Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Today -100: December 31, 1919: Of wood alcohol and the irresponsibility of genius

Poland stations its entire army on the Russian border.

Headline of the Day -100: 

More wood alcohol disguised as whiskey.

Conductor Arturo Toscanini is on trial in Turin for assaulting a violinist during a rehearsal (I believe my post on this in June incorrectly said this occurred during an actual performance) of Beethoven’s 9th. He offers a psychologist as an expert witness, one Professor Pastor, who speaks for “the irresponsibility of genius.” The Tosc is acquitted.

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Monday, December 30, 2019

Today -100: December 30, 1919: Of couriers, dogs, and operas

Headline of the Day -100: 

Meaning a Russia courier was recently caught on the way to the US with funds for propaganda. You know, that sort of “war.”

Headline of the Day -100:  

The executive committee of the American Legion endorses the actions of various of its branches in attacking performances of German operas and other music. 

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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Today -100: December 29, 1919: Of candidates and books of which we do not approve

There’s been a lot of talk about potential Republican candidates for president, but not much about D’s, possibly because Wilson has yet to officially announce that he isn’t seeking a third term. So is everybody ready for... William Jennings Bryan? He would concentrate on labor-management issues. Other names mentioned include A. Mitchell Palmer, Champ Clark, William Gibbs McAdoo and... Herbert Hoover.

A “special agent” of the Lusk Committee of the NY Legislature testified that the works of Mikhail Bakunin can be found in the NY Public Library (gasp horror). E.H. Anderson, director of the library, denies that the young are allowed access to “revolutionary printed matter.” He distinguishes between the circulating libraries and the Reference Dept, which has “thousands and thousands of books of which we do not approve,” available to poly sci students and the courts and even the Lusk Committee. “The big reference collection here is for the use of grown men and women, who must find their own protection against folly and false doctrine.”

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Today -100: December 28, 1919: Of lynchings, life insurance, and emigration

Poet-Aviator Gabriele D’Annunzio now says he doesn’t trust the Italian government’s guarantees, so he won’t give up control of Fiume until he gets better ones. He’s been demanding annexation of islands and railroad junctions, amnesty for the soldiers who deserted to join him, official recognition of the medals he’s been handing out, etc.

Adm. Kolchak resigns as head of White forces.

A mob in Franklinton, North Carolina seizes a black man accused of murder, drag him for two miles behind a car and hang him from a tree.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals rules that the beneficiary of a life insurance policy cannot collect if they murdered the insured person.

The Italian Senate discusses emigration. They want to know why it hasn’t returned to pre-war levels, and the government is anxious to get rid of some Italians, maybe to Brazil, Brazil seems nice. Sen. Bettoni thinks Italians are declining to emigrate to the US because they can’t get wine there now.

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Friday, December 27, 2019

Today -100: December 27, 1919: Of foreign languages, wood alcohol, and heavenly feet

The Nebraska Supreme Court upholds the law, passed in April, banning foreign languages in all schools, including private schools, before the 9th grade. The US Supreme Court will overturn the law in 1923.

A Very Prohibitiony Christmas: Wood alcohol has killed 51 New Yorkers this year, 15 from December 1st to 20th, and blinded at least 100. And 19 are killed  in Chicopee, Massachusetts, more in surrounding towns, 10 in Hartford, 4 who drank it on Christmas day in Chicago, etc.

In Kaifeng, China, an organization is formed to fight foot-binding. It is called The Heavenly Feet Association.

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Today -100: December 26, 1919: Of radiophones and forgetfulness of the supernatural

Bleeding Edge Technology of the Day -100:

The article does not say what record was played. #JournalismFail1919

Pope Benedict says there can’t be peace without religion. “Today the spirit of independence has invaded all minds and leads them to rebellion.” “forgetfulness of the supernatural and the triumph of the natural has led individuals to egotism and society to revolution and anarchy.” Groovy.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Today -100: December 25, 1919: Bread and prohibition, just what I always wanted

Headline of the Day -100: 

Not, I’m afraid, ironically.

Pres. Wilson (or whoever) announces that the railroads, which were nationalized during the war, will be returned to their private owners on March 1. He’s doing this by executive order because Congress is still fighting over legislation (including an anti-strike clause in the Senate version).

Poet-Aviator Gabriele D’Annunzio holds another plebiscite in Fiume, and he’ll keep doing it until he gets the result he wants. The deputy for Fiume in the Italian parliament is sneaking pamphlets into the city setting out Italy’s position; D’Annunzio sends troops into private homes looking for them. Nevertheless the Italian deal with the Allies is strongly supported, I think this is was in the first plebiscite, which the poet-aviator-dictator suspended when he saw the results, citing the illegality of the plebiscite he had himself called.

How many prisoners of war are still being held? Yugoslavia complains that Italy is still holding Yugoslavs (presumably not from Serbia but from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Crap Christmas 1:

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Today -100: December 24, 1919: We will be the allies of all peoples attacked by Bolshevism

Headline of the Day -100: 

King George announces a new measure giving... some... self-government to India, and which “points the way to a fully responsible Government hereafter.” He urges the representatives in the future sort-of-representative bodies to “not forget the interests of the masses who cannot yet be admitted to the franchise.”

The reason the destination in Russia of the ship carrying the deported “reds” has not been disclosed is because, although the Buford left port a couple of days ago, the government is still working out where it’s going. It has to negotiate with countries bordering Russia, so the ship might go to the Baltic, the Black Sea, or maybe Archangel, which would be insane. The State Department informs those countries of the reason for the deportations: “These persons, while enjoying the hospitality of this country, have conducted themselves in a most obnoxious manner; and while enjoying the benefits and living under the protection of this Government have plotted its overthrow. They are a menace to law and order.  They hold theories which are antagonistic to the orderly processes of modern civilization.” And so on.

