Saturday, November 30, 2013

Today -100: November 30, 1913: Of sabers in Zabern (almost poetical), and socialist senators

More anti-German-military sentiment is expressed in Zabern, Alsace. It started when some schoolboys jeered a group of army officers which included the lieutenant who told his men it was okay to shoot Alsatians. A crowd collected, troops from the barracks appeared, with drums and fixed bayonets and everything, and started arresting anyone they found on the streets, including two judges on their way home from court. These Alsatians were held overnight in the barracks’ basement, then turned over to the civil court, which promptly released them. “A number of young Lieutenants of the Ninety-ninth Infantry were seen to-day pursuing with drawn swords a youth who had shouted an insult to a man who was singing the German national anthem.”

In Flensburg, Schleswig, another part of the German Empire added by conquest, polar explorer Roald Amundsen has been forbidden from giving a lecture in Norwegian (which the Danish residents could presumably follow).

Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III has been getting along fairly well with the Socialists these days. He gives a cabinet post to a Socialist who in 1900 shouted “Death to the King” in parliament, referring to VE3’s father, who was assassinated three months later. The king has also named Socialists to the Senate for the first time, three of them.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Today -100: November 29, 1913: Of Mazalan, land swaps, strikes, and ear-boxing

The Mexican Constitutionalist rebels capture Mazatlan. Next stop: Chihuahua.

Not able to tap European money markets, Dictator Huerta may require banks to give him a forced loan.

Huerta also plans to go after every newspaper that reported the fall of Victoria. He hasn’t publicly admitted losing Juarez either.

Gen. Antonio Rábago, the military governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, commits suicide after losing the capital, Victoria, to the rebels.

Oh, and now Mexico has yellow fever, because of course it does.

Denmark is proposing a land swap: Germany would give Schleswig-Holstein (captured in the 1864 war) back to it, Denmark would give Greenland to the United States, the US would give Mindanao to Denmark, which would give it to Germany.

Indianapolis Mayor Samuel Shank met with the leaders of various unions and demanded a promise that there would be no more strikes during his period in office. They said no, so he has resigned. That’ll show them. (A detail I’d missed about the strike: the mayor had objected to cops being used to protect scabs. 31 cops refused orders to do so and were prosecuted, but were acquitted.)

The General Electric strike in Schenectady is over. Workers will work part-time rather than be laid off, and the two union organizers who were fired will be re-hired.

A German lawyer boxes the ears of an army lieutenant who he found in the company of his stenographer, and there was a duel, and... But here’s my point: no one boxes anyone’s ears anymore. Or do they? what is boxing someone’s ears, exactly?

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today -100: November 28, 1913: Of lost turkeys, passive resistance, “clergywomen,” Lewis guns, snuff, and eugenic marriages

Headline of the Day -100: “Shipwrecked Men Lose Their Turkey.” The steamship Christopher arrives in Brooklyn, carrying six seamen rescued from the schooner Brookline, which was wrecked off Barbados. The ones who “lose their turkey” are five whose citizenship papers were lost in the mishap and were not permitted to land and thus went without Thanksgiving dinner.

“Lose their turkey” would be a good euphemism for something. Suggestions in comments.

A league is formed
in China to prevent the adoption of Confucianism as the state religion.

British Prime Minister Asquith has decided not to exclude Northern Ireland from Irish Home Rule after all.

The Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, comes out in support of the passive resistance campaign of Indians in Natal, South Africa against the pass laws. The violence against Indian protesters in South Africa was beginning to rouse anti-imperial feelings in India. Hardinge took this position without clearing it with London, which was not best pleased.

Mexican government troops retreat from Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas. “It is reported here that the rebels carried away trainloads of loot and many women.”

Headline Scare Quotes of the Day -100: “TO ADMIT "CLERGYWOMEN."; Synod of Canton of Neuchatel Decides in Favor of Innovation.”

“Wonderful” Headline of the Day -100: “A Wonderful New Gun.” The Lewis Automatic Machine Gun. It can fire 800 rounds a minute. Swell.

The North Dakota Supreme Court upholds the state’s ban on snuff.

Colorado’s Gov. Elias Ammons hosts a meeting of coal mine owners and the leaders of the striking miners. No agreement is reached, and the owners’ seeming willingness to relent on issues relating to company stores, checks on coal weight (miners being paid per pound), etc leaves the governor with the impression that the miners were being unreasonable because the only thing the owners were adamant against considering was recognition of the union. The governor will now tilt increasingly toward the owners, leading inexorably (spoiler alert) to the Ludlow Massacre.

The LAT summarizes states’ eugenics laws. Pennsylvania, for example, requires applicants for marriage licenses to swear that they are not imbeciles. In 3 states a marriage is invalid if one of the parties is drunk. In Delaware the child of a person who was insane before the child was born cannot marry. In Utah, epileptic women may marry only after the age of 45. Marriages of people with VD are illegal in just 5 states.

A Mrs. L. Brackett Bishop of Chicago plans to adopt 15 babies from 15 different races (this is the early-20th-century definition of race, so it includes a German, a Scandinavian, an Irish, and several South American types as well as black, Amerindian, Malay, Chinese and Japanese).

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today -100: November 27, 1913: Of pardons, plagues, luggage, peace conferences, and breach of promise

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease pardons and paroles 100 convicts for Thanksgiving, including 56 convicted murderers. Two days later one of them, who had served 3 years for murder, shoots a man. Another of the killers issued a pardon turned out to have already escaped from a chain gang two months ago.

There’s a bubonic plague outbreak in Ecuador’s rural regions, which the government is trying to hush up.

