Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Today -100: August 31, 1916: God help you; I can’t

When the heads of 8 major railroads told Woodrow Wilson they reject his proposals to prevent a strike, he told them, “God help you; I can’t.”

Actually, he can. A congresscritter helpfully discovers that there’s a law still on the books from the Civil War allowing the president to take over railroads and court-martial workers who fail to cooperate.

Wilson orders 15,000 state national guardsmen transferred from the Mexican border back to their home states to help with the rail emergency.

A Nebraska judge issues a restraining order against any strike on the Union Pacific. Good luck enforcing that.

The Austrian Crown Prince tells the army that while Romania is now at war with them, “Your upright soldiers’ sense will find adequate contempt for this dilatory assault.”

Polio death count, New York City: 1,911. City College and Cornell postpone the start of the new academic year.

A mob in Lima, Ohio beat up and put a noose around the neck of the sheriff to force him to give up the location of a black prisoner they want to lynch. He takes them, in a convoy of 100 cars, to Ottawa, Ohio, and manages to escape before they found out that the Ottawa cops had already moved the prisoner on.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Today -100: August 30, 1916: Of Hindenburg and Ludendorff, jail breaks, and choo choo trains

Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg is appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff, a staff which is both general and imperial. This puts into place the comedy duo of Hindenburg ‘n Ludendorff, which will run the army and increasingly the country until the end of the war.

German saboteur Robert Fay busts out of the Atlanta federal prison along with an American prisoner in for mail fraud. They pretended to be electricians and a rather trusting guard let them out to repair a wire.

Before a joint session of Congress, Woodrow Wilson presents his proposals to prevent a rail strike: the 8-hour day, a ban on strikes and lockouts while a government board investigates disputes, letting railroads increase their rates to compensate for increased costs, and giving the president the authority to force railroad workers to operate trains transporting troops and military supplies. Congress is dubious, especially about rushing all this legislation through before it adjourns, or indeed before the strike is scheduled to commence. And some Republicans claim the 8-hour day is unconstitutional, because of course they do (the Supreme Court will rule otherwise). This will be the first federal law regulating hours of work in private industry. The unions consider the temporary ban on strikes to amount to slavery, but are mostly okay with the rest of it, you know, the non-slavery bits. Actually, Wilson is talking about giving arbitration decisions the force of law, which seems a little slaveryish, as does literally drafting train crews to run military-related trains.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Today -100: August 29, 1916: And still more war is declared

Romania declares war on Austria, Germany declares war on Romania, and Austria gets so excited it accidentally declares war on itself. That’s 15 nations/empires at war with each other (don’t forget San Marino!) and 26 or 27 declarations of war.

Romania sets out its reasons: ethnic Romanians in the Habsburg Empire (specifically in Transylvania) are exposed to the hazards of war; Romanian entry will totally shorten the war, possibly by hours; the Entente are best positioned to help Romania realize its national ideal (I think that means annexing Transylvania). Long expected, the declaration seems to have been delayed until the harvest was in.

This (combined with Italy’s declaration of war on Germany) is not good news for the Central Powers, stretching out their forces along an additional 900 miles of front. Also, Romania had been supplying a lot of their oil, as well as wheat and copper. And Germany had been paying them in ammunition, which will now be returned to Germany – at high speed.

The Berliner Tageblatt affects boredom with Italy’s move: “We have waiting for this declaration of war without impatience of unrest, with the same apathy with which one awaits a thunderstorm that is already visible in the sky. Our umbrella has long been raised. In Italy the declaration may be regarded as a great deed, and may be accompanied with the usual demonstration. In Germany it leaves the public ice-cold.”

Supposedly the Austrian authorities in the Chelm District of Poland have banned Jews from traveling. And if Jews keep “spreading for speculative purposes [that is, to affect the prices of goods] alarming rumors” about military conditions, the Jewish community will be fined.

The railroad unions have issued a strike order for September 4th, and Pres. Wilson is not best pleased.

Former President Taft says he walked four city blocks in Chicago and shopped in a store without anyone recognizing him. He says this convinced him that he is through in politics. Evidently he didn’t already know that he is through in politics.

