Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Today -100: December 31, 1913: Of divvying up Africa, saloons, starving artists, and monas lisa

Germany and Britain are working out a political agreement “which, optimists believe, will go far toward eradicating the danger of war between the two empires.” Phew. Among other things, they have agreed on dividing up Portugal’s southern African colonies (Germany gets Angola, Britain gets Mozambique), at least in commercial terms.

Headline of the Day -100: “WOMAN TO CLOSE SALOONS.; Gov. West Sends His Secretary, Male Officials Having Failed.” Oregon Gov. Oswald West wants the saloons and gambling houses of the mining town Copperfield shut down.

Futurist artist Wenceslas Pelzynnski, in what I can only assume is a delightful meta-commentary on the future of art, starves to death in a Paris garret.

The Mona Lisa is back in France, and all is right with the world.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Today -100: December 30, 1913: Of expeditions and tax resistance

Sir Ernest Shackleton plans another polar expedition. He plans to cross the entire continent of Antarctica, 1,700+ miles. This will involve ships at either end, so he won’t have to make a round trip. He plans to use a sledge with an airplane engine to run a propeller.

Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, says that her appeal to women to refuse to pay taxes until they have the vote does not constitute “militancy.” Rather, it is passive resistance. It is the recent establishment of a federal income tax that makes this form of protest possible.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Today -100: December 29, 1913: Of borders, treason, moral turpitude, and corset raids

Serbia has reportedly invaded Albania, capturing four villages the Powers decided should be part of Albania.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire will begin a treason trial of no fewer than 94 Ruthenians charged with spying for Russia, although they actually seem to just be converts to the Eastern Orthodox church who have been trying to convert Catholics.

Hungarian banker Emil Zerkowitz, arriving in the US, is detained and ordered deported for moral turpitude for having fought a duel in Budapest, although it was one of those duels in which both parties fired in the air. Zerkowitz pointed out to the immigration authorities that it is not illegal to duel in Hungary. (Two days later, the LAT reports that he is admitted to the US, on bond to leave within a month.)

Headline of the Day -100: “Corset Raids by Police.” Mannequins in corsets in shop windows in Berlin.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Today -100: December 28, 1913: Also not fond of dogs

US Rear Admiral Cowles receives several Constitutionalists on the USS Pittsburgh, anchored at San Blas. The Huertaists are pissed.

The Mormons decide to flee Mexico, abandoning their polygamist colonies’ properties.

Charles H. Moyer, President of the Western Federation of Miners, who was organizing the copper strike in Calumet, Michigan, is beaten, shot in the back (superficially), and forcibly put on a train for Chicago, along with the union’s auditor. The sheriff claims to know nothing about it, although the two armed men who accompanied Moyer and the other guy claimed to be deputies. This was two hours after Moyer proposed by letter to the owners that the strike be submitted to arbitration by a board picked by Pres. Wilson and the governor of Michigan. There has also been friction because the union prohibited members affected by the fatal stampede at the Italian Hall from accepting money from the public relief fund; the union will look after its own, it says. Moyer also claimed that the man who shouted Fire was from the Citizens’ Alliance.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “King George [of Britain] Dreads Fire. Lives in Constant Fear That One of Royal Palaces Will Be Burned. Is Also Not Fond of Dogs.”

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Today -100: December 27, 1913: Of firing squads, radium, duels, presidents & fires, and interrupted speeches

Pancho Villa issues an edict that all Federal soldiers are to be executed by firing squad as soon as captured – especially Gen. Orozco.

Rep. Robert Bremner (D-NJ) undergoes an experimental treatment. $100,000 worth of radium is (temporarily) embedded in his shoulder, where he has a cancerous growth. Which sounds painful, so they’re giving him cocaine for the pain, as was the custom. Spoiler alert: well, you can guess how this one turned out, can’t you?

I’ve reported on duels in France and Germany, but not many fatalities, because the rules of dueling, even where firearms rather than swords were involved, were designed to produce non-lethal results. Then there are Solomon Jackson and Tate Souders, two idiots in Kentucky, who shot at each other with guns in their right hands while clasping each other by the left hand. Both died.

Headline of the Day -100: “President Saves Cottage From Fire.” On vacation in Mississippi, he spots a judge’s house ablaze, has his cars stop and his chauffeurs and secret service agents put it out. Very Cory Booker of him (except for the part where his employees did all the work).

In 1894 “Coxey’s Army” of unemployed people marched on Washington from all over the country, but Jacob Coxey was arrested before he could finish his speech. Now his son-in-law, who was his lieutenant in the unemployed movement, finishes his speech on the “right to work” on the steps of the Capitol. He couldn’t get a permit, so he just said it quickly.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Today -100: December 26, 1913: Of libraries

A letter to the NYT explains that the reason Montreal has no public library is that the Catholic Church blocked it, forcing the city to turn down Carnegie money. The students of Laval University (a public, not church uni) are prohibited from using any library other than that of the university.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Today -100: December 25, 1913: His Santa Claus is dead

Headline of the Day -100: “CALLOUS AT GUILLOTINE.; Man Executed at Dunkirk Smokes a Cigar Before He Dies.” The priest tried to stop him making a pre-execution speech (France had public executions until the 1930s), but he insisted that he’d speak if he wanted to. Which he did. And what he wanted to say was: “You Dunkirk people are a lot of cowards!”

