The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 1, 1950


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Waco, Tex., at Baylor University, Secretary of the Air Force and future Senator, Stuart Symington, said that the Russians were winning the arms race with the largest army, air force and submarine fleet in the world. He also said that they were capable of launching a surprise nuclear attack against which the U.S. had no certain defense, and reminded that Russian soil was only five minutes of flying time from Alaska, that Waco was only eighteen hours from Moscow.

Russia rejected the French note of protest to Soviet recognition of the Communist rebel regime led by Ho Chi Minh in Indochina, which had called the recognition a violation of international law, impairing seriously Soviet-French relations. The Ho regime had also been recognized by the Mao regime in Communist China. The Chinese Nationalists claimed that the Mao Government had supplied military aid to the Ho guerrillas.

The proposed amendment to the Constitution to change the electoral college by requiring the votes to be proportional to the popular vote in each state was set for a Senate vote during the afternoon. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., sponsor of the measure, was being actively opposed by Senator Taft and appeared to be losing ground among the key Republicans who had to lend support for the measure for it to achieve the necessary two-thirds vote for submission to the states for ratification. Democrats appeared generally to support the measure. Senate Majority Leader Scott Lucas had proposed to amend the measure to require that the winning candidate would have to achieve a 40 percent plurality of the electors and failing that, the newly elected Senate and House would select the President from the top two candidates. This amendment, which discouraged splinter parties, was deemed acceptable by Senator Lodge.

In Washington, the Government began arguments in Federal District Court that the coal production slowdowns in work and current strike in the captive steel mines were unfair labor practices. NLRB general counsel Robert Denham had brought the charges in a petition.

Near Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, a U.S. Air Force C-54 transport plane had picked up a faint radio distress signal which gave hope that the downed U.S. Air Force C-54 with 44 persons aboard, missing since the previous Thursday, might contain survivors.

In Norfolk, Va., the U.S.S. Missouri, on which the formal surrender of Japan was executed on September 2, 1945, was freed from mud after running aground January 17. It floated into deep water off Thimble Shoal after being freed by tugs and wenches plus high tide.

In Sacramento, Governor Earl Warren announced that he would seek a third term as Governor, pitting him against Democratic hopeful James Roosevelt, son of the late President.

West Virginia faced a major flood threat on the Kanawha River near Charleston. In Texas, flooding had been caused by freezing rain, cutting off northeastern Texas towns.

In Danville, Va., a war veteran with his artificial legs pinned under a wrecked car on a rain-soaked roadside, confessed to a newspaper reporter "lies" about a fellow soldier during the war and then fatally shot himself after holding the gun to his own forehead for more than an hour, as onlookers and State Troopers stood by helpless to intervene. He said that he had reported the soldier falsely for flogging German prisoners, running out on his platoon when thirteen of them were captured, and stealing a jeep load of cognac.

In Sparta, N.C., House Ways & Means Committee chairman Robert Doughton, 87, announced that he would run for his 21st term in Congress. He had previously said in 1948 that it would be his last election. Mr. Doughton had chaired the Ways & Means Committee continuously since 1931, except for the two years, 1947-49, when the Republicans controlled the House.

In Raleigh, State Supreme Court Justice and future Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., filed for election to his first full term on the Court after Governor Gregg Cherry had appointed him in 1948. Chief Justice W. P. Stacey and Justice E. B. Denny also filed for re-election.

In Pittsboro, N.C., Superior Court Judge and former Lieutenant Governor, between 1937 and 1941, Wilkins P. Horton, died at age 60 after a serious illness since the prior December. He had been on the court since the previous spring.

Tom Fesperman of The News continues his look at special education for the physically and mentally handicapped, discussing a special classroom in Charlotte for eleven nearly blind students. The classroom, through the funding of the School Board and the Lions Club, had been specially designed in spring, 1949 to eliminate harsh light and glare. The desktops tilted close to the faces of the students. Books were printed in 18 and 24-point type. Chalk was the diameter of water pipes and handwriting was done in large letters on non-glare green paper. The teacher had been specially trained at UNC to teach such visually-impaired students.

On the editorial page, "The Bob Reynolds Candidacy" finds that it was remarkable that the former Senator thought he could regain favor with the voters of North Carolina and had chosen to contest Senator Frank Graham in the special election rather than Senator Clyde Hoey, who had replaced him in the Senate in 1945 after Senator Reynolds, unpopular for his prewar isolationism and currying favor with Hitler, chose not to run for a third term.

His new platform appeared to be a mix of "Dixiecratism, isolationism and pure demagoguery". It suggests that despite Governor Kerr Scott saying that he believed the former Senator's ability to attract votes should not be underestimated, it was unlikely that many North Carolinians would bring themselves to vote for him.

