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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

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January 23

In 1484, a powerful opening speech of Parliament was delivered by the Bishop of Lincoln John Russell. But the survival of the revolutionary ideas that he set out on this fateful day was entirely due to the narrow-fought Yorkist victory which raged at Bosworth Field some eighteen months later. An article from the Happy Endings thread

Happy Endings 50: England finds its Lost Coin at Bosworth FieldServing in his official capacity as the Chancellor to Richard III of England, Russell defined a breath-taking proto-democratic vision for the new Parliament by quoting from the "Parable of the Lost Coin". In so doing, he not only berated the rule of Richard's brother Edward IV, but took a sweeping view of three decades of civil unrest. In short, he suggested that England was a mess and Richard was going to sort it out. An early indication of this programme of change would be a statute that outlawed benevolences, a corrupt malpractice created by Edward IV that allowed for extra-Parliamentary taxation by "requesting" gifts of money from wealthy subjects. This action not only gave England back to the people, but by releasing the merchant classes set the stage for an earlier colonisation of the Americas [1].

Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!" [Luke 15:8-9]
However Russell's warm words would have counted for absolutely nothing had the Lancastrians dynastic challenge succeeded. But fortunately, Richard III won the Battle of Bosworth field that finally ended the War of the Roses and also closed the book on the turbulent period known as the "Middle Ages". His ten thousand men were divided under the command of himself, the Duke of Norfolk, and the Earl of Northumberland. Henry opposed him with only 5,000 men. Waiting on the wings with 6,000 men were the Stanleys, brothers Thomas and William, who were forced into loyalty under Richard by the imprisonment and threatened execution of Thomas' eldest son, George. As the battle became thick, Richard found himself betrayed by the hesitating Northumberland and decided to lead the charge against Henry himself. In the gamble, Richard and his knights became separated from the main force, and the Tudors pressed upon them.

William Stanley decided that the time was right to strike. He drove for Richard, signalling his army to save the king and serve as reinforcements. With the second charge, the battle was won for Richard and the House of York. Henry Tudor was slain in battle. Tradition tells that Richard, looking over the body of Henry, mumbled, "Treason, treason, treason, treason, treason".

Having been satisfied with the loyalty of the Stanleys, Richard released Thomas' son and rewarded William with the lands seized from Northumberland as punishment. Richard would go on to rule until 1507, marrying Anne of Lancaster and pacifying his populace to achieve a return to peace for England. He was well known as a beneficiary to the church (though rumours said his gifts were out of guilt for evil deeds past and present). He would be succeeded by his son Richard IV, and the Yorkist line would continue.

After a brief struggle and token exchange of ordinance North Korea seized the USS Pueblo, claiming that the Navy intelligence ship had violated its territorial waters while spying. An article from the AuH20 thread.

Pueblo crisis leads to war By Ed & Eric OppenThey discovered that during the fire fight Commander Lloyd M. Bucher (pictured) had destroyed all of the classified material aboard the ship [1]. That action was highly significant because only two days earlier, North Korean commandos had assassinated the President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee, at his residence at the Blue House.

When forced confessions soon followed, it was made to appear that the United States was preparing for a Second Korean War and events quickly began to escalate from there. The capture, occurring less than a week after President Barry Goldwater's State of the Union address [2] and only a week before the start of the Tet Offensive delivered a devastating blow to the USG's "Containment of Communism" policy. Perhaps his much maligned predecessor John F. Kennedy might have found a clever way out of the crisis, but unfortunately his Presidency had imploded four years after the press exposed his skulduggery. Camelot, it transpired, was a shimmering fake tableaux sustained only by the family leaning on the press, and not for the first time they had gone too far with individuals who had chosen to fight back. "The Chickens have come home to roost" remarked Malcolm X [2], but it was much more than that, no less than a microcosm of apocalyptic events that foreshadowed the upcoming conflict in South East Asia.

In 1920, on this day the Netherlands refused to surrender ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to the Allies. And it took the "Dutch Courage" of Neiu Nederlander President Theodoor van Rosevelt to insist that Dutch Queen Wilhelmina extradite the Kaiser, a "big stick" to prevent the rise of a future generation of dictators... An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go farUpon the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919, Article 227 expressly provided for the prosecution of Wilhelm "for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties", but Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies. King George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as "the greatest criminal in history", but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George's proposal to "hang the Kaiser". President Woodrow Wilson of the United States rejected extradition, arguing that punishing Wilhelm for waging war would destabilize international order and lose the peace.

And therefore we can say with certainty that the extradition and subsequent hanging of the Kaiser was the result of a precipitous twist of fate. Because in 1664, a freak storm had sunk the English Fleet before it could seize New Amsterdam. Somehow, the Dutch Republic had held onto the Colony, which later emerge as one of the Eastern Sea-board mini-states after the American Revolution. By the early twentieth century, Neiu Nederlands was completely autonomous, and governed by the charismatic figure of Theodoor van Rosevelt. An unflinching advocate of the projection of military power by democratic governments, his intervention in the extradition crisis would be truly historic. Because as time would tell, the Kaiser's hanging would discourage the rise of dictators during the turbulent 1930s, proving that the wrong-headedly idealistic Wilson was quite completely mistaken. And what really mattered to keeping the peace in the real world was ensuring that would-be belligerents were kept in a constant fear of the firm use of authority by the democracies.

