Friday, July 31, 2015

Today -100: July 31, 1915: Never has the country been so virile

Britain executes two spies whose names it won’t release, after a secret trial. But I’m sure everyone wore wigs in court, so it’s probably all above-board and tickety-boo.

Do you hyphenate tickety-boo?

The French parliament is debating French penis size, or something. “Never has the country been so virile,” Minister of Finance Alexandre Ribot says.

Lord Northbourne, 69, says he wants to duel Kaiser Wilhelm.

The population of Warsaw is evacuating into Russia proper. They’re stripping the city of, well, everything. Especially anything the Germans could use, obviously.

Charles Becker is executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing. He was an NYPD lieutenant on the vice squad who was involved in the murder three years ago of a bookie, Herman Rosenthal, who was going to expose police corruption. Becker was the first cop ever executed for murder in the US. It took three shocks to kill him.

Haitian snipers kill two of the invading US marines, who kill 6 Haitians. 2,000 military personnel will be sent to Haiti, which is a larger force than required for the stated goal of protecting foreigners’ property. And they have a lot of machine guns. A lot.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Today -100: July 30, 1915: They have some rights that the white man is bound to respect

US Secretary of State Robert Lansing telegraphs the leaders of various Mexican factions, telling them to allow the resumption of railroad traffic between Vera Cruz and Mexico City so food can reach the latter. There may be a delay in Zapata getting his telegram – I hear that railroad traffic between Vera Cruz and Mexico City is down.

Headline of the Day -100:

Negroes in Tennessee are supposedly complaining about whites breaking the Jim Crow laws and sitting in the black section of trains. In Virginia a black person can ask a white person in the wrong section to vacate his seat and he is required to do so even if there are no seats in the white section and he has to stand. The NYT says “The protest of the Tennessee negroes is just. They have some rights that the white man is bound to respect, and one of them is the right to choose their company.”

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The vanishing Amazon link

I removed the Amazon referral link from my sidebar. I noticed that for a while I hadn’t been getting any actual, you know, money from it, and finally got around to checking if anyone had been placing orders through it. Yes, they had. So I connected to Amazon, which said that they had determined, through some sort of proprietary top-secret algorithm or something, that the order had been placed by me or someone I knew, and were therefore ineligible. The only information I can access is what has been purchased, not by whom, so for all I know it was a friend or friends of mine, but if not, I can’t challenge the proprietary top-secret algorithm or something because it’s, you know, proprietary and top secret.

There are two possibilities here: 1) Amazon is cheating me out of my 4%. 2) It knows who my friends are (or people it considers to be my friends). Which is creepy. Either makes it essential that I sever my very slightly remunerative relations with Amazon, but the second, creepy possibility seemed like something I should share with the group.

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Today -100: July 29, 1915: Of a Haitian recall election

Haitian Pres. Vilbrun Guillaume Sam is dragged out of the French embassy and killed, his body torn apart and dragged through the streets by a presumably angry mob. US marines are landed, their mission to protect American and other foreign lives and then quickly leave the country.

In 1934.

Capt. Karl Boy-Ed, German naval attaché in Washington by day, head of espionage & sabotage operations in North America by night, says that Germany won’t change its submarine warfare policy or even “condescend to reply” to Woodrow Wilson’s note until he protests just as vehemently against British violations of neutrality. (Or not: the German ambassador will say that the Providence Journal made up the whole interview.)

Evidently when William Jennings Bryan resigned as secretary of state, he appropriated his desk as a souvenir. I say his desk, but it had actually been the desk of all the secretaries of state for the previous 50 years. The NYT has an acidly sarcastic editorial (my favorite kind of NYT editorial) on the subject.

A coroner’s jury in Chicago rules that the capsizing of the Eastland is the fault of the Eastland’s captain and engineer, the general managers of the steamship company and the company leasing it, and two federal inspectors who passed the ship for passengers early this month. It recommends they all be charged with manslaughter.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today -100: July 28, 1915: Of poetry, dead presidents, and invisible planes

It’s one year since Austria declared war on Serbia. There’ll probably be cake or something.

Headline of the Day -100: 

War is hell.

Haiti is a bit of a mess, as is the custom. Pres. Vilbrun Guillaume Sam ordered a massacre of 167 political prisoners, including former Pres. Oreste Zamor. Angry crowds, said to consist largely of relatives of the 167, pull the governor of Port-au-Prince, who carried out the executions, out of the Santo Domingo embassy where’s hiding and kill him. The president is now hiding in the French embassy, for all the good it will do him.

The Cologne Gazette says that Germany now possesses invisible airplanes. Specifically, Fokker monoplanes covered with cellon, an early form of plastic. It does reduce the plane’s visibility in clear skies, but it’s also reflective, occasionally blinding its planes’ pilots, so the experiment will ultimately be abandoned, except by Wonder Woman.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Rick Perry shoots off mouth, foot

Perry said that if people in the Lafayette, LA movie theater had just been armed, everything would have been just fine.

