In 2012, on this day Jesse Law, Melinda Wadsley and Ken Eastman were among a dozen "fickle" Republican voters removed from the Electoral College by their respective States.
Nobody WinsThese "rogue electors" were replaced by new representatives who were committed to vote for Mitt Romney, the person they were chosen to support. Because a month before, the GOP Candidate had seized the background states of Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado. But because his opponent won Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and New Mexico, the Electoral College was deadlocked in a 269-269 tie.
This dead heat scenario had only been given a 0.7% probability but the next steps were nevertheless certain. On December 17th, the Electoral College would choose the next President of the United States. However there was a snag because only twenty-six states had enacted laws requiring their electors to vote for the person they were chosen to support. That meant there were in theory 256 unbound electors. And a week before the vote, on December 11th, the States had the right to replace electors as they saw fit.
The Republicans were understandably keen to make sure that defeat was not snatched from the jaws of victory. Because as early as October, Associated Press had found at least five potential rogue electors whose voting intentions were ambiguous.
In 969, on this day a plot to assassinate Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas was foiled by the vigilance of a palace guard (pictured).
Nikephoros II Phokas SurvivesThe plotters were his second wife Theophano and her lover (Nikephoros II's nephew) General John Tzimiskes who went into the palace dressed as women. But Nikephoros was warned that assassins were in the palace, and demanded the palace be searched .
Fortunately for the Byzantine Empire, Nikephoros Phocas, the White Death of the Saracens, hero of Syria and Crete had survived. Because his brilliant military exploits had contributed to the resurgence of the Empire in the tenth century.
In 1960, on this day President John F. Kennedy's administration was almost ended before it could begin as a mentally disturbed ex-postal worker named Richard Pavlick tried to kill the President-elect with a suicide bomb attack on Kennedy's Palm Beach vacation house.
A Shock To The System Part 1 by Chris OakleyAn alert Secret Service agent saved the President-elect's life by shooting out the front tires of Pavlick's car just as Pavlick was starting his attack; the former postman lost control of his vehicle and inadvertantly set off his bomb prematurely, vaporizing himself in the explosion. Kennedy survived the blast shaken but unhurt; the Secret Service agent was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and released that evening.
Realizing America could have been thrust into political crisis if Pavlick's assassination plot had succeeded, Kennedy met with Vice President-elect Lyndon Johnson the next day to begin brainstorming ideas on how to avert such a grim scenario in the future. The result of their discussions was the 1961 Presidential Security and Emergency Succession Act, which would be enacted and signed into law during Kennedy's first 100 days in office. In addition to further clarifying existing procedures for choosing a successor to the President in the event of an untimely death, the act created new safeguards to fill unexpected vacancies if either the President-elect or Vice President-elect died before their election could be certified by the Electoral College; last but not least, the act increased Secret Service protection for Presidents and presidential candidates.
In 1725, on this day George Mason IV (a "Founding Father" of the Republic of Virginia) was born at the family plantation in Fairfax County.
Ed & Scott PalterAt the Williamsburg Convention he drafted the Colonies' very first declaration of rights and state constitution. First Pennsylvania, then Maryland, then Delaware, then North Carolina and others took most or all of the Declaration of Rights and either made them amendments to their own constitutions or incorporated them directly into their constitutions. Thomas Jefferson paraphrased his ideas into the Declaration of Independence, and although Mason did not receive full credit for his contribution, the entire Continental Congress knew of the conceptual source of Jefferson's ideas.
"a man of the first order of wisdom" ~ Jefferson on MasonAs a result of his high profile he was was appointed to represent Virginia as a delegate to a Federal Convention, to meet in Philadelphia for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation.
He refused to sign the Constitution, however, and returned to his native state as an outspoken opponent in the ratification contest. Ironically, one objection to the proposed Constitution was that it lacked a "declaration of rights".
In 1936, after a scandalous summer, Edward VIII would stand in Westminster Abbey in December to receive the Crown and swear to uphold the laws of England, Scotland, and the Empire as well as serve as Defender of the Faith.
Edward VIII of England CrownedHe had reigned since the death of his father, George V, that January, and a suitable amount of time of mourning had passed to engage in the celebration of a new monarch. It would be a change of obedience to tradition from Edward's notorious shirking, such as his insistence on facing left on coins to show the part of his hair instead of following the usual alternating of the direction faced with every new monarch.
In the minds of many, there was concern that Edward, Prince of Wales, would be suitable for king at all. He had lived a good royal childhood, but Alan Lascelles, his private secretary during the '20s and '30s, wrote "for some hereditary or physiological reason his normal mental development stopped dead when he reached adolescence". He carried on many affairs, some with married women, and caused great concern from his father and the prime minister. In 1930, George V gave Edward a house at Fort Belvedere, where he would meet the woman that would forever change his life, Mrs. Wallis Simpson. The American had divorced her first husband, Earl Spencer, in 1927, and was currently married to Ernest Simpson. Despite the marriage, Edward fell in love with her, and she with him, which caused scandal to arise so much that the King and Prime Minister had them followed by secret police.
When the king died on January 20, 1936, Edward ascended the throne and immediately continued scandal. He observed the proclamation of his ascension alongside the still-married Mrs. Simpson, criticized the Government by saying "something must be done" upon visiting the struggling miners of South Wales, and suggested to some that he meant to marry the divorce Mrs. Simpson, which would be morally unacceptable as the leader of the Church of England.