Needless to say, the emergence of a leadership role for the American mini-state was wholly unexpected. Even though Holland remained neutral throughout the war, van Rosevelt had travelled to Washington to tell Wilson that the American Dutch would bravely join them. This was but the first step on the world stage. He would prevail upon Queen Wilhelmina, and later, at the Paris Peace Conference, persuade the victor powers to establish a League of Nations with a robust collective security policy. A bully club for the smaller nations to fight world domination, if you will. Because after all, who could anticipate whether a future German dictatorship would respect Dutch neutrality?

In 1897, on this day "Respected Leader" Subhas Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack, Orissa British India.

Birth of Subhas Chandra BoseHe was one of the most prominent Indian nationalist leaders who gained India's independence from British rule by force during the waning years of World War II with the help of the Axis powers.

Bose, who had been ousted from the Indian National Congress in 1939 following differences with the more conservative high command, and subsequently placed under house arrest by the British, escaped from India in early 1941. He turned to the Axis powers for help in gaining India's independence by force. With Japanese support, he organised the Indian National Army, composed largely of Indian soldiers of the British Indian army who had been captured in the Battle of Singapore by the Japanese.

At the age of forty-five, he raised the flag of Indian independence at Calcutta. The Provisional Government of Azad Hind, presided by Bose became the successor to the bankrupt British Raj, looking into an exhilarating new future with a shiny new confidence for the second half of the twentieth century. An installment from the Quit India thread

In 1737, on this day American merchant and statesman John Hancock was born in Braintree in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

Birth of John Hancock, ReduxA prominent Patriot of the American Revolution, he served as the President of the Continental Congress and placed the most prominent signature on the Declaration of Independence.

However his final years were marred with bitter disappointment. After the demise of General Washington in the tragedy at Elk River, he emerged as an expedient choice for successor candidate. But his national leadership was overwhelmed by determined challenges to the ratification process.

It soon began to appear distinctly possible that two nations might emerged from the crisis, a northern Federalist state led by John Adams, and an anti-Federalist country led by Thomas Jefferson and his lieutenant James Madison. Not being a conviction Federalist, this ideological division paralyzed his figurehead-style candidacy. And without a robust doctrine he also lacked the moral authority of the illustrious Father of the Nation. By the time of his premature death in 1793, he was a marginalized figure out of time. An echo of revolutionary fervour inadequately equipped to confront the challenges of self-rule. An installment from the American Heroes thread

In 1757 post-creation, Noah's great-grandson the arrogant tyrant Nimrod resolved to build a city with a tower "with its top in the heavens...lest we [unified humanity] be scattered abroad upon the face of the Earth".

Babylon and TingAlthough Yahweh had promised not to unleash another flood, Noah's children had been divided by language into different tongues. After a long migration from the East, their grand children had finally settled in the plain of Shinar where they hoped that a new ziggurat would symbolise their indivisible unity.

Of itself, the structure proposed by Nimrod was contemporary being a towering building upon square foundations with steps up the side leading to a shrine to honour the deity. But its monumental height revealed a shocking self-pride that deeply offended Yahweh. HE responded to this ultimate challenge to HIS authority by confounding the will of mankind. Once again supplicant to the deity, Nimrod and his people were reduced to a race of babbling men and women doomed to live in the shadow of their own depravity.

In 1510, a mere nine months after his coronation, the brave and cunning King Henry VIII of England died while jousting incognito at Richmond in North Yorkshire. Only eighteen years old, Henry had been married to his brother Arthur's widow, Catherine of Aragon, shortly after his father's death.

Young Henry VIII Dies Jousting Remaining something of a wild prince, Henry sneaked away from court and participated in the lists in Yorkshire, jousting admirably until a spur broke and the mysterious knight was thrown to the ground, breaking his neck. It was a tragedy that would ignite the War of English Succession.

Succession had already recently been a violent matter in England Wars of the Roses between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. After much bloodshed, the overall question was solved completely by the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, bringing the two houses together. Henry VII had known that the key to continuing the newly conquered peace was firm succession, and the tragic death of Arthur had put a great deal of pressure on young Henry to live long and produce a male heir. With no heir, the crown was in the air, readying to be caught by any of a number of successors.

In England, men with lesser holds to the crown were beaten out by the overall clout of Queen Catherine of Aragon. Though technically a Spaniard, she held great cunning herself as well as the significant economic and military influence from her father Ferdinand II. Acting as a placeholder, she would chose from the many English who wished to be king and marry him with blessing of the Pope.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic dealings of Henry VII had expanded the Tudor claims beyond the English borders. His daughter Margaret had married James IV of Scotland while his daughter Mary Tudor had married the aged Louis XII of France. Louis' claim was weak at best, especially as he only had daughters and neither from Mary, but he threw his support behind James as the Auld Alliance had tied the two nations together against England for centuries. James decided he must secure the crown for a future son, so he embarked on an invasion of England.

