Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Today -100: May 31, 1923: Of mysterious deaths, pingers, undesirable tributes, and cardioscopes

Jess W. Smith, the, er, assistant to Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty (he had a desk outside Daugherty’s office at Justice but wasn’t actually on the government payroll – he was the massively corrupt Daugherty’s bagman), commits suicide in the hotel suite he shared with Daugherty (no, not like that, or maybe exactly like that), shooting himself in the head. The administration is putting it out that Smith had health worries, but the crime scene was scrubbed by Bureau of Investigation chief William Burns, who lives in the same hotel, and the gun mysteriously disappears and there’s no autopsy, and he seems to have shot himself in the left temple despite being right-handed, and...

The Chinese bandits release a couple of American hostages, including Maj. Roland Pinger, which is certainly the name of a person and not of a sex toy.

The Rockville Centre, Long Island, Ku Klux Klan leave a wreath at the local war memorial on Memorial Day. The commander of the local American Legion post discovers what he calls “an undesirable tribute to the American soldier,” and hands in the wreath to the police station. Immediately calls start coming in complaining, lots of calls (Rockville Centre is a big KKK town), and the town council orders it put back, without the card (which I think had already been torn up).

The American Association of Thoracic Surgeons announces that the cardioscope has been tested on animals and “perfected” by Dr. Duff Allen of Washington University and is ready for use on humans during heart surgery.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Today -100: May 30, 1923: Of poll boycotts

After Arabs boycott elections for the Legislative Council in Palestine in protest at Zionist something or other, the British declares the elections null & void. Only 12 of the 23 members of the Council would have been elective, and I’m gonna hazard a guess that its powers would be pretty limited.

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Monday, May 29, 2023

Today -100: May 29, 1923: Laying aside your arms now is an act of patriotism as exalted and pure as your valor in taking them up

Dresden is now controlled by mobs of unemployed and/or Communists, who are ordering shops and restaurants closed, as well as the Opera House, “because the sight of wealthy men enjoying themselves while they must starve was too much for the unemployed.” The Opera House owners promise to take up a collection from the audience, and the fat lady is allowed to sing.

Éamon de Valera issued a cease-fire order last week that I guess the Free State is just finding out about. It admits that “The republic can no longer be sustained successfully by your arms. The continuance of the struggle in arms is unwise in the national interest. ... Do not let sorrow overwhelm you. ... You have saved the nation’s honor and left the road open to independence. Laying aside your arms now is an act of patriotism as exalted and pure as your valor in taking them up.” 

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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Today -100: May 28, 1923: Of kluxers and poison gas

The Ku Klux Klan hold multiple meetings in New York (and one in Jersey) in defiance of the new law requiring it to reveal its membership lists. A speaker at one of the Long Island meetings says Gov. Al Smith has wrecked his presidential ambitions by signing that bill.

The army chemical warfare corps will use mustard gas, phosgene and chlorine gas on rattle snake nests in Texas, part of a program of proving the usefulness of Great War-era poison gas that includes using it to “cure” the flu.

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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Today -100: May 27, 1923: Of Fords, executions, and parades

There’s been some chatter recently about Henry Ford running for president, none of it from Ford himself, at least not publicly. William Randolph Hearst says he’d support Ford if he ran, but he can only run as an independent.

The Lausanne Conference survives another crisis when Turkey gives up its demand for reparations from Greece in exchange for some territory. This after Greece threatened to walk out, evidently still under the impression that it didn’t lose the war it started with Turkey.

The French occupiers in the Ruhr execute one Albert Schlageter, a right-wing Freikorps type, for blowing up railroad tracks and bridges. That’s a German executed in Germany by the French.

The NYT has a 4-sentence story about a revolution that has broken out in Bulgaria and the prime minister fleeing. It hasn’t and he hasn’t.

The New York Fascisti withdraw from the Memorial Day parade after opposition from Samuel Gompers and the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union.

