The Charlotte News
Tuesday, June 14, 1955
Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Soviet Government appeared to have embarked on a campaign of confusion designed to becloud Western contentions about the actual issues to be discussed at the forthcoming Big Four summit conference, set for July 18 in Geneva, as the Soviet news agency Tass issued a comment the previous day, accompanying the acceptance by Russia of the Western invitation for the summit meeting, suggesting that the Soviets were following their "peace" offensive with a full-scale propaganda drive to rally public opinion in the free and neutral countries in support of the type of discussions they desired, the statement indicating that there was no problem arising from Communist rule of the countries of Eastern Europe and that they would not allow anyone to "interfere in their internal affairs". The President and Secretary of State Dulles had insisted repeatedly that there was a grave problem arising from the "captivity" of the satellite nations, a major source of world tension, and that the U.S. position was that the nations were "enslaved" only because the Soviet Government had repeatedly violated the Yalta agreement of February, 1945 and forced Communist regimes on otherwise free nations. Tass also said that the activities of "international communism" were not a proper subject for discussion at the summit conference, whereas the President and Secretary Dulles had said that subversive efforts of the Cominform against free governments were a source of tension. Tass asked rhetorically what Mr. Dulles would think of bringing up at the conference "the problem of international capitalism", and suggested that the Soviets had made a number of concessions and constructive proposals, such as the signing of the Austrian independence treaty in May and conducting the recent negotiations with Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia. The U.S. official position was that the first concessions to relieve tensions ought come from the source of the trouble.
In Washington, Indian diplomat V. K. Krishna Menon said, following a conference with the President this date, that he thought the release of four of the U.S. airmen previously held by Communist China had "opened the door" to the possibility of freedom for the other 11 fliers and civilians being held, and that India would do its best to effect their release. Mr. Menon would meet later in the day with Secretary Dulles and, according to White House press secretary James Hagerty, would probably see the President again before he departed for home in July. Mr. Menon would not discuss any specific subject about which he and the President had talked. The purpose for the visit was to report to the President on his ten-day visit with Communist Chinese Premier Chou En-lai the previous month and to urge the U.S. Government to make some concessions toward Communist China following the release of the four airmen. He told the press at the airport that the Communist Chinese were concerned about their nationals in the United States, referring to the Chinese students, some of whom had been prevented from leaving the country after receiving technical education, the State Department having suggested that the Communist Government could benefit from their knowledge acquired in the U.S., those restrictions, however, pertaining to the few students who had chosen to return to Communist China, having since been lifted, all of the students having come to the U.S. prior to the takeover in 1949 by the Communists.
The Senate Appropriations Committee this date added more than 700 million dollars to Air Force funding previously voted by the House, and then approved a money bill carrying nearly 32 billion dollars in new funding for all defense agencies. It also voted down efforts to prevent reductions in the Army and Marines ordered by Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson and approved by the President. Senator Dennis Chavez of New Mexico, the chairman of the subcommittee handling the defense bill, said that the proposal regarding the Marines was defeated by a vote of 13 to 7, but did not list the names of the Senators. That measure would have prevented a reduction from 205,000 men earlier in the year to 193,000 by the end of the ensuing fiscal year and required 40 million in additional funding. The Army motion had been defeated by a vote of 14 to 6, requiring an additional 250 million dollars to prevent a cutback in the Army from 1,114,000 men to 1,027,000 by June 30, 1956.