Catherine called up support from her father in Spain, who sailed a fleet of troops to London to bolster her forces. The English reacted negatively to the foreign soldiers, and local approval of Catherine began to decline, either in favor of less powerful claims or toward James. Civil war broke out among the factions, and James attempted serious invasion where he could garner his support. Meanwhile, he called to Louis for aid, which the French were slow to supply as they were fighting in Italy with the Venetians, who had taken up an alliance with the Papal States. In 1512, the Pope would declare a Holy League against France, allowing Spain to join in an alliance directly against France as well as Scotland, and the War of the League of Cambrai expanded to become a theater mirroring the war in England.

Battles in England would teach James the valuable lesson of keeping back his officers rather than placing them on the front line as leading knights and using pikes like the medieval model. His great victory would come at Flodden Field, September 9, 1513, when he, unscratched, led his army to a crushing victory over mixed Spanish and English supporting Catherine. Following the victory swiftly by a march to London, where the English dukes would swear allegiance and Catherine would escape to Spain. She would hold great prestige in her father's court as the "rightful Queen of England" but never again rule. Meanwhile, James would solidify his command and begin building up a great fleet using England's naval prestige, sparking wars among Spain, France, the Dutch, and Scotch England over influence in the Americas and East Indies.

The Union of Britain would ultimately be short-lived as the English chafed under Scottish rule by James III. Ultimately, the English Parliament would lead the rebellion, splitting up the island once again and separating colonies into competing spheres.

In 1793, John Hancock, first president of the United States of America, celebrated his fifty-seventh birthday.

President John Hancock
written by Eric Lipps
Hancock had been an unlikely choice for that position. It had been all but universally agreed at the Philadelphia constitutional convention that George Washington would be the first president under the new system. Unfortunately for that plan, the strongest dissent came from Washington himself, who disliked politics and preferred to remain in private life. Efforts to persuade him to accept the office were finally answered by direct reference to the apparent fix in his favor: "I have made clear my disinterest in the office of Chief Magistrate, being inclined to retire to private life after having served my country in peace and war. And I emphatically do not wish to receive the office as a gift, making at its very inception a mockery of the new democracy we have fought so hard to create".

With the heroic general out of the picture, the Electoral College found itself unable to agree on a replacement. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, John Rutledge of South Carolina, Samuel Huntington of Connecticut, New Yorker New Yorkers George Clinton and Alexander Hamilton, and Hancock's fellow Bay Stater Benjamin Lincoln were all touted as candidates.

In the end, it was Hancock's prestige as president of the Second Continental Congress, at which he had overseen the debate over the Declaration of Independence, which carried the day for him. Hancock had established himself as a man of absolute fairness and integrity at that time, and had done nothing since to sully his reputation. "If we cannot have Washington", one elector is reported to have said, "there is no better choice than Mr. Hancock if we wish to establish the presidency as a seat of utter personal and political probity".

But Hancock's presidency was a troubled one. The new United States was continually harassed by Great Britain at sea and through Native American proxies on land, and struggled to make ends meet financially. Nor did it help that Hancock's health was failing, often limiting his ability to respond promptly to political difficulties. In October of 1791, only the personal intervention of Washington prevented a military coup on the part of officers demanding payment of their salaries in gold rather than rapidly inflating paper currency, a repetition of a similar crisis in 1782 during the Revolution: at the crucial moment, Hancock was too ill to act.

By 1791 Hancock had made it clear that he would not seek or accept a second presidential term, opening the door to the fiercely contested election of 1792 which would place Alexander Hamilton in the presidency - the only individual born outside the United States ever to hold the office. (The Constitution's requirement that presidents be native-born contained an exemption for those who were U.S. citizens at its adoption).

President Hancock's decision not to seek reelection proved prescient, for he would live only five more months after leaving office on March 4, 1793. Had he died while president, there might have been a national crisis, for while the Constitution provided that the vice-president - John Adams, in this case - would act as president, there was disagreement over whether he should remain in that position until the next scheduled election year or only until a new, emergency election could be called, and Adams had more than his share of detractors. The issue would not be clarified until the passage of the Eleventh Amendment in 1801, following the bitterly contested 1800 election, which specified explicitly in one of its several clauses that in the event of "presidential death or disability" the vice-president "shall become president, with all powers, privileges and responsibilities pertaining to that office, and shall serve until the next scheduled election as provided by law, at which he shall be eligible" to seek another term.

In 2016, in a ruthless attempt to alter the world energy equation, the Islamic Republic of Iran mined the Strait of Homuz. "Underwatch" submarines began patrolling the mine-fields And the leadership of the United States was forced to confront the first major act of regional aggression in over a quarter of a century.

Change We Can Believe InThis confrontation presented a unique challenge to Barack Obama in the final year of his Presidency. Shortly after taking office, he had received the Nobel Peace Prize for his bold decision to accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan. His remaining years had focused on reconciliation projects in those new nations, allowing the US leadership to concentrate more fully on domestic issues such as universal healthcare and the economy. Allowing Obama to be re-elected by a landslide; but now that legacy was in jeopardy.

