The Charlotte News

Monday, December 20, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Dutch forces raced unchecked through Java after taking its capital at Jakarta. The fall of the Indonesian Republic's only oil center at Tjepoe appeared imminent. The previous day, a concerted attack by land, air, and sea was launched by the Dutch and the Republic's President Soekarno, the Premier and the Army commander were interned. In Sumatra, the Dutch troops took Solok and occupied Singakarak, the latter along a route to the most important Republican city in Sumatra, Bukittinggi. The occupation thus far had been accomplished nearly without casualties, six Dutch soldiers having been killed and eight wounded in both Java and Sumatra. The Indonesian Government declared the attack to be "savage", likening it to the surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Following a complaint having been brought against the Dutch Government by the U.S. and Australia in the wake of the weekend operation, the Netherlands informed the U.N. Security Council that intervention in Indonesia would be useless. The Netherlands had declared all of Indonesia to be under Dutch rule, in derogation of the claim of the Republic to a third of Indonesian territory. The U.S. said it believed that the Dutch had broken faith with the U.N. Good Offices Committee in its attempts to mediate the Dutch-Indonesian dispute. The U.S. said that it would withdraw its representative from the GOC unless the Dutch withdrew to their positions before the attack. The Republic asked the U.S. to cut Marshall Plan aid to the Netherlands unless it relented. It said that it would continue to resist the Dutch and would move to other locations in the Republic if necessary, would form a government in exile if necessary.

In China, heavy fighting was reported to be taking place around Tientsin in North China. Nationalist troops in Tientsin and Peiping were now isolated.

Premier Sun Fo, handpicked by Chiang Kai-Shek, announced formation finally of a new Cabinet, pledged to fight until an honorable peace could be obtained, but not ruling out compromise with the Communists.

HUAC was trying to find out from the Justice Department whether it would permit the Committee to question further eight witnesses. Time was of the essence as the 80th Congress would end on January 3 and the Democrats would then control the House. Justice Department authorization was necessary to avoid conflict with the New York Federal grand jury, cooperation with which had been pledged recently by HUAC members. The witnesses included Donald Hiss, Alger Hiss's brother, Priscilla Hiss, his wife, Elizabeth Bentley, and Whittaker Chambers, each of whom had testified before HUAC in August, Henry J. Wadleigh, who had testified before HUAC in December, William Ward Pigman, Franklin Victor Reno, and Hedda Compton.

No further witnesses would be called by HUAC through the end of the Congress.

A 19.5-inch snowfall was recorded in New York City, after a storm swept the state along with New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New England, stretching into Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. Snow fell in the city without interruption from 6:20 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. the previous day. At least 16 persons had died, five in New York City, as a result of the storm.

The Supreme Court, as previously indicated, this date held 6 to 1, in a per curiam decision, Koki Hirota v. General of the Army MacArthur, 338 U.S. 197, that it did not have jurisdiction over the international tribunal which had convicted Japanese war criminals and condemned to death seven of the defendants, including former Premier Hideki Tojo. Two generals among the condemned, including the captioned general and Kenji Doihara, "The Bird of Evil Omen", had petitioned to the Supreme Court, claiming that the tribunal had no proper jurisdiction. Justice Frank Murphy dissented without an opinion and Justice Wiley Rutledge deferred his decision until a later time. Justice Robert Jackson, who had been lead prosecutor for the Nuremberg war crimes trial, did not participate in the decision, though he had voted in the prior decision of December 2 to grant a hearing in the case, thereby breaking a 4 to 4 deadlock which would have left the hearing denied.

In another case, Frazier v. U.S., 335 U.S. 497, a decision announced by Justice Rutledge, the Court ruled 5 to 4 that a jury could properly be comprised entirely of Federal employees without a denial of Due Process or interfering with the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury in a criminal case. Justice Jackson dissented, joined by Justices Felix Frankfurter, Frank Murphy, and William O. Douglas.

In Newton, Mass., it was reported by the head of the medical department of the Atomic Energy Commission that deadly radiation from cyclotrons had nearly blinded "about five" atomic scientists, who had developed cataracts. He said that there was more danger in radiation leaking from cyclotrons than with atomic reactors or in work on the atomic bomb.

