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

December 19

In 1984, on this day the Sino-British Joint Declaration, extending to perpetuity the ninety-nine year leases on the New Territories of Hong Kong, was signed in Taiwan by President of the Republic of China Chiang Ching-kuo and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher [1].

Sino-British Joint DeclarationThe original lease was negotiated between the UK and the Guangxu Emperor of China, and was for a period of 99 years starting from 1 July 1898 under the Second Convention of Peking. At the time of the lease signing, Hong Kong Island had already been ceded to the UK in perpetuity under the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 after the First Opium War, and the southern part of the Kowloon Peninsula as well as the Stonecutters Island had also been ceded to the UK in perpetuity under the Convention of Beijing in 1860 after the Second Opium War.

These treaty arrangements could hardly anticipate the "Two Chinas" scenario of the post-colonial era even if one might suggest the events of the nineteenth century were a causal factor. Because Deng Xiaoping and Chiang Ching-kuo both claimed representation as the legal successor to Guangxu Emperor et al. And of course in getting "White China" to sign the extension the British Government had enraged the People's Republic of China ("Red China") on the mainland. What was particular cynical was the timing; the hawkish Republican Administrations of President Rockefeller and his successor Bob Dole had steadfastly refused to recognize Red China [3], but with a Presidential election set for later in the year, Conservatives in the British Government feared that a victory by Gary Hart would open the door to full recognition of the PRC as the legitimate government of China. They had also acted upon fears raised by the reversion of Macau, with the PRC now regretting the acceptance of an offer by the Portugese Government in 1974. Many cynics figured it would have been smarter to have negotiated the handover of Macau AFTER Hong Kong to diminish resistance given than the majority of HK inhabitants considered themselves ethnic Chinese [2].

In 2012, on this day former Supreme Court Judge Robert Bork passed away in Arlington, Virginia. He was eighty-five years old.

Common Sense wins the Bork Fight 2Due to a miscalculation by the White House, his nomination to the Supreme Court had almost been rejected by the Democrat Majority Senate. In hindsight, it would have been better for President Reagan to have switched his nomination with the less controversial Antonin Scalia. In other words, for Bork to have taken William Rehnquist's seat in 1986 when the Senate was Republic controlled. As events transpired, Scalia was elected 96-0 and so there would have been little opposition to a later confirmation.

Still Bork took his seat on the Supreme Court, although there was enough bad feeling for Democrats to block the nomination of Clarence Thomas thus preventing Reagan-Bush from appointing three Conservative-minded Federal Judges in a row. But course when Roe v. Wade was overruled in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, it was clear that Scalia and Bork had changed legal history.

Later that year, Reagan-Bush was ended by Bill Clinton's victory and Republican were out of office for eight years. Sensing a similar shift in the political landscape during George W. Bush's second term, he graciously stepped down in 2007 to enable the Republican White House to nominate a conservative successor.

In 211, on this day Publius Septimius Geta, co-emperor of Rome survived a violent struggle with disloyal members of the Praetorian Guard.

Resolution to Geta vs Caracalla DisputeHe had been called to a meeting with his brother, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla) and the assault was also witnessed by his mother Julia Domna.

Needless to say, it was transparently obvious the centurions had acted on orders given by his brother. Because the shared throne arrangement was not a success: the brothers had argued about every decision, from law to political appointments. By the end of the year, the situation was unbearable. Caracalla tried to murder Geta during the festival of Saturnalia without success.

The assassination attempt demanded a response more decisive than another peace meeting. Instead, the empire would be split into two halves [1].

In 1961, on this day the President of the United States Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. was given the Last Rites at the St Mary's Hospital after suffering a major stroke on the golf course of the West Palm Beach Country Club that left him paralyzed and mute but mentally alert.

Profiles in Courage #2He had been due to fly to Bermuda for a meeting with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Instead Vice President Stuart Symington was sworn in on-board Air Force One.

Kennedy was elected on a wave of patriotism that was fanned by the tragic story of his personal sacrifices during the war. Both of his eldest sons had perished in the conflict; Joe died when a drone aircraft experiment went tragically wrong and younger brother Jack killed when his Military Torpedo Boat PT-109 was rammed by a Japanese destroyer.

Because he had served as Secretary of the Air Force, Kennedy considered Symington to be a complementary choice for the VP slot. Unfortunately, Symington had a rather narrow definition of patriotism and suffered from his own form of muteness. A divisive figure, he had lost votes in the South for refusing to address a segregated audience prior to the 1960 election. And now he would enter the White House at a critical moment when the issue of Civil Rights was just about to dominate the domestic agenda.
This article is based upon an article post by Robbie Taylor.

In 605 BC, on this day Nebuchadnezzar II was killed in battle and his Babylonian Army defeated in an epic struggle fought on the banks of the Euphrates river.

Babylonian Army defeated on the bank of the Euphrates riverThe momentous events leading up to this desperate last stand had been building ever since the Babylonians forced the Assyrians to relocate their capitals from Nineveh, then Harran and finally Carchemish. However this strategic pause had enabled the Assyrian king Ashur-uballit II to force an alliance with the Egyptians. Fortunately for him, the forces of Pharaoh Necho II were able to march to his aid after defeating King Josiah of Judah at Megiddo.

