A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

August 23

In 1961, the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Patrice Lumumba solemnly announced that the brilliant army chief of staff Joseph-Desiré Mobutu had been killed by rebels in the breakaway region of Katanga.

The Tragedy in KatangaAlthough Lumumba himself had survived the rocky early months of office after independence, what was now at state was the survival of a viable Congolese state.

Because surely without the mineral rich Katanga region, the Congo would struggle to survive as an economic unit. It was a tragic conflict that would directly involved the governments of the United States, Belgium and the United Kingdom, their secret services and of course proxy allies. Mobutu had tried and failed to prevent Katanga from seceding but now the world watched with horror as Central Africa descended into a bitter post-colonial war fought across a vast geographic area even larger than continental Europe.

In 1595, greatly outnumbered by a ratio of 10:1, a small Wallachian force of Janissaries led by Michael the Brave (pictured) was annihilated by Sinan Pasha's Ottoman army at the Battle of Călugăreni.

Famous Ottoman victory at the Battle of CălugăreniUnfortunately for the defenders, Ottoman spies had sighted their twelve large field cannons, also observing that the strategic positioning of forces near in a swampy field near Neajlov River would negate their military superiority. Instead of attacking with forty thousand men, Sinan Pasha summoned his full force and also attacked from the rear, neutralising the artillery and the massed Janissaries.

The defeat was a huge setback in the border conflict between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires. Robbed of Wallachian support, Prince Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania and the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II would be left to deal with the defence of the Habsburg territories.

In 1941, five months after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease bill into law (pictured), Operation Schraubenschlüssel was dismantled and US aid to Britain and China finally began in earnest.

Flugzeugträger Part 11:
Operation Schraubenschlüssel
Specifically designed to throw a "monkey wrench" into the program, the Nazi Minister of Armaments and War Production Albert Speer had organized a series of covert operations that disrupted America munition firms. This included the placement of rogue employees, destabilising buy-outs, transportation gaffes and various supply chain misinterventions that had ensured Britain and China only received a trickle of fulfilment for the large orders that they had placed.

A few short years later it emerged that the dismantling efforts had been somewhat overzealous. Some of the individuals placed under arrest with indecent haste had established dubious banking connections with the Nazis that were completely unconnected to Operation Schraubenschlüssel. One of these, the case of Prescott Bush, was taken up by the Californian Lawyer Richard Nixon who sought to restore the reputation of the private merchant bank Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

In 1944, the Allies entered Paris from the west. General Dietrich von Choltitz, commander of the 50,000 man German garrison of the city, found himself cut off by General Jacob Devers, commander of the US Sixth Army Group, advancing from the south.

Broken Watch on the Rhine Part 1Without even token resistance, he formally handed Gen. Devers his pistol, surrendering the city of Paris, its garrison, and, effectively, all other German forces in France.

In less than four weeks, the American divisions diverted from the Italian campaign, advanced from Cannes on the Mediterranean Coast to the German-Luxemboug border.

"Operation Overlord pounded the Nazi face,"l Winston Churchill wrote after the war, "but Operation Dragoon tore the spine out of the German army in France. I opposed this operation, but I was overruled, and thank God for that".

Operation Dragoon was originally scheduled to commence on Aug. 15. However, following the failure of the Allied forces in Normandy to break out of the beachhead during June, General Eisenhower ordered Allied Forces Headquarters in the Mediterranean to advance Dragoon by two weeks.

A new story by Stan BrinThe landings south of Cannes caught the German 19th Army undermanned completely unprepared. The combined American, British, and French divisions of the Sixth Army Group were virtually unopposed.

Advance was rapid and continuous. Within two weeks, the Sixth Army Group had reached Grenoble. Nothing stood between Gen. Devers' force and the German border.

A panicked Hitler allowed the German High Command to order a complete withdrawal west of the Siegfried Line. Nevertheless, the entire German 19th Army surrendered to the Americans at Lyon on Aug. 18, leaving the Seventh German Army trapped west of Paris, and within the city.

Von Choltitz' surrender on Aug.23 effectively ended the war in France. Nearly 400,000 German prisoners were captured, causing a massive supply problem for the western allies. (General Patton suggested that instead of feeding 400,000 useless mouths, the allies should "have the German prisoners take an oath to the Kaiser and fight for us, instead of the Nazis". His suggestion was turned down.)

US and British forces reached the Siegfried Line on Sept. 1 and found it manned mainly by old men and boys. Operations were hampered by supply problems and the Red Ball Express was only able to provide enough supplies for 12 divisions. These were sufficient, however, to break through to the Rhine on Sept. 10, which was crossed five days later.

The German Army attempted a counter-attack on Sept. 22, known as "Operation Watch on the Rhine" or the "Battle of the Bulge," but the allies controlled the air was complete, and the German offensive proved ephemeral despite the lavish use of heavy Tiger tanks.

This proved to be Germany's final gasp in the west. The collapse of the Wehrmacht's western front was so rapid that its eastern armies managed to remain in the field, and in control of Hungary, and much of Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Patton's Third Army reached the Elbe, completely unopposed, on Nov. 10, and Berlin on Dec, 1, 1944, less than five months after Operation Overlord, and exactly four months after Operation Dragoon.

After the war, Dutch diarist Anne Frank wrote that "Operation Dragoon saved the lives of millions who would have starved if the war had lasted through the winter. I am sure that I am among those millions who their lives to the speed of the Allied advance".

A significant portion of those millions would prove to be a significant headache for the British after the war, but that is another story...

In 1939, on this day in London the signing of the Daladier-Eden-Ribbentrop Pact normalised relations with Nazi Germany but the disclosure of its secret protocols soon brought the three Great Powers to the brink of war with the Soviet Union.

No Hitler
by Ed & Scott Palter
The unexpected death of Adolf Hitler had created a diplomatic opening for a permanent peace settlement. Almost bankrupted by re-armament, Nazi Germany was facing an acute liquidity crisis and desperately needed trade credits from the City of London. The granting of those credits, and a final status agreement on the Port of Danzig and other territories with a German-majority finally eliminated the injustice of Versailles.

But unfortunately, the re-armament had also triggered a massive Soviet build-up that would threaten European Security long after the Hitler-Stalin megalomaniac rivalry was a distant memory. And so the British and French Governments devised secret protocols in which they guaranteed the Eastern German border.

Problem was that the British Government was seriously compromised and details of the secret protocols were leaked to the Soviet Union by the Communist Double Agent Kim Philby. In those defensive plans Stalin saw a monstrous conspiracy, nothing less than a capitalist plot to encircle the Soviet Union.

Dead, but still casting a long shadow, Hitler had set in motion the final confrontation with Communism that he had always imagined.

