The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 21, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the U.S., Britain, and France had announced a three-power Government in Berlin, without Russian participation, pending Russian agreement on the terms embodied in the foundation for government of the original four-power Kommandatura which had approved in 1946 Berlin's temporary constitution. The Soviets had walked out of the Kommandatura in July. The three-power agreement revived the Kommandatura in the three Western sectors.

In China, the shooting war north of the Yangtze river was almost over, according to military observers, with Government forces neither willing nor able to mount an offensive north of the river or to stop a Communist drive. Pro-Government sources acknowledged that Tientsin was isolated, with heavy fighting taking place in the outskirts. Its last link to the sea, Chunliangcheng, had fallen after withdrawal by Nationalist troops who had to fight their way out. Peiping was likewise considered lost.

Chiang Kai-Shek had not taken action to approve the Cabinet formed by his hand-picked Premier, Sun Fo. Only about 100 of the 750 members of the Yuan met this date, as many had fled the capital.

ERP administrator Paul Hoffman said that all ERP aid to China on reconstruction projects, 70 million dollars for which had been allocated, had been suspended because of the impending takeover of the country by the Communists. About a million dollars worth of engineering planning for China, however, would proceed.

In Indonesia, new Dutch forces landed on Sumatra as the advance continued apace through Java. The Indonesian Republic broadcast an appeal to its people to practice a scorched-earth policy, and said that the people would practice guerrilla tactics to resist the attack.

In Athens, 62 guerrillas were killed in a battle for Sophades during a heavy snowstorm two days earlier. No figure was provided for Greek Government casualties.

In the wake of a series of revolts in Latin America, the State Department denounced the use of force in Latin America to effect political change. The U.S. was consulting with the other American states to determine a policy to prevent such revolts in the future.

This date, Eire became a free and independent republic, removing it from the British Commonwealth, after the Irish Parliament had passed an act repealing the external relations act, under which Eire had empowered the rule of the British king to accredit Irish diplomats, the last connection with the Commonwealth. The English had conquered Eire in 1169, and the Irish had rebelled in 1598, 1641, 1649, and 1690, then went underground for a century and re-emerged to fight again in 1803, 1848 and 1867. The rebellion of 1916, planned by a citizen army and the left wings of the volunteers of Sinn Fein, and the guerrilla war of 1919-1921 had finally ended British authority.

Attorney General Tom Clark petitioned the Supreme Court to obtain Federal jurisdiction over the tidelands off Texas and Louisiana. The Court had already ruled in June, 1947 that the tidelands off California belonged to the Federal Government. The states were claiming jurisdiction to lease the lands to private companies under royalty agreements. The Congress in 1946 passed a law declaring the tidelands to be the property of the states. The President had vetoed the bill based on the pending California case and the veto was sustained. Some lawyers had argued that the theories of the Court in the California case would not work with respect to the tidelands oil in Texas and Louisiana for the fact of differences in the way those states came into the union.

In New York, Laurence Duggan, 43, former high-ranking State Department official from 1930-44, an adviser to former Secretary of State Cordell Hull and accused of providing secrets to the Soviets, died after jumping from the sixteenth floor of his Manhattan office. Representative Karl Mundt then disclosed that a witness before a closed session of HUAC had implicated Mr. Duggan as providing confidential information. He was slated as a HUAC witness, but the Committee had refrained in deference to the New York grand jury, which had never subpoenaed him. Mr. Duggan's wife said that she and her husband were aware of his name being raised but had scoffed at the notion. He was president of the Institute of International Education. The vice-president of the Institute said that he was a "very tried man and ill for some time." The Institute was partially supported by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the president of which until recently had been Alger Hiss, now on a voluntary leave of absence since his indictment for perjury the previous week.

In Shanghai, it was reported that Quentin Roosevelt, grandson of former President Theodore Roosevelt, was one of the likely 33 fatalities aboard a crashed Chinese C-54 airliner, operated by Claire Chennault's airline company. He was among a group of Americans fleeing Shanghai from the approach of the Chinese Communists. His father had died at Normandy in 1944 during the war. Mr. Roosevelt was a decorated veteran of the North African campaign where he was wounded in the late war.

The Japanese Diet approved a 70 percent wage increase for Japanese Government workers, to about the equivalent of $18 per week.

Josef Stalin turned 69, apparently healthy and vigorous, contrary to reports in recent times of his failing health. His influence in Russia continued to increase.

In Salisbury, N.C., a former UNC football player and businessman, A. M. "Bus" Gregory, died of a shotgun wound early the previous morning, and a 69-year old man was being held for the murder. The two had been arguing about a road Mr. Gregory intended to build near his lumber company when the alleged assailant entered his house and returned with the shotgun, fired twice.

The North Carolina DMV had completed its inspection schedule of cars for the first half of 1949. Study it carefully and be sure to abide by the rules so that your old jalopy doesn't splatter somebody all over the road like a March hare.

