Editor says, for subscription users please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Disqus or Google Plus. History runs along a different line in Today In Alternate History, a site which chronicles "important events in history that never occurred today". Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.
In 1745, on this day American President John Jay was born to a wealthy Hugenot-descended family of merchants and government officials in New York City.
Birth of President John JayHe graduated at King's College (now Columbia University) in 1764, he was admitted to the bar in 1768, and formed a partnership with Robert R. Livingston. In 1774 he was a delegate in the first Continental Congress, and the same year he married a daughter of William Livingston, of New Jersey. In that Congress, though the youngest member but one, he took a conspicuous part, being the author of the Address to the People of Great Britain. His facile pen was often employed in framing documents in the Congress of 1775.
However the following June, destiny took the oddest of turns after he received the Rutledge Letter. Because Rutledge urged Jay to find a way to turn his Continental Congress colleagues from independence, hoping that there was still a way to "effectively oppose" the headlong rush toward nationhood that the colonials were in.
When Jay took control of the Continental Congress and began negotiating for a rapprochement with the Crown, he sent Rutledge to Great Britain to argue on behalf of increased autonomy for the colonies if they would yield to continued British rule. Rutledge found many in Britain's Parliament eager to accede to American demands in order to free up forces for the disastrous war in Canada, and his own affinity for the British won him enough allies to push his measures through and end the war between the American colonies and Great Britain.
In 1968, Speaker of the House Tallulah Bankhead died at her home in Washington, D.C. She was known for her deep voice, flamboyant personality, and support of liberal causes, which broke with the tendency of Southern Democrats at the time to support a more conservative agenda.
Passing of Speaker Tallulah BankheadA film star of the 1930's and 40's, Bankhead followed her father into politics when her career stalled in 1945. She won election to the House of Representatives in 1946, representing Los Angeles. She was elected Speaker of the House in 1964, and held the post until her death four years later.
The cause of her death was pleural pneumonia, complicated by emphysema, malnutrition, and possibly a strain of the Hong Kong flu which was running worldwide at that time. Her last coherent words reportedly were, "Codeine .. bourbon".
In 1948, on this day a fourteen-man patrol from the 7th Platoon, G Company, 2nd Scots Guard led by led by two lance-sergeants, Charles Douglas and Thomas Hughes surrounded a rubber plantation, shot and killed twenty-eight unarmed Malayan civilians before setting fire to the village of Batang Kali.
Justice for Batang Kali Massacre Britain's My LaiThe official report produced by Commanding officer George Ramsay was immediately published in the Singapore-based Straits Times "Police, Bandits kill 28 [sic] bandits in day ... Biggest Success for Forces since [Malayan] Emergency Started". But the British owner of the Sungei Remok Estate, Thomas Menzies immediately contradicted the report, publicly stated that his labourers had a long record of good conduct. By the 24th December the Straits Times was calling for a public enquiry and British Communist MP Philip Piratin became directly involved in the dispute. Discovering that there was a living witness, he brought villager Romen Bose Tham to London. Together, they started the biggest firestorm in the history of the British Empire.
In 2012, on this day An Unexpected Journey, the first part of Peter Jackson's movie adaptation of the Inklings' 1937 collaborative novel The Witch, the Hobbit and the Wardrobe premiered in cinemas across North America.
The Witch, the Hobbit and the Wardrobe
An Unexpected JourneySet in the metaphorical pre-war land of Narnia, the four Aryan-looking Pevensie Children enter a cruel world that is forever winter but Christmas never comes. The cause of this misery becomes immediately evident when Peter Pevensie casually encounters Jadis the Witch Queen and her malign dwarf henchman (pictured). Returning with his siblings Edmund, Lucy and Susan, they sets upon a quest to bring Christmas.
Greeted by Tumnus the Faun minutes after returning, he discovers that years have passed in Narnia and the endless winter world is thawing because the Queen has lost a ring of power that has greatly diminished her control. They set out on an An Unexpected Journey to find the Hobbit into whose possession the Ring has fallen, setting up a final confrontation that will determine the mastery of Narnia forever.
