A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
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

October 8

In 1871, in the early night hours of Sunday, a fire started on the O'Leary property at 137 DeKoven Street that would spread to destroy some four square miles in Chicago and kill hundreds of people.

Great Lakes Fires Blamed on Meteors There had been something of a drought, not much in the way of concern for local fire departments, but enough to propel destruction among wooden buildings on a strong wind. With its sudden start and widespread disaster (famously, even the Moody church burned), citizens were highly suspicious of arson and searched for a scapegoat.

At the time, Michael Ahern was a reporter for the Chicago Republican. He had heard the rumor that the O'Learies (Catholic immigrants, prime targets for suspicion already) had negligently allowed their cow to kick over a lantern and then letting the fire go out of control. Other stories told of sneaked smokes by youngsters and thieves starting the blaze while attempting to steal milk. Ahern was about to write a story blaming specifically Mrs. O'Leary as some "colorful copy" when he came upon an even more exciting topic.

Fires had started suddenly throughout the Great Lakes region nearly simultaneously over the weekend. Peshtigo, WI, and surrounding villages had undergone an enormous blaze that killed some 2,000 people and torched millions of acres. Urbana, IL, over one hundred miles south of Chicago had also burned, as had Holland, Mansitee, and Port Huron in Michigan. Even Windsor, Ontario, in Canada burned on the 12th. News about the disasters trickled out slowly, but various cases of eyewitnesses noted smokeless balls of blue fire falling from the sky. After some consideration, Ahern wrote a shocking story that the origin of the Chicago fire had come from the heavens.

Other tabloids picked up the notion, and the idea seared into the Chicagoan public imagination. Scientific persons scoffed at a "rain of meteors" since they would be cool to the touch by the time they landed, but few listened to them. Instead, as Chicago underwent an incredible reconstruction program, observatories and atmospheric study stations were included. In 1882, a more serious proposal of the meteors was announced, and now the scientific community listened. Some began to argue for the mysterious "ball lightning", but the suggestion was now officially in the journals. By the time of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, a great wealth of knowledge was collected in the Meteor Hall, which afterward would be donated to Northwestern University.

Two decades later, Robert H. Goddard, a sickly part-time instructor at Clark University began soliciting funding for experiments with rockets. While the Smithsonian offered a princely sum of $5000, Northwestern seized the chance and offered funding as well as a position and student aides. Rockets, the departments affiliated with the study of the cosmos thought, would allow for first-hand exploration of outer space. With his arrival in Chicago, Goddard began intensive plans for high-altitude meteorological instruments and, eventually, designs for a possible, though impractically expensive, orbital rocket. Arguments about propulsion in vacuum dominated much of the rest of Goddard's career.

When the Nazis proved rocketry for military use was successful in the Battle of Britain, the US Army and Navy hurried to update Goddard's designs. While students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology worked on programmable trainers leading to computing, research at Northwestern led to development of "The Eagle," or what a jealous Werner von Braun would later call the "V-3". After the war, USSR would begin the Space Race by launching Sputnik, but Americans would swiftly turn and beat the Russians to the first man in orbit with Alan Shepard. Continual challenges would put men on the Moon with the Apollo program in 1963 and a short-term research station on Mars in 1974. The funding for exploratory rocketry along with the Cold War. By that time, short-range space-travel would prove profitable with hour-long sub-orbit intercontinental flights, zero-g tourism, communication and observation satellites, and Solar Energy Collection stations.

In 1967, revolutionary agitator Che Guevara escapes after a disastrous fight with the Bolivian army leaves most of his Bolivian guerrillas dead.

Che Guevara Escapes Bolivian ArmySlipping across the border back to his native Argentina, Guevara holes up with a small group of supporters to heal his wounds and recover from this defeat. While there, many of his followers urge him to take personal command of the ERP and lead it to control of the nation.

As he recovers and hears the cries of his people for relief from the right-wing government, he makes the decision to do as they ask, and he takes personal command of the ERP. With much aid from Cuba, he stages a massive revolt in 1969 against the Argentinian government and takes control of the country. The CIA of the United States then activates one of its agents in his ranks, and he is poisoned just as he is about to declare himself dictator, and arranges supplies and arms for former dictator Juan Peron to swoop in and seize power. He is propped up by the CIA for almost two more decades, until his death in 1986 allows Argentina the chance to finally embrace democracy.

In 1940, to guarantee the Axis Alliance's unrestricted access to oil fields and refineries in Ploesti, a nominally Italian-led Axis invasion force occupied the Kingdom of Romania, thereby violating the declaration of neutrality that had been issued by King Carol II. A continuation of the earlier post Tinos Elli Torpedoing Saves the Axis.

1812, Redux - Moscow as StalingradNeedless to say this thrust by a multi-national force comprising Italian, Hungarian and German troops rang alarm bells in Moscow where spies had informed Stalin that Mussolini was planning his own attack on Greece (this was actually true, he had only been dissuaded by the promise of a leading role in the Romanian invasion). In response, Stalin secretly made his own plans to reserve a contingent of the Russian Air Force that could deliver a devastating bombing raid on Ploesti.

Stalin was right to anticipate that a joint attack on Romania signalled the possibility a similar strike on the Rodina. Because Hitler had talked Mussolini out of his invasion of Greece the Axis Forces were far better placed to launch Operation Barbarossa. But in hindsight through, it hardly mattered because the Operation was delayed by incomplete logistical arrangements and an unusually wet winter that kept rivers at full flood until late spring (ironically, some of these same issues would have deleteriously affected Mussolini's planned strike on Greece).

And so the stage was set. Through a combination of good fortunes and Russian Command confusion Axis forces entered Moscow. But of course their pre-emptive strike on the Russian Air Force had failed to destroy Stalin's contingency force of bombers. Not only did this unexpected strike on Ploesti give the Axis Powers a catastrophic oil supply problem, but the fighting inside Moscow turned into a bloody cauldron of street-to-street combat. Ultimately the Russians could have continued the war without their capital, but because it was a national rail hub Stalin had decided to stand and fight. To sustain the Patriot War and get the most from the Red Army, he knew it would have to be 1812 all over again.

In 1941, the forty-fourth President of the United States Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. (Jesse Louis Burns) was born in Greenville, South Carolina.

The Birth of President Jesse JacksonPOD: 1959, Jesse Jackson signs the baseball contract instead of going to college, after a little encouragement from Jackie Robinson and a little more money offered. This encouragement includes reading that Octavius Cato, a Philadelphia Civil Rights leader in the 1860s/1870s, believed sports was one of the best ways to foster integration.

Jackson takes a few courses at an integrated school during the winters over the next few years, but doesn't advance more than A ball till 1962, when he's taken along with several other black players (notably Jimmy Wynn from the Reds in OTL) by the Houston Atrols. Still in the minors, he gets a few at bats in the bigs in 1964, and causes a big flap when he asks permission to leave spring training to take part int he Selma march in March of 1965. The Astros, mindful of the large number of blacks in their fan base, let him; he is fortunate in that the big news in Houston is the Astrodome, so the furor dies down some after a while. Still, he is known to be politically active, and that causes some resentment around the league. The biggest fallout from this is that Jackson is part of a Houston chapter of Operation Breadbasket, not Chicago.