The crisis had not been precipitated by the military chauvinism of the "Great Satan". Instead, the "reverse energy shock" of 2014 triggered the collapse of oil and gas prices, stagnating the Iranian economy. Strategists at the Pentagon now realised the last six and a half years had simply been a "strategic pause" in the long-running conflict that first began with the fall of the Shah in 1979. Pure and simply, it was a a fight for oil, and this time, the United States wasn't the aggressor.

"America has a secret plan to unblock the Strait of Homuz without risking the loss of a single American life" ~ ObamaSeeking to force a showdown whilst avoiding outright war, military planners were ordered to war-game the 1962 blockade the island of Cuba - but in reverse. The result was a devilishly cunning plan to dispatch mother-submarines containing tiny, unmanned, robotic mini-subs into the Persian Gulf. And the robotic submarines contained unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that theoretically could sweep a grid the size of the Persian Gulf in a single day. These "whiskers" or "teeth" would serve in a dual purpose, by acting as force multipliers, whilst eliminating any possibility of human casualties. That was the untested theory, anyway and you have to admit, it did sound rather good on paper.

In 1977, newly inaugurated U.S. President James Earl Carter ignites a storm of controversy when, in response to a reporter's question, he suggests that American troops should be withdrawn from Cuba and Vietnam.

Out of the Quagmire
by Eric Lipps
"In both nations," he declares, "whatever threat to American security and American interests might have emanated from those nations is past. Maintaining a large troop presence indefinitely in both Cuba and Vietnam places an unnecessary burden upon this nation". He goes on to state that he plans to open negotiations aimed at arranging an orderly U.S. withdrawal, to be accompanied by "free and fair elections" which Carter will invite the United Nations to monitor.

Conservatives respond with fury, denouncing Carter's words as a "sellout to Communism". Zealous right-wing pundit Patrick Buchanan storms that Carter is opening the door for Fidel Castro, who has carried on a guerrilla resistance since his ouster in April 1961 by a Cuban insurgent force backed up by the U.S. military, to return to power. Buchanan also charges that if Carter's plan is carried out, the "ragtag remnants" of the Vietcong and the former North Vietnamese Army will be freed to "undo the progress of freedom in Southeast Asia purchased at the cost of so many American lives".

Many ordinary Americans, however, applaud Carter's words. At a time when there is supposedly a new "detente" between the U.S. and its Communist adversaries, the USSR and the People's Republic of China, the continuing stream of American casualties in two guerrilla wars against Marxist insurgencies in small, unimportant countries has come to seem increasingly pointless.
This article is part of the Cuba War thread.

Logo of

In 1957, on this day the Canadian Football League announced its regular season schedule would be expanded to 18 games for the 1957 season; the new longer schedule would be tough on all CFL franchises, but it would be particularly hard on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who with many of their Grey Cup championship-era players gone from the roster stumbled out of the gate and would finish the year with a disappointing 7-10-1 record.

Logo of - Blue Bombers
Blue Bombers

The 1957 CFL season would also see the league grow to twelve teams with the formation of the Moncton Whalers, the Halifax Whitecaps, and the Medicine Hat Red Dragons.

In 47,373 BCE, after her second rainy season with the Australian tribe she had married into, Telka the Speaker falls ill, and calls out for her great-granddaughter. Swikolay had been traveling around the continent, and it took several days for Telka?s tribesmen to find her. By the time she arrived, the Speaker was almost dead. 'I will not touch the sky,' she told Swikolay. 'Touch it for me.' Those were her last words; she lapsed into a coma and died within hours. Swikolay asked that she be burnt and her ashes thrown into the wind so that she might touch the sky in death.

In 1775, with the merchants of London pleading their case, American colonists begin negotiations to end the conflict between themselves and the Crown.

 -

Although a few more years of violence follow, the deep support that the Americans have among the merchantile class brings them back to the good graces of the King. The Canadian nationalists, who lacked the desire to cultivate friendships with the merchants, had no spokesmen to plead their case before Parliament.

