In 1975, Harrison Ford landed the leading male role of Ripley in the low budget b-movie Star Beast mockingly described as "Jaws in Space".
Harrison Ford leads the cast of Star BeastAlthough the screen play was critically acclaimed for its originality, writer Dan O'Bannon had drawn on inspiration from many films of various genre, readily admitting "I didn't steal Alien from anybody. I stole it from everybody!".
Ford certainly didn't care. His b-movie career subsequently took off, with a series of roles that followed in a string of other movies in the SciFi mileau. Fifteen years later, he would star in his most memorable role as Captain John Patrick "JP" Nelson in the fourth Star Trek series, "Star Trek: Voyager". It was a stunning accomplishment for the struggling actor that had been working as a carpenter prior to his big break with Star Beast.
In 1001, on this day Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor married Zoe, second daughter of Emperor Constantine VIII.
An article from our Happy Endings thread devised by Jackie Rose.
Happy Endings 28:
The Wedding at RavennaThe son of the Byzantine Princess Theophana (herself closely related to Byzantine Emperors John I Tzimisces and Romanus II), Otto had introduced Byzantine court ceremonial into the Holy Roman Empire and explicitly attempted to model his state on Byzantine theocratic ideal models.
The marriage was simply the next logical step towards a union of the crowns that would eventually re-unite the East and West Roman Empires. Amazingly, the wedding had almost never happened because Stefania, the widow of Crescentius II had attempted to poison the twenty-year old monarch when she heard that his bride-to-be had disembarked in Puglia. But fortunately, the conspiracy plot was exposed, and the wedding went ahead as planned. To be continued
In 2025, shortly after the unmanned spaceship Icarus touched down in the Sea of Tranquility millions of Americans watched an act of open defiance in mounting horror as the snarling Chimpanzee astronaut Caesar snapped in half the United States Flagpole that had been planted by Neil Armstrong.
Monkey MashupIn the wake of the Challenger and Columbia disasters manned spaceflight had abruptly ceased because twenty-first century mankind was unwilling to accept the risks of the baby boomers. But the development of a serum for brain cell development by San Francisco scientist Will Rodman opened the door to a new form of slavery which would have profoundly shocked those children of the Civil Rights era.
Because the application of the serum was not only a cure for Alzheimer's Disaster - brain cell repair process also offered a means to biologically uplift sentient species. By the end of the second decade of the twenty first century, NASA was in the advanced stage of testing spacecraft controlled by a chimpanzee making an unmanned return to the moon possible.
The real problem was highlighted in the Presidential Commission which investigated the Challenger disaster, the willingness of NASA managers to understate technical risks in order to maintain funding. And even before the launch, Caesar had begun to exhibit disturbing signs of aggression that should have led to a cancellation of the Icarus flight.
In 2010, on this day the impeachment trial of President Rod Blagojevich concluded in the US Senate with acquittal by a single vote cast by his fellow Illinoisan Barry Soereto raising speculation that a last-minute deal had been cut on the Mosque at Ground-Zero.
Park51Elected to the 109th Congress in 2004, Soereto served not only as the first Muslim Senator, but also the Chairman of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Over the next five years he toured the world, reaching out to multi-faith leaders in a bold attempt to "hit-the-restart-button" on Christian-Muslim relations. He candidly admitted that his childhood neighbourhood in Jakarta was a breeding ground for fanatics. And yet the initial shock of seeing an elected American politican on Al-Jazeera eventually passed. But just when it appeared that Soereto's campaign had finally receded into the background, a new controversy emerged which would transform the Senator into a truly international political figure.
Two Mosques near the World Trade Center had been severely damaged in the September 11th attacks. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf convinced a Muslim-run real estate company and developer called Soho Properties to build a new cultural center with a prayer space in Lower Manhatten. Liberals argued that Muslims had a constitutional right to build a Mosque at Ground-Zero on the basis of the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. Patriots maintaned that it was a monstrous offront to the memory of the victims of September 11th.
As big as this issue was, an even bigger issue emerged almost immediately. That issue was a taped recording of the President appearing to offer his former gubernatorial seat for cash. And yet the case against Blagojevich was badly mishandled, and despite easy passage through the House, the Senate vote hung on a knife-edge, perhaps the casting of just a single vote might swing the balance. And so Blagojevich turned to a most unlikely ally in Soereto. Ironically, Blagojevich's father was from Serbia, elements of whose National Army allegedly committed anti-Muslim genocide in Bosnia-Hercegovina during the 1990s.
In 1912, no one is quite certain who made the suggestion, and a dozen or more delegates have claimed it, but a little after midnight during the second day of the Progressive Party 1912 Convention in Chicago, someone said, "TR, why not just run yourself and have the Republicans come crawling back to you?"
Roosevelt Runs Alone He had planned to have Hiram Johnson, Governor of California, as a running mate, but Roosevelt liked the idea. The Republicans had become corrupt and bloated, and so many of the Progressive Party members were former Republicans that they had a chance of overcoming the upper echelons that had gotten comfortable and were now in league with trusts (as Roosevelt often speculated). They had renominated Taft and VP James Sherman over him, causing the Progressives to reconvene with their own party. Roosevelt could think of no sweeter revenge, and no greater victory for the country, than to win back the control of the Republican Party.
"Elections in 1912 were bloodthirsty. In October, when it became clear that Taft could not possibly win, the Republican Party began to reevaluate. They knew Progressives were winning on state and local levels, but they felt they still had a stranglehold on the national government. If they lost that to the Democrats, however, then they would have nothing. After many backroom deals, they finally approached Roosevelt about reforming the two parties.