King is not nearly as suspicious of Jackson as he might be, because Jackson gets any need for attention and glory being drawn to himself on the ball diamond. Jesse Jackson becomes a role player on Astros teams from 1967-1969, most notably the 1969 team that contends for the division before slipping to .500 by the end of the season. He's only really a starter for part of 1966 and 1967, before the really good players of '69 start to make it. And, he's never a star. But, soon before he is assassinated, King praises Jackson for "using the sport of baseball as a way to foster political activism". While most people prefer the quieter demeanour of some players, and some blame him for the later showboating of Reggie Jackson as Reggie watches his home runs, Jesse Jackson's career as a baseball player earn him quite a bit of respect. He winds up being traded because of his support of Curt Flood.

Jackson parlays that respect into local politics, though he finds Houston too difficult, without he political machine. (I'd think it would be too tough yet in Houston in the early 1970s.) He moves after he retires in 1971; he has earned his undergraduate degree by now, with enough winter courses, and goes to law school. While his minor involvement in the Curt Flood case is ultimately a loser, he soon finds himself involved in political activism elsewhere. He eventually runs for political office, but his political views have been moderated a little, allowing him to be more acceptable to moderates and even to some Republicans, which is crucial in his Senate races in the late 1980s - and which keeps him from ever making the one remark. He delivers his famous speech before the Convention later than in OTL since he was playing baseball for about a decade and not quite as involved in politics - he endorses Bill Clinton in 1992.

By 2004, a very successful attorney and Senator, and known to nostalgic baseball fans as a decent player on the Astros, with his powerful style of speaking - and with his affair having been butterflied away since he never meets this worker - he is nominated for President. In a close election, with an unpopular President, he wins.

In 1480, the future of Tatar rule over Russia was assured by a hard-fought Mongolian victory on the banks of the Ugra River.

Battle of the Ugra RiverWith Akhmat Khan occupied in a struggle with the Crimean Khanate, Ivan III abruptly ceased paying annual tribute to the Great Horde, a decision which effectively forged an alliance between Muscovy and Crimea. Poland-Lithuania under Casimir IV [1] had been provoked by the Muscovite annexation of Novgorod, and a bloody four-power battle was fought on the banks of the Ugra River.

In the face of such grave danger, the Russian boyars fractured into two groups: one, led by okolnichies Oschera and Mamon, wanted Ivan III to flee; the other wanted to fight the Horde. Ivan's final decision to face the Horde was affected by the Russians who had demanded action on the part of the Grand Prince. But the Russian disunity was exploited by the Khan, who had been misadvised to do no more than organize a stand-off, a move that would surely have been misinterpreted as a sign of great weakness.

The year 1957, is not chosen at random. That is the year contemplated by "Dropshot", the U.S. plan for a third world war, which governed strategic thinking for the 1950s. [continues from Part 1] In actuality, or course, even if the Soviets got to Antwerp, they would be most unlikely to have arrived in Amarillo three years later. Rather than the immediate loss of Western Europe, we must imagine Central Europe becoming a debatable region.
Continues from Part 1

Part Two of "Dropshot", World War III in 1957After absorbing the initial offensive, Dropshot calls for NATO to hold the line while the resources of the United States were mobilized. Realistically, this could have taken at least a year. During that time, it would have been extremely difficult to keep NATO together. One of the points which "Not This August" emphasizes as a factor in the defeat of the United States is the role of the Communist underground. The state of the evidence suggests that such a concern may be more than simple McCarthyite paranoia. The part played by Communists and communist sympathizers in the politics and culture of the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s is still insufficiently appreciated. If I had to name a single book to support this point, I would suggest the last of Upton Sinclair's "Lanny Budd" novels, entitled "A World to Win". Published in 1946, it describes sympathetically the adventures of a wealthy American Communist as he moves about the world during and just before the war, helping to organize the fight against Fascism. The author, who made no secret of his own leftist sympathies, describes the pro-Soviet cells which exist everywhere in the U.S., in Hollywood and Washington and the arts. This, of course, was all edifying progressive fiction, but it seems to have been fictionalized rather than fantastic.

A new article by John Reilly The pro-Soviet streak in America politics did real harm during the Molotov-Ribbentrop pack, when it actively impeded U.S. attempts to prepare for World War II. It continued to do harm throughout the Cold War era, up to and including the "Nuclear Freeze" movement of the 1980s, which nearly succeeded in depriving American negotiators of the bargaining power they needed to get the Soviets to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. While this force in American politics would have been as active as possible during a U.S.-Soviet war, they might not have counted for that much, considering the high degree of national unity there would have been. In any event, they would have worked through front groups as much as possible. This would not have been the case in Europe. The powerful Communist Parties in France and Italy were openly and proudly pro-Soviet, indeed pro-Stalin. They could and would have organized work stoppages and mutinies. The peace movements they would have supported would have been particularly persuasive with hostile and at least temporarily triumphant armies only a few hundred miles away. Even if they could not have forced their countries to surrender, they could have made all but the most perfunctory participation in the war impossible.

Still, these political difficulties would have been no more insurmountable than those that had to be overcome to win the Second World War. Assuming, therefore, that NATO holds together while it rearms and regroups, the second phase of the war could begin. Dropshot contemplated an offense that would ultimately result in the occupation of the Soviet Union. Again, however, it did nothing to suggest that anyone would enjoy trying this in real life. The plan considered the various ways that the Soviet Union might have been invaded, and finds all but one of them either impractical, like a drive north from the Middle East, or useless, like an invasion of the Soviet Far East. The only way to do it is the hard way, back eastward across the north German plain and into Poland. Securing the Balkans would be necessary simply to secure this endeavor.

Having defeated the Soviet armies in Eastern Europe, the rest of the war would have resembled the German campaign of 1941, but without Hitler's mental problems. I can summarize the final stage of the war no better than by quoting Dropshot itself:

"22. In the event of war with the USSR, we should endeavor by successful military and other operations to create conditions which would permit satisfactory accomplishment of U.S. objectives without a predetermined requirement for unconditional surrender. War aims supplemental to our peacetime aims should include:

"a. Eliminating Soviet Russian domination in areas outside the borders of any Russian state allowed to exist after the war.

"b. Destroying the structure of relationships by which the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party have been able to exert moral and disciplinary authority over individual citizens, or groups of citizens, in countries not under Communist control.

"c. Assuring that any regime or regimes which may exist on traditional Russian territory in the aftermath of a war:

(1) Do not have sufficient military power to wage a war.

(2) Impose nothing resembling the present Iron Curtain over contacts with the outside world.

"d. In addition, if any Bolshevik Regime is left in any part of the Soviet Union, ensuring that it does not control enough of the military-industrial potential of the Soviet Union to enable it to wage war on comparable terms with any other regime or regimes which may exist on traditional Russian territory.

"e. Seeking to create postwar conditions which will:

(1) Prevent the development of power relationships dangerous to the security of the United States and international peace.

(2) Be conducive to the development of an effective world organization based on the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

(3) Permit the earliest practicable discontinuance within the United States of wartime controls".

This passage is not without relevance to the state of the world in 1995. Let us imagine, however, that all this has been achieved, but the year is only 1960. (3) What would postwar history have been like?