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Today -100: July 27, 1915: An expected damnable outrage

A German u-boat sinks the US steamship Leelanaw a bit off Britain’s Orkney Islands, but it did it the nice way: not without warning like the Lusitania, but after asking it politely to stop, determining that it was carrying contraband (flax), politely asking the Leelanaw’s crew to evacuate and come aboard the u-boat, then sinking it, and putting the crew back on their life-boats nearer to shore. Technically, under the 1828 Prussia-US treaty, they should have allowed the Leelanaw to jettison its cargo and not sink it, but hey close enough, right?

Woodrow Wilson doesn’t have a response yet – he’s waiting for details – but, not surprisingly, Theodore Roosevelt isn’t waiting: “It’s a damnable outrage, but one that was to have been expected. I wonder what our pacifist friends will say to this? Wait for a whole year to discuss it, I suppose?” (The latter referring to William Jennings Bryan’s arbitration treaties).

Headline of the Day -100: 

Hudson County, NJ Sheriff Eugene Kinkead (a former US congressman) decides to personally end the Standard Oil/Tideland strike in Bayonne, punching and arresting a strike leader who turns out not to be an actual Standard Oil employee, and arresting and beating up IWW leader Frank Tannenbaum. Then he orders the men to return to work on a vague promise of an unspecified wage increase and somehow convinces the strike committee to resign when the strikers refuse. He then announces that he will protect anyone who returns to work. So now all he needs are a lot more cops than he has (he keeps insisting that these foreigners are really impressed by police uniforms). But neighboring towns refuse to send any, and the governor already refused national guard assistance, so he goes around to those towns and forcibly swears in every cop he meets, arresting or threatening to indict those who refuse. One captain puts out his stations’s lights and pretends no one’s there.

Britain responds (four months late) to the US complaint about its enforcement of its naval blockade of Germany. It says basically, “Hey remember how you seized British ships bringing ‘contraband’ to the Confederacy during the Civil War? Well, fuck you.”

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Today -100: July 26, 1915: Of excess bodies, POWs, field marshals, and wobblies

The NYT says 915 bodies have been recovered from the Eastland disaster and 563 are still missing, and I still don’t know how they’ve counted more bodies than there actually were. People are asking why a ship known to lean to one side because of its top-heavy design was still allowed to carry passengers.

Supposedly, a man who was standing by the river contemplating suicide when the Eastland turned turtle dived in and rescued 9 people.

Germany claims that it and Austria have taken 1.5 million Russians prisoner.

The king of Bavaria appoints Kaiser Wilhelm a Field Marshal of the Bavarian Army, and Willy accepts, although it is a matter of debate whether the king of Bavaria actually has that power. This seems to be a way for Bavaria to assert itself at a time when Prussians are dominating everything in Germany.

A mob of 10,000 Italians storm Philadelphia Hall to stop an IWW meeting, having heard that the Wobblies have been telling Italian reservists not to go home to fight.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Today -100: July 25, 1915: The Eastland disaster

The SS Eastland, a ship used for tourist excursions, rolls over in the Chicago River, drowning 1,800 according to the NYT, at least 919 according to the Chicago Tribune, and 844 according to Wikipedia (or, elsewhere in the article, 848)(So how in hell does the NYT have a figure of 889 recovered bodies?) Either way, way more than were killed by Mrs O’Leary’s cow in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the largest previous disaster in Chicago.

They were employees of the Western Electric Company, being taken on a picnic. The Eastland was simply a badly designed, top-heavy ship, took on water ballast ineptly, and was carrying more passengers than the legal maximum of 2,500. Also adding to the excess weight, ironically, were 15 tons of lifeboats added due to legislation passed after the Titanic.

The captain is nearly lynched on the wharf when he tries to stop rescuers, I guess because they were dismantling his ship to get to people trapped in it. Chicago, as was the custom, is after blood. The coroner orders the arrest of every official of the Indiana Transportation Company. 4 of those officials and two of the crew will be indicted and tried in 1916, the former for manslaughter, the latter for criminal negligence. They’ll get off scot free, although to be fair, the chief engineer, who was defended by Clarence Darrow, seems to have been a hero, nearly drowning while keeping the boiler from exploding as the ship sank.

Headline of the Day -100:

Standard Oil refuses arbitration of the demands of the Bayonne refinery strikers.  Why are the workers almost entirely foreigners, anyway? The Tidewater Oil Company plant’s guards have been taking random potshots from the factory stockades at houses and saloons and tenements. The sheriff tells the company that if any more shots are fired except in defense of life – “and by that I mean life, not property” – he’ll arrest company officials. It stops. (Update: no it doesn’t, and tomorrow Sheriff Eugene Kinkead will arrest 30 Tidewater employees).

William Creen, the prisoner who tried to kill Leo Frank, tells Georgia Governor Nat Harris that he only did it to prevent an attack on the prison by a lynch mob, so really he was just preventing bloodshed.