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Today -100: May 26, 1923: Of steel, women voters, lusks, and censors

A committee of steel bosses appointed by Elbert Gary, the founder of US Steel, at Pres. Harding’s request to investigate union demands for an  8-hour day, says that after thorough investigation, the 12-hour day in the steel industry is perfectly fine, and certainly not injurious to workers in any way. And steel workers aren’t demanding the 8-hour day, they like the extra pay. Gary had to leave the stage during his reading of the report when he became ill, possibly from suppressed snickering. Harding is said to be disappointed by the committee’s report, but what the hell did he expect?

A new New York law allows women voters to merely declare themselves over 21 rather than give their exact age.

And Gov. Alfred E. Smith signs the repeal of the Lusk laws requiring teachers in public schools to be subject to loyalty tests and for private schools as a whole to be subject to a similar test.

The chief British movie censor explains the 67 things that get American films banned, including the depiction of Jesus, cruelty to animals or children, disparagement of public characters, over-long death-bed scenes, too much revolver shooting, girls participating in crimes, drunk girls, women being branded, or the words “hell” or “devil.” 

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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Today -100: May 25, 1923: We went to the Ruhr to get paid

Chinese government troops attack the Shantung bandits holding those train passengers.

Supposedly, the bandits got the idea for the train derailment from the movies.

Communists seize and burn the Gelsenkirchen (Ruhr) police hq and fight the citizens’... militia? neighborhood watch? and firemen. 8 dead. They propose a group of 400 workers – 100 Socialist, 100 Communist, 200 trade union – to take over the policing of the town, since the French fired all the security police in February. In the meantime, they enforce food price reductions. And then the looting begins, which is definitely a price reduction. French troops move into the town and... watch. As was the custom, when Germans were fighting Germans.

French PM Raymond Poincaré and his cabinet resign because the Senate refused his demand that it try Deputy Marcel Cachin and other Communists for sedition and/or treason. The deputies opposed the occupation of the Ruhr, but the Senate (in its role as high court) decides it’s not its job to try the cases – there are courts, you know. Pres. Millerand refuses to accept the resignations and Poincaré agrees to stay, although he had argued “we cannot allow these Communist conspiracies.”

Earlier in the day PM P told the National Assembly he would do to Germany what Germany did to France in 1871. He said the occupation of the Ruhr is succeeding in getting coal to France so “we are in no hurry and can wait as long as necessary for Germany to come to her senses.” No comment. “We went to the Ruhr to get paid.”

The new British prime minister’s 24-year-old son, Oliver Baldwin is.... DUM DUM DUM... a socialist. In fact, in 1929 he’ll be elected a Labour member of Parliament, embarrasing daddy no end. He’s already been a prisoner of both Armenian Bolsheviks and then, on his way home, Turkey, which held him 6 months as a suspected Russian spy, or something.

Newly elected Chicago Mayor William Dever says he found the city’s treasury is empty, indeed in deficit, and the municipal government may have to stop operating soon.

William Burns, director of the Bureau of Investigation, tells the Kiwanis Club in Atlantic City that if Congress passes two bills (dunno which ones), he will “drive every radical out of the country and bring the parlor Bolsheviks to their senses.” Every big strike in the US, he says, is caused by Soviet influence and propaganda.

The Connecticut Legislature bans flogging in prisons.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. gets a contract to act in motion pictures at $1,000 a week. He is 13 years old. Doug Senior knew nothing about this (Jr. lives with his mother).

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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Today -100: May 24, 1923: On every essential point, the Bolshevists propose a conference

Looks like every member of Bonar Law’s Cabinet is willing to continue under Stanley Baldwin, including Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon.

By the way, Baldwin is a cousin of Rudyard Kipling.

Winston Churchill, who earlier in life left the Conservative Party for the Liberals, is thinking of jumping back. If you were wondering why no one really trusted him. Churchill was bounced from Parliament by the voters at the last election, so his old-new party would have to find him a seat.

Russia is conciliatory in response to Britain’s ultimatum to pay compensation for the seizure of a trawler and the execution of alleged spies and withdraw letters the British found rude. Doesn’t seem to promise not to propagandize in India, Afghanistan and Persia, which was another demand. The London Times complains, “On every essential point, the Bolshevists propose a conference.” 

