Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Today -100: October 1, 1914: Of religious freedom, prize cattle, mines and mines, and duels


A Carranzista newspaper says that Mexicans who worked for the American occupation forces in Vera Cruz may be imprisoned or executed.

Czar Nicholas tells his new subjects in Eastern Galicia, captured from Austria, that the province will be gradually Russified in its language and laws.  There will be religious freedom but he will protect the Russian Orthodox Church from open or secret attacks, whatever that means.

Russian troops have captured Kaiser Wilhelm’s prize cattle from his East Prussian estates.  They will be distributed for breeding.

Italy protests Austria’s mining the Adriatic; one of its fishing boats just got blown up.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The captain and officers of the Austrian steamship Radium are shot on suspicion of selling the location of mines in the Adriatic to the French Navy.

The new Mexican government will not recognize any mine titles issued by the Huerta regime.

A French newspaper claims that Romania’s King Carol tried to convince his cabinet to go to war on Germany’s side, but they would only agree to entering the war if it were against Austria.  The king then tried to get the army to back him in a coup, but that failed too.  Did I mention that all of his personal money is in German banks?  Also, he was born Karl and he’s a Hohenzollern. And he signed a secret agreement with Austria and Germany in 1883, though he only mentioned it to the Crown Council in August, and they were not impressed.

Worried about German spies and trouble-stirrers entering India, Britain will henceforth allow foreigners to enter India only through Rangoon, Calcutta and Madras.

The Cuban Congress is considering a bill for an amnesty for everyone convicted of a crime related to dueling, like, say, homicide.


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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Today -100: September 30, 1914: Of sieges, free and chained men, princes, and cadets


The Germans begins a siege of Antwerp.

Gen. Louis Botha, prime minister of South Africa, gives a speech justifying loyalty to the British Empire (many Afrikaners remember German support for the Boer Republics during the Boer War).  He claims to have inside knowledge of German plans for South Africa, which would make his audience’s hairs stand on end, if only he was at liberty to divulge them.

The French government suspends former prime minister Georges Clemenceau’s newspaper L’Homme libre (The Free Man), for criticizing the army’s medical services, or for calling for mild treatment for prisoners of war from Alsace, depending on which version you believe.  Clemenceau will evade the suspension by printing his paper under the name L’Homme Enchainé (The Chained Man).

Germany’s Prince Oskar won’t be returning to the front.  Heart trouble, supposedly.  The 26-year-old prince will live until 1958.

All 53 cadets at the Philippines’ police academy are discovered to be members of a possibly revolutionary secret society.  All resign from the academy.


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Monday, September 29, 2014

Today -100: September 29, 1914: Of muzzles, pacifiers, and dead (but not really) princes


NYC Boy-Mayor Mitchel supports his health commissioner’s proposal to muzzle all dogs.

France claims to have re-occupied the bits of the Congo that it ceded to Germany in 1911 in exchange for it recognizing the French “protectorate” over Morocco.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Pacifiers Start North.”  The Pacification Commission, supposed to negotiate between Pancho Villa and Venustiano Carranza.  Villa is demanding Carranza resign as chief executive in favor of Fernando Calderon.

New York primaries: For governor, the Democrats nominate Martin Glynn to keep the job he got through the impeachment of Sulzer (who fails to win the Progressive Party nomination), and the Republicans District Attorney Charles Whitman.  For US senate, to replace the retiring Elihu Root, the D’s reject one Franklin Delano Roosevelt in favor of James Gerard – Tammany stooge, former state supreme court justice, and current ambassador to Germany – by more than 2 to 1.  The R’s pick James W. Wadsworth, Jr., a former speaker of the NY State Assembly but most recently a Texas rancher.  His wife Alice Hay Wadsworth (daughter of John Hay, Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary and McKinley’s secretary of state) founded the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.

The Albanian Senate elects a new prince, Burhan-Hamid, to replace Prince William, who fled a month ago (though neglecting to abdicate).  Nothing will come of this.