Everything in Edward's life changed again on July 16, 1936, as he was horseback riding near Buckingham Palace. On Constitution Hill, Jerome Brannigan, an Irishman, produced an envelope for the King. Inside were letters, photographs, and various papers showing that Mrs. Simpson had been seeing, and doing more, with other men. The King became furious, and police escorted Brannigan away. While some modern historians suspect the documents were fabricated by MI5, they were treated as genuine at the time. Edward immediately broke relations with Mrs. Simpson through a letter and refused to receive her despite the many times she asked. In an action that had shown shocking discipline for the man who had left Oxford without a degree, the King searched through little-used law until he found grounds to banish Mrs. Simpson from Britain and the whole of the Empire. She would move to France and later be married to writer and painter Henry Miller for her third marriage.
Following his split from Mrs. Simpson, Edward became what those close to the royal family described as "a hard man". He threw himself into the work of the king and made good on his note that "something must be done", pushing for new socialist systems being integrated into Britain. His policies on the colonies were initially indifferent, then forcefully paternal, such as famously saying that there were "not many people in Australia" and he didn't care for their opinion.
Most famously in his reign was his relationship with German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler. Edward had seemed an admirer of Hitler's, and many of Edward's programs at overcoming the Depression in Britain mirrored those of the Third Reich. In 1938, however, upon Hitler's desire for expansion into Czechoslovakia, the King forbade Prime Minister Chamberlain to give expansionist Germany a single inch. The French Government sought peace at the expense of imperialism, but Edward refused, even if it meant war. He had observed the trenches in WWI and noted that he did not want war, but he would be willing to risk military action in order to protect the world from predators. He wrote then-MP Winston Churchill, "I was promised peace once before, and I was betrayed. Never again will I or my country ascribe to vague promises from those who shall not keep them".
War did erupt in 1939 with Hitler's military occupation of the Sudetenland , and Edward had made certain that the British Armed Forces were ready with years of preparation and military buildup. Using allied Poland and Belgium as launching grounds, the expeditionary forces caught Hitler in a pincer move along with French forces from the Saarland. The Fuhrer was found dead in his bunker after the taking of Berlin in 1941, apparently from suicide.
After the war, Britain regained its position as leader among world affairs. Edward would spend the rest of his reign putting out the fires of Communism and independence in various parts of the empire. After years of strenuous work, he died in 1962 at age 67. Having never married, he would be succeeded by his niece, Queen Elizabeth II.
In 2009, on this day the controversial movie Invictus (Latin: Invincible) premiered in theatres across North America. Expecting a "larger than life" tribute, cinema goers were shocked to discover that director Clint Eastwood had abandoned form by portraying an alternate timeline in which Nelson Mandela's personal and political fortunes are dashed in a decade-long South African tragedy.
Click to watch the Movie Trailer on Youtube
Invictus Premiers across North AmericaTrouble begins early in the movie with the breakdown of his second marriage to wife Winnie. And in a scene intended to symbolize the frustation of white disempowerment, the national cricket captain Hansie Cronje spears an umpire's dressing room door with a wicket stump. As the country heads towards Civil War, Mandela seeks out a national symbol that will heal the wounds of apartheid by acting as a platform upon which he can build a new "Rainbow Nation".
Mandela appeals to iconic cricket captain Hansie Cronje to win the world cup for all forty-three million South Africans. But unbeknown to the President, the national cricket team is gripped by a match-fixing scandal, organised by none other than Cronje himself.
Alongside Cronje is the trusted figure of Bob Woolmer. A famous English batsman from the nineteen seventies, he was appointed coach of South Africa in 1994. Initially his team performed poorly, losing all six matches on his first outing in Pakistan. However, in the next five years, South Africa won most of their Test (10 out of 15 series) and One Day International matches (73%). Having the highest ODI success rate among international teams in that period, Woolmer assures Mandela that a South African victory is more than possible.
Shortly after Mandela travels to England for the tournament, the United Cricket Board of South Africa deny that any of their players were involved in match-fixing. Cronje then falsely claims that "the allegations are completely without substance". But just two days before the inaugural match, Cronje is sacked as captain after confessing to the Head of the UCBSA Ali Bacher that he has not been "entirely honest". He admits accepting between $10,000 and $15,000 from a London-based bookmaker for "forecasting" results, not match fixing, during the recent one day series. Three other players: Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom are also directly implicated.
The final scene of the movie is heavy with symbolism because Cronje's plane crashes into the Outeniqua mountains northeast of George airport, and the disgraced captain dies, aged just thirty-two.
In 2008, on this day Serbian law enforcement officers announced the theft of two white lion cubs from Belgrade zoo.Off-world smuggling
White lions are unique to the Timbavati area of South Africa and are not albinos but a genetic rarity. The only clue is a mysterious bill of material for Double-Weight Gold Tarn Disks made payable c/o Tatrix, Sheila to Ligurious of Corcyrus in the region of Ar.
The investigation has not yet established any connection with the disappearance of alligators from a university zoo in the western state of Mato Grosso earlier in the year. Yet rumours of off-world smuggling have persisted in the international media.
On this day in 1941, Captain Francis Urquhart of the US Army arrived in the Philippines to serve as counterintelligence chief for one of the American divisions defending Manila.
"It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die - I don't know what's up there beyond the sky. It's been a long, long time coming but I know a change gonna come. Oh yes it will".
~ King of Soul, weeks before his death
On December 11, 1964 Cooke was found shot dead in the Hacienda Hotel, a small place close to the Watts section of Los Angeles California. The police reports that came from the crime scene were ugly. Cooke was reported to be found lying slumped on the floor with bullet wounds all over his body, shot by the Motel Manager in self-defence. The decapitated state of the body as witnessed by singer Etta James ridicules the LAPD explanation.
