Saturday, December 15, 1945

The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 15, 1945


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin had arrived in Moscow in a snowstorm to join Secretary of State James Byrnes, already present, and Foreign Commissar V.M. Molotov for the second foreign ministers conference since V-J Day and Potsdam. The first, in London in September, had generally been regarded as having ended in failure, with few of the remaining territorial questions for Germany and Eastern Europe resolved.

Mr. Bevin had to walk sideways down the airplane steps to the tarmac, to avoid a spill.

Mr. Byrnes had also arrived in a snowstorm, after his plane had been lost for an hour in the blizzard. He intended this date to meet with Mr. Molotov. Mr. Byrnes told a press conference that the meeting was not designed as a specially called "peace conference", but was intended to carry out the spirit of the February Yalta Conference which had specified that there would be such meetings of foreign ministers every three to four months. But he did not think it would be a bad sign were there no definite agreement to come from the meeting, that its primary purpose was an exchange of views to enable better understanding between the Big Three. He intended to propose another such meeting for March.

Among the subjects which observers believed would likely be addressed in the conference were Iran and the situation in Azerbaijan Province, and Japan and the issue of joint Allied administration, including Russia.

At the joint Congressional committee investigation into Pearl Harbor, Lt. General L. T. Gerow, chief of War Plans in the War Department, disputed the Army Board of Inquiry finding that the War Department message of November 27, 1941 to the Hawaiian Department had been intended as directive, but rather had left it to General Short to undertake the precautions he deemed necessary to prepare for war and protect Oahu from attack. Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan contended that the Army regarded the message as directive, based on General Marshall's statement that hostile action of the Japanese was possible and that General Short should carry out defensive measures in such maner as not to alarm the civilian population.

The committee received a copy of a report from Admiral Thomas Hart, at the time commander of the Asiatic Fleet, stating that two large Japanese convoys, one with 43 ships and the other with ten, were on the move and that 30 enemy ships and a cruiser were anchored in Camranh Bay off the coast of Indo-China. General Gerow did not have a recollection of receiving that message though supposedly it had been sent to the State Department.

Secretary of War Robert Patterson stated that the controversial destruction of Japanese cyclotrons by American occupation troops, compared by columnists to the destruction of hammers and other implements, had been performed by mistaken order of subordinates.

The prosecution concluded its case in Washington in the court martial of Captain Charles McVay, skipper of the Indianapolis when it sank on July 30. The last of the evidence against him was that some 800 of the 1,196 aboard ship managed to escape before the ship went down, fifteen minutes after being struck by as many as three torpedoes fired by a Japanese submarine, I-58. Some 250 to 300 men were sleeping in the area of the explosions and became trapped below decks. More would have been trapped but for the fact that the warm night had caused many of the men to sleep on deck. The prosecution also adduced evidence of the Navy having broadcast a warning received from another ship that a submarine's periscope had been spotted 50 miles south of the track of the Indianapolis and 180 miles ahead of its position. The broadcast was made on a radio frequency being monitored by the ill-fated ship.

In London, 2,000 bobbies and some 4,000 military police of three nations formed a dragnet across London, concentrated at Piccadilly Circus, and questioned over 15,000 people in an effort to round up 10,000 deserters believed largely responsible for a sudden crime wave in England, the worst ever on the records of Scotland Yard. The police nabbed in the process fifteen property crimes suspects and 32 others for military service violations. Hundreds of others were brought to the police stations for questioning. All passersby were required to produce identification and permitted then to go on their way.

But, in the meantime, robbers, just outside the police cordon, managed to take away a safe containing 200£s.

Scotland Yard indicated its satisfaction with the results. After all, they had managed to inconvenience and annoy over 15,000 people in one night while losing only one safe.

In a little village near Rome, an Italian woman sold some cattle for 180,000 lire, stopped at her brother's house to seek company while traveling home with so much cash, was instead provided a pistol. Along the way, she met two villagers who provided her two bullets for the weapon after discovering it to be unloaded.

A little further along the way, she encountered two masked men who demanded her money, whereupon she fired twice, killing both. She then pulled back the masks of the men to find that they were her brother and first cousin.

Moral: Do not carry firearms. It is better just to lose the money.

In Chelsea, Mass., a 23-year old mother was charged with murder in the death of her six-month old infant son, whom she had reported as having been kidnaped sixteen days earlier. She contended that she had been falsely accused.

The baby had been found stuffed under a china closet in the dining room of the apartment of the woman and her husband, a sailor, stationed on the West Coast at the time of the alleged kidnaping.

In Chicago, a woman stenographer had been murdered in a hotel on Monday by the "lipstick killer", using a knife and gun, leaving a message in lipstick that there would be another killing soon.

Then, on Wednesday, a male secretary had been found in his apartment with multiple knife wounds, his throat slashed ear to ear, bloody and pale, cold and stiff as a mackerel on ice.