Relatedly, a meeting is held in La Grange, Georgia which calls on the Jews of Georgia to deny the charges that they have been the subjects of prejudice and/or race hatred. “By their silence they have indorsed all the vile charges, and if these charges be true it is high time that they were seeking more congenial climes.” Yup, no prejudice or race hatred in Georgia, that’s for sure.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Today -100: July 24, 1915: Of flims

Three Cleveland companies manufacturing munitions for the Allies have been warned by the government of a plot to blow up their factories.

A German privy councillor (and author of “The Propeller and Its Effect on the Water”) says the British deliberately got the Lusitania sunk in order to bring the US into the war. Would I be mentioning this if his name weren’t Oswald Flamm? Probably not.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today -100: July 23, 1915: And worth every penny

John Wanamaker, president of the Philadelphia branch of the National Security League, proposes that the US buy Belgium from Germany for $100 billion, then give it its freedom. Belgium’s good for the money, he says.

The US sends its final note to Germany on submarine warfare. Basically, it says that the continuance of cordial relations between the two countries depends on Germany not blowing up US ships or killing Americans on other ships unless in accordance with the rules of war. No further response from Germany is expected or desired, just, you know, not blowing up US ships etc. “Repetition by the commanders of German naval vessels of acts in contravention of those rights must be regarded by the Government of the United States, when they affect American citizens, as deliberately unfriendly.”

Today -100’s Notable Deaths:

1) Inez Vernon, widow of George Vernon, who died on the Lusitania, commits suicide.

2) Henry Clay Ford, manager of Ford’s Theatre at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. He was married to the actress who played the female lead in the first US production of H.M.S. Pinafore.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Today -100: July 22, 1915: No nation ever amounted to anything if its population was composed of pacifists and poltroons

Theodore Roosevelt at the Panama-Pacific Exposition: “A mother who is not willing to raise her boy to be a soldier is not fit for citizenship.” “I’m not for war [ed.: ha!], I want peace, but don’t want peace for Uncle Sam because outsiders don’t think him worth kicking.” He says the US has been “culpably, well-nigh criminally, remiss” in not increasing its military preparedness. Just look at how screwed Belgium and China are, he says. “The average Chinaman took the view that China was too proud to fight,” he says, using Woodrow Wilson’s phrase.  “The professional pacifists, the peace-at-any-price, non-resistance, universal arbitration people are now seeking to Chinafy this country.” Not surprisingly, he calls for universal military service for men and for preparing our souls. “If we become soft and flabby physically and morally we shall fail. No nation ever amounted to anything if its population was composed of pacifists and poltroons, if its sons did not have the fighting edge”.

The South Wales coal strike is over, after Lloyd George comes down to mediate personally. They love LG in Wales.

With one dead at the Standard Oil strike in Bayonne, NJ, the national guard is sent in. One unusual feature: the sheriff orders the arrest of guards who came out of the plant with clubs and attacked strikers.

The US government will start suing Americans to whom it provided relief funds when they were stuck in Belgium at the start of the war. Just the wealthy ones who can afford to pay it back.

Hungary will now conscript men up to 50 years old.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Today -100: July 21, 1915: Of strikes, occupations, and corpses

The Remington Arms & Ammo Company strike fizzles after the company gives machinists an 8-hour day and a pay increase.

Headline of the Day -100:
In Bayonne, New Jersey. Mostly Polish, I think.

Zapatistas reoccupy Mexico City.

Bodies from the Lusitania are still washing ashore, two and a half months later.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Today -100: July 20, 1915: Of evacuations

Carranza’s forces are evacuating Mexico City after holding it 8 full days.

Russian forces are evacuating Warsaw.

Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor will try to prevent the Remington Arms & Ammo Company strike from spreading, but repeats the accusation that the unrest was fomented by Germany trying to disrupt munitions exports. “I know these things as well as I know anything that I have not personally seen.” In other words, he doesn’t know these things at all.

Theodore Roosevelt says the Progressives might return to the Republican party if it nominates the right presidential candidate in 1916. Charles Evans Hughes, he suggests hypothetically.

The German occupation authority in Belgium says any Belgian male aged 16 to 40 who leaves the country to work for any country at war with Germany will be subject to a fine and/or imprisonment.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Today -100: July 19, 1915: Really, post office workers?

Headline of the Day -100:

And, for some reason, post office workers. Maybe he needed some mail sorted.

A Tuskegee Institute professor says there were 34 lynchings in the United States in the first half of 1915, up from 21 in the first half of 1914. Of these, 24 were black and 10 white. 8 were in Georgia.

The foreman of Harry Thaw’s jury says their verdict that he was sane was influenced by “the unwritten law,” with the jury believing that he was justified in killing Stanford White. (Tomorrow other jurors will deny this).

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Today -100: July 18, 1915: Let None be the Kaiser’s Catspaws

The Remington strike looks like it will spread to other weapons plants, including that of the Lake Torpedo Boat Company, which is currently making 7 subs for the US Navy.