Nevertheless the Alliance failed to take Harran, retreating to northern Syria where they forced the decision at Carchemish. This defensive location better suited their outnumbered forces because it required the Babylonian troops to cross the Euphrates River. Stronger than expected tides left Nebuchadnezzar's water-logged force in dissarray. The Egyptian Army that had advanced from Karchemis then set upon them immediately on the river bank. The Babylonian Chronicles record that not a single man escaped to his own country.

By 216 B.C., the Second Puno-Roman War had raged for two years, and Rome became desperate after a string of catastrophic defeats at the hand of Hannibal, son of Hamilcar Barca.

Hannibal Captures Rome Hamilcar had served as the great Carthaginian commander in the First Punic War and went into exile in Iberia after angrily killing Hanno II, leader of the peace-mongers of Carthage, who had demobilized the Carthaginian navy and allowed the Romans to rebuild their own fleet. Hamilcar had passed on his distrust and hatred of the Romans to Hannibal, who set off across Gaul in a surprise attack across the Alps that caught the Romans with their sandals untied. The Gauls of northern Italy rose up around him, and Hannibal began a years-long campaign around the Italian peninsula that would end with the defeat of Rome.

Most of the Romans were sent to Iberia or Sicily to fight an imperial war, and the consul Publius Cornelius Scipio scrounged what 42,000 men he could to meet Hannibal in battle at Trebia. Hannibal's cavalry and expert flanking defeated the Romans, sweeping them from northern Italy. They vowed to drive Hannibal from Italy and formed up an army of more than 50,000, which Hannibal ambushed them on the cliff-ringed shores of Lake Trasimene in one of the most famous flanking battles in history. By 216 BC, many of the Roman "allies" erupted in revolt, and Hannibal captured the key supply depot at Cannae, where he and his army rested on the eastern end of Italy.

The Romans were determined to have another, final battle with the largest army anyone had attempted on the peninsula. Working under both consuls, they formed up a force of nearly 90,000 men, which included quaestors, tribunes, and even senators from the 300. The enormous army attacked Hannibal, who feinted a retreat, catching the much larger army in an enveloping maneuver that allowed the Carthaginians to surrounded and again slaughter Romans by the tens of thousands. After the battle, some 50,000 Romans lay dead, including much of the governors of Rome itself. According to legend, every single Roman was related directly to someone killed in battle. Hannibal's army, meanwhile, had only lost some 8,000.

At the victory, Hannibal's Nubian commander of cavalry, Mahrabal, approached him, saying that he would ride ahead of the main army and begin the attack on Rome. Hannibal, however, was slow to agree. His was a field army, and they did not have the siege weapons necessary to take Rome. Moreover, the Romans still had many allies as well as a seemingly unbreakable resolve, and moving on the city would potentially cut off his supply lines. Finally, Hannibal's men had fought long and hard, and he sought to reward them with three days of looting the corpses from the field. Mahrabal responded, "Truly the Gods have not bestowed all things upon the same person. Thou knowest indeed, Hannibal, how to conquer, but thou knowest not how to make use of your victory".

Hannibal,suffering a migraine from his strained vision after having lost an eye before the Battle of Lake Trasimene, responded that Mahrabal could do as he saw fit, and the Nubian took an army of volunteers to begin the siege of Rome with Hannibal's forces to follow after their days of rest. He sent a case of some 200 rings cut from the fingers of dead Roman nobles to the Carthaginian senate, asking for reinforcements and equipment necessary to finish the war. After much debate, Carthage agreed, and they gained new allies as Grecian Sicily revolted against Rome and Macedon joined Hannibal's cause.

Even with an upgraded army that summer, the siege of Rome was not easy. Rather than a uniform siege line, Hannibal stretched his resources and emulated Mahrabal's tactics of constant patrols on horseback with skirmishers defeating any supply trains attempting to sneak into Rome. The Romans attempted several times to piece together a larger force to drive away the Carthaginian raiders, but Hannibal's superior tactics defeated them over and over. Finally, as winter approached, the Romans gave in. They had done everything they could to resist even moderate peace talks, mobilizing the entire male population including slaves, outlawing the word "peace", and banning public crying while limited mourning periods to 30 days. Hannibal is noted by historians such as the Roman Livy as saying that want broke the Romans' back, but never military defeat.

The war ended very favorably to the Carthaginians, who raised up opposing cities such as Tarentum and Pisa to cow Roman influence on the peninsula. Carthage's empire would spread as the centuries progressed, south into Africa and eastward through the Mediterranean and Black Seas, using their famous navy to establish colonies and dominance in places such as Greece, Egypt, and Palestine. As a merchant people, their influence was largely cultural with an increase of child-sacrifice seen in archeology, and their empire did not go much beyond the navigable shores. After hundreds of years of dominance, the Carthaginians would eventually fall to invading Vandals, whose King Genseric would establish his capital and center of his state religion of Arian Christianity there in 439.

In 1961, as part of a series of special feature stories commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the U.S. entry into the Second World War, the American newsmagazine Look printed the article "If Hitler Had Won World War II" by noted author and journalist William L. Shirer.

