Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today -100: July 23, 1914: Cheap at half the price


An armistice is signed between the two sides in Mexico.

Pancho Villa goes on vacation.

Dorothy Evans of the Women’s Social and Political Union is arrested with explosives inside the home of the lord mayor of Belfast.

George Fred Williams, the US ambassador to Greece who resigned over Albanian policy, “went to Santa Quaranta [Albania[ with the intention of assuming the direction of Albanian affairs, but was politely requested to leave.” In November, when Williams (who was a one-term member of Congress from Massachusetts in the 1890s) returns to the US, surprisingly not in a strait-jacket, he will say he could have been king of Albania if he’d only had $25,000. He would have set up a cantonal form of government, like Switzerland. The Albanian people totally begged him to be their head, he says.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today -100: July 22, 1914: Today the cry of civil war is on the lips of the most responsible and sober-minded of my people


There’s some sort of large-scale revolutionary strike movement going on in Russia. The NYT is a little short of details.

Persia’s shah comes of age (16) and takes his oath. The crown is a little too big for his head. Literally.

Joseph Caillaux testifies at his wife’s trial in what the NYT accurately calls “a theatrical defense of himself.” He says the whole thing was his fault because he didn’t act first (shoot Calmette himself, I guess). He pointedly tells the court that he only knew true happiness with his second wife, the defendant, and not with the former wife who gave his private letters to Calmette. He says Calmette was part of a campaign against him by “the interests behind Le Figaro” motivated by opposition to the income tax Caillaux was trying to bring in as minister of finance (elsewhere he implies that Calmette took German bribes). Calmette’s actions in printing his personal letters were designed to “get at me politically through my honor, my honorableness, and at the same time to get at my wife through her honor, because it was our household itself that he was after.”

Caillaux goes on to defend his politics, his career, and his negotiations with Germany over Morocco in 1911. He then called up a Figaro staffer and demanded he produce government documents Calmette had in his possession (which were, though the public didn’t know this, three 1911 telegrams from the German foreign ministry to the German ambassador to France, intercepted and decoded by the French government, about secret conversations between the two governments on the Moroccan crisis. The government will falsely describe these documents as “nothing more than faked copies of documents that do not exist and that have never existed”). In the somewhat unstructured court proceedings of the period, if your name was mentioned, you had the right of reply and could just interrupt the trial to make a speech, like Caillaux is doing, or question witnesses. The victim’s family’s lawyer had the same privilege.

This is all the French newspapers are talking about, and will occupy the majority of real estate on their front pages until just before the war breaks out.

The Berlin police says there is no such thing as a white slave trade.

The conference on Ulster and Home Rule opens. King George begins, saying that the trend of events in Ireland “has been surely and steadily toward an appeal to force, and today the cry of civil war is on the lips of the most responsible and sober-minded of my people.” Liberals object to this language as echoing the Tory line, and, on constitutional grounds, to the king intervening at all.

Pres. Wilson orders that the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company be sued as a monopoly.

Pres. Wilson meets Fernando Calderon, who will be the foreign minister of Mexico when the Constitutionalists take power.

On Friday there’ll be another World War I fest on TCM. We’ve got, among others, Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms, a World War I short actually made during World War I, with a surprisingly grim (although comical) view of life in the trenches; King of Hearts (I’ve been avoiding re-watching this movie for years, for fear that something I quite liked when I was young will turn out to be the sort of thing that only the young like); and the really-shouldn’t-work-but-it-really-does Oh! What a Lovely War.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

A normal summer for our kids


(Written before the invasion of Gaza, but not posted because AT&T sucks):

Israeli Foreign Minister Unholy Avidor Lieberman explains why mass slaughter and occupation of Gaza is absolutely necessary: “It is not possible to ensure summer vacation, a normal summer for our kids, without a ground operation in Gaza.”

You don’t even want to know what he’s willing to invade to preserve Spring Break.



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Today -100: July 21, 1914: Never do we discern the voice of a woman


Headline of the Day -100: “Huerta Sails Away, Escaping Assassins.”