A member of an exclusive London club (which the NYT does not name) breaks  the rule of silence (the Diogenes Club?) to tell a waiter, “Remove that member,” pointing to a member in the next chair who had been dead for three days.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Today -100: August 28, 1916: More war is declared

Italy declares war on Germany. Given that Italian troops in Greece are already facing German ones and that German troops are reportedly on the Italian borders alongside Austrian ones (which Germany denies), this is just acknowledging a state of war that already exists, and that it was pretty silly to declare war on Austria but not Germany to begin with.

Romania also joins the war on the Allied side, though too late for today’s paper.

The Allies are trying to force Greece to join their side by refusing to do anything about the Bulgarian troops which have invaded Greece. Greece thought playing both sides against each other would make Germany restrain the Bulgarians, but no such luck.

Headline of the Day -100:

Also herring.

Southern tobacco farmers arrive in Washington DC to lobby the State Dept to protest Britain’s embargo of tobacco shipments to the Central Powers. The growers say the British did this just to force down the price of the tobacco they buy from the US.

The Red-Headed League of America is formed. Someone alert Sherlock Holmes.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Today -100: August 27, 1916: Of sins against the Fatherland, lynchings, Polish relief, nettoyeurs, polio and altar boys, English eyes, and salt

German Food Dictator Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe asks the women of rural Germany to share their agricultural bounty with their urban sisters. “Any one living on the land who consumes even half a liter of milk or a quarter of a pound more of butter or even an egg more than is absolutely necessary sins against the Fatherland.”

A large mob in Vivian, Louisiana, lynch a black man, Jess Hammet, accused by a white woman of attempted rape. Her parents plead with the crowd not to lynch Hammet.

The railroad owners change their position, dropping even the theoretical 8-hour day. It’s almost like they want a strike.

Britain and France are refusing Woodrow Wilson’s request to allow relief supplies to be sent to Poland, unless Germany promises not only to take none of the supplies, but to take none of Poland’s agricultural products for Germany. Which Germany won’t.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany claims that the French Army has squads, called “nettoyeurs” (cleaners), whose sole job is to wander around war zones looking for wounded German soldiers to kill.

Deputy sheriffs on Long Island prevent polio victims entering a private isolation hospital in Woodmere, threatening to shoot anyone who tried to bring a patient into the hospital. Crowds of locals are threatening to burn it down.

NY state Supreme Court Justice Carr took over as altar boy at a Catholic Church since the regular altar boys are barred from church because of the polio epidemic.

At an inquiry of some sort in Dublin into the murder of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington during the Easter Rising hears his widow Hannah deny that he was wearing a green uniform (he wasn’t). Her sister Mary Kettle (wife of former MP Tom Kettle, who will shortly die on the Somme) describes Capt. Bowen-Colthurst, who was found guilty but insane, which she obviously doesn’t buy for a minute, as one of the “cold, collected type of Englishman whose eyes showed the cruel, cold look which went with an unimaginative nature.”

A Polish immigrant Benny Niegodowsky, is rescued after 12 days lost in a salt mine in upstate New York. Which is what happens when you decide to take a nap on the job – in a fucking salt mine. He is very thirsty.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Today -100: August 26, 1916: Is Mr. Wilson a simple vacillator, or is he an old-fashioned political humbug?

New York City polio death toll = 1,785 and they think it’s nearly over and the schools can open in a month.

A national railroad strike is close. The owners are willing to accept an 8-hour day – “in principle” – but not for the same pay, with pay to be determined by the arbitration they love so much. And they want to be allowed to increase freight rates, which would require Congress’s approval, which is unlikely before Congress’s imminent adjournment. Rep. Augustus Gardner (R-Maine) plans to make a speech accusing Wilson of... something: “Is Mr. Wilson a simple vacillator, or is he an old-fashioned political humbug?”

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Today -100: August 25, 1916: It was part of the war and of our courage

The Women’s Social and Political Union, in its newspaper Britannia, says that the possibility of conscientious objectors voting is an insult to women, involving as it does the theory “that men do not vote on account of any service rendered to the state, but simply and solely because they happen to be males.” One can remember a time when the WSPU opposed the idea that men had the vote and women did not because only men could fight wars.

They should be happy that at the next election, women (some women) will vote but conscientious objectors will not.

Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, until recently the head of the Germany Navy, has evidently issued a “manifesto” – issued in what form is not clear because of German censorship – demanding a return to unrestricted submarine warfare.