The British Parliament passes the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, allowing women into various professions from which they’ve been barred. But not all of them. And the Pre-War Practices (Restoration) Act is intended to get women out of professions they moved into during the war. Anyway, women can now practice the law, serve on juries, and be judges. The first women magistrates are appointed. They include Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s wife Margaret, the novelist Mrs. Humphry Ward, who led the fight against women’s suffrage, and Gertrude Tuckwell of the Women’s Trade Union League. 

French Prime Minister Clemenceau explains the Allied position on Soviet Russia: “Not only will we not make peace, but we will not compromise with the Government of the Soviets. We have decided that we will be the allies of all peoples attacked by Bolshevism.”

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Today -100: December 23, 1919: Of outrages to the principle of self-government

British Prime Minister Lloyd George finally presents his plan for Home Rule for Ireland: there will be two parliaments, one north, one south (or a single one when the Irish as a whole ask for it). He says of Northern Ireland, whose boundaries he fails to define, “It would be an outrage to the principle of self-government to place her under alien rule.” So... Catholics are aliens? And speaking of the principle of self-government, he goes on to say that Britain would fight Irish “secession” “with the same determination, the same resource, and the same resolve as were shown by the Northern States of America.” He also compares Britain’s resolve in this matter to the Great War, which proves, he says, that England can’t be compelled by force to concede anything it thinks unjust. So he’s threatening to bring World War I and the US Civil War to Ireland if it tries to become independent.

De Valera says, if I may translate from the Gaelic, “Fuck that shit.”

Lots of speculation about possible presidential candidates in the paper today for some reason. Vice President Whatsisname says he isn’t running. Gen. Pershing might run. Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler might run. Gen. Leonard Wood is evidently not barred by army rules from running while in uniform (Secretary of War Newton Baker points out that Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock was the Democratic candidate in 1880).

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Today -100: December 22, 1919: Of lynchings and sewers

A mob of 50 Georgians seize a black prisoner, a returning veteran, from a train and lynch him. They hang him from a tree and shoot him multiple times, and yeah we’re all thinking it.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Today -100: December 21, 1919: Free speech is ours, not theirs

The Buford, aka the “Red Ark,” an old army transport ship from the Spanish-American War, will take off today with a load of 249 deported “reds” including Emma Goldman headed for... well, Russia presumably, but the government is being so cagey that the ship’s captain is said not to know the specific destination, having been given sealed orders and told not to open them until he’s been at sea for 24 hours.

The House of Representatives votes 142-0 to deport and exclude aliens with anarchist or other radical views, especially those who publish them or who join organizations the government doesn’t like, etc. Rep. Albert Johnson (R-Washington), chair of the Immigration and Naturalization Committee, says “Free press in the United States is ours, not theirs; free speech is ours, not theirs”.

D’Annunzio cancels the plebiscite, saying he will remain in charge of Fiume.

Canada lifts its wartime ban on liquor and horse-racing. Wartime censorship, however, will remain.

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Friday, December 20, 2019

Today -100: December 20, 1919: Of Irish republics, ambushes, special elections, persistent objections, and herring abuse

Andrew Bonar Law, House of Commons leader of the government, says the government (which has been delaying and delaying offering an Irish bill) will never allow “the Irish republic to be established.” Interesting that he says the Irish republic instead of an Irish republic.

The armored car of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord John French, is ambushed in Dublin, as was the custom, many bullets and bomb fragments bouncing off it. One of the assailants is killed, the rest escape. (Update: a next-day correction says French’s car was actually not the one attacked, just the car behind his, which was destroyed by a bomb but fortunately it was “empty.” Presumably an early version of those self-driving cars you hear so much about).

Despite the House of Representatives having refused to seat Victor Berger because socialism, the voters in the 5th district in Wisconsin’s special election elect him again, 24,367 to 19,561. Gov. Emanuel Philipp (R) says if the House still refuses to seat Berger, he won’t bother with another election and the seat will simply remain empty until 1921: “I do not believe in spending any more of the people’s money in that way.”

The plebiscite that was supposed to be held in Fiume about whether Poet-Aviator Gabriele D’Annunzio’s forces should hand the city over to Italy is postponed temporarily after “persistent objections.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Today -100: December 19, 1919: Who is Russia?

A federal jury in Kansas City finds 27 IWWers guilty of conspiracy against the government. They are given sentences ranging from 3 to 9 years.

Hungry puts the exiled Bela Kun on trial in absentia.

In Parliament, Prime Minister Lloyd George says it is impossible to make peace with Russia (when was war declared?) because of the civil war. “Who is Russia?” he asks. If the Bolsheviks want to speak for Russia, they can have free elections (presumably throughout Russia, including the areas they don’t control).

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Today -100: December 18, 1919: Waiting for the end in Cleveland

The world did not end. Some thought that an alignment of the planets would create a massive sunspot or something. A farmer bought a $15 reserved-seat ticket to the end of the world, which was to happen in Cleveland (that’s just science). The two men who sold him the ticket “told me all the members of my religious belief were to wait for the end in Cleveland.” The article does not specify what his religious belief is.

D’Annunzio does not, in fact, withdraw his forces from Fiume as he promised in his deal with the Italian government, because a group of women asks him not to. Now he says he’ll hold a referendum in Fiume, today.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Today -100: December 17, 1919: No personal preference in the matter

Sen. Warren G. Harding declares his candidacy for the presidency in a letter to the chairman of the Miami, Ohio Republican Committee. He says he has “no personal preference in the matter, but gladly will co-operate in making effective the manifest wish of the Republicans of the State.” He won’t do any campaigning – “unseemly seeking” – before the Convention. Also he won’t specify any platform or policies. Whatever you guys want, that’s fine with me, he more or less says.