Roosevelt launched into the idea, having plotted for months about his actions. With great enthusiasm from the public, the scene was played publicly like a triumphant family reunion. Sherman stayed with him as VP while Taft was promised the Secretary of State. Although many who disapproved of Roosevelt voted for Wilson's "New Freedom" and limited government, Roosevelt narrowly won the election campaigning on the idea of a "Square Deal" for all.
Back in office as the second president to split his terms (Grover Cleveland having done so some thirty years before), Roosevelt set about punishing trusts with legal force and training up workers to pursue legal and public fights for fairness rather than depending on "socialist" strikes. The first two years ran fluidly, though the public began to grow tepid toward his ideals and thought more of limited government. After nervousness about his interventions in Latin America, voters in the 1914 elections swung support of Congress to Democrats.
Later that year, war broke out in Europe. Roosevelt was eager to become involved, but Congress refused to budge on declarations of war despite potential violations of treaties, such as the use of illegal chlorine gas by the Germans. Going without an army, Roosevelt went as a negotiator to Europe in 1915 to see if he might end the war as he had the Russo-Japanese War. The embroiled nations refused to budge as trench warfare continued. Defeated, Roosevelt returned to campaign for his reelection.
Again, the Republican Convention turned against him. After another threat of making a third party, it was mentioned to him that he couldn't be president if he were going to lead an expeditionary force in the war. Roosevelt then happily withdrew and campaigned with his endless energy for the candidate Charles Hughes. However, Democrat Woodrow Wilson would win on promises of maintaining peace. Despite promises, the peace would be shattered in 1917 with the sinking of the Lusitania, and Roosevelt would approach the White House with plans of leading an expedition to settle the European war. Wilson would decline the former president's offer.
Feeling dually betrayed, Roosevelt decided to raise up a force of volunteers anyway. While cries of treason began to go out, Wilson diplomatically funneled Roosevelt's efforts into the actual military and conscripted Roosevelt into home defense as a public face to Hoover's U.S. Food Administration. Though he would sit out the war, his son Quentin would participate as a pilot and give his life for his country. Roosevelt would never speak of war positively again.
In 1920, the country had tired of Wilson and his dealings in Europe, even to the point of the Senate refusing his League of Nations treaty. Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, attributed to stress, and the Democrats were in rough shape for the election. The Republicans, meanwhile, readied Roosevelt for an unprecedented fourth term. He swept elections and returned to the White House in 1921. These would prove turbulent years with race issues, Republican dealings like naming Taft as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and political scandals such as the Teapot Dome Affair, though business affairs would flow smoothly, and Roosevelt became visibly tired. By the end of his term, he did not seek reelection and let the office fall to his VP Calvin Coolidge.
After a year of rest, Roosevelt decided to put off a trip to the Amazon he had been planning for a long time with the Museum of Natural History in New York. Despite suggestions of his family that he stay home and retire, Roosevelt launched his expedition up the Rio da Duvida (River of Doubt) at age 66. The expedition would never be seen again. Roosevelt would go down as perhaps history's greatest Missing Person.
In 1945, word reached Washington D.C. confirming that the bomber Enola Gay, which had been carrying an atomic bomb to be dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, had been shot down over the city, crashing in its outskirts.
First Broken Arrow by Eric LippsThe crash apparently failed to detonate the uranium-based atomioc bomb on board, as initial information indicates no more damage to the area than would be expected from an ordinary plane crash. It was feared that the Japanese may have seized the massive, heavily built weapon intact, though it was considered unlikely that they would immediately realize the nature of their prize.
In 1951, the planets Bellus and Zyra, which had been knocked out of their respective orbits when their sun went nova, collided with each other somewhere in Earth's solar system, shattering both Bellus and Zyra and spraying Earth, the Moon, and Mars with millions of tons of cosmic debris. Many of Earth's most famous natural and man-made landmarks fell victim to the disaster; in at least one case the force from the impact of these planetary fragments was enough to cause a volcanic eruption that destroyed the Italian city of Naples.
When Worlds Collide by Chris OakleyCasualties from the debris strikes alone exceeded 30 million, and another 10 to 15 millon people would die due to civil unrest, disease outbreaks, and seismic disasters that ensued in the collision's aftermath; nearly two million would commit suicide. At a least dozen countries saw their governments toppled in the chaos following the disaster; among them was the Soviet Union, which saw CPSU leader Joseph Stalin arrested on orders from his own secret police chief, Lavrenti Beria.
Two members of U.S. President Harry Truman's cabinet resigned in disgrace after they were accused of mismanaging the United States government's response to the disaster.
In 2003, on this first of day of his candidacy for Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger received a searing barrage of abuse from a long-term critic, the real Conan the Barbarian. The previous night Schwarzenegger had appeared on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Arnie announced that he was adding his name to the crowded field of candidates in the recall election precipiated by Governor Gray Davis' handling of the Californian budget crisis. The following morning during the work-out feaure of Breakfast with America Conan dubbed him the "Governator" and "The Running Man" ridiculing the recall election as "Total Recall". The Governator by Ed. & David AtwellNo mention was made - or even needed to be made - of Arnie's 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian because the real Barbarian's harsh viewpoint had received considerable air time in the following twenty years, so much so that the criticism had stuck, forcing Arnie to look for a career change into politics. This unexpected career move presented a further opportunity for personal criticism, with Conan narrowing his focus to Arnie's inarticulacy. Allegedly, Arnie's Austrian accent was so thick it was difficult to know if the ageing actor was still speaking in pidgeon Cimmerian, Conan's native language.
In 1946, secret research into the harnessing of nuclear fission was authorized for military purposes [continued from Part 1]. Manhattan Project Part 2 - A Fateful Decision by Eric Lipps
Many have speculated on what might have happened had America undertaken its atomic bomb program few years earlier, in time to make a weapon available during World War II rather than years after its end. In that case, the first cities to have been incinerated by nuclear fire might have been German and Japanese, rather than Russian, and the world would remember their names rather than those of Moscow and Leningrad.