In 1985, on this day China and Iraq signed a mutual aid pact under which the Chinese government would provide arms and other military hardware to the Iraqis in return for the rights to purchase Iraqi crude oil.

Sino-Iraqi PactThe pact was a boon to both countries: for the China the arms sales and access to Iraqi oil constituted a way to revive its dormant economy, while Iraq saw Chinese-made arms as a useful means of compensating for the growing weapons shortfall the Iraqi armed forces had been experiencing ever since the flow of military equipment from the Soviet Union to Baghdad had dried up in the heat of the Russian civil war.

A secret corollary to the aid pact authorized Iraq's Muhakbarat counterintelligence service (logo, pictured) to access classified Chinese information on Iran's strategic plans for prosecuting the war between Iran and Iraq for the rest of the Iran-Iraq War. That access would later be credited by Western analysts with helping to make possible Iraq's eventual victory over the Iranians in 1987.

In 1939, on this day in Moscow the isolated "periphery powers" of Great Britain and the Soviet Union signed the Halifax-Molotov mutual security pact on the back of the French Government's decision to join the Axis Nations.

The King's SpeechBut it was no good, and inside of six months, the Red Army had been forced to withdraw deep into Soviet territory.

Sufficiently emboldened by this success the combined forces of the Kriegsmarine, Marine Nationale and Regia Marina swept the Royal Navy from the English Channel and Operation Sea Lion was launched without delay.

As the Jewish Population of England was being forcibly relocated to the Stepney Ghetto, King Edward VIII prepared for the most important speech of his life. Having pocketed fifty million Reichmarks from Walter Schellenberg as a sweetener to return from exile, the re-throned Nazi King desperately needed to assure the various races of the British Empire and Commonwealth that the Anglo-German partnership offered "the Colonies" the benefit of enhanced security in a dangerous new world.

In 1926, famed silent-film actor Rudolph Valentino lapsed into a coma after battling acute appendicitis, an attack of which had felled him on Aug. 15, gastric ulcers and resulting peritonitis, which had required an immediate operation. The actor's health had seesawed back and forth over the following week, as doctors battled to suppress an inflammation in his left lung brought on by his weakened condition.

Rudolph Valentino SurvivesValentino's coma seemed to confirm the prognoses of the more pessimistic of his physicians, who expected him to die. However, a week later, in the early morning of August 31, he awoke.

A new story by Eric LippsValentino's convalescence took months, and the damage done to his lung altered his speech, giving it a rough, whispery, vaguely sinister tone. At first, that did not matter - but in the late twenties, with the coming of the "talkies," Valentino faced a crisis. His changed voice left him uncastable in the ladies'-man roles which had been his bread and butter, and for a while it seemed his career might be over.

His salvation came with the casting of the movie Frankenstein in 1931, in which he beat out the less-famous Lionel Atwood for the role of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. His altered voice, combined with the gauntness which he still retained from his near-fatal illness, made him a perfect choice to play the mad doctor, and in subsequent years he would play similar roles in many other films, as well as such minor characters as the pickpocket in 1943's Casablanca who distracted his victims with warnings of "vultures, vultures everywhere".

However, the former leading man grew increasingly unhappy with the roles assigned to him. His position was only made worse by the rise of Joseph McCarthy, for in the 1930s the star, like others in Hollywood during those Depression years, had briefly flirted with Communism. The Wisconsin senator called him to testify before Congress in March of 1953, and raked him over in front of the TV cameras not only for his political associations but also for several past sex scandals in which he had been involved. In 1955, having been quietly told he had become unemployable in Hollywood, he returned to his native Italy, where he died on March 8, 1962 at the age of 66.

In 1784, on this day the citizens of the western twenty-nine million acres of North Carolina voted to secede and form their own territory which they called Frankland.

Franklin Secedes from North Carolina, but not UnionBack in In April of 1784, the western 29 million acres of North Carolina were ceded to the Federal Government of the new United States of America to aid in its debt relief. Within months, they reneged on their gift, but the settlers there did not want to return to the citizenry of North Carolina. Instead, they voted to secede and formed their own territory, then called Frankland.

After secession had been voted upon, a man stood to ask, "What about the Indians?" The settlers agreed that they could make their own treaties with local tribes, but the question remained of what would come if the Indians refused to cooperate... or even went on the warpath. A special notice was sent to the federal government to request military aid in time of need. Congress, still heavily indebted from the Revolutionary War, decided to establish Fort Franklin there with veterans receiving their land grants nearby with extra acreage in exchange for continued service.

In 1786, Frankland petitioned for statehood, but could not accumulate the two-thirds votes from existing states required by the Articles of Confederation. Propaganda teams began to roll out ideas, and the territory decided to rename itself Franklin after the famous patriot. Benjamin Franklin was approached for endorsement, but he declined. Meanwhile, North Carolina moved troops into Franklin and reestablished its local government, though only some settlers agreed to participate.

Despite their failed petition for statehood, the people of Franklin persevered and remained in contact with the federal government. When the Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia, Thomas Talbot went to join them. After being physically removed from Independence Hall, he met with General Washington personally and asked for permission to attend. As president over the convention, Washington had the power to grant this, which he did, citing that he was impressed with Talbot's patriotic spirit. While allowed to speak, Talbot was not granted voting rights in appeasement to the delegates from North Carolina.

After the Constitution was approved, Franklin tried again for statehood, but Congress was busy with other items on its agenda, and North Carolina routinely blocked any proposals. In 1788, Franklin was in dire straights economically as well as peacefully as altercations with North Carolinian militia as well as local tribes began. In 1789, just as Washington was voted into office, a beleaguered Talbot met him in New York to plead for assistance. Washington did not know what his powers were as the first president, but he vowed to help. Congress was still organizing itself, and so Washington accepted Talbot's offer to visit Franklin.

Upon Washington's arrival in the summer of 1789, Franklin was on the brink of collapse. Cherokee, Chocktaw, and Chickamaunga attacks had increased, and the few federal troops at Fort Franklin were under siege. The North Carolinian militia stood by, helping only those who claimed North Carolinian citizenship. Washington rallied the soldiers with the words, "By God, men, these are Americans!" The Indians were militarily pacified, and Washington ordered the soldiers back to North Carolina. The actions of the Commander-in-Chief caused much uproar, but formed the basis of the Militia Act of 1791.

With Franklin widely in the American press, Governor Sevier used the fame to invite new settlers. The economic situation improved, and in 1792, Franklin was admitted as the sixteenth state, just a few months after Kentucky. With its legacy of ties with the federal government, Franklin was the southernmost state not to secede in the Civil War (1861-64). The federal works projects in the Franklin Valley Authority helped modernize the state and provide work for the unemployed in the Great Depression.