In Marburg, Germany, the woman accused of murdering her American war-hero husband in a domestic dispute and claiming self-defense, testified this date that she shot him because he was beating her and, two days before the shooting, had threatened to kill her. The incident ensued a family argument regarding his claim of her "sexual incompatibility" with him and his attention given a German girl—whether the maid, reportedly with the shapely legs in nylon stockings who had testified the previous week, not being indicated but appearing likely given the description. His wife had shot him three times, which she explained by his having grabbed the gun after she had fired the first time, causing it to fire twice more. She said that he first had taken the gun and threatened to kill them both, that she then placed it in a drawer, that subsequently he sought to strangle her, at which point she reached for the gun. He was drunk at the time.

Bang, bang, bang. You're dead.

The military tribunal before which the trial was taking place had ruled that the prosecution had failed to show premeditation necessary for first degree murder, ruling out the death penalty.

In Beverly Hills, British stage and film actor C. Aubrey Smith died at age 85. He had recently finished a role in "Little Women". He had played command performances for King Edward VII and George V.

In Spartanburg, S.C., a World War II veteran suffocated to death from smoke inhalation at the home of his parents after apparently setting his bed on fire while smoking a cigarette.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommended using old Christmas trees after Christmas as a bird feeder in the backyard, substituting popcorn and suet for tinsel and fruit.

The Red Cross recommended care in decorating the tree, not using a wobbly chair or stacks of books instead of a ladder for adornment of the crowning glory.

Best way to do it is just to put the tree on a turntable and then back your Ford right into the living room and stand in the bed while you decorate it. Keep the tailgate up. You can repair the hole in the wall after Christmas, provided you don't get squished when it shifts into reverse on its own while you're decorating. You won't notice the difference anyway because of the hole in the other wall left from the fireworks you discharged from the dining room table at Thanksgiving.

There are only four shopping days remaining until Christmas. Try to get it done by Thursday because the stores will be very crowded on Friday.

The "Yule Log" of Christmas events appears again on page 12-A.

You better stop that unless you want to be shot.

On the editorial page, "A Tighter Law on 'Goof Balls'" tells of the State Board of Pharmacy recommending to the Legislature closure of loopholes in the law regarding availability without prescription of barbiturate derivatives and sleeping pills, which were being combined by youth with alcohol to form a violence-inducing mixture with disastrous results, as in the highly publicized case out of Gastonia a month earlier in which a young man, upset over being denied use of the family car, took such a mixture and then started waving a gun at his family, who called the police, resulting in a shootout with 50 policemen, killing one and wounding five other people, including another officer.

The piece recommends that the Legislature act without delay when it convened in January to pass the recommended legislation.

"States Rights—and Responsibilities" tells of the Southern Governors conference in Savannah having called for abolition of the poll tax in the remaining six states where it existed, and strengthening the anti-lynching laws in the states.

It counsels that the South could expect Federal intervention if it failed to clean up its own house. Such action on the poll tax and lynching laws would show the nation that the South was sincere in its effort to foster states' rights above Federal control and show that "states' rights" was something other than a euphemism for sustenance of Jim Crow practices.

"Santa Is a Displaced Person" tells of Kris Kringle for Berliners being just another displaced person. Poverty and the limitations of the Berlin airlift combined to produce scarcity of anything beyond the bare essentials of food and clothing. It suggests the remedy to this exiguity and that of China and England's austerity, of Italy's and that of France, as being the responsibility of all mankind.

The children of Berlin would inevitably not understand any explanation tendered to them for the cancellation of Christmas and Santa Claus.

You could cheer them up by telling them that he died in a fiery sleigh crash while bringing in the goodies, after one of the reindeer stumbled on the Star of the East. Maybe his son will make a comeback next year.

A piece from the Durham Herald, titled "The Alcoholism Problem", tells of Virginia spending $100,000 during the year for a patient and out-patient clinic at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond for the treatment of alcoholism as a disease.

Twelve other states had used public money to address the problem. North Carolina was not among them. It recommends starting locally with publicly-supported programs so that eventually they would serve as examples on which the Legislature could act.

Drew Pearson relates of former Congressman Maury Maverick of Texas having visited the President to counsel him that he was a big shot who should now use his re-election to help the people by firing some of the military men in his Administration. The President responded only that he felt sorry for Secretary of State Marshall, who had just had one of his kidneys removed.

