Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It’s all about standards, people


Jay “Hey Rube” Carney weighs in on the Oklahoma execution debacle: “We have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely.” Also, drone strikes must be carried out gracefully and genocide must be carried out prettily.

Some adjectives don’t belong with some nouns, is what I’m saying.

Also, too, the death penalty is never “justified.”

(Correction: Clayton Lockett did not say “Something’s wrong” during his botched execution. The AP reporter now says that was a guard. He did say, “Oh, man,” which seems equally appropriate.)

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Today -100: April 30, 1914: Mediation all around?


Overly Optimistic Headline of the Day -100: “Ulster Crisis Is At An End.” Like Ulster crises are ever at an end. Former Conservative Prime Minister Balfour, who has fought Home Rule for Ireland his entire career, makes a speech of semi-surrender, accepting the inevitability of Home Rule, so long as Ulster is completely excluded from it forever. Asquith, who has been weaseling his way towards any compromise that might work, now has to get the Irish Nationalists to go along with a permanent division of their country. Good luck with that.

Alexander Berkman, chair of the Anti-Militarist League of the Anarchists, says the League will begin recruiting a regiment to assist the strikers in Colorado.

Headline of the Day -100: “Wilson to Try Mediation in Colorado War.” Meanwhile, strikers fight with mine guards and the Colorado National Guard, with a death toll of at least 15, as everybody tries to get in a last bit of mayhem before the federal troops arrive.

At the inquest for the Ludlow Massacre dead (25, including 14 children), a union doctor testifies that the militia set the camp’s tents on fire (in other words, it wasn’t a fire that started by accident and spread; the tents were too far apart for that) and that they fired on a ranch house in which women and children had taken shelter from the shooting. The doctor showed the white flag he used while trying to treat the injured; it was, of course, bullet-ridden.

Upton Sinclair and others picket John D. Rockefeller Jr’s offices, or rather, appear in mourning for the Colorado dead. “Free silence,” Sinclair calls it.

Carranza accepts mediation and Huerta accepts it “in principle” (well, they both only accept in principle, but Huerta’s track record suggests that he plans endless negotiations about negotiations). There is now an implicit armistice between the US, federal Mexican and Constitutionalist forces, and the US military won’t expand outwards from Vera Cruz or land troops elsewhere.

A federal judge rules that $600,000 in Mexican rebel currency seized by the US War Department must be returned because currency does not constitute munitions of war.

A story on the US War Dept sending troops to the Mexican border mentions a Col. Spunk, who works for Gen. Bliss. Just saying.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Something’s wrong


Last week the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that death row prisoners couldn’t prove “actual injury” caused by the state’s keeping secret the source and makeup of the drugs they planned to use in their executions.

Today, Oklahoma fucked up the first of those executions. Clayton Lockett was still convulsing and trying to speak after they claimed he was unconscious (“Something’s wrong,” according to one report), so after a bit they admitted they’d only partially executed him and called a halt, but 20 minutes he had a heart attack and died. All in all, it took nearly 45 minutes to torture him to death. The state blamed the botched execution on “vein failure,” because it certainly couldn’t have had anything to do with the Mystery Death Chemicals they were trying to put in his failed vein. Imagine, by the way, what sort of condition Lockett would have been in if he hadn’t had that unexpected heart attack after they’d stopped trying to kill him, with three poisonous drugs running through his body, but not in large enough quantities to do the job.

They didn’t give him the last meal he asked for either. Evidently there’s a $15 limit.

They decided not to go ahead with the second execution, also scheduled for today. I think that guy can prove “actual injury” now, although maybe not to the satisfaction of the fucking Oklahoma Supreme Court.

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Today -100: April 29, 1914: Of insurrections, mine explosions, cyclopes, naked savages, and gyro-cars


Woodrow Wilson sends the army into Colorado, because there’s an “insurrection” (the word used in the Constitution). As required by law, he issues a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes by April 30th. Perhaps he doesn’t know that the strikers were evicted from their company-owned abodes and then burnt out of their tent camp.

The Colorado Fuel & Iron Company is suing various newspapers for refusing to censor news of the Ludlow Massacre, according to the editor of the Rocky Mountain News.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. refused a request by Rep. Martin Foster (D-Ill.) to do something about the violence in Colorado. Today Junior explains that Foster had failed to suggest any course of action that didn’t involve recognizing the union or putting the question of recognition to arbitration. Which would obviously be out of the question. (His statement lists “concessions already granted” to the ungrateful miners, such as payment twice monthly instead of monthly, non-compulsory use of the company store, the 8-hour day, etc, which a letter to the NYT by Arthur Taft points out are only concessions in the sense only that mineowners gracefully agreed to obey Colorado law, after a long period of not doing so, and then only because of the strike.)

Explosions in a coal mine in West Virginia entomb 203 men without hope of rescue, kill at least 5 miners, burn dozens. Two carloads of coffins have been ordered from Cincinnati, which will be sent by (coal-fueled) train. A West Virginia workmen’s compensation act enacted since the last major mine disaster will ensure that the victims’ widows receive $20 a month and their children $5 (up to 3 children).

Huerta claims that Emiliano Zapata and his rebels have joined with the government against the Americans. He is mistaken.

US ships move away from Tampico. Adm. Fletcher explains that he was afraid their presence was causing the Federals and Constitutionalists to unite against Americans and that foreigners in the town were at risk. The local German commander threatens to send his sailors in if foreigners are harmed.

The Americans release from Vera Cruz prison 325 Mexicans who were imprisoned without trial in order to force them to join the army.

US railroads will charge the State Dept half rates for transporting American refugees from Mexico.

Medical Headline of the Day -100: “Find Smallpox on Cyclops.” The Cyclops being a ship bringing refugees from Mexico. All refugees arriving at Galveston in the future will be vaccinated, especially if they’re cyclopes.

Cyclopes is the plural of cyclops, I’ve just learned.

Anthropological Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Finds New Tribe.” The Pauhates, naked “savages” in Brazil.

Headline of the Day -100: “Amazed by Gyro-Car.” A two-wheeled gyroscopic automobile is unveiled in London. It reached speeds of up to 4 miles per hour.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Today -100: April 28, 1914: Of hunger strikes, war correspondents, the real infamy in Colorado, and votes of censure


Becky Edelson is released on bail, without the condition that she shut up whenever a cop tells her to. She denies having failed in her hunger strike; rather, she fasted 56 hours until she heard that a motion for appeal would be heard.

Mexican Federales abandon Nuevo Laredo; rebels occupy it.

The US War Dept is now licensing war correspondents, who must provide a $2,000 bond for good behaviour and $1,000 which may be drawn on for supplies.

Some members of Congress are complaining about the alarmist false reports sent last week by the US consul in Vera Cruz (a Taft appointee) about mobs in Mexico City, planned massed executions of Americans, etc.

Woodrow Wilson is still dilly-dallying about whether to send troops into Colorado and has yet to utter a word publicly about the Ludlow Massacre. It’s not like it’s some Mexicans who dared to diss our flag by detaining a few sailors for part of an afternoon while finding a translator (as opposed to Gen. Chase, who locked up Mother Jones without trial for months).

