The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 24, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that on Rhodes, Israel and Egypt had signed an armistice ending their war in Palestine. U.N. mediator Dr. Ralph Bunche said that it was a significant contribution to world peace. The agreement gave nearly all of the Negev Desert, including Beersheba, to Israel and required Egypt to surrender all territory it held in Palestine except Gaza and its five-mile wide coastal strip. It also required Egypt to withdraw behind a defensive line seventeen to thirty miles within its own territory. The preamble of the armistice described it as a prelude to a permanent peace. The first article effectively was a mutual non-aggression pact and called for withdrawal of troops and reduction of forces by both sides.

Iraq had already decided to approve all agreements made by its neighbors. Trans-Jordan, the most militarily formidable of the Arab states, was set to begin talks with Israel on the following Monday.

The President congratulated Dr. Bunche for concluding the armistice and indicated his delight with the agreement.

The President said at a press conference that he was very satisfied with the reaction to his use of the term "s.o.b." at a dinner honoring his military aide General Harry Vaughan, having said that no "s.o.b." would tell him how to make appointments or discharge his staff and Cabinet. The reference was implicitly directed at Drew Pearson and his recent criticism of General Vaughan for accepting a decoration from Argentine dictator Juan Peron, having said in his column that it relayed the wrong signals throughout Latin America regarding American policy. During the press conference, Mr. Truman suggested, in response to a question whether the Government had nominated either Sr. Peron or Mr. Pearson for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, that the Government had not done so but that probably each had nominated himself. Both Mr. Pearson and Sr. Peron had been among 23 individuals and institutions so nominated.

One reporter asked the President if he might receive a doctor of letters degree when he visited Rollins College in Florida, as a result of the speech. He responded that he did not know. One reporter asked him about the confusion of a Washington Evening Star editorial writer who clarified to his readers that the President was only resorting to the common Washington jargon of initials, such as WHO and UNO, intending the reference to be to the Senate Office Building. The President responded that the editorial writer should speak to the White House correspondent who covered the event for the newspaper.

This misunderstood reference, however, suggests the strategy for salvaging the interests of the nation and the Supreme Court from the current flap over President Obama's soon to be announced Supreme Court nominee, whom the Republican Senate leadership has vowed not only to block but on whom not even to hold hearings, regardless of the nominee. The President ought suggest, delicately, to the GOP Senators that they have a nice, long, relaxing caucus among themselves within the bowels of the Senate Office Building, in secret, of course, down where the moon does not usually shine.

President Truman said that he would renew his proposal for a compulsory health insurance program in a special written message to Congress in the ensuing several weeks.

A substitute plan, meanwhile, was being advanced on Capitol Hill by the medical director of the Veterans Administration, Dr. Paul Magnuson, to make available the same type of medical care to all citizens as provided veterans, based on ability to pay. Federal hospitals and medical schools would be used as diagnostic centers under the proposed plan.

The Senate Banking Committee approved a multi-billion dollar housing bill, but turned down an amendment proposed by Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio that no segregation or discrimination take place in public housing projects authorized under the bill. Senator Bricker said that he intended to renew the fight for the amendment on the Senate floor. The bill provided for 810,000 units of low-rent public housing to be constructed over a six-year period, a 1.5 million dollar slum clearance program, and a 262.5 million dollar program for rural dwellings and buildings.

There was general bipartisan agreement among Senators on the Labor Committee to have the new labor bill to replace Taft-Hartley include a provision to require unions to treat white and black workers alike. Some unions barred blacks or gave them special membership. Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, a member of the Labor Committee, expressed his approval of the measure. Ohio Senator Robert Taft said that if Taft-Hartley's ban on the closed shop were abandoned, then something along the lines proposed ought be included, but that he would want to study the proposal further. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon said that he would give it careful consideration.

The Hoover Commission agreed unanimously that the Government accounting system needed improvement but split four ways on how to accomplish it.

In Washington, in the treason trial of Mildred Gillars, accused of being "Axis Sally" delivering propaganda broadcasts for the Nazis to the Allies from Berlin during the war, the defendant continued her testimony, saying tearfully that she had fallen in love with a Nazi propagandist, a former instructor at Hunter College in New York, and that she had come to view him as her "destiny". The defense was laying the ground to argue, as incorporated in its opening statement, that the propagandist had an "hypnotic" influence on Ms. Gillars.

In Raleigh, Governor Kerr Scott said that he would continue to fight for his proposed 200 million dollar rural roads program despite the State Senate Roads Committee having the previous day voted to chop it in half.

The State Senate passed, on second reading, the bill to abolish the State vehicle inspection law, but a third reading of it was temporarily blocked. The House had already passed the measure.

