The Charlotte News

Friday, July 29, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President had appointed Attorney General Tom Clark to replace deceased Justice Frank Murphy on the Supreme Court and Senator J. Howard McGrath as Mr. Clark's successor as Attorney General. The appointments met with general approval among Senators. Senator McGrath would resign his post as DNC chairman. Justice Clark would serve on the Supreme Court until his retirement in 1967. His son, Ramsey Clark, would be appointed Attorney General by President Johnson in 1967 and serve until 1969.

Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that military aid to friendly nations might have to continue for four or five years in decreasing annual amounts. He stressed that it was only a personal estimate and that no one could estimate accurately the length of the program or its cost. He said that no additional troops would be sent to Europe as part of the requested aid package.

The upper house of the French Parliament ratified the NATO treaty by a vote of 284 to 20. The lower house had already ratified it. While the approval was not conditioned on aid from the U.S., the motion for ratification included a provision that France would request the military aid.

In Berlin, the American and British military governments announced that the Berlin airlift would be gradually reduced in stages starting the following Monday, as a sufficient stock of five months worth of supplies had been built up since the end of the Russian blockade in May followed by a six week West Berlin rail strike against the Russian management. The airlift would end on October 31.

The House Labor Committee approved creation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission by a vote of 14 to 11 and sent it to the full House. The bill permitted the Commission to issue cease and desist orders against discriminatory employment practices.

The Senate Investigating Committee conducted an executive session with John Maragon regarding influence peddling in award of Government contracts. One Committee staff person said that the testimony revealed "hot stuff". Mr. Maragon denied to the press ever taking a percentage of a contract. He said that he was a good friend to the President's military aide, Maj. General Harry Vaughan.

In Washington, Tyre Taylor, formerly of Winston-Salem, general counsel for the Southern States Industrial Council, told the Senate Banking Committee that the Congress ought cut John L. Lewis "down to size", that the UMW had a monopoly on coal production in the country.

In Buenos Aires, the Peronistas Party proclaimed Juan Peron to be their candidate again for the presidency in the 1952 election despite his recent statements that he did not feel up to another term. Argentina's Constitution was changed in 1949 to permit self-succession in the presidency. Sr. Peron had been elected in 1946 to a six-year term.

At least 27 deaths in Eastern cities, including nine in Washington, had occurred from the continuing heat wave. Some relief was afforded Midwestern cities. Temperatures in the 90's pervaded most of the country from the Rockies to the East Coast. About 83,000 Federal and D.C. Government employees were sent home because of the heat.

In Waynesburg, Pa., residents gathered to look for rain, a tradition on this date in the town. But none was in sight, despite the fire department fining citizens 25 cents if they had not washed their cars, as washing of cars brought rain. It had failed to rain in the town only five times in 72 years on July 29. Bets were taken on whether or not the tradition would be sustained.

In Raleigh, the chairman of the Highway Commission planned to recommend to the Commission a modification of rules for punishing prisoners on road gangs in response to a conviction of a prison camp superintendent for inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on a prisoner, 52 hours without food while being strung up by handcuffs on prison bars for talking while on a road gang, as discussed further in the below editorial.

In Rockingham, N.C., Judge Susie Sharp, the state's first female Superior Court Judge and future State Supreme Court Justice in 1962, to become the second female State Chief Justice in the nation in 1975, had sentenced the prison camp superintendent this date to pay $200 in fines and court costs, ordered him to remain on good behavior for two years and not to inflict any like punishment on prisoners regardless of rules of the State Highway or Public Works Commission permitting such punishment. She said that she was "appalled" by the conduct.

On the editorial page, "Prison Camp Ethics" discusses the case of the prison camp superintendent, originally found guilty in Recorder's Court for inflicting cruel and unusual punishment and fined $25, having then appealed to Superior Court where a jury found him guilty. He had handcuffed a prisoner to cell bars for 52 hours without food and then forced him to work five hours after being released, still without food. The punishment was for talking while on a work gang, saying, as a beer truck passed, that he would like to have a cold beer.

While punishment was necessary for infractions of the prison rules, not all of the prescribed punishments were necessarily just and the punishment in question was clearly disproportionate to the misconduct.

The editorial finds that while the punishment was cruel and barbarous, the rules and regulations of the State Prisons allowed wide discretion to superintendents to establish discipline. The State had written a letter, received after the prisoner had been punished and released, ordering 30 to 60 hours of being strung up from the bars without food. And a prison inspector testified that such punishment was commonplace, that it was accepted practice to begin the punishment before receiving approval from Raleigh.

The Department of Prisons, beset by low salaries, did not have the means to attract the best personnel. The piece recommends that Governor Kerr Scott appoint a commission of experts to investigate the incident and make recommendations for improvements.

"Bi-Partisan Policy Threatened" finds that the Senate bickering over ERP aid appropriations and the growing opposition to military aid for NATO suggested the end of a bipartisan foreign policy. Without it, there would have been no concerted war effort, no postwar recovery through the Marshall Plan. And the battle against Communism had not been won. So, it concludes, while unnatural, the bipartisanship ought continue on foreign policy until the conditions necessary for peace could be achieved.

"Too Little and Too Late?" tells of a person to be assigned by the State to assess the bus system in Charlotte to determine whether enlarged service ought be required for the proposed Duke Power fare increase, but since the person was not to be assigned before September, that it might be too late to make the assessment before the State Public Utilities Commission made its decision on the fare increase.

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "Watch That Robin! He May Be Drunk", tells of the curator of the Chicago Natural History Museum warning residents that the robins would become drunk after consuming the berries of tartarian honeysuckle and then become aggressive toward people in parks.

The piece warns the curator that, from its experience, he would receive letters from the "Friends of Robins" upset by his calumnies hurled against the birds.