In 2005, Jeanna Best and Dave Lange meet at a Save Earth safe house with a few of the SE people. 'What are we supposed to do?' Lange wants to know. "Fight", he is told. Best and Lange agree to join Save Earth and Best gives the SE group some vital information on her employer. They tell her that they will need her to keep her job there as long as she can - the intel she provides is vital to the cause.
In 1985, a constitutional amendment is put before the House of Representatives to give President Ralph Shephard the power to dismiss Congressmen who are unwilling to support his agenda. Although it seems doomed because of the number of Representatives who oppose it, a terrorist attack on the Capitol brings them in line, and the first of many amendments rolls through the House.
In 1973, Comrade President John Anderson announces the signing of a peace treaty between the Soviet States of America, North Chile and South Chile to end the civil war in the South American nation. Although American troops pull out, the South Chilean guerillos continue fighting in violation of the treaty, and eventually bring down the legitimate socialist government of the north.
In 1941, Senator Charles Lindbergh, leader of the American Bund party in the United States Senate, urges his fellow citizens to ally themselves with the German Underground. Arguing that the 'revitalization' they are bringing to Europe could achieve similar wonders in America, he manages to convince a majority of the Senate to urge President Landon to enter negotiations, something Landon refuses to do.
In 1000 Post-Creation, Lucifer is cast back down from Heaven, but this time, he does not regret his actions. He frees Gabriel and Lilith, and corrupts them to hatred of the Creator. With his rage in complete control, he sets himself as a counterpoint to the Creator, and declares opposition to all that He does. Gabriel and Lilith swear to follow him, and soon other rebels join his side.
In 47,372 BCE, Swikolay sets sail from Australia for the southeast Asian coast. The Speaker's great-granddaughter keeps up the spirits of her 6 companions during the voyage by regaling them with the stories she heard from Telka. By the time they land on the Asian coast, each of them is as dedicated to the Speaker's cause as Swikolay herself.
In 12-2-5-0-3, Oueztecan Captain of the Empire Cotchiquetal leads his men to what he thinks is an encampment of Siksika warriors, but is actually a small settlement on the Mechecho River. After scouts inform him of the true nature of the settlement, he declares, I don't care if they're the right Siksika or not, we shall attack. The brutal slaughter of these innocents sends a shudder throughout the empire, and Captain Cotchiquetal is brought before the Emperor for trial and executed.
In 1989, Salvador Dali, surrealist painter and filmmaker, underwent an experimental procedure to cure the palsy he had suffered from since the beginning of the decade. Since he had been unable to paint, Dali felt he had nothing to lose. After the procedure, the control in his hands returned, and he was able to produce art again. Although many consider this period his least creative, his masterpiece Christ On The Operating Table was inspired by his own operation, and was finished just before Dali's death in 1993.
In 4528, artist Cheng Shifa was born in Shanghai. The great port city afforded Cheng with a great wealth of material, and became the basis of most of his vast body of work. His nearly-abstract portraits of Shanghai pulse with a love for the city that is almost palpable. His work is often cited as the reason so many people move to and write about Shanghai to this day.


January 22

A turbulent decade of political shootings climaxed with the brutal assassination of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev after a twenty-one year old army deserter called Victor Ilyin fired fourteen rounds of ammunition into his Zil limousine.

The assassination of Leonid BrezhnevThe tragedy actually spurred on positive change - it was a mirror image of the Kennedy assassination which had eliminated a transformative political leader. Because the truth was that Brezhnev had been overseeing a period of stagnation which been started by sharp reversals suffered under his predecessor Nikita Khrushchev. Of course even under Stalin the Soviet System had been constrained by its resources and technology, and yet repeated mis-steps such as those in China and Cuba had demonstrated a decision-making vacuum in the Politburo.

In short then, Brezhnev's death created a welcome opportunity for a much-needed recovery of Soviet fortunes. And from Mao's death in 1976 until his own demise four years later, his successor Alexei Kosygin worked hard to restore relations with China. Unfortunately by then, an altogether more complex crisis had emerged in Afghanistan which gave the United States an opportunity to arm militants and destabilize the entire southern Soviet border zone.

In 1973, on this day the forty-fifth President of the Republic of Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson died in Stonewall, the census-designated place he had represented as a Nationalist Party Candidate for three decades. He served as President during the critical period December 9th 1962-December 9th 1965.

Death of Texan President Johnson (N-Stonewall)As a young man he enrolled in the Future Leaders of America programme, an expense bursary for gifted young leaders to serve in the armed forces of the Union and the Republic of Texas, and for their talented officers to serve with the Confederates. However despite FLoA his bitter experience of the un-coordinated American commands during World War forced him further into the arms of the Nationalist Party established by Mireabeau Lamar in 1843.

Neverthless at his personal invitation, Union President John F. Kennedy visited Dallas in November 1963. The last minute arrest of lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald narrowly avoided an assassination attempt. At the press conference, Johnson built some important bridges with the Union with his memorable off-hand comment "Mr President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you" [2]. Twenty years later, Union Presidential Candidate Edward M. Kennedy would reflect upon this event during his "Dream that Never Dies" speech in which he called for the re-establishment of a contiguous United States [1].
This article is part of the Two Americas thread

In 1918, on this day a prominent member of the Bolshevik Central Committee the Georgian "man of steel" Joseph Vissarionovich Jughashvili (pictured) was assassinated by British agent Oswald Rayner and the same members of the British Secret Intelligence Service that murdered Grigory Rasputin thirteen months before.

Stalin AssassinatedBoth strikes had been called by service head Mansfield Cumming (better known to co-workers as "C") to keep Russian Forces engaged in the Great War.

During 1916, the Tsar had been acting as Commander-in-Chief. Away from the Russian Capital, British Government feared that in his absence Rasputin would appeal to the Tsarina's German ancestry to call a truce. Thirteen months later, the Tsar had abdicated and the Bolsheviks had negotiated such a truce, leading to the prospect of the Western Allies facing the full brunt of the German Armies. By 1918, the resumption of hostilities required the displacement of the Bolsheviks in favour of the Socialist Revolutions. Even before Stalin was dead, advanced plans to assassinate both Lenin and Trotskey were being organized by Rayner.

