The Charlotte News

Monday, December 9, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Supreme Court had agreed to accept the appeal of the contempt convictions of UMW and John L. Lewis for early hearing, enabling the appeal to skip the Court of Appeals. The Government had urged the move to facilitate the public interest in a quick resolution of the matter.

The President, scheduled to speak at 9:30 the previous evening to urge the striking miners to return to work, had called off his speech when Mr. Lewis ended the strike on Saturday, at least until March 31. The Government went ahead and removed most of the restrictions which had been ordered during the strike, the brownouts and restriction of railway traffic.

The UMW miners complied with the order of John L. Lewis that they return to work after 17 days. Compliance, however, was initially spotty. The general mood of the miners was that they had lost three weeks of wages for nothing and would only be required to do it all over again in the spring.

The death toll in the Winecoff Hotel fire of Saturday morning in Atlanta was placed at 120, although later to be reduced to 119. Other names of the dead not listed Saturday are provided. The Fulton County Grand Jury was going to look at the fire to determine whether there was any criminal negligence involved.

The fire remains the most deadly hotel fire in the country's history. It would be the foundation for more stringent fire regulations for hotels, as were already being sought in Georgia in the immediate wake of the fire.

At the U.N., V. M. Molotov suddenly changed the Russian position on taking the troop census for domestic troops and demanded that it be deleted. He had agreed the previous week on this matter when it was in committee, but now reversed the position when it was set to be voted upon by the General Assembly. All 54 nations had agreed to the proposal the prior week.

Egypt introduced an amended version of its previous proposal, which was heavily opposed by both Britain and the U.S., to have immediate withdrawal of all troops on foreign soil not covered by the U.N. Charter. The new proposal was to have balanced withdrawal and immediate withdrawal from any country whose Government did not provide its consent to the presence of the foreign troops.

The Supreme Court upheld the right of foremen to join unions and bargain collectively, refusing review of a Court of Appeals decision out of Cincinnati which so held.

The Court held 5 to 4 in Ballard v. U.S., 329 US 187, Justice William O. Douglas delivering the opinion, that deliberate and systematic exclusion of women from Federal grand and petit juries in the Southern District of California amounted to error per se, preventing the lawful indictment and conviction of two leaders of the "I Am" religious organization for mail fraud.

A dissent was filed by Justice Harold Burton, joined by Chief Justice Fred Vinson, and Justices Felix Frankfurter and Robert Jackson.

An unanimous 8 to 0 decision in FCC v. WOKO, Inc., 329 US 223, left undisturbed a lower court determination that the FCC, in refusing to license WOKO in Albany, N.Y., had acted properly.

The Court also unanimously decided, in Fiswick, et al. v. U.S., 329 US 211, to reverse the convictions of three Germans charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States by failing to disclose membership in the Nazi Party when they registered as aliens. The rationale for the decision was the erroneous admission of evidence at trial of admissions by certain co-conspirators against all of the defendant co-conspirators, barred because the criminal enterprise comprising the conspiracy had ended with the admissions made to Federal officers. Incriminating statements would only be admissible against co-conspirators if made during the course of the criminal enterprise.

The Court accepted for review three Texas cases which had held that OPA rent control provisions were not in existence in July such that they would have barred the eviction in each case.

The cotton forecast of a month earlier stood about the same, 8.5 million bales.

The German-built liner Europa, weighing nearly 50,000 tons, snapped its moorings in a gale-driven tidal wave hitting La Havre, France, and sank in the mud. The ship, renamed Liberte, was undergoing repairs at the time. It had been launched in 1928 at Hamburg.

In London, Princess Elizabeth, 20, was said to be close to becoming engaged to marry Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, 25, nephew to Lord Mountbatten and third cousin to Princess Elizabeth. Uncle Dickie was said to be in favor of Liz and Phil getting hitched. But Buckingham Palace stated that there was no engagement at present. It was expected that the engagement might be announced when the Princess turned 21 the following April. Prince Philip, who had served during the war in the Royal Navy, had given up his Greek citizenship, and hence his line of succession to the throne of Greece, and was seeking British citizenship.

Santa Claus was expected to land in Tokyo at the Imperial Palace four days before Christmas via a Pacific Air Command plane, board a jeep disguised as a sleigh and lead the Tokyo Christmas parade.