In fact, former Senator Reynolds would finish a distant third in the primary race behind the winner, Raleigh attorney Willis Smith, and Senator Graham.

"The Coal Proposal" finds that President Truman's intervention in the coal strike and dispute was timely as a combination of the three-day work week and the recent strike in the captive steel mines was causing shortages and hardship across the country in the midst of winter weather. The 70-day period for cooling off, during which the President's fact-finding board would meet and make recommendations by the 60th day, would, if used to good advantage by the UMW and the operators, lead to a good result for all.

The fact-finding board, it offers, needed free rein to make recommendations as the coal industry, hit hard by competition from cheaper oil and natural gas, was ailing.

"A Fateful Decision" finds the President's determination to go ahead with development of the hydrogen bomb to be the only one which could be reached to insure survival in a hostile world, driven by the new arms race with the Russians, even if it meant entering a new and terrible phase of the race.

The decision, it finds, was in great contrast to development of the uranium bomb, performed entirely in secrecy during the war. The hydrogen bomb was thoroughly debated in the press and on radio and the realization that it was needed had become especially acute when the President announced in September the successful detonation by the Russians of an atom bomb. But the saving grace, it ventures, might be that now the human race, since 1945, was aware of the terrible destructive potential of these bombs and so the even more destructive hydrogen bomb might, in consequence, never be deployed.

A piece from the Washington Post, titled "No Question of Freedom", finds reasonable the decision by the U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding the FCC in its denial of radio licenses to the Lorain Journal and Mansfield Journal based on the warranted FCC findings that the Mansfield Journal had coerced its advertisers to refrain from using another radio station in the same market. The Court rejected the newspaper's claims, among others, that the FCC was violating its freedom of the press and had no right to find it guilty of antitrust violations without a trial. No censorship of the newspaper was involved, but rather denial of a broadcast license for engaging in monopolistic practices.

The piece finds the case unworthy of having invoked freedom of the press and that in another case where the principle really was involved, it could be degraded by the adverse ruling in this case.

A piece from the Huntington (W. Va.) Herald-Advertiser discusses the coal industry going broke in the region. Many were wondering whether John L. Lewis was seeking to wreck the industry with his three-day work week, and questioning why West Virginia State officials and Representatives in Congress had not acted to stop the shortened work week which had resulted in starving families of miners. They also wondered whether there was a future for coal and whether the small businessman in the coal fields could save himself financially. It proceeds to try to answer those questions, concluding that the coal industry could not persist in its present condition and had to be set free to make profits or fail from pressures being exerted both from within, by dint of the UMW, and from without, in the form of competition from cheaper natural gas and oil.

Drew Pearson tells of the President considering the appointment of Atomic Energy Commission member Lewis Strauss, a Republican, to be the new chairman to replace resigning David Lilienthal. Mr. Strauss had opposed Mr. Lilienthal on the hydrogen bomb, favoring its development. But Mr. Strauss had said he was expecting to resign from Government, himself, and that the new chairman should be a Democrat.

The President had opposed a trip to Moscow by Mr. Lilienthal to discuss atomic control because he was concerned that the Russians would use Mr. Lilienthal's opposition to the H-bomb as a propaganda weapon to construct a phony "peace offensive" by agreeing not to develop the bomb themselves in exchange for the U.S. also not doing so. The President also believed that such an effort would be no more productive than past efforts to negotiate with the Russians.

New Secretary of the Interior Oscar Chapman, when asked by the President how he had been so easily confirmed, said that the Senate had just passed the bill to eliminate the discriminatory tax on margarine, thus greasing the way.

Three GOP Senators, William Knowland of California, Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, and Ed Thye of Minnesota, sought before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which they were not members, to attack, through questioning of Joint Chiefs chairman General Omar Bradley, Administration hands-off policy toward Formosa, but had come away empty-handed. General Bradley said that while Formosa had strategic significance, it was not worth American blood to defend, that its loss would not place the West Coast of the United States in danger. He also implicitly suggested that General MacArthur was now in accord with these views.

Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson assured Committee member, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., that there had been no divergence of opinion on Formosa between State and Defense. In the end, the Republicans left the secret hearing convinced that armed intervention was not a solution for Formosa.

Marquis Childs discusses a hot topic in Europe which had barely made a ripple in the U.S., the award by the City of Seattle of a contract for electrical transformers to G.E. at a cost of $751,000, when another U.S. firm had bid $720, 000 and two British firms, seeking to import goods and obtain badly needed American dollars, had bid $572,000 and $515,000, including a 15 percent duty.

