Sunday, December 31, 2017

Today -100: December 31, 1917: Of earthquakes and peace

An earthquake, actually part of a series that isn’t over yet, largely wipes out  Guatemala City. The world will rush aid to Guatemala, and President Cabrera will sell that aid and keep the money for himself, as is the custom.

Bulgaria accepts Russian peace proposals.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Today -100: December 30, 1917: Of phantom bases and unconscious perverts

Headline of the Day -100: 

They were ordered to report to the ordinance base, which does not exist. Locals are struggling to house them all. More will come tomorrow and the army is skeptical when local officials phone to inform them there’s no ordinance base here, really there isn’t.

The NAACP holds its 7th annual conference. Someone claiming to be from the Committee of Public Information, the government censorship and propaganda body, but who refuses to give his name, warns against stirred hatred among black soldiers against white soldiers and says Germany is trying to make black people believe black soldiers are being discriminated against in the (segregated) military. Perish the thought.

The NYT Sunday Magazine has an article by Dr. Mary Keyt Isham, who says pacifism is associated with “a certain type of unconscious pervert,” i.e., they’re bottoms, who are naturally drawn to Prussian sadism, or something.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Today -100: December 29, 1917: Of separate peaces, banks, and feet

Trotsky warns the Allies that if they don’t join the peace negotiations within 10 days, Russia will make a separate peace. He seems to think there will be plebiscites in Alsace-Lorraine and the former German colonies about what country they’d like to be attached to; Germany has other views.

Russia seizes all private banks (in Petrograd anyway).

Belarus secedes from Russia.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Today -100: December 28, 1917: Of stimulated France, independent socialists, and ferdinands

Headline of the Day -100: 

The French, eh? It’s just sex sex sex with them.

The German military rounds up hundreds of members of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) on Christmas Eve, naturally.

The Central Powers respond to Russian peace proposals, saying they’re ok with an immediate general peace without annexations (and Germany wants its colonies back) or indemnities (although there is some difference over compensation for the cost of upkeep of POWs). King Ferdinand of Bulgaria immediately says that the Austrian foreign minister, who was supposed to be speaking on behalf of the Quadruple Alliance, doesn’t speak for Bulgaria, which intends to keep ever inch of land it’s seized in Serbia, Romania, and Greece.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Today -100: December 27, 1917: Of bandits, godmothers, railroads, and visibly tiring Russians

US troops cross into Mexico to kill Mexican bandits (possibly Pancho Villa affiliated), as was the custom.

The US Army is trying to dissuade American women from “adopting” US soldiers in France – “godmothers” they’re calling themselves – and sending them stuff, because it’s clogging up the mails. Also, censorship regs forbid soldiers corresponding with strangers.

The US government will take control of the railroads tomorrow. Pres. Wilson will be guaranteeing the profits of the railroad companies, because of course he will.

NYT: “Russia is visibly tiring of the Bolsheviki; they may be overthrown at any time. They are without one vestige of legal authority to speak for Russia, they have no standing among nations.”

Prof. Jan Kucharzewski, the puppet prime minister of puppet Poland, says there is a lot of support for making the Austrian emperor the king of Poland, and it should definitely be done before any elections.

The NYC Board of Education decides to end all foreign language instruction in elementary schools next year (65% of the students taking a language were studying German).

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Today -100: December 26, 1917: Of troop transfers, conspiracies, and rotating governors

Russian Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky is pissed that, while peace negotiations are going on, Germany is transferring troops from the Russian front to the Western front, like they were supposed not to do.

The US government claims to have proof of a world-wide conspiracy of American Wobblies, Russian Bolsheviks, Irish Fenians etc to overthrow the existing order. This follows the discovery of some weapons on the Russian freighter Shilka, which they think were intended for the Wobblies. But somehow they’re also still pretending to believe that the IWW is paid by and operating on behalf of Germany.

Following the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision that George Hunt was elected governor last year after all, he resumes the office and offers his unseated predecessor a job on the state tax commission, which he declines.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Today -100: December 25, 1917: We must bring peace to the world by battering in with the iron fist and shining sword the doors of those who will not have peace

Former British Prime Minister Asquith’s son Arthur is wounded while serving in the Royal Naval Division in France. His leg will be amputated.

Kaiser Wilhelm addresses the Second Army on the French front: “If the enemy does not want peace, then we must bring peace to the world by battering in with the iron fist and shining sword the doors of those who will not have peace.” If that’s not a peace-loving sentiment, I don’t know what is. He says the Germany army has done so well in 1917 that it’s clear God is on Germany’s side, that’s just science.

G.H. Mika of the Slav Press Bureau (in New York, I think) points out a little problem with the recent declaration of war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire: there are immigrants from the Dual Monarchy currently serving in the US military who have only taken out their first papers on the path to citizenship, which means if captured by Austria they will be treated as traitors subject to execution.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Today -100: December 24, 1917: We would accept them only in order to rise together with the German people against German militarism as we did against Czarism

Peace talks begin between Russia on one side and Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria on the other. A Polish delegation wants to participate; good luck with that, guys. Trotsky worries aloud to delegates of the Petrograd Soviet, the Peasant Congress and the like about negotiating with representatives of the German kaiser rather than the German people and says “if, exhausted as we are by this unprecedented slaughter, we must accept the terms of the German emperor, we would accept them only in order to rise together with the German people against German militarism as we did against Czarism.”

Trotsky accuses the American ambassador and the head of the American Red Cross mission to Romania of “counter-revolutionary activities,” to wit, trying to send cars and other supplies to rebel Gen. Kaledin. They claim the goods were just being transported through Rostov on their way to Mesopotamia.