In London, Britain's 17-day old railway strike had ended this date, with the leader of the nonstriking National Union of Railwaymen, after having taken part in all-day conferences at the Ministry of Labor, stating that a settlement had been reached. The 67,000 locomotive engineers and firemen had demanded higher pay differentials over less skilled workers, estimated to cost the state-owned railways the equivalent of about 2.8 million dollars per day. About 80 percent of Britain's rail service had been stopped by the walkout and raw material deliveries to Britain's industry had been curtailed. A Labor Ministry statement said that the society of locomotive engineers and firemen had informed the Ministry that they were taking steps to end the strike forthwith, and Labor Minister Sir Walter Monckton said that he was going before Commons to announce the fact, stating that he had never been more satisfied in his life. Meanwhile, a wildcat strike of seamen which had disrupted sailings of British Atlantic liners for two weeks, had led 150 crewmen of the Queen Mary to vote to quit work, with it scheduled to depart Southampton for New York the following Thursday with a crew of 1,267, the Cunard Line spokesman stating that the owners could not determine yet whether the vote to strike would interrupt its sailing. The strike at Liverpool and Southampton was for better working conditions and a shorter work week, forcing the cancellation or postponement of six trans-Atlantic sailings, although the Queen Elizabeth had sailed on schedule the prior week.
In Dallas, an old Texas Democratic Party feud had arisen anew in anger this date, as DNC chairman Paul Butler started his six-day Texas "peace tour", seeking to calm the intra-party rancor the previous night by saying that he would meet with Governor Allan Shivers "or any other state officials" in any of the Texas cities on his tour. Earlier, Governor Shivers had said that Mr. Butler's rejection of a luncheon invitation in Austin on June 20 was "regrettable for the future of the Democratic Party". The Governor had led Texas Democrats in support of General Eisenhower in 1952, resulting in the state voting for a Republican for only the second time since the Civil War, the other time having been in 1928, supporting Herbert Hoover instead of New York Governor Al Smith, a Catholic who was associated with the repeal of Prohibition. (That one did not turn out so well.)
In Lake Junaluska, N.C., college students from nine Southeastern states were meeting at the Methodist assembly center and had gone on record against all forms of racial discrimination in a resolution adopted unanimously by the 375 delegates from 90 colleges and universities, the resolution pledging support of the Supreme Court's rulings that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, and calling for an end to rules barring blacks from using swimming facilities at the lake. Nine black students were attending the conference. The entire group of delegates had voted the previous day not to go swimming until blacks were admitted to the swimming facilities. Previous conferences had passed similar resolutions. The assembly was owned and operated as a summer program headquarters of the Southeastern jurisdiction of the Methodist Church. Its 43-member board of trustees, composed of ministers and laymen, including nine bishops, would meet at the end of July. The resolution reaffirmed "the traditional stand of this conference in that we oppose racial discrimination in all forms as contrary to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." It was drafted by the conference steering committee and read by its chairman, Jack Crawford of Birmingham, Ala., a student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
In North Hollywood, Calif., a busboy
admirer of band vocalist Alice Lon
In Raleigh, the sister of the slain woman, struck fatally on May 13 while walking on a sidewalk downtown by a bullet fired from a hotel room, allegedly by the defendant charged with second-degree murder or, in the alternative, manslaughter, testified in the second day of the trial, stating, tearfully, that she had gone on a shopping trip in Raleigh with her sister at the time of her death, that she had heard a noise and turned to see that something was troubling her sister, as her cheeks had turned pale, that she placed her arms around her as she started to fall and then began hemorrhaging blood from her mouth and nose. The victim was a Government worker who resided in Arlington, Va., and was visiting her mother in Sanford for Mother's Day and her mother's birthday at the time. She and her sister had planned the day together to go shopping and have lunch, having originally planned to go to Greensboro, but because it was raining, had gone to Raleigh because there would be less driving involved. Earlier, a doctor had testified that the woman was dead on arrival at a hospital, where he was an intern. He said that in his opinion death had occurred from complete collapse of the heart resulting from gunshot wounds. Over the objection of defense counsel, he showed the jury pictures illustrating the wound. The defendant had told police that he was "dry firing" his Luger pistol when it accidentally discharged. About ten minutes after the shooting, he had checked out of the hotel room, without realizing the bullet had exited the window or hit anyone. A parking lot attendant testified that he had heard a gunshot and ran to the woman who had fallen, seeing blood coming from her mouth and nose. Her sister at the time was screaming hysterically and he said that there was nothing anyone could do. The State planned to call a total of 13 or 14 witnesses, while the defense planned to call four or five witnesses.
