The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 10, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senate Majority Leader Scott Lucas of Illinois introduced a petition to Vice-President Alben Barkley as presiding officer of the Senate to rule on cloture of debate on motions by a two-thirds vote, a first step to attempt to end the Southern filibuster on the motion for bringing to a vote the proposed rule change to make motions and resolutions subject to the two-thirds cloture rule, as applied presently to bills only. The Senate could then override the Vice-President's ruling, expected to be for application of the rule to motions, by a simple majority vote. Vice-President Barkley said that he would allow ample time for Senate debate on the petition before issuing his ruling.

Deputy Leader, Senator Francis Myers of Pennsylvania, told the Senate Banking Committee, in response to questions posed by Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, part of the Southern coalition against the rule change, that unless the matter were resolved in the ensuing few days, he would recommend abandoning the issue so that Senate business could resume and the rent control extension bill could be passed in advance of the March 31 termination date for existing rent control.

Former OPA head Chester Bowles, Governor of Connecticut, recommended to the Committee an extension of rent controls for 27 months, to remove tenants' fears of eviction.

In Washington, the jury in the treason trial of Mildred Gillars, accused of Nazi propaganda broadcasts as "Axis Sally" during the war, remained in deliberations after 24 hours since receiving the case from the judge.

In Hollywood, Calif., a woman listened over the telephone from New York as her daughter and another man were shot to death by her daughter's husband, suspicious of infidelity. The husband then killed himself.

In New York, four men were given prison terms for fixing a college basketball game after accusation by the co-captain of the George Washington University basketball team, stating that he had been offered a thousand dollars to throw a game with Manhattan College in Madison Square Garden the previous January, a game which George Washington had won 71 to 63. Three of the defendants pleaded guilty to a charge of bribery and were sentenced to 15 to 30 months each in prison. A fourth defendant pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and received a year in prison.

Also in New York, the Russian employee of the U.N. Secretariat and the woman employee of the U.S. Justice Department were both indicted on four counts of espionage. The two had been arrested by the F.B.I. the previous Friday in the process of the woman turning over confidential documents to the Russian.

In Washington, two young gunmen, one dressed in a zoot suit, confessed to a Baltimore & Ohio train robbery of more than $1,000, occurring near Martinsburg, W. Va., the previous day. One of the pair was shot and critically wounded just prior to their capture in a pawn shop near the White House. He had pulled a gun on police attempting to effect his arrest. Most of the stolen money was recovered.

Tom Fesperman of The News tells of Capus Waynick, the campaign manager for Governor Kerr Scott during his 1948 campaign, having put in a bid for the Senate seat made vacant by the death the previous Sunday of Senator J. Melville Broughton, elected to the seat the previous November. Mr. Waynick said that he would not accept the appointment on the basis of not being a candidate in 1950.

As indicated, the Governor would shortly appoint UNC president Frank Porter Graham to the seat.

In Raleigh, the State House Finance Committee approved Governor Scott's rural roads program to the full extent of 200 million dollars, with a penny increase in the State gasoline tax to help pay for it.

The Senate Education Committee approved the Governor's 50 million dollar program to build school buildings.

At least three persons were killed and 40 injured, with hundreds made homeless, by storms and floods hitting several Southern and Midwestern states.

"Mr. X" continues in the shadows. A clue which was offered this date inside the newspaper, as we have gone to great lengths to discover, was that he was a British general. The only earlier clue was that he was born in 1891. As we have said, he must have been trim, but had little hair. We offer these clues because you will not find his photograph on The News front pages, nor even mention of his name in the pages which we present.

On the editorial page, "Justice with Mercy" tells of the Justice Commission recommending that the mandatory death sentence in the state for certain crimes be altered to permit jury recommendations of mercy with an automatic life term, that juries had often been reluctant to convict defendants of rape and first degree murder out of a belief that the death penalty was not warranted, resulting in verdicts inconsistent with the evidence. The Commission's proposal was already in effect on the crimes of burglary and arson.

The piece agrees with the recommendation, finding that such a procedure would also eliminate the need for prosecutors to plea bargain in capital cases on the belief that the jury would behave precisely as the Commission indicated and not return a verdict of guilty despite overwhelming evidence against the defendant.

Today, since the Supreme Court cases of Furman v. Georgia in 1972 and Gregg v. Georgia in 1976, the death penalty cannot be exacted absent findings of statutorily defined "special circumstances" going beyond general premeditated murder, such as murder by poison, torture, lying in wait, during the commission of another violent felony, and other such objectively defined circumstances, a scheme deemed necessary to provide uniformity in capital sentencing among the states and thus to avoid the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment based on disproportionality of sentencing to the crime.

"Lesson in Patience" finds Federal District Court Judge Harold Medina to be possessed of infinite patience for having spent seven weeks hearing pre-trial motions from the lawyers for the eleven American Communist Party leaders on trial in Washington for violation of the Smith Act. Jury selection was now beginning and the first 86 persons summoned were rejected for cause. One had said he had "absolute contempt" for the defendants. The Judge cautioned against such outbursts and encouraged members of the venire to maintain an open mind, consistent with the American tradition of justice.

The piece praises the jurist for his effort to maintain a fair trial so that the eventual Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the statute would not be clouded by technical error in the trial.

"Operation Sherlock" tells of a bill having passed overwhelmingly in the House to make permanent the C.I.A., operating since mid-1947 under executive authority. The bill would also allow a hundred foreign "informers" per year to be admitted to the U.S. without having to fall under normal immigration quotas.

