Saturday, January 31, 2015

Today -100: January 31, 1915: Of elusive cars, relief, curfews, race feeling, and motorcycle accessories

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Sunday NYT Magazine has an article about an “elusive gray car” on the Yorkshire coast, which totally exists and which is totally sending signals to German U-boats, or something.

German newspapers claim that Russia is arresting socialists.

Pancho Villa is said to have been shot and wounded by his bodyguard.

The Rockefeller Foundation is withdrawing from relief work in Belgium, leaving it to the Commission for Relief in Belgium (which is headed by Herbert Hoover and is doing an impressive job of feeding an entire country). Since October, it has brought $1 million of food and supplies to Belgium in four steamship cargoes.

The mayor of an (unnamed) French town near Nancy is suspended for shooting at a German airplane, because a civilian acting as a combatant violates the rules of war and could lead to retaliation.

The war finally hits home in Berlin, where a 3 a.m. curfew is imposed, “for reasons of discipline, public order, and safety.” Haven’t they heard that life is a cabaret?

Rev. Charles Edward Locke, a Methodist pastor and author of Is the Negro Making Good?, objects to the film “The Clansman,” which is to air soon at Clune’s Auditorium in Los Angeles, because it might arouse race feeling. Says Rev. Locke, “It exhibits the negro character in such perfidy and diabolism as to do a crying injustice to a large portion of our fellow-citizens”. The censors order several cuts. The movie in question will, of course, be released under the title “The Birth of a Nation.”

Yes, yes it does.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Today -100: January 30, 1915: Of weekend trippers, bootblacks, and false teeth

British Prime Minister Asquith’s wife Margot is stopped by French soldiers on the way to the front with some other guests. They were supposed to be having a nice weekend at a villa behind the lines of a war zone, as you do. Instead, they weren’t allowed to go on or return, ostensibly because French supply trucks were coming through, really because Gen. Joffre is getting annoyed with all the weekend tourists. It used to be a nice war zone until people started discovering it on Yelp, and now it’s all crowded and noisy and you can’t park...

Headline of the Day -100: “Wants Japanese in Poland.” Past and future prime minister of France and past, current, and future dick Georges Clemenceau wants 150,000 Japanese soldiers brought in to fight the Germans.

Russian troops have pushed through Austrian Poland into Hungary. Austria-Hungary had kinda hoped to keep the fighting confined to Poland.

The NYT doesn’t seem to have taken to heart Serbia’s request to be called Serbia rather than Servia.

A negro bootblack in Glendale, CA is sent to prison for 6 months and fined $250 for giving a white woman a suggestive note – or an extra 250 days if he can’t pay the fine, which obviously he can’t.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Teeth in Court, Can’t Chew.” A dentist sued for non-payment for a set of false teeth ($20 + car fare), which hurt, then they were sandpapered but now they they fell out, then the dentist fixed them with powder which made the guy sick so that he couldn’t eat or chew tobacco, etc. The court ruled in favor of the dentist, who then left town while the old guy’s teeth were still locked up in the evidence room, and... maybe you had to be there.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Today -100: January 29, 1915: Of zeppelins, valkyries, duels, birthdays, and fertilizerers

Carranza recaptures Mexico City.

Russia will put a captured zeppelin crew on trial for bombing an undefended town.

The opera house in occupied Lille gives a performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm’s birthday. The French locals are invited but refuse to go.

Peru’s foreign minister resigns in order, I guess, to fight a duel, in which he is seriously wounded. The NYT doesn’t feel a need to find out the cause of the duel, or to follow up the story.

The French War Office announces: “On the heights of the Meuse, opposite the French position at Eparges, German soldiers during the celebration yesterday of Kaiser Wilhelm’s birthday began singing the Marseillaise to the accompaniment of fifes and drums. A violent fire from the French troops silenced them.” So probably no present either.

Headline of the Day -100: “Offer Strikers More Pay.” This is the New Jersey fertilizer plant where deputy sheriffs shot up strikers, killing five. The NYT seems to have conveniently forgotten that the fertilizerers are striking against a pay cut, so the “more pay” being offered by the company is actually a 10% pay cut rather than the 20% pay cut. The union rejects the offer.

Fertilizerers is the word for people who work in a fertilizer factory, right?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Today -100: January 28, 1915: Of vetoes, cakes, canals, and long letters

The German occupiers sentence the wife of the Greek consul at Liège, Belgium to 3 years for helping Belgians escape.

Woodrow Wilson will veto the immigration bill because of the literacy provision, just as Taft did two years ago. He believes it would prevent entry of political refugees and others who would make good American citizens.

Kaiser Wilhelm claims to be setting an example by eating the same adulterated crap he’s forcing on his people. No cakes or whipped cream. And it’s his birthday too.

I’d totally forgotten that Italy still had a formal alliance with Germany and Austria, which didn’t kick in when those two countries went to war because it’s a purely defensive alliance. Anyway, as Italy is evidently now making preparations to go to war with Austria, Germany threatens to renounce the Triple Alliance and consider Italy an enemy if it doesn’t stop.

Turkish troops begin an attempt to seize the Suez Canal. It’s not going too well.

Mexico’s Provisional President Garza’s presidency gets more provisional as he flees Mexico City to establish a new capital at Cuernavaca.

British literary dude Edmund Gosse sent a letter to his friend, British literary dude Compton Mackenzie (neither of whose names is spelled correctly in the NYT) in Italy, only to have the censor complain that it was too long and threatening not to deliver such lengthy missives in the future.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Today -100: January 27, 1915: Sie hatten alle nur einen Feind

Japan is demanding that China turn over to it all the German and Austrian concessions, give it permission to build a railroad, give it mining rights, etc etc.

The French newspaper L’Eclaire has been told by the censors, who are pissed at criticisms of their work in the paper, that they will no longer review its articles before publication and the paper can just take its chances on being prosecuted.