WHICH GERMAN PRINCE HAS SUPPOSEDLY DIED THIS TIME?  It’s Adelbert, yet again, killed by... DUM DUM DUM... a GERMAN bullet.


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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Today -100: September 28, 1914: Get your popcorn, we’ve got a train crash movie


Pope Benedict is not making any public statement about the destruction of the cathedral at Rheims.

Russia bans all Germans and Austrians from the vicinity of the fortresses of Petrograd, Kronstadt, and Vigorg.  The German language is also banned in those areas.

48 Colorado coal companies respond to Pres. Wilson’s plan for a strike truce.  They reject half of the recommendations (the ones that apply to the owners rather than the miners).  They reject re-hiring all the strikers and establishing grievance committees (who needs them when there are no real grievances anyway?).  And they want the federal troops to remain in Colorado until the UMW crawls away and the miners are disarmed.

Carranza will give up the post of First Chief next week, which used to be one of Villa’s demands, although now he’s demanding that no military leader in the revolution be a candidate for the presidency for at least 6 months, which doesn’t fit in with Carranza’s plans to run for the office.

Supposedly the Austrian public are not being allowed to talk to wounded soldiers, and three wounded soldiers who spoke to their families about conditions at the front were arrested.

Germany is mad at the Netherlands for releasing the British sailors it rescued from those three ships sunk by the U-boat, instead of interning them.  Near as I can tell, neutral Holland did exactly what international law called for.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Unburied Dead Strew Lorraine.”

Vitagraph almost kills several actors while making the film “The Juggernaut” about a train crash.  Everyone watching Rose Dugan (who doesn’t even appear in the imdb credits) almost drown thought her cries for help were just acting, evidently never having heard of SILENT movies.  The movie shows a real wreck of a real train.  The engineer (in real life, I mean) set the train going and jumped off, but it went a lot faster than it was supposed to, almost taking out one of the cameramen, and did take out one of the cameras).  When the engine hit the water its boiler exploded, which was unintended.  Compared to the usual use of hilariously obvious models for such scenes (Hitchcock’s Blackmail comes to mind), this film is still pretty spectacular.  Here’s a 3-minute preview of the restored version, including the crash scene and some not very good acting:





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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Today -100: September 27, 1914: Tales will long be told and songs sung of the Battle of Coco Beach


A negro is lynched near Rochelle, Georgia for killing an overseer.

The Netherlands, which is neutral in the war, declares martial law along its border with Germany in order to prevent the smuggling of food and other goods into Germany.

The Salvation Army is banned from collecting alms in Los Angeles, where charities are required to spend all their funds within the city.

In 1914 Iceland had 1,300 telephones for a population of 85,000.  OK, a bit random, but I thought it was interesting.

The US Congress is debating a bill on the Philippines.  Republicans say this is the wrong time, given the world situation, to which Rep. Finis Garrett (D-Tenn.) replies, “Why, forsooth, is it inopportune...” which leads to the question, When was the last time someone used “forsooth” in a congressional debate?

French troops have seized Coco Beach in the German colony of Kamerun in what I’d like to think is called the Battle of Coco Beach.



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Friday, September 26, 2014

Today -100: September 26, 1914: Of war revenue, POWs, and postcards


Villa and Carranza’s forces clash in Sonora State.

The US has decided to postpone evacuating its troops from Vera Cruz, supposedly because it hasn’t worked out the details of handing over the customs house.

The War Revenue Bill passes the House of Representatives 234-135.  No Republicans voted for it.

The British Admiralty publishes the reports of the surviving officers of the three ships sunk by the U-boat in the North Sea, and puts much of the blame on the captains of the second and third ship for making themselves targets by hanging around to collect the survivors of the first ship.  Orders are issued to all the ships of His Majesty’s Navy to put military considerations over humanitarian ones in the future.

In preparing for an exchange of prisoners with Russia, Germany has to admit that it holds only 50,000 Russian soldiers, not the 250,000 it’s been claiming.

