Friday, May 31, 2013

Today -100: May 31, 1913: The Balkan War is dead, long live the Balkan War

Philippe d’Orléans, pretender to the French throne, is sued for divorce by his wife, who is the cousin of the Austrian emperor. The cause of the break is believed to be her inability to produce an heir to the lost throne, or maybe his inability to repay all the money he borrowed from her. The Duke lives in England, and recently turned down a gig as king of Albania.

The First Balkan War is over. Everyone signs a preliminary peace treaty. Second Balkan War commences in 5...4...3...

I wrote that before seeing this next story: Bulgarian troops open fire on Greeks in the Salonika area.

One Frank Diamon first confesses, then recants, to several murders, including that of Thomas Francis Meagher, the former governor of the territory of Montana who fell off a steamboat into the Missouri River in 1867, and who rumors always said was pushed. I would have ignored this minor story, but it’s a good excuse to mention Meagher, a Young Ireland leader who was sentenced to transportation for life in Tasmania after the 1848 rising against British rule, then escaped to the US and 13 years later was a freaking governor!

Headline of the Day -100: “King Leaps From Train.” King Alfonso of Spain, in an attempt to save a little girl lying on or next to the train tracks. She died. “The King was profoundly impressed, and endeavored to console the mother, who was the woman in charge of the railway crossing, and gave her a present.”

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Today -100: May 30, 1913: Of redls

Col. Alfred Redl, who had been the director of Army intelligence for Austria and a double agent for Russia, which was using his homosexuality to blackmail him, commits suicide (that is, he’s given a loaded revolver – and an operating manual for it! – and told to do the right thing, as was the custom). Among the items he passed to Russia: the German and Austrian plans for how they’d fight a war with Russia. The authorities tried to keep all this secret, and succeeded for two weeks. You may know Redl from the István Szabó movie Colonel Redl with Klaus Maria Brandauer (good but no Mephisto) or the John Osborne play A Patriot for Me (I saw it with Alan Bates as Redl, and a Vienna nightclub scene in which I was a little slow to realize all the dancers were in drag).

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Today -100: May 29, 1913: Le Massacre du printemps

Wobblies storm a meeting of non-IWW strikers (English-speaking ones) in Paterson to prevent them setting a date for a return to work.

Headline of the Day -100: “Turtle Germs Fail Again.” A doctor thought he had a cure for tuberculosis.

Headline of the Day -100, Runner Up (LA Times): “To Pit Polish Against Trash.” About a plan offered by a member of the DAR who glories in the name Miss Elizabeth J. Virtue for erudite orators of the highest education and culture to combat the soapbox speeches by IWW speakers in Seattle.

Speaking of high culture, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), choreographed by Nijinsky, premieres in Paris. Some considered it primitive and offensive; some were horrified and scandalized by the fact that the dancers toed inward instead of outward and the dancing was angular and modern and violent rather than classical and graceful. And, as was the custom in Paris, they were a bit loud about it. Carl Van Vechten, the NYT’s music critic (who was sitting with Gertrude Stein, at least at the second performance) wrote: “Cat-calls and hisses succeeded the playing of the first few bars, and then ensued a battery of screams, countered by a foil of applause. We warred over art (some of us thought it was and some thought it wasn’t)... I remember Mlle. Piltz executing her strange dance of religious hysteria on a stage dimmed by the blazing light in the auditorium, seemingly to the accompaniment of the disjointed ravings of a mob of angry men and women.” Jean Cocteau would say that the audience played “the role that was written for it.” Le Figaro, whose critic called the ballet “a laborious and puerile barbarity,” suggested on its front page a couple of days later that a treaty be negotiated with Russia: “Nijinsky would have to agree not to stage any more ballets that aspire to a level of beauty inaccessible to our feeble minds... we would continue to assure him that he is the greatest dancer in the world, the most handsome of men, and we would prove this to him. We should then be at peace.”

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Today -100: May 28, 1913: Of Teddy and booze, bullingdons, and women’s suffrage

Theodore Roosevelt testifies in his libel lawsuit against The Iron Ore newspaper, which last year printed that “Roosevelt lies, and curses in a most disgusting way, he gets drunk too, and that not infrequently, and all of his intimates know about it.” TR testifies at length about the moderation of his drinking habits, seemingly reciting every drink he’s ever taken. Want to know how often he’s had mint juleps? Teddy knows. Want to know how much booze he brought along on his expedition to Africa? Teddy knows. And thanks to a million reporters, now we all do.

The Prince of Wales’s mother lets him retain his membership in the Bullingdon Club, the Oxford dining club known for drunkenness and destruction, in 1913 just as it was when David Cameron & Boris Johnson went through their initiation ceremonies (burning a £50 note in front of a tramp), but Queen Mary says he can’t join in the rowdy “Bullingdon blinds” – again.

Wisconsin Gov. Francis McGovern vetoes a bill for a women’s suffrage referendum, saying it’s too soon after the last one.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Today -100: May 27, 1913: Of strikes, military service, and heading into the Second Balkan War, hurrah!

Major clashes between IWW-backed silk strikers and the police in Paterson, NJ. The strikers say one of theirs was shot, but the police say they only fired into the air – a lot.

Conscripted soldiers in France are not taking well the news that their hitch has been extended from two years to three. Some mutineers have already been sent to punishment squads in Africa, while the rest of the military is confined to barracks and their letters are being censored. Protest rallies are growing.