Mussolini purges Capt. Aurelio Padovani and all who follow him from the Naples Fascists for their “grave and prolonged indiscipline.” Padovani will later (1926) die the most Fascist of deaths when a balcony on which he is greeting his followers collapses.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Today -100: May 23, 1923: Of primes minister, secret enticements, lynching, easter islands, and chicken scrambles

Stanley Baldwin will be the next British prime minister. The process by which he rather than Curzon was chosen is entirely opaque. It’s unclear whether Curzon will continue as foreign secretary, which sounds like more his choice than Baldwin’s.

North Carolina, facing an exodus of its negro population, decides to treat black people better. No, just kidding, they arrest labor agents for “secretly enticing” negroes to go to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, fining them $500 and $1,000 for soliciting labor without a license.

Pennsylvania has new laws making participation in a lynch mob murder and making a kidnapping resulting in death first-degree murder. It also makes trying to seize a prisoner a crime, and being an officer who loses a prisoner to a lynch mob a crime, and it will fine counties in which a lynching occurs $10,000 for their dependents, or the state if there are none.

Lady Constance Lytton, the British suffragette who, frustrated at the favoritism shown by prison authorities in not forcibly feeding her, disguised herself as a commoner and was force fed, has died at 54, her health permanently damaged by that force-feeding.

Headline of the Day -100:  

The earthquake was last November, but only a fishing boat has been there since.

A Brooklyn dry goods store’s “chicken scramble” promotional event is interrupted by the SPCA just as they were about to throw live chickens off the roof, with their legs tied with a ticket for a special prize, for customers to scramble over. The owner is summonsed for Friday, but I think we know what his defense will be: “As god is my witness...”

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Monday, May 22, 2023

Today -100: May 22, 1923: Wait, is there no prime minister?

Fascists in the Naples region resign in large numbers after the central Fascist organization orders them to accept a merger with Nationalist militia types, some of them former Communists who saw which way the wind was blowing. Most of the Neopolitan Fascist leaders, rank & file, and Fascist trade union members, maybe 40,000 in total, quit.

Former (as of yesterday) British prime minister Andrew Bonar Law has an operation for his throat cancer. The king has yet to ask anyone to form a government, waiting for the Conservative Party to make up its own mind.

New dance records: James Karnell in Youngstown, Ohio, at 161 hrs 56 min, and his partner Mrs Yarnell, who gave up at 132 hours but still broke the women’s record.

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Sunday, May 21, 2023

Today -100: May 21, 1923: Of unspectacular premiers, lonely Aussies, and hooded parades

Andrew Bonar Law, who the NYT accurately describes as “the most unspectacular of British Premiers,” resigns as British prime minister on the recommendation of his doctors.

Earl Stradbroke, governor of Victoria, visiting England, tries to get English lasses who want to get married to come to Australia, which has an over-abundance of big, manly men who are successful but lonely (not sure if that’s a quote or a paraphrase).

109 Klansman have a little parade in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

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Saturday, May 20, 2023

Today -100: May 20, 1923: Of tired & ill premiers, bandit-soldiers, nameless dry agents, and basic stock

Headline of the Day -100:  

In the ongoing Chinese train kidnapping saga, the government has sent army commissions to bandit leaders, but the bandits are now demanding that the army be removed from the whole of Shantung Province, leaving the bandits as the sole military force. Messengers have been going back and forth, bringing messages from the captives saying things like “They’re threatening to eat us!” And the military seem to be refusing government orders to withdraw from the area. Also, troops haven’t been paid in months and are selling ammunition to bandits.

Federal prohibition agents have been slacking off since a new rule that any agent whose name appears in a newspaper will be suspended.

Labor Secretary James Davis says the US will never return to open immigration. He says the current 3% immigration rule doesn’t burden immigration from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, “the basic stock of the American people,” just those filthy southern Europeans.