The upper house of the Danish parliament, the Landsthing, votes to postpone the sale of the Danish West Indies to the United States until after the war or a general election, whichever comes first.

The French Army orders soldiers to shave off their beards. A general claims that the aggregate weight of those beards is 120 tons – “it is natural that the staff should think of relieving the army of this considerable and useless weight.” I suspect the order had more to do with poilu fitting into gas masks. French intellectuals have weighed in, as is the Gallic custom. Edmond Rostand (author of the play Cyrano de Bergerac) says the beard is a symbol of “all the beauty of all of France, a soul, a jewel, a torch, a prod,” whatever the fuck that means. Henri Bergson (philosophe): “the visage is matter, while the beard is mind.” Maurice Barrès (novelist, righty politician) says the beard is “a heritage of long ago in which the dead lived again and which bound us mysteriously to the soil. ... It was part of the war and of our courage.” Henri Bataille (playwright, poet) calls the beard “a nest of souvenirs [and baguette crumbs], dear and tender, somewhat timid, and a little shivery.” I may have added the bit about baguette crumbs – it was implied. Auguste Rodin (sculptor and the only one of these dudes with an actual beard, which I know because research): “Men without beards, women without sex, statues without heads, bodies without arms, humanity without weakness, that is my opinion.”

As it happens, none of the above was true, although the NYT correspondent was thoroughly taken in. It’s from Le Fuse, a trench paper along the lines of the Wipers Times.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Today -100: August 24, 1916: Of rationing, war treason, polio, and Jews

Germany will extend meat rationing to the entire country. 250 grams per week. Reports in Britain claim that there are hunger riots in Hamburg. In Berlin a woman who stole two loaves of bread because she was hungry is found not guilty of failing to leave behind ration coupons, the court ruling that coupons are only required for legal commerce. She still goes to jail for the theft.

Karl Liebnecht appeals his sentence for “war treason,” so his sentence is increased to 4 years, with deprivation of civil rights for 6 years.

New York department stores are refusing to accept returns of children’s clothes, toys, etc, because of polio.

Russia plans to give Jews equal rights when the Duma reconvenes in November.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Today -100: August 23, 1916: In the dim distance we can see the end

In Parliament, War Minister Lloyd George says “I think in the dim distance we can see the end” of the war. He says criticisms of the Allied performance at the Battle of the Somme are unjustified because they never really intended to break through German lines (false), they succeeded in drawing German troops away from Verdun and relieving the situation there (true), and German losses are much higher than those of the Allies (false).

Winston Churchill says Britain should prepare for a long war and the government should take over food supplies and prices as well as shipping, which has seen scandalous increases in rates.

Prime Minister Asquith, responding to a parliamentary question about whether he would recall Parliament from its forthcoming adjournment if peace proposals are made, says no.

Headline of the Day -100:

Unless, of course, you consider war to be itself a form of insanity.

The NYT notes that Republicans have stopped referring to their presidential candidate as “Justice Hughes” in favor of “Governor Hughes.” The Times, which seems to have more than a few resentments left over from his period in Albany, castigates Hughes for his support of direct primaries then and the women’s suffrage amendment now, “another instance of the same precipitate and complete absorption in a single unripe idea, the same ignoring of practical facts, the same lack of plain common sense.”

The US will ask Turkey politely not to massacre the Armenian survivors of its previous massacres who are now refugees in Persia, where Turkey is conducting military operations. Spoiler Alert: Turkey will totally massacre Armenian survivors of its previous massacres.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Today -100: August 22, 1916: Of fines, battle cries, teachers, philanders, and protectorates

German occupation forces rescinds the fine they imposed on Brussels for celebrating the Belgian national holiday.

The British military warns Irish newspapers not to criticize the government. The government has also given itself power to prevent people entering Ireland from overseas (i.e., the United States) and deport those who entered after March 1, even British (including Irish) citizens.

The movie company Vitagraph sues Henry Ford for accusing their 1915 film “The Battle Cry of Peace” of being part of a campaign for military preparedness in the interests of munitions manufacturers. Vitagraph demands $1 million in damages. The film itself cost $250,000. And is now lost.