Frank Brown, the former governor of Maryland, says the automobile is responsible for the decline of agriculture, with all the joy riding and whatnot.

Festive Headline of the Day -100: “Xmas-Tree Panic Costs 80 Lives.” Including 56 children, trampled when some drunk shouted Fire in a crowded Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan, in which children of striking copper miners were being given Christmas treats.

No, wait, new Festive Headline of the Day -100, on the front page of the NYT: “SANTA DIES ON XMAS TRIP.” And here’s the first sentence: “Little crippled Wilbur Harris, 8 years old, is to have a merry Christmas, but his Santa Claus is dead.” A philanthropist with tuberculosis went to deliver gifts to a poor family after hearing that the mother told Little Crippled Wilbur that there is no Santa Claus for poor children, but his car couldn’t make it past the snow drifts two blocks away from the poor section of town and he dropped dead walking through the snow with, you know, TB.

Secretary of State Bryan’s latest arbitration treaty has been negotiated with Denmark, and it doesn’t even exclude “questions of national honor” from arbitration.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Today -100: December 24, 1913: Of currency, bridge-blowing, and secret rooms

The Currency Bill is passed and signed. Yay for the Federal Reserve!

Federal troops in Mexico have adopted tactics previously only used by the rebels, blowing up railroad bridges and telegraph wires, to cut off communications between Pancho Villa in Chihuahua and the rest of the rebels.

Lawyer Melvin Couch, the former district attorney of Sullivan County, NY drops dead at 65 in his office in Monticello, NY. Who else was found in his office? His mistress of 15 years, Adelaide Brance, who had been secretly living in a secret room built into his inner office, never or rarely going out, for three years, except in a desperate search for a doctor when Couch collapsed; as luck wouldn’t have it, the nearest doctor turned out to be Couch’s wife’s brother. Couch also ate and slept in his office, having told his wife that his rheumatism made it impossible for him to climb the hill to their home every day. So he returned home only for Sunday dinners. Brance did all his office work, since he could hardly keep a clerk and secretary. For some reason, his funeral was more sparsely attended than a former DA’s would normally be. Which evidently made one of his friends, a retired jeweler he’d been to school with, so distraught that he committed suicide with a gun Couch gave him, souvenir of one of Couch’s biggest cases as DA, that of Jack Allen, the last man hanged in that county. In fact, the sheriff’s hands were shaking so much that Allen tied the rope himself, saying he wanted to be in Hell in time for supper. Brance was not allowed to go to the funeral, being held in the jail on robbery charges trumped up to hold her in case Couch turned out to have been murdered. Although Brance had almost nothing from Couch (a couple of mortgages worth $650) and he left no will, she will turn down offers of $1,000 for a two-week vaudeville engagement and $3,000 to appear in a film about the affair. The last trace I can find of her was being checked into a sanitarium in January.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Today -100: December 23, 1913: Of holidays, negro supremacy, and splits

Huerta decrees a bank holiday until January 2, because everyone loves a long holiday. Banks won’t be obligated to pay off checks, letters of credit, etc. I assume this will just be putting off the inevitable national bankruptcy.

Sports Headline of the Day -100: “[The] Negro’s Supremacy in Ring Near End.”

There are rumors of strife among the Pankhursts. Sylvia Pankhurst (daughter of Emmeline, sister of Christabel) has been increasingly focused on working with the working class of the East End and on mass tactics, while E & C are focused on coercive individual acts of militancy. Questions of tactics have caused numerous splits in the militant end of the British women’s suffrage movement before, but the latest “split” is intra-familial (other sister Adela, a Sylvia ally, has already been packed off to exile in Australia).

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Today -100: December 22, 1913: Of munitions and volcanoes

Japan is making arms for the Huerta regime, but says it’s just business, not hostility towards the United States.

Mexican Constitutionalists say they’ll fire on any ships bringing in munitions.

500 people are killed by volcano eruptions on the island of Ambrin in the New Hebrides.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Today -100: December 21, 1913: Of fagging princes, and advisers

Headline of the Day -100: “Prince Henry a ‘Fag.’ No Special Privileges at Eton for the King’s Third Son.” Unless you count, you know, going to Eton. He is fagging for Viscount Gage.

Russia, Britain and France object to Turkey’s using Germans to reconstruct and reorganize its military. Since they also used German advisers before the disastrous First Balkan War, I’m not sure why everyone’s complaining.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Obama press conference: I adequately discussed my frustrations

Barack Obama had a gift for the Washington press corpse today: a surprise press conference.

On the lapsing of unemployment benefits: “So when Congress comes back to work, their first order of business should be making this right.” When Congress comes back to work. Funny how Congress isn’t working but they still collect pay. And by funny I mean awful.

On the Obamacare website problems: “I think in the last press conference I adequately discussed my frustrations on those.” There is no more Obamalike a phrase than “I adequately discussed my frustrations”.

