The Charlotte News

Wednesday, May 11, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that as the last hours passed before the lifting at midnight of the Soviet blockade of Berlin, ongoing for 327 days since the previous June, a celebratory atmosphere pervaded the city. Sixteen loaded freight trains and trucks lined up near the border between the British and Russian sectors, ready to move into the Western sectors of the city at 12:01. The Western counter-blockade would end simultaneously. The American zone military occupation governor, General Lucius Clay, gave praise to the two million West Berliners for withstanding the test presented by the blockade.

Secretary of State Acheson stated at a press conference that the success of the May 23 Big Four conference of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris would depend on the extent to which the Russians would agree to plans already set forth by the Western powers, which included a demand for recognition of full civil rights for the German people. He said that while it was obviously good that the blockade was being lifted, no one should regard the development as resolving the East-West problems regarding Germany, that it had only returned the situation to the status quo of the previous June. He praised the West German parliamentary council's approval of the new constitution.

The Secretary also said that Franco's Spain would have to restore basic civil liberties before being admitted to the family of free European nations. The U.S. would continue to abstain from voting in the U.N. General Assembly on a resolution to resume Western diplomatic relations with Fascist Spain. He explained that the reason for cessation of diplomatic relations, while maintaining them with Russia and its satellites, was that the U.N. in 1946 had sought, albeit unsuccessfully, to use the boycott as a means of effecting reforms in Spain. He agreed, however, that such was not a proper means of leverage.

In the hearings on NATO before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, American Communist Party general secretary Eugene Dennis described the treaty as "aggressive" and would, if ratified, take away any hint of good faith on the part of the U.S. in negotiations with Russia. Norman Thomas, head of the American Socialists, adopted an opposing view, that failure to ratify might be a jolt to governments and parties in Europe dependent on democracy for their hope. He favored the treaty but also believed that the question had not been satisfactorily answered whether the U.S. could make Western Europe invulnerable to Russian attack.

The French Cabinet approved NATO and proposed its adoption by the French Parliament.

Representative Robert Doughton of North Carolina, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, said that he favored tightening the budget rather tax increases to avoid a deficit.

The House Veterans Committee approved a modified veterans pension bill adding about ten billion dollars to existing benefits over the ensuing 50 years. According to the proponent of the original hundred-billion dollar bill, Congressman John Rankin, the amendment to the proposed bill eliminated most of the World War I veterans over 65 from the new retirement benefits by denying benefits to those who were able to work at least half-time. The total benefits would amount to about a billion dollars per year through the year 2000.

Don't worry, pardner, we'll never make it that far, what with them atomic bombs and Rooskies. Why, we'll be lucky to get to 1953 with all them weak-kneed lib'rals runnin' things.

In Detroit, Ford Motor Company and the UAW, striking since the previous Wednesday at the River Rouge plant in Dearborn over a speedup of the assembly line, resumed their talks. Ford said that by the end of the day, 90,000 workers would be out of work as fifteen of its nineteen assembly plants had to shut down, leaving only 16,000 assembly-line workers still on the job.

In Roanoke, Va., a high school wrestler and Eagle Scout was arrested on a murder charge for allegedly choking and battering to death an attractive 16-year old female classmate in a church kitchen. He denied involvement in the murder and claimed that scratches on the side of his face were from poison oak. Police found what appeared to be blood stains on the boy's clothing in his closet at home. A friend of the boy, however, told police that he had called the boy at around 8:00 the previous Sunday night, the approximate time fixed as that of the girl's death, and talked to him awhile. No motive had been established for the girl's murder.

In Polkton, N.C., two girls, ages 14 and 11, were killed by lightning while they were swinging on a clothesline attached to a tree which the bolt struck, killing them instantly. Two other girls playing with them were uninjured.

In Charlotte, a 13-year old boy had shot himself just below his heart with a .22 caliber rifle because, according to what he told police, he had been threatened with punishment by his teacher after he became involved with another student in an argument, then ran home. He was in critical condition.

Relax, man. It'll be alright. Teach, but for your action, would not even have remembered the incident this time next year. No need to go to all that trouble. Stay after school and do the time, clean the blackboard, whatever it takes. But relax. Also, get rid of the damned gun.

In Florence, S.C., two City Councilmen pledged, as part of their oaths of office, not to participate in any duels or to be seconds for same. The antiquated oath was standard for Florence.

Well, that's prophylactic. Maybe it would be good for all municipalities.

