Friday, February 15, 1946

The Charlotte News

Friday, February 15, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman had appointed Chester Bowles to become the new Economic Stabilizer after all.

The White House also announced that resolution of the steel strike was imminent, expected to occur this date, in light of the new wage-price formula which would allow a $5 increase in the price of steel. Higher price ceilings generally were to be allowed in industry, and immediately, rather than being deferred for six months. Wage increases would need be approved henceforth by the National Wage Stabilization Board.

William Green, head of the AFL, attacked the new formula as unsatisfactory and a step backward. He predicted that no employer would agree to collective bargaining with a union under the new policy.

The CIO had not yet registered its reaction.

The G.M. strike was now down to a disagreement over a penny per hour, G.M. offering 18.5 cents and the UAW continuing to demand the Government-recommended 19.5 cents. The UAW had turned down the G.M. offer the previous Tuesday.

Speculation in Washington was that Senator Joseph O'Mahoney of Wyoming would be appointed the new Secretary of Interior to replace Harold Ickes, just resigned. Another possibility was Supreme Justice William O. Douglas. In fact the nominee would be Julius Krug.

In the U.N. Security Council debate in London regarding the Levant States, Lebanon and Syria, and their complaint against the British and French for continuing to maintain troops in the countries, the Russians expressed the belief that the British and French had violated the sovereignty of the two countries. Vice Commissar for Foreign Relations Andrei Vishinsky stated that Russia would not be satisfied by a French proposal for withdrawal of the troops on a specified schedule. Syria and Lebanon had demanded immediate withdrawal.

The United States favored direct negotiations between the complainants and the French and British, with continued oversight by the Security Council. The U.S. favored withdrawal of the troops from all Allied territory.

The General Assembly had adjourned the previous night with the next meeting scheduled for September in New York.

Selective Service asked local draft boards to examine their list of 4-F men and other deferred classes for suitable draftees for occupation duty. Physical standards had been lowered by the Army to the bare minimum. The action was needed to meet manpower quotas.

Col. R. S. Bratton was again called to testify before the joint Congressional committee investigating Pearl Harbor. Representative Frank Keefe of Wisconsin wanted to know why Col. Bratton had apparently changed his testimony from a previous affidavit in which he swore that he had directed another to deliver to General Marshall on the night of December 6, 1941 the first thirteen parts of the fourteen-part message from the Japanese to their diplomats, received and decoded at ONI that night, when he testified to the committee that he did not direct anyone to deliver the messages to General Marshall on the night of December 6. Col. Bratton denied that he had given any false testimony.

The House and Senate extended for the second time the deadline for ending the Pearl Harbor investigation, set to end this date. It was hoped that it would end by the following Wednesday night, but some believed additional witnesses would yet be called. The cost of the record alone for the hearings, which began November 15 and had recessed for two weeks at Christmas, was expected to approach $100,000.

A strong earthquake hit northern Oregon into Canada, with such force that residents thought an atomic bomb had been detonated at the Hanford, Washington, facility. It was felt for a minute in downtown Seattle. It was the worst quake ever recorded to that time in the area though of moderate intensity. Only moderate damage and no injuries were reported. One young boy, who had been installing an antenna on the roof of a shed during the quake, fell off the roof onto a horse, which then began running with him still astride.

Cold and snow gripped the Midwest to the Northeastern states.

In Kane, Pa., a mountain lion appeared from nowhere and attacked a boy playing with his dog. He escaped without harm but the mountain lion killed the dog before a state policeman killed the lion.

Four men broke out of jail in Shelby, N.C., after hitting the jailer with a length of pipe and a broom. One was quickly captured but the other three remained at large. The three awaited trial on drunk driving, assault, breaking and entering, and robbery.

A photograph appears of California steel magnate Henry Kaiser looking over a new "plastic-glass" material, presumably fiberglass, to be utilized in new home construction. He promised to build 10,000 low-priced units to be individually designed and landscaped.

Hal Boyle, still in Bombay, tells of 23-year old Santha Rama Rau who had a best-selling book, Home to India, in which she told of her return to her native land after ten years in England and a four-year stay in the U.S. attending Wellesley. While in the U.S., she had found the ignorance of Americans regarding India to be shocking, people asking her whether there were Indians there and to what tribe they belonged.

India, she said, needed American style education and the country needed a TVA type development.