Germany seizes a French plane flying over its territory from Prague to Paris. Germany has banned French overflights. The pilot is arrested but the Romanian passenger is allowed to continue, presumably by train.

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Friday, May 19, 2023

Today -100: May 19, 1923: Of throats, consulates, hard & fast yearning, drums, and dye heads

British Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law has been consulting high-end doctors in Paris, and a Harley Street doc rushed over to Paris to consult, but his friends (in the absence of any official statement) are still saying it’s just a sore throat. It isn’t.

If he resigns, there’s a succession problem: Lord Curzon, former Viceroy of India and head of the anti-women’s suffrage movement, current foreign secretary, would be the logical choice (certainly in his own mind), but there hasn’t been a PM from the House of Lords in more than 20 years and it’s no longer considered... appropriate by most people. Such is the nature of an unwritten constitution. Norms change slowly over time. The necessity for a PM to defend his policies and respond to questions in the Commons rather than the Lords would be underscored if Bonar Law steps down because he can no longer do those things (or speak at all, evidently). When this problem next comes up with the Earl of Home, they’ll change the law to allow peers to renounce their titles, making way for him to sit in the Commons as lowly Alec Douglas-Home, the eminently forgettable PM from 1963 to 1964.

The US consulate in Mexico City is bombed. Was it conservatives trying to make trouble for the Obregón regime? Bolsheviks? A cap is found at the scene with a Red button, which is probably good enough for the latter to be blamed. But a letter attached to a door suggests the target was actually the office of a lawyer who rented space in the consulate building; the office took most of the damage.

Announcing this, the State Dept belatedly admits that the US Embassy in Mexico was bombed two weeks ago.

The Austrian ambassador to Germany says Austrians are “hard and fast in their yearning for union of Austria with Germany.” Which he thinks will happen sooner rather than later. German Pres. Ebert, in the audience, claps and claps.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Thursday, May 18, 2023

Today -100: May 18, 1923: Of becoming erections, reparations, and inventions

Pres. Harding, speaking at the unveiling of a statue of his hero Alexander Hamilton (“It is a most becoming thing to erect”), attacks growing factionalism in the US, such as “the false cry of class” and the Ku Klux Klan. Okay, he bravely fails to specifically name the Klan, but that’s what his reference to groups “challenging civil and religious liberty” is taken to mean.

Greece and Turkey are still arguing over peace terms. Turkey wants reparations from Greece, so Greece is demanding reparations from Turkey.

The British Institute of Patentees issues a list of inventions that would be nice:

Glass that bends
A non-slip road surface
Non-shrinking fannel
Noiseless airplanes
Planes that can be operated by children
Less friction
Easily cleaned pipes (the smoking kind)
Non-alcoholic drinks that aren’t awful
Talking motion pictures

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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Today -100: May 17, 1923: A nation can’t survive half sloshed, or something

Pres. Harding responds to a letter from a Dr. Wesley Wait, who Wikipedia identifies as “an American inventor, author, dental surgeon, and florist” – so why is Harding answering his letters? – who asked for some federal response if NY Gov. Al Smith signs the bill repealing the bill for the enforcement of Prohibition in the state. I think Wait wants the arrest of NY state legislators for treason. Harding invokes Lincoln’s assertion that the nation could not survive half slave and half free. Which is just a terrible comparison.

Harding uses a recess appointment to name Walter Cohen collector of customs at New Orleans. The Senate rejected Cohen during the last Congress, because he is black.

Leon Trotsky sends $125,000 of presumably government money to his brother in Berlin, who lost a bundle speculating on the German mark.

Last month Mussolini forced 4 Catholic (Popular) Party members out of his government because the party didn’t pledge to adopt Fascist policies totally and forever. Now the party reverses itself.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Today -100: May 16, 1923: Of dyes, floggings, and the most powerful medium of influence over the people

France seizes 4 dye and chemical factories in the Ruhr.

Florida bans the flogging of convicts.