In Loughborough, England, artist Thomas Warbis splashed paint on his canvas in apparent haphazard fashion, perhaps in imitation of Jackson Pollock, even allowed his cat to walk over the freshly painted surface. But after he had accidentally spilled a saucer of paint on his latest masterpiece, "Figure 8: Skegness", he sought to erase the miscue or smudge it out, having to surrender finally to artistic serendipity and let it hang. Critics, nevertheless, praised the work and it had been accepted for display at a local art show.

They then discovered that Mr. Warbis was six years old. His father, an unsuccessful artist for 40 years, had submitted the painting as a joke to test the critics' knowledge of art. The organizer of the exhibit, when told of the age of the artist, stated that the piece was no worse than a lot of the "stuff which poses for modern art". The artist showed up at the exhibition and a caretaker sought to show him the door. Thomas then tried to stand on his head in the corner.


On the editorial page, "How Much Is $200 Million?" tells of Governor Kerr Scott's 200-million dollar rural roads program to be voted on as a bond measure in June. The State had issued for roads a total of 115 million dollars worth of bonds previously, between 1921 and 1927. The money was spent on primary roads, whereas the present spending program for four years would be for secondary roads only. The State had retired 92 million dollars of that former indebtedness and it had cost 89 million dollars in interest along the way. Most of the primary roads built with the money had since been rebuilt and modernized.

It concludes that if the people decided that they did not want to be hurried into improving rural roads so quickly as the Governor desired, it would not be the consequence of lack of vision but rather common sense.

"Time for Strutting Senator" remarks on the President having told a group of visiting veterans that there were "too many Byrds" in the current Congress, more attuned to local than national concerns.

FDR had also problems with fiscally conservative Senator Harry F. Byrd from Virginia. Senator Byrd had recently refused to vote for confirmation of Mon Wallgren as chairman of the National Security Resources Board, pigeon-holing the nomination in committee.

"Partisanry Exalted" finds the American people getting tired of partisanship being exalted over integrity. Republicans, especially Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, were upset regarding the acceptance by GOP Senator Raymond Baldwin of Connecticut of an appointment by Democratic Governor Chester Bowles to the State Supreme Court, because the assumption was that Mr. Bowles would appoint a Democrat as his successor.

But many of the same Republicans had been critical of Senator Robert Wagner of New York for not resigning his post after being absent for illness from the Senate since late May, 1947. And the assumption was that Governor Dewey would appoint a Republican to succeed him.

Such inconsistency of positions for the sake of partisanship, based on the automatic assumptions that the Governors would appoint members of their own party, was breeding disgust in the people.

A piece from the Dallas Morning News, titled "Man and the Soil", celebrates the soil and the coming of new spring growth.

"In the valley the elms are greening and at night he hears the peepers in the woods and looks at new leaf life in the moonlight. These are the days of new growth—growths from a wondrous soil that takes the elements, absorbs them and at the precise time turns a seed to a flower."

Max Hall compares the four labor bills before the Congress, Taft-Hartley, still on the books, the Wood bill, which would retain most of Taft-Hartley and had been shelved for the nonce by the House, the Administration bill which would repeal Taft-Hartley and replace it with a modified version of the Wagner Act of 1935, and finally, the new Taft-Smith-Donnell bill pending in the Senate.

The latter bill would provide that in a national emergency threatened by a pending strike, the President would issue a proclamation to urge the parties to continue work and then appoint a fact-finding board to report and make recommendations within 30 days. The President could also submit the matter to Congress for recommendation and direct the Attorney General to seek injunctive relief or authority to seize and operate the industry or both in Federal court, any such order to be dissolved 60 days after the President's proclamation, regardless of whether the dispute had been resolved. Taft-Hartley provided for injunctions lasting up to 80 days and formation by the President of fact-finding boards. The Wood bill was similar to Taft-Hartley, and the Administration bill contained no provision for seizure or injunctive relief, allowed the President to urge a 30-day cooling-off period and appoint a fact-finding board.

The new bill would abolish the independent counsel for the NLRB, a position established by Taft-Hartley and giving the counsel sole discretion as to which cases would come before the Board. The new bill would also increase the size of the Board from five to seven members. The Administration bill would also abolish the position, and the Wood bill would retain it.

The Administration bill would restore the closed shop, while Taft-Hartley and the new Taft bill banned it, and the Wood bill would allow it for unions in any state authorizing it.

