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 20

In 1942, on this day the late Senator Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Birth of Senator Joe BidenHe lived there for ten years before moving to Delaware. He became an attorney in 1969, and was elected to a county council in 1970. Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972 and became the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history.

At the end of Ronald Reagan's second term, he entered the Presidential race under the slogan "A President to make us Proud Again". This was a wide open field because Jimmy Carter's VP Walter Mondale had run (and lost) in 1984 as had Jesse Jackson.

When the campaign began, Biden was considered a potentially strong candidate because of his moderate image, his speaking ability on the stump, his appeal to Baby Boomers, his high profile position as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the upcoming Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings, and his fundraising appeal. He raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of 1987, more than any other candidate. Biden received considerable attention in the summer of 1986 when he excoriated Secretary of State George P. Shultz at a Senate hearing because of the Reagan administration's support of South Africa, which continued to practice the apartheid system.

But unfortunately his health took an unexpected down turn, and although he belatedly pulled out of the race, he died aged forty-six long before election day as a result of an aneurysm.

In 1912, on this day Otto von Habsburg (pictured) was born at Villa Wartholz in Reichenau an der Rax.

Birth of Kaiser Otto, Emperor of the GermansOnly four years later he became Crown Prince, and then at the age of just nine, succeeded his father Karl as Emperor of the Germans.

During its thousand year history, the Imperial House of Habsburg had occupied many of the thrones of Europe. But events had taken the oddest of turns in 1866. In the narrowest of victories at the Battle of Königgrätz, the Prussian attempt to force the unification of Germany on their terms ended in failure. And instead of the Hohenzollerns, it would be the Habsburgs who won out, establishing the new Kaiserreich, a Germanic monarchist system, ruled from Vienna with a central european system of thinking.

But by the time Otto was proclaimed Kaiser, nationalist pressures were threatening to rip the Slavic part of the Empire apart. The resolution of this so-called "Southern Question" would completely dominate the early decades of his long rule.

In 284 AD, on this day forty-year old Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus (Diocletian) was chosen as Roman Emperor after the army unanimously saluted him as their new Augustus, and he accepted the purple imperial vestments.

Hedges of the Night
Article written by Ed, Scott Palter & Jeff Provine
From freedman had he risen steadily through the ranks of the military, serving in Gaul before the appointment as Dux Moesiae, cavalry commander of forces on the lower Danube. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed Emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' other surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus. With his accession to power, Diocletian ended the Crisis of the Third Century.

Diocletian appointed fellow officer Maximian Augustus his senior co-emperor in 285. He delegated further on 1 March 293, appointing Galerius and Constantius as Caesars, junior co-emperors. Under this "Tetrarchy", or "rule of four", each emperor would rule over a quarter-division of the Empire. Diocletian secured the Empire's borders and purged it of all threats to his power. He defeated the Sarmatians and Carpi during several campaigns between 285 and 299, the Alamanni in 288, and usurpers in Egypt between 297 and 298. Galerius, aided by Diocletian, campaigned successfully against Sassanid Persia, the Empire's traditional enemy. In 299 he sacked their capital, Ctesiphon. he led the subsequent negotiations and achieved a lasting and favorable peace.

His life experience provided Diocletian with a broad understanding of the operation of the power structures in the Roman Empire. And from his lowly birth status grew the germ of a compelling vision for meritocracy that would secure the future. Clearly to survive the centuries, the Empire needed to devolve into a symbiotic grouping of self-sustaining admnistrative provinces which could draw from local resources (the Rhine and Danube had the good recruiting grounds, whereas the East and to a lesser extent Italy/Africa had the money). But such a structure was always vulnerable to a powerful general whose ambition was to rule the whole Empire.

The answer to this conundrum was the progression of offices under which a Count of Britain picked in York by two Caesars and two Augusti could rise to higher order roles in Trier, Antioch, the Danube and finally Rome. As a further safeguard against dictatorship, Diocletian introduced a formal separation of powers, with a strong Senate and controls to keep the Praetorian Guard in check. It was these "hedges of the night" that would sustain the rule of four in the long centuries to come, preventing the civilized world from plunging into a dark age.

In 1938, on this day the U.S. federal government bought a substantial tract of land in the Cape Canaveral region of Florida with the aim of building a rocket launch/construction/training facility in that area to be jointly operated by the War and Navy.Departments.

Part Nine of Parley Construction on the Cape Canaveral rocket base would be finished in the summer of 1939, just in time for the start of the Second World War. The base would play a critical role in crushing the militarist rebellion on Mars; in the 1960s Canaveral would gradually transition into a fully civilian spaceport, and by 1980 would serve as the principal departure point for flights between Earth and US and allied outposts on the Moon.

In 1983, the general release of the first version of Visi On - the graphical user interface-based operating environment program for IBM PC compatible personal computers running early versions of DOS - began shipping world-wide on this day.

Visi On kept under wraps at Comdex '82VisiCorp had surged ahead in the two years since Mitch Kapor had replaced Terry Opdendyk, the autocratic president hand-picked by the early venture capital investors [1].

As the former head of VisiCalc development, Kapor was a brilliant spreadsheet programmer, but in his newly elevated role he took a number of surprising entrepreneurial gambles that paid off, big time. Most notably, the high risk decision not to demonstrate the futuristic GUI (codename "Visi On") at Comdex '82 when it was demonstrable but not yet commercially viable. As it turned out, the audience reaction to VisiCalc was so positive that such a cheap marketing ploy would have been unnecessary and potentially counter-productive, running the risk of another software developer bringing the concept to market before VisiCorp [2]. Having avoided that pit fall, the development team were given the necessary space and time to reduce the required hardware footprint ensuring price parity with Apple's competitor product, the "Lisa".

In 1923, on this day in Munich, Anton Drexler the President of the German Workers' Party (DAP) was formally charged with the murder of Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler (pictured).

The Plot Against Germany 6 Hitler punks at the FeldharenhalleFirst reports had indicated that some embittered Nazis had executed the veteran for cowardice after he had punked at the Feldharenhalle, the attempted coup of November 9th known as the "Beer Hall Putsch". But investigations soon revealed that he was an army infiltrator, appointed Verbindungsmann (intelligence agent) of an Aufklärungskommando (reconnaissance commando) of the Reichswehr, to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the DAP. The exposure was of course a tremendous shock to Drexler whose leadership had been deeply marginalized by Hitler. He suspected that Hitler had been trying to destroy the party from within. Whereas the police suspected that Drexler had used Hitler's exposure simply as a means of restoring his position in the party.

While Drexler set about the task of rebuilding the DAP in the wake of the Feldharenhalle, Hitler became a little known foot note in the early history of the party. A failed fine arts painter, a war hero and noted denizen of the Munich demimonde it was also rumoured that he briefly served with the forces of the Bavarian Socialist Republic. Unfortunately, he would not live to see Germany turn red at the ballot box, instead Drexler would be given the fruitless task of trying to stop the inexorable rise of Ernst Thalmänn to the Chancellorship of Germany. An article from the asynchronous Chancellor Ernst Thalmänn thread.