The German socialist newspaper Vorwärts is suspended for the umpeenth time for writing about poor conditions in Germany, saying many are starving and that war profiteers are hoarding, and because an “article denouncing the militaristic party’s demands for the annexation of large sections of Russian territory is considered likely to stir up trouble.” Trouble among, you know, soldiers who had been told they were fighting to defend Germany and are now fighting to expand the Reich.

The Hungarian government introduces a bill extending suffrage to all literate adults, male and female, over 24.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Today -100: December 23, 1917: Of governors, Americanization, hommes du monde, and supermarkets

The Arizona Supreme Court, which after a close election in 1916 decided that Thomas Campbell (R) had been elected governor after 4 weeks of George Hunt (D) refusing to give up his office, now decides that Hunt is governor after all.

The New York State Suffrage Party, having won suffrage, turns its attention to “Americanizing” immigrant women who now have the vote by virtue of being married to naturalized citizens, without having had to meet the tests their husbands did (speaking English, being of good character, 5 years’ residence, oath of allegiance, etc).

The French Chamber of Deputies votes to suspend the parliamentary immunity of former prime minister Joseph Caillaux so he can be charged with treason because he, I don’t know, supported peace, and conspired with people he says he couldn’t possibly have conspired with because he’s a gentleman (“un homme du monde”).  Caillaux claims this is all a political and personal attack on him on trumped-up charges, and he is not wrong. He ends by calling for the lifting of immunity that was going to happen anyway, because he wants all this cleared up in a trial (perhaps remembering how his wife literally got away with murder in a trial in 1914).

Canada is moving towards prohibition, to expire one year after peace.

The NYT has an article about a self-service market in Lockport, NY. Instead of the grocer standing behind a counter and the customers asking them for goods, this market’s items are put alphabetically on shelves. In fact, the idea, a product of wartime labor shortages, was originated and patented in October by Piggly Wiggly of Memphis (customers enter through a turnstile, take a basket, go up one aisle, down the next, up the next, down the next, and pay at the cash register, that’s literally all the patent was for).

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Today -100: December 22, 1917: Of secret treaties

Russia publishes another secret treaty, one between Russia and Japan in 1916 for joint military action against a third party like Britain or the US achieving dominance in China.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Today -100: December 21, 1917: Of abandoned militarism and ultimata

British Prime Minister Lloyd George talks about Britain’s war aims, in the usual vague terms. Prussia must “abandon militarism” – what does that actually mean, in concrete terms? He says Germany’s overseas colonies will be disposed of by the peace congress and that future trustees of the colonies (independence is literally unthinkable) must take into account the sentiments of their peoples (Spoiler Alert: they won’t) (I mean, South West Africa was made a trust territory of South Africa, for fuck’s sake). And Turkey will never get Jerusalem back.

Ukraine rejects the Russian ultimatum that it stop assisting Gen. Kaledine and stop preventing passage of Russian troops through Ukraine to fight him.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Today -100: December 20, 1917: Of contempt of court, states of siege, and enemy aliens

Philadelphia Mayor Thomas Smith is indicted for contempt of court for trying to cover up his role in the murderous violence on election day.

The Petrograd Soviet declares a state of siege in Petrograd to deal with all the looting of wine shops.

Renegade Gen. Kaledin proposes that the Don region, of which he is top dog, be given independence.

In Salt Lake City, a German named Herman Frederick Wilhelm Babbel (I know, you’d have been lost if I hadn’t already told you he was German) is ordered interned after saying that Germany would win the war.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Today -100: December 19, 1917: Of spoils, bombs, prohibition, drill, and women doctors

New York Mayor-Elect John Hylan participates in that great tradition of NY politics: Tammany Hall’s Boss Murphy gives him a list of people to hire.

A bomb takes out part of the California governor’s mansion, near where Gov. William Stephens and Mrs. Governor are sleeping. The culprits are not caught, but Stephens says it was probably “done with a view to terrorism, the chief weapon of the alien enemy.”

The Senate passes the Prohibition amendment to the Constitution, 47-8. A lot of senators seem to have skipped the vote.

The NYT notes that many of the dry states wishing to impose prohibition on wet states are Southern states which object to having women’s suffrage imposed on them and which also continue to obstruct and nullify enforcement of the 15th Amendment.

The foreign ministers of Germany and Austria will go to Brest-Litovsk for negotiations with Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Trotsky informs the Allies and asks if they’d like to come to, or “state whether they wish peace or not.” Pravda denies rumors that Germany is demanding that Russia evacuate Finland and... Petrograd, disarm the Russian Army, and grant Germany a monopoly of grain exports.

City College of New York (presumably like many other colleges) has suspended or expelled 19 students for not attending military drill.

Obit of the Day -100: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917), the first woman doctor in Britain, the first woman elected to a school board (London in 1870, with three times as many votes as T.H. Huxley), the first woman mayor in England (Aldeburgh in 1908), the first woman magistrate, and a few other firsts. The doctor thing is a funny story. Doctors had only recently been legally required to have a license to practice, which could be issued by several medical societies (surgeons, physicians, etc). Garrett realized the apothecaries’ society didn’t specifically forbid women members (they changed that rule fast after she used it). She later founded the London School of Medicine for Women. A long-time suffragist – here’s Bertha Newcombe’s 1910 painting depicting her and Emily Davies passing John Stuart Mill a women’s suffrage petition, hidden under the apples for some reason, for him to present to Parliament in 1866 –

her younger sister Millicent Garrett Fawcett is president of the largest women’s suffrage society in Britain, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, which Anderson left for the more radical Women’s Social and Political Union, although she resigned when it became too militant for her.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Today -100: December 18, 1917: Of yellow cats, curbing intemperance by law, and royal privates

Canadian elections: the Unionists do very well outside Quebec, leading to a likely showdown with Quebec over conscription.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: an American woman living in Venice claims German planes dropped poison gas on the city. It turned her cat yellow.