In 1939, on this day the Battle of Tolvajarvi became a Finnish Rout. Throughout its history, Finland had struggled to free itself from the imperialistic influence of her neighbors. In the Medieval period, Sweden settlers dominated the natives and achieved rule with the Finnish people being commoners.
Battle of Tolvajarvi Becomes Finnish Rout During the wars of the eighteenth century known as the Greater Wrath and Lesser Wrath, Russia, revolutionized after the time of Peter the Great, occupied Finland. Ultimately, the Finnish War of 1808-9 would wrest control from Sweden and turn Finland into an autonomous grand duchy within the rule of the Russian Empire.
Finland would stay under Russian influence for another century until the Russian Civil War would give way to Finland's independence on December 6, 1917. Relations between the Finnish Republic and the eventual Soviet Union remained strained. While non-aggression treaties were signed in the 1930s, Soviet invasion would spark the Winter War on November 30, 1939, as a side-event to the growing Second World War.
"The nations were scarcely matched: Finland's army was 30 percent that of Russia, its air force 3 percent, and its armored vehicles 1 percent. While the numbers were overwhelming, the Red Army was still recovering from Stalin's Great Purge of more than 30,000 officers imprisoned or executed in 1937. Meanwhile, the Finns held high morale and unbreakable commitment to resistance. While the Russians had air superiority and powerful advances with tanks, the Finnish troops had minor victories, holding the Russians moving northward from Leningrad across the isthmus between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga. While the Mannerheim Line held there, more Russian troops crossed from north of the lakes. The Finns planned to meet them at Tolvajarvi.
The Finnish battle plan was to use the frozen lakes as points to cross and attack the oncoming Soviets in a pincer movement. The Finns engaged with Soviets, who outnumbered them five-to-one. Rather than attempt to press ahead along the road, the Soviets withdrew. Thinking that he had caught the Russians unawares, Finnish Colonel Talvela took up pursuit. Despite taking losses during the retreat, the Russians came under artillery protection and counterattacked, wiping out the Finnish defenders.
With the harsh victory at Tolvajarvi, the Russians picked up momentum that would bring them around the lake and encircle the Finnish defenders along the Mannerheim Line. Helsinki would fall March 13, 1940, and Finland would be declared part of the Soviet Union. While the quick conquest had been a military victory, the Finnish people had not yet given up the fight. Secretly supplied by Hitler's Germany, the Finn resistance would be an enormous strain on Stalin's manpower and resources. By the time the German invasion of Russia began with Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Soviets would be ill prepared to fight since so many were already working to maintain occupation.
The Eastern European Theater would be a bloodbath with Stalin desperately fighting to keep Hitler from taking Moscow, Stalingrad, and, especially, Leningrad, whose siege began September 8, 1941. In 1943, Stalin would proclaim an end to rule over Finland and recall troops to bolster his defenses. Rising up as a fascist power, the Finns would counterattack, leading to the fall of Leningrad. In June 1944, Moscow fell, but Stalin continued fight on, eventually reversing the tide of war back to near the 1941 border.
The Western Front, however, eventually pushed into Germany, and Hitler's regime fell with the taking of Berlin by General George S. Patton on May 2, 1945. Armistice fell across Central Europe, and Finland's fascist government collapsed under Soviet pressure. While the Russians did not occupy much of Eastern Europe, they did take hold of their old Russian imperial possessions, including Finland. It would not be until after the end of the Cold War that Finland, then a bleak, backwater economy, would regain its independence.
In 1899, on this day The Morning Post's war correspondent Winston Churchill (pictured left and below, right) sneaked out of the Pretoria High School for Girls where Boer Free Staters had locked up the surviving members of the Chieveley raid. The twenty-five year old aristocrat vaulted a wall behind the latrines and waited in an outer garden before making good his escape.
Death of a Little Bit of a NewspapermanFearing that a successful jail-break would be showcased in the British media as dashing adventurism, a price of twenty-five pounds was put on his head. Yet a more balanced view was taken by the Commandant of the Boer Forces, General Joubert. He actually offered less cash reward (27 shillings) for Churchill's recapture than the British officers were paying for a bottle of Scotch. "He is just 'n klein koerant-skrywertjie (a little bit of a newspaperman)" he said dismissing Churchill.