Under the "Buy America" law, no Federal contract could be awarded if any of the money would go to a foreign firm.

An ERP representative, with no authority in the matter, had investigated the situation and concluded, without providing clear reasons, that the City was justified in taking the highest bid. But to Britain and Europe, it seemed a betrayal of ERP's urging of Britain and European countries to engage in free trade with the U.S. And it had come as ERP administrator Paul Hoffman was in Paris to talk to the Europeans about the economy.

The British press had been quiet about the matter because, being primarily Conservative, the newspapers did not wish to help Labor in the upcoming general elections and because they were concerned that British businessmen would then turn away from trade with the U.S. and continue to follow the path of least resistance.

The U.S. had criticized the British for their bilateral trade agreement with Argentina but the position was not easily defensible if the U.S. was going to resist trade with Britain.

The Congress appeared unlikely to approve in the current session the International Trade Organization, despite being framed by American negotiators. That failure would also be a negative sign to Europe.

In Seattle, a taxpayers' committee was formed to look into the contract bidding on the transformers, but the real subject of inquiry was whether the U.S. would ever start to behave as the world's largest creditor and permit free exchange of goods, necessarily including acceptance of large amounts of imports.

Robert C. Ruark discusses wiretapping, finding it to be inherently an invasion of privacy which was a right under the Fourth Amendment protected against invasion by the Government absent probable cause for a search and seizure of evidence.

The practice had been used by the FBI against Communist spies and organized crime figures, albeit, according to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, in only 170 cases.

He finds that though wiretap evidence per se was not admissible in Federal courts, it had led to discovery of evidence which was admissible, begging the question whether such defendants were not also entitled to the right of privacy.

He cites a case of a woman who had been accidentally tapped, finding evidence in the process that she was engaging in prostitution, leading to a warrant and a further tap.

He concludes that the tap was necessary to nab major criminals, whether spies or otherwise, and that in such cases, the evidence ought be admissible. But he favors circumscription of its use by a central agency based on a stringent legal order by nonpolitical "guardians of its power".

First, the evidence is typically not admissible in court because it is inadmissible hearsay, an out of court statement sought to be admitted for the truth of the matter asserted, unless involving an admission, not necessarily a direct confession, against penal interests, which in many cases it is, that is evidence of admission of guilt. Capturing on tape the statement, "Let's rob the Bell & Bee next Thursday at one," is an admission regarding an attempted robbery or conspiracy to commit same, though not a confession. But then Fifth Amendment issues arise regarding whether admission of the statement into evidence violates the privilege against self-incrimination. Otherwise, unless the wiretap itself is subject to suppression for want of probable cause, there is no legal bar to its admission, other than a policy decision by Congress or a state legislature embodied in statute.

As to Mr. Ruark's insistence on the "right of privacy", he is really referring to the Fourth Amendment, which permits any search and seizure of evidence based on probable cause to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed and that the evidence in question is evidence of that criminal conduct. Then the questions arise regarding whether emergent circumstances, such as potential fleeing of the suspects or destruction of the evidence, prevent going before a judge or magistrate to obtain a search warrant. Once a search warrant issues, it is still subject to later challenge for having been founded either on demonstrably false statements by the affiant obtaining the warrant or on a lack of probable cause based on the facts presented, or some facial defect in the warrant, such as a failure to describe with sufficient particularity the physical scope of the search, the thing sought as evidence and precisely where it was located. Search warrants may not permit fishing expeditions.

Overriding all of these issues is whether the person searched or wiretapped had a reasonable expectation of privacy at the particular time and place of the search, most prominently explored in 1967 in Katz v. U.S., 389 U.S. 347, holding that the reasonable expectation of privacy extended to a public telephone booth insofar as a wiretap of a private conversation and that under the facts of the case, no justification having existed for not first seeking a warrant, the warrantless wiretap was Constitutionally impermissible under the Fourth Amendment. That case overruled the earlier cases of Olmstead v. U.S. from 1928 and Goldman v. U.S. from 1942, insofar as those cases applied the rule that the Government had to commit a common law trespass in placing the wiretap before the Fourth Amendment applied.

Of course, if the new King in 2017 gets his way, you may not soon have any Fourth Amendment left. What would apply in "stop and frisk" street searches of the relatively powerless without adequate probable cause would eventually make it into your nice, quiet middle-class home without probable cause. Caveat emptor. We cannot carve special rules for the poor and unpopular. That violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

And it is certainly not true that "criminals" have more rights than you do. That is just something you saw on tv, probably on Fox.

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