The House of Representatives votes 282 to 128 for a Prohibition amendment to the Constitution. Julius Kahn (R-California) objects, saying “You cannot curb intemperance by law, but you make sneaks, liars, and hypocrites of men when you attempt to put in force laws of this kind.” There is a 7-year time limit for ratification, which might or might not be constitutional.

Rep. Royal Johnson (R-South Dakota) takes a leave from Congress (he doesn't quit, as the NYT says) to join the army as a private.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Today -100: December 17, 1917: Not the fortress, but the guillotine

Germany and Russia sign a 4-week armistice, with peace negotiations to follow. Germany promises not to transfer troops to other fronts.

The Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet declares the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) enemies of the people. Trotsky says “You are perturbed by the mild terror we are applying to our enemies. But know that within a month this terror will take the terrible form of the French revolutionary terror – not the fortress, but the guillotine.”

There are rumors – false, of course, that the Tsar has escaped.

The Vatican says its only regret about the capture of Jerusalem is that the soldiers involved were not all Catholics.

Former French Prime Minister Joseph Caillaux is being investigated by the Chamber of Deputies for making unpatriotic speeches in Italy. Caillaux says the forgery industry has declined since the days of the Dreyfus Affair and accuses the French ambassador to Italy of making it all up, after a spat in which the ambassador’s wife refused to receive Caillaux’s wife, the famous unconvicted murderer.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Today -100: December 16, 1917: Please don’t let any one get the idea that we discussed peace

The Bolsheviks say they have captured Gen. Alexey Kaledin of the Don Cossacks. They have not.

“Pro-Germans” petition for Rep. Fiorello La Guardia to be removed from Congress because he’s off in the military doing military things. So far Speaker Champ Clark is taking no action because La Guardia is not violating the law by taking two salaries.  In fact, he’s not currently getting either salary, and he is furious. The House will later grant him a leave of absence and eventually agree to pay him (his congresscritter’s pay is 3 times what he’d get as a captain in the Army Air Service, so that’s good for him).

Col. House returns from Europe, where he consulted with Allied leaders about war and only war: “I didn’t talk peace with a soul in Europe. I didn’t discuss war aims. ... Please don’t let any one get the idea that we discussed peace.” Heaven forfend.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Today -100: December 15, 1917: Only good enough for German fertilizer

More delegates to the Russian Constituent Assembly show up, but the Bolshevik government stations sailors with orders to keep them out. Members are threatening to go to Kiev, and some government employees, now on strike, are threatening to go with them.

Pope Benedict celebrates the “liberation of Jerusalem” by British troops.

Kate Richards O'Hare, the Socialist writer, editor and lecturer, is sentenced to 5 years for a speech in Bowman, North Dakota opposing the war and conscription. Mothers who raised their sons to be cannon fodder, she said, are no better than brood sows, and young men who volunteer are “only good enough for German fertilizer.”

A NY judge does one of those join-the-military-or-go-to-jail things with a man who committed petty larceny ($40). Army recruiters are livid.

Gen. Skalon, one of the Russians negotiating a truce with Germany, shoots himself. This may be bullshit. Certainly the NYT identifies him as the former governor-general of Russian Poland, but that Skalon died in 1914, so I don’t know.

Headline of the Day -100: 

1917 porn was just weird.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today -100: December 14, 1917: Only the simplest of living is patriotic

The Russian Constituent Assembly assembles. Well, only about 50 of the 600 actually show up, so they adjourn for a day, when 40 show up. The Assembly was initiated before the October revolution, and now the Bolsheviks don’t want one, and arrest some of the delegates. The government orders the arrest of all Constitutional Democrat (Kadet) leaders, on general principles and, Trotsky says, to save them from being lynched. He’s considerate that way.

Food Czar Herbert Hoover asks American families to add a porkless day to their meatless day and wheatless day. “In this emergency only the simplest of living is patriotic,” he says. In 12 years Hoover’s economic policies will lead to many Americans living very patriotic lives indeed.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today -100: December 13, 1917: Of alien enemies, first shots, and rankins

There are a lot more citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire living in the United States than Germans, and many of them are essentially refugees from the oppressed minority nationalities of the Empire – Czechs, Slovenes, Poles, etc – so Wilson won’t make them register or restrict their movements like he did the Germans (males over 14 do have to get permission to leave the country). Also, the war would grind to a halt without  miners, steelworkers etc from the Dual Monarchy. Wilson’s proclamation on all this doesn’t even use the term “enemy aliens” (which the NYT mistakenly calls “alien enemies”).

The first American to shoot at Austria after the declaration of war is Rep. George Holden Tinkham (R-Massachusetts), who fires a shell into Gonfo. Since he’s not in the military, Tinkham committed a war crime punishable by execution. (Spoiler Alert: he will not be executed).

The House of Representatives gives the chairmanship of the new Committee on Woman Suffrage to John Raker (D-CA) rather than to the only, you know, woman in the House. Jeanette Rankin really wanted the job but wasn’t supported by her own Republican party. I know! Republicans being dicks to a woman.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today -100: December 12, 1917: Of short shrifts, great futures, and military justice at its finest

Russian officials stranded in London are quite sure that an alliance of the Don Cossacks and the non-Bolshevik parties will “make short shrift of the Bolsheviki.”

According to Wikitionary, a short shrift was originally “a rushed sacrament of confession (shrift) given to a prisoner who was to be executed very soon.” I feel like I should have known that before now.

Headline of the Day -100: 

That’s Col. Sir Mark Sykes of the secret Sykes-Picot agreement recently made not-so-secret by Trotsky, on how swell Zionism is gonna turn out.

13 black soldiers are hanged for the race riots in Houston in August. 41 more are sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Today -100: December 11, 1917: It’s on. Oh, IT IS ON.

Panama declares war on Austria-Hungary.

Jerusalem surrenders to British troops in this, the 822nd year of the Crusades. Gen. Edmund Allenby enters the city on foot to show respect for the holy sites of the city he’d been respectfully besieging.