Ed Henry says Merry Christmas to him and he says Merry Christmas back and nobody tell me what Bill O’Reilly has to say about this.

There’s some discussion of NSA snooping. He continues to say that the NSA has done nothing wrong ever. And while he’s pretending that NSA surveillance will be dialed back in some unspecified way (we need a metric: will they pull back to 3/4 of the way up our asses?), it’s only because of the entirely unwarranted suspicions of the American people (“that trust in how many safeguards exist and how these programs are run has been diminished. .... [I]n light of the disclosures that have taken place, it is clear that whatever benefits the configuration of this particular program may have may be outweighed by the concerns that people have on its potential abuse”).

On debt ceiling chicken games: “But I’ve got to assume folks aren’t crazy enough to start that thing all over again.”

And that’s where I stopped paying attention.

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Today -100: December 20, 1913: By fire and sword

Lt. Gunther Freiherr von Forstner is convicted by a court-martial for assaulting that lame cobbler in Zabern, Alsace with his sabre. Forstner said the lame cobbler looked like he might hit him, and a Prussian officer who allows himself to be struck is irretrievably dishonored.

Mexican Federal troops nearly capture Emiliano Zapata (or so they say). They moved in on his temporary hq and surprised the rebels, the last few of whom “cut their way out” with machetes (the NYT doesn’t quite say that they cut their way through troops rather than through bushes or something, but that’s the gist).

Zapata sends a circular to random addresses in Mexico City warning that he will soon take the capital “by fire and sword.” All members of the Federal Army will be executed without trial, he says, and Huerta will be hanged from the balconies of the National Palace “as a warning” and the other members of the Cabinet shot. After a short trial, of course, because justice.

AT&T is forced by the Department of Justice to reorganize and drop its control over Western Union to avoid anti-trust prosecution.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Today -100: December 19, 1913: Of smallpox and prisons

The battleship Ohio was struck by a smallpox epidemic on the way from Europe to Guantanamo. One dead, 11 definite cases and 12 suspected.

British suffragettes seem to have attempted to blow up Holloway Prison, not very successfully. Presumably as a protest rather than an escape attempt.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today -100: December 18, 1913: Of hunger strikes, conventions, and mayors

The British prison authorities succeeded in keeping Emmeline Pankhurst in prison for three full days this time before having to release her. She adopted a hunger, thirst, and sleep strike.

The Republican National Committee proposes (it has to be ratified by state conventions) to reduce the representation at the 1916 National Convention of the Southern states, where there are basically no actual Republican voters. The South would lose about one-third of its current delegation, bringing them down to less than one-sixth of the total delegates, which would still be more than is warranted by its share of the national Republican vote. The NYT article doesn’t mention this, but many of the delegates from the South since the Civil War have been black. At the last convention, they were reliable votes for the party machine that delivered the convention for Taft rather than Roosevelt, and we know how well that went.

(By the way, this is why it helps to edit: I originally wrote “many of the delegates from the South have been black since the Civil War.”)

Boston Mayor John F. Fitzgerald will not run for re-election. He cites his poor health since he fell down stairs inspecting some buildings that had burned down. Fitzgerald would be JFK’s grandfather.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nobody puts Baby Kim in a corner!

Checked in with the North Korean Central News webpage.

We find that North Korea has developed a new soft drink, which is fine news to those of us who remember East Germany’s Commie Cola, or whatever its real name was. The NK version features selenium and is good in promoting metabolism and curing arteriosclerosis, myocardial infraction, cerebral thrombosis and tuberculosis.

(Update: Vita Cola is what it was called. The first Google hit for “Commie Cola” is the Wikipedia page for Vita Cola, even though that page does not use the phrase “Commie Cola.” Google can read our minds now. Evidently there’s been a revival of the atrocious beverage, and it’s now more popular than Pepsi. Most of us tourists drank the vile stuff because East Germany made you buy a certain amount of their humorous currency, and there was nothing else to spend it on.)

Of course what I was actually looking for was the story on the execution of “traitor for all ages,” “despicable human scum,” “despicable political careerist and trickster” Jang Song Thaek (he had a rather long business card), Kim Jong Un’s uncle. He was charged with such offenses as “unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping” when Kim Jong Un was elected vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea; preventing the Taedonggang Tile Factory from erecting a mosaic depicting Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and a monument to field guidance given by them; being so reckless as to instruct a unit of the Internal Security Forces that wanted to carve a letter Kim Jong Un in granite to put the monument in a shaded corner – IN A SHADED CORNER!

Jang confessed to his crimes. Well, he confessed to undermining the economy and planning a coup, I’m not sure whether he confessed to the monument-in-a-shaded-corner thing.

Other members of this conspiracy included “Ri Ryong Ha, flatterer” (he had a rather short business card).

There was but a single story on the uncle, and now the Central News Agency is back to business as usual, with a 7-month-old report on “Kim Jong Un Gives Field Guidance to Fisheries Station” wherein it is reported that Kim “asked the manager of the station to send him a letter if it netted 4,000 tons of fish so that he might know the happy news.” They have done so, and Kim is pleased. He has sent them a letter. Woe betide anyone who puts the inevitable carved monument to this letter in a shaded corner.

