The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 11, 1939


 Site Ed. Note: Three of the five "capital ships" at keel discussed in "We Build Ships" became memorials, the North Carolina in 1961, docked at Wilmington, the Alabama at Mobile, and the Massachusetts in Fall River. The North Carolina was the first of the five commissioned, in April, 1941, and was at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack.

And as to precisely what Cash probably meant allegorically the day before at the end of "Can Bumble Really Stop 'Em?", when he commented, "the nations the axis has marked out as its oysters," and below, when in "Proving Much Too Much" he speculates that La Tribuna had proven the case for why Hitler had full right and title to "eat" his ally, Italy, too, see "Avatar", February 4, 1940.

While Rome Burns

The cotton bill now on the way through Congress is receiving precious little attention. All eyes are focused on Europe, and with good enough reason. And besides, the Administration has got itself into such an unholy mess in its cotton program that the public is resigned to almost any way out.

But Mr. Bankhead's way out contains, in addition to absurdities, a great threat to the well-being of the South. The absurdities are manifest. Not even the old Farm Board ever made cotton loans at more than the market price and then turned around and proposed, in effect, to pay the cotton farmer a substantial premium to take his collateral down.

This, however, is simple foolishness, with a first cost of only a few hundred millions. But the cost to the South's economy of taking up to an additional 3,000,000 bales out of this year's production, as the bill stipulates, is incalculable. The curtailment program has already played hob with farm labor. According to the Department of Agriculture's own figures, it takes nearly one million fewer men to cultivate and harvest 27,000,000 acres than a normal acreage of 40,000,000. To reduce the smaller acreage by as much as 6,000,000 more and the restricted crop by as much as 25 per cent further means unemployment for farm labor, fewer customers for the gins, lessened shipments for the railroads and blighted trade for the cotton belt as a whole.

We Build Ships

You probably hadn't observed it, but the President's authorization of the two new 45,000 ton battleships means that we will have eight capital ships building at once. Already in progress are the North Carolina, Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Alabama--35,000 ton ships carrying sixteen-inch guns.

It hasn't been announced yet, but the two biggies now authorized will probably carry eighteen-inch guns, and perhaps even bigger ones than that, for twenty-inch guns are now being experimented with on land. They will be the largest fighting ships in the world. Japan is known to have three building which will run to 42,000 tons. And England has two, the Lion and the Temeraire, which will displace 40,000 tons.

The ships will be 880 feet long--136 feet longer than the new 35,000-tonners. But the beam will be only 108 feet, about the same as the smaller ships, both to make passage through the Panama Canal feasible and to increase their speed. They will cost somewhere between $85,000,000 and $100,000,000--probably come closer to the smaller figure--as against $70,000,000 to $75,000,000 for the 35,000 tons ships.

Their authorization gives us the largest naval program of all nations save only Britain, which has nine capital ships under way or authorized. And taken with the capital ships we already have, will give us a grand total of 23 battleships. Most of the fifteen now in service, however, are obsolescent. The newest were completed as long ago as 1923. Most of them date back to the 'teens. And one of them, the Arkansas, was completed in 1912. But as for that, the flagship of Japan's fleet in Chinese waters is the veteran Idzumo, which is pushing 40.

The Unpardonable Sin

Max Steuer's boast is that he has never lost a murder case. His record in defending clients against charges of a lesser degree is likewise remarkable, all the more so in that he has taken the cases of underworld characters with every sign of guilt and strong public feeling against them.

When the trial of Johnny Torrio, et al., in New York Federal court on income tax charges was resumed yesterday, Lawyer Steuer was conspicuously absent. Court officers and spectators sensed something in the proceedings, and it wasn't long in coming out. Up rose Steuer's assistant. "Your Honor," he announced, "at this time the defendants John Torrio and William Slockbower wish to withdraw their plea of not guilty to this indictment and enter a plea of guilty." There was a rustle of whispering and repressed excitement.

Well, it may have been that Steuer knew he was licked, and so chose to throw his clients on the mercy of the court. Or the Government, in prosecuting its case against Torrio and friends, may have been coming uncomfortably close to turning up evidence against other men who weren't under indictment. Yet again, Torrio, described as one with a distaste for the rough stuff he delegated to others, may have had a gangster's reason for craving the sanctuary of imprisonment. But we doubt it.

No, the explanation of the abrupt ending of the case is probably of a piece with what we were saying only yesterday of Boss Pendergast; and Lawyer Steuer, if he values his reputation, had best make a note of it. If you are powerful enough and smart enough, you can do almost anything in this country and get away with it, except evade income taxes. But once they ever catch you failing to come across with Uncle Sam's percentage of the slag, boy, you're sunk!

Proving Much Too Much

An Italian Newspaper Argues That Europe Belongs To Italy, And So Italy To Hitler

Somehow, we have the feeling that La Tribuna, one of Mussolini's many newspaper stooges, has proved too much when it says:

Our title to Albania is perfectly valid and anyone wishing to inquire into it will find that it goes back to 229 B.C. when Roman Law was imposed on the Illyrian provinces.

As a matter of fact, La Tribuna is a little free with history. Roman armies did defeat the Illyrians, in 229 and 219 B.C., in a campaign undertaken against them to put down piracy. But actual conquest of the area did not begin until 156 B.C. and was not completed until after the beginning of the Christian era. In any case whatever, Rome's title was extinguished in 379 A.D., with the annexation of the province to Eastern Empire. And if it wasn't, then first the Huns, and after them the Ostrogoths, finished extinguishing it in the fifth century.

A little long, don't you think, for a title to hold?

But if you accept the doctrine, well, truly, it is a large program La Tribuna has cut out for Musso & Co. Under that view of the matter, the Italians are certainly justified in taking Spain. For the Romans conquered it so long ago as the end of the Second Punic War, in 201 B.C., though that title also was extinguished in the fifth century by the Vandals, the Alani, the Suevi, the Visigoths and various and sundry other fancy actors.

But they are not only justified in taking Spain, they are also entitled by right to take Britain and France. For Britain was conquered by Rome in the years between 43 B.C. and 200-odd A.D., though the Saxons extinguished that title in the fourth and fifth centuries. And France--you remember that baldheaded scourge of schoolboys named Julius Caesar and how all Gaul was divided into three parts, (including Belgium), though that title, too, was extinguished in the fifth and sixth centuries by the Visigoths, Alani, Suevi, Franks and so on, not to say in the ninth by the Northmen. Nor is even that all. They are entitled to take Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania, Jugoslavia, Turkey, Syria, Irak, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Tangiers, Portugal, Switzerland and--look at this--Western Germany up to the Rhine and most of that Austria which now belongs to Pal Hitler! For everyone of these once belonged to the Roman Empire.

The Italians seem to be in for trouble in making good all their extensive titles.

But ourselves, we should think that a later bona-fide title would run against an earlier one which had been extinguished. And if that were the case--ah, well, see what La Tribuna is saying. From the destruction of the Roman Empire and the overrunning of Italy by the Vandals, Huns, Ostrogoths and Visigoths, Italy was never either an independent or a united nation right down until 1870--fourteen centuries. And after the passing of the Goths, the Lombards, Charlemagne and his successors, the Saxon and Frankish "emperors" of Germany, the Normans, the Swabian emperors of Germany, the French, the Popes, the Spaniards, and the Austrians--all ruled in a crazy-quilt of time and district over her. And indeed, seeing that the Austrians were the last to be heaved out, what La Tribuna seems to have proved is that Pal Hitler will act, by right and full title when he decides at length to eat up his ally also!


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