In 1759, on this day the Royal Navy was ravaged at the Battle of Quiberon Bay. The Anglo-French portion of the Six Years' War had dragged on through mixed results. Early on, the French had the upper hand with a string of victories in North America, but the leadership of Secretary of State William Pitt, Senior, resulted in a masterful use of British resources to turn the tide of the war.

Battle of Quiberon Bay Ravages Royal Navy Then came the Annus Pestis (Cursed Year) of 1759. The French settlers and their Indian allies ignited a guerilla war in the Ohio Country that frustrated British hopes of taking Quebec. In India, Madras fell to French forces, though the battle would prove Pyrrhic for the victors. On the European Continent, French troops formed a siege of Minden, taking large swaths of German land west of the Weser River. At sea, the British gained great hope after the attack on Le Havre with a two-day bombardment that destroyed many of the barges the French were assembling for an amphibious invasion of Britain and again a small victory came at the Battle of Lagos, where British ships destroyed two ships-of-the-line from the French fleet and scattered the rest. However, the Battle of Quiberon Bay would give France another chance to challenge Britain for control of the high seas.

The battle began after a storm had driven most of the British blockade keeping the remaining troop transports at bay in France. French Marshal de Conflans hurried to merge his fleet with other squadrons collected from the West Indies and remainders from battles in the Mediterranean. He was spotted by British squadron commander Robert Buff and decided to give pursuit, but Buff split his smaller fleet into two groups heading north and south. In what was is seen as the most fortuitous move of the war, Conflans decided to keep his fleet together while in pursuit of the southerly British ships, resulting in organization that would be key to victory in the hard-won battle. The bulk of the English fleet appeared under Edward Hawke from the west, and the two converged in a titanic battle. A shift in the wind nearly disorganized Conflans, but the French managed to keep their composure and defeat the English inside the bay. Hawke died in the battle and only a handful of ships-of-the-line managed to escape, enabling the French to capture some ten more and wreck others.

It would be the final straw of the Annus Pestis. The French hurried to rebuild their fleet and launch their invasion of Britain as soon as weather permitted. Meanwhile, England became frantic.

Though William Pitt campaigned for a strong militia defense, drawing in the French force and then cutting off their supplies with a renewed navy to capture the army while it starved, the rest of Parliament would be swayed by the fearful public opinion. That Christmas, the English sued for peace, and the Treaty of Paris in 1760 took England out of the war. France made great colonial demands, retaking the lost Guadeloupe in the West Indies, expanding French territory in North America, and carving out rights to a French South India from the Carnatic and Mysore regions to the Indian Ocean France continued on in Europe, pressing troops into Hanover and forcing Prussia into a stalemate with Russia and Sweden. In the east, the war would end in 1761 with Prussia's growth being checked amid the other Baltic Powers.

The next twenty-five years would be a renewed Golden Age for France, raking in great wealth from its new colonies. Britain, meanwhile, came upon problematic times as it struggled to recover, establishing a taxation system that sent its American colonies into rebellion, which was much aided by the French. The resulting United States of America would soon have the first of many border wars with the French in Ohio, Louisiana, and along the St. Lawrence River, gradually pushing the French and their Indian allies west and northward.

The American experiment in self-rule spawned a wave of Enlightenment revolutions through Europe, and France would be among the first to lose its autocracy with the revival of the Estates-General and the establishment of the National Assembly to placate and aid those suffering from poor harvests. The renewed France would again injure Britain by aiding the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which would make famous Colonel Arthur Wesley as a great hero of Ireland as he managed to forge a self-rule for Ireland while maintaining some connection with England.

With a weakened Britain, other European powers took up their chances to increase their colonial strengths with Portugal in southern Africa, the Dutch in the South Pacific with New Holland, and the French in South Asia, West Africa, the Great Lakes, and in numerous islands wherever their navy could reach.

In 1759, on this day the home fleet of British admiral Sir Edward Hawke was destroyed off the French coast at Quiberon Bay (portrayed in "The Day After" by the artist Richard Wright). It was a strategic masterstroke for the French Government whose forces were facing impending expulsion from North America, West Africa and India. Because Foreign minister Duc de Choiseul's options had narrowed to the one significant reprisal on offer - an attack on Britain itself.

The Day AfterIronically, the tactical failures at St Nazaire were also the result of over-boldness. Because under full sail, Hawke had chased the French fleet through the rocks and shoals that stretch south from the end of the Quiberon peninsula into the confined waters of the Bay of Quiberon itself with night approaching in an onshore gale, despite having no charts, pilots or any foreknowledge of the waters.

"Where there was passage for the enemy, there was passage for me. We are so close, their pilots will be mine. If they go to pieces on the shore, they shall become our beacons" ~ Admiral HawkeAdmiral Conflans received fresh orders to transport a diversionary force of twenty thousand troops to Glasgow, luring English regiments north. Meanwhile, a further twenty thousand troops set sail for Maldon in Essex, whilst a third force descended upon Ireland. Had Duc de Choiseul received better military intelligence, he would have surely realised that a single assault upon Maldon would have sufficed.

"[Quiberon Bay] is the graveyard of our navy, the ruin of all our hopes" ~ King George II of EnglandPanic soon set in when news of the naval disaster arrived at the War Department in London. Due to the imperial overstretch placed on the one hundred twenty-five regiments of the British Army, only fourteen thousand regulars were immediately available for the defence of the realm. And the breathtaking news that Charles Stuart was aboard the French Flagship Soleil Royal prevented the War Office from raising militias for fear that a Jacobite Fifth Column would form.

Symbol of

In 1618, the Spanish coastal town of Malaga witnessed one of the most gruesome acts of mass murder ever perpetrated on European soil as British occupation troops and Spanish Protestant militias joined forces to slaughter nearly twelve hundred Spanish Catholics for allegedly plotting to revolt against the local British garrison commander; whether such a conspiracy actually existed or was just a ruse has still not been proven to this day, but the massacre would prove to have dire repercussions for Anglo-Spanish relations for nearly two centuries afterwards.

Symbol of - Malaga
Malaga

Between 1690 and 1778 three major wars would be fought between Britain and Spain due to lingering bitterness over the massacre, and in the early 19th century Spanish cavalry would attempt to ambush the Duke of Wellington's troops near Malaga in hopes of finally avenging the twelve hundred people put to death there during the British occupation.

Not until 1816, when Queen Victoria issued a formal apology for the massacre, did Anglo-Spanish relations begin to improve. In 1948 another British monarch, King George VI, would further the process of reconciliation by participating in a memorial service for the victims of the massacre; two decades after George VI's visit Queen Elizabeth the second would christen a memorial park in Malaga dedicated to the people killed in the 1618 massacre.