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Today -100: December 17, 1913: Of meneliks, loss of honor, free speech in Paterson, and lynchings

Abyssinia (Ethiopia)’s Emperor Menelik II dies. He unified the country, abolished slavery, and fought off Italy’s attempt to make Abyssinia a colony. Italy actually tried to trick him into protectorate status through an 1889 treaty whose Italian and Amharic versions were not-so-subtly different. There’s sneaky, and then there’s just silly. Upon discovering the deceit, Menelik renounced the treaty and defeated Italy in battle in 1896.

Suffragettes burn St. Anne’s Church in Liverpool.

The Countess Treuberg of Germany is found guilty of usury, slander and blackmail, and sentenced to 15 months, a fine, and three years “loss of honor.” I don’t know what “loss of honor” means, but it sounds awesome.

Elihu Root says he would not accept the Republican nomination for president because he is too old (he is 68 and would be 71 in 1916).

Right before an IWW meeting in Paterson, NJ, the police chief (on the mayor’s orders) sees Emma Goldman and forbids her to speak and asks her to leave the city. She agrees to adjourn the meeting and is allowed to go to it. But instead of adjourning it, she began a speech attacking Paterson’s government. Detectives storm the meeting and fight with the anarchists, as was the custom.

The British Cabinet decides that Home Rule will not include transferring control over the Irish Post Office to Dublin. This is evidently a big deal.

Lynchings: two negroes shot in Blanchard, Louisiana. They had confessed to killing Calvin Ballard in revenge. Several months ago Ballard was a trustee in Louisiana Penitentiary (where he was serving 10 years for killing his brother), when he foiled an escape attempt, killing three of the escape-attempters. And in North Dakota, there’s a rare lynching of a white man, Cleve Culbertson, a day after he was sentenced to life for killing three people. (Update: even more uncommonly, the sheriff will be forced to resign over his failure to prevent the lynching.)

Pancho Villa confiscates the property of several ultra-rich men, including Luis Terrazas, Sr., who owns 2/3 of the land of the state of Chihuahua, for ransom. Now how will he pay the ransom for his son, who rebels kidnapped last week?

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Today -100: December 16, 1913: Of gay cats, explorers, sound perceptions, crullers, and the mystery of why the Mexicans hate us is solved

A Chicago police lieutenant claims that a national association of beggars has been formed, the Panhandlers’ Trust, otherwise known as The Gay Cats. It even has a school to teach the tricks of the trade.

Evidently, the government of Ecuador is about to fall to rebels.

Theodore Roosevelt will shortly enter the Brazilian jungles, where he will explore ‘n shit.

The Mexican Congress, having performed its sole function of confirming Huerta in his usurped office, recesses until next April. It’s not like more than a few of its members ever showed up at any one time.

Zapata’s rebels attack Milpa Alta, which is only 17 miles from the National Palace, before falling back.

Headline of the Day -100: “Why Mexicans Hate Us.” The London Times’s Mexico correspondent explains that Americans are just plain rude.

Vice President Marshall, lacking anything else to do, will join William Jennings Bryan on the Chautauqua lecture circuit next fall.

A women’s suffrage leader, Kate Woods Ray, is named president of the Gary, Indiana Safety Board, putting her in charge of the police and fire departments.

Thomas Edison meets Helen Keller. He thinks he can build a device to give her sound perceptions.

Letter to the Editor of the Day -100: “The Etymology of ‘Crullers.’” The NYT has been printing, for what seems like weeks, an ungodly number of letters arguing over the technical differences between donuts and crullers.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Today -100: December 15, 1913: Of Monas Lisa, poison, chocolate, cretes, conundrums, and buxom jolts

Before returning the Mona Lisa to the Louvre, Florence is exhibiting it in the Uffizi Gallery. Many thousands of Florentines attend, so many that many of the gallery’s busts and statues are removed to prevent them being knocked over.

How They Died 100 Years Ago: Many more New York suicides are accomplished with poison in the 1910s, pushing shootings down to 3rd place. Hangings are still in the lead.

Secretary of War Garrison bans chocolate from Army rations.

Mexican Federal troops drive back rebel forces from Tampico. The rebels had more soldiers, the federales had gunboats and artillery.

Buzzards were protected by Mexican law? Why?

Greece annexes Crete.

Former Prez Taft says Elihu Root would be a great nominee for president. But what, a reporter asks, would Roosevelt do if Root were nominated? “Don’t ask me any conundrums.”

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “SUFFRAGISTS HOPPING MAD.: Have a Buxom Jolt Ready for the Democrats.”

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Caption contest

John McCain is in the Ukraine, which rhymes. Captions, rhyming or otherwise, please.

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Today -100: December 14, 1913: Of sieges, operas, and literacy requirements

In the ongoing rebel siege of Tampico, Mexico, both sides are executing prisoners, as was the custom. First the Federales hanged rebels in view of the rebel lines, then the rebels responded in kind.