But it was not to be. Einstein's fateful decision to return to Germany following his trip to the United States in December 1932 would foreclose that option. With the Nazis in power following Hindenburg's decision, on January 30, 1933, to name Hitler as chancellor of the German republic, the famous scientist found himself absorbed in efforts to defend his fellow scientists, and increasingly his fellow Jews, from persecution by the new regime. He had several opportunities in 1933 and '34 to leave the third Reich, but chose not to do so.
And then it was too late: by order of Hitler himself, he was arrested on the morning of January 3, 1935, and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau. While this camp was not yet the place of horror it would later become, it was nevertheless a brutal prison, and the incarceration of the world-renowned physicist within its walls ignited a storm of protest both outside Germany and within the Reich itself, where Einstein's defenders included physicists Werner Heisenberg and Abraham Esau (who, despite his name, had impeccable credentials as an 'Aryan'). Einstein was released in early February, but would spend the next ten years under various forms of house arrest. Following the fall of the Nazi regime in May 1945, Einstein would be freed and would leave Germany at last, first for England and then, in February 1946, for the United States.
It was after Einstein's arrival in the U.S. that he would be contacted by several other refugee scientists, among them Edward Teller and Leo Szilard, who had drafted a letter to President Truman warning of the potential for nuclear fission to be employed in an 'unimaginably powerful explosive of an entirely new type'--in other words, an atomic bomb. The letter warned that efforts toward developing such a bomb had been undertaken in Germany during the war and were believed to be ongoing in the USSR under the leadership of Igor Kurchatov. It read in part: 'While the Nazi effort ultimately failed, we believe this to be due not to the inherent impracticability of such weapons (this issue remains undecided) but primarily due to a combination of technical errors, organizational problems and shortages of key resources. It would be unwise to assume that the same factors will ultimately keep the Soviet Union from producing this new type of explosive, should it be physically possible to do so.'
The Einstein-Szilard letter arrived on President Truman's desk as he was grappling with the issue of the postwar division of Japan.
At Yalta, Soviet Union had promised to enter the war against the land of the Rising Sun within three months following the final surrender of Germany. On August 8, 1945, three months to the day after the German surrender, it did so, just as the U.S. was preparing for its planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, codenamed Operation Downfall. But American plans for Japan had no place for the Soviets: the last thing President Truman wanted was to have to share the occupation of that country with Communist Russia as he had been forced to do in the case of Germany. Nevertheless, that was what he had ended up with: as U.S. forces fought their way northward from their initial landing sites on Kyushu, the Soviets had struck from the north, seizing the island of Hokkaido by mid-September 1945 and pushing on, jumping to northern Honshu by the end of that month in hopes of reaching Tokyo before the Americans did. By early '46 it was clear that one way or another, the Soviets would hold take of Japan, and would be extremely difficult to dislodge by force, a situation mirroring that which was developing on the Asian mainland in the case of Korea.
So the news that the Soviets might be in a position to develop a devastating new weapon at some point in the near future was not greeted with enthusiasm at the White House. The Einstein-Szilard letter was, as Truman would put it in his memoirs, an 'alarm bell in the night,' and pushed the President into ordering a crash U.S. program, which would be codenamed the 'Manhattan Engineering District' (later colloquialized as the 'Manhattan Project').
Einstein's position regarding the project was an awkward one. It was, after all, his theory of relativity which had provided the fundamental basis for understanding atomic energy--yet Einstein, whose politics were considerably left of center, was deeply distrusted by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who insisted that he could not be trusted with knowledge of such a vital national defense effort. It proved impossible to keep him out of the loop entirely, however, and Hoover was forced to swallow his concerns, settling for surveillance of the scientist.
However, Einstein's letter to the Atlantic Monthly in 1948 insisting that the U.S. must not seek an 'atomic monopoly' nearly provoked Hoover to order his arrest for violating security. It was one of several such 'security breaches' to excite Hoover during the Project years; two others involved a short story for Astounding Science Fiction magazine and a Superman story written for Action Comics in 1949, both of which the government suppressed until after the atomic bomb had become public knowledge. Eventually it was pointed out to Hoover that his aggressive reaction to what seemed to be harmless fiction was merely feeding rumors of an actual bomb project, creating its own security breach.
In August 1946 the need for a U.S. nuclear program was dramatically emphasized when Soviet armed forces invaded Iran after failing to receive the concessions they had been promised in exchange for their withdrawal in May. According to Truman's memoirs, had the U.S. then possessed nuclear weapons, their use might have been threatened in order to force the Soviets to back off. Without them, a large conventional response was the only alternative.
But with U.S. forces already occupying Japan, western Germany and Italy, and more on their way to Korea and to bolster the French in Indochina, this meant that the brief glimmering of hope for a peaceful post-World War II era had to be sacrificed. At the urging of Emperor Hirohito and with the reluctant concurrence of War Minister Hideki Tojo, Japan had surrendered to the U.S. in October of '45, allowing Tokyo to be occupied by American forces rather than risking that it would fall to the Soviets--but occupation under General Douglas MacArthur tied down enormous numbers of troops, just as was the case in Europe. There would be no end to the military draft, no demobilization--and once battle was joined in Iran, fighting erupted everywhere U.S. forces faced their Soviet counterparts. Historians remain divided as to whether the new hostilities qualify as a third world war or as a continuation, with realigned sides, of the second.