The Allies will feed Austria.

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Today -100: December 16, 1919: Of treaties, prohibition, lynchings, and hangings

Democratic senators who were working on a compromise on the peace treaty are unsure what to do after Pres. Wilson (or whoever’s) hard-line statement yesterday.

The Supreme Court unanimously upholds the wartime prohibition act, saying Congress didn’t intend prohibition to end when the war actually ended but when demobilization ended.

A mob in West Virginia lynch two black men. The sheriff and his deputies in Logan County at first hold off the mob, then put the prisoners on a train to get them to safety. The mob pulls them off the train, shoots them, and dumps their bodies in the Guyandotte River.

The Austrian state of Tyrol threatens that if the Entente doesn’t assure its food supply, it will immediately form a customs, currency and provisioning union with Germany.

Adm. Kolchak, whose White army is not doing well, threatens that if the Allies do not supply him, he will cede part of Siberia to Japan to keep it from falling into Bolshevik hands.

Headline That Kinda Sounds Like a Pun or Something of the Day-100:

Sentenced for crimes (unspecified in the article) during the Bela Kun regime.

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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Today -100: December 15, 1919: He has no compromise or concession of any kind in mind

Senate Republican leaders have said it’s up to Pres. Wilson to restart the treaty process. The White House responds: “He has no compromise or concession of any kind in mind, but intends, so far as he is concerned, that the Republican leaders of the Senate shall continue to bear the undivided responsibility for the fate of the treaty and the present condition of the world in consequence of that fate.”

Gabriele D’Annunzio signs (will sign? I think) an agreement with Italian Prime Minister Franceso Nitti for D’Annunzio to leave Fiume and Italian troops to take over. Which is all the poet-aviator ever wanted. Evidently the Allies have given in to Italy’s (and the poet-aviator’s) demand to be allowed to annex the city.

There is a strike in Ireland against the introduction of driving licenses. They were brought in because some Sinn Féin attacks have used autos. The move was originally to include truck drivers, but it was pointed out that drive-bys rarely involve lorries, so those drivers were exempted, but their union called a strike anyway.

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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Today -100: December 14, 1919: I cannot leave Paris empty handed

Headline of the Day -100: 

Insert your own Trump joke here.

Poland invades Lithuania.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Renner says if the Peace Conference fails to provide food aid for Austria, he will resign. “I cannot leave Paris empty handed,” he says. Former emperor Charles offers his own solution to all Austria’s problems – the article says Austria-Hungary, but I wonder if Chuck used those exact words? – restoration of the monarchy. Not him, but his son. He also opposes union with Germany.

Sen. Hiram Johnson, former governor of California and Theodore Roosevelt’s running mate in 1912, announces that he will run for president.

Early into prohibition, the dead from bootleg booze are beginning to stack up.

Italy will destroy all mail addressed to Trieste, Austria or Trieste, Jugoslavia rather than Trieste, Italy.

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Friday, December 13, 2019

Today -100: December 13, 1919: Of arks, rule by public opinion, emperors, and brontosaurs

Emma Goldman withdraws her appeal against deportation so that she can join the “Soviet Ark” of hundreds of Russians being sent back in a couple of weeks. Also, it increasingly sounds like they’ll be sent to Soviet Russia rather than White Russia. Goldman has lived in the US for 34 years.

Colorado ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 22 down, 14 to go, I believe.

Headline of the Day -100: 

One assumes this was written before the stroke.

The former Austrian emperor Charles, living in exile in Switzerland and suffering financially from the exchange rate, asks Czechoslovakia to allow him to live in Prague. They say no.

A Belgian big-game named Gapelle claims to have tracked a brontosaurus or something like it in the Belgian Congo. He shot at it but failed to hit it. Bad luck.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Today -100: December 12, 1919: Of booms and coal

Old Guard Republican leaders (assembled at a meeting of Republican state chairmen) are moving away from their previous strategy of heading off Gen. Leonard Wood’s candidacy for president by blowing air into the campaigns of a bunch of “favorite son” candidates, and now favor picking one candidate and “booming” him. And it looks like that candidate is Warren G. Harding, who is too bland to have any enemies.

Fuel Administrator Harry Garfield resigns in protest of the coal strike being settled in a way that may eventually result in higher prices for the public.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Today -100: December 11, 1919: Of strikes, deportations, prizes, and anti-Jews

The UMW accepts Pres. Wilson (or whoever)’s proposals and so advises coal miners to end their strike.

Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman appeal against deportation, saying sending them to White-occupied Russia would amount to a death sentence. I believe that’s a feature, not a bug.

No Nobel Peace Prizes will be awarded for the years 1918 and 1919.

The Anti-Jewish Party holds a meeting in Budapest, after which the crowd attacks two Jewish newspapers.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Today -100: December 10, 1919: Of excuses and non-communications

The NYT rejects Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s statement that social unrest derives more from economic conditions than the machinations of agitators. It’s tooootally the fault of agitators and Bolshevist propaganda, it says, and the economy is so great that the radicals are “absolutely without excuse.”

The fact checkers of the NYT telegraph Ernest Rutherford, asking whether he has in fact discovered how to transmute matter. “Have nothing to communicate,” he replies from atop a large pile of gold.

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Today -100: December 10, 1919: Of excuses and non-communications

The NYT rejects Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer’s statement that social unrest derives more from economic conditions than the machinations of agitators. It’s tooootally the fault of agitators and Bolshevist propaganda, it says, and the economy is so great that the radicals are “absolutely without excuse.”

The fact checkers of the NYT telegraph Ernest Rutherford, asking whether he has in fact discovered how to transmute matter. “Have nothing to communicate,” he replies from atop a large pile of gold.