In 1991, on this day Iraqi Dictator Saddam Husseini caught Coalition Forces by complete surprise when his Special Forces launched a wave of mobile Scud Missiles at the North African bases of the Anglo-French Project Hermes space program.

Aux Etoiles!
A teaser by Ed & Chris Oakley
Due to complex long-standing interests in the Middle East, and a history of independent thinking, the French Government had steadfastly refused to provide Ground Forces to support the US-led alliance. And yet after much persuasion, George Bush had finally convinced François Mitterand to participate in the Coalition of the Willing. Because of the advanced capabilities of her Space Platforms, France was able to assist the Allies with satellite surveillance of Scud missile deployments deep in the Iraqi desert.

Unfortunately for the West, those satellites had been launched from bases in the former French colony of Algeria. And when Iraq struck back with an anti-imperialist blow that resonated on the "Arab Street", he created a dangerous rupture at the heart of the Christian-Islamic alliance against Saddam's rule. More of a propaganda blow rather than a potent military strike, the operation would create huge problems at a key moment when Operation Desert Storm was "running on rails".
You can read read all parts of Chris Oakley's timeline at Aux Etoiles! at Changing the Times Magazine.

In 1973, on this day at his ranch in Stonewall, Texas, Secret Service agents found Lyndon Baines Johnson dead in his bed with a telephone in his hand. The thirty-fifth President of the United States had been trying to call for help after suffering a massive heart attack brought on by years of heavy smoking, poor diet, and extreme stress.

Disgraced President Johnson diesA Southern Democrat, he served as a United States Representative from Texas, from 1937-1949 and as United States Senator from 1949-1961, including six years as United States Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader and two as Senate Majority Whip. After campaigning unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1960, Johnson was asked by John F. Kennedy to be his running mate for the 1960 presidential election.

But fate intervened and Johnson himself succeeded to the White House after the assassination of the President-elect on Palm Beach, Florida on December 11, 1960. Once in the Oval Office, he immediately cancelled a covert operation to attack Fidel Castro with a light force of Cuban Rebels. With hindsight he would come to bitterly regret this decision. Because within two years, he would be fighting impeachment charges when it was discovered that the USSR had used the strategic pause to introduce nuclear weapons onto the island.

In 1972, whilst campaigning for the forthcoming Iowa Caucus, Senator Edward M. Kennedy was shot dead in Des Moinesa by lone gun-woman Mary Jo Kopechne.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72Whisperings of a scandal soon begin to emerge with the revelation that Koppechne had served as a "boiler girl" on Robert Kennedy's campaign in 1968. Even though he captivated the electorate, he had mis-timed his run, launching his candidacy too late to pick up the nomination. He followed up a gracious speech at the Convention in Chicago, returning to Martha's Vineyard to throw a party for his campaign staff.

Dejected by his brother's defeat, Ted had been drinking heavily all day, and shortly before midnight, snuck out of the party with Kopechne in order to have sex on the beach. At high speed he took a wrong turn onto a narrow bridge and crashed the vehicle into Poucha Pond. Even though the vehicle was capsized, he was able to rescue his unconscious companion. Jogging back to the Cottage, he fetched his cousin Joseph Gargan and party co-host Paul Markham who convinced Kopechne to keep quiet about the matter.

In 1995, on this day a civilian and seventeen soldiers were killed by two Palestinian suicide bombers in the Beit Lid massacre at Netanya, Central Israel.

Rabin SurvivesPersuaded against his better judgement by the emphaticatically delivered advice of his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reluctantly proceeded with his schedule, conducting a planned visit to the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem. This fateful decision placed Rabin in mortal danger, threatening the very future of his "Peace Now" movement.

Because not all of the visitors at Yad Vashem were directly engaged in the business of commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Army. A former Hesder student and Orthodox far-right law student at Bar-Ilan University, Yigal Amir (pictured) was absolutely convinced that Rabin was a traitor that had betrayed Zionist principles by offering the Palestinians "Land for Peace".

Yet Amir's assassination attempt ended in failure and the Prime Minister survived to conduct the Final Status Negotiations (known as Oslo III Accords) that Rabin would eventually sign in 1999. Because under interrogation, the "patsy" exposed a right-wing conspiracy. "When I tell the whole truth, the entire system will collapse. I know enough to destroy this country" said Amir. And that shocking truth was a plot by government forces loyal to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner) to force a return to the "Iron Fist" policy.

In 2013, on this day the overwhelming majority of the thirteen million citizens of Ontario celebrated the glorious bicentennial of joining the Union.Remember the Raisin!

Because on February 22nd 1810, the American politician Henry Clay declared that "the conquest of Canada is in our power. I trust I shall not be deemed presumptive when I state that I verily believe that the militia of Kentucky are alone competent to place Montreal and Upper Canada at our feet".

Almost three years later, a combined force of European, Canadian and five hundred Indians under the command of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh were decisively beaten at the Battle of Frenchtown, along the River Raisin. The phrase Remember the Raisin became a rallying cry for the brave Kentucky militiamen who had liberated Ontario from Upper Canada just as Clay had predicted.