Carranza says he will accept an armistice pending negotiations for the handover of the government to him, but he still demands a surrender without conditions. He will grant a general amnesty, except for the murderers of Pres. Madero.

Headline of the Day -100: “Naps Stumbling Block for Senators.” As is always the case.

(That’s a baseball story.)

IWWer Becky Edelson, whose sentence of three months in the workhouse for refusing to give bond to keep the peace after making a street-corner speech was confirmed on appeal yesterday, plans to hunger strike. The IWW is sending out some rather premature funeral notices. Commissioner of Corrections Katherine Davis says “there won’t be any starving to death on Blackwell’s Island by Miss Edelson,” threatening forcible feeding.

Henriette Caillaux’s trial begins. She says she didn’t intend to kill Le Figaro editor Gaston Calmette: “It is terrible how these revolvers go off when they begin shooting – one can’t stop them!” She also insists that she is a bourgeoise. She says she was worried for months about the prospect of her husband’s letters being published to throw contempt upon him, the government of which he was minister of finance, the Radical Party of which he was president, “and strike through him the Republic.” Le Figaro describes her as having “physiognomy that hinted vaguely at a kind of Parisian elegance, but without distinctiveness and without charm” and “the banality of a shopgirl”. But “in her testimony she was harsh, dry, and without any emotion whatever... What we hear in [her speech] is the tones of parliament, never do we discern the voice of a woman.”



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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today -100: July 20, 1914: Of $2.50, Hindus, wrong impressions of conditions in Austria, and Salome costumes


25 Wobblies are arrested in Aberdeen, South Dakota, holding street meetings after the Commercial Club ran an ad asking farmers not to pay harvest hands more than $2.50 a day.

King George intervenes in the Northern Ireland issue, calling a conference of all parties.

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned the ship that’s been sitting in Vancouver harbor for three months with 350 would-be immigrants to Canada who are not being allowed off the ship because they are “Hindus,” barred by Canada’s racist immigration laws despite being fellow British subjects. There have been court fights, questionable hunger strikes, repeated attempts to land, and actual fights. Now the authorities attempt to put food on board the ship, preparatory to forcing it to return from whence it came. The “infuriated Hindus” repel the supplies, pelting the police who attempt to board from a tug with coal.

A Bishop Alexander and a Prof. Getseff have been touring the US raising funds on behalf of oppressed Russians in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But in Passaic, New Jersey, the professor is prevented from giving a speech by a large mob using the argument of the hurled egg to make the point that the two are “trying to give a wrong impression of conditions in Austria.”

Long Beach, NY police crack down on bathing suits they consider unsuitable, arresting men and warning women. “Salome costumes won’t go here,” says one cop.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Today -100: July 19, 1914: Of French pants, unamiable moods, kicks, best ruffians, and unclean and offensive ditties


The French Army is dropping its pants. Specifically, the traditional red trousers, which it will change for gray-blue ones.

A bank president tries to attack South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease, who had just called him a coward in a campaign speech.

Huerta, who is said to have indigestion and to be in an “unamiable mood,” still hasn’t left the country, but is said to be waiting for more of his cronies to arrive in Puerto Mexico.

The US says it won’t recognize as valid any concessions for natural resource extraction granted by Huerta, or foreign loans contracted by him after he dissolved Congress last October.

Mexican Fake President Francisco Carbajal orders troops to fall back and avoid fighting the rebel forces. And orders the practice of shooting prisoners of war and political prisoners ended. And orders the replacement of the statue of George Washington which was pulled down in April.

And generals Orozco and Cardenas, who played key roles in the overthrow of Madero’s government and his murder, respectively, are starting a new revolutionary movement. Mexico has too many fucking generals for its own good.

Headline of the Day -100: “DYING, HE TOOK REVENGE.; Frank Sharp Stabbed Man Whose Kick Caused Tuberculosis.”

Headline That Can and Indeed Should Be Read In A Different Way Than the Los Angeles Times Intended of the Day -100: “Police Best Ruffians, Who Attack in Force.”

