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Rome, the night of July 19, 64 AD. The Great Fire burst through the rooftops of shops near the mass entertainment and chariot racing venue called Circus Maximus. The flames, whipped by a strong wind, rapidly engulfed densely populated areas of the city. After burning uncontrolled for five days, four of the 14 Roman districts were burned to the ground, and seven more were severely damaged. It was no secret that Nero wanted to build a series of palaces which he planned to name "Neropolis". But, the planned location was in the city and in order to build Neropolis, a third of Rome would have to be torn down. The Senate rejected the idea. Then, coincidentally, the fire cleared the very real estate Neropolis required.
Despite the obvious benefit, there's still a good probability that Nero did not start the fire. Up to a hundred small fires regularly broke out in Rome each day. On top of that, the fire destroyed Nero's own palace and it appears that Nero did everything he could to stop the fire. Accounts of the day say that when Nero heard about the fire, he rushed back from Antium to organize a relief effort, using his own money. He opened his palaces to let in the homeless and had food supplies delivered to the survivors. Nero also devised a new urban development plan that would make Rome less vulnerable to fire. But, although he put in place rules to insure a safer reconstruction, he also gave himself a huge tract of city property with the intention of building his new palace there. People knew of Nero's plans for Neropolis, and all his efforts to help the city could not counteract the rampant rumors that he'd help start the fire. As his poll numbers dropped, Nero's administration realized the need to employ False Flag 101: When something - anything - bad happens to you, even if it's accidental, point the finger at your enemy. Luckily, there was a new cult of religious nuts at hand. The cult was unpopular because its followers refused to worship the emperor, denounced possessions, held secret meetings and they were always talking about the destruction of Rome and the end of the world. Even more luckily for Nero, two of the cult's biggest leaders, Peter and Paul, were currently in town. Nero spread word that the Christians had started the Great Fire. The citizens of Rome bought his lie hook, line and sinker. Peter was crucified and Paul beheaded. Hundreds of others in the young cult were fed to the lions or smeared with tar and set on fire to become human street lamps.
The Spanish Empire was the first truly global empire, reaching its territorial height in the late 1700s. By 1898, Spain was losing territories regularly. Cuba too was becoming increasingly hard to control and a minor revolution had broken out. This wasn't welcome news to people in the United States who owned Cuban sugar, tobacco and iron industry properties valued at over $50 million (worth ca. $1.2 billion today). The main stream media, then dominated by newspaper magnates Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, exaggerated - and outright fabricated - stories of horrible conditions under Spanish rule. Following the age-old maxim, "If it bleeds, it leads", the newspapers published stories about Spanish death camps, Spanish cannibalism and inhumane torture. The newspapers sent reporters to Cuba. However, when they got there, they found a different story. Artist and correspondent Frederick Remington wrote back to Hearst: "There is no war. Request to be recalled." Hearst's famous reply: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war." And he did. His newspaper, continually screaming how Spanish Cuba was going to hell in a hand basket, convinced big business interests in the US to put pressure on anti-war President William McKinley to protect their Cuban investments. McKinley, in response, sent the USS Maine battleship to Havana Harbour as a calming show of force.
Three weeks after arriving, on the night of February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded, killing 266 men. There are two theories for the explosion: some believe the explosion was caused by an external mine that detonated the ship's ammunition magazines. Others say it was caused by a spontaneous coal bunker fire that reached the ammunition magazines. Currently, the evidence seems to favour the external mine theory. Without waiting on an investigation, America's mainstream media blamed the tragedy on Spain and beat the drums for war. By April, McKinley yielded to public pressure and signed a congressional resolution declaring war on Spain. To help pay for the Spanish-American War, congress enacted a "temporary" tax of 3 percent on long-distance telephone bills. This was essentially a tax on the rich, as only about 1,300 Americans owned phones in 1898. Although the Spanish-American War ended in 1898, the temporary tax was only abolished in... 2005. Over its lifetime, the 107-year-old tax generated almost $94 billion - more than 230 times the cost of the Spanish-American War.
The Spanish-American War put a large nail in the coffin of Spain's global empire. And by the end of 1898, the United States, which was founded in opposition to imperialism, found itself in control not only of Cuba, but of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Hawaiian Islands as well.
The economic slump following 1929's thorough and convincing near-obliteration of Wall Street hit Japan especially hard: exports fell, unemployment rose. Japan, not being rich in natural resources, needed oil and coal to make power to run machines to produce goods to sell to other countries to make money to buy food to have enough energy. Manchuria, a province of China, had its fair share of oil and coal.
After Japan decided it needed to invade Manchuria, they needed a pretext to justify the invasion. They chose to create a false flag attack on a railway close to Liutiao Lake... a big flat area that had no military value to either the Japanese or the Chinese. The main reason the spot was chosen was for its proximity (about 800 meters distant) to Chinese troops stationed at Beidaying. The Japanese press labelled the no-name site of the blast Liutiaogou, which was Japanese for "Liutiao Bridge." There was no bridge there, but the name helped convince some that the sabotage was a strategic Chinese attack. Colonel Itagaki Seishiro and Lieutenant Colonel Kanji Ishiwara ordered officers of the Shimamoto Regiment to place a bomb beneath the tracks. The original bomb failed to detonate and a replacement had to be found. Then, at 10.20pm, September 18, 1931, the tracks were blown. Surprisingly, the explosion was minor. Only one side of the rail was damaged, and the damage was so light that a train headed for Shenyang passed by only a few minutes later. But it was a good enough excuse to invade...
The Japanese immediately charged the Chinese soldiers with the destruction, then invaded Manchuria. A puppet government known as Manchukuo was installed. The League of Nations investigated and in a 1932 report denied that the invasion was an act of defense, as Japan had advertised. But rather than vacate Manchuria, Japan decided to vacate the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.