Australian forces capture the town of Friedrich Wilhelm, capital of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland in German New Guinea.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Austria claims that Serbian Major Vojislav Tankosić, one of the conspirators in the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose arrest Austria demanded in its ultimatum to Serbia, is dead.  He isn’t.

The NYT reproduces the pre-written postcards provided to British soldiers:




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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Today -100: September 25, 1914: Of common colds and common foes


Theodore Roosevelt is campaigning in New York for the Progressive candidate for US senate, Raymond Robins, a former coalminer, cowboy, union organizer, lawyer and Alaska gold prospector, among other professions.  His sister Elizabeth is an actress, writer and suffrage activist living in England, where she was the first English-language Hedda Gabler.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Kaiser Has a Cold.”  The poor dear caught the sniffles visiting soldiers near Verdun.  (Update: three days later the Times claims he fell into a water-logged trench.  As was the custom).

The Germans are using one of the lesser-mentioned but deadly twentieth-century military innovations: searchlights.

Emmeline Pankhurst gives a recruitment speech, saying that a war to crush militarism has the approval of suffragettes.  I can think of a few suffragettes who don’t approve the war, not least her daughter Sylvia.  Mrs P: “When the proper time comes, we shall resume that fight, but for the present we must all do our best to fight a common foe.”


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones


Obama addressed the UN today.

“We come together at a crossroads between war and peace”. Funny, seems to me like a pretty straight road from war to warsville.

“Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition.” You mean it recalls every single day in human history?

“The brutality of terrorists in Syria and Iraq forces us to look into the heart of darkness.” Or at least the Cliff’s Notes.

He complains about Russia sending troops into Ukraine, because, as the UN Charter clearly states, “borders are sacrosanct unless it’s Syria or something.”

“This is a vision of the world in which might makes right -- a world in which one nation’s borders can be redrawn by another”. Er, how does he think the border of Ukraine was drawn in the first place? Especially when he’s talking about Crimea.

“We believe that right makes might -- that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, and that people should be able to choose their own future.” Which is why we’re teaming up with Saudi Arabia to bomb Syria and Iraq.

“If the world acts together, we can make sure that all of our children enjoy lives of opportunity and dignity.” Dignity? Has he SEEN our children?

“Of course, terrorism is not new. Speaking before this Assembly, President Kennedy put it well: ‘Terror is not a new weapon,’ he said.” Actually, he was speaking
http://www.state.gov/p/io/potusunga/207241.htm
(in 1961) about the Russian blockade of West Berlin.

“we have reaffirmed again and again that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam.” Because it gets a big laugh every time.

“Belief in permanent religious war is the misguided refuge of extremists who cannot build or create anything”. What, has he never heard of Hobby Lobby?

“No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning -- no negotiation -- with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.” Fortunately the US speaks jive the language of force.

“The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day.” Because if there’s one thing that stops people becoming violent militant insurgents, it’s reasoned debate.

“And here I’d like to speak directly to young people across the Muslim world. You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder. Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it.” Obama really has to learn that he can’t lecture everybody on every subject. He does not get to tell Muslims what Islam is. Especially since the only options he’s allowing people born into the Muslim “tradition” is between different ways of practicing Islam. No experimenting with Zen Buddhism or deciding that atheism makes sense to you.

He mentions Ferguson, but somehow sees it as a positive example of... something: “But we welcome the scrutiny of the world -- because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems, to make our union more perfect, to bridge the divides that existed at the founding of this nation. America is not the same as it was 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or even a decade ago.” Yeah, the police are better armed. “Because we hold our leaders accountable”. Unlike the police.


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Today -100: September 24, 1914: Of traitors, brutal and unholy wars, zeppelins, spies, and patents


Pancho Villa declares himself in revolt against “the traitor Carranza,” will march on the capital.

Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, calls the European war the “most brutal and unholy war in the history of mankind.”  Well, to be fair, by definition one war does have to be the most brutal and unholy war in the history of mankind.