In 1960, on this day young New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin achieved national prominence when, in his latest article, he profiled a Brooklyn family that had been left homeless by the Jamaica Bay hurricane. His heartrending account of the family's plight sparked a flood of donations to the Red Cross on their behalf and earned Breslin a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

 - Jimmy Breslin
Jimmy Breslin

On this day in 1941, Soviet bombers flying from airfields on the island of Hokkaido attacked Tokyo for the first time; 87,000 Japanese died in the air raid, among them Imperial Japanese Navy Combined Fleet commander-in-chief Admiral Isoroku.

 - Isoroku Yamamoto
Isoroku Yamamoto

On this day in 1967, Apollo 1 was finally launched from Cape Canaveral; the mission lasted ten days during which the Apollo 1 crew made 163 orbits around the earth before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. On the heels of this successful test run, NASA scheduled the launch of Apollo 2 for August of 1968.

Apollo One
Apollo One - Crew
Crew
In 1981, former child star and adult beauty Natalie Gurdin drowned in a suspicious boating accident. Her husband, Robert Wagner, was arrested on suspicion of having done her in, and during the trial, it was revealed that Gurdin had discovered his affair with her co-star Ronald Walken during that long night on their yacht. Wagner was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In 1980, United Artist's blockbuster hit Heaven's Gate passes the $150 million mark. The epic western tale touched a cord across America, inspiring millions to endure long lines to bask in the 3-hour long movie.
In 1948, American consul Angus Ward was captured by Chinese reactionaries after he refused to allow them to use the consulate's radio transmitter to broadcast their lies to the people. The Soviet Americans stood strong with the People's Republic of China against these counter-revolutionaries, and succeeded in winning Ward's freedom again.
In 12-12-9-13-13, an overzealous Oueztecan force attacked and massacred a group of almost 400 Cheyenne and Arapahoe warriors who were surrendering to the Empire. When the Emperor heard of this tragic mistake, he ordered the captain in charge of the force sacrificed to the Sun God at the next ceremony.


November 19

In 1918, on this fateful day Corporal Adolf Hitler of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment was formally discharged from a military hospital in Pasewalk, Pomerania. He had been recovering from a mustard gas attack near Wervicq that left him temporarily blinded, just the latest scrape in an incredible string of near death experiences that had miraculously kept him alive throughout the long war.

The Greatest of all ExperiencesEven though he was eager to return to the Front his loyalties were in turmoil. Because during his recovery the Kaiser had been forced to abdicate and yet the new Provisional Government had decided to fight on much like Kerensky's administration in St Petersburg. In Berln also the new political elite now comprised socialists, communists, liberals, and of course the Jews (although the diversity of the Russian cabinet remained, Kerensky himself had long since given way to Chernov following Constituent Assembly elections). Needless to say this scenario was not what Hitler had signed up for when he joined the German Army in 1914 beginning (in his words) "the Greatest of all Experiences".

Author's Note: although this scenario seems improbable please note that he was discharged just eight days after the Armistice agreement ended the fighting between Germany and the Allies. Therefore just a fortnight of additional fighting could have created this scenario, in this timeline, justified because Kerensky "won out".

On this day Japanese naval and air forces attacked Chinese naval and air force assets remorselessly in the aftermath of the failed APEC and G20 meetings. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, after two failed attempts at direct peaceful negotiations with Chinese President Xi Jinping at both meetings, felt Japan had no other choice but the military option after Chinese occupation of the Senkaku Islands earlier in the year.

Chaos in AsiaThe successful Japanese attack was reminiscent of Pearl Harbor insofar as no warning was issued and took the Chinese by surprise, although tensions between the two nations had meant that both where on a war footing ever since the Chinese took the Senkaku Islands via military action. And even though the Chinese were the first to cry "infamy", the Japanese allies, namely the United States, supported the Japanese action.

The Chinese lost their most prized possession, the aircraft carrier Liaoning, in the opening minutes, along with their SSBN class submarines, several other nuclear and conventional powered submarines, and dozens of destroyers and frigates. The Chinese air force was also mauled, losing about a third of its fighters and most of its bombers, within sixty minutes of the opening rounds of the Japanese attack.

Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed revenge, in response to the Japanese attack, but the Chinese military and the Communist Party elite placed as much blame upon Xi for the successful Japanese attack as the Japanese themselves. By the end of the first day, China took stock of their losses which, by midnight, included the successful Japanese reoccupation of the Senkaku Islands.

In 1775, Congress pleads for the states to send more soldiers to serve in the Continental Army, reminding them "how indispensable it is to the common safety, that they pursue the most immediate and vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of Troops for the new Army, as the time of service for which the present Army was enlisted, is so near expiring".

Gen Washington abandons efforts to make militias into a militaryThe underlying problem was not just troop levels, because General Washington inherited the very same provincial differences and rivalries that had beset British Commanding Officers during the Seven Years War. He saw "stupidity" among the enlisted men, who were used to the easy familiarity of being commanded by neighbors in local militias with elected officers. Washington promptly insisted that the officers behave with decorum and the enlisted men with deference. Although he enjoyed some success with this original army, the New Englanders went home to their farms at the end of 1775, and Washington would have to start fresh with new recruits in 1776.

But instead, he had a better idea. As Commander in Chief, Washington's overarching objective was to keep the patriot cause alive long enough for the British to despair of victory. During the cruel winter of 1775-6, he came to the bitter conclusion that this could only be achieved by a nationally co-ordinated insurgency, fought on the ground by the State militias. Because the Continental Army would only ever be an easy target for the Redcoats, giving the British the opportunity for a symbolic victory even if they did not re-establish control over the colonies. We seek him here, we seek him there, those Redcoats seek him everywhere...

In 1802, on this day 22nd President of the United States Solomon Foot (pictured) was born in Cornwall, Vermont.

Birth of President Solomon FootHe was a Vermont lawyer, state representative and later senator who spent more than 25 years in elected office. He graduated from Middlebury College in 1826 and was admitted to the bar in 1831. He served as a state representative briefly in 1833, and also from 1836 to 1838. After six years as a prosecuting attorney, he was elected as a Whig congressman in 1843 and as a senator in 1850. He was re-elected as a Republican senator in 1856, in which capacity he served until his death in 1866. He served as President pro tempore of the Senate from 1861 to 1863.

By an accident of history, he then occupied the White House for the remaining eighteen months of Chester A. Arthur's term. Because the President had been forced to resign when Arthur P. Hinman discovered evidence that he was was not a native-born citizen of the United States. Instead, he was born in Ireland and had arrived in the US at the end of fourteen.

By coincidence, he shared his birthday with the 20th President, James A. Garfield, and his predecessor died on November 18th.

In 1831, on this day the twentieth President of the United States James A. Garfield was born in Moreland Hills, Ohio.

Birth of President James A. GarfieldIn 1881 he was shot once in the arm and once in the back by Charles J. Guiteau at the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad on the National Mall in Washington.

