Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Today -100: December 31, 1914: Happy 1915 from the Archbishop of Canterbury, now go kill some Germans

Outgoing SC governor Coleman Blease just keeps pardoning prisoners, including three who dynamited a county jail in a failed attempt to lynch a negro prisoner who was later acquitted.  In Blease’s nearly four years in office, he has pardoned 1,544 prisoners.  There are only 149 state prisoners left.

Supposedly there are anti-war riots in Vienna and Budapest.

The archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year’s letter calls for more soldiers because Jesus, or something: “The very life of the empire may depend on the response to the call for men.  I think we can say deliberately that no household or home will be acting worthily if in timidity or self-love it keeps back any of those who can loyally bear a man’s part in behalf of the land we love.”

Austria, which started this whole mess by declaring war on Serbia, has given up on military operations against Serbia in order to concentrate on fending off the Russians.

Federal troops begin a phased withdrawal from the Colorado mining strike regions.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Today -100: December 30, 1914: Of prohibition and political prisoners

Russia expands its alcohol ban from vodka to beer and wines.  There’s a war on, you know.

Woodrow Wilson is trying to get the Mexican government (which one?) to grant amnesty to all political prisoners.  He says he doesn’t think the Gutierrez government has executed all that many people.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Today -100: December 29, 1914: Who is the 20th Century’s greatest criminal against humanity? The answer may surprise you.

NYT Index Headline of the Day -100: “DEMAND FOR CASTOR OIL.; Germany Needs It to Lubricate ...”  I have never had less desire to click on a link, because I just don’t want to know what Germany needs to lubricate.

Austria is denying reports of anti-war demonstrations in Hungary.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: French Commander in Chief Gen. Joseph Joffre claims that a Bavarian lieutenant issued an order that all prisoners be killed.  Joffre mentions this in a general order, as a subtle hint to French soldiers to fight to the death rather than be taken prisoner.

The US complains to Britain about it interfering with American commercial shipping.

The Honduran consul-general in San Francisco is arrested for burning his house down.  I have no idea what that’s about.

US Supreme Court Justice J. R. Lamar grants Leo Frank’s appeal to be heard by the full court.

The Daily Mail claims that a pamphlet on sale in Germany proclaims King Edward VII “The Twentieth Century’s Greatest Criminal Against Humanity.”

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Today -100: December 28, 1914: When he has a couple of torpedoes in his body he will be more amenable

Pancho Villa claims he does not “intend to tolerate” any more executions by, er, his men.

Italy says that its invasion of Albania was intended solely to keep Albania independent and neutral and preserve its integrity.  There’s probably a flaw in that argument somewhere.

In the context of fending off charges that German attacks on English coastal towns violated international law, Admiral Schlieper says that if anything the Germans have been too humane, and German subs should sink everything they can.  “Germans must not allow their hereditary weakness or considerateness to slacken their firm purpose. ... We cannot bring the British lion to his knees by feeding him with cakes.  When he has a couple of torpedoes in his body he will be more amenable.”

You’re still marveling over the thing about German weakness and considerateness, aren’t you?

The US admits, after several days of rumor-filled reports in the press, that there’s a small revolt going on in the Philippines, which Governor-General Francis Harrison had been denying.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Our Indians Not Yellow.”  “Cato Sells, United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs, has ruled that the American Indian is not a Mongolian” and will ban from Indian schools all books that say that they are.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Terra Haute Mayor is Weary of Jail.”  He is going to find his 3½ years at Leavenworth sooooo boring.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

And writing Shakespeare plays

North Korea calls Obama a monkey, and blames the US for shutting down its internet. Which just goes to prove what we’ve always suspected: monkeys are in charge of the internet.

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Today -100: December 27, 1914: Those v’s will get you every time

Germany is telling neutral countries that it won’t recognize their consuls in Belgium anymore, part of its slow-moving annexation.  If the US and other neutrals accept this move, they’d be effectively accepting German sovereignty over Belgium.

Headline of the Day -100 (AP story in the LA Times):  “German Spy’s Accent Sends Him to Death.”  I’m guessing this is nonsense, but the story goes that when the German army was near Paris, a German spy pretending to be a French officer got into the collection of artillery assembled to defend the city, claiming to belong to the military staff but not knowing the password and wearing a new uniform.  A suspicious French colonel had him count the artillery pieces, in ordinal rather than cardinal numbers because it’s a well-known fact that Germans can’t pronounce vingt-neuvieme, something about the v’s and the t.  So the spy was arrested and shot.

Mexico’s Provisional President Gutierrez orders everyone to stop all the summary executions.

Headline of the Day -100 (NYT Magazine):  “New Ruler of Egypt Is a Dancing Sultan.”

Most Terra Haute, Indiana officials, from Mayor Donn Roberts down, are arrested for corrupting in the November elections, including for Congress and the US Senate.  The conspiracy included repeat voting (some of the floating voters testified that they were paid to vote for Republicans in Illinois and Democrats in Indiana), infiltrating election boards, fake registrations, arresting people they didn’t want voting, all paid for with a “tax” on saloons, gambling houses, dance halls etc.  Roberts, who had been planning to spend 1916 running for governor, instead was serving a sentence for bribery in Leavenworth.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Today -100: December 26, 1914: Feast and fight

A very Sing Sing Christmas: new warden Thomas Mott Osborne gives the prisoners a Broadway show (out of town try-outs, as it were), with the Broadway cast and even the Broadway sets, Owen Davis’s, um, “Sinners.”

A revolution begins in Albania, fomented by the Turks according to the no doubt unbiased London Daily News.  Italian troops land.

In addition to all the cigars and wine the Germans demanded of Belgians so that German soldiers could celebrate Christmas, they also asked the Belgians to make them some Christmas cakes.  The Belgians naturally replied that they couldn’t make cakes without flour (and rat poison).

Japan’s Imperial Diet votes down a bill to increase the size of the army, so the emperor dissolves it. The Imperial Diet, not the army.

Headline of the Day -100:  “British Soldiers Feast and Fight.”  We’ve all been there.

That article mentions British and German soldiers singing a hymn together in their separate trenches, but the wider story of the Christmas Truce hasn’t been reported yet.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Today -100: December 25, 1914: We no shoot and no work today

Bird dude John Muir dies.

