Monday, February 16, 2015

Today -100: February 16, 1915: Germany cannot be allowed to adopt a system of open piracy and murder

Russia orders Jews in Poland to evacuate to at least 50 miles from the front, following the discovery of a concrete base for heavy guns at a factory that before the war employed only Jews.

German Socialist leaders meet and decide not to support any peace movement until Germans, you know, win. On at least one front.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill tells Parliament that he plans to choke off Germany’s food supply in retaliation for its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, which he calls “piracy and murder” in, no doubt, Churchillian tones. He also reports that 5,500 British sailors have been lost, mostly to U-boat attacks.

Actually, although I think Churchill wouldn’t have known this when he spoke, Germany just floated a proposal to modify its U-boat plans if Britain stops attacking its food supply. But it also claims that British civilian merchant shops are preparing to fight, that they’re being equipped with naval guns and plan to ram U-boats. [Update: just noticed that typo, which is so awesome that I’m leaving it in]. This not only makes them fair game, but makes boarding them to ascertain their civilian status too risky. As the German ambassador to the US says, “Germany has been compelled to resort to this kind of warfare by the murderous ways of British naval warfare, which aims at the destruction of legitimate neutral trade and at the starvation of the German people.” I doubt the neutral countries will be any more impressed by this game of “But they started it” (Churchill is pretending that choking off Germany’s food supply is a new policy) than they were by the “But they mobilized first/they went to war first” claims of last September.

Sarah Bernhardt corrects the story from a couple of days ago, saying “It is next Monday that the surgeon will amputate my leg, and after that I shall be happy again.”

The House of Representatives passes a child labor bill, banning children from mines and quarries until 16 and factories until 14 (or working more than 8 hours a day or 6 days a week until 16). Farm work is still okay at any age. Actually, child labor isn’t quite banned, but products of child labor can no longer be sold across state lines.

A jury summons is mistakenly sent to A.E. Wicke of Brooklyn, who is actually Antoinette Wicke. She is a feminist and would love to serve, but of course women are not allowed on juries (in fact, even when they were, jury duty wasn’t mandatory for women in NY state until the US Supreme Court struck down discriminatory jury-duty laws in several states in 1975).

I just don’t understand the selection process for the front page of the NYT. That story is on the front page, right below Greece breaking diplomatic relations with Turkey and right above “Girl, Yawning, Sprains Jaw.”

Austria is drawing up a census of church bells, because it may want to melt them down for the copper.

China has rejected all of Japan’s demands re railroads and treaty ports and Manchuria and whatnot.

The US claims that an attack by a mob in Panama on American soldiers, in which shots were fired by both sides, was due to the “carnival spirit entirely.”

Ottawa has a second night of air raid scares. The first one may have been caused by children sending up fire balloons, but they’re taking no chances.

The Germans are worried about possible British submarines in the Baltic and asking how they got there. One theory is that they followed in the wake of a German warship (which would know where the mines are), but my favorite theory is that the subs were shipped in pieces and assembled in Kronstadt.

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