Although the first bullet only caused a graze, the second was initially thought to have lodged near his liver. However the hopelessly incompetent Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss was completely wrong, and the bullet was actually located behind the pancreas, a discovery made by a metal detector devised by the brilliant Scottish inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Aside from the creation of the mocking expression "Ignorance if Bliss", the event was quickly forgotten because Garfield, like many other veterans were unfazed by such an injury. In fact one of the detectives who took Guiteau to the district jail still had a Civil War bullet lodged in his head. However the consequence of his survival was huge; as soon as his recovered, he quickly resumed his radical programme of reform that would change Washington forever.

In 1600, Charles the Last, the final British monarch was born in Dunfermline Palace. He ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in 1625.

Charles the LastCharles was deposed by Oliver Cromwell's forces in 1646, and despite several attempts to restore the monarchy over the next couple of decades, the people of the UK were never to follow a king or queen again.

Although Cromwell was followed by his son as Lord Protector of the Kingdom, Parliament began electing the Lord Protector in 1660 and the office was filled at the pleasure of the people from then on.

Other monarchies in Europe were disturbed by the loss of their British cousin, and financed many of the pretenders who tried to raise armies to retake the crown, but none were successful. Indeed, the agitators were sometimes toppled by British counter-espionage tactics - the French king fell in 1684, the Russian tsar was ousted in 1692, and the Swedish monarchy was replaced by a democracy in 1704. The rest of Europe's non-democratic governments gave up after the brutal execution of Sweden's nobility, and pretenders to the British Crown disappeared in the 18th century.

In 1700, on this day victory in the Great Northern War established the Swedish Empire's supremacy in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe after Tsar Peter I of Russia was killed at the climax of the Battle of Narva.

Death of Peter the GreatA Swedish relief army under Charles XII of Sweden defeated a siege force three times its size. And the seizure all of the defender's cannons, muskets and military supplies meant that Russia's remaining armed forces with essentially no equipment and thus powerless to prevent the subsequent Swedish advance into Poland and also Northern Germany.

Of course the loss of such a powerful monarch was a crushing blow to the Russian State. Tragically, Peter had not planned to be present at the siege, but events had forced him to hasten back to Narva just one day before the Battle.

Swedish military hegemony of Northern Europe would only be checked by the gigantic clash of empires that occured in the Great War of 1913.

In 1918, on this day Gefreiter (Private) Adolf Hitler of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment was discharged from the Paswalk Hospital, his administrative status of Kriegdverendungunfahig ("unfit for military service") made largely irrelevant by the recent and spectacular success of Ludendoff's autumn offensive.

KriegdverendungunfahigTransferred to the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment in Munich, he witnessed the beginnings of orderly demobilization of the Reichwehr.

The situation in the allied countries was chaotic. The process of internal collapse that had forced the allies to sue for terms had continued after the armistice. In Britain, Soviets were being established in northern and Scottish industrial towns, and in France, Paris was in the grip of a new commune. Former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who had first muttered "We are going to lose this war" accredited defeat less to a triumph of German arms, but rather to a "stab in the back" from anti-establishment forces stirring revolt in the working class.

As his eye-sight began to fully recover, Hitler was to observe more subtle changes in his own victorious nation. The prestige of the monarchy was shattered, and the war-time dominance of the military was set to continue long into peace-time.

Germany had attained its undeclared war-time aim of achieving world power status. But continued expansion would surely bring the country into conflict with the two world powers that had remained out of the Great War, the United States and Japan. Creating the possibility of a terrifying future war with the defeated nations in combination with those world powers. Hitler wondered if perhaps this current peace was little more than an interregnum. A prolonged armistice of two conflicts bridging a single war. It was the start of a thought process that would eventually lead to his own political awakening..

In 1938, Earth's first faster-than-sound aircraft, the Bell XF-1A, took its debut test flight.

Part Nine of Parley The XF-1A, designed by aviation mogul Howard Hughes and incorporating Martitan innovations in vehicle propulsion technology, broke the sound barrier within just a few minutes after taking off from an airfield in the California desert and would eventually reach speeds of up to 2200 miles per hour before landing at an Army Air Corps base in Nevada. The supersonic aircraft, whose existence would be revealed at a White House press conference three days later, was created in response to a War Department proposal for a tactical fighter that could fly faster than sound and intercept the long-range bombers the Germans were said to be working on with the aid of Martian militarists.

Among those who attended the press conference disclosing the XF-1A's existence was CBS Radio producer Orson Welles, who as a result of the startling turn of events which had unfolded since the landing at Grover's Mill was steadily shifting away from his former career as an entertainer to a new identity as a newsman. By the summer of 1940 he would be working almost exclusively for CBS Radio's news division.

In 1943, the mass Escape at Janowska occured on this day occured. In the outskirts of Lwów, in which had once been Poland but was then under the fascist rule of Nazi Germany, the Janowska concentration camp for labor and transit stood (pictured, Members of a Sonderkommando 1005 unit pose next to a bone crushing machine).

Mass Escape at Janowska In the early days of World War II, the corner of Poland had become Russian territory in Hitler's deal with Stalin in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. Knowing the coming persecution from the Nazis, Jews fled the western part of Poland and settled here as refugees, doubling the local Jewish population to 200,000. In 1941, Operation Barbarossa brought Germany east, and the Jews found themselves blamed under propaganda for massacres, then slaughtered and fenced like animals.

With some 13,000 already killed by 1942, the Germans restricted the northern part of Lwów into a ghetto and began deporting thousands more for extermination at Belzec. Others were taken to Nazi SS factories established on Janowska Street, forced to work for the German war machine and live in a nearby concentration camp. Janowska evolved further into a transit and processing camp, sorting victims into usable fodder and those who would simply be exterminated.

Toward the end of 1943, the war began to turn against Germany, and the Russians moved their front westward. As the Germans fell back, they worked to evacuate prisoners to cover their war crimes of mass murder. Under Sonderaktion 1005, systematic clearing of mass graves and execution of witnesses rushed to hide what had been done. In November, evacuation began at Janowska, with prisoners forced to exhume the dead and burn the bodies in hidden fires in the woods. Meanwhile, increased numbers were sent westward to extermination at unprecedented rates.

On November 19, an uprising began among the prisoners. Uprisings had been planned before, such as those by Pilecki at Auschwitz, but none seemed to meet with any hope of success. Janowska may very well have ended as a last desperate strike until a group of men who could have escaped decided to give up their freedom to fight back. Storming the arsenal at high casualties, the prisoners were able to arm themselves and establish a fortress. In the resulting firefight would ultimately result in Nazi crackdown of the camp, but by then some 6,000 well armed prisoners had escaped. While many of them would be recaptured, a majority would fall among the Polish Underground and survive the war.

