Sunday, July 31, 2016

Today -100: July 31, 1916: Are you a victim to optimism?

King Christian of Denmark thanks two schoolboys who saved him from drowning when his sailboat capsized. How do you reward schoolboys (whose age is not given)? Cigarette cases, of course.

Headline That Sounds Dirty But Isn’t of the Day -100:

The US sends Britain a note of protest over its blacklisting of some US companies under the Trading with the Enemy Act, which the note says is “inevitably and essentially inconsistent with the rights of the citizens of all nations not involved in the war.” Indeed, it is “inconsistent with that true justice, sincere amity, and impartial fairness which should characterize the dealing of friendly Governments with one another.”

DuPont is refusing to take any blame for the massive explosions yesterday, saying that once the munitions leave their factory, they’re someone else’s responsibility.

A new issue of the trench newspaper The Wipers Times (this issue called The Somme-Times) is out.

There was a young girl of the Somme,
 Who sat on a number five bomb,
   She thought ‘twas a dud ‘un,
 But it went off sudden–
 Her exit she made with aplomb!

To Minnie [As in the “moaning minnie,” the German trench mortars, Minenwerfer]

In days gone by some aeons ago
That name my youthful pulses stirred,
I thrilled whe’er she whispered low
Ran to her when her voice I heard.

Ah Minnie! how our feelings change,
For now I hear your voice with dread,
And hasten to get out of range
Ere you me on the landscape spread.

Your lightest whisper makes me thrill,
Your presence makes me hide my head,
Your voice can make me hasten still–
But ‘tis away from you instead.

You fickle jade! you traitorous minx!
We once exchanged love’s old sweet tales
Now where effulgent star-shell winks
Your raucous screech my ear assails.

No place is sacred, I declare,
Your manners most immodest are,
You force your blatant presence where
Maidens should be particular.

You uninvited do intrude,
You force an entrance to my couch,
Though if I’ve warning you’re about
I’ll not be there, for that I’ll vouch.

Name once most loved of all your sex,
Now hated with a loathing great,
When next my harassed soul you vex
You’ll get some back at any rate.

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Today -100: July 30, 1916: Of barge bangs, streetcar strikes, and wooden legs

Barges filled with high explosives blow up in New York Harbor in a series of explosions, probably started by a fire, in the middle of the night. They’re heard throughout much of the city and New Jersey and made more audible to many by the sudden absence of windows, thousands of them (the New York Plate Glass Insurance Company is fuuuuucked.) There’s also a lot of damage on Ellis Island.

In a street-car strike in Manhattan, thousands of strikers and others just enjoying a nice Saturday afternoon, attacking cars on the 3rd Avenue line and fighting cops, as was the custom.

There’s also a garment workers’ strike in the city. 200 Wobblies attack the offices of an Italian-language newspaper, Il Progresso Italo-Americano, which refused to give them space to call for the release of Carlo Tresca and other Wobblies charged with murder in Minnesota (Tresca, at least, will be released after being held 9 months without trial).

Frank Doring, an employee of an artificial limb factory in Massachusetts, was detained by British authorities whilst en route to France to establish a factory to manufacture wooden legs for wounded soldiers, when they discovered that he has German parents. They held him several weeks as a suspected spy before deporting him back to the US, where he commits suicide to draw attention to Britain being mean to him.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Today -100: July 29, 1916: Of fryatts, morgans, clemencies, and opium

Germany executes Charles Algernon Fryatt, a ferry captain for the British Great Eastern Railway. In March 1915 he attempted to ram a u-boat with his ferry. Last month the ferry was captured and Fryatt court-martialed by a German naval court (which they say they can do, rather than treat him as a prisoner of war, because he is not a member of the British military, even though at the time u-boats were attacking merchant ships without warning). Although Fryatt had destroyed his ship’s papers as it was being captured, he had gold watches he’d been given for that incident and an earlier one when he’d out-run a u-boat, and the watches were inscribed with the details.

France complains that 25,000 French people in German-occupied northern France, including girls as young as 16, have been forcibly transported to other regions to work in the fields.

The transfer tax appraisal of J.P. Morgan, who died in 1913, is filed, and the NYT helpfully lists everything he owned and its value ($78 million total).

The US Senate passes a resolution calling for clemency by the British government for Irish political prisoners, i.e., not to execute Roger Casement. The State Department mysteriously takes four days to pass it along to the British government, presenting it one hour after Casement’s execution.

