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

November 12

In 2012, on this day Fox News released shocking new details of the so-called Battle of Benghazi.

Embedded Journalist 2Because on the anniversary of September 11, a heavily armed group attacked the US consulate and a nearby intelligence compound killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other members of his diplomatic mission.

The report also included video footage of a speech given by Paula Broadwell, the "plague rat" journalist at the centre of the David Petraeus resignation scandal. On October 26th she said that the CIA annex was used to imprison Libyan militia members and this may have been the motivation behind the attack on the consulate. A Fox News Source subsequently confirmed that the CIA Annex was used as a detention center for not just militia members, but for prisoners from all parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East.

The CIA denied these allegations but the revelation forced former CIA Director Petraeus to be be subpoenaed to speak at the Senatorial hearings. He was previously excused because of his resignation as D/CIA.

In 1864, on this day William T. Sherman's Union forces captured Atlanta. An installment of the Federal's Lost Cause thread.

Federal Lost Cause Part 5: Atlanta falls too late to save LincolnAlthough it only had a population of ten thousand citizens, , the Confederacy's second-most important city was a vital rail and commercial centre and had thus become a critical point of contention. Northern newspapers covered the victory, reporting General Hood's burning of many military facilities as he evacuated. But it was too late for Lincoln who had lost the General Election just four days earlier. The war-weary mood of the Northern voters had sealed his fate. Even if the mis-perception of stagnant stalemate had now been corrected, the peace candidate George B. McClellan (pictured) had won out.

However the bigger picture was still transformed. First of all, "Little Mac" would not take office until March, by which time Lincoln might still be able to defeat the South. Even if not, he could force legislation through that enabled his successor to continue the fight throughout 1865 without needing to seek funding approval. And of course McClellan himself was a reluctant peace candidate (the party platform was actually written by Copperhead Clement Vallandigham of Ohio). And so there was a dawning realization that an independent Confederacy was unlikely to emerge from the US Civil War regardless of military outcome. A weighty factor was McClellan opposition to emancipation. The balance of probability then was that the Southern States would rejoin the Union under terms they would not have been offered by Lincoln, and therein lie the chief consequence of the electoral result of 1864.

In AD 60, a Roman army led by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was trapped in an ambush set by the Iceni Queen Boudica.

The Battle of Watling StreetDue to poor command decisions, the occupying force only numbered ten thousand, comprising Legio XIV Gemina, parts of the XX Valeria Victrix, and any available auxiliaries (a third legion, II Augusta, near Exeter, failed to join them and a fourth, IX Hispana, had been routed trying to relieve Camulodunum). Whereas the alliance of indigenous British peoples had assembled a staggering two hundred and thirty thousand men. Although impresssive in numbers, this unorganized horde would have been no match for a disciplined force, had they met in open battle.

Although Nero had been seriously considering a withdrawal from the Islands, he was determined to punish the British and moveover the Province remained highly profitable. However the timing was off because unrest was on the boil. And soon enough the Year of the Four Emperors arrived and the reconquest of the British Isles was taken off the table until the time of Vespasian. Meanwhile Boudica consolidated both her alliance with the Kent and Sussex tribes and also the trading partnership with Gaul. The Romans had withdrawn from the British Isles, at least for Boudica's lifetime. It was a revenge of sorts for the violations that the Romans had inflicted upon her daughters.

In 278 B.C, the short-lived days of the Roman Empire came to an end as Greek conqueror Pyrrhus of Epirus determined to finish off the growing city. What had once been a pack of exiles and bandits who could only gain wives by stealing them during a false olympics became Rome, a masterful city-state that had taken in numerous forced allies after years of expansionistic war in Italy.

Pyrrhus Obliviates the RomansWhat had once been a pack of exiles and bandits who could only gain wives by stealing them during a false olympics became Rome, a masterful city-state that had taken in numerous forced allies after years of expansionistic war in Italy.

Originally of the Molossians, Pyrrhus's father had been dethroned, and he grew up in exile, learning the importance of military strength and political prowess. His father-in-law, Ptolemy of Egypt, restored him as king of Epirus in 297 BC, and Pyrrhus determined to expand his power. He attempted to conquer Macedon, but was defeated. In 281 BC, a new chance arose to build a league of allies when Tarentum on the southern end of Italy determined to revolt against the growing influence of Rome. The Oracle at Delphi told him "Aio te, AEacide, Romanos vincere posse", meaning, "I say, Pyrrhus, that you the Romans can conquer". Armed with 3,000 cavalry, 2,000 archers, 500 slingers, 20,000 infantry and 20 war elephants (much of his forces on lone from Egypt), Pyrrhus set off for his Italian campaign.

In 280 BC, he met the Romans in the Battle of Heraclea, defeating their larger army but taking tremendous losses not easily replaced as he was away from Epirus and his allies were wary of utterly declaring war on Rome. The Romans considered a treaty, but eventually declined and rebuilt a fresh army. The next year, he Pyrrhus again defeated the Romans at Asculum, and again his losses were so large that he commented, "One more such victory, and we shall be undone".

In 278 BC, Pyrrhus came upon two new opportunities. The Greek cities in Sicily approached him to drive out Carthage as he was driving the Romans out of southern Italy, and the Macedonians invited him to take the throne there as their king Ceraunus had been killed by barbarians. Both were glorious, but Pyrrhus determined his most important goal should be utter defeat of his present enemy, lest they counterattack and he lose his position as his father had. Taking up what was left in his coffers and forces, Pyrrhus stormed Rome with a grand army and left the city with no stone on top of another.

With Rome destroyed, Pyrrhus's influence in Italy was secure. He next took up the position as King of Sicily, driving out the Carthaginians and pacifying the Greeks in Sicily to be loyal under his command. Pyrrhus then returned to Macedon, and he was able to build up a system of diplomacy that make the Pyrrhic Empire the great power of the middle Mediterranean. He was invited by Cleonymus of Sparta to overthrow the city there, and Pyrrhus began his last campaign in 272 BC. He would be caught in the street fighting after successfully sneaking his army into the city and killed by a roofing tile thrown by an old woman. It seemed an unfitting end who Hannibal, the great statesman of the Carthaginians and conqueror of Gaul, called the greatest military commander in the world. His strategy of utterly destroying and absorbing his enemies gave birth to the phrase "Pyrrhic victory" in which a conquest is total.

In 1916, on this day businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer Percival Lowell regained reason to live.

Lowell Regains Reason to Live Percival Lowell had lived a life that few could not envy. A Harvard graduate, he left the world of business for travel and spent much of the 1880s in the Far East. He served as a diplomat's aide and made a study of Korean and, more specifically, Japanese culture. From his trips to the region, he wrote three books: The Soul of the Far East (1888), Noto (1891), and Occult Japan (1894). In 1893, he decided to dedicate himself to astronomy, picking up where the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli had left off with a study of canals on the surface of Mars. The next year, Lowell used his fortune to establish the observatory in Arizona that bears his name.

Through his study, Lowell determined sketches of the canals on Mars and wrote three more books: Mars (1895), Mars and Its Canals (1906), and Mars As the Abode of Life (1908). As the twentieth century began, Lowell's ideas of the canals as symbols of an intelligent Martian race led to less and less credit among the astronomical community. The dispassion weighed on him, and he turned toward further research to reestablish his name. Taking discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus, Lowell calculated that some other body must exist beyond the orbit of Neptune, an unfound planet he dubbed "Planet X". Despite laborious searches, nothing from the photographs of the heavens could be determined to be such a planet.

In 1916, Lowell's life seemed to have run out. The World War weighed as heavily on him as the sneers from fellow astronomers. He had believed so much in humanity and the drive of human progress; reports of hundreds of thousands of young men slain on battlefields seemed to disprove that. Stresses had built up into his system, perhaps directing him to an early end of life. But, in the early hours of November 12, an aide hurriedly approached Lowell with prints from the photographic plates taken that March and April with a distant dot that may have been his Planet X.