At a Federal Trade Commission hearing into the monopolization of the movie industry by Famous Players-Lasky, Thomas Edison says movies, and therefore who controls them, are super-important: “There is nothing so powerful as motion pictures in influencing people. ... Whoever controls the motion picture industry controls the most powerful medium of influence over the people.” And it’ll just get more powerful. In 20 years there won’t even be books in schools, just motion pictures.

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Monday, May 15, 2023

Today -100: May 15, 1923: Premier Mussolini has demonstrated evolutionary progress

Headline of the Day -100:  

Or so he says to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance holding its annual congress in Rome. Pres. Carrie Chapman Catt says “Premier Mussolini has demonstrated evolutionary progress. From doubt about women suffrage, he has arrived at the conviction that it cannot long be postponed.” However, the suffrage he is proposing is for “several classes of women” and is only in local elections, with national ones maybe later. Women will get the local vote in 1925 aaaaaand have it taken away again in 1928.

The Florida State Senate adopts a resolution that Darwinism, atheism & agnosticism should not be taught in public schools.

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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Today -100: May 14, 1923: Making out like bandits

China gives the kidnapping bandits everything they want: withdrawal of government troops from the area, absorption of the bandits into the army. I assume there’s a cash component as well.

The German government forbids its citizens in the Rhineland and the Ruhr traveling on on trains run by the French or Belgians. Also, towns in the Ruhr are forbidden from paying fines levied by the occupiers and individuals are forbidden to apply to them for drivers licenses.

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Saturday, May 13, 2023

Today -100: May 13, 1923: Of putsches, bridges, and kidnappers

In Hamburg, several generals and others are arrested for planning a putsch to overthrow the Hamburg government and hopefully inspire a national putsch.

A bridge over the Rhine-Heren Canal is blown up, nearly taking out a French troop train. The French respond by arresting the burgomaster of Osterfeld and fining the town 100 million marks, which is the equivalent of some money.

The ultimatum that the foreign ambassadors gave the Chinese government to obtain the release of the people kidnapped from the Shanghai-Peking Express expires, but 16 or 17 foreigners, including 5 Americans, are still in captivity. Plus some Chinese people, but of course they don’t count.

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Friday, May 12, 2023

Today -100: May 12, 1923: Nice work if you can get it

Bavaria is under martial law, because “Hittler [sic], who is rapidly losing his popularity,” may be planning a putsch.

Famous motion picture canine Prince Ski is dead. He was paid $30 a day “and his specialty was strolling through gardens with richly gowned women.”

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Thursday, May 11, 2023

Today -100: May 11, 1923: One must have the courage to deliver Europe from the Bolshevist plague

Vatslav Vorovsky, the Soviet delegate to the Lausanne Conference, is assassinated in the restaurant of the Hotel Cécil, and two other Russians attached to the mission and dining with him are wounded in the attack. The assassin then hands his gun to the head waiter and tells him to call the police. He is Maurice Conradi, a Swiss citizen who served in the Russian military before and during the war and the White Army during the civil war. His father and uncle, he says, died of starvation and Russian cruelty (or it may have been that his father and brother were executed). “This evening I have done an act of justice which I do not regret, for one must have the courage to deliver Europe from the Bolshevist plague.” The Swiss Fascists, who had ordered Vorovsky to leave Switzerland, deny any connection to the murder. Russia blames Switzerland which, not having invited any Russian delegates to the conference, declined to give them any protection.

Conradi and his confederate Arkady Polunin will be tried in November. They’ll use the trial to attack the Soviet government and will be acquitted, though Conradi will be ordered to pay the costs of the trial. Russia will cut diplomatic relations. Conradi will continue to live in Switzerland for a bit, then move to France, join the French Foreign Legion, and die in 1947.