In 1993, on this day actor Tom Cruise unexpectedly withdrew from the movie "Interview with the Vampire" following comments published in the "Los Angeles Times" newspaper by the author, Anne Rice. The decision would prove to be a massive personal setback for Cruise who had hoped to be taken more seriously in Hollywood by matching the acting skills of his co-star Brad Pitt; instead, he would be condemned to to a decade of "action" roles in popcorn movies.
Click to watch the trailer.

The Dark GiftCruise had entertained the idea of "doing something scary" with "creature features", apparently totally misunderstanding the deep subtextual undercurrents of the novel. And doubtless, this insensitivity played a key part in his withdrawal.

"I was particularly stunned by the casting of Cruise, who is no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler" ~ Ann Rice Because in the narrative, Lestat turns the child Claudia (pictured) into a vampire. "The Tom Criuse casting is just so bizarre, it's almost impossible to imagine how it's going to work" ~ Ann RiceOver time she begins to hate Lestat as she realizes she can never grow up; although her mind matures into that of an intelligent, assertive woman, her body remains that of a six-year-old girl. Of course the interaction between Lestat and Claudia mirrors Anne Rice's own personal tragedy because her daughter Michele died of leukemia aged six in August 1972. Rice only returned to the Catholic Church in 1998 after several years of describing herself as an atheist.

In 1977, on this day Labour Leader James Callaghan issued a statement to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister's remarks concluded an internal inquiry into allegations made by former Leader Harold Wilson in an article published in the Observer newspaper in July. Sensationally, Callaghan's predecessor claimed that a faction in the Secret Service had bugged his office at Downing Street; "There is a whispering campaign against me" said Wilson.

Open SecretCallaghan dismissed the allegations, reporting that ~ "The Prime Minister has conducted detailed inquiries into the recent allegations about the Security Service and is satisfied that they do not constitute grounds for lack of confidence in the competence and impartiality of the Security Service, or for instigating a special inquiry. In particular, the Prime Minister is satisfied that at no time has the Security Service or any other British intelligence or security agency, either of its own accord or at someone else's request, undertaken electronic surveillance in 10 Downing Street or in the Prime Minister's room in the House of Commons".

"Go to the Charing Cross Road and kick a blind man standing on the corner. That blind man may tell you something, lead you somewhere..". ~ Harold WilsonWilson's conviction that he had been under constant electronic surveillance during his second term in office (1974-1976) was widely known inside Whitehall. He would shush visitors dramatically, finger on lips, pointing at the light fittings where he believed bugs to have been planted. Then director of the CIA, George Bush emerged from a meeting at Downing Street expressing amazement that "He did nothing but complain about being spied on!".

Ten years later, former Security Service officer Peter Wright published "Spycatcher", revealing that British intelligence had compelling evidence that Wilson was a Soviet agent. And the KGB assassinated his predecessor Hugh Gaitskell so as to manoeuvre Wilson into power.

A fresh internal inquiry ordered by the Service's then-Director General, Sir Anthony Duff. Dame Stella Rimington, concluded: "The Director General has also advised me that Lord Wilson was the subject of a Security Service investigation and multiple forms of electronic and other surveillance by the Security Service".

In 1999, New Zealand-based production company, WingNut Films, announces that filmmaker Peter Jackson (King Kong, The Freighteners) is to direct a NZ$260 million live action, special effects-packed trilogy of feature films based on the first three novels in the acclaimed children fantasy novel series, Harry Potter, written by British author J. K. Rowling. Watch the Youtube Clip Jackson Adapts Fantasy Novels For Film by Gerry Shannon

WingNut Films will produce the films for Warner Brothers, with principal photography set to commence in May 2000. The movies, (in order, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), will be shot back-to-back over a twelve month period.

Jackson has written the screenplays with long-time collaborators Fran Walsh (The Frighteners, Heavenly Creatures, King Kong) and Philippa Boyens (ex-president of the NZ Writers' Guild).

Jackson and Walsh will also co-produce alongside Tim Sander, (King Kong, The Year of Living Dangerously), while Academy Award-winning film legend Saul Zaentz (The English Patient, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) serves as Executive Producer.

Jackson has been developing the project for nearly two years with Wellington-based special effects facility Weta Ltd., of which he is a partner, who will be responsible for the elaborate visual effects demanded of the films. Weta Digital, under the guidance of effects producer Charlie McClellan, will be creating over 1200 computer effects shots while Richard Taylor of Weta Physical will supervise the design and construction of the creatures and miniatures.

The films will be shot entirely in New Zealand, with about half the schedule based at Camperdown Studios in Wellington and the remainder on location throughout the North and South islands.

"I can't think of a better country to represent Rowling's world of wizards and muggles on film," says Jacksons. "From the suburban blandness of Privet Drive, to the horror of Azkaban prison, to the splendour of Hogwarts itself - it's all here at our doorstep".

Casting will be under-way before Christmas and will encompass talent from New Zealand, Australia, Britain and American. An unprecedented amount of child and teenage actors will be used to portray the students of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and an international search is already underway to find three leads including Harry himself, and his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

Warner Brothers, which has also acquired the rights to the four other as-of-yet unreleased instalments in Rowling's planned seven-part saga about the boy wizard, expect to release the first three films as a Christmas-summer-Christmas event series during the 2000-2001 calendar year.

In 1914, on this day the British Army begans the withdrawal from the Battle of Mons.

Crowley's Miracle at Mons
It was in the period of this hectic retreat, when the British troops would have been so vulnerable to a pursuing enemy, that something extraordinary occurred. British troops claimed that they had seen an apparition in the sky of an angelic figure who appeared to ward off the attacks of the enemy. The retreat was successfully accomplished and the British troops lived to fight another day.

The story of the Angel at Mons spread like wildfire through Britain. It became the subject of many articles and even artistic productions. After the war, Harold Begbie published a book on the phenomenon, "On the Side of the Angels", in which he quoted some who had witnessed the apparition first-hand. One lance-corporal recalled:

"I could see quite plainly in mid-air a strange light which seemed to be quite distinctly outlined and was not a reflection of the moon, nor were there any clouds in the neighbourhood. The light became brighter and I could see quite distinctly a shape having what looked like outspread wings. The Angel appeared to have a long loose-hanging garment of a golden tint they was above the German line facing us".

Yet the Angel of Mons was in fact the entity known as Aiwass, summoned by Aleister Crowley at the request of a desperate British Government.

Vietnamese President

On this day in 1968, after extensive consultations with his own cabinet and with U.S. ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu announced the government of South Vietnam would accept Le Duc Tho's troop withdrawal offer and establish full diplomatic relations with North Vietnam as a possible first step towards Vietnam's long-delayed reunification.