It has been alleged that the record label and the Mob conspired to execute Cooke. In being one of the first African American musicians to attempt to take control of his own destiny, Cooke attended to the business side of his musical career and in so doing clashed with the rocket label, the mob and the Nation of Islam. He had abandoned his backers and some shadowy people were severely out of pocket.
Many may dispute his title as 'the king of soul' but Sam Cooke's legacy is an extensive one and his impact on soul music is undeniable - he had 29 Top 40 hits in the U.S. between 1957 and 1965 and his voice electrifies us to this day. A synopsis of Sam Cooke's alleged mob execution is described at Epinions.
In 1975, Senator Ted Kennedy announces he will run again for the presidency in 1976.
As had happened four years earlier, his announcement pushes him immediately to the front of the Democratic pack. Ordinarily, Kennedy's narrow loss to Nixon in '72 might have hurt his chances. But with Nixon forced to resign in August of 1974 in the wake of Watergate and his first vice-president Spiro Agnew pushed out even earlier as a result of a corruption scandal dating back to Agnew's days as governor of Maryland, the political landscape has been transformed. The expected Republican nominee, President Gerald R. Ford, who had succeeded Nixon after first being chosen to replace the disgraced Agnew, is a far weaker opponent, and Kennedy has many admirers who are eager to give him another opportunity.
All is not roses for the last of the Kennedy brothers, however. The Democratic Party's conservative wing dislikes him intensely and is pushing several alternatives. One of these is Senator Henry M. Jackson, whom Kennedy had chosen as his running-mate in 1972 to balance the ticket regionally and ideologically. Jackson has said on several occasions that it was Kennedy's liberalism which led to their defeat that year.
an old and bitter miser held anything other than money in contempt, including friendship, love
and the Christmas season.
Ebenezer Scrooge was a financier/money-changer who had devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth. Over the course of one evening, Scrooge underwent a profound experience of redemption
In 1998, the ill-fated Mars Climate Observer was launched towards the red planet. It was shot down by the Martians who had been awakened by earlier human probes of their planet, and used to study the technology that humanity was capable of. All preparation for their attack.
In 1997, a federal judge orders the software company Microsoft not to bundle its internet browser Internet Explorer within Windows. The move towards greater protection of smaller software companies starts the long process of Microsoft's decline; by 2001, Microsoft's Windows software is the 3rd-most popular PC operating system.
In 1985, the reactionary anarchist known only as The Unabomber claims his first victim, a young comrade working in a computer store in Sacramento, California Soviet. Over the years he is able to avoid authorities, he becomes a sort of folk hero to the fledgling anarchy movement in the Pacific Northwest, who proudly disdain the advances of Communist life such as computers and cars.
In 1882, physicist Max Born was born in Breslau, Germany. The Nobel Prize-winning scientist became enamored of the parallel universe cult of Richard Tolman in the 1930's, and went to America to join it. Like so many other scientists who joined the cult, his mysterious disappearance in 1955 was never solved.
In 1718, King Charles XII of Sweden was shot in the head by a Norwegian assassin. Although he survived, his mental capacity afterwards was that of a child, and his sister, Ulrika Eleanora, ruled in his place. In 1725, after hearing of the medical miracles that the Mlosh were capable of, she contacted the Mlosh colony ship in Germany and asked for a physician to come to her court. He cured Charles, and Ulrika turned the crown back over to him. The grateful king declared that any Mlosh who desired Swedish citizenship was welcome within his borders.
In 1931, the British Parliament enacts the Statute of Westminster, which establishes a status of legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Commonwealth of America, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa.
rich with North Sea Oil revenue Scotland gains its independence exactly one hundred and seventy years after the Act of Union 1707 united the two countries as the Kingdom of Great Britain. The declaration of independence from Holyrood House, Edinburgh was also seventeen years after British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told a stunned Parliament of South Africa -
The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact
Whilst 'Supermac' could just about accept the End of Empire he could not accept the dissolution of the United Kingdom, which he denounced and moved to South Africa himself. Three years later at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 the 28-year old athlete Allan Wells took the first Olympic Gold Medallist for the new country. Running as fast as the wind he finished first in the 100m sprint race, ushering in a new decade of hope for the great nation of Scotland.
In 1972, Apollo 17 becomes the sixth mission to land on the Moon and the first to return to Earth with a highly contagious space bug.
just before 3pm local time surgeons held a press conference at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The world's first child of dual planetary heritage was out of danger, and they were confident that Y'Skakir-R was going to make it. With the surgery over, post-event concerns now surfaced. The lead surgeon was a deeply troubled man, he had awoken in the middle of the night to be sick over and over again. He could not get the words of Coleridge's poem Christabel
out of his mind from his undergraduate days. But yet for her dear lady's sake
I stooped, methought, the dove to take,
When lo ! I saw a bright green snake
Coiled around its wings and neck.
He was now suffering the most severe
misgivings, perhaps mankind was the dove. And Y'Skakir-R the snake.
In 1959, John Pilger mysteriously disappeared. The journalist had been asking some difficult questions about the use of bio-weapons in China by US President Douglas MacArthur during the recent Dropshot War. Foul-play was suspected but never proven.
In 1936, on this day at Fort Belvedere, Edward VIII's written abdication notice was witnessed by British Prime Minister Arnold Hiller. Less than a month before, he had expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson when she became free to re-marry.
