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 16

In 1961, Vice President Johnson's loss of status was sealed by the death of his fellow Texan, the highly regarded Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. And so he had no influence on the Senate even before the end of the administration's first year in office. Johnson actually had attempted to cling to some of his Majority Leader power when he transitioned to the executive branch, but was rejected even by his biggest congressional allies. Meanwhile the Kennedy administration would not even listen to his advice on how to handle legislation.

The Rise of VP Terry Sanford, Role Model for Government ServiceOnly ten months earlier he had been popular in the South and influential in the Senate. He attempted to hold on, basically trying to be de facto leader of the Senate Democrats with merry Mike Mansfield as a willing puppet, but he was harshly and immediately shut down by his own Southern Democratic allies, who were Senators above all else, and jealous of their privileges. Further, the Kennedy administration soon made clear by their actions that LBJ was not in the loop and his advice was not valued, and even those who still cared to deal with him began to ignore him. When it comes to the South, once Johnson started giving speeches about the need to move forward on civil rights, beyond his paper tiger 1957 bill, and insisted on speaking in front of integrated audiences, the South turned on him. After his decades of civil rights obstructionism, he was seen as two-faced.

His successor would be Governor Terry Sanford who was a close political ally of the President, a fact that disturbed some North Carolina Democrats who were suspicious of Kennedy's Catholicism. According to Kennedy's personal secretary Evelyn Lincoln, Sanford had definitely been chosen before 19th November, 1963 when the following event was recorded in her diary:

As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, "You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields ... I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do".

... I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, ... "Who is your choice as a running-mate?" He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, "At this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon".
Of course by this time the writing was already on the wall with the suspiciously-timed Baker scandal, and the fact that Johnson was for the first time ever labelled (correctly) "millionaire" in the news in late 1963. All of these tell-tale warning signs were clues that JFK was going to drop him. But in fact Johnson himself also sensed this impending decision because for months both Kennedys had been very dismissive and verbally abusive to him.

Inevitably there was a simple reason why the Kennedy brothers did not respect him and it was obvious in retrospect, Joe Junior was dead and LBJ was a "chickenhawk". And in terms of their respective commitment to government service it was unnecessary to look beyond their respective war records. Whereas Johnson never saw active duty in WW2, Sanford was a combat hardened veteran. Notoriously tough, as a young man Sanford quit his draft-exempt job as an FBI special agent to enlist in the paratroops. He fought in five campaigns in Italy, France, Belgium and Germany, including the invasion of France and the Battle of the Bulge, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. "I wanted to go in the Army so I could say I joined my generation," Sanford said. "That stay in the Army as a paratrooper, in a kind of personal way, is my greatest satisfaction".

In 2012, Mitt Romney, the veteran actor who played "Paw" Ingalls for almost three decades, set to leave the show.

Paw Ingalls QuitsHe joined "Little House on the Prairie" in 1983 ostensibly to fill the gaping void of talent left by the exit of lead star Michael Landon who played the central character Charles Ingalls.

But as America embraced polyglot diversity, he was increasingly seen as a throwback to a monochrome past. Ratings plummeted, and the show began to look forward to new formulas after a zooped up theme song failed to interest young people and the minorities. A radical option was to invite the king of cool Barry Obama however his acting partner and long-term sidekick Joe Biden had a reputation for foul language that ruled him out of joining the prime-time series.

In 1849, on this day a Russian court sentenced writer Fyodor Dostoevsky to death for anti-government activities linked to a radical intellectual group; his sentence was carried out on 22nd December when he was shot by a firing squad in St. Petersburg.

Political Martyr Dostoyevsky Sentenced to DeathDostoyevsky's childhood led his great mind into the only option for its escape: revolution. His father, a raging alcoholic, was a retired military surgeon who moved his family into a small apartment on the grounds of Moscow's Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor, where he practiced. The hospital was surrounded by bitter poverty such as an orphanage for the abandoned and an asylum for the insane. Such conditions would be forever impressed upon the young Fyodor. Suffering from epilepsy himself, Fyodor would defy his parents' wishes and explore the hospital gardens, visiting with patients and building a sense of hope out of such bitterness.

At age 16, after the death of his mother, Dostoyevsky was sent to military engineering school, and his father died soon after. He fell in love with literature and suffered through mathematics enough to manage a commission, eventually becoming a lieutenant. Dostoyevsky left the military in 1843 and turned fulltime to literature, translating Balzac and creating his own fiction. His first published work came in 1846 as a novella entitled Poor Folk, and Dostoyevsky was thrown into literary fame. Fame was fleeting; his next work, The Double, met with frowns of disappointment.

His explorations of schizophrenia and literary experimentation were given up after The Double, and Dostoyevsky pushed himself toward the trials of poverty that he had known so well. He joined the Petrashevsky Circle, a reading and discussion group of progressives in St. Petersburg. While they made some movement, there was no great organization for change beyond theory.

Across Europe in 1848, however, there was much action for change. The Revolutions of 1848 spread across the continent, and Czar Nicholas feared an uprising in Russia. He had easily quashed the 1825 Decembrist Revolt and ended Peter the Great's ideals of Westernization, instead turning back toward orthodoxy. With challenges to autocracy rising in many other empires, Nicholas decided to end the revolution before it could take place by rounding up any progressively minded intellectual. The Petrashevsky Circle was among the groups arrested and put through public mock execution rituals, displays in which the populace could see the might of the Czar's will but also his grace at giving reprieves.

Dostoyevsky himself was arrested April 23, 1849, and, on November 16, sentenced to death by firing squad. After the mock execution, he assumed this would be another of the Czar's displays, and it was generally agreed that he would receive a reprieve. However, due to bureaucratic bungling in the delivery of the reprieve, Dostoyevsky was shot by order of a zealous commander.

Shock settled over St. Petersburg, and Dostoyevsky's writings spread through the city and, then, the country. Many historians suggest that not all of the writings were his, but his depictions of the lives of serfs and the poor are recognized as genuine. Propaganda or not, the works ignited the Russian people as they discussed around fires and over glasses of vodka. Nicholas, refusing to appear weak, repressed those calling for government apology on what was increasingly viewed as a terrorist assassination.

That spring, Russian Mikhail Bakunin escaped from imprisonment while being handed over to Austrian authorities for his organization of the Dresden Uprising the year before. Aided by Russian revolutionist leaders, the 1850 Rising began as Bakunin arrived and announced the liberation of the serfs. Pandering to Slavophile ideals and collectivism, the bureaucracy was overthrown, aristocracy and Jewish farmers alike around the country were slaughtered, and Nicholas was violently ushered off the throne in favor of a much weakened Alexander II constitutionally bound by a council of advisers, Bakunin among them.

Monarchs in Europe debated sending military aid to the Czar, but renewed troubles with revolts in their own empires kept them from assembling a campaign. New stability would be founded in nationalism, citing the best for one's people and country. Strong, central leadership struck both the West and Russia, but the return to the mir, or collective village, style of living would create a sharp ideological division between the two. As the West modernized, Russians settled into orthodoxy, ultimately preparing for swift military defeat by Imperial Germany after the turn of the century.

In 1798, the Kentucky State Legislature passed a resolution stating that acts of the national government beyond the scope of its constitutional powers were "unauthoritative, void, and of no force". An article from the American Heroes thread

Thomas Jefferson ImpeachedThe originator of the resolution was none other than the duplicitous Thomas Jefferson who was serving as both Vice President and also the leader of the Republican Opposition Party. It was of course an impossible conflict of loyalties that the Founding Fathers had not anticipated at Philadelphia.