All lawsuits resulting from the sinking of the Titanic in US courts are settled, for $665,000.

Britain bans imports of cocaine and opium.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Today -100: July 28, 1916: Rasputin lives!

I hadn’t noticed that the May 12th story that Rasputin had been assassinated had not been corrected. It is now. The Russian newspapers that reported it have been fined.

Samuel Gompers claims that the American Federation of Labor’s influence is what prevented US war with Mexico.

The San Francisco police arrest 6 in the bomb attack on the preparedness parade. If they’ve got the right people, it had nothing to do with preparedness but was intended to kill street car union leaders who had resisted calls for a strike.

When New York City teachers are absent, their pay is deposited in the pension fund. If they have a legitimate excuse, like illness or a death in the family, it’s supposed to be paid back to them. But for the last two years, the Board of Superintendents has failed to do that, because they decided that the pension fund needed the money.

Germany, eager to counter the reaction to its execution of Nurse Edith Cavell, points to a French military court condemning a woman to death as a spy, the infelicitously named Felice Pfaat. I haven’t been able to find any details of her alleged crimes, but she will be executed next month.

There’s a gun battle in North Dakota between IWW members and non-members. Something about harvest work.

There were 2,445,664 registered automobiles and other motorized vehicles in the US in 1915, one for every 44 people. Iowa had the most, proportionately, at 1 per 16, Alabama the least at 1 per 200.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Today -100: July 27, 1916: You bet your life I am

Charles Evans Hughes, asked if he favored preparedness, says “You bet your life I am,” scandalizing the NYT with his use of slang.

The Morning Post (London) endorses what it claims was the plan of the late Lord Kitchener to ban Germans from immigrating to Britain, naturalizing, or even becoming a shareholder of a British company for 21 years after the end of the war.

Evidently when Britain abolished public executions (1868), it only did so for murderers. So Sir Roger Casement’s execution might be legally required to be public.

The Irish Nationalists send a deputation to Asquith asking for Casement to be reprieved headed by someone named Arthur Lynch (MP for West Clare).

Actually, his name aside, Lynch is kind of perfect for this. He fought in the Boer War. On the Boer side. It was right after that that he was elected to Parliament. When he returned to the UK to take his seat, he was arrested, tried for treason, and sentenced to death. A year later he was let out of prison, then pardoned, then re-elected. During World War I, he raised an Irish battalion just as he had during the Boer War, although this time on the British side, and was made a colonel, the same rank the Boers gave him.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Today -100: July 26, 1916: It is your especial privilege to fight against the English

Kaiser Wilhelm goes to the Somme front and tells soldiers “It is your especial privilege to fight against the English,” who “led us to believe they were our friends when they were actually plotting our destruction.” And while he’s there...

Although I’m not sure that calling for victory following “continuance of the struggle until Germany’s enemies are conquered” really counts as a “peace sermon.”

The Germans fine the city of Brussels 5 million marks for celebrating the Belgian national festival.

New York City skyscrapers will henceforth be restricted in height to 2½ times the width of their frontage.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Today -100: July 25, 1916: Go and win her if you can

The US will buy the Danish West Indies for $25 million. In gold. Denmark, which acquired them in the 17th and 18th centuries, figures they just aren’t as much fun (or as profitable) since the slave trade ended. The US will rename them the US Virgin Islands. The US wants them because they’re close to the approach to the Panama Canal. No one asks the 27,000 inhabitants of the islands.

San Francisco District Attorney Charles Flickert says the bomb at the preparedness parade was placed by people (not that he knows who they are) who are part of a nation-wide movement against all organized government.

Sir Roger Casement’s appeal against his death sentence is refused. Pope Benedict asks for clemency for him.

After Irish Nationalists reluctantly accepted Lloyd George’s home rule plan, the government made a few little changes: making the exclusion of the 6 Ulster counties permanent, throwing Irish MPs out of the Imperial Parliament, that sort of thing. Irish Nationalist leader John Redmond objects in Parliament and Prime Minister Asquith threatens to resign and call a general election. That’s a direct threat to Redmond’s power, since his party would do badly at any election, but his MPs would likely be replaced by much less compromised and compromising ones who would be harder for Asquith to negotiate with, so it’s not much of a threat. And there are technical and legal reasons why an election would be difficult to carry out in wartime. Sir Edward Carson says the exclusion of Ulster isn’t that big a deal: “Then go and win her if you can. She can be won by good government.”