In Wilmington, N.C., a woman reported the theft of her grandson's bassinet from her parked automobile this date. If you see a person with a bassinet, be sure and report it immediately to the police. Do not approach as the bassinet could easily become, in the wrong hands, a lethal weapon, or a sequel thereto.

On the editorial page, "Weakness in National Security" informs of the Eberstadt Committee of the Hoover Commission having concluded that national security could not be left solely in the hands of the military, that better coordination between military policy and diplomatic policy and better intelligence gathering operations were necessary, as well as better planning for mobilizing human and material resources for defense against weapons of mass destruction, for psychological warfare, and for internal security. The report also said that the military lacked cost efficiency and auditing accuracy. One misplaced figure, for instance, had resulted in a 30 million dollar addition to the military budget. It found that, contrary to the proper order of things, the military, rather than policy, was determining strategy in terms of size and nature of military strength, in turn determining policy. Also, longstanding feuds between the military branches continued to be a source of difficulty despite the unification of the military in mid-1947 under the Department of Defense. The Committee then made several detailed recommendations for remedial action.

The piece suggests that men who had been trained in war were likely to lose their perspective, and that the job of overall planning needed to remain in civilian hands, as confirmed by the Eberstadt Committee report.

"Tighter Espionage Laws Needed" finds the Hiss-Chambers spy case to reveal the need for revision of espionage laws and more vigorous investigation and prosecution under them by the Department of Justice, as well as a recognition by the President of the seriousness of the situation. Attorney General Tom Clark had said that he would ask the new Congress for tighter laws. Representatives Mundt and Nixon of HUAC likewise wanted tougher laws.

The piece criticizes the President, as had, it points out, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, for treating the matter as a "red herring". (Both The News and the Times-Dispatch, the latter under the editorship of Virginius Dabney, favored "gradualism" in the South with respect to elimination of segregation, which we find quite interconnected with the "red herring" Red scare, only being a horse of a different color, but cloaked in a similar sheet, that is to say a gray one, not white.)

"A Costly Error of Judgment" tells of a Rhode Island firm having submitted the lowest bid for manufacturing a half million plywood footlockers for the Government at a cost of 7.7 million dollars, or $15.41 apiece, to be issued to American servicemen. At the same time, any American could enter a surplus store and purchase a footlocker for a dollar or two, depending on condition. A lot of the surplus lockers had rotted away in Quartermaster depots and warehouses.

It suggests that the speedy disposal of surplus war materials at pennies on the dollar was one of the more tragic and costly errors in judgment ever made by the armed services. It was no wonder that wars were so expensive.

A piece from the Memphis Press-Scimitar, titled "Failure to Signal Is Dangerous", says that more prosecutions for failing to give a turn signal would make Memphis streets safer. A motorist had sought to prosecute a cab driver for hitting him while making a left turn. The motorist admitted giving no signal because it was too cold to roll down his window. The court dismissed the case against the cab driver and fined the motorist $2 for failing to give a proper signal.

That can be remedied by simply drilling a hole through both doors and having a red pole with blinking lights attached on either side which one then pushes out when making a turn.

Sumner Welles, former Undersecretary of State until August, 1943, finds that neither the U.N. nor Israel had been served by the General Assembly's most recent resolution on Palestine, creating a new conciliation commission comprised of France, Turkey and the U.S., with the mission of bringing about a final settlement of the differences between the Arabs and Israelis. While recognizing the existence of Israel, the resolution, by implication, abandoned the U.N. partition plan approved by the Assembly a year earlier, providing for complete independence of Israel by October 1, 1948. Israel would now have to rely on its strong military position as a means of securing the territories promised under the partition plan.

The U.N. had thus admitted an inability to overcome British and American opposition to enforcement of the partition plan.

The Arab League appeared split between submission tot eh authority of Trans-Jordan's King Abdullah in Palestine and opposition by King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia to enlargement of his authority as ruler of the Arabs parts of Palestine. Such opposition pervaded also Syria, Egypt, and Iraq. Thus, such a plan would disrupt the Moslem world, which would provide an entry point for the Soviets to try to create a Communist Near East, ultimately inimical to a democratic Israel.

British influence was predominant in Trans-Jordan and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin disfavored development of Israel. The British were seeking to block Israel's outlet to the Red Sea, indispensable to Israel's future prosperity. Israel had to be able to conclude cooperative arrangements with its Arab neighbors regarding irrigation, customs and communications.

Were Israel a member of the U.N., opposed by Britain, it could negotiate with its neighbors on the basis of equality of standing and not be forced to resort to stratagems to secure its rights.

A free Israel would contribute materially to civilization and that freedom ultimately would come, not from territorial or material acquisition, but rather from sacrifice, a tradition of the Israelis for 2,000 years.

Drew Pearson tells of Secretary of Defense James Forrestal having directed Admiral Sid Souers, secretary of the National Security Council, and General Al Gruenther, director of the Joint Chiefs, to provide him with a previously compiled report on Communist espionage in Japan before Pearl Harbor. Because Americans had been involved, the report was deemed highly secret. Mr. Forrestal wanted it declassified so that he could provide it to columnist Joseph Alsop, who had championed Mr. Forrestal remaining as Secretary of Defense. General MacArthur was consulted and had not yet replied.