Vietnamese President - Van Thieu
Van Thieu

On this day in 1967, the Arab League convened an emergency summit in Damascus hoping to mend strained relations between Syria and Egypt, who had been blaming each other for the Arab powers' defeat in the Sinai War. The summit was a disastrous failure: before it was over, Egypt had severed diplomatic relations with Syria and would not resume them for nearly three decades.

 - Arab League
Arab League

In 1972, as expected, President Richard M. Nixon is renominated at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.

 - Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon

In 1952, on this day the charter of the Arab League went into effect.

Head quartered in Cairo, Egypt, the League's charter states that the League shall co-ordinate economic affairs, including commercial relations; communications; cultural affairs; nationality, passports, and visas; social affairs; and health affairs.

UK Prime Minister
UK Prime Minister - Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden

This predecessor organisation to Nasser's United Arab Republic (UAR) greatly alarmed governments in London and Paris. Four years later, led by British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, Anglo-France forces joined with Israel to strike the Suez Canal Zone, being forced to back down by President Eisenhower. Following the enlargement of the UAR to Saudi Arabia in 1980, official biographer Robert Rhodes asked, "who can now claim that Eden was wrong?"

In 1839, the United Kingdom captured Hong Kong as a base as it prepared to war with Qing China during the First Opium War.

Just over one hundred years later, Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai Shek sought refuge in the Colony. Having arrived with the entire gold and foreign currency reserves of China, he joined British imperialists in building a thumb-your-nose at Communism show case in the middle of Guangdong Province.

 - Chiang Kai-Shek
Chiang Kai-Shek

Just as a small impurity can cause great stomach upset, Hong Kong created greater and greater problems for the Chinese Communist Party until it collapsed entirely in 1967. Thereupon the Kuomintang returned to Beijing, and set about building an even more powerful city than Hong Kong, a mission that was completed by the end of the century.

"When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or I'll die!' Jacob became angry with her and said, 'Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?' Then she said, 'Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family.' " ~ Rachel, wife of Jacob Genesis 30:1-3

Offred - Handmaid

The sons of Jacob suspended the US Constitution and replaced Massachusetts with the theocratic Republic of Gilead. The birth rate had fallen alarmingly and radical measures had to be taken to rectify the situation. The full article is available at the Manitoba University web site.

On this day in 1944, the Red Army finally commenced an all-out drive for the ruined Polish capital Warsaw.

After the Second World War ended, the Soviet government would be hounded by accusations that it had deliberately withheld support from the Polish anti-Nazi uprising; the Soviets would maintain that they had been forced to delay the start of the Warsaw offensive due to overextended supply lines.


On this day in 1982, the WWF premiered its own Monday cable TV show, Monday Night Raw, to compete with World Championship Wrestling in the 8-10PM time slot; airing on the USA Network, Raw would be in competition with WCW for ratings supremacy for nearly two decades.

The main event on Raw's debut broadcast was a WWF Intercontinental title match between Junkyard Dog and second-generation star Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine which Dog won by disqualification when Valentine's then-manager Johnny Valiant got caught trying to hand Valentine a pair of brass knuckes.

Monday Night
Monday Night - Raw
In 1966, Ronnie Harran, the booker from the Sunset Strip Whisky a Go-Go club terminated the Doors' contract. On this particular evening, vocalist Jim Morrison didn't show up for the first set. The band played without him, with Manzarek and the others handling the vocals, but Whisky co-owner Phil Tanzini was furious and demanded Morrison was fired.

In 1956, Izear Luster 'Ike' Turner, Jr moved the Kings of Rhythm to East St. Louis where he met teenage, gospel-trained singer from Nutbush, TN, named Anna Mae Bullock, and promised her a chance to sing with his band.

That chance kept failing to materialize, until one night Bullock simply grabbed the microphone and started belting. Turner made her a part of his revue, changing her name to Tina.

 - Ike Turner Revue
Ike Turner Revue

Ike had other plans for Tina - he wanted to control her free spirit. Predictably, after Tina became pregnant by the band's saxophonist, Raymond Hill her prospects receded sharply.

A second and final chance appeared - and then disappeared. In late 1959, Turner's band entered the studio to cut a song called 'A Fool in Love' for the Sue Records label. The scheduled male vocalist was running late. Tina was about to be pressed into service by Ike, who thought the vocalist had failed to show up for the session - when he suddenly appeared, full of apologies.

