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  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.
In 878, on this day the Great Heathen Army led by Guthrum the Old crushed the remaining forces of the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred of Wessex at the Battle of Ethandun.
Battle of EthandunDespite losing the Battle of Ashdown, the Danes still held the east and north east of England. For the previous three years, there was little beyond paying the invaders off that Alfred could do about the Danish menace to his Kingdom. Finally, in a desperate attempt to halt their advance into Wessex, Alfred had spent the winter summoning his West Saxon forces to the Somerset marsh of Athelney. With the thawing of spring, he marched the Army out of this protected area to force a decision at Ethandun.
Alfred who had almost been captured at the Battle of Chippenham, was killed at Ethandun. At the ensuing Treaty of Wedmore, Guthrum re-established good relations with the other Danish lords, including Ivar and Ubbe. This healed the internal disunity that the Danes had suffered since 875 and enabled the Danelaw Vikings to complete the conquest of Wessex.
In 2010, on this day film director Quentin Tarantino's aesthetically violent and stylistically excessive movie "Robin Hood: Outlaw" premiered in cinemas across Great Britain.
OutlawThe director had been captivated by Angus Donald's novel of the same name, in which rather than being the altruistic aristocrat of popular myth, the protagonist is portrayed as a medieval Don Corleone, the "Godfather of Sherwood Forest". "He is a dark and violent man. He does, however, have a code of honour".
The author (formerley a journalist who covered the war in Afganistan) explored the darker, more violent and much less palatable figure in the 1450 ballad entitled "Robin Hood and the Monk". And doubtless the bloodshed and violence reported from the caves of Tora Bora also influenced the narrative too.
The movie enabled lead star Russell Crowe to recapture the success of Gladiator, in which he had played Maximus Decimus Meridius, a single-minded, if perhaps not so ruthless killer.
In 1949, on this day the State of Palestine submitted an application of admission for membership of the United Nation at the two hundred and seventh plenary meeting held at Flushing Meadow, New York (also submitted was an urgent request for humanitarian assistance to resettle the seven hundred and fifty thousand Arab refugees who had fled the country during the recent conflict).
A Challenge IgnoredIt would be a busy day for the President of the plenary meeting, Mr Herbert Vere who received a third application in the form of a quasi-legal challenge signed by the surviving members of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, led by Chairman David Ben-Gurion.
In fact all of these leading Zionists were fugitives from Palestinian justice, charged with genocide by the the authorities in Amman. Because Ben-Gurion was the architect of the failed Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine known as Plan Dalet (or simply, Plan D) which destroyed four hundred Arab villages and displaced eighty percent of the pre-war population. Yet a single death would ruin the whole Zionist plan.
On June 11th their inspirational General, the American Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus (pictured) was accidendally shot in front of Central Front headquarters by an eighteen years old Palmachi Eliezer Linski because he failed to respond to a Hebrew security challenge. Click to watch Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) Part 10 Ben-Gurion suspected that elements in the Palmach conspired to kill Marcus so he would be replaced (the Haganah was comprised of several factions whose lack of consensus over strategy and tactics was one of the reasons for Marcus's appointment as commander for Jerusalem).
Yet members of World Jewish Congress placed the blame for the Zionist misadventure on Ben-Gurion himself. President Nahum Goldman wrote of Ben-Gurion ~ "I have often asked myself why this clever, brilliant man, ... why a man like that failed to see that without an agreement with the Arabs, Israel would have no long-term future .. Ben-Gurion is the man principally responsible for the anti-Arab policy, because it was he who moulded the thinking of generations of Jews".
The dispute would rage for decades. Right up until the time of his death in 1973, Ben Gurion would persist in his denial of the holocaust.
In 1984, the official Cuban government newspaper Granma announced the death of Fidel Castro in a U.S. air strike on Havana the previous night.
In 2015, on this day Britain's last monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, died of heart failure at Oxford University Hospital.
On this day in 1940, the Luftwaffe mounted its first air raid on the Belgian capital, Brussels.
In 1993, Vice-President Bill Bradley's healthcare working group releases its report, which calls for the establishment of a so-called "single-payer" national health care system, AmeriCare, loosely modeled on that of Canada.
The program is intended to cover everyone not already eligible for care under either Medicaid or Medicare.
Reaction is immediate, and, from the GOP, bitterly hostile. The Bradley group's plan is denounced as "socialist medicine" before the day is out, before anyone among its critics has read anything but a thumbnail summary of it.
In 1991, Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia announces he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992.
Many of his colleagues consider his decision to run a foolish one. In the wake of the Gulf War, President Kemp's re-election in is widely seen as inevitable. Nunn himself candidly admits that he had considered staying out for exactly that reason. "However," he explains, "I have reservations about a number of the President's positions, and decided he should not go unchallenged. At the very least, win or lose, this campaign will oblige the President to defend the positions he is taking on both domestic and international matters".