Reinvigorated, Lowell threw himself into research. The planet looked too small to genuinely affect the mass of Uranus and Neptune, which caused him to recalculate the planetary masses. When this new mathematical arrangement seemed to fit better than the standard model, Lowell published his results in 1917. While some of the astronomical community became persuaded, the overall opinion was against him. Rather than falling under pressure as he had before, Lowell broke with standards and decided that humanity as a whole was becoming corrupt. If progress were to be made, it would be by smaller groups of like-minded, imaginative mini-cultures. He decided that hope for the future lay not in the overpopulated nations of the world but in individual creativity.

Lowell began bringing influential scientists and writers (including his sister, Amy) to his observatory, creating a new community. Some whispered that he was building a scientific cult, but Lowell had given up on impressing his fellows. Instead, he gathered funding and built up the observatory into not only an astronomical facility, but a place for research in numerous fields.

In 1920, Lowell came across a front page article in The New York Times about a lecturer at Clark University believing he could reach the Moon by means of rocketry. Dr. Robert Goddard proposed sending meteorological instruments into the upper atmosphere and even flash powder to the dark side of the Moon, illuminating it for astronomical study. The day after the article, an editorial in The Times trounced Goddard's ideas and concluded that he was a fool who had forgotten "the relation of action and reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react-to say that would be absurd". Lowell contacted Goddard through his connections at Clark University (where he had received an honorary degree in 1909), the two bonded over Goddard's explanation of the fallacy believed to be from Newton's laws of motion. When Lowell secured funding for Goddard's experiments, the latter joined him at the Observatory.

In 1923, Lowell was informed of another controversial thesis, this by a young German student, Hermann Oberth, entitled Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("By Rocket into Planetary Space"). Lowell became enamored with traveling not only to the Moon, but Mars itself, and invited him to join Goddard's research. Oberth, who also had been frowned upon by the academic communities as "utopian", accepted Lowell's invitation. Lowell would later invite Konstantin Tsiolkovsky after widespread publications of the genius's earlier work, but the Russian would decline to move to Arizona, instead maintaining a rigorous correspondence until Lowell's death in 1930.

Lowell died from a stroke February 18, 1930, many said caused by overwork. Since the Crash of the stock market, funding had begun to dry up, and Lowell worked continuously to keep his society running. While the '30s would be lean times at the Observatory, the explosion of need for technological development as the United States entered World War Two gave them something of a blank check. It is believed that Lowell's efforts, combined with yet another war, enabled mankind to achieve space flight in 1948, establish the Lowell Lunar Colony in 1961, and launch the Lowell Ares Program, establishing a Martian outpost in 1983. By that time, however, it had become obvious that Lowell's canals were only an optical illusion.

In 2009, on this day Michael Isikoff wrote this article in Newsweek Magazine ~ The Impeachment of Al Gore Next Essay. Be Careful What You Wish For None of this ever happened. But if George W. Bush had lost the election, it could have.

I. A New Day in Washington

It is hard to reconstruct, nine years later, just how inspiring Al Gore seemed when he first addressed the country after being declared the winner of the 2000 election. It was a moment that nobody in Washington ever anticipated--at least not until Justice Anthony Kennedy at the last minute flipped his vote in chambers on Bush v. Gore, thereby permitting the Florida recount to proceed. (And even then, Gore was able to eke out a razor-thin 107-vote victory only when the Florida Supreme Court ordered that all disputed ballots be tallied.)

The Impeachment of Al GoreBut as Republicans cried foul, Gore, on Christmas Eve, rose to the occasion. "What remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside," he declared in a nationwide television address in which he vowed to do "everything possible" to bring Americans together, including naming Republicans to his cabinet. Gore fulfilled his pledge two days later by picking John McCain as his defense secretary. Soon enough, the pundits were predicting that Gore had the potential to usher in a new "post-partisan" era in American politics that would make the country forget the nasty divisiveness of the Clinton years. Little could they imagine that, within a few short years, Gore would have embroiled the country in two unpopular wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or that, blamed for failing to stop the deadliest attack ever on American soil, he would confront a harrowing impeachment trial in the Senate that would make Clinton's Lewinsky troubles seem like a frolic.

II. The Troubles Begin

Gore's political woes began within minutes after he took office on Jan. 20, 2001. A new article from Newsweek MagazineNo sooner had he finished his inaugural address than a firestorm erupted over Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive financier named Marc Rich. Although Gore had known nothing about Rich or the pardon, his White House was immediately under siege. Jack Quinn, a longtime adviser who was Gore's first vice presidential chief of staff, had later become Rich's chief lawyer. Sources inside the Justice Department leaked word that Quinn had gotten a crucial assist when Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Gore's nominee to be A.G., told the White House he was "[neutral, leaning toward favorable" on a Rich pardon.

Career prosecutors at Justice were outraged. Inside the White House, tempers flared. "I can't believe the goddamn Clintons did this to us again!" First Lady Tipper Gore was reported to have screamed to her husband one night over dinner.

When NEWSWEEK reported on Feb. 10 that federal prosecutors in New York were considering a criminal investigation into the pardon, Republicans saw their opening. "How could the Gore Justice Department possibly investigate itself?" thundered Rep. Dan Burton, who, as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, had already announced hearings. Even The New York Times editorial page agreed. Before the week was through, Holder's nomination was withdrawn. ("I'm done. Public life is over for me," he told The Washington Post.) As the price for getting the president's new nominee (Jamie Gorelick) confirmed, the administration had no choice but to capitulate to GOP demands for an independent investigation. Gore's term had barely begun and already he was saddled with that hallmark of the Clinton era--a special prosecutor.

III. A Gathering Storm

Yet there were even graver threats looming beneath the surface in those early days. On Jan. 25, 2001, CIA Director George Tenet (whom Gore had decided to retain) told the new president in a briefing that the "preliminary judgment" of the U.S. intelligence community was that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda was responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole, which had killed 17 U.S. sailors off the coast of Yemen the previous October. That very same day, Richard Clarke, the White House counterterrorism adviser and another Clinton holdover, wrote Gore a fateful memo urging him to retaliate for the Cole bombing. "We have got to destroy these guys, Mr. President. If we don't, there will be more attacks," Clarke would later testify he told Gore that day in a private conversation outside the Situation Room. As Clarke recounted the exchange in his testimony at the House impeachment hearings (and in a bestselling book that somehow managed to come out the same day), Gore brushed him off: "Enough already, Dick. I know all about Al Qaeda. We'll get them. But now is not the time".

Gore would hear much the same thing from Tenet four months later when the CIA director presented a National Security Council (NSC) briefing about the alarming uptick in threat warnings about Al Qaeda. "The system is blinking red," an exasperated Tenet told Gore on June 30. Gore was troubled and told the CIA director to "stay on top of this one". But Gore once again insisted that there was nothing he could do about Al Qaeda right away. He had too much on his plate--like winning congressional passage of his new climate-change tax-credit proposals. Besides, the public had forgotten all about the Cole bombing. The U.S. military also had given him no good targets for hitting bin Laden. "What's the point of pounding sand?" asked McCain, echoing the views of the Joint Chiefs, at the NSC meeting that day.

Frustrated at the administration's lack of attention, intelligence-agency officials made another attempt to drive home their concerns about Al Qaeda. On Aug. 6, while Gore was on vacation at the family farm outside Carthage, Tenn., the CIA presented a President's Daily Brief (PDB) with the eye-grabbing title: "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S". Gore poured over the PDB and repeatedly underlined key portions. "Damnit, I want the FBI all over this right away," he told Gorelick in a phone call later that morning. But still, the brief was sketchy, offering no specifics or any proposed course of action. Certainly, there was nothing that dissuaded Gore later that day from directing White House lawyers to finish up work on a document intended to fulfill one of his campaign promises--an executive order banning religious, ethnic, or racial profiling by federal law-enforcement officials.

IV. The White House Under Siege

Gore signed the executive order at a White House ceremony on Sept 10. The next day, he flew off to Detroit for an education event at an inner-city school. He was reading a book to second graders about the effect of global warming on polar bears, Where Did All the Little Bears Go?, when his new chief of staff, Ron Klain, whispered in his ear that two airplanes had slammed into the World Trade Towers and that "America is under attack".