But inevitably, there was a leak and he was called out by the Adams administration for violating the Alien and Sedition Act. The Republic watched in horror as the author of the Declaration of Independence was charged with impeachment. In his defence, Jefferson and his chief lieutenant James Madison sincerely believed that the Federalists had betrayed the American Revolution.

At a personal level, Adams of course was vindicated by the exposure. Throughout his tenture, he had been betrayed by malicious gossip and slander spread by his former friend. Despite that fact that he had withdrawn to Monticello and refused to participate in Cabinet, Adams said it was like Jefferson was in the next room the whole time.

It is 1634, and Oliver Cromwell has left England to live in Connecticut.

Republican Grinch, ReduxThe notorious Puritan has long been appalled by the wild and lawless behavior he has already seen in England, celebrating that pagan holiday called Christmas. Indeed, it is all too similar to Halloween, complete with rowdy trick-or-treat raids led by the Lord of Misrule. Boston is already close to banning the Christmas holiday, which it will do in 1659.

This abandoned revelry is one reason why Cromwell rallies his fellow subjects to take control of all the colonies .. thus outlawing Christmas and other sinful practices, such as slavery. His rules became the basis of our American government and have lasted to this day ... despite the influence of all the immigrants who have tried to import the winter celebration.

I need hardly add that only Protestant immigrants are allowed to come here at all .. but even they have been known to ignore the Christmas Ban, so that the police are constantly on the alert for their forbidden celebrations.

In 1896, on this day Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet was born in Mayfair, London. His branch of the Mosley family was the Anglo-Irish family at its most prosperous, landowners in Staffordshire seated at Rolleston Hall near Burton-upon-Trent. In a senior aristocratic Georgian intermarriage, his father was a third cousin to the Earl of Strathmore, father of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who served alongside King George VI as Queen (of the United Kingdom).

Baronet John BullNevertheless, he sought to overturn the established order. Disappointed by the two main parties in British politics, he founded the New Party. Arguing for elections based on class lines rather than geographical location, the New Party is unpopular until the full effects of the Great Depression hit England. Mosley's ranks swell with the unemployed, and he is elected Prime Minister in 1932.

He makes common cause with continental fascists Mussolini of Italy, Franco of Spain and Hitler of Germany during his premiership, but where they are all gone by the end of the decade, Mosley's rule of Britain has only begun.

In 1936, on this day Edward VIII invited British Prime Minister Arnold Hiller to Buckingham Palace and expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson when she became free to re-marry.

The Right Honourable Arnold Hiller, M.P
A teaser by Ed & Chris Oakley
Although greatly sympathetic to the King's plight, Hiller was fully aware that his subjects would deem the marriage morally unacceptable. This expected public reaction was the case largely because remarriage after divorce was opposed by the Church of England, and the people would not tolerate Wallis as queen. Because as king, Edward held the role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and the clergy expected him to support the Church's teachings.

Of course the irony was that Henry VIII's desire to divorce had actually created the Church of England. Nevertheless the so-called abdication crisis was an unfortunate turn of events for Hiller. Having crushed all domestic foes before rising to power, he was now operating at a geostrategic level, locked in a deeper struggle on the world stage and ultimately this episode was a distraction from the fulfilment of his global ambitions. That was of course unless he could force the Royal Family out and merge the offices of Head of Government and Head of State.
You can read read the latest part of Chris Oakley's timeline at The Right Honourable Arnold Hiller MP at Changing the Times Magazine.

In 1804, on this day in Archangel, British merchant broker and export representative John Bellingham had his travelling pass withdrawn because of the debt arising from the alleged sabotage of the Russian ship Soleure which sank in the White Sea the previous autumn.

Spencer Perceval reigns in John Bellingham's terrorsBecause the vessel was insured at Lloyd's of London the owners (the house of R. Van Brienen) raised a claim but an anonymous letter informed Lloyd's that the ship had been sabotaged. Soloman Van Brienen suspected Bellingham was the author, and decided to retaliate by accusing him of a debt of 4,890 roubles to a bankrupt for which he was an assignee.

Bellingham, on the verge of leaving for Britain on 16 November 1804, had his travelling pass withdrawn because of the debt. And then Van Brienen persuaded the Governor-General of the area to imprison Bellingham. A year later, Bellingham secured his release and managed to get to Saint Petersburg, where he attempted to impeach the Governor-General. This provoked the Russian authorities and he was charged with leaving in a clandestine manner, and again imprisoned. He was in prison until October 1808 when he was put out onto the streets, but without permission to leave. In his desperation, he personally petitioned the Tsar. He was permitted to leave in 1809 and arrived back in England in December.

Fortunately for Bellingham, by this time, the United Kingdom had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia and he received a more sympathetic response from the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval (pictured) who arranged for compensation. His suprising intervention was due to his personal familiarity with the case; he is the only Solicitor General ever to reach the Office of Prime Minister. The outcome was a relief for Bellingham's long suffering wife who had begged him to drop the matter. Fearing for his sanity, she was desperately worried that he might actually be driven by his terrors to actually kill someone in authority.

It is November 1991, and the 74-year-old Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich Romanov, Head of the Russian Imperial Family, is invited to visit St. Petersburg by Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. The Soviet Union is collapsing, and the Grand Duke goes there hoping to regain the Russian throne. Realizing that the Russian people are not about to oblige him, he returns home to Madrid.

A Czar is BornWhen he dies the following year, he leaves several claimants fighting for the title, including his own daughter Maria. Ignoring them all, his distant nephew Peter Petrovich, aged 28, leaves his own home in California to accompany the Grand Duke's body back to St. Petersburg for burial. The Russian people feel great affection for the handsome, charming, charismatic young man ... and very little fondness for the new president, Vladimir Putin.

Some Russians are accusing Putin of sending his political opponents into exile and prison, arousing fears that he is as great a tyrant as Stalin himself, and even worse than the Czars. In protest, they elect the Romanov youth to replace Putin.

Peter Petrovich had kept promising the crowds that, if elected, he would proclaim himself as Czar, giving him more power to import the democracy and freedom he had learned growing up in America as a history professor's son. And he keeps his vow. Now it is Putin's turn to go into exile, while the Czar Liberator moves into the Kremlin, and the national anthem is once again "God Save the Czar".

The new Czar's reputation shines even brighter, when he foils an assassination attempt by pulling out his own pistol and shooting the would-be killer. While no one can be sure who hired the hit man, the incident serves to tarnish Putin's reputation even further .. and the young Czar's star shines brighter than before.

It becomes positively dazzling in the year 2000, when he marries Chelsea Clinton, the American president's only daughter, and it is no surprise that they remain in office to this day. She returns to America to have her children, though, so that they might become both Czars AND presidents, thus unifying the two countries further.

In 636, on this day a Sassanid Victory at al-Qadisiyyah halted the Muslim Advance. Beginning in the 600s, the Middle East was a theater of war for three of history's greatest empires. Two of them, the Byzantine and the Sassanid Empires, had battled for centuries and were descendants of empires that had stood even longer ago, Rome and Parthia, respectively.

Sassanid Victory at al-Qadisiyyah halts Muslim Advance A new empire began to form, however, during the life of the Prophet Muhammad. As more and more converts joined his faith, the power of Islam grew out of the western part of Arabia and expanded quickly. When the Byzantines and Sassanids noticed this, they set aside their own differences and began an alliance for mutual protection.