Pathé objects to the Motion Picture Commission censoring Good Riddance, a lost, I think, Hal Roach comedy short about a man trying to get rid of a dog his girlfriend objects to. The censor insisted on cutting a scene in which the dog is thrown out of an airplane and “all views of man’s leg exposed where trouser is pulled off by dog at dance” and a scene of a a fuse attached to a dog’s tail. She says these are inhuman and incite crime. Pathé Exchange suggests she didn’t realize it’s a comedy. It points out that the dog survives being thrown out of an airplane, landing unharmed in the back seat of a car. “We fail to see where the element of inhumanity enters.” It notes that films involve exaggerated actions: “For instance, one does not ordinarily hang a Chinaman out of the window by his hair, yet in this picture such a scene is shown.” And as for the naked leg, “It is not clear whether this scene is declared to be inhuman or would tend to incite to crime.” The case is now going to court. Gotta say, this film does not sound like a laff riot. Incidentally, the star is James Parrott, better known as a director of many Laurel & Hardy pictures. And he was Charley Chase’s brother, which I did not know.

(Update: an appellate court will reverse the Motion Picture Commission’s cuts to the film.)

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Today -100: May 10, 1923: It is none of our business whether Christ went to heaven or not

A French military court in the Ruhr sentences to death a German who led a gang which dynamited railroads, the first time the French have done so, despite the many, many threats. Supposedly the dynamiters were paid by Krupp (I think not). The gang members are also found guilty of (gasp, horror) spreading anti-French propaganda.

A US District Court voids the parts of the Volstead Act limiting how much liquor a doctor can prescribe to one pint per 10 days. That’s for doctors to decide, sez the judge.

Irish Free State Prez William Cosgrove rejects Éamon de Valera’s peace terms and declines further communication with him, including the personal conference the fugitive future president suggested.

At the Lausanne Conference, Turkey rejects a suggestion that they take the next day, Ascension Day, off. Riza Nur Bey says that would be an infringement of Turkish sovereignty somehow. “It is none of our business whether Christ went to heaven or not, nor do we care on what day he went there.” Meanwhile, the Russian delegates, who showed up without being invited to the conference, are being guarded by the police because of threats by the Swiss Fascists. How well guarded, we shall see.

Responding to the US decision to bar all ships entering US territorial waters from carrying liquor, even if it’s locked up, the House of Commons votes 184 to 128 to require passenger ships entering British waters to carry liquor. The bill is a jape, and won’t go any further.

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word jape before.

The New York City Memorial Day parade will feature Fascists marching in the Italian Fascist uniform. They were invited by the American Legion.

New dancing record: 160 hours & 55 minutes. I’m bored; can we do phone-booth stuffing now?

Headline of the Day That Sounds Dirty But Isn’t -100: 

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Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Today -100: May 9, 1923: That smile we know so well

Britain issues a snippy ultimatum to Russia. It will break off trade relations in 10 days unless Russia stops doing anti-British propaganda in India, Afghanistan and Persia; withdraws its refusal to receive official British complaints about the trials of religious figures; and accepts liability for offenses to individuals and ships (I guess they sunk a fishing boat?). And they complain that the British agent in Moscow has been subjected to “studied insolence,” which is the worst kind of insolence. The Tory government is obviously looking for an excuse to tear up the agreement Lloyd George made with Russia.

The French court-martial sentences Baron Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach to 15 years. And a fine.  Other Krupp company directors (some of whom are out of reach in Germany proper) are sentenced to 10, 15, or 20 years. This is for the incident on March 31 when French soldiers tried to seize Krupp company automobiles and got into a fight with workers while, according to the military prosecutor, the directors looked on from inside “with that smile we know so well from the days when German officers smiled while French villages, farms and homesteads burned.” So their crime is... smirking in the first degree. The prosecutor says the blood of the German workers killed by the French soldiers is on the directors’ hands (no French soldiers were killed). Chancellor Cuno calls the sentence a contemptible travesty, which is the worst kind of travesty.

The NYPD arrest 807 men for witnessing an immoral performance. They’re driven to the police station where they give their names (Jones, Smith, Brown) and addresses (vacant lots, public buildings). I think this is the NYPD’s nose-thumbing response to a magistrate who released a bunch of people Monday, saying it’s not actually against the law to view a performance the police consider immoral.