Gore flew back to Washington that afternoon and rallied the country. "This will not stand," Gore proclaimed. "We will not shrink from doing whatever it takes to prevail against the terrorists who did this to us". At a Camp David meeting later that month, Gore assembled his war council and gave the approval for an immediate invasion of Afghanistan.

As Bob Woodward later reported in his book Gore at War, some on the president's team--notably Vice President Joe Lieberman and McCain--wanted even bolder moves. "What about Iraq?" Lieberman asked. "Shouldn't we be going after Saddam as well?" Gore, according to Woodward's explosive account, thought Lieberman was "out of his mind". At Camp David, he curtly cut his vice president off. "Joe, this has nothing to do with Saddam," Gore said, ending the discussion. "Let's stay focused here".

Once the initial shock of 9/11 wore off and the Taliban fled Kabul, Republicans in Congress started demanding a full-scale investigation of how the country had found itself defenseless against a tiny band of terrorists. "We need to know who knew what and when about bin Laden," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said in early November. The same day, Sen. Arlen Specter introduced a resolution (cosponsored by every Republican in the Senate) creating a special Senate panel to probe the 9/11 attacks. Others in the GOP (and on the right-wing talk-radio shows) blamed nine years of "spineless" Democratic national security decisions that began when Bill Clinton pulled U.S. troops out of Somalia in 1993 and continued right up to Gore's failure to retaliate for the Cole bombing. Democrats were aghast at the GOP hypocrisy: Wasn't it Specter who, just three years earlier, had suggested that Clinton's decision to retaliate for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa was a "diversionary" move to distract attention from the Lewinsky scandal? And Lott who had said much the same thing when Clinton bombed Iraq?

But by now, the administration was reeling. In April 2002, The Washington Post obtained leaked FAA documents and e-mails showing that nine of the 9/11 hijackers--including all five on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon--had been flagged for secondary screening the morning of the attacks by an agency computer system known as CAPPs, set up to identify potentially dangerous passengers. (The flagged hijackers had purchased one-way tickets and paid for them with cash.) But the airlines were barred from using the CAPPs warning as a basis to question the passengers themselves. Why? A commission on aviation security headed by Gore in 1997 had recommended against any extra questioning and frisking of passengers on the grounds that it might cause undue "inconvenience" or "embarrassment" for some religious or ethnic groups. "Does anyone here have any doubt we could have saved thousands of lives had it not been for those ridiculous [Gore] commission rules?" one internal FAA official had written in one of the most damning of the leaked e-mails.

Three weeks later The New York Times--quoting unnamed "U.S. intelligence officials"--reported the title of the bombshell Aug. 6, 2001, PDB about bin Laden's plans to attack. The first resolution of impeachment was introduced in the House the same afternoon. "Gore Knew" screamed the headline in the New York Post the next day.

V. Impeachment and Trial in the Senate

The summer of 2002 was agony for the White House. Each day, as the House Judiciary Committee pursued its impeachment inquiry, there were new leaks about government screw-ups in the run-up to 9/11. Despite Gore's orders to Tenet and Gorelick, his directives had never made their way to the field. The CIA didn't tell the FBI about two of the hijackers who had entered the country. The FBI had failed to follow up on warnings about Arabs attending U.S. flight schools. These and more foul-ups had taken place, the Republicans charged, because the Gore White House had been "asleep at the switch". "They were more interested in promoting their extremist climate-change agenda than in protecting the country," declared Dick Cheney, the losing 2000 GOP vice-presidential candidate in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute (where he served on the board). When Republicans scored an overwhelming victory in the 2002 congressional elections, locking up commanding majorities in both chambers, Gore's presidency seemed in peril.

On Jan. 20, 2003, two years to the day after he had been sworn in, Gore was impeached by a lopsided vote of 285-150. To make their case, the House impeachment leaders had crafted an article that charged Gore with the "high crime" of "dereliction of duty". But then, to mollify demands of libertarian conservatives like Grover Norquist (of the anti-tax advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform) and the NRA, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay included an extra article of impeachment that focused on Gore's post 9/11 actions, accusing the president of violating the constitutional rights of Americans by holding some terror suspects as "enemy combatants" and--even worse--issuing an executive order that blocked gun sales to thousands of citizens whose names had been added to the FBI's rapidly expanding terrorist watch list. (NRA "action alerts" trumpeted "horror stories" about innocent Americans being placed on the watch list and then denied their Second Amendment rights--all thanks to the "gun grabbers" at the White House.) The so-called civil liberties article seemed a stroke of political genius: not only had it whipped up enthusiasm for impeachment in rural America, but it had also attracted cautious support even from liberals appalled by the roundups of illegal aliens and other crackdowns of the Gorelick Justice Department.

White House political advisers warned Gore he needed to take bold action to save his presidency--and there was only one obvious option on the table: invade Iraq. Gore had thought the whole idea of an Iraq invasion made no sense and was based on skimpy evidence. But McCain and Lieberman--egged on by influential columnists like Tom Friedman and The Washington Post editorial page--had never given up their campaign for war. They relentlessly pushed Tenet to make his "best case" to Gore. When Tenet told the president in December 2002 that it was a "slam dunk" that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, Gore had seemed annoyed. "This isn't a basketball game, George," Gore had shot back, demanding to know how many sources the agency really had in Baghdad. ("None," Tenet was forced, sheepishly, to admit.)

But by the spring, Gore's resistance to an invasion began to soften, especially after his secretary of state, Richard Holbrooke--who had previously been on the fence--finally sided with the hawks. Holbrooke cited evidence--purportedly gleaned from the interrogation of a Qaeda detainee rendered to Egypt by the CIA--that Iraq had trained Qaeda operatives to use chemical weapons and might even be helping them acquire nuclear weapons. "We can't wait for the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud, Mr. President," Holbrooke, with his flair for melodrama, said at one cabinet meeting. Under pressure, Gore caved. On March 20, 2003, on the very day his impeachment trial began in the Senate, Gore announced that he had ordered the U.S. military to invade Iraq--not for the purpose of overthrowing Saddam's regime--but to find "every last one of his WMDs".

The limited purpose of the invasion drew howls of derision from conservatives. But as American troops marched into Baghdad and were hailed as heroes (if less by the Iraqis than by American reporters who had been "embedded" with the military), public opinion started to swing back to Gore. To be sure, American soldiers couldn't find any WMDs or Qaeda terrorists either. But Saddam fled his palace and Gore proclaimed the country "liberated". Meanwhile, in his Senate trial, DeLay's maneuver of combining an article impeaching the president for doing too little to protect the country with another one impeaching him for doing too much started to backfire. "This is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink case," proclaimed Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. "And can our Republican friends really sit here with a straight face and tell us that if George W. Bush had been elected president he would have done anything different about Al Qaeda than President Gore".

Still, the vote was nerve-bitingly close and very much in doubt until GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham--heavily lobbied by his friend McCain--gave a dramatic floor speech announcing he would vote to acquit. "I care about this country too much to vote to impeach two presidents in a row," said Graham, who had been one of the House floor managers for Clinton's impeachment four years earlier. Much as Justice Kennedy's last-minute switch had made Gore president, Graham's unexpected about-face in the Senate saved him--by one vote.

VI. The Final Days

The rest, as they say, is history. Gore narrowly won reelection in 2004--but only because Cheney, his GOP opponent, had terrified the country by declaring he wanted to invade Iran and, "if they don't shape up," Syria, North Korea, and Venezuela as well. Within months into his second term, Gore found he was saddled with two wars--neither of which was going well. To invade Iraq, Gore had been forced to pull troops and logistical support out of Afghanistan, resulting in a resurgence of the Taliban (and the escape of bin Laden and Al Qaeda through the mountains of Tora Bora. In Iraq, a Sunni insurgency was spreading rapidly, throwing the country into chaos and resulting in the deaths of 3,000 Americans by the end of 2006. Gore--who had never wanted to invade Iraq in the first place--was heartsick over the slaughter. He began looking for an exit strategy. In December 2006, he rejected calls for a "surge" of new troops to Iraq and adopted the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, chaired by former secretary of state Jim Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, calling for a phased withdrawal. McCain resigned. Sources close to Lieberman put out word he was considering abandoning the Democrats. By Gore's last year, his approval ratings were at historic lows in the mid-30s.