Elsewhere, Pancho Villa’s men are reportedly merrily looting Chihuahua and extorting priests, as was the custom. Villa orders all Spaniards out of the city and indeed the country. He’s got a thing about Spaniards. Many are seeking refuge in El Paso. Villa also calls together a meeting of merchants and demands millions of dollars as revolutionary tax.

Headline of the Day -100: “Militants Shout To King at Opera.” After the first act of... wait for it... Verdi’s Joan of Arc, militants in the box opposite the royal box unfurl a banner saying “Women are being tortured in your Majesty’s prisons.”

Congress brings back the bill creating a literacy requirement for immigrants that Taft vetoed. California and Washington state congresscritters try to add bans on Asiatic immigrants, but fail.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Today -100: December 13, 1913: Of Monas Lisa, primaries, and gunboats

The Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre in 1911, is recovered in Florence. The thief, an Italian named Vincenzo Peruggia (also spelled Perugia), said he stole it out of spite for France. He wanted it returned to Italy in compensation for all the works of art removed from Italy by Napoleon. He offered it for sale to an art dealer, who turned him in and will collect a rather large reward. Perhaps because of his supposed patriotic motives, an Italian jury will (next June) give Peruggia a sentence of only one year and 15 days. He heard this sentence “with a facial expression somewhat akin to ‘Mona Lisa’s’ enigmatic smile.”

The New York Legislature has been quite productive since impeaching Gov. Sulzer, passing a bill for Sulzer’s beloved direct primaries, as well as a major workmen’s comp bill. There will also be a referendum in April on whether there should be a constitutional convention in 1915.

The commander of the US naval forces off of Mexico, the alliterative Rear Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher, orders both sides to stop fighting in Tampico or his gunboat will open fire with its cannon. They stop fighting (but not for long).

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Today -100: December 12, 1913: Of matrons, vice film plays, kidnappings, and skinny tafts

In the Old Bailey, a jury of matrons is convened to determine whether a woman convicted of killing her 4-year-old son is really pregnant, as she claims, in which case they can’t execute her (not that a woman was terribly likely to be executed in 1913 England, especially not for child-murder).

John D. Rockefeller, who chaired an inquiry into “white slavery,” denounces the spate of recent films on the subject that claim to be dramatizations of his report, Law & Order-style. “Manufacturers of moving picture films throughout the country are said to be working night and day to get out vice film plays now that the craze for that sort of pictures is at its height.” At its height? Oh, I don’t think so.

Mexican rebels break into the British consulate in Chihuahua and seize Luis Terrazas Jr., son of the richest man in Mexico (he owns 2/3 of the land of the state of Chihuahua), for ransom.

The British Army is short of recruits and will, for the first time I believe, advertise.

Taft has lost 70 pounds since leaving the presidency 6 months ago. He’s down to a svelte 270 pounds. He no longer eats potatoes, bread, pork or salmon and limits himself to two glasses of water with dinner.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Today -100: December 11, 1913: Of peace, temperance, women’s parties, and independence

Sen. Elihu Root wins the Nobel Peace Prize because of... his work in the pacification of Cuba and the Philippines as secretary of war, as well as his work on arbitration treaties while he was Roosevelt’s secretary of state.

Secretary of State Bryan, bucking for his own prize, says there will be no war between the US and any other country during the present administration. In fact, he says, the time is coming when there will be wars at all, and disputes between nations will be solved by reason and argument.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League hold the largest prohibition demonstration Washington DC has ever seen. About 1,000 of each sex.

Sir Richard McBride, Prime Minister of British Columbia, rejects the demand of suffragists for the government to bring in a bill for women’s suffrage, saying that it would start a slippery slope leading first to women members of Parliament and then to the formation of a women’s party which would attempt to run the affairs of the country.

Headline of the Day -100 (London Times): “Damages for Seduction.” There are two words in that headline that need explanation; I believe “for” is relatively self-explanatory. The “seduction” was by a doctor who supposedly drugged his 17-year-old typist. The £350 damages were awarded to... her father, for injury to his property (the daughter, that is). Who is pregnant, by the way.

China’s Gen. Chang Hsun, who back in September was forced by a Japanese threat to invade Nanjing to apologize for insults to the Japanese flag (and, secondarily, for the deaths of some Japanese people), proclaims the province of Kiang-Su independent of China.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Today -100: December 10, 1913: Of null elections, so-called votes of lack of confidence, lack of sympathy, and hair of Dickens

Theodore Roosevelt’s campaign secretary in the 1912 election says TR expects to win the mainstream Republican Party nomination for president in 1916.

The Mexican Congress declares the last presidential elections null, since 95% of polling districts failed to send in any returns. Huerta will remain “interim” president until new elections in, oh how about July, they say.

German Chancellor Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg refuses to resign, rejecting the Reichstag’s “so-called vote of lack of confidence” in favor of the undiluted power of the kaiser to name his own officials.

In Britain, a congress called by the Trades Union Congress rejects Jim Larkin’s call for it to support the Dublin strikers with a sympathy strike. Larkin doesn’t like English union leaders and they don’t like him.

The governor of Kiev orders 1,100 Jewish dentistry students expelled from their schools and the city.