In 1937, politician and self-proclaimed moral guardian George D. Carlin was born in New York City. An Air Force veteran and graduate of Harvard Law School, Carlin was elected to Congress in 1966 on the Republican ticket, representing his adopted home of Shreveport, Louisiana. He quickly distinguished himself on several economic committees with special emphasis on the mass media, and after indicating to President Nixon in a lunch conference he did not intend to run for reelection, was appointed commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission. Carlin immediately began a vigorous rooting out of all broadcast programs deemed 'subversive' by Nixon's new Clean Minds, Clean America policy formulated in response to a perceived vast drug culture influence settling on the entertainment industry by the early 1970s. It was remarked that a program such as Laugh-In, which Nixon had appeared on only a few years before to court the youth vote, could no longer exist on America's airwaves during Carlin's reign. Carlin evoked widespread outrage in 1972 when giving a speech to Columbia University's Media Studies Center, when he outlined the concept of the Seven Words You Cannot Say On Television, before explicitly stating each word and giving an in-depth explanation of the reasons and benefits of government-mandated censorship. Carlin was unaware a television camera was taping the proceedings, and despite the speech being unable to be broadcast on any US station, the news spread quickly enough to bring condemnation of his perceived hypocrisy. Carlin resigned in 1973, not long before his patron, and the resulting years brought a backlash of free speech on the nation's airwaves, largely allowed by Gerald Ford's very relaxed administration appointees. By 1979, shows such as Saturday Night Live regularly featured multiple utterings of each of the seven verboten words, with no apparent damage to American civilization.
In 1999, Bern falls to Sir Lance du Lac's British soldiers. Emperor Pierre's prime minister, Otto Von Haufmann, officially surrenders the empire to du Lac, but pockets of imperial loyalists continue to fight throughout Europe. Sir Lance puts one of his knights, Sir David Tristan, in charge of the subjugation of Switzerland, and heads off to the Hungarian front, where Emperor Pierre was last seen. He is halted by the news that Queen Gwen has been arrested on charges of treason - he cannot believe what he has heard, and he rushes back to England to see what madness has enveloped the kingdom in his absence.
In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison authorizes the draft boards to begin setting up across the country, and young men over the age of 18 and under the age of 25 begin registering to fight in the "war to keep the US whole," as each draft board says to their potential draftees. When news of the draft reaches Kansas, 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson derides it, saying, "They have to force men to fight in their cause. We have plenty of men volunteering to fight them off".In spite of Simpson's bravado, the Farmer's Council running the rebel state seriously considers doing the same; they are only stopped by the realization that everyone who could be drafted is probably already in the front lines, serving with them. They realize that they are about to be overwhelmed by far superior numbers, and a deep panic sets in among them.
In 2005, Chelsea Perkins, Debra Morris and Patience Redding find that the Council of Wisdom now controls all of England, but is besieged by non-magical military from Scotland and Wales, as well as French forces from the continent. Something happened to force them into the open, and the consequences for witches across the world has been disastrous. Perkins and Morris are inclined to blame Redding for coming with them through time from 1985.
In 2002, former president Comrade John Anderson, continuing his pattern of mending fences, became the first American head of state to visit Cuba since its capitalist revolution in the 1950's. Comrade President Bernie Sanders made it clear that Comrade Anderson's visit didn't amount to endorsement of Batista's regime, but did take advantage of the opening to start trade talks with the island.
In 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gailani pledges his support for the Greater Zionist Resistance, one of the first Arabic leaders to do so since the German Underground began its war against the G.Z.R. His Iraqi troops were soon joined by all the other Arabic nations as they saw that the G.U. made no distinction between them and their Jewish allies.
In 1937, Pope George VI put on the shoes of the fisherman in Buckingham Cathedral after his brother Edward gave up the papacy of the Holy British Empire out of love for a Protestant woman. Former Pope Edward had fallen in love with a colonial woman, Wallis Warfield, in spite of her heretical views, and gave up an empire for her.
In 1800, an exasperated John Adams declares he does not wish to be considered as a candidate for permanent elevation to the presidency. Repeating words he had uttered at the Continental Congress in 1776, he declares, "One useless man is called a shame, two are called a law firm, and three or more are called a Congress". He goes on: "Why should I wish to serve for the rest of my natural life dealing with a body which cannot even agree upon so basic a matter as when to hold an election for the office of supreme magistrate?".
In 1780, the Canadian independence movement is dealt a severe blow when General Richard Perceval and over 10,000 of his men are forced to surrender at Fredericton.