Half way around the world, Napoleon's army were fleeing Russia, and some of the pressure was off Great Britain. For the decision by the Little Corporal to fight a war on two fronts resulted not only in the secession of Ontario to the British North American Union, but also the realisation of Shawnee aspirations for a native confederacy.

In Pierre Berton's Invasion of Canada (1812-3), the author explains two centuries of peace by wisely noting that "the creation of an Indian State north of the Ohio acted as a buffer zone between the two of the European States on the North American Continent making future wars unattractive".

In 2008, actor Heath Ledger (pictured) barely manages to survive a dangerous drug overdose at his SoHo-based apartment in Manhattan. Gotham Dawn by Gerry Shannon

That afternoon, Ledger had been found by his housekeeper in bed in a semi-conscious state and with a burning fever, and she then hurriedly dialled 911. The emergency room team who treated the actor found his condition was a result of an abuse of his precription medications that were for treating his headaches and his insomnia. (The actor often talked to his friends of his difficulties with sleeping).

During his recovery, Ledger released a statement warning his fans of not being properly informed as to the dangers of drugs - both legal and otherwise. It was this experience that would have the usually reclusive Ledger become a prominent anti-drugs activist in the intervening decades, often lobbying the US Senate for tougher measures and togrant greater powers to law enforcement agencies.

Nearly a year later to the day, he would be nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the super-villain, the Joker, in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight. Ledger's subsequent win was unique for a starring role in a big-budget genre production. He would reprise his role in the 2011 sequel, Gotham Dawn, which would briefly reunite him with his Brokeback Mountain co-star, Jake Gyllenhaal as the Riddler during the film's climax that sees a mass breakout from Arkham Asylum.

US President

On this day in 2001, President Colin Powell signed an executive order establishing the National Counterterrorism Command (NCC), an umbrella network designed to enable US law enforcement and military agencies to share information and co-ordinate strategies for combatting terrorism both at home and abroad.

US President - Colin Powell
Colin Powell

On this day in 2009, the US Senate voted unanimously to confirm former C-in-C of US forces in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense.                                            

C-in-C
C-in-C - David Petraeus
David Petraeus

In 1972, Soviet agent Dmitri Kaprinsky, alias D.B. Cooper, was sentenced to life in prison for espionage and attempted hijacking.

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In 1963, as expected after the results of the previous day's vote on impeaching President Kennedy, the House votes to impeach Earl Warren. As was true in the case of JFK, the impeachment resolution against Warren passes by a bare majority. In the Senate, there is uproar. The House votes mean the Senate will be called on to conduct trials of both the President and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Even some conservative senators consider the House's actions reckless, especially since it is believed to be unlikely that the two-thirds' majority vote for conviction can be obtained in either case.

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That consideration spurs some right-wing senators to begin researching whether the two-thirds requirement can be circumvented. Some argue that it applies only to the presidency, and that therefore Chief Justice Warren should be removable by a simple majority vote. Their opponents counter by quoting the Constitution's language in Article I, Section 2, stating that in case of impeachment 'no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.'

In 1000 Post-Creation, Lucifer rages in Heaven.
In 2005, Jeanna Best, coming in to work a Saturday at the law firm she is employed at in Austin, Texas, notices her boss, Jack Armstrong, using the 'claw'. Suddenly frightened, she tells him that she has taken ill and goes to her friend Dave Lange's apartment, where it takes a few drinks to calm her nerves. The two of them are now utterly convinced that they have stumbled onto something real - and dangerous.
In 1985, President Ralph Shephard begins his first full day in office. His first task is to assert control over the Congress; although members of his Constitutionalist Party form the largest bloc in both houses, they don't command an outright majority, so he makes overtures to several Republicans who lean in his direction, convincing them to join his party.
In 1918, the Provincial Parliament of Manitoba, Canada, directed its film censor board to ban all dramas and allow only comedies to be shown in movie theaters. After the Great War, the town fathers decided that dramas made everyone too serious.
In 1905, Russian communists, with the support of the communistic American government, attempt to overthrow the Russian Tsar and replace him with a socialist democratic government. Unfortunately, the Oprichnina crushed them before they could gain any popular support, and the Tsar's suppression afterwards kept the Russian people under his yoke for decades.
In 1901, Her Holiness, Pope Victoria, died in her Scottish residence. Pope Victoria, at first a strong-willed leader of the Holy British Empire, waned in her later years after the death of her consort, Albert. Victoria wore the Shoes of the Fisherman longer than any other Pope, and during her papacy, the Empire grew to enormous heights.
In 1878, the anti-Mlosh terrorist known as The Lone Bomber is caught by North American Confederation officials in the Pacific Northwest. Although great care was taken in his apprehension, several officers died during the search of his house when they triggered hidden explosives. The Bomber, Theodore Morris, is convicted of a dozen murder counts and sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole.
In 1183, Velma Porter and Mikhail von Heflin, having walked many miles around the island, are convinced that they are no longer in the Bermuda of their own time period. Although immortal, they are both somewhat reluctant to just wait out the problem, and so they make the decision to build another boat and head back towards the rift they came out of.
In 902, with their temporary truce over, the wizards of Wales leave Rhonwen's fortress. Although she complains bitterly that they are not going to stay to help her repair the damage, she is most upset at losing the companionship of her fellow wise ones. She approaches Atticus, wizard of lightning, and broaches the possibility of a Welsh Wizard's Council.
In 1946, the Central Intelligence Group, precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, was established by President Truman after advisors from the Bilderberger Group and the Bavarian [REST OF POST CLASSIFIED FOR NATIONAL SECURITY REASONS]
In 1973, on this day Lyndon B. Johnson died after suffering the third and final heart attack in his lifetime. Unfit for office for two weeks due to suffering from acute chest pains, the closing days of Johnson's Presidency had ended in acrimony. Vice President Hubert Humphrey had been sworn in for a single day according to the US Constitution, with President-elect Richard M Nixon arguing that his Government-in-transition should take office a day early.
In 1561, Sir Francis Bacon was born in London. Since he was a notable political figure, he initially hid his play-writing hobby from other nobles by using an actor named William Shakespeare as a front. After the wide-spread acceptance of his work, he came out openly and took credit for his work. This made a pauper of Shakespeare, who spent the rest of his days plotting revenge against Sir Francis.