The Colorado strikers demand that the mine guards be disarmed. They also seem to be acquiring territory, attacking Louisville, Lafayette, and Marshall and the McNally coal mine.

The NYT editorializes: “There are those who think that ‘infamy’ in Colorado consists in the fact that the militia are shooting workmen. It may be contended that there is something like infamy in the opposition of workmen to society and order. The militia are as impersonal and as impartial as the law.” Let me stop you right there and point out that the mining companies have been sending their gun thugs into the Colo. National Guard for months, while regular militiamen, who feel they didn’t sign up in order to guarantee the Rockefellers’ share value, are increasingly mustering out.

In Parliament, Austen Chamberlain proposes an inquiry into the Curragh Mutiny. He accuses the government of lying its head off, the not-so-subtext being that the government planned to incite a rebellion in Northern Ireland in order to suppress it so all the gun-running is totally justified. Churchill responds that this is “the most impudent demand for a judicial inquiry of which our records can provide a parallel. ... what we are now witnessing in the House is uncommonly like a vote of censure by the criminal classes on the police.”

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Today -100: April 27, 1914: I desire the right to vote


Huerta accepts the offer of mediation from the ABC countries.

Admiral Fletcher declares martial law in Vera Cruz because he was unable to get Mexican civil servants to work for their new American overlords.

The rebels capture Monterrey.

We’re just hearing now that last week the federales tore the American flag down from the consulate in Monterrey and arrested the consul, Philip Hanna. A military tribunal charged him with sympathy to the rebels, but the federales evacuated the city 2 days later and the incoming rebels let him out of prison.

American refugees from the fighting (and anti-American violence and looting) in Mexico are pouring into Texas, which is putting them into quarantine, sticking them in tents on Galveston island. Huerta had ordered that Americans not be allowed to leave, believing that US forces were holding Mexican civilians in Vera Cruz, but rescinded this order when he found he was mistaken.

John Reed explains the Mexican Revolution. In brief, it’s not about constitutional government for most Mexicans, but about the land. “The first American soldier who enters Mexico City means the end of the Mexican revolution. It means that the United States cannot leave Mexico until it has established there a Government perfectly suitable to the European powers, and that Government will not be suitable at all to the Mexican people.” To prevent the coming into power of a government which would redistribute the land, the US would have to suppress the right of franchise.

Striking coal miners seize Chandler, Colorado, 100 miles from Ludlow, and blow up mine company property.

The governor of Colorado is preventing Red Cross workers reaching the injured in Ludlow.

In the first French parliamentary election results, Joseph Caillaux is reelected, despite all that unpleasantness with his wife shooting that editor. A newspaper in association with women’s suffrage groups (yes, France has some of those, they’re just small and not very active) distributes voting papers saying “I desire the right to vote,” which women can turn in at polling stations.

Condescending And Quite Possibly Inaccurate Headline of the Day -100: “Girl Sees Bonbons, Ends Hunger Strike.” IWW prisoner Becky Edelson, who refused to be bound over to stop publicly speaking any time a cop told her to. This is the first ever hunger strike in the United States.

Radium does not cure deafness, evidently.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Today -100: April 26, 1914: Feathers or votes


Argentina, Brazil, and Chile (the ABC countries, as it were) offer to mediate between US and the Huerta Junta. The US will insist on Huerta’s leaving power. Remember when this was all supposed to be about flag-saluting?

The US consul in Vera Cruz, who claims to be named William W. Canada – at least when he’s backpacking around Europe – says there is a “perfect reign of terror” in Mexico City. For some reason, Mexicans are not feeling particularly hospitable towards gringos at the moment. There are rumors of murdered Americans and of trainloads of refugees being refused permission to leave.

Carranza and Villa are fighting about their respective attitudes towards the American invasion. Villa prefers a neutral attitude but Carranza sent Woodrow Wilson a note open to the interpretation that if the occupation of Vera Cruz is not ended, the Constitutionalists will fight the US.

Admiral Fletcher issues an order to deal with sniping: all Mexicans caught with arms in Vera Cruz will be instantly shot. All arms are to be handed in.

Pres. Wilson signs the hastily passed Volunteer Army Bill, allowing for the organization of volunteer units during time of war. Three years from now, Theodore Roosevelt won’t shut up about wanting to do just that.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan denies that he will resign over the war with Mexico.

A man, evidently a well-known NY pickpocket, walks into a police station in Highland Park, Michigan, and asks for a pickpocketing license so he can pickpocket Ford employees. He is given 5 minutes to get out of town.

The British Parliament is debating the Importation of Plumage (Prohibition) Bill, to protect birds from being made into women’s hats. William Glyn-Jones (Lib-Stepney) offers an amendment that the ban should not apply to women over 21, since they do not have the vote. Government must give women either feathers or votes, he says. His amendment is adopted, effectively wrecking the bill.

Next week Parliament will turn from plumage to Home Rule. Bonar Law is already calling Prime Minister Asquith a liar (about what the NYT does not say). Asquith’s son Raymond responds that Bonar Law “combin[es] in a distressing degree the uncivilized vocabulary of a schoolboy with the unbalanced temperament of a schoolgirl.”

The NYT Sunday Magazine enumerates the acts of arson and whatnot by the British suffragettes in the last year’s “reign of terror.” That’s our second reign-of-terror sighting today.

The Fanny delivers its load (ahem) of 40,000 rifles and 500,000 rounds of ammunition to Northern Ireland, where it is put into automobiles and dispersed to various Ulster Loyalists.

Colorado Gov. Elias Ammons again asks Pres. Wilson for troops, saying the strike violence “has passed beyond the ability of the State to control.” The real problem is that he can’t recall the Legislature quickly to pay for an expansion of the state national guard. A truce is currently in effect in the Ludlow region. One of the state national guard units most heavily infiltrated by coal company employees is relieved from duty.

French parliamentary elections tomorrow. One rural deputy, a Monsieur Alasseur, is campaigning on an anti-rabbit platform.

France closes its Pacific penal colony in New Caledonia. Transportation of prisoners had ended in 1897. The remaining prisoners (those who haven’t escaped, which happened a lot in New Caledonia) will be moved to French Guiana, which the internet informs us is 9,594.65 miles.

Obit of the Day -100: A remarkably mean NYT obit of William Hamilton Codrington Nation, “who at intervals during nearly fifty years produced plays which nobody wanted to see and wrote books which failed to find readers”. He also used his wealth to found several magazines which “at one time or another had brief and disastrous careers.” One of his books is available at Amazon for print-on-demand via the British Library. There are... no reviews.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Today -100: April 25, 1914: Of death-defying, motor cycle riding volunteers, gringos and their detractors, deliberate and needless raising of points of honor, and black judges


Admiral Badger says there have been 17 American and 321 Mexican dead so far in the not-war. The former is higher than the number of dead the US Navy lost in the Spanish-American War.

Charles W. Dempster, I think the former member of the Montana Legislature of that name, offers to raise “a regiment of death-defying, motor cycle riding volunteers”.