The German government is taking over the country’s food supply, banning all private trade in corn, wheat and flour, and seizing all existing stocks.

Catholic schools in Germany are all making children sing Ernst Lissauer’s “Hymn of Hate.” Hate of England, that is.
He is known to you all, he is known to you all,
He crouches behind the dark gray flood,
Full of envy, of rage, of craft, of gall,
Cut off by waves that are thicker than blood.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Today -100: January 26, 1915: It would take me a week to get to you this time

Headline of the Day -100: “Russians Held in Leash.” Didn’t know they were into the kinky stuff.

Headline of the Day -100: “Monster Protest on Literacy Test.” At Cooper Union, an audience of monsters protested the literacy requirement in the immigration bill and, like other such meetings all over the country, demands Wilson veto the bill, which it calls “un-American and inhuman.” You’d think “inhuman” would encompass “un-American,” but I guess that would explain the protesting monsters and ok I’ll stop it now.

Switzerland bans the export of chocolate. (And now, we can't get proper Cadbury's in the US. It's just like history is repeating itself.)

The Supreme Court rules that employers have the right to require employees to quit unions as a condition of employment. That doesn’t require employees to give up their constitutional freedom, the court says; they are “free to decline employment on such terms”.

The transcontinental telephone line opens. The first transcontinental telephone call, like the first phone call in 1876, is between Alexander Graham Bell, this time in New York, and Thomas Watson in San Francisco. Bell repeats, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you” and Watson replies, “It would take me a week to get to you this time.” Such a phone call would cost $20.70 for the first three minutes and $6.75 for each minute thereafter. It will take about ten minutes to put the call through. (While phone call rates have gone down, a smallish one-bedroom condo in 333 Grant Ave, the SF building where Watson took the call, now goes for $779,000). Bell also speaks to Woodrow Wilson in DC.

Bell, I notice, is sticking with “Ahoy” instead of hello, just like Mr. Burns.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Today -100: January 25, 1915: The baby-killers of Scarborough sallied forth to kill some more babies

Naval battle in the North Sea between the British and German fleets, known as the Battle of Dogger Bank. The British intercept ships on their way, presumably, to bombard more English towns, and do well in the battle, sinking the cruiser Blücher with a loss of 792 men, but not as well as the NYT suggests. They should have pursued the escaping ships but instead hung around to send the crippled Blücher to the bottom. (Yes, British readers, sent to the bottom at Dogger Bank. You may commence sniggering.)

(Pro tip: if you’re looking for cool pictures of the cruiser Blücher on its side, on fire, and sinking, some are from 1940, when the same thing happened. Um, spoiler alert.)

The Daily Chronicle crows, “Yesterday morning the baby-killers of Scarborough sallied forth to kill some more babies...”

Thus far in the war, the Germans have lost 33 ships, amounting to 147,640 tons, the British 20 ships and 156,143 tons.

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg corrects the “misapprehension” about his oft-quoted remark to the British ambassador just before the war began that the Belgian neutrality treaty was a mere “scrap of paper.” He didn’t mean that Germany viewed it as a mere scrap of paper, no, heaven forfend, but that Belgian and British actions had rendered it such. He’s had six months in which his words were used to demonstrate German duplicity and lack of honor, and that’s the best he could come up with?

Harvard is bringing over some of the refugee Louvain University professors to teach.

Sen. William “Gumshoe Bill” Stone (D-Missouri) writes to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan about the supposed partiality of the US towards the Allies (the NYT notes that there are many Germans in St. Louis)(Stone will be one of the few senators to vote against entering the war). Bryan replies that it is not the duty of a neutral country like the US to prevent contraband reaching a belligerent, and that the supposed partiality towards the Allies merely reflects the fact that the British Navy is superior to the German and better able to stop contraband (or things the British deem contraband, including oil and rubber) – in other words, the Germans are just as welcome to buy munitions in the US, the munitions just probably won’t make it to Germany. Bryan is saying that it would actually be “an unneutral act” to prevent Americans selling munitions to the Allies, and there is no obligation on the US to do so. Keep all this in mind when German submarines start sinking ships (although Bryan does point out that Germany didn’t think neutral countries should be banned from selling munitions to warring countries when it was doing it during the Russo-Japanese and Balkan Wars).

A French doctor figures out that shells can kill soldiers they don’t actually hit, with shock and air pressure and fumes and “nervous disturbance.” Lungs can literally explode. “Dr. Sencert’s explanation solves a mystery which formed the base of some of the war’s most extraordinary stories.”

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Today -100: January 24, 1915: The subject is too revolting to humanity to be employed for political propaganda

Germany warns Romania that its order to mobilize its military will be regarded as a hostile act.

Russian Prime Minister Goremykin denies as “nonsense” rumors being spread by Germany that Jews are being slaughtered in Russian Poland. GoreMyKin, his name is. He adds that he is surprised to hear Jews talking of emancipation. Yes, they’ve been serving loyally in the army, he admits, but if they hadn’t they would have been shot, so it’s not like they should be given something in return.

No, really, that’s what he said.

The German ambassador to the US says why would he lie about the Russians killing Jews in Poland, “The subject is too revolting to humanity to be employed for political propaganda.”

A committee investigating the NY State Reformatory for Women at Bedford Hills considers reversing former superintendent Katharine Davis’s policy of making white and black prisoners roomies, but admits that segregation would violate state law.

The will of Charles Emery, former head of the American Tobacco Company, includes $50,000 for his grandson upon his 30th birthday, provided he has abstained from tobacco.

Pres. Wilson orders a census of the unemployed. Because he thinks people have been exaggerating their number for political purposes.