The burden of Arnold Toynbee's great multivolumed work, "A Study of History," is that our civilization has broken down and that it is now (during the 20th century) in a "time of troubles," like the Hellenistic period in the ancient West and the Era of Contending States in China. Such periods are characterized by "world wars". In the course of them, one great power delivers a "knockout blow" to its main rival, and sooner or later goes on to establish a universal state, like the Roman Empire. The war Dropshot envisioned would have been such a blow. Actually, Toynbee thought that a third world war would probably be started by the United States and won by the Russians, "because they have a more serious attitude toward life". Be that as it may, since we are working with the U.S. war plan, let us consider what the result of a Western victory would have been.

The world of 1960 after Dropshot would have been poorer than the real world of that time. Africa and the great arc of Eurasia around Russia would have collapsed into ethnic squabbling as the reach and attention of the great powers were withdrawn. On the whole, the non-communist countries of East Asia might have been invigorated, as they were by the Korean and Vietnam Wars. However, there would have been no comparable world demand for consumer goods for these countries to exploit. They could well have experienced a war boom, followed by prolonged depressions, as their home markets slowly recovered.

China, we assume, would have been part of the losing alliance. Dropshot did not devote a great deal of attention to it. If the plan had actually been implemented, it is unlikely that country would have been the scene of major U.S. operations. However, with China's attention diverted toward supporting the Soviet war effort, it is conceivable that the U.S. might have backed a Nationalist reinvasion of southern China. It is debatable whether this would have found wide support. The Communist regime did not begin to mismanage the country significantly until the Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s, a program which presumably would have been postponed in the event of a war. However, what with the stresses of a lost war and such resentment against the regime as had already been generated, it is possible that China would have fallen apart, much as it had during the warlord era of the 1920s, and as it may again in the later 1990s when Deng Xiao Peng dies.

The biggest differences between a post-Dropshot world and the actual world of 1960 would have been in Russia, Europe and the United States. Russia and Eastern Europe in the late 1950s were still recovering from the effects of World War II, and the last thing they needed was another war. In some ways, perhaps, the Dropshot war would been less damaging than the Second World War, since it was supposed to be faster and would not have been directed against civilians. The plan called for a war of tanks, fought for the most part on the plains of northern Europe. It would still have been a catastrophe, but one that would not have returned the region to 1945 levels.

Russia in 1960 might have been better able to make the transition to a market economy than it was in the 1990s, for the simple reason there was a substantial portion of the population who were already adults during the last period when free enterprise had been allowed to operate, during Lenin's "New Economic Policy" of the 1920s. It might, for instance, have been fairly simple to recreate peasant agriculture. On the other hand, Russian industry in the 1950s was even more strictly military than it was in the final stages of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Since the military occupation of Russia in 1960 would have been largely concerned with closing down the country's military potential, this would have meant closing down all but a small fraction of the country's industry. The country would have become, at least for a while, a country of peasants and priests. This prospect might warm the heart of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, but the reality might not have been sustainable.

In Western Europe, the 1950s boom would gave been cancelled. Even assuming the Dropshot war did less damage than the Second World War, still it would have been the third major war in the region in fifty years. Maybe that would have been too much. People can only be expected to rebuild so many times before they begin to despair about the future. It is hard to imagine the normal market mechanisms of savings and investment operating at all in such environment. What fool would invest money in a society that seemed to explode every 20 years? Who would even want to keep money? People would try to turn their savings into tangible assets as quickly as possible. The cloud of despondency would ultimately lift, of course, but would be greatly impeded by the factor we will consider below.

Even in America, collectivism would have triumphed. As several historians have pointed out, what we call socialism is simply the institutionalization in peacetime of the command economy measures devised by Britain and Germany to fight the First World War. These institutions would have been greatly strengthened throughout the West, but especially in the United States, by the experience of two world wars so close in occurrence. We should remember that enlightened opinion in the U.S. of the 1950s was that command economies really were superior in most was to market economies. It was universally assumed that pro-market policies could never cure underdevelopment in the Third World. Certainly the literature of the era is filled with ominous observations that the Soviet Economy was growing much faster than the U.S. economy during the same period. If the highly regimented American economy envisioned by Dropshot had actually succeeded in winning the Third World War, this attitude might have become a fixed assumption of American culture, as it did in so many other countries during the same period. Private enterprise would doubtless have continued to constitute a major share of economic activity, but it would have been so tightly regimented as to be virtually a creature of the state. And there would have been no example, anywhere on Earth, of an important country that did things differently.

The '60s, as we knew them, would also have been cancelled. Partly, of course, this would have been because the country would have been broke. Everyone would have had a job with a fixed salary, of course, but there would have been little money for cars or highways or private houses. America would have remained a country of immense, densely populated cities, most of which would have consisted of public housing. The biggest difference would have been the psychology of the younger generation. The young adults of the 1950s, who had been children during the Second World War, could not have conceived of allowing themselves the indiscipline and disrespect shown by the young adults of the actual 1960s. The "Silent Generation" of the 1950s knew from their earliest experiences that the world was a dangerous place and the only way to get through it was by cooperation and conformity. If Dropshot had occurred, their children, the babyboom children, would have been even more constrained in childhood and correspondingly more well-behaved in young adulthood. Doubtless there would still have been something of an increase in the percentage of the young in higher education in the 1960s, but the campuses would have been a sea of crewcuts and neat bobs, white shirts and sensible shoes. The popular music would not have been memorable.

The world after Dropshot would have had certain advantages, of course. Total world expenditures on the military would probably have been much smaller than was actually the case. The nuclear arms race would never have occurred. Indeed, the more alarming types of nuclear missile, those with multiple warheads, would never have been invented. It would have been a world much less cynical than the one which actually occurred. The three world wars would have provided a sense of closure which modern history has not yet achieved. This time, finally, all the great evils of the century would have been defeated. It would be unlikely to have resulted in Toynbee's universal state, at least not during the 20th century. The American people would probably have been as sick of the Adlai Stevenson Democrats after the Third World War as they were of the Roosevelt Democrats after the Second World War. The country would have kicked the victors out of office and sought to turn inward. America would not have been enthusiastic about further adventures for a long time to come.

The exhausted world I have described would doubtless have revived in a few decades. Nations would have broken out of the cultural constraints that the experience of universal conscription tend to impose on a generation. People would slowly realize that their highly regulated economies were not really keeping them safe but were really keeping them poor. There would be an episode of restructuring as technologies developed for the military were finally converted to consumer use, and old subsidized industries were allowed to die. All in all, the world of 1995 after Dropshot might have been similar to the one we see today. Still, it would have been reached at immensely greater cost, both economic and spiritual. We are not living in the best of all possible worlds, but it could easily have been worse.

In 2009, on this day Michael Jackson's former personal physician, Conrad Murray sued the King of Pop for defamation of character. The source of the dispute was the alleged misportrayal of Murray's dismissal from service in the American concert film documenting "This Is It"
Click to watch the Trailer

This is It by Ed & Chris OakleyThe source of the dispute was the portrayal of Murray's dismissal from service in the American concert film documenting "This Is It". Fatefully, Jackson had turned his face against the use of performance enhancing drugs, a deadly temptation that might have enabled the fifty-year old performer to regain the genius of his earlier years. The film comprises of Jackson mentoring his team for the 50 shows, as well as him creating, developing, and ultimately staging the high-tech performances. The footage was filmed at The Forum and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

In 1907, on this day the Academy for Art in Vienna passed the entrace examination of Adolf Schicklegruber, later to emerge as one of the leading watercolour painters of the early to mid twentieth century.