New York polio death count: 609. The feds have stepped in. New York City children will not be allowed to leave the state without city and federal certificates of health. Not that towns and cities will necessarily allow them in even if they escape the Big Apple.

We’re hearing now that a month ago a French pilot, Lt. Anselme Marchal, attempted to fly from France to Russia, with a mission to drop leaflets on Berlin. The NYT doesn’t give the whole text, something about the causes of the war and why the Allies are totally gonna win it, but it begins by saying, Hey we could have dropped bombs instead, aren’t you glad it’s just a leaflet. Marchal flew 800 miles, a record for non-stop flight, before he was forced by spark-plug failure to land in Austria-occupied Poland where he was captured. He will escape (on his fourth attempt) in February 1918.

I didn’t mention the Shark Week stories filling the NYT last week, but there were lots of shark sightings off Coney Island, Oyster Bay, and elsewhere. A letter in the NYT signed “Nativist” blames... the Germans. It seems the u-boats sinking all those ships have given sharks a taste for human flesh.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Today -100: July 24, 1916: Of supreme moral authority and secret bombs

The Vatican says that it is not neutral in the European war, it is impartial. Which is evidently better because neutrality is passive while impartiality “comprises constant manifestations of the most ardent affection by the Pontiff toward all his children, indiscriminately, but in a most impartial manner.” So given that impartiality he can’t be expected to criticize any given act of violence or cruelty because he might be basing it on partial information, and he needs to keep his supreme moral authority “intact,” just in case he ever needs it for something important.

There’s talk in Germany that they’ve developed a new secret bomb that can destroy London.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Today -100: July 23, 1916: Boy, they weren’t prepared for that

A bomb explodes at a preparedness parade in San Francisco, killing 6, including a Civil War vet. There was a warning sent to newspapers. Emma Goldman, in town lecturing, denies it was the anarchists. The SF district attorney will frame a couple of innocent radicals for it, as was the custom.

A “Women’s War Procession” in London features women in the uniforms of their new jobs substituting for men. It’s organized by the remnants of the Women’s Social and Political Union. The Daily Chronicle suggests, probably with good reason, that the government funded the parade. There are also banners calling for Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes to be appointed to the War Council. Hughes was recently in Britain on a visit and his blunt Aussie-style talk about the war impressed Christabel Pankhurst and a lot of others.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazanov is forced out. Sorry, he “retired... at his own request.” He made the mistake of proposing to offer Poland autonomy after the war (a Poland reuniting the parts Prussia, Russia and Austria divided amongst themselves in the 18th century).

One item that will be making the submarine Deutschland’s perilous return voyage of to Germany: a copy of Dr. Louis Dechmann’s
book The Dechmann Law of the Determination of Sex at Will, which he is sending to Kaiser Wilhelm. Dechmann breeds poultry including six-toed chickens, based on the “law of latent reserve energy,” because science.

Sweden says it will attack any submarine using its waters, and bans planes over-flying it.

Polio death count, New York City: 555. The towns and cities now banning New Yorkers are ignoring their Health Department certificates.

Seems like only a day (and 100 years) ago that former NY Governor William Sulzer was saying that he hadn’t even wanted the Prohibition Party nomination for president that they didn’t give him. And so it was. Now he accepts the nomination of the American Party.

Alice Paul announces that her Woman’s Party will campaign against anti-suffragists in the 12 states with women’s suffrage.

The NYT Sunday Magazine has an article by William Burns of the Burns Detective Agency on the “big American crime”: blackmail.  Especially in New York.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Today -100: July 22, 1916: Of sneaky Germans, hospital ships, ferrises, and enemy aliens

William Watson Rutherford, the Tory MP for Liverpool, questions the home secretary about Germans buying properties in Britain and installing emplacements for heavy guns aimed at railway lines and such, which they’re totally doing.

Russia says that since Turkey sunk a couple of Russian hospital ships, it is now free to likewise violate the Hague convention and attack Turkish hospital ships.

The Prohibition Party nominates Frank Hanly, former Republican governor of Indiana, for president, with Rev. Ira Landrith as his running mate. Hanly beats out former (impeached and removed from office) NY Governor William Sulzer. Sulzer says he’s not disappointed because he wasn’t really a candidate for the nomination. The party platform opposes war with Mexico.

Woodbridge Nathan Ferris (D) announces that he won’t run for re-election as governor of Michigan, despite having the best name of any of the 48 governors. He will be succeed by Albert Sleeper (R), who has... a name.