Serbia is demanding from Bulgaria a revision of the alliance treaty by which they joined forces against Turkey. It thinks it deserves a lot more land (when doesn’t Serbia think that?). Russia is mediating between them, and between Bulgaria & Romania, but everyone (Spoiler Alert: correctly) expects a war.

There has been much discussion in the letter pages of the NYT on the causes of baldness. Too frequent haircuts? Stiff hats? Germs? One weirdo even suggested it was hereditary. Another correspondent says religious convictions are proof against going bald (something about uric acid).

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Today -100: May 26, 1913: Of discrimination, islands, cunning plans, and royal garters

The Navy has investigated claims that it discriminates against black enlisted men, and finds that nothing could be further from the truth, so that’s okay then.

Turkey has evidently ceded Cyprus to Britain.

The Italian war of conquest in Libya isn’t quite as finished as I’d thought. A large defeat is inflicted on the Italians through a ruse. The Libyans allowed an Italian prisoner to escape after priming him with false information, which Gen. Ganbretti then used in deciding to divide his forces into three columns, thinking he was facing a much smaller opposition than was the case. Each of the columns was cut off and decimated.

Headline of the Day -100: “Royal Highnesses in Souvenir Riot.” At the royal wedding of the kaiser’s kid, there’s a scrum for her garter: “Almost the entire wedding company, numbering hundreds of bejeweled ladies and gentlemen, representing the cream of the German aristocracy, engaged in a free fight for the ribbons. A survivor describes the scene as a cross between a Bank Holiday frolic on Hampstead Heath and a football riot. Many ladies emerged with faces badly scratched by the pushing and shoving of Generals and gold-laced diplomats.”

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Today -100: May 25, 1913: A mighty coquetry, a flirtation planned on a gigantic scale

The NYT Sunday Magazine section interviews Mrs. Arthur Dodge, President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. She explains that while the British suffragists are at war with men, American suffragists are cajoling them, which “may be as dangerous as war; it tends to develop methods which may work as great destruction to society as a bomb can to a railway station or a Cabinet Minister’s residence. As a matter of fact, I cannot but believe the suffrage movement to be an attack in grim reality upon the structure of society.” The American suffrage movement is “a mighty coquetry, a flirtation planned on a gigantic scale. It is as perilous to morals as the English movement is to property.” She complains a lot about how these girls today dress. As an antidote to suffragism, she suggests supporting the Campfire Girls. She thinks women getting jobs will inevitably destroy “the sweetest attributes of motherhood” and result in children being raised in common. “No man has ever made a home. It has ever been women’s work. ... if it remains undone, what can ensue but something close related to a social reign of terror?” What indeed. She claims that women’s suffrage is associated with individualism, and later claims that it is associated with socialism.

There’s also a profile of Mary Bartelme, the head of Chicago’s Court for Delinquent Girls, who the Times says is the only woman judge in the US.

A coroner’s jury in Miami, Arizona ruled that José Perez, who was beaten to death by a mob, was killed by unknown persons. However a couple of days later two members of the jury are arrested for being part of that mob.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Today -100: May 24, 1913: Of anti-trust laws, loans, and, let’s face it, “Cumberland” just sounds funny

The NYT is not happy that Congress attached a provision to the appropriations bill for the Justice Dept banning the (mis)use of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law to prosecute unions.

Mexican Constitutionalist leader Carranza warns European bankers against making that loan to the Huerta Junta, saying that if the Constitutionalists win, they can kiss their $100 million goodbye.

Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia, daughter of the German kaiser, is about to marry Prince Ernest August III of Cumberland, cousin of King George V, a marital alliance which will surely prevent any possibility of war between Great Britain and Germany, or at least between Prussia and Cumberland.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

But this war, like all wars, must end

Today, Barack Obama finally admitted to the use of drones, in a speech.

AND YET WE SEEM TO HAVE A NEW ONE EVERY TIME WE GET BORED: “Americans are deeply ambivalent about war...”

PRICE TAG: “...but having fought for our independence, we know that a price must be paid for freedom.” Did he just describe every war the US has ever fought, including Vietnam and Iraq and, I don’t know, Grenada, as the price of freedom?

“With the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a new dawn of democracy took hold abroad, and a decade of peace and prosperity arrived at home.” Unless you count the Gulf War. And Kosovo. I guess with so many prices paid for freedom, it’s natural he’d forget about one or two.

THAT MOMENT: 2:37 A.M., AUGUST 8, 1997: “For a moment, it seemed the 21st century would be a tranquil time.”

Then, he says dramatically, came 9/11: “This was a different kind of war. No armies came to our shores...” So it was a different kind of war from the War of 1812.

SHIFTED OUR FOCUS, WHAT A POLITE WAY OF REFERRING TO IT: “What’s clear is that we quickly drove al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but then shifted our focus and began a new war in Iraq.”

WHAT WE MUST DEFINE: “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us, mindful of James Madison’s warning that ‘No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.’ Neither I, nor any president, can promise the total defeat of terror.” Really, because I seem to remember your illustrious predecessor doing just that.

ALWAYS WITH THE SPECIFIC METRICS, THIS GUY: “Today, the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat.”

SO IT’S ALL BEEN JUST A CRAZY MISUNDERSTANDING? “Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam”.

BOUNDFUL: “Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.” So it’s not boundless, it just goes on anywhere in the world we feel like, and forever. But not, you know, boundless.

He explains that sending in troops to capture “terrorists” isn’t always convenient, or may create an international crisis, and what are we gonna do, NOT kill people every day all over the world?

HE USED THE D WORD! HE USED THE D WORD! “It is in this context that the United States has taken lethal, targeted action against al Qaeda and its associated forces, including with remotely piloted aircraft commonly referred to as drones.”