Carranza has supposedly had the father, mother, wife and three children of Gen. Santibanez taken hostage, saying they will be executed if Carranza’s brother Jesus is not released.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Today -100: January 23, 1915: “Wolves vs. refugees” would be a great video game

Pope Benedict calls on countries not to commit excesses in the countries they’re invading, but fails to name any countries he thinks are doing so. To name names, he says, would be neither convenient nor useful. Convenient? He also says that people in occupied countries shouldn’t commit any infraction of public order. He also thinks the war is a punishment from God against people whose thoughts are entirely engrossed with the things of the world. I think he blames the recent earthquake in Italy on the same thing.

Prohibition is re-enacted in Alabama, the Legislature over-riding the veto of Gov. Charles Henderson, who had wanted the issue decided by a referendum.

Headline of the Day -100: “Wolves Hunt Refugees.” Carpathian refugees fleeing Austrian troops.

A French newspaper is complaining that German prisoners of war are allowed to just stroll around town, insulting shopkeepers, in this case a shopkeeper selling postcards of German atrocities.

Atrocity postcards: collect them all!

A negro is lynched in Arlington, Georgia.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today -100: January 22, 1915: Hohenborn to be wild

Theodore Roosevelt writes to British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, saying that Britain and France’s ban on war correspondents is harming public relations in the US, by which he means the chances of getting the US into the war.

Name of the Day -100: New German Minister of War Major Gen. Adolf Wild von Hohenborn.

Germany defends the attacks on mainland England: those Zeppelins were just innocently going about their business, flying to bomb the fortified town of Great Yarmouth – a totally legitimate military target – when out of the blue the towns they were flying over started viciously shooting at them, so naturally they dropped bombs on them.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Cologne Gazette claims that France put out peace feelers to Germany last September, but Lord Kitchener threatened to bombard the French coast unless France promised not to make peace without British permission.

Georgia Governor John Slaton offers $500 rewards each for the arrest and conviction of the first five members of the lynch mob that killed the Barber family.  Evidently lynching a whole family reflects badly on all lynch mobs. “A malignant crime and an attack on civilization,” the governor calls the lynchings.

Headline of the Day -100: “Turks and Germans Expelling Zionists.” Settlers in Palestine.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Daily Telegraphy

So why do I read the Daily Telegraph alongside proper newspapers?

Well, at this very moment the website’s front page features these stories:

David Cameron asks why people care about Kim Kardashian. Also, he doesn’t like hip hop. Shocker.

MI5 agents will wear wigs and makeups when testifying against alleged Al Qaida dude Abid Naseer in Brooklyn. My study of British historical documentaries (okay, Monty Python) suggests that this means they will testify in drag and in falsetto.

Why women should not be on top (on top of men anyway) during sex (I shrieked and stopped reading at the phrase “penile fractures”).

Labour MP Jim Dobbin, who has the most Labour-MP name ever, or rather had, because when he was visiting Poland his hosts told him it was customary to down a shot after every course. He will be missed, probably.

Ukip Leicester local councillor (and candidate for Parliament) Lynton Yates, who has the most Ukip-councillor name ever, wants anyone getting government benefits banned from driving.

16-year-old John Denno has done the rise and fall of the Third Reich in Legos.

Berlin book burnings.


The liberation of Auschwitz.

Hitler’s suicide.

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Today -100: January 21, 1915: This blind barbarian vengeance doesn’t terrify us

The British shrug off yesterday’s zeppelin raids. Says the London Star: “This blind barbarian vengeance doesn’t terrify us. Rather do we deduce from its comparative impotence new confidence in the triumph of right over might.” A church was damaged in an English town with the most English-townish name ever, Snettisham. Which is 4 miles away from the king’s estate at Sandringham, so there are rumors that the Germans were trying to assassinate him but got lost in the dark (anyway, the king wasn’t home).

The people of King’s Lynn are sure the Zeps must have had help from spies in identifying targets, since the bombs fell quite near (without actually hitting) such vital targets as an oil storage tank and the King’s Lynn post office. The MP for the area, Holcombe Ingleby, which is the most English-Tory-MPish name ever, will claim that two unknown automobiles had used searchlights to point out targets.

British insurance companies have sprung into action, doubling their rates for policies against damage by aircraft.

The air raids have alerted the NYT to the existence of “a German policy that does not seem to have been very well understood”, a policy of terrorizing civilian populations so they will pressure their governments to end the war. No, really, the NYT is just figuring this out now. But they figure the ineffectiveness of zeppelins, at least in this raid, should reassure the British people, because Londoners have a greater chance of being eaten by a lion than bombed by a zeppelin, probably.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, having stubbornly failed to drop dead despite many rumors saying he was going to, is now totally going to abdicate.

Australia’s capital is temporarily moved from Melbourne to Sydney.

22 of the Carteret, New Jersey deputy sheriffs who shot up the strikers have been arrested for manslaughter. The rest remain guarding the fertilizer plant.

Following that pool-room raid in Maryland where some congresscritters – or perhaps some people who just claimed to be members of Congress – asserted their immunity to arrest, there is talk about issuing them with special badges or something which they would be required to wear under their lapel, like that of a secret society.

The lower house of the Idaho Legislature passes a bill against aliens owning land.

All non-combatants are ordered out of Cracow within 48 hours.

A negro, Edward Johnson, is lynched in Vicksburg, Mississippi, for stealing cattle.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Today -100: January 20, 1915: Of carteretism, colonial wars, civilizing flags, humorous soldiers, zeppelins, and cardinals

Deputy sheriffs employed as guards by the Liebig Fertilizer Works in Carteret, New Jersey, shoot 20 strikers, killing one; four more will die later. All of them were shot from behind, presumably as they were running away. The strike is against a 20% wage cut and they had blocked a railroad line to prevent strikebreakers being brought in. The deputies are claiming the strikers fired first; no witness who is not a deputy sheriff is backing up their story.

Germany invaded Portuguese Angola a couple of months ago but still hasn’t declared war on Portugal, evidently because Portugal would then seize as prizes of war all the ships it interned at the start of the war. The war between the two countries is confined entirely to the colonies.

