Monday, January 14, 1946

The Charlotte News

Monday, January 14, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman had urged Congressional leaders to pass his reconversion program as the second session of the 79th Congress resumed after the holiday recess. Senator John Eastland of Mississippi indicated that he would seek immediate Senate action on the proposed fact-finding committee legislation which also called for a 30-day cooling off period before a strike would be called. Also pending was the minimum wage law and maintaining of the U.S. Employment Service under Federal control until mid-1947.

The President recommended to Congress civilian and military spending cuts of five billion dollars, in addition to the 50 billion already approved prior to the New Year.

The UAW indicated its willingness to accept a wage increase of 17.5 percent as a compromise to its demanded 30 percent and provided G.M. a week to respond. The Government fact-finding committee had recommended an 18 percent increase.

U.S. Steel and the steel workers union had agreed to delay the strike set to begin this date, allowing steel production, which had slowed in anticipation of the strike, to return to normal. Some 25,000 workers had absented themselves from work based on the anticipated strike which would have involved as many as a record-breaking 800,000 steel workers nationwide. The President had met with the president of U.S. Steel and Philip Murray of CIO on Saturday to strike the agreement.

Telephone equipment workers returned to the job after three days, following an agreement to postpone for 30 days the national strike of 250,000 members in sympathy with the New York Western Electric strike. Nationwide long distance service, interrupted by the strike, was reported returning to normal.

In London, Secretary of State Byrnes urged the delegates to the first meeting of the United Nations Organization to approve the formula agreed upon by the Big Three in the December Moscow conference for turning over control of atomic energy to a special commission of the U.N., effectively the Security Council, comprised of the Big Five, plus Canada sitting in on all questions involving atomic energy.

In Batavia, Java, violence continued to erupt between Indonesian Nationalists and British Gurkha troops.

At Nuremberg, an order of the German Navy forbidding commanders from attempting any rescue efforts or provision of aid to survivors of torpedoed vessels, issued September 17, 1942, was read into the record as evidence of war crimes against Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz. The tribunal also heard live testimony of a U-boat flotilla commander and a Reichsmarine oberleutnant, both of whom confirmed the orders. Evidence introduced earlier showed that Hitler personally had ordered the killing or capture of crews of torpedoed vessels.

In Osaka, Japan, an Army court martial sentenced an American soldier to die for the murders of two Japanese on the night of November 24.

In Buenos Aires, in response to business leaders, a 72-hour general strike began. All services had ceased with the exception of deliveries of milk and ice.

The Army and Navy stated that they would shortly announce jointly the dates and location for the atomic bomb tests, the tests to come in July at Bikini Atoll.

Winston Churchill and his wife were set to arrive this night in New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth to begin a six week vacation recommended by the former Prime Minister's doctor. The trip would include his speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., March 5, the well-known "iron curtain" speech.

Hal Boyle, writing from Manila, tells of the war crimes trial of General Masaharu Homma, who appeared more as a middle-aged banker than the heartless general portrayed by prosecutors. Prosecutors considered him the most brutal of all Japanese commanders, responsible for the deaths of some 5,000 Americans and 45,000 Filipinos during the Bataan Death March of April, 1942.

The litany of testimony regarding brutal torture inflicted on Filipino soldiers and civilians, including women, as well as on American soldiers, had grown so long as to dull the senses of the listener. General Homma had it within his power, according to the allegations, to stop the brutality of which he had knowledge, but chose not to do so.

The General had spent twelve years in England, spoke perfect English, and was quite familiar with Western customs and conduct.

"For now, if condemned, he won't die as a soldier. He will be executed as a cheap assembly-line murderer."

The News added to its comics page "Mary Worth" and "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith". Be sure and catch them.

Snuffy had recently become better known apparently by his striking resemblance to John Collett, Director of the Office Economic Stabilization, as stressed twice in recent columns by Drew Pearson. Who or whether Mary Worth resembled anyone living or dead is not provided.

On the editorial page, "Two Bond Elections" favors postponing a special projects bond election for the proposed new library, auditorium, and expanded park system until the fall, rather than potentially jeopardize the critical 4.5 million dollar bond election slated for improvements to the water and sewer systems by combining the two in one six million dollar bond election.

"Inconvenient Principle" comments on the movement in Georgia to amend the new State Constitution approved in 1945, to allow popular Governor Ellis Arnall to succeed himself. But the effort to get it through a special session of the Legislature had failed.