A Louisville, Kentucky court rules that enforcing residential racial segregation, as a recent city ordinance requires, is the rightful exercise of a police power of the state and doesn’t violate the 14th Amendment or KY’s own Bill of Rights.  The article doesn’t state exactly what the particular negro in the case, Arthur Harris, was arrested for doing.

Headline of the Day -100:  The LAT reports that the 1910 census showed that there were 71,500 Chinese in the country, and 72,000 Japanese, and gives other information about their professions and whatnot.  The headline, because it’s the LA Fucking Times, is “The Yellow Peril.”

I mentioned that the British were supplying every soldier and sailor with a plum pudding.  The French military is sending one bottle of champagne for every four soldiers, Belgium is giving its soldiers 25 cigars each.

Headline of the Day -100:  “French Girl Sacrifices Her Hair For Soldiers.”  Yvonne Pusel, a “Lorraine peasant girl,” sent her hair to Paris to be sold to buy presents for the soldiers.  Only to find that all the soldiers had sold their guns to buy her a fancy set of combs, probably.

At many places along the front lines between German and British troops, a spontaneous Christmas Truce develops, in which enemy soldiers not only didn’t shoot, but joined in singing hymns, then cautiously venturing out and greeting each other – “We no shoot and no work today” some Germans reassured them – and exchanged halting conversation, cigarettes, food, alcohol, and presents.  With all the presents from home and from drives organized by newspapers and gifts from Queen Mary and the like, the soldiers had goods to trade in unusual quantities (also actual newspapers; there is one story of a German who asked for a British paper because German ones were full of lies).  An officer who wrote one of the first published accounts, possibly the first, in the London Daily News of December 30th, was given a photo of the Crown Prince of Bavaria.  He adds, “Of course, these men were Saxons – not Prussians.”  One British soldier got a haircut from a German who had been his barber before the war in London (that may be an exaggeration).  The London Daily News account doesn’t include football, but only because the Germans considered the ground too hard to join in.  Football matches, a favorite part of the myth that grew up around these events, were actually not a feature of more than a couple of the local truces, if any (it’s not like there were a lot of balls in the trenches). In the mythical versions the score was almost always 3-2.

There were incidents of fraternization between other armies pretty much everywhere, though on a smaller scale, even the French and Germans, which tend to be less well documented (French newspapers weren’t allowed to mention them).

A letter, just come to light, by a British general (who didn’t participate in the fraternization because he thought he might be too tempting a target) says one of his men “smoked a cigar with the best shot in the German army, then not more than 18. They say he’s killed more of our men than any other 12 together but I know now where he shoots from and I hope we down him tomorrow.”

There were much more scattered truces on Christmas of 1915 and 1916, but the army brass of both sides, embarrassed by the 1914 one, ordered Xmas artillery barrages to pre-empt any repetition – and ordered sentries to shoot anyone who tried to party with the enemy.  The 1914 truces, however, were far too widespread for the participants to face any punishment.  One German soldier, a Private Hitler, fumed at other soldiers who participated, “Have you no German sense of honor?”

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It’s all about the hats

Six years ago, I wrote:

“What will a Barack Obama presidency bring? A long, long visual drought. An increasingly frustrating series of dignified poses. Sigh. Soon desperation will drive me to learn how to photoshop propeller beanies

and Queen Elizabeth’s hats

onto his head,

and he’ll still look ten times more dignified than Bush at his most dignitudinous.”

So now there’s this:

Just saying.

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Today -100: December 24, 1914: Of swaps, Christmas cards, and insurance

The Daily Telegraph claims that talks between Germany and Britain over an exchange of civilian prisoners fell apart when Germany demanded a ratio of 5 Germans for every 1 Britisher (the British have many more interned Germans than Germany has Brits).

The latest order from the British censors bans the publication of any war news that occurred in the previous five days or within 20 miles of the front.

The British king and queen are sending a Christmas card to every single soldier and sailor, because they’re just polite that way.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Daily Telegraph claims that Austria has attempted, twice, to make peace with Serbia, only to be turned down.

Oh, and Austrian Emperor Franz Josef is rumored to be dying.  Again.  Last rites are said to have been read.

The Lusitania is having to pay a near record for insurance, $50,000 (to a value of $10 million), for its return voyage from New York to Britain.  Also, one of the Lusitania’s stewards and one of its firemen are arrested after $7,500 worth of opium are discovered in their lockers, but the insurance premium probably doesn’t cover this.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Today -100: December 23, 1914: Of generals, prohibition, potatoes, menacing Arabs, fair play, and art students

Georges Weill, a deputy in the German Reichstag for Metz (Lorraine) since 1912, who was at the café with Jean Jaurés when he was assassinated, has been “missing” since then.  Turns out, he volunteered for the French Army.  His German citizenship will be stripped from him in 1915.  When Lorraine is re-incorporated into France, he’ll be a deputy in the French parliament (1924-8).

French Commander in Chief Gen. Joseph Joffre fires 24 generals.

Rep. Richmond Hobson (D-Alabama)’s proposed prohibition amendment to the Constitution fails in the House, getting 197 votes to 189, well short of the 2/3 needed.  The voting was very much not along party lines.  The NYT calls the idea a federal usurpation of the rights of the states.

Austria bans the hoarding of potatoes, and regulates their price.

A short NYT article about French opposition to Japan sending troops to Europe to fight on the Allied side intriguingly suggests that one reason the government rejects the idea is that it is deferring to US opposition.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Arabs Menace Christians.”  In Hodeida, Arabia (now Yemen).

There is a race war going on in South Carolina near the town of...  what for it... Fair Play.  4 or 5 dead black men, 4 wounded white men, including a magistrate who is said to be dying.

Artists to the front: Of the 2,000 students at the National School of the Fine Arts in Paris at the start of the war, 1,800 have joined up. And some of the professors.  A bunch of them have died, including no one I’ve ever heard of, but perhaps would have if they’d lived.  Several prominent Futurists are in the army, which doesn’t bode well for their, well, you know, future.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Russians Care Nothing for Lodz.”

Headline of the Day -100:  “Russians Moving on Thorn.”  Sounds painful.

Romania will return most of the territory it captured from Bulgaria during the Second Balkan War.  This seems to be Romania protecting its flank for when and if it goes to war against Austria.