30,000 women march in London (in the rain, as is the custom) to demand of Munitions Minister Lloyd George that women be allowed to do war work. It’s all a bit of kabuki theater: not only is Lloyd George not opposed to women working in munitions factories, he is secretly subsidizing the march (I’m not sure who besides Emmeline Pankhurst was privy to that arrangement). Contralto Clara Butt says that the problem is with the government, not the women: loads of women have registered for war work but not been given it.

Banners for the march say things like “For Men Must Fight and Women Must Work,” “Let Us Save the Men in the Trenches. Women’s Work Will Save Men’s Lives,” “We Are Not Slackers. Down with Sex Prejudice,” “Let Women Work. Shells Made By a Wife May Save Her Husband’s Life,” and “Let None be the Kaiser’s Catspaws. To Keep the Kaiser Out Let Us Make Shells. We Will Not Be Prussianized.”

Leo Frank’s throat is badly slashed by a fellow prisoner, a two-time murderer named William Creen. His life is saved (for now) by a prisoner who is a doctor who poisoned a patient whose wife he was sleeping with.

The official British inquiry into the Lusitania sinking puts all the blame on the Germans and none on Capt. Turner or the Cunard Line. In other words, it’s the whitewash that Lord Mersey was tasked to produce.

Simon Lake, an engineer who designs submarines, thinks that if German sub warfare stops merchant shipping to Britain, Britain will be able to import food entirely by submarine within two years.

Germany responds officially to the Bryce Report, accusing Belgian civilians of breaking the rules of war by attacking German soldiers who were just innocently minding their own business (their business being invading Belgium): “from the very first a defensive battle was forced upon the German troops in Belgium as a matter of their self-preservation... The torch was applied in Lowen [Louvain] and in other Belgian cities only when bitter necessity demanded it.” The German indignation at Belgium for not supinely rolling over seems sincere, but their continuing inability to realize that no one else has ever shared or will ever share that indignation is kind of hilarious. Germany accuses Belgian civilians of atrocities (“bestial behavior”) just as fanciful and grotesque as those in the Bryce Report.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Today -100: July 17, 1915: Of dethawed Thaws, polygamists, and drop forgers

Millionaire Harry Thaw, who murdered architect Stanford White, his wife’s lover, in 1906 and later escaped from an insane asylum, is pronounced sane by a jury and released. His wife has to be a little worried, although he says “I have no interest in her at all.” (Tomorrow he’ll start divorce proceedings).

The NYT is not best pleased by the way Thaw used his millions to subvert the legal system.

German ambassador to the US Count von Bernstorff meets Secretary of State Robert Lansing and suggests that the US persuade Britain to stop its blockade of Germany in exchange for Germany no longer sinking merchant ships. “He did not find the Secretary of State responsive to the suggestion.”

In 1903 Reed Smoot was named US senator from Utah. He was not only a Mormon but an apostle of the church, so a shitstorm ensued, with hearings into the church and whether it still practiced polygamy and whether Smoot had sworn an oath of vengeance against the US and so on, all of which delayed his swearing in until 1907. One of the witnesses called was Margaret Geddes, who was accused of being the plural wife of David Eccles, the richest man in Utah, which she denied. Now, however, Eccles is dead and their son Albert Geddes is suing for a share of his estate. Margaret testifies that she was in fact married to Eccles – after polygamy was outlawed in Utah – after all. A jury of Mormons rules that Albert is indeed David’s son and awards him $150,000.

The British government banishes three Sinn Fein members from Ireland for opposing war and military recruiting. These are actually fairly high-level operatives.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Supposedly, German officers toy with Belgians in this way: if they ask a Belgian the way to the Dutch border and the Belgian tells them, they arrest him for assisting a German soldier to desert. If he doesn’t, they arrest him for disobeying an order from a German officer. And if they say nothing, they are arrested for insulting a German officer.

Germany has been downplaying the surrender of its forces in South West Africa. First, it was “Botha beat us – a Boer, not a Brit, so they can’t take credit.” Now, it’s “we ran out of ammo, so it’s not like it’s a great military victory.” Sore losers, is what they are.

Romania refuses Germany’s demand that it allow Germany to send military supplies through it to Turkey. Those supplies are kind of crucial, so Germany may not take no for an answer.

In a story about the threatened strike at the Remington factories in Connecticut, it’s mentioned that two groups of workers who might strike are “die sinkers” and “drop forgers,” which are super-cool-sounding job titles. I don’t know what they do (well, the drop forgers evidently make swords and bayonets for the British and French armies – can’t have a war without swords). One demand by the machinists is that retired Major Walter Penfield, works manager of the Remington Arms Company, withdraw his charge that German money is behind the strike. He says they’ll have to prove to him that it isn’t.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Today -100: July 16, 1915: Of race extermination

US ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau reports home: “Deportation of an excess against peaceful Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports of eye witnesses it appears that a campaign of race extermination is in progress under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion.”  The term “race extermination” seems to be a coinage of Morgenthau’s.

