The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 16, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at Panmunjom, the allied campaign to convince non-repatriating war prisoners to come home had appeared to collapse this date, and an Indian spokesman for the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission said that the 22 Americans and one Briton who were refusing repatriation were fully aware that time was running out for them to change their minds. Two leaders of the prisoners who had conferred the previous day with the chairman of the Commission, Indian Lt. General K. S. Thimayya, said that it made no difference to them that the 90-day period for interviews would expire on December 23. A South Korean prisoner who had repatriated from the compound housing the prisoners refusing repatriation said that he knew of three of the 22 Americans who wanted to repatriate and that most of the 77 South Koreans still to be interviewed by the allies also wanted to return home. He said that the Communists had deliberately stalled further interviews so that those prisoners would have no choice but to remain. There appeared virtually no chance that the Americans and the lone Briton would agree to attend interviews before the interviewing deadline. The U.N. Command had considered other methods to reach the prisoners, including Christmas carols to be broadcast over the compound public address system, interspersed with appeals to abandon Communism and return home. A request was also being considered to ask the Indian command for permission to send the explainers directly into the compound.

South Korea's President Syngman Rhee said that he would give a peace conference on Korea a full 90 days to make progress toward unifying the country before taking independent action, but would wait only "a certain time" for the conference to get underway. Attempts to get the conference going, originally scheduled by the Armistice to begin no later than October 28, 90 days after the Armistice was signed, had met with continuing problems, as the Communists accused the U.S. of conniving with South Korea in mid-June to release the 27,000 North Korean prisoners. As a result of that accusation, Arthur Dean, the U.S. envoy to the talks trying to set up the conference, had broken off negotiations until the Communists apologized and showed good faith in wanting to start the conference.

The President said this date at a press conference that he would continue to work for international control of atomic energy even if the Russians turned down his proposal to share the technology for building atomic weapons. On December 8, the President had made a speech to the U.N., in which he proposed that all atomic powers join in a limited program of atomic research, with emphasis on peacetime power development. He said at the news conference that he would not seek a change in the Atomic Energy Act insofar as development of atomic energy or the building of atomic weapons, but said that some changes in the law would be required before the U.S. could realize the fullest advantages of atomic progress. He said that it would depend on circumstances whether the country turned over atomic weapons to its allies, that in the event of war, the country would do that which was in its best interests.

In Paris, the NATO foreign ministers agreed this date that the Western Big Three must hold steadfast against Soviet efforts to break up NATO, when and if they met with Russia's foreign minister at the scheduled January Big Four foreign ministers conference in Berlin. The Russians had not yet replied to the Western invitation to the meeting, which would consider the German and Austrian issues. The NATO Council entered its closing sessions considerably cheered by the Eisenhower Administration's pledge to try to obtain Congressional approval for sharing some U.S. atomic secrets. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had raised the prospect the previous day, helping to alleviate some of the sting produced by the threat of Secretary of State Dulles two days earlier to limit or withdraw American aid to Western European countries unless the European Defense Community unified army was ratified by all six participatory nations, France, Italy, West Germany and the Benelux countries.

A U.S. District Court judge in Washington ruled this date that the President had the power to remove Government workers from civil service protection and summarily fire them, the ruling having been specifically applicable to a Justice Department attorney who had lost his job the previous July and had brought suit to be reinstated based on his civil service standing. But the court ruled that he was in an exempt category of Federal employees, not subject to civil service status. The judge indicated that it was beyond his purview to question the wisdom of the statute exempting certain employees. About 850 Government jobs fell into that category.

In Alabama, voters the previous day appeared to have approved an amendment to the State Constitution which would limit back poll taxes required to qualify a voter for primary or general elections to the amount of three dollars. Other voting requirements, however, which were administered by boards of registrars in each of the state's 67 counties would remain in effect. The State Constitution required that voters between the age of 21 and 45 had to pay a $1.50 poll tax each year, a provision left unchanged by the amendment, which only imposed a limit of two years of back taxes which could be collected. Previously, as much as $36 could be charged. Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia were the only other states still imposing poll taxes.