Helen Parks of The News tells of a report dealing with Christian higher education to be presented by the Rev. Charles Lynn Brown, pastor of the White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, recommending the merger of some of the Presbyterian colleges of the North Carolina Presbyterian Synod, to be made at its 142nd meeting at Barium Springs in mid-July. The colleges included Davidson and Queens, both of the Charlotte area, Presbyterian Junior College in Maxton, Flora Macdonald College in Red Springs, Peace College in Raleigh, and Mitchell College in Statesville.
Charles Kuralt, in his first front page bylined
piece since joining the staff of The News following his recent
graduation from UNC, indicates that on this Flag Day, there were no
flags except at the Courthouse and City Hall in Charlotte, as well as
on some businesses where they flew regularly. He and a photographer
had ridden along some of the main thoroughfares of the city and saw
plenty of flagpoles, but no flags, even on downtown buildings. A
representative of a flag company said that he had sold two flags
during the previous week. The Marine Reserve had urged people to fly
their flags on Flag Day and local Boy Scouts had been engaged in
flag-making. Flag Day, he informs, commemorated the adoption by the
Continental Congress on June 14, 1777 of the Stars and Stripes as the
official flag of the new independent nation. The President, in a
proclamation, had called for observance of the day, but, Mr. Kuralt
concludes, most residents of Charlotte were not listening. And that's
the way it is…
Emery Wister of The News had arrived in Hollywood on his annual tour of the movie studios and his first special dispatch appears this date, telling of the career of Charlotte's Chunk Simmons, on page 1-B.
Sports page editor Bob Quincy had gone to the Charlotte Municipal Airport the previous night and chatted with Otto Graham, one of the great pro-football players, with his column appearing on page 6-B.
In Ware, Mass., a police officer looked at the driver's license of a motorist who had backed into a parking meter and said with a smile that he must be Davy Crockett, to which the motorist replied that he guessed he was, as his name was David J. Crockett, from Memphis, Tenn. He agreed to pay for the damage and went on his way.
On the editorial page, "The Shifting Flight of the Beer Bee" tells of the County Board of Commissioners, after holding a public meeting regarding their ban of Sunday sales of beer in areas outside Charlotte, having heard from community and church leaders alike counseling retention of the ban. The Board had placed the onus on the Charlotte City Council, suggesting that it implement a similar ban within the city.
It indicates that the Board's decision to retain its ban was fine, but that the actual issue regarding beer was not uniformity, rather enforcement of existing laws which forbade sale of beer to those under 21 years of age. It indicates that absolute prohibition had never been a remedy because it resulted in complete breakdown of control of alcoholic beverages and provided a racket for moonshiners. With alcoholic beverages subject to control by sale in ABC stores and consumers paying taxes on those sales, the revenue was going to the public coffers rather than into the hands of racketeers. It finds that the public indignation expressed at the hearing had been justified but that the raising of the possibility of prohibition by some of the speakers represented a baseless hope of answering one extreme with another.
"Survival: The People Must be Told" indicates that old facts about thermonuclear weapons had been reported during the week, which should have been in the hands of civil defense officials and the general public long earlier. The data had been contained in a speech by Atomic Energy Commission member Dr. Willard Libby, delivered June 3 at the University of Chicago alumni reunion. Atomic scientists who had analyzed the paper indicated that from it had been learned that hydrogen bombs could be made with the cheapest atomic explosives and in virtually limitless sizes, that lethal or damaging doses of fallout could persist for days, weeks or months, that in addition to direct or external radiation, the bomb created toxic byproducts such as Strontium 90 and radioactive iodine in large quantities, potentially internally damaging to human beings.