Byzantium had begun its significance when the Roman emperor Constantine moved his capital there to promote stability in 330. Doing so strengthened the wealthy eastern frontier, but it also ultimately broke the Roman Empire apart with the West falling to the German hordes in 476. The Byzantines still stood, but toward the beginning of 600, the Sassanid Empire stormed Syria, Egypt, and Anatolia in vengeance of the Byzantine general assassinating and usurping the emperor Maurice, who had married a Sassanid princess. The next emperor, Heraclius, defeated the Sassanids at Nineveh in 627 and received back the captured territory and loot, including the True Cross.

The Sassanid Empire faced its own turmoil. Khosrau II was assassinated by his son Kavadh II in 629, who died in a matter of months, leading to a string of usurpations. Seven-year-old Ardashir III reigned before being killed by General Farrokhan, who died in battle and was succeeded by Purandokht, daughter of Khosrau II. She would rule for a short time, repairing much of the damage done by the past years' intrigue before being replaced by her sister Azarmidokht, who would in turn be replaced by the nobleman Hormizd VI. Finally, Purandokht's son and Khosrau's grandson Yazdgerd III came of age and stabilized the Sassanid throne, supported by his general Rostam Farrokhzad.

Meanwhile, Muslim power continued to grow. Upon the death of the Prophet in 632, a council met and determined that Abu Bakr would be caliph. He set upon a series of wars uniting the Arabs of Arabia and then moving northward to add those in Syria and Palestine. With a new force the Middle East to counteract the tentative balance between Byzantium and Persia, wars quickly began with the caliphate invasion of Iraq, and the Muslim power was affirmed with the defeat of an army Sassanids, Byzantines, and Christian Arabs in 633. Sassanids finally stopped the Muslim advance in 634, and Sassanids and Byzantines made a formal alliance in 635. Knowing of the alliance, the Muslim forces decided to deal with their enemies one at a time, wiping out the Byzantine army at Yarmouk near the Sea of Galilee in August of 636 at the cost of abandoning Iraq to a massive Sassanid force of some 200,000 in camp. The Muslims camped at Qadisiyyah with 30,000 and waited as peace talks dragged on.

That November, the talks gave way to actual battle. The two sides had attempted to bend the other's will with the Muslims sending an emissary to convert Yazdgerd III while the Persians sent a Muslim ambassador home as a servant carrying a basket of dirt on his head (though the Muslim response was, "Congratulations! The enemy has voluntarily surrendered its territory to us"). Caliph Umar ordered the talks to end, which caused Sassanid General Rostam to prepare for battle despite his reservations. Although the Sassanid army was much larger, the vast majority of the force was conscripted spear infantry that Procopius of Caesarea described as "a crowd of pitiable peasants who come into battle for no other purpose than to dig through walls and to despoil the slain and in general to serve the [real] soldiers".

In the night, Rostam decided to use the infantry, what might have been his weakness, as a diversion. He dammed up the canal and moved over his entire army to face the Muslim force the next morning. Following secret orders, the infantry led the attack as a whole after the opening onslaught of the arrows, but were swiftly beaten back by the better trained Muslims. They feigned retreat, and the Muslims pursued. When they reached the canal, however, the infantry turned about and were ordered to hold position while the archers pounded the Muslims, who then began their own retreat. In the chaos (the battle would be known to Islam as Yaum-ul-Armah, "The Day of Disorder"), Rostam released his war elephants, backed by his heavy cavalry, which swept the Muslim cavalry from the field. The organized retreat turned to a rout with the unnerving elephants stomping, and the Muslim army was destroyed.

Yazdgerd III would manage to seal the victory with a treaty that would end his alliance with the now extremely weakened Byzantine Empire. The Zagros Mountains were strongly defended against further Muslim invasion, though the rich lands of Mesopotamia would routinely change hands between them, like Anatolia, which would be stripped from the Byzantines, who became a relic city-state with a naval empire. The Muslim caliphates, meanwhile, would turn westward, conquering across North Africa and into Europe, where Christians would begin counterattacks such as the Crusades with Persian allies.

While the political boundaries settled for the time, the wildly different religions of the Arab and Persian peoples would keep up a constant sense of distrust. Although conquered by the Mongols and later European colonialists, Persia would remain the center of Zoroastrianism, one of the world's largest religions.

In 1960, the two-week long rampage of the Loch Ness Monster was finally ended by heavily armed soldiers who trapped the creature in a landlocked peninsula just north of the Scottish Channel.

Scotland the BraveThe series of events which led to the destruction of much of the east coast of the Scottish Island began six months before. An aeronautical engineer called Tim Dinsdale had observed a large creature rolling and diving in the Loch while he was having breakfast. Amazed by what he saw, he grabbed his video camera and his sixty feet of film which depicted the rear body, the rear flippers, and 1-2 additional humps of a plesiosaur-like body. By the time Dinsdale got out there, though, he only saw the hump swimming across the water with a powerful wake unlike that of a surface vessel. For nearly two minutes, Dinsdale filmed the monster swimming across the loch.

A new story by Ed and Gordon DavieInevitably, the reports of the confirmed sighting drew attention to the Loch, enraging the creature who left a trail of carnage heading southwards. And two weeks into the rampage, Downing Street panicked and evacuated Edinborough, the small port on England's northern coast. Expecting the worst, soldiers blockaided Princes Street by the sea front and harbour. And artillery was set on the islands of Arthur's Seat and Corstorphine Hill. But due to the bravery of a regiment of highlanders, the monster was unable to cross the Scottish Channel which links the Firths of Forth and Clyde.

In 1967, on this day the leader of the British Conservative Party, Reginald Maudling stepped down in favour of his controversial colleague in the Shadow Cabinet, Defence Spokesman the Right Honourable Enoch Powell, or more precisely "that fuc*er Enoch" as he was known to indiscretely refer to him in private.

Howzat! Basil D'Oliveira takes the most important wicket of his careerFollowing the resignation of Sir Alec Douglas Home in 1965, Maudling had narrowly won a three-way leadership contest in which he received 150 votes, Edward Heath 133 and Enoch Powell just thirteen. Home had been selected by the so-called "Magic Circle", a group of Tory grandees who had chosen the Earl through the decidely undemocratic means known as the old boy network.

Unfortunately, and despite being elected in a free vote, Maudling himself was no more in touch than Douglas Home with the "swinging sixties", accused of various slurs such as "Reg had no edge", that "Maudling was dawdling". Of course the real issue was that the Tory Party itself was hopelessly out of touch with the times, and undecided as to how to respond to the British obligations to the Commonwealth, honourably, or perhaps not. Maudling's already extensive alcoholic intake increased markedly and colleagues noted he was "never the same again"; he would leave politics altogether in 1974.

"In full flight, with arms waving, body crouching, eyes burning, voice hissing, he is one of the great sights of contemporary Britain; his body and mind seem united in animal intensity". ~ Anthony SampsonTraditionally, November is a dangerous time for Conservative Party Leaders. And so as the 1967 Tory Party Conference arrived, a man with some real "edge" came to the fore. Because Enoch Powell (pictured above with Ted Heath) had convinced the Conservative Party (if not the Shadow Cabinet) that THE burning issue of the sixties was immigration, or rather repatriation, which he increasingly believed was necessary following a trip to the United States.

A Greek Professor by the age of just twenty-four, and a Brigadier in the British Army, Powell was an animated politician of logic and vigour that succeeded in making both Maudling, and Edward Heath look decidedly ordinary. In fact many people feared that popular support would enable Powell to overthrow the constitution and rule as a dictator. Riding this wave of hatred, in the run-up to the Party Conference, Powell introduced two questionable examples from his own constituency in the West Midlands, where immigration was indeed taking hold as a genuine issue of concern to white voters.