The Right Honourable Arnold Hiller, M.P
A teaser by Ed, Jeff Provine & Chris OakleyBut within days, everything in Edward's life changed again  as he was horseback riding near Buckingham Palace. On Constitution Hill, Jerome Brannigan, an Irishman, produced an envelope for the King. Inside were letters, photographs, and various papers showing that Mrs. Simpson had been seeing, and doing more, with other men. The King became furious, and police escorted Brannigan away. While some modern historians suspect the documents were fabricated by MI5, they were treated as genuine at the time. Edward immediately broke relations with Mrs. Simpson through a letter and refused to receive her despite the many times she asked. In an action that had shown shocking discipline for the man who had left Oxford without a degree, the King searched through little-used law until he found grounds to banish Mrs. Simpson from Britain and the whole of the Empire. She would move to France and later be married to writer and painter Henry Miller for her third marriage.
However Hiller made sure that the revelation did for Edward as well, enabling him to join the posts of Head of State and Head of Government become Great Britain's National Leader. You can read read the latest part of Chris Oakley's timeline at The Right Honourable Arnold Hiller MP at Changing the Times Magazine.
In 1896, on this day Swedish-born Alfred Nobel left a legacy for six prizes. Nobel worried over his legacy as his life came to an end. In 1867, he patented dynamite, a stable form of nitroglycerine soaked into an absorbent.
Nobel Leaves Legacy for Six Prizes It was to be a great boon to mankind: a tool for excavation for construction, for demolition of dangerous structures, and for swift, safe digging to mine Earth's bounty as well as build roads for travel and commerce. Afterward, he had invented further explosives, such as gelignite (blasting gel) and the smokeless propellant ballistite. All of these great leaps forward for the human race were quickly adapted to military use, however. Ballistite would even cause newspapers to accuse Nobel of treason against France as the Italians changed their rifles to use his compound.
A new story by Jeff ProvineHis real concern came as he learned of an obituary that had been written about him, mistaking his death for that of his brother Ludvig. A French newspaper wrote "the merchant of death is dead" and said that he had become "rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before". His patents for artificial silk, artificial leather, and other improvements were never mentioned. A lifetime of devotion to invention had made him out to be a monster. To rectify this, he wrote his last will and testament in 1895, one year before his death by stroke, dedicating 94% of his vast fortune to a foundation to give out prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine & physiology, literature, and peace (supposedly brought on by his long relationship with the pacifist countess Bertha Kinsky, who had married another man). While writing at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, someone remarked that he had great notions of working toward the betterment of man, but nothing to study what the betterment was. His formulation of the literary prize was for works "in an ideal direction", though it now seemed that the direction needed definition. To fill the gap, Nobel decided to add a sixth prize for the "sciences of society".
In 1901, the prizes began (Austrian Sigmund Freud winning the first Social Science prize for his Interpretation of Dreams) and have continued yearly since. By 1906, however, it became obvious that the Prize for Social Science had unleashed a hailstorm of new ideas when Max Weber received the prize for discussions in his essay, "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism". The secularization and depth of scientific study of people in society had suddenly become very real to the largely Edwardian Western culture. In 1913, ?mile Durkheim won in recognition of his comparisons of aboriginal societies to modern ones, giving further clout to the in-depth study of humanity as one would study the laws of gravity.
There would be many winners of the Social Science prize over the years in fields as diverse as economics, psychology, education theory, legal and political science, and behavioral science. Along with the progression encouraged by the growth of material and social benefits, there has been a good deal of questioning the morality of treating humans as Petri dish. B. F. Skinner's win in 1953 would cause many to suspect that it would only be a matter of time before humans were reduced to robots under an artificial paternalism. Encouragement from the Peace Prize and discoveries lauded in physics, chemistry, and medicine along with social commentary from Literature kept the prestige of the Nobel prizes strong.
Even with the fears of 1984 and A Clockwork Orange, it is evident that the Prize for Social Science has made positive impact on humanity. Following the act-reward programming for international diplomacy and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world has been studied and organized into all but eliminating starvation and death from preventable disease. On the other hand, opponents argue that the majority of the human race has been turned to salary-slave consumer-addicts, continually chasing upward mobility while enjoying momentary vicarious pleasures from politico-industrial sponsored sporting events and taking in well clad palatable pop-science as hope (or fear) for the future. Some naysayers of the naysayers ask simply, "What's wrong with that?"
In 2010, on this day Andrew Beane wrote ~ the gloves are off .. and the rubber gloves are on at the nation's airports and bus stops. Starting today, the Transportation Security Administration of America began implementing full body cavity searches for all passengers on both domestic and international flights. Random body cavity searches are also being conducted at various bus stations around the country. The reaction of the traveling population has not been pretty.
Gloves are offIn Tampa, Florida, the father of a thirteen-year-old child was arrested for assaulting a TSA agent who insisted on performing a cavity search on the child. In Augusta, Maine, every bus at the Greyhound station sat empty as passengers protested the searches. In Los Angeles, a Delta Airlines flight took off with only one passenger. Upon landing, the passenger said that after twenty years in prison, the search did not bother him in the least.
The heightened security measures came after the November 23rd attempted bombing of Lufthansa flight 912 by Yemeni terror suspect Hakim al-Assad. Assad, known as the "butt bomber" in the blogosphere, attempted to detonate an egg-sized capsule filled with plastic explosives that was inserted in his rectum. He was restrained by fellow passengers when he failed to detonate the device by cell phone while flight attendance repeatedly instructed him to put the phone away.