Speaking of lost movies, there were plans for a meeting of the British Cabinet to be filmed, but Parliament put the kibosh on it because the whole idea is vulgar. So very vulgar.

Although New York City will delay the new school year because of polio, teachers will still be paid, but they will have to sit through lectures and conferences.

Remember Philander Knox, Taft’s hilariously named secretary of state? His son is in Reno preparatory to filing for divorce. Philander Knox, Jr.

Woodrow Wilson is trying to turn the Dominican Republic into the sort of protectorate Haiti is, with the US running all its finances for it. The current American general receiver of customs in the DR is threatening to withhold payments to Dominican officials until they cave.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Today -100: August 21, 1916: Of angells, duffs, snubs, Persia’s fate, and self-appointed amateur censors

Germany spreads a rumor that pacifist author Norman Angell (“The Great Illusion”) has been imprisoned for refusing to be conscripted. Not true; Angell is too old to be conscripted. He is a member of the Union of Democratic Control and at a meeting next January will call conscription “the greatest form of slavery; no slave in a plantation is told to kill.”

Gen. Sir Beauchamp Duff, he of the majestically silly name, is recalled to the UK to testify about the botched Mesopotamia (Iraq) operations, and is relieved of his post as Commander-in-Chief, India. A year and a half from now the disgraced Duff will commit suicide.

Charles Evans Hughes, campaigning in Long Beach, California, is briefly in a hotel at the same time as Gov. Hiram Johnson, but the two do not meet. Hughes will later attribute his snubbing of the Progressive governor as leading to his loss of California and thus the election.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Society for the Suppression of Vice is currently attempting to suppress Theodore Dreiser’s novel The Genius (1915), because sex. The Post Office has temporarily banned it being sent through the mails. Dreiser thinks the US needs to appoint an official censor to “do away with self-appointed amateur censors” (this fuss was stirred up in Cincinnati). “If we established an official censor we would at leave have an opportunity to determine in some degree his education and qualifications.”

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Today -100: August 20, 1916: Let us have done with war now and forever

The 31 heads of railroad companies who Wilson called to the White House all reject his plan to prevent a strike, which has been accepted by the unions.

In San Francisco, Charles Evans Hughes has lunch at the Commercial Club, which is currently fighting unionization attempts by its waiters, so he was served by scabs. He also said he wouldn’t take sides in “local” disputes between the Progressives and Republicans and Gov. Hiram Johnson.

British Minister of War David Lloyd George says “I feel for the first time in two years that the nippers are gripping and before long we will hear the crack. Then we will be able to extract the kernel.” It’s a metaphor of, er, some sort. He says this war means there won’t be another one in our day (he will die in 1945). “[W]e must have an unmistakable and unchallengeable victory that cannot be explained away by German professors to credulous people. ... Let us have done with war now and forever.”

The French public are discussing whether one of the changes brought by the war will be the end of dowries.

There are (false) reports that in Hungary, Austria, Germany and France, substantially more boys are now being born than girls. So worries about sex imbalances after the war are misguided.

Gen. Erich Ludendorff is appointed chief executive officer (Generalquartiermeister) of the German Army.

Columbia University tells landlords who rent apartments to female Columbia students that they should set aside a room for them to receive (male) visitors, as they shouldn’t be allowed to do so in their bedrooms and shouldn’t have to resort to parks. “You should not permit them to do the things you would not let your servants do.”

I was just thinking it had been a while since a lynching was reported, at least in the NYT. Five negroes are lynched in Newberry, Florida for supposedly aiding the escape of one Boisey Long, who killed a constable and shot a pharmacist who came to arrest him for stealing hogs along with the Dennis family (3 of the lynched). Another Dennis is shot dead by deputy sheriffs while “resisting arrest.” Two of the lynched were women, one of them reportedly pregnant. Long will be caught, tried, and hanged. When this Gainesville Sun article about the lynchings was being researched in 2005, members of the Dennis family still feared for their safety if they spoke about the incident.

New York City polio death toll = 1,597.

Belgium may have made no progress in liberating itself from German occupation, but its troops are helping the British conquer German East Africa.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Today -100: August 19, 1916: I’ve been working on the railroad, one-third of a live-long day

British Prime Minister Asquith has come round to the idea of women’s suffrage. In other words, the war has allowed him to back down by claiming he’s just rewarding women for their war work. However, there are no plans to hold an election during the war or to deal with the complicated issue of liberalizing the franchise and revamping the voter registration system, but when they get around to it, Asquith says, they’ll do something about women.