Senator-Elect Warren G. Harding says “The magnificent resources of Mexico never will be given to mankind, and that country never will come into its own until it is brought under the civilizing influences of the American flag. How and when that condition will be brought about is not for me to say at this time, but it is coming.”

Rudyard Kipling claims Britain’s soldiers “are humourous because, for all our long faces, we are the only genuinely humorous race on earth.”

Zeppelin raids in England, the first on the British mainland (more on this tomorrow).

Cardinal Mercier, archbishop of Malines, Belgium, denies German claims that his house arrest isn’t interfering with his episcopal work in a letter sent secretly to all the priests in his diocese.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Today -100: January 19, 1915: Sure, they take jaywalking very seriously in D.C.

The Battle of Hartmannswillerkopf begins. I’m guessing that’s the German name for it.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Supposedly, a telephone operator in Austria started a panic by reporting that Italian troops were on the move to occupy Trento. Soldiers were moved to meet them, roads were blown up, but it wasn’t true.

The Senate votes 40-38 to impose prohibition on the District of Columbia, short of the required 2/3.

Eulalio Gutiérrez, the Very Provisional Indeed President of Mexico, explains in a letter sent to Washington, that he fled Mexico City because he feared Villa and/or Zapata would have him killed because of his disapproval of their murders and “acts of brigandage.”

Billy Sunday gives a sermon/harangue in Washington DC, attended by many members of Congress. Woodrow Wilson is not in attendance, but had a private meeting with him. Sunday says in his sermon that he “would not have to leave the corporate limits of Washington to find people who would vote to crucify Jesus Christ if he walked up Pennsylvania Avenue today.”

Released today:

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Today -100: January 18, 1915: With a capital T which rhymes with P...

Headline of the Day -100: “Congressmen Taken in Poolroom Raid.” In Baltimore. Doesn’t say how many – they have immunity while Congress is in session, so they weren’t booked.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: the German press claims that Russia threatened France and Britain that it would make a separate peace unless they gave it a large loan.

Gen. Roque González Garza is the newest provisional president of Mexico, appointed by the convention, which is a bit short of numbers since some members have been assassinated and some have fled the country. Eulalio Gutiérrez, who made the mistake of breaking with Villa and Zapata, has fled Mexico City, without resigning the provisional presidency. Garza declares martial law, as was the custom.

Woodrow Wilson’s first grandson is born in the White House. As yet unnamed, he will be Francis Bowes Sayre, Jr. (d.2008), the dean of National Cathedral in D.C. and a pretty impressive social activist. Wonder what the man who marched with Martin Luther King thought of his racist grandfather. He is the 11th baby born in the White House.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Today -100: January 17, 1915: Should probably just have waited for them to come home for the weekend with laundry

Headline of the Day -100: “Rumanians Called Home.” Romanian students at Swiss universities have been asked to return, so they can be put into the army. Or maybe Romania was just missing them.

Mexico: the Carranza regime supposedly executes two naturalized American citizens for gun-running.

Carranza ends his embargo on oil to Britain. The US came down on him hard.

“Name That War” Watch: a NYT Sunday Book Review article is entitled “The World War.” The insta-books under review include “Treitschke and the Great War,” “The World War: How It Looks to the Nations Involved and What It Means to Us” and simply “The War, 1914: A History and an Explanation for Boys and Girls.”

Also reviewed: “Swollen-Headed William (after the German!),” a children’s book making fun of Kaiser Wilhelm (in verse) in a parody of the Shock-Headed Peter nursery stories about what befalls a naughty boy. A couple of pages will suffice (click to enlarge):

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Today -100: January 16, 1915: Of oil, lynchings, not-so-white bread, hobble kilts, shattered nerves, and war as a moral institution

Carranza orders several foreign-owned oil companies shut down, jeopardizing oil production for the British Navy. They had refused to pay a special tax.

A mob in Monticello, Georgia lynches an entire black family, Dan Barber, along with his son Jesse (age 16) and his two daughters Eula and Ella, all of whom resisted the father’s arrest for selling whisky without a license. The mob only brought one rope, so they lynched each of his children in front of him one by one before murdering him.

Germany decrees that all “white” bread must henceforth be at least 30% rye, and rye bread 40% potato.

But that is nothing to the privation of Scottish soldiers, who are protesting War Office attempts to reduce the number of pleats in their khaki kilts so as to require only 5 yards of material instead of 7.

Richard Norton of the American Volunteer Ambulance Corps says there is no such thing as shell shock (“shattered nerves”).

Headline of the Day -100: In the Cologne Volkszeitung, which the NYT says is the “leading organ” of the Catholic political party: “War As a Moral Institution.” War elevates for Germans the principles of piety, love of Fatherland, unity, sacrifice, regard for intellectual values, contempt for vanities, and pristine simplicity of life. So it’s just like a monastery, but with more barbed wire, I guess. Women, the paper says, are no longer frivolous or wanton, men no longer think of evil things. Degenerate art has disappeared. The German people are thinking high and holy thoughts. Ain’t war grand?

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Today -100: January 15, 1915: Look with contempt upon those who are so immoral as to eat cakes

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease resigns, five days before his term was due to expire. Just doesn’t want to attend his successor’s inauguration, evidently. (He will also take all his records with him).

The New Jersey auto commissioner, speed demon that he is, wants the state speed limit raised to 30 mph in the country and 15 in the city, up from 25 & 12. He also wants to put drunk drivers in jail – it’s not clear what the punishment is now, if any.

Headline of the Day -100: “King Helps at Avezzano.” If you define “helped” as “stood around giving orders to people who were actually helping those injured by the earthquake.”

Thousands of Armenian refugees are fleeing Turkey into Russia. “They are in a pitiable state,” says the NYT. But not as pitiable as the state of the Armenians who didn’t make it out.