EFFECTIVE: “To begin with, our actions are effective. Don’t take my word for it. In the intelligence gathered at bin Laden’s compound, we found that he wrote, ‘we could lose the reserves to the enemy’s air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives.’” So now he’s supporting his policies by quoting military genius and master of strategy Osama bin Laden?

DOES.. NOT.. COMPUTE: “Simply put, these strikes have saved lives.”

LEGAL: “Moreover, America’s actions are legal. We were attacked on 9/11. Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force. Under domestic law, and international law, the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.” Oh, piffle.

AND YET SOMEHOW WE ALWAYS WIND UP USING OUR FLYING KILLER ROBOTS INSTEAD: “our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute them”. In fact, he says that this is our “preference” no fewer than four times. It’s evidently a Platonic ideal that can never be reached in our reality.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T / FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME: “our actions are bound by consultations with partners, and respect for state sovereignty.”

REMEMBER: TERRORISTS ARE NOT INDIVIDUALS, THEY’RE LIKE BEES: “America does not take strikes to punish individuals – we act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people”.

THE HIGHEST STANDARD: “And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.” Actually, the highest standard is not using winged battledicks to kill people in the first place.

“This last point is critical, because much of the criticism about drone strikes - at home and abroad - understandably centers on reports of civilian casualties. There is a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties, and non-governmental reports.” Possibly because you define anyone killed by a drone strike as a combatant.

OR MAYBE THAT’S JUST BIDEN RUNNING AROUND THE WHITE HOUSE WITH A SHEET OVER HIS HEAD GOING “WOOOOOO” AGAIN: “For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live”.

Funny, Obama doesn’t seem much like someone who’s “haunted” by all the civilians he’s killed. Or even mildly irked.

TERRORISM AGAINST MUSLIM DWARFS? OH, RIGHT. “Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.” We kill fewer civilians than they do, so we’re the good guys, that’s your moral argument here?

But conventional air strikes are “less precise” than drones. “And invasions of these territories lead us to be viewed as occupying armies”. Yes, if your armies invade other countries, they do tend to be “viewed” as occupying armies, because they actually are occupying armies.

He talks about the dronicide of Anwar Awlaki (without mentioning the others killed because they happened to be near him). “For the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen – with a drone, or a shotgun – without due process.” I don’t understand this; is he saying there was some sort of “due process” in Awlaki’s assassination?

He goes on about what a bad dude Awlaki was – “he was continuously trying to kill people.” “And as President, I would have been derelict in my duty had I not authorized the strike that took out Awlaki.” Yeah, all those 40+ presidents who didn’t kill people with drone strikes were totally derelict in their duty.

THRESHOLD: “But the high threshold that we have set for taking lethal action applies to all potential terrorist targets, regardless of whether or not they are American citizens. This threshold respects the inherent dignity of every human life.” So the way... you decide to kill people... respects the inherent dignity... oh, I give up.

SAYS THE DUDE ORDERING DRONE STRIKES FROM HIS DEN: “Today, a person can consume hateful propaganda, commit themselves to a violent agenda, and learn how to kill without leaving their home.”

He does the Mr. Balanced thing about how he needs to stop “national security leaks” but he totally supports a free press. “I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law.” Reporters should be free, but anyone who attempts to give them information should go to jail.

He looks forward to repealing the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force you know, some day. “But this war, like all wars, must end.” Somewhere, Dick Cheney sheds a single tear.

THERE NEEDS TO BE A JUSTIFICATION BEYOND POLITICS? On Guantanamo: “there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened.”

He admits that some Guantanamo detainees can’t be prosecuted “because the evidence against them has been compromised or is inadmissible in a court of law,” which he called “this legacy problem.” Which is as good a name as any for George W. Bush.

YES, YES IT IS, OR YOU’D HAVE ORDERED IT STOPPED: “Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that who we are?” I will give him credit for not using a euphemism.

NO, IF THEIR SLAVES ACTED UP, THEY’D JUST WHIP THEM: “Is that something that our Founders foresaw?”

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Today -100: May 23, 1913: Isn’t it sad when friends fall out over little things, like dividing up the spoils of their war of conquest?

Paranoia grows in Britain. Suffragettes are supposedly damaging things in the houses of rich people in the West End. “Hostesses in consequence are employing detectives to protect their homes. ... Some hostesses suspect that their servants are in the employ of the militants and are having a special watch kept upon them.”

The Greeks and Bulgarians, former allies in the First Balkan War, are fighting each other near Salonika.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today -100: May 22, 1913: How beggarly appears argument before defiant deed

British suffragettes blow up the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, leaving the message “How beggarly appears argument before defiant deed. Votes for women.” And if you have any information about this crime, the Observatory would like to hear from you.

French bankers loan $100 million to the Mexican coup regime (with Mexico’s customs receipts as collateral).

Headline of the Day -100: “Negro Legislators Vexed.” Cuban ones. White legislators were sent tickets to a gala opera performance for themselves and their families, black legislators for themselves alone.

The Protestant Episcopal diocese of Philadelphia planned to distribute 10,000 copies of a report by Vice Commission investigators on vice in Philly, but the chief postal inspector calls the report unprintable filth and vows to ban its distribution through the US postal service. He says it would fall into the hands of children. These days, of course, children can read the report on the web, although a quick skim suggests it’s not quite the non-stop wankfest that Inspector Cortelyou suggested.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today -100: May 21, 1913: Of Jews, Wobblies, blackmail, golf courses, and mock invasions

Henceforth, Jews will be admitted to Russian universities by lot rather than by ability.