Allegedly, Powell fell into conversation with a "quite ordinary working-class man" who wanted his children to emigrate because "in fifteen or twenty years the black man will have the whip hand over the white man". Similarly, he claimed to receive a letter about a "little old lady" persecuted by West Indian neighbours, who went so far as to push excreta through her letterbox.

"As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see "the river Tiber foaming with much blood".However, during Powell's short spell as Leader of the Opposition, another, indisputable, example, arose that was to destroy his leadership. The background to the issue was that Powell had consistently refused to criticise South Africa for the racist policies of her apartheid government.

During the summer of 1968, the England Cricket Selectors picked Basil D'Oliveira (pictured right). Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, he was classified as "coloured" under the apartheid regime, and hence barred from first-class cricket. South African prime minister BJ Vorster had already made it clear that D'Oliveira's inclusion was not acceptable and despite many negotiations the tour of South Africa was cancelled. Wrongly believing that the defining moment had arrived in the great debate, Powell delivered his infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech.

In a suitable reposte to both Powell and Vorster, four white South African cricketers (Eddie Barlow, Mike Proctor, Graham Pollock and Barry Richards) joined the great West Indian batsman Gary Sobers in conducting a rebel "Rest of the World" tour of England, demonstrating that they had absolutely no issue in sharing a dressing room with a black man.

Under Arrest

In 1962, on this day Lee Harvey Oswald, an ex-US Marine who later turned Communist, was arrested in Havana on suspicion of assassinating the late Fidel Castro.

Under Arrest - Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald

On this day in 1944, the Wehrmacht's 'Watch on the Rhine' offensive collapsed in the face of Allied air superiority and relentless American tank thrusts under the direction of US 3rd Army C-in-C General George S. Patton.

US 3rd Army C-in-C
US 3rd Army C-in-C - General Patton
General Patton

In 2006, sitcom star Michael Richards gets into trouble when doing stand-up at The Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, California. A group of hecklers threaten to totally disrupt his preformance, and Richards suggests the group go on-stage and try and pull off a better show then him.

 - Michael Richards Show
Michael Richards Show

The group, all slightly intoxicated, agree to Richards' dare and are humiliated as they attempt to do so - with Richards heckling them from the front row in what one audience member said was, "One of the more inspired moments of stand-up I've ever seen. And it was clear to everyone it was't planned".

The trouble-makers were then removed from the premises, but in a statement the next day, The Laugh Factory banned Richards from ever appearing again, citing his rather "reckless decision to let a small group of audience members take over a show when others had turned up having paid to see [Richards]". However, mobile phone videos of the event are widely circled across YouTube and other media outlets, and Richards himself enjoys quite a revival of his stand-up act in the following months - getting repeated requests to appear in venues across the States and Europe.

On this day in 1973, the mystery of Ellen Rimbauer's whereabouts was finally resolved after 25 years when her skeleton was discovered to have been buried on the grounds of the Rose Red mansion in Seattle.

Post-mortem analysis of the skeleton showed that she had been struck over the head with a heavy blunt object, indicating her death was a homicide and lending new credence to the theory that an offshoot of Philip Boone's devil-worship cult had played a role in her demise.

 - Ellen Rimbauer
Ellen Rimbauer

On this day in 1970, the Dallas Cowboys hammered the St. Louis Cardinals at home 37-0 for their ninth win of the 1970 NFL season.

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On this day in 937, a pitched battle between Saxons and Vikings at the Northumberland village of Brunanburh ended in a costly stalemate.

The failure of either side to defeat the other in this engagement led to what historians would later call the Sixty Years' War.
In 1849, Russian author Fyodor Dostoeksky is sentenced to death for his ties to anti-Tsarist radicals. His only two novels, Poor People and The Double, stand as a testament of what he might have written had his sentence been lighter.
In 1981, in one of the most-watched daytime drama episodes in history, the wedding of Luke and Laura took place on General Hospital. In a twist worthy of any popular soap opera, Laura jilted Luke at the altar and ran off with Luke's cousin (also played by actor Anthony Geary).
In 1945, Yeshiva University opens its doors in New York City. The small college is established by educators from the Semitic-African Resistance in the hopes of changing American minds towards them. It closes its doors during the ascendance of the American Bund in the 1970's.
In 1908, Midwestern political activist Oliver Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Throughout his long life, he strove for justice, peace, and environmental sanity in American life. An actor in his youth, he turned to politics after being blacklisted by Joseph McCarthy's Committee On Un-American Activities, and gave voice to the voiceless across our country until his death in 1998.
In 1907, Oklahoma is granted statehood. A land of prairies and farms, it is one of the first states to adopt the moniker of Soviet. It had been a stronghold of the Communist Party since its days as a territory.
In 11-15-12-16-8, Incan Emperor Atahualpa weds Oueztecan Princess Cozetmal, joining the 2 empires. In spite of Ouezteca's advantage in size and population, it is the Inca who become dominant in the culture, and Atahualpa's line encourages this.
In 711 AUC, Roman emperor Tiberius is born in the great city. At the end of his reign, religious fanatics of many different faiths were plaguing the empire, and he ordered them all suppressed. Although condemned at the time, the move has been hailed as saving the empire from religious civil war.
In 1990, pressure builds on British Prime Minister Margaret Hilda Thatcher to stand down as the Head of Government for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Iron Lady is 'not for turning' however. Neither are the continuous agencies of the British state which have ruthlessly pursued the meat-grinder known as the national interest since the Middle Ages. Trouble is that Thatcher has been suffering some 'bad spells' recently. Bad in the sense that they weren't working very well for the witch.
In 2016, at Camp David the septuagenarian US President George Walker Bush narrowly escapes death after choking on a vacuum-packed pretzel during the superbowl. Its a re-run of course, no one has played baseball or indeed any other sport since life was extirpated above ground by the 2007 nuclear confrontation which started with North Korea.
In 1940, in response to Germany's levelling of Coventry, England two days before, Sir Arthur Travers Harris commander of RAF Bomber Command orders the destruction of Hamburg. When Britain is finally starved into submission and defeat in 1945, Harris is one of many high profile war criminals handed over to Nazi authorities for trial at Nuremberg where he suicides hours before his planned execution.


November 15

Although the efforts of the world leaders, during the ongoing Ukraine Crisis, was to stop the spread of violence from Ukraine, this policy was shattered the day Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 was allegedly shot down by pro-Russian forces on 17 July 2014. The world leaders condemned the action and quickly placed blame for the incident on Russia. The Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, lead the chorus of criticism, as 27 Australians had been killed, vowing to "shirtfront" Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Conference which was to be held in Brisbane Australia the following November.

Shirtfront at the G20 CorralThe Russian reaction to Abbott's threat was one of comedy and they took great efforts to ridicule Abbott for his schoolyard reaction. Nonetheless Abbott declared that the Russian backed rebels had murdered Australians and that Russia was to be held accountable for their actions.

As the day of the G20 approached Russia's attitude towards the conference had switched from comedy to being serious. The Russian Pacific Fleet dispatched four ships, lead by the heavily armed Slava class Varyag, to patrol off the Australian coast opposite Brisbane. The Australian government noticed this and placed two missile guided frigates between Brisbane and the Russian ships, whilst the RAAF 1st Squadron of F/A 18E Super Hornets were placed on alert and armed with Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Abbott though was not concerned about the Russian naval task-force patrolling not far from Brisbane. Rather he was still determined to confront Putin. Although the initial introductions went ahead pleasantly, at the G20 Conference, soon the world's political leaders started making critical statements about Russia's involvement in Ukraine. Abbott did not get a word in until Putin, who by this stage was furious as to his treatment by the others, got up to leave.