Small wonder then that, in 2008, Americans elected GOP candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush--who pledged to clean up the mess in Washington and restore America's honor and prestige around the world. He trounced Gore's handpicked successor, John Kerry. The Gore years were over. A new era, the Age of Bush, was about to begin.

In 1921, two years after the Confederacy sought to regain the so-called "occupied territories" at Versailles, the Great Powers conducted further round table talks at the Washington Naval Conference. This time around the goal was to defuse the naval arms race that was threatening the fragile world peace that had existed since the end of the Great War.

Washington Naval Conference by Michael N. Ryan & EdIn reality, relations between the United States and Britain had been at boiling point even before the Trent Affair. And ever since the scuttling of the Reichsmarine at the Scapa Flow, tension had escalated sharply. Matters had worsened in Paris, with the British advocating the return of the "occupied territories" to the CSA as part of a comprehensive peace settlement.

Both navies had been rebuilding at a frightening rate, and the new sixteen inch guns that were being fitted on battleships would soon be upgraded to eighteen. Worse still, Japan, France and Italy had now joined the arms race too. The Union insisted upon a formula for a larger allocation of capital ships because of her commitments in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

As if that demand wasn't offensive enough, the Americans also took the opportunity to break the naval codes of the Japanese delegation led by Admiral Yamamoto (pictured). It was a bad mistake that would bring the Japanese strongly into the British camp. And when the British offered the Japanese shared usage of the new super-modern fortified port at Singapore, the Union would wake up to some grave new security threats in the Pacific theatre.

In 1859, on this day a team of "out of uniform" militiamen were dispatched from Richmond, VA, under secret orders from Governor Henry A. Wise to kidnap the half-dozen prominent northerners who had conspired to organize John Brown's attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

Harpers Ferry Raid, Part 2
In Pursuit of the Secret Six by Ed., Scott Palter & Eric Oppen
As the secessionist crisis reached a new level of intensity, wiser heads in Washington recognised that southern demands for justice could only be satisfied by swiftly bringing to justice the "Secret Six". Trouble was, the tiny US Marshall Service were totally inequipped for the task, because many of the abolitionists had bolted, some across the border into Canada. Worse the Federal Government had absolutely no legal authority to seize the men, and on paper at least, was no more able to extradite the men than the State of Virginia, which had issued the arrest warrants just the day before. Which was precisely why Governor Wise had resorted to decidely unorthodox means to seize the men who sent John Brown to Harper's Ferry. And thus the Union was trapped in its own Federalist logic, because the General Government could only act by stamping on State's Rights which were the very core of the issue threatening to tear America in two.

And yet all was not lost. Because, fortunately for the future of the Union, the new Attorney General Wade Keyes was an independent thinking southern lawmaker who anticipated Governor Wise's hotheaded actions, and had developed his own super-clever strategem for defusing the crisis. Realising that US President John Buchanan was not up to the task of resolving crisis, he demonstrated true leadership by taking matters into his own hands, instituting treason charges on his own and daring Buchanan to repudiate them.

And surely Keyes' predecessor, the divisive figure of Jeremiah Sullivan Black (pictured) would have excaberated the crisis, being not only the most influential of President Buchanan's official advisers, but also a stubborn theocrat who made matters worse by spending his time denying the constitutionality of secession.

Black consider his biggest achievement to be his success in contesting the validity of the California land claims to about 19,000 square miles of land, fraudulently alleged to have been granted to land-grabbers and others by the Mexican government prior to the close of the Mexican-American War. Hell bent on re-inforcing the authority of the Federal Government, Black would was incapable of the higher order understanding developed by Wade, that Washington had to intervene imaginatively to resolve the dispute. For the good forture of everyone apart from the Harper's Ferry Raiders and the Secret Six themselves, early in 1959, Black had been forced to resign for personal reason.

There was one force at work more powerful than either Governor Wise or Attorny General Wade Keyes: money. And before long, the first Secret Six member was in Southern hands, Franklin Sanborn, arrested by mercenaries at Concord, MA before the residents of the Town could rouse for his defence.

In 1927, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzugashvili (pictured), better known by his assumed name of Joseph Stalin, is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, ending a power struggle which had been ongoing since the death of Lenin in 1924. Stalin Flees by Eric Lipps
Iosif Vissarionovich Dzugashvili, better known by his assumed name of Joseph Stalin, is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, ending a power struggle which had been ongoing since the death of Lenin in 1924.
Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, assumes leadership of the party, and will retain control until his death in 1949 from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Dzugashvili will flee into exile in Mexico, where he will die in 1953, having unsuccessfully attempted to organize a revolutionary movement in that country.

In 1979 opening arguments were heard in the case of Cimino vs. United Artists.

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On this day in 1957, the Oilers posted their first NBA regular season road win since moving to Houston; they beat the Syracuse Nationals in overtime 121-117 at Onondaga County War Memorial Arena.

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Logo - Rochester Royals
Rochester Royals

On this day in 1941, in 1941 the Third Battle of Kursk began in earnest as Red Army tank and infantry divisions launched a counterattack against German troops near Prokhorovka.

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On this day in 1944, the Allies began a counterattack aimed at halting at the German 'Watch On The Rhine' offensive.                                                                                                  

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On this day in 1972, the Dallas Cowboys improved their 1972 NFL season record to 5-4 with a 33-27 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at the Cotton Bowl.

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In 2000, Gore played all cards before finally folding by Bill Sammon The Washington Times 5/9/1 ~

Late into the night of Dec. 12, Vice President Al Gore and his legal team pored over the U.S. Supreme Court?s historic Bush v. Gore decision for any glimmer of hope that could be transformed into yet another appeal.

Mr. Gore wondered aloud whether the decision could be parlayed into some sort of massive outcry from the black community, providing political cover for one last assault on George W. Bush.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had been advising Mr. Gore throughout the post-election debacle in Florida, implored the vice president to use "every means available" to fight on, promising a "civil rights explosion".

Mr. Gore kept agonizing, Hamlet-like, until after 2 a.m. before finally calling Jackson.

In 1918, just twenty-four hours before, the Great War had ended for John Ronald Reuel Tolkien who now set about the life-long work of the Middle-earth opus. A good deal had been written while Tolkien was laid up in a military hospital and at home with trench fever. No long suffering from combat tension, Tolkien was not gripped with a new kind of fear. Not longer fearing death, he wonder if he still wanted to live.

"Morgoth [Tolkien's fear of death] was thrust through the Doorof Night beyond the Walls of the World, into timeless void. The power of Terror and of Hate, sowed in the hearts of Men are a seed that does not die and cannot be destroyed; and ever and anon it sprouts anew, and it will bear dark fruit even unto the latest days " ~ Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath

Balrog
Balrog - Tolkien
Tolkien's Phantasm
In 1965, opposition leader Ian Smith criticised Prime Minister Winston Field for failing to respond to the British dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland with a Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Rhodesia. Smith was staunchly opposed to the British government's insistence on NIBMAR that Rhodesia introduce majority rule before independence. Smith at one point stated that there could be no plans to bring Rhodesia under 'black majority rule' in his lifetime, later adding, 'or [my] children's.' Smith later maintained in his memoirs that he was referring to black rule as it was in other African countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria but a recording was played on the BBC World Service (on the day of his death) of Smith saying: 'I don't believe in Black Majority rule ever - not in a thousand years'. The Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson supported Winston Field arguing that it was a courageous step for the Prime Minister not to give to demands for UDI.
In 1965, the Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson condemned British acceptance of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Rhodesia. Pearson had boldy formulated a draft resolution committing Wilson to NIBMAR. Pearson later recalled, 'I wasn't sure whether I was being asked to commit polygamy or incest, but whatever it was, I did it.' Wilson refused to commit, and continued to extend offers to Ian Smith which came considerably short of NIBMAR, offers which Smith ultimately acquised to for the sake of 'kith and kin'.
In 1965, shortly after midnight British High Commissioner John Barnes Johnston proposed a toast to Ian Smith, the new Prime Minister of the Sovereign State of Rhodesia. Johnston spoke eloquently of 'kith and kin,' recalling Southern Rhodesia's assistance and allegiance to the UK in its time of need in World War I and II.
In 2007, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon announced the suspension of Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf refused to repeal emergency laws and take other rapid steps to address his country's problems.
In 1963, the focus of USAF Chief Curtis LeMay was cancelling the President's order to withdraw 1,000 military personnel from Cuba by the end of 1963. 'Bombs Away' had every intention of making US President John F Kennedy's National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) #263 a dead letter. His forces had saved the Cuban Brigade from defeat at the Bay of Pigs. OK so there had been some major counter-insurgency ever since. Fidel Castro was creating more trouble 'in country' than he could have ever caused in the Presidential compound in Havana. Still, this was no longer just the CIA's war, it was now his also. No way was he going to pull out now. The first American military defeat could be on some other loser's record.
In 1963, the focus of Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson was frustrating the President's order to withdraw 1,000 military personnel from Cuba by the end of 1963. LBJ had every intention of making US President John F Kennedy's National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) #263 a dead letter. Quite literally. Johnson's Vice Presidency was under acute threat, particularly due to the Bobby Baker scandal. Whilst he could not care less about Cuba, he saw quite clearly the opportunity it presented him with. The opportunity was to leverage the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex into gifting him the White House by reciprocating with continued Cuban occupation and therefore massive armament contracts. Once inside, the Presidency would offer him protection from prosecution. A life-line for him, a death-trap for American youth. And on this single consideration, a whole generation of youth would find their destiny.
In 1966, Lyndon Baines Johnson received the most alarming and unexpected briefing of his presidency. The two deep-underground nuclear detonations were not initiated neither in nor out of the nuclear club of sovereign nations. Three possibilities had emerged. Aliens. Nations as theorised by Edmond Halley's postulation that the Earth was hollow. Or the singularity that penetrated the Earth at the Tunguska Event in 1908.
In 1979, due to the Tehran hostage crisis, US President Jimmy Carter halted petroleum imports from Iran. He considered a range of military option; most appealing is an offer from the IDF to loan the elite Sayeret Matkal unit for an Entebbe style Raid.
In 1948, at the close of the Greater East Asian War, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) also known as the Tokyo Trials were adjourned. Leaders of the Empires of Britain, France and Holland were tried for three types of crimes: 'Class A' (crimes against peace), 'Class B' (war crimes), and 'Class C' (crimes against humanity) committed during the Pacific War. Twenty-seven European military and political leaders were charged with Class A crimes, and more than 300,000 European nationals were charged with Class B and C crimes, mostly over prisoner abuse. Executions at Sugamo Prison in Ikebukuro went ahead on December 23, 1948.


November 11

In 1940, two hundred and fifty miles north-west of Sumatra the Blue Funnel Line cargo ship SS Automedon was intercepted by the Kriegsmarine cruiser Atlantis. German officers boarded the ship and seized top secret British mail that they sent on to the Empire of Japan.

Impregnable Fortress, Redux - Part 2In the chart room Herr Captain Rogge found a small weighted green bag marked "Highly Confidential" containing the Chief of Staff's report to the Commander in Chief Far East, Robert Brooke Popham. The bag was supposed to be thrown overboard if there was risk of loss, but the personnel responsible for this had been killed or incapacitated. The report contained the latest assessment of the Japanese Empire's military strength in the Far East, along with details of Royal Air Force units, naval strength, and notes on Singapore's defences.

Although unstated, those details were the top end of projections based upon the enhanced land and naval capabilities that Prime Minister Winston Churchill had pledged to Australian Prime Minister Mr John Curtin. The false certainly exaggerated impression given was that Britain was prepared to fight a war with Japan.

The mail reached the German Embassy in Tokyo on 5 December. The German Naval attaché Paul Wenneker had the summary of the British plan wired to Berlin, while the original was hand-carried by Kamenz to Berlin via the Trans-Siberian railway. A copy was given to the Japanese, to whom it provided valuable intelligence prior to their commencing hostilities against the Western Powers. Rogge was rewarded for this with an ornate Samurai sword; the only other Germans so honoured were Hermann G&oouml;ring and Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

After reading the captured Chief of Staff report, on 7 January 1941 Japanese Admiral Yamamoto wrote to the Naval Minister proposing that Japan refocus her opening moves on knocking the unprepared American Pacific Fleet out of the war.

In 1869, on this day Victor Emmanuel Savoy was born in Naples in the Kingdom of Italy. He would rule Italy from 29 July 1900 until his death on 28 December 1947 [1].

House of Savoy Redeemed by Ed & Scott PalterDue to the political and economic instability of Europe between the wars, he was reluctantly forced to appoint a nationalist government. But he compounded the error by linking the fate of the House of Savoy to the Junta that took Italy to war in 1938 [2].

Four years later, the Allies took another fateful decision, to proceed with Operation Giant [3]. Ignoring the pleadings of his mother, Prince Umberto stayed with the Rome Garrison to restore the honour of the House of Savoy. And despite his tragic death (he was not yet forty) he had indeed assured that the Royal House of Savoy would emerge from the war with some shreds of prestige that would allow them to continue their reign. Of course the Western Allies were keen to put in place a bulwark against Communism, and in Italy (like Japan) saw the intrinsic value of continuity of a Head of State in a defeated nation that they need to convert to a Cold war ally.

In 1790, on this day the tenth State ratified the Second Constitution and George Washington became President-for-Life.

A Disagreeable Scheme, ReduxWith his administration destroyed by Debt Assumption, Whiskey Rebellion and Indian troubles, his predecessor James Madison had already quit in disgust and returned to his native Virginia.

And as the Republic began to fall apart, a Second Constitutional Convention was hastily assembled. Inevitably, General Washington, who had declined the Presidency at the first convention, was recalled (mostly because the Army would not mobilize under any other leadership figure).

Subsequently, Washington attempted to sell a new compact to the States, although ultimately he failed to persuade North Carolina and Rhode Island. This is a variant ending to A Disagreeable Scheme in which Gen Washington also refuses the Presidency

In 1885, on this day American General George Smith Patton, Jr. was born in San Gabriel, California.

Old Blood and GutsThe erratic nature of his long military career is perhaps best exemplified by an incident that occurred on December 9th, 1945. While on his way to a hunting trip in the German countryside, the Cadillac belonging to General George S. Patton collided with a left-turning 2.5 ton truck. Patton's driver, Private First Class Horace Woodring, rather than braking and hitting the truck at lower speed, briskly turned to dodge, and the two vehicles slammed into one another's sides.

Woodring and Patton's chief of staff Major General "Hap" Gay both suffered bruises, but Patton seemed totally unhurt after tumbling sideways.

The accident seemed to follow the course of luck that could be traced through the old soldier's life. Patton had attended the Virginia Military Institute and United States Military Academy, competed in the modern pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympics, finishing fifth overall and the only non-Swede in the top seven. He studied swordsmanship in Europe the next year, going on to become the youngest Master of the Sword in Army history. From there, Patton became an instructor, wrote pamphlets, and helped design the Army's final saber in 1913, later nicknamed the "Patton saber".

Peace soon gave way to war, and Patton's real career began. He served as Pershing's aide in the Mexican expedition in 1916 and then became a captain among the US Tank Corps in WWI. Campaigning for years to acquire funding for armored divisions for the US Army, but with little success, Patton spent the between-war years stationed in Hawaii (where, in 1931, he wrote a defensive plan for a potential air raid) and in Washington, D.C., (where he led tanks against the Bonus Army on the orders of General Douglas MacArthur). When WWII began, Patton's arguments for armored divisions gained clout, and he was promoted to major general to head the 2nd Armored Division.

Patton's leadership would give the Allies massive advantage in the African and European Theaters of the war. The "Desert Fox" Irwin Rommel was notoriously concerned of Patton, and the German military would routinely place their best troops against him, often to no great avail. Patton pressed his troops through North Africa, Sicily, and France.