Emmeline Pankhurst leads a deputation to Munitions Minister David Lloyd George, in advance of a big march she’s organizing Saturday to demand that women be allowed to do war work. She tells him women should be paid the same for the same work. They will be, but the work will be defined so it’s never considered the same work. Still, it’ll be very well paid comparable to, say, domestic service or shop assistant, if you don’t mind the risk of blowing up or your skin turning yellow through TNT poisoning.

South Wales miners go on strike. The miners’ delegates who voted for the strike are being calumniated, as was the custom, as being in the pay of the Germans or trying to sabotage the war.

The Remington strike in Connecticut is turning into a general strike for higher wages and an 8-hour day. The workers figure they have the upper hand with all those British and French contracts rolling in.

Austria publishes a “Red Book” accusing its enemies of war crimes and the mistreatment of civilian Austrian nationals. They especially blame “the employment of troops wholly unable to perceive the legal restrictions applied to warfare.” In other words, non-white troops from the colonies.

Britain executes its fourth spy of the war, Robert Rosenthal, at the Tower of London. He passed information to Germany about fleet movements.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Today -100: July 15, 1915: It’s the “common” part that really stings

The Prussian interior minister says Germany will spend $7.5 million to rebuild Louvain, Belgium as a modern city. You know, Louvain, the city they burned down last year.

Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels allows two naval constructors (that’s a job title) to resign from the Navy, but boy he isn’t happy about it. Having gotten special training, paid for by the Navy, the constructors had signed contracts requiring them to remain for 8 years, which they have but now they want to cash in. Daniels regrets the “custom” by which naval officers think they have a “moral right” to resign during peacetime after a certain number of years rather than serve until the government no longer has a use for them. He crankily suggests that he may not give permission to resign in the future. The government thinks that it has the right to reject resignations.

A Mrs. Mary Guadiano of Peetsburg, New Jersey is being charged with being a common scold, because that’s still against the law. (Don’t know if she was convicted or what the punishment for common scolding might have been since the NYT doesn’t follow up on the story).

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Today -100: July 14, 1915: Mark your calendars for October. There’ll probably be a parade.

There is a strike at the Remington Arms Company factories in Bridgeport, CT. The company blames German sympathizers trying to disrupt the production of munitions for the Allies by bribing union leaders. Actually, it’s a jurisdictional dispute between unions over whether the workers hanging shafting, whatever that is, need to belong to the carpenters’ union or the structural iron workers’ union. The iron workers’ union president says “there are no Germans back of this movement, but there are a lot of bad Irish.”

Another of the bombs which are presumed to have been planted by Frank Holt/Erich Muenter goes off on the Touraine, and bombs are discovered on two other ships.

Headline of the Day -100:

Britain claims that its air raids on zeppelin hangars there have stopped Germany’s zeppelin strategy, including the raids on the British mainland.

British coal miners are threatening a strike, and the government is threatening to prosecute them for it. The South Wales miners seem to think that since coal companies are getting much higher prices since the war started, they should pass some of that along to the guys with picks. The coal companies disagree. The miners’ union actually recommended compromise to the Welsh miners, but they voted it down.

Georgia Gov. Harris orders the National Guard to be ready to protect Milledgeville State Farm. He’s heard rumors of plans to attack it to lynch Leo Frank.

Kaiser Wilhelm says the war will be over in October. That’ll be nice.

In October, not by October? Huh.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Today -100: July 13, 1915: Of u-boats, recruiters, insults to war, censors, and munitions

British Ambassador to the US Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, who was a guest at J.P. Morgan’s mansion when Frank Holt/Erich Muenter forced his way in and shot the banker, was held up the next day as he left the Morgan estate on his way to the William D. Straight mansion (evidently all the ambassador does is visit investment bankers). Anyway, 6 men in a car passed his limo, stopped and stood in the road, but his chauffeur just drove right at them and they scattered. Highway robbery or proof that Muenter had confederates?

Negotiations between Germany, Austria and Romania have reached the ultimatum stage. The Teutons would like Romania to enter the war on their side, but would settle for an announced policy of neutrality and the free flow of equipment from Germany to Turkey. They’ve offered various bribes such as territory and better treatment of ethnic Romanians in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but now they’re giving Romania a deadline of one month.

A German u-boat stops an American ship, the Normandy, which was sailing from Gulfport, Louisiana to Liverpool, and orders it to act as a shield for the u-boat to sneak up unseen on a Russian ship heading for Manchester and sink it.

It is rumored that Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V has died and the Young Turks are covering it up. He hasn’t and they aren’t.

Someone who says he is a lieutenant in the British Army, and for all we know actually is one, is arrested in Los Angeles for breaking US neutrality laws by recruiting soldiers for the British Army. He is not the first, nor will he be the last. I don’t know if these people are really working for the British government.

Spain bans public discussion of Spanish neutrality in the war.

