Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Today -100: January 28, 1915: Of vetoes, cakes, canals, and long letters

The German occupiers sentence the wife of the Greek consul at Liège, Belgium to 3 years for helping Belgians escape.

Woodrow Wilson will veto the immigration bill because of the literacy provision, just as Taft did two years ago. He believes it would prevent entry of political refugees and others who would make good American citizens.

Kaiser Wilhelm claims to be setting an example by eating the same adulterated crap he’s forcing on his people. No cakes or whipped cream. And it’s his birthday too.

I’d totally forgotten that Italy still had a formal alliance with Germany and Austria, which didn’t kick in when those two countries went to war because it’s a purely defensive alliance. Anyway, as Italy is evidently now making preparations to go to war with Austria, Germany threatens to renounce the Triple Alliance and consider Italy an enemy if it doesn’t stop.

Turkish troops begin an attempt to seize the Suez Canal. It’s not going too well.

Mexico’s Provisional President Garza’s presidency gets more provisional as he flees Mexico City to establish a new capital at Cuernavaca.

British literary dude Edmund Gosse sent a letter to his friend, British literary dude Compton Mackenzie (neither of whose names is spelled correctly in the NYT) in Italy, only to have the censor complain that it was too long and threatening not to deliver such lengthy missives in the future.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Today -100: January 27, 1915: Sie hatten alle nur einen Feind

Japan is demanding that China turn over to it all the German and Austrian concessions, give it permission to build a railroad, give it mining rights, etc etc.

The French newspaper L’Eclaire has been told by the censors, who are pissed at criticisms of their work in the paper, that they will no longer review its articles before publication and the paper can just take its chances on being prosecuted.

The German government is taking over the country’s food supply, banning all private trade in corn, wheat and flour, and seizing all existing stocks.

Catholic schools in Germany are all making children sing Ernst Lissauer’s “Hymn of Hate.” Hate of England, that is.
He is known to you all, he is known to you all,
He crouches behind the dark gray flood,
Full of envy, of rage, of craft, of gall,
Cut off by waves that are thicker than blood.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Today -100: January 26, 1915: It would take me a week to get to you this time

Headline of the Day -100: “Russians Held in Leash.” Didn’t know they were into the kinky stuff.

Headline of the Day -100: “Monster Protest on Literacy Test.” At Cooper Union, an audience of monsters protested the literacy requirement in the immigration bill and, like other such meetings all over the country, demands Wilson veto the bill, which it calls “un-American and inhuman.” You’d think “inhuman” would encompass “un-American,” but I guess that would explain the protesting monsters and ok I’ll stop it now.

Switzerland bans the export of chocolate. (And now, we can't get proper Cadbury's in the US. It's just like history is repeating itself.)

The Supreme Court rules that employers have the right to require employees to quit unions as a condition of employment. That doesn’t require employees to give up their constitutional freedom, the court says; they are “free to decline employment on such terms”.

The transcontinental telephone line opens. The first transcontinental telephone call, like the first phone call in 1876, is between Alexander Graham Bell, this time in New York, and Thomas Watson in San Francisco. Bell repeats, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you” and Watson replies, “It would take me a week to get to you this time.” Such a phone call would cost $20.70 for the first three minutes and $6.75 for each minute thereafter. It will take about ten minutes to put the call through. (While phone call rates have gone down, a smallish one-bedroom condo in 333 Grant Ave, the SF building where Watson took the call, now goes for $779,000). Bell also speaks to Woodrow Wilson in DC.

Bell, I notice, is sticking with “Ahoy” instead of hello, just like Mr. Burns.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Today -100: January 25, 1915: The baby-killers of Scarborough sallied forth to kill some more babies

Naval battle in the North Sea between the British and German fleets, known as the Battle of Dogger Bank. The British intercept ships on their way, presumably, to bombard more English towns, and do well in the battle, sinking the cruiser Blücher with a loss of 792 men, but not as well as the NYT suggests. They should have pursued the escaping ships but instead hung around to send the crippled Blücher to the bottom. (Yes, British readers, sent to the bottom at Dogger Bank. You may commence sniggering.)

(Pro tip: if you’re looking for cool pictures of the cruiser Blücher on its side, on fire, and sinking, some are from 1940, when the same thing happened. Um, spoiler alert.)

The Daily Chronicle crows, “Yesterday morning the baby-killers of Scarborough sallied forth to kill some more babies...”

Thus far in the war, the Germans have lost 33 ships, amounting to 147,640 tons, the British 20 ships and 156,143 tons.