Portrait of the remarkable career of a Jewish bastard's sonHe was a bastard's son from Braunua-am-Inn in the Innviertel region of Upper Austria. His grandmother Maria Anna Schickelgruber conceived his father Alois out of wedlock with her Jewish employer, a tobacco merchant called Frankenburger whom she served as a cook and maid1. Discrete funding from his paternal grandfather's family2 permitted Schicklegruber to pursue the study of fine arts in the Austrian capital.

The debt would be repaid. During the late nineteen-forties, Prime Minister David Green3 commissioned a set of watercolours to commemorate the creation of the State of Israel. Today, these priceless items hang in the Knesset, a living symbol of the attainment of the summit of human achievement following difficult and inauspicious beginnings.

In 1860, having concluded that it was too late to save the Union peacefully, Abraham Lincoln unwisely chose to reply frankly to a request for a statement of his views from the editor of the Louisville Journal, George D. Prentice who contended that such a statement would "assure all the good citizens of the South and ... take from the disunionists every excuse or pretext for treason".

A House DividedIt would not be the first time that he had said too much and inflamed southern secessionists. For in his "House Divided Speech" he had stated unambigously that the Union was in the grip of a slaveholder's plot. His partner in his Springfield Law Firm, William Herndon had it right when he said "It is true, but is it wise or politic to say so?".

Lincoln was to learn that it was one thing to make an explosively controversial statement as an outside senatorial candidate, quite another when heading inexorably towards the White House. And yet with John Brown striking slaveholdings seemingly with impunity, and leading free African-Americans over the border into Canada, dodging Prentice's question might appear a fatal weakness in national leadership. "It seemed as if he suddently bore the whole world upon his shoulders, and could not shake it off" - William HerndonAnd after all, it was that frightful absence of national leadership that had inspired Lincoln to seek the highest office as he had told Herndon just two short years before.

That America might really be in the throes of a slaveholder's plot was in all reality, improbable. Yet whilst slavery had been terminated in the north for three decades, events surely appeared to show that some time very soon that might not be the case. It would be hard to interpret the drift of events otherwise since Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) and the Dred Scott ruling (1858) which confirmed that the General Government had no right to interfer in the state's rights to legalise slavery.

Very soon Lincoln would discover that his unwise choice of words had triggered a general secession prior to his inauguration And worse his judgement as to whether Northerners would fight for the Union, or rather bid the Southern States good riddance, would prove to be faulty. For the time being at least, the Union would be split into two nations, one free, one slave, precisely as Lincoln had warned.

Of course Herndon knew something that few others outside his inside circule knew in the late fall of 1860; the drive behind Lincoln's ambition was his deeply flawed character. Because Abraham Lincoln was a life-long manic depressive now gripped by a mid-life crisis, ingesting more than nine thousand times the recommended daily dose of mercury. "Gloom and sadness were his predominant state" concluded Herndon. On the day of his election Herndon remarked that "It seemed as if he suddently bore the whole world upon his shoulders, and could not shake it off". And so, Abraham Lincoln would lead a truly unqiue Presidency; for he was the first man to suicide in the White House, by shooting himself in the head whilst sitting in apparent peace, as if calmy watching the Theatre, perhaps.

On this day in 1973, Roger Staubach recovered from his overtime loss the previous to earn the first Monday night victory of his career as Dallas topped the Washington Redskins 38-31 for their third win of the 1973 NFL season.

 - Roger Staubach
Roger Staubach

In 1960, the Empire State Building officially reopened for business; for many New Yorkers, this was the surest sign yet that their city was recovering from the Jamaica Bay hurricane.

 - Empire State Building
Empire State Building

On this day in 2010, President John McCain received word from his intelligence advisors that the CIA had obtained credible evidence suggesting Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez was making plans to invade Guyana before the end of the year.

 - Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez

On this day in 1944, the last German troops in Holland were evacuated to Denmark. That same day, Allied troops in Germany captured the city of Essen.                                  


In 1962, as anti-integration riots continue throughout much of the South, James Meredith is shot from ambush on his way to classes at the University of Mississippi.

He is not seriously injured, but after the shooting he is taken into protective custody by federal marshals.


In 1979, President Nelson Rockefeller, in a telephone conversation with the exiled Iranian Shah Pahlevi, offers to send top medical experts to Mexico to assist in treating him for his recently diagnosed malignant lymphoma in a hospital there. The Shah, however, is adamant, insisting that he believes he will die unless he is treated in a U.S. hospital and claiming that America 'owes' him as a longtime ally. Rockefeller does not care for the Shah's tone, which seems more that of a superior to a subordinate than that a supplicant. Nevertheless, the Shah's appeal to American political obligations strikes a chord with him.


In 2007, Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti spoke of his release by US Captors in the Prince Harry prison exchange. He agreed with Harry's remark 'The only Emperor is Emperor of Ice Cream'. Now it was time for 'the roller of big cigars' to make a statement of humility. Only then could Anglo-Arab Relations move forward.

 - Dead Harry
Dead Harry
In 1970, American author Kurt Vonnegut is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His writings criticizing the communist government of the Soviet States of America have been a hit world-wide, although suppressed at home.
In 1944, President Wendell Wilkie died in office. Since he hadn't appointed a vice-president to serve at his side after the death of Vice-President Charles McNary in February, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn assumed the presidency, the first Speaker ever elevated top the office through the line of succession. Wilkie led the list of war dead in the next day's paper with the simple notation, 'Wilkie, Wendell; Commander-In Chief.'
In 1929, at Camp Rapidan President Herbert Hoover made a take it or leave it offer to British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. The U.S. would cancel Britain's war debt in exchange for Trinidad, Bermuda, and British Honduras. Hoover only wanted Belize in order to split it up between Guatemala and Mexico, and nobody expected London to part with Bermuda. With London mired in Financial Crisis the British were desperate, and in Labour politician MacDonald there was little passion for Imperialism in the chief negotiator. As a result of these unique factors, the British readily agreed to this land for cash offer.
In 1822, weather-control technology that the Mlosh have adapted to earth prevents a volcanic eruption at Galunggung in Indonesia. The achievement makes Mlosh welcome everywhere in the world that has dangerous weather.
In 1604, astronomer Jan Brunowski discovered the supernova named after him while working as an assistant to Johannes Kepler. Brunowski's Star is one of the few supernovae known to exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. The fame Brunowski garnered from his discovery drove a wedge between him and his old master for the rest of their lives, and the younger man's achievements continued to overshadow Kepler's.
In 1941, on this day Jesse Louis Burns was born in Greenville, South Carolina to Helen Burns. Helen Burns was a single mother, aged 16, when he was born. His biological father, Noah Louis Robinson, a former professional boxer and a prominent figure in the black community, was married to another woman when Jesse was born. He was not involved in his son's life. In 1943, two years after Jesse's birth, his mother married Charles Henry Jackson who would adopt Jesse 14 years later. Jesse went on to take the surname of his step-father.