Headline of the Day -100:

A letter to the NYT from Richard Harding Davis, the Spanish-American War war correspondent who helped create Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Rider myth, complains about Jane Addams’ claim that soldiers on all sides in the European war get drunk before battles because they really don’t like killing people.

Mexican Gen. Pascual Orozco forfeits his $7,500 bail when he doesn’t appear in court in El Paso, having skipped into Mexico. Er, skipped bail, probably not literally skipped.

The city of Philadelphia will start censoring all magazines sold in the city.

90,000 British workers have “voluntarily” registered to work in munitions factories.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Today -100: July 12, 1915: Of unworthy methods of making war

Field Marshal Sir John French regrets that the Germans have stooped to the use of asphyxiating gas, which he calls “this unworthy method of making war”.

The US Navy radios ships at sea to warn them that Frank Holt/Erich Muenter might have planted bombs on them too. The message is delayed because the Navy’s Bureau of Operations closes at night.

The Minnehaha, its fire put out and damages repaired, is back on its way to the UK.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Today -100: July 11, 1915: Of marines, hurt Germans, bankers, and gravity

US Marines land in Haiti, as is the custom, to protect American property from the fighting.

Jane Addams says the people of Europe are tired of the war, but the governments of Europe aren’t. But “citizens of all the warring nations use the same phrases in speaking of the righteousness of their cause, and the unrighteousness of that of their antagonists.” She says Germans are angry about the US selling supplies and ammunition to the Allies, but are more hurt by it.

Carranza’s forces capture Mexico City. Again. Or say they have.

Daniel LeRoy Dresser, who was president of the Trust Company of the Republic until it collapsed in 1903, commits suicide. He’d been trying to start a company to manufacture a steam generator he has a patent for, but was unable to get financing.

Thomas Jefferson Jackson See, an astronomer on Mare Island, says he has worked out how gravity works. It’s an electrical phenomenon that works at the speed of light. So that settles that.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Today -100: July 10, 1915: Make up your minds, and do so quickly

German forces in South West Africa surrender unconditionally to South African Gen. Louis Botha. South Africa has a colony now (or League of Nations mandate or whatever).

At a public meeting in London, Secretary of War/Field Marshal/Lord Kitchener (but he’d rather direct) calls for volunteers, or as he put it, “still larger reserves to make good the wastage at the front.” Stirring rhetoric, that. He especially appeals to shirkers (a word dating from 1914, at least with this meaning) and to people who claim their work is indispensable but can really be replaced by physically unfit men or women.

(Whoops, just noticed that the part of the quote I used as post title, "Make up your minds, and do so quickly," isn't in the poster.)

Germany finally responds to Woodrow Wilson’s Lusitania note, after some semi-public negotiations about its contents. There’s a lot of the usual about how Germany’s submarine warfare is purely a defensive response to the actions of Perfidious Albion, and a claim that all those Lusitania passengers, or at least more of them, wouldn’t have died if the Lusi hadn’t unexpectedly blown up after being hit with that torpedo, probably from munitions. Germany reassures Wilson that US ships not carrying contraband are perfectly safe – provided they’re marked and that Germany is informed of their names and schedule and the US government certifies that they’re not carrying munitions.  In effect, this would mean the US informing it which ships leaving US harbors it’s ok to sink and when it can expect them. Obviously a non-starter. Germany would also like more passenger ships to be under US or other neutral flags, so it can sink ships with British flags without worrying about killing too many US citizens.

The Minnehaha limps into port in Halifax. It’s been on fire for two days since Frank Holt/Erich Muenter’s bomb exploded. The fire-extinguishing efforts were hampered, we will hear when the ship finally makes it back to the US, by fumes arising when the flames reached a shipment of rum. The Atlantic Transport Line will generously give the crew a bonus of two weeks’ wages.

Jane Addams, back from Europe, gives a speech about the women’s peace congress and her tour of Europe. But what’ll gain the most attention is her claim that soldiers of all the warring nations are so unwilling to kill that their superiors have to get them liquored up before battles.

Four men are arrested for the murder of a cattleman and his son in Iowa 47 years ago. They’re also said to have buried $90,000 in “treasure” somewhere in Iowa and then lost the map. The James gang heard about the buried treasure and Frank James searched for it himself, but never found it.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Today -100: July 9, 1915: Of minnehahas, reindeer, and curing bad boys

Frank Holt/Erich Muenter strikes again: There’s an explosion at sea on the SS Minnehaha, which is bound for Europe carrying munitions – rather a lot of munitions – although the package with the bomb, which shipped as freight, was placed in a separate hold from the ammunition and so failed to set it off. The Minnehaha brown-trousers it towards Halifax, still ablaze. No further message has been received from the ship, but its owners, International Mercantile Marine, claim not to be worried because there are no passengers whose families would need to be reassured. Presumably the Minnehaha is crewed entirely by orphans like in the Pirates of Penzance. Or maybe robots.

The constable who arrested Muenter is going to try to claim the $1,000 reward offered for his capture in 1906 after he murdered his wife.