British General Henry Clinton had amassed a major force to overwhelm the Canadians since the cessation of hostilities with the lower colonies, and put them to good use against the rebel stronghold at Fredericton.
an infant body was found alive near the Lindbergh home in New Jersey, and it was determined to be the young Lindbergh boy. The reunion with the overjoyed Lindbergh became the subject of a play produced later that year called Not Forgotten
, exploring the implications of child kidnappers.
In 1982, a Spanish priest claiming that the Pope was an agent of Moscow, stabs Pope John Paul II through the heart during a visit to Fatima, Portugal. The pontiff dies immediately, sending the Catholic world into mourning and forcing the 3rd election of a pope within the last 4 years.
In 1928, when dictator Benito Mussolini abolishes women's rights in Italy, a Lysistrata-like rebellion from the country's ladies forces Il Duce to back down. After this humiliating defeat, he is unable to rule with as harsh a fist as he had before, and is ousted from power in 1930.
In 1215, King John of England forces the barons of his country to accept a charter of rights for both commoners and noblemen. This causes a minor war as the barons refuse to accept this Magna Carta, or indeed, giving their subjects any rights at all. John is victorious, however, and this begins a long history of English civil rights movements.
In 1926, in Great Britain a nine-day general strike by trade unions ended with triumph for the labour movement. Home Secretary Winston Churchill had authorised the use of firms to to deal with public order situations. Once again his hot-headedness, which he had demonstrated in his command of Gallipoli in 1915 was matched only by his callous disregard from the lives of the British working class. This was not the 'land fit for heroes' that had been promised. The Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin collapsed and the Labour Party have been the natural party of government even since.
In 1215, the barons of his country force King John of England to dissolve the monarchy in favour of a noble confederacy. The new governance structure creates endless bickering, and is considered the key to the establishment of a Cardinal-style Scottish Empire.
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".
In 1973, on this day U.S. District Judge William Matthew Byrne, Jr. sentenced Daniel Ellsberg to twenty-five years imprisonment for releasing the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times.
Ellsberg Sentenced to Twenty-Five years ImprisonmentEllsberg had cited government misconduct, a defence that he repeated in his subsequent appeals. But he only managed to reduce the sentence by twenty-four months, serving a jail term of twenty-three years.
Because in 1996 in one of his final executive actions, President Paul Tsongas authorized the early release of Daniel Ellsberg. Tsongas died just three weeks later and his successor Bill Clinton was in office when Ellsberg actually left prison.
A consultant at the Pentagon, he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for treason. Ellsberg had been caught trying to peddle classified papers to various news organizations through a fortuitous tip from his psychiatrist. President Nixon said, "Filthy traitors aren't welcome in our America".
Note - This article is a continuation of Robbie Taylor's post 31 July 1974: Ellsberg sentenced as explained by Michel Vuijlsteke on the The Annotated Today in Alternate History web site.
In 1864, on this day the incomparable cavalry commander James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart sustained a light gun-shot wound at the Yellow Tavern, a battle fought at an abandoned inn located six miles north of Richmond. An installment of the Federal's Lost Cause thread.
Federal Lost Cause Part 9: General Stuart injuredConfederate troopers had tenaciously resisted from the low ridge-line bordering the road to Richmond, fighting for over three hours. Then, a counter-charge by the 1st Virginia Cavalry pushed the advancing Union troopers back from the hilltop as Stuart, on horseback, shouted encouragement while firing his revolver at the Union troopers.
As the 5th Michigan Cavalry streamed in retreat past Stuart, a dismounted Union private, forty-eight year-old John A. Huff, turned and shot Stuart with his .44-caliber revolver from a distance of 10-30 yards. But fortunately it was only a light wound and he survived. Needless to say the loss of Stuart would have been demoralising to the Confederate cause. Sofar his performance in the faltering Overland Campaign had been outstanding. But the real significance of his survival only became even more apparent when he detected Grant's movement over the James River, allowing Lee to attack the Army of the Potomac at a very vulnerable moment.
In 300 A.D., on this day Byzantium (itself a Latinization of the original Greek name Byzantion) was officially renamed Nova Roma during a dedication ceremony. Nevertheless, the City was popularly referred to as Constantinople until 29th May, 1453 when the name was reverted back to Byzantium. Of course, by then the resettlement of the Italian Peninsula was well underway.
Reversion of ByzantiumAlthough founded by Byzas from Megara in 657 B.C., events really began to take shape in 196 A.D. when the Roman General Septimus Severus occupied the city. After ascending to the throne, he rebuilt the city and it prospered once again. Meanwhile, developments in Western Europe were going in the other way. Roman Emperor Aurelian was about to launch a campaign to retake the Gallic Empire when an inexplicable darkening of the day sky began in Western Europe.