In New York, a witness appearing before a committee of the State Legislature testified that the names of President Eisenhower and former President Truman, plus those of former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Omar Bradley, and General Carl Gray, head of the V.A., had been used without their permission in a fund-raising campaign by the Disabled American Veterans. White House press secretary James Hagerty had written a letter to a State Senator who was chairman of the committee, complaining of the unauthorized use of the President's name. A letter had been written by a special counsel to the President the previous February 26, ordering the D.A.V. to stop using a photograph of the President and an unauthorized statement purportedly endorsing the fund-raising campaign. The previous day, a professional fund raiser had told the committee that he had impersonated a priest and a police representative in soliciting funds for other organizations.

At Edwards Air Force Base in California, the Bell X-1A rocket-driven research plane set a new unofficial speed record of mach 2.5, about 1,650 mph, breaking the previous record set on November 20, at mach 2.01, about 1,307 mph. The plane was powered by four rocket engines, each with 1,500 pounds of thrust, and was fueled by liquid oxygen and a special alcohol-water mixture. The plane was the successor to the Bell X-1, which had been the first plane to break the sound barrier in 1947, flown by Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager—who recently died on December 7, 2020, at age 97. The pilot of the Bell X-1A is not named, but was again Major Yeager, breaking the record set on November 20 by Scott Crossfield, the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound, flying a Navy sky-rocket for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, predecessor to NASA, to be created five years hence.

In Nashville, Tenn., former Bishop Paul Kern, 71, a widely known Methodist Church leader, had died in the hospital this date. He retired as Bishop of the Nashville area in June, 1952 and had been in ill health in recent months. He possessed several degrees, from Vanderbilt, Randolph-Macon, Emory, Ohio Wesleyan, Duke, and Victoria University. He had become an ordained elder of the Methodist Church in 1907 and had taught at Vanderbilt between 1905 and 1910, serving thereafter in several pastorates, becoming a professor on the staff of S.M.U. between 1920 and 1926, and then served as pastor of a San Antonio Methodist church, prior to being elected Bishop in 1930.

In Jacksonville, Fla., a pair of bank robbers engaged in a gun battle with patrolmen, resulting in the death of one of the robbers and a patrolman. Two hostages whom the pair had taken to shield them, managed to escape without injury. Both men had fled a Savannah, Ga., jail the prior Sunday night by forcing jailers at gunpoint to free them. They faced 25-year prison terms for robbing a branch of a bank in Savannah in April, getting away with $83,359, and had been charged with robbing a Birmingham bank in January of $52,000. They had driven up to a bar, proceeded to order two persons back into the bar where they sought to rob them, when officers, who had been on the lookout for the fugitives, recognized their car, disabled it and surrounded the building, at which point the robbers saw the officers and used the two people inside the bar as shields, whereupon the gun battle ensued. The surviving robber managed to escape into the darkness, forced his way into a residence and took the keys of a car and escaped, but was captured some time later.

In Buena Vista, Ga., three black prisoners, one of whom was 75 years old, overpowered the sheriff the previous night, locked him in a cell, took his gun and keys, and fled on foot. The sheriff's son had to use a blowtorch and chisel to free his uninjured father from the cell.

In Herford, Germany, a court-martial sentenced socially prominent Maj. Robert Archibald Eden to dismissal from the British Army this date, after he pleaded guilty to 22 charges of indecent assault. He had served 21 years in the elite Royal Horse artillery, but admitted improper behavior with 14 German boys between the ages of nine and fourteen.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports that former Charlotte Police Chief Walter Anderson had spent approximately 20 minutes in a session with the Mecklenburg County grand jury during the morning of this date, as one of four witnesses questioned during the seventh day of its investigation into police corruption in the city. Mr. Anderson had come to Charlotte as the chief in October, 1942, from Winston-Salem, where he had also served as chief, departing Charlotte in April, 1946 to become director of the State Bureau of Investigation in Raleigh, a position he held until August, 1951, when he became State director of prisons, from which he was dismissed earlier in the year by the new Governor, William B. Umstead. Mr. Anderson was presently director of camp activities and associate executive secretary for Mission and Church Extension of the North Carolina Methodist Conference. The grand jury had thus far talked to about 50 witnesses regarding whether there were grounds for Drew Pearson's claim that a gambling racket had been operated in Charlotte through the assistance of payoffs to the police. The current grand jury's term would expire the following Saturday and it would have to issue a report and request that a new grand jury convening January 4 carry on its work.