The American consulate at Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, is set on fire by federal troops, and in Mexico City riots against American businesses and shouts of “Death to the Gringos” are not uncommon. An attack on the American Club is said to have been led by members of the Mexican Congress.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan is arguing strenuously against plans to expand the war.

The Nation (the UK magazine, not the American one) condemns Wilson’s little war, which began “because some ceremonial detail is lacking in the ritual of an apology... This deliberate and needless raising of a point of honor is a lapse into barbaric morals which would be more natural in some Prussian Colonel in an Alsatian garrison than in a humanitarian President of a civilized republic.” An interesting comparison with the incidents in Zabern.

The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage passes a resolution: “That we believe in leaving the decision of the policy of peace or war to the men of the nation. In case of war we stand ready to render such service as women have always rendered in such emergency.”

Colorado militiamen capture Lynn and Aguilar, which the strikers abandoned. Scabs who were trapped inside the Empire Mine by the strikers are released. Funeral services are held for 14 victims of the Ludlow fire. Gov. Elias Ammons asks the federal government for troops, but is told there are none to spare, with Mexico and all. Perhaps he’d like some death-defying, motor cycle riding volunteers?

Robert Terrell, a negro, is confirmed by the Senate for a second 4-year term as a municipal judge in the District of Columbia. His nomination has been held up for two months by Southern senators. This is Wilson’s first successful negro appointment. Not that he’s been trying very hard.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Today -100: April 24, 1914: Our quarrel is not with the Mexican people


Epithets, Mexican-style: Venustiano Carranza wants to make it quite clear: “in no case will we make common cause with Huerta, whom we consider an usurper, traitor, and assassin.” But he’d rather direct.

Epithets, South Carolina style: Lede Sentence of the Day -100: “Gov. Cole L. Blease [of South Carolina] called Secretary [of War] Garrison ‘a little pug-nosed Yankee,’ Secretary [of the Navy] Daniels a ‘liar,’ and the Minister to Cuba, William E. Gonzales, ‘a half-breed Cuban’ in a speech here to-night, in which he explained that he was not fighting the National Administration at Washington.” The editor of The Columbia Record was the one who wrote that Blease was fighting the Wilson Administration, so Blease has him arrested for libel. Blease is in fact in a dispute with SecWar Garrison, who pulled scheduled military maneuvers out of the state after Blease refused to withdraw something undisclosed he wrote to Garrison in a letter.

Admiral Fletcher invites the Vera Cruz municipal employees to continue working at their jobs, but for the American occupiers.

War Headline of the Day -100: “Bravery of Badger’s Men.” Sounds like a not-very-good children’s book.

Huerta expels the US’s chargé d’affaires Nelson O’Shaughnessy.

And takes over the railroads.

Huerta claims the US only took Vera Cruz by a ruse. See, the American sailors had always been allowed ashore to bathe and stroll the town, but this time they had rifles. That’s Huerta’s story, and he’s sticking to it.

Rioters stone the US consulate in Mexico City, as is the custom, and try to pull down a statue of George Washington.

Woodrow Wilson proclaims that despite his little war, or perhaps because of it, the US’s “feeling and intention” is based on “a genuine friendship for the Mexican people”. His statement, intended to reassure the Constitutionalists, says that US actions are directed only against Huerta in the territory he controls. “We are dealing, moreover, only with those whom he commands and those who come to his support. With these we must deal. They do not lawfully represent the people of Mexico. In that fact we rejoice, because our quarrel is not with the Mexican people, and we do not desire to dictate their affairs.” Wilson has decided to send the regular Army, not just marines and sailors, into Mexico, making it harder to pretend that this is not a war. This is necessitated by the fact that Mexicans are actually resisting the invasion, which was evidently not anticipated.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan sent a note to Carranza, asking the rebels not to oppose the US invasion. So now Republicans such as Henry Cabot Lodge, John Weeks, and William Borah accuse the Wilson Admin of collaborating with murderous bandits. Who aren’t even willing to collaborate. Democrats respond that it was Republican demands that the US go to war with the whole of Mexico and not just the Huerta Junta that made Carranza hostile.

Spies are discovered wandering the halls of the building which houses the State, War and Navy departments. Or at least people claiming to be journalists who are suspected of spying for one side or the other in Mexico (that is, there are spies for both sides). So people will now need a pass to enter the building.

Tammany will start recruiting troops. It is rumored that Pres. Wilson will soon call for 50,000 volunteers.

The NYT counts 15 American dead, 58 wounded so far.

Speaking of battles, there is said to be one going on in Walsenburg, Colorado, but the wires are down so information is scarce.

Colorado Lt. Gov. Stephen Fitzgerald calls out the entire state militia after getting some businessmen to guarantee the privates’ pay.

Atlanta police are now holding a negro witness against Leo Frank at his trial, who subsequently admitted that his testimony had been coerced by the police. The cops claim that Albert McKnight has recanted that recantation and is now voluntarily staying at the police station because people have threatened him.

An attempted anti-Mormon meeting is held at Carnegie Hall, intended to be the start of an anti-Mormon crusade nationwide, with demands that Wilson not appoint Mormons to public office, for a constitutional amendment banning polygamy, and for NYC Mayor Mitchel to refuse permits to Mormon elders to preach and to prevent the building of a Mormon tabernacle. The meeting is broken up by Mormons, who attacked the stage after a speech by Frank Cannon, a Mormon apostate who was a US senator from Utah in the 1890s.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oklahoma crude. And stupid. And callous. And just fucking awful.


Two Oklahoma death row prisoners (both of whom are black, if you had to ask) sued the state over its secrecy over how it acquired its death chemicals and what they might actually be. After some back and forth, the state Supreme Court rules that they can’t prove any “actual injury” caused by the secrecy, which obviously they can’t do because of the, you know, secrecy. That’s some grade A Catch-22 shit there.

Gov. Mary Fallin tried to override the stay by ordering the executions to go ahead by executive order, because law and order is so important to her that she will just make up her own laws and enforce the hell out of them.

A state rep who was so enraged by the Supreme Court’s brief stay of execution that he introduced a resolution to impeach any justice who voted for it is named Mike Christian, because of course he is.

One of the justices who is safe from Mr. Christian’s wrath is Steven Taylor, who said the suit was frivolous and a waste of his precious time and wrote, “If they were being executed in the electric chair, they would have no right to know whether OG&E or PSO were providing the electricity. If they were being hanged, they would have no right to know whether it be by cotton or nylon rope; or if they were being executed by firing squad, they would have no right to know whether it be by Winchester or Remington ammunition.”

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Today -100: April 23, 1914: Mexico will fight to the extreme limit of her power against the Colossus


US military forces have captured Vera Cruz, although shooting from irregular forces and civilians continues. Occasionally the US shells a bit of the city which people are shooting from.

Huerta says “Mexico will fight to the extreme limit of her power against the Colossus. Better die fighting than purchase peace at the price of national dignity.” The government orders all able-bodied citizens to take to the field and decrees a general amnesty, so all Mexicans can help fight the Americans.