Governor Cherry of North Carolina had granted paroles to eleven prisoners.

The Empty Stocking Fund had ballooned to $1,896.50 for the 2,000 needy children of Mecklenburg County. You can now have a toy worth $.95. And there is still plenty of time for even more.

On the editorial page, "Mr. Petrillo Provides a Portent" suggests that the return of the miners to the pits attested to John L. Lewis having lost his test of the Federal labor laws. Meanwhile, James Caesar Petrillo, head of the American Federation of Musicians union, had won a significant legal victory in Chicago, where the Federal District Court ruled that the Lea Act, passed by the 79th Congress specifically to prohibit Mr. Petrillo from forcing radio stations to hire more musicians and personnel than were needed, was unconstitutional.

His successful argument had been that the Lea Act was void for vagueness, and in prohibiting specifically musicians from being able to engage in collective bargaining to the same extent as other labor, violated the spirit of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause, as previously held by the Supreme Court to be embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. It predicts that the Supreme Court would uphold the decision.

It signaled the need to have labor legislation tailored to the whole of industry and not to particular unions. Trying to curtail strikes also caused a collision with the Thirteenth Amendment proscription against involuntary servitude. To have effective labor legislation to curb the power of unions would require restraint on the part of the 80th Congress. Angry reaction to certain labor practices would only lead to a repeat of the ill-fated Lea Act.

Contrary to the prediction of the editorial, the Supreme Court in 1947, in U.S. v. Petrillo, 332 US 1, held 5 to 3, with Justice Douglas not participating, that the Lea Act was not constitutionally infirm. The opinion, delivered by Justice Hugo Black, found that the Act was not void for vagueness as persons of ordinary intelligence could understand the conduct which it sought to proscribe, did not violate equal protection under the Fifth Amendment simply by Congress having made a law applicable to a subset of labor creating a burden on interstate commerce while not extending the law to all of labor or also to employers, it not being within the province of the Court to require Congress to address all abuses its power allowed, was not ripe for a determination of whether the Act abridged freedom of speech by prohibiting peaceful picketing as such an application of the statute was not before the Court, and that it was likewise not ripe for a determination of whether it infringed the Thirteenth Amendment by the particular application of the statute, not involving in the instant case the compelling of employees to work against their will.

A dissent was filed by Justice Stanley Reed, joined by Justices Frank Murphy and Wiley Rutledge, finding the statute unduly vague because its proscription against coercion or extortion to achieve more personnel than were "needed" to do a particular job was not definite enough to apprise a person of ordinary intelligence what was proscribed, that it was not capable of discernment how many people were "needed" to do a particular job and that Congress, if it desired, could set particular limits on how many persons were to be employed in particular capacities by broadcasting stations of a particular size.

The case thus left to the jury to determine whether the statute was violated, both by utilization of the prohibited means, use or threat of use of force, violence, intimidation or duress, and to achieve the prohibited end of employing more persons than were needed for a particular job at a broadcasting facility. The case had alleged that Mr. Petrillo had forced the resignation of three AFM musicians from the radio station, prevented other AFM members from accepting employment at the station, and caused a picket to be placed in front of the station, all in retaliation for the station's refusal to hire other union members for the job the three musicians performed adequately.

"What Makes a Secret Top?" comments on the "Top Secret" message which Drew Pearson had obtained and published the previous week from General MacArthur to the War Department—which Mr. Pearson also again addresses in his column following vehement denials from General MacArthur's staff of the authenticity of the communication and assurance by the War Department that it was accurate.

The piece focuses on the "Top Secret" designation, meaning that it could be transmitted only in the form of a complicated code and handled by Signal Corps technicians with high security clearance. In wartime, a person disclosing the contents of such a meassage would be subject to trial for treason and would be subject to severe penalties even in peacetime. A North Carolina Congressman had therefore requested an investigation by the House Military Affairs Committee.

It suggests that such an investigation was apropos and should also extend to the classification practices of the War Department in designating messages. For the message had merely indicated General MacArthur's desire to ban reporters of certain publications from touring Japan, as requested by the War Department that he allow. There was nothing requiring therefore a designation of top secrecy about such a message. The Supreme Commander of the occupation zone in the Pacific had no right to try to insulate himself from criticism by employing such a designation.

