttle.
In the Dreaming, Anansi returns to the people and spins his web once more out into the heavens. The lost ones have been crying out to him, and he has pitied them at last. With the new webs in the heavens, the lost ones rejoin the people.
at the start of the Moon When Ponies Shed by the End of the White Man's War, War Leader His-Horse-Is-Crazy of the Ogala Lakota accepts the surrender of General George Crook at Forest Canyons, Nebraska. The white man's camp, while well-armed and filled with warriors, had been suffering over the long winter by lack of food and water, with forage parties being neatly cut down by the Lakota besiegers. Late in the winter, the white men had begun sending unarmed parties of women and children to gather food and water, prompting His-Horse-Is-Crazy, privately amused at the cleverness of his enemy, to decree these not be harmed.
However, what supplies these managed to collect were insufficient, and the white man sent messengers to ask peace before the heat began to touch the territory. At the ceremony, George Crook, clearly familiar with the customs of the Lakota, bowed in submission and presented his very long steel knife and fine flat warbonnet, decorated with gold, to the War Leader. His-Horse-Is-Crazy was touched by the gesture and ordered that all whites be fed, and provisioned with one horse for every woman-and-two-children, as well as with enough supplies for the entire band to be able to leave the territory. This was done, and the sheer number of weapons left behind was found to be enough to arm a tribe twice the size of the gathered Lakota. However, the news of the victory swelled the numbers of willing warriors from the Plains People, guaranteeing the dominance of the Ogala Lakota in the area.
In 1891, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson, hearing the news that Missouri's new governor doesn't wish to participate in the siege of Kansas, pulls his men away from the Missouri border and sends them north to Nebraska. He also sends a telegram of congratulations to the new governor, Arnold Morgan, and tells him that Kansas has no designs on those who honor its sovereignty. This telegram throws a pall over Governor Morgan's reception of Major Mark Wainwright, who tries to argue that Simpson's Kansas volunteers mean to spread their rebellion across the midwest, and thus endanger Missouri. Morgan shows the telegram to Wainwright, saying, 'Sir, this gives the lie to that rather bold declaration. I mean to make peace with my neighbors.' Wainwright leaves the meeting downhearted, seeing the chances of the Union to win this war dwindling away.
On this day in 2007, the owner of the loft which was the scene of the Giraffe In A Loft incident was admitted to a London psychiatric hospital after an emotional breakdown in which he claimed to have been accosted by talking mangoes, one of which was allegedly dressed as a pirate and after his 'booty'.
In 1987, in a huge payoff scandal, Jim Bakker retains his position as the head of the Praise The Lord network. The board of directors of the network reportedly received millions from Bakker, and the stain of corruption pushed the ratings for the network into the cellar. In 1990, they had no choice but to declare bankruptcy.
In 1882, Congress refused to bow to racist pressure and shot down a bill that would have halted Chinese immigration into the U.S. for 10 years. This changed the face of the west coast as more and more Chinese came across the Pacific and settled in America and helped build the once-wild west. The cultural clash between the white-bread eastern US and the Asian-influenced west led to the riots of the 1960's that culminated in 1968's Equal Citizenship Act.
In 1856, emigre psychiatrist Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg. After visiting London during his college years, he decided to emigrate and become a citizen of the British Empire, where his theories of the psyche and id met with a receptive audience in Victorian England. Rumors that Queen Victoria herself underwent his brand of therapy were silenced, although she did appear happier after meeting with the doctor than she had at any point since her husband died.
In 907, the emperor of the Moguls, Babur, is defeated by a combined force of Afghans and Bengals at the Battle of Gaghra. This stinging rebuke of Islam is not received well by the other Islamic powers of the region, and the Afghans and Bengals are nearly exterminated in the retaliative strike.
In 1979, on this fateful day in Los Angeles, James Earl Carter was assassinated by a thirty-five year old Ohio-born unemployed American drifter called Raymond Lee Harvey. The President had been all set to deliver a speech to a predominantly Hispanic audience at the Civic Center Mall when eight shots had rung out in rapid succession.
The Assassination of the Georgia GiantLAPD managed to arrest both the assassin, and a gang of Mexican hit men armed with sniper rifles. In fact, an investigation ordered by President Mondale subsequently discovered that the original plan was for Harvey to simply act as a diversion, but to increase the odds of success, this was upgraded and his starter pistol replaced with a live weapon. And because of his successful shot, the Mexicans had attempted to escape, but had been apprehended anyway.