The Germans occupying Ghent are demanding 1 million cigars, 1 million cigarettes, and all the wine in town.  For Christmas.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Today -100: December 22, 1914: Of bombing and lunatics

A British plane bombs what the pilot hopes were German targets in Ostend, Belgium.  I say hopes because he did it at night, the first ever night-time aerial bombing raid, if you’re keeping track of historical firsts in the killing of other humans.

Harry Thaw, murderer of architect Stanford White, is ordered by the Supreme Court to return to New York from New Hampshire to face trial for his escape from Matteawan Asylum.  Thaw might plead not guilty by reason of insanity, which to be fair is a pretty good defense to the charge of escaping from a lunatic asylum.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Today -100: December 21, 1914: Of firing squads and baby killers

Russia is plans to teach Russian to elementary school teachers in Galicia.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Firing Squads Busy.”  Mexico, where former supporters of Huerta have been shot in large numbers since Villa and Zapata forces took over the capital.

Headline & Epithet of the Day -100: “‘BABY KILLERS,’ CRIES CHURCHILL TO RAIDERS; Says the Name Will Stick to the German Navy While Sailors Sail the Seas.”

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Today -100: December 20, 1914: That’s a lot of pudding

An article cribbed from an unnamed London newspaper about songs sung by British soldiers says they’re all sick of “Tipperary” already.  And it quotes this one, which I would have guessed came later in the war:

In New York, the lighting of the Tree of Light in Madison Square Park (still a tradition today, begun in 1912).  There will be songs, but foreign national anthems are banned this year.

Haiti’s National Bank has put all of its gold and silver coins on a US warship (or the US just pulled off a less-than-subtle heist)(more like the latter than the former, I believe).

Austria claims to have cleared Russian troops out of Western Galicia.

Sen. James Vardaman (D-Miss.), who is not fond of the negro race, plans to try to get the 15th Amendment repealed.

Occupied Lille is starving. The Germans blame the British blockade.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Prussia Appeals to Poles. Uses Their Language Officially for the First Time in Many Years.”  In the military mobilization proclamation.  What’s the Polish word for “swell”?

Hopefully they printed the proclamation in big print, because they German Army is also taking a lot more men who wear glasses than they used to.

Italy is trying to suppress anti-Austrian demonstrations tomorrow on the anniversary of the 1882 execution of Overdank, a deserter from the Austrian army who tried attempting to assassinate Emperor Franz Josef.  Overdank was from Trieste, which Italians think should be Italian rather than Austrian, so he’s been a martyr ever since.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Empress of India Sold.”  A ship, not an actual royal person.  Bought from the Canadian-Pacific Railway by the Gaekwar (prince) of Baroda for use as a hospital ship for Indian troops.

The Wisconsin Boxing Commission will not issue permits for matches with black boxers.

A court ruling establishes uniform speed limits in California (except in charter cities) of 30 mph in the country, 20 in built-up districts, and 15 in business districts, doing away with speed traps.

A Christmas Pudding Fund has ensured that everyone in the British military will have plum pudding for Christmas dinner.  That’s half a million puddings.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Today -100: December 19, 1914: Of sultans, lynchings and the usual verdict, spoils, and grungy Wobblies and Seattle coffee shops

The British have appointed Prince Hussein Kemal the Sultan of Egypt.  That sounds weird: sultan... appointed.  One might be forgiven for thinking the real power is the British (Acting) High Commissioner, the appropriately named Milne Cheetham.  Britain promises that after the war Egyptians will be allowed to participate in their own governance “in such measure as the degree of enlightenment of public opinion may permit.”  Which was more or less the Obama policy when it backed Sisi’s coup.  France, which since the 1880s has been hostile to such a move by the British, agrees to it now, while Britain confirms its rights to Morocco.

A negro, Will Jones, is lynched in Alabama, near Port Deposit, for supposedly trying to assault a (unstated but presumably) white girl.  The LAT headline says “Coroner Returns Usual Verdict,” which is death “at the hands of unknown parties.”

Pres. Wilson and Senate Democrats are in a fight over the appointments system.  A couple of days ago, the Senate unanimously rejected his choice for federal district attorney in New York because he was opposed by Sen. O’Gorman.  The Senate is fighting for the “principle” that appointments must be supported by the Democratic senator(s) from that state.  Wilson is fighting back with a whole bunch of appointments opposed by Democratic senators.  He’s also been using recess appointments.  The Senate is fighting back, rejecting an appointment for postmaster of Kansas City.

Mayor Hiram Gill of Seattle orders police to rid the city of Wobblies following mob attacks on a coffee house and a market.  Gills says, “as long as I am mayor of this city, it can be understood that Seattle is through fooling with a lot of anarchists, thugs, firebugs and worse who masquerade as the unemployed and fall in a faint when a bath or an hour’s work is mentioned.  And I don’t want any of the ruling Miss Nancy Goody-Goody outfit coming down here to tell me to be kind to my brother man.  In the first place the I.W.W.’s are not my brothers, and in the second place I’m through monkeying with them.”

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Today -100: December 18, 1914: Of protectorates, imperial swearing, cows, and lions

Britain declares Egypt a protectorate, ending the very nominal suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire.

Votes for Women (London) complains that the number of places from which women are excluded under wartime regulations is growing daily, including public houses during certain hours, the streets of Cardiff (but only for “certain women”), and St. Paul’s Cathedral after 9 p.m.

Germany and France are exchanging interned civilians.

After being told of the losses in Serbia, Austrian Emperor Franz Josef is said to have “swore like a trooper.”

In a lawsuit case of breach of promise of marriage in which the man broke off his engagement when the woman, after consulting a physician and a fortune-teller, told him that she probably wouldn’t have children, NY Supreme Court Justice Benton told the jury that eugenics demands they rule against her, because “Civilization itself demands not only that children be born, but that they may be born to a proper heritage mentally and physically.”  The jury agreed.

Herbert Hoover asks for donations of canned milk to Belgium, all of the country’s cows having been seized by the Germans.

The British military censors plan to close their office for a day and a half for Christmas, so there will be no war news whatsoever.

The official British report on yesterday’s German bombardment of coastal towns says that 108 people were killed.  Hartlepool’s gas works were destroyed.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Five Lions Loose in Theatre Throng.”  They escape after performing their “man-eating lion” act at the Eighty-Sixth Street Theatre, while the quartet was playing, because of course you follow lions with a quartet (barbershop quartet, I think).  One, named Alice, Alice the lion, was cornered by police on the fourth floor of a tenement and shot dead.  The others never left the theater – it’s cold outside in New York in December – and were herded back into their cage.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cutting loose the shackles of the past

Obama spoke today about Cuba policy.