President Obama told the nation that though the new security measure seem extreme, they are necessary in making sure America?s skies are safe and secure. Conservative radio personality Glenn Beck was quoted as saying "President Obama should not make such positive comments about this new procedure until he, too, goes through such a search".
Anger over the new security measures has caused an immediate drop in ticket sales, as the Christmas traveling season looms just over the horizon. Some analysts fear that commercial transportation could grind to a halt, with courts doing the same as lawsuits against TSA and other security agencies tie up the legal system.
In 2009, on this day movie director Ken Loach started filming on his movie adaptation of the 1973 Alistair MacLean Vietnam-themed novel Searching For Albert. The much-anticipated and highly controversial epic, whose cast was headlined by former soccer star-turned-action hero Vinnie Jones, focused on an SAS squad probing the Mekong Delta for their missing comrade.
Searching For AlbertGiven that almost three thousand British servicemen had died during the Vietnam War, it was perhaps inevitable that Albert would arouse strong passions both for and against it. Two Facebook pages, one calling for a boycott of the movie and the other urging people to see it, each registered over 100,000 hits within three days after they went online. (The movie's official website recorded 85,000 hits in its first week.)
A new thread by Chris OakleyPaddy Ashdown, head of Britain's largest Vietnam veterans' association, denounced the makers of the movie as "vultures" and promised to lead nationwide protests against it when it was released. However, one of his fellow vets, Boothberry MP David Davis, defended Albert as "a valuable reminder of the horrors of war". The ongoing debate between Ashdown and Davis recalled the controversy stirred up by the original novel, which was first published in 1973 just as popular outrage over the British presence in that country was hitting its peak. British troops had first been deployed to Vietnam in 1967 at the behest of then-prime minister Harold Wilson, who made the decision to enter the war as a sign of support for the United States after the U.S. helped shore up the British pound; Wilson's successor, Ted Heath, continued Britain's troop commitment in return for U.S. backing of British intervention in the Rhodesian Bush War. Indeed, British combat forces would stay in Vietnam long after the last U.S. servicemen had gone home-- during the final NVA/Viet Cong assault on Saigon in 1975, a detachment of Royal Marines fought side by side with South Vietnamese units in a last-ditch defense of South Vietnam's capital.
In 2009, on this day the movie "Avatar" premiered in cinema theatres across North America. Loosely based on the narrative of Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness", the action/adventure of this blockbuster movie is relocated on the Earth-like planet of Pandora, set one hundred and fifty years in the future.
Click to watch the trailer.
Movie Premiere of "Avatar"Instead of genocidal Belgians murdering Africans for elephant tusks in the Congo, James Cameron's movie places "the haters" in conflict with the Na'vi, but these n-words are a blue-skinned species of sapient humanoids with feline characteristics. "Killing the indigenous population looks bad, but if there's one thing the shareholders hate more than bad press, it's a bad quarterly statement"And much like Conrad's novel, the underlying drivers are unchanged, predicated upon the pursuit of "unobtanium", a precious metal worth $20 million per kilogram. In a dramatic scene, the "Home Tree" of the Na'vi is destroyed to the music of Wagner - because it is located directly on top of a huge location of unobtanium. "Imagine all that chowder!" justifies Parker Selfridge, the insane corporate administrator for the RDA mining operation and a character clearly based on Conrad's rogue trader, Kurtz.
Selfridge is not the only character suspected of "getting lost in the woods". Reprising the tragic role of Conrad's hero Marlow, Jake Sulley is a US marine sent to Pandora to locate his renegade brother, Tommy. Suspected of "going native", the climax reveals that Tommy (pictured) has actually mutated into a Na'vi by transmigrating his human soul into an Avatar.
In 2009, on this day US President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize less than one month after Taliban insurgents finally overthrew the stooge Afghan Government installed by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Toast to PeaceOn October 9th the Norwegian Nobel Committee had announced that Obama had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". By that time, the President had refocused the Afghan mission on reconciliation projects, aimed at ending the war through diplomatic and political means. In so doing, Obama had abandoned the failed attempt to bring the leaders of the 9/11 attacks to justice. And by that stage, the objective of bringing "sustainable security to the people of Afghanistan" was almost universally considered unachievable.
In his acceptance speech, Obama openly acknowledged that he did not feel that he deserved to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honoured by this prize.
In 2009, former U.S. President Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions in support of measures to combat global climate change, which
include persuading a bitterly divided U.S. Senate to ratify the Kyoto Protocols in 2003 and directing tens of billions of dollars in federal money toward
the development of so-called "green" energy technologies.
Gore Wins Nobel Peace PrizeConservatives in the United States are outraged, asserting that Gore is being rewarded for promoting "harmful solutions to a nonexistent problem".
A story by Eric LippsAmong the loudest critics is former Texas governor George W. Bush, whom Gore had defeated in the contested 2000 presidential election after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore which allowed manual recounting of disputed ballots in Florida to proceed. Mr. Bush had been a frequent critic of Gore Administration policies and had emerged as an outspoken skeptic on the subject of human-caused global warming.
In 2010, on this day a U.S. passenger airliner lands in Vietnam, at Hanoi's International Airport. It is the first such landing since the fall of Saigon in 1975 ended in the Vietnam War.Hanoi Horror by Eric Lipps
Before any passengers can disembark, however, a powerful bomb explodes, igniting the aircraft's engines and incinerating the plane in an explosion whose resultant fireball is visible for miles. It will latter be determined by forensic examiners that the bomb had employed military-grade explosive, giving rise to a variety of conspiracy theories spanning the political spectrum. Those theories are not quashed by the immediate attempt by Al Qaeda to take responsibility for the attack, because several other terrorist groups, including Islamic Jihad and Indonesia's Tamil Tigers, will also boast of being behind it.