Battle of GreenlandIn chillingly precise and realistic terms Shirer's article depicted what the Nazis might have done to a conquered America if the U.S. Navy's Atlantic fleet hadn't succeeded in intercepting and destroying a German invasion force off the Greenland coast in June of 1941; one segment which especially disturbed Look's readers was Shirer's portrayal of a hypothetical ethnic cleansing campaign in which SS Einsatzgruppen methodically wiped out Native Americans, blacks, and Jews for the sake of making the occupied United States a purely "Aryan" country.

Interestingly enough one of the men Shirer interviewed for his story, an ex-Wehrmacht attache to the German embassy in Paris prior to the May 1940 German invasion of France, revealed that most of the troops and equipment committed to the ill-fated North American venture had in fact been previously assigned to a cancelled attack on the Soviet Union code-named Operation Barbarossa; Hitler ordered the attack on Russia postponed after becoming convinced(despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) that America would be the easier target.

In 1984, at the Keir Hardie Motor Company in Dagenham, Essex workers and their families were entaintained by a modern adaption of "A Christmas Carol" updated from the original version written by the author and social reform advocate Charles Dickens.
Click to watch the 1970 Movie Scene

Bah, Humbug!Set in the early Victorian era, the genius of Dickens was his penmanship of such a stark portrayal of the British Class War; the harsh face of industrial capitalism was personified by the brutal money-changer, Ebeneezer Scrooge and the down-trodden British working class by his maltreated clerk, Bob Cratchit.

As the play develops from this transparent metaphor of abusive industrial relations, the true evil of the capitalists' inhumanity begins to emerge in Scrooge's callous indifference to Cratchit's ailing invalid son, Tiny Tim. Unwilling to grasp that his fortune could pay for the healthcare that could save his life, the play ends on a sad note with the Cratchit's mournfully eating Christmas dinner without Tiny Tim whose abandoned crutch stands at the fireplace.

In 1920, on this day a representative of the US Government, Washington D. Vanderlip signed a sixty-year lease of the Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula with the Russian Soviet regime. Officially, Vanderlip had been dispatched to Moscow by the State Department with instructions to secure important oil and mining concessions. But at the time, the decision was a matter of little significance for the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), who only occupied but a small fraction of the dissolved Russian Empire, and because the territory was nominally controlled by a a bourgeois-democratic state, the Far Eastern Republic.

A Dagger pointed at our throat by Andrew Beane, Ed. & David AtwellThe capitalist impressario Vanderlip had exceeded his authority, intending to gift the peninsula to President Harding in the manner of an Oriental Monarch. Even when the Moscow authorities insisted on a lease, rather than a purchase, he exclaimed gleeful "I have joined the frontiers of Russia and America!". And yet from a military perspective, it was a smart move for Bolshevist Premier Lenin (pictured) who wanted to stave off war with Japan. America also saw a cut-price opportunity for building a deep-water port at Petropavlovsk. This geopolitical reality was openly acknowledged at the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets on December 7th, when Lenin declared that the United States required a base in Asia "in view of an eventual war with Japan".

"I have joined the frontiers of Russia and America!" ~ Washington D. VanderlipIn fact, Imperialists had recognised the military value of the peninsula for over seventy years. In 1854, the French and British, who were battling Russian forces on the Crimean Peninsula, attacked Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. During the Siege of Petropavlovsk, 988 men with a mere 68 guns managed to defend the outpost against 6 ships with 206 guns and 2,540 French and British soldiers.

Trouble was, the lease did spark a four-year long Pacific War between Japan and America. Because in 1937, Admiral Isoroku Yamomoto designed a pre-emptive strike on Petropavlovsk, which the Imperial Japanese Government considered to be an unacceptable strategic threat, "a dagger to our throat". With the blessings of the Prime Minster Tojo, Yamomoto put the plan to attack Petropavlovsk into motion. Yamomoto selected Vice Admiral Chuich Nagumo to lead the fleet. The fleet consisted at its core of six aircraft carriers: Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga, Shokaku, Soryu and Zuikaku. The six carriers had 420 planes between them. Escorting the six carriers were eleven destroyers, two battleships, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, three submarines and eight tankers. Twenty other submarines joined the group before they arrived at their destination at Petropavlovsk.

Whilst America was fully engaged in the Far East, Nazi Germany was expanding unchecked. Having hardly advanced in twenty turbulent years, by 1941, the RSFSR was still a malformed state, not much bigger than one of its predecessor states, the Principality of Muscovy. Unable to resist the Wehrmacht, the RSFSR collapsed, and Western Russia was annexed by Hitler.

In 4000, of the Mundane Era, the Roman client king of Judaea, Herod 1 was informed that seventy-six generations had passed since the Creation.Day of Judgement
Jewish Scholars had finally arrived at this calculation by combining existing genealogies from the Torah, specifically Genesis 5.3-32 (from Adam to Shem) , Genesis 11.10-26 (from Shem to Abraham), Genesis 25.19-26, 35.23, 46.12 (from Abraham to Hezron), Ruth 4.18-22 (from Hezron to David), 2 Samuel 5.14, Kings 1 and 2, Ezra 5.2 (from Nathan to Zerubbabel).
It was well known that the Day of Judgement (pictured by Michaelangelo) would occur in the seventy-seventh generation for the Book of Watchers says ~
"And the Lord said to [the arch-angel] Raphael: 'Bind [the rebel] Azazel hand and foot and throw him into the darkness!' And Raphael made a hole in the desert, which was in Dudael, and cast him there. On top of him, he threw rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered Azazel's face in order that he may not see light and [...] may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment. [...] And to Michael the Lord said: '[...] Bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment is concluded.' "
(1 Enoch 10.4-6, 11-12)
Already mentally unstable, Herod committed suicide in Jericho. The King's second wife, her two sons and their entire family had been murdered under his instruction as he feared a plot against him. His first born son Antipater was also killed by Herod, so that upon his death the Kingdom was divided amongst his surviving sons who ruled for the last days.