It would also like to be present when Chicagoans came home to relate their tales of being set upon by angry robins.

Drew Pearson tells of the President not being unique in having as his military aide a jokester, Maj. General Harry Vaughan. FDR had General "Pa" Watson as his military aide. But he had not involved himself, as had General Vaughan, in military contracts and remained out of politics. He relates of a matter in which General Vaughan had helped acquire for Crescent Trading Co. export licenses to permit sale of goods abroad, despite it being within the ambit of authority of the Commerce Department, not the military. Crescent had been using forged licenses and General Vaughan knew nothing about the company. General Vaughan had also been responsible for Col. Hubert Julian going to Germany to inspect black troops in the European theater. But once there, Col. Julian sought to profit from the sale to Japan of old Army cigarettes at a profit of five million dollars. When discovered, General Lucius Clay had sent him back home.

The Senate probe of the U.S. Lines and its new luxury liner was in the hands of Senate Investigating Committee chairman Clyde Hoey of North Carolina, brother-in-law of the late O. Max Gardner who had been attorney for U.S. Lines. But, he suggests, Senator Hoey would perform his job with objectivity.

The FBI was investigating two Federal judges, one for saying publicly that if called before HUAC, he would tell them to go to hell and another because of his "too liberal" speeches on the West Coast. Both judges were in good stead with the Justice Department and the investigation was routine, based on complaints.

Senator Joseph O'Mahoney of Wyoming had introduced a bill to create fresh water from ocean water by setting up two pilot desalinization plants for the process. Obtaining fresh water in some areas of the country was becoming a problem, as in Long Island and in Ohio. The process could revolutionize the water supplies, for instance, of San Diego and Los Angeles.

Stewart Alsop—not Joseph—in Rangoon, Burma, finds the nationalist leaders in the the country, as elsewhere in Asia, behaving much as intelligent but neurotic adolescents, lacking experience in the hard realities of power and politics, neurotic in their obsessive fear of losing their independence.

They were capable of learning and were learning some difficult lessons, such as that Communists were Communists. That lesson was learned when the Communists, to whom initial deference had been given, took up arms against the Government in obedience to Soviet Asian strategy. Another lesson learned was that the leaders had to effect a settlement with the rebellious Karens, causing the country to live in fear such that the Communists could conquer it with ease. The Karens needed to be made allies of the Government. A third lesson was that without outside help, the mess in Burma would never be cleared up and the Communists would inherit the power which the British had surrendered.

The latter had been the most difficult to learn because of the resistance of the leadership to outside interference. The Burmese were as afraid of the U.S. as of the Communists, but less so than a few months earlier as the leaders were now considering acceptance of help in mediation of the dispute with the Karens. The leaders were also pondering acceptance of aid from the British as well as seeking American capital investment in the country. Such would lead to breakthroughs in economic development and result in a rise in the standard of living, enabling resistance to a Communist drive to the south from China.

He again cautions that in losing China, the risk had been created of losing not only Burma but all of Southeast Asia.

Robert C. Ruark tells of a testy reader, down with the heat, wondering what was going on in the nation's courthouses, why an embezzler of $800,000 of bank funds could draw only three years in prison while others who stole a few dollars wound up serving as long or longer. He wonders, too.

The same reader had mentioned the case of Judith Coplon, convicted of taking Justice Department documents without authorization and set to go on trial in New York for conspiracy to commit espionage for planning to give the documents to a Russian. The reader found her 40-month sentence too lenient, which Mr. Ruark thinks would be a sentence she might get for shoplifting—doubtful in most states, unless in a pattern of repeated such offenses.

The reader had asked also what the hell went on with the Alger Hiss mistrial after a hung jury. He cannot explain it to the reader.

And he goes on a bit with equal lack of perception of the criminal justice system. Either study carefully the statutes, the differing jurisdictions in which they arise, the differing fact situations and pasts of individual defendants, the difference, for instance, between robbery, burglary, and simple theft without force or violence or invasion of the home or place of business, understand the system better and stop comparing apples to oranges, or shut the hell up and go back to eating watermelon and cooling off.

As to Alger Hiss, what was the judge supposed to do, order the jury to remain until doomsday to reach a verdict, which, if so, he knew would likely have been overturned as being coerced?

But, thanks to the demagoguery already afoot of Richard Nixon, a good part of the public was thoroughly confused, and would remain so for decades later.

A letter writer who manufactured Portland cement in Chicago tells of an article appearing in the newspaper on July 19 in which the stated in-state cost for cement was an abnormally low $1.50 to $1.75 per barrel, whereas delivered cement at the current price was $3.50, the disparity apparently the result of misquoting the in-state figures, that they had to be for the product only, not including overhead. He says that cement was the cheapest of building materials, with prices rising only 25 percent since 1926, compared to a 57 percent increase among all commodities and a 97 percent increase in all building materials.

A letter writer thinks it unfair to the South to publish murders of blacks as lynchings, causing them to become national news, embarrassing to the South, when in the North such cases were treated as ordinary murders.

A letter writer thinks it encouraging that sales of alcoholic beverages were slipping throughout the nation. He encourages getting alcoholics to attend Sunday school, as his class had four such persons enrolled.

A letter writer finds insulting and unrealistic Gary Cooper's portrayal of an architect in "The Fountainhead", based on the Ayn Rand novel. He blames the film on HUAC having exerted its influence on Hollywood and hopes it would not seek also to control television fare.

He perhaps misunderstands the film, which was ahead of its time.

A letter writer again wants to stress that on the previous March 8, John Foster Dulles, speaking in Cleveland, had indicated that he believed Russia did not want to start a war but that if the U.S. sent substantial aid to Scandinavia it could precipitate a war.

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