Italy will henceforth treat Germans in its borders as enemy aliens subject to internment and the seizure of their property even though Italy is not actually at war with Germany.

Republicans in the House introduce a resolution asking Pres. Wilson why he’s keeping militia on the Mexican border if the emergency is over and it is so fucking hot down there.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Today -100: July 21, 1916: Of ragamuffin mutinies and flemings

Headline of the Day -100:

Having not been properly equipped, members of the NY State Militia appear at war games in their underclothes and/or shoeless, and refuse to move out of sight of the governor. It turns out that there were uniforms in storage, but they weren’t being distributed until units were ordered to the Mexican border.

The Flemish People’s Party demands a division of Belgium into a Flemish and a Walloon state. Germany is rather transparently trying the divide-and-conquer thing.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Today -100: July 20, 1916: Who’s better for the Jews?

The US is not happy about the British blacklisting of certain US companies, branches of companies, and individuals. It may respond by prosecuting under anti-trust laws any US shipping companies that refuse to carry goods from blacklisted companies. The US considers the blacklist an interference with its rights, as for example when US ships doing business with South America are refused coal in British ports like Jamaica if they carry goods from blacklisted companies.

Germany’s Imperial Vice Chancellor and Secretary of the Interior Karl Helfferich says that when Germany occupied part of Poland (since retaken by Russia), it was much nicer to the Poles than the Russians ever were, including the Polish Jews. And introduced hygiene, as was the German custom.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Today -100: July 19, 1916: Of child labor, nations and God, moral turpitude, and shells

Woodrow Wilson is lobbying Congress for a child labor law, even though work on it might extend the current session and he’s said he won’t campaign until Congress adjourns. The bill would ban shipment across state lines of goods produced by child labor. Southern Democrats are strongly opposed (cotton mills employ lots of children).

Headline of the Day -100:

Well, many Germans have certainly gone to meet their Maker, if that’s what you mean.

Russia has evidently been told that it will get to keep both sides of the Dardanelles Strait.

Former President Cipriano Castro of Venezuela, is allowed into the US. Entry was initially denied by Ellis Island for moral turpitude, but it was overturned by Secretary of Labor William Wilson. He was also denied entry in 1913, because he wouldn’t answer questions – the moral turpitude thing was his supposed involvement in the murder of a political rival – but this time he was willing to answer questions – he didn’t do it, he says – so that’s good enough.

British munitions workers agree to give up their summer holidays, so the army can continue expending 500,000 shells a day in the Somme offensive.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Today -100: July 18, 1916: Of assassinations, blacklists, orphans and pigs, and shell shock

When Niš, Serbia was captured a few months ago, the Central Powers got hold of some of the Serbian State Archives, including the names of Serb officers supposedly involved in the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand. They checked all their prison camps and found one of them. He will be put on trial.

Britain will add c.75 American businesses and individuals to the Trading with the Enemy Act blacklist, for the first time. Mostly branches of German companies.

The case in which it was discovered that the NYPD was wiretapping priests who Mayor John Mitchel believes are conspiring against him reaches the courts, with a monsignor, a priest and two others charged with perjury and libel and/or conspiracy. Their lawyer shows Charities Commissioner Strong a pamphlet which purports to give the details of his investigations, and he finds just one error in it: “There was no proof before me that orphans and pigs did eat out of the same bowl.”

Headline of the Day -100:

So that’s okay then. Dr. Georges Dumas, who studies shell-shock for the army, says that French incidences are no higher proportionately than German ones.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Today -100: July 17, 1916: Of fortified dead, truces, polio, and modified congresses

Headline of the Day -100:

The Frankfurter Zeitung suggests that, since new Reichstag elections must be held in six months, it would be a good idea, in order to determine the nation’s feelings about what a peace should look like, a truce should be arranged so soldiers can return home to vote.

Polio death count, New York City: 386. But slowing, for whatever that’s worth.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Just a little off the tip.

That’s a congress of US Jews, to be held after the end of the European war to fight for the rights of Jews in other countries, among other things. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis leads a fight to prevent the congress being restricted to the single issue.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Today -100: July 16, 1916: Of progressives, honorable peaces, British hands, sour milk, headhunting, and haunted houses

After a lot of shouting, the New Jersey branch of the Progressive Party rejects the national party’s decision to endorse Charles Evans Hughes.