London has reduced its street lighting by 2/3 out of fear of zeppelin attack (which hasn’t happened yet).

Germany suspends the socialist newspaper Vorwärts for three days for, depending on which story you read, 1) unfavorably comparing the treatment of prisoners by Germany with that by Britain and France, 2) saying that a German advance was actually a retreat, or 3) printing a letter from a soldier complaining about moldy bread.

The London Times thinks the sinking of those three cruisers yesterday was caused by German spies in Britain.

The German ambassador to the US says that Russian troops are brutalizing Jews in the parts of Galicia they’re occupying.

Austria-Hungary and Britain are cancelling each other’s patents.


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The mad bomber strikes again


Today Obama made a three-minute statement to announce that he’s bombing yet another country.  Syria, if you’re keeping track at home.

“Today, the American people give thanks for the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform...”  Extraordinary service?  Bombing Muslim countries could hardly be more ordinary

“We were joined in this action by our friends and partners -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar.”  He didn’t say which of these countries are our friends and which are our partners.

“the people and governments in the Middle East are rejecting ISIL”.  Well, the governments.  It’s not like any of those countries care what their people think, any more than Obama does.

“we will ... ramp up our effort to train and equip the Syrian opposition, who are the best counterweight to ISIL and the Assad regime.”  First, note that he refers to the Syrian opposition in the singular, like it’s one united band of brothers.  Second, note that the Manic Pixie Dream Insurgents (© Tom Tomorrow) aren’t being touted as a government-in-waiting for Syria, but as a counterweight, which I guess means their function is to keep the bloody civil war going without resolution for another few years.

“Last night, we also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorosan Group.”  ISIL, the Khorosan Group – do you ever feel like we’re being retconned?  “No, no we’ve been afraid of these guys for years, don’t know why you’ve never heard of them before, they’re like the Cardassians on Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

“I’ve spoken to leaders in Congress and I’m pleased that there is bipartisan support for the actions we are taking.”  Since there won’t be a vote, we’ll just have to take his word for it, because he’s “spoken to” leaders in Congress.  Come to think of it, he said “leaders” rather than “the leaders.”

“America is always stronger when we stand united” – and nothing says united like one man making decisions entirely by himself with no legal authority – “and that unity sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what’s necessary to defend our country.”  And quite a bit of shit that’s not necessary or advisable.  As usual.


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Today -100: September 23, 1914: I’ve been looking all morning for Armageddon


Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Prince Adelbert, Kaiser Wilhelm’s third son, is reported dead, for the second time this month.

Serb and Montenegrin troops have reportedly captured Sarajevo.  (Update: No, they haven’t.)

Some naturalized Italian-American citizens who were visiting Italy are being detained for military service.  Italy doesn’t have a naturalization treaty with the US, so it doesn’t recognize their US citizenship.

The French Army is considering changing its uniforms to something less colorful (red pants!) and target-y, as rather a lot of officers are getting sniped.  I don’t know if anyone’s talking about steel helmets, which haven’t been issued to soldiers in any army yet.

The NYT says the seeming pro-Allied bias of its war reporting is due to Germany banning war reporters and only issuing curt official statements.

In occupied Brussels, anyone found by the Germans with a French or English newspaper is shot, or at least that’s what they say they’ll do.

The British armored cruisers Cressy, Aboukir, and Hogue are sunk by a German submarine in the North Sea, with 1,400 or 1,500 lost, and 837 rescued by a Dutch steamer.  The 14-year-old obsolete ships really shouldn’t have been out there.  The British are saying the attack was by five U-boats, two of which were sunk, but it was a single U-boat, which wasn’t damaged, much less sunk.

Britain denies stories that Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey called for Germany to be carved up between France and Russia and its commerce taken over by Britain.


(click to embiggen.  Caption:  Old Lady: “I’ve brought back this war map you sold me yesterday, Mr. Brown. It’s not up to date. I’ve been looking all morning for Armageddon, and can’t find it marked anywhere.”)


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