I went over to the alcove where she kept her holo equipment and plugged myself in. A woman's face appeared in front of me and asked, 'Thank you for using TT of A. What number would you like to dial?'
'I'm not quite sure of the number. The name is Rosanto, Emilia Rosanto, and she lives on Set Lane in Thesylonica.'
'Thank you. Hold for your call please.' The woman's face was replaced with an image of a bell ringing gently every couple of seconds. After seven rings, Emilia's face popped up in front of me, her eyes bleary from lack of sleep. Since this was her normal state, I didn't think anything of it.
She grew immediately animated at seeing me. 'Gabe! Oh my gods, it's so good to see you! You've got to come over, right away. Where are you?'
'I'm at Willie's. I wanted to get everybody together, see if we could maybe take a little trip out for a while. My last partner just found his paradise.'
Emilia laughed and shook her head. 'Everybody but you, huh, Gabe?' Her softly dark Mediterranean features were everything I've ever dreamed of in a woman, but Emilia refused to come with me to the Porno Universe. Some people just don't know what's good in life. 'What was it this time? Gold raining from the sky? The hunter-gatherer world?'
'No, nothing so pleasant. Did you ever meet Patrice?' She shook her head. 'He wanted the African world, where Europeans were slaves. I helped him make the European slaves realize that their condition was the will of God.'
'So, you're feeling a bit slimy at the moment, is that it?'
'You poor thing.' Her hand reached out and stroked me. I felt nothing, of course, but it was a nice gesture, nonetheless. 'You want to come over? I have a guy here, but he's the understanding type.' She winked at me. 'A candidate for your dream world.'
'You know I'd never refuse an offer like that, honey, but I need to call up the others. Are Sylvan and Moshe still living in Babylonia?'
'Well, Moshe is. Sylvan got carted off by a UFO almost three months ago.'
'Damn it!' Sylvan and I had gone to grade school together. He was always one step ahead of the saucers. Until now, of course. 'We're going to have to do something about the UFO's someday, Emilia.'
'When you figure out what, you let me know, OK? Dartha and Inikia are here in Thesylonica, and I think Karlus moved to Roma, but I'm not sure. I don't think he's up to any more planewalking, though. You remember what happened last time?'
'It was just a small curse, and it stopped working once we got back to our home plane.'
'The clap is hardly a small curse, Gabriel. Poor Karlus had to wear a diaper everywhere.' She counted us on her fingers. 'I think that's everybody. Two boys and three women - you'll practically be in your paradise, Gabe.'
'If only. Can you let Dartha and Inikia know? I'll talk to Moshe and try to get hold of Karlus.'
'He won't come. Trust me on this, Gabe. The man dripped for three weeks, he hates your guts.'
'I'm very persuasive when I set my mind to it, Emi.' I gave her my best evil smile. 'And, if that doesn't do it, hypnosis works wonders.'
'Some archangel you are. When and where?'
'Tomorrow night, and here at Willie's, I think. If she doesn't agree, I'll let everybody know, and we'll find someplace.' I took a long look at her tantalizingly lovely features, framed by the black silk of her hair, and sighed. 'It's been way too long, Emi.'
'I'll get there a little early for the reunion.' She blew a kiss at me. 'See you tomorrow, love.' Her face folded in on itself, and I was left alone with my fantasies.
I got hold of Moshe, but Karlus was simply not reachable. I guess the clap was a little more serious than I thought it had been. After hanging up on the third number suggested for a Karlus Maurelius in Roma, I gave up and went down to Willie's basement.
She was examining a huge painting, one that covered an entire wall, and whose subject reminded me of some of the more ambitious Italian works of the old masters. An alien was coming down from the clouds, bearing a chain in one hand and a UFO in the other. Various Asian figures were gathered about it, some in fear, others up in arms, but most bowing down to worship at the feet of the huge Arythiok. It was quite compelling. 'Is this the new artist?'
'It's not his best, but it's certainly his most impressive. The subject matter is rather clich?, but the style makes up for it.' She led me over to smaller, more unique pieces. 'These present his talent much better.' There were several statues scattered among a few framed works, and even a hologram. 'Did you contact your friends?'
'Most of them. One of them was abducted, as you feared.'
She shook her head in commiseration. 'It is regrettable what some of my people do.'
I stood between her and a spectacularly overdone wall-hanging. 'Are you ever going to tell me why they take us?'
Her eyes became almond jades of embarrassment again. 'Perhaps some day. But, I don't believe you're ready.'
'You people always say something like that. You just don't want to tell me.'
'That could be true, as well.'
'You know, you could tell me anything. If you used to do it, you could tell me that. If you still do it, you could tell me. There's very little I haven't imagined as your answer to that question.'
She fidgeted, and pointed at the hologram. 'This piece represents Buddha under his tree, stylized into a technological image of a double helix. The displacement of the tree by a modern image creates a similar feeling of displacement in the viewer, don't you think?'
'All right, you don't have to answer me. You can stop being all uncomfortable now.'
'Thank you.' She brightened up right away.
'I needed to ask you if I could use your house to meet them all tomorrow night. Is that all right with you?'
'Of course.' Her pensive look came back. 'If I did tell you that I was one of the kidnappers, would that make a difference between us?'
'You answered that quickly.'
I shrugged. 'It's something I've been thinking about for a long time. It was the first thing that went through my mind when you wouldn't answer my questions.' She smiled. 'Are you going to answer them now?'
'No, but I think I'll have to soon. A pity. The mystery has been such an exciting part of our relationship.'
'Naturally.' I took her arm and led her over to some of the more esoteric offerings of her collection. 'But, once we really know each other, don't you think that'll deepen our feelings for each other?'
'There is always that hope.' She took a small statuette and handed it to me. 'This was meant to be handled. Feel the astounding number of textures the artist has managed to place in a single piece? That's an Arythiok technique. Layer upon layer, appearing similar with one sense, showing an amazing complexity when experienced with another.'
'That's an Arythiok technique, all right.' She poked me, and I nearly dropped the statuette. 'Careful, now. We don't want to add any more textures to this thing.'
I put the statuette back in its place and we looked at the rest of the collection in silence. Willie's an impressive connoisseur, but art only captures me for so long, and then I go into sensory overload. Still, when you're a guest, it's best to play the appreciative ascetic when your host is. After the tour, she took me upstairs and offered me her bath.
'Am I that offensive?'
She turned black again. 'No, no, I just thought that you might want to freshen up before dinner.'
I sniffed at myself and agreed with her. 'I'll just do that, then.' I bathed slowly and luxuriously, enjoying it all. Willie has the most wonderful bubble bath you could ever hope to find. One of the fringe benefits of being a planewalker is finding all the places that are the best of everything.Story Chunk 2
In 1363, Said Aouita of the Caliphate of Morocco won the Trials of Sport in Al-Meshuk. Aouita defeated infidels of the freed European nations, proving the glory of Allah over their blasphemous ways.
In 1979, American actor John Travolta defected to Great Britain during a publicity tour for his latest film, Grease, a hard-hitting musical about the harsh life of auto-mechanics in capitalist countries. Travolta denounced life in the Soviet States of America as controlled by the two political parties, with little freedom left for the artistically or politically inclined. Travolta was declared a traitor by Comrade President John Anderson of the Socialist Party.
In 1934, actress Barbara Jean Moorhead was born in Tucson, Arizona. After several years of bit parts, she became a star when she landed the role of Samantha on the TV series Bewitched, due in part to having a similar name to the actress who played Samantha's mother, Agnes Moorehead.
In 4610, the Japanese province began its secession struggle against the Chinese Empire. Emperor Chengzu, grandson of Min-Yuan, was reluctant to war against his own subjects, and employed a different strategy, instead. The Eastern Fleet formed a blockade around the island, and the Empire used economic sanctions against the rebellious Japanese. While slower than conventional war, the strategy was effective - the Japanese begged for return to the Empire by 4618.
In 1892, in a world-wide address, (and across hyperspace to the ships fleeing earth's recent seismic troubles), the Executive Council of the Congress of Nations announces that henceforth, Mlosh weather-control technology will only be used in extreme circumstances. "This should save us a repeat of these circumstances," First Chancellor Rabah told the world. In the aftermath of the disturbances, terrorist activity against the Mlosh picks up again.
In 1866, the Austro-Prussian War was temporarily halted by a Communist-inspired solidarity movement among the soldiers. Both sides laid down their arms and refused to fight. When enough leaders of the movement were executed by the leaders of Austria and Prussia, the war resumed.
In 1914, the British Army begins withdrawal from the Battle of Mons. It was in the period of this hectic retreat, when the British troops would have been so vulnerable to a pursuing enemy, that something extraordinary occurred. British troops claimed that they had seen an apparition in the sky of three angelic figures who appeared to ward off the attacks of the enemy. The retreat was successfully accomplished and the British troops lived to fight another day.