Headline of the Day -100: A matched set: 1) “Germany Alarmed By Famine Menace,” 2) “CAKES AND TARTS TABOOED.; Germans Exhorted to Blush with Shame if Tempted to Eat Them.” Prussian Agriculture Minister Baron von Schorlemer is also said to be “really concerned about pork”. I’ll bet he is, I’ll bet he is. The blush thing comes from a Doctor Professor Harms of the University of Kiel, who adds, “Look with contempt upon those who are so immoral as to eat cakes, and by their greed diminish our supplies of flour.”

At a meeting of the New York State Association Opposed to Woman’s Suffrage, a Mrs Frank Goodwin says 8 of the 11 suffrage states are controlled by Mormons. She says feminism is “not the sweet, easy elevation of womanhood which many suffragists believe, but the demand of restless, discontented, unhappy women for greater economic and social independence and for freedom to interpret the question of motherhood as they see fit.” She says that like it’s a bad thing. The suffragists, she says, “would help this world along on stepping stones for smirched and stained womanhood.” A Miss Minnie Bronson, the Association’s general secretary, says “Woman’s work is the training of the men who will make the laws. The worst grafter had a mother who found something – perhaps bridge whist or woman’s suffrage – more interesting than the training of her child.” Suffragists, she says, teach disobedience to laws they have not helped make. She says that like it’s a bad thing. A Mrs. A.J. George of the Massachusetts anti society tells of friend who asked her how to “cure” a woman of 18 who had joined the suffrage movement. “I said I thought if she would fall desperately in love it would settle the matter.”

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Screech of the Shells Makes the Hens Lay.” According to a British captain in a letter home. After every fusillade, the men go chasing after the chickens in hope of eggs. “I shall try running a poultry farm on the explosion system when I get home.”

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today -100: January 14, 1915: What wife or mother does not better love a dead hero than a living shirker?

Earthquake in central Italy destroys the town of Avezzano and kills 12,000 people.

Austria’s Foreign Minister Count Leopold von Berchtold is forced out. Others in government thought he was offering too much to Italy to try to keep it out of the war (they’re claiming he’s retiring for personal reasons, of course). He is replaced by the more hardline Baron Stephan Freiherr Burián von Rajecz.

The Servian legation in London informs the press that Servia would now like to be called Serbia. In fact, they say, the former spelling, the only one I’ve come across up until now, “is highly offensive to our people, because it suggests a false derivation from the Latin root meaning ‘to serve.’ It is a source of hidden pain to Serbians to see that some journals persist in using the corrupt forms.” They’d also like to hear the Serbian national hymn played more often.

Cuba has finally decided to start its own currency (which the US Mint will make for them).

The national convention in Mexico reappoints Gen. Eulalio Gutiérrez as provisional president, to serve out the rest of Díaz’s term (Díaz! that’s like four or five presidents ago!), until November 1916.

The Russian Council of Empire is reorganized, with anyone with German names replaced. Most of those men were officials in Russian Poland.

Russia is expelling all Germans and Austrians aged 16 to 60 from Petrograd and parts of Russia along its western borders.

Carrie Chapman Catt points out that many of the Southern congresscritters who claimed they voted against the women’s suffrage amendment because they believedin state’s rights were somehow able to bring themselves to vote for a prohibition amendment. Funny, that.

Christabel Pankhurst gives a speech at Carnegie Hall. There was some heckling, interjected questions which she responded to. One of the hecklers was playwright August Strindberg’s widow (I think this means his divorced second wife, who was Austrian, rather than his third); another was Edith Ellis, the (lesbian) wife of sexologist Havelock Ellis.

Christabel begins by placing the war in some sort of continuity with her own pre-war militant suffrage tactics: “We are here to-night to consider the militancy in which some countries are engaged for the sake of ideals which are as precious to America as they are to Europe itself.”

She notes that “We British women have not yet entered into our inheritance, but that inheritance exists, having been won for us by our forefathers and foremothers. That Mr. Asquith has not handed over our inheritance to us will not blind us to the fact that the Kaiser, if he could, would destroy it altogether. Why, the men in Germany have not got real votes yet. If the men of Germany had followed the example of the British suffragettes and agitated for full political liberty in Germany, that would have been a better policy than attacking the free and freedom-loving nations of Europe. ... We know now where anti-suffragism has its home. We know where it has its real leader. It has its home in Berlin and its leader in the Kaiser. Our Prime Ministers can be changed, but you can never change the House of Hohenzollern.”

She hasn’t buried her enmity towards Asquith, who she accuses of having kept secret the fact that Germany announced two years before the war that it intended to dominate all of Europe. I have no idea what she’s talking about here.

Asked about Britain’s not-so-democratic ally Russia, she claims that everything tyrannical about Russia is actually an import from Prussia, whose influence “has brought out all the worst in Russian life and has repressed all the best in Russian life.” “The Russian people know how to fight for freedom, and the Germans don’t.”

Echoing that War Office ad from yesterday, she says the women of Britain want their menfolk to fight: “what wife or mother does not better love a dead hero than a living shirker?”

Finally, she suggests that the peace movement in the US is being got up by German agents.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Today -100: January 13, 1915: Their beauty is disturbing to business

The lame duck Congress votes down a women’s suffrage amendment to the US Constitution, 174-204. The ayes were 86 D’s, 72 R’s, 12 Progressives, 3 Progressive-Republicans and an independent. 171 D’s & 33 R’s voted against. The only Democrat from the Deep South who votes yes is Richmond Hobson of Alabama, an outgoing lame duck himself. Of the congresscritters from the 11 suffrage states, only one, George Kindel (D-Colo.), another lame duck, voted no. There was hissing in the galleries during the speech of Stanley Bowdle (D-Ohio), yet another outgoing lame duck, who said, “The women of this smart capital are beautiful. Their beauty is disturbing to business; their feet are beautiful; their ankles are beautiful, but here I must pause – for they are not interested in the State.”

