The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 22, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in West Berlin, the striking railway workers had decided to restore freight shipments between zones without ending their walkout, five weeks old. American zone officials were upset that the workers had voted the previous night not to end the walkout. The workers' remaining problem appeared to be that the Russian management of the railway, while meeting all other demands, had refused to recognize the union. The workers also feared that the Russians would not keep their word regarding lack of reprisal against the strikers, especially after the Soviet-controlled East Berlin newspaper had editorialized in favor of such reprisals following announcement of the proposed settlement terms two weeks earlier.

Secretary of State Acheson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in closed session that ratification of NATO and approval of the arms assistance program to the Western European members were of utmost importance to the country's relationship with Russia. That nothing had occurred at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Paris re-emphasized, he said, the need for action on these matters by Congress before the end of the session. He later issued a press statement in which he said that he had informed the Committee that progress had been made at the conference, in both agreeing to the principal points of the Austrian treaty and forming a modus vivendi regarding Germany, at least until the next meeting of the Council in New York in September.

Walter Williams, production manager for the Atomic Energy Commission, told the joint Atomic Energy Committee that the nation's security insofar as atomic bomb production was adequate.

The Administration's housing bill touched off a debate between Representatives Ed Cox of Georgia and Adolph Sabath of Illinois which included a slap in the mouth to Mr. Sabath, knocking off his glasses, followed by Mr. Sabath hitting Mr. Cox in the face with three punches. It occurred during a quorum call to summon more members of the House for the beginning of debate on the bill. Mr. Sabath, chairman of the Rules Committee, and Mr. Cox were arguing over whether the former would allow the latter time to talk, when the altercation occurred. Mr. Cox had called Mr. Sabath a "liar", at which juncture Mr. Cox slapped Mr. Sabath, followed by the punches by Mr. Sabath.

The House Administration Committee approved the anti-poll tax legislation. It rejected a subcommittee recommendation that the bill wait until action could be had at the state level on a proposed Constitutional amendment.

Representative Emanuel Celler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stated that a full-scale investigation by a civil rights subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee would take place into flogging incidents by white-sheeted mobs in Alabama. Representative Laurie Battle of Alabama warned that a Federal inquiry could cause problems and that it would be better to leave the matter to local and state officials who were already making inquiry. He said that in some instances the floggings appeared to have been the work of the Klan and in other cases, groups of workers. The Klan had offered $500 to anyone who could prove its members were involved.

In Montgomery, Ala., the State House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to make it unlawful to wear a mask in public, a move opposed by the Klan. The State Senate had already approved the measure and it would go to the full House on Friday. In 1861, Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as President of the Confederacy in the building.

In New York, in the perjury trial of Alger Hiss, Justices Felix Frankfurter and Stanley Reed of the Supreme Court testified on behalf of the defense as to the good to excellent reputation of Mr. Hiss. Justice Frankfurter said that as a law school professor to Mr. Hiss at Harvard, he had recommended him in 1929 as a Supreme Court clerk to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, able to reposit in him the necessary trust inherent in such a confidential position. The Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, Calvert Magruder, who had gotten to know Mr. Hiss when he was a law student at Harvard and the judge was on the faculty, also testified to his "excellent" reputation. After the prosecutor wrangled with Justice Frankfurter to some degree, the Justice left the witness stand looking "nettled".

In Washington, in the espionage trial of Judith Coplon, Ms. Coplon underwent cross-examination by the prosecutor regarding her love for the Russian to whom she allegedly had intended to pass the FBI "data slips" found in her purse, excerpts from secret Justice Department documents. She said that the Russian had repeatedly assured her that he had broken from the Soviets and was applying for U.S. citizenship. She had admitted the previous day that she had spent more than one night with an attorney in the Justice Department, an attempt by the Government to undermine her credibility regarding her affection for the Russian.

Dick Young of The News reports of authorization by the City Council for appointment of a committee to confer with Duke Power Company regarding expansion of its service in light of its requested fare hike on city buses from a nickel to a dime. The Council would then render its decision on whether to support or reject the increase when it came up for approval before the State Utilities Commission.

Mack Bell of The News tells of a Charlotte woman who had flown to Philadelphia, at the expense of the Lion's Club, the 156th Fighter Squadron of the North Carolina Air National Guard, and the Mecklenburg Association for the Blind, to undergo an operation to try to save her remaining sight in her right eye. The surgery would seek to reattach her right retina.