A stellar career in the civil rights movements followed until 1968. Jackson falsely claimed Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Had died in his arms of on a hotel balcony in Memphis. In fact Jackson had been speaking with musicians in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, then had hidden behind the swimming pool for twenty minutes. He appeared only when the press arrived.
In 1941, Ken Saro-Wiwa was born in Bori, in the Niger Delta. He spent his childhood in a polygamous household of Anglican faith and eventually proved himself an excellent student, netting him a scholarship to study English at Government College Umuahia. He would complete his studies at the University of Ibadan and briefly became a teaching assistant at the University of Lagos. Employed as a by the multinational Shell Oil company, Saro-Wiwa spent thirty years as a press officer in which he was engaged in denying environmental damage to the Niger Delta. In 1995, he was re-united with his father Chief Jim Saro-wiwa, after a religious awakening, causing him to write the controversional biopic 'On a darkling plain'.
In 1973, following the heavy defeats of the first two days of the Yom Kippur War, Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan announced 'the downfall of the 'Third Temple' at a news conference. He also began to speak openly of using weapons of mass destruction against the Arabs

October 7

In 1967, the long-term covert operation to capture Ernesto "Che" Guevara finally ended in success for the CIA when the Cuban independentista was wounded and taken prisoner while leading a detachment in the Yuro ravine near the village of La Higuera in Bolivia. The twice-wounded Guevara, his gun rendered useless, shouted, "Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and I am worth more to you alive than dead". An installment from the 49th State thread.

Che Guevara captured in BoliviaIncredibly, he had managed to avoid capture for six and a half years, becoming America's most wanted man for his role in the infamous "Bay of Pigs" mission. Leading a group of Hispanic insurgents he landed ashore with the aim of forcing the secession of the 49th State of Cuba.

Speaking on behalf of the patriots, the ultra-conservative Governor of California (and future President) Charlton Heston famously dismissed the invasion force as a bunch of "damned, dirty apes". He was treated accordingly. Following his capture, Guevara was tied up and taken to a dilapidated mud schoolhouse in the nearby village of La Higuera on the evening of October 8. For the next half day, Guevara refused to be interrogated by Bolivian officers and would only speak quietly to Bolivian soldiers. One of those Bolivian soldiers, a helicopter pilot named Jaime Nino de Guzman, describes Che as looking "dreadful". Because he was shot through the right calf, his hair was matted with dirt, his clothes were shredded, and his feet were covered in rough leather sheaths. Despite his haggard appearance, he held his head high, looked everyone straight in the eyes and asked only for something to smoke.

In a subsequent testimony, De Guzman states that he "took pity" and gave him a small bag of tobacco for his pipe, and that Guevara then smiled and thanked him. Later on the night of October 8, Guevara - despite having his hands tied - kicked a Bolivian officer, Espinosa, into the wall after the officer entered the schoolhouse and tried to snatch Guevara's pipe from his mouth as a souvenir while he was still smoking it. In another instance of defiance, Guevara literally spat in the face of Bolivian Rear Admiral Ugarteche who attempted to question Guevara a few hours before his execution. But it didn't quite turn out that way because in the morning, guards discovered that De Guzman had helped Guevara to escape at some point during the night. For this careless wrecking of the CIA operation, Heston had some further choice words for the Bolivian Army, "You Maniacs! You blew it! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!". Years later in office, he would send US Forces south, skeptical of the loyalty of Latin American Governments.

In 1960, Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts and Vice-President Richard Nixon debate for the second time on television, this time on matters of foreign policy. Almost sixty-two million viewers and listeners tuned into the event recorded at NBC affiliate's Studio A, Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues, Washington DC.

Second Kennedy-Nixon DebateOf course Sen. Kennedy was widely viewed as the winner of the first debate, particularly among those who viewed it on television. Polls in the following week showed that Kennedy's support rose to the same level as Nixon's. The second Kennedy-Nixon debate was Nixon's chance to redeem himself. In the interim, Nixon's campaign discussed how to improve his performance. Analysts believed that Kennedy did a better job setting forth the "big picture" while Nixon did better with the details.

But unfortunately this approach backfired because Sen. Kennedy made a major gaff by declaring that Castro was a communist, and that, "Today, Cuba is lost to freedom". When Castro signed a trade and security agreement with the Eisenhower administration the next week, Kennedy was humiliated, and doubts about his competency in international affairs became certainties.

In 2003, despite a brief flirtation with the idea of electing a movie star as their governor again, Californians come to their senses and vote Democrat Cruz Bustamante into the governor's mansion in a special recall election.

Governor Bustamante electedAlthough the Republican Party had pushed the ouster of Governor Gray Davis, it proved to be of little advantage during the actual election - their main candidate in the field of over 100 came in a distant fourth. Even the independent candidate, Arianna Huffington, polled ahead of the action-hero candidate.

It was part of a larger trend against Republican policies that continued into the national elections the next year, as President Al Gore was re-elected in a landslide, and the Democrats regained the majority in the House of Representatives.

In 1792, on this day a Founding Father of the Republic of Virginia George Mason IV died at his home in Gunston Hall in Fairfax County, VA. He was sixty-six years old.

American Hero
Ed & Scott Palter
At the Williamsburg Convention he drafted the Colonies' very first declaration of rights and state constitution. First Pennsylvania, then Maryland, then Delaware, then North Carolina and others took most or all of the Declaration of Rights and either made them amendments to their own constitutions or incorporated them directly into their constitutions. Thomas Jefferson paraphrased his ideas into the Declaration of Independence, and although Mason did not receive full credit for his contribution, the entire Continental Congress knew of the conceptual source of Jefferson's ideas.

"a man of the first order of wisdom" ~ Jefferson on MasonAs a result of his high profile he was was appointed to represent Virginia as a delegate to a Federal Convention, to meet in Philadelphia for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.

He refused to sign the Constitution, however, and returned to his native state as an outspoken opponent in the ratification contest. Ironically, one objection to the proposed Constitution was that it lacked a "declaration of rights".

In 1918, the Fall of the German Empire carried with it the implosion of the shell of Czarist Russia.

Twilight in RusslandThis required refusing Western demands for further offensives. Brusilov was managing to keep the Imperial Russian army in the field but one more good killing even in a successful offensive would have shattered it. Kerensky and Brusilov were blunt to their Western counterparts. There were two and ONLY two choices. One was keeping a large Austro-German army tied down on an Eastern Front while the West won the war themselves. This would require Western aid to be continued and increased via the White Sea, Vladivostok and Persia. The other was one more attack. Regardless of the result the shaky Russian state would implode. Germany would free up 100 divisions of Austro-German troops for transfer to the West while enabling the Central Powers to feed themselves on the Ukrainian and south Russian harvests. The Western powers fumed, pleaded and raged but in the end accepted the less bad choice.

Kerensky lived up to his part of the bargain. The Eastern Front stayed in being until the German capitulation in 1918. However the Russian implosion had continued parallel to the war. A left rising in Petrograd in November of 1917 took that city out of the war and left the imperial family as prisoners of a shifting coalition of agitators who would gain temporary ascendancy in the Petrograd Soviet. Kerensky and the core of his government were lucky to escape to Moscow with their lives. Brusilov died three days before the Armistice with Germany trying to put down yet another in an endless series of army mutinies.

A new article by Scott PalterNews of the end of the war and the beginnings of the German withdrawal in November saw every ethnic and regional group in the Russian Empire attempt secession. The Petrograd Soviet added to the chaos by hanging the Imperial family. When the smoke cleared the following spring Kerensky was reduced to ruling a region roughly with the boundaries of early modern Muscovy. The royalists split into two camps. The higher nobility grouped themselves around Grand Duke Nicholas, who claimed the throne despite an inferior actual claim. Based out of Mukden and Vladivostok, this regime was cut off from European Russia by a maze of warlord states in Siberia and Central Asia.