It was high time, it offers, that an investigation seek to penetrate the "iron curtain" which General MacArthur had managed to erect in Japan.

"The Adventures of John H. Rupnick" tells of the railway engineer from Chicago who went to the International Livestock Exposition to see the sights, stopped off at an auction underway in the meat pavilion. He started bidding at 50 cents and kept on until the price for a dressed carcass was at $5. He then bought six hogs for a $1 each. When he went to pay for the meat, he was presented a bill for $2,022.50, not the $11 for which he thought he had bargained. He had been bidding by the pound without realizing it.

The piece says that it could have been worse. His wife was there egging him on during the bidding and so could not complain about the expensive purchases. He probably came out about as well as buying the meat at the local butcher shop.

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "Mr. Bevin Learns about an Institution", tells of British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, while in New York for the U.N. Foreign Ministers Council meeting, learning of the Bronx cheer or being given the bird, as it was also termed. It seeks to attenuate any perturbation with the hope that he understood that it had never proved fatal to an umpire, athlete, or to international entente.

The occasion of his becoming familiar with the expression was the pro football game between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams. Just as Bob Waterfield was fading back to pass, an announcement came over the loudspeaker of the arrival of Mr. Bevin at the Polo Grounds. Then came a loud chorus of boos.

It finds uncertainty as to whether it was meant to communicate displeasure with the British policy on Palestine, emanated from a cell of Communists at the game, was in response to policy in India, socialism in Britain, or Wallis Simpson. The piece is willing to accept any premise.

But it hopes that a probe into the matter would not be too lengthy, and that Mr. Bevin enjoyed the game notwithstanding his less than hospitable reception by the crowd. The Giants had lost, perhaps explaining their antagonistic nature.

Drew Pearson tells of General MacArthur denying Mr. Pearson's previous report that he had banned reporters of certain publications from touring Japan. An hour later, the War Department confirmed that General MacArthur had sent the cable which Mr. Pearson had set forth in his column, stating the ban. The officer who had disclosed the cable would, it also said, likely be court-martialed.

He next tells of the Senate War Investigating Committee preparing to launch into the influence peddling allegations leveled at Senator Theodore Bilbo anent war contracts. Another investigation was also being undertaken by the Senate Election Committee, regarding his alleged terror campaign to prevent blacks from voting in Mississippi.

Mr. Pearson tells further of the special perquisites provided Mr. Bilbo by firms which had received lucrative war contracts at his recommendation. In one instance, provision was made for building a church, for which the Senator collected $18,000. But the church, erected on the Senator's land, never saw the money. One of the contributors, who gave $2,500, had received a war contract worth 1.45 million dollars. He received a tax deduction for the contribution to the church fund. Senator Bilbo then got the contributor's son an appointment to West Point, after which he flunked out in two years, but, in the meantime, avoided wartime service in 1944-45.

The committee was also investigating alleged payments by two constituents to the Senator to receive appointments to the Naval Academy.

Next, he informs of the leader of UMW District 50, despite having doubled the number of dues-paying members in the District, being fired by John L. Lewis because of his disagreement over calling the coal strike.

Marquis Childs tells, perhaps prophetically, of Senator-elect Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin visiting the Capitol recently, at a time when it was darkened by the coal strike. Mr. McCarthy stood looking for a lengthy period at the darkened Capitol Dome. The next day, he gave an interview, stating that John L. Lewis should be drafted into the Army and then ordered to call the miners back to work. If he refused, he would be court-martialed, and a court martial could order him shot.

The suggestion, says Mr. Childs, was contrary to everything Americans believed regarding the need for compromise. It drifted toward something un-American, force and violence.

Both the Government and the operators shared some of the blame for the coal crisis, along with Mr. Lewis. Powerful operators had refused to consider the Government contract as a basis for negotiations. The Southern operators had dismissed their president, former Senator Edward Burke, when he had suggested that the miners return to work and negotiate a contract directly with the owners.

In taking over the mines the previous spring, the Government had placed the operators in a strategically advantageous position, as the Government paid for administration of the mines and the operators continued to get their profits. If the UMW were broken in the current showdown, it would be by the Government, not by the operators.