Only in 2018 will it be learned that a previously unknown radical South Vietnamese group had planned and carried out the bombing with the intent of derailing normalization of U.S.-Vietnamese relations. The group, it will be learned, had the aid of revanchist U.S. military personnel, who provided the explosives and some technical assistance but who were told the target would be a Chinese plane rather than an American one and that the objective was to destabilize the Hanoi regime by provoking a military confrontation with Beijing.
The duplicitous scheme works, prompting President John McCain to sever all ties with Hanoi, setting relations between the U.S. and Vietnam back essentially to where they had been at war's end. Even after the true identity of the bombers is revealed, it will be years before another American passenger plane lands in Vietnam.
In 1960, on this day two New York Department of Corrections officers were suspended without pay after evidence surfaced that they had used excessive force in disciplining an inmate who was serving time at Rikers Island for stealing fuel supplies shortly after the Jamaica Bay hurricane.
On this day in 1944, American troops accepted the surrender of the last surviving German forces in Munich.
In 2001, following a third hostile column by conservative pundit Wiliam Safire regarding his alleged lack of action against Al Qaeda, President Gore learns that the columnist was apparently tipped off about the CIA's Afghan operation by someone within his administration shortly after his November 27 column appeared.
The President is livid, not only at the security breach but at the implication that columnist Safire, who had been outspokenly in favor of his Republican opponent George W. Bush during the 2000 election, has deliberately chosen to rake him for inaction while knowing that his accusation was false.
Gore immediately orders a hunt for the columnist's source. In addition, he asks the White House counsel to determine whether legal action can be taken against Safire himself.
On this day in 1958, Sandy Koufax scored his 750th NBA career point in a 107-93 Celtics win over the Philadelphia Warriors at Boston Garden.
"Sitting in the morning sun I'll be sitting when the evening comes. Watching the ships roll in then I watch 'em roll away a-gain, yeah. I'm Sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll a-way
I'm just sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time" ~ Otis Redding.
Madison, Wisconsin on December 10, 1967 ~
|Sitting on the|
|Dock of the Bay|
Five of the six members of Redding's backup band, The Bar-Kays, were killed when Redding's twin engine Beechcraft plane crashed into the icy waters of the Squaw Bay area of Lake Monona.
Redding, who had swapped seats with Ben Cauley and was sitting directly behind the co-pilot's seat, had fallen asleep on the flight clutching his seat cushion. He awoke when he realized he could not breathe. He said that he then saw band mate Phalon Jones look out of a window and say 'Oh, no.' Redding then unbuckled his safety belt which ultimately allowed him to separate himself from the wreckage. As the impact tore a wing off the small Beechcraft, the fuselage was torn open and Redding was able to bob to the surface as he clutched his seat cushion. Bassist James Alexander survived because he had taken a different flight as there was not enough room left on the plane.
Big O had been warning fellow artists that he was 'planning to leave this world', which seemed on first listening to be the meaning of 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' recorded only three days prior to the crash.
However, the song was Big O's first number #1, Redding's greatest commercial success, representing a significant stylistic departure from the bulk of his other work. The inner meaning of the song was Redding talking about leaving the world of gospel and rhythm & blues at Lyrics Vault.
an old and bitter miser encountered Ignorance and Want. And something else too. Redemption
In 1977, during Internation Human Rights Day, Comrade President John Anderson orders the arrest of counter-revolutionary dissidents who had staged a sit-in protest in the Washington Mall. The move is a black eye for the Soviet States in world opinion.
In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr., in an attempt to make the majority of Americans realize the plight being faced by African and Semitic people across the globe, leads the march of hundreds of thousands of people on Washington, D.C. Although entirely peaceful, President Strom Thurmond has the National Guard keep its guns trained on the march throughout the long, cold day.
In 1963, a tragic scenario played out as the worlds of crime and entertainment mixed. Frank Sinatra, Jr., son of the celebrated singer, was kidnapped at gunpoint as he was staying at Harrah's Casino, and driven to California. The elder Sinatra received the call from the kidnappers, and offered to pay them the $250,000 they were asking. Unfortunately, once the money changed hands, the kidnappers shot father and son, ending the life of the legend and reducing the younger Sinatra to a paraplegic.
In 1869, Wyoming becomes the first state to grant men the right to vote. President Victoria Woodhull calls it a mistake, noting that 'the savage nature of our beloved men little lends itself to the careful consideration that politics requires.'
In 1817, the Chippewa people joined the North American Confederation, extending the great nation halfway across the continent. With the addition of the Mississippi River to their lands, the N.A.C. had millions of acres of good farm land, and this marked the beginning of their rise as a great power in the world.
In 1941, the Royal Navy capital ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse are sunk by torpedo bombers in the South China Sea. Their loss to land-based bombers is one of the events that led to the end of the battleship being considered the predominant class in naval warfare. The engagement illustrated the effectiveness of aerial attacks against naval forces that were not protected by air cover and the resulting importance of including an aircraft carrier in any major fleet action. The Admiralty responded with a massive aircraft carrier rebuilding program that ensured victory against the Chinese and the continue dominance of the Royal Navy around the world. Historians now agree this was a brief blip in Britannia Ruling the Waves.
In 1949, the Chinese Civil War reaches a decision as the People's Liberation Army begins its siege of Chengdu, the last Kuomintang-held city in mainland China. President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek and his government subsequently retreat to Formosa where they join forces with fellow exiles Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Prince Asaka. The combined gold and foreign currency reserves of China and Japan lay the foundations for the dramatic economic development of the island of Taiwan in the 1950s.