The younger royalists and nationalists emerged from the chaos of south Russia grouped into a Cossack and junior officer Volunteer Army under Baron Ungern-Sternberg (pictured). The self-proclaimed Field Marshal and Atman, had assembled this force in a welter of brief campaigns over the previous winter of 1918-1919. He was helped in this by most senior officers choosing to either stay with Kerensky or migrating to serve with Grand Duke Nicholas. He also had seized custody of the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrova, giving him the legitimate heir to the throne as a figurehead. By a series of deals with the retreating Germans in western Ukraine he had traded their safe passage for their arms dumps. By dint of location in Ukraine, south Russia, Kuban and the north Caucasus, he was the only of the many competing regimes to have a food surplus. While millions starved he could feed his troops. Now with the end of the spring mud season he began his march north to place his puppet monarch on the throne in the twin capitals of Moscow and Petrograd.
This article is a continuation of the Russland timeline.

In 1862, although Hancock, in early October, was not a major town in any fashion, it did nevertheless have railroads, the Potomac, the Cheasapeake-Ohio Canal, not to mention several roads, all either going through or around it (as pictured in map).

The Battle of Hancock - Day One by David Atwell It was also well located, geographically speaking, so that the Army of Northern Virginia could enter the relative safety of the Shenandoah Valley from the north, thus keeping any pursuer honest in their attempts to attack the rear of Lee's army. But the most important aspect was the local terrain. Although the ridge line, which the town was located on, was an impressive looking location to deploy an army, the ridge line to the west of Hancock was even better.

As a consequence, even though Lee first thought about establishing his line on the town of Hancock itself, he selected the better ground to the west of the town. Thus Lee established his initial position on Blue Hill. Here Longstreet's corps made its line southward down to the banks of the Potomac River and then northward to Kirk Woods through until Longstreet finally anchored his right on Little Tonoloway Creek. Immediately north of this location (in other words across the creek) Jackson started his line. This continued north towards Wardfordsburg where Magruder's Corps took over the line until where it ended at Big Tonoloway Creek. Across Big Tonoloway Creek, Stuart's cavalry was deployed to cover the open flank, even though it was well protected thanks to Big Tonoloway Creek.A Chapter from Hancock 1862

Some four hours later, at around 4pm, the Army of the Potomac arrived by way of Pleasonton's cavalry corps. McClellan was immediately informed of the situation and made his plans accordingly. Assuming Lee was now prepared to offer battle, McClellan returned to his slow methodical ways, but in this instance he was right to proceed cautiously as any rash attack would have been met with disaster. Consequentially, over the remaining hours before nightfall, McClellan established the beginning of his battleline where Little Tonoloway Creek enters the Potomac River. It then parallelled Longstreet's line to the east of Kirk Woods. The Union line then headed north, again parallel to Lee's line, and finally ended east of Wardfordsburg at Big Tonoloway Creek. Finally Pleasonton's Cavalry probed further north and, by dusk, had made contact with their Confederate counterparts. Like Lee, McClellan based most of his line on a hill line, although Lee's position enjoyed the advantage of the higher ridge.

Both sides then awaited the dawn, knowing that the battle which could decide the outcome of the War, was about to begin.

Read the whole story of Hancock 1862 - the Union Strikes Back on the Changing the Times web site.

In 1973, there seemed to be little choice for Israel than to exercise the nuclear option. The military situation was dire, especially on the Egyptian front. A large hole had been successfully made in the Israeli centre on the Sinai front.

The Specials by David AtwellTwo Egyptian spearheads, numbering at least two divisions each, had, not only reached the all important passes, but had crossed them & were heading towards Israel proper. The Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Dayan, was in shock when told of the news, by his staff, at midday on 7 October. He, in turned, told Israel's Prime Minister Golda Meir, of the situation, & concluded that "It is the fall of the Third Temple" as he was in much despair.

Israel, though, was mobilising as much of its military reserve as possible. But with its defeat at the Sinai passes, Israel was running out of time. At the speed with which the Egyptians were moving, the Israeli homeland would be invaded within 24 hours. There was little time left. Furthermore, now that Egypt had room to move, it had spread its front line out thus making it more or less impossible to establish a "road-block" defence, as the Egyptians could merely drive around it & leave the defenders to be dealt with later.

The only hope seemed to lie with the Israeli Air Force, but it had taken a sever beating when it tried to intervene at the Suez Canal two days earlier. Having said that, whatever the Israeli's could fly was in the air & hitting the Egyptians as they were approaching Israel itself. All the same, the Egyptians had mobile anti-aircraft missile carriers & these kept a watchful eye on the skies. And just as importantly for the Egyptians, their own Air Force patrolled the skies, although they were seldom a match for Israeli pilots.

Even so, it still came down to time. And Israel's time was clearly running out. A decision had to be made as to what to do. As far as Dayan was concerned, if Israel did not act decisively now, all would be lost. Meir was of the same mind, although Elazar voiced his objections, but it was a government decision & not a military one. Thus Meir issued the orders to get the "Specials" ready. The Israeli Air Force was given the most important orders that it had ever carried out.

A Chapter from Hell on EarthThree hours later, four Israeli Skyhawk A-4H fighter/bomber aircraft took off from an air force base outside of Jerusalem. Their mission was a simple one, although the consequences of its success was without equal. On board each aircraft was a crude nuclear weapon, four of only 13 such weapons made for use by an aircraft. These had been built, only recently, by the Israeli defence department for use in an emergency such as this. Now they were on the way to stop the Egyptian army from invading southern Israel.

It only took a short period of time for the Israeli Skyhawks to reach their destination, but to the likes of Meir, Dayan & Elazar, it was probably the longest 30 minutes of their lives. Seconds seemed like hours, whilst minutes seemed like days. The Skyhawks went unmolested by the Egyptians, until they reached the front. Coming in low, though, gave the pilots numerous advantages, but once they entered their sudden climb it was a different story. But the pilots had to reach a high altitude, flying almost straight up, in order to "sling-shot" the nuclear weapon up & away from their aircraft if they wanted to survive.

The Egyptians never knew what hit them, nor did they understand what the four Israeli Skyhawks were attempting. It seemed to be merely an attempt to avoid being hit by missiles or some such. Each Skyhawk, however, was able to release its weapon as planed & then took off at great speed away from the battle zone. As they flew away, each nuclear weapon continued in its upward flight until gravity finally brought it back to Earth. Within two minutes the job was done. Four Egyptian divisions no longer existed. The invasion threat to Israel had vanished in four mushroom shaped clouds.
Read the whole story on the Alternate History web site

By 1849, the life of Edgar Allan Poe had been as bleak as many of his poems. His father had abandoned the family shortly after his birth, and his mother died of tuberculosis the next year. He was taken in by the Allan family, wealthy Scotch merchants in Virginia.

Poe RemarriesWhile the Allans never formally adopted him, Poe was given the middle name of Allan in recognition of his foster parents. He had a youth of mixed fortune: traveling with the family and being well educated, but being alternately spoiled and brutally disciplined by his foster father. Poe would attend the University of Virginia for one year before dropping out, claiming that his foster father had not given him enough of an allowance to pay for classes, texts, and dormitory.