Ousted Nicaraguan president José Zelaya is arrested in a New York hotel. Evidently didn’t flee to Canada after all. And man he sucks as a fugitive: when you flee from one hotel because the cops are on the way, you don’t forward your luggage to another hotel.

The third international Peace Conference might have to be postponed from 1915 until 1916 or 1917. No rush, guys.

Jennie Carter of Wakefield, Massachusetts, sues the estate of Frank Sherburne for breach of promise of marriage. He broke their engagement by committing suicide. Tacky, Jennie, tacky.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today -100: November 26, 1913: Of wireless, espionage bureaux, obedient wives, and full and disgraceful retreats

For the first time, train passengers (on the Lackawanna Railroad) are able to read the current news, delivered by wireless radio (or Wi-Choo, as it was called)(well, as it should have been called). “To think we didn’t have it for the World Series,” said one passenger.

Switzerland uncovers “an extensive and cleverly organized international military espionage bureau” in Geneva run by a French ex-army captain, Larguier. Larguier has been ordered to leave the country and now must decide, depending on which of Switzerland’s four borders he exits by, which country will have the privilege of arresting him.

Jessie Woodrow Wilson, the president’s daughter (aka “the hot one”), marries Francis Bowes Sayre, a lawyer, in the White House. She actually insisted on including the word “obedient” in her vows.

The Mexican rebels are besieging Tuxpan, a town important to the oil industry. Rebels are demanding that (foreign) oil companies pay taxes to them and not to the Huerta regime. In Juarez, Pancho Villa says “The Federals are in full and disgraceful retreat.” And they are. Villa’s men are executing captured Federales.

14,000 General Electric employees go on strike in Schenectady after two union organizers are fired. Presumably they wanted to get the strike in while they still had a sympathetic Socialist mayor, George Lunn (his term expires at the end of the year).

NYC has police phone boxes (which are not bigger on the inside) for cops on the beat to call their precinct houses, but precincts have no way of contacting patrolling officers. But now, the 23rd Precinct will experiment with signal boxes on fixed posts, which during the day will ring until a cop answers and at night will flash a green light.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Today -100: November 25, 1913: Of Juarez, provisional detentions, and missing parks commissioners

The Mexican Army starts a big military operation to retake Juarez. Pancho Villa is trying to capture Gen. José y Salazar alive, so he can execute him.

The US attorney general issues a warrant for the former president of Nicaragua, José Zelaya, who was ousted in a coup that the Taft administration and the United Fruit Company supported, for the execution of two American mercenaries caught laying mines to blow up government ships. Zelaya heard the news and quickly vacated his rooms at the Waldorf-Astoria for parts unknown. (Update: the next day, the NYT reported rumors that Zelaya was now in Canada, and it now claimed that the warrant was actually for a “provisional detention” while waiting for an extradition request from Nicaragua for the killing of two entirely different people.)

NYC Parks Commissioner Charles Stover went on vacation well over a month ago and then vanished, although he did send checks covering all his outstanding bills. His friends are claiming it’s probably amnesia caused by a blow to the head or grief over the death of Mayor Gaynor, and they have lobbied Pathé to show his picture in their weekly newsreel, which plays in 10,000 movie houses.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Today -100: November 24, 1913: Of POWs, rubber horrors, and horse’s heads

Bulgaria claims that Greece is refusing to release prisoners of war from the Balkan Wars.

Headline of the Day -100: “Rubber Horrors Stir British Press.” The treatment of workers on rubber plantations in Brazil.

How They Died 100 Years Ago: Headline: “DIES OF FRIGHT IN AUTO.; Car Hits Wagon and Horse's Head Brushes Mrs. Walker's Face.” Just 34, too.

US Army Chief of Staff Major Gen. Leonard Wood falls off his horse.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Today -100: November 23, 1913: Banned in Chicago

Just 50 years until my coverage of the Kennedy assassination, in which I will reveal the true extent of the conspiracy.

Pancho Villa dynamites two Federal troop trains on their way to Juarez, as was the custom.

The National Council of Women holds a screening of movies which were banned in Chicago after being passed in NY. For example, there was “The Old Swimming Hole,” which featured black children splashing about in the water without bathing suits, and a film with a woman toe-dancing, whatever that is, and a film of Filipino children eating what’s evidently dog. Others featured criminal acts, and you wouldn’t want to teach youths how to commit crimes.

Impeached-and-ousted NY Gov. Sulzer starts his lecture tour with a talk entitled “The Treason of Tammany,” with a small audience, which doesn’t bode well for his finances (I was never clear what happened to all those campaign donations that made their way into his personal accounts; he couldn’t have gambled it all away on the stock market).

For those keeping score, in the football season just finished there were 14 deaths and 175 injuries. 2 of those killed were college players, one of whom, Edward Morrissey of St. Ambrose, died from blood poisoning after his leg was broken. Football was dangerous, but so was early 20th-century medicine.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Don’t mess with Texas, it’s already enough of a mess

Wednesday the NYT ran a story on p.A15 on how Dallas’s hate-filled political culture before the Kennedy assassination has changed in 50 years.

Aaaand right next to it is a story about the Supreme Court allowing the Texas abortion law to stand.

Just saying.

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Today -100: November 22, 1913: Of offended multitudes, chalk, and imps

New Year’s Day receptions at the White House were kind of a thing, “the one chance of the year,” the LA Times says, “for all people, irrespective of race, religion or color, to see the inside of the executive mansion, and to shake hands with the President.” Theodore Roosevelt set a record by shaking 8,510 people’s hands. Wilson, however, is calling off this hallowed tradition for 1914, in part because he plans on taking a vacation, in part because he doesn’t want to spend several days afterwards with his hand in a bucket of ice. Or, as the LA Times headline puts it, “Wilson Offends the Multitude.”