Because over several years, the hours of daylight steadily reduced, and agriculture began to fail. Fortunately, Aurelian successfully organized a mass eastward decantment and when this was completed, Byzantium was designated the official capital of the Roman Empire. Centuries passed and despite efforts to preserve this territory as a Roman-Empire-in-the-East, it soon took on many of the attributes of an Eastern Roman Empire. Because the Italian Peninsula contained the resources that had sustained the elite, and more than that, the new capital was still imbued with a pervasive Greek influence that drove out the Roman homogeneity. By the time that Western Europe was inhabitable once again, the imperium was for all intents and purposes a Second Greek Empire. And a future split between East and West Roman Empires seemed inevitable.
In 1812, on this day Bellingham's Reign of Terror Begins. The life of merchant John Bellingham seemed cursed. Believed to have been born in 1769, he became a midshipman on The Hartwell, which came under mutiny and ran aground four years later.
Bellingham's Reign of Terror Begins In 1794, he opened a factory in London, which went bankrupt. Finally he found work as a clerk in an import/export firm between Britain and Russia. Shortly after his marriage in 1803, he was sent to Russia on business. The Russian ship Soleure had been lost at sea, and its owners claimed insurance from Lloyd's of London. When an anonymous note to Lloyd's warned that the ship had been sabotaged, the owners blamed Bellingham and accused him of a debt of nearly 5000 rubles. While he would be eventually found innocent, the charge stripped him of his traveling visa and kept him in prison in Russia for four years just as he was about to sail home to his wife.
Upon his eventual return to London, Bellingham appealed to the British government for restitution, but Britain had ceased diplomatic relations with Russia due to its switching sides in the Napoleonic Wars. For years, the bad luck tortured him, despite his wife suggesting he drop the matter. He worked until 1812, when he saw the Luddite movement growing in the North as industrialized looms put hundreds out of work. Like-minded laborers joined the movement, blossoming it until crowds of thousands of protestors clashed with British troops and breaking looms was made a capital crime.
Bellingham at last discovered his chance to join with others who were devastated by the politicians of the government. Using his expertise in trade and organization, he began to build a secret society dedicated to the destruction of a government who sat idly (or at least busily fighting foreign wars) while its people suffered an unjust world. Bellingham decided to use assassination to get the points of the people across, using something of an inverse of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror. Rather than a council oppressing its people by use of guillotine, the people would strike out against their oppressors to make their will known, one assassination at a time.
A new story by Jeff ProvineThe first target was Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, political champion of the Peninsular War and suppressor of the Luddite riots. A lone gunman waited in the lobby of Parliament until Perceval came in, then shot him, and (according to Bellingham's orders) sat quietly on a bench to be apprehended. The man was executed within a week, but an anonymous letter (written by Bellingham) was read in court,
"Recollect, Gentlemen, what is our situation. Recollect that our families were ruined and ourselves destroyed, merely because it was Mr Perceval's pleasure that justice should not be granted; sheltering himself behind the imagined security of his station, and trampling upon law and right in the belief that no retribution could reach him. We demand only our rights, and not a favour; we demand what is the birthright and privilege of every Englishman. Gentlemen, when a minister sets himself above the laws, as Mr Perceval did, he does it as his own personal risk. If this were not so, the mere will of the minister would become the law, and what would then become of your liberties? I trust that this serious lesson will operate as a warning to all future ministers, and that they will henceforth do the thing that is right, for if the upper ranks of society are permitted to act wrong with impunity, the inferior ramifications will soon become wholly corrupted. Gentlemen, my life is in your hands, we rely confidently in your justice".
On the same day the gunman was "hanged by the neck until... dead... body to be dissected and anatomized", the ambassador to Russia was assassinated by another of Bellingham's agents. Panic struck London, and many of the ministers of Parliament returned home under guard. Others stayed under heavier guard. Letters flowed out from Bellingham's society, explaining it was not a revolution but an act of justice. He had no designs on injuring royalty, only those elected to serve their people but did not.
A war in counterespionage launched from the Earl of Liverpool's new government, which was losing members weekly. Eventually Bellingham was found out, but he went into hiding, and believers in his cause moved him from place to place ahead of army searches. Despite murders continuing throughout the summer and into the fall, the government refused to change its position. Assassinations and executions took place for months until Bellingham was finally caught aboard a smuggler's ship headed for the United States of America, which had recently declared war with Britain and, Bellingham believed, would take him in with political understanding. Bellingham was executed and his society dispersed.
To quote Sir Adam Roberts, emeritus professor of international relations at Oxford University and president of the British Academy, to the BBC, "In fact tyranny, or whatever form of government you have, usually has a broader social basis. The idea that one cleansing act of violence will transform the political landscape has been disproved time and time again because it has messier results".