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Monday, December 09, 2019

Today -100: December 9, 1919: I yearn to reach America on wings

Senate Foreign Committee Chair Henry Cabot Lodge kills the Fall Resolution calling on Wilson to cut off diplomatic relations with Mexico after he receives a letter from Wilson (or whoever) telling the Senate to butt out because this is the sole responsibility of whoever’s secretly doing the president’s job for him, that’s just the Constitution.

Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer says a special division of the Bureau of Investigation was created on August 1 to deal with “radicalism.” I guess the public didn’t know about this before now? Palmer doesn’t say who the special division’s head is, but it’s J. Edgar Hoover. Palmer admits that unrest and radicalism “arise from social and economic conditions that are of greater consequence than the individual agitators,” not that that’ll stop the mass arrests and deportations.

Poet-Aviator Gabriele D’Annunzio hopes, once Fiume is annexed by Italy, to fly to the US via the Pacific Ocean. “I yearn to reach America on wings,” he poet-aviates.

According to a Le Matin, physicist Ernest Rutherford has cracked the alchemical goal of the transmutation of matter. Good for him.

Although the coal strike seems near settlement, the government orders rationing, more extreme than during the war, limiting factory hours, closing dance halls, pool halls and bowling alleys after 11 pm, no lights on Broadway, etc. Maybe they could get Prof. Rutherford to transmute coal into diamonds. Or am I thinking Superman? Actually, has anyone ever seen Rutherford and Superman together?

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Sunday, December 08, 2019

Today -100: December 8, 1919: All the confidence I ever had in the pledges of the Allies has gone forever

Germany’s Minister of Defense Gustav Noske says Germany should continue to refuse to sign the peace protocol. “The time has come for Germany to resist to the uttermost. ... The peace now presented to us is not peace, but a prolongation of the war. ... Great Britain and France are deliberately planning the destruction of Germany. All the confidence I ever had in the pledges of the Allies has gone forever.” He’s not sure if the rest of the government will agree with him.

Another Sunday, another mass defiance of Baltimore’s Blue Laws. Except for the Auto Club, which closes all public garages, just to make the law obnoxious.

The UMW and the federal government are close to a deal to end the coal strike. Meanwhile, Butte, Montana is tearing down and burning all its old buildings for heat. In the Oklahoma coal fields, which are under martial law, the military arrests organizers and bans meetings.

In Kiel, Germany, a German escapes from a British steamer, the Helena. The British chase him through the streets, shooting at him. Investigating, the Kiel police find c.700 German prisoners of war who the British had dragooned into the Polish Legion to fight against Soviet Russia. Since the Helena was now in German waters, the men were no longer technically prisoners, so the cops ask if any of them would rather not continue their journey. 600 of them choose to leave the ship.

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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Today -100: December 7, 1919: Of premature insurrections and liberal educations

Lenin congratulates the Italian Socialists on their recent election victories but warns against premature insurrection. Wait for the right time, he advises.

A Sunday NYT Magazine article on how the Indians are becoming less “barbaric” quotes Commissioner of Indian Affairs Cato Sells’s contention that participation in the Great War was “in many ways a liberal education to the Indian, and he is coming out of it with greater individuality and a diminished tribal propensity.” He goes on and condescendingly on about the advances he wants for the Indians: better treatment of women, laughing babies, the wearing of pajamas, etc.

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Friday, December 06, 2019

Today -100: December 6, 1919: Of sickroom visits, coal, and lynchings

Senators Fall and Hitchcock, sent to the White House by the Foreign Relations Committee, see Pres. Wilson. They both declare themselves satisfied about his abilities to exercise his duties. Even Fall, not exactly a friend of the president, says he seems in pretty good shape – for someone who’s been in bed for ten weeks. Though he also says that he did most of the talking and didn’t ask any questions – in other words, he doesn’t really know how informed Wilson is about Mexico or anything else. The meeting (during which Wilson is carefully staged, propped up in his bed with his paralyzed arm hidden under a blanket) is interrupted by Wilson’s doctor, bringing the news that William Jenkins has been released.

There are reports that Jenkins tried to go back in, because someone paid his bail for him and he wants unconditional freedom because he’s an American, dammit.

Wilson also tells the senators that the responsibility for the peace treaty has shifted to others and he doesn’t plan on doing anything about it for a while. He evidently expects a groundswell of public demand for ratification.

Volunteer coal miners/scabs in Oklahoma include bank clerks, newspaper men, druggists, and Gov. James Robertson (a lawyer).  The article does not say how long he actually worked at the coal face or how much coal he dug. To save coal, drug store soda fountains are ordered closed, for some reason.

In a letter to Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge, the NAACP points out that if the US is going to demand protection for American citizens in Mexico, it might also demand protection from lynching for American citizens in America.

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Thursday, December 05, 2019

Today -100: December 5, 1919: Probably best not to google “only after enormous pressure from the ladies”

On a party-line vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee decides to send two senators (Fall & Hitchcock) to go to the White House and talk with Pres. Wilson about Mexico. Of course this is really a pretense to see if Wilson’s a drooling imbecile or dead or what (they’re being referred to in Washington as the Smelling Committee).

Meanwhile, in Mexico, consular agent William Jenkins, the cause of all the fuss, remains defiantly in prison, refusing to post bail.

Oklahoma Gov. James Robertson has called for volunteer scab coal miners during the strike, and will join them in mining some coal. They will be guarded by federal soldiers but Robertson has asked that no negro troops be sent as that “might involve us in unnecessary conflict and confusion.”