The piece comments that the very same forces who had fought to have the one-term limit when demagogue Eugene Talmadge was Governor were now seeking its removal, and it presumes that were it removed, the effort would likely be renewed to reinstitute the limitation, should Governor Talmadge return to office. But the principle of term limits had nothing to do with the qualities of the individual in office and should be subject only to the desires of the people, not the whimsy of lawmakers satisfied or not with a particular sitting Governor.

The argument against unlimited succession had been applied to FDR by his opponents, saying that he was being set up as a dictator. It was a nonsensical argument and would always be as long there were free elections in which the people made their choice.

It was anti-democratic, suggests the editorial, to deny the people their right to choose a popular executive to succeed himself.

And, by mid-year, Georgia had returned Eugene Talmadge to the State House, despite his loss of the popular vote in the Democratic primary, the determining vote in the one-party state.

"A Note on Crime" discusses, in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of the six-year old girl from her home a week earlier, the high incidence of crime in Chicago. It points out that Chicago was full of vice and corruption, organized crime and ordinary street crime, liquor consumption and gambling, bribe-taking pols and bribe-taking cops.

In 1945, exclusive of traffic violations, one offense per 116 persons was recorded in metropolitan Chicago.

In Charlotte, by contrast, liquor and gambling were illegal, the rate of church attendance was high, police and public servants were generally honest.

Yet, despite all of these favorable factors, compared to the opposite unfavorable variables associated with Chicago, Charlotte's 112,986 population, one-fortieth that of Chicago, had produced a crime rate which was over eight times higher than that of the Windy City, one crime for every 14 persons.

It offers no explanation.

Eventually, incidentally, on June 26, Chicago police would arrest a 17-year old engineering student at the University of Chicago, William Heirens, during a burglary attempt and link him with the murder not only of young Suzanne Degnan, but also the stabbing murder of a housewife on June 5, 1945, and the shooting murder of a former Navy WAVE on December 12, 1945. The evidence tended to show that Mr. Heirens, known at the time as the "Lipstick Killer" because of a note scribed in lipstick left at the scene of the December murder, had invented an alter ego, George Murmans, who lived a wild life quite apart from the sedate existence of the mild-mannered, scholarly engineering student. A fingerprint on the ransom note from the kidnapping matched Mr. Heirens and another fingerprint found at the scene of the December 12 murder. Handwriting analysts claimed a match between his handwriting and that of the ransom note. A set of surgical instruments were found in Mr. Heirens's room. It was hinted, though not confirmed and disputed by his lawyers, that under the influence of sodium pentothal, Mr. Heirens had confessed, though all the while having accused his "friend", George Murmans, of having committed the grisly crimes.

Mr. Heirens eventually did confess, was sentenced to life imprisonment, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying less than a year ago, on March 5, 2012. Subsequent to his conviction, he recanted his confession, claiming it to have been the result of police coercion. Two polygraph tests administered to him shortly after his capture were said at the time to be inconclusive, but subsequent analysis of the results found them consistent with innocence of the murder of Suzanne Degnan.

From the age of 17 to death at age 83, Mr. Heirens remained in prison. Was it fair, given that he was an apparently genuine schizoid personality as a juvenile when the crimes, as horrific as they were, were committed?

Was Mr. Heirens in fact guilty of all three murders or any of them? The handwriting "match" certainly begs credulity, and, while fingerprinting is not nearly the exact science it is purported to be, even a matching fingerprint can come to be on a piece of paper without necessarily connecting the person who may have touched the paper with its subsequently written contents. Moreover, the "lipstick killer" was connected with other killings with which Mr. Heirens was never charged, had been suggested by police three weeks prior to the death of Suzanne Degnan to have likely been a known vicious killer in Chicago, a woman.

One of the two janitors detained for two days as a suspect by police spent ten days in the hospital from police brutality exerted against him in trying to extract a confession. He contended that during the two-day period of "questioning", he was severely beaten, blindfolded, and pulled up by his arms until his toes could not touch the floor of his cell. Eventually, he was awarded $20,000 in a civil suit against the city.

Once the police start down that path, can any evidence subsequently acquired on any suspect in a case be provided a shred of credibility?

Chicago may not have had as many murders and other crimes per capita as Charlotte in an average year in those times, but when it had one, it was spectacular.

As we said before, probably Salino.

Somehow, we think it all may ultimately bond with this.