Lucy Burns is fined $1 for chalking “Votes for women” on the sidewalks outside the White House. “America’s first militant,” the LA Times calls her.

British suffragettes allegedly burn a lumber yard; in alleged retaliation a suffrage office in Oxford is wrecked and all its furniture and pamphlets and whatnot thrown into the street, as was the custom.

The IWW is trying to start another textiles strike in Paterson, NJ, demanding a nine-hour day.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Human Body Full of Imps.” According to Dr. James J. Hyslop, “one of the foremost psychic authorities in the world.” Oh, and there are good imps and bad imps.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Today -100: November 21, 1913: Long live the defender of our national dignity!

Huerta opens the new Congress, even though the US told him not to. He is greeted by a cheer of “Long live the defender of our national dignity!” The Catholic Party boycotts the opening. Huerta’s staff wore side arms (does that include guns here, or just swords?), which is illegal in the House. Huerta explained that he’s got everything under control and that he had to dissolve the old Congress because they were all traitors.

The two brothers of Mexico’s late Pres. Madero, arrested and then let out on bail, have taken refuge in the American consulate. Gen. Maas demands their return.

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels says that the US army currently has 17 airplanes, and 24 aviators (spoiler alert: two will die in a crash next week), while the Navy has 4 hydroplanes and 3 flying boats. He wants more. He says aviation will limit the duration and scope of wars.

Rep. Robert Thomas (D-KY) pleads with Congress, which has been in session an unusually long time, to adjourn so he can collect his mileage allowance to pay off his creditors.

In one of her speeches in New York, Emmeline Pankhurst said that white slavery is “more awful” than negro slavery ever was.

While the Kiev ritual murder trial was going on, Jacob Adler was performing a play of the story in New York, which he amended every day as events unfolded.

The Vatican says the tango is an immoral dance, forbidden to Catholics.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today -100: November 20, 1913: Of moral suasion, and firing squads

Headline of the Day -100: “Huerta Scoffs at America’s ‘Moral Suasion.’” He thinks Woodrow Wilson’s threats and demands are a bluff. For good reason.

Huerta orders the arrest of a Supreme Court judge for “giving out false information,” evidently information about who did or did not capture some town.

Constitutionalist leader Gen. Venustiano Carranza breaks off talks with Wilson’s envoy, journalist William Bayard Hale, until the US recognizes the rebels as the legitimate government of Mexico. Near as I can tell, Hale came with demands that the Constitutionalists stop fighting the government and submit to an election (during a civil war? organized by whom?) and demanded personal negotiations with Carranza and only with Carranza. Carranza wants US recognition but not a set of high-handed (and unfeasible) demands. Wilson wants to aid the rebels, I think, but also wants to call the shots, and the news about Pancho Villa executing prisoners of war in Juarez isn’t helping anything either. The US will now go back to passively watching events.

The LAT says that Pancho Villa has telegraphed Carranza that only a dozen men were executed in Juarez. So that’s okay then.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Today -100: November 19, 1913: Of blockades, badgers and towers, and slashing critics

Secretary of State Bryan denies that the US plans to blockade Mexican ports. People are beginning to wonder if the Wilson Administration has any plans to enforce the demands and ultimata it keeps making.

Name of the Day -100: Rear Admiral Badger.

The New Jersey Supreme Court invalidates a law for the sterilization of criminals, the feeble-minded and, in this particular case, epileptics.

Oh, spoke too soon: New Name of the Day -100: Charlemagne Tower III, whose wife is suing his father, Charlemagne Tower II, the former US ambassador to Austria, Russia, and Germany, for $200,000 for alienating III’s affections.

Soldiers are being sent to coerce the Navajos into giving up eight horse-thieves currently hiding out on Beautiful Mountain, New Mexico.

Headline of the Day -100: “Critics Slash Shaw Play.” I’m absolutely not going to read that article, because I prefer to imagine that critics were feverishly churning out Major Barbara/Mrs. Warren slash fic.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Caption Contest

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Today -100: November 18, 1913: Of racism in Natal, Panama and baseball, heckling, forced loans, and tango teas

Indians in Natal, South Africa, have called a general strike, and are burning sugar plantations. This is a campaign, led in part by a lawyer named Mohandas Gandhi (not the burning sugar plantations part, presumably), against Natal province’s law requiring Indians to register with the government (a precursor to apartheid-era pass laws). The protests have been going on for a while, but the NYT & LAT have just found out about them. Gandhi was arrested for leading a march from Natal into Transvaal, illegally crossing the state border without prior registration. There have also been strikes of Indian coal miners and sugar plantation workers.

Wilson’s special envoy John Lind sends a note to Huerta threatening to leave Mexico City if Huerta does not respond favorably to the US’s demand that the newly “elected” Congress not be convened. The only person in the Mexican cabinet favorable to negotiating with the US was Interior Minister Manuel Garza Aldape. I say “was” because Huerta fired him and put him on a ship bound for Europe. (Update: Reporters catch up to Aldape on a stop-over in Havana. He claims there was no quarrel, he’s just going to France as ambassador.)

British suffragettes, who should really learn to pick their fights better, disrupt and heckle a No Conscription meeting in Sheffield being addressed by Philip Snowden, Labour MP and one of the best friends women’s suffrage has in Parliament (his hot wife Ethel is also a prominent suffragist). The meeting has to be abandoned. It says something about working-class culture that the attendees, although unable to hear the speakers they’d come to hear, were annoyed at the chairman for calling in the police.

75 suffragists from New Jersey, who did not have an appointment, force their way into the executive office of the White House to see Pres. Wilson. He agrees to see them and tells them the question of a Constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage was “under consideration” and there may even be a commission. They thank him as if he’d just agreed to something.