The event had been predicted in an article written by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society which had proclaimed that the end of the world was nigh. Founder, Charles Taze Russell of Pittsburgh, PA stated that 1874 was the supposed invisible return of Christ (a teaching borrowed from the early Adventists), followed by a 30-year 'harvest' of the chosen few who would rule with Christ. They were to be taken to heaven in 1914, which remains today a pivotal year in the Jehovah's Witness' teachings.
In 1955, US President William Randolph Hearst invited Allen Ginsberg to the Reconstructed White House in San Francisco to congratulated that gentleman on the delicious obscenity of his latest poem 'Howl'. Standing proudly alongside other members of the genre including Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, Hearst noted that the poetry of the Beat Generation was a vital form of escapism for America as it sought to build a counter-culture after the horror of World War III. Ginsberg honoured Heart by writing some highly offensive graffiti on the West Wing wall.
In 1952, on this day the charter of the Arab League went into effect. Head quartered in Cairo, Egypt, the League's charter states that the League shall co-ordinate economic affairs, including commercial relations; communications; cultural affairs; nationality, passports, and visas; social affairs; and health affairs. This predecessor organisation to Nasser's United Arab Republic (UAR) greatly alarmed governments in London and Paris. Four years later, led by British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, Anglo-France forces joined with Israel to strike the Suez Canal Zone, being forced to back down by President Eisenhower. Following the enlargement of the UAR to Saudi Arabia in 1980, official biographer Robert Rhodes asked, 'who can now claim that Eden was wrong?'
In 1839, the United Kingdom captured Hong Kong as a base as it prepared to war with Qing China during the First Opium War. Just over one hundred years later, Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai Shek sought refuge in the Colony. Having arrived with the entire gold and foreign currency reserves of China, he joined British imperialists in building a thumb-your-nose at Communism show case in the middle of Guangdong Province. Just as a small impurity can cause great stomach upset, Hong Kong created greater and greater problems for the Chinese Communist Party until it collapsed entirely in 1967. Thereupon the Kuomintang returned to Beijing, and set about building an even more powerful city than Hong Kong, a mission that was completed by the end of the century.

August 22

Following several weeks of mediation a compromise agreement was finally reached in the Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

July 1914 World Crisis settled in the HagueThis resolution had become necessary because in order to forestall the apparently unstoppable rise of German hegemony the British, French and Russian Empires had entered into secret agreements that had seemingly divided the continent into two armed camps. Inevitably this military escalation had undermined the Council of Europe that had kept the peace since the Battle of Waterloo. But in private the British had merely discussed contingencies rather than made commitments, and just twelve months earlier had actually sided with the Central Powers over the Scutari Crisis using a naval demonstration to compel another small Slavic state, Montenegro to withdraw from the city.

Nevertheless there was a deficit of trust and so proposals for a Conference of Ambassadors were dismissed. Various other proposals for direct dialogue were rejected also and it appeared that the crisis was heading inexorably towards ultimatums and then threats of war. Although the Russians saw themselves as the grand protectors of Slav nationalism, the Tsar's own grandfather had been assassinated by terrorists and therefore he was by no means unsympathetic to Austria-Hungary demands to send policemen into Serbia as long as it did not reduce the country to a vassal state. And so he proposed a mediation process and during the talks it emerged that rogue elements of the government in Belgrade had indeed supported the Black Hand Gang. However their motive was to radicalise the Serbian Government and consequently the Great Powers were able to talk themselves down from a disastrous war that they were being led into by terrorists.

Author's Note: in reality diplomatic attempts failed and Churchill later remarked "Had such a conference taken place there would have been no war. Mere acceptance of the principle of a conference of the Central Powers would have instantly relieved the tension".

In 1485, the usurper Richard III was killed by his nephew, Edward V, the rightful King of England with an assist from his younger brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

Restoration of King Edward VFortunately, the teenage Princes had managed to escape their unlawful incarceration at the Tower of London. The restored monarch took charge on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth Field narrowly avoiding a second usurpation by Henry Tudor.

For the sake of the troops morale, Richard was permitted to die with honour on the field of battle. But he refused, and in the course of a brief struggle, was killed by his nephew.

The regicide was covered up for five hundred years. But on 4 February 2013 an excavation found a skeleton that was, beyond reasonable doubt, that of Richard III, based on a combination of radiocarbon dating, comparison with contemporary reports of Richard's appearance, and a comparison of his mitochondrial DNA with two descendants of Richard's sister. Also found was the arrow head that killed him.

It is 1485, and King Richard III of Lancaster is facing the Welsh invader, Henry Tudor, on Bosworth Field. The tide is starting to turn in Henry's favor .. when Henry's stepfather, Lord Thomas Stanley, surprises everyone by switching to Richard's side, in one of his most dramatic shows of disloyalty. An article from our Happy Endings thread devised by Jackie Rose.

Happy Endings 30:
A Double Happy Ending
He had been planning to support Henry all along, he cries .. but now that he has heard of his own wife Margaret's love affair with her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor, the whole family can go to Hell. He is as good as his word, as he proves by leading his soldiers in charging off the field. Always a sensible man, Henry Tudor soon follows him. With nothing left to lose, Jasper and Margaret declare their love openly and move in together.

This leaves Richard free to marry Elizabeth of York (pictured), the daughter of his brother Edward, the previous king, thus cementing his rule. Since Elizabeth had long been in love with him anyway, it was a happy ending for both couples: Margaret and Jasper and Elizabeth and Richard. No one is sure what became of Henry Tudor.

In 1485, the destruction of King Richard III at Bosworth Field leaves Henry Tudor with the largest army in England.

Young Prince Edward found alive in the TowerWhen he reaches London to take the crown for himself, he finds that his distant cousins, Edward and Richard (alive), are in fact still alive in the Tower of London. Since their "deaths" had been a rationale behind his own invasion, he would have had them killed, but his soldiers spread the news too quickly; he was forced to crown Edward instead of himself, and pledged his allegiance to the young king. Recommendation: visit Robbie Taylor's Amazon Author Page.

In 1862, on this day Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter in response to an editorial by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune which had urged the complete abolition of slavery.

An Official DutyMaking a clear distinction between personal opinion and official duty Lincoln placed the emphasis on saving the Union. Therefore it was a complete shock when he published the Emancipation Proclamation only weeks later. Cynics guessed that the ink was already dry on the document when Lincoln wrote his letter to the Tribune, and he was simply waiting for an opportune moment (a Union military victory) to justify such a complete reversal of government policy.