In 1974, on this day the former Governor of New York State Nelson Rockefeller became Gerald Ford's vice president by special appointment. The significance of that choice came sharply into focus during the course of the next six months, Sara Jane Moore and "Squeaky" Fromme both tried to kill Ford. Had either of the two assassination attempts been successful, Rockefeller would have been the second president in a row to reach the office without having to win an election. He was a heartbeat from the Presidency, but of course there were a few people that were less than keen for "Rocky" to enter the Oval Office.

Jamaica Bay: The AftermathThe selection was a cause of bitterness in parts of Manhattan due to the controversy surrounding Rockefeller's executive role in the management of the Jamaica Bay Hurricane disaster. Like Mayor Robert F. Wagner, he was seen as largely ineffectual. Not only that, he was keen to participate in photo-shoots as pictured but only when Wagner's successor, Republican Congressman John Lindsay assumed office and took a firmer grip of the crisis.

Fourteen years later, many infrastructure projects had finally been completed and the commercial centre of the city at least was back on track. However some quarters of the city were not buzzing; Harlem residents in particular were disappointed by the lack of urban regeneration, holding a largely unchanged view since Martin Luther King's legendary "Do Not Forget Harlem" speech. One individual even more disappointed than Lindsay was George Romney; as the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development he had sought to introduce an transformative change programme that had been stymied by President Nixon. He had resigned in private disgust at the end of Nixon's first time. This post is an article from the Jamaica Bay thread developed by Chris Oakley.