Pancho Villa extracts a $100,000 “loan” from banks in Juarez, promising they’ll be paid back if the revolt is successful.

All Chinese-owned businesses in Panama go on strike to protest the racist head-tax.

Kaiser Wilhelm bans military officers dancing the tango whilst in uniform. His dislike of the dance is not shared by German high society; for example, Countess Schwerin recently held a “tango tea.”

A Colored National Baseball League of the United States has been incorporated.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Today -100: November 17, 1913: Of burning ships and firing squads

The Balmes pulls into port in Bermuda, its cargo still on fire.

Pancho Villa’s forces are merrily executing Federal prisoners in Juarez.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Today -100: November 16, 1913: Am on fire, require help

The new prefect of the Paris police replaces the képi (those hats, flat on top, you know the ones) with proper helmets, copper in the winter, cork in the summer.

In 1913, 13 new states have passed laws allowing the use of prison labor on roads. So now most states use convicts. In some states, such as West Virginia, even unconvicted prisoners awaiting trial can be so employed; if acquitted, they get 50¢ for each day they worked.

103 passengers are rescued from the Spanish steamship Balmes after a fire broke out in the mid-Atlantic. The Cunard liner Pannonia heard its wireless signal “Am on fire, require help.” The crew of the Balmes stayed on board and continued sailing for port in Bermuda in convoy with the Pannonia – while its cargo was still on fire. I guess we’ll see how that worked for them.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

That's on us

Yesterday, Obama spoke about the ObamaCareTron3000 failures. (And yes, it would help if I actually posted these things after writing them).

But first, he talked about last week’s typhoon in the Philippines:

IN THE REPUBLICAN RESPONSE, TED CRUZ DENIES THAT LIFE IS FRAGILE, SO WHY WOULD ANYONE NEED HEALTH INSURANCE?: “It’s a heartbreaking reminder of how fragile life is, and among the dead are several Americans.” Wait, several Americans? Does that mean we have to pay attention now?

TED CRUZ DENIES THAT THIS IS ONE OF OUR CORE PRINCIPLES: “One of our core principles is, when friends are in trouble, America helps.”

Obama admitted that “the rollout has been rough so far.”

SO WE’RE DOOMED: “Doing more will require work with Congress.”

TOTALLY DOOMED: “We can always make this law work better.”

IF I HAD HUMAN EMOTIONS: “And I understand why folks are frustrated. I would be, too.”

EXCEPT OUR I.T. PEOPLE, OBVIOUSLY: “But we always knew that these marketplaces... that that was going to be complicated and everybody was going to be paying a lot of attention to it.”

He admits that the “If you like your insurance plan you can keep it” thing “ended up not being accurate.” Actually, it pretty much started up not being accurate and then continued not being accurate. If the ACA didn’t include regulation of insurance plans, and if it forced insurance companies to continue offering plans against their wills, and if it didn’t exempt smaller businesses from the obligation to provide insurance for their employees, then it might have been accurate. “We put a grandfather clause into the law, but it was insufficient.” Fucking grandfathers, always letting us down. And being racist.

He says that sure some insurance companies are hiking rates by 30% or dropping prescription drug coverage, “But that’s in the nature of the market that existed earlier.” Ah, so you’re saying the ACA hasn’t failed, it was simply never intended to deal with the ways insurance companies find to screw us over. I for one feel much better about Obamacare now.

But just in case you think Obama can’t do anything right, there’s one area where he crows that he’s completely crushing it: the quality of life of Iranians. “Iran’s economy has been crippled. They had a minus 5 percent growth rate last year. Their currency plummeted. They’re having significant problems in just the day-to-day economy on the ground in Iran.” And we as a nation can all be proud of that.

FAIR TO SAY: “And I think it’s fair to say that we have a pretty good track record of working with folks on technology and IT from our campaign where, both in 2008 and 2012, we did a pretty darn good job on that.” So... you’re saying... if it’s important to you, you get it right?

At one point, he went on about the decision to require seatbelts in new cars. “Well, the problem with the grandfather clause that we put in place is it’s almost like we said to folks, you got to buy a new car, even if you can’t afford it right now. And sooner or later, folks are going to start trading in their old cars. But we don’t need -- if their life circumstance is such where, for now at least, they want to keep the old car, even if the new car is better, we should be able to give them that option.” So we’re waiting for the transmission to go out on crappy insurance plans? What becomes clear about his announced “fix” of grandfathering in more policies is that he thinks people are utter idiots for keeping those policies and that he’s only letting them because he over-promised/lied when he was selling ACA. He may well be right, but that tone of contempt will not go over well.

On immigration reform: “But my working assumption is people should want to do the right thing.” So he’s learned nothing.

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Today -100: November 15, 1913: In the jungle, the mighty jungle...

One of the Mexicans who tried to assassinate Felix Díaz in Havana is trying to have him charged with attempted homicide, i.e., shooting at the guy who tried to stab him.

At the British Tory party’s annual conference, a motion for women’s suffrage is wrecked by the acceptance of an amendment making it conditional on a referendum. The conference also committed Tory MPs to repeal the recent adoption of payment for MPs.

Questionable Headline of the Day -100: “Moros Want Our Rule.” Mindanao chiefs tell the US governor-general of the Philippines that they’d rather have an American provincial governor than a Filipino (note: Moros are not ethnic Filipinos).

Benjamin Fowler, who works on the D.C. street cars, is fined $5 for blowing past a cop who was signaling him to stop. Nearly hit President Wilson’s automobile. With President Wilson in it. Oops.