Missouri Gov. Frederick Gardner seizes 15 coal mines, which the state will operate itself to relieve the coal shortage. It’s trying to find scabs to run them. “The people of the state are freezing, and there is no time now to quibble over wages, rights of the mine operators and such minor problems.” He says the children of the Home for Feeble Minded are cold.

Poland claims there is a plot, led by German monarchists and pan-Germans, to foment a revolution in Silesia and seize power before Entente occupation troops are due to arrive.

Nancy Astor interjects in a Parliamentary debate on a women’s suffrage amendment to the Government of India Bill, responding to Secretary of State for India Edwin Montagu:

The amendment, opposed by the government, loses.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Today -100: December 4, 1919: Of Renoirs, diplomatic relations, protocols, and coal

Auguste Renoir dies at 78, the same day as his painting Point Neuf (1872) sells for $10,000.

Sen. Albert Fall (R-New Mexico) introduces a resolution to break off relations with Mexico, which he claims is distributing Bolshevik propaganda in the US in order to overthrow its government. Sen. John Shields (D-Tenn.) says we should skip that step and just go straight to war. 

Germany refuses to sign the protocol to implement the peace treaty. In part this is because the Allies are demanding compensation for the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow in June, which Germany says it isn’t responsible for because Adm. von Reuter ordered it on his own. Germany also objects to “the paragraph which would permit the invasion of our country by armed forces in times of peace on any trivial pretext.”

Some of the larger coal companies have settled with the union, for more than the government’s 14% pay increase.

South Dakota ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 21 down, 15 to go.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Today -100: December 3, 1919: Of steady improvement, States of the Unionses, and relativity and ether

Headline of the Day -100: 

Some members of Congress are beginning to believe that they’re being lied to about the president’s actual state of health and capabilities.

President Wilson (or whomever) issues the State of the Union report, the first time he doesn’t give it in person. Republicans point out that it just repeats the main points of previous years’ addresses without adding anything new.  Others complain that it didn’t say enough about Crushing the Reds, although it does warn against minorities seeking to impose their will – just like in Russia, with its “blood and terror.” There is also nothing about a way forward to making peace, so Republican senators will move forward with declaring the existence of a state of peace through a joint resolution.

A NYT reporter visits Albert Einstein to ask him to explain relativity. Einstein says that the thought process that led to the theory was begun by seeing a neighbor fall off a roof. He explains to the reporter, no doubt suppressing an eye roll, that there is no such thing as ether.

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Monday, December 02, 2019

Today -100: December 2, 1919: The main object of the kidnapping was political

US Sen. Truman Newberry (R-Michigan) and 134 others are indicted for fraud, corruption and conspiracy during his election campaign last year. The grand jury also claims that James Helme was paid by the Newberry campaign to run in the Democratic primary against Henry Ford.

As the US issues another demand to Mexico to release William Jenkins, the consular agent Mexico believes was complicit in his own “kidnapping,” a demand which ignores the fact that he could just pay a tiny bail and get out of prison, the bandit Federico Cordova who kidnapped, or “kidnapped,” Jenkins makes a statement that it was actually not about the money but a protest against the dictatorial Carranza government.

The UMW rejects Fuel Administrator Harry Garfield’s take-it-or-leave-it 14% pay increase, holding out for Labor Secretary Wilson’s 31%. Garfield orders coal rationing of coal: shutting off theatre lights at night etc.

The Italian parliament is opened by King Victor Emmanuel. The Socialists do not join the standing ovation for the king; they then yell “Long live Socialism” and walk out.

Nancy Astor takes her seat in Parliament, and if you want to know what she was wearing, the NYT will be pleased to oblige you. Right afterwards an MP begins a speech (on premium bonds), with the words “We are all men of the world...” before being reminded that they were not. #NotAll...

North Dakota ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 20 down, 16 to go.

Prohibition Commissioner John Kramer says hair tonics containing alcohol must be made undrinkable.

Headline of the Day -100: 

So rules a judge in dismissing a Blue Laws case against a “boy” delivering pies on a Sunday. Many of those arrested for infractions of the 1723 law are demanding jury trials, which may well kill off the Baltimore PD’s little crusade.

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Sunday, December 01, 2019

Today -100: December 1, 1919: We refuse to renounce our right to revolution19: We refuse to renounce our right to revolution

The government responds to the hunger strike by alleged radicals at Ellis Island by speeding up their deportation hearings, and I mean really speeding them up.

Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge shows no interest in negotiating with Pres. Wilson or his surrogates about the peace treaty, declaring the Republican reservations the “irreducible minimum.” He says the 14 reservations don’t nullify the treaty, they “Americanize” it. FACT CHECK: they would totally nullify it. Lodge suggests that if Wilson wants the treaty passed, he merely has to accept every word of the reservations without change.

The reason Yugoslavia refused to sign the peace treaty with Austria (which the US Senate hasn’t even started on yet) is that it was expected to pay the indemnities due to Serbia itself. That is, the responsibility for war damages would be assumed by the territories that were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914 but have since been absorbed into Yugoslavia. They’d also be responsible for the Empire’s pre-war debt.

Detroit Police Commissioner James Inches (a doctor, by the way) forces the band at an IWW meeting to play the Star-Spangled Banner (the Marseillaise and “a Russian anthem” had already played). Inches, who had prohibited Big Bill Haywood from speaking, also orders the crowd to stand during the song.

A Socialist just elected to the French parliament (representing Paris) says “We refuse to renounce our right to revolution.” That’s future prime minister Léon Blum. He does add that the French socialists don’t intend to adopt the methods used by the Bolsheviks in Russia, which had different circumstances.

James Weldon Johnson, field secretary and soon to be head of the NAACP, suggests blacks strike as a protest against lynchings. “The negro must discover the elements of force within himself, for he will get only so much as he will take”. He notes Pres. Wilson’s weak stance on lynching.