The railroad unions have accepted Woodrow Wilson’s proposal (they get the 8-hour day but no overtime), but the owners have not. Nor have they rejected it. Wilson tells them that a national railroad strike would incline the country towards government takeover of the rail lines. Not that HE supports that, mind you, he’s just sayin’.

Headline of the Day -100:

Pres. Wilson vetoes the Army appropriation bill over a clause exempting retired officers from courts-martial.

Authorities in Biwabik, Minnesota accuse the International Workers of the World of a couple of bombings of homes where miners who refused to go on strike lived. No one is hurt.

Portugal has supposedly been at war with Germany since March. Now it says it will get around to sending some actual soldiers. Soon.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Today -100: August 18, 1916: Don’t be disturbed. We will not declare war over this

Facing stonewalling from railroad company managers, Pres. Wilson tells their bosses, the company presidents, to show up at the White House. The companies are making a big deal about supporting arbitration as a matter of principle (meaning they really don’t like strikes).

A customs officer in Honolulu beats up an Asian man, thinking he is Japanese, as was the custom. He turns out (the Asian man, not the customs officer) to be Prince Mahidol of Siam. Brother of the king (to be fair, the King of Siam had 32 brothers) (and 44 sisters). The prince reassures us, “But don’t be disturbed. We will not declare war over this.”

Mexico decrees that foreign individuals and companies who want to buy public lands, water rights, timber rights, etc., must renounce the protection of their home governments and have only the same rights and privileges in Mexico as Mexicans. The US will respond that an American citizen can’t renounce his treaty rights or the “protection” of the US government.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Today -100: August 17, 1916: Too much is not expected of him

The Allies are firing more than a million shells a day on the Somme, a river that never did anything to them.

The German Army is reducing the meat ration for soldiers, even on the front lines. And there will be one day a week without any meat at all. No fish either. Or cheese.

The railroad companies say the 8-hour day demanded by the unions is a matter of suicide or murder – suicide if they give in, murder if Pres. Wilson forces it on them.

A French soldier is being court-martialed for resisting the commands of a superior officer. What the French are finding interesting about the case is that the officer was a doctor who wanted to subject him to what sounds like a crackpot electrical treatment for his deviated spine. Are soldiers allowed to refuse treatment when it comes in the form of an order?

Headline of the Day -100:

And missed a perfect opportunity to settle this whole mess with a few rounds of Rock Paper Scissors.

Sigo Myers, president of the National Bank of Savannah, complains in a letter to the NYT about labor agents who come to the South to lure away negro workers with offers of (gasp) higher wages than they can get picking cotton. “The higher rate of wages offered temporarily for these negroes causes discontent among the remaining, who are generally ignorant of conditions elsewhere and do not realize that these higher wages are but a passing phase of labor shortage”. The North will regret importing negroes because they aren’t accustomed to the Northern climate and are “constitutionally careless in their habits”. The negro is simply better off in the South: “He is better understood there, more consideration is shown for his weaknesses, too much is not expected of him”.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: A Romanian newspaper says that Germany has offered Romania part of Austria if it remains neutral.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Today -100: August 16, 1916: Of Huns and barbarians

Pres. Wilson proposes the railroad situation be resolved by the employers granting an 8-hour day and the unions dropping demands for overtime pay.

Germany says it will no longer try to avoid killing civilians when bombing Britain from zeppelins. It says this is totally justified as a response to two incidents last year when the HMS Baralong sank u-boats (which were attacking other British ships) and then shot the survivors in the first incident, and possibly ran down a lifeboat in the second.

The Germans are not happy about being called “Huns” and barbarians.

Headline of the Day -100:

A biologist and member of the Prussian Diet.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Today -100: August 15, 1916: Of strikes, milk, and flags

Woodrow Wilson spends the day trying to avert a national railroad strike. The workers want an 8-hour day and overtime pay. A strike would imperil munitions shipments to Europe and milk trains for New York City babies. Won’t someone think of the babies – the thirsty, thirsty babies?

In Spokane, Charles Evans Hughes holds a women-only meeting.