Mrs Arthur Dodge, president of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (honestly she has a real first name of her own, but I can never remember it and I’m tired of looking it up each time she pops up) says this vote shows “that from now on the wave of hysteria in which the suffragists have indulged or of which they have been the victims will be on the wane.”

Woodrow Wilson says he didn’t intend those remarks in his Jackson Day speech to indicate that he was running for re-election. No, really he didn’t.

It’s interesting seeing everyone jump to over-interpret anything he says, a la Hillary. It was genuinely thought possible that a president’s ambitions might not extend to a second term (there are rumors that he plans to step aside in favor of his son-in-law, William Gibbs McAdoo, who would eventually... well, check back here in 9 years).

The US Supreme Court stays Leo Frank’s execution.

The British War Office takes out an ad in various newspapers (I believe this is a poster version of the ad):

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Today -100: January 12, 1915: Of militias, warrior women, polygamy, and coyote (the other other white meat)

A few days before he is due to leave office, SC Gov. Coleman Blease abolishes the state militia. He’s been quarreling with the federal War Department for years, which he says has left the militia in such bad morale that it would just be wrong to turn it over to incoming Gov. Manning.

A colony of Belgian refugee farmers will be settled in Cuba.

Turkey has evidently given up on the idea of invading Egypt.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Russians claim to have captured seven women who were fighting in German army uniforms. According to the Daily Chronicle (London), “They are fine specimens of Teutonic womanhood, and the Russian nurses greatly admire their finely developed muscles, which seem to indicate that they have belonged for years to German gymnastic societies.” The story is nonsense, but what purpose does it serve?

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan expresses his understanding of military matters: “If the president of the United States needed one million men for the national defense, he could call for them at the rising of the sun, and they would answer the call by sunset.” This will give rise to much comment.

Secretary of War Lindley Garrison, appearing before the Senate Philippines Committee, is asked about a provision in the eventual-independence bill banning polygamy. Garrison is against forcing the ban on non-Christians, and anyway, he says, Jesus never spoke against plural marriages and there’s lots of polygamy in the Bible.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Drinks His Blood and Eats Coyote. And Yet Prospector, Lost on Desert, Perishes.” Or maybe it was his diet that killed him.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Today -100: January 11, 1915: Of rascals, chains, hospital ships, and coal mines

Headline of the Day -100: “Called Kaiser a Rascal.” Belgian retired Gen. Gustave Fift, sentenced to life by a German court-martial for helping young Belgian men escape to the Netherlands to join the Belgian Army in France.

A Julius Wodiska has invented a chain gun (two projectiles connected by a chain) to destroy aircraft, functioning sort of like a bolas. Mr Wodiska is the holder of patents for an improved bicycle pedal and for rings (the jewelry kind) with words on them. I don’t know how those panned out, but I think this invention is a loser.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan vetoes the Navy’s plans to build a new hospital ship to replace its old and inadequate one, because he says it might give the impression that the US is preparing for some sort of war or something.

The United Mine Workers and the Bache-Denman Coal Company in Arkansas come to an agreement ending the labor struggle there: the union will buy the company out for $200,000 and operate the mine itself on a cooperative basis at least until it can be sold for a profit, and the company will drop its damages lawsuit.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Today -100: January 10, 1915: Of lotteries, pardons, and rabbits

Pancho Villa, along with miscellaneous commanders and governors on various sides of the Mexican melée, sign a treaty to stop shooting into the US and to make Naco a neutral port.

Carranza, who you would think has other worries, bans lotteries as detrimental to public morals.

Under martial law in Alsace, speaking French is now banned. A few divorces have been granted where one spouse is pro-French and the other pro-German.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Gov. Blease Pardons Everybody But Himself.” The outgoing governor of South Carolina pardons another 1,500, everyone paroled in the last four years. Plus a bunch more commutations, clemencies etc, including 17 more murderers. No governor of any state has ever pardoned as many people as Blease has, something like 3,165. There are something like 125 prisoners remaining in the state pen.

The game warden of Fairfax County, Virginia, who is named H.C. Cockrell because of course he is, says he will demand that Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan be arrested and extradited on a charge of hunting rabbits, which it is illegal for non-residents to do in Fairfax County. Bryan says he did go rabbit-hunting on Christmas Day but he didn’t shoot any rabbits.

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Friday, January 09, 2015

Today -100: January 9, 1915: Of cardinals, animated conservatives, fraternization, and armchair generals

A German cruiser is using a supply base in Haiti, despite the US having specifically told Haiti not to allow that.

Kaiser Wilhelm sends a telegram to Pope Benedict saying that Cardinal Mercier was not arrested, just warned to stop his anti-German propaganda, and the kaiser is quite sure the pope will approve of that. The pope replies that in fact Mercier was duty-bound to work for Belgium independence, and he himself would have done the same. The Germans are claiming that the governor-general of conquered Belgium brought to the cardinal’s attention his view that the pastoral letter was an incitement, so the cardinal said it certainly wasn’t intended to be an incitement and withdrew it at once. I’m assuming this is no more true than the claim that Mercier isn’t under house arrest, or palace arrest, or whatever cardinals live in.

Germany protests to San Marino (that’s a country – look it up) against it supposedly encouraging espionage through its wireless station. Germany threatens to send in a commission of enquiry. San Marino says no you won’t.

Woodrow Wilson gives the Jackson Day speech at Indianapolis, saying that the Republicans haven’t had a new idea in 30 years. He says progressives should leave the R party for the D party, and says he himself is an “animated conservative,” whatever the hell that means. He also says, “There may come a time when the American people will have to judge whether I know what I am talking about or not,” which many people take as an announcement that he will be running for re-election.

