Friday, February 27, 2015

Today -100: February 27, 1915: No one can hold me responsible for the recent earthquake in Italy

The Supreme Court is hearing the Leo Frank appeal. The state of Georgia denies that there were any intimidating mob scenes during the trial, “except such as was developed in a ‘law-abiding community’ by the evidence as it was gradually unfolded.”

The British government orders shipbuilders in Scotland not to strike for a 4p/hour wage increase; says it will arbitrate.

The German naval attaché at the embassy in Washington, Capt. Karl Boy-Ed, laughs off the accusation that he is running a spy/sabotage ring: “If another accident happens in the subway I shall probably be accused of that. ... At any rate I am happy to say no one can hold me responsible for the recent earthquake in Italy.” No, but that explosion on the bridge at the Canadian border...

South African troops are invading German Southwest Africa (Namibia), led personally by Prime Minister Botha, who was a general in the Boer War.

Like Germany, Austria will turn its schoolchildren into agricultural laborers, closing all schools for summer a month early.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Today -100: February 26, 1915: Of spies, mines, human shields, and aliens

Richard Stegler, a member of the Germany Navy’s reserves, is under arrest in New York for fraudulently obtaining a US passport. He has implicated the German naval attaché in Washington, Capt. Karl Boy-Ed, as head of the German secret service/sabotage operation in the US. Which he is. Stegler says Boy-Ed (who is half German, half Turkish) supplied Carl Lody, the spy executed by the British a few months ago, with his false US passport.

Woodrow Wilson politely asks Britain and Germany to remove all their mines from the high seas.

A Prof. Walker, an expert on international law at Cambridge, suggests putting interned German - not even POWs, just people who happened to be German who were in Britain when the war started – on commercial ships to prevent Germany sinking them. “If election must be between the discomfort of belligerents and the lives of non-combatants and peaceful neutrals, it is true humanity will have no hesitation as to a decision.”

The Scandinavian countries give up their plan of convoys for their merchant ships, because Britain opposes the scheme.

Italy and Austria are negotiating how big a bribe Italy would require to remain neutral.

Britain says it’s destroyed all the Turkish forts at the entrance of the Dardanelles and the no doubt successful invasion of Turkey can now commence.

New York’s highest court upholds the state’s ban on aliens being employed on public works. The opinion, written by future Supreme Court justice Benjamin Cardozo, says “The moneys of the State belong to the people of the State. They do not belong to aliens.” Good luck getting those subways built, New York City.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today -100: February 25, 1915: Of undead princes, unmutilated prisoners, women voters, Belgian millinery, and lady cops

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Excelsior newspaper (Paris) reports that the German crown prince totally died last December. It’s been a while since one of these rumors.

More Fog: The German consul in Chicago, Baron Kurd von Reiswitz, gave newspapers an affidavit from one Robert Meyer, who says he enlisted in the British army and while he was in hospital in Ostend after sustaining a wound in Rheims in September, saw German soldier prisoners who had been mutilated – 3 whose eyes were gouged out, 3 tongues, 2 ears – at least 4 of whom were mutilated by British soldiers. The British ambassador responds that there is no record of such a person and points out certain problems with his timeline and other errors, such as there being no 14th Company of the Grenadier Guards, the unit he claimed to have been in, no British troops in Rheims in September, etc.

Birmingham, Alabama arrests Hiram De Laye, a newspaper/magazine distributor, for selling a copy of a newspaper published outside the state which contains a liquor ad, which is illegal under the state’s new strict prohibition law.

In Illinois, women have the vote in local and national elections but not state ones. This means they have separate ballots from men, so you can actually determine the gender differences in voting. Yesterday’s primaries show they don’t vote with their menfolk, but are more Democratic. And 900+ women in Chicago’s 32rd Ward, the NYT says, were “deceived by a political trick,” voting for a black barber named W.W. Taylor, who didn’t even know he was running for alderman, someone having submitted papers for him so he’d be confused for the popular W.A. Taylor. Ah, Chicago politics.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Germans Forbid New Belgian Millinery.” Women have been wearing Belgian soldiers’ caps, and the German occupiers are not best pleased.

The New Jersey Legislature passes a bill permitting the appointment of policewomen. Whatever is the world -100 coming to?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today -100: February 24, 1915: A people of poets and thinkers has been transformed into a united people in arms

Sarah Bernhardt is now minus one leg and is resting.

Sen. Albert Fall (R-New Mexico) proposes that the US, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil intervene in Mexico to restore order. It’s not clear what exactly he has in mind but on past form it’s something stupid.

The Prussian Diet sent Kaiser Wilhelm a message of congratulations on the victory in the Battle of the Masurian Lakes. He responds, “A people of poets and thinkers has been transformed into a united people in arms, and we can rely on the strength of its determination to triumph over all the enemies of German Kultur and civilization.”
Today’s shipping losses include: the US steamer Carib, which hits a mine off Germany, the Swedish steamer Specia, sunk by a mine in the North Sea, and the Norwegian ship Regin, hit by either a mine or a torpedo off the coast of Dover.

