Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Today -100: January 13, 1916: Of bandits, conscription, blockades, corfus, Goethe censorship, and explosions

Following that attack on the train in Mexico, many in the US Congress demand military intervention. And Secretary of State Robert Lansing has written a jolly stiff letter to Carranza’s consul. The letter refers to the bandits as “operating under the direction of General Villa,” although I don’t know that that’s been established yet. (Update: the train’s conductor claims to recognize a couple of them). The note also says that they were “murdered because they were Americans, and were killed in accordance with the general policy publicly announced recently by Villa.” Americans on the train were indeed specifically singled out for murder. Lansing demands that those responsible be captured and punished and that (American-owned) mines in Chihuahua be protected by Mexican troops.

Conscription passes the Second Reading in Parliament 431-39.  Many of the Labour MPs who voted against it in the First Reading changed their minds after being given assurances that it won’t be a stepping-stone to general conscription (it will) or industrial conscription (miners are especially worried about being turned into slaves). Conscription is generally popular with the British public.

Britain is about to step up its naval blockade of Germany. Lord Northcliffe’s papers have been complaining that many Germans aren’t even starving. To the extent that the blockade has been less than total until now, it’s because Britain has been careful not to tread too heavily on the toes of neutrals like the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, not to mention the US. An especial target: Sweden. And the US, really, since a lot of cotton and other American goods transit to Germany through Sweden.

The French occupy Corfu. Yeah, France isn’t at war with Greece, but 1) it’ll be a good place for the evacuated Serbian army, 2) Kaiser Wilhelm has a vacation home (ok, “summer palace”) there, so fuck you Willy. (The palace, Achilleion Castle, also looks like a good place to put the evacuated Serbian army). Greece plans a “vigorous protest” but won’t otherwise do anything about it.

One Don Collins of Garden City, New York is arrested as the head of a gang who posed as United States marshals and extorted bribes from wealthy men not to “arrest” them for violations of the Mann White Slave Act (traveling with their mistresses, some of whom were working for the gang, across state lines). The ring was uncovered because the cops busted them for their sideline: stealing nickels from public phones.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Not Goethe!

Explosions at the Du Pont gunpowder plants in Delaware and New Jersey, making five explosions this week in the company’s factories. The company says they are “unavoidable accidents” caused by the rapid expansion of the company since the start of the European war. “It is also true that some of the operatives have not been at the business long enough to acquire the experience of many of the older men.” One good way to become an older man: not work in an explosives factory.

An Italian newspaper says that Austria and Germany have named a new king of conquered Serbia: the illegitimate son of King Milan. Probably nonsense.

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