The police in Paterson, NJ are arresting lots of picketers and closing the halls used by the IWW, but the big news is that one of the new IWW organizers is a negro (unlike any of the striking silk workers, evidently. Are the mills whites-only, or is it the unions? Dunno.).

Jake Dunn and Seeley Davenport are convicted for trying to extort money from Woodrow Wilson before and after his election as president (and from several other New Jerseyites, including a furniture dealer). We are not informed how much money they asked Wilson for in exchange for not murdering him.

In St. Andrews, Scotland, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club is forming a Vigilance Committee and organizing volunteers to patrol golf greens night and day to keep out suffragettes who might damage them ahead of the world amateur golf championship.

Headline of the Day -100: “Ad Men Dress as Japs.” The LA Times reports: “Delegates to the convention of the Pacific Coast Advertising Men’s Association arrayed themselves in Japanese apparel today and invaded the office of Gov. Johnson, who on Monday affixed his signature to the anti-alien land bill. The mock invasion brought the Governor to the corridor, where he extended a greeting to the visitors.”

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Today -100: May 20, 1913: Yet, he meant to say yet.

California Gov. Hiram Johnson signs the Alien Land Bill into racist law.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt says “We are not mobilizing our ships to fight Japan.” Phew.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Today -100: May 19, 1913: The flag is not good to eat

Speaking to the Washington Peace Society, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan gives a fiery speech denouncing “subsidized patriotism which seeks to create war because of the profits in armorplate and battleships”. “War is in the interest of a few people, not of all. ... War rests upon feeling, not upon necessity.” “While sensational newspapers are trying to cultivate a feeling that will produce war, it is the business of the right-thinking people of this country to create a feeling that will not tolerate the idea of war.”

An IWW meeting is held in Paterson, NJ, preparatory to tomorrow’s riots. Some quotes from speeches: “The American flag is pretty to look at. Its colors are very striking... but it is not good to eat.” “America is a country of great resources, but it is in hock, and the pawnbrokers are the international firm of Rockefeller & Morgan.” (Those from Frederick Mohl). “The Paterson silk mills are slaughterhouses, where your blood is used to dye the silk that decorates the backs of the aristocratic women of the United States.” (Patrick Quinlan, who is awaiting sentencing.) “If you all stand together it will be the police who will go to jail and you will get your liberty.” (Unattributed). Upton Sinclair was one of the speakers.

NY Gov. Sulzer begins a tour to push for his direct primaries bill.

D.J. Crockett, grandson of Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier, is sentenced to death by a court-martial in Mexico, I have no idea for what, but escapes over the border with two other condemned Americans. It is thought they were allowed to escape to prevent tensions with the US government.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Headline of the Day

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Today -100: May 18, 1913: Of peace & disarmament, and women state senators

A Franco-German Peace and Disarmament Conference was just held. German nationalist newspapers made fun of it.

The NYT Magazine profiles State Sen. Helen Ring Robinson of Colorado, the only female state senator in the United States. (The Times says she is also the first, but the Times is wrong, that would be Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon of Utah, who served two terms in the 1890s and was in a polygamous marriage.) Robinson compares legislatin’ to housework (she told her fellow senators that prisoners could be fed for just 35¢ a day because she fed her poor husband for that), and talks about how she used her skills as a former English teacher to correct the grammar in bills, and how the male senators were all afraid that she would abolish the custom of smoking cigars in the senate, but she totally didn’t.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Today -100: May 17, 1913: Of rebellion & militancy, more alien land bills, and street car strikes

The London Times reports that three Dublin suffragists (Margaret Palmer, Dora Ryan, and Annie Walsh) were tried in the Dublin Police Court for breaking windows at the United Irish League and at the house of John Dillon MP. At the trial, Dillon is asked if he signed petition for restoration of political rights for Dr. Jameson following his conviction for leading the Jameson Raid on the Transvaal before the Boer War. Dillon says that was a rebellion and militancy is disgraceful but rebellion isn’t.

NYC Mayor Gaynor says the way to end suffragist militancy in England is to find husbands for the suffragettes, adding “Is there any suffragette in the world who would not give up her principles for a nice man?” He thinks most women in NY don’t want the vote, while most men “are in that mood that they just laugh and rub their stomachs and say that they are perfectly satisfied for the women to vote if they want to.” (Rub their stomachs?)

Arizona bans any alien who does not declare an intention of becoming a US citizen from owning land. This affects not just Asiatics, who are debarred from citizenship by racist federal laws, but also Mexican nationals who want to retain their citizenship. The governor refused to veto the bill because, he says, it’s necessary in the interests of the white race.

Headline of the Day -100: “Editor Shoots a Mayor.” Of Mount Auburn, Ill. To be fair, the mayor attacked the editor first.

The Cuban congress has appropriated funds to send soldiers to the US to march in the parade for the dedication of the Maine Memorial, but is fighting over whether some black soldiers will be sent or just white ones.

The NYT optimistically reports the “first big riot of the street car strike” in Cincinnati.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Obama press conference: And so I make no apologies

Obama and Turkey’s prime minister held a press conference outside in the rain, but did they bring enough umbrella-toting marines for everyone? No they did not.

SITUATION NORMAL... “I want to note the Prime Minister’s efforts to normalize relations with Israel.”

BECAUSE OBAMA IS ALL ABOUT MAKING PROGRESS ON A TWO-STATE SOLUTION, IN EVERY WAY EXCEPT ACTUALLY MAKING PROGRESS ON A TWO-STATE SOLUTION: “This will benefit both the Turkish and Israeli people and can also help us make progress on a two-state solution, including an independent Palestinian state.”