Portuguese coup leader Sidónio Pais reassures the Allies that Portugal will stay in the war, doing whatever it is that Portugal is doing in the war. Ousted Prime Minister Afonso Costa is arrested. The war minister and the commander of the fleet seek sanctuary on British warships.

The Supreme Court rules that there is no 14th Amendment right to possess alcohol.

The Supreme Court rules that employers may impose an open shop, that is make a condition of employment that employees not join a union. It says attempts to unionize, in this case a mine, may be illegal even if they’re completely peaceful, for example by “persuading man after man to join the union, and having done so, to remain at work, keeping the employer in ignorance of their number and identity, until so many should have joined that by stopping work in a body they could coerce the employer and the remaining miners to organize the mines, and that the conduct of the defendants in so doing was unlawful and malicious.” Forcing the mining company to accept unionization through “fear of financial loss” is thus illegal. What power do they think a union has, if not a threat of financial loss? Loud tutting? And how does the Court think the mine got miners to agree not to join the UMW in the first place, if not a threat of financial fucking loss? This is just terrible supreme courting.

The government now regulates bakeries, requiring standard 16- and 24-ounce loafs of bread using less milk and sugar and animal fat.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Today -100: December 10, 1917: Of civil wars, armistices, and swear words

The Bolshevik government announces that Gens. Kornilov and Alexey Kaledin of the Don Cossacks have started a revolt in the Don region “against the people and the revolution.” The counter-revolution and civil war begin here.

The Russian and German positions in the armistice negotiations seem quite far apart.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Today -100: December 9, 1917: Of coups, enemy aliens, and armistices

A revolution in Portugal (actually more like a coup) led by Sidónio Pais forces the government to resign. Pais will exercise increasingly dictatorial powers for a year until he is assassinated.

One consequence of the US declaring war on Austria: newly enemied aliens from the Empire have to be weeded out of the US military.

Trotsky informs the Allies that Russia will only sign an armistice with Germany on condition that it not move troops to the western front (a condition Germany has been scoffing at). On the 7th, for the first time since the war began, not a shot is fired on the Russian front. Trotsky is suspending negotiations a week to give the Allies time to say whether they will join an armistice and, if not, to state what their war aims are.

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Friday, December 08, 2017

Today -100: December 8, 1917: In matters of war I am a teetotaler

The US is at war with Austria. The declaration passes the Senate unanimously (La Follette is not present, claiming later he didn’t know the vote was going on) and the House by 363 to 1, the 1 being Meyer London (Socialist-NY), who says Socialists oppose war. “In matters of war I am a teetotaler. I refuse to take the first intoxicating drink.” Walter Chandler (R-NY) asks him to cite one instance in which Karl Marx denounces war.

Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana) says war is a “stupid and futile way of attempting to settle international difficulties” and this one was caused by “commercial and selfish interests,” but this time votes for war, saying it’s not a real declaration of war but a “technicality” arising from the previous declaration of war on Germany.

No one pushes for Bulgaria and Turkey to be included, grumpily accepting Wilson’s argument that, like Austria, “They too, are tools of Germany. But they are mere tools and do not yet stand in the direct path of our proposed actions.” The US will end the war without having declared war on the two countries, or vice versa.

Halifax, hundreds of its houses in ruins after the munitions ship explosion yesterday, now faces a blizzard, because of course it does. Rescue work halts. “Many of the injured necessarily died of neglect.”

Finland declares independence from Russia.

Romanian troops who were fighting alongside Russians join the cease-fire, because what choice do they have? Austria starts releasing Russian prisoners even before Russia begins releasing Austria’s.

Recent German air raids on London show that Germany has switched completely from zeppelins to airplanes.

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Today -100: December 7, 1917: Of Halifax, baby factories, and contested elections

In the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, the SS Mont-Blanc, carrying a big ol’ load of munitions, collides with a Belgian relief ship, drifts to land and goes boom. 2,000 or so dead. The largest explosion (not counting volcanoes) before 1945. Bits of the ship including the anchor are found miles away. The blast wave takes out every window in the city and a pretty good chunk of the city. Naturally, many assume it was a German plot.

The Croydon (UK) conscription tribunal upholds the plea of a widow that her, I believe, youngest son not join his 10 brothers in the military.

There will be a 10-day cease-fire between Russia and Germany.

In Parliament, Chief Secretary for Ireland Henry Duke says that Éamon de Valera’s election as MP for East Clare can be challenged by any elector in the constituency because he may not actually be British (the future president of Ireland was born in New York).

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Today -100: December 6, 1917: Lords of Looseness?

The House Committee on Foreign Relations passes the declaration of war on Austria with no dissenters. Everyone except Clarence Miller (R-Minnesota) falls in line behind Wilson’s decision not to include Bulgaria and Turkey.

Incidentally, this is another of those “recognizes that a state of war exists” declarations of war.

Rudyard Kipling has a new bad poem out. Evidently Bunyan predicted World War I, or something:
Likewise the Lords of Looseness
  That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
  And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
  Who crack beneath a strain--
John Bunyan met that helpful set
  In Charles the Second's reign.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Today -100: December 5, 1917: This is a war of high principle, debased by no selfish ambition of conquest or spoliation

Woodrow Wilson, in his State of the Union address (as they didn’t call it yet) to the new session of Congress, asks it to declare war on the Austria-Hungarian Empire but not Bulgaria or Turkey. He says his goal is not to “impair or rearrange” the Empire. Oh, it so is. He portrays the populations of Austria, Turkey and the Balkans as in need, just as much as those of Belgium and northern France, of liberation from the “impudent and alien dominion of the Prussian military and commercial autocracy”.

Impudent and alien dominions are the worst kind.