Headline of the Day -100: “$17,000 FOR SONG TO LIONS.” Emmy Destinn, a soprano with the Met, gets $12,000 to sing in a lion cage for a movie, plus $5,000 for a life insurance policy. The article fails to say what exactly they wanted her to sing to lions in a silent movie, but I’m sure it was totally worth it.

(I’ve been listening to Destinn sing Il Travotore while writing this, and she didn’t suck.)

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Today -100: November 14, 1913: Of hide and seek and petulant schoolmasters

Headline of the Day -100: “Huerta Spent Day in Hiding.” Leading to hopeful rumors that he had gotten out while the gettin’ was good, but it actually sounds like he was just trying to avoid taking receipt of a message from the US government that special envoy Lind was trying to deliver (he finally leaves it with Huerta’s secretary).

The LA Times, under the headline “Mexico May Declare War,” editorializes that if Woodrow Wilson wanted to force Mexico to do such a thing, he would, as he is in fact doing, meddle with its government, interfere with its attempts to establish order, and encourage the rebels. “President Wilson evidently needs some one to inform him that he was not elected to be ruler of Mexico, or to dictate to that country.” (Of course the last person who was actually elected to be ruler of Mexico was murdered presumably on Huerta’s orders). They go on to call Wilson “a petulant schoolmaster”.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today -100: November 13, 1913: Of humdrum, respectable sedition, floggings, and mittens

British PM Asquith orders the release of Jim Larkin, leader of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, who was sentenced to 7 months for “seditious language” during the Dublin strike/lockout. The government’s continued refusal to arrest Ulster Protestant leaders who are using genuinely seditious language (or the Tory party leaders who support them) made the Larkin prosecution look even more like persecution. (Update: Violet Asquith, daughter of the prime minister, makes that very point in a speech tomorrow -100: “We may all agree now that sedition is a rather medieval offense, especially now that Sir Edward Carson, with his law-abiding demonstrations of it, has shorn off its last shred of glamour and brought it down to the level of the most humdrum respectability.”)

US Attorney General James C. McReynolds says he can’t stop Delaware flogging prisoners, since the 8th Amendment doesn’t apply to the states.

Headline of the Day -100: “Dr. Tanner Gets Mitten.” That was supposed to be smitten, I can only assume. Dr. Henry S. Tanner of Los Angeles, the “champion faster of the world” (he fasted in public for 40 days in 1880) sends an offer of marriage to Emmeline Pankhurst, who is not amused. Or mitten.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today -100: November 12, 1913: Of insulted officials, racist head taxes, Cossacks, and strongly worded remonstrances

A businessman in Breslau, Germany is sentenced to two weeks in prison for “a most serious insult to an official,” i.e., staring at a cop.

Panama will force every Chinese person to pay a $250 head tax within 72 hours or expel them from the country.

Following the ritual murder trial acquittal, there have been no pogroms yet in Kiev, which is being patrolled by Cossacks with orders to suppress any disturbances with extreme prejudice, and who knew Jews would ever be thankful for the presence of Cossacks?

The Russian Duma rejects a motion for equal civil rights for Jews, 172-92.

Big earthquake in Abancay, Peru.

Punch (click for larger)

Huerta: “What have we here?”

Eagle with a hat: “That, Sir, is another strongly worded remonstrance.”

Huerta: “No use for it. I hoped it was going to be an ultimatum.”

(It is anticipated that a definite threat of armed intervention on the part of the United States would determine all factions in Mexico to unite in the common cause of national independence.)

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Today -100: November 11, 1913: Not guilty

Mendel Beilis is acquitted of killing that kid in Kiev. The jury deliberated just two hours. Anti-Semites are trying to gin up mobs for a nice celebratory pogrom by claiming the Jews bought the verdict.

Beilis will decide that the better part of valor is getting the fuck out of Russia before some crazy anti-Semite kills him. By the end of the year he’ll be in Palestine. He will later make his way to New York, where he will publish a book called... wait for it... The Story of My Sufferings, in 1926. I saw a signed copy for sale at for $550. Who collects that sort of thing?

Congress and Pres. Wilson are fighting over how many regional banks the Federal Reserve will have. It makes me sleepy just to type that sentence. Let us never speak of this again.

William Sulzer demands his salary as governor for October, saying he was illegally impeached and is in fact still governor.

Headline of the Day -100: “Wilson Plans to Starve Out Huerta; He Sounds Powers To Stop All Loans.”

The New Jersey Supreme Court overturns the convictions of Big Bill Haywood and two other IWW leaders for actions during the Paterson silk strike. “The court held that the mere fact that a person walking along a public street in a peaceable manner was followed by a crowd was not sufficient to justify his conviction of being a disorderly person.”

John Richard Archer is elected mayor by the borough council of Battersea (London), who thinks he’s the first black mayor in the UK (actually the first one seems to have been one Allan Glaisyer Minns, mayor of a small Norfolk town in 1904-6).

An Italian anarchist is arrested in Switzerland for supposedly masterminding a plot to assassinate the emperors of both Germany and Austria.

The news reaches the residents of Zabern, Alsace that last month Lt. Gunther Freiherr von Forstner encouraged his soldiers to shoot any Alsatian who bothered them. Zabernians besiege the Officers’ Club, but are fought off by soldiers with fixed bayonets.