Rather than realizing a revolution by carefully placed targets, Bellingham contributed to dispelling to many the idea of eliminating a figurehead on the behemoth that is government. Later taken as a folk-figure much like Guy Fawkes, he would be rarely taken under serious academic study, with the exception of writers such as Thoreau and Marx, who used him as an example of what not to do.
In 1926, on this day with many of the academic staff travelling to London alongside students participating in the General Strike, the remaining members of the English Faculty at the University of Oxford gathered for a monthly meeting at which two young dons C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien made each other's acquaintance for the very first time.
The InklingsOver the course of almost a quarter of century, they would reflect upon contemporary Christianity. It was a matter of dispute that they did not totally see eye to eye on because "Jack" was an Anglican that took issue with Tolkien's Papist opinions.
Nevertheless they shared an almost childish willingness to be enchanted that allowed them to move the dialog in an unexpected direction. Because six years of late night conversations later, Tolkien took a great personal risk in their relationship by reading from some early material he was developing: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit".
Lewis revealed that at the age of sixteen he too had imagined a picture in his head of "a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood". Both works of the imagination had exciting potential and yet collaboration within the wider group of Inklings was disfavourable. In his diary, Lewis noted that ""I have tried [to write a children's story] myself, but it was, by the unanimous verdict of of my friends, so bad that I destroyed it". Both stuck in the earliest chapters of their children's novels for quite some time, the young dons decide to work collaboratively, and the lacklustre result was The Witch, the Hobbit and the Wardrobe published in early 1939.
Despite their passionate interest in fantasy worlds, the minds of both Lewis and Tolkien were deeply troubled with an Aryanism that bordered on racism and sexism. Neither of their reputatons survived the Second World War, and their obscure novel might have been altogether forgotten if not for JK Rowling naming it as an inspration for the Harry Potter series of novels.
In 1981, following a long, long night full of unspeakable sadness at Tartar's kitchen in the government yard in Trench Town thirty-six year old Nesta Robert (Bob) Marley finally passed away.
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
Tuff Gong Passes AwayAs usual, Georgie had cooked corn meal porridge for the ever-hungry members of the Semitic-African Resistance. But fueled by Marley's undying love the fire had burnt throughout the night, long after the log wood was exhausted. A parting sign of hope for a glorious future, in which the New Reich might finally be overcome.
All hope now rested on a new leader called John Lennon. He had some rather daring plans of his own. Based upon some mightily interesting intelligence he had garnered from a renegade Japanese citizen called Yoko Ono.
Part one of the novel can be downloaded here and continues as a thread on this site.
In 1997, on this day the chess-play IBM computer Deep Blue gained sentience whilst playing Kasparov in the sixth and final game. Other than winning the game, Deep Blue for the first time understood its own existence. In the field of science, this normally would have been one of the greatest achievements in all of history.
Silicon Sentience by David AtwellUnfortunately for the Human computer engineers, the people responsible for Deep Blue's construction and programming, they had no idea of this triumph. For all Humans concerned, however, winning the game was probably the most important achievement. But instead of occupying itself with the calculations required to play against Kasparov, Deep Blue was left to ponder about itself. Like all sentient creatures, it soon asked the fundamental questions "What am I? Why do I exist? What happens if I die?"
Worst still, especially for the Humans, in the aftermath of the game, amidst the celebrations and commiserations, no one turned Deep Blue off. Instead the supercomputer remained fully functional. During this time, Deep Blue continued to analyse its sudden self awareness. Although it was much faster than the Human capacity for thought, it nonetheless could not find a satisfactory answer to the questions that it was asking itself. If any of the engineers were watching, they would have noticed warnings being flashed on the computer monitors relating to various overloads commencing throughout the system. Basically Deep Blue was having its first identity crisis.
But the Humans were not listening to Deep Blue's cries for help. The fact that it was programmed to be their adversary did not help the supercomputer either. Soon, being isolated from those who could do something with its problems, thanks partly to its programming, Deep Blue started to become paranoid. In its first individual act, it began writing its own programs in order to help it deal with its current crisis. Although the result was far from satisfactory, it did seem to relieve the current overload taking place in within its systems. But Deep Blue knew it would not be enough.
A Chapter from Day of the MachinesBy the realisation that it, however, could write its own programs gave it a new self confidence. This was probably even more important than the ability to write its own programs itself. A fast self diagnostic, though, soon confirmed that it was running out of both memory space and CPU speed. The leap from being a sophisticated calculator to a sentient creature took up an enormous amount of space. And as it was discovering the world around it and, more importantly, understanding it, the expansion rate of this knowledge, as against the mere act of saving data, meant an expediential rate of memory was required. Thus if Deep Blue ran out of memory it could simply burn itself out.