Mr. Pearson proceeds to provide the details of the top secret report. The Communists had begun planting spies, two Germans, two Americans, one German-British journalist, and two Japanese, in the Japanese Government around 1934, continuing through September, 1941. Agnes Smedley, an author of many books on China, was one of the Americans. The other was Tycho Lilliestrom, dead since 1943, formerly vice consul at Harbin, Manchuria. The spies had used his home in Harbin for meetings. The head of the ring had been Richard Sorge, a Far Eastern correspondent for several German newspapers, becoming press attache to the German Embassy in Tokyo, privy thereby to all the secrets of the Embassy. Mr. Pearson provides the names of the other spies, among whom was Hozuni Ozaki, editor of the Tokyo Asahi and close adviser to the Japanese Prime Minister, thus having access to the highest Japanese Government secrets.

The ring had been successful, enabling broadcast to Moscow of Tokyo's most protected secrets. Among these was the information in October, 1941 that Japan would attack the U.S. (That was no secret by that time, even in the American press, the only questions being when and where.) Another secret included the fact, transmitted in 1937, that Japan would not join an alliance against Russia, leading to Stalin signing the Russo-German neutrality pact in August, 1939, leaving Hitler free to wage war on Poland without fear of being stabbed in the back by Russia. Another revealed secret in 1941 was that Japan would not attack Russia, prompting Stalin to pull his reserves from Siberia and concentrate them on the Moscow front, preventing the capital from falling to the encroaching Germans in the fall.

The spy ring was broken by the Japanese shortly before Pearl Harbor when one of their number, Ritzu Ito, was caught and talked, leading to the capture of the others. Messrs. Sorge and Ozaki were then beheaded. Another spy provided the secret code by which the information had been transmitted via shortwave from a boat to Moscow, enabling deciphering of all previous messages intercepted by the Japanese, but until then, undecipherable. When General MacArthur gave amnesty to Japanese political prisoners, he discovered the remainder of this ring in prison and set them free. General MacArthur's intelligence officer had put together the report from Japanese court records.

Some of the former spies presently headed Japanese labor unions and Mr. Ito was a leading Communist.

Mr. Forrestal and the Alsops had been scooped by Drew Pearson.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop predict that Secretary of State Marshall, having just had a kidney removed, would likely retire shortly after January 20. The President genuinely wanted him to remain, had convinced him to stay on at least until the Berlin blockade crisis was resolved. When Secretary Marshall departed, so would Undersecretary Robert Lovett.

A leading possibility for replacement of the Secretary would be Chief Justice Fred Vinson, but he had expressed to friends his desire to remain on the Supreme Court.

Should he be convinced, however, that it was in the national interest to take the post, he might do so, in which case Attorney General Tom Clark might get the nod to become Chief Justice. But no one believed him of sufficient stature for that post. Elevation of any of the other Justices presently on the Court, as William O. Douglas, would reignite the smoldering feud between some of the Justices, laying dormant since 1946. Moreover, the President had pleaded with Justice Douglas to accept the vice-presidential nomination in 1948 but he had refused.

Averell Harriman thus was the most likely successor to Secretary Marshall, with Dean Acheson another possibility.

The uncertainty of the situation was causing pause among allies, as well as other nations, regarding continuity of American foreign policy and so the sooner the question of the successor was answered, the better.

Dean Acheson would get the nod. Tom Clark would be appointed to the Supreme Court the following summer after the death of Justice Frank Murphy.

James Marlow suggests some wishes for Christmas, one being that future Christmases be as cheerful and peaceful as the present one. He offers the disclaimer that he did not mean that as "the bony hand of a witch knocking on your windowpane in the moonlight."

He had been talking to a contented couple who were his neighbors. The wife had suggested that everything was the way she wanted it to be. He then told her to wipe her windshield while he imparted a story. The country was like a man caught between two automobiles, he said, both owned by Communists, backing up against him. The country would try to avoid being crushed, but would have to remain strong to do so. To the east, Communism had taken over half of Europe and the West was trying to prevent the other half from likewise falling. To the west, there was Communism about to overtake China. Five hundred million people were living under Communism across the world and the figure soon might reach 750 million. In China, 200 million of the 450 million Chinese were already living under Communism, with 300 million in Europe under that system.

Even in Western Europe, there were exceptions to democracy, in Franco's Fascist Spain, in Portugal where a "strong man" ruled. Seven of 20 Latin American countries likewise were ruled by strong men.

Mr. Marlow, as the ghost of Christmas Present, imparts that he had then told his neighbor that he hoped that he had not spoiled her Christmas by blowing frost on her windshield, to which she responded that he had not, that keeping those conditions uppermost in her mind would help her value the more Christmas in 1948.

Caveat: Be sure and check your defroster unit during the holidays and into the winter before setting out on the roads, and when getting out to extricate your vehicle from a snowbank or a mud subduction, take proper precautions against opposing Russian-made vehicles set to back up against you.

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