NEEDY: “We both agree that Assad needs to go. He needs to transfer power to a transitional body.” Christ I hate that formulation: Obama treating his personal preferences as things the rest of the world “needs” to do. The presidential God-complex.

On IRSgate: “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press. Typically, the IG reports are not supposed to be widely distributed or shared.” So he’s bitching about leaks – and no doubt reading the emails of the entire press corps to find out who’s responsible – while admitting he wouldn’t even know about these abuses of power for which he is ultimately responsible without the leak.

SEPARATE BUT EQUAL OUTRAGE: “it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you should be equally outraged at even the prospect that the IRS might not be acting with the kind of complete neutrality that we expect.” Except for class neutrality: obviously we all expect the IRS to continue to focus its enforcement efforts much more on poor people than rich people.

Asked about the trawl through AP phone records, Obama uses the words National Security as often as he can. Of course this is a “pending case,” so he can’t comment about it specifically, he says, but he can strongly suggest that AP reporters Hate Our Troops: “Leaks related to national security can put people at risk. They can put men and women in uniform that I’ve sent into the battlefield at risk. They can put some of our intelligence officers, who are in various, dangerous situations that are easily compromised, at risk. ... And so I make no apologies, and I don’t think the American people would expect me as Commander-in-Chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.” And so the National Security State speaks, now and forever, world without end.

In the very next sentence he praises the free press and the open flow of information, at least in, you know, theory, and the need to “strike that balance properly,” because Barack Obama is always all about striking balances. So he supports a Media Shield Law that would require judges to allow exactly such fishing expeditions through news agencies’ records if the administration says it’s necessary for “national security.” I’m not sure what the point of having a judge in the process even is, since they wouldn’t be allowed to question such a designation.

Oh, and he has complete confidence in Eric Holder.

He says that Syrian President Assad “lost legitimacy when he started firing on his own people and killing his own people”. He still doesn’t say when Assad acquired legitimacy. By the way, did you know that the Chicago police shot 57 people last year, 50 of whom were black? Just saying.

(I’d have given you a national figure but, huh, the federal government doesn’t seem to compile that data. Funny, that.)

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Today -100: May 16, 1913: The whiskey constables are useless

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease fires all 100 whiskey constables after a state Supreme Court decision legalizes the importation into the state of booze for personal use.

The grand jury in Chicago is investigating Charles De Alvandros, lawyer/clairvoyant/con artist. As a fake lawyer, he referred clients to himself, wearing a disguise, as a clairvoyant with remarkable insight into the affairs the client had disclosed to the lawyer, if you follow.

There are more strikes going on than I’m even attempting to keep up with, with more ominous developments – dynamite going missing, attempted train derailings, etc. So this may be my only mention of the barbers’ strike in NYC: there is a barbers’ strike in NYC. There’s also a strike by iron miners in Wharton, NJ. Women and children have supposedly been attacking deputies because they know the cops have been ordered not to shoot. So the local sheriff and judge want the military sent in to shoot the women and children. But a general, I assume of the state militia, is disinclined to do so because a detective agency hired by the mineowners says it can break the strike in four days. Oh good.

French aviator Marcel Brindejonc des Moulinais sets a speed record by flying in just 20 minutes from Calais to Dover, where he was arrested for breaking the new law against foreigners landing in Britain without a permit.

Headline of the Day -100: “Wilson Puts Check on Rumors of War.” With Japan. Over California’s racist Alien Land Act.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today -100: May 15, 1913: We hope this is not a poor widow’s house

In Britain, someone sent a mail bomb to the magistrate who has presided over many trials of suffragettes. It did not explode. And fires were started at a house and a church. Found at the unoccupied house, the message, “We hope this is not a poor widow’s house.” Boys have been leaving fake bombs in various places as pranks, because hilarious.

An international force has arrived to occupy Scutari until the Albanians get their little country organized.

Evidently China came to a secret agreement with Russia to give up Outer Mongolia to it.

The US Navy seems to have lost/had stolen plans for the electrical systems of the latest battleship (or “superdreadnought” as they call it, which would be an awesome name for an Edwardian superhero). The Burns Detective Agency is looking into it.

Nevada executes one Andrija Mircovich for the murder of a former state senator. Mircovich is the first person ever executed by automatic rifles, because they couldn’t find any people willing to shoot him.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

That can’t be Halal

There’s a video on the web of a Syrian rebel commander cutting the heart out of a government soldier and taking a big juicy bite out of it.

This will only make John McCain love the rebels all the more.

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Today -100: May 14, 1913: Of the smokeless power of love, goat lymphs, censorship, and alien land

At a meeting for the centenary of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, Secretary of State Bryan exercises his wit in the interests of diplomacy, saying that the best battleship is... friendship. “Its compass is the heart, its shells carry good will; its missiles are projected by the smokeless power of love; its Captain is the Prince of Peace.” Beat that, John Kerry!

William Lorimer, who was US senator from Illinois until he was expelled in 1912 for having gotten his seat through bribery, is now revealed to be behind a fake mail-order tuberculosis cure (a lymph taken from goats).

The British Labour Party’s publishing house says that it will take over the publication of The Suffragette as a matter of principle, namely opposition to the government’s attempt to pre-censor the newspaper.