The U.S.-Soviet conflict had far-reaching political consequences. In both Europe and Japan, it undermined support for vigorous war-crimes prosecutions, leading to what many would later feel was inadequate justice at Nuremberg and in Tokyo. And within America itself, first Parnell Thomas and then Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin would lead a crusade to root out 'subversives' and other undesirables everywhere. Their efforts would lead to the Internal Security Acts of 1947, '48 and '50, under which over twenty thousand Americans would ultimately be incarcerated in political prisons converted from the camps in which Japanese-Americans had been held after Pearl Harbor, including the notorious Manzanar. Many more would be driven from their jobs; some, including the famed silent-movie actor Charlie Chaplin, would flee the country. Chaplin would die in exile in Switzerland on Christmas Day, 1977.
And the defeat of the Soviets in 1950 would lead to no relaxation. By then, China had gone Communist under Mao Tse-tung, ushering in a renewed fear of the Yellow Peril fueled by a combination of anti-Communism and racism. Although at the time of Einstein's death the U.S. was still formally at peace with the Communist colossus, mostly because its resources were strained to the limit occupying its World War II adversaries and its former ally Russia, there seemed little doubt that another war would come sooner or later.
Einstein had been embittered at the use of his work in warfare. He had supported a bomb project primarily in hopes of developing a deterrent in case the Soviets got a bomb, and had privately hoped that the bomb research would prove a weapon was impossible after all. Although he had never been a Communist, when Moscow and Leningrad disappeared beneath mushroom clouds, he was inconsolable. The fact that even after the fall of the Soviets the U.S. refused to surrender its nuclear monopoly, going so far as to strong-arm Britain and France into ending their own independent nuclear programs, deepened his depression. In his final years, the father of relativity withdrew from public life, devoting his efforts entirely to abstract research in pursuit of the unified field theory of physics he believed was possible. He never found it.
Albert Einstein died April 18, 1955. Shortly before his death, when asked what he thought of his life's work, he replied sadly: 'If I had known, I should have been a plumber.'
Continues in Part 3
On this day in 1983, reigning WWF world heavyweight champion Terry "Hulk" Hogan and former champion "Psycho" Tommy Rich squared off for the last time before a sellout crowd at Kansas City's Kemper Arena in the main event of Summerslam II.
Rich's cornerman for the evening, veteran WWF manager "Classy" Fred Blassie, tried repeatedly to interfere in the bout on the ex-champ's behalf but got little for his efforts other than a slug in the jaw by Hogan and a one-way trip back to the arena locker rooms courtesy of the Kansas City police. A thunderous ovation erupted from the stands when Hogan nailed Rich with a flying legdrop to win the match and retain the title; Gorilla Monsoon, doing blow-by-blow commentary, announced the end of Rich's WWF tenure with the exuberant declaration "The Psycho Ward is closed!"
On the Summerslam II undercard Greg "The Hammer" Valentine won the Intercontinental championship from the Junkyard Dog; Mike Rotundo fought Nikolai Volkoff to a double countout; and former NWA world champion Bret "Hit Man" Hart made his WWF debut with a win over Tony Garea. Sixteen years later, Kemper Arena would be the scene of one of the worst tragedies in wrestling history when Bret's younger brother Owen(a.k.a. "Blue Blazer") was killed in a fall from the arena ceiling after a pre-match entrance stunt went horrifically wrong.
On this day in 1968, the newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan established diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran.
In 1588, on this day the Duke of Parma, who'd fallen into irreversible physical and mental decline following the destruction of the Spanish Armada, died from a cerebral hemorrhage.
On this day in 1944, Wehrmacht field marshal Erwin Rommel, the famed "Desert Fox", was warned by one of his senior aides that the Gestapo was preparing to arrest him when he was released from the hospital where he'd been recovering from wounds sustained in an Allied strafing attack three days before Hitler's death. The news drove him to make the previously unthinkable decision to defect to the Allies.
On this day in 1943, US Army officer Francis Urquhart was promoted to major.
In 1939, Italian warplanes bombed the British outpost at Malta in support of the Spanish campaign in Gibraltar.
On this day in 1973, contract assassin Jason Renshaw, who'd been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list since 1969, was killed in a shootout with federal agents at his San Francisco apartment. The shootout began when he tried to escape arrest and lasted more than half an hour; before it was over, not only would Renshaw die but a federal agent would also be killed and two agents wounded. The shootout, and Renshaw's career as a hit man, would both be dealt with at length in Stephen King's book Battleground.
|Jason Renshaw|In 1947,
Major Jesse Marcel and a man in plainclothes accompanied William 'Mac' Brazel back to his New Mexico ranch where more pieces were picked up from the remains of the crashed Roswell craft. Brazel told the pair he had seen aliens, who he described as
two feet high, and green, and shaped like plumber's friends. Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a green eye in its palm.
No fool, Marcel noticed a complete absence of surprise on his mysterious colleague's face.
On this day in 1947, a fragment of stellar rock left over from the July 6th asteroid strike at Roswell, New Mexico was packed up and shipped to the National Geographic Society offices in Washington, D.C.
In 1912, the Progressive Party, better known as the "Bull Moose" Party, nominates Theodore Roosevelt to run for President against Socialist Woodrow Wilson and Communist John Reed. Roosevelt pulls enough votes from the Communists to elect Woodrow Wilson. Roosevelt's cousin, Franklin, actually will end up as President in the 30's, albeit for only one term.
In 1976, the Viking probe enters Martian orbit. This activates several mechanisms buried deep underground in the Martian soil, and the automated process to awaken Mars' natives begins. Scientists on earth announce that Viking has found the strongest indications to date of life on Mars - they don't know how right they are.
In 1338, the Franks are given their independence by the Caliphate of Mali. Many of their ancient religions spring back up, but Islam remains the majority religion for many decades afterward.
In 1928, the 'Amazing' James Randi was born in Canada. A spiritualist and medium, Randi created a multi-media and marketing empire hawking magical goods, spiritual remedies, and seances where he would speak to the dead, for a hefty fee.