British Columbia bans the immigration of all artisans and laborers until March 31. It actually just wanted to ban Hindus, but a court said no.

Brentano, the book store guy, ordered some books from London, including Dickens first editions. His dealer included, as a free extra, a lock of Dickens’ hair. But US Customs is demanding that he pay $70, a tariff of 35% of the hair’s value. Brentano (who doesn’t even want the hair, he already has some Dickenshair) wants to get his books and return the hair, or alternately have the hair allowed in free as an antiquity (anything over 100 years old is allowed in without a tariff, and Dickens was born in 1812, even if this particular hair was removed from his person later).

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Today -100: December 9, 1913: To speak for myself would be an impertinence

Woodrow Wilson meets a deputation of suffragists and says that he supports the creation of a standing committee on women’s suffrage in the House, but since the subject wasn’t in the Democratic party platform, he won’t publicly give his personal views (on this or any issue). “I conceive it to be part of the whole process of government that I shall be spokesman for somebody, not for myself. To speak for myself would be an impertinence. When I speak for myself, I am an individual; when I am spokesman of an organic body, I am a representative.” I call bullshit.

Gov. Hunt of Arizona sends a message to Mexican rebel leader Carranza asking him to knock off all the executions. Carranza replies, reassuring him that the only people executed were real “traitors to the cause of popular government.” So that’s okay then.

The House of Representatives votes 317-11 for a resolution in favor of Churchill’s proposed naval holiday (when everyone else agrees to it, of course).

Gaston Doumergus forms a new French government from the Radical, Socialist, and Radical-Socialist parties (in France, parties tend to drift to the right over time; the Radical-Socialist party, of which the new PM is a member, is neither).

Paris City Council decides not to let Catholic nursing orders back into Paris hospitals (they were expelled following the legal separation of church and state in 1905). The debate was heated; there will be a duel.

Huerta’s family leaves Mexico City for Guadalajara, allowing easy escape from the country if the Huerta Junta loses the war.

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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Today -100: December 8, 1913: Of hunger strikes

Emmeline Pankhurst is released from prison, suffering from pleurisy due to her hunger strike. There will be acts of revenge.

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Today -100: December 7, 1913: Of floggings, deluxe apartments in the sky, the suggestion, gratification, and education of sexual emotion, and shooting Ulstermen

Delaware whips three more prisoners, all of them black. This is in addition to prison sentences, not instead of, if I haven’t mentioned that before. I hadn’t realized the public were allowed to witness these punishments (except women, who are barred by prison officials, although there is no law against them spectating).

New York City, not surprisingly, has the most expensive apartment in the world, renting for $25,000 a year, in the new 15-apartment, 12-story building at 998 Fifth Ave, which is still around and still kinda pricey. 998, as it is known, was built by Jackie Kennedy’s grandfather. For $25,000 in 1913 you get an entire floor and 25 rooms. And the fireplaces all work, the NYT hastens to point out. Residents include Sen. Elihu Root (rumor is he was given a reduced rate as part of an attempt to lure millionaires from mansion-living to super-luxury-apartment-living, a new concept), as well as a Winthrop and a Guggenheim, former Vice President and former NY governor Levi Morton, and the aptonymed Watson Bradley Dickerman, a former president of the NY Stock Exchange.

Bernard Shaw and the Bishop of Kensington are having a flame war in the letter columns of the London Times over the issue of theatre censorship. Says Shaw, “a Bishop who goes into a theatre and declares that the performances there must not suggest sexual emotion is in the position of a playwright going into a church and declaring that the services there must not suggest religious emotion. The suggestion, gratification, and education of sexual emotion is one of the main uses and glories of the theatre. It shares that function with all the fine arts.”

A scientist discovers that it’s possible to use x-rays to read sealed letters. And the NSA is born!

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Edward Carson denies trying to persuade the army to refuse orders. “Nobody would blame the army for shooting upon Ulstermen.”

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Friday, December 06, 2013

Today -100: December 6, 1913: Of gun-running, blacklists, amnesties, and grippe

Britain bans arms importing into Ireland by royal proclamation. It won’t affect hunting weapons, because of course it won’t. Will this order be enforced more vigorously against Irish Nationalists than against Ulster Loyalists? What do you think?

If you need a hint: the secretary of war demanded the resignation of a major of the Horse Guards, the son of a viscount, because of his membership in the Ulster Volunteers, the group pledged to fight the army in the event of Home Rule. But several other officers threatened to resign, so he was allowed to remain.

Judge Loring of the Massachusetts Supreme Court rules that it’s legal for companies to combine to blacklist workers who participated in a strike.

The kaiser orders the transfer of the regiment that’s been causing so much friction (to say nothing of head injuries) in Zabern, Alsace, in a grudging surrender to the Reichstag.

Cuba finally passes the amnesty bill for the negro rebellion which was previously halted by objections (and the customary threats of military intervention) from the United States after amnesty for corrupt politicians was snuck into the bill. The new version includes amnesty for corruption politicians.

Woodrow Wilson has a case of grippe. Or grip, depending on which newspaper you read.