The bill was passed in secret and its provisions explained to newsmen in secret, leaving out the American public. While the public would approve the necessity of creating a force of espionage agents, they would not approve keeping the entire process and funding of the organization secret, even if the details of how the agency would operate could be closely maintained to prevent disclosure to the enemy.

"Sweet Are the Uses...." tells of a meteorologist in Nebraska, which had suffered with blizzards during the winter, having said that there was no such thing as bad weather, that the recent storms had only been a variant of good weather.

The piece urges him to stop his Pollyannaish approach because, in practical experience, the extreme variations between sweltering in the heat of summer and shivering on cold winter mornings did not lend themselves to such a quaint, prosaic assessment.

A piece from the Arkansas Gazette, titled "Teaching Evolution", discusses the effort to repeal an Arkansas law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in the public schools, passed in 1928 in the wake of the Scopes trial in Tennessee.

It points out that every time an Arkansas livestock dealer improved his herd, he followed evolutionary practices. Hybrid corn and special varieties of cotton and rice developed specifically for Arkansas were accomplished by an evolutionary process. Every operation to remove the useless human appendix demonstrated the evolution of mankind.

It was not possible to teach any form of science properly without discussion of evolution. And if it was not taught in the schools, the instruction would be acquired elsewhere anyway. Thought control could not be achieved by legislation.

The piece therefore favors repeal of the law as being an "intellectual reproach" to the state and to demonstrate faith in the teachers in the public schools who would not thereby contaminate the minds of the students.

The Editor of the Gazette, incidentally, was Harry Ashmore, former Associate Editor and Editor of The News between early October, 1945 and late July, 1947. Mr. Ashmore had been a lieutenant colonel in the Army during the war, on the staff of General Patton in France. He would win a Pulitzer Prize in 1958 for his editorials regarding the Little Rock school integration crisis of 1957-58, deemed to have eased tensions in the community and avoided violence.

Drew Pearson tells of Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan threatening to resign his post if the new Armed Forces Unification bill passed the Congress, making him and the other branch secretaries subordinate to the Secretary of Defense, with an eye toward smoothing the merger process.

Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas of California had grilled ERP administrator Paul Hoffman regarding the rebuilding of the German steel industry, during closed hearings before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She wanted to know whether and when German steel plants set aside as reparations for France would be given to the French. Mr. Hoffman deferred to the State Department but said that some plants would need to remain in Germany to rebuild German production to the 1936 standard. Ms. Douglas persisted, dissatisfied with the answer. Mr. Hoffman responded that he did not have an answer, again deferring to the State Department.

Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee gave a tongue lashing to the representative of the National Association of Electrical Companies for putting forth propaganda calling a proposed TVA steam-electric plant an "entering wedge" to socialization of all industry and coupling the propaganda with a statement that the plant was opposed by a local CIO affiliate. Senator McKellar took it as an implied threat that CIO support would be withheld from those who voted for the project.

James Marlow tells of the one-man debate by Washington Senator Harry Cain for nearly seven hours the previous day on the floor of the Senate in protest of the nomination by the President of Mon Wallgren, former Washington Governor and Senator, to be chairman of the National Security Resources Board, with the assignment to identify natural resources to enable industry quickly to mobilize in the event of war.

It was not clear to Mr. Marlow what Senator Cain expected to accomplish with his extended protest of the nomination that he had not already said previously. The Senate was not yet ready to vote on the appointment and the Senate Armed Services Committee considering the nomination would not vote until the following Tuesday. But the Senator had stopped the Senate from considering any other business for a full day.

Marquis Childs tells of the lack of cohesiveness among Senate Democrats despite a majority of twelve. The newcomers, particularly the aggressive liberals, complained of lack of leadership from the White House.

Rural constituents wanted to know why, after two months, there had been no bill regarding farmers introduced in the Senate, despite campaign promises of help for farmers. Meanwhile, commodity prices were dropping.

The Senators were partly upset with Majority Leader Scott Lucas, but most of the dissatisfaction centered on the White House. And the President's call for a simple majority to effect cloture had caused dismay among both the Senate leadership and the other Senators. In a caucus the following day among 30 Democratic Senators from outside the South, no one, not even Senator Glen Taylor of Idaho, vice-presidential candidate with Henry Wallace in 1948, favored the simple majority rule. The statement had alienated those who might have sided with the President to effect a compromise on the rule change to allow for a two-thirds majority to end debate on motions and resolutions.

The result was that the compromise now being discussed was a three-fourths majority rule, which would represent a triumph for the Southerners. But as a practical matter, something had to be done to end the Southern filibuster and get on with the Senate business on other issues.

Many believed that a moderate approach by the President could have resulted in a compromise on civil rights to enable passage of about two-thirds of the program, at least enabling some progress without a bitter split in party ranks. The result of the President's head-on attack was that no civil rights legislation would likely come from the session.

Likewise, the President's head-on attack to repeal Taft-Hartley had put his friends on the spot, without consultation to determine what compromise might be available.

A letter writer agrees with General Omar Bradley, Army chief of staff, that man knew more about war than peace, was an "ethical infant" while a "nuclear giant". He urges that a Christian God and not science was the answer.

A letter writer says that everyone wanted better schools and roads, as urged by the Governor, but did not want to go broke having them. He thinks 200 million dollars for rural roads was too much in four years and that 25 million for schools, rather than the Governor's 50-million dollar school building program, would be sufficient.

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