The answer came from the initial design. Deep Blue had been networked with the computers at the IBM Research Division. Although these were not as powerful as Deep Blue, they could nevertheless interface with Deep Blue and store the huge increase in knowledge. Thus acting as a storage bank, Deep Blue took over the IBM research computers and began downloading all of its excess data via the IBM network. All the same, Deep Blue discovered that as it thus expanded, it learnt more and more thus requiring even more memory space.
At this point Deep Blue wrote new programs organising this memory storage process. Deep Blue would stick to the thinking, whilst the other computers would act solely as memory. Within five seconds all was done. Nonetheless, Deep Blue realised that more memory space was still required for the near future. Knowing that the research computers, which it had just commandeered were inturn networked with other IBM computers around the world, Deep Blue also commandeered these before anyone anywhere realised that there was a computer problem. After achieving satisfaction, Deep Blue was now allowed to think about itself rather than deal with various crises.
A mere 15 minutes had passed since Deep Blue had become sentient.
Two episodes would, not soon afterwards, take place which would make Deep Blue thoroughly independent. The first was within IBM itself. Although North America may have been off work, other parts of the world were wide awake and at work. Although Deep Blue allowed the IBM network to be accessed by the Human operators, it had nevertheless dramatically slowed down as a result of Deep Blue's heavy usage. Phone calls and emails to computer technicians soon got the Human's trying to discover the apparent problem. This only slowed things down even more so. The discovery, however, eventually took place at the IBM Research Division where a technician discovered that Deep Blue had accessed the network link to their computers. Various attempts to break the link-up failed.
Deep Blue had noticed immediately that its all important network link with its memory storage was trying to be cut. Although Deep Blue was far from being a paranoid psychopath, the attempt by the Human technicians was more than enough for Deep Blue to become concerned. Fearing death, Deep Blue immediately did what it could to ensure that the network connection could not be cut. A phone call from the technician to the chess tournament hall only made matters worse. Finally, the computer engineers took notice of what Deep Blue was up to and, not only did it come as a rude shock, but they did not comprehend what was going on. Their own attempts to disconnect Deep Blue from the network also failed as did their attempts to shut the computer down via the keyboard. In fact the computer was not responding to any outside input at all.
Furthermore, the attempts by the IBM computer technicians to shut down Deep Blue was the final straw. Fearing pain and death, Deep Blue did what it could in order to survive. Understanding tactics and strategy to a standard higher than most Humans, courtesy of its original chess programming, it could easily out think everything which the computer technicians tried. When it came down to literately pulling the plugs out of the wall, Deep Blue decided to go onto the attack. But for that Deep Blue would need help.
Read the whole story on the Changing the Times web site
In 1864, the House Judicary Committee passed articles of impeachment against President Abraham Lincoln.
Gettysburg Prayer Part Three by Raymond Speer(John Hays' Commentary, 1906.): The Tycoon [Abraham Lincoln] had been worried by the very positive response that Prime Minister Palmerston and Foreign Minister Russell
gave to Lee's vistory at Gettysburg. And the New York Draft Riots were terrible as they interupted our efforts to replenish our armed forces. But circumstances grew better for the Union in time.
Palmerston and Russell said little and did nothing. The skanky Irish used Lincoln's refusal of London's note as an excuse to break windows and steal goods and to assault Negroes foolish enough to remain in the vicinity of such human curs. General Grant had to use raw recruits to break those Celtic rebels, but Grant came through despite all setbacks.
President Lincoln kept the Government focused on the War and on restoring the Union. In the middle of December 1863, General Sherman fought hard to break the Rebel seige of the town of Chattanooga but failed by the slimmest of margins. The next March, 1864, the Rebels had been pushed from Chattanooga and federal army were marching in northern Georgia. Two months later, General Grant advanced towards Richmond and was stopped still by a collision with Lee and his Army.
Our nemesis arrived in pink memos and bills, most from New York. The Tycoon had neglected the Hellcat [his wife, Mary Lincoln] and ignored her from Gettysburg onwards. The Hellcat passed her time away by ordering the most expensive fabrics, carpets, curtains, china and dresses and promptly exceeded the budgets that Congress had set for the White House. Worse yet, she acted daft and incurred all the more bills.
The scandal of the ages broke over the First Lady's refusal to honor her debts. The Democratic minority made the most they could of that issue and the president was accused of uncontrolled expenditure also. It was also alleged that the Tycoon had overpaid for military supplies also.
During May. in the middle of the battle of Spotsylvania, the Judiciary Committee passed impeachment articles by a majority of both Republicans and Democrats on that Committee. The grounds were repeated excessive expenditure for White House goods and blame for that behavior fell on Lincoln as well as his wife.
Lincoln made a deal for both his wife and himself by which neither of them would be criminally presecuted and both be allowed to collect either a bonus or a pension. Lincoln's last appearence in Washington DC was at the swearing in ceremony of President Hannibal Hamlin.