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Today -100: December 5, 1913: Of beautifully gowned anti-suffragists, firing squads, arrests at sea, and lack of confidence

Anti-suffrage women descend on Washington D.C. to lobby against the creation of a permanent suffrage committee in Congress. They are, the NYT feels impelled to inform us, “beautifully gowned.” Also present: Everett Pepperrell Wheeler of the “Man Suffrage Association,” who says “clenched fists,” such as Anna Howard Shaw waved yesterday, “mean fight.... but if [men] are challenged to fight this movement there will be blows to give as well as blows to take.” The first rule of Suffrage Fight Club is you do not talk about Suffrage Fight Club.

The United States will assist the Dominican Republic in organizing elections. The US ambassador “has already notified the restless and turbulent elements in Santo Domingo that the long period of revolutionary disturbances must cease”.

Mexican Federal Col. Exiquio Barbosa survives a mass execution by firing squad, plays dead, and escapes.

You know who would really be helpful in resolving the Mexican revolution? Former Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz. Well, that’s what current Mexican dictator Huerta thinks, for some reason, and he’s placed the 83-year-old exile on the army’s active list and will try to force him to return from France. This could all be a rumor, though, and Díaz plans to stay where he is.

British police succeed in arresting Emmeline Pankhurst by boarding her trans-Atlantic ship before it reached port in Plymouth, where a bodyguard was waiting to protect her. The suffragettes had their own boat to remove Mrs P before her ship reached dock, but two navy ships were deployed to block it, which seems like an awful lot of trouble. She begins a hunger and thirst strike.

The Reichstag passes a resolution of lack of confidence in Chancellor Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg by a vote of 293-54, over the bad relations between the army and the people in Zabern, Alsace. This is constitutionally irrelevant, since cabinet officials are responsible to the kaiser rather than to the Reichstag.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Today -100: December 4, 1913: Of sabre dictatorships, cunning plans, Christmas in Mexico City, sea fights, and mustaches

The German Reichstag is debating the poor relations between the army and the people in annexed Alsace, which some are now calling “sabre dictatorship.” Chancellor Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg gave the Reichstag “a lengthy dissertation on philology with a view to proving that the word ‘wackes’ used by Lieut. Baron von Forstner was not nearly so insulting as people thought.” The war minister blamed the press and the “systematically organized provocation” against the army, and reminded the deputies that without the army “there would not be a stone in its place in Germany to-day”.

The US House passes a bill allowing the president to organize volunteer military forces whenever a war is imminent (such as Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War), but with enlistment being for the duration of the war rather than for short terms.

Nicaragua’s former president José Zelaya is released from the Tombs. His lawyers are still saying that it’s conditional on him leaving the country for Spain on the next ship, but Zelaya says there are no conditions, and the assistant US attorney backs him. Don’t know what’s going on here.

Mexican Pres. Huerta says the rebels weren’t actually successful when they captured Juarez, Victoria, and Culiacan. Rather, the government evacuated all those cities (and more) as part of a clever plan of campaign.

Gen. Mercado has just fled Chihuahua, presumably another part of this awesome plan, after sending a peace commission to Pancho Villa as a ruse to give himself time to escape. Since the Federal troops hadn’t been paid in weeks, the locals in Chihuahua were very happy to see them go.

Villa says he’ll be in Mexico City by Christmas.

Headline of the Day -100: “May Be Sea Fight for Mrs. Pankhurst.” Emmeline Pankhurst is on her way back to England, and there will be a race between her supporters trying to spirit her away from her ship before it docks and police trying to arrest her (she’s out of Holloway Prison on a Cat and Mouse Act license).

Hirsute Headline of the Day -100: “Kaiser Decrees Mustaches.” He is dismayed that army officers have taken to shaving off their mustaches, thereby “Americanizing” their faces.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Today -100: December 3, 1913: Of states of the union, watchful waiting, surrenders, sleeping gas, and royal trains

Woodrow Wilson’s first State of the Union address (in fact the first SOTU speech to use the phrase, which the annual address would now be called) calls for binding presidential primaries; full territorial government and railroads to be built and run by the government in Alaska; credits for farmers; workmen’s compensation, and other elements of the Progressive program. The remaining adherents of the Progressive Party are wondering whether it still has a role. He even calls for “social justice,” one of Theodore Roosevelt’s old phrases. And for “ultimate independence” for the Philippines.

One thing he didn’t mention: women’s suffrage.

Wilson predicted the future with astonishing accuracy: “The country, I am thankful to say, is at peace with all the world, and many happy manifestations multiply about us of a growing cordiality and sense of community of interest among the nations, foreshadowing an age of settled peace and good will.” Phew.

“There is but one cloud upon our horizon,” the meteorologist-in-chief remarked: “There can be no certain prospect of peace in America until General Huerta has surrendered his usurped authority in Mexico”. “Mexico has no Government. The attempt to maintain one at the City of Mexico has broken down, and a mere military despotism has been set up which has hardly more than the semblance of national authority. It originated in the usurpation of Victoriano Huerta, who, after a brief attempt to play the part of constitutional President, has at last cast aside even the pretense of legal right and declared himself dictator.” But he reassured Congress that “the collapse is not far away. We shall not, I believe, be obliged to alter our policy of watchful waiting.”