In 1989,, the United States sends troops into Panama to overthrow government of Manuel Noriega and recover Extraterrestrial Technology (ET) buried in Panama. However, Noriega had beaten Bush to it, and the US Marines were confronted by Panamanian troops armed with futuristic weapons.
In 2182, the United States General Accounting Office (USGAO) published economic and demographic forecasts up to the end of the twenty-second century. By 2200, America would be a quadrillion dollar economy with one billion citizens it was confidently predicted by the USGAO. One man thought otherwise, he had plans to return the Turtle Island to the First Nations by setting the clock back seven hundred years. And he had just obtained the means to do so.
In 2003, on this day the compendium 'A Collection of Political Counterfactuals' was published. Simon Burns' masterful sequel 'What if Raymond Lee Harvey had missed?' was a keynote contribution, considering the scenario of May 5, 1979 where President James Earl Carter survives the shooting at the civic center mall in Los Angeles. In this story, another man is hired to create a diversion so that Mexican hit men armed with sniper rifles could kill Carter; he fails and Raymond Lee Harvey shoots Carter with his pistol but misses. The consequence is that Carter is re-elected and implements a two-state solution of Israel and Palestine, bring peace to the Middle East.
In 1973, on this day the Spanish Caudillo, General Franco, was killed in a car bomb attack in Madrid. The 78-year-old, his bodyguard and a driver died instantly and four other people were injured after a remote-controlled bomb was detonated as he passed. A massive explosion sent the car hurtling into the air and over the roof of the San Francisco de Borga Church where Mr Blanco had just been attending mass. The vehicle landed on the second floor terrace of a building on the other side of the church and a great deal of damage was caused in the area. No one has admitted carrying out the attack. The General's death came 15 minutes before the start of a trial involving 10 of Spain's leading opponents of the Franco regime, one of them a Roman Catholic priest. They were arrested in a Madrid Church 18 months ago and were accused of unlawful assembly. Thousands of angry demonstrators have campaigned against the case and have already clashed with police. Commentators said the General's death must be seen in the context of this controversial trial and against the backdrop of his staunch support of General Franco's regime. Not since the Civil War, which ended in 1939, has a government minister died in such violent circumstances.
In 1977, Home Secretary Margaret Thatcher returned from a Christmas reception at Number 10 Downing Streeting hosted by Interim Prime Minister Lord Louis Mountbatten and his deputy Major General Ord Wingate, DSO. Young people from the Norwich Choir showcase British youth of the 'the right sort'. The smile wiped off her face, Thatcher worked through the night on plans for the forthcoming Miner's Strike. She would break the back of the Trade Union movement for sure, but first she needed to stockpile oil and coal like crazy.
In 1984, British Horror Writer Graham Masterton published IKON, a tribute to Philip K Dick's 1964 counter-factual novel Man in the High Castle. Set in America in 1985, the once-proud nation has been reduced to an Oblast of the USSR with a powerless President. All because some twenty years earlier America secretly lost the Cuban Missiles Crises. Like Dick before him, the essence of Masterton's masterpiece is the book within the book, 'The Eagle Lies Heavy', a work of fiction written by a man called Graham Masterton. It describes a world where the Americans won the Cuban Missile Crisis - as a result, it has been banned by the Americans. Given his unpopularity with the world's two great powers, Masterton is said to live in a heavily fortified home and has become known as 'The Author in the High Castle'. Critics panned the concept but loved the story. After all, it was predicated on the US surrendering to Secretary Khrushchev. Today we know that Mr Kennedy meant it when he said 'the problems of the world today are not susceptible to a military solution'. He had already surrendered by then.
In 2007,, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows Ebeenezer Scrooge a strange vision of the far future. Portly parents (and children too!) consume vast quantities of packaged food in a shopping mall flooded with light. Huge amounts of money pass hands. Yet something is missing in this future. Despite the wild extravagance there's not nearly so much joy as at the 1843 Cratchit family christmas. Something is missing. Or rather, someone.
After(cont.), ~
There was an uncomfortable silence as Janice concluded their story with a description of Miss Raintree's body. Joan looked like she was going to throw up; Steph held a hand over her mouth and tried to hold back the tears that had been pouring down her cheeks. 'And, that's when we decided we better get to you.' Janice took a roll from the table and bit into it absently. 'Jake has a plan.'
Steph looked over at her ex-husband and he said, 'Have the Johnson's family gotten over there yet?'
She shook her head, confused. 'No, not with all the traffic and the curfew and everything.'
Jake nodded. 'That's what I thought. We need to move y'all over there till we can arrange someplace safer for you to stay.'
'I don't wanna stay over there,' Joan said, starting to cry.
'It's just for tonight, Joanie,' Jake said, reaching out to her. She pulled back from him. 'It's the only place they won't know to look for you, cause we haven't mentioned it on the phone or in our email.'
'I don't wanna go there.' Joan repeated, and buried her face in her mother's arms.
Steph patted her head and looked at the three people in front of her. They suddenly seemed very dangerous, even Jake. She wanted to throw them out of her house, but they had entangled her in their plans, now, and she was trapped. She stroked her daughter's hair and soothed her. 'Joanie, baby, go get Georgie and tell him to come here.'
'We're not goin' over there, are we, mom?'
Her daughter's pleading look almost melted her heart, but Steph told her, 'We have to, Joanie. I don't think we have a choice, now.' She looked over at Janice. 'Right?'
Janice nodded, gulped down the piece of bread she was chewing, and said, 'Right. You don't wanna end up like Miss Raintree.'
Joan shuddered and hurried from the table. Steph looked over at Kevin. 'Couldn't you get us a room in some hotel somewhere?'
'That's what I told 'em,' he said.
'They're probably watching his bank account,' Janice said. 'They'll be able to trace any activity from it. That means, he pays for a hotel room, they're gonna want to know who's in it.'
'Great.' She looked over at Jake, and her eyes could have eviscerated him. 'Why do you always get me in trouble?'
'It's a gift,' he said, shrugging and smiling weakly. 'The bad part is that, come mornin', we're AWOL,' he said, pointing at himself and Kevin. 'We can't report in.'
'Why not?'
'Well, if the government's lookin' for us, the last thing we wanna do is walk into a heavily-armed government facility.' Jake's eyes didn't focus on her as he spoke; he was looking at something inside himself. 'Looks like I can kiss my career goodbye.' He shook himself out of his reverie and said, 'Anyway, that's gonna complicate the whole thing. Once we're AWOL, he becomes a fugitive and they'll probably freeze his bank account.'
Kevin looked over at her glumly. 'Easy come, easy go.'
In 2004, back-channel communication between the Vice President-elect and the Swift Boat Veterans continues as they build a case for the early impeachment of President-elect John Forbes Kerry. Just about the only thing that John Edwards agrees with his boss on is that America can 'do better'. Of course Edwards means 'do better' than having his boss assume the Presidency. Regrettably that means Edwards has to seek common cause with these unlikely allies, the Swift Boat Veterans. As a lawyer, he's pretty comfortable now with moral compromise.
In 1990, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Defence Michael Heseltine has a vivid recollection of calling British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher the day after the sinking of the Argentine Cruiser the General Belgrano during the Falklands Conflict. She was not available, said an assistant, she's 'having one of her spells'.
In 2009, Bartholomew Thompson's unlikely alliance scores its first political victory with the Alt'Himin people pledging support and a home base for the combined fleet under Thompson's command. It is when the Alt'Himin people are threatened by both the B'Han and the Kaerth that Thompson begins making plans for a new base for his Army of Intelligent Life.
In 1998, Republican President William Blythe denounces Democratic House Speaker Newt Gingrich in an attempt to make political hay of the sexual scandals breaking out of the House of Representatives. When the National Enquirer threatens to expose his own escapades if he keeps up the tough talk, President Blythe drops the subject, and Gingrich's resignation lets the Democrats put the scandals behind them.
In 1986, Comrade President Ann Richards releases Carl Sagan and his wife, Ann Druyen, from the Leavenworth Penal Soviet. The couple had been interred years before when they used their academic positions to criticize Soviet American politics in other countries. 'Comrades Sagan and Druyen can testify to our new spirit of openness,' Comrade Richards said on their release.
In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 return safely to earth after a successful lunar mission. After this, the lunar program is turned over to the astronauts of the Osiris Project, and the last few Apollo missions are used to shuttle specialists to the space station built by America and the Soviet Union.
In 1941, after briefly allowing their figurehead, Adolf Hitler, to lead the German Underground's army, the true leadership of the G.U., neo-Nazi time-travelers from 1968, informs the German General Staff that orders from Hitler are to be disregarded, but he himself is to be humored that he is in charge.
In 1777, the Continental Army under the command of rebel General George Washington faces drastic cuts in supplies as the Continental Congress comes under the control of politicians who seek reconciliation with Britain. At one point during the winter, Washington leaves his camp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to seek out the Congress, where he threatens to shoot several members. This rash display puts the Congress more firmly in the hands of the pro-British faction.
In 1953, physicist Robert Millikan, who had briefly been involved in Richard Tolman's parallel universe cult in the 1940's, died at his home in San Marino, California. At the viewing prior to his funeral, a strange visitor that seemed to closely resemble Dr. Millikan entered the funeral home and spent several minutes staring at the body in the casket. When a family member approached him, the stranger ran from the room, shouting, 'My god, it?s me!'
In 1861, Human League founder Brent Carpenter, along with four compatriots, crashes an aircar carrying hundreds of thousands of British pound notes. They kill the driver and take the cash, adding theft to the list of crimes the Human League is guilty of.
In 1154, Pope Henry II stepped into the shoes of the fisherman. As a young French nobleman, Henry Plantagenet had dallied with the Queen of France herself, convincing her to leave the King and marry him. Just 3 years later, he was elevated to the papacy of the Holy British Empire, largely through his charm and her considerable influence in the Empire. The line of Popes that he began ruled the Holy British Empire for centuries.
In 3732, the great leader Su Tung-p'o was born in Sichuan. His warrior nature shone forth in battle more brightly than any before him, and he very nearly became emperor through his military prowess. At his death in 3797, his retainers found several volumes of poetry, giving the world a glimpse into the pure heart of a man known only for battle. His poetry retains its beauty and relevance even across the centuries, and was read to the Chdo embassy on their first mission to earth.