OUTDATED: “we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests”. What date was it when this approach actually did work? Outdated seems to be the word Obama uses when he wants to change a policy without admitting it was stupid.

“year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries”. Funny how that happened all about itself.

“this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions”. Killing Castro, subjugating the Cuban people to the will of American politicians and corporations, you know, the best of intentions.

“no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people.” Oh, and worsening the living conditions of millions of Cubans for decades, you know, “little effect.”

“While I have been prepared to take additional steps for some time, a major obstacle stood in our way –- the wrongful imprisonment, in Cuba, of a U.S. citizen and USAID sub-contractor Alan Gross for five years.” Because one white American guy is more important than... oh, that’s just too silly. Along with the “wrongful imprisonment” thing and the “USAID sub-contractor” thing.

Then he pretended that Gross was released “on humanitarian grounds,” because Gross was important enough to keep the US’s Cuba policy in limbo for 6 years, but not important enough that we’ll admit to having bargained with Cuba for his release. Our release of 3 Cubans was, purely coincidentally, in exchange for a super-secret US super-spy no one’s ever heard of (and still haven’t, since no name of this alleged super-spy has been released). “This man, whose sacrifice has been known to only a few...” Or, you know, none. “Having recovered these two men who sacrificed for our country...” Wait, I thought you said Gross wasn’t a spy?

“Going forward, the United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.” Except Congress will never fund an embassy, much less confirm an ambassador.

“But I believe that we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement.” How about not trying to promote “our values” (a phrase he uses three times) at all? Maybe Cuba’s seen enough of our values over the last 116 years and maybe Cubans don’t need to be taught values by us.

“After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.” Or 5 years, really. Also, it’s not really isolation if we’re the only country not interacting with Cuba. But look at that word “worked.” He’s not saying that the goal of changing Cuba’s government for it is wrong, just that we need to find a “new approach” to accomplishing it.

“I’ve instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.” Not that such designations aren’t entirely objective, of course.

“With the changes I’m announcing today, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and Americans will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island. Nobody represents America’s values better than the American people”. Except for MasterCard.

US companies will be allowed to sell them the Internet now. Everyone send any extra cat videos you have lying around to Cuba.

Talking about the Summit of the Americas: “Let us leave behind the legacy of both colonization and communism, the tyranny of drug cartels, dictators and sham elections.” You’ll notice he doesn’t mention anything bad the US has done except direct colonization (unless by sham elections he meant Bush in 2000).

“Countless thousands of Cubans have come to Miami -- on planes and makeshift rafts; some with little but the shirt on their back and hope in their hearts.” And with hope on their back and a shirt in their hearts, but they never lived very long.

“Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future”. And I’m sure the Cuban people will be profoundly grateful that you’re cutting those shackles that we put on them in the first place.

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Today -100: December 17, 1914: We fully expect the German ships to come again, until they come once too often

German ships fire on the English seaside town of Whitby. Some houses are hit and one man killed. Dracula was uninjured. Hartlepool and Scarborough are similarly bombarded, with more deaths. The London Times notes that attacks on unfortified towns are illegal under international law, but Germany has “jettisoned alike all the principles of international law and all the dictates of society.” Further, “The raid had no genuine military or naval significance, and its objects could only be to relieve the prevalent depression in Germany and create panics in these islands. The second object has entirely failed. The raid was received with complete calmness. We fully expect the German ships to come again, until they come once too often.”

The LAT reports that Albania – or at least tribes in northern Albania, since it’s not like Albania has a real central government – declare war on Serbia.

Serbia’s King Peter triumphantly returns to Belgrade.

Gen. Tasker Bliss threatens the Mexican sides fighting each other across the border from Naco, Arizona that he will use “extreme measures” if any more bullets cross the border. (Tomorrow he will deny that he issued the ultimatum.)

The US Senate is debating the literacy requirement clause in the proposed immigration bill, and specifically discussing how to exempt Jews fleeing persecution from it. One suggestion is to exempt anyone fleeing from a country whose laws explicitly discriminate against their religion.

Well? Will there?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In case you did not know this already, Americans kind of suck

Separate Pew and CBS polls released yesterday showed that a majority of Americans interviewed believe waterboarding and “aggressive interrogation tactics” (the term used by the CBS poll) are justified. The CBS poll also tells us that 69% believe that waterboarding is a form of torture. Unfortunately, through some combination of poor questionnaire design (waterboarding and “aggressive interrogation” should not have been lumped together like that) and poor reporting of the polls, we don’t know how many people both 1) believe waterboarding is torture, and 2) believe it is justified. Even Dick Cheney won’t say in so many words that he believes torture – a word he barely admits exists in the English language – is justified, but many ordinary Americans... did I mention that we kind of suck?

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Today -100: December 16, 1914: On all sound and sensible lines

Turkey returns the British consul they removed from the Italian consulate in Yemen and apologized (to Italy).

Henry Stimson, who was Taft’s secretary of war and would hold the job again during World War II, says the US is militarily “a great, helpless, unprepared nation.” He wants more ammunition and a bigger navy.

Pres. Wilson writes to the University Commission on Southern Race Questions that “I know myself as a Southern man how sincerely the heart of the South desires the good of the negro and the advancement of his race on all sound and sensible lines... It is a matter of common understanding.”

Michigan Gov. Ferris paroles a prisoner sentenced to life in 1904 for stealing a couple of hams.

Pancho Villa’s men are said to have executed 100 to 150 people in Mexico City.

Pancho Villa drinks alcohol for the first time in his life, with Zapata. Mescal, which the NYT informs its gringo readers is not a beginner’s drink.

Turkey orders every Palestinian to support the war effort by supplying one sack and one tin can.

Women car salesmen. Whatever was the world coming to?

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Today -100: December 15, 1914: Let our hearts beat to God, our fists beat the enemy

Serbia takes Belgrade back from the Austrians, who now hold only a tiny amount of Serbian territory.

Headline of the Day -100: “Ducks Used as Decoys Trap 17,000 Serbs.” Serb spies in Mitrovica manipulated the number of ducks on the River Save (I’m not sure how) to signal the numbers and movements of Austrian troops, until the Austrians figured out the system and used it against them.