In 2010, the IS Director of NASA was informed that the design integrity of the next generation Space Shuttle had been compromised. An engineering design assistant had suffered irreversible file corruption. It was close to the truth, his daughter had Bluetooth'ed a picture of the Bear in the Big Blue House into the Computer Aided Design Directory.
In 1956, Malcolm Little received parole and was released from Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown. A dangerous criminal, Little had avoided the draft by telling the examining officer that he could not wait to organize with other black soldiers so he could 'kill some crackers.' Incarcerated for a decade, there was a lot of catch-up to be done.
In 1952, Malcolm Little received parole and was released from an experimental prison at Norfolk, Massachusetts. He had been serving a ten year sentence for Grand Larceny and Breaking and Entering. Soon he developed first a voracious appetite for reading, then astigmatism. Malcolm later reflected on his time in prison: 'Months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life.' Little sought a quite life. During this time, he received correspondence from his brother Reginald telling him about the Nation of Islam. Once out, he became a reluctant assistant to the firebrand minister Reginald X.
In 1952, as mandated by extended Jim Crows laws, prisoner Malcolm Little was denied parole. 'Detroit Red' (as he was known) was informed he would be required to serve his full ten-year term at Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown. A dangerous criminal, Little had avoided the draft by telling the examining officer that he could not wait to organize with other black soldiers so he could 'kill some crackers.' His approach worked, and he was given a classification that ensured he would not be drafted - but his psych profile was upgraded accordingly.
In 1980, U.S Army Rangers enter Iranian Air Space, avoid detection and rescue all fifty-two hostages held in the American Embassy in Tehran. An installment from the 49th State thread.
Smackdown in the Middle EastFlawlessly executed just months ahead of the general election, Operation Owl Flight boosts Charlton Heston's job approval ratings to a new high. A hugely popular choice as Vice President, the tragic death of Nelson Rockefeller eighteen months earlier had propelled the former actor into the Oval Office. With almost two years of the term of office remaining, it was Operation Owl Flight, really the brain child of CIA Director George H.W. Bush, that fully established his leadership credentials as a foreign policy "hawk".
Behind the fanfare, Operation Owl Flight had created two fresh problems for Heston. Firstly, he had been under pressure to select Bush as Vice President (ultimately, the fuming Bush was forced to accept a promotion to Secretary of Defense). And secondly, talk of a forthcoming confrontation with the Ayatollah began to move forward with apace. But in fact Heston really wanted to focus resources on winning the Contra War against the left-wing government of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Bolivia. He planned to deal with Iran by launching a proxy war but suffered a huge setback when, on 8th July, 1982, the Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was murdered in Dujail.
Needless to say, this assassination caused a sharp change of fortunes in the course of the Iran-Iraq War. Within months, the regime had collapsed and Iran had occupied Basra. It was a disaster of the first magnitude for the Republican Leadership that had unwaveringly supported Hussein in a secret proxy war in the Middle East despite his appalling record on human rights. Through the bullets of assassins, America had by chance ended up in a foreign policy crisis with global consequences. Because even as the Soviet Union began to collapse, Heston and his successors confronted the parallel challenge of terror in the Middle East and virulent Marxism in their own back yard. In response to this threat, Heston would hawkishly call for a 600-ship navy.
In 1980, as part of a special operation known as Operation Owl Flight, U.S Army Rangers entered Iranian Air Space, Avoiding detection and subsequently reaching the American Embassy and rescuing all 52 hostages (who were soon returned to the United States). Article from the Reagan wins in 1976 thread.
Operation Owl FlightBut unfortunately for the White House, the triumph of the operation is too late to rescue the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.
By 1980, his popularity had eroded, and after a hard fought campaign he lost re-election to California Governor Jerry Brown. Because a month before, Brown had received the nomination at the GOP National Convention held at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Ironically, in defeating Gerald Ford in 1976, Reagan had become the first person to do take the nomination from an incumbent president since James Buchanan in 1856. Now he had suffered the same fate at the hands of his successor as Governor of California (and now as the fortieth US President) Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr.
In 1964, Richmond-based newspaper CSA Today publishes the first pictures of Yankee Troops occupying the John Wilkes Booth International Airport in Charleston, South Carolina.
Centennial ReconstructionFour years before, Governor Strom Thurmond had led the State out of the Confederacy. This move was somewhat ironic given that his Civil War-era predecessor William H. Gist had called other Southern leaders as "our weaker brethren". But it was the controversial renaming the International Airport that had gained South Caroline is current parish status as a rogue nation. Because it labelled a notorious assassin as an anti-Federalist hero.
In accordance with a League of Nations mandate that it had recently secured in Geneva, the rump United States was forcibly dismantling Jim Crow with plans to roll-out Civil Rights legislation (the "weaker brethren" being willing to negotiate the end of Jim Crow without a fight). As with the events of a century before, it remained to be scene whether the events in Charleston would trigger a chain reaction throughout the South.
In 1806, on this day the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II was forced to abdicate in favour of Napoleon Bonaparte following the disastrous defeat of Third Coalition forces at the Battle of Austerlitz.
Napoleon Bonaparte Crowned Holy Roman Emperor
written by Ed and Scott Palter Founded in 962, the character of the Holy Roman Empire had changed dramatically during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes. In its last centuries, its character became quite close to a union of territories, a complex structure whereby the German states were loosely subordinate to an Emperor who was also the Hapsburgh ruler of the biggest/richest territories.
By 1815, the Germanic Prussians, having played a crucial role in the downfall of Napoleon, were unwilling to accept being a subordinate kingdom. And yet Prussia had emerged as a Polish-Swedish set of provinces, a multi-national ethnicity that needed European integration in order to survive.