So really, declaring war on Austria is for the benefit of Austria, which these days is “simply the vassal of the German Government.” This great act of charity extends even to Germans: “We are in fact fighting for their emancipation from fear, along with our own”. But do we ever get a thank you? no, we do not.

Wilson responds to critics of the war: “I hear the criticism and the clamor of the noisily thoughtless and troublesome. I also see men here and there fling themselves in impotent disloyalty against the calm, indomitable power of the nation. I hear men debate peace who understand neither its nature nor the way in which we may attain it, with uplifted eyes and unbroken spirits. But I know that none of these speaks for the nation. They do not touch the heart of anything. They may safely be left to strut about their uneasy hour and be forgotten.”

Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin, who refused to give up his self-designated title of Supreme Commander of the Russian military, is removed from office with extreme prejudice by “infuriated members of the Bolsheviki.”

Hey, Apocalypse Now was nearly 40 years ago, do people still understand “extreme prejudice” references?

Siberia and Ukraine have declared themselves independent republics.

Secretary of War Newton Baker denies that there is any discrimination against negroes in the (segregated) army and says any complainants are suffering from “overworked hysteria.”

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Monday, December 04, 2017

Today -100: December 4, 1917: Of armistices, debauched soldiers and sailors, legations, rustlers, and teachers

A new session of Congress opens. Everyone wants to declare war on Austria, and maybe Bulgaria and Turkey as well. They’re weirdly excited by the prospect.

Germany says there are local armistices in place with the Russian army at the division and corps levels.

New Rochelle, NY saloon owners are indicted for conspiracy to debauch soldiers and sailors. Which I guess just means letting them buy booze.

Russian Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky fires 160 Russian legations and consulates abroad who don’t recognize the Bolshevik government.

American troops invade Mexico and have a pitched battle with some cattle-rustlers, killing 35 of them.

The High School Committee puts on “trial” the 3 suspended De Witt Clinton High School (Bronx) teachers. Samuel Schmalhausen is accused of not rebuking one of his students for an essay calling Woodrow Wilson a murderer in such a way as to force the student to perceive the “gross disloyalty involved in his point of view” and even saying he didn’t think it was his job to “develop in the students under his control instinctive respect for the president of the United States as such”. They drag in the student, who says he didn’t get the ideas from Schmalhausen but from books and his own thinking. He was then hanged as a witch, probably.

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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Today -100: December 3, 1917: Of ambassadors, mad carousels (mad carousels are the worst kind), antis, and teaching German

Russian Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky responds to letters from the US and French military missions protesting Russian armistice and possible separate-peace plans, saying Russia “cannot permit allied diplomatic and military agents to interfere in the internal affairs of our country and attempt to excite civil war.”

Trotsky appoints Georgy Chicherin as ambassador to Britain. Chicherin is an exile from the 1905 Revolution currently held in Brixton Prison in Britain for writing against the war. Trotsky wants him and another Russian political prisoner in Britain released and is threatening to hold English supporters of counter-revolution in reprisal (and tomorrow will ban any British subjects from leaving Russia).

Headline of the Day -100: 

I can’t tell if the NYT reporter really enjoyed this meeting or really felt out of place.

Mad carousel?

New York anti-suffragists will work to oppose the federal suffrage amendment and not to repeal women’s suffrage in New York. They figure women will just get tired of all the voting. Why, in a couple of years it’ll be current suffragists calling for repeal.

Pittsburgh orders the removal from high school German classes of all textbooks praising Kaiser Wilhelm or the German military system. Did language textbooks actually do this?

The good folks of Dyersburg, Tennessee burn a black man at the stake for allegedly attacking a white woman.

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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Today -100: December 2, 1917: Wikileaks 1917

Russia releases another secret treaty, in which, as a price for Italy entering the war on the Allied side, it would get various bits of the Austrian Empire and control of Albania’s foreign policy if the Allies decided on an independent Albania instead of dividing it among Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro. And if France and Britain take some of Germany’s African colonies, Italy gets some too. Italy undertook to try to prevent the pope working to end the war. Russia also reveals the territorial bribes offered Greece (which didn’t bite). American officials are pretending to believe that the documents might be forgeries and that Italy, to whose aid the US is planning to go, was not massively bribed to enter the war. Which it totally was.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany is said to be sending germ-infested balloons into the American trenches.

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Friday, December 01, 2017

Today -100: December 1, 1917: Of measles, ensigns, and knitting

US army camps in the South have been fighting measles outbreaks.

Russian military Supreme Commander Nikolai Krylenko is having trouble getting the Russian military to accept his supreme commanderness, possibly because he’s just an ensign. He orders the arrest of generals and the disbandment of soldiers’ committees which don’t recognize his authority.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The Netherlands adopts universal male suffrage and proportional representation and allows women to be elected to public office, though there is no women’s suffrage.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Today -100: November 30, 1917: Of coalitions and negotiations

The Bolsheviks are having difficulty establishing control. Doing less well than expected in the Constituent Assembly elections, they will be forced into a coalition government, at least temporarily.

German Chancellor Georg von Hertling says he’s willing to negotiate peace with the Bolsheviks, as soon as they send negotiators.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Today -100: November 29, 1917: Anarchists and Wobblies and food riots, oh my!

The commissioner of immigration claims that Italian anarchists, allied with the IWW, planned to start food riots, starting with Boston.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Today -100: November 28, 1917: They tried to terrorize and suppress us. They could not, and so freed us.

Germany says that if Norway joins the war, it will feel obligated to occupy Denmark on general principles.

The War Dept says the bodies of American soldiers killed in Europe will not be brought home until after the war.

Someone’s spreading rumors that Lenin is being advised by a bunch of German staff officers.

The NYT points to the recent increase in government surveillance of enemy aliens as a good reason not to declare war on Austria-Hungary, thereby increasing the number of enemy aliens who must be expensively surveilled.