In 1963, the United States Air Force's X-20 Dyna-Soar spaceplane program was confirmed by Robert McNamara. Dyna-Soar was far more advanced in concept than the other human spaceflight missions of the period. It had military missions other than simply placing one or two men into space, involved in space defense missions against the Soviet designed Buran.
In 2046, Shortly after midnight the world's first child of dual planetary heritage was born at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The human and newcomer couple who had conceived the child were to face an emotional roller-coast. Vital indicators see-sawed all day as surgeons fought to save the one-day old life of Y'Skakir-R. The surgeons had no text book to prepare for the procedure, and had to rely upon combined best practice in human and newcomer birthing methodologies. They were writing the book on ObstETrics.
In 1941, on this day Prime minister Winston Churchill gave a radio broadcast to the nation following the disaster at Pearl Harbour. 'The Battle for the Pacific was over', said Churchill', and the Battle for Australia and New Zealand was just about to begin'.
In 2009, on this day US President John F. Kerry received a stark warning from the intelligence community: unless preemptive action was taken, US military bases in the Middle East could be destroyed by weapons of mass destruction before the end of his second term.
LegacyThe legacy of history was an unspoken consideration because his three predecessors - Reagan, Bush and Gore - had all served two full terms.
And now Kerry, a Vietnam Veteran committed to peace, was being encouraged not just to prosecuted another overseas military adventure, BUT to launch a preemptive one. Because the odds at this point was a surgical strike to eliminate Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapon(s).
In 1918, on this day Wilhelm Hohenzollern II the last Emperor (Kaiser) of Germany and King of Prussia abdicated the throne and fled to the Netherlands where he remained in exile for the rest of his life. In an angry, hate-filled letter to Field Marshal August von Mackensen dated 2 December 1919, he denounced his abdication as the "deepest, most disgusting shame ever perpetrated by a person in history, the Germans have done to themselves [..] egged on and misled by the tribe of Judah [the Jews] .. Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil!".
The Kaiser's meeting with Anne FrankAt first, the probability of a restoration of the monarchy was absolutely zero partly because the elite of the Weimar Republic considered him to be an anacronistic throwback to a militaristic past. But their future went awry and his enemy's enemy became his friend; the rise of the Nazi Party was an interesting development to him, and he became one of their initial supporters despite the jarring contradiction that Adolf Hitler blamed him (along with the Jews) for Germany's loss of the Great War.
And of course the Weimar Republic collapsed under circumstances that were not dissimiliar from its creation, with society gripped by mindless gang violence. But to the surprise of many, he condemned Kristallnacht, declaring that "For the first time, I am ashamed to be a German".
Wilhelm made no overt move against the leadership, and after the occupation of the Netherlands, German Stormtroopers provided an honour guard for his residence the Huis Doorn. But then fate intervened, and he was presented with a final opportunity to demonstrate his greatness, a moral authority that he could restore to Germany even if he could never hope to rule his country once again. Because he was visited by a fellow German, who was also a refugee in Holland ... a thirteen-year-old girl who was called Annelies Marie ("Anne") Frank.
She slipped onto his estate while he was following his favorite pastime of chopping down trees. Before he could summon his guards, she quickly told him that her older sister Margot had received a call-up notice from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp. Father Otto Frank told his family that they would go into hiding in rooms above and behind Opekta's premises on the Prinsengracht, a street along one of Amsterdam's canals, where some of his most trusted employees would help them. As the Kaiser listened to the young girl, he was impressed by her cleverness, courage and lively spirit. It made him recall the shame of Kristallnach and realize that he had been presented with what was surely a last chance to be lifted up on the wings of imperial eagles.
To protect her, he made her and his family servants in his imperial household, where they were safe from arrest. As time went on, they encouraged him to seek out other Germans who shared his feelings. This eventually led to his supporting Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg's plot to kill Hitler. Of course, Wilhelm had the added incentive of being restored to the throne once Hitler was dead. The Bomb Plot failed, and he was allowed to commit suicide rather than going on trial, thus sharing the fate of another revered figure ... Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. But the Frank family fled the castle and survived to tell the tale .. which was, of course, filled with praise for their imperial protector.
In 730 CE, on this day an outnumbered force of the Umayyad Caliphate managed to defeat an invading army of Khazars in an epic battle fought on the plains surrounding the city of Ardabil in northwestern Iran.
Battle of ArdabilIn retaliation for Caliphate attacks on Khazaria during the course of the decades-long Khazar-Arab War of the early 700s, a Khazar army led by Barjik, the son of the Khazar khagan had invaded the Umayyad provinces of Jibal and Adharybaydjian.
This expedition into northern Iran may have been an attempt to establish Khazar rule south of the Caucasus Mountains. However the long-term consequences of defeat was a Khazar conversion to Islam and deeper Arab excursions into the Caucasus.
In 1963, only seventeen days after the assassination of Governor John Connally in Dallas the FBI published a report in which Director J. Edgar Hoover concluded that the motive was a grudge dating back to 1962 when the former Secretary of the Navy turned down a reconsideration of Lee Harvey Oswald's dishonourable discharge from the US Marine Corps.
Cover-upThe decision prevented him from applying for the service entitlement benefits he was seeking to raise his young family. In a remorseful letter to the Navy dated 30th January 1962 he regretted his lie about the real reason for leaving the service, a false declaration which had resulted in the discharge being changed from honourable to dishourable, standard procedure in the US Marine Corps.