Pete McKnight of The News reports that the proposed statewide referendum on liquor sales appeared dead in the Legislature, that it was clear that most legislators favored retention of county-option determination of the issue.

So it were and so it is. You can drink if you want to in North Carolina, but we don't recommend it. For take heed, young would-be tippler, that the following might become your fate.

In Berkeley, California, a dozen sorority houses at the University of California learned that a supposed aspiring "sister" in their midst was actually a male who had wanted to discern how the sororities operated and so posed as a female during rush week. At one point, he recounted to brothers at the Kappa Alpha fraternity, he became a little off kilter when a housemother took him by the arm, causing some of his padding to become rearranged. He said that he appeared lopsided but everyone had been too polite to say anything about him being out of his cups.

He had received seven invitations to join sororities which he intended to keep as souvenirs of his adventure. He also intended to keep fourteen cups of tea and a dozen finger sandwiches, plus the phone numbers of 27 coeds and one housemother.

And that was all.

"Mr. X" for the week, the North Carolina native, we have finally discerned, is Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.

On the editorial page, "Legislative Program 'Jells' Slowly", a piece by-lined by Pete McKnight, shortly to become Editor, tells of the legislative agenda as the biennial session of the General Assembly began to wind toward its conclusion. He finds that there was desire on the part of legislators to get together with Governor Scott on his proposed programs to present a united front to the people, but no one appeared to know quite how to accomplish it. Neither pro-Scott nor anti-Scott members were able to predict when the shadow-boxing would cease and how the situation might "jell", something virtually unheard of in a General Assembly session.

The specifics leading to that conclusion have been thoroughly covered in editorials and front page pieces and, for its rather arcane nature, we leave it to those interested in the specific arcana of 1949 North Carolina to read further.

There will be ample opportunity soon to read Mr. McKnight's editorials on far more relevant and interesting topics, into the future.

"The Davidson Campaign" tells of Charlotte having already contributed $700,000 toward the 2.5 million dollar goal of the public campaign for improvement of Davidson College, begun the previous November.

Increased enrollment during the previous decade had placed stress on Davidson's facilities, resulting in crowded classes and inadequate equipment and living quarters. So the piece attests to the urgent need for the development fund, which would include an endowment for increased salaries of instructors.

Drew Pearson tells of Eire not being willing to enter into the North Atlantic Pact because of the presence of Britain.

The Politburo was split between war and peace. Some of the younger men around Stalin and Molotov believed war might come the following summer because the U.S. was headed toward a depression. Another faction was eager to appease the U.S. because American opinion had become so anti-Russian.

The Russian news agency Tass was trying to obtain information from the U.S. Air Force on its high octane fuel, which, as long as information was not classified, the military was willing to provide.

Because U.N. Secretary-General Trygve Lie had criticized the North Atlantic Pact, the State Department was considering seeking his recall.

Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan had asked the fifteen counties in Michigan which had impounded ballot boxes from the election won by Senator Homer Ferguson to release them for the local primary elections held earlier in the week. Senate investigators, in consequence, had sped their investigation.

Former San Francisco Mayor Roger Lapham, the administrator in China for the Marshall Plan, proposed to set up the Chinese Nationalists on Formosa so that the Government could continue, supplied by ERP aid. Formosa then might later become an American base. General MacArthur supported the plan.

In conference with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee anent the North Atlantic Pact, Secretary of State Acheson agreed to insure that a provision would be written into it which would state that the U.S. could not go to war without Congressional approval. The State Department would assure the world that the treaty could be taken as a strong warning that the Congress would act in the event of an attack on a member nation.

A question was raised at the conference whether a warning from the President would not do just as well, laying down a Monroe Doctrine for Europe.

Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright wondered whether a civil war incited by the Communists would be considered aggression under the Pact, given that the U.S. was founded by revolution.

Senator Claude Pepper of Florida was concerned about setting a precedent for further regional alliances in the Mediterranean and the Far East, which could wind up eroding the effectiveness of the U.N.

Marquis Childs tells of the drafting by Secretary of Defense James Forrestal of General Eisenhower to serve as a kind of umpire in the disputes between the military services in the hope that he would act as a model for an impartial chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The General had taken a temporary leave from his duties as president of Columbia University so to serve.

General Omar Bradley, chief of staff of the Army, had begun to feel boxed in by the competition of the other services, especially given the flash of the Air Force with its new, larger and faster aircraft. In a recent speech in Boston, he had bemoaned the fact that, increasingly, Americans were coming to rely on air power as a means to security, neglecting the while the other services, saying that such reliance approached fantasy. While General Bradley recognized air power as essential, being the greatest deterrent to an air attack, he also cautioned that there were "gaping limitations" in the system, that should another war occur, it would ultimately have to be won "over our dead bodies—those of our soldiers on the ground."