At this point Abbott also got up and demanded that Putin sit back down. Putin refused to do so and started to walk towards the door whereupon Abbott ran towards to same door blocking Putin's exit. Abbott got his chance to shirtfront Putin where they stood chest to chest for about ten seconds in silence. Putin then suddenly grabbed Abbot's left arm, in a judo move, forcing Abbott to collapse in pain onto the floor. Australian and Russian security personnel separated the two with Putin continuing with his exit whilst Abbott remained on the floor in pain.

Putin was soon whisked away, by his security detail, to his plane at Brisbane airport. Against the commands of the local air traffic control, the plane left immediately. Abbott meanwhile had recovered and ordered two fully armed RAAF Super Hornets to "buzz " the Russian naval taskforce. "He demanded that the planes deliberately do to the Russian ships what Russian planes have done to US Naval forces in the Black Sea earlier in the year. The Russian taskforce soon got the hint that their presence was not welcomed, withdrew from the region, and headed home to Vladivostok.

Needless to say Russian and Western relations had fallen to the lowest level in living memory and a new Cold War had begun.

In 2012, on this day Vice President Xi Jinping was elected to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission by the Party Central Committee.

Launch Pad to the 21st CenturyAs leader, he committed to land a man on the Moon before the changeover to the sixth generation of leaders in 2022.

Of course the purpose of this bold announcement was to justify world leadership through maturity. Because the thousand of years of continuous civilization was surely a more representative context than the short-lived history of the communist nation since 1948.

Undoubtedly, there was a challenge implicit in his words. Because America had developed its own space program, but having beat the Russians into orbit, had called it quits while there were still ahead of their Coldwar Rival. And although China started much later, it was generally considered highly unlikely that America could restart their own programme and still win this new race.

In 1705, at a decisive moment in Rákóczi's War of Independence, the invading force of Austrian-Danish-Serbian Corps under the command of Field Marshal Ludwig Herbeville were defeated in Transylvania.

Glorious Kuruc Victory at ZsibóIn a struggle that would change the balance of power in central Europe, a group of noblemen, wealthy and high-ranking progressives under his leadership were bidding to topple the rule of Habsburg Austria over Hungary. Because relations between the court and the nobility had deteriorated so badly and the new Habsburg rulers treated the peasants so poorly that eventually some people wished for a return to Turkish rule.

The outcome of the battle secured Transylvania, marking the beginning of the end for the Hungarian nobility in their quest to defend the Hungarian interest.

In 1315, an army under the command of Duke Leopold I of Austria narrowly survived a Swiss ambush in the Morgarten Pass.

Ambush at the Morgarten PassThe architect of the clandestine attack was Werner Stauffacher. He had mobilized a a Swiss Confederation force of 1,500 infantry archers to regain their local autonomy within the Habsburg Empire.

The dispute had arisen despite the Swiss holding imperial letters of guarantee signed by former Emperors. And after a raid on the Habsburg-protected monastery of Einsiedeln, Duke Leopold I had set out to crush the rebellious Confederates. And his ultimate victory was the end of hopes to restore the Old Swiss Confederacy.

In 655, in an early engagement that firmly established Anglo-Saxon paganism in Britain, the forces of King Penda of Mercia triumphed at the Cock Beck in present-day Yorkshire.

Glorious Mercian Victory at the Battle of WinwaedFresh from his successful campaign in Northumbria, he had gathered allies from East Anglia and Wales marching south with a large force led by "thirty warlords". Their opponent was Oswiu of Bernicia, the brother of Oswald of Northumbria who had fallen to defeat at the hands of the Mercians in the early battle of Maserfield.

The battle was fought by the river in the midst of heavy rains, and many more were drowned in the flight than destroyed by the sword. The result consolidated Mercian ascendancy over the Northumbria.

In 1915, the great powers declared Kurdistan a German Protectorate under a general post-war settlement that dismembered the Ottoman Empire.

Kurdistan gains her independence.. sort ofEarlier in the year, Anzac Forces had achieved a vital break through at Gallipoli. A brave rearguard action was organized by the Ottomans, but after their inspirational commander Mustafa Kemal was killed the line quickly collapsed and Istanbul was seized by the Allied Powers. Perhaps more significantly, British forces were able to re-inforce the Tsarist Armies which was just as well because they had started to show early signs of not just mutiny but militant political organization. Workers committees known as Soviets were disbanded and trouble-makers rounded up before sirens of rebellion could really get started.

Of course the collapse of a minor ally was not of itself a reason for the other members of the Central Powers to capitulate - far from it, but in the heightened risk of stalemate on both fronts there was unexpectedly an opportunity to share the spoils of war. Under some imaginative proposals formulated by Sykes-Picot Agreement, Istanbul was passed to the Russians, and Kurdistan (including the Mosul Oil Fields) passed to the Germans as part of a general post-war settlement that split the Middle East between four great powers. Although the Entente had been formed to beat the Germans, this formula provided a means for all belligerents to climb down and yet gain some of the war gains - it was a "win win". In reality this deal was not all it seemed because the British had recently discovered even more lucrative oil fields in Southern Iraq, but no matter - the Germans had their place in the sun plus oil reserves, and the Kurds finally had a nation state of sorts, with a capital city of Ebril. It was exactly the kind of great compromise that put the Great into Great Britain.

In 1485, on this day John II, King of Portugal approved Christopher Columbus's plans to equip three sturdy ships, granting one year's time to sail out into the Atlantic and search for a western route to the Orient, and return.

Escape to the AmericasBut instead the Genoese Explorer discovered the Americas. And it was to this New World Continent that Christians began to flee to in huge numbers through out the course of the new century. Because the new Sultan Şehzade Mustafa [1] continued the great work of his father Suleiman the Magnificent in comprehensively beating the people of the book.

Within three centuries, Islam had engulfed Western Europe. America was a common Christian Home, with the notable exception of Orthodoxes and "Hidden Christians" [2]. Long before the Fall of Constantinople - in fact ever since the Fourth Crusade - they had consistently maintained "Better the Sultan's turban than the Cardinal's hat!".

In 1397, on this day Pope Nicholas V was born Tommaso Parentucell in Sarzana, Republic of Genoa. The Pontificate of Nicholas saw the breaking of the siege of Constantinople.

Pope Nicholas V's Tenth Crusade lifts the Siege of ConstantinopleUnited Christian forces directly under the Pope gathered from a wide alliance of Venetian, German, and Genoese troops, broke the Ottoman siege at Constantinople. It would serve as the crowning moment of Nicholas' impressive eight-year term as pope and herald a new age of military security in Christendom from outside threats. Dubbed the time of the "Third Rome", the triumph would mean the end of the Byzantine period and domination over the European Muslims.

Constantinople grew up from the humble Greek town of Byzantium when Emperor Constantine decided to shift his capital in 330 to escape Roman factions and intrigue as well as establishing quick connection to frontiers where barbarian threats could arise. The Byzantine Empire continued even after the fall of Rome to German invasion and grew wealthy by controlling the key point of trade between the West and East as well as the Bosporus, the only shipping route from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Despite centuries of decline since the golden age of Justinian where the Byzantines dominated an empire almost as large as Rome's had been, Constantinople continued to hang on as a crucial lynchpin of world trade and civilization.