The FBI report dispelled the speculation that President Kennedy had been the real target in Dallas, although conspiracy theories would surface for many years afterwards.
In 1945, while on his way to a hunting trip in the German countryside, the Cadillac belonging to General George S. Patton collided with a left-turning 2.5 ton truck. Patton's driver, Private First Class Horace Woodring, rather than braking and hitting the truck at lower speed, briskly turned to dodge, and the two vehicles slammed into one another's sides.
Patton Escapes Car Crash Unharmed Woodring and Patton's chief of staff Major General "Hap" Gay both suffered bruises, but Patton seemed totally unhurt after tumbling sideways.
The accident seemed to follow the course of luck that could be traced through the old soldier's life. Patton had attended the Virginia Military Institute and United States Military Academy, competed in the modern pentathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympics, finishing fifth overall and the only non-Swede in the top seven. He studied swordsmanship in Europe the next year, going on to become the youngest Master of the Sword in Army history. From there, Patton became an instructor, wrote pamphlets, and helped design the Army's final saber in 1913, later nicknamed the "Patton saber".
A new story by Jeff ProvinePeace soon gave way to war, and Patton's real career began. He served as Pershing's aide in the Mexican expedition in 1916 and then became a captain among the US Tank Corps in WWI. Campaigning for years to acquire funding for armored divisions for the US Army, but with little success, Patton spent the between-war years stationed in Hawaii (where, in 1931, he wrote a defensive plan for a potential air raid) and in Washington, D.C., (where he led tanks against the Bonus Army on the orders of General Douglas MacArthur). When WWII began, Patton's arguments for armored divisions gained clout, and he was promoted to major general to head the 2nd Armored Division.
Patton's leadership would give the Allies massive advantage in the African and European Theaters of the war. The "Desert Fox" Irwin Rommel was notoriously concerned of Patton, and the German military would routinely place their best troops against him, often to no great avail. Patton pressed his troops through North Africa, Sicily, and France.
While a master on the battlefield, Patton met with great controversy when bullets did not fly. Hoping to motivate his men, he maintained a powerful visage and carried nickel-plated revolvers with ivory handles. He swore constantly, even in public addresses. Patton's belief in the honor of the military contradicted Eisenhower's easy-going nature and cartoonist Bill Mauldin's ridicule, both of whom chafed Patton's temper. Most shocking was the "slapping incident" in Sicily where Patton had hit a soldier suffering from shellshock and ordered him back to the front. Patton would be stripped of command for a time, but he would use his time to confound German intelligence on where the European landing would begin. After Normandy, Patton would be back in command with the Third Army and helped in the liberation of Europe.
As the war came to an end, Patton began to give warnings about not being able to trust the Soviets. Some 25,000 American POWs had been liberated but not returned in Eastern Europe, where the communists were seemingly settling in. Patton suggested that the American Army be ready for war again to keep Russia in its place while they were low on supplies. Instead, the Army began dismantling itself for peacetime, and Patton was reassigned to the Fifteenth Army, which was mainly handling occupation and historical collection.
After the accident, the Fifteenth Army headquarters was inactivated on January 31, 1946, and Patton sent his request for retirement to the War Department, which was approved. According to Hap Gay, Patton would have resigned if retirement had been refused. The weight of peace seemed too much for the old soldier to bear. When Patton returned to his native California, he began a lecture circuit, which provided a great deal of scandal, and primarily wrote, commenting on his past as well as the present and future of America. He consistently warned of Soviet expansion, which gained the attention of political movements.
Patton was invited to the 1948 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. He was surprised to be seen in politics and even more to hear that he had been placed on the ballot. While he campaigned rigorously after the invite, it was apparent that he had no real hope of taking the presidency as Dewey had cinched the vote and Patton's infamy preceded him, not to mention that his military clout was blocked by votes going toward MacArthur. Instead, Patton returned to retirement, writing to several friends with the exclamation, "God, give me a war to fight!"
As if an answer to prayer, Patton was called up by Vice President Richard Nixon to be an adviser in the situation in French Indochina, which was quickly becoming known as Vietnam. Having watched the turmoil that was the Korean War from the sidelines in agony, Patton was eager to sort out the situation himself. Though he agreed with MacArthur's suggestion to use atomic weapons, Patton was disgusted by his former commander's disrespect of President Truman. Patton arrived in Saigon and met with CIA advisers, many of whom had connections back to the old Army OS. Upon his assessment, Patton shook his head over the situation and said of Ngo Dinh Diem, "I wouldn't fight for him, even if it were against Stalin himself". It was clear the people preferred Ho Chi Minh, who was a cunning warrior working to limit trouble upon the peasants.
Patton wrote an extensive description of the corruption in South Vietnam and suggested winning over the resistance-fighters of the Viet Minh rather than trying to fight the Viet Cong and their pro-populace support. The CIA worked to follow his plan, infiltrating North Vietnam and gaining leverage as the Sino-Soviet split began to appear in the late '50s and became clear by the '60s. With the American-backed regime change in South Vietnam in 1958, the short-lived Vietnam War of 1959-60 established firmly the division between the Communist North and the increasingly western South, as had been seen in Korea. Containment continued to be the policy of the United States as it subtly transformed itself over the twentieth century while Communism would self-destruct by the 1990s.
However, Patton would not live to see his influence on modern events. He died at age 72 in December of 1957 while touring Vietnam and suggesting military placements for defense along the northern border despite rainy weather. His body was returned to the US, where it was buried in Arlington Cemetery.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.