While a master on the battlefield, Patton met with great controversy when bullets did not fly. Hoping to motivate his men, he maintained a powerful visage and carried nickel-plated revolvers with ivory handles. He swore constantly, even in public addresses. Patton's belief in the honor of the military contradicted Eisenhower's easy-going nature and cartoonist Bill Mauldin's ridicule, both of whom chafed Patton's temper. Most shocking was the "slapping incident" in Sicily where Patton had hit a soldier suffering from shellshock and ordered him back to the front. Patton would be stripped of command for a time, but he would use his time to confound German intelligence on where the European landing would begin. After Normandy, Patton would be back in command with the Third Army and helped in the liberation of Europe.

As the war came to an end, Patton began to give warnings about not being able to trust the Soviets. Some 25,000 American POWs had been liberated but not returned in Eastern Europe, where the communists were seemingly settling in. Patton suggested that the American Army be ready for war again to keep Russia in its place while they were low on supplies. Instead, the Army began dismantling itself for peacetime, and Patton was reassigned to the Fifteenth Army, which was mainly handling occupation and historical collection.

After the accident, the Fifteenth Army headquarters was inactivated on January 31, 1946, and Patton sent his request for retirement to the War Department, which was approved. According to Hap Gay, Patton would have resigned if retirement had been refused. The weight of peace seemed too much for the old soldier to bear. When Patton returned to his native California, he began a lecture circuit, which provided a great deal of scandal, and primarily wrote, commenting on his past as well as the present and future of America. He consistently warned of Soviet expansion, which gained the attention of political movements.

Patton was invited to the 1948 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. He was surprised to be seen in politics and even more to hear that he had been placed on the ballot. While he campaigned rigorously after the invite, it was apparent that he had no real hope of taking the presidency as Dewey had cinched the vote and Patton's infamy preceded him, not to mention that his military clout was blocked by votes going toward MacArthur. Instead, Patton returned to retirement, writing to several friends with the exclamation, "God, give me a war to fight!"

As if an answer to prayer, Patton was called up by Vice President Richard Nixon to be an adviser in the situation in French Indochina, which was quickly becoming known as Vietnam. Having watched the turmoil that was the Korean War from the sidelines in agony, Patton was eager to sort out the situation himself. Though he agreed with MacArthur's suggestion to use atomic weapons, Patton was disgusted by his former commander's disrespect of President Truman. Patton arrived in Saigon and met with CIA advisers, many of whom had connections back to the old Army OS. Upon his assessment, Patton shook his head over the situation and said of Ngo Dinh Diem, "I wouldn't fight for him, even if it were against Stalin himself". It was clear the people preferred Ho Chi Minh, who was a cunning warrior working to limit trouble upon the peasants.

Patton wrote an extensive description of the corruption in South Vietnam and suggested winning over the resistance-fighters of the Viet Minh rather than trying to fight the Viet Cong and their pro-populace support. The CIA worked to follow his plan, infiltrating North Vietnam and gaining leverage as the Sino-Soviet split began to appear in the late '50s and became clear by the '60s. With the American-backed regime change in South Vietnam in 1958, the short-lived Vietnam War of 1959-60 established firmly the division between the Communist North and the increasingly western South, as had been seen in Korea. Containment continued to be the policy of the United States as it subtly transformed itself over the twentieth century while Communism would self-destruct by the 1990s.

However, Patton would not live to see his influence on modern events. He died at age 72 in December of 1957 while touring Vietnam and suggesting military placements for defense along the northern border despite rainy weather. His body was returned to the US, where it was buried in Arlington Cemetery.

In 1880, on this day Ned Kelly (pictured) was granted life, but on a condition.

Ned Kelly granted life, but on a conditionThroughout his early life, the Australian state of Victoria was plagued by bushranger Edward "Ned" Kelly. He was the son of an Irish ex-convict who had been sent to Van Diemen's Land on charges of thievery, though many argued he was a patriot who had stood a little too tall. The senior Kelly's vigor-beyond-legality passed on to his son, and Ned was notorious for cunning, while questionable, activities. At age 14, he was arrested for assault (claiming he was defending his sister's honor); at 15, he was again arrested for assault (on a man who had borrowed a horse without permission) and harassing his wife. Kelly himself would be accused of horse-thievery, and, in the resulting altercation with one Constable Hall, he beat Hall and reportedly rode him like a horse. Kelly grew and eventually assumed a career in cattle-rustling.

In what may or may not have been police harassment, Kelly was accused of shooting an officer in the wrist, and so a warrant was put out for his arrest. The Kellies' version of the story was that the constable, Alexander Fitzpatrick, had come asking about Dan Kelly while Ned was gone to New South Wales, made an inappropriate advance on Kate Kelly, and was hit with a coal shovel by the mother, Ellen. Fitzpatrick's doctor noted the smell of alcohol, but Judge Redmond Barry found Ned guilty on scant evidence, prompting a 15-year sentence if he were to be found. Instead, Ned and his brother Dan fled into the bush, later joined by Steve Hart and Joe Byrne.

The Kelly gang was pursued, and a shootout at Stringybark Creek left two officers dead, meaning that Kelly would now be wanted for more than assault. Knowing his life hung on a thread no matter what he did, Kelly turned to daring bank robberies. In Euroa, the gang stole some two thousand pounds while entertaining hostages with horsemanship theatrics. The police scurried to arrest known Kelly sympathizers, but his legend only grew as the government pressed harder. In Jerilderie, they impersonated police officers with uniforms stolen from the local police station, bought hostages drinks, stole another ?2000, and burned the mortgage papers of everyone in the town.

On June 27, 1880, the gang, dressed in long, gray cotton coats and large hats, raided Glenrowan. Beneath their clothes, unbeknownst to the police, was armor constructed out of plowshares that weighed nearly 100 pounds and was thick enough to deflect bullets. When police arrived and the shootout began, bullets bounced off Kelly and terrified police. They cried that he was the Devil or a bunyip. Constable Gascoigne hit Kelly point blank, but the man did not fall, and Gascoigne called out that he could not be hurt. Eventually, the volleys caught Kelly in the foot and hand, and he was brought down and arrested.

The rest of his gang had died, Byrne dying from blood loss while Dan Kelly and Steve Hart reportedly committed suicide. Kelly stood before Judge Redmond Barry, the same who had promised to give him 15 years in the original harassment that had sent Kelly into the bush two years before. Barry sentenced Kelly to hang, but at the last moment 30,000 signatures for a stay of sentence were met with an enterprising lieutenant with an idea. In exchange for life imprisonment, Kelly would join in the designs of mass producing his armor for infantry.

Given into permanent custody of Her Majesty's Army, Kelly was taken to London where he and several military engineers reproduced his armor. The original suits had been made on a bush forge, but were of incredible quality, accidentally using the lower temperature and spotty nature of the rough forge to create uneven, more bullet-resistant metal. The armor designs would be put to use in the Boer War, where they would prove useful only in aggressive forward raids. Primarily, the armor was declared useless, though Kelly was maintained in military prison. He spent his time dictating and writing letters from his prison, denouncing the Australian government and arguing for the rights of Irish Catholics throughout the empire.

When the First World War began, trench warfare turned advances into slaughter until Kelly's armor was reintroduced in 1916. At the Battle of the Somme, armor-clad British soldiers stormed across No Man's Land. While many were cut down in the legs by machine gun fire and others simply fell over and were unable to get up, the pushing force overwhelmed German troops and started the general retreat from France that would end the war in 1917.

As Europe breathed between the wars, the Kaiser began a new arms race, developing motorized Panzer that would be emulated by other nations. In 1936, the Second World War would begin due to Germany's move into Austria during socialist riots. The new war would be nothing like the stalemate of the first and spread the deadness of No Man's Land across much of the continent. Kelly would not live to see the massive destruction his idea had caused, having died in prison in 1928, still writing in criticism of abusive tyranny.