On this day in 1941, Xavier March was promoted to lieutenant and transferred to the submarine U-106 as that vessel was being deployed to the Caribbean following Hitler's declaration of war on the United States after Pearl Harbor.

Detective - Xavier March
Xavier March
In 1843, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come takes the form of a grim spectre, completely robed in black, who does not speak and whose body is entirely hidden except for one pointing hand. This spirit frightens Ebeneezer Scrooge more than the others, and harrows him with visions of the Cratchit family bereft of Tiny Tim, of Scrooge's own lonely death and final torment, and the cold, avaricious reactions of the people around him after his passing (they joke about his death and funeral). Without its explicitly being said, Scrooge learns that he can avoid the future he has been shown, and alter the fate of Tiny Tim-but only if he changes.
Story, Chunk 1Story Chunk 2

In 2006, Steve Bantu Biko enjoyed the first day of the sixth decade of his life by listening to his friend Peter Gabriel's tribute song ~ "September '77 Port Elizabeth weather fine. It was business as usual in police room 619. Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja - The man is alive".

Steve Biko
Steve Biko - Activist
In 12-19-7-14-15, the outskirts of Oueztec city were devastated by the long-dormant volcano known as Popo, which came to life and suddenly spewed tons of ash into the air. Small amounts of lava rained down, as well, filling up several nearby valleys. It had given the residents of the area some warning, though, and no lives were lost in the eruption.
In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a measure to impeach President Clinton on two charges of perjury. Dozens of Republican Representatives jumped ship during this session, dismantling the vaunted Republican discipline in keeping its membership in line. Many of the Representatives were so disgusted with the party that they switched sides and became Democrats, throwing control of the House back into Democratic hands in 1999.Now former Speaker Newt Gingrich decried them as traitors, but Democratic wins in 2000, and his own narrow escape from defeat, led him to become more conciliatory towards the other party.

In 1433 AH, in accordance with the Islamic calendar European Muslims celebrated the Festival of Dhu al-Hijjah commencing an eight-day rededication of the Second Temple in Yerushalayim at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. The earliest known celebration of Dhu al-Hijjah in Europe was the arrival of the rusul known as Isa ibn Maryam in Rome in the pre-Islamic era.