A Berlin newspaper asks people how Germans at home should keep Christmas this year. Berlin Police Chief von Jagow: “Let our hearts beat to God, our fists beat the enemy.” Ho ho ho.

The French army asks the families of soldiers not to send so many Christmas packages to the front.

The provincial council of Iceland (still a colony of Denmark) has resigned after refusing to agree to a new constitution which would give the Danish State Council the right to discuss Icelandic affairs.

The US again demands that Mexicans stop shooting at each other where the bullets might cross the border. Naco, Arizona has been getting a little bit shot up lately. Both sides say it’s the other side whose bullets are going astray.

Some humorist put up a sign in a cemetery in Croatia: “Fifth levy of conscripts. Arise ye dead! The Emperor Franz Josef has need of you!”

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Today -100: December 14, 1914: Of stamps, raids, and tabernacles

The French Post Office announces that stamps to certain parts of Alsace will now cost only ten centimes. In other words, France has re-annexed part of the Lost Provinces. Or the post office has.

There are reports that Turkey is hanging some Armenians in the streets.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Supposedly, Turkish naval crews have mutinied against their German officers, who were behaving like, well, German officers.

The Turks stormed the Italian consulate in Hodeidha (in Yemen, then part of the Ottoman Empire) to grab British Consul G.A. Richardson. The Italians are not best pleased and neither, I assume, is Mr. Richardson.

Collier’s Weekly sends an investigator to Atlanta to look into the Leo Frank case. He reports what everyone else has: Frank is innocent, unfair trial, etc.

Frank Cannon, the first US senator from Utah in the 1890s and now an anti-Mormon activist, comes to New York City to warn against Mormon plans to build a tabernacle in the city and send in 2,500 missionaries. Now that they can’t proselytize in Europe, out-of-work missionaries figure New York City is the next best thing.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Today -100: December 13, 1914: Of conciliation, coups, Germans in boxes, lynchings, and suffrage movies

Pres. Wilson’s Colorado Conciliation Commission sees no reason to travel to, you know, Colorado.

Carranza declares that he now holds all executive, judicial, legislative and military powers.

Deposed Mexican dictator Victoriano Huerta, now in exile in Spain, writes the NYT to deny that he is supporting Pancho Villa. “I can never have dealings with Carranza, the four-flusher; Zapata, the highwayman, nor with Villa, the jailbird.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Find German Officer Hidden In a Big Box.” A German spy (?) escapes from internment in Britain and puts himself on a steam ferry to Rotterdam. In a big box. Labeled “non-poisonous safety matches.”

The number of lynchings in the US may be on the decline, but not as much, I think, as reporting of lynchings in the NYT. The AP reports an epidemic in Caddo Parish (Shreveport, Louisiana), 8 in the last year, 5 in the last 10 days. Of the 8, 7 were charged with murdering white men, one with raping a white woman. The latest, Charles Watkins Lewis, was burned at the stake.

Women in London have switched from knitting warm clothing for the troops to something much more practical: rolling cigarettes for them.

The Sunday NYT book review section takes note of a quickie biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II by Asa Don Dickinson (author of “Wild Flowers Worth Knowing”) which declares the monarch “not a bad fellow.”

And the arts section takes note of what it calls the first women’s suffrage propaganda movie, “Your Girl and Mine: A Woman Suffrage Play.” It tells the story of a woman who faces various forms of legal discrimination in states without women’s suffrage before moving to a more enlightened state. Looks like the film hasn’t survived.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Today -100: December 12, 1914: Which phrase sounds dirtier: large collection of Whistlers, or queer hysterical hip?

Russia rejects the pope’s proposal for a Christmas truce.

Richard Canfield, the “Prince of Gamblers,” dies at 59, after a fall on the subway steps. Canfield, whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, owned and ran a series of increasingly upscale gambling parlors, culminating in a luxurious one next to Delmonico’s Restaurant, until the authorities cracked down a few years ago. He was an art collector and a friend of the painter James McNeil Whistler, whose portrait of him (entitled “His Reverence”) is below. He recently sold his large collection of Whistlers for $300,000.

And this is Everett Shinn’s 1912 “The Canfield Gambling House.”

The general manager and another employee of the Dominion Chain Company are arrested by the Canadian military on secret charges, which seem to be that the latter sang a German song at a banquet.

Britain says that the sinking of those German ships at the Falklands assures the peace of the Pacific Ocean.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Woman’s Queer Hysterical Hip.” The hip in question belongs to a Mrs. Elizabeth F. Murphy Roos, now suing the Central Fireproof Building Company, in whose elevator she supposedly fell. A doctor testifying for the building says Roos, a serial lawsuit-bringer, is faking disability by dislocating her own hip. She agrees to be examined while unconscious under sedation, and is, but there is still disagreement among the doctors. She is awarded $1,500.

Queer hysterical hip would be a great name for a band.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Today -100: December 11, 1914: Of truces, unkind press, copper, and polygamists

Germany agrees to the pope’s request for a Christmas peace – provided every other nation also agrees.

Joseph Smith III, son of the founder of the Mormons and himself the Prophet-President since 1860 of the non-Brigham-Young, non-Utah, non-polygamist faction of the church, dies at 82.  He will be succeeded by his son Frederick.

Headline of the Day -100:  “French Press Unkind to the Kaiser.”

Though the Colorado coal miners have ended their strike, mineowners are refusing to hire them back.  So Gov. Ammons is begging Wilson to keep federal troops in Colorado, since the miners might be a touch miffed.

The Germans are stripping Belgium of copper.  There are people in my town like that.

Hoboken police are looking for a man who calls himself Karl von Wagner (also Paul Steiner, Otto Burger, Carl Schallenberg, etc) who has been marrying and abandoning German-American women and stealing their money.  Over 50 of them.  That’s polygamy practiced with German efficiency.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014


If anyone cares, I’ve removed the Sitemeter code from this site. I’d assumed that if it was causing problems with the blog for anyone, you’d have complained, but then one of my posts last month had a title referring to “North Korans” for nearly a week, which is the sort of thing you people used to pounce on like hungry jackals. Still, I’m seeing more and more reports about Sitemeter turning evil, so it was time to shitcan it.