The American Flag Day Association complains about Hughes using images of the American flag on his posters. “Action will be taken against campaign managers and publishers if not stopped at once.”

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Today -100: August 14, 1916: Of commissions, encouraging tours, and serums, sera, screw it, serums

Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward White tells Justice Brandeis not to serve on the Mexican-American commission as Pres. Wilson wants. Although justices have often served on commissions in the past, White thinks this is inappropriate and anyway no one asked him to do it.

Headline of the Day -100:

New York City polio death toll = 1,393. But Dr. Abraham Zingher is busily at work taking blood from polio survivors to create a (completely useless) serum.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Today -100: August 13, 1916: When Germans are outlawed, only outlaws will be Germans

25,000 more National Guards are ordered to the Mexican border. Not sure why.

Headline of the Day -100:

Henry Ford is working on plans to sell his cars through garages, reducing costs so that he can price cars for as little as $250. He hopes to manufacture 1 million cars next year. (This article is right above an ad for the Cole 8 – “swift as a swallow – and as silent” – for $1,595.)

When it was thought that the US would occupy Juarez, Carranza officials handed out rifles to Juarezihoovians. Now they’ve demanded their return, threatening those who fail to comply with execution.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Today -100: August 12, 1916: Of burials, dead students, and censorship

Headline of the Day -100:

The National Woman’s Party will work in the 12 suffrage states to defeat Woodrow Wilson in November because he opposes the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.

Of the 38,160 German university students who were in the army last winter, 3,650 are now dead. On the plus side, there are more female university students now.

The US State Department passes on to the British Foreign Office the complaints of American reporters in Germany that their reports home, which go through London, are being censored. Lord Robert Cecil responds that the censorship is perfectly justified because “often things appear in these dispatches that are apt to create a false impression, and we take the liberty, for military reasons, of stopping them going through.” Military reasons, huh? It’s rare for someone to admit that censorship is not just about keeping information from the enemy (which is obviously not the case for information coming from the enemy), but to massage and shape the news. Anyway, another official says, German reports keep exaggerating Allied losses on the Somme, and it would be tedious to have to keep issuing corrections.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Today -100: August 11, 1916: Death in Venice

Austria bombs Venice, because they’re philistines.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Today -100: August 10, 1916: Of red crosses, polio, suspicious Norwegians, and censors

Germany says it will retaliate against British interference with supplies shipped from the US to the German Red Cross by seizing Red Cross supplies at sea. Swell.

New York City polio death toll = 1,260. The 1916-17 public school year, due to start on September 11, will be postponed.

Jersey City police arrest two Norwegians for being “suspicious persons,” which is evidently a crime in New Jersey, where if somebody isn’t a suspicious person that’s pretty suspicious. I’m guessing these are the two “Austro-Hungarians” they were talking about a couple of days ago. The police search their rooms and find drawings of a submarine, marked as accepted by the Chief of the Submarine Department, which doesn’t exist, so I gather they’re gullible would-be spies and someone sold them fake plans.

The British have loosened military censorship since the start of the Battle of the Somme. Including pictures.

There is increasing agitation in Denmark against the sale of the Danish West Indies to the United States. On general principles and because it was for so little money (although some in the US are grumbling that the islands are costing five times as much per acre as the Panama Canal territory.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Today -100: August 9, 1916: The men who do these stunts are not the kind who are too proud to fight

Germany claims there was a major food riot in Petrograd last month in which 28 people were killed. Possible.

Theodore Roosevelt adds his support to the federal women’s suffrage constitutional amendment. So does Hughes’s wife Antoinette, who doesn’t really help the cause by saying that she has plenty of views but doesn’t like to talk about them and anyway “I accept Mr. Hughes’s opinion as my own.”

Hughes expresses those opinions in a speech in which he says he’d “stop this pork business” and fill his administration with people chosen for their competence even if not giving out spoils hurts him politically (he’s made untrue charges in recent days that Wilson forced out the director of the census and the superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey to replace them with spoilsmen) (I know; exciting election stuff, huh? Still, for one shining moment the career path of one Otto Hilgard Tittmann became a national political issue, so there’s that.) He also slips in a reference to brothels, which I was not expecting: “You couldn’t get a protective measure [tariff] out of a Democrat Congress sectionally organized any more than you could get a revival meeting out of a disorderly house.”