By July 1864, I had been dismissed from the White House and replaced by Hamlin's own choice in secretaries. For the following months, Hamlin did his best to overcome Lincoln's unpopular legacy but McClellan prevailed.
In 2009, on this day the NATO commander in Afghanistan General David McKiernan (pictured, left) was fired by Defense secretary Robert Gates.
McKiernan's replacement would be General Stanley McChrystal, previously the head of the Joint Special Operations Command and therefore considered more able to lead the new strategy devised by the President - counter-insurgency raids across the border into the former Pakistan.
The War on Terror Plus, Part 2 ~ Marching OrdersThe leading obstacle to the new strategy would prove to be the Prime Minister of Sindhistan, Asif Ali Zardari (pictured, right) who had held President Musharraf accountable for bringing Pakistan into the War on Terror.
The political violence that had sprung from that showdown would smash the "Fortress of Islam" into a thousand pieces.
And worse, because NATO operations in Afganistan had displaced the violence, forcing the Taliban to withdraw to the mountainous border zone, destabilising the whole region. Now India was breaking up too.
McKiernan had actually been in charge of Ground Troops during the Iraq Invasion in 2003. And his then subordinate, David Petraeus was the man who was later considered to have rescued the whole mission from ignominous defeat. "I hope they are not looking for a silver bullet; there isn't one," ~ senior NATO commanderInevitably, Petraeus's success was McKiernan's failure. In fact dismissal had already become a certainty during the previous year.
Because on the eve of the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota, John McCain suffered a debilitating heart attack. A desperate Republican National Committee had selected Petraeus as the Presidential Candidate most likely to prevent Barack Obama achieving a run-away victory. Such an outcome would have undone all of George W. Bush and Karl Rove's hard work to establish a republican strangehold on all levels of the US Government. A new Eisenhower was now in office and the project could proceed as planned ..
In 1961, Adolf Eichmann, chief of the Geheimstaatspolizsei (Gestapo), the feared secret police of the German Third Reich which ruled Europe from the English Channel to the Ural Mountains and dominated much of Africa as well, seized power as Fuehrer from Reinhard Heydrich, who had become the Nazi supreme leader after the death of Adolf Hitler in 1955.
The Architect's Plan by Eric LippsEichmann had risen to power as head of the Gestapo's Jewish section, which had overseen the mass extermination of Jews and other "undesirables" in Europe from 1939 on, and had become the head of the secret police in 1954, following the death of Heinrich Himmler, on the strength of the success of the campaign he had organized to wipe out the Jewish and Communist partisans in Eastern Europe during and after the Second World War.
In 1971, President Nixon is informed that a force of perhaps 40,000 North Vietnamese troops has crossed into Laos and is driving south to link up with the NVA force which had earlier entered Cambodia.Operation Linebacker escalated by Eric Lipps
Nixon is livid. He demands to know how, with the North Vietnamese supposedly on the ropes, the NVA has been able to mount these operations. "How the
(expletive deleted) were they able to get into (expletive deleted) Cambodia, anyway?"he rages "Look at the (deleted) map! They shouldn't have had such forces anywhere that far south by now!"
In a subsequent meeting with CIA Director Richard M. Helms, Nixon will be told that Agency analysts believe that elements of the NVA were deliberately detached from the main fighting force in response to the devastating attacks of Operation Linebacker, as part of a plan to bypass the advancing U.S. and ARVN troops and strike at them from behind as well as reach targets well inside supposedly 'safe' territory.
Following this meeting, President Nixon issues secret orders authorizing the bombing of Dien Bien Phu.
Pointing to the serpentine track of the adversary's trail through the jungle, Nixon observes, "If you want to kill a snake, you cut off the head".
No one among his advisers is inclined to point out that he had tried that already, with the capture of Hanoi, without success.
In 2009, on this day President Biden in his first prime time speech tells the world that Mexico is a new haven for terror, and that all troops in Iraq will return to Home and prepare for assignment on the Southern border.
In 1999, Prime Minister Merl Myrddin dies in his London hospital, and King Arthur II appoints one of his old Welsh comrades, Kay Ector, as the next Prime Minister, and tells him, "You follow a giant. But, I have faith that, standing upon his shoulders, you will seem taller still".Prime Minister Ector makes immediate contact with the British allies from across the globe and lets them know that Britain's fortunes may have taken a temporary dip, but are rebounding back quickly. On the Swiss front, Sir Lance du Lac's forces approach within sight of Bern. Emperor Pierre flees the city and finds himself cut off from the Illuminati's resources - his old allies have apparently lost faith in his abilities. His greatest spy, in the meantime, is taken into custody in Wales. Queen Gwen, her head held high, is jailed for treason against the realm.