A grand jury in Baltimore orders the enforcement of the Sunday Blue Laws (enacted in 1723), but newsboys, confectioners, bootblacks etc. ignore it. Many ice cream truck drivers are arrested, released, and go right back to their business. Barbers are also arrested. Gas stations do close.

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Today -100: November 30, 1919: Of war criminals, boudoirs, hunts & heels

Germany asks the Allies to give up their demand for alleged war criminals, including the former kaiser, in exchange for Germany not objecting to treaty commissions being set up without any Americans on them. Germany is holding off signing the treaty protocols in the hopes of using the American failure to ratify the peace treaty to extract concessions.

Emma Goldman is ordered deported.

A House of Commons tea-room is being re-purposed for the use of Lady Astor. It has “a dressing table and other appointments never before seen in the House”. It is being called the “boudoir,” because of course it fucking is. The Morning Post: “The House of Commons must now prepare to become one of the curious institutions that are colloquially styled ‘Cock-and-Hen Clubs.’” The Daily Telegraph thinks that her election is due to Astor’s personality and to local circumstances in Plymouth and won’t soon be replicated by other women.

Sinn Féin prevents a stag hunt in County Down because a commander of the Royal Irish Constabulary is being allowed to take part. His name is Gen. William Hacket Pain, which is what he would be named if he was a character in a Dickens novel and Dickens was Irish.

An ad asks the question

“What is being advertised?” you might well ask. O’Sullivan’s Heels. They’re rubber. They “absorb the shocks that tire you out.”

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Friday, November 29, 2019

Today -100: November 29, 1919: Of volunteer miners, sex candidates, guilty candy man, and other phrases probably best not searched for on PornHub

The federal government warns coal miners and coal company owners that it will prosecute any interference with coal production. The owners are expected to give miners the 14% raise Fuel Administrator Harry Garfield called for.

3,500 people have answered Kansas Gov. Henry Allen (R)’s call for volunteers to mine coal during the coal shortage. They’re mostly college students: the University of Kansas will give credits for coal-mining, which has to be a higher-educational first.

The Tacoma City Council decides to let the 22 hunger-striking IWWers starve.

Lady Nancy Astor is elected to Parliament with a strong majority. She tells the NYT that she didn’t run as a sex candidate but found a general feeling that there should be “at least” one woman in Parliament. Astor is not the first woman elected to Parliament, but the Countess Markievicz, elected in 1918, is Sinn Féin and thus wouldn’t take the oath to the king and take her seat (also she was in prison at the time). Astor does not plan to wear full evening dress in the Commons, hoping to set a precedent for women of lesser financial means who might follow her.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Today -100: November 28, 1919: One may always hope

A large meteor hits Lake Michigan. Maybe.

Bulgaria signs the peace treaty. However Yugoslavia and Romania do not; they’ve been told they can only sign the treaty with Bulgaria after signing the one with Austria, which they refuse to do because it includes clauses for protection of their minorities. The Bulgaria treaty is called the Treaty of Neuilly, because everyone is bored with signing ceremonies so they just held it in the mayor’s office in that town.

A French diplomat on service in the Far East (Singapore?) met an American actress and eloped to marry her in Mongolia, as you do. The marriage was performed by a Belgian missionary. After a few days, he abandoned her, as you do. A French court annuls the marriage because a Frenchman marrying abroad must either marry in front of a French diplomatic officer or according to the usages of the local country, which in the case of Mongolia required him to either kidnap or buy his wife, and he did neither.

Woodrow Wilson has Thanksgiving in bed. Wait, that’s an option? His doctor forbids turkey for the president but allows quail.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Paris Police Chief Raux, asked if Paris would see dancing again, says “One may always hope.”

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Today -100: November 27, 1919: Of reservations, military control, firing squads, pan-Germans, and opera

China says if the US is allowed to add reservations to its signature on the peace treaty, it should be too.

The 15th Cavalry seize 52 foreign striking miners from a mining camp in Wyoming. Evidently they can do that because the state is “under military control.” In Monarch, WY, the soldiers round up miners and force them to vote to return to work. Secretary of War Newton Baker evidently had no idea this was going on, says it’s “inconceivable” that an army officer would order the arrest of strikers, but he’s waiting for an official report.

Mexico, after taking a long time to reply to the US’s demand, refuses to release consular agent William Jenkins, pointing out that there is no principle of international right behind the US demand and that the decision is up to the courts and the state of Puebla, not the federal government.

Mexico executes Gen. Felipe Ángeles, who defected to Pancho Villa in 1914 and again in 1918, by firing squad, as was the custom.

Britain bans Sinn Féin and associated groups in Ireland. The government is finally planning to go ahead with its mutilated Home Rule legislation, and is worried that SF, by far the most popular party in Ireland, won’t cooperate. Or that it will use the Dublin Parliament to declare independence.

Where Labor Secretary William Wilson suggested a 31% pay increase for coal miners as equitable given cost-of-living increases, Fuel Administrator Harry Garfield (son of the former president) thinks 14% is plenty, and also that mine owners should absorb it without increasing prices to the public. The unions prefer 31% and dismiss Garfield out of hand.

Gen. Erich Ludendorff graciously agrees to help lead the Pan-Germans. He gives a speech at the Potsdam Garrison Church attended by many soldiers garrisoned in Potsdam on “Militarism as a School for Moral Qualification of Successful Men.” Correspondent George Renwick insists that “the silly goings on of Ludendorff and people like him... are not even the prelude to a counter-revolutionary coup.” Spoiler Alert: well, not a successful one.