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg corrects the “misapprehension” about his oft-quoted remark to the British ambassador just before the war began that the Belgian neutrality treaty was a mere “scrap of paper.” He didn’t mean that Germany viewed it as a mere scrap of paper, no, heaven forfend, but that Belgian and British actions had rendered it such. He’s had six months in which his words were used to demonstrate German duplicity and lack of honor, and that’s the best he could come up with?

Harvard is bringing over some of the refugee Louvain University professors to teach.

Sen. William “Gumshoe Bill” Stone (D-Missouri) writes to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan about the supposed partiality of the US towards the Allies (the NYT notes that there are many Germans in St. Louis)(Stone will be one of the few senators to vote against entering the war). Bryan replies that it is not the duty of a neutral country like the US to prevent contraband reaching a belligerent, and that the supposed partiality towards the Allies merely reflects the fact that the British Navy is superior to the German and better able to stop contraband (or things the British deem contraband, including oil and rubber) – in other words, the Germans are just as welcome to buy munitions in the US, the munitions just probably won’t make it to Germany. Bryan is saying that it would actually be “an unneutral act” to prevent Americans selling munitions to the Allies, and there is no obligation on the US to do so. Keep all this in mind when German submarines start sinking ships (although Bryan does point out that Germany didn’t think neutral countries should be banned from selling munitions to warring countries when it was doing it during the Russo-Japanese and Balkan Wars).

A French doctor figures out that shells can kill soldiers they don’t actually hit, with shock and air pressure and fumes and “nervous disturbance.” Lungs can literally explode. “Dr. Sencert’s explanation solves a mystery which formed the base of some of the war’s most extraordinary stories.”

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Today -100: January 24, 1915: The subject is too revolting to humanity to be employed for political propaganda

Germany warns Romania that its order to mobilize its military will be regarded as a hostile act.

Russian Prime Minister Goremykin denies as “nonsense” rumors being spread by Germany that Jews are being slaughtered in Russian Poland. GoreMyKin, his name is. He adds that he is surprised to hear Jews talking of emancipation. Yes, they’ve been serving loyally in the army, he admits, but if they hadn’t they would have been shot, so it’s not like they should be given something in return.

No, really, that’s what he said.

The German ambassador to the US says why would he lie about the Russians killing Jews in Poland, “The subject is too revolting to humanity to be employed for political propaganda.”

A committee investigating the NY State Reformatory for Women at Bedford Hills considers reversing former superintendent Katharine Davis’s policy of making white and black prisoners roomies, but admits that segregation would violate state law.

The will of Charles Emery, former head of the American Tobacco Company, includes $50,000 for his grandson upon his 30th birthday, provided he has abstained from tobacco.

Pres. Wilson orders a census of the unemployed. Because he thinks people have been exaggerating their number for political purposes.

Carranza has supposedly had the father, mother, wife and three children of Gen. Santibanez taken hostage, saying they will be executed if Carranza’s brother Jesus is not released.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Today -100: January 23, 1915: “Wolves vs. refugees” would be a great video game

Pope Benedict calls on countries not to commit excesses in the countries they’re invading, but fails to name any countries he thinks are doing so. To name names, he says, would be neither convenient nor useful. Convenient? He also says that people in occupied countries shouldn’t commit any infraction of public order. He also thinks the war is a punishment from God against people whose thoughts are entirely engrossed with the things of the world. I think he blames the recent earthquake in Italy on the same thing.

Prohibition is re-enacted in Alabama, the Legislature over-riding the veto of Gov. Charles Henderson, who had wanted the issue decided by a referendum.

Headline of the Day -100: “Wolves Hunt Refugees.” Carpathian refugees fleeing Austrian troops.

A French newspaper is complaining that German prisoners of war are allowed to just stroll around town, insulting shopkeepers, in this case a shopkeeper selling postcards of German atrocities.

Atrocity postcards: collect them all!

A negro is lynched in Arlington, Georgia.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today -100: January 22, 1915: Hohenborn to be wild

Theodore Roosevelt writes to British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, saying that Britain and France’s ban on war correspondents is harming public relations in the US, by which he means the chances of getting the US into the war.

Name of the Day -100: New German Minister of War Major Gen. Adolf Wild von Hohenborn.

Germany defends the attacks on mainland England: those Zeppelins were just innocently going about their business, flying to bomb the fortified town of Great Yarmouth – a totally legitimate military target – when out of the blue the towns they were flying over started viciously shooting at them, so naturally they dropped bombs on them.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Cologne Gazette claims that France put out peace feelers to Germany last September, but Lord Kitchener threatened to bombard the French coast unless France promised not to make peace without British permission.

Georgia Governor John Slaton offers $500 rewards each for the arrest and conviction of the first five members of the lynch mob that killed the Barber family.  Evidently lynching a whole family reflects badly on all lynch mobs. “A malignant crime and an attack on civilization,” the governor calls the lynchings.