22 of the hunger-striking suffragettes are ordered released before their terms have been served, including Alice Paul, who says “We are put out of jail as we were put into jail, at the whim of the Government. They tried to terrorize and suppress us. They could not, and so freed us.” Suffrage prisoners who did not hunger strike have not been released.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Today -100: November 27, 1917: Of nobles, despotism not liberty, and raiders

Russia abolishes the nobility.

The NYT complains that the Bolshevik regime is establishing “Despotism, Not Liberty,” although its Burkean conception of liberty suggests it takes 5 or 6 centuries to establish.

The foreign ambassadors to Russia (i.e., those from the Allies) have a meeting and decide to simply ignore Trotsky’s note proposing an armistice. They also decide that if Russia begins separate peace negotiations, they will leave the country and treat it as a declaration of war on Russia’s former allies.

Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, who headed the semi-private Jameson Raid intended to start a war with the Boer republics so they could be absorbed into South Africa, as did happen a couple of years later with the Boer War, dies at 64.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Today -100: November 26, 1917: The armistice will be attained by revolutionary methods

Lenin: “Our party never said it would give peace immediately. We said we would make an immediate proposal for peace, and would publish the secret treaties. That we have done, and now begin the revolutionary struggle for peace. Victory is assured. The armistice will be attained by revolutionary methods.”

Speaking of secret treaties, it seems France planned on taking back not just Alsace and Lorraine, but the left bank of the Rhine as well.

Kerensky, still in hiding, resigns.

Self-proclaimed Supreme Commander Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin refuses to give up the post to Bolshevik-appointed Nikolai Krylenko, who is a 32-year-old ensign.

Dr. Elsie Inglis dies. A long-time suffrage activist, early in the war Inglis formed the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Units and sent women-only-staffed hospitals to the front in places like Serbia, France and Russia after the War Office turned down her offer to provide (and fund) hospitals (“My good lady, go home and sit still” was the exact phrase). The Red Cross also turned her down, but Serbia didn’t. She was taken prisoner for three months in 1915 when her hospital was overrun. She has died at 53 of cancer.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Today -100: November 25, 1917: Of secrets, dishonorable peaces, and diplomacy

Trotsky, putting on his Julian Assange wig, releases to the newspapers some of the secret correspondence of the Allies. Included are the discussions of Russia’s demand to be allowed to annex the Dardanelles and Constantinople. The Allies agreed that Russia would determine Germany’s new eastern borders and Britain and France its western ones.

French newspaper La Victoire accuses former PM and finance minister Joseph Caillaux of being behind the campaign for a dishonorable peace. Editor Gustave Hervé challenges Caillaux to sue him, and Caillaux does. A reminder that the last time a newspaper editor libeled Caillaux, his wife shot him dead (and got away with it).

The German government refuses to receive a Bolshevik delegation, saying it will only negotiate with reps of the defunct constitutional government. Also, their condition for talks is that Russian troops withdraw 100 km, while German troops don’t. Interestingly, the Bolshevik government seems to have made no peace offer to Austria.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Today -100: November 24, 1917: We rely on the Germany army and the working classes to make a continuation of the war impossible

Supposedly, German agents are pretending to accidentally drop fake letters home from US soldiers in Europe on the floors of saloons, hotels, theaters etc, the letters saying how awful conditions are and that the army is censoring the high casualty rate. My favorite bit in the one letter quoted in the article is the PS: “Am in Chemin des Dames hospital left arm shot off to shoulder don’t tell mother tare off this part.”

Russia begins to reduce the size of its army.

And requires people living in residences renting for more than 2,400 rubles a year to provide the army with one blanket and one article of clothing.

Foreign Minister Leon Trotsky says his offer of an armistice (which has now been officially presented) is not a call for a separate peace with Germany. He says the offer will be welcomed by the proletariat of all warring nations, making continuation of the war impossible even if their governments reject it. “We rely on the Germany army and the working classes to make a continuation of the war impossible.”

In Red Lodge, Montana, the “Liberty Committee” horsewhip the secretary of the Finnish IWW Propaganda League and hang two members, but not to death, because liberty, I guess.

I believe I’ve spotted the first mention in the NYT of Nationalities Commissar Josef Stalin. They spell it Slatin, because of course they do.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Today -100: November 23, 1917: It can commit acts of violence, treason, and cowardice, but it cannot govern

Nebraska Gov. Keith Neville resigns so he can be a colonel and go to war. (Except that didn’t happen. Did he change his mind?)

Lenin fires the head of the army, Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin, after Dukhonin refuses an order to offer an armistice to all belligerents on both sides.

The Russian ambassador to France, Vasily Maklakov, also rejects the idea, saying the Bolshevik regime “lacks both legal title and recognition by the country. It can commit acts of violence, treason, and cowardice, but it cannot govern.” (Insert your own Trump joke here)

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Today -100: November 22, 1917: Of broken lines, conshies, and leagues of nationses

The Hindenburg Line is broken! British tanks make a big difference.

The British House of Commons votes an amendment to the Representation of the People Act (which will enfranchise some women, among other things) disenfranchising conscientious objectors.

Prime Minister Clemenceau expresses doubt about the idea of a League of Nations, because it would have to include Germany and no.

Ban Johnson, president of the American League (baseball) plans to ask the government to exempt most baseball players from the draft.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Today -100: November 21, 1917: Our State should not be taxed to educate useless or worthless children

Massachusetts Gov. Samuel McCall (R) refuses an extradition request from West Virginia for a black man accused of an assault on a white girl, because there’s a “grave danger” he’d be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.

Memphis Mayor H.H. Litty bans a proposed Woman’s Party meeting when he hears they intend to support the White House picketers.

Pres. Wilson blocks supply shipments to Russia, not knowing who’ll wind up getting their hands on them.