Diplomats in China from the countries whose citizens were kidnapped from the Peking express demand that China pay the ransom demanded by the bandits (the US is specifically demanding that the Chinese government pay it). The diplomats threaten to impose an indemnity on China if anyone is still being held on the 12th, increasing every day after that.

New York Health Commissioner Frank Monaghan says women should wear a corset: “It lends support to vital organs which need bracing, thus permitting them to function properly without strain.” Also, it makes them super-hot, which is good for their mental health.

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Monday, May 08, 2023

Today -100: May 8, 1923: I can face prison myself

Harding says the “national heart, conscience and judgment” support joining the World Court. Really, every American wants to join, he’s pretty sure.

Lucy Aldrich is released, I guess, by the Chinese bandits who attacked the Peking Express and made off with many of its passengers. Or, not released, but left behind with other white women unable to keep up with the forced march. Some captives are still being held.

At the French court-martial of Baron Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, head of the Krupp conglomerate (by marriage; the “Krupp” in his name is from his wife), Krupp is asked why he returned to the Ruhr knowing he faced arrest instead of remaining in Germany so the French could call him a fugitive, as they clearly intended, and why he didn’t ask two other indicted Krupp directors to return with him. “Even though innocent I can face prison myself... but I cannot ask it of others to face prison for me.”

No one likes the painting Sir William Orpen painted for the Imperial War Museum, To The Unknown British Soldier in France. Critics hate it and the museum won’t take it. It looked something like this:

Orpen denies that it was ironic or something: “I painted the picture in all seriousness and humility.” Later on he painted out the emaciated soldiers and chubby cherubs and the museum finally accepted it.

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Sunday, May 07, 2023

Today -100: May 7, 1923: Of train kidnappings, home sweet home, and broken treaties

France and Belgium reject Germany’s reparations proposals. They decide not to issue a joint reply with Britain. Not surprisingly, they want more money than Germany offered. They say there will be no talks until passive resistance ends, denying Germany’s claim that passive resistance is a spontaneous act of the people of the Ruhr instead of ordered by the German government, and say they won’t end the occupation until Germany pays up.

Lucy Aldrich, daughter of a former and sister-in-law of John D. Rockefeller Jr., is kidnapped by bandits in China, along with 150 other train passengers, during an attack on the Shanghai-Peking Express. Or 300 passengers according to a different AP dispatch printed right below the first one. The bandits derail the train, shoot it up, and steal everything they can before marching their captives
 off into the night in their nightclothes.

The song “Home Sweet Home” (you know, “Be it ever so humble etc”) is 100 years old, and at least 15,000 people gather in Prospect Park to commemorate the occasion with a sing-song, because that’s what life was like before the internet.

8 Sioux tribes will sue the US for $700,000,000 for treaty violations. Stolen land, some containing extensive gold deposits, slaughtered game, the usual.

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Saturday, May 06, 2023

Today -100: May 6, 1923: Of princes and exclusions

A NYT Sunday Magazine article on the Prince of Wales worries that the 28-year-old prince seems to have more interest in his horses, which he keeps falling off, than in marrying. Be careful what you wish for.

This week, unreported in the NYT, Canada’s Parliament passed a Chinese Exclusion Act, barring Chinese people from entering the country except for university students, Canadian-born Chinese returning from abroad – if they’ve been absent less than two years – diplomats, and merchants (not including restauranteurs or laundry owners). Ethnic Chinese, including those born in Canada, have to register for an identity card. The act will be repealed in 1947.

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Friday, May 05, 2023

Today -100: May 5, 1923: How do you abolish a relic?

The new Lausanne Conference continues. Britain proposes that no foreigners be arrested in much of Turkey or their homes searched without permission of a non-Turkish judge.

The NY Legislature repeals the state law for enforcing the 18th Amendment. Prohibition enforcement in the state will now be entirely up to the feds. That’s if Gov. Al Smith signs the bill; he plans to hold hearings and pretend that he hasn’t already decided to sign it.

The NY Assembly passes Jimmy Walker’s bill to require the KKK and other non-incorporated groups to file membership lists with the secretary of state.