Headline of the Day -100: “Turks and Germans Expelling Zionists.” Settlers in Palestine.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Daily Telegraphy

So why do I read the Daily Telegraph alongside proper newspapers?

Well, at this very moment the website’s front page features these stories:

David Cameron asks why people care about Kim Kardashian. Also, he doesn’t like hip hop. Shocker.

MI5 agents will wear wigs and makeups when testifying against alleged Al Qaida dude Abid Naseer in Brooklyn. My study of British historical documentaries (okay, Monty Python) suggests that this means they will testify in drag and in falsetto.

Why women should not be on top (on top of men anyway) during sex (I shrieked and stopped reading at the phrase “penile fractures”).

Labour MP Jim Dobbin, who has the most Labour-MP name ever, or rather had, because when he was visiting Poland his hosts told him it was customary to down a shot after every course. He will be missed, probably.

Ukip Leicester local councillor (and candidate for Parliament) Lynton Yates, who has the most Ukip-councillor name ever, wants anyone getting government benefits banned from driving.

16-year-old John Denno has done the rise and fall of the Third Reich in Legos.

Berlin book burnings.


The liberation of Auschwitz.

Hitler’s suicide.

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Today -100: January 21, 1915: This blind barbarian vengeance doesn’t terrify us

The British shrug off yesterday’s zeppelin raids. Says the London Star: “This blind barbarian vengeance doesn’t terrify us. Rather do we deduce from its comparative impotence new confidence in the triumph of right over might.” A church was damaged in an English town with the most English-townish name ever, Snettisham. Which is 4 miles away from the king’s estate at Sandringham, so there are rumors that the Germans were trying to assassinate him but got lost in the dark (anyway, the king wasn’t home).

The people of King’s Lynn are sure the Zeps must have had help from spies in identifying targets, since the bombs fell quite near (without actually hitting) such vital targets as an oil storage tank and the King’s Lynn post office. The MP for the area, Holcombe Ingleby, which is the most English-Tory-MPish name ever, will claim that two unknown automobiles had used searchlights to point out targets.

British insurance companies have sprung into action, doubling their rates for policies against damage by aircraft.

The air raids have alerted the NYT to the existence of “a German policy that does not seem to have been very well understood”, a policy of terrorizing civilian populations so they will pressure their governments to end the war. No, really, the NYT is just figuring this out now. But they figure the ineffectiveness of zeppelins, at least in this raid, should reassure the British people, because Londoners have a greater chance of being eaten by a lion than bombed by a zeppelin, probably.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, having stubbornly failed to drop dead despite many rumors saying he was going to, is now totally going to abdicate.

Australia’s capital is temporarily moved from Melbourne to Sydney.

22 of the Carteret, New Jersey deputy sheriffs who shot up the strikers have been arrested for manslaughter. The rest remain guarding the fertilizer plant.

Following that pool-room raid in Maryland where some congresscritters – or perhaps some people who just claimed to be members of Congress – asserted their immunity to arrest, there is talk about issuing them with special badges or something which they would be required to wear under their lapel, like that of a secret society.

The lower house of the Idaho Legislature passes a bill against aliens owning land.

All non-combatants are ordered out of Cracow within 48 hours.

A negro, Edward Johnson, is lynched in Vicksburg, Mississippi, for stealing cattle.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Today -100: January 20, 1915: Of carteretism, colonial wars, civilizing flags, humorous soldiers, zeppelins, and cardinals

Deputy sheriffs employed as guards by the Liebig Fertilizer Works in Carteret, New Jersey, shoot 20 strikers, killing one; four more will die later. All of them were shot from behind, presumably as they were running away. The strike is against a 20% wage cut and they had blocked a railroad line to prevent strikebreakers being brought in. The deputies are claiming the strikers fired first; no witness who is not a deputy sheriff is backing up their story.

Germany invaded Portuguese Angola a couple of months ago but still hasn’t declared war on Portugal, evidently because Portugal would then seize as prizes of war all the ships it interned at the start of the war. The war between the two countries is confined entirely to the colonies.

Senator-Elect Warren G. Harding says “The magnificent resources of Mexico never will be given to mankind, and that country never will come into its own until it is brought under the civilizing influences of the American flag. How and when that condition will be brought about is not for me to say at this time, but it is coming.”

Rudyard Kipling claims Britain’s soldiers “are humourous because, for all our long faces, we are the only genuinely humorous race on earth.”

Zeppelin raids in England, the first on the British mainland (more on this tomorrow).

Cardinal Mercier, archbishop of Malines, Belgium, denies German claims that his house arrest isn’t interfering with his episcopal work in a letter sent secretly to all the priests in his diocese.

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