Being part of the progressive anti-caste movement in India, she wore no mark of caste on her forehead though she was born to the elect Brahmin caste. She viewed her task and that of others fortunate enough to have been educated both in India and the U.S., as a cultural intermediary to explain to each the other.

She offered that what Bombay needed most was a good nightclub.

Ms. Rama Rau wrote several other travel books, converted E. M. Forster's 1924 book, A Passage to India, into a 1960 play, and passed away at age 86 in 2009.

On the editorial page, "Through the Keyhole" speaks to the wage-price formula unveiled at the White House, finding it to appear as another Truman compromise, giving both sides what they desired while leaving the consumer out in the cold. But it was to be expected.

After suffering for several months from the President's off-the-cuff style in press conferences, culminating in the controversial statement he had made at Reelfoot Lake in October, that America intended to retain sole possession of the atomic secret, the White House had resorted to anonymous spokesmen to reveal information to the press, leading to the belief that Washington journalists might be resorting to an old trick, using the "anonymous" source as a front for what were really the journalists' own opinions. But in fact the reporters were actually receiving these unascribed reports from the White House and "high Government officials".

The system, however, was reducing the journalists to the level of Drew Pearson's Merry-Go-Round and the reading public to keyhole listeners. It only served to heighten the appearance of confusion and division within the Administration. It had not helped the public perception of the wage-price formula to release it under such a mask.

"Frustrated Catawbans" discusses the prospect that the State Democratic Executive Committee at its March meeting might change the longstanding policy of rotating the nominees for State Senators between counties of a district. For instance, Catawba County, with a higher population now than Iredell County, wanted due deference paid to it.

By rotating to the smaller counties the exclusive right of nomination, the franchise was limited to the broader population of a given district. Moreover, it restricted the terms of the elected Senators, who had to step down after one term to accommodate other counties.

Such gentlemen's agreements, while traditional, were incongruous to the framework of the State Constitution which awarded the franchise to every citizen.

"Consolation Prize" catalogues the list of possible events to occur at the time of the atomic bomb test off Bikini Atoll to come in the summer. The battleship might become obsolete; the U.N.'s Atomic Energy Commission might become convinced that settling differences through armed conflict was futile; Bikini might completely disappear, probably pleasing to most male observers of the show; a chain reaction in the atmosphere might be set up, destroying the entire planet, probably pleasing to the Armageddonites and others among the population bent on collective suicide.

But, Fish and Wildlife representatives had assured the public that the whales off Washington State would not be disturbed. They had sent biologists to Bikini to make certain of the whales' well-being.

The piece finds the latter fact reassuring.

A piece from Collier's, titled "Commendation for Cherry", gives praise to the compassion of Governor Gregg Cherry for commuting to life the sentence of a fourteen-year old boy who had broken into a house and raped a pregnant woman. The Governor had found the crimes revolting but placed part of the blame on the State and society, including the deficiencies in schools.

It points out that in Florida, a black man indicted for attempted rape had been taken by a mob from the jailhouse and shot. Governor Millard Caldwell had stated that he did not consider it a lynching and that the mob had saved the courts considerable trouble and the young victim the agony of public testimony.

Governor Cherry expressed the progressive view while Governor Caldwell had been the exponent of the old, narrow mindset, as harmful to Southern whites as blacks.

Drew Pearson finds the Pearl Harbor investigation to have missed its most important task: to hold accountable in the future and prevent a recurrence of the oil companies and airplane manufacturers from helping enemies of the country build up their war machines. The committee had not focused on this problem at all, and Congress had power to legislate in the area, whereas it had no authority to make the military more alert in the future, the primary concern of the investigation.

Nothing had come from the investigation not previously made known by the Roberts Commission report of January, 1942. Questioning had been slipshod and the public had forgotten such key revelations as the facts that warship crews had been given shore leave despite the known prospect of war with Japan, that water-tight hatches were left open, anti-aircraft guns unmanned, ammunition not readily available, and some guns standing dismantled.

Also forgotten was the fact that the FBI had intercepted on December 6 a message from the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu to Tokyo which was interpreted as a sure sign of imminent war. General Short and Admiral Kimmel, apprised of the message, nevertheless ignored its implications.