The All-Russian Church Council names Father Vedensky, the man who shepherded the unfrockification of Patriarch Tikhon, archbishop. It also abolishes relics, says bishops can get married now but clergy aren’t actually required to marry.

There’s a boycott of sugar because of high prices.

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Thursday, May 04, 2023

Today -100: May 4, 1923: Of reparations, sacred struggles, long flights, and censorship

In the least surprising news ever, France and Belgium reject Germany’s reparations offer. They insist that Germany must give up the passive resistance campaign and agree to continued occupation. And pay much more money, of course.

The French will try by court-martial 2 Germans in Castrop (in the Ruhr) for cutting off the hair of women who fraternized with French soldiers.

The All-Russian Church Council unfrocks Orthodox Patriarch Tikhon (who is in prison awaiting trial), lifts his excommunication of the Soviet government, calls him a traitor, and abolishes the office of patriarch. The Council explains that Russia is the only government fighting capitalism, which is one of the 7 deadly sins, so “its struggle is a sacred struggle.”

Britain says that when Iraq joins the League of Nations, it will be given its independence (this will indeed happen, though not until 1932).

Two Navy lieutenants fly a monoplane 2,700 miles from Long Island to San Diego in only 27 hours. And an Army dirigible flies 800 miles non-stop.

The bill to repeal NY’s movie censorship fails narrowly in the NY Assembly.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Today -100: May 3, 1923: Half an hour’s martial law and half a minute’s rifle shooting

The “Clean Books” censorship bill dies in the NY Senate, getting only 15 votes. Leading the fight against it is future NYC mayor Jimmy Walker. “No woman was ever ruined by a book,” he says. He notes the same hypocrisy as with the hard-drinking supporters of the Volstead Act: “Some of the best tellers of shabby stories in this Senate have been worrying their hearts out during the debate today about somebody reading something which may not have been good for him or her.”

Germany proposes a total reparation figure of 30 billion marks, which is the equivalent of some money, in installments (funded by foreign loans) (and if those aren’t forthcoming???). This is contingent on no further seizures of securities. And passive resistance will continue as long as the occupation does.

When people are forced out of Mussolini’s government, such as the Catholic Party members last month, he tends to simply abolish their positions. So too the office of Undersecretary of Finance Minister Cesare Maria de Veechi, pushed out for a speech in which he said, “Everything could be right in Italy with half an hour’s martial law and half a minute’s rifle shooting.” He’s a general of the national militia (and helped lead the March on Rome), a position he isn’t leaving, so any such rifle shooting would be under his command. De Veechi says he wasn’t speaking for the government, just saying the direction he wanted it to take. Swell. He’ll be named governor of Italian Somaliland later this year.

The Irish Dáil Éireann, while ignoring Éamon de Valera’s peace proposal, votes that hunger-striking prisoners should not be released from prison. Two more rebels are executed.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Today -100: May 2, 1923: Red is the prettiest color of putsches

The AP says this was the quietest May Day in years in Paris, except for the rioting and the possibly fatally stabbed cop. Just another Tuesday, really.

May Day also passes off quietly in Munich, despite Nazi posters warning of a possible “Red putsch.”

The fabled Delmonico’s Restaurant, where the elite meet to eat, well, met to et, unable to pay its rent, is seized by the cops.

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Monday, May 01, 2023

Today -100: May 1, 1923: Of parallels, high seas, May days, and tubes

Alva Belmont of the National Woman’s Party plans to set up a parallel congress of women to discuss the same issues as the real Congress. And issues the real Congress won’t discuss, like the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Supreme Court rules that the Volstead Act doesn’t apply to US ships on the high (ahem) seas.

Samuel Gompers, American Federation of Labor prez, says May Day doesn’t mean shit to American workers.

Romanian soldiers fight anti-Semitic students at the University of Bucharest. Students have also built barricades at the University of Jassy. And a bunch of Jewish students have been expelled from the University of Klausenberg after a fight, following what I’m sure was a fair process.

Headline of the Day -100:  


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