It comments that civil defense leaders, in trying to develop policy for shelter and evacuation, would need such data on the scope and duration of fallout, and yet that data was still the subject of widespread confusion and doubt, not being made available to the public in understandable detail. Independent atomic scientists had spent about ten days translating the highly technical jargon of Dr. Libby before issuing their report, and the speech had received scant notice in the press. It finds it therefore little wonder that the Civil Defense Administration in Washington was floundering under well-intentioned but imprecise policies and that the public was not sure whether it should "duck and cover" or "run for the hills".
A series of articles which were presently appearing in the New York Times documented the general confusion and unpreparedness in civil defense programs throughout the country, finding that in Boston, residents would have "almost no chance of survival", in Pittsburgh, the populace was "almost totally unprepared", in Cleveland, the people would be "a sitting duck", in Detroit, plans were "completed but not made public yet", that Chicago would "lie helpless", Fort Worth was "woefully unprepared", Los Angeles "would be a horrible shambles", and Seattle was "not ready".
It adds that citizens everywhere were apathetic because they did not believe that atomic war was possible and so saw no reason to worry. They received some comfort in that view from the President, who said that a thermonuclear war was inconceivable, apparently assuming that the Soviets recognized that the hydrogen bomb contained the seeds of destruction for Western civilization.
It indicates that while exploring approaches to a stable peace was fine, it was also dangerous to formulate policy on the assumption that the Kremlin would not use the bomb. It finds that drastic civil defense measures were needed, informed to the extent possible by the facts, so that the people would know what they had to do to survive, as "tomorrow may be too late."
"An Outsider in Our Cow Pasture" indicates that a letter from Hamlet and a news item from Sumter, S.C., had brought the editors' attention reluctantly back to the Klan, with the letter writer forecasting that the Klan would rise again, taking issue with an editorial which he had attributed to The News, though not having appeared therein.
It indicates that, frankly, the editors had not been thinking much about the Klan of late, that the weather was too nice and that there was hope of ending polio with the vaccine, that the Big Four were planning to meet in a summit conference in July to discuss peace, and that they had not felt "a good hot hate in a long time." It does not think that the news from Sumter justified much pugnacity at present, but only questions, regarding the imperial wizard's statement that his Klan was a new one which "does not hate, whip, molest or interfere," why he did not work instead through the churches and civic clubs of the community. To his statement that "we must get men in state and local governments strong enough to overpower evil groups," it asks why had they not heard what had occurred to the Klan in the Carolinas in 1952, with several Klan leaders having received jail sentences after convictions arising from a series of whipping incidents involving both black and white victims. To his statement that "if we are made to mix races in schools, they'll think it right that they (Negroes) should grow up and marry whites…," it wonders why it would take a white plus a black to equal a mixed marriage, and to his statement that the Klan's purpose was "to stop outsiders from interfering with their business" and his characterization of the Supreme Court as "those nine buzzards", it suggests to the "outside" wizard from Georgia that, having located the "buzzard's" nest of outsiders, he and his fellows ought "ride forthwith to Washington and try to tear down the nest."
"Other than some blooded cows, the wizard is the only outsider we've heard sounding off in Carolina pastures."
A piece from the Laurinburg Exchange, titled "Hoary Dogmas Not All Hoary", comments on an earlier editorial in The News which had stated, "Hoary dogmas of Dixie's past guided the hands of University of North Carolina trustees," when they had voted against admitting black undergraduates to the Consolidated University's three campuses, at Chapel Hill, N.C. State in Raleigh and Woman's College in Greensboro.
It finds it easy to castigate and toss around facile phrases, writing from the sidelines, but asserts that if the editors were suddenly transferred to the inner sanctums of conference rooms where such decisions were made, they would not be so cocksure and absolute in their judgments.