His first disappointment in love would follow as he learned his sweetheart, Sarah Royster, had married another man. Poe would leave Richmond for Boston, stumbling semi-aimlessly with various writing jobs and unrecognized publications as well as enlisting in the army under an alias while lying about his age. He did well in the artillery but sought to leave early, which his commander would only allow if he reconciled with the Allans. John Allan refused to write back, and Poe finally visited in person, one day after his foster mother's death. Poe later attended West Point while his foster father remarried, which began a new feud that would finally have Poe disowned. Depression struck him, and he purposefully sought court-martial from gross dereliction of duty.

In 1831, while Poe was living with his aunt and also his cousin Virginia, his brother died. He turned more seriously to his writing as well as getting work at newspapers (though he would be fired for drunkenness or lack of productive work). In 1835, he secretly married his 13-year-old Virginia (she lying about her age on the certificate as 21), and the family life won him back his job at the Southern Literary Messenger. They married publicly the next year.

Life seemed to pick up for Poe. He was more stable than he had ever been, and his writing was gaining recognition and making money. It came to an end, however, as Virginia began showing signs of tuberculosis in 1842. The stress of his wife's illness drove Poe back to drink, and he became increasingly belligerent. The Broadway Journal failed under his editorship in 1846, and Virginia died in 1847. Poe was devastated.

In spite of tortured mourning, Poe tried to move on, soon courting poetess Sarah Helen Whitman. They had met in writing before life, Whitman writing a poem "To Edgar Allan Poe" for a Valentine's Day party he did not attend, and Poe writing in return. The courtship was a mess from Poe's erraticism, alcoholism, and Whitman's mother's attempts at sabotage. Despite the odds, they set a wedding date of December 25, 1848. Rumors that Poe had broken his vow of sobriety along with Poe's "outrages" drove them apart. It seemed another melancholic relationship for the Virginia poet.

That spring, Poe returned, signifying his devotion by smashing a whiskey bottle. In spite of her mother's pleas, Whitman took him back, though she would watch his habits closely over the rest of their lives. They were wed in 1849, and Poe's writing returned as he began the "happy half of [his] life". His "Raven" had gained sudden recognition, and Poe finally felt vindicated in his craft. Novels, short stories, and poems surged from his pen. Whitman was a successful poet in her own right, and the two lived very comfortably. As he aged, Poe took up a professorship at the University of Virginia, teaching writing and making great strides in cryptography and logic as well as his famous satirical commentaries on cosmology and physics.

Poe stands as perhaps the greatest American author of the nineteenth century, creating several genres such as detective stories, science fiction, modern heroism, and spirit fiction all the while perfecting the Gothic horror. His advances in the theories of cryptography helped establish America as the foremost world power in code-cracking and ancient linguistics.

In 2010, Connecticut senatorial candidate Linda McMahon was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to answer charges that she had participated in proscribed rites of witchcraft.

Linda McMahon on TrialHer confession under "intensive interrogation" by means of waterboarding, a refinement of the Colonial-era technique of dunking, conducted before TV cameras for a national network audience, destroyed her political hopes and resulted in federal confiscation of her financial assets and the collapse of her show-business empire, World Wrestling Entertainment, many of whose garishly-outfitted performers would themselves be called before the Committee.

Ms. McMahon, of course, would not see any of that. Immediately following her broadcast confession, she was taken out and-still before the cameras-burned at the stake.

In 1994, and just two days after becoming the President-elect of the Boerestaat, Constand Laubscher Viljoen (pictured) received an earth-shattering intelligence report that forced the General to reconsider the very lifelong convictions that had led inexorably to his new political appointment as the Head of State for the new "Israel for the Afrikaner".

No WinnersViljeon had joined the South African Defence Force in 1955. Appointed as the senior officer in the campaign in Angola in 1975-1976, his prestige had risen as the hands-on organizer of the swashbuckling airborne assault by South African forces at the controversial Battle of Cassinga. Revered as a white hero, he was promoted to Overall Commander, South African Defence Forces three years later, a position he served in until 1985. This military leadership position in the so-called "Border War" put Viljeon squarely on the frontline as a sworn defender of the Separate Amenities Act, the Group Areas act and the Population Registration, the key pieces of legislation that held the apartheid regime together. By the early 1990s however, Vijeon had retired to his farm and it was his twin brother, Braam that was politically active. The two brothers had not spoken in years.

In contrast, a career failure as a man of the church, Braam was politically aligned to the African National Congress, rightly viewing the apartheid laws as an abomination. He too was on the front-line. So much so, that Constand had sent him dire warnings to quit the Committees of the South African Council of Churches if he "knew what was good for him", because the security forces considered the Council to be a front for ANC terrorism.

"Go rest in peace. Go rest in the shadow of a tree at your home".By the time of Mandela's release from prison, Constand had decided to abandon the farm and join the right-wing political process. Viljoen had a force of between 50,000 and 60,000 trained military personnel at his command, with the ability to take over large parts of the country. Soon realising that the agreements with de Klerk constituted a de facto government of national unity, right-wing forces murdered South African Communist Party chairman Chris Hani to derail the peace process. And at the funeral, youthful ANC supporters shouting "Kill the Boer! Kill the Farmer". Mandela fatally chose to let this reaction go, and was assassinated in the escalation of violence at the funeral.

As President-elect, Constand was privy to the intelligence reports the Polish far-right immigrant named Janusz Walus who had murdered Chris Hani. And whilst studying those very reports, Constand discovered to his horror, that his own people were also behind the 1987 murder of his brother Braam. Addressing the Afrkaner nation on the occassion of Mandela's funeral, Viljeon paid an amazing tribute in Xhosa: "Go rest in peace. Go rest in the shadow of a tree at your home".

In 2009, on this day the super-violent American zombie horror movie For Whom the Bell Tolls premiered in cinemas across the United Kingdom. Starring Woody Harrelson in his most gory role since "Natural Born Killers" the movie shares its name with the signature soundtrack from Metallica.
Click to listen to Metallica on Youtube

From Whom the Bell TollsIn a key scene, the zombie killers stay in lead singer (pictured) James Hetfield's Californian mansion and they club the living dead to death with one of his electric guitars.

To say that the actors got into character would be an understatement, big time. Because on his return from the film-shoot, Woody Harrelson assaulted a photographer at La Guardia Airport in New York, claiming that he mistook the cameraman for a zombie. "I wrapped a movie called "From Whom the Bell Tolled," in which I was constantly under assault by zombies, then flew to New York, still very much in character," Harrelson said in a statement issued by his publicist. "With my daughter at the airport I was startled by a paparazzo, who I quite understandably mistook for a zombie," he said.

In 2010, the first episode of the American future history fiction television series "The Chronicles of Bandit Six" was aired by the Fox Broadcasting Company. Each episode begins with the gravelly voice of Bandit Six (pictured) solemnly pledging "This Rome Will Not Fall".
Click to watch the author's interview with Kelly Lockhart

The Chronicles of Bandit SixThe difficulty for would-be directors was that author John Ringo had written "The Last Centurion" in a unique and compelling blog style where the first person narrator makes reference to a documentary which of course the reader can only imagine.

Set in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the world is struck by two catastrophes, a new mini-ice age and, nearly simultaneously, a plague to dwarf all previous experiences. "This Rome will not Fall"Rising out of the disaster is the character known to history as "Bandit Six" an American Army officer caught up in the struggle to rebuild the world and prevent the fall of his homeland - despite the best efforts of politicians both elected and military.