A Paterson jury convicts IWW organizer Patrick Quinlan of inciting a meeting to attack scabs, after a hung jury last week. A bunch of cops testified that he made the speech, a bunch of IWWers and a reporter that he never spoke at all. At the second trial, Quinlan did not use some anarchist witnesses who made a poor impression at the first trial when they replied no to the prosecution asking whether they believed in country, law or God. Quinlan could be sentenced to 7 years.

California Gov. Hiram Johnson responds to Sec of State Bryan with a letter explaining why he won’t veto the racist Alien Land Act, but without actually explaining it. He refers to “a very grave problem, little understood in the East” (meaning the East Coast of the US, not Asia), but fails to say what there is about a, let’s face it, rather small number of Japanese buying farmland, that constitutes a very grave problem.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Today -100: May 13, 1913: I hope we have seen the last great war

At a conference celebrating the centennial of the Treaty of Ghent and 100 years of peace with Britain (I assume there are big plans currently for the bicentennial?), Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan says there will be no war while he is secretary of state, and no war “so long as I live. I hope we have seen the last great war.”

The Carlsbad, New Mexico Chamber of Commerce says that if California doesn’t want Japanese farmers, it does.

Headline of the Day -100: “Foreign Pulp Men Win.”

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Today -100: May 12, 1913: Misdirected sex is a national tragedy

Mexico: Constitutionalists execute 25 Federal soldiers by firing squad.

Woodrow Wilson seems to have moved away from his initial position that California’s proposed Alien Land Act is a matter of state’s racist rights, and asks Gov. Hiram Johnson to delay or veto it (Secretary of State Bryan had suggested a referendum, to delay it until 1914). If Johnson does this, Wilson promises to negotiate with Japan to, I don’t know, get it to stop its citizens buying land in California, like it voluntarily agreed to restrict emigration a few years ago.

Mrs. Arthur Dodge, President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage says that the suffrage movement is “a sex disturbance” born of
“straining after artificial happiness and unnatural enjoyment which indicates an unsettled and an unsatisfactory state of mind.” She says that the costumes of the women in the NYC women’s suffrage parade relied on their sex to appeal to men. If women go out to work on political causes, “the home may be crucified by the ballot”. She links the suffrage movement with immodesty in dress, looseness in conversation and impropriety in dancing. “Misdirected Government is a bad thing, so bad that the men of this country can be relied on to correct it whenever necessary, but misdirected sex is a national tragedy, which, if it is not checked, will degenerate the race.”

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Today -100: May 11, 1913: Of Sheldons, cigarettes, dueling, dynamite, and menschenschlachthauser

Horace Olin Young, Republican member of Congress for Michigan for the last ten years, resigns. In the 1912 election, the name of his Progressive opponent William MacDonald was incorrectly rendered on the Ontonagon County ballot as Sheldon William MacDonald, and 458 votes for “Sheldon” were thrown out, giving the election to Young. Young felt that MacDonald was the choice of the majority of electors and does the right thing. In August, the House Committee on Elections will award the seat to MacDonald, who will lose the 1914 election.

Pennsylvania passes a law banning the sale of cigarettes to minors under 21. Minors caught with cancer sticks must say who gave or sold them to them or face the juvenile court (if under 16) or a fine or imprisonment (if over).

The Duc de Cazes has sent a letter to society folk in Paris and to members of clubs and sporting societies, asking them to shut up about their duels, which have been attracting large audiences recently, so they don’t, you know, ruin it for everyone.

Headline of the Day -100: “Dynamite Destroys Town.” Uniontown, Pennsylvania. A coal town, thus the dynamite. I suspect they’re exaggerating a little about the town being destroyed.

The German government suppresses Wilhelm Lamszus’s book The Human Slaughter-House: Scenes from the War that is Sure to Come (Menschenschlachthaus; trust the Germans to have a word for human slaughter-house), although only after it had already become a best-seller. Evidently Lamszus thinks the next war will be mechanized and brutal, which is just crazy talk.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Today -100: May 10, 1913: Of rumbles, the root of our free institutions, and amateur theatrics

Under the martial law which Gov. Hatfield declared in West Virginia because of the coal strike, he has ordered the military to seize several newspapers and their employees held without trial, including our Name of the Day -100, Elmer Rumble, reporter for The Socialist and Labor Star. Let me repeat that: Elmer Rumble, reporter for The Socialist and Labor Star.

The speaker of the House of Representatives orders Charles Glover, president of the Riggs National Bank, to be arrested and brought before the bar of the House for slapping the face of Thetus Sims (D-Tenn.), who had attacked him in a speech in Congress. They explained to Glover that the ability of members of Congress to say whatever they want, including slandering businessmen, is “at the very root of our free institutions.”

The NYT fails to name the play being performed by a local lodge in Sharon, PA, when the heroine fainted and “In the excitement, Frederick McIntyre, who played the villain, accidentally shot himself in the left hand with a revolver. The show ended abruptly.”

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Today -100: May 9, 1913: Of recognition, and long suits

The House passes a tariff bill, and a newly constitutional graduated income tax, in case you were wondering why I haven’t written anything about what Congress has been doing for the last few weeks.

Victoriano Huerta, dictator of Mexico, is threatening that if the US doesn’t recognize his regime (Britain just did), he won’t recognize the US either and will de-ambassadorize (that’s a word, right?) US Amb. Henry Wilson. Funnily enough, Woodrow Wilson would love to replace the other Wilson, who he quite rightly doesn’t trust, but has refrained because of precisely this problem that there’s no one to whom the replacement could present his credentials.