The stories of the thousands of escaped Jews, Poles, and Russians reached public ears. Minor escapes had happened earlier in the Holocaust, such as Jacob Grojanowski in 1942, which created the Grojanowski Report on the war crimes by German command. While the BBC and New York Times reported on the gassing of Jews, Allied propaganda had downplayed the plight. Jan Karski, who had given testimony repeatedly on the murderous situation, even to Franklin Roosevelt himself in 1943, worked for years to call action against the Germans without much success.

Now with the thousands of freedmen spreading word across Europe, the Holocaust became impossible to ignore. Karski used his connections to give the story greater precedence, and finally the West listened. Candlelight vigils were held in London, New York, and Hollywood, and speeches were presented before Congress and Parliament. Nazi propaganda worked to contain rumors within German borders, though increased insurrection among prisoners dragged thousands of troops from the front.

In 1944, Pope Pius XII announced the condemnation of the Holocaust by the Catholic Church. The religious implications struck many of Germany's loyal Catholics, causing a political uproar that spun Germany into civil war. With unclear battle-lines and the approach of Allied troops, many Germans simply retreated home and washed their hands of the Third Reich. The war in Europe would be proclaimed an Allied victory December 12, 1944.

In the chaos, many of the perpetrators of the Holocaust would escape abroad, most eventually dragged back as the World Court sought justice. Hitler himself committed suicide while attempting to evade capture by Russian troops. Having gained political voice, the Jewish people would soon establish a new homeland in Israel in 1947 as well as cultural recognition, such as the works of journalist and novelist Anne Frank, who survived the Holocaust as a young girl.

In 1945, on this day Adolf Hitler and the Infamous Lava Man were both killed after a Schauberger "Repulsine" engine failure caused their sabotaged Haunebu-type Nazi saucer craft to crash land on approach to the secret base in New Swabia, Antarctica.
Click to watch the Nazi UFO Conspiracy on Youtube!

Farewell to the MagiciansCornered like a rat in Berlin, the Fuehrer had made a number of fantastically exaggerated claims for the secret technology with which he bought his escape from the Third Reich. And having issued upwards of a thousand emergency passports to German Scientists, the United States soon discovered that the UFO technology had been oversold, in fact like many American consumers they found the units exhibited many of the hallmarks of German products themselves, being over-featured, mostly safe but ultimately unsatisfying.

Despite his fast-talking, spittle-flying claims the Haunebu model had not transported Nazi Astronauts to the moon in 1942, rather the Repulsine engine lifted the craft just a few feet off the ground, permitting Hitler and Goering to engage in a somewhat childish if not futuristic game of bumper cars. Enraged by the double-cross, American agents had fixed the Fuehrer by sabotaging his lousy toy craft.

A new story by the EditorDespite well publicised failures at Roswell and Kecksberg, both the United States and Canada nevertheless persisted with the programme well into the 1970s, believing that the levational concept was fundamentally sound, just requiring the injection of a super fuel to accelerate flight to supersonic speeds. Finally, a suitable quantity of Element 115 was secured from aliens. Rushed to Area 51 for testing, the infinitely valuable fuel was then stolen by the pyrotechnic freak Bob Lazar who exploded the material at one of his annual Desert Storm Parties before becoming the victim of a mysterious hit and run shooting on a Las Vegas Highway.

In 2537 of Cyrus era the "King of Kings", Shahanshah Reza Pahlavi (pictured) became the first indigenous Middle Eastern leader to officially visit the State of Israel.

State VisitPrime Minister Yitzhak Rabin greeted the Royal Party at Moshe Sharett International Airport in West Jerusalem.

Accompanied by his wife, the Empress Farah, the Shah was then driven by limousine to the Knesset where he set out his views on how to achieve a comprehensive peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He said during his visit that he hoped "that we can keep the momentum in Geneva, and may God guide the steps of Premier Rabin and Knesset, because there is a great need for hard and drastic decision".

"that we can keep the momentum in Geneva, and may God guide the steps of Premier Rabin and Knesset, because there is a great need for hard and drastic decision".He made the visit after receiving an invitation from Rabin and once again sought a permanent peace settlement.

This diplomatic breakthrough had a decidedly mixed reception in the Middle East provoking the fury of nationalist Arabs. Inside of three months, Persia would be attacked by the great nation of Iraq. The new dictator in Baghdad, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majidida al-Tikriti had advanced plans to replace the Shah as the strongman in the Gulf. And the Soviet Union was very pleased to arm the Iraqis and create some fresh Cold War turbulence in the region.

In 1864, U.S. President Hannibal Hamlin dedicates a national cemetery on the site of the disastrous Battle of Gettysburg in July of the previous year. Dedication

The Union loss of that battle proved to be the turning point of the War of the States. News of the defeat ignited massive anti-draft riots in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere, and was instrumental in persuading Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy. That recognition, in turn, provoked a further collapse of union morale. In December 1863, Kentucky had seceded from the Union.

At the 1864 Republican convention, with the Union war effort in tatters following the direct intervention of the British and French navies and Washington itself in Confederate hands, President Lincoln had been denied renomination in favor of his own vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin. Afterward, a dejected Lincoln had resigned and retired to his old home town of Springfield, Illinois.

President Hamlin had signed the treaty of Ontario in October, acknowledging Confederate independence. By then, Maryland, too, would have seceded from the Union. Hamlin's overwhelming defeat at the polls on Nov. 8, 1864 by Democratic candidate Gen. George McClellan had rendered him a lame duck by the time of the dedication ceremony, but in accordance with the custom of the time, he would not leave office until the following March 4.

On this day in 1962, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man suspected of assassinating Fidel Castro, died in his jail cell under mysterious circumstances. Found among his personal effects was a long and rambling letter in which he bitterly denounced Castro for not doing more to help the Soviet Union defeat the United States in the Florida Coast War.

 - Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald

On this day in 1972, the Dallas Cowboys earned their sixth win of the 1972 NFL season by walloping the Philadelphia Eagles 28-6 at Veterans Stadium.                                  

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On this day in 1955, Sandy Koufax scored his 100th NBA career point in a 105-102 Celtics victory over the Fort Wayne Pistons at Boston Garden.

 - Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax

In 1959, Vice-President Richard M. Nixon announces that he intends to run for the White House. In his announcement he manages to imply, without actually saying so, that he has the endorsement of President Eisenhower. The President, who has never been on the best of terms with Nixon, is privately angry at this maneuver. However, with Joseph P. McCarthy again in the running, he allows Nixon's insinuation to go unchallenged: Ike's dislike for the Wisconsin senator, whom he considers a reckless demagogue, has steadily grown.

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In 1962, Rep. John Bell Williams of Mississippi introduces parallel resolutions of impeachment against Chief Justice Earl Warren and President John F. Kennedy in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Williams asserts that Warren had earned removal by his 'unconstitutional and immoral' decision in 1954's Brown v. Board of Education and that Kennedy had violated his oath of office and corrupted the Constitution by using federal troops to enforce that decision.