Meanwhile, the world changed around stagnant Constantinople. The Orthodox Church broke with the western Rome due to differences such as the veneration of icons and, especially, attacks such as the sacking of the Church of Holy Wisdom in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. The Byzantines lost control of Anatolia, which broke into various principalities, one of which was ruled by Osman I in 1299, who held a vision of an empire as a tree with roots spreading through three continents and leaves blotting out the sky. He defeated the Byzantines at Bapheus in 1302, which was the first display of the quick expansion of the Ottomans through Anatolia and then, under Mehmed I, into the Balkans (1413-1421). Though the growing Ottoman Empire was just a few miles from Constantinople, it would be more than a century before they could muster enough force to conquer the city, merely demand tribute. Upon taking the Ottoman throne in 1451 at age nineteen, Mehmed II immediately set upon building up his navy and preparing to take Constantinople. He finally arranged a force estimated at around 100,000 soldiers with some 320 ships and established a blockade and siege in April of 1453.

Appeals from Constantinople did not go unheard, however. Pope Nicholas V began to call for a crusade for the liberation of the Bosporus from the Ottomans. No king seemed willing to head the expedition, and so Nicholas volunteered himself, using unprecedented powers hinted at in the declarations of Papal supremacy in the Council of Constance in 1418. He still needed armies, which he could gather freely as the Western Schism finally ended with the resignation of Antipope Felix V in 1449. While he would gather great support from Spain, France, and the Italian States, his greatest ally came as Frederick III, King of Germany, whom he crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1450, on the condition that he aid in the pope's new crusade.

Just as the citizens of Constantinople were beginning to give up hope while seeing visions mysterious fogs darkened the city, a total lunar eclipse passed, and St. Elmo's fire was seen above the Church of Holy Wisdom, the Papal forces arrived. Winning the battle at sea, the crusaders cut off the Ottoman forces, who were in the midst of a final assault on Constantinople. The defenders held part of the city, and the Ottomans attempted to use defenses they had seized against the papal army. Eventually the Ottomans would be overwhelmed, and young Mehmed II would be killed in the fighting, which would rage for months to come as the crusaders stormed the rest of the Ottoman territories.

Rather than set the Byzantines up again, the territories were divided among the conquerors. Venice and Genoa received their outlying islands and sections of Greece while Frederick's empire expanded over much of the Balkans. Pope Nicholas would die in 1455, but he began the healing of the rift between Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy, which would be completed in a series of councils loosening strict dogma on political grounds. Nicholas's interest in humanism and the arts would be embraced, widening the Renaissance and establishing a new era of hierarchical unity through the Church, accepting reforms proposed out of Germany through men such as Luther and Calvin.

However, Nicholas's humanism would be notably prejudice in the religious superiority of Christendom. His expansion of slavery against "Saracens, Pagans and other enemies of Christ wherever they may be found" in the 1452 papal bull was meant originally to encourage conquest by Portuguese in Africa, but the rest of Christendom would seize the opportunity. A new world superpower increasingly centralized through the Holy Roman Empire and Holy League would sweep through the Middle East and North Africa in further crusades, wantonly conquering and eliminating other cultures for centuries until Enlightenment ideals of separating church and state sparked mass revolt.

In 1925, on this day the 41st President of the United States Howard Henry Baker, Jr. was born in Huntsville, Tennessee. Article from the Reagan wins in 1976 thread.

Birth of President BakerHe had previously served as a United States Senator from Tennessee (1967-1988), holding the position of Senate Minority Leader (1977-1988).

Born in Huntsville, Tennessee, Baker was the son of a member of the House of Representatives. During World War II he trained in the U.S Navy before discharge in 1946. After a defeat in his first run for Senate in 1964, Baker returned to politics, winning a seat in 1966.

Baker gained prominence during the 1970s where he co-chaired a committee investigating the Watergate hearings. After winning reelection continuously in 1972, 1978 and 1984 Baker once again took to the national stage, running for President in 1988 and winning the Republican Nomination, followed by the general election over Vice President Dale Bumpers.

Baker served at a time of change, taking office shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. As President he oversaw the passage of education reform, as well the Environmental Continuity Act. A bi-partisan negotiator, Baker gained a reputation as a man of compromise in the White House. Despite his popularity he was defeated for re-election by Texas Governor Anne Richards.

Today, Baker ranks surprisingly highly amongst rankings of former presidents, and has acted as a spokesperson for a variety of personal causes.

It is 1895, Czar Nicholai the Second's child Olga Romanovna was born.

Czarina Olga RomanovnaThe oldest of his four daughters, she was known to be beautiful, bright and kind. What's more she was first in line for the Russian throne, until her brother Alexis was born ten years later.

It's true that Czar Paul I, had tried to enact the salic law, preventing females from ascending the throne, after four Czarina's had ruled .. most notably his mother, Catherine the Great.

However, his nobles argued successfully against the proposal, pointing out that Queen Victoria's reign had been a brilliant success.

The proposal's failure proved to be a good thing for the royal family, when Alexis was discovered to have hemophilia, inherited from his mother's grandmother Victoria .. although it never afflicted women.

Guilt-ridden and desperate, the family turned for help to Rasputin, the Mad Monk, who apparently used hypnosis to control the disease. Rumors grew that he was also the empress' lover, to the point where he had to be dismissed.

Just as the family had feared, Alexis died at age ten. It was not the end of the dynasty, however, because Olga took the throne. Her kindness, intelligence and beauty soon won her people's hearts, and those fine qualities have also appeared in her heirs.

In 1891, on this day 35th President of the United States W. Averell Harriman was born on this day in New York City. As the winning VP candidate in the 42nd quadrennial election he served out the remainder of the term of office vacated by the disgraced Carey Estes Kefauver.

Birth of President HarrimanHeading a U.S. Senate committee investigating organized crime during 1950, Kefauver hsf discovered information that compromised the twelve-year Senate career of Democratic Majority Leader Scott Lucas [1]. This information was quietly suppressed, a cynical decision for which the under pressure Kefauver was rewarded with the nomination.

However during his single term of office the scandal blew up and forced his early resignation. The remainder of his term was served out by Harriman who was crushed at the 1956 polls by Governor Christian Herter of Massachusetts.

In 1977, on this day an ethnic Korean Japanese (Zainichi) monster called Sin Gwang-su abducted thirteen year old Megumi Yokota (pictured) on her way home from school in Niigata, forcing her (and seventeen others) to help train North Korean spies to pass as Japanese citizens during the late seventies and early eighties.

Repeal of Article 9
By Ed and Eric Oppen
The kidnapper was finally arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1985. But by then the political fall-out had already happened. Long before this criminal resolution for Yokota's suffering parents, public opinion in Japan had demanded a different kind of justice.

Because the submarine that ferried the North Korean agents carrying the stolen identies of the abducted Japanese citizens had gone aground in the Yellow sea. Megumi Yokota was rescued by the South Korean Navy; now free, she had spoken openly of her plight in captivity which had led to several attempts at suicide. Enraged by its inability to protect its own citizens, the Government of Japan repealed Article 9 of the Constitution which renounced the right to declare war or use military force in international disputes.

In 1957, in a move that many who knew him considered shockingly uncharacteristic (and believed to have been caused by advisers warning against words antagonizing opponents as had caused massive uprising in Hungary), Russian First Secretary of the Communist Party Nikita Khrushchev said during an interview with an American reporter that he would be willing to share missile technology with the United States, who clearly did not have the same ICBM capabilities as the Soviets.

Khrushchev Offers to Share Technology "If she had, she would have launched her own Sputnik", Khrushchev noted, recalling the Russian success of being the first people to put an artificial satellite into orbit some six weeks before on October 4. Later in the interview, given as part of the commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution, he discussed East-West relations and noted that neither side wanted war, but that the Soviets would win if one began.

