Saturday, June 21, 2014

Today -100: June 21, 1914: Of deputations, guns & teapots, oh the humanity, homesteads, happy train wrecks, beheadings, beleidigungen, and elevators

Prime Minister Herbert Asquith meets Sylvia Pankhurst’s deputation of working women, although Sylvia, debilitated from hunger-striking, was not present. They tell him about the life of poor women, including a horrific tale of workplace sexual harassment at a jam factory which I’m rather pleased at the thought of Asquith having to sit and listen to. Asquith welcomed them as representatives of “an association [the East London Federation of Suffragettes] which disassociated itself from the criminal methods of those who have done so much damage and put back the cause of women.” Says the man who has done his damnedest to put back the cause of women. The ELFS, by the way, is rather insulted to be thought of as anything other than militant (Sylvia will write to the newspapers that “it takes all kinds of militancy to win votes for the women of this country”). Asquith does agree that if women are given the franchise, it should be on the same terms as men (which is far less egalitarian than it sounds, given that there are still property/taxpaying qualifications).

Turkey says it will allow the Greeks it expelled from their homes (and the country) to return.

The NYT recounts an “amusing” story of gun-running to Ulster in the guise of crockery, distributed through a fake auction into which wandered the Duke of Abercorn, a collector, who made his mind up to buy a Delft teapot. Not put off by being told he’d have to bid on the entire crate, he gamely outbid the straw bidders, wondering why the bids just kept going up and up, and wound up the proud owner of a cheap copy of a Delft teapot and a bunch of rifles. Our Bertie Wooster figure went on to become Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone and Governor of Northern Ireland (1922-45). And great-grandfather of Princess Di.

Another day, another horrific aeronautical accident. Austria’s military, worried about how it would fight Italian and Russian dirigibles in the unlikely event of a war, holds a simulated attack by airplanes on Austria’s only dirigible, which turns into a non-simulated mid-air collision, resulted in the fiery destruction of both craft, with nine dead.

Still, you can’t say nothing good comes out of all the aerial mayhem. A French aviator who lost a leg in a flying accident a couple of years ago invents a better prosthesis, weighing only two pounds. There might just be a great demand for his invention soon.

How quaint: homesteading is still going on. The Department of the Interior designates 300,000 acres in California and 284,000 in Oregon for settlers.

Headline of the Day -100: “Jersey City Wreck Makes 500 Happy.” A minor train wreck, no one hurt, but it occurs in Jersey City’s Italian district, and, the NYT implies, you know what those Italians are like. Hundreds of them swoop in and carry off all the wood and 40 tons of coal.

The British government introduces a bill in the House of Lords to reform the government of India, for the first time making it obligatory to appoint a couple of Indians to the Council of India.

The Manchester News notes that only 4-8% of Germany’s death sentences are carried out, compared to over 50% in Great Britain. All German executions are by beheading, although there is variation in how the beheadings are carried out. Regions which were once annexed to France by Napoleon still use Dr. Guillotin’s invention, while other regions use axes or swords. In Prussia, the prisoner sits in a chair and is struck by a sword swung horizontally.

More on the German justice system: the most common crime is “insult” (beleidigung), with 224,000 cases in 1913. Examples of criminal insults in the A.P. story include a man telling a man in plain clothes who has just said that he is a police officer, “You look like it”; the wife of a striker who spat to express her opinion of a strikebreaker (but not at him); a striker fined for saying “Pew!” at non-striking employees; someone who sent Socialist literature through the mail to a policeman in Prussia; a Socialist editor who referred to a petty thief/panderer as “the crown witness” for his role in testifying against another editor.

NYC is considering requiring that elevator operators be licensed.

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