Madame Caillaux’s trial is due to start, and seats are being sold for up to $200 (but no women will be allowed to spectate, except as journalists).

Letter to the Times of the Day -100: A Mrs. W. Williams writes to denounce the singing of “unclean and offensive ditties” and to praise the director of the Palace Theatre for banning “Who Paid the Rent for Mrs. Rip Van Winkle?” (which you can find on YouTube, but you really shouldn’t bother).

Edward, Prince of Wales (age 20) really wants to meet American women. Queen Mary really wants him not to meet American women. He recently cancelled a visit to one country house after his mother struck the names of two American women from the guest list. This is the future Edward VIII we’re talking about, so, well, yeah.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Today -100: July 18, 1914: I have paid – it has cost me the presidency


Members of the old Mexican Congress elected under Madero, which was forcibly dissolved by Huerta, are objecting to the claim in his resignation statement that he took power because the country needed him to do so, and that the Congress had agreed with him.

Huerta tells reporters, “When I assumed the presidency I said publicly that I would restore peace, cost what it might. I have paid – it has cost me the presidency.” He says he’ll be going to Europe “and there I will stay until my country needs my sword sufficiently to call upon me.” (Spoiler alert: it won’t).

British Home Secretary Reginald McKenna offers a deal to Sylvia Pankhurst: he’ll remit the rest of her prison sentence if she stops committing or inciting criminal acts.

At the National Portrait Gallery in London, a suffragette slashes Millais’s portrait of Thomas Carlyle with a butcher’s cleaver.

Rep. Samuel Andrew Witherspoon (D-Georgia) returns four days’ salary, because he was out of town on business and not congressing. This never ever happens. (Update: this actually happened in 1911. We’re just finding out now because he did it on the down low to avoid embarrassing his colleagues.)

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Cuts Grass.”

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today -100: July 17, 1914: Of unconditional surrenders, mobs, witches, lynchings, and Röntgen rays


Mexico’s Acting Pretend President Carbajal orders all political prisoners released. And orders all gambling houses in Mexico City closed. So how will all the political prisoners play blackjack?

Carranza says he won’t negotiate with Carbajal about anything; the only end to the fighting is unconditional surrender.

More praise for Woodrow Wilson, from the London Times, for his “sincere and unselfish efforts to save the Mexicans from themselves”.

Aaaand, Gen. Félix Díaz plans to start a new revolution, as was the custom.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan endorses women’s suffrage.

A London mob attacks the hall in which Emmeline Pankhurst was scheduled to deliver a speech (she had already been arrested after the police hijacked the ambulance that was taking her there from her nursing home). Police refuse to arrest anyone in the mob, on the grounds that the hall is private property.

The printer of the Women’s Social and Political Union’s newspaper The Suffragette – the printer, mind – is sentenced to two months for inciting.

Headline of the Day -100: “Set Fire to Burn Witch.” Four teenagers set fire to a house in Paterson, actually the house next door to the witch’s (a Mrs Amelia Corbett), belonging to some schmuck who had been carted off to the Almshouse, as if the witch thing wasn’t archaic enough, because they figured the fire would spread to the witch’s house, but neighbors put it out.

A man is lynched in Baker County, Oregon, for attacking an 8-year-old girl. I’m assuming he was not black, or the LA Times would have said.

Evidently the medical profession’s romance with radium is over. The Germans, at least, have stopped treating cancer with it. The new big thing is Röntgen ray therapy.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Today -100: July 16, 1914: I hate the man, but he is no coward


Huerta resigns. Francisco Carbajal, foreign minister for five days, succeeds him as provisional president, basically acting as caretaker until the rebels show up.

resignation (which I think was read to the Mexican Congress only after he’d already skipped town) blames the success of the rebellion on US interference, in particular that of “the Puritan,” as he calls Woodrow Wilson. Congress votes 121 to 17 to accept the resignation.