Anthony Comstock threatens the employees of Alva Belmont’s women’s suffrage hq in New York with arrest for selling Christabel Pankhurst’s book about venereal disease, Plain Fact About a Great Evil. He told Belmont he wouldn’t arrest her because of her social position, but would go after the working-class women who sold it. He also told her that he has always been governed by the influence of his mother, who died when he was 5. He has, of course, not read the book he wants to ban.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Today -100: November 10, 1913: Of pacifications, persecutions, and citizens

Mexican dictator Huerta sends a note to all the embassies saying that if the new Congress rules that there was insufficient turnout for the presidential elections to be valid under the constitution, as is certainly the case because of the, you know, civil war, Huerta will “continue exerting himself for the pacification of the country” so that the next elections will be better.

Russia’s Court of Appeals orders the prosecution of 120 St. Petersburg lawyers who signed a petition protesting the Kiev ritual murder trial fiasco.

Ousted NY Gov. William Sulzer, in a letter read out at the People’s Forum, whatever that might be, says the Kiev trial is an act of persecution and, hey, you know what else was an act of persecution? my impeachment trial. Totally the same thing.

I occasionally run into stories of judges refusing US citizenship (the naturalization process was highly decentralized in 1913) to socialists or anarchists, but now a North Dakota judge refuses it to someone because he works in the liquor trade.

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

Today -100: November 9, 1913: Was Oscar Wilde was the Edwardian Elvis?

Huerta says he has no plans to resign as president of Mexico. Why, there’s no one to whom he could present a resignation, since he ordered the National Assembly dissolved and many of its members imprisoned. The logic is impeccable.

Beilis’s lawyer in the Kiev ritual murder trial says that it’s the Jewish religion on trial. A judge interrupts to say no it isn’t, it’s “a question of fanatical acts.” The lawyer responds that in that case, the court wasted three days analyzing Jewish religious teachings.

The German kaiser’s brother, Prince Henry of Prussia, patents what sounds like some sort of windshield wiper. (I do know that the windshield wiper was invented by Mary Anderson in 1903, but by the time the idea caught on her patent had expired and she made no money off it).

George Bernard Shaw says that he will only do a speaking tour of the United States on the condition that he speak on the same platform as the kaiser.

The Daily Mail (London) is spreading the rumor that Christabel Pankhurst, running the WSPU’s program of militant suffragism from Paris, is staying there because she’s secretly... married.

The NYT Sunday Magazine section has another article about how Martians totally exist, because canals.

In Delaware, six prisoners convicted of robbery, 2 white and 4 black, are whipped. Delaware’s last flogging was in 1952, according to the internetz.

The NYT is actually, I mean ACTUALLY, investigating rumors that Oscar Wilde faked his own death. Its reporter finds that his doctor, priest and the keeper of the Paris hotel where he lived have all... disappeared. And no one seems to have seen the body.

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Friday, November 08, 2013

British war criminals are so much more literate than ours

A marine was convicted today of murdering an Afghan prisoner of war, saying: “There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil, you cunt.” Crimes against humanity in iambic fooking pentameter, innit?

But, insists Sir General General Sir Michael Jackson, of the 100,000 British troops deployed to war zones in the last decade, only this guy ever committed murder (if you ignore the other soldier convicted of the lesser offense of “inhumane treatment” for killing a POW). So that’s okay then.

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Rekindled in its strength

John Kerry has been on a sucking-up-to-dictators tour of the Middle East, as is the custom. In Saudi Arabia, he was asked about the ban on women driving and said, “it’s up to Saudi Arabia to make its own decision about its own social structure and other choices, and timing.” Considering who is in charge of decision-making in Saudi Arabia (hint: not the people of Saudi Arabia), this is an interesting endorsement of the legitimacy of dictators suppressing their people. Decision about its own social structure, indeed. Kerry claimed, “There’s a healthy debate in Saudi Arabia about this issue, but I think that debate is best left to the Saudi Arabian people who are engaged in it.” Yeah, nothing says healthy debate, like Saudi Arabia.

In Cairo, he said of Egypt, “the way it will unfold is the democracy is rekindled in its strength.” Rekindled? The Egyptian Army already pretty much set it on fire.

To read the transcript is to be reminded what a sucky speaker Kerry is: “They [the Egyptian people] have really demonstrated a significant resolve as they work to see their transition to meet their aspirations as they’ve tried to make that work.”

He keeps referring to the alleged path back to democracy as a roadmap, which is not reassuring to anyone familiar with Egypt’s roads or its drivers.

He says Israeli settlements “have disturbed people’s perceptions of whether or not people are serious and we’re moving in the right direction.” Yeah, because the only problem with settlements is people’s perceptions. You know what else is disturbed by settlements? The Palestinian families who are thrown out of their homes.

He says that Bashar al-Assad “cannot be part of that because of the difficulties of his ever representing all of the people of Syria.” He said that right after sucking up to the coup regime in Egypt, and right before going to the hereditary monarchy of Saudi Arabia.

“The United States is the largest single donor to the humanitarian crisis in Syria”. Um, right.

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Today -100: November 8, 1913: Of evolutionists, oil, ritual murders, lynchings, and harmonicas

Obituary of the Day -100: Alfred Russel Wallace, explorer, zoologist, geographer, socialist, spiritualist, and of course, the other guy who came up with the theory of evolution, dead at 90.

Mexican dictator Huerta’s tactic seems to be to prevent European countries backing US demands for his resignation by buying them off with oil and railroad concessions and the like, hoping to delay any concrete US action (invasion, arming the rebels) until next month, when he is expecting major arms shipments to arrive. Meanwhile, Woodrow Wilson’s personal envoy John Lind is going back to Mexico City, no one knows why.

Can we blame Britain sticking so closely to Huerta on Winston Churchill? Currently the First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill is overseeing the conversion of the navy from coal, of which Britain had plenty, to oil, which it didn’t but Mexico did. If you’re looking for the origin of the proud history of backing dictators to gain access to oil, this might well be it.

