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.
|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|
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|
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.
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.
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.
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  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" . 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 . 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 OppenThe 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 CornwallisCornwallis -- 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.
On this day in 1941, the Soviet landing force on Hokkaido captured the mountain village of Sapporo.
On this day in 1982, Tommy Rich made his first WWF TV appearance, beating Ivan Putski in a bout aired on Monday Night Raw.
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.
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.
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.
In 1990, Frank Farian, producer of the group Milli Vanilli, pulled off one of the best hoaxes in music. At a live press conference, when reporters asked the duo to sing, Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan apparently broke into one of their songs, matching the vocals on their album exactly. Unknown to the press, and only revealed after Pilatus' death in 1998 from a drug overdose, the incident was carefully choreographed and rehearsed. The reporter who asked them to sing was an assistant producer in disguise, and their voices were piped in from a production van outside. Because of this hoax, Milli Vanilli was able to keep their act going for 8 more years and 3 more Grammys.
In 1919, Comrade Joseph Wapner, Chief Justice of the People's Supreme Court, was born in the Louisiana Soviet. Comrade Wapner witnessed first hand the lives of sailors from capitalist nations when he worked the docks of Louisiana, and vowed that justice for the people of his own land would always be his first concern.
In 1891, Erwin Rommel was born in Heidenheim, Germany. Astrid Pflaume recruited Rommel for the Greater Zionist Resistance herself, in spite of his gentile background, because she felt that they needed his military prowess. It proved to be a wise choice; Rommel pulled victory from many hopeless situations in their early struggles, and lasted them in good stead until the neo-Nazis from the future brought in superior weaponry in the 40's.
In 1889, Brazilian emperor Pedro II survives a close call when members of his military attempt a coup. Although Pedro had guided Brazil to unprecedented prosperity and stability for a South American nation, his leading military staff felt that he was becoming too progressive. With the aid a hastily-raised peasant army, Pedro II fought off his staff and retained his throne, and took measures afterwards to ensure that no military leader would ever wield that kind of power again. His daughter, Empress Albertina, was beloved by the military for her wars of conquest against Argentina and Uruguay.
In 1859, a great literary work is left unfinished because of Charles Dickens' untimely demise at the hands of his estranged wife. A Tale of Two Cities, due to come out in his circular All The Year Round on this day, was instead never published. Catherine Dickens, mother of their 9 children, had become enraged at him over the terms of divorce he had offered her, and stabbed him to death the month before. A tragic ending to one of literature's giants.
In 1751, Anglican minister/racist demagogue William Cowper was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Cowper was haunted throughout his life by mental illness that he refused medical treatment for, believing Mlosh techniques to be sinful. He founded the anti-Mlosh communities in Olney and Chelsea Downs.
In 1597, actor William Shakespeare is cited by St. Helen's Parish for failure to pay his taxes. Sir Francis Bacon had been using Shakespeare as a front for his theatrical work, but Shakespeare's unreliability, evidenced by behavior such as this, forced Bacon to come out as the author of his work in 1599.
In 1988, the unmanned Shuttle Buran is launched by the Soviet Union on her first flight. It had military missions other than simply placing one or two men into space, involved with space defense missions against the United States Air Force's X-20 Dyna-Soar.
In 2012, on this day failed GOP President candidate Mitt Romney announced the formation of a permanent, political action super-committee of elite donors.
Romney GroupAttributing the reason for his defeat to "Gifts" he argued that President Obama had abused his office by using policy announcements to pander to the interests of minority groups. A co-ordinated continuity of effort was therefore required in order to guarantee success in 2016. And the best vehicle for achieving that was to avoid the need for the next nominee to spend so much time fund-raising rather than forming hard policies alternatives and strategically campaigning in winnable swing states.
Of course there was an element of narcissism to the proposal, and yet there was clearly merit in retaining such an infrastructure. This allowed Romney to maintain a position of influence, participate in the development of public policy and ultimately find a meaningful next step away from the disappointment of failure.