French Prime Minister René Viviani’s son Jean is killed in action. Actually, he was killed in August but it’s only just been confirmed because he died near the German lines, and I guess the Germans told the Swiss, who Viviani had asked to make enquiries.

The German Army bans fraternization, as during the Christmas Truce. This article is the first mention I’ve seen of football during the truce.

French General Paul François Grossetti is so fat he likes to sit in an armchair on the battlefield. He hasn’t been hit yet, but he keeps having to find new people for his staff to replace the ones who get shot.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Today -100: January 8, 1915: Er, what exactly disqualifies a nation from being called “civilized?”

After 3½ months of investigating, the commission appointed by the French government to look into charges of German atrocities has concluded that there have indeed been German atrocities. “We must conclude that there never has been a war against civilized nations of so savage and ferocious a character as that waged upon our soil by our implacable adversary. Pillage, outrage, burning, and murder are ordinary practices of our enemies”. And rape, lots of rape.

Germany denies arresting Cardinal Mercier. Germany totally arrested Cardinal Mercier.

Former member of the Russian Duma Shmaryah Levin, a Zionist, says 1,000 or more Jews have been massacred in Russian Poland by Poles and Cossacks. When the invading German troops were driven out, Poles told soldiers that Jews had collaborated with the Germans; thus, the massacres. Many more Jews were told to leave.

The House of Representatives has rejected the amendment excluding negro immigrants the Senate added to the immigration bill, although Rep. Joe Eagle (D-Texas) suggests that negro migration should go in the other direction, i.e., back to Africa. The amendment loses 252-75, all 75 being Democrats. The House accepts the Senate’s provisions banning chronic alcoholics and people with “constitutional psychopathic inferiority.”

Seriously, “Joe Eagle”?

Headline of the Day -100: “ONLY AMERICAN BREAD RESTRAINS BELGIANS; Without It They Would Hurl Themselves on German Bayonets, Says Palmer.” So often the problem with humanitarian aid: American charity in shipping large amounts of food to Belgium keeps the Belgians from starving, but also makes the occupation easier and cheaper for Germany.

NY Gov. Whitman “emphatically” opposes ending the death penalty.

The Federal District Court rules that Arizona’s 1914 referendum requiring businesses to employ no more than 20% foreign employees is unconstitutional. Britain and Italy had complained that the law violated their treaty rights.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Today -100: January 7, 1915: Of child labor, Cossacks, and chorus girls

David Clark, editor of the Southern Textile Bulletin, shows up at a meeting of the National Child Labor Committee, a non-governmental reform group still in existence today, and demands to be heard. He says that children employed in North Carolina textile mills are not overworked and under-nourished, as documented in NCLC reports and the photos taken by its photographer Lewis Hine.

Why, Clark says, “I am willing to wager that the children in the mill district, boy for boy, can lick any other class of boys in America.” Also, he says it’s none of the business of people in New York and Massachusetts if 13-year-olds work in North Carolina.

Mexico: “President” Gutierrez’s regime has arrested the brother of “President” Carranza. Promises a fair trial.

NY’s new governor Charles Whitman makes his first annual message to the Legislature. He calls for the abolition of the Dept of Efficiency and Economy, which is efficient and economical of him, and the state Fire Marshal, because everyone’s forgotten all about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, I guess.

German Chancellor Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg’s son, a cavalry lieutenant, is killed in Poland by some Cossacks, as was the custom.

Last year, Robert Goldman, the son of banker Henry Goldman (of Goldman, Sachs & Co.) married a chorus girl, as was the custom. Because he is 19, his father is suing for divorce on his behalf, evidently against his will, which I didn’t know was a thing. Edith, the chorus girl, is suing Henry for alienation of affections for $100,000. (Update: More details emerge when the case reaches court in March. The young Mr. Goldman met Ms. Ostend when she was performing in “The Belle of Bond Street,” which is kind of perfect. When the senior Goldman found out about the marriage, he “sent his son to a ranch in the West, where he made him work as a cowboy for $40 a month.” And it sounds like young Robert was agreeable to being divorced, after his father’s private dicks found his wife in the company of other men.)

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Today -100: January 6, 1915: Of vultures, patriotism & endurance, and propellers

There have been meetings demanding justice for Leo Frank in Chicago, New York, I believe San Francisco, and elsewhere.  Former Georgia Gov. Joseph Brown calls for him to be executed at once, saying the movement for a new trial is based solely on the fact that Frank is a Jew.  Frank responds, “When I read that tirade – unfair, cruel and untruthful - I remembered that, when Prometheus was bound to the rock it was the vulture, and not the eagle, that struck its beak into his vitals.”  That’s telling him!  (Actually, it’s a pretty strong letter, worth reading, making the case that Gov. Brown’s letter was based solely on politics.)

The Germans arrest Cardinal Mercier of Malines/Mechelen in Belgium (near Antwerp).  He’d issued a pastoral letter “Patriotism and Endurance,” saying that no obedience is owed the German occupiers.  It was read in many churches on Sunday.

Russian troops are “menacing Transylvania.”  You can write the joke as well as I can.

Transylvania, by the way, was at that time part of Hungary.

Pope Benedict has gotten warring nations to agree to an exchange of prisoners who are too injured to return to the war.

Headline of the Day -100:  “FIGHT WITH FISTS FOR AN AEROPLANE. Russians Win Bout with Germans Between Trenches — Propeller Kills German Airman.”

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Monday, January 05, 2015

Today -100: January 5, 1915: God hates a four-flusher

Evidently Romania is just waiting until the weather gets better (and the mountain passes are free of snow) before joining the war.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Supposedly, Germany is trying to conscript Belgians.

British ships bombard Dar-es-Salaam in German East Africa.

Two men are contesting each other’s claim to the world’s saddest title: Oldest Man in Sussex County, New Jersey.  George Niter, 106, would seem the winner.  “I come from a family of charcoal burners, and every one of them lived to be close to 100 years.”  His first presidential vote was for Andrew Jackson.