Headline of the Day -100:

Medical Breakthrough of the Day -100:

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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Today -100: July 8, 1915: One shell, two shell, red shell, blue shell...

Prison authorities discover that Frank Holt/Erich Muenter wrote to his wife that he put bombs on several ships carrying munitions to Europe with really long timers on their fuses. Since at least 60 of his sticks of dynamite have not been recovered, this seems plausible, so ships are radioed at sea and are searched, but nothing. Spoiler alert: they searched the wrong ships.

South Australia appoints women judges, the first in the British Empire. One is the widow of South Australian Prime Minister Thomas Price.

Bullshit Headline of the Day -100: 

The king of Italy visited the front; the Austrians supposedly knew he was there from a spy and tried to kill him. The article fails to say how many shells were in fact fired, or what they cost.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Today -100: July 7, 1915: Goodbye, bomby shooty anti-war guy, we hardly knew ye

Frank Holt/Erich Muenter commits suicide by jumping from the top of a cell door head-first onto concrete. The guard who was supposed to be watching him (and maybe keeping that door closed) because he’d already tried to kill himself once, trying to slit his writs with the metal part of a pencil, claims it’s not his fault because he totally heard an explosion, proving that Holt’s head injuries must have come from detonating one of his fulminate of mercury caps which had eluded detection for several days, between his teeth. Anyway, Holt had been getting crazier and crazier under the third degree, but the precipitating factor in his suicide was that his identity as the Harvard poisoner was on the verge of being conclusively proved.

The cops have found some but not all of the rather large quantity of dynamite Holt/Muenter had purchased. Some of it may be heard from soon.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Novoe Vremya newspaper says Germans burned a large number of wounded Russian soldiers, along with their medical personnel. German planes are said to have dropped leaflets explaining that they did it to prevent the spread of infection, and to teach the Russians not to leave their sick and wounded behind.

Similarly, Austrian planes are dropping propaganda leaflets on the Italians, which I guess is an innovation of this war.

Dr. Isadore Kitsee says the German embassy has gotten hold of a code system for use in circumventing US censorship of wireless messages.

Former Mexican Dictator Huerta refuses to give bond unless the US promises not to keep watch on him to prevent him going over the border like Orozco.

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Monday, July 06, 2015

Today -100: July 6, 1915: Of pipes, bombs, and booze

Headline of the Day -100:

Tomorrow the Times will report not only that J.P. smoked, but also that he shaved.

“Frank Holt” is denying being Erich Muenter. Authorities have brought in someone who used to know Muenter to identify him, but Holt’s too banged up for him to be sure.

A bomb explodes at NYPD headquarters. No one is hurt. Suspicion falls on Frank Holt, just on general principles.

The American Temperance Life Insurance Association of New York goes bust. The problem: they expanded their client base from total abstainers to moderate drinkers, increasing the death rate. The company’s president was Frank Delano. Some relation of FDR?

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Today -100: July 5, 1915: Of trick matches and surrenders

Frank Holt/Erich Muenter now says his plan was to hold J. P. Morgan’s wife and children hostage while J. P. induced manufacturers to stop exporting arms and ammunition to Europe. “The dynamiter declared he had thought out the problem most thoroughly and that the war would cease when the export of arms ended.” Under the 3rd degree and deprived of sleep, Muenter isn’t giving the same story twice, and looks increasingly batshit crazy. The authorities are still trying to work out if Holt and Muenter are the same person – and don’t seem to have asked him yet – and what sort of matches he used in the Capitol Building bombing. And, oh yeah, where he got all that dynamite.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The London Daily Chronicle reports that German troops in Gallipoli are shooting any Turks who look like they might surrender to the Allies.

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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Today -100: July 4, 1915: This explosion is the exclamation point to my appeal for peace

J. P. Morgan Jr. is shot twice by one “Frank Holt,” a teacher of German at Cornell. The corpulent banker will be okay, though.

It was “Holt” who set that bomb in the Capitol Building. In a letter to several Washington papers under the nom de boom “R. Pearce,” he explains that he placed the bomb because he opposes the US selling munitions to the Allies: “This explosion is the exclamation point to my appeal for peace.”

Then he placed another bomb... well, no spoilers... then he trained it to J. P. Morgan’s Long Island mansion. Morgan is helping finance the Allied war effort, so “Holt” planned to convince him to stop doing that, only, after “Holt” forced his way past the butler by brandishing two revolvers, Junior impolitely refused to engage in a friendly dialogue about the war and munitions and current events and instead rushed him, so “Holt” shot him twice in the groin. He was then brought down by Morgan, Morgan’s wife Jane, and a butler, who brained him with a lump of coal. He was then tied up by the servants and, just to class this whole scene up a bit, the British ambassador.