Gen. Venustiano Carranza telegraphs Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan saying the Constitutionalists don’t plan to join Huerta against the US, but he also says that the US had no excuse to occupy Vera Cruz, since the actions of Huerta and his soldiers don’t represent the Mexican people.

Some guy who saw Theodore Roosevelt in Brazil says TR planned to come back and do the Rough Rider thing again if there were a war with Mexico. But only if it’s a, you know, real war.

Colorado miners are setting mines on fire.

Headline of the Day -100: “I.W.W. Slur on Flag Stirs Angry Crowd.” During street-corner speeches in NYC against the war in Mexico. The police naturally arrest the speakers, as was the custom, rather than the crowds that were threatening them, throwing fruit, etc.

William Burns of the Burns Detective Agency announces that his investigation, which he’s been dragging out for maximum self-promotion, has determined that Leo Frank is innocent of the murder of Mary Phagan and that Jim Conley is guilty. (Update: Burns claims Conley, “as shrewd and tricky a negro as one would find in a week’s travel,” is a serial killer responsible for the murders of 20 women.)

Headline/Obit of the Day -100: “KILLED BY OWN DYNAMITE.; Farmer's Head Blown Off by Explosion Meant for Wife.” The lesson: if you’re chasing your wife holding a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse, pay attention to how close the fuse is getting. Alcohol was involved. You don’t get this sort of thing so much anymore, since Warner Bros & the Acme Corp put out all those safety videos. Very few giant slingshot deaths these days too.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Today -100: April 22, 1914: It would be too bad, too bad, to shoot up this town


The US Senate passes the resolution endorsing the intervention in Mexico, 72-13. The 13 are all Republican, including former secretary of state Elihu Root, Fighting Bob La Follette, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Reed Smoot. There’s a rhyming slogan in there somewhere.... coot, boot, loot, toot... oh well, the war’s already started, so I guess it’s moot.

But it’s not an actual declaration of war. An amendment stating that a state of war exists with Mexico is tabled; another instructing Woodrow Wilson to accept Huerta’s apology is rejected by voice vote; a measure by Lodge giving as the reason for the intervention the ill-treatment of American citizens (implicitly, by both the government and the rebels) is defeated, as is one saying that the purpose of the intervention is to protect American citizens in Mexico. La Follette’s amendment disclaiming any intention of annexing bits of Mexico is defeated 39-44.

Not that any of that mattered, because US forces had already landed in Vera Cruz and seized the Custom House before the Senate voted. Wilson acted quickly because the Ypiranga, the German ship with all the arms and ammunition, was about to dock. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels says the landing is totally not an act of war, but refuses to answer when asked whether Mexicans firing at the landing party was an act of war. The US consul phoned Gen. Maas and asked him to surrender Vera Cruz. He says no. After the capture of the Custom House, serious fighting broke out. Capt. Rush says he regrets the Mexicans’ silly resistance and hopes not to have to bombard Vera Cruz: “It would be too bad, too bad, to shoot up this town. I hope it will not have to be done.”

Asked for comment by the NYT, Constitutionalist leader Venustiano Carranza declines.

The US military has only 15 functional airships (half of those obsolete) and 12 aviators. Wright will speed up production to one per week (Orville’s recent patent lawsuit win means other companies can’t supply the planes). This is compared to the British military’s 300 planes, Germany’s 800, Russia’s 800 and France’s 1,200. Even Brazil, China and Morocco have more military airplanes than the US.

War Headlines of the Day -100: 1) “War Spirit Sweeps Border.”
2) “Arizona Force Knows Spanish.”
3) “87, But Wants to Fight.” That’s Horatio Gates Gibson, a general during the Civil War. His letter to Pres. Wilson mentions his extensive antebellum experience Indian-fighting.
4) “Huerta Takes to Billiards.” On a $1,000 mahogany table he just bought.

Speaking of warfare, the NYT says this of the Ludlow Massacre: “The Ludlow camp is a mass of charred débris, and buried beneath it is a story of horror unparalleled in the history of industrial warfare. In the holes which had been dug for their protection against the rifles’ fire the women and children died like trapped rats when the flames swept over them.” It is assumed that bullets set off the strikers’ ammo dump, setting fire to the camp, although Major Hamrock (!) claims the fire started “spontaneously.” Tomorrow, the state militia plans to bring out its machine guns. The United Mine Workers telegrams Pres. Wilson and Colorado’s congresscritters about the events in Ludlow: “Striking miners and families shot and burned to death at Ludlow, Col. Mine guards, with machine guns, riddled tents of striking miners and set fire to tent colony. Four men, three women, and seven children murdered. [The total will be 19] State not only fails to protest, but uses uniforms and ammunition of the commonwealth to destroy the lives of the workers and their families. We shall be compelled to call on volunteers in the name of humanity to defend these helpless persons unless something is done.” The commander of the state national guard, Gen. John Chase, the guy who keeps arresting Mother Jones, refuses to order the Guard back into the strike area, saying the Guard’s budget has run out (the state auditor, who is pro-union, is stalling payments). Train crew have refused to take trains of soldiers and ammo to Ludlow; they’ve been fired.

A half-black, half-Indian woman who was refused the seat she had paid for in a Rochester, NY theater sues and is awarded $200.

Former Pres. Taft addresses a meeting sponsored by the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, but fails to mention women’s suffrage.

Here’s an ad from the NYT, in which some sort of breathmint trumpets this endorsement of sorts from George Bernard Shaw: “When a man... puts a Formamint lozenge in his mouth to kill a few thousand bacilli he is trying to wipe out the consequences of old mistakes of creation.” I can’t find online the GBS article in The Christian Commonwealth they’re quoting here.



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Monday, April 21, 2014

Today -100: April 21, 1914: Our wars are forced upon us by injustice or insult


The House passes a joint resolution authorizing military action against Mexico by a vote of 337-37 to “enforce the demands made upon Victoriano Huerta” (who the US doesn’t recognize as president of Mexico) for “unequivocal amends” (the stupid 21-gun-salute) for “affronts and indignities” against this government (the short detention of sailors wandering around a city while it’s under rebel siege).

The resolution is amended in the Senate and now “disclaims any hostility to the Mexican people, or any purpose to make war upon them.” So that’s okay then.

$50 million is appropriated for the not-war.

(Here’s Pres. Wilson’s message to Congress).

The public finally hears why this is being done in such a rush: a German ship with rifles and 15 million rounds of ammunition is on its way to the Huerta regime. Wilson plans to blockade Vera Cruz before it arrives to prevent it landing. That way, he doesn’t have to seize the ship and get into a kerfuffle with Germany (and break international law). I don’t know if he told anyone in Congress about this ship and that his purpose was to put his thumb on the scale for the Mexican rebels.

Headline of the Day -100: “Cowboys Want to Fight.” The National Order of Cowboy Rangers offers to recruit a regiment of 600 to 1,000 cowboy rangers.

Some union leaders are repudiating Big Bill Haywood’s call for a general strike against the war. The AFL’s vice president James Duncan says that such strikes are justified in Europe, where wars benefit the rich, “but our wars are forced upon us by injustice or insult.” So that’s okay then.