The New York State Woman Suffrage Party holds Victory Night at the Metropolitan Opera House during its 49th annual convention. The Party will respond to receiving women’s suffrage in New York by reorganizing itself along congressional-district lines and punishing every New York politician who opposed women’s suffrage in the past [update: no, this plank will be rejected] or who won’t commit themselves to the federal women’s suffrage amendment. Gov. Charles Whitman, who didn’t know about that, makes a speech recommending that women not vote for any politician just because he supported women’s suffrage or vote against one “merely” because he opposed it.

50+ Wobblies are arrested in the Kansas oilfields. On what charges, is not revealed.

NY District Superintendent of Schools Joseph Wade, supporting the witch hunt against teachers, says that in Germany, teachers who said anything disloyal were fired, jailed or even executed. He says this admiringly. “There must not remain in our schools a single discontented teachers. There is a spirit of restlessness that will grow up among our children unless those above them are absolutely loyal and continue teaching obedience to authority.” Any disloyal students 16 or over should be expelled; “Our State should not be taxed to educate useless or worthless children.” The teachers’ union is supporting the De Witt Clinton High School teachers, saying (if I read this correctly) that what is being done to them is what the ed. system does to students, “crushing out all manhood and womanhood in the process of making us spiritless automata”. And your point is?

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Today -100: November 20, 1917: Of masses, war dinners, teachers, and enemy aliens

A federal grand jury indicts 7 members of the staff of The Masses, including Max Eastman and John Reed,  under the Espionage Act for knowingly distributed unmailable material and for conspiring to cause “Insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of [military] duty”. Reed (who is in Russia) is charged for writing an article, “Knit a Straitjacket for Your Soldier Boy,” and Arthur Young and Henry Glinterkamp are indicted for drawings, Glinterkamp for a cartoon of Death taking the measurements of a draftee for his coffin.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Hey, that’s what we call it in my house too!

The specific charges against the De Witt Clinton High School (Bronx) teachers who were suspended or transferred are made public. Thomas Mufson evidently thought it was proper to be neutral during a discussion of anarchism, A. Henry Schneer said patriotism should not be discussed in school, and Samuel Schmalhausen has a funny name and also doesn’t think it’s his job to inculcate an instinctive respect for the president and other government officials and did I mention he has a funny name? At the hearing, a faculty member complained that (this quote is from the newspaper, not necessarily the verbatim words of Isaac A. Dotey, who also has a funny name) “the pupils had of late consulted their own individual opinion, and that this had been subversive of discipline.”

Pres. Wilson bans enemy aliens (Germans only for now; the US is not at war with Austria or Turkey) from the District of Columbia, the Panama Canal Zone, within 3 miles of navigable streams or 100 yards of docks, piers, canals, railroad terminals, etc. Enemy aliens must register and must get government permission to travel or change jobs. They are not allowed to fly in airplanes or balloons. Within a few hours, before the news could reasonably be expected to have been disseminated, soldiers are sent into River Street in Hoboken (which also has a funny name). They grab 200 suspected Germans out of stores, rooming houses, saloons, and just off the streets. Before being sent to Ellis Island, some are held on an army transport ship. Which then mysteriously bursts into flame.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Today -100: November 19, 1917: Of temporary supreme commanders, farms, and free men

Russia: Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin proclaims himself temporary Supreme Commander of the military “in view of my ignorance of the place of residence of the Chief Commander [Kerensky]”. The job will indeed be temporary.

Sen. Warren G. Harding suggests that every returning soldier should be given a farm if he wants one. He thinks cities are bad and tiny farms, like in France, are good.

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau celebrates his new job by restoring the name of his newspaper to L’Homme Libre. He had changed it to L’Homme Enchainé when he fell afoul of the censors early in the war.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Today -100: November 18, 1917: Of Rodins, pork, disloyal/doubtful teachers, courts-martial, apartments, and Polish primes

French sculptor Auguste Rodin dies at 77. Which reminds me I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the movie “Camille Claudel 1915.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

The NYT editorial page strongly supports firing all “disloyal or doubtful” teachers.

The first US Army court-martial execution of the war, a soldier who raped and murdered a woman in France. Evidently, Gen. Pershing can give the go-ahead to a firing squad without any reference to President Wilson.

Six high-rise, high-class apartment buildings (elevators, telephone service, etc) in Harlem have been taken over by a black real estate company and are now being rented to black people (the previous white tenants are all leaving). Blacks have been moving into Harlem for a few years, but this is their first successful entry into the upper end of the real estate market.

Prof. Jan Kucharzewski is appointed prime minister of Poland.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Today -100: November 17, 1917: Of thrift, operas, shams, political prisoners, fake sailors, and axes

Headline of the Day -100: 

TOTALLY worth it. The government is literally demanding the money out of children’s piggy banks. The new war taxes on, say, movie tickets, mean that things that used to cost a dime or a quarter now cost a penny or two more, so the government wants those pennies out of the piggy banks and back in circulation so it doesn’t have to mint new ones.

A bomb fails to go off at the Chicago Grand Opera during a production of Meyerbeer’s Dinorah. There is a flash and a smell of sulphur, which starts a panic until the orchestra starts up the Star-Spangled Banner, which as we know has magical powers against pipe bombs. It is suspected, naturally, that this is retaliation for the company’s ban on German opera.

At Princeton, Theodore Roosevelt says unless we break up Austria and Turkey and free their subject races, all the talk of making the world safe for democracy is a “sham.” He’s still bitching that the US didn’t declare war immediately after the sinking of the Lusitania.

The women suffragist prisoners are refusing to wear prison clothes and trying to make demands, and are being roughly handled, manacled to prison bars, put in cells with detoxing men, and any other humiliation the guards can imagine.

Kerensky seems to have fled again. Dressed as a sailor. After his little band of Cossacks made a deal with the Bolsheviks to turn him over.