January 21

In 1813, on this day in Savannah, Georgia the "Great Pathfinder" John Charles Frémont was born more than two thousand miles away from the then Mexican Province of California which he would later serve with ignominious distinction as the Golden Bear Republic's inaugural President.

John Frémont
1st President of California
March 4, 1846 - 1849
The causal event was the declaration of an independent Republic in Alta California by a group of American settlers in Sonoma. At the outset of this so-called "Bear Flag Revolt" he was hand picked by the US President and Secretary of State who provided him with verbal orders to conceal their direct involvement in the Revolt. It was a poor choice, because they believed him to be a suitably daring officer when in fact he would be better described as "over-bold". Worse, it was mistake because, Frémont was a maverick, a loose cannon who could not be trusted to operate at arms length under any form of meaningful control.

Appointed lieutenant colonel he formed the grandiose-sounding California Battalion from his survey crew and also local volunteers. It was partly a bluff to fool Mexico into overestimating the size of his forces, but it was also a de facto self-appointment as theatre commander and liberator.

Insofar as he could be said to follow the instruction of others, Frémont then broadly adhered to the orders of Commodore Robert F. Stockton by leading a military expedition of three hundred men in the capture of Santa Barbara. A few days later he led his men southeast toward Los Angeles, accepting the surrender of the leader Andres Pico.

Unknown to Frémont and the Bear Flag supporters, war had already been formally declared but the news did not reach California until early July. Ironically the name of the frigate carrying the declaration was the USS Savannah which shared the name of the town of Frémont's birth in Georgia. Already over-zealous, the coincidence fired the imagination of the young officer who know decided he was the de jure leader of the the Bear Flag supporters.

Meanwhile his window of opportunity was beginning to shut. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny had orders from the U.S. president and secretary of war to relieve Frémont and serve as governor. Fate played Frémont a hand. Unwilling to withdraw from the south-west, Mexico refused to cede the territory to the United States, instead accepting compensation from Great Britain who then set up an quasi-independent Republic/British protectorate headed by Frémont.

It was a bad choice, because Frémont was a "show-boater" who was temperamentally unfit to govern. Disregarding the advice of the British military attache, he allowed himself to be provoked by events stage managed in southern Texas which provided the US with a fresh pretext for intervention. It would be his successor, and former Commander, Robert F. Stockton who would have to fend off the United States' second and more determined attempt to seize the territory.

Historians portray Frémont as controversial, impetuous, and contradictory. Some scholars regard him as a military hero of significant accomplishment, while others view him as a failure who repeatedly defeated his own best purposes. The keys to Frémont's character and personality may lie in his illegitimate birth, ambitious drive for success, self-justification, and passive-aggressive behavior perhaps the three attributes best used to describe the new nation that he had founded.

In a, move that surprised the world, the United Nations has announced that is is turning all of Jerusalem over to the Disney Corporation. "Everyone is happy all the time in any Disney theme park", proclaimed Abbas and Netanyahu, as they returned from their state visit to Walt Disney World. "And we both want our people to be happy, too".

The Happiest City on EarthFlanked by Mickey Mouse in an Israel Defense Force uniform and Minnie wearing a burka, the leaders explained, "As we all know, the possession of Jerusalem has been a major roadblock to the two-state solution that both sides have been seeking for so long. We have both rejected the Vatican's offer to supervise the Holy City, but who could refuse a proposal to make the Holy City into the Happiest City on Earth?"

With typical Disney efficiency, the attractions are scheduled to open within a month, starting with "Great Moments with Isaac and Ishmael", "Pirates of the Mediterranean", and "It's a Small Continent". Aladdin and Jasmine will be on hand to personally welcome visitors to the Dome of the Rock, while Timon the Jewish meercat will greet guests at the Western Wall, along with his friends Pumbaa the Wart Hog and Simba the Lion King of Judah.

The only possible problem is that admission is expected to cost 10,000 shekles and drachma a day.



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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.