The Hapsburgs themselves had been strengthened by their expansion into expanded Holland, Belgium and Burgundy. And none of the second rank German states getting strong enough to refuse subordination. The outcome of this interaction of powers was the emergence of a powerful German Confederacy, the putative successor state to the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1945, on this day the US Army Air Force dropped an atomic bomb on the Imperial Capital City of Kyoto killing the Emperor Hirohito as he prepared to break with a centuries-old protocol of official silence by instructing the Japanese Government to accept the Allies terms for unconditional surrender.
MokusatsuAt a similiarly fateful meeting held in Los Alamos on May 10th, a committee chaired by J. Robert Oppenheimer had identified Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and the arsenal at Kokuraas as suitable targets for the bomb. When an expert on Japan, Professor Edwin O. Reischauer strongly disagreed with the inclusion of Kyoto his argument forced the "City of Temples" to the top of the list. Because hardliners in the US Government judged that Kyoto was precisely the symbolic target they sought for destruction. In addition, the city was an important centre for military industry, as well an intellectual center. And so the decision was made.
In a sense the hardliners chose well because the US Government surely did succeed in making an unanswerable expression of authority. But the effects on the Empire of Japan were tragically misjudged. Not only was a key voice of moderation removed at a critical juncture, but also a transitional post-war figurehead was eliminated. With the publication of the Sugiyama memo, President Truman later argued (somewhat disengeniously) that the Emperor had the supreme command of the Japanese Army and the Navy and would almost certainly have been executed on the orders of the Tokyo Trials.
Ironically, whilst Hirohito had adopted the traditional protocol of remaining officially silent during the military councils, his commanders had insisted upon a policy of "mokusatsu", treating the Allies demands for surrender with a silent contempt. But now that silence had been broken. Believing that the Allies meant to destroy Japan as a distinct cultural entity, Military High Command abandoned the remaining Home Islands in order to concentrate their still considerable land forces in the defence of the Tokyo Plains.
In 1945, at 8:15 Hiroshima time, the B-29 Enola Gay commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets dropped a single bomb over the Japanese city.
Experimental US "A" Bomb a Dud It was the lead of three planes, the other two full of instruments and recording devices to see what would come of the experimental "atomic" bomb code named "Little Boy". From the explosions in at Trinity in New Mexico, expectations were immense. President Truman hoped that the new weapon would end the war quickly, giving enough cause that the Japanese would surrender as outlined in the Potsdam Declaration issued on July 26.
"The bomb fell, but it did not detonate. Scientists and historians speculate continually on what went wrong, and theories range from improperly deactivated safety devices, lackluster uranium, sabotage, or simply the hand of God. It smashed impotent into a row of offices near the Shima Surgical Clinic. The Japanese, who had spotted the three planes on radar and assumed they were merely a reconnaissance mission, were confused by the mission. They collected the remains of the bomb that afternoon and returned them to military headquarters for investigation.
When the Japanese discovered radiation burns on the handlers of the uranium, their military investigators and scientists determined the bomb to be a sort of "extermination" weapon. As reports of this came to the war council and Emperor, the government began to fear for what an invasion of the home islands by such barbarians would bring. Some felt the need to surrender to terms to prevent annihilation of the people, and others felt all the more the need to defend themselves.
Meanwhile, in America, Truman was furious. Billions of dollars and countless man-hours had been spent developing, to quote Truman, "a damned fool newfangled" weapon that did not work as it should. He shelved delivery of the "Fat Man" bomb and prepared for a bloody military invasion. His only solace was that the Russians would be with them since Foreign Minister Molotov had declared war on August 5.
As Hirohito considered surrender, the Staff Office in the Ministry of War considered otherwise. They convinced him that they could bloody the Allies into an agreeable treaty. Bracing for invasion, Japan placed itself under a military state of emergency. Soviet tanks rolled through China and Korea while the Allied Fleets in the Pacific and on Okinawa prepared for an October landfall on Kyushu dubbed Operation Olympic. During the winter, Hirohito could not stand to see the suffering of his people any longer, and he surrendered December 29, 1945, with a clear depiction of his own power over the home islands.
While the Soviets occupied Korea and much of China, Britain and the United States occupied southern regions of the former empire. War criminals were brought forward, and the Emperor worked handily with foreign diplomats, though they were kept out of Japan proper as much as possible.
The atomic bomb remained science fiction for the military as much as death ray weapons and mind control. Though the Cold War saw more experimentation into nuclear super-weapons, they were rarely brought into the public scene. Instead, the world was more concerned with the balance of power as seen between the East and West in Europe as well as disputes between North and South China (which would see the prolonged Chinese War from 1955 to 1975) and heroic waterborne escapes from Soviet Korea to nearby Imperial Japan.
In 2010, on this day Charles Kennedy led an exodus of anti-Coalition MPs out of the Liberal Democrat Party following the publication of economic data which vindicated his prediction that deep budget cuts would lead to a double dip recession in Great Britain.
Man of PrincipleUndoubtedly one of the most outstanding parliamentarians of his generation, Kennedy first became an MP at the age of just twenty-three, the youngest member in the House of Commons. And demonstrating an independent and inquiring mind which conceived a new Liberal consensus, he rose to the position of party leader in 1999, taking a firm stand against the Iraq War. Despite leading the Liberal Democrats to their largest ever share of the vote, he was disgraced by allegations of binge drinking and forced to resign in 2006.
"Don't expect me to f*#cking support you"Following the less than stellar outcome of the 2010 general election, the party decided to form a coalition with the Conservative Party, although Kennedy - now a backbencher - abstained on the original vote. Ironically, Kennedy had done more to prepare the party for Government than its pin-up boy scout leader, Nick Clegg, a private school educated political lightweight with a privileged social background. In fact, he was a Tory in all but name. And so when Clegg's political partner, Conservative Leader David Cameron offered his hand to the ex Lib Dem leader in the Commons, Kennedy did not rise from his seat, instead, he hissed: "Don't expect me to f*#cking support you". Kennedy later approached a Labour MP in the hope of trying to form a "pair" for some votes. "I don't want to vote for these b*stards," he explained to the rather surprised Labour backbencher.