The city of NY finally settles a lawsuit stemming from the burning down of the Hotel Allerton during the Draft Riots almost fifty years before. The 88-year-old who brought the suit will get $7,300.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Today -100: May 8, 1913: Of amendments, 4th-class postmasters, and hooting anarchists

The 17th Amendment is re-ratified, after the Wisconsin Legislature passes the correct version.

Pres. Wilson orders all 4th-class postmasters to take a competitive civil service exam to keep their jobs. In other words, he’s trying to get rid of Taft’s patronage appointments.

A supposed British suffragist plot to blow up St. Paul’s is foiled.

Headline of the Day -100: “Paris Anarchists Hoot King Alfonso.”

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

In case you were wondering whether rape is patriotic, it’s totally not

Asked about sexual assault in the military: “And if it’s happening inside our military, then whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform that they’re wearing. And they may consider themselves patriots, but when you engage in this kind of behavior that’s not patriotic -- it’s a crime.” So that clears that up.

“And for those who are in uniform who have experienced sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their Commander-In-Chief that I’ve got their backs.” That probably could have been better phrased.

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Sophistication and precision

Peter King (Know Nothing Party-NY) says that the Boston bombers couldn’t possibly have been acting alone: “It’s very difficult to believe that these two could have carried out this level of attack with this level of sophistication and precision acting by themselves, either without training from overseas or having at least facilitators here at home.”

You can see King’s why thinks this: King isn’t smart enough to wipe his own ass with any level of sophistication or precision acting by himself without training from overseas or at least facilitators at home.

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Today -100: May 7, 1913: Of the interdependence of the sexes on one another, and strikes

The British Parliament rejects the women’s suffrage bill by 47 votes. Many will blame militant suffragette tactics for this, and not without reason, but the desire of Irish Nationalist MPs not to disrupt the Liberal government or force a new election before Home Rule is enacted is arguably more important. Prime Minister Asquith, arguing against the Dickinson Bill, says there would be a decline of courtesy and chivalry “and the interdependence of the sexes on one another”. He also says that this issue was not before the electorate at the last general election, though since the Liberal and Tory parties are both split on the issue, it’s impossible for a general election to turn on the public’s views on suffrage (the argument that the government did not have an electoral mandate to enact a social change which did not divide on party lines was also made in 2013 against gay marriage).

Syracuse police shoot to kill (in the words of the police chief’s orders) at mostly Italian striking building laborers who attacked negro scabs.

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Monday, May 06, 2013

Today -100: May 6, 1913: Of amendments, isolated orders, silent stares, and hats in Parliament

The 17th Amendment, for the popular election of US senators, is unratified, because Wisconsin accidentally ratified the wrong draft.

Montenegro yields to the Great Powers (and to the threat of Austria and maybe Italy sending in troops), and will evacuate Scutari.

Arizona is working on its own racist land law.

A federal district court judge in Washington State rules that a high-caste Hindu from India is an Aryan, a “free white person,” under the law and thus is eligible for naturalization. Ahkay Kumar Mozumdar, a yogi who plans to teach what the NYT calls “ancient nonsense for which the present has little use and the future none,” thus becomes the first Indian to become an American citizen.

Paterson’s silk strike is now a general strike, enforced with violence and staring: “Their method of gaining recruits was that of collecting in a large body around a gang of laborers and staring silently.” The Wobblies will totally kick your ass in a staring contest.

While Women’s Social and Political Union leaders are in court in one part of London (the prosecutor claims that the WSPU is responsible for broken windows in 700 to 800 premises, and damage to 560 letter boxes and 8,400 letters), elsewhere Parliament debates a bill to enfranchise some women (house occupiers or wives of house occupiers, over the age of 25). Liberal Unionist MP Rowland Hunt brings up the important issues: “If you once give votes to women they could undoubtedly sit in this House. You could not prevent it, and whether rightly or wrongly they could be War Ministers or anything else. There would be nothing to prevent them being Speaker. We might have to address the Chair as ‘Mrs. Speaker, Ma’am,’ for all we could tell. ... There are obvious disadvantages about having women in Parliament. I do not know what is going to be done about their hats. Are they going to wear hats or not going to wear hats? If you ordered them not to wear hats, you might be absolutely certain that they would insist on wearing them. How is a poor little man to get on with a couple of women wearing enormous hats in front of him?” How indeed.

Helen Keller is a militant suffragette, supporting window-breaking etc, because she believes women’s suffrage will lead to socialism.

However, Carrie Chapman Catt, former (and future) president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, who is on a visit to Britain, says that American suffragists won’t adopt militant methods: “Your movement resembles a battle; ours a process of evolution. Yours is picturesque and very tragic; ours is commonplace and sure.”

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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Today -100: May 5, 1913: Of London mobs

Headline of the Day -100: “London Mob Riots for Free Speech.” I knew there was something about London mobs that I liked. The Free Speech Defense League organizes a meeting in Trafalgar Square against the government’s attempt to ban suffrage meetings in public spaces. The fight started when Socialists tried to speak on one side of the Nelson Monument at the same time as the organizers’ speakers (including Labour MP Keir Hardie and Women’s Freedom League president Charlotte Despard) were speaking on the other side, and were pulled down by police. A general fight ensued, as was the custom.

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Saturday, May 04, 2013

Today -100: May 4, 1913: No Government Ever Yielded a Right Unless Bullied Into It

Something called the National Democratic Fair Play Association of the United States is formed. What constitutes democratic fair play, you ask? Segregating the civil service and preventing the hiring of negroes in the future. At the Association’s first mass meeting, a letter is read from an anonymous Southern white woman employed by the General Land Office who was forced, forced, to take dictation from negroes. “I became so nervous it almost shattered my reason.” Almost.