The British ambassador to Russia refuses to see Foreign Minister Trotsky.

The German Independent Socialists ask for an immediate session of the Reichstag to consider Lenin’s peace offer.

Three Austrian nationals in Virginia, Minnesota are killed with an axe for buying Liberty Loans and giving money to the American Red Cross (we know this because the killer left a note).

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Today -100: November 16, 1917: Of tigers

French President Poincaré asks Georges Clemenceau to form a new government. “The Tiger” is 76 years old. A doctor, journalist, former political exile in the US during the Second Empire, Clemenceau has moved over the years from fierce radicalism to fierce not-radicalism, and has been highly critical of the government’s insufficiently ferocious prosecution of the war, to the extent that his newspapers were suspended several times early in the war.

There are now 32 suffragist hunger strikers in the Occoquan Workhouse.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Today -100: November 15, 1917: Of underwear. And other stuff.

The outside world has no idea what is going on in Russia, but boy are there a lot of contradictory rumors.

As Central forces move into Italy, Venice is evacuated. Including all the art, such as the symbol of Venice, the bronze horses of San Marco.

A warrant is issued for Robert Pettigrew, the former US senator from South Dakota and congresscritter from the Dakota Territory, for violating the Espionage Act by giving a newspaper interview in which he said the war was a capitalist scheme and suggesting men evade the draft. The government will eventually drop the charges, perhaps after hearing he’d hired Clarence Darrow.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Soldiers, who are being issued undershirts and underpants and may not want to go back to the traditional one-piece “union suit” with the little flap on the butt.

Sociologist Émile Durkheim dies. The NYT doesn’t notice.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today -100: November 14, 1917: The bourgeoisie has endeavored to separate the army from the revolution

China rejects the recent US-Japan agreement recognizing Japan’s “special interests” in China and the “open door” for US trade in China. China says agreements between other nations are not binding on it.

Paul Painlevé resigns as French prime minister after 9 weeks, after losing a confidence motion. There is some push-back against the new inter-allied war council.

There are contradictory reports about the clashes between Bolshevik-controlled military forces and Kerensky’s. Trotsky is declaring victory, as was the custom: “The bourgeoisie has endeavored to separate the army from the revolution. Kerensky has attempted to break it by the violence of Cossackdom. Both efforts have failed. ... The opposition to Kerensky is the opposition to the landlords, the bourgeois, and Kornilov. The opposition to Kerensky is also the affirmation of the people’s right to peace, free life, the land, bread and power.”

Speaking of bread and power, Food Administrator Herbert Hoover bans the destruction of stale bread.

The newly enfranchised women of New York are now demanding the right to sit on juries. They’ll get it at, er, some point, but it won’t be mandatory as it is for men until the mid-1970s.

NYC Associate Superintendent of Schools John Tildlsey, after holding his own little inquisition for De Witt Clinton High School (Bronx) teachers, has suspended 3 and transferred 8 for “holding views which are subversive of discipline in the schools and which undermine good citizenship,” i.e., not being completely gung ho about the war. One of the teachers who was cross-examined (the article doesn’t say if he’s one of the ones disciplined) says that one question he was asked was “Don’t you believe that Jewish students, especially the Russians, need to be disciplined out of their individualistic tendencies?” They were also asked their views of the Bolsheviks, whether teachers should inculcate instinctive obedience to superiors like they do in Germany, etc.

Feds and local police raid an IWW meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, and arrest 50 delegates.

Woodrow Wilsons personal secretary Joseph Tumulty denies persistent rumors that he has been arrested and imprisoned as a spy.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Today -100: November 13, 1917: We are making all our statements now by means of cannon

In a speech in Paris, British Prime Minister Lloyd George says of the recent creation of an inter-allied council staff to oversee more central coordination of the militaries of Britain, France, and Italy, that the Italian disaster necessitated acting quickly without bringing in Russia (!) and the US, which will hopefully join soon. “Disaster,” by the way, is the word he uses to describe Italy’s military near-collapse. He also says the council is necessary because of past “blunders.” Actually, “incredible blunders.”

The military forces of Kerensky and the Bolsheviks clash.

Trotsky replies to an AP interview request: “we are making all our statements now by means of cannon. I have nothing to say otherwise.”

Judge Mallowney of D.C. police court suspends the sentences of the 41 suffragist White House picketers. So with this unexpected free time (so to speak), they go back and picket the White House again, although Woodrow Wilson is actually.... Buffalo, speaking at the American Federation of Labor annual convention, where he attacks pacifists: “I want peace, but I know how to get it, and they do not.”

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Today -100: November 12, 1917: Of speedy wars, collapsing revolutions, wholesome truths, queens, explosives, salutes, and political prisoners

Headline of the Day -100: 

The Bolshevik revolution is “approaching collapse,” reports the NYT. Troops loyal to Kerensky are approaching Petrograd.

Supposedly, new self-appointed Russian foreign minister Leon Trotsky shows up at the Foreign Office and is met with obstruction – not being shown the secret treaties, being told there was no French interpreter available for him to send a telegram, etc – and “the typewriter girls of the Ministry assailed him with some wholesome truths about his origin, his aims, and his activities generally.” Assuming this has any basis in reality, “his origin” almost certainly means his Jewishness.

Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last monarch, deposed by a US-backed coup in 1893, dies.

The Bureau of Mines plans to thwart bomb plots by arresting anyone in possession of explosives without a license.

There is some debate over whether white soldiers in the US Army can refuse to salute black officers.

The 41 suffragists currently out on bail, and 50 of their closest friends, force  their way into the yard of the prison where Alice Paul and Rose Winslow are being forcibly fed, and are able to talk with Paul and get some instruction about how to deal with prison when they’re sentenced. Demand political prisoner status immediately, she says. She complains that they’re force-feeding her 3 times a day where the British prison authorities only did it twice a day.

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