 - Dhu al-Hijjah
Dhu al-Hijjah
In 1918, the New York Globe began publishing a trivia series by Robert Ripley entitled Believe It Or Not. Apparently, no one believed it, as the series was cancelled a month after it began.
In 2004, back-channel communication between the Vice President-elect and the Swift Boat Veterans continues as they build a case for the early impeachment of President-elect John Forbes Kerry. Just about the only thing that John Edwards agrees with his boss on is that America can 'do better'. Of course Edwards means 'do better' than having his boss assume the Presidency. Regrettably that means Edwards has to seek common cause with these unlikely allies, the Swift Boat Veterans. As a lawyer, he's pretty comfortable now with moral compromise.
In 1967, Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt is officially presumed dead. On 2 September 2005, the Coroner's finding was that Holt had drowned in accidental circumstances. There were many rumours about Holt's death, such as that he had committed suicide or faked his own death in order to run away with his mistress. In fact he had been seized by time travellers from the far future, snatching him away to face charges of inhumanity including the pursuit of sterilisation programs against aborigines in the mid-1960s.
in 1958, the first radio message was sent from outer space. President Eisenhower's Christmas message, 'To all mankind, America's wish for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere.' Unfortunately, the aliens who received the signal in 1972 wished the human race nothing quite resembling peace or good will.
In 1998, the United States House of Representatives forwarded articles I and III of impeachment against President Bill Clinton to the Senate. Clinton had refused to acquiesce to the demands of the military-industrial complex, and the threat to discredit him was now very real.
In 1967, Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt was officially presumed dead. His term as Prime Minister was dramatically ended when he disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea and was presumed drowned. Holt spent 32 years in Parliament, including many years as a senior Cabinet Minister, but he was Prime Minister for only 22 months. This necessarily limited his personal and political impact, especially when compared to his immediate predecessor Robert Menzies, who was PM for a total of 19 years. Today he is mainly remembered for the sensational circumstances of his death, for his controversial role in expanding Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War and for his famous (or infamous) 'All the way with LBJ' quote. Whilst swimming, he was set upon and killed by the ghosts of Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and his younger brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu. Five years later, a similar fate would descend upon LBJ and speculation would be rife as to why his hand was holding a telephone in a rictus of horror.
In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refuses to sign the Sino-British Joint Declaration. An agreement would have mandated that the People's Republic of China resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the United Kingdom would restore Hong Kong to China with effect from July 1, 1997. Deng Xiaoping refused to accept a British compromise of receiving the New Territories now, and the rest of Kowloon by 2027. Thatcher set about introducing democratic reforms, to make Hong Kong not only ungovernable, but also a source of tension for China.

December 18

In 1867, on this day the twenty-eight year old oil refinery owner John D. Rockefeller was killed in a freak transportation accident in Angola, New York.

Budding Young Oil Tycoon Dies in Train CrashHe always travelled Third Class but on this occasion his prudence was his undoing because the last coach of the Buffalo-bound New York Express of the Lake Shore Railway derailed and caught fire. Only two people escaped alive from the carriage; some may have suffocated, but the majority were burned alive. Witnesses spoke of hearing the screams of those trapped inside lasting for five minutes.

Would-be rescuers discovered that the coach went completely off of the track and crashed into the Creek, a spill of about forty feet (down), killing most of the fifty people aboard. The car had two pot-bellied stoves which came loose, starting a fire that killed those who didn't die directly from the crash itself.

The accident and the public outcry that arose from it influenced many railroad reforms that soon followed, including the replacement of loosely secured stoves with a safer forms of heating, the replacement of wooden cars with iron, more effective braking systems and the standardisation of track gauges. But of course the most revolutionary change finally came along in 1946 with the ambitious decision to build the United Nations Headquarters on Navy Island in the Niagara River [1]. A stateless tract of land sited on the US-Canada border the island was less than thirty-five miles from the Angola crash scene. And inevitably a massive infrastructure works had to be commissioned including the building of high speed rail links across New York State all the way through to the Province of Ontario.

To properly introduce Stalin's Orphans Projects we might perhaps begin at the other end of the Eurasian continent with his meddling in the Spanish Civil War and Eric Arthur Blair's fateful decision to join Izquierda Comunista de Españ (the Trotskyist Communist Left of Spain). Because the bitterness of Blair's Civil War-time experience in Catalonia was destined to shape the third book in his anti-authoritarian trilogy (written under his pen-name of George Orwell).

Part 3: Stalin's fifty year planThe three novels that sprung from his imagination set out the rise ("Animal Farm"), zenith ("Nineteen Eighty-Four") and fall ("Last Man in Europe") of the fictional totalitarian state of Oceania, locked in a perpetual state of global war with Eurasia or Eastasia. However the latter half of the trilogy increasingly focused on the shadowy leader of "the Brotherhood" - Emmanuel Goldstein, a former top member of the Inner Party and an early associate of its leader, "Big Brother". As the principal enemy of the state (according to the Party) and the focus of their orchestrated "two minute hate" by the citizenry (pictured) he was the resistance leader of the Oceanian Citizens that returned to overthrow the government in Airstrip One.

Working in the BBC's propaganda department in 1944 (also describing the Eastasian hordes on the front), Blair was not only acting out the role of Winston Smith but also in his biopic of Goldstein he was describing an imaginary comeback for the long-deceased Trotsky. Meanwhile in Russia, Josef Stalin, who had arranged for agents in Mexico City to assassinate Trotsky, had also given some deep thought to a more realistic scenario for the end-game. He would shortly begin to create his own next generation of political heirs who would come to their maturity forty years after his death, quite appropriately being the ruby anniversary. Of course they couldn't co-exist in the same era because of his raging paranoia he would probably have killed them himself. But by the far future he figured, the proven failure of his weak successors would have created a genuine longing for the return of a "Man of Steel". To be continued...

Whilst British and Scottish army units conducted a face-off at Lockerbie, the British 4th Mechanised Brigade continued on-wards from their encounter at Dunglass Burn towards Edinburgh. Although news had come through to the 4th Mechanised that the Highland Fusiliers had intervened at Lockerbie, there did not seem to be any sign of intervention as yet by any other battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in the south-east of Scotland.