It finds, writing in advance of the prior May 31 implementing decision in Brown v. Board of Education, that the Supreme Court had not yet issued its directive on implementation of desegregation and that North Carolina had not made any move to admit black students to any of its public schools—other than professional and graduate schools in accordance with prior decisions. It finds that the state had provided generously for the education of black youth in its segregated schools, that the three branches of the University were already crowded, and that while no one knew how many black applicants would seek to attend undergraduate classes at the three campuses, there would be problems if the three campuses were integrated. In that case, there would also be black applicants seeking admission to East Carolina College and Appalachian State Teachers College, and all other state-supported schools.
It indicates that it did not know whether the decision of the Board of Trustees would stand in the future, but that there was no point in rushing to overtake it or to anticipate it, that maybe eventually there would be general mixing of the races in all state schools, but the Board of Trustees, "confronted with a delicate decision, had to make it, and we think should not be castigated for it."
As indicated, the decision of the Board would be overturned by a special three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court the following September 16, in reliance on Brown.
Drew Pearson indicates that the column had just found out about a personal expense fund raised by or on behalf of Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, similar to a fund of $18,000 raised for Vice-President Nixon by friends and supporters in the wake of his 1950 Senate victory and which had become the subject of great controversy in September, 1952 during the presidential campaign, which nearly got him nixed from the ticket but for his "Checkers" speech. The amount of the Bush fund was, according to the Senator's admission, about $25,000, but other Republicans in Connecticut had placed it closer to $40,000. The fund had been maintained in secret and had been raised by five wealthy Republicans, most of whom were from around New York and Connecticut. The fund had not been registered, as required by law for all contributions, with the clerk of the Senate. One of the five men was Roland Harriman, brother of New York Governor Averell Harriman and a partner in the Wall Street banking firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman, of which Senator Bush had been a partner. Mr. Harriman was also the principal stockholder in Newsweek and recently had helped arrange a shift in its Washington staff so that the magazine would follow a more vigorous pro-Republican stance. (You may have noticed that the once objective publication has now not only returned to a Republican bias, but, moreover, a whacko right-wing Republican bias, though the two forms of bias are increasingly becoming synonymous in the age of Trumpism.) The other named backer of the fund was John B. Gates, a New York manufacturer of nuts and bolts. Mr. Pearson indicates that Senator Bush was recognized as one of the wealthier members of the Senate, that in addition to being a partner in the Wall Street firm, he had been, until his election, a director of CBS, the U.S. Guarantee Co., Prudential Insurance, Vanadium Corporation of America, Dresser Industries, the Simmons Co., Rockbestos Products Corp., and chairman of the Pennsylvania Water and Power Co. His friends had started out with a plan to raise $20,000, exceeding their goal by a considerable sum.
We have to ask this date whether Senator Bush, at least vicariously, through a couple of the Supreme Court appointments of his son and grandson, excluding that of retired Justice David Souter in 1990, served to usher in the age of nuts and bolts.
The only original debate which took place in Congress in 1789 regarding the passage of the Second Amendment for sending it to the states for ratification was initiated by Representative Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts—from whom we get the term "gerrymander"—whose objection to the original wording of the amendment was to the exemption from militia service it would have provided to those who had religious scruples against it, on the theory that some maladministration by a group in power might deliberately destroy the Constitution by being able to determine who would be exempt from militia service, and thus make way for establishment of a peacetime standing army in the stead of the militia comprised of the people, the very purpose of which, in the words of Mr. Gerry, was "to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty."
That limited debate, obsolete in its entirety since the advent of the airplane, the jet, the guided missile, the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and the nuclear-powered submarine changed the concept of national defense and domestic security, requiring not only a standing army in peacetime but also a standing air force and navy, demonstrates the obsolescence in the modern world of the entirety of the concepts which gave rise to the Second Amendment in the first place.