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Today -100: December 10, 1914: Of fires, poles, and falklands

Thomas Edison’s factory and labs burn down. The fire started with an explosion in the film finishing building.  Edison blames the West Orange Water Company for lacking sufficient water pressure.  His workers (and wife) rescue what they can, including patent documents.

Rep. C. B. Smith (D-NY), former chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, wants to annex the North Pole.

The American Red Cross decides to limit its work in Europe to caring for sick and wounded soldiers.  Suck it, civilians.

An Allied airplane (whose country of origin is for some reason not mentioned) bombs a German pontoon bridge in Belgium, then mocks the German soldiers shooting at it by flying loop-the-loops.

The British Navy sinks four German cruisers and damages two others trying to raid a coaling station on the Falkland Islands. These were most of the few German ships which were on the high seas at the start of the war.  2,200 sailors German die, including Admiral Maximilian von Spee and two of his sons, both lieutenants.  Admiral “Blinker” Hall, head of British Naval Intelligence, later claimed to have sent Spee a fake order by wireless, using broken/salvaged German naval codes, to mount the raid, which is probably not true, though the codes were used three months later to locate and sink the Dresden, a light cruiser which escaped the Battle of the Falklands.

The British do enjoy sinking shit off the Falklands.

Leo Frank is sentenced to be hanged on January 22.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Today -100: December 9, 1914: A war with which we have nothing to do

In his State of the Union Address, Woodrow Wilson is defensive about the condition of the US’s military defenses (he’s been fighting off attempts in Congress to investigate that).  “It is said in some quarters that we are not prepared for war. What is meant by being prepared? Is it meant that we are not ready upon brief notice to put a nation in the field, a nation of men trained to arms? Of course we are not ready to do that; and we shall never be in time of peace so long as we retain our present political principles and institutions. ... We are at peace with all the world. ... We are, indeed, a true friend to all the nations of the world, because we threaten none, covet the possessions of none, desire the overthrow of none.”  Indeed, he says, increasing military spending more than the tiny amount it has been increased, creating a standing army “would mean merely that we had lost our self-possession, that we had been thrown off our balance by a war with which we have nothing to do, whose causes can not touch us, whose very existence affords us opportunities of friendship and disinterested service which should make us ashamed of any thought of hostility or fearful preparation for trouble.”

He’s less concerned about the military than by the deficiency of commercial ships, because he’s positively licking his lips at the thought of American companies taking over the trade with Latin America and elsewhere that European companies can’t currently handle.  He wants the government to step in and buy ships, which he compares to the government subsidy of the Transcontinental Railroad.

He also promises businesses that he’s done with adding new regulations on them: “Our program of legislation with regard to the regulation of business is now virtually complete. It has been put forth, as we intended, as a whole, and leaves no conjecture as to what is to follow. The road at last lies clear and firm before business. It is a road which it can travel without fear or embarrassment. It is the road to ungrudged, unclouded success. In it every honest man, every man who believes that the public interest is part of his own interest, may walk with perfect confidence.”

The United Mine Workers end the strike in Colorado after 14 months.  Quitters.

Pres. Wilson orders an inquiry into whether James Sullivan, his ambassador to the Dominican Republic, used his influence to get Dominican government contracts for his family and friends.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Osborne Sets Up Convict Republic.”  Sing Sing Warden Thomas Mott Osborne will allow an inmate “court” to deal with infractions (on the theory that it is unrealistic to ask prisoners to fink to the guards).

Fog Smoke of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Daily Mail (London) accused the Germans of burning down the French village of Domremy, the birthplace of Joan of Arc, showing their disregard for sacred blah blah blah.  Actually, it was a different Domremy.

Albert A. Michelson, the first American to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences, in 1907, says he’s invented a new type of super-strong steel, which will make possible taller skyscrapers and indestructible forts, which would end all wars.  Super Steel™ is not mentioned in Michelson’s Wikipedia page.

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Monday, December 08, 2014

In other words, he was a comforter

George Bush was interviewed by Candy Crowley on CNN about his book on his father. Hey, did you know his father was ALSO president? What’re the odds?

IN OTHER WORDS: “Well, I think I’m introducing him to our country in a way no one’s ever known him. In other words, he’s an extraordinary person, not only because of his accomplishments but because of his character.”

PLEASE, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW A PRETZEL WORKS: “And secondly I understand how history works; it takes a long time for people to get to know him, get to know somebody and then analyze their decisions. But I wanted to be one of the first people out in the evaluation of George H.W. Bush.” Most of the rest of us actually evaluated him when he was president, but George was pretty drunk those entire four years.

MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY. “And it’s a love story. I mean, there’s - I love him.”

IN OTHER WORDS: He denies having daddy issues: “Yeah, stiff competition is overstated. In other words if you love somebody as much as I love my dad, and my brothers loved my dad, my sister, there’s no need to compete.”

He says he didn’t discuss presidential stuff with his father: “And I think part of it has to do with how he raised us, and that is I love you no matter what you do.” Or he just gave up on you ever getting anything right a long time ago.

IN OTHER WORDS: “But I hope when people read this, and I hope they do, is that they understand that when he reached across and grabbed my arm after the speech on September the 14 in the National Cathedral, I mean, incredibly emotional moment for me, it was in many ways symbolic of what he’d meant for me as president. In other words, he was a comforter. A lot.” No, he just seemed like a comforter because he was feather-brained.

DOESN’T KNOW A LOT OF ADJECTIVES, DOES HE? “and so he was confident I had a good team and that I would make decisions based upon good judgments of a lot of good advisers.”

IN OTHER WORDS: Still won’t admit being wrong about Putin’s soul. “Well, I think he’s become more zero-sum type thinker. In other words... it’s almost as if he says that if the - if the West wins, I lose. And if I win, the West loses. As opposed to what can we do together to enhance our respective positions?”

He explains how to defeat ISIS: “Well, first thing is there has to be a goal, and the president has laid out what I think is a good goal, and that is to degrade and defeat ISIS.” Why, that’s so crazy it might just work!

IN OTHER WORDS: On Jeb: “So when you’re weighing the presidency, you think, ‘Do I fear success?’ In other words, can I handle it if I win?” But he has “no clue where his head is now” and hasn’t talked with Jeb about 2016. Jeb hasn’t called to ask for advice, George hasn’t called to ask if he’s running. Tell us again all about how close your family is, George.

He also has “no clue” about whether Hillary will run for president in the conservatory with a candle stick.