A letter from the head of the real estate lobby to the top housing adviser in the Council of Economic Advisers had revealed how the lobby intended to defeat the President's public housing program, stating that it would attempt to convince Congress and the states that as an alternate plan, they should pass state-controlled cooperative housing, with the Federal Government sharing a large part of the cost but having no part in the administration of the program.

Senator-elect Lyndon Johnson of Texas called on the President at the White House to advise on efforts in Texas at continuing flood control and power projects, Mr. Johnson's pet project, a champion of rural electrification. The President assured him that he was all for the program. He also gave him advice on becoming a good Senator, that he use his House experience but not rely on it, join committees for which he was well fitted and then attend every meeting, that he should do his best and the headlines would come later.

Marquis Childs discusses the Hiss-Chambers case as a tragedy of the time, a "lost intellectual in desperate search of certitude."

To the members of HUAC, proving that Alger Hiss was a spy was paradigmatic for proving the entire New Deal corrupted with Communism within the Government. Mr. Hiss was the prime exemplar of the consummate New Dealer. The members believed that the Justice Department was trying to suppress the case to shield the New Deal from such a probe.

Mr. Hiss had been number three in his Harvard Law School graduating class, had clerked for the late Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes for a year, and worked for three years with a large New York law firm. (It should not escape note that Mr. Nixon graduated number three in his Duke Law School class in 1937, but, ironically, when he applied for jobs on Wall Street, was thoroughly rejected, wound up returning to his native Whittier, California, to establish a fledgling law practice, an honorable American tradition, and try to make a big score by establishing a frozen orange juice company, not so honorable in the way he went about it, failing to concentrate and not remitting the lost remuneration of his investors when the orange juice soured—unlike Mr. Truman, who did return every cent of the lost investment when his haberdashery business went belly-up.)

Mr. Hiss had forsaken a large salary and gone to work for the Government when FDR came to office. To his friends and associates, he epitomized a person dedicated to the public good. But to Whittaker Chambers and the Committee, he represented a dangerous attempt to bring moderate change to Government.

For the supporters of Mr. Hiss, if the charges turned out to be true, then they stood hurt and bewildered, with the only explanation for why he or Mr. Chambers would ostensibly turn on his Government to spy for the Soviets being that he was attempting to forestall appeasement of Germany in 1938 by the Chamberlain Government in Britain. For most of the secret documents from the State Department, alleged by Mr. Chambers to have been received via Mr. Hiss, were related to the skein of events leading to the Munich Pact.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of the President and his advisers struggling with whether to propose to Congress authorization to the Chief Executive to seize and operate the steel industry if the steel producers refused to build the necessary plants to make up for the ten million ton shortfall in steel production each year to meet Government defense demands, after providing Government loans through RFC to the producers to build the plants. It was almost certain that the producers would refuse to do so, leading to an unprecedented takeover of steel in peacetime.

UAW head Walter Reuther and CIO and United Steelworkers head Philip Murray favored the proposal. The proposal was the brainchild of Assistant Secretary of Interior Girard Davidson and was favored by Secretary of Interior Julius Krug.

Whether this proposal would be made had not yet been determined. But even conservatives such as Nebraska Senator Kenneth Wherry believed that something had to be done to get the steel producers to reinvest in plants to produce more steel for the defense build-up in the country. Their reluctance stemmed from a fear of a recession or depression.

Congressman Wright Patman of Texas, high on the House Banking and Currency Committee, also favored the proposal. Parenthetically, to demonstrate continuity through time, Mr. Patman was chairman of that Committee in the fall of 1972 and launched the first investigation into the Watergate scandal, prior to the 1972 election, with an eye toward determining whether money from the Committee to Re-elect the President wound up in the bank accounts of the Watergate burglars. The investigation, however, foundered as the Administration was able to put enough pressure at key points in the Committee membership to end the investigation with an inconclusive result. It did, however, form a starting point for the Ervin Senate Select Committee on Watergate, which began the following April.

That such a proposal as the takeover of the steel industry by the Government was being considered was emblematic of the influence which labor and the left now had on the Administration in the wake of the election. And it represented the extent to which the Democratic Party had accepted the idea of the public interest superseding private property rights.

A letter writer tells of the Christmas festivities taking place at nearby Barium Springs, N.C.

A letter writer responds to the editorial "End Postal Subsidies", urging an end to beneficial second-class postal rates for newspapers and magazines, comprising the largest single component of the projected 500 million dollar annual loss of the Post Office Department for the fiscal year. The writer agrees.

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