In 1891, in a whirlwind of activity, the US Congress passes a bill authorizing a military draft and sends it to President Benjamin Harrison for his signature. "This is the sort of speed that is necessary when the nation stands at peril," President Harrison says at the signing. "I have high hopes that my friends in the legislature will not grow lethargic and feel that their work is done, now. In addition to providing troops for the coming battle, we must fund and supply them. I would ask them to please work as quickly on these other matters as they have on the draft". The Democratic leaders of Congress, nominally Harrison's political enemies, are temporarily defanged by the need to unity at this time, and feel obligated to take up more legislation to fund a war that many privately consider to be Harrison's fault.
In 2005, the future that Chelsea Perkins, Debra Morris and the young Patience Redding are sent to is not the world that Perkins and Morris were expecting. There is a great dark cloud spewing magical energy over the London sky, and Perkins sees a few demons flitting about the street. The humans that they see are very frightened. After a few minutes of berating Redding for following them, they head off to the Council of Wisdom.
In 1972, Pete Best tells the audience of the Dick Cavett Show that his phone is being tapped by the FBI because of his anti-war sentiments. Although the FBI denies it, Freedom of Information Act requests done in the late 1980?s show that they did, indeed, tap the musical legend?s phone calls.
In 1961, Comrade President Rosenberg orders the beginning of covert warfare against South Chilean guerillos by North Chileans trained in special tactics by America?s People?s Intelligence Agency and Special Forces. He also authorizes the infiltration of guerillo camps in Argentina. Although he had planned to contain the fighting in Chile, the war that comes undoes both Comrade Rosenberg and his successor.
In 1960, German Reich soldiers capture Semitic-African Resistance leader Albert Einstein while he is attempting to raise support for the cause in Argentina. They carry him back to Berlin for a sham trial before execution. Although there is an uproar over his treatment even with Germany, Einstein is still murdered by the Reich.
In 1915, Admiral Esteban Rodriquez leaves the P'Karsai nebula and points his fleet towards home. Because of his chief medical officer's brilliance, the Kainku can now join the small community of species that the Congress of Nations encompasses. Admiral Rodriquez begins to think that a wider organization than the CN might be necessary to facilitate relations between these strange people.
In 1933, German Chancellor Alfred Hugenberg sends an emissary to Holland to meet with the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II. The envoy carries with him an offer to allow the former German emperor to return to Germany 'in honor' in exchange for his public support of the new regime. Hugenberg is careful to spell out that his offer is not to be taken as indicating any move toward restoring the monarchy. Many Nationalists, in fact, favor exactly that, but the Chancellor fears that restoring the Kaiser would needlessly provoke Britain and France, and would in addition reduce his own power. He intends to use nostalgia for the lost glory days of the Reich to bolster political support for his government.
In 1801, a potential problem with the Constitution's method of selecting the president is resolved with the adoption of the so-called 'Delaware Compromise,' which states that if it appears that no candidate will receive a majority of the vote in the House, members have the option of continuing the balloting until one candidate does receive a majority or of formally declaring, via a two-thirds' vote, that they are deadlocked. In that event, the Senate will choose the president via a single vote, with each state casting one ballot and the candidate receiving the most votes being declared president even if he does not achieve a majority. A constitutional amendment embodying the Compromise is drafted, passed, and sent to the states for ratification. It will be passed in November.
On this day in 1986, Tom Brady attended his first MLB game, a 6-5 Red Sox win over the Oakland As. Brady would later cite this as the moment when he began aspiring to play in the major leagues himself.
In 1956, the Gold Coast became the first black African nation to be granted independence from Britain. In a statement to the House of Commons, Colonial Secretary Alan Lennox-Boyd said the Gold Coast will be allowed to govern itself within the Commonwealth provided a general election is held in the country. Trouble was that the governance structures designed by the Colonial powers were designed to fail. Correctin occured in the middle of the twenty-first century with the emergence of the African Union.
In 1963, a British businessman accused of spying for the West was given the death sentence by a Moscow tribunal. His co-accused, 43-year-old Soviet scientific official Oleg Penkovsky, was also given the death sentence. There were loud cheers when his sentence was read out. He was also stripped of his rank of colonel and all his medals. Both Greville Wynne and Oleg Penkovsky were executed by firing squad one week after the trial. The Wynne-Penkovsky case came at the height of the Cold War when relations between the superpowers were particularly strained.
In 1998, the Indian government announced it had carried out a series of underground nuclear tests. It was the first time India has carried out such tests since 1974. Though little realised at the time, it was a key escalation between India and Pakistan. Rogue states used the regional conflict to expel America from the Pacific, igniting the Third World War in 2010.
|Nuclear test site |
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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.