Similarly, “The [Eric Garner grand jury] verdict was hard to understand”. Also, door knobs.

“But it’s sad that race continues to play such a, you know, kind of emotional, divisive part of life. I remember back in when I was a kid, in the ‘70s...” George was born in 1946. “...and there was race riots with cities being burned. And I just think we’ve improved. I had dinner with Condi the other night and we talked about this subject, and, yes, she just said you got understand that there are a lot of, you know, black folks around that are just incredibly more and more distrusting of law enforcement.” And then I forgot she wasn’t the maid and told her to clear the plates.

The Eric Garner video is “very disturbing to me. And, yes. I mean it just - it calls into question what needs to be done to heal...” Er, nothing, he’s dead. The cop choked him to death.

“ get the country united again.” And there you go: the poster boy for unearned white privilege thinks there was a golden age of race relations, if we could only figure out how to return to it.

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Today -100: December 8, 1914: Of iron crosses, neutrality, and truces

Now that the unwritten ban on Jews in the German military has been lifted, several have been promoted to be officers and 710 have received the Iron Cross, to which some have responded, “Dude, we’re Jews and you’re giving us a cross?”  (I believe the German for “dude” is “mein duden”).

The US Supreme Court denies Leo Frank’s writ of error.

Charles M. Schwab of Bethlehem Steel and Shipbuilding has given in to Pres. Wilson’s request that he not make submarines for Britain, which Wilson seems to think would violate his neutrality policy.  Evidently the government had no legal way to stop Schwab had he ignored it.

Germany claims to have captured Lodz.

The pope wants a truce in the Great War over Christmas.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Today -100: December 7, 1914: Of horses, mules, olympics, and Jewish bravery

One of Mexico’s competing presidents, Eulalio Gutiérrez, moves into the presidential palace in Mexico City.  He doesn’t make a speech, but does send someone out to say that his soldiers have not come to steal horses and automobiles, but to work for the welfare of the nation.  It’s probably not a great sign if you have to say that, but he is backed by bandits Villa and Zapata, so the horse-thief/president line might be a little bit blurrier than elsewhere.

Britain is buying pretty much all of Georgia’s mules.

The European war may put a crimp in the 1916 Olympics.  The 1916 Berlin Olympics.

Bankers and stock brokers in Chicago want to change their time zone from Central to Eastern, because it would be convenient for them to sync up with the NY Stock Exchange, but the railroads disagree.  There will be discussions.

The German governor of occupied Antwerp bans the distribution of any pictures of Belgian ruins.

Headline of the Day -100:  “The Jew’s Bravery Established in War.”

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Today -100: December 6, 1914: It still has that new revolution smell

Headline of, Oh, Pretty Much Once a Week -100:  “New Revolution Begins in Mexico.”  Led by a couple of Huerta’s generals, Emilio Campo and José Inés Salazar.  Salazar escaped a couple of weeks ago from jail in Albuquerque, where he was held on a perjury charge, which I think must relate to his acquittal by a federal jury in May on a charge of smuggling 100,000 rounds of ammunition into Mexico.  After this current revolutionary movement fails, Salazar will once again flee into the US, and a year from now will be acquitted again.  Somehow he’ll wind up joining Pancho Villa’s forces, even though he had been in charge of fighting Villa under Huerta.  He’ll be killed in battle in 1917.

The departure of the Lusitania from New York harbor is delayed while the new “war tax” on tickets is collected from passengers.  This amounts to $3 for steerage passengers on their $37.50 ticket.

According to official reports“Nothing of importance happened in the Carpathians yesterday.”

Vice President Marshall says no one cares that he’s taking paid lecturing gigs.

Belgium is reportedfalsely I assume, to have hidden some of its art treasures, including a Rubens, from the Germans at the bottom of the River Scheldt.

Theodore Roosevelt has an op-ed in the NYT entitled “Our Responsibility in Mexico” (this link is more readable than the NYT’sit’s his 1916 book Fear God and Take Your Own Part [!]; today’s article starts on p.230 at the words “THE SOUND OF LAUGHTER AND OF PLAYING  CHILDREN HAS BEEN STILLED IN MEXICO.”)  TR accuses Wilson of doing both too much in Mexico (refusing to recognize Huerta’s coup regime in the first place, then landing troops at Vera Cruz) and too little (not... actually I’m not sure what he thinks Wilson should have done, but he accuses him of having “hit soft” and withdrawn before accomplishing anything).  I believe this type of criticism is called the Full John McCain.  He says that Wilson’s putting the American finger on the scale in favor of Carranza/Villa has “produce[d] much evil and no good and [made] us responsible for the actions of a peculiarly lawless, ignorant and blood-thirsty faction” and cites the many acts of violence and the harassment of the Catholic Church.

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Friday, December 05, 2014

Today -100: December 5, 1914: Of censorship, and crimes negroes are prone to commit

The British authorities finally allow the press to report the sinking of the Audacious, although not the name of the ship or the location.

The German authorities suppress an issue of the Vossische Zeitung for reporting on a super-secret meeting of a committee of the Reichstag at which, they say, Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg said the war would go longer than expected and the German people had better tighten their belts.  The government denies he said anything of the sort.

And the Budapest authorities are trying to suppress newspapers that reported that Hungarian Prime Minister Count Tisza got a poor reception in Berlin when he tried to get troops sent to protect Hungary’s border.  Kaiser Wilhelm is reported to have been particularly upset about the “egotism of some people” whose desire not to be invaded by Russia would upset Germany’s meticulous war plans.  The Hungarian secret police are literally ripping newspapers out of the hands of people in cafés.  Everyone in Austria-Hungary is coming to realize that all decisions are now being made in Berlin.  Hungary especially was never thrilled with this war.  It disliked Archduke Franz Ferdinand and doesn’t share the Austrian interest in territorial expansion, which would just bring in more troublesome Slavs.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany claims to have discovered in a town in Belgium super-secret pre-war papers from the British army detailing Belgian military information, showing that Belgium was never neutral, so it was totally okay for Germany to violate its neutrality.

Fog? The London Morning Post says that two of Kaiser Wilhelm’s sons had to flee the Russian army in Poland by airplane.

France, which doesn’t seem to be pressing its advantage while Germany is distracted by losses on its eastern front in Poland, is also fighting a colonial war in Morocco, where a lot of officers have been beheaded by Arab insurgents.