Something called the German National Committee was recently formed, with a minor prince at its head, as was the custom. Its purpose is to prepare Germans for the prospect of an “honorable peace,” i.e. one that comes from negotiation rather than the abject defeat and surrender of the enemy.

Italy breaks commercial relations with Germany (Italy is at war with Austria but not Germany, for the time being).

The US State Department rules that the submarine Deutschland is an unarmed civilian merchant vessel, so it will be allowed to leave port at Baltimore.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Grand Sherif of Mecca’s revolt against Turkish rule, and gosh I’m going to have to watch Lawrence of Arabia again, aren’t I? For research?

New Zealand’s House of Representatives votes 44-4 for conscription.

Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered phagocytes, to the snickering pleasure of generations of high school students, and made great contributions to immunology, dies at 71, despite drinking sour milk every day, which he thought would promote longevity. He also claimed to have cured diabetes and that he knew how to avoid the cancer “germ” (always boil your bananas and indeed eat no uncooked foods) and that women make crappy scientists, so, um, yeah.

With their British colonial masters distracted by the, you know, war, the natives of the Solomon Islands are resuming their old head-hunting ways.

A Kansas City jury rules that a family can break their lease because their house is haunted.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Today -100: July 15, 1916: Of sweeping scourges, bad discipline, bachelor justices, and race complications

Polio death count, New York City: 342. But it’s not growing exponentially or anything, which indicates, the Health Department says, “that the city was not in danger of a sweeping scourge that would wipe out child-life in all quarters.” So that’s good. The Health Department also points out that since the outbreak is largely confined to Brooklyn, it has the beneficial side-effect of preventing the existence of thousands of hipster great-grandchildren. Hoboken is stationing cops at every entrance to the city to turn back anyone trying to move there. I’ll just let that one sit there.

Major Gen. Wood denies that national guardsmen en route to the border aren’t provided sufficient food. He blames bad discipline. Nevertheless, more guardsmen leave their trains in Erie to raid a fruit stand and a bakery. NY Gov. Whitman rejects calls for a special session of the Legislature to provide more money for dependents, claiming it would be unconstitutional because the state constitution bans “gratuities.”

Woodrow Wilson nominates John Hessin Clarke to the Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by Charles Evans Hughes. Clarke is a federal district court judge in Ohio. The NYT notes that he is a bachelor, which is rare on the Supreme Court, although the odious James McReynolds is also a bachelor. He and Clarke will not be best buds.

The NYT is a little upset with the choice of Clarke because he is from Ohio, replacing a New Yorker and leaving the court without one, and as we know only a New Yorker has “familiarity with the course of large affairs, as it may be observed and studied here”.

Sen. John Works (R-California) (the R stands for Racist) wants legislation to exclude Asians, “not to tolerate further race complications on our soil by preventing immigration of all peoples not of the white race.”

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Today -100: July 14, 1916: How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada.

The Dada Manifesto is read out by Hugo Ball at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.

Polio death count, New York City: 311. However, Dr. S.J. Meltzer of the Rockefeller Institute recommends, based on some limited experiments on monkeys, injecting adrenaline into the spinal fluid of polio patients. So far he’s the only person with a “cure” for polio. The best that can be said of the adrenaline cure is that he probably didn’t kill anyone with it.

The NYC Department of Health is issuing certificates of health for children not believed to have been exposed to polio, in the hopes that other towns won’t turn them back with shouts of “Unclean! Unclean!” or put them in quarantine or whatever.

German radical leader Rosa Luxemburg is arrested. Again.

Annie Besant, the Theosophist who earlier this year helped found the All India Home Rule League, is barred from entering Bombay.

Bertrand Russell is fired from his rectorate in logic and principles of mathematics at Cambridge because he was convicted under the Defence of the Realm Act for a leaflet objecting to the prison term of a conscientious objector. The British government will use this conviction as a pretext for banning him traveling to the US to lecture at Harvard and elsewhere.

The US military’s Mexican campaign continues to reveal massive organizational ineptitude. Several hundred militiamen on the way from New York to the Mexican border, who evidently hadn’t been fed in 36 hours, detrain in Cleveland and raid grocery stores, stealing some hams, 200 watermelons, ale, chewing tobacco and other necessities, and coming into conflict with riot police. (The militia will deny that they weren’t fed).


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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Today -100: July 13, 1916: Pacifists explained

John Redmond, leader of the increasingly irrelevant Irish Nationalists, angrily accuses Lord Lansdowne of sabotaging negotiations, mostly by suggesting that the exclusion of Ulster from the Home Rule Parliament might be permanent.