The genius of the 2010 TV series was to reverse the artistic vision, basing the episodes on the imagined "Last Centurions" documentaries as filmed by the SkyNews satellite news network in late 2018/early 2019 and the "New Centurions" news programs as aired on the ABC and FOX television networks in June of 2021.

In 1985, on this day four Palestinian terrorists seize control of the passenger liner MS Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt. Holding the passengers and crew hostage, they directed the vessel to sail to Tartus, Syria, and demanded the release of 50 Palestinians then in Israeli prisons. After being refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers murdered wheelchair-bound American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and threw his body overboard.

The Achille Lauro Affair by Eric LippsThe incident provides a harsh test of President Gary Hart's administration. The President, fearing he will be charged with "weakness" by conservatives, first advises the Egyptian government against negotiating with the terrorists and then directs that a military response be readied. In consultation with the Israelis, whose successful 1976 raid on terrorists holding hostages at Uganda's Entebbe Airport had been made into a television movie, Hart directs that U.S. Marines storm the ship, which had returned to its port of origin, Alexandria.

The raid is a distinctly mixed success. Three of the four terrorists are killed, and the fourth, Abu Abbas, taken prisoner. However, several hostages are killed, including Marilyn Klinghoffer, wife and now widow of the man murdered earlier by the terrorists. It will be rumored for years that Mrs. Klinghoffer was shot by one of the U.S. troops.

In the aftermath, President Hart will be sharply criticized by liberals, including his immediate predecessor President Edward M. Kennedy, for taking armed action in preference to negotiations. Conservatives will join in, criticizing the Hart Administration for "bungling" the rescue attempt..

Kennedy's criticism will be particularly painful for Hart. The two men had been friends, and Hart had been among the second President Kennedy's strongest supporters in the Senate; EMK's sharp words will feel like a personal betrayal.

On this day in 1941, the German army unleashed a ferocious counterattack against Red Army infantry and armor divisions trying to retake Strogino.                                        


In 1970, with U.S. troops in combat with North Vietnamese Army units inside North Vietnam, massive demonstrations are held at several U.S. universities. At Columbia University in New York City, the offices of the administration in Hamilton Hall are occupied by protestors who refuse the orders of campus security guards to vacate the premises.

Tensions had been building for some time, since the discovery by student activists of papers in the International Law Library linking the university to a Defense Department think tank called the Institute for Defense Analyses. Several students had been placed on probation for violating a university policy against indoor demonstrations, prompting a short-lived student strike.


In 2001, in a meeting with his closest military and foreign-affairs advisers, President Al Gore discusses the need to "prepare to employ other options" in the event that diplomatic efforts to press the Afghans and the Saudis to aid the U.S. against the Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 downing of TWA Flight 93 fail.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

The President explains that the Afghans' walkout from the United Nations following the UN sanctions resolution of Sept. 28, and the Saudis' hostile reaction to American requests for their cooperation against bin Laden, have obliged him to consider the possibility that the United States may have to act alone sand "forcefully". Gore confides to his advisers that the one bright spot in the situation is that the additional attacks the terrorists had planned, which might have killed thousands more and potentially even crippled the U.S. government, were thwarted as a result of the intelligence warnings contained in the Presidential Daily Brief he had received on August 6.

Secretary of State Powell suggests that the President consider assembling a coalition of nations in support of any military action, as President George H. W. Bush did prior to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He emphasizes that although the United States is more than capable of defeating the Afghan army and any likely Al Qaeda resistance in open battle, enlisting international support will be politically useful, particularly if long-term sanctions or an extended occupation are deemed necessary.

Defense Secretary Webb concurs, and stresses in addition that preparations for possible military action in Afghanistan must be kept from leaking to the media.


In 1984, in the first of two scheduled debates between the presidential contenders, which focuses on domestic policy, GOP candidate Robert Dole asserts the need to "rein in the growth of entitlement programs", which he asserts are 'sapping the initiative of Americans' and which he blames for rising inflation, now at 9 percent annually, and for continuing federal deficits, which have run between $30 billion and $50 billion a year since 1981.

Nominee - Bob Dole
Bob Dole

Departing briefly from the agreed-on restrictions on the debate's scope, Democratic candidate Gary Hart notes that the ongoing Iran-Iraq war has contributed to a substantial rise in the price of oil, which he asserts is the most important factor in the growth of the federal deficit. An angry Dole accuses him of trying to shift the blame for deficits away from a Democratic administration, and demands that moderator Barbara Walters of ABC rebuke Hart for 'breaking the rules of debate we both agreed on in advance.'

Walters admonishes Hart, who avoids references to foreign affairs for the remainder of the debate. However, Dole's harsh response to his opponent's words hurts the Republican candidate with the TV audience, to whom he comes across as hot-tempered.

On this day in 2013 shooting was completed for the feature film adaptation of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

 - Jerry Bruckenheimer
Jerry Bruckenheimer

In 2007, Harry Windsor landed at RAF Brizenorton after captors effected the Prince's release in Iraq. Reporters asked the Prince if he had regretted his Royal Status in captivity. 'The only Emperor is Emperor of Ice Cream' responded the Prince, making a wise reference to that most funereal of poems.

 - Dead Harry
Dead Harry
In 1914, German troops besiege the city of Vilnius.
In 1968, the movie industry, in an effort to stave off government censorship of films, adopted a voluntary system of ratings between G for general audiences and X for adult fare. Unfortunately, many filmmakers opted not to join the voluntary system, and it soon collapsed from lack of use. President Nixon's Film Censorship Board then took over the task of keeping Hollywood clean.
In 1960, Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts and Vice-President Richard Nixon debate for the second time on television, this time on matters of foreign policy. Kennedy made his famous declaration that Castro was a communist, and that, 'Today, Cuba is lost to freedom.' When Castro signed a trade and security agreement with the Eisenhower administration the next week, Kennedy was humiliated, and doubts about his competency in international affairs became certainties.
In 1949, Communists in the eastern half of Germany secede and form the Democratic People's Republic of Germany. They hold the capitol, Berlin, and this prompts several of the 'White' governments of Europe to send military force into Germany to bring them back in line with the rest of the capitalist continent. With aid from the Soviet States of America, though, the People's Democracy is able to survive. Berlin remains the capitol of both Germanies, and is partitioned into a capitalist half and a communist half. It becomes the scene of much struggle over the years, including the wall that was constructed there, decried by Comrade President Rosenberg in his famous 'ich bin ein Berliner' speech.
In 1896, Elijah Muhammed was born in Sandersville, Georgia. Brother Muhammed was almost single-handedly responsible for the surge in African-American acceptance of the light of Islam, through his disciple Martin King. Their efforts brought nearly 30 million Americans to the brotherhood of Islam.
In 1982, composer/producer Andrew Lloyd Webber of Jesus Christ, Superstar fame opened a new musical on Broadway. It was based on, of all things, T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, and titled, simply, Cats. The show flopped; apparently, Webber had overestimated his ability to put just anything in front of the theater-going public.
In 1955, Beat poet Alan Ginsberg read what he felt was his personal masterpiece, Howl, before an audience for the first time at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. What he thought would be a major literary turning point turned out to be a dud, and he soon returned to marketing, publishing small poems on the side.

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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.