Carter Harrison, Jr., 5-time mayor of Chicago, though non-sequentially, loses the Democratic primary for a 6th term in some sort of intra-Democratic feud that doesn’t sound like it has a lot to do with actual issues. He was first elected mayor in 1897, 4 years after his father, Carter Harrison, Sr, who was also the mayor of Chicago, was assassinated. Both were elected five mayor times.

At the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, which just opened, a janitor finds a bomb at the Japanese building.

Dirty-Sounding Headline of the Day -100: 

To make it worse, her name was Mae Cockrell. She committed suicide in the elevator shaft of the Washington Monument.

Turkish newspapers, perhaps being fed stories by the German press bureau, have reported that His Islamic Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm has already entered Paris in triumph and had his hand kissed by the French deputies. Also, Wilhelm’s harem and the harems of his staff officers will be visiting Constantinople. So that’ll be nice.

Indian troops on the way to fight in Egypt mutiny in Singapore and go on a rampage.

The German government is asking people to stop stamping the words “God punish England” on mail going to other countries, as it might give the wrong impression.

Congress passes the Army appropriation bill, including a provision banning the use of stopwatches and other “scientific management” methods in government plants.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times, but possibly from the Manchester Guardian):  “Terrors of Bearded Troops.” Russian soldiers are going all shaggy because they think it frightens the Germans.

The US Supreme Court upholds the California law setting a maximum 8-hour work day for women in factories and shops (but not in agricultural labor, canning, boarding-houses, nurses or domestic servants).

The NYT misses this story, and the LA Times gives precisely two sentences to it: the US Supreme Court unanimously rules in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio that motion pictures do not have 1st Amendment protection against local censorship boards. They are not akin to newspapers, as Mutual had argued, the Court says, but more like circuses, theater and “other shows and spectacles” which the state can regulate in the interests of public morality. “Moving pictures is a business pure and simple, originated and conducted for profit,” and “not to be regarded... as part of the press of the country, or as organs of public opinion.”  The Court seems rather scared of movies, for some reason: “Their power of amusement, and, it may be, education, the audiences they assemble, not of women alone nor of men alone, but together, not of adults only, but of children, make them the more insidious in corruption by a pretense of worthy purpose or if they should degenerate from worthy purpose. Indeed, we may go beyond that possibility. They take their attraction from the general interest, eager and wholesome it may be, in their subjects, but a prurient interest may be excited and appealed to.” Just a few days before, Chief Justice Edward Douglass White had seen his very first motion picture - “The Birth of a Nation.”

The Mutual decision was reversed in 1952, when motion pictures were ruled to come under the 1st Amendment after all.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):  “Bryan Wears a Toy Dove.”

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Today -100: February 23, 1915: First they came for the pigs, and I said nothing...

Germany is calling up 17-year-olds. Farm work will now be done by older children, who will be let out of school. Of course this is only until the end of the war, which they expect to be in November or so.

Germany responds to British claims of cruelty towards its POWs with an inquiry which totally clears itself, so that should settle that. “The evidence expressly states that when some of the allegations of cruelty published in England were read to the prisoners all of the Englishmen present broke out into laughter.”

The London Times reports that Turkish troops have been killing Armenians and leaving their bodies in the streets to be eaten by dogs.

Germans are told it is their patriotic duty to eat pork in order to reduce the numbers of pigs and save the grain they would have eaten for humans. There are 25 million pigs in Germany. For now.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Today -100: February 22, 1915: Of curtailed sandwiches, sunk ships, lynchings, jewels, and bluffs

Headline of the Day -100:  “Ask German Children to Curtail Sandwich.” For the war effort, they are supposed to eat only one slice of bread.

The US steamer Evelyn strikes a mine in the North Sea and sinks, with no loss of life but considerable loss of cotton, which it was bringing to Bremen. It is not currently known whose mine it was and I don’t think it ever will be. (Correction: one dead - frozen to death - and 13 missing, it will be reported tomorrow).

Austrian torpedo boats and airplanes bomb two fishing boats clearly flying the flag of neutral-for-now Italy.

A possible train robber who got into a gun fight with cops, killing one, is lynched in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. He is white, as was not the custom.

King George of England arranges a £50,000 loan for the Queen of the Belgians, putting her jewels (which were sent to the UK before the Germans occupied Antwerp) up as collateral, although it’s not quite clear which of the jewels are legally hers and which belong to Belgium.

The Berlin police ban afternoon teas in hotels, cafés etc if they are accompanied by music, recitations, or lectures. No one knows why.

A posse led by a US marshal fights Piute Indians near Bluff, Utah.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Today -100: February 21, 1915: Woman in politics is the last thing a real woman wants

The Lusitania arrives in New York. It didn’t fly the American flag this time, but neither did it fly the Royal Naval Reserve flag Capt. Dow is entitled to fly, and usually does.