On the editorial page, "What's Happened to Robeson?" opines that Paul Robeson was entitled to great respect as a man and as an artist, but in the areas of politics and social responsibility, finds him wanting.

As a person, it assays, not as a black man or as an artist, he was making a fool of himself and disserving liberals by endorsing Communist ideology and repeatedly asserting that black American citizens would not take up arms to fight against Russia. It suggests that he was destroying the progress made by such moderate organizations as the NAACP. Moreover, he was hurting the Communist Party by solidifying the opposition against it, swaying moderates into the anti-Communist camp.

On the day of his son's wedding, Mr. Robeson had addressed a group of photographers by saying that he had "the greatest contempt for the democratic press".

It concludes that something had shaken Mr. Robeson from his formerly "cautious radicalism", making him an object of contempt among liberal thinkers.

"State Legion Stand" remarks on the position of the North Carolina American Legion taken at its convention regarding support for veterans' pensions based solely on disability and need, rejecting other pension plans based on merely reaching age 65.

The State Department had criticized the national Legion convention the previous year for endorsing the pension plan based on age. The North Carolina Legion had voted against the plan at that convention.

The piece finds the state Legion commendable in its leadership in this area, believes that there was no entitlement by virtue of having served in the military to a special version of Social Security. Moreover, to provide such benefits could take away from the benefits extended to those maimed or crippled in the war and to the families and dependents of those who were killed.

"Paris in the Spring" observes that the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting had neither gained nor lost ground. Russia appeared more conciliatory. Secretary of State Acheson had proved himself a firm spokesman for the West. The heat on Berlin had diminished but not dissipated entirely. Russia had insisted on discussing the Japanese treaty, in continuance of an old habit of misdirection. France was convinced that Russia was not planning to march across Western Europe. The East and West proved that they could agree on something, even if it was as minor as the Austrian peace treaty. And Americans, British, and Russians, plus many journalists, got to see Paris in the spring.

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "No Bird in the Hand", responds to the New York Times editorial reprinted in The News the previous week on the whippoorwill, finding the editorial's condemnation of the bird's call as monotonous and incessant, as much so as waiting for it when it was not heard, to be soft-pedaling the matter for the sake of bird sycophants among the readership. The piece regards the whole cult of bird-watching to be preposterous and misguided, allowing the bird population to profit from humans' "ardent and misplaced affection." In its view, all the birds did was to eat people's cherries and the remains of their strawberries in between the bird family quarrels.

Ralph Gibson of The News tells of the General Assembly having passed in the 1949 legislative session a bill which closely regulated sale of beer for consumption on the premises, based on State issuance of licenses and inspections. It was aimed at cracking down on beer joints across the state, prone to violence. The legitimate beer purveyors had greeted it with approbation as they disliked the bad reputation attached to the beer joints. The forces of prohibition saw it as an inroad toward their ultimate goal of producing a dry state.

The shady operators and the barflies found it objectionable. Because of the law's requirements, many of the former operators had decided not to try to obtain a license. Since May 1, 250 establishments had lost their licenses to sell beer. There were 500 such places in Mecklenburg County and seven had thus far lost their permits.

The ninth in the series of articles reprinted from Fortune regarding reorganization of the executive branch looks at the Agriculture Department and the Post Office, explaining their problems and the Hoover Commission recommendations for remedy.

The Agriculture Department in 1928 had about 22,000 employees whereas by 1948 it had grown to 82,000. In 1928, its budget had been 26 million, ballooned to 834 million in 1948. In a single Georgia cotton county, for instance, there were 47 employees of seven Department field services working on behalf of 1,500 farmers. In Washington State, 184 agents worked with 6,700 farmers; in Maryland, 88 agents worked with 3,400 farmers.

The Commission recommended: that the Department's agencies be regrouped by function into eight major divisions; that food regulation be transferred to the Department and drug regulation be performed by a reorganized Drug Bureau; that all major land agencies be grouped in the Department.

In 1947, the Post Office had handled 37 billion pieces of mail, 800 million money order and COD transactions, and spent tens of millions of dollars on rail, ship, air, and truck transportation. Its deficit was 263 million dollars in 1947, 310 million in 1948, and probably set to reach a half billion in 1949.