Constitutionalist leaders Venustiano Carranza and Pancho Villa meet for the first time in years.

And another war begins, in Colorado, what history and folk song refer to as the Ludlow Massacre, which is catchy if not entirely accurate. Miners fight the Colorado National Guard and... somehow... the tent colony (striking miners having been thrown out of their company-owned housing) is burned down.

The New Jersey Supreme Court voids the conviction of Alexander Scott, managing editor of the socialist Passaic Weekly Issue, for advocating “hostility to government,” when he accused the Paterson police of attacking striking workers during the silk strike. The Court rules that Scott was not hostile to all government, which would still totally be illegal in NJ, but only to the Paterson government, which is ok.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Today -100: April 20, 1914: Mexico has yielded as much as her dignity will permit


Huerta refuses to accede to Wilson’s demands. Foreign Minister Portillo y Rojas explains that the US flag wasn’t even flying from the Dolphin’s launch, so it was never insulted, and Mexico offered a mutual salute, which was rejected. “Mexico has yielded as much as her dignity will permit. Mexico trusts to the fairmindedness and spirit of justice of the American people.” Good luck with that.

Vice President Marshall has some helpful advice for Mexico: “Mexico can’t have a republic until Mexico has different laws, different sentiments and different people... you can’t have a pie without any filling”.

Former President Taft predicts a long war with thousands dead, requiring up to 500,000 troops to occupy every major city in Mexico and fight the inevitable guerilla warfare because it’ll be the Philippines all over again.

A report in The Annalist says that Americans own more property, including banks and mines and whatnot, in Mexico than do the Mexicans, $1,057,770,000 versus $793,187,242.

IWW leader Big Bill Haywood tells a Carnegie Hall audience that the war would trigger a general strike against it in the US. “The mine workers of this country will simply fold their arms, and when they fold their arms there will be no war.” He suggests sending the bankers to fight the war. Spoiler alert: there will be no general strike, and bankers will not be sent to fight in Mexico.

The Justice Dept is already looking into prosecuting Mr. Haywood under the sedition and/or treason laws.

An envoy from Mexican Dictator Huerta will meet Carranza and Villa to ask if they’ll help him in the event of an invasion by the US and, hey guys would you stop sniggering for just a minute, guys this is serious... [translated from the Spanish].

The Constitutionalists say they’ll be okay with the US occupying Tampico and Vera Cruz, but won’t be okay with it if shooting starts.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Edison Is Fatter.” Thomas Edison returns from a vacation in Florida with several, evidently newsworthy pounds.


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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Today -100: April 19, 1914: Why should I take Wilson’s orders?


Huerta sends a note to the US saying that he refuses to take orders from Pres. Wilson to fire a salute on behalf of the Mexican nation when Wilson doesn’t even recognize him as president of that nation. Wilson has set a deadline of 6 p.m. today, Mexico City time (which is 7:40 D.C. time) after which he will go to Congress to ask it to authorize military action, which will involve at the very least seizing Mexican ports and establishing a “belligerent blockade,” which is different from a “pacific blockade” in that it involves stopping ships from other countries.

It’s not quite War of Jenkins’ Ear silly, but this is a threat to go to war to force a country to fire a salute to the US flag. Mexico would be happy to do so if assured of a return salute, and the US would be happy to return the salute, but won’t agree to do so as a condition, because Mexico is totally at fault and should be offering a... wait for it... “unconditional salute,” and because signing a protocol would be a tacit recognition of the Huerta regime as a government, as opposed to some random group of Mexicans the US is demanding fire cannons.

Unconditional salute. Sheesh.

The Constitutionalists have kept pretty quiet about this whole thing until now, since on the one hand they’re happy to see Huerta humiliated but on the other would rather not see an American military intervention. Pancho Villa, for whom keeping quiet is not a natural state, now says it’s Huerta’s ox being gored. He reckons Huerta, being a coward, will give in to the US. But if there is a war between the US and the Huerta regime, Villa will keep Americans and other foreigners safe within his territory.

Graf Charles von Wedel resigns as governor of Alsace-Lorraine, as a result of the military-civilian clashes in Zabern last year.

Henry Ford orders his employees not to live in tenements or crowded rooming-houses and not to take in boarders. He wants them to buy homes. So Ford increased their pay, but is telling them how they have to spend it. “We will give every one time to correct his living conditions,” or be fired. He now has 45 investigators interviewing all his employees about their living conditions, religion (why? is there some religion Ford doesn’t approve of?), leisure pursuits, bank savings, etc.

An article in the NYT Sunday Magazine says that nation-wide prohibition is closer than people realize. Half the population of the US already live in dry territory.

Suffragettes burn the Belfast Corporation’s tea room. A tea room? Now they’ve gone TOO FAR.

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Guide Insane.” The guy who helped TR in his pell-mell race down the Adirondacks when he heard McKinley had died.

Orville Wright has been keeping some inventions under his hat while waiting for the results of his patent-infringement lawsuits. Having won those, he now brings out a new airplane stabilizer, which will help prevent all those sudden dives. So I guess he knew how to prevent all those recent plane crashes, but was waiting until he was sure he could money out of it.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Today -100: April 18, 1914: We have not plots, we have not nihilism in this country


The NYT says that Huerta’s first reaction to the demand for a 21-gun salute was to prepare a declaration of war.

Mexico’s foreign minister decides to complicate the whole thing by saying that the Huerta Junta will take the US’s return salute as tactic recognition of his government.

There’s an assassination attempt on John Purroy Mitchel, the Boy Mayor (he’s 34) of New York City. The assassin, one Michael Mahoney, 71, misses and hits Corporation Counsel Frank Polk in the chin, breaking his jawbone and knocking out two teeth, which he plans to have mounted in gold. Mitchel pulls out his own gun, which he carries because Mayor Gaynor died last year from assassination, but Mahoney is wrestled down by a crowd that includes the police commissioner. Mahoney is evidently a crazy lone gunman and not part of a plot. Says the Boy Mayor, “We have not plots, we have not nihilism in this country.” Mahoney circumvented NY’s strict gun control laws by buying his gun in New Jersey.

Obit of the Day -100: Hermann Ahlwardt, founder of the Antisemitische Volkspartei. The NYT obit says he died a disappointed man because anti-Semitism has been declining in Germany.

British suffragettes bomb the theater on the Great Yarmouth pier.

A doctor at the University of Pennsylvania is being prosecuted for cruelty to animals. His name is Dr. Sweet, because of course it is. I’ll spare you the details, mostly because I stopped reading before getting to them, but evidently it’s not the vivisection of dogs that’s at issue, it’s the neglect of them afterwards.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Today -100: April 17, 1914: Of mothers jones, executions, salutes, cholera, and sterilization


Mother Jones is released, by a habeas corpus writ from the Colorado Supreme Court if I’m reading the article correctly.

Leo Frank gets an unexpected stay of execution, on the grounds that he wasn’t in the courtroom when his verdict was read, which was because of fears that he would have been lynched had he been acquitted, but he hadn’t agreed to waive his right to be present. A motion for a new trial because of new evidence is pending.