The House of Commons rejects a bill to allow peers to give up their peerages and allow Viscount Astor in particular to remain eligible to sit in the Commons. Mrs Astor had said if she was elected to his seat and this bill passed, she’d resign in his favor. The Commons also agrees with the decision the Lords made not to let girls in, we’re looking at you Viscountess Rhondda.

German opera is once again nipped in the bud in New York. The North German Society of Queens had plans to perform Strauss’s “Der weiße Hirsch” in Astoria, but American Legionites surrounded the hall...

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Today -100: November 26, 1919: Of poison gas, little people, nominal dictatorships, and coffee shops

The Chief of the General Staff of the Army Gen. Peyton March puts out a statement that the use of poison gas is war is actually humane, because it puts soldiers out of action while killing a smaller percentage of them than other means.

73 radicals awaiting deportation on Ellis Island go on hunger strike to protest the wire separating them from visitors.

Federal agents raid the hq of the Union of Russian Workers in NYC and claim to have discovered lots of explosives in a secret room.

Lavinia Warren, aka Countess Magri, the well-known little person (2 foot 8 and at most 29 pounds), the widow of “General Tom Thumb” (2’10”) and wife of “Count” Primo Magri (2’8”), dies at 77 or 78.

The Allies have to postpone putting the peace treaty into effect because the Germans are refusing to sign the protocols, probably because they don’t want commissions set up without Americans to balance out delegates from more vengeful countries (looking at you, France).

In Alabama, 12 white men are actually punished for a lynching. With fines, but still, punished. Oh, wait, the victim was white.

Adm. Kolchak’s evacuation of Omsk and full retreat has the West thinking the anti-Bolshevik “All-Russian Government” may not be doing too well and that Kolchak may soon be reduced to only “nominal dictatorship.”

Theodore Roosevelt’s three living sons and miscellaneous other relatives open  The Brazilian Coffee House, the first of a planned chain of coffee houses. Which is a new thing in New York. The manager has to explain that it is not a restaurant but a coffee house like those in London in Addison and Steele’s time, or Paris and Brazil today. He explains that Americans don’t yet appreciate coffee made properly. Kermit Roosevelt got the idea on a trip to Brazil before the war.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Today -100: November 25, 1919: Do not let the Italian people have the hateful feeling that the great American democracy opposes what is just

Italy’s proposals to settle the Fiume issue – Fiume and vicinity to be a buffer state and Zara a free city, Italy to build a port on the Adriatic for Yugoslavia – are rejected by the US. Italian PM Francesco Nitti appeals through the AP to the American people: “Do not let the Italian people have the hateful feeling that the great American democracy opposes what is just.”

The Star Opera Company, the one that ran into trouble from mobs of ex-soldiers and NY Mayor Hylan when it attempted to perform German opera, has gone bankrupt as a direct result, having laid out money for costumes, scenery etc for performances that never happened.

The British government announces that it won’t release any of the hunger-striking Irish political prisoners (nor is it forcibly feeding them). It will also suspend jury trials in Ireland.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Rumors about the newly elected Socialists in the Italian parliament. They don’t support monarchy.

The New York Telephone Company is installing automatic switchboards which will enable customers to make calls without going through an operator. The company explains that people will indicate their desired number “by manipulating a dial attached to the telephone instrument. This dial is equipped with ten finger holes, each carrying one of the ten numerals. To call a number the subscriber simply places his finger in the hole corresponding to the first digit of the number desired, pulls the dial around to the finger stop, allows it to return to its original position, and does the same for each other digit of the number....” Wow, the future is now.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Today -100: November 24, 1919: Take care they do not make you become a Croat

Republican party leaders repudiate Sen. Lodge’s desire to fight the 1920 elections on the issue of the treaty, saying they expect some sort of compromise before then. Presumably they realized that it sounded like Lodge is playing partisan politics with the end of the war, if only because that’s what he was doing.

The Republican Club of Massachusetts wants Gov. Calvin Coolidge to run for president.

A week after D’Annunzio’s forces invaded Zara, Italian censorship finally allows the Italian press to report it. In Zara the poet-aviator, speaking from (naturally) a balcony, tells of meeting a little girl there who he told “Take care they do not make you become a Croat,” to which she replied “Not until our Maggiore Mountain falls into the sea.”

Vice President Whatsisname is interrupted in the middle of giving a speech to the Order of Moose in Atlanta by a phone message that Pres. Wilson had died. He asks everyone in the hall for their help, then, possibly while the organist is still playing Nearer My God to Thee, phones the AP, which informs him that the report is false. Gov. Dorsey offers a $100 reward for the identity of the hoax caller.

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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Today -100: November 23, 1919: Pigs caused the war

Sen. Warren G. Harding (R-Ohio) informally announces his candidacy for president (that is, he gets someone else to do it for him, because he’s shy) (or too busy fucking his mistress) (hashtag #presidential). He previously said he wouldn’t run. National Republican leaders are trying to get a bunch of “favorite son” candidates into the field in order to head off Gen. Leonard Wood and to divide up the delegates between them, leaving it to the party grandees to pick the candidate at the convention in a smoke-filled room, like God intended.

Democratic candidates aren’t declaring themselves yet because they’re politely waiting for Woodrow Wilson to make it official that he’s not running for a third term and Wilson, well, you know.

Coal miners accept Secretary of Labor William Wilson’s pay increase proposals, which he based on cost-of-living increases in the coal districts. Coal owners do not, and say they will no longer deal with Wilson because they accuse the Secretary of Labor of speaking with... labor.

Prof. Richard Lynch Garner, who, as we have seen, claims to have captured the Missing Link and to be able to speak with monkeys, sues a photography company for $100,000 because a picture of theirs ran in a number of newspapers supposedly showing the good professor kissing a monkey. The company says the picture was of a monkey trainer and it was the newspapers that said it was Garner. Beyond the identification issue, Garner’s complaint mentions the fact that the chimp in question was chained up, a practice Garner objects to; “He has also disapproved the custom or practice of embracing or kissing animals.”