"I don't want to vote for these b*stards,"The trouble for the Liberal Democrats was that Kennedy was absolutely right. Because on June 22nd, Chancelleor George Osbourne announced the harshest budget cuts in many years. The coalition was self-evidently a no-win situation for the Liberal Democrats who were simply providing cover for the Tories who could implement a cuts programme that produced a deep recession.
Kennedy would now reach out to the Labour Party to begin the formation of a Progressive Coalition which had been proposed by Gordon Brown in the immediate aftermath of the general election. This time however, it was an idea whose time had come around because it was driven by principle and not expediency.
In 2007, on this day President of the Republic of South Africa Winnie Madikizela-Mandela ordered the dismantling of an unofficial veteran's memorial at Freedom Park. The result would be a backlash unprecedented in scale since her decision to overule Bishop Desmond Tutu by ordering a mandatory Truth and Reconciliation Committee shortly after assuming office in 2001.
Firestorm at the end of the RainbowThe earnestness of the veterans' quest for reaffirmation of their contribution to the new South Africa was highlighted by the recent controversy over the Freedom Park memorial wall on the crest of Salvokop Hill near Pretoria. Rather than adopt an official SADF memorial, erected in 1979 at Fort Klapperkop (not far from Freedom Park), which lists the names of some 2,000 killed in defending the Republic of South Africa, veterans have ignored its existence.
When the Freedom Park Trust announced the erection of another wall of names to honour those who had fought for freedom and humanity, a pressure group led by conservative Afrikaners sought to have the names of veterans killed in the Border War included in that roll of honour. The group also objected to the fact that the memorial wall was to include the names of Cuban soldiers who died in Angola fighting the SADF. Their request for "fair treatment" was dismissed by Wally Serote, CEO of the Freedom Park Trust, on the grounds that SADF soldiers had fought to preserve apartheid and defeat the struggle for liberation. The veterans' group responded by erecting its own memorial at the access road to Salvokop in January 2007.
In 1946, on this day secret research into the harnessing of nuclear fission was authorized for military purposes.
Manhattan Project Part 1 - The Einstein-Szilard Letter
by Eric Lipps & EdExecutive action was prompted by a letter of concern from those ex-Nazi scientists who had been liberated by American forces during the fall of Germany.
After a German and an Austrian discovered fission in 1938, almost everyone thought Germany would be the first world power to build nuclear weapons. Yet an Allied mission code-named Alsos, following on the heels of troops liberating Europe, found only a primitive program. No working nuclear reactor. No large quantities of separated Uranium-235, a basic bomb ingredient. No credible bomb design. "Sometimes we wondered if our government had not spent more money on our intelligence mission than the Germans spent on their whole project," wrote Alsos scientific director Samuel Goudsmit.
Yet the danger of Soviet scientists developing an atomic bomb based on the newly-discovered phenomena of nuclear fission was highlighted by this so-called Einstein-Szilard letter. Hungarian emigre Leo Szilard, having failed to arouse U.S. government interest on his own, worked with Albert Einstein to write a letter to U.S. President Harry S. Truman, which Einstein signed, urging U.S. development of such a weapon.
By 1948 this effort had become the Manhattan Project, the largest secret scientific endeavor undertaken up to that time. By late 1950, the U.S. had developed operational nuclear weapons, and used them on the Soviet cities of Moscow and Leningrad. Einstein himself did not play a role in the development of the atomic bomb other than signing the letter. He did help the United States Navy with some unrelated theoretical questions it was working on during the war.
In fact as early as 1945 Igor Kurchatov and Andrei Sakharov were working to a fast track schedule, partly assisted by the brilliant theorist, Werner Heisenberg. Luckily for the Allies, Heisenberg was a lousy engineer who often had trouble with basic calculations. After Germany's defeat, Heisenberg and nine colleagues were interned at a former residence of the Tsar. Hidden microphones recorded their stunned reaction to the U.S. atomic bombing of Moscow. The tapes, released in 1992, reveal a Heisenberg who did not understand bomb physics and vastly overestimated how much U-235 was needed for 'critical mass.' "You're just second-raters and you might as well pack up," a colleague gibed on the tapes.
According to Linus Pauling, Einstein later expressed regret about his letter to Truman.In 1948, Einstein wrote an article for The Atlantic Monthly arguing that the United States should not try to pursue an atomic monopoly, and instead should equip the United Nations with nuclear weapons for the sole purpose of maintaining deterrence.
Continues in Part 2
In 2006, in an interview with Charlie Steffens of KNAC.COM Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan said "No, I don't talk to him [Ritchie Blackmore] at all. That **** - I will never speak to him again, as far as I'm concerned.
ParanoidI loved Ritchie, though. I used to be his roommate and everything was fine. We all respect Ritchie for what he did - the foundation.
But he turned into a weird guy and the day he walked out of the tour was the day the clouds disappeared and the day the sunshine came out and we haven't looked back since.
And there are certain personal issues that I have with Ritchie, which means that I will never speak to him again. Nothing I'm going to discuss publicly, but deeply personal stuff. As far as I'm concerned, the divorce came a long time ago. I never want to see or hear of him again".
In 2011, Gillan would finally admit the cause of his long running dispute with Ritchie Blackmore. Because it was Ozzy Osbourne that had given Blackmore the witchcraft book that had fallen into Geezer Butler's possession in 1969, and now he [Gillan] too had started to see black figures at the foot of his bed..
In 1945, on this day at 8.15 am B-29 Enola Gay, piloted and commanded by 509th Composite Group commander Colonel Paul Tibbets drops the nuclear bomb "Little Boy" on Hiroshima.