In 1960, with the electoral recount process underway in the disputed States of Texas and Illinois, Lieutenant Colonel Vuong Van Dong and Colonel Nguyen Chanh Thi of the Airborne Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam effected a more dramatic change of government by assassinating President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Change of GovernmentAfter the plotters had trapped the ruling Ngo Family inside the Independence Palace, Diem tried to stall the coup by holding negotiations and promising reforms, such as the inclusion of military officers in the administration. Opposition politicians then joined the fray, exploiting his position, but Diem was simply playing for time, unaware that the 5th and 7th Divisions of the ARVN were unable to lift the siege because the plotters had closed the roads leading into the capital Saigon1.

Whilst this drama played out, lame duck President Eisenhower and his two successor candidates Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy were also in limbo. Both candidates decided to seize the initiative by putting forthrightly their views on both the situation in Indochina, and also the case for US intervention to save the region falling like a domino to Communism.

In 1796, largely due to the destructive misbehaviour of John Adams the victor of the first contested American presidential election was Alexander Hamilton (pictured).

Dragon's TeethNominally at least, Adams was Hamilton's senior in the Federalist Party however the Vice President had destroyed his revolutionary credentials by persisting in his advocacy of an American monarchy. Just a month into office, Adams had been labelled "his rotundity" in the Senate by arguing that George Washington should be addressed with the monikers "His Majesty the President" or "His High Mightiness" over the simple "President of the United States" that eventually won the debate.

A fact that was lost on no one was that the childless Washington was sterile, and the Vice President was almost alone amongst Founding Fathers in having a male heir, John Quincy Adams.

Thomas Jefferson was uncharacteristically drawn into the debate due to the indiscretion of a printer who repeated his harsh criticism of Adam's "Davila Papers". Never one to miss out on an argument, Adams accused Jefferson's anti-monarchism of being a Francophone in nature, stating that his former friend was sowing "Dragon's Teeth" in the new republic.

Prior to the passage of the Twelve Amendment, the runner-up in the presidential race was elected Vice President and consequently Hamilton was saddled with Colonel Aaron Burr. But by irony of circumstance, this unlikely partnership saved the young republic. Because Hamilton made the stupendous error of raising and organizing an army to fight the French by invading the colonies of her ally, Spain.

Hamilton congratulated himself that he had succeeded in pulling the "Dragon's Teeth" by ensuring that America would not be drawn into the French system of thinking. And yet it was not the end of the French episode, because in 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte's brother-in-law General Charles Leclerc landed in Louisiana with twenty-thousand crack troops. Fortunately, Burr was a crackerjack soldier, who, as an emergency Commander-in-Chief, crushed the French at New Orleans.

In 1859, on this day the State of Virginia issued warrants for the half-dozen prominent northerners who conspired to organize John Brown's attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

Harpers Ferry Raid, Part 1: "Those Who Sent Him"Accordingly, the "Secret Six" would be obliged to "surrender to fugitive's justice [from Brown's raid]" , being collectively "charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia". Because widespread popular protests in the North on the day of John Brown's execution infuriated Southerners such as Virginia Governor Henry A. Wise who admired Brown's courage and forthrightness but condemned "those who sent him [John Brown]". The enduring image is captured in "The Last Moments of John Brown", by Thomas Hovenden (pictured).

Governor Wise admired Brown's courage and forthrightness but condemned "those who sent him" Despite appeals for clemency, Wise staunchly refused to commute Brown's sentence. And his insistence on pursuing the "Secret Six" was no less determined. Wise argued convincingly that Harpers Ferry wasn't Brown's first act of psychotic madness. Just days after the proslavery sack of Lawrence, his band of men had killed several proslavery settlers in "Bleeding Kansas", hacking to death five men along Pottawatomie Creek with short, heavy swords.

If abolitionists praised Brown's compassion for the "poor slave," to white Southerners he was anarchy incarnate. Yet easy as it was to dismiss John Brown as a madman, the "Secret Six" were neither hardscrabble ruffians nor ex-slaves but respectable, wealthy residents of Boston radiating culture, education, and fortune. As such, they presented an especial threat to the slave-holding plutocracy, by serving as the archetypical Northern mercantilists who had undermined the Founding Father's dreams for Confederacy.

Senator James Mason of Virginia formed a Senate committee to investigate the raid, to validate Wise's allegations of Northern abolitionist complicity. After much hard talk about a Northern abolitionist cabal his committee colleague Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, the committee found proof of Northern complicity "It would be hard to conceive of a conclusion other than conspiracy that to which the whole affair has come," the New York Times observed in June 1860. The same paper suggested that it would be a miracle if the next President had a Union to preside over come the next inauguration.

In 1621, at Thanksgiving Township in the modern-day province of Wampanoag, English Settlers set apart a day to celebrate their first harvest festival.

The First Deliverance DayThe guest of honour, Ousamequin (also known as Massasoit), the Great Sachem of the Pokanoket had prevented the failure of the settlement, and the almost certain starvation that the English faced during the earliest years of the Township's establishment.

Moreover, the Sachem had forged critical political and personal ties with the leadership figures of John Carver, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Winslow, William Bradford, and Miles Standish.

"The English are my friends and love me".In "Mourt's Relation", Winslow himself would later record ~ "Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others".

In good spirit, the English settlers agreed henceforth to celebrate their deliverance with Native Americans on the fourth Thursday in every November.

In 1941, on this day the S.S. Automedon was boarded by the German Raider Atlantis in the Indian Ocean.DLG '40 - Part 3: Force Orange
Onboard the Automedon were the plans for the defence of Singapore. The Germans discovered the documents but the recent peace settlement with Britain prohibited them from sending them to the Japanese. Shortly afterwards, the architect of that peace, David Lloyd George announced the formation of Force Orange (Lloyd George who had been appointed Prime Minister as an 'honest broker' after the Battle of Britain).
Heading towards Singapore was a battle group including Prince Of Wales and Repulse with support from HMS Indomitable, an Illustrious class aircraft carrier. First Sea Lord Sir Dudley Pound felt that Singapore could not be adequately defended, unless the Royal Navy sent the majority of its capital ships there, to achieve parity with the estimated nine Japanese battleships. That had been until recently considered unacceptable as the British were at war with Germany and Italy. On December 7th, the attack on Pearl Harbour would create an improbable scenario. British Seapower would be the only effective deterrent to Japanese aggression, which had been demonstrated in the invasion of French Indochina. ..(the story continues).

In 2004, on this day the Palestinian Head of State, His Excellency Mohammed Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini died at the Mukataa, his lavish presidential compound on the Central West Bank of the River Jordan.Turning Point

Yasser Arafat - as he was more commonly known from his freedom fighting days, or Abu Ammar by his kunya given name - was seventy-five years old and had dedicated his entire adult life to the founding of Palestine.

In 1947, Mr Arafat enrolled in the University of King Fuad I. During the 1948 War of Independence, Mr Arafat left Cairo to join Arab forces fighting against Zionist troops. In early 1949, when the war was winding down in Palestine's favor, Mr Arafat returned to study Political Science, serving as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students. During his first year as president of the union, the institution was renamed Cairo University after a coup was carried out by the Free Officers Movement overthrowing King Farouk I. By that time, Mr Arafat had graduated with a bachelor's degree and was called to duty with Egyptian forces during the Suez Crisis to repel a fresh set of invaders, this time the British and French. The unconditional backing of the Free Officers Movement, and in particular the lifelong support of Abdul Gamal Nasser and his successors would be key to Mr Arafat's own rise to power in Ramallah.

Accordingly, a week of national mourning was declared in both Ramallah, and nearby East Jerusalem, just 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the north of the capital city.

Students of irony might care to note that the term Mukataa although commonly used to describe Palestinian government bureau and centres actually means 'something separated' in Arabic. This term could equally apply to the desperately unhappy state of a Zionist organisation led by Mr Binyamin Netanyahu, currently residing somewhat further away from the 'Eternal City of the Jews' than that gentleman would undoubtedly have preferred.

In Ellington, Connecticut Mr Netanyahu convened a news conference in his capacity as the Head of Congregation Knesseth Israel. Founded in 1906 by a group of Jewish farmers, the synagogue was built in 1913 partly with funds from the philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch's Jewish Colonization Association. The choice of the Constitution State was unintentionally symbolic; the motto of Connecticut is Qui transtulit sustinet, in Latin meaning 'He who transplanted sustains'.