Scotland Under Fire 12Yet the 4th Mechanised did not get too far before a now familiar sight awaited them. The road bridge across the main railway line, not far from the Torness Power Station, had once again been blocked by several abandoned lorries and other vehicles. Furthermore, and something which amused the lead troops somewhat, a goods train had also been abandoned under the bridge ensuring simply driving around the blockade caused some difficulty. In the end, however, the blocked bridge was merely an inconvenience, as the brigade soon found a parallel local road, adjacent to the A1, which allowed the brigade to advance once again unimpeded. The commander noted, though, that there were no protestors defending the blockade which appeared odd to him.

The railway bridge blockade was, though, just a time wasting exercise whilst the real defence would take place to the west of Dunbar at the Biel Water. Here the commander of the Scots Borderers decided to make his stand and although they blew the old A199 bridge to the north, to forestall any flanking move, the A1 bridge was blocked with a mix of concrete road dividers and other heavy equipment. Furthermore, should the defence be broken here, the next line would be 500 yards away on the Hedderwick Burn where the Highland Volunteers were quickly preparing the defences. Then, if that line failed, the ad hoc brigade would rally behind the River Tyne and use that water feature as their last line of defence before Edinburgh.

Upon coming across the Biel Water blockade the commander of the 4th Mechanised sent his Reconnaissance Company forward to report the situation.

It did not take long before it became apparent that the brigade faced a large and well prepared military defence. Nonetheless, even though an adjoining railway bridge over Biel Water was also defended, it appeared that it was only done so lightly.

Consequentially, even though the armoured battalion of the brigade made a faint towards the main A1 bridge, the main attack involved the infantry battalion at the railway bridge.

The defending Scots almost missed it, but it soon became apparent where the real target of the English attack lay.

Having no armour of their own, the defenders had to rely upon their rifles, machine guns, and mortars, whilst they kept their LAW anti-armour rockets silent for now awaiting the right moment when the English armour got close enough. The attacking English infantry, however, soon suffered a large number of casualties from very accurate rifle fire. In response the armoured units began to concentrate their cannon fire around the railway bridge causing casualties amongst the Scottish defenders.

The English armour then changed their strategy and tried to get across the railway bridge, to support their infantry comrades, but a mix of obstacles and limited space made the leading Scimitars fall victim to LAW rockets whilst their wreckage ensured that the bridge was henceforth completely blocked.

At this point the leading elements of the 4th Mechanised fell back a safe distance as its commander contemplated what to do next.

Meanwhile his Scottish counterpart was very satisfied by the actions of his troops albeit remorseful for those that had been killed. However, later in the afternoon, when it appeared there would be no further action for the day, he called a media conference to report the events of the battle. The commander of the Borders proudly concluded the media event, in replying to a reporter from the Scotsman newspaper, by defiantly saying "Oh Aye, the lads will stand. Even if the English use a nuclear weapon, we'll stand".

In 218 BC, on this day the first major battle of the Second Punic War was fought to an indecisive draw in freezing cold weather conditions on the banks of the Trebbia River.

Battle of the Trebia
By Ed & Scott Palter
The outcome was of course a bitter disappointment for the Carthaginians who discovered that they lacked the necessary resources to fully exploit their overwhelming tactical superiority. Because the impetuosity of the headstrong Roman Commander Tiberius Sempronius Longus was exposed from the very outset by an ambush commanded by Hannibal's younger brother, Mago Barca.

Whereas Sempronius had not made any discovery efforts, the Barcas had noticed a space between the two camps which was flat and treeless. A closer inspection revealed that the area was traversed by a water-course with steep banks, densely overgrown with brambles and other thorny plants. A Numidian cavalry provocation lured the Romans into this flat area where concealed Carthaginians surprised the banks. The engagement was more successful than anticipated because not only were the Roman soldiers freezing from the cold river, they had not eaten since breaking arms seven hours before. Their mobility was severely restricted, and the result was a catastrophic rout.

But of course the strength of Rome to project military power was much greater that the weakness of an individual general, not matter how dumb. And therein lie the seeds of the Carthaginian defeat, because the Barca's military genius was never going to be enough to conquer the Italian peninsula. Because Roman diplomats had eliminated the key weakness prior to the beginning of the Second Punic War. They had sent one consul to Spain and an other to Cisalpina to remove the divided command. Against five legions the best Hannibal could have hoped for is a successful ambush followed by a drawn battle.

In 1913, on this day the German dissident Willy Brandt [1] was born in Lübeck.

Birth of Willy BrandtThe cause of his political activism was the shape of the post-war German occupation zones laid down at the Argonaut Conference in Yalta. The result of those protracted and delicate negotiations was the quadripartite decision to create a contiguous Soviet Occupation Zone with an undivided Berlin as its capital.

Although this ruthless decision was the source of bitter controversy, and indeed blamed for the creation of the Soviet Prussian State denounced by Brandt, it was a judgement based upon inescapably sound, reasoned logic. Because the undeniable truth was that the Soviet Union had steadfastly refused to offer sufficiently firm guarantees to maintain a Western garrison. And instead of gaining this "Achilles Heel", the Western Allies had wrung some very important concessions; the retention of Saxony and the Thuringia; the scrapping of plans to grant the lands east of the Oder and Neisse rivers to Poland and the absorption of northern East Prussia into the Soviet Union.
This blog is a reboot of an article with the Berlin Airlift Begins World War III.

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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.