Police believed that the two killings were interconnected and that the first killing was by a particular woman, a "known killer" and "very vicious".

Probably Salino.

The nation's cold wave had destroyed $150,000 worth of citrus crops and vegetables in California between Palmdale, 65 miles north of Los Angeles, and Fresno.

Snow continued to fall over much of the Northeast as subzero temperatures were recorded in the northern plains states.

In Detroit, the fourteen-year old boy who was reported a few days earlier dying of spinal injuries and forced to tap out in Morse Code messages on his hand to communicate, had passed away. Despite losing his sight and hearing during the previous year, he managed to remain cheerful to the end.

Freck Sproles reprints a letter from an Air Force lieutenant who would not make it home for Christmas but wanted to contribute ten dollars to the Empty Stocking Fund. She also offers one from the Printing Pressmen and Assistants Union members in the pressroom of The News who contributed $5.

Another $300 had been added to the fund to bring it to $3,910.09.

On the editorial page, "Equality Before the Law" praises the justice system in Wake County for an orderly trial, and eventual entry of a plea by a white farmer to a lesser charge of assaulting with intent to ravish a young black girl, originally accused of sexual assault. The parents of the girl had not sought vengeance. The farmer's sentence was 10 to 15 years, demonstrating that justice could prevail in circumstances where the usual racial roles between victim and accused were reversed.

"The Last Shall Be Left" favors combining the bond elections set for the City and County to seek six million dollars each for future services. The cost of the elections were $5,000 each, but the conventional wisdom appeared to be that combining the two might lead to the defeat of the whole bond issue whereas the first was sure to pass, even if the second might go down to defeat.

"The Stratford Killer-Diller", not about someone named Polly-Pamela in Winston-Salem, comments on the recondite "Leave Us Leap" signs appearing suddenly around the city, apparently inviting its solicited to a dance, probably closer to Hawthorne's Salem than the Avon.

Other equally cryptic slogans had also appeared which the piece is chary to repeat for fear, not understanding the meanings, that it might "compound a felony".

"Leave Us Leap" was the best phrase since "Let's Grapple" had gone out of fashion. While perhaps out of place against the Minuet in G, it seemed apropos to sixteen trumpets and an anti-aircraft gun playing "Hubba Hubba".

Jive talk was fine as it appeared to eliminate the need for profanity.

A great deal of imagination had gone into such phrases as "drape your shape", which, contrary to the editors' belief, did not mean "put your clothes on", rather "sit down", take a seat, crepe your suzette.

Even Gentle Will of Stratford, it suggests, probably would have fancied substitution of "beat feet" for such complexities as, "Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once." He could have easily used, "Leave us indeed leap," adding, possibly, "and, having leapt, settle our blithe spirits into a solid groove."

"The Bard, after all, was a sender, as hep a cat who ever coined a phrase, and a man who would never have been inhibited by a dictionary even if he had had one back in the days when he was playing fast and loose with the English language."

Look, mate, you try and try to explain to mummy and da different things about even their own generation, and, even though yer mum should know, they look at ye, maybe, like, ye know, yer daff. Like, they think they're cool and you're not. Then ye go to yer mates and they say: Yer daff. When you know it's just the opposite. So, what ye do is just go on and show it to 'em in another vain vein, ye know, but ye don't shoot 'em up, or yourself. That's like, nowhere. It's a drag, ye know. Ye know? Ye know ye know. It does no good. Everybody's laughing just the same as always a few days later. Does no good. It's like our da always told us: Ye got to learn to laugh. Watch the ball game. Play the ball game. Laugh at them if they laugh at you. They are just too stupid to get it: By being out of time, you are way ahead of their temporal experience, and they're behind to catch up with yours, spatially, that is.

A piece from PM, titled "The Navy's Witness", examines the trial of Captain McVay and especially the testimony of I-58 commander Ike Hashimoto, written before the testimony had been put forth to the court martial. The Navy had stated that it did not know for sure whether Mr. Hashimoto had in fact commanded the submarine or even that the ship had been torpedoed.

The piece wonders aloud whether it would not serve Japanese efforts at retribution, to seek to divide its former enemy with such testimony, and whether his testimony, in any event, could be believed, especially as he was no doubt testifying in self-serving fashion.

If it should have any effect on the outcome of the trial, then, opines the piece, it would debase military justice and set a poor example, regardless of whether or not Captain McVay, a captain with 25 years of service in the Navy, was guilty of the negligence with which he was charged, failure to take evasive action and failing to take all necessary steps to insure orderly evacuation of the ship.

Drew Pearson comments on the tough time the President was having attracting people to positions within the Administration. He cites the appointment of Wilson Wyatt, Mayor of Louisville, to become the new housing czar after turning down an appointment to the Civil Aeronautics Board. The President had to talk Mayor Wyatt into taking the job rather than pursuing his desire to resume his law practice and make some money.