The Commission had recommended: that the Postmaster General, traditionally the chairman of the party in control of the White House, should cease to be a party official, should be an experienced executive, preferably from the Post Office, and also relieved of the details of operations; that the Post Office should be removed from politics with local postmasters selected from Civil Service positions, not by Senate confirmation, a favorite form of patronage through the years; that formation occur of a national board of seven part-time public advisers; that Congress continue to set rates for first through fourth-class mail but that the Postmaster General should be authorized to set other rates, allowing for substantial increase in postal revenue; and that subsidies to airlines and shipping companies should be paid to the Post Office by transparent appropriation from taxes, not charged covertly to the Department through higher postal rates.

Drew Pearson tells of the President for awhile being in favor of firing J. Edgar Hoover as director of the FBI for allowing all manner of hearsay to wind up in FBI files, coming to light in the Judith Coplon espionage case when the judge ruled that the defense could introduce into evidence the files from which abstracts had been taken by Ms. Coplon, winding up in her purse at the time of her arrest with a Russian.

J. Edgar Hoover's public relations representative, Lou Nichols, had started the rumor that Mr. Hoover was prepared to resign over the ruling. He intended it to be a counter to the President's intimation that Mr. Hoover should resign. Mr. Nichols had spent a lot of time with the Republicans the previous year when it appeared they would win the White House and retain the Congress, especially visiting quite a lot with HUAC chairman J. Parnell Thomas, now under indictment for defrauding the Government through kickbacks to himself from bogus staff salaries.

Contrary to rumors, Mr. Hoover had never tendered a letter of resignation over the matter. Attorney General Tom Clark had ascertained from Mr. Hoover that the Bureau had lost about a dozen confidential informants, including one in the Russian Embassy, because of the revelation of the documents in the Coplon case. Mr. Clark told Mr. Hoover that he could not dismiss the Coplon case rather than divulge the documents. For if he did, then every spy case would be thus compromised and the spies left to assume they could act with impunity. He informed Mr. Hoover that the U.S. Attorney could not accept contempt, as in the earlier Touhy case, because the court in consequence would dismiss the case against Ms. Coplon. The Touhy case had been on habeas corpus petition when the petitioner had sought FBI files, and the Government accepted a contempt citation rather than produce them. The burden in that instance had been on the petitioner, whereas at trial it was on the prosecution. (Assuming that Mr. Pearson related this conversation accurately and Mr. Clark actually made this latter point to Mr. Hoover, he was not correct, as the burden on a motion for discovery would be on the moving party, unless falling within the scope of the later Brady v. Maryland case, holding that "suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution", thus shifting the burden of production to the prosecution—which, because it is a Constitutional mandate to afford Due Process, conceivably overreaches the Touhy rule, provided the evidence is material and exculpatory or at least mitigating, not at all clear in the Coplon case, and presumably still leaving room for in camera judicial review of confidential material before release to the defense. The argument attributed to Mr. Clark, perhaps echoing a subordinate's effort to avoid the contempt scenario, the ultimate justification of which had yet to be determined in the appellate courts in Touhy, was only correct in the more general sense of the burden of proof at trial being on the prosecution versus the burden shifting generally to the appellant or petitioner on substantive points on appeal or habeas corpus petition, not thereby, however, altering the burden on motions for discovery, except as an underlying rationale for the Brady rule. And, of course, he was correct in his overarching determination that the outcome of contempt at the trial level would be dismissal, not just potentially jail and a fine. The argument thus relates more properly to the status of the case, trial versus appellate and thus the available potential penalties for failure to comply with proper discovery requests, rather than shifting burdens.) Mr. Clark said that he would dismiss the case only if the judge compelled production of a top secret document, which the judge subsequently refused to do.

Mr. Pearson notes that by the nature of the investigations, the FBI necessarily built its files from rumor and hearsay. But such matter should not normally become public. Notwithstanding that general rule, many unchecked FBI reports had become the basis for firing Government employees on grounds of failing loyalty tests, without the subject ever being able to face his or her accuser.

James Marlow discusses the seven plans for reorganization which the President had initially sent to Congress. He provides the history of the Reorganization Act, what it provided, and what lay ahead. The Hoover Commission and its 287 recommendations have thoroughly been discussed. The Act passed by Congress authorized the President to make changes to the executive branch which were subject to veto by a majority vote of the membership of either house within 60 days of being sent to Congress, provided the Congress remained in session for the 60 days. Adjournment during that period would require resubmission of the plan.

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