The Indianapolis street car strike is over. There will be arbitration, but no union recognition. During the strike four people were killed and many more wounded.

The ritual murder trial of Mendel Beilis in Kiev continues to be not so much about Beilis as about Teh Jewz. A Mr. Shmakoff (a vaudeville name if ever I heard one) testifies on behalf of the anti-Semites. He says the Jews and their, you know, money have influenced newspaper coverage of this case, and asks for Beilis to be convicted to bring joy to millions of anxious Russian mothers.

An 18-year-old negro who supposedly attacked a woman is lynched in Dyerburg, Tenn.

Headline of the Day For a Story I Didn’t Feel Compelled to Read -100: “HARMONICA IN HIS THROAT.; Jammed There by Robbers ;- Took Big Pliers to Draw It Out.”

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Today -100: November 7, 1913: Of hepburns, ritual murders, and straight hair

Suffragists in Connecticut will plead for the commutation of the death sentence on a woman who killed her husband. Which I might not have mentioned but for the suffragist quoted by the Times, a “Mrs. Thomas N. Hepburn,” i.e., actor Katharine Hepburn’s mother.

The prosecutor in the Kiev ritual murder case admits that Mendel Beilis might well be an excellent father and a virtuous man, who just happens to believe that killing Christian children is not a crime.

The US State Dept refuses to pass on to the Russian government a petition against the trial and asking the Czar to debunk the blood libel, signed by clergy, including most of the bishops of the Catholic and Episcopal churches, because Russia made it clear that it won’t accept them.

The governor of Indiana sends the entire national guard into Indianapolis to deal with the street car strike, although he’s holding off on declaring martial law until he sees whether an agreement can be reached. The street car company is demanding that the union be abolished and the strike leaders be banished from the city as a condition for starting talks, and insists that its employees are actually all perfectly contented.

Gen. Felix Díaz, who escaped arrest in Mexico by fleeing to Cuba, is stabbed by five Mexicans while listening to a band concert in Havana. He received minor stab wounds in the neck (it was just a penknife) but fought off his assailants with an umbrella. One pulled out a gun but missed Díaz and shot one of the other assailants instead.

A letter to the NYT asks the question: what’s up with these negroes who have straight hair all of a sudden?

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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Today -100: November 6, 1913: Of dry towns, whipping Mexicans, and bear chases

Of 24 towns in Illinois that voted on prohibition, 18 went dry. Everyone ascribes this to the female vote.

Oregon voters voted for workmen’s comp, voted down sterilization of habitual criminals.

At a meeting in the East End, Sylvia Pankhurst announces the formation of a volunteer corps to protect suffragettes and labor union members. It will be commanded by a former Boer War vet, Capt. Sir Francis Vane. Sylvia says that they’re basing the corps on the model of the Ulsterites, so they’re expecting the same immunity from governmental interference enjoyed by Sir Edward Carson. Sylvia, who is out of prison on a Cat & Mouse Act license, escaped re-arrest with the help of East Enders.

Since Mexican banks have been saying they can’t lend money to Huerta without endangering their reserves, he decrees that bank notes are legal tender which must be accepted, but banks don’t have to pay off on them for a year. Problem solved.

Headline Word Choice of the Day -100: “German Experts Certain We Could Not Whip Mexico Easily.” “Whip” is a very pre-World War I way to describe what goes on in a war. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Donald Rumsfeld predicted we would whip Iraq easily.

China is forced by Russia to agree to recognize the “autonomy” of Outer Mongolia, whose exact borders remain nebulous.

55 Filipinos brought to Ghent as an exhibition in a exposition some months ago haven’t been paid in months and are literally starving.

Headline of the Day -100: “Bear Chase in the Bronx.” Bruno, for that is his name, escapes from a gypsy camp, gets nearly 3 miles away before someone from the Bronx Zoo “lassoes” him (literally??) and returns him to the gypsies.

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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Perfecting our union

Obama on marriage equality in Illinois: “As president, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else.” As the highlighted words suggest, his position has evolved, but its still not really rights-based. His position on gay marriage is separate – “also” – from his understanding of equal rights. Marriage to him is something he is generously granting to same-sex couples, not an inherent right they have, part of being treated equally under the law. He still has some evolving to do.

“And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.” Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

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Today -100: November 5, 1913: Of the consequences of the intolerable conditions of a corrupt machine and leadership

William Sulzer, impeached and removed from the governorship of New York not three weeks ago, is elected to the state Assembly.

The NY general election is a disaster for Tammany Hall. Not only did Democrats lose seats, but many of the Democrats who were elected are independent or Progressive-backed (as are some of the Republicans) rather than cogs in the Tammany machine. Assemblymen who voted to impeach Sulzer are voted out everywhere in the state except the strongest Tammany strongholds in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Republicans take control of the state Assembly. John Purroy Mitchell, the Fusion candidate (basically Republicans plus a few bits and bobs) for mayor of NYC wins easily. He says that Tammany candidate Edward McCall “reaped the whirlwind and suffered the consequences of the intolerable conditions of a corrupt machine and leadership.”

The loss of Democratic votes is confined to New York state. The Progressive/Bull Moose Party, however, is fading away everywhere in the nation (and nominal leader Theodore Roosevelt is out of the country on an extended trip to South America). For example, Everett Colby, running for governor of New Jersey with an endorsement from Teddy Roosevelt, gets only 38,693 votes.

James Fielder (D), acting governor of New Jersey since Woodrow Wilson resigned to become president, is elected in his own right.

The Socialist mayor of Schenectady, George Lunn, is defeated by an unholy alliance of the Republican, Democratic & Progressive parties (but the city elects the first socialist sheriff in the US, Louis Welsh).