The Government had delayed unduly in permitting the Big Inch and Little Inch to operate to alleviate the coal needs in the East. Much talk had centered on natural gas, which could only supply a small percentage of the energy needs presently supplied by coal. Putting oil in the lines would be more efficient, and bids had been placed during the summer for that purpose and rejected by the Government.

A sense of public frustration had been the result.

Harold Ickes tells of his having appeared, by request, before the Slaughter Committee of the House, chaired by defeated Missouri Representative Roger Slaughter, investigating the sale of war surplus property by the War Assets Administration. He testified concerning the poor handling by the Government of the Big Inch and Little Inch pipelines. The pipelines were costing $60,000 per month to maintain and were deteriorating at the rate of $20-30,000 per day. When the WAA asked for bids during the summer, it was insisting on use of the pipelines for oil shipment. The bids went as high as a hundred million dollars, but WAA administrator, General Littlejohn, rejected the bids. He should have called for new bids immediately and for use of the pipelines for natural gas.

Instead, the Department of Interior leased the lines to the Tennessee Gas & Transportation Co. until April 30, 1947, despite a higher bid from the Big Inch Pipeline Co. which also promised to install $150,000 worth of improvements to revert to the Government at the end of the lease. It deferred the ultimate disposition of the lines until the new Congress would convene. Given that the coal industry, the railroads, and certain oil interests opposed the pipelines as a conduit for natural gas, it was unlikely that they would continue in that capacity, despite it being their highest and best use, after expiration of the lease.

Should that be the case, natural gas from the Southwest would continue to be wasted and the pipelines would continue to deteriorate. Meanwhile, he says, the Government officials responsible for the problem would, in the normal course, seek to pass the buck.

A letter from losing Republican Congressional candidate P. C. Burkholder remarks on the comment to his letter by the editors published December 2, in which they had suggested that he was beating a dead horse in criticizing the Truman Administration since the Republicans had scored such a sweep in the 1946 midterm elections. He begs to differ as the Truman Administration still had two years to go before it could be declared a dead horse. The President had pledged to continue the New Deal and it appeared that he would do so despite the election results.

He had not utilized his authority to stop the coal strike under the War Powers Act. Unless the coal strike were ended soon, Mr. Burkholder opines, the President ought resign and allow the Republicans to run the mines. Maybe, he posits, it was an excuse to use the Big Inch and Little Inch pipelines to transport natural gas to the East.

He predicts a Republican landslide in 1948, as President Truman was due the same medicine provided President Hoover in 1932.

Louis Graves of the Chapel Hill Weekly reports of an incident a week earlier at the Virginia-UNC football game in Charlottesville, involving Ivey Lewis, dean of the University of Virginia, a friend of Mr. Graves long before their student days a half century earlier at the University of North Carolina. Dean Lewis was the grandson of University president Kemp P. Battle. He and his wife were seated at the game among North Carolinians and he had seen some old friends, though he had been away from the state for 40 years. At that point, a spectator in front of Mr. Lewis offered to share a drink. The dean politely declined, but the man offered a second time, and the dean again declined. The offeror then turned to his companion and exclaimed, "Damn Virginia aristocrat!"

To taper the toper's sanctimonious levelling, the dean whimsically told the story at a post-game gathering at his home.

Mr. Graves remarks that the late Bishop Cannon, one of the major forces in the prohibition movement, had been from Virginia, but most Virginians with whom he had come in contact were not of that type. And "the way one of these would be least likely to select, of giving expression to the aristocratic spirit, would be to refuse a drink."

A piece from the Raleigh News & Observer remarks that former North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner would likely undermine the confidence reposited in him by the London Daily Herald, which had expressed the belief that he would bring to his appointment to the Court of St. James the mint julep, the preferred drink in North Carolina.

Besides being considered the drink instead of Kentucky and Virginia, not North Carolina, whose preference was bourbon and water, without much water, the Ambassador-designate was not a drinking man, certainly not of juleps.

The piece adds that during his term as Governor, from 1929-33 during Prohibition, the preferred drink in North Carolina had been corn liquor.

The editors find the piece remarkable coming from the dry News & Observer.

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