Whatever the case, next day, in Charlotte, it was scheduled to rain.

A piece from the Rock Hill Herald, titled "Virginia Liquor Plan", advocates for the state of South Carolina the Virginia liquor sale plan whereby only a small number of outlets were licensed to distribute liquor, in contrast to the current plan under which South Carolina licensed numerous establishments. The piece reasons that fewer purveyors would reduce the availability of liquor and hence the number of consumers.

Drew Pearson reports that Senator Jim Tunnell of Delaware, loyal FDR-Truman Democrat who faced an uphill battle in November because of his continuing Administration loyalty, wished that the President would recall his own days in the Senate when he often felt kicked in the pants by FDR for making another political appointment from among the anti-Truman supporters of Missouri Governor Lloyd Stark. For Mr. Truman had recently been responsible for the appointment of the chief Republican opponent to Senator Tunnell, former Senator John Townsend, as an alternate U.S. delegate to the U.N., taking the sting out of Mr. Townsend's principal drawback as a candidate, his former support of isolationism.

Mr. Pearson next reports that the Secretary of State had implemented a policy proposed by the President to fill unused immigration quotas with homeless refugees from Europe. Initially opposed by State Department personnel for lack of funds and personnel to handle such a task, Mr. Byrnes had gone to the Bureau of the Budget and obtained the necessary appropriations. The program was now proceeding apace.

He next discloses that the previous week, the State Department had come into possession of Japanese files seized since the end of the war which showed that Reuters, the British news agency, had made an agreement with the Japanese in 1939 not to reveal the purchase of Japanese salmon in 1939 by British firms, a large part of the salmon having been caught in waters off Alaska and Canada.

Marquis Childs stresses the importance to the President of averting a steel strike—which, for the moment, he had.

Mr. Childs saw no change in attitude in members of Congress based on the President's speech eleven days earlier, and continuing labor troubles spelled problems for the Democrats in the mid-term elections of November. That would be especially true should Congress, in reaction to continuing strikes, pass anti-labor legislation despite the President's opposition and attempts to work through the problems positively.

A letter writer suggests that the Army ought to send men home from abroad who had one or more dependents. She comments that her son, after serving honorably for two years during combat, had become so disgusted with the post-war treatment of the men that he complained and, in consequence, had his stripes taken away.

A piece from The New York Times reassures those doubters of the security of the free enterprise system that it was safe and sound, as shown by the large paychecks being provided former Mayor La Guardia of New York who had just left office in December to lucrative newspaper and radio contracts, and the large earnings as a lawyer in private practice of former New Deal adviser to FDR, Tommy Corcoran.

Former trustbuster in the Justice Department, now Federal judge, Thurman Arnold was another example of someone who was once perceived as an enemy of the capitalist system. And Harry Hopkins, as a representative of the conservative Ladies Garment Workers Union, was yet another. Leon Henderson, former OPA director, was a fifth.

If all of these former Brain Trusters becoming either wealthy capitalists or members of conservative institutions weren't enough to provide reassurance that free enterprise would survive, then Professor Harold Laski, British Labor Party insider and Socialist, had stated in a speech recently that America would not anytime soon develop the anti-capitalist system which prevailed in Great Britain.

To top it off, Willliam Green, head of AFL, had recently stated that labor was not desirous of more Government intervention through fact-finding committees but rather wanted less intrusion.

Bertram Benedict reports that Republicans were contending, in response to the President's radio address of January 3, that the Southern Democrats had let the President down. The Democrats presently enjoyed a 19 seat majority in the Senate, 25 of the 57 coming from the South. Thus, it only took half the Southern Democrats joining with the Republicans to effect a majority. In the House, the Democrats had a 53 seat majority with 121 of the 243 being from the South. Thus, if a fourth of the Democrats joined the Republicans, the coalition constituted a majority of that body.

Since President Truman had come into office, a coalition had been formed in committees rather than in floor votes.

He cites two examples of such coalitions: the defeat of the retention of the U.S. Employment Service by the Federal Government, as favored by the President, and voting to send it back to the states, though the President had killed the legislation with a pocket veto; and the determination not to make permanent the Fair Employment Practices Commission, killed by a House Rules Committee vote of 6 to 6, and then receiving reduced appropriations for one additional year without a record vote in the House and by a Senate floor vote of 42 to 26, with the only Southerner voting in favor of it having been Majority Leader Alben Barkley of Kentucky.

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