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Many Democrats, even among the House's Southern contingent, regard Williams as a crank. They are surprised, as are outside observers, when a growing number of congressmen of both parties step forward in support of one or both of Williams' resolutions. Both Warren and Kennedy are deeply resented by many on the right, who see Rep. Williams' move as a chance to do something about it.

In 2000, Vice President elect Dick Cheney, who had a history of heart trouble, died from a heart attack. The nation is in a rather unique situation, as the Vice-President-elect died before the Electoral College cast its votes. Bush had the dilemma of have the electors select a different VP, or if he will let the Congress do it once he's inaugurated.
In 1993, Nirvana recorded its MTV Unplugged album, easily the most popular of the 8 albums the group released before Kurt Cobain's solo career led to the band's breakup in 2001.
In 1924, film director Thomas Ince died suddenly at his home in Menlo Park, New Jersey. His closed-coffin ceremony, rumored affair with Carla Lambert, and wild reputation led many to believe that Thomas Edison had killed him. The truth, however, was that newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst shot him.
In 1920, President-elect Eugene V. Debs names Comrade Joe Hill of the American Labor Union as his Secretary of State. Hill's strong hand at the international rudder kept America sailing smoothly throughout the 20's. Hill never ran for elective office, although the Communist Party tried time and again to persuade him. As a Swedish immigrant, he was barred constitutionally from seeking the presidency, which was the only office he was said to have wanted.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as a national cemetery, to bury the honored dead of the United States. The field is one of the most popular Civil War sites in the country. Lincoln apparently gave a brief speech while he was there, but history has little noted nor long remembered what was said there.
In 1704, the Bastille's most infamous prisoner, the man in the iron mask, died. Although still highly controversial, his identity can finally be revealed as [CENSORED FOR SECURITY REASONS]
In 1594, Tzar Ivan the terrible met his match at the hands of his son, Ivan the younger. The Tzar, angry at his son's pregnant wife, began to beat her. Ivan the younger, unable to contain himself, drew his sword and slew his father on the spot, elevating himself to the throne of Russia. The nation breathed a sigh of relief at the passing its cruel lord.


November 18

In 1886, on this day 21st President of the United States Chester Alan Arthur died in New York City of apoplexy, a cerebral haemorrhage and stroke. He was only fifty-six years old.

Death of President Chester A. ArthurAccording to his own account, he was born on October 5, 1829 in Fairfield, Vermont, he was the son of an abolitionist preacher. His father was an Irish immigrant and his mother came from Canada.

He was the running mate for James A. Garfield. Tragically, he wife Nell died of pneumonia on January 12, 1880 at the age of 42. And only two hundred days after inauguration, he was sworn in after the President was assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau at the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad in Washington. Arthur never appointed a Vice President.

During his tenure, he created an impressive set of enemies that resisted his reform agenda. He was undone by the discovery [1] that he was born in Ireland and came to America aged fourteen. After his resignation, he was succeeded by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Solomon Foot who, in act of supreme of irony, was the Senator for Vermont.

In 1965, on this day 33rd President of the United States Henry Agard Wallace died in Danbury, Connecticut.

Death of President Henry A. WallaceBorn on October 7, 1888, at a farm near the village of Orient, Iowa, in Adair County, he was the son of Henry Cantwell Wallace, a farmer, journalist, and political activist. Like his father, he was appointed US Secretary of Agriculture serving until 1940 when he resigned, having been nominated for Vice President as Roosevelt's running mate in the presidential election. Three years later FDR died, and he rose to the Presidency.

Due to the Democrat party rule of allowing a sitting President to run uncontested, he gained re-election in 1944. In his second term, he made the critical decision to use the atomic bomb .. but only for demonstration purposes. As he expected Japan surrendered anyway, and he defended the decision from a moral perspective saying that he refused to usher in a "century of fear" [1]. After the war, he immediately threw all of his energies into achieving great power disarmament.

In 1923, longtime Alaska Senator and Vice-President Ted Stevens was born in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Birth of Longtime Alaska Senator and Vice-President Ted StevensServing in the Senate for twenty years before being chosen as President George H. W. Bush's vice-president,and for an additional decade thereafter following his reelection to his old seat in 1998, he was known as a fierce and often hot-tempered advocate for his state and for the ideological causes he supported.

But that long and productive career ended ignominiously. In October 2008, a federal jury in the District of Columbia found that Mr. Stevens had concealed more than $250,000 in gifts and convicted him on seven felony counts. Eight days later, he lost a bid for a sixth term to Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, a Democrat.

The following April, however, the conviction was thrown out by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan at the request of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Mr. Holder said prosecutors, who had been chided by the judge for withholding information from the defense, had concealed interview notes in which the chief witness against Mr. Stevens told a story different from the one he told on the stand.

Mr. Stevens said the case against him had initially shaken his faith in the judicial system. But after Mr. Holder's and Judge Sullivan's actions, he said, "My faith has been restored".

Mr. Stevens was one of five people killed in the crash in a mountainous area of southwest Alaska as their plane was heading to a fishing lodge, Gov. Sean Parnell of Alaska said Tuesday. Four others on the plane survived. Mr. Stevens had survived a plane crash in Alaska in 1978, suffering injuries while his first wife, the former Ann Cherrington, and four others were killed.

Mr. Stevens liked to remind Alaskans of what he had done for them. "From frozen tundra," he said in his 2008 campaign, "we built airports, roads, ports, water and sewer systems, hospitals, clinics, communications networks, research labs and much, much more". He drew large amounts of military spending to the state as well as money for small businesses.

Mr. Stevens's legislative work in the 1970s included passing major bills settling native land claims that had been left in limbo when statehood was established in 1959; creating the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which made the state rich; and protecting the state's fisheries from exploitation.

In 2000, the State Legislature named Mr. Stevens the Alaskan of the Century, saying he "represents Alaska's finest contribution to our national leadership". In his farewell speech on Nov. 20, 2008, he told the Senate, "Working to help Alaska achieve its potential has been and will continue to be my life's work".

But he was roundly and repeatedly criticized for the billions he funneled to his state. The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste said Mr. Stevens regularly got Alaska more dollars per capita than any other state, often through earmarks, the pet projects that lawmakers attach to legislation.

Mr. Stevens fiercely defended earmarks, saying Alaska had special needs because the federal government owned much of its land; because the state's rugged terrain and severe weather required particular help; because, as the 49th state, Alaska needed to catch up with its elders; because its proximity to Russia made it strategically important; and because its oil and gas were national resources. Stevens's pursuit of federal money for projects in Alaska while in the Senate and his aggressive assistance to fellow Alaskan Frank Murkowski while vice-president earned him the not entirely flattering title of "emperor of earmarks".

Even fellow conservative Republicans were not immune to Stevens's arm-twisting tactics. For example, when Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tried to shift $452 million that had been allocated for two bridges in Alaska, the so-called Bridges to Nowhere, to rebuild a Louisiana highway wrecked by Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Stevens warned that he would wreak havoc.