The NYT Sunday Magazine has an excerpt from a Justice Department report on “Radicalism and Sedition Among the Negroes, As Reflected in Their Publications.” Many of these publications, the report says, are “always antagonistic to the white race, and openly, defiantly assertive of its own equality and even superiority” and they show “insolently race-centered condemnation of the white race”.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Not specific pigs. Count Carl Seilern, a former adviser to the former Austrian emperor, attributes the hostility between Serbia and Austria in the 15 years or so before the war to Austria cutting off the sale of Serb pigs to Hungary.

The North Dakota Supreme Court says Gov. Lynn Frazier (Non-Partisan League) can’t just take over the coal mines. Justice James Robinson’s opinion complains about laws “pandering to the labor vote [which] permit and encourage strikes, picketing and idleness” and limit work to 8 hours a day. He further complains that “without any grievance our well-paid miners have quit work and struck pursuant to orders from some labor agitators.”

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union decides not to try to get tobacco banned.

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Friday, November 22, 2019

Today -100: November 22, 1919: A question between patriotism and politics

Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.) issues a statement:  “After four months of careful consideration and discussion, the reservations were presented to the Senate. They were purely American in their character, designed solely to Americanize the treaty and make it safe for the United States.” The reservations were voted down “under the President’s orders,” he says, but there was also a majority against the treaty without the reservations. “There is no room for further compromise between Americanism and the super-government presented by the League. All I ask now is that we may have the opportunity to lay those reservations before the American people.” In other words, he plans to fight the 1920 elections on this issue.

Acting Senate minority leader George Hitchcock (D-Neb.) responds: “It would be entirely welcome to us if the reservations should be taken into the campaign, but I do not consider that it would be very patriotic. It appears to have become a question between patriotism and politics. The patriotic thing to do is to work out a compromise.”

The US threatens to invade Mexico (again) if it does not release consular agent William Jenkins, who is under arrest for allegedly masterminding his own “kidnapping.”

The Supreme Council of the Allies decides that Eastern Galicia will go to Poland for the next 25 years as a League of Nations mandate and then become part of Poland properly.

Yet another dastardly Red plot is uncovered, this one to murder the head of the NYPD bomb squad, an assistant district attorney and a Justice Dept agent. The latter two are engaged in anti-Red investigations in New York.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Today -100: November 21, 1919: Some detective force!

France, Britain and Italy will put the Treaty of Versailles into effect in December, without waiting for the dubious prospect of US participation.

Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.) says the peace treaty is “inert.” Sen. George Hitchcock (D-Neb.) disagrees.

A couple of days ago there was a train robbery in Wyoming, which was believed to have been pulled off by “Wild Bill” Carlisle, who a few days before escaped from prison, where he was serving a sentence for train robbery. Now Carlisle walks into a Western Union office in Casper, Wyoming and sends a telegram to the Union Pacific Railroad offices: “Thanks for haul on your limited. Some detective force!”

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Today -100: November 20, 1919: So, still at war with Germany then

The US Senate votes on the peace treaty three times. With Henry Cabot Lodge’s reservations attached to it, it loses 39-55, after a letter is read from Pres. Wilson (or whomever) to Democrats saying that the reservations amount to nullification and urging rejection. Another vote on the amended treaty loses 41-50. Finally, a vote on the treaty without reservations loses 38-53. All attempts at even beginning to craft a compromise fail. Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge says the treaty is dead and he’ll introduce a simple resolution to the effect that the war is over. The Senate then adjourns. Wilson may re-submit the treaty next session (December).

The Philadelphia police claim to have uncovered a Red plot to send mail bombs disguised as Christmas gifts to officials all over the country involved in the persecution of alleged radicals.

NYC is investigating teachers believed to be members of the Communist Party and firing them.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Today -100: November 19, 1919: If they’d had the internet it would have been Warry McWarFace

Pres. Wilson is again wheeled onto the White House lawn, where he is “much interested” in the flock of sheep there. I think that’s literal sheep, but you never know in Washington.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Official according to the US War Department. 

When Hungary has elections in December (in the unoccupied parts of the country anyway), men and women over 24 will have the vote, plus younger men who served at least 13 weeks at the front.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Today -100: November 18, 1919: Zara today, Spalato tomorrow!

Woodrow Wilson is rolled on to the White House lawn, er, in a wheel chair, the first time he has left the building since the beginning of last month. Mary Pickford drops by, but is not allowed to see the president. So I guess she just shows up places?

And we’ve finally heard from Wilson (or whomever) on what he will do if the reservations to the peace treaty pass: he will pocket veto it (or just “pocket” it? – can a treaty be vetoed?). There is some talk of possible compromises that he might accept (Sen. George Hitchcock passes this on to the Senate while staying reticent on some of the details, possibly because Mrs. Wilson hasn’t decided on them yet). The Senate is still working on reservations (40 more to vote on!).

Ernest Lundeen, until recently the Republican congresscritter for Minnesota’s 5th district, in which capacity he voted against entering the Great War and against conscription, is about to speak in the Orontville, Minn. opera house against the League of Nations when a bunch of American Legion types (and the sheriff) grab him, march him to the train station and lock him in a refrigerated car on an outbound train, as was the custom.

Poet-Aviator Gabriele D’Annunzio is given (presumably by himself) a new title: Commander of Fiume and Commander of Dalmatia. On his triumphal entry into conquered Zara, he proclaims “It is Zara today, it will be Spalato [Split] tomorrow.” Censorship is keeping news of this out of Italian newspapers.

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