The committee had also glossed over the fact that torpedo nets were not being effectively used in the harbor. (That is not entirely accurate. Submarine nets were used to block the entrance to Pearl Harbor, notwithstanding which, a Japanese mini-submarine slipped through into the harbor in the early morning hours of December 7, estimated to have been around 7:00, while the net was down to allow two minesweepers to return from patrol at shortly before 5:00 a.m., remaining open afterward per the usual course in daylight hours until it was closed at 8:40 because of the attack. Moreover, it is difficult to understand how aerial torpedoes would have been significantly neutralized by torpedo nets. In any event, the Roberts Commission Report stated that the submarine nets were resistant to torpedoes.) Mr. Pearson posits that hundreds of lives might have been saved and ships might have been left unscathed had the nets been deployed, as 95 percent of the damage inflicted was from underwater torpedoes. He states that only the Tennessee and the West Virginia were significantly damaged by aerial torpedoes and suggests that the Arizona, supposedly sunk by an aerial torpedo dropped down its funnel, was more likely finished off by a series of torpedo strikes to its forward magazine, insulated in modern war ships from the boilers.

Some of the admirals, he continues, had tried to suggest that torpedo nets would not have prevented the damage to the ships. But he cites as contradictory to this claim a 1943 Navy plan to run a ship of the Maryland class into Japanese home waters with the ship hung with torpedo nets for protection. The admirals were convinced that such a ship would not suffer severe damage.

He concludes the omission of the nets to have been the most important cause for the loss of life and ships in the attack.

Marquis Childs discusses the truce which General Marshall had effected in China between Chiang's forces and the Communists. It had been helped by the Russian decision to back a unified China with Chiang as the leader. They had agreed in 1945 to withdraw support of the Communists, as Stalin had never put any faith in the leaders of the Communist Chinese.

Overall, however, it had been General Marshall who deserved credit for the truce. Still, some reports were overly optimistic. An agreement had been reached to try to achieve unity but no unity had yet occurred. That would take time, over a period of years.

It was believed by some observers that pacification would be aided greatly by Washington setting a definite schedule according to which American troops would be withdrawn from China. The American troops, by all reports, suffered acutely from the homesick blues as they feared that they would be drawn into the Chinese civil war and forced to take sides.

But the recent events should have been pleasing to the troops. It was apparent that General Marshall intended America's role to continue only as mediator in the dispute.

Samuel Grafton finds it the subject of wonder that Russia had complained to the Security Council of British presence in Greece and Indonesia when it had to know that it would be voted down. Some thought it the product of schoolboy pique, but, if so, Mr. Grafton suggests, it was "Pike's pique".

But it did demonstrate perhaps that Russia had changed its view of the U.N. from its former perception of it as an executive council for the victors. It appeared that they were now leaning more to the view of the West, seeing it as a parliamentary body. They now seemed to see the organization as a place where its members could meet and disagree. The fact did not suggest that the Russians were trying not to cooperate.

The Russian objections were likely taken with a long view to the historical record, that a decade hence the Soviets would be remembered by the Greeks and Indonesians as having made the objections on their behalf. The counter-arguments offered by Britain would likely be forgotten. So the complaint was really part of the fight to capture the imaginations of the people.

The task for the United States was to inject the notion of freedom into the debate, to reassure the colonial peoples that they had a friend and ally also in the West.

A piece from the Belmont Banner, titled "Tricky Mecklenburg At It Again", criticizes Mecklenburg county politicians for their apparent intent to hog the upcoming election in the judicial district, which included also Gaston County. The piece complains that the traditional arrangement, that the solicitor was to be chosen from Gaston and the resident Superior Court judge from Mecklenburg, had, for the first time in a quarter century, been cast aside in favor of an open election for solicitor to replace the deceased John Carpenter.

The piece thought the county might be more approriately renamed Meddlinburg.

The editors note that opening the election would better serve the bench as Mecklenburg's courts had become the worst in North Carolina under the old system and it would also avoid the usual prospect of less than half the population of the district electing the solicitor.

An Army sergeant from Fort Bragg writes in a letter that Senator Clyde Hoey needed no defense for his actions, presumably referring to his participation in the filibuster of the FEPC bill.

Another letter finds the February 8 letter on oleomargarine to be of interest. He relates that butter was difficult to obtain at times while oleomargarine was inexpensive and readily available.

Despite, however, rationing having been abandoned, restaurants continued to skimp on both butter and margarine, apparently because of price ceilings.

He was displeased, wanted more butter or at least, if not the best of butter, margarine.

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