There was no debate at all about personal rights to bear arms in self-defense or defense of others, on which the Supreme Court majority now pins its holding in the above-linked Bruen. While the right of self-defense and defense of others were obviously in the common law in individual cases and remain today viable in every state in somewhat different forms, generally enabling any person to resort to a like quality of force to resist force initiated by an aggressor, it has nothing to do with the Second Amendment and constitutional rights and the necessity therefore of the demonstration of a compelling state interest to justify restriction of the fundamental individual "right to bear arms", as Bruen contends, making up the law as it goes and dragging in the process the current Supreme Court into a political mire the likes of which the country has not seen since the time of the Civil War, defying states' rights on the one hand when it comes to the classic police powers of the states to determine health, morals, safety and welfare of their citizens regarding gun control, while on the other ... well, the Dobbs case and whether Roe v. Wade will remain good law has yet to be decided.
Regardless, we recommend giving the Democrats a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate next November, while ensuring their continued majority in the House, to enable getting something done finally, breaking the deadlock, and to dilute the absolute power being exercised by five or six Justices of the Supreme Court, depending on the decision, despotically rejecting the rights of the people in the process, destroying the country and its Constitution with their Federalist Society agenda, establishing the agenda and aiming for it rather than honestly and objectively interpreting and applying the law based on precedent and sane, reasonable decision-making in a modern society, taking cognizance of conditions as they are occurring, the abuse daily for decades of those "gun rights" by individuals who have no more business with a gun than does a baby with a hand grenade, not based on daily existence in 18th and 19th Century America when it took hours to travel 25 miles to the next town and the rude, rutty roads were full of highwaymen and other marauders in a largely lawless territory outside the practical reach of a local sheriff or constable. The Second Amendment, unlike the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments, deals expressly only with material objects, arms and militias, not concepts of freedom and expression or assurance thereof. Unlike the abstract conceptual bases for those other amendments, the conceptual basis for the Second Amendment, because it deals only with material objects, has radically changed with time. The failure of the current majority of the Supreme Court to recognize that fact, known to every first-grader with a mind to think, suggests its complete departure from reality, blinded by its painfully obvious political agenda.
No one today and no group today, even if it were comprised of millions in an underground "citizens' militia", would be able to stop the standing army, air force and navy with their handguns or even AR-15's, else we might as well pack up shop and let the enemy militias come on in from Russia and take over. Get a grip on the road.
Byron Haworth, a member of the N.C. House of Representatives, writing in the Winston-Salem Journal, tells, in a condensed version of the piece, of the history of capital punishment, in particular in North Carolina, and the reasons behind the effort to abolish it. A recent effort by a group of legislators, connected with the Society of Friends, had sought to abolish the ultimate penalty for burglary and arson, and to move toward an absolute ban, but the effort had fallen short, though the proposal to abolish it for arson had narrowly passed two of the required three readings before being defeated on the third reading in the House.
He describes the many horrible ways in which capital punishment had been exacted through time in various societies, including in England in 1746, the punishment for treason having been not only hanging, but then being cut down before dying, being disemboweled and burned, then finally beheaded and quartered, all to be "at the King's disposal."
In the early records of North Carolina, there had been several instances of burning at the stake. In Duplin County in 1787, a black man had been tied to a stake on the courthouse lawn and burned to death and to ashes. In New Hanover County, a black slave, who had been convicted of robbery in 1768, had been hung and then beheaded "and his head affixed up upon the point near Wilmington." The last legal hanging in North Carolina had occurred in 1910, as the General Assembly had provided for execution by the electric chair in 1909. In 1935, the Assembly substituted lethal gas as the means of execution, thought to be more humane than the electric chair, but in a subsequent session of the Legislature, Governor Clyde Hoey approved of reinstallation of the electric chair because of witnesses to execution by gas having been revolted by it.
At one time in England, there had been as many as 240 crimes punishable by death, and during the reign of Henry VIII, between 1504 and 1547, 72,000 persons were hanged for being vagabonds.
In colonial North Carolina, there were 20 crimes punishable by death, until the State Constitution of 1868 marked the first advance in humane treatment of felons by limiting capital punishment to murder, rape, burglary and arson. Until 1949, the death penalty had been mandatory in the state for those crimes, thereafter the death penalty being automatic unless the jury unanimously recommended mercy in its verdict, in which case the punishment was life imprisonment.