Massachusetts Gov. David Walsh wants to suspend labor laws, including those regulating child labor, overtime, and the 54-hour week, so that the state can take advantage of all the extra orders coming in due to the European war.  It’s called opportunity, people!

The journal American Medicine, which is published in New York, has an article by a psychologist trying – and failing – to figure out why Atlanta is so eager to execute Leo Frank for a crime Jim Conley, who testified against him, obviously did, despite the fact that “The crime [presumably rape rather than murder] is one which negroes are prone to commit, and if a white man is guilty he generally, if not always, shows signs of mental disturbance.”  It’s just science.

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Today -100: December 4, 1914: Of the just aspirations of Italy, naval mishaps, moral surveillance, shell shock, and hangings

Italian Prime Minister Antonio Salandra tells Parliament that just because Italy is neutral in the war doesn’t mean it won’t try to scavenge the bones of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and annex Trento and Trieste (“the just aspirations of Italy,” he calls this goal).

British newspapers are again complaining about censorship, specifically the continued refusal to let the public be informed of “a certain naval mishap” (i.e., the sinking of the Audacious on October 27) of which the German public is fully informed.

After a campaign by suffrage and other feminist groups in Britain against a government circular to local police forces asking them to enquire into the moral worthiness of soldiers’ wives, the government backs down only slightly, and police will continue to consider it their business whether those wives are drinking or screwing around.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Shell Fire Wrecks Reason.”  They don’t have the phrase “shell shock” yet, but will soon.

Pennsylvania holds its last hanging (they’re switching to electrocution).

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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Core principle

Another week, another Obama statement about a dead black man killed by a cop who gets away with it.

He has a strong finisher – “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem. And it’s my job as President to help solve it.” – but most of what leads up to it strains so strenuously to avoid speaking hard truths about how this country is policed that it seems to suggest, in as many words, that the only problem is a perception problem on the part of overly sensitive minorities:
...the concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them and dealing with them in a fair way.
communities of color and minority communities that feel that bias is taking place
they’re [cops] only going to be able to do their job effectively if everybody has confidence in the system.
And right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly.
And I am absolutely committed as President of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law.
And unicorns.

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Today -100: December 3, 1914: Of war credits, presidents, and legitimacy suits

The Reichstag votes $1.25 billion in war credits and adjourns for three months.  The only no vote was socialist Karl Liebknecht’s and the rest of the SPD should be ashamed of itself.

South Africa captures rebel leader Gen. Christiaan De Wet.  It seems that automobiles are better than horses in a chase.

Zapata and Pancho Villa confer, and guess what, they both support different people to be president.

Austrian troops finally occupy Belgrade, which will make a nice present for Emperor Franz Josef for his 66th anniversary as emperor.

The Slingsby legitimacy suit opens in London.  I’ll admit I just clicked on this story because of the glorious phrase “Slingsby legitimacy suit,” but it turns out to be darned interesting. Charles Slingsby, a former lieutenant of the British navy married to an American and living in San Francisco, inherited money and lands in Yorkshire from his father, as did his heir – £100,000 – except his heir died at or soon after birth and so he adopted a child and passed it off as his natural son, or at least that’s the accusation being made by his brothers.  Follow-up: In February 1915, Judge Bargrave Deane, possessor of the most magistratey name in all England, ruled that the baby-substitution story was a fabrication.  He thinks the child (Teddy) looks like his parents, complete with his father’s “peculiarly shaped jaw.”  The judge called in his friend, the sculptor Sir George Frampton, who noticed Teddy’s odd-shaped left ear, which looks like his mother’s.  He’s a funny-looking kid, is what the court is ruling here.  Further follow-up: in 1916 the Court of Appeals overturned Bargrave Deane’s ruling, coming to the conclusion that the evidence that Mrs Slingsby had advertised to adopt a baby while supposedly pregnant (the theory now seems to be that there was never a legitimate baby, and to be fair, there does seem to be a lot of evidence for it, although the other Slingsby brothers were spreading around an awful lot of money in the New World bribing witnesses, so I’m not really sure).  In December 1916 the House of Lords refused to hear the appeal, noting that it was sorry to fuck over Slingsby (now serving again in the military) and his funny-looking bastard child.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Today -100: December 2, 1914: Of wood, mahans, wardens, and tramps

Headline of the Day -100:  “Germany Won’t Pass Wood.”  No, don’t click: whatever you’re thinking (and you should probably be ashamed of whatever you’re thinking) is much more interesting than the real story.

Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, the famous naval strategist, dies. Though important in the US, he was really influential in Germany, whose military leaders (and the kaiser) read his books and decided they needed a big navy to compete with Britain.  Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Pancho Villa arrives in Mexico City.  He says he’s only there to preserve order, and absolutely not to take personal revenge on his enemies.  So... that’s reassuring, I guess.

Thomas Mott Osborne, the new reforming warden of Sing Sing, arrives. You can tell the prisoners love him, because there were no fires, strikes or riots, which is the traditional greeting for a new warden.

There’s a bidding war for Charlie Chaplin, who is leaving Keystone.  Two companies have offered him more than $1,000 a week.

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Today -100: December 1, 1914: Of Gurkhas, war taxes, yellow books, and football

The Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung claims that Britain’s Sikh and Gurkha troops sneak into German trenches at night to slit soldiers’ throats and drink their blood. As you do.

Germany announces more extortion from Belgium, a $7 million per month war tax, which will go to the expenses of occupation.  This is supposedly being imposed as punishment for the shooting of German soldiers by Belgian civilians.  The fines imposed up until now on Belgian cities, it is explained, were just for the widows and children of fallen German soldiers.

Luxembourg, which unlike Belgium rolled over for Germany, has been given $318,000 by German in compensation for damage to fields, roads, etc by the passage of German troops.

France publishes its Yellow Book on the causes of the war.  Evidently it was Germany’s fault.

The owners of British football clubs are not best pleased with the press campaign against them, and say they will stop playing, as is being demanded, when all the theaters, cinemas, golf courses and race tracks also close.

A majority of the US Supreme Court says that the Oklahoma Supreme Court was wrong to uphold a Jim Crow law allowing railroads to provide luxury accommodations – sleeping cars, dining cars, etc – only to whites.  However, they still throw the case out since the petitioners had not been refused such services and lack standing.

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