Friday, November 14, 2014

Today -100: November 14, 1914: Of insane dukes, passports, villas, and punctured romances

Headline of the Day -100:  “Duke of Cumberland Made Insane By War.”  Found wandering around in a demented state because his son, the Duke of Brunswick, has been declared missing in battle.  I don’t know if either element of this story – the insanity or the MIA thing – have any truth to them.  This could be British disinformation aimed at two guys on the German side (the elder Duke used to be the king of Hanover, when there was still a kingdom of Hanover, and the younger is married to Kaiser Wilhelm’s daughter) who happen to possess English titles (which they will be deprived of in 1919).  The inter-marrying of royalty creates these problems.  The dukes are direct descendants of George III, who was king of both Britain and Hanover, as were all British monarchs from George I until Victoria – Hanover’s rules of succession did not allow for female monarchs.  (Update: Germany denies, a few days later, that Brunswick is wounded or missing or a prisoner.)

The US says it will end its occupation of Vera Cruz in 10 days.  Evidently trying to get out before the newest civil war heats up.  Now they just have to decide which government to give the customs duties they’ve been collecting.

Kate Barnard, the state commissioner of charities in Oklahoma, says there is a conspiracy in the state legislature and congressional delegation to rob Cherokees, Seminoles and Chickasaws, especially orphans, of tribal funds.  This theft was facilitated by the 1908 decision to turn the cases over from federal courts to Oklahoma courts.  Once she started advocating for Indian wards, the Legislature de-funded her Department of Charities and Correction, which now runs on, well, charity.  Incidentally, state commissioner of charities is the only office a woman was allowed to hold under the OK constitution.

Britain will now require Americans boarding steamships for America to show passports, but...

The State Department admits that foreign spies have gotten American passports (such as Carl Lody, who was just executed in Britain) pretty easily.  Under new rules, people will have to do more than pretend they’ve lost their passport and swear that they’re American, like Lody did.

Kaiser Wilhelm, afraid that Greece might soon join the Allies, is trying to sell his villa, Achilleion, on Corfu before it gets confiscated.  Which is in fact what happened.  It became a wartime hospital, an orphanage, a Nazi headquarters, and a museum/casino (in which the casino scene in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only was filmed).

Speaking of film history, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” the first full-length comedy motion picture, starring Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand, directed by Mack Sennett, is released.  This is a pretty good print, but turn off the obnoxious sound.

The New Statesman publishes George Bernard Shaw’s article “Common Sense About the War,” which will also begin running in the NYT tomorrow and lead to much vituperative debate in Britain, questions in Parliament about why it wasn’t censored, etc (some of the debate is reproduced in the book version at the link). Read it and decide for yourself (in other words, I completely forgot I intended to read it by today).

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