Since the installation of the electric chair at Central Prison in Raleigh in 1910, 582 capital felons had been sentenced to death, 352 of whom had been executed and 230 having their sentences commuted to life. Of the 352 executed, 72 had been white men, two had been black women, five had been Indians and 273, black men. Of the total, 273 had been convicted of first-degree murder, 69, of rape, 10, of burglary and none for arson. There had been an average of 11 persons per year executed since 1910, and since 1930, the state had led the nation in executions, with the exceptions of Georgia and New York.
One of the arguments against capital punishment asserted by Louis Lawes, the longtime warden of Sing Sing in New York, was the selective manner in which it was enforced. He had stated that of the 151 executions he had supervised between 1920 and 1931, 150 men and one woman had been put to death in either the gas chamber or the electric chair, ranging in ages between 19 and 63, all coming from varied backgrounds and environments, but all sharing one common factor, that they were poor and usually friendless.
A committee of the House in the 69th Congress had reported favorably a bill to abolish capital punishment at the Federal level, indicating that it was "nothing but an arbitrary discrimination against an occasional victim", that it could not be said that it was reserved as a "weapon of retributive justice for the most atrocious criminals." It found that it was not necessarily the most guilty who were sentenced to death, that almost any criminal with wealth or influence could escape it, but the poor and friendless lacked resources and power to fight their case and sentence in the courts or to exert pressure politically to have it commuted. It found that a person was singled out as a sacrifice in what was little more than a tradition.
Mr. Haworth indicates that there was belief that no assumption underlying the theory of capital punishment could be squared with the facts of human nature and social conduct, that the whole concept of such punishment was scientifically and historically "on a par with astrological medicine, the belief in witchcraft or the rejection of biological evolution."
There were several trends toward more efficient and generally acceptable means of exacting punishment for capital crimes other than by capital punishment, with the first trend being absolute abolition, having been done in some 30 countries by law or tradition, with England and France being the only other democratic countries outside the Iron Curtain which still maintained it for peacetime crimes. Six states had, for all practical purposes, abolished it, substituting life imprisonment, including Michigan, in 1847, Rhode Island, in 1852, Wisconsin, in 1853, Maine, in 1872, Minnesota in 1911, and North Dakota.
Comparative statistics had shown that whether a state had abolished the death penalty or retained it had no impact on capital crime, Michigan, for instance, an abolition state, having recorded 4.4 murders per 100,000 population in 1951, while Ohio, which still had the death penalty, had 4.3 murders per 100,000 population in that year. For the most part, capital crimes appeared to relate to the socioeconomic circumstances and environments in particular states and regions, not related to whether or not a particular state had the death penalty. Dr. Clarence Patrick, a Wake Forest College sociologist and chairman of the North Carolina Paroles Commission, in testifying before Judiciary Committee No. 2 in the North Carolina House, had said, in effect, that capital punishment had no deterrent effect on crime.
"It is time that we reappraise our right as human beings to take life, which we cannot give, and the injustice of inflicting penalty which is more often applied to the poor and friendless and occasionally to the innocent. If it be conceded that it is evil to take life as an individual, do we compound that evil by killing in the name of the state?" He urges utilization of the available knowledge of criminologists and psychiatrists "to the end that we as citizens of a progressive state can fairly appraise and remedy our practices and trends."
In 1972, the Supreme Court in Furman v. Georgia would hold that the death penalty, without special circumstances being set forth by state statute, violated the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, forbidding cruel and unusual punishment. Thereafter, all states which imposed the death penalty were required to develop a constitutionally acceptable list of special circumstances necessary for its imposition. An informal moratorium on imposition of the death penalty followed in the wake of Furman, with all prior sentences of death having to be commuted to life imprisonment if not entered pursuant to specifically enumerated special circumstances. In 1976, the Supreme Court, in Gregg v. Georgia, approved that state's statutory scheme for special circumstances, enabling the imposition of death penalties to resume under similar statutes. Subsumed under that case were also death penalty cases out of North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida and Texas, whose special circumstances statutes were also upheld as constitutional.