But Lincoln never had the chance to reveal the truth of the matter because two years later, the actor and matinee idol John Wilkes Booth shot him dead. Following the bloodbath of the spring, this further horror destroyed any remaining appetite to continue the war, and threw the administration into complete disarray. However President Hamlin managed to find out a way out: a truce that hardened into a peace settlement, and a "rump Dixie" which emerged based on Confederate-occupied Southern territory. The Union retained the border states plus recovered territories that had seceded, namely Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, West Virginia, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, half of Louisiana, Mississippi Valley and of course half of Virginia.

Unlike the assassinated President, Booth did have a brief opportunity to set down a testimony which made a grim mockery of both Greeley and Lincoln's visions of the future (he blamed Lincoln for abolishing slavery rather than making an overtly pro-Confederacy statement). The Union had not been saved, and worse still, "Free blacks" were classified as citizens of the reunited Dixie unionist states but not of the US itself. In effect the Emancipation Proclamation had only taken partial effect in the Union-occupied territories, and the real consequence was the prevention of a mass migration of African-Americans to the Northern Cities. Because as much as white Northerners hated slavery, they had absolutely no intention of accepting the principle of racial equality. Whereas in the South, by the turn of the century slavery had morphed into a form of peonage/caste system due to the joint pressure from London and the dangers of runaways to Union territory. Of course in time, economic equality would begin to develop, and today, we can only speculate as to what might have happened if Lincoln had lived to introduce constitutional amendments, it might even have been a "bitter legacy" of northern ghettos.

In 1100 BC, on this day the Dorian invasion of Greece was repulsed, and their vengeful King Hyllus killed in a cataclysmic battle fought at the gates of Mycenae.

Mycenaean repulse Dorian InvasionThe one-time inhabitants of Southern Greece known as the Heraclids had been forced into exile, but had regrouped and then returned in huge numbers to destroy Mycenaean Civilization. Their powerful army that swept down from the Peloponnese Mountains and threatened such a nemesis only to be crushed at the last.

Writing five hundred years later, Thucydides recorded that "Eighty years after Troy the Dorians and the sons of Herakles sought1 to make themselves masters of the Peloponnese. It was with difficulty and over a long period that peace returned".

In 1922, on this day at a place called Béal na mBláth ("the Mouth of the Flowers") in his home territory of west Cork, Michael Collins secretly met with political rival Éamon de Valera to agree a peace formula that would bring an end to the Irish Civil War.

Happy Endings Part 8
The Mouth of the Flowers
The two Irish leaders had found themselves on the opposing side of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that had partitioned the island by creating a twenty-six county free state in the South. The core of their historic agreement was a joint commitment to use exclusively peaceful means to work towards the creation of a thirty-two country Republic. But in a larger sense, it was a bold move forward for the political situation that had to begin with a refusal to allow the British Government to continue to shape events in Ireland.

Always a man to lead from the front, the "Big Fellow" had made his own personal decision to set off in a different direction. Because shortly afterwards, he resigned his post as Commander-in-Chief of the National Army, entered private life and married sweatheart Kitty Kiernan. After a political career that spanned four decades, de Valera became the Patron of the Michael Collins Foundation, declaring that "It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense".

In 1940, seeking to reverse Eire's government policy of entering the war on the side of Great Britain in order to win full independence for a united Ireland Republican gun men assassinated Michael Collins in Belfast on this day.
Watch the Youtube Clip of "'You're seven minutes late"

Seven Minutes that Changed Ireland
By Ed and Scott Palter
In return for a United Ireland and massive US aid during and after the war, a limited form of participation was proposed based upon the the so-called "Canadian compromise". To wit, that the Irish would not be conscripted for land service but could be available for navy/convoy duty.

However the core issue was that Collins had been advocating special protections and rights for the Protestants in the nine counties of Ulster.

In 1944, on this day Adolf Hitler decreed that if Germany was forced out of Paris the city and all it's landmarks should be left a smoldering ruin.

Paris burns bright redThe Führer's order was relayed by Chief of Staff Admiral Alfred Jodl to Dietrich von Choltitz (pictured) who had been promoted to the rank of General der Infanterie and then appointed military governor of Paris just three weeks earlier.

And his instructions were explicit, "The city must not fall into the enemy's hand except lying in complete debris".To avoid any possibility of confusion Hitler also phoned him in a rage, screaming, "Brennt Paris?" ("Is Paris burning?"). In effect, Von Choltitz was required to organize a rapid disengagement of German Forces whilst simultaneously dealing with a complete uprising of the city's inhabitants.

Meanwhile U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the head of the Allied invasion, had refused to divert troops to liberate Paris. Resistance forces loyal to De Gaulle failed to overcome red influence during and after Liberation, and were unable to prevent communists taking control of the city and then of France. Ironically, the destruction of the cultural fabric of the city removed any symbolic vestiges of the past, ushering in the new and frightening communist future that Adolf Hitler had predicted.

In 1485, the Wars of the Roses had caused battles for thirty years as the House of York and the House of Lancaster made attempts whenever possible to seize the throne of England. The House of York had gained dominant control, though upheavals continued, such as the revolt led by the Duke of Buckingham in an effort to put forth Henry Tudor as king.

Richard III Affirms Legitimacy at Bosworth Field Richard III had put down the rebellion, but the Tudors had not been utterly defeated. They would have their final confrontation at Bosworth Field near Ambion Hill in Leicestershire.

Richard, who was known for his political deviousness, was not overwhelmingly accepted. His nephews, one of whom was the former king Edward V, had disappeared shortly after Richard had taken the crown. Rumors stated that they had been killed and their bodies hidden in the Tower of London, but few were willing to challenge Richard directly. Henry Tudor had his own claim to the throne and came out of exile in France with an army, arriving in Wales on August 1. He gathered strength from allies while Richard mustered his own troops and raced to meet him.

Richard's 10,000 men were divided under the command of himself, the Duke of Norfolk, and the Earl of Northumberland. Henry opposed him with only 5,000 men. Waiting on the wings with 6,000 men were the Stanleys, brothers Thomas and William, who were forced into loyalty under Richard by the imprisonment and threatened execution of Thomas' eldest son, George. As the battle became thick, Richard found himself betrayed by the hesitating Northumberland and decided to lead the charge against Henry himself. In the gamble, Richard and his knights became separated from the main force, and the Tudors pressed upon them.

William Stanley decided that the time was right to strike. He drove for Richard, signaling his army to save the king and serve as reinforcements. With the second charge, the battle was won for Richard and the House of York. Henry Tudor was slain in battle. Tradition tells that Richard, looking over the body of Henry, mumbled, "Treason, treason, treason, treason, treason".