"Englishman 25 years old about 5 foot 8 inches tall medium build walks with a slight stoop. Pale features. Reddish-brown hair almost invisible small moustache. Speaks through his nose and cannot pronounce the letter S. Had last a brown suit on and cannot speak one word of Dutch. " - Boer Police ReportMeanwhile Churchill had stowed away on a coal train heading east in the direction of Mozambique. Desperate with hunger by the time the train stopped at Clewer, he knocked on a carriage door in search of food. The door was opened by John Howard, the manager of the Transvaal and Delagoa Bay Colliery. Howard agree to hide Churchill in the underground stables of the mine, and then later behind some packing cases in the office.
With Boer forces searching high and low, Howard hid Churchill under coal sacks on a train and attempted to smuggle him across the border into neutral territory. Despite Howard's willingness to bribe guards at numerous points of discovery, their luck finally ran out at Komati Poort, the station at the boundary between the Transvaal and Portuguese East Africa. A close search of the train revealed Churchill, who had been surviving entirely on chocolate.
Two days after his second arrest, the British consul at Delagoa Bay sent a telegram to the British Foreign Office containing the coded phrase "Goods lost in transit". The next day the front page of the Morning Post carried a feature article on the cowardly Churchill, who, by making a solitary escape, had prevented his combatant colleagues from making a general attempt.Most shocking of all, perhaps, amongst the surviving members of the Chieveley raid was an aristocratic North West frontier acquaintenance, Captain Haldane who later published a reputation destroying account of Churchill's misdeeds
In 2004, Karol Wojtyla aka Pope John Paul II had a locked box brought to a conference room, and he opened it to Josef Ratzinger.
Superfluous Scripture"Unless you are considerably better than I am in Greek contaminated with Aramaic slang," said the Pope, "I recommend that you start with the typescripts in the pouch. They are the Italian, French, German, and Spanish translations of the original documents, which have been stored in the Vatican for two millennia".
Ratzinger touched the papers with hesitation. "You mean, those parchments are the papers used by the Apostles as sources for the Gospels? The fabled Q Documents".
Unconsciously, the ill pontiff let a line of drool run down his left chin. Without asking, Ratzinger took a hankie and cleaned the mishap. "The Vatican Libraries are truly amazing. It is a shame that so much of it is to be kept confidential".
"These papers, what do they add to the story of our Lord?"
"You learn his favorite meal was corn and barley soup; at every sermon, Jesus insisted that his audience adopt stray animals like dogs and cats and tend to them kindly, and that Jesus read Greek fluently and patronized libraries where he read Plato and Aristotle and Caesar. There are even a couple of book reviews written by the Lord Jesus himself".
"Astonishing," exclaimed Ratzinger.
His hand involuntary shaking and jerking, John Paul II pointed to a particular page.
"And here Jesus organizes his disciples for his coming death. And Jesus says: decisions shall be made by Mary Magdalene and Simon Peter after conference and due deliberation, and when Simon and Mary disagree, there shall be no action performed".
""Oh. my God," exclaimed Ratzinger.
"The Q Document makes plain that women are to be priests and in fact, Jesus has made multiple women priests and he expressly approves them as his agents, stating that women are equal to men and that their periods are unimportant".
Pope John Paul II slumped in his chair. "There is much more," said the Pope. "Gregory XVI wrote a private dissertation on some statements Jesus made about all men having an obligation to supply children for the next generation, and Gregory's essay is passed down with the Q Documents to every Pope thereafter".
Ratzinger smiled ruefully. "So Jesus says, have children, and some Pope added a postscript in favor of celibacy".
Ratzinger said: "It will go hard with the church if this ever gets out".
"I agree," said John Paul II. "The night that John Paul I died in his bed was when he was given the Q Documents to read. "
"Josef," said John Paul II sombrely, "I expect that you will be the next Pope. If you admit what the Q Documents say, you will admit that Jesus never intended celibacy or the limitation of the priesthood to males.
Next to those admissions, who cares about triflles like Mary remarrying twice after Joseph died?"
"I understand," said Ratzinger. And he has not said a word about it since then,
In 1861, the Royal Navy decided that raids on either New York or Boston would inflict no useful damage on the United States, which had been busy fortifying those ports for the preceding six months.