The interview came just days after the Soviets had hurriedly launched Sputnik 2, which brought the first living creature into orbit, a dog named Laika. She proved that living creatures could survive weightlessness and opened the door for human scientific exploration of space. It also came after the humbling Gaither Report was leaked to the press. Assembled by the Security Resources Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee, the report showed that the United States was far behind the Soviets on missile technology. After a decade of not working toward that end, the US had as its only defense the system of bomb shelters that were hardly effective if a large-scale war erupted.

The American populace continued to reel from the shocking news of Soviet superiority. Only a decade ago, the USA had been unquestionably the most powerful nation in the world with the A-bomb born out of the Manhattan Project. At the end of the war in 1945, Operation Paperclip sent OSS agents throughout Germany picking up Nazi scientists such as Werner von Braun and capturing what technology they could. Many of these scientists came to work for the Americans (some even illegally imprisoned at places such as P.O. Box 1142), and an inter-continental ballistic missile project was begun in 1946 by Consolidated-Vultee with its MX-774. The program was shut down a couple of years later as conservative feelings overtook post-war America, and it would not be until after the shocking launch of Sputnik that the Americans would reawaken.

Embarrassed and shocked by the Russians, Project Vanguard was quickly put into place by the Eisenhower administration to lift the Explorer Program, picking up proposals from the US Navy and Army that had been shelved due to lack of interest and funding. With the disastrous launch attempt of the Vanguard TV3 on December 6, 1957, where the three-stage rocket rose four feet before losing thrust, collapsing, and exploding, American public turned back to Khrushchev's offer. Many took it as if he were an older brother offering help with homework, while others thought he was twisting the diplomatic knife with a pandering, impossible offer. The world was in the midst of the International Geophysical Year sharing science on geomagnetism, oceanography, etc, and leaders internationally began to criticize the Americans for not taking up Khrushchev's offer to take up an American satellite on a Russian rocket. Much of the hooplah was settled with the launch of Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958, and then rocketry settled to a calmer scientific route with military espionage riding closely, secretly behind.

International relations improved somewhat between the USA and USSR, later resulting in the Nuclear Limitation Treaty in 1962 avoiding a massive stockpile of weapons beyond the point of Mutually Assured Destruction. Despite Khrushchev's constant assurances that communism would bury capitalism and colonialism, the Soviet Union would eventually fall in 1992, but not until after the success of the Buran shuttle system, launched in 1988 on the anniversary of Khrushchev's speech that began a time of peaceful coexistence in orbital space above the simmering Cold War. With an international space station being pieced together by Russian rockets with American engineered segments, long term space habitation is gradually being explored. Scientists hope to eventually put a man on the moon, where probes and flyby satellites have already taken a great deal of data, but cost and lack of public incentive have kept humans home.

In 1778, Britain's last hope for crushing the American Revolution was dashed when Lord Cornwallis, commander of the British expeditionary force in Virginia and the Carolinas, was killed by sniper fire during an assault on Continental Army regimental lines northwest of Charleston, South Carolina.

Double Jeopardy Part 12
Death of Cornwallis
Cornwallis -- at that time the most experienced field general the British had in North America --had originally been sent to crush guerrilla activity behind the British lines but soon found himself facing Continental Army regulars. The precise details of Cornwallis' death are murky even to this day, but historians generally agree he was one of the last casualties in the fight for Charleston and fell at American hands.

Cornwallis' death broke the morale of the British troops under his command and drove them into headlong retreat; from that moment on until the Revolutionary War ended in August of 1779, the British Army in North America was almost totally on the defensive.

In 2001, on this day Lexington wrote in the Economist ~ THIS has been a truly remarkable week for President Al Gore. The Taliban is in full retreat in Afghanistan.

Al Gore discovers himselfVladimir Putin has agreed to scrap more than two-thirds of Russia's nuclear weapons, fulfilling a dream that Mr Gore has cherished since he first went into politics. And Congress stands poised to pass a giant stimulus package. No wonder the president's approval rate stands at a stratospheric 87 percent.

An article by LexingtonIt seems almost churlish at such a time to bring up the little matter of the 2000 vote. But after last November's disputed election a consortium of conservative newspapers, led by the Washington Times, decided to pay for a recount of all the Florida votes. A million dollars of Richard Mellon Scaife's money and thousands of man-hours later, these Republican geniuses have proved what we all knew already: that the election was damn close. If Mr Gore had followed the advice of some of his more cynical advisers and concentrated on counting the votes in just four Democrat-controlled counties, rather than doing the honest thing and calling for a recount of all the votes in the state, he would have lost to George Bush."After September 11th, Al Gore at last realised what God put him on earth to achieve"

Can you imagine it? Mr Bush has gone into semi-retirement in Austin, his limited abilities as Texas's governor taxed by a legislature that meets only every other year. But the mere thought that he might have been president sends shivers down the spine. This is a man whose idea of foreign travel was to visit a barrio or two when he wished to appear "compassionate", and who would have conducted foreign policy from behind a Maginot Line of missiles. There is every reason to believe that, after September 11th, a President Bush would have struck out blindly at Osama bin Laden, perhaps even using nuclear weapons.

Which all goes to show how sensible the American people were to choose a man with real experience. Mr Gore has brought a remarkable set of skills to the present crisis, honed by a lifetime in politics and eight years in the vice-presidency. His "golden Rolodex", as one commentator has called it, has been invaluable to his building of a grand alliance against terror. He used his close personal relationship with Mr Putin to bring a reluctant Russia into the war, fundamentally changing the whole pattern of geopolitics. He used his ideological ties to Tony Blair, forged at many a seminar on the Third Way, to turn Britain into a bedrock of support. It is fair to say that Mr Gore has not one secretary of state but two: the indomitable Richard Holbrooke and the ever-loyal British prime minister.

The mention of Mr Holbrooke points to another extraordinary fact about the Gore presidency: the quality of the people he can call on. It is no exaggeration to say that Mr Gore has the entire brainpower of the country, from Washington think-tanks to the Ivy League universities, at his disposal. And there are few brains as acute as the secretary of state's.

Mr Holbrooke is one of the most experienced diplomats in the business. Mr Gore credits him with getting Germany wholeheartedly to join the anti-terrorist campaign, thanks to his time as ambassador there. But in some ways Mr Holbrooke still has to come into his own. The very qualities that make the secretary of state so unpopular in polite circles-his abrasive self-importance, his absolute confidence that he is right on matters big and small-make him a giant when it comes to negotiating with primitive warlords. He knocked heads together with extraordinary success in Bosnia; he will do the same thing in Afghanistan.

Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle

Mr Gore's extraordinary knowledge of Washington has been more of a mixed blessing in two other areas. The first is military strategy. The president has been a military buff ever since he became a congressman back in 1977. But his encyclopedic knowledge of warfare-and his iron belief in his own abilities-have inevitably led to clashes with the Pentagon. The generals grumble that Mr Gore wanted to control where every bomb was dropped, and that the result was a much more hesitant start than necessary to the war.

On the home front, Mr Gore was furious at the way the anthrax outbreak threw his administration into confusion. He could not understand why the Centres for Disease Control did not know more about the illness. He was apoplectic when he discovered that the FBI did not even know which laboratories in the country were licensed to produce the stuff. Yet his decision to put himself in charge of a special task-force has failed to produce results. Even more unsatisfactory has been his handling of the question of airport security. His remarks that those Republicans who oppose federalising security workers are "Neanderthals with the blood of the American people on their hands" is hardly likely to produce compromise.