In London, Sir Gerald Kelly, 74-year old president of the Royal Academy and an authority on art, had startled Britons viewing a BBC broadcast the previous night, issuing salty comments anent Flemish masterpieces. He used near-swear words and eventually said, "To hell with eels," after referring to a portrait by Jan Van Eyck of his wife, which had dropped out of sight for a long time, eventually recovered, he had explained, in a fish market where the oak board on which the picture was painted had been used as a surface to skin eels. Before one painting showing undressed people, he exclaimed, "Two juicy nude bodies—what a nice taste the artist had in healthy flesh." In reference to a Rubens color sketch of "The Rape of the Sabines", he said: "The Romans were in the Sabine country with no women. The Sabines had plenty and the Romans decided to go and collect some. Such enterprise was a rush job. There they are, picking up Sabines all over the place. As far as I know, it worked very well." The latter comment had prompted many persons to call the BBC. He made the remarks as he guided viewers through the Academy galleries, featuring a special exhibition of Flemish art, of which he generally approved but with something less than reverence. A young woman carrying a portable microphone attached to a long wire busily tried to keep up with Sir Gerald, and almost tripped a couple of times over the wire, as Sir Gerald, realizing that she was huffing and puffing, remarked, "She's nice to look at—but no matter."

On the editorial page, "The Wrong Way To Unite Atlantic Allies" indicates that on December 1, Secretary of State Dulles, incensed by Senator Joseph McCarthy's attack on "perfumed note" diplomacy, had forthrightly laid down principles regarding the conduct of foreign affairs by the nation, saying that the country would expect a fair sharing of efforts and burdens, would not try to be arrogant or demand of others what the country would reject in a reversed scenario, and thereby would retain friendship with allies, with whom agreement generally was reached. He also said that the Soviet Union, with rapidly increasing atomic power, was deterred from attack by the fact that the U.S. could retaliate with devastating force against the vitals of Russia, available to the U.S. only because of well-located bases in friendly countries. He said it was to the interest of the U.S. to assist certain countries, but that did not give the U.S. the right to try to take them over, dictate their trade policies or make them U.S. satellites. The following day, the President had endorsed the Secretary's remarks.

The previous Monday, in Paris, however, Secretary Dulles had violated the precepts he had stated on December 1 by delivering what was perceived as an ultimatum to NATO allies, that if West Germany and France decided "to commit suicide" by failing to unite, "they might have to commit it alone", implicitly suggesting a withdrawal or substantial reduction of American aid if the two countries did not ratify and support the European Defense Community unified army. In answer to a question as to whether the U.S. might then remove troops from Europe if France did not ratify EDC, the Secretary had responded, "Disposition of our troops would, of course, be a factor."

It suggests that the Secretary had reminded the world of the desire of Congress to see Europe unified and that U.S. military aid would cease shortly by Congressional action unless Europe united, also reminding the NATO allies that the U.S. might decide that the best way to protect the Atlantic area would be from bases off the European Continent. It finds that, under the Secretary's own statement regarding reversed circumstances, it would obviously stir resentment and anger in the U.S. if France were to condition its cooperation on a demand for a U.S.-Canadian union, for instance. Both France and West Germany had made great strides toward union in the previous few years, despite their traditional animosities. The Secretary had left the impression with journalists on the prior Monday that the country would withdraw from Europe if the NATO nations did not unite.

It doubts that the Secretary had intended to anger the allies and please isolationists. Brown University's president Henry Wriston, in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, had written that through much of U.S. history it had been possible to view the country's institutions, habits, and traits of character as interesting curiosities without vital impact on the rest of the world, but that now, the U.S. and its spokespersons attracted great attention, such that if there were no discipline employed to speak softly on matters affecting international policy, it was because the country had been "as lavish with words as with dollars" and "as little aware of the damage words may do as we have been overhopeful of the services dollars may perform." The piece views it as a probable explanation of Secretary Dulles's remarks, not calculating the effect his words would have.

It finds that public threats could damage the good which a frank and confidential interchange of views would accomplish, and that the Secretary's statement had conveyed too much of the same attitude which had appeared to blind Congress and both the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations, the view that European union was a magic formula which would solve most of the country's problems, distracting attention from that which ought be the main objective, unity among the allies, including the U.S., not preaching to the allies to unite. The small European nations, it observes, would continue to be leery of any union including Germany until they were certain that the U.S. would assure protection by countering German military and industrial strength.