"If you want a wounded bull on the floor of the Senate, pass this amendment," he said. The measure was defeated, 82 to 15, but Alaska later dropped the project.

Mr. Stevens's conviction, for seven violations of the Ethics in Government Act, did not allege that he had traded any of this spending for personal favors. The bulk of the gifts, which he failed to report on a Senate form, consisted of renovations to his home in Girdwood, Alaska. They were paid for by Bill Allen, a longtime friend and the owner of an oil services construction company.

Testifying in court, Mr. Stevens said that his wife, Catherine, had been in charge of the renovation and that he did not know what Mr. Allen had provided.

After the government moved to throw out his conviction, within months of his election defeat, Mr. Stevens expressed dismay at the political cost, both to him and to his party, saying, "It is unfortunate that an election was affected by proceedings now recognized as unfair".

Theodore Fulton Stevens was born on Nov. 18, 1923, in Indianapolis, the third of four children of George A. Stevens and the former Gertrude S. Chancellor. The family later moved to Chicago, where his father lost his job as an accountant after the 1929 stock market crash. His parents divorced, and after his father died, young Ted moved to Manhattan Beach, Calif., to live with an aunt.

Joining the Army Air Corps in World War II, Mr. Stevens flew transport planes over the perilous "Hump" route in the eastern Himalayas to take supplies into China from India. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.

After the war, he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard Law School. He joined a law firm in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1953 and soon afterward became the federal prosecutor there. In 1956, he went to Washington, D.C., to work in the Department of the Interior on Alaska statehood.

Moving back to Alaska, he opened a law firm in Anchorage, served in the Legislature and made two unsuccessful runs for the Senate before he was appointed to fill a vacancy in December 1968. He was elected to fill the last two years of the term in 1970 and easily won re-election until his defeat in 2008. Republicans made him their Senate whip in 1977, though he was defeated in a bid for majority leader by Bob Dole in 1984.

In December 1978 Mr. Stevens was aboard a twin-engine Lear jet when it crashed at Anchorage International Airport while returning from the capital, Juneau. Five people on the plane, including Mr. Stevens's first wife, Ann, 49, and the pilot and co-pilot, were killed. Mr. Stevens, one of two passengers to survive, was hospitalized with head, neck and arm injuries.

In 1980, he married Catherine Chandler.

In 1988, then-Vice President George H. W. Bush chose the then 64-year-old Sen. Stevens to run with him for the White House against Democrat Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. Bush won 40 states, easily overcoming Democrats' mockery of the GOP ticket as "the Oil Twins". Bush had reprtedly been considering Indiana Sen. J. Danforth Quayle, but had been persuaded to choose Stevens instead by party insiders who considered Quayle too young and callow. In office, Vice-President Stevens proved a forceful advocate for President Bush's policies. Unfortunately for both men, that proved to be insufficient to overcome voter dissatisfaction in 1992 after a deep recession and a series of perceived missteps by President Bush in handling the aftermath of the Reagan-era "Iran-contra" affair. Bush and Stevens were defeated for reelection by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and running-mate Sen. Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee.

Stevens's departure from the Senate in January 1989 allowed Alaska's Democratic governor, Steve Cowper, to appoint a reeplacement, Lieut. Gov. Stephen McAlpine. Although a competent senator, McAlpine proved no match for Stevens's political skills when then latter decided to bid for restoration to his old seat in 1998.

When the first President Bush's son, George W. Bush, defeated Vice-President Gore in the controversial election of 2000, Stevens was offered the post of Interior Secretary in the new administration, but declined, stating that he believed he could do more good for the country and for his state as a senator than as a Cabinet officer. Political observers suggested that an unstated reason for his refusal was discomfort with the younger Bush, whom he had encountered during his vice-presidential years and helped to get out of trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission when it charged him with insider trading in 1991 in reegard to oil-industry investments. Nevertheless, after 9-11, Sen. Stevens would fiercely defend the second Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, including the invasion forst of Afghanistan and then of Iraq.

Besides his second wife, survivors include five children from his first marriage, Susan B. Covich of Kenai, Alaska, Elizabeth H. Stevens of Washington, Walter, of Scottsdale, Ariz., Theodore Jr., of Menlo Park, Calif., and Ben, of Anchorage; a daughter from his second marriage, Lily I. Becker of San Francisco; and 11 grandchildren.

Mr. Stevens often expressed contempt for those he called "extreme environmentalists" for their opposition to development in Alaska.

"Most of them are hired people who are just hucksters selling slick-backed magazines and national memberships," he said in 1990. But in 2006, he opposed construction of the Pebble Mine, a vast open pit to extract gold, copper and molybdenum, saying it would threaten the Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

He was critical of environmental objections to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. In 2003, after another effort to open up the area for drilling had failed, he said: "People who vote against this today are voting against me. I will not forget it".

Though generally conservative in his votes, Mr. Stevens questioned President Ronald Reagan's level of military spending, supported the Title IX legislation to give women equal access in institutions receiving federal aid, backed spending for public radio, supported a ban on smoking in federal buildings and endorsed tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

When he faced a tough Senate debate, Mr. Stevens wore a tie featuring the image of the Incredible Hulk, the comic book superhero.

"I'm a mean, miserable S.O.B.," he once proclaimed as appropriations chairman.

Indeed, in the halls of Congress, he was known for his temper; it was voted the "hottest" on Capitol Hill in 2006 in a poll of Congressional staff members by Washingtonian magazine.

Mr. Stevens did not argue with the characterization. "I didn't lose my temper," he once said. "I know right where it is".

In 2005, on this day the American biographical drama film "Walk the Line" was released in movie theatres across the United States. An installment from the Happy Endings thread

Happy Endings Part 26b:
Cash Family Values
It made great cinema, but the mis-portrayal of both his spouses had already caused controversy because of John's desertion of his first wife and four children [1]. During private family viewings, Kathy Cash had walked out no less than five times over the misleading depiction of her mother, John's first wife Vivian as nagging and hard-riding.

The fine acting performance of Joaquin Phoenix rung true - with minor quibbles. Certainly, he had made an impressive effort to "get in character", spending time with Cash in the months prior to his death, role-modelling the singer's "rough diamond" roguish behaviour which was diametrically opposed to his own "super smoothie" character. Whereas Reece Witherspoon presented a far younger, "poppy" more contemporary character that bore little resemblance to the repressed real-life character. In short, she had made June into a loosened up dancing pop star that she certainly wasn't on camera, where she appeared radiant but nevertheless uncomfortable, stiff, hesitant and withdrawn. Of course June featured on WSM Radio before meeting John, so perhaps she was less comfortable with the medium, but certainly Reece Witherspoon's version was enthralled by live performance.