Recently, the President had responded to the criticism of too many appointees from Jackson County in Missouri, his home turf, by explaining that it was the only fertile ground from which he could readily obtain appointees willing to serve.

Mr. Pearson next relates of General Eisenhower's first meeting, informally, with the Senate Military Affairs Committee since becoming chief of staff of the Army. He related of his good impression of the Russian officers while in Germany, especially Marshal Georgi Zhukov, that the Russians were fun-loving and full of good humor. He expected positive relations once the American people got to know the Russians better.

He also stated that he intended to run the Army as a people's army, on democratic principles.

Finally, Mr. Pearson reports of the frustration experienced by the Kilgore Committee in the Senate in seeking to obtain the names of 200 Nazi agents who had been working during the war in the United States, a list of whom had having been seized by American troops in Frankfurt. When the committee requested the list, they were told that it was still physically located in Germany, and when they requested it again sometime later, were informed that General Lucius Clay had ordered it transferred to Berlin, but that it still had not reached Washington. Mr. Pearson concludes that the Army appeared to want to conceal the names of certain Nazi agents in the United States.

Marquis Childs reports that correspondent A. T. Steele of the New York Herald-Tribune had indicated that the Allies were quickly losing the peace in Southern Asia, as the British were seeking to put down the Nationalist movement in Java, as well as alienating the masses in Indo-China, Siam, Burma, and Malaya. Thus far, American prestige had not directly been adversely affected because of the store of good will from the war and the promise to grant full independence to the Philippines during the ensuing year. But in both Java and Indo-China, American silence was proving gradually corrosive of this store of positive feelings.

The cause of these various nationalist uprisings was not merely Japanese encouragement during occupation and immediately after surrender but genuinely had sprung from the native impulse to achieve independence.

Mr. Childs reminds that reporters had foreseen the potential for world disaster in the early days of Hitler's rise to power, and that influential elements in both Britain and America—such as the Cliveden Set in the former and the America Firsters in the latter—had deterred any resolve to prepare for it at its inception.

Edward R. Murrow, just returned from London, had reported serious British and Indian troubles in Java.

There was little doubt that isolationist publications, such as the Chicago Tribune, would pounce on the issue to fuel criticism of the proposed British loan for over four billion dollars, despite its having no connection with the troubles in the Far East, designed as it was to enable Britain to re-establish its trade and economic status, mutually profitable to the U.S.

The fact remained that Britain and the United States were tied more closely in peacetime than ever before and so it behooved the U.S. not to remain silent on the issue of British imperialism.

Samuel Grafton looks at the prospect of trying to establish a defense system against the atom bomb, finds it to be every bit as harmful as the bomb itself would be to American life. To decentralize cities and industry would destroy American urban existence as surely as if cities were vaporized by an atomic bomb. And, according to nuclear scientist Leo Szilard, to spread out the cities effectively to avoid becoming a centralized target would take a decade and hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish.

To form a proper defense system would require more expense, inspecting foreign airplanes and ships before they got close to American territory, perhaps building space ships to cruise over the earth to monitor other countries.

The atomic scientists at Los Alamos had posited that electrical rays aimed at incoming rockets could detonate atomic bombs before they reached target, but also determined that it would take all of the currently produced electricity in the United States to operate such a defense system. So the difference between using all the electricity for defense and losing it by actual enemy action was only negligible.

The ultimate question was not whether the new energy would be used for war or peace but rather whether, in an effort to defend against another nation eventually obtaining the bomb, the country would proceed backwards into a decentralized, deculturalized, and "de-pocketbookized" existence.

"And suddenly it is quite clear, and not at all paralexical, that international control of atomic energy alone can save the American way of life. For this is one field in which we cannot win; or, if we do it will be at such cost that a battalion of accountants will not be able to tell the victory from a defeat."

The students of Plato Price High School in Charlotte write a letter expressing gratitude to former Associate Editor Burke Davis for an article he had written the previous Wednesday in The News explaining the disparity between black and white schools in the county, despite a provision in the North Carolina Constitution, consistent with the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, that schools had to be equal, though separate, as between the races. The students found the article accurate and had been "keenly touched" by the reporting.

A letter from a woman who had been a mill worker in a non-unionized mill in which, she contended, wages were good without being saddled with the burden of union dues, reacts angrily to the letter of two mill workers who wrote asking for contributions for union members' children to afford Christmas gifts because of an ongoing strike at the Erwin Mills in three locations in North Carolina.

She concludes: "Damn, but I am mad. Boys across the pond grieving their hearts out, mine broken for them, and these strikers ruining our country. I want to do some fighting myself."

The editors add a note: "'Peace on earth, good will to men...'"

Oh, by the way, you cheap little capitalist bastards who are too blind with money and greed to understand the point, sorry about that...

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