Headline of the Day -100 (L.A. Times: “Mexico Will Salute, But–.” The Huerta regime says it is willing to do the 21-gun salute, but wants the salute returned. The US will return the salute, but as a courtesy, because it is the done thing, not because Mexico demanded it, and it won’t agree in advance to do what it says it intends to do anyway. And there is some question about whether the salute should be returned by the US after all 21 Mexican guns are fired, or gun for gun, with each side alternating. In 1914, no one seems to think any of this is silly.

The Huerta regime is now claiming that it let Villa capture Torreón because there was cholera there.

Sen. Vardaman (D-Miss.) is filibustering the re-nomination of a negro, Robert Terrell, to the municipal court of the District of Columbia. Vardaman says he will “continue the struggle until the last ditch.”

A federal court will hear a case about the Iowa law allowing people twice convicted of crimes to be forcibly sterilized.


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today -100: April 16, 1914: An incident of no special importance


Pres. Wilson informs Congress of his plans for Mexico: seize Vera Cruz, Tampico and ports on the west coast; establish a “peaceful blockade”; the occupation and blockade to continue until Mexico punishes the colonel who arrested the crew of the Dolphin and a salute is fired. Wilson says the US has been “subjected to a systematic and studied series of insults” by Huerta.

Army and navy recruitment is going way up. Various people have offered to recruit Rough-Riders-type units of volunteers to invade Mexico, including Rice Means, the commander in chief of the Army of the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and Texas state Rep. John Kirby. Kirby thinks he can do the job just with Texans, and that he can recruit up to 500,000 Texans, but warns that they wouldn’t be willing to give up Mexico once they’ve seized it: “It will have to be made an American territory in order that its inhabitants may learn modern civilization and enjoy peace and the benefits of Christian progress.”

Huerta issues a brief statement saying “The Tampico incident has no special importance.”

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Today -100: April 15, 1914: If the flag of the United States is ever run up in Mexico it will never come down


Sorry about the lateness: Blogger seems to have eaten the original post.

In response to the Mexican Federal regime’s refusal to fire a 21-gun salute to the US flag, as ordered by Adm. Mayo, to apologize for the insult of having briefly detained some American sailors who were wandering around a war zone in uniform, Pres. Wilson is sending the entire North Atlantic fleet to Tampico. Or, to put it another way, Admiral Badger is being sent to back up Admiral Mayo.

Some theories floating around: 1) Huerta is provoking a US military intervention as an excuse to retire semi-gracefully, 2) Huerta is provoking a US military intervention in order to unite the country behind him.

Any wariness in Congress about military intervention has evaporated: “No Senator questioned the right of the United States to occupy Tampico or Vera Cruz as a step to enforce respect for the uniform, and all agreed that a firm course must be followed from now on. Many Senators of long experience and conservative judgment expressed the view that the ordering fo the fleet to Tampico meant armed intervention, but this belief did not seem to lessen their satisfaction. ... There was little inclination to comment on the fact that stronger measures seemed to be in contemplation to enforce a matter of etiquette than were adopted as a result of the murdering of American and foreign residents in Mexico.” Sen. Borah (R-Idaho): “if the flag of the United States is ever run up in Mexico it will never come down. This is the beginning of the march of the United States to the Panama Canal.” Sen. Chilton (D-West Virginia): “I’d make them salute the flag if we had to blow up the whole place.” Sen. James Martine (D-NJ): “No one thinks the president has ordered these ships to Tampico to start a Presbyterian Sunday school.”

Pancho Villa captures San Pedro. The one in Mexico, not the one south of L.A.

The Automobile Club of America decides to admit women as members, but without voting rights, and no more than 500.

Providence, Rhode Island had planned to appoint two policewomen, but has discovered that cops have to be voters, and RI doesn’t have women’s suffrage.

New York State reduces the number of hours children under 16 may work from 54 to 48 per week, and from 9 to 8 per day. Adult women are limited to 54 hours a week.

NY Gov. Glynn vetoes bills to introduce a new legal plea of “guilty but insane” and to remove the old plea of “not guilty because insane.”

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Today -100: April 14, 1914: Of strikes, parties, salutes, trousers, and Easter


The Calumet, Michigan copper strike is over, after nearly nine months. The owners will generously re-employ strikers who turn in their union cards, but it won’t fire any of the scabs hired during the strike. The miners will supposedly get better working conditions, an 8-hour day, and a $3/day minimum wage. Yay?

A new political party, the American Party, is formed in NY. It will be headed by impeached former Gov. Sulzer, and hopes to field a full ticket of anti-Tammany Democrats.

The Progressive Party wants Theodore Roosevelt to run for governor of New York this year (and then, presumably, president again in 1916). They hope to get him the Republican nomination as well.

Mexico’s Federal Gen. Maass says there will absolutely not be a 21-gun salute to the US flag.

Meanwhile, Dictator Huerta appeals to the Jockey Club to donate trousers for poor men.

In parts of Italy Easter is marked by riots aimed at priests. Not all the incidents are explained, but one clash was over which of two rival confraternities would lead a procession, and another was aimed at a new archbishop in Calabria who had tried to suppress local customs he considered pagan. “Troops were sent for to drive the mob out of the cathedral.”

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Today -100: April 13, 1914: Of salutes, heckling, electric chairs, royalists, and butt eulogies


The Huerta regime agrees to fire a salute to the US flag and kiss Adm. Mayo’s ass, not necessarily in that order.

Suffragettes heckle and disrupt the Independent Labour Party conference in Bradford. Philip Snowden is unable to finish his speech, and a bag of flour is thrown at Ramsay MacDonald (sadly, I don’t think it hit him). Elsewhere, during a church service in Lowescroft, the bishop of Norwich is heckled by chants of “God save Emmeline Pankhurst!” and “Christ is being crucified afresh in the persons of our women.”

I haven’t been following the “Rosenthal murder plot,” which has something to do with corrupt NYC cops. Anyway, four gunmen are about to be put to death in Sing Sing, despite the attempt by someone – a prison employee is suspected – to derail the execution by destroying the dynamo that powers the electric chair.

Several Portuguese royalists are arrested for a plot to restore the monarchy. Well, a monarchy. They’d actually become disappointed with the Portuguese claimants (reading between the lines, because those claimants failed to give money to the royalists) and were thinking about getting a foreign pretender to the throne, maybe an Italian or a Brit. They got to fighting about this and someone tipped off the police.

Headline of the Day -100: “Taft to Eulogize Butt.”

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Today -100: April 12, 1914: Not bloody likely


Admiral Mayo has graciously agreed to give the Mexicans another 24 hours to obey his demand for a 21-gun salute to the American flag.

Oklahoma Gov. Lee Cruce says he will call out the militia to stop racing under the auspices of the Tulsa Jockey Club. The club denies that the governor has any legal authority to stop gambling on horse races. The militia will literally occupy the race track.

There is a movement to reform the death penalty in Germany. Not end it, of course, but replace decapitation by sword, still practiced in Prussia and elsewhere, with the more humane guillotine or gallows or electric chair.

Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which actually premiered in Germany last year, finally opens in London, with Beerbohm Tree as Henry Higgins and Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle. Shaw left in the middle; Tree explained in his curtain speech that GBS had been upset by all the applause and laughter (Shaw does not like audiences fucking up his timing). The London Times thinks the play contains the first use of the word “bloody” on the London stage (Eliza’s line “Not bloody likely” was responsible for much of that laughter). The bloody inclusion will be debated in the bloody newspapers and magazines for bleedin’ weeks to come (although most newspapers find themselves unable to print the offending epithet), and luminaries such as the bishop of Woolwich and the Oxford Union will express their opinion, because of course they will. At one point the Daily Express brought an actual Covent Garden flower girl named Eliza to the play to test her reaction, and she was bloody shocked.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Today -100: April 11, 1914: Enter the Dolphin


In Tampico, Mexico, which is the rebels’ next target, a Federal colonel orders the crew of the USS Dolphin, which had stopped to refuel, arrested, basically for being in a war zone in uniform and unable to explain in Spanish what they were doing with those oil drums. [Note: the article refers to the Dolphin as a whaleboat, which refers to the shape of the ship; it’s not a whaler]. They are quickly released, and the port commander apologizes to the American commander of US forces in Tampico, who is named Admiral Mayo because of course he is. Admiral Mayo is just happy to let this little misunderstanding blow over... oh, of course he isn’t. He demands a formal apology, the arrest of the Mexican colonel responsible for the incident, and a 21-gun salute, within 24 hours or else. Mayo has been sending both sides warnings that their little fight had better not damage any oil equipment in Tampico.

One of the towns that voted itself dry in the elections Tuesday was Minooka, Illinois. As a result, the town has had to return the license money already paid by saloons, and is now broke. It will have to turn off its street lights and fire its three cops and the city attorney.

People who are against women’s suffrage: 1) Helen Taft, wife of the former president, who has joined an anti-suffrage organization. 2) Archbishop Moeller of Cincinnati, who thinks it would “bring women into a sphere of activities that is not in accord with their retiring modesty, maidenly dignity and refinement. We fear that suffragette women will cease to be the queens of the home.”

In Italy, Baron Dominico Camarda is arrested for having imprisoned his sisters Isobel and Teresina in his castle’s dungeon 18 years ago. Isobel has gone insane, and Teresina died 3 years ago. Evidently they disgraced the family.

The Paris prefect of police bans a prize fight between two women.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Today -100: April 10, 1914: Cigars vs. dirigible, the battle of the phallic symbols


A suffragette smashes a porcelain saucer in the British Museum, because justice.

Headline of the Day -100: “Cigar Wrecks a Dirigible.” An Italian military airship, built by public subscription, landed due to motor damage. A crowd gathered, and some moron ignored warnings against lighting the aforementioned cigar.

German sailors are laughing at the US Navy: German sailors can drink as much beer aboard ship as they like, officers as much of any kind of booze.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Today -100: April 9, 1914: Of friendly expressions of regret, deportations, and airplanes


The US and Colombia sign a treaty to put to rest all that unpleasantness over the former’s role in splitting off a bit of the latter in order to build a canal through it. The US will pay a $25 million indemnity and make a “friendly expression of regret” for the role Roosevelt never admitted having taken in the Panamanian revolt. (Spoiler alert: Republicans will torpedo this treaty, although Harding will negotiate a similar one, with the $25 million but without the regret.)

The NYT says the Illinois elections show that women don’t vote as a bloc.

Pancho Villa seizes the largest banks in Torreón. The banks had already removed their money, so he’s basically seized some buildings and furniture. Villa is also deporting Spaniards, 700 of whom arrive in El Paso. Carranza, who some looked to to rein Villa in, fully backs the deportations.

Today’s aviation deaths: 1) A sergeant in Britain’s Army Flying Corps attempted a sharp spiral descent and lost control of his plane. 2) A Belgian aviator hit bad weather and crashed. 3) And, just for a change of pace, the engine fails in a plane being flown by a French military aviator with a passenger over the Moroccan desert, but they glide safely to earth, and are then seized by Moorish rebels, tortured and hacked into pieces. As was their plane.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Today -100: April 8, 1914: Of constitutions, more dry counties, and French marriages


The few voters who turned out for the NY special election support holding a state constitutional convention next year.

The Republican National Committee plans to reduce Southern representation at the National Convention: instead of there being two delegates from each Congressional district, districts where there are fewer than 7,500 votes for a Republican for Congress will just get one delegate.

After serving 26 days of her six-month sentence for her attack on Velasquez’s Rokeby Venus, Mary Richardson is released temporarily on medical grounds under the Cat and Mouse Act. While she has been hunger-striking and has been forcibly fed, the medical grounds are actually appendicitis. She will have an operation for that in July and will then come under the general amnesty at the start of World War I, so she won’t be returning to Holloway Gaol.

Women vote in Chicago elections for the first time, but none of the 9 female candidates for city council is elected. Throughout Illinois, 16 counties vote in prohibition, although Springfield went from dry to wet. Everyone attributes this to the women’s vote, but 30 counties were already dry.

The London County Council will fire any women doctors employed by the Public Health Department if they get married.

The French supreme court rules that women do not already have the vote, that in fact women have no political rights, political responsibilities, or political privileges.

In the court hearings into the murder of Le Figaro editor Gaston Calmette, it finally comes out that Calmette acquired Joseph Caillaux’s personal letters from his ex-wife. Caillaux’s own testimony demonstrates that early 20th century French political marriages were no more romantic than, say, Newt Gingrich’s:
M. Caillaux said he had offered to Mme. Gueydan [his 1st wife] the alternative of a divorce or a reconciliation, but on condition that the letters taken from his desk be returned to them. An agreement, however, was made to burn them, which was done in the presence of his wife, himself, and his secretary.
Except her sister had already photographed the letters.
A reconciliation ensued, but later he and Mme. Gueydan were divorced.
Translation: he waited to dump her and marry his mistress until after a particularly close parliamentary election (and after she divorced her husband, of course).

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Today -100: April 7, 1914: Of home rule, plane crashes, dry counties, and workers’ rights


The Home Rule Bill passes the House of Commons, 356-276.

George Cornwallis-West’s divorce from Winston Churchill’s mother comes through, and he immediately marries famed actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell (as she billed herself), who will soon star in Pygmalion.

38 aviators died worldwide in plane accidents in the first three months of 1914, including 10 in France and 5 in the US. A pretty good percentage of them were military aviators.

12 Michigan counties voted on prohibition. Some of the counties went dry, some went wet, leaving the state with 34 dry counties and 49 wet ones.

John D. Rockefeller Jr tells the Congressional committee investigating the Colorado coal strike that he and his fellow mineowners would rather “lose all of their millions invested in the coal fields than that American workingmen should be deprived of the right under the Constitution to work for whom they pleased.” That John D., always thinking of the rights of others. He refers to his union-busting as an attempt to allow the miners “to have the privilege of determining the conditions under which they shall work.” However he claimed ignorance about most things related to his Colorado interests, such as whether they’ve been stocking up on machine guns and ammo, saying he left those things to his managers.