Two negroes are lynched in Wetumpka, Alabama.

Evangelist Billy Sunday, preaching in Philadelphia, is unimpressed by his Unitarian critics, who find him “wretchedly vulgar.” He refutes this by responding with great class: “Bah for the critics! They’ll get theirs.”  The NYT says “the quality of Sunday’s arguments in the cause of religion” is exemplified by his slogan, “God hates a four-flusher.”

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Today -100: January 4, 1915: The cult of cowardice

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg says “We Germans do not cherish hate. To hate is not a German trait. The vendetta belongs to the Latin races.”  On charges of German atrocities: “Our boys are not bad boys. They do not do such things.”

Oregon Gov. Oswald West appoints Kathryn Clarke to a vacant seat in the state senate. She would be the first woman state senator in Oregon.  The attorney general says the governor doesn’t have the power to make the appointment, but either way she’ll win a special election later in the month.  The lower house will also see its first female member in the next session, Marion Towne, who was elected in November. Clarke is a Republican, Towne a Democrat.

Ghent, Belgium will raise the German extortion money in part by putting a tax on bachelors.

In an article in The Independent, Theodore Roosevelt blasts Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan for “acquiescing” in the German invasion of Belgium, a policy he calls “contemptible,” “short-sighted and timid inefficiency” and “selfish indifference to the cause of permanent and righteous peace” and “the cult of cowardice.”

Headline of the Day -100:  “Turkish Opium Dearer in London.”  War is indeed hell.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Today -100: January 3, 1915: A scientific proposition

The Congressional commission on Indian affairs is finding that the Crows of Montana are starving on their reservation while their tribal account is being syphoned for irrigation projects that don’t benefit them, while government officials steal their land for themselves.  And 90% of them have tuberculosis.

Former President Taft (who was also governor-general of the Philippines) testifies before the Senate Committee on the Philippines that if the Philippines is given independence, it will turn into a post-apocalyptic hellscape like Mexico. He thinks the Filipinos might be ready in a generation or two – the time it would take to teach everyone in the Philippines English.  “We cannot present the Filipino people with a character. It must be acquired.”  “I am in favor of gradually extending self-government to these islands. But we have done it. Let us wait and see; let us try the experiment of waiting. The difficulty is that when you give them one thing at once they want another.  That is characteristic.”  The Democratic Party’s promises of independence, he says, only create unrest.

Thomas Edison thinks the war will last another two years.  He thinks the British are developing ships capable of withstanding torpedoes from submarines.  “The present war has taught the world that killing men in war is a scientific proposition.”

Three Americans, William Thaw, Bert Hall, and James Bache, join the French aviation corps.

The Senate passes the immigration bill, including the literacy requirement, but with an exemption for Belgian farmers, the only acknowledgment they seem to be making that the European war might change things, immigration-wise.  Immigration officials will make any immigrant over 16 read from a list of 30 to 40 ordinary words in the appropriate language (including Hebrew and Yiddish).  Vagrants and people with tuberculosis or other conditions which prevent them earning a living can be excluded.  Also, anyone who advocates the unlawful destruction of property (i.e., anarchists).

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Friday, January 02, 2015

Today -100: January 2, 1915: You sunk my battleship!

Whatever is the world coming to? New York’s first woman taxicab driver, who is named Wilma Russey, because of course she is, begins her blasphemous work. Wearing a leopard-skin hat and stole and black leather gloves and some other clothes which the NYT describes in detail, as was the custom.  To further blow 1915 minds, Miss Russey has been working for the last year as an auto mechanic.

The British battleship Formidable turns out to be not so much, sinking in the English Channel with a loss of 600 men, with 150 rescued.  It’s unknown whether it was hit by a torpedo or a mine.

Turkey will change its property laws in Palestine to allow Zionist groups to buy up to 1/3 of the province.

Booker T. Washington says there were 52 lynchings in the United States in 1914, of whom 49 were black, 3 white.  3 were women.  There were 2 in Alabama, 1 in Arkansas, 4 in Florida, 2 in Georgia, 12 each in Louisiana and Mississippi, 1 in Missouri, 1 in New Mexico, 1 in North Dakota, 1 in North Carolina, 3 in Oklahoma, 1 in Oregon, 4 in South Carolina, 1 in Tennessee and 6 in Texas.

In a rather weird charity sponsorship thing, for every rabbit people kill in Oregon, the federal government will donate 5¢ to the Belgian Relief Committee.

French President Raymond Poincaré says the war will end this year.  That’ll be nice.

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Thursday, January 01, 2015

Today -100: January 1, 1915: Of literacy tests, and what Arkansas needs

Karl Liebknecht, German Social Democratic Party member of the Reichstag, sends a New Year’s message to British Socialists calling on the workers of the world to unite in a war against war.

The US Senate votes 47 to 12 to keep the literacy test in the immigration bill. An amendment to exempt religious refugees (i.e., Russian Jews) from the requirement is defeated. The Senate also votes 29 to 25 to exclude people of the “black or African race” from the country (which was introduced as a poison pill to prevent northern Republicans voting for the final bill), but votes 10-43 not to exclude Turks and East Indians.  Polygamists are excluded by a vote of 45-3.  If you’re wondering which non-Utah senator voted against that, it was William Hughes (D-NJ).  Smoot of Utah pleads for his co-religionists; he says if asked whether they believe in polygamy, they would have to say yes even if they abstain from the practice.

South Africa will introduce conscription, using the very slight threat that Salomon Maritz, whose rebellion was crushed and who fled to German Southwest Africa (now Namibia), will invade South Africa backed by German troops as an excuse to invade and annex the German colony.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Arkansas Needs $10.”  The state is broke.  Gov. Hays, who can’t afford the cost of printing his biennial message to the Legislature, is asking newspapers for $2.50 each towards the cost.

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