It is November 1972, and lovers Charles Windsor and Camilla Shand are celebrating the Prince of Wales twenty-fourth birthday. They are pleasantly surprised to discover that his mother, the Queen has relented and invited Camilla to stay at Sandringham for Christmas, although this welcome news is clouded by two issues. An article from our Happy Endings thread.
Happy Endings 43:
Charles tells Camilla to wait for himHer former tryst with Andrew Parker Bowles has become somewhat embarrassing because he is set to marry Charles' elder sister Anne, and worse Charles is set to go on a long tour of military duty. But he tells her not to worry and she in turn agrees to wait for him.
They marry during the summer of 1974, and three children soon follow in 1976, 1979 and 1982. However fate plays a cruel twist when they are thrust into the monarchy decades before they can enjoy their marriage in some degree of privacy from the media. Because in October 1981 Queen Elizabeth II was assassinated at the Horse Guard's Parade by Marcus Sarjeant. And the couple ascend the throne, just nine years after that fateful birthday celebration. It is the eve of King George VII's thirty-third birthday as the Prince had previously sworn not to be enthroned with the regnal name of Charles III/IV due to the potential digit confusion caused by the Scottish ascendency..
In 1935, on this day Prince Hussein bin Talal was born in Amman, capital city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Birth of Prince Hussein of JordanAfter completing his elementary education in Amman, he was educated at Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt. He proceeded to Harrow School in England, where he befriended his cousin Faisal II of Iraq. He pursued further study at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
However his life was to be cut tragically short. On 20 July 1951, he travelled to Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque with his grandfather, King Abdullah I. Tragically, a Palestinian assassin opened fire on Abdullah and his grandson killing both of them. Purely from a dynastic succession perspective, the timing was a disaster for the House of Hashemite because his father ascended to the throne as King Talal but he was already suffering mental health issues that included schizophrenia. After a brief reign of only eighteen months, he was forced out, ushering in an era of political instability including multiple military coups. But only later did it emerge that the real purpose of the visit to Jerusalem was to normalize relations with the State of Israel.
In 1527, on this day the Spanish Explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca became the first European to set eyes upon the great American city of Cahokia .
Mississippians welcome de Vaca ExpeditionAlthough a chief officer in name, originally, his role was simply that of treasurer of the Narváez expedition of six hundred men. But only four made it ashore at Tampa Bay in La Florida and the raft of Narváez himself was lost during a hurricane at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The tiny party was joined by indigenes of the upper Gulf Coast. About forty men including the three Spaniards made it to
Cahokia with de Vaca at the head. By that stage he had developed such a remarkable reputation as a faith healer that his indigenous companions regarded the companions as "children of the sun", endowed with the power to both heal and destroy. For now it was unclear which of the those two powers would prevail. And their sense of awe was surpassed by the spectacle of the great plaza, larger and more sophisticated than any comparable metropolis in Europe.
In 1943, on this day a Mark-15 torpedo fired by the destroyer USS William D. Porter struck the BB-61 class battleship USS Iowa carrying President Roosevelt to the Tehran Conference. An article from the Alternate World War Two thread.
The Iowa AffairFDR had asked to be brought up to the deck to observe the Iowa conduct an anti-aircraft drill to demonstrate her ability to defend herself. Porter, along with the other escort ships, also demonstrated a torpedo drill by simulating a launch at Iowa. This drill suddenly went awry when the #3 torpedo aboard Porter discharged from its tube and headed toward Iowa.
A signal from the Porter weakly confirmed "we did it". Because a single torpedo was unlikely to actually sink the Iowa, the officer class of the Porter feared a misadventure , perhaps the nightmarish image of FDR pitched overboard and sinking to the bottom carried by the weight of his leg-irons.
More farcically, the torpedo struck the battleship but failed to detonate. In fact the problems with the Mark-15 were not only well-known but actually had been solved in pre-production. Nevertheless, this highly visible and embarrassing display provoked fury from FDR. He threatened to dismiss senior figures in the Bureau of Ordinance. But instead he ordered a congressional inquiry led by the committee headed by Sen. Harry S Truman (D-MO), which was ferreting waste and abuse in the war effort. As events were to turn out, this proved a decision of some consequence.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.