The NYT has a letter from Dr. Stewart Paton, a neurobiology lecturer at Princeton, explaining what’s wrong with pacifists. People who oppose expanded military preparedness, he says, display “recognized symptoms of a form of intellectual myopia, which is the result of the limitations placed upon the normal field of vision by a dissociation, or disunion, of the personality.” And so on. “The idea of struggle, of war, is abhorrent, not primarily because the happiness and welfare of others are concerned, but because the ghosts of unsolved personal problems constantly force themselves upon their attention.” It’s like one of those annoying David Brooks columns. Wikipedia tells us that Dr. Paton was a eugenicist.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Today -100: July 12, 1916: Of polio and occupied Ireland

New York polio death toll = 270. The Department of Health is investigating pretty much everything dirty in the city, for instance closing 50 soda fountains. There are scattered cases in New Jersey, and Montclair orders children entering the city to undergo 3 weeks’ quarantine.

Charles Evans Hughes’s Campaign Committee balances Republicans and Progressives, leaving the Republican Old Guard in a small minority.

In the House of Lords, Lord Lansdowne explains the British government’s plans for ruling Ireland until the new Lloyd George agreement can be voted on and/or sabotaged by Parliament. The details of the plan are obviously less important than the 40,000 troops Lansdowne says will be needed to occupy Ireland to keep the natives in line.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Today -100: July 11, 1916: What makes Mexico suspicious of us is that she does not believe as yet that we want to serve her

The House of Representatives passes an emergency spending bill to cover the $300m in new spending for “preparedness” and Mexico. Income tax rates will be doubled, and there will be a surtax on high incomes, an inheritance tax, and a tax on munitions profits.

Woodrow Wilson tells the World’s Salesmanship Congress that “What makes Mexico suspicious of us is that she does not believe as yet that we want to serve her. She believes we want to possess her.” That pronoun ain’t helping.

Headline of the Day -100:

14 more polio deaths in NYC yesterday. Health Commissioner Haven Emerson says there is no reason for panicky alarm. That adjective ain’t helping.

Britain threatens the Netherlands with a cutoff of its cotton imports if it doesn’t end all exports of manufactured goods to other neutral countries, since goods that have been ostensibly exported to Switzerland and Romania have tended to find their way to Germany.

Prince Edward Albert, the future Edward VIII, is rumored, one assumes falsely, to be seeking the hand in marriage of Princess Yolanda of Italy. Who is 15, barely.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Today -100: July 10, 1916: Of polio, Rough Riders II, submarines, and Bull Moose

New York children were kept away from churches and Sunday school yesterday. NYC polio death toll = 225. They’re also doing a lot of street-cleaning, because they have no idea how polio is spread.

Theodore Roosevelt offers the nation a division of 20,000 volunteers to be used in a war with Mexico. He would be a major general. He also expects to be able to hand-pick soldiers from the regular army. And he’ll make Seth Bullock (you know, from Deadwood) an officer.

A giant German submarine, Deutschland, is coming into port in Baltimore. It’s a civilian sub, and it may be the first sub to cross the Atlantic. This voyage is a proof-of-concept for using submarines to break the British blockade. It’s carrying dyestuffs and mail, including official dispatches for the German embassy but, contrary to rumors, no message from Kaiser Wilhelm to Pres. Wilson. The voyage of the Deutschland will be celebrated in Germany for puttin’ one over on the Brits, and the publicity campaign will include a book by the captain,

but the sub made only more trip to the US, and its sister boat, the Bremen, will vanish mysteriously in September on its way to Virginia.

The Colorado Progressive Party decides not to endorse Hughes or to dissolve itself like so many other state branches have.

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Saturday, July 09, 2016

Today -100: July 9, 1916: Sadly, no actual goulash is fired from actual cannons

Germany is considering responding to Britain’s tightened economic blockade by cutting the rations of the 2 million British POWs it holds.

The traveling kitchens the German government is (inadequately) deploying to deal with the effects of that blockade are called “goulash cannons.”

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Friday, July 08, 2016

Today -100: July 8, 1916: Of negotiations, conscription, and polio

The US accepts Carranza’s proposal for negotiations, which is a face-saving delaying tactic for everyone, a way for Carranza to back down from his demand for US troops to leave his country. The talks will drag on for months, accomplishing nothing. Pershing’s troops won’t leave Mexico, which not surprisingly is Mexico’s prerequisite for agreement on anything else, but neither will they actively roam the countryside attempting to track down stray remnants of Villa’s band.