Joseph Alsop, in Berlin, tells of American policy making having been distracted and weakened for two years by the inner conflict between the French and the rebuilding of the German economy to act as a platform on which the Western European economic reconstruction could be placed in high gear after the jump-start afforded by the Marshall Plan. France remained highly suspicious of Germany and thus wanted it maintained in a weakened, decentralized state.

Emblematic of this situation, Dr. Karl Adenauer, leader of the right wing of the Christian Democratic Party, and representative of the owners and managers of big industry in the Ruhr, had campaigned in the recent Berlin municipal elections in support of a Franco-German understanding.

Herman Reusch, head of the large Ruhr combines, had recently visited Paris to offer a deal whereby the French combine would hold a thirty percent interest in the Ruhr industry, then to be re-established without socialization through internationalization of the region. Instead, there would be joint Franco-German ownership. Most of the old German class of owners favored such an arrangement.

But the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, was not supportive of the German rightist ambitions. The French military governor in Germany, General Koenig, however, was a Gaullist and thus an opponent of the sitting Government in Paris. General De Gaulle carried on regular correspondence with Germans like Dr. Adenaur, disregarding the fact that such Germans represented the worst of the old Germany.

If the French were permitted to obstruct the rebuilding of Germany for much longer, then the Germans would assume that their only way out of the dilemma was to woo the French, placing in control such men as Dr. Adenauer and others like him as the best representatives vis-à-vis France. It would be a victory for the class in Germany symbolized by the Krupps cartel and in France by the de Wendels, Schneiders and Creusots.

Such a result was probably that which Governor Dewey had thought desirable during his campaign. But, Mr. Alsop asserts, the results of the election should prompt removal from positions of influence in the Ruhr Americans who would automatically approve of a "Krupps-de Wendel axis". He suggests that on top of that move, giving American support to forces of social progress in Germany would effectively cut the ground from extreme rightists such as Dr. Adenauer.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, discusses the plight of the poor in the country, sums it by saying that they were never altering their eating habits to eat less steak but rather changing to beans. One family subsisting on $60 per week had eliminated their telephone and home entertaining. The first thing to go out of the budget was entertainment, attendance of movies, the theater, and the like. But it was the top ten percent of expenditures in such endeavors which gave life its flavor, much as the top ten percent of business provided the profits.

Such families fought hardest to avoid the impact of the budgetary constraints on their children, clinging to $8.25 shoes for the younger set. To lower that standard was to accept inferiority, both for parents and child.

One family of whom he was aware had equipped the sole bedroom in their home as a nursery in a fashion equal to families of two or three times their income. To do so, they had to give up books and entertainment generally. The mother of that family had been offered a $240 per month job, but on condition that a maid be hired to avoid frequent absences to care for her children. The maid would cost about the equivalent of the income from the job and thus it was as well to remain home.

The amenities which this family had forgone to maintain basic living were those things which generally comprised what was meant when one talked about the American standard of living: car, telephone, movies, unlimited plumbing, etc.

Mr. Grafton concludes that it was good to try to lift the rest of the world to that standard, but he had become surprised by how many Americans were barely hanging on to this standard under present high costs of living and taxes. He ventures that it was time for those who talked somewhat "airily" about that standard to engage in introspection.

A letter writer favors improvement to the North Carolina schools in light of the State Education Commission report of the previous year showing that the state was 38th in the nation in teacher-student ratios, with classrooms ranging from 33 to 62 pupils, driving teachers to other states. She favors correction by the Legislature and challenges the public to do something about the poor state of education.

A letter from the secretary of the Human Betterment League in Winston-Salem tells of a commission of the Legislature finding that two percent of the state's population was "feeble-minded", perpetuated generationally because of either inherited genes or poor learning environment in the home. He says that, "fortunately", selective sterilization programs had been established in the state to reduce the number of the feeble-minded.

As revealed in a series in the Winston-Salem Journal in 2002, the eugenics program of Bowman Gray School of Medicine, endowed by wealthy racist philanthropist Wycliffe Draper, was racially biased and not at all limited to the "feeble-minded", promoting sterilization among young teenage girls for simply becoming pregnant and for other older women on welfare for having too many children. The expose wound up prompting an official apology from the State for the program, as well as directing focus on other such programs in other states through time. The North Carolina program continued until 1974. In 2013, the State approved a ten million dollar compensation fund for victims of the program.

A letter writer commends the Mercy Hospital in Charlotte, run by the Sisters of Mercy. The writer, an elderly man, had undergone treatment at the hospital and considers the Sisters to have been as "angels".

He also commends the newspaper, especially enjoying the columns of Tom Fesperman, Dr. Herbert Spaugh, and Erich Brandeis.

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