Of course the Jewish Colonization Association had long labelled Mr Arafat an Arab nationalist and a terrorist, saying his death could be a turning point for Jewish fortunes in the Middle East.

Despite the catastrophe of 1948, the people of Eretz Israel had not given up on their vision of a Jewish State in the Middle East, said Netanyahu. However, when pressed, he refused to give a road-map stating that 'for the foreseeable future', the Jewish homeland would be these agricultural colonies on real estate purchased by the committee, in the Americas.

In 1918, the Great European War ends with the downfall of all the monarchies on the continent.

Treaty of PragueAfter the Christmas Truce of 1914 had produced a huge body of soldiers unwilling to fight each other, these soldiers had returned to their native countries and begun fighting the regimes there. The 4 year struggle finally ended on this day with an agreement among the new governments in a dozen nations to never commit war against each other again.

The Treaty of Prague, signed by over a hundred soldiers and representatives of the new Peace governments, marked what President Wilson of America called, "the end of the war to end all wars".

On this day in 1973, the Cowboys got their seventh win of the 1973 NFL season with a 27-23 comeback victory on the road over the New York Giants; shortly after the game it was disclosed that Roger Staubach would remain on injured reserve pending further medical tests.

 - Roger Staubach
Roger Staubach

In 1960, on this day President-elect John F. Kennedy used the occasion of a Veterans' Day gathering in Boston to outline his ideas for expediting federal aid to New York City's post-hurricane recovery effort.

Pres. Elect
Pres. Elect - John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

In 2001, President Al Gore confers with British prime minister Tony Blair in the first of a series of meetings aimed at assembling a Desert Storm-style international coalition to support the U.S. in the event that a full-fledged military intervention in Afghanistan becomes necessary.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

Such intervention, if undertaken, is sure to be controversial, since there are many who will argue that invading a sovereign country is a disproportionate response even to a terrorist attack like the Sept. 11 downing of United Airlines Flight 93 by agents of the terror group Al Qaeda.

However, intelligence reports indicating that the Flight 93 attack was part of a larger, mostly unsuccessful strike at multiple targets including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have persuaded the President that drastic measures must be considered to deal with bin Laden's organization before it can pull off a successful mass-casualty strike.

In 1958 Sandy Koufax scored his 615th NBA career point in a 116-113 Celtics win over the Minneapolis Lakers at Boston Garden.

 - Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax

In 1918, on this day the Great War ends.

At the news of German's defeat, an Austrian-born corporal in a Bavarian regiment, Adolf Hitler, loses his will to go on living and succumbs to the complications of having been gassed.

 - Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

In 1959, Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy announces his intention to run again for the presidency.

The move infuriates Vice-President Richard Nixon, who intends to announce his own candidacy and now fears a bruising fight in the Republican primaries, one potentially worse than that of '56 because Nixon is much less personally popular than Eisenhower. 'That'--expletive deleted--'SOB may have just handed the White House to the'--expletives deleted--'Democrats!' he rages.

 -

In 1957, NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan and rocket expert Wernher von Braun are summoned to the White House by President Eisenhower and questioned as to the feasibility of developing anti-ballistic missile technology to counter Soviet ICBM's, now that the launch of Sputnik has confirmed that the USSR has the technology to build intercontinental missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons to the United States. Both men express skepticism, Glennan observing that the only obvious method would be via an interceptor rocket, a technique he compares to 'hitting a bullet with a bullet.'

 - Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke

Also present, however, is physicist Edward Teller, popularly (and not quite accurately) described as 'the father of the H-bomb.' Teller insists that ABM technology can and must be developed. 'If it is not,' he warns, 'the Soviets will soon be able to smash America to her knees with a barrage of intercontinental missiles in a Pearl Harbor-style attack, and then move in and conquer what remains of this nation.? In a private conversation later with his former Manhattan Project colleague Isidor I. Rabi, Teller goes further, claiming that if ABM technology is not developed immediately, he expects to be a prisoner in a Soviet concentration camp in a Communist America within five years. Rabi, who has become accustomed to such hyperbole from the militantly anti-Communist Teller, says nothing, but will recount the incident decades later in a television interview.

Eisenhower finds Teller's argument - and in particular his evocation of Pearl Harbor - persuasive, and directs that NASA devote itself to ABM development. Glennan's objection that this is an inappropriate mission for a supposedly civilian agency is brushed aside.

After the meeting, however, Eisenhower decides he cannot trust the obviously reluctant Dr. Glennan to devote himself wholeheartedly to the ABM project. In a telephone call to Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy, he directs that the Defense Department launch its own ABM program, which is to be kept as separate as possible from that of NASA, ostensibly to avoid 'bureaucratic conflicts' but actually to keep Glennan's attitude from spreading to the military project.

Ariel Sharon

In 2004, the Chairman of the Jewish Colonization Association, Ariel Sharon spoke of the death of Yasser Arafat at a press conference in Colonia Lapin, Buenos Aires Province. Sharon reminded the world press of a comment made by President Arafat In an interview published on 1969-06-15, the Sunday Times which quoted him saying: 'There were no such thing as Israelis, only Jews. When was there an independent Israeli people with a Jewish state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was an Israeli people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.'

Ariel Sharon - Chairman, JCA.
Chairman, JCA.

The Jewish Colonization Association was established by Baron Maurice de Hirsch in 1891. The association was greatly affected by the British withdrawal from mandated territory in Palestine in 1947, considering the move an act of betrayal following the Balfour Declaration of 1917. By 1947, oil had been discovered in the Middle East, and the Western Powers were more concerned about keeping the Arab nations on board. At the one hundredth anniversary celebration in 1991, having abandoned demands for final status talks, the Association was seriously considering either a South American option or in fact an Israel mini-state. The JCA also established several colonies in Argentina. Once such colony is Colonia Lapin founded in 1919 in the Buenos Aires Province.

In 2004, Veteran leader Yasser Arafat dies in hospital in Paris, aged 75, bringing to an end more than 40 years of rule over the Palestinian people. A controversial leader, President Arafat was hated by Zionist groups for denying Jewish settlements existed in Palestine prior to the end of the British mandate in 1948.

Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat - Pres. Palestine
Pres. Palestine
In 1963, US President John F Kennedy issued National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) #263. Orders were thereby given for the withdrawal of 1,000 military personnel from Cuba by the end of 1963, with a total withdrawal by 1965. USAF Chief General Curtis LeMay and Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson had no intention of letting this happen, but for very different reasons.
In 1936, on this day King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom abdicated. During World War II he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission in France, but after private accusations that he was pro-Nazi, was moved to the Bahamas as Governor and Commander-in-Chief. The rest of the Royal Family arrived in the Bahamas shortly afterwards, exiles after the Battle of Britain in which Hitler successful prosecuted Operation Sealion.
In 1918, on this day an armistice with Germany was signed in a rail road carriage at Compiegne in France where Germans had previously dictated terms to France, ending the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. At 11:00am on November 11, 1918 - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - a ceasefire came into effect and the opposing armies on the Western Front began to withdraw from their positions. They were unaware that they took with them the Spanish Super flu that would rage through civilian populations, driving Europe to the verge of depopulation by 1920.
In 1965, Ian Smith sent a telegram notifying British Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Universal Declaration of Independence at precisely 1 p.m. local time (11 a.m. in London) on 11 November, at the precise moment that the UK started its traditional two minutes of silence to mark the end of World War I and honour its war dead. The not-so-hidden message to 'kith and kin,' as Smith put it, recalled Southern Rhodesia's assistance and allegiance to the UK in its time of need in World War I and II. British High Commissioner John Barnes Johnston, who disliked Smith, emptied the High Commission building of all official documents and left Rhodesia. Smith gave strict instructions to his government not to harm the High Commission building in any way, much to Johnston's surprise. The international community condemned UDI, and the High Commission staff were assaulted and spat upon by Rhodesian soldiers as they departed Salisbury.


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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.