The Scrooge Contribution Part IIIIn a Cabinet decision of that month, Palmerston authorized the _Warrior_ ironclad to join Admiral Milne's command in the Atlantic. There were rumors that the US Navy was building an ironclad of a remarkable new design in New York City, and the _Warrior_ was to counter that ship.
At the turn of 1861 and 1862, the Union percieved that it was at a
disadvantage in the courts of Paris. Following the Scrooge Contribution and Confederate willingness to accept that term, French Emperor Louis Napoleon contemplated assistance to Britain's new protege, the Confederacy. Napoleon's immediate concern was getting money out of Mexico. where French troops still occupied the main customs house of Vera Cruz, Mexico. Rather than making a decision on what to do in Mexico, the Emperor failed to make a plan and the number of French soldiers and sailors at Vera Cruz grew to a force of 20,000 men.
In 2009, the movie Invictus (also known as The Human Factor) was released on this day in cinemas across North America. The script was based on the John Carlin book "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation".
Watch the Youtube Clip
Triumph for the Rainbow NationThe plot takes a look at Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman) from the fall of apartheid. The story is about Mandela's release from prison, his election as President of South Africa and his attempts to use the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a vehicle to bring his people together, after the fall of apartheid.
Led by their inspirational captain Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon), the South African team wins the tournament, upsetting the favourites New Zealand 15-12 in the final. During the remarkable post-match presentation ceremony Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey bearing Pienaar's number, presented him with the Webb Ellis trophy. During his acceptance speech, Pienaar made it clear that the team had won the trophy not just for the sixty thousand fans at Ellis Park, but also for all forty-three million South Africans.
Pienaar is married to Nerine Winter and has two sons, one of whom has Nelson Mandela as a godfather.
In 1992, on this day Buckingham Palace announced the appointment of the next President-General of the British North American Union.Join or die
As expected following the retirement of Sir Geoffrey Howe, Mr Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC (pictured) would take up the appointment at Her Majesty's pleasure. A prominent Tory politician and highly experienced diplomat, Mr Patten was considered a "safe pair of hands" - in his current role as Governor of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, the Baron had introduced limited democratic reforms with the Legislative Council and also negotiated with the Chinese Government on behalf of Great Britain.
A spokesman for the Palace confirmed that the Crown's most senior minister in North America would be presented to members of the Grand Council before the Queen retired to Balmoral Castle for the Christmas break. By January 20th the Crown's appointee would assume his full responsibilities for Indian relations, military preparedness, and execution of laws regulating various trade and financial activities. Historically, those responsibilities had been defined by the Articles of Confederation ratified at the Albany Congress - in 1754, representatives from the colonies of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island met at Albany, New York from June 19 to July 11 to discuss better relations with the Indian tribes and common defensive measures against the French.
In a loyalist appeal to Join or Die, the resulting Plan of Union was urged by a colonist, Benjamin Franklin who subsequently justified the plea in 1789 by explaining that "On Reflection it now seems probable, that if the foregoing Plan or some thing like it, had not been adopted and carried into Execution, a subsequent Separation of the Colonies from the Mother Country might have happened, with Mischiefs suffered on both sides, perhaps during another Century. For the Colonies, so united, were sufficient to their own Defence, and being trusted with it, as by the Plan, so that the different Parts of the Empire might remain in Peace and Union".
In 1787, on this day Canadian nationalists meet on Prince Edward Island and draft the Set of Principles, the founding document of the nation they are trying to build.
With the cessation of the war to their south, though, the struggle for Canada's independence is not going well. An appeal to France is being rebuffed, and their attempts to enlist the native population to their cause have been similarly unsuccessful.
This article is part of the Canadian Revolution thread.
In 1994, the federal Resolution Trust Corporation releases its audit regarding the Whitewater Development Corporation, which has been prepared by the prestigious firm Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro.
This 'Pillsbury Report' concludes that neither former Arkansas governor and failed presidential candidate Bill Clinton nor his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton was guilty of any wrongdoing regarding Whitewater. The report states that the Clintons were passive investors in this real estate venture and were misled by active partner James B. McDougal, who himself had apparently been milking the land deal to cover debts incurred in other unsuccessful investments.
