Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Party animals

Street fairs, nudist events, whatever the venue: These guys are having lots of fun.

San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair, 2013

Gay Nudists International

Skidmore College students, Saratoga Springs, New York

San Francisco's Bay to Breakers Run, 2009

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Did King George demand war?

One hundred years after the fact, documents relating to The Great War continue to emerge. A newly uncovered letter reveals that, as war was near, King George V urged the British government to find a way to stop Germany from gaining control of Europe.
King George V

Historians had no record of any conversation between the King and Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey in the lead-up to Britain's declaration of war against Germany. It was thought that the King played no role in the decision to go to war.

Now, however, a document found recently by Grey's great-great nephew may alter the historical record and shed new light on the monarch's role in the direction of foreign policy.

The one-page document shows that Grey met with King at Buckingham Palace on August 2, 1914, one day before Germany invaded France and two days before Britain entered the conflict.

Grey told the King that "he could not possibly see what justifiable reason we could find for going to war." The Cabinet, having met on August 1, was divided on the question.

"You have got to find a reason, Grey," the King is quoted as saying.

The King told Grey that if Britain did not go to war, "Germany would mop up France and having dealt with the European situation would proceed to obtain complete domination of this country."

For that reason, the document continues, the King "felt that it was absolutely essential that whatever happened we had got to find a reason for entering the War at once."

The document further states that on August 2, the King received a letter from French President PoincarĂ© urging British participation in the war and a telegram from King Albert of Belgium inquiring about British support. The King relayed the correspondence to Grey, along with a note re-emphasizing the need to find a justification for stopping Germany.

Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey
The historical record shows that on the evening of August 2, Grey secretly gave approval for British naval support to France in the form of protecting the French coastline against possible German attack. The approval was contrary to the Cabinet sentiment.

The King's conversations with Grey may have led the foreign secretary to protect the French coast, though the new document does not say. The decision did give some comfort to France, which had been worried that Britain would default on its stated commitment to support the French in the event of war.

Events of the next two days are well documented. On August 3, Grey addressed Parliament and said the peace of Europe had to be maintained. He further said Britain would honor its long-standing treaty to guarantee Belgian neutrality, by force of arms if necessary. Returning to the Foreign Office as street lamps were being lit as night fell, Grey mentioned to an associate his now-famous words: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

On August 4, the Germans provided the justification the Cabinet sought. Germany dismissed the treaty guaranteeing Belgian neutrality as "a scrap of paper." When Germany refused to promise not to invade Belgium, Britain declared war against Germany.

The revelations about the King George's role in the lead-up to the war were reported by The Telegraph of London on July 26. Click here for the story.