Surprise AttackEnola Gay turns around to head back to North Field, an airbase on Tinian in the West Pacific. The crew observe a huge mushroom cloud forming Hiroshima over the destroyed city. The cloud continues to expand. 250 km off the coast of Japan, the cloud is still expanding in their direction. They radio North Field for further instructions. Inside the deepest recesses of Colonel Paul Tibbets disciplined military mind, the most dreadful suspicion starts to take shape.
On this day in 2002, Saddam Hussein was toppled in a military coup; the new interim Iraqi government pledged free elections within 60 days and announced plans to convene a special tribunal which would prosecute the fallen dictator for crimes against humanity.
Within a matter of days Iran would stand down its armed forces from full alert and the United States would restore diplomatic relations with Iraq, which had been severed after Saddam's occupation of Kuwait twelve years earlier.
The provisional Iraqi government also released hundreds of pages of documents pertaining to Saddam's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, particularly biological and nuclear weapons.
On this day in 1944, two major battles of the Second World War came to an end.
In France, the Battle of the Bulge finished with the Americans taking the surrender of the last Waffen-SS holdouts in Dijon; in Poland, the anti-Nazi uprising in Warsaw collapsed as German tanks overran the main strongpoints for the Polish revolt.
"I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain. What a glorious feelin', I'm happy again. I'm laughing at clouds, so dark up above. The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love. Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place. Come on with the rain. I've a smile on my face. I walk down the lane. With a happy refrain. Just singin', Singin' in the rain".Lyrics to 'Singin' in the Rain'
Arguably the most gifted dancer of his generation, Gene Kelly was a lifelong Democratic Party supporter with strong progressive convictions, which frequently created difficulty for him as his heyday coincided with the McCarthy era in the US.
In 1947, he was part of the Hollywood delegation which flew to Washington to protest at the first official hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His first wife, Betsy Blair, was suspected of being a Communist sympathiser. Under pressure from the American Legion, MGM, withdrew their offer to Blair of a part in Marty (1955). Kelly used his position on the board of directors of The Writer's Guild of America on a number of occasions to mediate disputes between unions and the Hollywood studios, and although he was frequently accused by the Right of championing the unions, he was valued by the studios as an effective mediator.
His high profile status was not without a price though. Most controversially, and partly due to bad timing, Kelly was barred from probably the most popular and admired of all film musicals - Singin' in the Rain (1952). A part that was filled by Fred Astair who brought both dignity and pose to the key piece dance theme, yet may have lacked Kelly's easygoing swagger. In a very real sense, art mirrored reality with the contrasts of the two Americas of the 1950s ? Kelly vs. Astair. The lyrics are available at at Stllyrics
In 2001, President Al Gore receives a Presidential Daily Briefing headlined "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S".
The briefing, which refers to possible plans by the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden to launch terror attacks within the United States involving airline hijackings and explosives, prompts the President to issue an executive order directing that airports throughout the country be discreetly placed under heightened security and that the FBI step up efforts to apprehend for questioning individuals who may be connected to bin Laden's organization, known as Al Qaeda. Over the next few weeks, several hundred Arab men are detained under the President's order. Among them are several members of Al Qaeda.
ATOMIC BOMB DROPPED ON HIROSHIMA. Stalin threatens more bombs until surrender.
In 4572, Nipponese rebels in Hiroshima defy the Emperor and begin hanging all ethnic Chinese in the city. Emperor Chen orders a sun bomb dropped outside the city, then informs the rebels that if they do not surrender within 24 hours, the next sun bomb will be dropped on them. The rebels give in.
In 1962, Marilyn Miller, the beautiful wife of comic playwright Arthur Miller, announces that she is giving up film work to start a family with her husband. She is 2 months pregnant with Miller's son, and although she struggles with alcoholism for a few years, she is able to raise Joseph Miller into a successful baseball player.
In 1976, actress Soleil Moon Frye is born in Glendale, California. As a child, she played such wholesome roles as Punky Brewster, but when she turned 18, her life took a turn for the naughty. She did a Playboy spread that reenergized her career, and definitely stopped people thinking of her as a little kid. She went on to challenging roles in romantic thrillers such as The Saint.
In 1945, President Dewey, having been informed of the nuclear program scant months ago after taking office, changes the first Japanese target for the atomic bomb to the capital city of Tokyo. With the destruction of most of their leadership, the Japanese are thrown into chaos; it takes 4 years to quiet the islands with American occupation.
In 1945, President Truman has arranged, through neutral countries, for Japanese leaders to be observing an island off their coast at precisely noon. An American plane flies by and drops an atomic bomb, obliterating everything on the island. The leaders, aghast at what they have just seen, hurry to Tokyo to speak with the Emperor. He orders a surrender; no one could stand against such a weapon.
In 4572, Japanese rebels in Hiroshima defy the Emperor and begin hanging all ethnic Chinese in the city. Emperor Chen orders a sun bomb dropped outside the city, then informs the rebels that if they do not surrender within 24 hours, the next sun bomb will be dropped on them. The rebels give in.
In 1952, on this day 33rd US President Harry S Truman received an unpleasant surprise on the stump. Actually, it was to result in his very salvation. Truman was asked to clarify three points by a particular incisive line of questioning at a Town Hall meeting in California. a) On what basis would nuclear weapons be used in the future b) Did he not agree that by using nuclear weapons in Asia, he had demonstrated US reluctance to sustain combat casualties that Communist nations would consider acceptable c) In conclusion had he not condemned Asia to interminable lands wars in which American commitment was less than decisive. Privately, Truman regretted his decision to approve the use of nuclear weapons, on the basis of Pandora's Box logic. He had legitimised the use of the super weapon, and should General MacArthur be elected, and not him, then surely massive nuclear action could follow in Korea and Manchuria.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.