The ambassador to the US from the Belgian government-in-exile protests that Germany is conscripting Belgians who have lived for a period of time in Germany into the German Army to fight against Belgians, violating the Hague Convention.

The death toll in the New York polio epidemic is now 187. Children under 16 are banned from libraries and park sandboxes. People are being dragged into court on charges of having no lids on their garbage cans. Stray dogs and cats are being killed. In other words, they’re attacking anything and everything (immigrants! poor people! ethnic food!) that might conceivably transmit the disease. Health Commissioner Haven Emerson says the best prevention is soap and water, sunlight and fresh air, because why not.

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Thursday, July 07, 2016

Today -100: July 7, 1916: Must not make Captain Picard joke, must not make Captain Picard joke, must not make Captain Picard joke...

Lloyd George is appointed Secretary for War, replacing the drowned Lord Kitchener. Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey is made an earl, because evidently one of the 4 top jobs is supposed to be held by a member of the House of Lords, and Kitchener was that one. (Update: Grey will choose to be a viscount instead, because there’s already an Earl Grey.)

Charles Evans Hughes meets with suffragist and anti-suffrage delegations for 30 minutes each. Both express themselves satisfied with what he told them.

Married men and men with dependent parents will be allowed to leave the National Guards if they want. It was either that or pay actual money to support their families, and we can’t have that.

The Army’s man in charge of censoring news reports of the Mexican campaign: Douglas MacArthur.

The NAACP starts a $10,000 anti-lynching fund.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Today -100: July 6, 1916: We have from the beginning had no other motives than those based upon our right and our duty

The NYT has an editorial,

that captures American condescension towards Mexico in all its glory. Carranza’s greatest failing, it seems, was to underestimate the wonderfulness of the United States: “We have from the beginning had no other motives than those based upon our right and our duty. That Carranza should have so profoundly misunderstood us is perhaps not so strange – the Mexicans are not only suspicious of others, but they often seem to be incapable of understanding their own shortcomings.” Lucky they have you then.

Lloyd George’s plan for Home Rule is to take the MPs currently representing Ireland (excluding the 6 Ulster counties) and call them a Home Rule House of Commons. They’d do double duty in the Dublin and Westminster parliaments, which should be fine because the one in Dublin won’t be allowed to do much of anything anyway. Amusingly, this plan would mean that one Home Rule MP would be rabid anti-Home Ruler Sir Edward Carson, MP for Trinity College, Dublin (a seat elected by graduates of the university). There will also be a Senate, packed with Ulster Unionists. This arrangement will be a temporary one, expiring one year after the war ends.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Today -100: July 5, 1916: I don’t think Hallmark makes a thank-you card for that one

Chicago fires 68 teachers who are members of a union.

As the polio epidemic continues, wealthy New Yorkers are sending their children out of the city. There is no treatment for polio, so the patients just have to ride it out and hope for the best.

Prince Wilhelm of Germany, 2nd in line to the throne, is enrolled in the German Army as a lieutenant of the First Guard Infantry. On his tenth birthday.

Willy will still be wearing that uniform (well, probably a larger version) when he was, um, will be (Jesus with the verb tenses already!) killed in action in Belgium in 1940.

Carranza finally responds to Washington’s demand of June 25th that he make clear his attitude towards the US military presence in his country. Carranza’s note is reportedly mild enough in tone to reduce the possibility of a Mexican-American war.

On the 4th of July Woodrow Wilson dedicates the new American Federation of Labor building, though being Woodrow Wilson he says something pompous about having, as president, to serve all classes and not favor any one class, so he’s dedicating the building to common counsel and a common understanding. Mabel Vernon of Nevada, a women’s suffrage organizer, interrupts to ask why he opposes a national suffrage amendment. The police throw her out. Wilson and Vernon’s paths will cross again.

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Monday, July 04, 2016

Today -100: July 4, 1916: Of Wall Street witches, guardsmen and candy, polio, unchecked lawlessness, and bats

Hetty Green, the Witch of Wall Street and the richest woman in the world, dies
 at 81. She inherited a fortune (some of it quite possibly by forging a will), invested well in bonds and railroads and whatnot, and was legendarily, epically cheap. She leaves an estate worth upwards of $100,000,000.