We’ve previously come across Miroslav Sichynsky, a Ukrainian/Ruthenian who assassinated the Austrian governor of Galicia, Count Potocki, in 1908, escaped prison and lived for a while under an assumed name in the US. The US decided last year not to deport him, ruling that the assassination was a political crime rather than a criminal one. Now he’s suing French-Ukrainian writer George Raffalovich (aka Bedwin Sands) for libel for calling him a murderer, when he is clearly an assassin, and to call him a murderer implies moral turpitude. Sichynsky’s lawyer says a US jury can now decide for the first time whether assassination is murder. I have no idea what happened to this lawsuit.

Headline of the Day -100:

Theodore Roosevelt attending a cowboy show at Sheepshead Bay, of which he says “It will make people better Americans to see it. The men who do these stunts are not the kind who are too proud to fight.” But “I don’t think it’s right for the girls to ride those horses. It makes me feel uncomfortable and a little bit aroused.” I may have added the last five words.

The Senate passes the child labor bill, 52-12. 10 of the 12 were Southern Democrats.

A Mrs. Johanna Thompson of East Orange, New Jersey, who feared being buried alive, made provision in her will that someone lift the lid on her coffin every day for 40 days after her death. Which was in April. She’s still dead. Actually, it would violate health laws to open the lid, but the designated coffin-peeper did look at the outside of the casket every day and collected $200 for the service.

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Monday, August 08, 2016

Today -100: August 8, 1916: Beware of well-dressed Austro-Hungarians

Police now think that the fire that set off the high explosives on those barges that blew out windows all over Manhattan on the 30th was set on purpose by two “well-dressed Austro-Hungarians.”

Sen. Lee Overman (D-North Carolina) argues against the proposed anti-child labor bill, saying that states which don’t regulate child labor at all, like North Carolina, have much better behaved children.

The National Council of French Socialists votes to sever relations with German socialists.

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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Today -100: August 7, 1916: Of lords-lieutenantses and progressives

Since Lloyd George’s Home Rule plan seems to have collapsed, in part because he gave different versions of it to each side, Asquith reappoints Baron Wimborne as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, an antiquated post that was supposed to be abolished.

The Democrats claim that many Progressives, especially on the West Coast, will be supporting Woodrow Wilson in November.

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Saturday, August 06, 2016

Today -100: August 6, 1916: Of polio and weather

NYC Health Commissioner Haven Emerson complained that no doctors had responded to his urgent appeal for volunteers to help with the polio outbreak, but Dr. Rebecca Teichman says that she tried and was told there was “no room” for women doctors.

There have been an unusual number of storms in the Atlantic and the English Channel and Mediterranean this summer, indeed the weather has been bad all over Europe, and captains and officers of liners making the crossing think they know why: it’s all the artillery being fired across Europe. That’s just science.

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Friday, August 05, 2016

Today -100: August 5, 1916: Of fines, scythes, polio, and guardsmen

Brussels refuses to pay the 5 million mark fine imposed by the occupation authority after Brusselites celebrated the Belgian national holiday. The acting burgomaster says that patriotic sentiment is not illegal.

Kaiser Wilhelm does a photo op (I’m not going to bother looking for the photos) of himself helping reap the harvest, “wielding a scythe in the rye fields with the muscular expertness of a peasant.” Willy had only one working arm, so I call bullshit. The food dictator, Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe, says the crisis is over and cities are actually complaining that they’re receiving way more potatoes than they can actually eat. Again I call bullshit: Germans can eat a lot of potatoes. I mean A LOT of potatoes. I mean ALL the potatoes.

The New York City polio death toll breaks 1,000.

Alexander Emerson of Boston, a member of the Massachusetts militia, refused to take the oath of the National Guard when the state militias were federalized for the Mexican emergency, and was jailed. A judge says he was within his rights and orders him released.

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Today -100: August 4, 1916: Of hangings, progressives, busts, and zeppelins

Roger Casement’s last words: I die for my country. Not very original. He converted to Catholicism in prison. The government is now claiming to have evidence, which conveniently came too late to be introduced at Casement’s trial, that he had arranged with Germany to use the Irish POWs he recruited against the British Army in Egypt.