A U-boat sinks a steamer off the Welsh coast without warning, and a Norwegian ship is sunk by a mine off the Danish coast.

Germany and Austria complain that submarines are, they say, being built for Britain in the US and shipped in pieces via Canada.

Britain and France claim to have successfully bombarded the Turkish forts guarding the entrance to the Dardanelles, silencing their guns. Turkey, of course, claims the forts haven’t been damaged.

Carranza arrests 180 native priests (i.e., not the Spanish priests Villa hates so much) for non-payment of a 500,000 peso levy on them, supposedly to be used for the poor.

Sarah Bernhardt on her forthcoming leg amputation: “I would rather be mutilated than powerless.”

The NYT prints another batch of letters on women’s suffrage:

Elizabeth Goldsmith says “It sometimes seems as if the suffragist had ceased to think of man and woman as two halves of a whole” and cites the “law of unity and polarity” in nature. You know, man the active principle, woman the passive principle, like fire and water, day and night, etc. Since woman is “the passive, the acted upon,” if she has the vote “she will do nothing original with it, nothing creative.”

Florence Howe Hall says that far from coarsening women in the states that have it, women’s suffrage has refined men.

Helen Glover, vice president of the Connecticut Anti association, says “The hysterical, emotional way in which women are clamoring for the ballot, without rhyme or reason, only shows how unfitted they are for it, and of how little use it would be in their hands if they had it. Woman in politics is the last thing a real woman wants”.

Henrietta Wheatley says “Men and women were created to co-operate – not to compete.”

Frederic Almy replies to the original editorial: “You say that women must work as men work in order to vote as men vote. I do not want them to vote as men vote, but differently.”

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Today -100: February 20, 1915: Of open doors, drugged soldiers, and chandlers

New York bankers refuse to give a loan of ten to twenty million dollars requested by French bankers, backed by French government bonds.

Pres. Wilson will complain to Japan about its demands on China, which violate the US “Open Door” policy in China.

Etherical Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: A French officer says that Germans only fight when drugged with a mixture of ether and alcohol, which sometimes causes them to fall asleep in the trenches they’ve just captured, whereupon French soldiers “butcher them like sheep.”

Britain responds to the US note complaining about the false use of US flags on British ships, saying yeah, we’re gonna keep doing it, and pointing out that US ships did the same thing during the Civil War.

The NJ Legislature’s committee investigating last month’s fertilizer strike in which deputy sheriffs shot at strikers, killing five, is told by a doctor who treated 16 of the shot strikers that all 16 were shot in the back.

Harry Chandler of the LA Times Chandlers is indicted, along with Boer general-turned-mercenary Ben Viljoen, for conspiring to foment a revolution in Mexico – actually against Carranza’s governor in Baja California – and recruiting troops in the US for that purpose. Chandler owns millions of acres of land in Baja and Gov. Cantu has been insisting that he actually pay the tax on exporting cattle to the US, which was never collected under the previous governor Chandler is, coincidentally, trying to reinstate.

Wikipedia tells us that Chandler “attended Dartmouth College, and on a dare, he jumped into a vat of starch that had frozen over during winter, which led to severe pneumonia. He withdrew from Dartmouth and moved to Los Angeles for his health.” And married a newspaper heiress. His Wikipedia entry doesn’t mention this trial, which seems to have fizzled out, with no outcome (dismissal, I assume) reported in either the New York or Los Angeles Times. The latter doesn’t even mention the legal action against its part-owner until Feb. 23, and then just in a reprint of a Detroit Free Press editorial which asks, “Can One Conspire Against a State of Anarchy?” I’m not sure “things in Mexico are so anarchical that one more mercenary army won’t make any difference” is a great legal defense.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Today -100: February 19, 1915: All the things we have been trying to forget

Germans are very excited about news that the blockade of Britain will involve zeppelins as well as submarines. What’s the German for “That is so fucking steampunk”?

The Iowa Legislature votes in prohibition.

Frank James of James Gang fame (I believe he was the Ringo) dies at 74. He’d been a farmer for 30 years. He was tried once, but was never convicted of any crimes.

Woodrow Wilson tells a deputation of mostly German-American women that banning the export of munitions to warring countries would be an un-neutral act at this time.

Jacob Dickinson, secretary of war under Taft, says that the US land forces aren’t in a state of readiness for defense, and calls for rearmament, saying no one could suspect the US of preparing for world conquest if it did so.

Protests in Atlanta by Southern women’s groups against a theatrical production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin has resulted in the removal of scenes involving slave auctions and the whipping post and the change of the play’s name to Old Plantation Days. Said Mrs. Joseph Morgan, president of the Women’s Pioneer Society, “The play appeals to all the things we have been trying to forget.” The Daughters of the Confederacy says the play carries suggestions that are filled with injustice and misrepresentation of the South. Like the fact that there used to be slavery within living memory, probably.

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