US national guards are moving towards the Mexican border. Pennsylvania guardsmen arrive in Kansas starving, because they weren’t provided enough food for the train trip, while New York troops heading for Texas are being overfed by hospitable Southerners on the route. “At every stop since leaving Indianapolis a royal reception has been accorded the men, said reception too often consisting of too much candy, ice cream, and cake.”

There’s a polio (“infantile paralysis”) epidemic in New York City, with 72 new cases and 23 deaths in a 48-hour period. There will be a lot more. Movie theaters are ordered to admit no children under 16. Licenses have been revoked for Fourth of July celebrations in Brooklyn, where the outbreaks are most numerous. This polio epidemic will be followed by smaller, related outbreaks in succeeding summers, including the one in 1921 in which Franklin Roosevelt contracted it.

A Royal Commission into the Easter Rising blames former Chief Secretary for Ireland Augustine Birrell. It says the “main cause of the rebellion appears to be that lawlessness was allowed to grow up unchecked,” what with the volunteer forces of both sides openly drilling and so on.

Baseball news: Ty Cobb is suspended and fined for throwing his bat into the stands after striking out.

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Sunday, July 03, 2016

Today -100: July 3, 1916: What’s the Russian for “too little, too late?”

The Russian Duma passes a bill giving equal civil rights to peasants.

Supposedly, Carranza has refused to accept Pancho Villa’s surrender. Total bullshit, I’m pretty sure.

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Saturday, July 02, 2016

Today -100: July 2, 1916: Of evacuations, offensives, and peasant women

Secretary of State Lansing asks Congress for $300,000 more to evacuate Americans from Mexico. He seems to think they should all leave the country. The US Army has been commandeering munitions intended for the Europeans, including 250 machine guns (price: $450,000), and may take their barbed wire as well.

The French and British offensive along the Somme River captures 5 towns.

Headline of the Day -100:

They’re resisting preliminary steps, like surveying, for land re-division, suspecting that petty officials will use it to screw them over. They’ve been rioting wherever anything is tried.

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Today -100: July 1, 1916: A day of downs and ups

The Battle of the Somme begins. This is the big one, the offensive that will end the war, according to the British generals. They are so convinced that a one-week bombardment (1.6 million shells!) would cut the German barbed wire, destroy their positions, and demoralize the German soldiers who survived into instant surrender, that the British soldiers were ordered to advance at a walking pace towards the German trenches and they were weighed down with 60 or 70 pounds of equipment, including shovels so they could rebuild the trenches they’d be capturing and bury all the dead Germans. And after that, on to Berlin. The French generals were more sceptical about the plan.

In fact, the Somme offensive was so ambitious, conducted along an 18-mile front, that British artillery was too spread out to do that sort of damage (also a lot of the shells, mostly imported from the US, failed to go off). Also, the German trenches, some of the oldest of the war, were very well constructed – German trenches were always the best, French the worst. So the wire wasn’t cut, the positions weren’t destroyed, and the German soldiers sat out the bombardment relatively safe deep underground and are therefore well-positioned to use machine guns to take out wave after wave of soldiers, who did not stroll all the way across No Man’s Land or in many cases make it past their own trenches. For the British Army, July 1, 1916 was the bloodiest day of this or any other war, with almost 20,000 killed out of 120,000 casualties, 3% of the casualties suffered by the British for the whole war on just this day. Compare that to the 21,000 killed in the whole of the Boer War. German casualties were less than a tenth of that.

Gen. Douglas Haig, whose baby this was, wrote in his diary on July 2 (to be fair, the early reports he was receiving were innaccurate): “A day of downs and ups. I visit two casualty-clearing stations. They were very pleased at my visit, the wounded were in wonderful spirits. Reported today that total casualties are estimated at over 40,000. This cannot be considered severe in view of numbers engaged and the length of front of attack.”

The Battle of the Somme lasted nearly 5 months. British positions advanced, at most, 8 miles.

Carranza comments that Americans, including those in the Punitive Expedition, have killed 48 Mexicans despite the supposed lack of a state of war between the two countries.

Mexico denies a report in an Italian newspaper that Mexico and Germany signed an alliance.

Four more of the Columbus raiders are executed in New Mexico.

British sources (so take it for what it’s worth) say there are riots all over Germany in response to the imprisonment of Karl Liebknecht.

Sir Roger Casement appeals his conviction. King George revokes his knighthood.

This is an official film, The Battle of the Somme, released in Britain in August. Most of it’s real, although the brief scene of the soldiers going over the top is probably a re-enactment.

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