With the Presidential election just twelve months away, the conspiracy threw the campaign into confusion. And of course the multiple connections with John F. Kennedy had implications for the campaign of his younger brother Teddy.
In 1822, Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE the fictionalized anti-hero of the Flashman Papers was born on this day to H. Buckley
Flashman, Esq., Ashby, and Hon. Alicia Paget.
Birth of FlashmanThe author Thomas Hughes introduced him as a notorious childhood bully in his 1857 classic Tom Brown's School Days in which the character was expelled for drunkenness. George MacDonald Fraser later decided to write Flashman's memoirs, portraying him an "illustrious Victorian soldier": experiencing many 19th-century wars and adventures and rising to high rank in the British Army, acclaimed as a great soldier, while remaining by his unapologetic self-description "a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward-and oh yes, a toady".
Naturally, when the 1971 mini-series of TBSC was a blockbuster success, screenplay writers proposed a continuation. And their search for a tall dark actor led them straight to Christopher Lee. The initial screenings were a huge success and over more than fifteen years all twelve volumes were turned into movies. For decades it framed Lee's acting career, typecast as "the man who played Flashman". But his desire to shoot horror movies was at least placated by his casting as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies.
In 1914, on this day American film and stage actor Tyrone Edmund Power, Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1930s to the 1950s Power appeared in dozens of films, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads. His better-known films include The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes, The Black Rose, and Captain from Castile.
Happy Endings 22In fact, he had over-strained himself and had difficulty accepting the transition into middle age. On November 15, 1958 he was admitted to hospital suffering from acute chest pains. But fortunately, he recovered. This health scare vindicated his recent decision to turn down another strenuous role in Solomon and Sheba.
Even though he was only one year into his third marriage, his relationship with Debbie Ann Minardos had fundamentally changed him. And the prospect of the upcoming birth of their child (a son Tyrone William Power, IV) made him exercise caution. And ultimately, he had allowed himself to accept his wife's sound advice - to slow down. But to the outside world, all that was known at that time was that Power intended to move into character roles. Still only forty-four, he went on to star in some of his most memorable roles, continuing a long career into the late nineteen seventies.
In 1883, Field Marshal Archibald Wavell architect of the Allied conquest of North Africa born in Colchester, Essex. As the professional Head of Middle East Command he oversaw the successful prosecution of Operation Compass. And by early 1941 the Italian Army had been routed and Allied forces were the masters of North Africa.
The Oyster Clams UpBut events in Greece now conspired against him. Because Churchill desperately wanted to send several divisions of his experienced troops into Greece. During their strategic planning meetings, he was enraged by Wavell's long silences (King George VI nicknamed him "the oyster" after a sticky audience). Of course Churchill was thinking along the right lines, using Hitler's megalomania as a means of trapping the Nazi beast into exhaustion.
However, in practical military terms, Wavell was right to "Clam Up", Churchill was wrong and somehow common sense prevailed. Because surely British support would not change the outcome in Greece but it could reverse the hard fought victory in North Africa. And ultimately, Churchill could not afford to sanction that loss of his solitary victory.
And so Wavell continued his invasion of Libya. By the end of the year, Britain was the master of North Africa, and Nazi Germany the master of a similar sized space of Soviet Russia. Both nations then signed an armistice followed by a "spheres of interest" agreement. Just weeks later, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and the United States joined a ferocious, must regional, war in the Far East.
In 1991, the shock reverberating across the nation began to abate somewhat with the greatly reassuring news that Senator Robert Dole of Kansas had agreed to serve as Veep in the one-day old Quayle Administration.
A Heartbeat Away, Part 2Dole joined the United States Army's Enlisted Reserve Corps to fight in World War II. Dole became a second lieutenant in the Army's 10th Mountain Division. In April 1945, while engaged in combat near Castel d'Aiano in the Apennine mountains southwest of Bologna, Italy, Dole was hit by German machine gun fire in his upper right back. His right arm was also badly injured. When fellow soldiers saw the extent of his injuries all they thought they could do was to "give him the largest dose of morphine they dared and write an "M" for "morphine" on his forehead in his own blood, so that nobody else who found him would give him a second, fatal dose". Dole had to wait nine hours on the battlefield before being taken to the 15th Evacuation Hospital. His right arm was paralyzed; he often carried a pen in his right hand to signal that Dole could not shake hands with that arm. He was three times decorated for heroism, receiving two Purple Hearts for his injuries, and the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor for his attempt to assist a downed radio man.