Progressive Party leaders meet and decide not to recall their convention to name a new presidential candidate to replace Roosevelt, who declined the nomination of the last one. Instead they’ll, if I understand this correctly, run John Parker for vice president in 9 states with no presidential candidate in the hopes that he’ll get enough electoral votes to have leverage if the election is really close. The conference decides against expelling the party National Committee members who have endorsed Charles Evans Hughes.

Austrians (and Hungarians) are not pleased by the appointment by Germany of Paul von Hindenburg as commander of the eastern front. He sets to work replacing Austrian generals with German ones.

The German occupation authority in Belgium fines a Brussels committee which put on a sculpture exhibit at which spectators so objected to a bust of Kaiser Wilhelm that it had to be removed.

Zeppelins returning from bombing England now routinely violate the airspace of neutral Netherlands, which is not happy about it.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Today -100: August 3, 1916: Of golf and polio, hangings, and peace meetings

New York City polio death toll = 937. But now, polio has GONE TOO FAR.

Roger Casement is hanged. The British are now claiming as a reason his death sentence wasn’t commuted that when he was recruiting among Irish POWs, some of those who didn’t cooperate were mistreated by their German guards and two were killed. The timing of this story is kind of suspicious, the public version of the sliming of his reputation based on his sex life that they’ve been doing behind the scenes.

Headline of the Day -100:

That word, “peace,” I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Today -100: August 2, 1916: Has it really been two years already?

The Great War is entering its Terrible Twos. Kaiser Wilhelm says the second year of the war was a year of glory for Germany, just like the first year, and every year. “Like the memory of our dead heroes,” he informs all the prospective dead heroes, “your fame also will endure through all time.” French President Raymond Poincaré says “The nations who have let loose that stupendous catastrophe have not yet completely expiated their act. But justice is on the way.” British War Secretary David Lloyd George says “we are forcing [the enemy] to evacuate step by step the countries he has profaned and ravaged.” Gen. Douglas Haig says “This third year of the war will bring the deserved punishment to Germany.”

The commercial submarine Deutschland leaves port in Baltimore with a cargo of rubber, nickel and maybe gold, making a break for the high seas.

Charles Evans Hughes does support the federal women’s suffrage amendment after all, though he carefully notes that this is his personal view, not the Republican Party’s. It’s just the most efficient way to remove the subject from political discussion and get back to ignoring women.

New York City polio death toll = 896. 55 yesterday. Health Commissioner Haven Emerson appeals to the public for $15,000 for braces and leg supports for the newly crippled (the equipment costs an average of $15). They’re expecting 2,000 children with some degree of paralysis.

Headline of the Day -100:

No, no it’s rock, paper, SCISSORS.

The Senate fails to impose prohibition on the District of Columbia.

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Monday, August 01, 2016

Today -100: August 1, 1916: America first and America efficient

Charles Evans Hughes finally makes his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president, in Carnegie Hall (I guess it’s so late because he’s been practicing). Evidently he’s in favor of Americanism, which he defines as an undivided love of country and a goal of “America first and America efficient,” whatever that might mean. Much of the speech is devoted to criticizing Wilson’s Mexican policies, which he thinks went wrong when Wilson failed to recognize coup leader/murderer Huerta. He seems to want to make attacks on Wilson about Mexico a major part of his campaign without saying much about what he would do. The foreign policy stuff could have been ghost-written by Roosevelt: “I stand for the unflinching maintenance of American rights on land and sea” etc. (Complete text).

Tacked on at the end, Hughes says he supports women’s suffrage (but does not explicitly support a federal constitutional amendment) (or indeed oppose one). He doesn’t actually say he thinks it’s a good idea. Rather, he says it’s inevitable, so the pragmatic course is just to get it over with: “Opposition may delay, but in my judgment cannot defeat, this movement. Nor can I see any advantages in the delay which can possibly offset the disadvantages which are necessarily incident to the continued agitation. Facts should be squarely met. We shall have a constantly intensified effort and a distinctly feminist movement constantly perfecting its organization to the subversion of normal political issues. We shall have a struggle increasing in bitterness, which I believe to be inimical to our welfare.”

“Subversion of normal political issues”!

Forest fires in Ontario, Canada wipe out Matheson and other nearby towns. More than 200 are killed. This is why you shouldn’t set fires to clear land.

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