During the past 20 years or so, numerous states have declared, either by legislative action or gubernatorial order, moratoria on imposition of the death penalty because of its socioeconomic and racially discriminatory impact, as shown by disproportionate numbers of minorities and poor people receiving the death penalty for like crimes to those for which white, middle-class defendants were more apt to received life imprisonment.
The most blunt fact marshaling against imposition of the death penalty is that, once the death penalty is imposed, there can be no further appeal, no matter how much evidence might come forth thereafter exonerating the accused, such as has occurred in many cases since the advent of ever-improving DNA technology, utilized by the Innocence Project, founded in 1992, which has propounded sufficient evidence to overturn more than 300 convictions, including capital cases. One such notorious case came out of Winston-Salem, that of Darryl Hunt, a black man accused of the murder of Deborah Sykes, an employee of the Twin City Sentinel, raped and murdered as she walked from her car to work on an early morning in 1984. Mr. Hunt served nearly 20 years in prison prior to his release in 2003 based on exculpatory DNA evidence put forward through the Innocence Project.
The Congressional Quarterly tells of Congressional supporters of the TVA seeking to put it back into the power construction business. TVA had begun operation in 1933, based on legislation passed and signed during the Hoover Administration, presently owned 34 major dams and 12 steam generating plants, but had not received any funding to construct new power generating facilities during the Eisenhower Administration. Unless it could build more plants, according to TVA spokesmen, it would not be able to keep up with the increasing demands for power.
One proposal would permit TVA to finance construction through revenue-producing bonds, while another proposal would juggle the Administration's proposed budget to shift funds to new construction. The House Public Works Committee was slated to begin hearings soon on the proposals that TVA issue bonds to finance new power plants in its seven-state Tennessee River Valley region. A special House Appropriations subcommittee had voted on June 7 to allocate 6.5 million dollars, earmarked by the Administration for new transmission lines, for construction instead of a generating plant at Fulton, Tenn. The action still was subject to review by the full committee. The Administration had budgeted 27.5 million dollars for TVA in fiscal 1956, a cut of 77 percent from the 120 million dollars appropriated in fiscal 1955, and the Administration had suggested curbs on TVA's proposals for financing future power development.
The original TVA development plan and the Budget Bureau's modifications would be considered by the House Public Works Flood Control subcommittee, headed by Congressman Clifford Davis of Tennessee, an ardent supporter of TVA. Mr. Davis had characterized the Budget Bureau's suggested changes as "just another attempt by this Administration to destroy the TVA." The original plan had been approved by the three directors of TVA, but only Herbert Vogel, the chairman, an appointee of President Eisenhower, supported the changes proposed by the Budget Bureau.
An anticipated report on water resources and power, to be released shortly by the Hoover Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch, was expected to add to the troubles of TVA, with a section of a task force survey reportedly recommending dismemberment.
Congress had appropriated close to two billion dollars for TVA from its inception in 1933 through fiscal 1954, but payments from TVA to the Treasury's general fund and for the redemption of bonds totaled slightly more than 256 million dollars as of the end of 1954. Those repayments, which had begun modestly in 1943 and had totaled only two million dollars as of 1945, had reached a total of 24.7 million for fiscal 1954 alone, and were expected to increase during succeeding years. The supporters of TVA claimed that those figures told only a small part of the story and cited as important collateral contributions from TVA the thousands of farms electrified through the project, plus vast expansion of power consumption, improved economic and physical health of the area, partially from control of malaria. An accompanying chart indicates that TVA had electrified 420,000 farms, added a million power consumers, as well as boosting the area's income, development and health.
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