A federal judge denies the habeas corpus petition of the 3,600 Mexicans interned in Fort Bliss.

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Today -100: April 6, 1914: Of wine messes, peon traditions, tongues & ears & radium, and air power


Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels bans alcohol on naval vessels, navy yards and stations as of July 1. So no more wine mess (that’s a navy thing, not what happens to your bathroom floor when you’ve had too much wine).

Headline of the Day -100: “DRIVES SPANIARDS OUT OF TORREON; True to His Peon Traditions, Villa Orders Immediate Deportation of Hated Race.”

Latest rumor from Mexico: Zapata has captured the Bishop of Chilapa and is threatening to crucify him, on Good Friday yet, unless paid a ransom of 50,000 pesos.

Suffragettes bomb the church of St. Martin in the Fields, where I once heard a somewhat disappointing concert.

A Denver man’s tongue cancer is cured by what he calls “radium, the life-giving metal” (which also cures him of his deafness and catarrh). And an unnamed “American millionaire politician” with “schlerosis of the ear” in the form of a buzzing sound is looking into the possibility of curing it with that miracle drug radium. There really was no medical condition these people wouldn’t try radium on. I attribute the fact that the entire human race did not die of radiation poisoning in this period entirely to the small stockpiles of radium.

In a deposition in the Madame Caillaux case, French President Poincaré says that Joseph Caillaux told him that if Calmette printed his private letters, he’d kill him.

A NYT editorial praises the police for beating up IWW members.

Spanish inventor José Yglesias claims to be able to power light bulbs with electricity drawn from the air.

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Today -100: April 5, 1914: Of landgravines, Ulster coercion, women voters, other uses for human hair, and train robbers


Newly minted nation Albania’s newly minted ruler, Prince William, says he will lead troops (Albania has troops?) against ethnic Greek insurgents, who have captured the town of Koritza.

Germany officially denies the widely reported story that Kaiser Wilhelm wrote a letter to a princess (that’s what the original report said; is a landgravine a princess?) who had converted to Catholicism that he hated her religion.

Ulster Loyalists hold a huge outdoor rally in Hyde Park to protest “Ulster coercion.” The meeting, as was the custom, is invaded by suffragettes from the WSPU, which is no longer allowed to hold meetings in London parks. “General” Flora Drummond is mobbed and almost thrown into the Serpentine, then later arrested.

The LA Times reports that the only woman to vote in the recent primary in Aurora, Illinois, was a Miss Edith Scott. “She asked the reporters to say that she was neither a society girl, wealthy, nor pretty.”

Facing declining demand in the West for human hair for wigs, Hong Kong’s hair merchants have been shifting to “low-grade” hair for mattress stuffing.

Three weeks ago, Austria, worried about maintaining its army, banned emigration of men aged 17 to 36. But stopping emigration, mostly to America (although there was a certain art student who evaded conscription by moving to Munich) by people who can’t find jobs tends to lead to, you guessed it, unemployment and destitution, so now they’ve had to ease up on the policy in Galicia (the Polish part of the Empire).

Some of the corpses of Federal soldiers found by the rebels in Torreón after they capture the town had been executed by their officers, which suggests the soldiers were reluctant to stand and fight.

The government is still denying it lost Torreón.

The Sunday NY Times Magazine has an article about Al Jennings, candidate for governor of Oklahoma, derived from his forthcoming memoirs, entitled “How I Robbed Trains.”

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Friday, April 04, 2014

That’s how you know it’s not covert


Jay “Hey Rube” Carney explain how you know that the covert ZunZuneo program wasn’t a covert program, it was a “development-assistance” program: “when I say a program like this is not covert and then I talk about it, that’s how you know it’s not covert -- because I’m talking about it.” See, and you thought it was a covert program.

If the definition of not-covert is that government officials talk about it after it leaks, I like Edward Snowden’s chances in court.

Okay, no I don’t.

Rather than being covert, Carney says the program was “discreet.” If that sounds like a man furtively sneaking into a cheap motel room in the middle of the day to fuck a woman not his wife, there’s probably a reason for that.

Further evidence of its non-covertness is that it was supposedly debated by Congress. Actually, the covertness of an intelligence-gathering cum covert op like this is not measured simply by the level of disclosure within the US (and I would suggest that “Hey, we told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session with everyone sworn to secrecy” does not suggest openness and transparency). Covert also refers to the level of disclosure within the country in which we’re operating. There Carney might be on firmer ground, in that after more than 50 years of CIA monkeyshines, there can’t be a Cuban who didn’t know exactly what ZunZuneo was when they saw it. Still, if you’re acting in another country without informing that country’s government, that is what used to be the very definition of covert. That Carney doesn’t seem to have paused for a second to consider that before declaring this psyop not covert tells us something about how the US government sees itself as entitled to do anything anywhere in this Age of Drones.

While this was, obviously, a covert action aimed at undermining the Cuban government, it was also an intelligence-gathering op aimed at discovering the political allegiances and interests of everyone in Cuba, but I’m sure we can’t think of any way in which that sort of data could be misused.

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Today -100: April 4, 1914: Of spies, dead boxers, French scandals, bosses, and sangers


Huerta denies that Torreón has fallen.

A British court convicts Frederick Adolphus Gould (real name: Schroeder) of spying on the Navy for the Germans (he ran a pub with a naval clientele and was able to tell Germany many technical details of British battleships). He is sentenced to six years followed by deportation, the longest sentence ever given in Britain for espionage. This article may well be the first NYT mention of “the secret service police,” five years after MI5 was formed. Schroeder’s wife was indicted as well, but this was later withdrawn.

Headline of the Day -100: “Boxer Dies of Pneumonia.” In the ring, mind you. James Grant, at the end of a ten-round bantam-weight match. His opponent, John Eggers, is exonerated.

The French Chamber of Assemblies disposes of a scandal, rejecting by a vote of 342 to 141 a motion calling for criminal proceedings against former prime ministers Ernest Monis and Joseph Caillaux (you’ll remember Caillaux from his wife shooting the editor of Le Figaro a couple of weeks ago), for interfering with the investigation of financier/scam artist Henri Rochette. They did put a bit of pressure on the magistrates to postpone Rochette’s trial; when it resumed his lawyers tried to say the statute of limitations had expired, Silvio Berlusconi style, but it didn’t work. The debate in the Chamber was the usual calm Gallic affair: only one deputy threatened to challenge Prime Minister Doumergue to a duel.

“Boss” Barnes (or is it “Boss” Bill?), chairman of the NY Republican State Committee, sues William Anderson, the head of the NY Anti-Saloon League, for libel for calling him the “Boss of the Liquor End of the Republican Party.” He objects to the word boss, possibly because in NY it’s usually associated with Tammany, i.e., Democratic bosses? His suit claims that “boss” is “an odious and opprobrious epithet.”

The Post Office bans Margaret Sanger’s magazine The Woman Rebel from the US mails, for advocating birth control.

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