And so being a man of honour and sense of duty, for the good of the nation Dole had graciously agreed to serve under a man thirty years younger than him and in a position he had sought fifteen years before under Gerald Ford. And maybe to rebuild his reputation from the damage done during the 1988 election, ironically enough, by the winning candidate, George H.W. Bush who had died during an emergency cardioversion just twenty-four hours before.
Because despite having the support of President Ronald Reagan, Bush had managed to lose the Iowa Caucus and only just narrowly won the New Hampshire primary by pledging a "kinder and gentler nation" and smearing Dole as a tax raiser. In office, he dispensed with these cheap lies and sought to establish a new world order with America as a hyperpower, and he also raised taxes (despite pledging "read my lips - no new taxes"). Perhaps worse of all, during the campaign Bush had used every possibile photo opportunity to promote his own mobility, cruelly aware that Dole's war wounds preventing him from doing so as well. The day after his withdrawal from the race, Dole was gripped by a shattering epiphany, blaming himself for his defeat by "not being whole".
Still, Robert Dole picked himself up very quickly and soldiered on as old soldiers do. Only a few short months later, Quayle discovered that he was afflicted by blood disorder known as phlebitis, forcing him to withdraw from the upcoming presidential race. By then Dole had acted on his final election campaign pledge, to get George Bush from "stop lying about my record". That record had been set straight, and Dole looked comfortably on course for victory in 1992. It would be the last, and greatest mission of the World War Two Generation.
In 2688 AUC, the Ethiopian City of Addis Ababa fell to the East African Roman forces of the Legatus Legionis Badoglio.
Government ReshuffleEmperor Haille Selassie had fled the country three days before, clearing the way for the Ethiopian Empire to be formally annexed on May 7. Then on May 9, Caesar Emmanuel III was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia (the countries of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somaliland being merged into a single colony known as Roman East Africa (Africa Orientale Roma, or AOR).
Rome would taste a rare military success that had been conspiciously absent in recent years; "Emperor! Emperor! Salute the Emperor!" ("Imperatore! Imperatore! Salute Imperatore!") chanted the crowd when the Caesar, in full military uniform, showed himself on the balcony in the Palazzo Venezia.
Whilst Caesar maintained a dignified silence, General Mussolini unwisely did not, acting in what some might describe as a more flamboyant Latin manner (pictured top left) bordering on self-congratulatory exuberance. So when victory was announced by the General the Roman population reacted with jubilant abandon.
"People of Rome, people of the world, peace has been restored".From the balcony, the General proclaimed: "During the thirty centuries of our history, Rome has known many solemn and memorable moments -- this is unquestionably one of the most solemn, the most memorable. People of Rome, people of the world, peace has been restored". The crowds would not let him go - ten times they recalled the General to the balcony and cheered and waved while the boys of youth organizations sang the newly composed "Hymn of the Empire" (Inno dell'impero).
Caesar was less impressed with the General's victory, achieved frankly through the use of overwhelming force and also the cowardly use of mustard gas. Now observing some potential for confusion over who was actually "Il Duce" (the Leader), Caesar ordered that the General and his mistress, Clara Petacci were to be crucified and then hung upside down in the Palazzo Venezia (pictured right).
Whilst the remainder of the Romans were rejoicing, Haile Selassie was constructing a memorable letter of protest to stir up the Celts who would soon wage war with the Romans ~ "We have decided to bring to an end the most unequal, most unjust, most barbarous war of our age, and have chosen the road to exile in order that our people will not be exterminated and in order to consecrate ourselves wholly and in peace to the preservation of our empire's independence ... we now demand that [the Celtic allies] should decide not to recognize territorial extensions, or the exercise of an assumed sovereignty".
In 1945, on this day low flying American and British bombers released thousands of white doves over the City of Tokyo.
Peace breaks outAfter several days of behind-the-scenes negotiations the Gozenkaigi (Japanese leadership) decided, in principle, to accept generous proposals for conditional surrender. John Nance Garner had only recently entered the White House following the sudden demise of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The new President was the son of a former Confederate cavalry trooper, famously described by the British journalist Alistair Cooke as "the last public man linking America of the Civil War and America of the Nuclear Age". Garner had the gift of perspective resulting from a genuine insight into long-term history. Japan was ready to surrender, and there was absolutely no need to be a damn-fool and usher in apocalyptic weapons to bring the war to a speedy conclusion; best to set up a beacon of liberty to whom the post-war nations would rally.
In 1941, on this day Soviet troops in Poland began advancing on the final pockets of German resistance inside Warsaw.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.