Holt is actually Erich Muenter (which authorities are already beginning to piece together). He was born in Germany in 1871 and emigrated to the US in the ‘90s. He taught German at the University of Kansas and then at Harvard until he took a... sudden sabbatical... in 1906 after killing his wife, who died 10 days after giving birth from slow poisoning by arsenic (yes, he was poisoning her while she was pregnant). Muenter shaved his beard, changed his name to Frank Holt, remarried, had two more kids (the two from his unfortunate first marriage staying with their grandparents), and started working his way up the academic food chain again, teaching at the University of Oklahoma, Emory, and Vanderbilt and getting a PhD at Cornell (his dissertation: “The Effect of the Works of Shakespeare on German and French Literature”). He would have moved on from Cornell to Southern Methodist University in the fall, as head of the just-opened university’s German department, presumably because at SMU he would be less likely to run into someone who knew him at Harvard – he once had to take several days off when a Harvard German professor came to lecture at Cornell.

The America’s Cup yacht race is almost halted out of respect for Morgan, but he sends word that the show must go on.

Francisco Lagos Cházaro formally takes over as President of Mexico. No one pays much attention.

Meanwhile, Huerta’s co-conspirator Gen. Pascual Orozco, supposedly under close observation by soldiers and Justice Dept agents in El Paso, escapes and crosses into Mexico. Huerta is re-arrested.

Sing Sing’s Warden Thomas Osborne tells a meeting of prison reformers that he won’t be forced out (he will totally be forced out). He says before he arrived, “The old system was rotten from top to bottom.” The keepers went about the prison with bottles of whiskey over their necks and fed it to paying prisoners through a rubber tube stuck between the bars of their cells. “There was corruption all around them, and there was no possible chance of a man leaving a prison of this kind without being more corrupted than when he came in.” He more or less accuses Superintendent of Prisons John Riley of being part of the old “grafting ring.”

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Today -100: July 3, 1915: Of infernal machines, autocratic but helpful dictators, prisoners, and horns

A bomb or infernal machine explodes in the Senate wing of the Capitol Building around midnight. Details and lots more mayhem tomorrow.

Former Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz dies in exile in Paris at 84. In addition to that hagiographic obit, the NYT runs an editorial that refers to his “autocratic but helpful rule”.

NY Superintendent of Prisons John Riley is systematically undermining the reformist warden of Sing Sing Thomas Osborne, most notably by randomly transferring prisoners from Sing Sing to Auburn, undermining Osborne’s system of rewards for good behavior. One prisoner attempted suicide when told he was being transferred. (Riley defends himself tomorrow, saying that he acted after Osborne failed to answer his letters, and because Sing Sing was becoming increasingly overcrowded and there’s a freshly built prison that can take the overflow.)

Yesterday, the NYT ran a letter from a Mr. Gridley Adams about the need for automobilists (is the term autoist going out of fashion?) to provide their vehicles with a really loud horn – and not those rubber things that people ignore because vaudeville has just made them funny – and honk it at every intersection or when approaching people riding bikes or motorcycles.  Today the Times disputes the notion that everyone needs to get out of the way of a car simply because it announces its presence with an imperious honk.

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Today -100: July 2, 1915: Of Admiralty business, war babies, and blackmail

Headline of the Day -100:

Britain announces that the Armenian was “engaged in Admiralty business,” so Wilson doesn’t have to upbraid Germany over sinking this particular ship and killing these particular American citizens (and mules). Also, the u-boat ordered the Armenian to stop and fired warning shots, but the mule ship tried to run (the captain admits this), which under the rules for this kind of thing made the Armenian fair game.

The Archbishop of York, presiding over a committee on “war babies,” says the responsibility for men giving way to temptation rests not chiefly with them, but with those who, often against the will of the men, pestered them with their attentions.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt has an emergency appendectomy.

Rudolph Malik, an Austrian salesman stuck in the US after the war began, is indicted for sending a letter to Woodrow Wilson demanding $300 or he’d commit a “political crime.” (Update: in court his lawyer will claim that Malik’s threat didn’t constitute a criminal act because there is no such thing as a “political crime” in US law).

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Today -100: July 1, 1915: Of Armenians, reading and whiting, and secret bases

It’s just not a good year for Armenians. In this case, it’s the steamship SS Armenian, which is torpedoed off Cornwall. A British ship bringing 1,422 war mules from the US for use by the French army.  The majority of the Armenian’s dead crew are Americans, including muleteers, almost all of whom were black. Mules are considered contraband, so the Germans will consider themselves justified.

Headline of the Day -100: 

No, that typo isn’t revealing at all. The New York constitutional convention.

Italy protests its nominal allies Serbia and Montenegro invading Albania and capturing Scutari.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: A “very reliable source” tells the NYT that Germany is trying to build a secret submarine base on an island off the New England coast, from which u-boats would attack freighters carrying munitions.

The US arrests four more Mexicans implicated in Huerta’s plot, which as he said was to visit his daughter and then take in the Panama-Pacific Exposition and definitely not to restore him to power in Mexico through violence.

Secretary of War Garrison telegrams Col. Morgan at Fort Bliss asking him to stop treating Huerta to such courtesies as dinners in his honor, invitations to review the troops, etc., given that he is, you know, under indictment.

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