More fun and games in Zabern, Alsace: Baron von Forstner, the arrogant boy-lieutenant who started all the fuss with the local Alsatians, decided to chase down some men who jeered the German soldiers as they passed. He caught only a lame shoemaker, who he hit on the head with the sharp bit of his saber.

Seven of Huerta’s generals in the north announce plans to surrender or switch sides or something (they say they’re surrendering, but at the same time they’re fleeing towards the American border as fast as they can), in a proclamation citing the important principle that they haven’t been paid.

Oil companies in Mexico have stopped supplying oil to the National Railways. Oil is mostly produced in the northern regions now held by rebels, whom the companies are unwilling to risk angering.

Pancho Villa’s chief of staff is arrested in El Paso on a complaint from Villa that he had embezzled rebel funds.

In US District Court in Phoenix, all cases against Texas and Arizona firms for smuggling weapons to the Mexican rebels are dismissed.

Saxony, Germany is developing a sleeping gas: “It is said that the gas from a single bomb has thrown several hundred men into a deep sleep lasting seven or eight hours.”

The teamsters’ strike in Indianapolis, the one that caused Mayor Shank to resign because he couldn’t avert it, is on. And we’ve got what the NYT optimistically calls its “first fatality,” a 19-year-old negro elevator operator shot by special officers “in a riot resulting from an attempt to move an ice wagon.” Don’t know who these “special officers” who are being sworn in are, but there’s also a “Citizens’ Cavalry.” The teamsters are calling for a general strike and for unions to withdraw their funds from local banks.

The government of French Prime Minister Louis Barthou falls after 8 months in office. Barthou himself will fall in a different way in 1934 as fatal collateral damage during the assassination of the king of Yugoslavia. Oh, and while the real cause of the fall of the Barthou government was the instability of multi-party democracy under the Third Republic, the vote the government lost was for tax-deductibility for the latest government loan to build up the army against Germany.

Headline of the Day -100: “May Look at Royal Train.” The German (Prussian?) Ministry of Railways issues an order that RR employees (gates-keepers, porters, etc) must stand at attention when a royal train passes.

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Today -100: December 2, 1913: Of Mexican thrills, exiles, smothered bandits, and flying churchills

Lead sentence of the Day -100: “President Huerta gave the people of the capital a thrill to-day by another of his periodical disappearances.” As always happens, rumors quickly spread that he had fled. Unfortunately, he came back.

The US, Nicaragua and deposed president José Zelaya come to an agreement: he will go back into exile in Barcelona. In other words, the US & Nicaragua leveraged the latter’s request for his extradition to force him back into exile across the Atlantic.

It is just coming out now that the United States almost invaded Mexico back in June. Rebels were being unpleasant to American citizens in Piedras Negras and were threatening to attack the consulate. Secretary of State Bryan wrote to Secretary of War Garrison asking that a force be held ready to cross the border if the consul asked for it. Someone talked to rebel leader Carranza, who settled the situation down. So why the leak now, six months later? Possibly the Wilson Admin needs to demonstrate that he is capable of being tough and getting results, now that Huerta has ignored Wilson’s demands with impunity.

Headline of the Day -100: “SEAL UP UTAH MINE TO SMOTHER BANDIT; Tons of Dynamite in Shaft Where Lopez Is Trapped Amid Deadly Gases. 200 ARMED MEN ON GUARD. Deputies at Every Entrance with Orders to Shoot Down the Desperado on Sight.” Ralph Lopez, Mexican bandit, killed a miner, a chief of police and no fewer than four deputies. The deadly gases, by the way, are actually being pumped into the mine by the authorities (wet gunpowder, sulphur, coal tar, formaldehyde, black oil, etc).

The Paterson strike fails to get going.

The NYT chides William Jennings Bryan for the fact that his old paper The Commoner, now run by his brother, accepts ads for quack medicines.

Winston Churchill becomes the first cabinet minister of any country to fly an airplane. Not fly in an airplane as a passenger, but actually steer it. Take-off and landing were handled by the commander of the British Naval Flying Corps, Capt. Gilbert V. Wildman-Lushington, possessor of the most English name in all Christendom, although not for long. Three days later Wildman-Lushington died in a plane crash.

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Sunday, December 01, 2013

Today -100: December 1, 1913: And the Fatherland has only one

A week ago the Russians arrested and handed over to the Turks a man they’d told Russia was a common or garden-variety murderer. Turned out, he was one of the alleged conspirators behind the assassination of the Grand Vizier in June and had been sentenced to death in his absence. Russia feels it was tricked and demands he be released because it was a political crime. Instead, he “committed suicide.”

Lord Willoughby de Broke sends out a circular, marked “strictly confidential,” to rich landowners calling on them to enroll young men, preferably with military experience, to fight the British Amy over Home Rule.

Punch, December 3:

A Nation of Fire-eaters.
Peaceful Tuton: “Himmel! They have all those armies! And the Fatherland has only one.”

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