The new Taft bill would retain the loyalty oath requirement for union officers as in Taft-Hartley and extend it to company officers also. The Wood bill did likewise. The Administration bill eliminated the requirement.

The new Taft bill relaxed the ban on secondary boycotts contained in Taft-Hartley by permitting it where "struck work" was involved. The Wood bill was similar and the Administration bill permitted all secondary boycotts except where the purpose of the union was to beat out another union.

The new Taft bill maintained most of the Taft-Hartley bans on unfair labor practices, but eliminated the ban on "featherbedding", that is trying to obtain money from an employer for work not performed, as had been the case with the American Federation of Musicians under James Petrillo. The Administration bill eliminated most of these bans on unions while continuing most of those on employers.

The new Taft bill, like Taft-Hartley, would regulate union welfare funds. The Wood bill was similar to Taft-Hartley and the Administration bill contained no such regulation.

Drew Pearson tells of the Berlin airlift being suspended and the pilots and crews getting a much deserved rest after ten months of unceasing effort to break the Soviet blockade. Russian intelligence reports showed that Moscow was concerned about the success of the blockade, as news of it had leaked to nations behind the iron curtain as a great human interest story, the continual feeding of two million residents despite the blockade.

J. Edgar Hoover had been director of the FBI for 25 years, receiving until recently less than $10,000 annually, now receiving only $14,000, making him a truly dedicated public servant. He had turned down numerous lucrative offers for employment in the private sector. Mr. Pearson thus finds it appropriate that a bipartisan group from Congress had introduced a bill to establish a model school for rejected boys outside Washington to honor Mr. Hoover. Work among such boys had been one of his greatest contributions.

A group of private citizens had bought a 530-acre farm in Maryland for Mr. Hoover's Foundation, to be the location of the school, and planned to raise money to build and finance it. Mr. Hoover would direct it.

Senator William Langer of North Dakota had blocked confirmation of Admiral Paul Mather to succeed Jess Larson as War Assets administrator. When Mr. Larson asked him why, he said that he wanted to look the Admiral in the eye, whereupon, the Admiral was sent to meet him. Senator Langer then threw his arms around him and said he looked like a "two-fisted guy", would see to it that he was confirmed that afternoon.

Secretary of State Acheson would visit Germany while at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting on May 23 in Paris to discuss Germany. He would make a speech to assure the Germans that the U.S. had no intention of allowing them to be overrun by the Communists, even if the conference ended in failure. The reassurance was thought crucial to the continued vitality of the new West German government.

Joseph Alsop discusses the reorganization bill and the unlikely prospect that the President would be able to implement from it any real change in the Executive Branch. It had been watered down by Senator John McLellan of Arkansas, who wanted to protect the Army Corps of Engineers, and so put in a provision that allowed for either house of Congress to veto any change proposed by the President within sixty days of the announcement of the change.

Senator McLellan, who Mr. Alsop suggests would have been more comfortable during the Administration of President James K. Polk, had been a member of the Hoover Commission and had sought in that process to protect the Corps of Engineers, without success. And so he had turned his efforts toward the legislation and had succeeded with the amendment. To preserve their role in flood management, the Corps was against the proposed Missouri Valley and Columbia Valley Authorities.

The proposals of the Hoover Commission represented a ray of hope for reorganization, but if the Congress would not let the President begin the effort, then Congress would be unable to criticize the Executive Branch for wastefulness and inefficiency.

Marquis Childs tells of Democratic unity on public power and public ownership of transmission lines being the exception to the general rule of Democratic disunity on nearly everything else favored by the Administration. Despite opposition from the power lobby and the Montana Power Company, a bill had recently passed in the House without a single Democratic nay vote to allow interconnection of the Bonneville Dam power system in Oregon and Washington and that of the Hungry Horse Dam in Montana. Congressman Mike Mansfield, future Senator and Majority Leader, was the primary proponent of it, showing that interconnecting the two systems would allow production of three times the power that the systems produced separately.

A system also was approved for the Southwest with less opposition, thanks to the coordination by House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas.

While the previous Congress had rejected the New Johnsonville, Tenn., standby steam plant, the present Congress had approved it.

Many believed that the failure of Governor Dewey to take a stand on public power during his campaign had lost him votes, especially in the West which depended heavily on these resources. Thus, the Democrats had unified around the issue to avoid political damage and the expressed will of the voters had been translated into action in this area.

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