The NYT is also eager to claim credit for Wilson: “the Mexican revolution has been won – not in the riven republic, but at Niagara Falls, at Washington. Woodrow Wilson is the restorer of peace in Mexico, not by invoking the horrors of war, but by virtue of reason among nations.” They actually think the Niagara conference accomplished something.

Pancho Villa, who really does not understand Huerta at all, believes the resignation can only mean that Huerta intends to lead his military forces in person. “I hate the man, but he is no coward”. You know, Villa has definitely called Huerta a coward more than once in the past.

Headline of the Day -100: “Cruisers Ready for Huerta.” Evidently he’s moving to San Francisco to explore his sexuality. No, wait, the cruisers in question are the German ship Dresden and the British ship Bristol, both heading for Puerto Mexico to compete for the dubious honor of taking the dictator into a booze-soaked exile. Also going into exile are Gen. Blanquet, some other former officials, and Gen. Joaquin Maas, who says that Huerta was so displeased that Maas was sending his wife and mother out of the country that he ordered him to leave too.

The Mississippi Pearl Button Company is suing the river steamboats to prevent them playing calliope tango music during working hours, because the “girls” employed in their button factory always stop and dance.

Germany’s Crown Prince Wilhelm writes to Frobenius, a former colonel, praising his pamphlet “The German Empire’s Fateful Hour,” which predicts that France and Russia will attack Germany in 1915. A minor scandal ensues.

The French Socialist Congress meets. Leaders of the center and right wing of the party, including Guesde and Herve, believe that the plan of stopping a European war (a purely hypothetical war, no one actually sees World War I coming) through a general strike is impracticable. It would be better to work to improve Franco-German relations, they say, especially by Germany easing tensions by granting autonomy to Alsace-Lorraine.

The House of Lords defeats the Plural Voting Bill, which would end people owning property in multiple parliamentary constituencies being able to vote in each of them.

Two suffragettes horsewhip Thomas McKinnon Wood, Secretary of State for Scotland, until his “stalwart butler” saves him. Then he went to luncheon at the Drones Club, I’m assuming.

Another World War I day on TCM this Friday, an entire 24 hours. Includes Abel Gance’s J’Accuse, evidently the silent version; Myrna Loy as a German spy in what sounds like a terrible movie (Stamboul Quest); Lawrence of Arabia; Gallipoli, which I remember as good but which the presence of Mel Gibson may now taint irredeemably; and the big kahuna of WW1 films, Grand Illusion.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Today -100: July 15, 1914: Of ghosts, nagging Villas, delirious monks, and altitude


London sees its first public performance of Ibsen’s 1881 play “Ghosts,” which somehow evaded the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship despite the play being about venereal disease, a subject, the London Times wrote in 1891 when it was given a private performance, “not usually discussed outside the walls of a hospital”. Earlier this year a private fund-raising performance (those are not subject to censorship) was held with the same cast for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage.

After any number of rumors, it seems that Gen. Huerta’s family is finally really fleeing Mexico City and, presumably, the country. With them were the families of the minister of war and other officials.

Headline of the Day -100: “Villa Nagging Carranza.” Doesn
t want him becoming provisional president (there’s some disagreement over the terms of the agreement, the Plan of Guadalupe, signed by the rebels before they began rebelling).

There’s a debate in the French Senate on the subject of military preparedness, with Sen. Charles Humbert saying that French forts are in terrible shape, with ill-repaired artillery and wireless. He says that whenever the German Army
s wireless set at Metz transmits, the French one in Verdun across the border stops working. He also says that the army is short of boots, you know, those things armies march on. The Minister of War admits most of this, but says the artillery should be in good shape by 1917.

Rasputin has had two operations. “He was delirious almost all last night”. Insert your own joke here. Peasants try to storm the building where his would-be assassin is being held.

Aviation continues to set records. Four years ago I reported a new altitude record of one mile. Since then the record has been broken with monotonous regularity, but since this may be the last time before the war, I’ll just note that we’re now up to 4 3/4 miles, set by Heinrich Olerich (who the NYT helpfully informs us is German).


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