Mr Gore's habit of micromanaging events is clearly his biggest weakness: a weakness that has been made worse by the decision to put Vice-President Joseph Lieberman (who had aroused much wrath on the Arab street because of his Jewish background) into a permanent secret location. But all this pales into insignificance beside Mr Gore's secret weapon during these dark days: his discovery of his true self.

The strongest criticism of Mr Gore has always been that he does not know who he is. Throughout his career, he reinvented himself to suit the mood of the times. In his first run for the presidency, he presented himself as a champion of the business-minded New Democrats; in his second run, he campaigned for the people against the powerful. All this left the impression that he had no hard centre, but was simply playing at politics in order to appease his father's ghost.

All this changed on September 11th. The collapse of the twin towers gave this extraordinarily restless and energetic man the task he has been seeking all his life: the war against terrorism. Al Gore at last knows what God put him on earth to achieve.

In 1963, on this day President Adlai Stevenson asked Congress to revoke the honourary US citizenship of the recently disgraced former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Bulldog's BiteThis totally unexpected and shocking outcome was caused by a chance discovery made in January by the CIA operative Miles Copeland. Based in Beirut, he had been investigating the British double agent Kim Philby. Transcripts dating from early 1945 were discovered which revealed that the British Government had ordered the assassination of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By that time, London had a number of reasons to be dissatisfied. At the Yalta Conference, Churchill had told Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden that he was unable to insist Stalin honoured his promises because "I am no longer fully heard by him [Roosevelt]". From the lifting of the siege of Stalingrade, Roosevelt had begun to shrewdly re-evaluate his relationship with both allies, ultimately determining that the Soviets were a far more effective partner to fight a proxy war with Hitler. He sent far more resources to the Soviet Union than to Great Britain, and England was (according to a drunken slur from Churchill) "jilted".

A new story co-written by Ed & Scott PalterThese mispoken words were the equivalent of Henry VIII's unconsidered comment of "off with his head" that had doomed Thomas More. Apart from this soliloquy, the decision to eliminate Roosevelt was taken with Churchill's blessing, but in all probability, without his explicit approval as is the way of such things. As an amateur historian, with an American mother, Churchill might well have reflected upon the unexposed conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln. A well known actor called John Wilkes Booth had shot the President, jumped onto the stage where he had made his getaway from Washington on horseback (presumably, getting himself lost amongst the rebel soldiers flowing home after Lee's surrender).

But history would not repeat itself on this occasion. Because in the transcripts discovered by Copeland, Kim Philby had falsified intelligence reports that Roosevelt planned to use the strength of the dollar to hammer the pound sterling after the war. Already fearing that Roosevelt would use the United Nations to dismante European colonial empires, this new information forced the British Government's hand. Of course there was a typically British cover-up later on when it was discovered that not only was this information false, but worse Truman was "tight-fistedly" planning to reduce Britain's post-war aid. The result was counter-productive: a "deadly hiatus" between the two Presidencies, which could only profit the Soviet Union, and personally satisfy the traitorous intentions of Kim Philby.

In 2000, on this day The Godfather Part IV is released. Co-written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it is the fourth instalment of the film saga detailing the life and times of the Corleone crime family. Godfather Part IV by Gerry Shannon

The film tells the story of the rise of Don Vincent Mancini-Corleone (Andy Garcia) from the early- to mid-90s as he is forced into conflict with foreign drug cartels when dealings with them go sour. This story is inter-cut with flashbacks to the 1930s, borrowing much of it's material from Mario Puzo's original novel, and featuring the rise of Vincent's grandfather in New York, Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro, reprising his 1974 role) and his early success as Don while his children come to terms with his criminal legacy - chiefly from the POV of his eldest, Santino or Sonny (played by Leonardo DiCaprio, in the role made famous by James Caan in the original), the father that Vincent never knew. Al Pacino also briefly reprises his role as the ageing embittered Michael Corleone retired and alone in Sicily, in a memorable scene with Garcia set before Michael's death in the third film's coda, in which the former Don reveals the fate of his adopted brother Tom Hagen in a chilling monologue on family loyalty and betrayal. (Hagen was played by Robert Duvall, and notably abscent from Part III).

There is much industry and public skeptism prior to release, given the reaction to the much critically malinged 1990 third instalment, most especially the casting of DiCaprio as the young Sonny, him then being better known for heartthrob roles in Titanic or Romeo and Juliet. However early reviews and audience word-of-mouth prove surprising for Coppola and Paramount studios, with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times saying, "Make no mistake: This is the kind of Godfather sequel we should have got in 1990. Coppola and Puzo's screenplay should be commended for very definitely ending the saga of the Corleones with great style and the powerful thematic qualities we've come to expect".

The film also earns several Oscar nods, winning 'Best Picture' (though in a surprise move, Coppola looses Best Director to Steven Soderbergh for Traffic), 'Best Actor' for Garcia, 'Best Supporting Actor' for DiCaprio and 'Best Adaptated Screenplay' for Coppola and Puzo. The last award is tinted with some tragedy however, given Mario Puzo's death shortly the previous year before the film's release, and Coppola's emotional tribute to his late collaborator is cited as one of the most moving Oscar speeches of all-time. Leonardo DiCaprio's win, meanwhile, kicks off further critical acclaim over the next decade by building on the early promise of his acting career - going on to further acclaim with leading roles in The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can, Blood Diamond, The Departed, and most especially his stunning portrayal as the villain the Joker in two Batman sequels, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Returns.

Red Army

On this day in 1941, the Soviet landing force on Hokkaido captured the mountain village of Sapporo.

Red Army -

On this day in 1982, Tommy Rich made his first WWF TV appearance, beating Ivan Putski in a bout aired on Monday Night Raw.                                                                                    

Wildfire
Wildfire - Tommy Rich
Tommy Rich

In 1962, on the Senate floor, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy delivers a furious but inarticulate tirade against President Kennedy for his use of federal troops in the South. He appears to be intoxicated. After fifteen minutes of vitriol, during which he refuses to yield the floor to anyone, he suddenly collapses. The Senator is rushed to Walter Reed Hospital, where he is diagnosed with terminal liver failure. He will die five weeks later, on Nov. 20. Conspiracy theorists, noting that he fell ill in the Senate while denouncing President Kennedy, begin to claim he was actually poisoned.

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In 1946, at the Nuremberg Trials Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson VC DSO and bar DFC and bar RAF is found guilty as charged of the destruction of the Moehne and Eder Dams on May 16, 1943 with the 'bouncing bomb'. Inventor of the bomb Barnes Wallace asked - 'Would a man like Gibson ever have adjusted back to peacetime life? One can imagine it would have been a somewhat empty existence after all he had been through. Facing death had become his drug.' Co-defendant 'Bomber' Harris described him as 'As great a warrior as this island ever produced'. Use of the past tense in the statement was appropriate as it was made after the island had been occupied by the Nazis of course.

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In 1940, the German Luftwaffe bombed Coventry in a massive raid which lasted more than 10 hours and left much of the city devastated. Relays of enemy aircraft dropped bombs indiscriminately. One of the many buildings hit included the 14th century cathedral, which was all but destroyed. Initial reports suggest the number of casualties is about 1,000. Intensive anti-aircraft fire kept the raiders at a great height from which accurate bombing was impossible. Reports say 4,330 homes were destroyed and three-quarters of the city's factories damaged. Eighteen year old Prisoner of War Kurt Vonnegut would later compare the landscape to 'the surface of the moon' in his biopic Prisonhouse Five.


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