The criticism levelled at the film-makers was that they had artificially created a sympathetic characterisation that suited the actors. Perhaps the circumstances of the era were beyond the understanding of the modern audience. Being under contract, Reece Witherspoon couldn't respond to the criticism directly, but early in 2006 she made it known that she did not want to be considered for any form of award. The justification given was respect for Vivian who had died in May, 2006 just six months before the film's release. Ironically, it was the gritty outcome that typified John's whole life and in a deeper sense gave underlying soul to his music.

In 1946, having eliminated the Fellowship of the Ring scene where Saruman proposes to Gandalf that the Wizards take the Ring for themselves and challenge Sauron for the mastery of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien set about introducing a dramatically modified version of the same outcome into The Two Towers.

Wizard! Part 4
LOTR, the Kick Ass Edition
In the original text, Gandalf had failed to meet Frodo en route to Rivendell because he had been imprisoned at Isengard for refusing to reveal the location of Durin's Bane. Disappointed by the slow pace of the trilogy his son Christopher had suggested that the meeting was brought forward to the earlier location in Bree as planned. Because of this fork in the plot, Gandalf is not summoned to Isengard and is thus unaware that his fellow Istari was creating his own army of Orcs and wolves, "in rivalry of Sauron, and not in his service yet" and that the green valley below Orthanc "was now filled with pits and forges".

Based on an idea from Steven FisherIn the modified final chapter of FOTR a dramatic aerial battle ensues between the Nazgûl and Great Eagles during which Frodo recovers the Ring from the Balrog but in so doing is mortally wounded with the Morgul blade by the Witch-king of Angmar. In the confusion, the Fellowship is broken, and Frodo is taken to Isengard where the Ring is seized by Saruman, Gandalf's superior as the head of the White Council.

The context of War of the Ring has now changed dramatically, with open conflict breaking out between The Two Towers of Barad-dÊr and Orthanc. The breath-taking prospect of Uruk-hai versus Mordor Orcs hugely excited Tolkien. And yet this dramatic change in the plot presented a huge challenge of the imagination. Should he persist in the course of events where Gandalf et al. travel to Edoras to try to convince the Riders of Rohan to attack Isengard - but in this case, to rescue Frodo and seize the Ring by force, if that is even possible. Or should they press on to Minas Tirith and reform a great alliance of men and Elves that combats whichever of the masters of the Two Towers that prevails?
This article is part of the Wizard thread.

In 1307, in a legendary act that seemed almost Biblical in magnitude, Albrecht Gessler, the Austrian bailiff of the Alpine town of Altdorf, set his hat atop a pole in the center of town.

William Tell Misses He ordered the townspeople to bow before it in recognition of the Austrian emperor (although, as it was his own hat and thus "crown", they may have been bowing to him). The Alps had been under the influence of various foreign ruling houses such as Savoy and Kyburg who maintained key passes for military supremacy. In 1264, Kyburg toppled, and the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I claimed the Swiss territory as his own.

After decades of rule, local Swiss grumbled, and Gessler was dispatched to quell them. Many suspected that the emperor sent him there to provoke the Swiss so that an Austrian invasion would seem a peacekeeping force, but such secrets would remain behind closed doors. Gessler conducted government business with a heavy hand, staging rules to find naysayers and execute them before the rabble was roused.

While other townsfolk bowed to the hat, a hunter named William Tell walked through the square and refused to bow. Gessler had him arrested and gave him a choice: be executed outright or use his crossbow to knock an apple from his son Walter's head. Tell, an expert marksman, chose the apple. Surrounded by Austrian troops, Tell would trust his skills and play the overlord's game. If he missed, both he and his son would be executed. If he struck true, as he felt certain he would, they would be given freedom.

During the attempt, a man coughed behind Tell, breaking his concentration enough to have the arrow bury itself several inches below the apple. As Walter fell dead, Tell turned on Gessler and fired a second arrow, killing the Austrian instantly. Guards seized Tell and nearly beat him to death before their captain stopped them. Tell would be sent back to Austria and put on trial for murder.

The case at court would prove instrumental in establishing political jurisdiction over Switzerland for Austria. While the Swiss balked at their lack of freedom, the Austrian crown gradually began to assert control by giving sway in the competition for Holy Roman Emperor against the Luxembourgs. Rather than a crackdown militarily, the Austrians offered pacts to the various Alpine communities such as Uri and Berne, creating a confederation that would evolve into Austrian domination by the fifteenth century.

The uproar of the Reformation broke apart the Holy Roman Empire and spilled southward into the Alps, led before his death by Huldrych Zwingli. Seizing freedom of religion as an opportunity to seek political freedom as well, the confederation shattered and set about militarized valleys among the mountains. Guerrilla warfare pitted communities against one another and, especially, against Austrian influence. With such interruption in the south, the Swedish-backed northern Germans were able to free themselves from Roman authority early in the Twenty-five Years' War.

Switzerland would come under heavy sway in the Counter-Reformation following those violent years. Ideals of religious freedom were cast aside as heresy and disunity, and great significance was put into building up cathedrals and Catholic institutions, even to the cost of economic growth. Much of Europe would pass by Switzerland in this time, but the resilience would be recognized as the key to halting French invasion in 1798. Empowered by victories during the growth of Nationalism, Switzerland would seek independence in 1870 from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, gaining great military support from Giuseppe Garibaldi, whose unification of Italy also fought against Austrian imperialism. Finally standing as its own free republic, Switzerland would follow Italy and its neighbor Bavaria into Fascism in the early twentieth century. After the war defeated fascist thought, Switzerland would be occupied by French and American troops, eventually returned to its own elections. In 1997, Switzerland joined the European Union, hoping to gain much of the economic and technological improvement it had missed for so many years.

In 1987, Congress issued its indictments in the Iran-Contra scandal, beginning with Vice-President Bush and including several senior members of the Reagan administration.

Iran-Contra affairThese officials had secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo, hoping to secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Problem was, under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been expressly prohibited by Congress.

Although President Reagan pardoned Bush himself, almost twenty members of this administration still faced jail time, and the vote to impeach Reagan barely failed in the Senate.

In 2016, former British prime minister David Cameron, his physical and psychological health irreversibly broken by the United Kingdom's collapse, died of a cerebral aneurysm in a London hospital at the age of 50.

 - David Cameron
David Cameron

Cameron's passing marked the final blow to a Conservative Party that had been steadily disintegrating over the past year; there was nobody to rally the party in the face of the worst political crisis England had seen in centuries, and within a matter of months after Cameron's death the party itself was extinct.

Hamilton Tiger

In 1984, on this day the Winnipeg Blue Bombers made their first Grey Cup finals appearance since 1956, taking on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the 1953 championship game.

Hamilton Tiger - Cats Logo
Cats Logo

Taking the opportunity to purge the last remaining ghosts of their defeat in the '53 game, Hamilton rang up 21 unanswered first quarter points and never looked back; they would go on to win the 84 title matchup by a final score of 51-16.



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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.