David Walsh (D), is elected governor of Massachusetts, the first Catholic and the first Irishman to hold that office, defeating the incumbent, Eugene Foss. Not quite sure what happened there. Foss, who had only converted to the Democratic Party in 1909, was rejected by it for re-election earlier in 1913. He then tried to enter the Republican primary but failed to qualify, and finally ran as an independent. He came in a weak fourth, without carrying a single district.

China’s Pres. Yuan expels all 300+ Kuomintang members from Parliament for opposing his march to dictatorship.

Booker T. Washington suggests that for Thanksgiving, African-Americans count the blessings of being negroes in the South. Oh sure, there are “difficulties in the form of lynchings, mobs, &c.” but there’s always friction, why look at Mexico, in which there’s only one race (!). “But racial difficulties are growing fewer every year in the South, and a spirit of friendship and mutual recognition of the rights of each race is growing.” Blacks can buy land, and they understand how to grow and market cotton “almost by inheritance or instinct,” and they also understand mules by instinct.

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Monday, November 04, 2013

Today -100: November 4, 1913: Of ultimata, hobos, and getting used to the income tax

Woodrow Wilson sends a note to Mexican dictator Huerta telling him to resign at once, at once I say! And no leaving a puppet in the president’s office either.

Mexican Gen. Felix Díaz flees to Cuba.

On the NYT front page, subtly sandwiched between two Mexico stories, is this article: “500,000 SOLDIERS AVAILABLE FOR WAR; Ordnance Department Has Perfected Plans for Prompt Mobilization.”

To get the police to do their job in preventing voter intimidation, the acting mayor of New York orders every police captain rotated temporarily to a new precinct.

The AP reveals that Illinois Lt.-Gov. Barratt O’Hara is a hobo. The president of the National Hobo Union gave him a membership card after O’Hara revealed that he too was once down and out, but O’Hara will have to make one trip using only his own resources before being acknowledged as a real ‘bo, with all the rights and privileges that entails.

Federal officials assure everyone dealing with the new federal income tax “that they will like it when they get used to it.” And history has certainly proven them right, huh?

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Today -100: November 3, 1913: Of arms, meteorites, trams, and pitchforks

Gen. Carranza of the Mexican Constitutionalists asks the US to allow the rebels to import arms from the US.

Headline of the Day -100: “Nearly Hit By Meteorite.” In Malden, Massachusetts. Two high school students claim to have been sickened by the fumes.

Street car strike in Indianapolis. Strikebreakers shooting at the crowd kill one of their own. Four cops turn in their badges rather than protect scab-operated street cars. The sheriff will swear in 250 businessmen as special deputies tomorrow. (Update from tomorrow’s paper: this was evidently in the nature of a draft, like jury duty; the sheriff issued summonses. But only 50 people showed up, and the Democratic sheriff was accused of sending summons almost exclusively to Republicans to prevent them working in the election Tuesday.)

Sen. “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman (D-SC) complains in a letter to the Spartansburg Herald that Gov. Coleman Blease keeps stealing the best bits from his speeches. For example, “I am the originator of the phrase ‘To hell with the Constitution.’ I used it in Chicago.” Tillman also again declares himself in favor of lynching assailants of women (I’m not sure what the context is for that, or if it’s just something he tacks on whenever he writes to the press, which wouldn’t surprise me one bit).

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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Today -100: November 2, 1913: Of amnesties and rotten eggs

Headline of the Day -100: “PORTUGAL FREES PRISONERS; Turns Loose 300 Illiterates, but Keeps the Intellectuals.” Royalists held up to three years without trial. 120 literate prisoners remain locked up. The authorities figure they must be the leaders.

Ousted NY Gov. William Sulzer holds a campaign rally in the heart of Tammany territory. Sulzer denounces Tammany Hall and Speaker of the Assembly Al Smith. The Tammany machine tries to disrupt Sulzer’s audience with: horse-drawn street cars, fire engines, a fife and drum corps, fireworks, and a fusillade of rotten eggs. A good time was had by all.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Today -100: November 1, 1913: The moral law which the Suffragettes have defied is not the moral law accepted for themselves by men

Woodrow Wilson’s personal envoy, former Gov. John Lind, is still in Mexico, doing God knows what. But his wife just left for home. The steamship she was on was boarded by soldiers who arrested four deputies from a state legislature who opposed a tax Huerta ordered. Two other men the soldiers were looking for were hidden away – by Mrs. Lind in her cabin (she stayed on deck all night).

At the Kiev ritual murder trial, a Prof. Sikorski of Kiev University (a psych prof) testifies that Jews still ritually kill Christian boys all the time in the 20th century. All the time.

Speaking of racist murder trials of Jews, a Georgia Superior Court rejects Leo Frank’s motion for a new trial, which cited the prejudice of some of the jurors and loud intimidating demonstrations near the courtroom.

The New Statesman (UK) publishes a supplement on the women’s suffrage movement. Christabel Pankhurst’s article shows that she no longer considers militancy as merely a method for achieving women’s suffrage but as an end in itself, saying that militancy is “a means of breaking up the false relation of inferior to superior that has existed between men and women, and it is a means of correcting the great faults that have been produced in either sex by the subjection of women.” “The opposition to women’s militancy is founded upon prejudice, and upon nothing else. For the very same acts that militant women commit would, if they were committed by voteless men, be applauded. The moral law which the Suffragettes have defied is not the moral law accepted for themselves by men. It is slave morality that they have defied, a slave morality according to which active resistance to tyranny is the greatest crime that a subject class or a subject sex can commit.” Militancy is an education to men, showing that women are no longer appealing to them for the vote but “denying their title to withhold the vote.”

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