There is a women’s suffrage parade on 5th Avenue, NYC. The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage actually hired “experts” to count the marchers (experts in counting, one assumes), and claims there were only 9,613.

Signs included: “More Ballots; Less Bullets”, “Government is Housekeeping and Homekeeping,” “To Create Sex Antagonism Is an Unwise Precedent,” “Let the People Rule; Women Are People,” “Hasn’t Your Wife Brains Enough to Vote?”, “No Government Ever Yielded a Right Unless Bullied Into It.”

The NYT congratulates the marchers – “they marched well, they looked well” – and says that while it opposes women’s suffrage, it congratulates American suffragists on not being like the English militants.

Maj. John Finley, Governor of the Southern Zone of the Philippines, arrives in Constantinople to ask for Turkish help in subduing the Moros (he is supposedly acting as ambassador of the Moro people, not as a rep of the US government. Hah). He wants the Sheik-ul-Islam to tell the Moros that allegiance to US colonial rule is compatible with their religion, and that it is against the Koran to kill Christians and drink alcohol. The US is even offering to pay for Muslim missionaries to go to the Philippines.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is hauled into court by a neighbor who claims his collie, whose name I could not discover, had killed some of the neighbor’s sheep. Doyle acted as his own lawyer and neatly broke down the stories of the witnesses against the dog (the story quotes some of the cross-examination, which is very Perry Masonish).

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Friday, May 03, 2013

Today -100: May 3, 1913: Of recognition, suffrage, and polo ponies

The US recognizes the Chinese Republic, the first nation to do so.

The Florida legislature votes down women’s suffrage.

Headline of the Day -100: “English Polo Ponies Sail.” Oh, they’re good.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

And I want my cut (so to speak)

It’s only a matter of time before someone turns this cannibalism-in-Jamestown thing into a movie called Puritans vs. Zombies.

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Today -100: May 2, 1913: Let Greed Not Feed on Need

The Brooklyn Institute rejects the offer of “To the Highest Bidder,” a 1906 painting by Harry Roseland of two slaves, mother and daughter, at an antebellum slave auction, because it “tends to keep alive memories that had better be forgotten.” Oprah owns it now.

The Daily Mirror (UK) claims that there’s a suffragette plan to burn down London.

They do burn down a stable, leaving a placard reading “Votes! Votes! Votes! Beware!”, which I suppose is a good motto for the WSPU’s current strategy.

The Common Cause, the newspaper of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, the non-militant British organization, complains, “Militancy has introduced into the Suffrage movement elements of revenge, of contempt for others, of unreason, of deafness to honest and considered criticism, which in a movement that stands for peace and justice and humanity, are tragic.”

Montenegro, which seized Scutari last week after a six-month siege, is now preparing the city for a new siege by Austria. Poor Scutari.

The NYT notes that yesterday’s NYC May Day parade was the first in a years not to coincide with a major strike; “the paraders had to import some 110 children of Paterson silk strikers from New Jersey to give concrete embodiment to the woes of the workers.” (Lexicological note: this is before the term “the concrete embodiment of workers’ woes” in New Jersey came to refer to union leaders being buried in the foundations of thruway overpasses).

(click on photo for full-length)

Banners & placards at the parade included: “The Unionized Needle is Mightier Than the Sword,” “We Want a Square Deal and No Triangle Disasters” and “Let Greed Not Feed on Need.” Very Dr. Seuss, that one. The Bakers and Confectioners’ Union baked a giant cake.

Everett Pepperrell Wheeler, prominent lawyer, author, and failed candidate for NY governor in 1894, is forming a men’s anti-women’s-suffrage organization, although he has thought better of calling it the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Women (the “cruelty” consisting of forcing them to suffer “the burden of political activity”).

Ten companies of the Georgia state militia are mobilized to prevent the lynching of Leo Frank, the Jewish “carpetbagger” superintendent of the National Pencil Company of Atlanta, and Newt Lee, a black night watchman, both arrested after Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old employee of the company, is found murdered.

NY Gov. William Sulzer’s bill for direct primaries fails, and Sulzer is pissed off: “The vote in the Senate yesterday expressed nothing except what the people know – that the Senate of the State of New York is not a free agency. The Senators did not discuss the merits of the Direct Primary bill. They amused themselves by criticizing the Governor ... both political parties caucused to defeat a bill to carry out the solemn pledges of their platforms.” Opponents say that in fighting Tammany, Sulzer is using its methods of intimidation and patronage to influence the Legislature (but less successfully).

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

It’s just never enough for those people, is it?

Actual AP headline: “Guantanamo Strike Still on Despite New Obama Vow.”

That would be the “vow” (a word Obama did not use) to “re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people.” I don’t know what more they could ask for.

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Today -100: May 1, 1913: Raided!

British police (74 of them!) raid the Women’s Social and Political Union hq, arresting six leaders and seizing the suffrage organization’s papers (which no law actually authorizes them to do). Director of Public Prosecutions (and winner of Name of the Day -100) Sir Archibald Bodkin threatens any printer who prints The Suffragette, saying “That organ must be put a stop to.” He even threatens to go after its subscribers. (Spoiler alert: The Suffragette won’t miss a single weekly issue before World War I starts, not even tomorrow’s. The front page of tomorrow’s issue will feature the single word: RAIDED!)

What asshole wrote that NYT article? It says the Cat and Mouse Act is “turning the laugh against hunger strikers”.

In Mexico, Federal troops evacuate Juarez under pressure from the Constitutionalists.

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