Asked about the report's findings by reporters, Mr. Clinton states that he is glad that he and his wife have been vindicated. "However, "he goes on, clearly thinking of his recent political misfortunes", it would have been even better had we never been falsely accused in the first place".
Unspoken is Clinton's resentment of former President Edward Kennedy's denial of support in his failed quest for re-election as Arkansas governor, which Kennedy had made clear was due to Clinton's tainted reputation. The defeated governor believes that the former president should have backed him rather than listen to his political adversaries.
On this day in 1974, Stephen King started his final draft of Jerusalem's Lot.
On this day in 1970, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 10-3 to improve their 1970 NFL season record to 13-0 and clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
On this day in 1982, the NWA held its first-ever Clash of the Champions PPV super-card, broadcast from the Summit in Houston. The main event saw the Horsemen lose one of their charter members as Roddy Piper turned on Rick Steamboat after Piper & Steamboat lost the NWA world tag team titles to Rick Rude and Bad News Allen; a frustrated Piper, blaming Steamboat for the loss, assault his tag partner with the timekeeper's bell and tried to fracture his skull.
In 1957, Sergei Korolev, top design expert in the Soviet space program, recommends that the USSR switch from the kerosene-liquid oxygen fuel mix it has been using in its space rockets to a liquid hydrogen-liquid oxygen mix similar to the one currently favored by the U.S.
His decision is based on engineering calculations indicating that the American mix produces greater thrust.
There is considerable resistance to the idea, since liquid hydrogen is much more difficult to handle than is kerosene. It will be several months before Korolev wins the argument. However, with Premier Nikita Khrushchev determined to erase what he sees as the national humiliation of America's having beaten the USSR into space, Korolev is able to amass support within the Politburo for the change.
In 1979, CIA Director George H. W. Bush presents a preliminary hostage rescue plan to President Rockefeller. It involves taking advantage of Iranian CIA assets who would impersonate agents of the regime and inform the student militants holding the Tehran embassy that a U.S. military strike and that they were going to 'transfer' the captives to an undisclosed safe location. Once the hostages had been handed over, these pro-U.S. Iranians would then smuggle them to a pickup point on the outskirts of the city, where they would be picked up by U.S. helicopters and flown to safety.
The President is interested, but questions whether any Iranians can really be trusted to carry out their end of such a plan and whether American choppers can penetrate to the edge of Iran's capital, pick up the hostages and escape successfully. Director Bush assures him that the plan can be made to work, but says he will need several weeks at least to flesh it out fully and put the necessary resources in place.
Lacking any better options, President Rockefeller gives Bush the go-ahead.
In 2000, by a 5-4 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the recount of presidential ballots in Florida, which it had suspended on Dec. 9, may resume, provided that a 'consistent standard' is applied.
The Court's ruling suggests that in addition to so-called 'undervotes,' in which ballots are inadequately marked so that they may not have been properly recorded by voting machines, so-called 'overvotes,' in which there is more than one mark for president, should be counted where there is a clear indication of voter intent. This would address complaints regarding confusing ballot design which apparently caused thousands of Florida voters to mark their ballots for both Gore and Lieberman, rendering them invalid in the machine count.
The swing vote in the decision is Justice Anthony Kennedy. In a separate opinion, Kennedy observes, 'The right not only to vote but to have one's vote counted is basic to American democracy. For this Court to have decided to abort a count of votes in a disputed election, and in so doing effectively hand the election to plaintiff [George W. Bush] in this action [Bush v. Gore], even though plaintiff appears to have clearly lost in the national popular vote, would inevitably degrade the people's confidence that this fundamental right will be honored impartially.
This is particularly so given that seven of the nine members of this Court, including the Chief Justice, and all four Justices who have ruled for plaintiff, were appointed by presidents belonging to plaintiff's political party. To have ruled for plaintiff would have sent the message that when 'the chips are down,' this Court will be guided not by precedent, law and the Constitution but by partisan affiliation. It need hardly be said that this would have had an injurious effect on the reputation of this Court, and on its credibility in future actions.'
at the counting house Ebenezer Scrooge's Fred, enters to wish his uncle a 'Merry Christmas' and invite him to Christmas dinner the next day.