Having been satisfied with the loyalty of the Stanleys, Richard released Thomas' son and rewarded William with the lands seized from Northumberland as punishment. Richard would go on to rule until 1507, marrying Anne of Lancaster and pacifying his populace to achieve a return to peace for England. He was well known as a beneficiary to the church (though rumors said his gifts were out of guilt for evil deeds past and present). He would be succeeded by his son Richard IV, and the Yorkist line would continue.

Marginal stability would reign in the sixteenth century until the Protestant Reformation took hold of Europe. Under Richard V, England would maintain its connection with Rome despite the efforts of reformist Thomas Cromwell, but the Scots in the north began to adopt Calvinism. While the Thirty Years' War raged in the Germanies, Scotland and England were both well known for sending mercenaries to their respective sides. Eventually, the war would spill onto Britain with the Bishops' War would begin in 1633. Much of the North of England was devastated, and recurring drafts caused uprisings among the English, finally ending with the Civil War led by Oliver Cromwell for the Protestants.

After the wars when Protestant England gave up its short-lived republic for rule by William of Orange, interrupted peace would continue between it and Scotland. Both would participate on various sides in wars, continually sparring for domination in colonies both in the Old and New World. Finally, with the Seven Years' War in 1763, Scotland and England would define a boundary across the St. Lawrence River with Scotland in Canada and England in New England to the south. When the American Revolution broke out the next decade, the Scots were quick to help the rebels establish their independence. England would return the favor in the Canadian Revolution in 1864-67.

When World War I broke out in 1914, great bloodshed would follow in the trenches of Northumberland, but Scotland would find itself on the losing end with the collapse of Germany in 1918. The following economic depression cost England its longtime possession of Ireland, but Scotland would join Italy, Germany, and other European states in fascist revolutions. World War II would be even bloodier for Scotland, but occupation by English, Americans, and French would prove beneficial as the nation rebuilt into a productive member of the European Union today. England, meanwhile, continues as a stable state with distant memories of Bosworth Field as retold in Shakespeare's stirring history, Richard III.

In 1898, armed hostilities in the Spanish-American War come to an end. Ignominiously defeated, Spain is forced to relinquish control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands to the United States. An installment from the 49th State thread.

The 49th State by Eric LippsDebate over what to do with America's new possessions is fierce. In the case of Cuba in particular, there had been considerable sentiment in favor of independence prior to the outbreak of war, when lurid articles regarding the real and alleged brutalities of the Spanish colonial regime appeared regularly in the newspapers of media baron William Randolph Hearst. Once Cuba passed into U.S. hands, however, ardor for freeing it cooled considerably. Businessmen liked the cheap sugar and other products Cuba provided, while naval officers saw it as an ideal site for bases.

The colonialist faction would ultimately triumph. In formal peace traty, signed in Paris on December 10, 1898, no mention is made of independence for Cuba. The following year, by act of Congress, the possessions taken from Spain will be declared U.S. territories.

On January 1, 1959, Cuba will become the 49th U.S. state. That same year, Hawaii, also annexed in 1898, will become the 50th; Alaska will formally become the 51st state the following year, and in 1965, the Philippines will become the 52nd. In 1970, Puerto Rico will at last become the 53rd U.S. state. Of the territories taken from Spain in 1898, only Guam will not have become a state by the turn of the century, chiefly due to its small population.

In 1964, the youthful and charismatic Lieut. Gov. Fidel Castro of Cuba is elected to the U.S. Senate. Castro, a former law student who entered politics in the 1950s, will be an impassioned voice for America's growing Spanish-speaking populace, and will be one of the sponsors of the Senate resolution formally granting statehood to the Philippines.

In the Senate, Castro will start out as a solidly moderate Democrat who will initially support the war in Vietnam, but will grow disillusioned, finally announcing his outright opposition in 1969. His change of heart will anger many conservatives in his home state, sparking a challenge from Republican Rep. Fulgencio Batista, a decorated Korean War veteran, in 1970. Sen. Castro will survive, however, and in his new incarnation as foreign-policy liberal will oppose President Charlton Heston's contra war against the left-wing government of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara in Bolivia in the 1980s.

In 2000, in a hotly-contested election, Democratic nominee Fidel Castro will narrowly defeat former Texas governor George W. Bush to win the U.S. presidency, becoming the first native Spanish-speaker to hold that office.

In 1951, on this day citizens of East Berlin riot against the government of East German chancellor Walter Ulbricht after Ulbricht announced that food rations would be cut in half. The riots were just the beginning of a tidal wave of civil unrest that would eventually drive Ulbricht from power in the aftermath of the Bellus-Zyra disaster.

 - Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
French President

On this day in 1971, French president Georges Pompidou was killed as riots swept Paris in reaction to the news that the China virus had reached France.

French President - Georges Pompidou
Georges Pompidou

On this day in 1922, Micheal Sean O Coileain aka Michael John 'Mick' Collins, Commander-in-Chief of the Irish Free State Army is shot during an Anti-Treaty ambush at Beal na mBlath, County Cork, during the Irish Civil War.

The 'Big Fellow' survives, serving three times as Irish head of government; as Priomh Aire, as the second President of the Executive Council and the first Taoiseach. Collins is universally considered the dominant political figures in 20th century Ireland

C-in-C  - Michael Collins
Michael Collins
"I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping while my guitar gently weeps. I Look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping still my guitar gently weeps. I don't know why nobody told you how to unfold your love. I don't know how someone controlled you they bought and sold you. "
~ Lyrics to "While my guitar gently Weeps" After meeting on the set of A Hard Day's Night, Pattie married George Harrison on January 21, 1966, during the heyday of his group, The Beatles. Harrison's friend Eric Clapton, first of The Yardbirds, then of Cream, also fell in love with her. Pattie went on to divorce Harrison on June 9, 1977, and later marry Clapton on March 27, 1979. She and Clapton divorced in June 1988.

Harrison and Clapton worked together on While my guitar gently Weeps, a thinly disguised reference to the tragic love triangle between Pattie Boyd and the two guitarists. The lyrics are available at at Lyrics Freak.
His Excellency

On this day in 2007, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was interviewed by the Alliance for Democracy's representative Peter Greste. Deep concern was raised throughout the Alliance following the death sentence impose upon five security officials of Centurion Rank.

Attempting a plea bargain, all five admitted trying to kill prominent black activist Frank Chikane in 1989 by lacing his underwear with a nerve toxin.

His Excellency - Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe

Rev Chikane, who is now a director in the president's office, has said he did not want to see the men go to prison. Vlok sought forgiveness from Rev Chikane last year by washing his feet. President Mugabe supported the actions of the new South African Government in dealing with Draka-era divisions. Justice was a pre-requisite for reconciliaton in President Mugabe's view.

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