Saturday, January 11, 2014

Today -100: January 11, 1914: Of ojinagas, strikes and scabs, exposition fatigue, and punitive self-defense


Mexican rebels led by Pancho Villa capture Ojinaga, for whatever that’s worth (the rebels have tended not to have sufficient troops to occupy the territory they capture). Several of the Federal generals and many soldiers, who had not received ammunition, much less pay, for months, have surrendered – to the United States authorities, who are rather less likely to put them in front of a firing squad than the rebels.

The US Dept. of Labor has issued a report on the Calumet, Michigan copper strike. It faults mine owners for their refusal to negotiate with the Western Federation of Miners (or, indeed, to employ any of its members). Jesus, the scabs were only paid $2.50 a day (Henry Ford pays the kid who sweeps the floors $5) and have to pay up to $22 per month for board and $24.50 for the cost of transportation from where they were hired (NY) to Michigan. The employment forms for the scabs were filled out in German but with the word “strike” in English because NY law requires workers to be told they’re being hired as scabs, but it doesn’t say they have to be told in a language they understand (several of the scabs, on arrival in Calumet, immediately defected to the union, saying they’d been told there was no strike). Michigan Gov. Woodbridge Ferris claims not to have read the report yet, but says that the strike “would have been settled long ago” if it weren’t for those outside agitators and the insistence of miners on having a union. It would all have been ok, he says, “if the miners had been allowed to treat with the operators as miners, and not as representatives of any organization”.

Several European countries are boycotting the San Francisco Exposition to protest the discriminatory rates they’ll be charged to use the Panama Canal, although Germany is claiming it’s just “exposition fatigue.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Sabre Rule Upheld by Army Courts.” A German court-martial acquits Col. von Reuter and Lieut. Schad of the Ninety-ninth Infantry for running amok in Zabern, Alsace, and reverses the conviction of Lt. Gunther Freiherr von Forstner for attacking a lame shoemaker with his saber, which the court deems an act of “punitive self-defense.” The acquittals are predicated on the supposed failure of the civilian authorities to stop the Alsatian natives from, I don’t know, looking funny at the soldiers, and the absolute requirement of military personnel to follow orders in the most Prussian way possible. Evidently under a Prussian Army regulation from 1820 (i.e., before the creation of Germany, much less the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine), the army can establish martial law whenever it likes.

Former President Taft sends 35 pants to the tailor to be taken in: he’s lost 80 pounds since leaving office.

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