He is dismissed by his relative with 'Bah! Humbug!' among other unpleasantness, declaring Christmas time to be a fraud
In 1957, singer Jerry Lee Lewis arranges to marry his 13-year old cousin Myra Gale Brown, but is stopped at the alter by Jane Mitchum, whom he is still legally married to. Although Lewis was incensed at Mitchum's interference, she probably saved his career; who would want to listen to records from a man married to a 13-year old?
In 1951, Joe Dimaggio, possibly the greatest living Town Ball player at the time, announced his retirement from the New York Metros. Dimaggio had been the envy of other men in America just because of his sporting skills, but he increased that sense of envy when he married Hollywood beauty Norma Jean Mortensen in 1954.
In 1951, flash-in-the-pan conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Briefly famous after touting Ronald Reagan's agenda in the 1980's, his star plummeted back to earth with the triumph of Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election.
In 4629, chef Yuan Tseh Lee of the Hong Kong restaurant Sea Dragon Inn creates a small dessert treat to satisfy his clientele who needed something quick and not very filling. It was a small, crisp cookie that he folded into a knot. He personalized each one with an inspirational saying written on a scrap of paper stuffed into every cookie. The Fortune Cookie, as they came to be known, caught on like wildfire throughout the Chinese Empire, and Yuan was able to retire a very rich man.
In 1893, quintessential movie bad guy Emanual Goldenberg was born in Bucharest, Romania. After coming to the United States as a boy, Goldenberg decided to become an actor, and won a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He played a series of gangsters throughout the 30's and 40's, but his two most famous roles are as the slave foreman Dathan in The Ten Commandments and the elderly police assistant Sol in Soylent Green, both opposite leading man John Carter.
In 1603, William Shakespeare, the actor who had provided a literary front for Francis Bacon's work until 1599, appeared in Bacon rival Ben Jonson's play Sejanus. It is reportedly his last appearance on stage, since Bacon refused to work with him anymore.
Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Virgin Mary) appears in a manifestation to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City. In 1648 Miguel Sanchez, the author of the first Spanish-language apparition account said that
this New World has been won and conquered by the hand of the Virgin Mary
in a reference to the conversion of the Americas to Roman Catholicism with the notable exception of the Amish and Mormons.
In 2000, the United States Supreme Court releases its decision in Bush v. Gore. To unite the country the Court proposes a joint inauguration followed by the candidates sharing the presidency with each serving a two-year term. Best practice had been established by an indecisive election in Israel during 1984 when Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres agreed to the same power-sharing formula. British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown calls Gore to strongly advise him not to accept the proposal. After all he had made a similar agreement with the Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1994 and he was still waiting. Dismissing Browns advice as a counsel of bitterness, and being a gentleman, Gore invites Bush to serve first - whilst he occupies the Senate Presidency as agreed. For two years they fight tooth and nail over 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, tearing the country to pieces.
In 1941, India declared war on Japan. The decision was taken by British Imperialists acting falsely in the name of the people of the subcontinent. The Empire of Japan did not care, and dismantled the Raj during 1942 claiming a state of war existed between the two nations. Leaders of the Indian Independence Movement including Mahatma Gandhi were forced to re-evaluate their Quit India! Strategy which was now targeted at a wholly different kind of oppressor. Japan believed that it was creating a whole new order in Asia, and that required the displacement of American and European powers before further political development could be seriously considered.
In 2003, on this day the compendium 'A Collection of Political Counterfactuals' was published. Simon Burns' masterful sequel 'What if Vladimir Arutinian had missed?' was a keynote contribution, considering the scenario of May 10, 2005: while Bush was giving a speech in the Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia, Vladimir Arutinian threw a live Soviet-made RGD-5 hand grenade towards the podium where he was standing and where Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and their two wives and officials were seated. It landed in the crowd 18.6 metres (61 feet) from the podium after hitting a girl, but - incredibly - did not detonate because the red tartan (plaid) handkerchief wrapped tightly around it didn't allow the firing pin to deploy fast enough. Arutinian was arrested in July 2005 and admitted to throwing the grenade. He was convicted in January 2006, and was given a life sentence.
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.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.