"Grand Juries Need More Freedom" indicates that the Mecklenburg County grand jury which had been investigating charges of police corruption was now faced with having its term end before it had concluded the investigation, and both county law and state law did not allow for extending its term. It meant that the grand jury had to conclude its work by the following Saturday night or recess until January 4, when a new term of court would begin and a new grand jury could be appointed. Even at that later time, it was not clear that the present members of the jury could continue in office or whether nine new members had to replace the present members.

The piece finds the situation disconcerting, as it had always viewed the grand jury as acting independently, without outside constraints, and so it urges that the North Carolina Attorney General should be consulted and a ruling obtained regarding interpretation of the law on whether the grand jury could continue its assignment without delay or had to submit to change in its membership, that if the Attorney General agreed with Judge Francis Clarkson that the jury was forced to wind up its investigation before it had completed the task, the statutes should be amended by the 1955 General Assembly to free grand juries of such absurd restrictions.

"50 Years—And More To Go" tells of Clarence Poe, after 50 years as president of the Progressive Farmer Co., publisher of the Progressive Farmer magazine, partially retiring, turning over a portion of his chores to Eugene Butler, who had been with the company 31 years. Dr. Poe would continue to edit the edition which was distributed to the Carolinas and Virginia and would monitor the other four regional editions as chairman of the editorial board. It concludes that Dr. Poe had become an institution, "one in which the South can take the greatest pride."

"Still Going Strong" indicates that the State Department had ordered the replacement of Chief Justice William Clark, who presided over a U.S. appeals court in Germany, but Mr. Clark had said he could not be ousted except for cause and therefore continued to preside over the court, pausing occasionally to scorn the "cookie pushers" who were trying to push him around.

The piece says it did not know whether the judge was right or wrong but believes he should obtain an acknowledgment for helping newsmen on dull days, as earlier he had declared that the 18th Amendment instituting Prohibition was unconstitutional, had called the New York Stock Exchange a gambling institution, said that the U.S. patent system had "just about made a monkey" out of inventors, and had sued under the G.I. Bill of Rights to get back a judgeship which had been filled by another man while Mr. Clark was in Australia. It urges that he continue to make his opinions known and to question authority, "whether from bench or balcony."

Drew Pearson indicates that those who had watched U.N. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., could never picture him sitting cross-legged on the floor, singing French boulevard songs, but that had actually occurred at the apartment of French Ambassador to the U.N., Henri Hoppenot, recently, resulting in new camaraderie between Ambassador Lodge and other U.N. delegates, as the latter knew more songs and sang them in better French than the French envoy, himself. Soviet chief delegate to the U.N., Andrei Vishinsky, was present, looking less glum than usual. Sir Gladwyn Jebb of England, Charles Malik of Lebanon, and Dag Hammarskjold, the U.N. Secretary-General, were also present, the latter having sat on the floor when walking into the living room and finding no available chair, started the informality which led to the singing session. At that point, the wife of M. Hoppenot joined him and the Secretary-General suggested that they sing something. Ambassador Lodge then began singing "Quatre Vingt Chasseurs" and his wife joined him. The U.N. Ambassador from Colombia sang the tune in Spanish. A Yugoslav woman then sang "Tamo Daleko", and American songs followed. Delegates agreed that they had not had such a good time since the U.N. had been formed in San Francisco in spring and early summer, 1945.

Mr. Pearson relates that the President's proposal to share atomic energy had been based, in part, on the Administration's decision some weeks earlier to build an atomic reactor for civilian uses. The Belgian Congo and South Africa, the chief sources of uranium for the United States, had long been upset over the fact that they had not been made privy to atomic secrets, and implicitly had threatened to cut off the supply of uranium if the secrets were not shared for civilian uses. Both countries were energy deficient in coal and oil and cheap atomic energy could revolutionize their industries. The previous fall, therefore, when U.S. intelligence learned from apparently reliable reports that Russia was developing a peacetime nuclear reactor, the Administration decided to do the same thing, realizing that the country which moved the fastest in that area would have bargaining power for uranium supplies throughout the world. The President had learned that 12 European countries, including Belgium, England, France, West Germany and Yugoslavia, had decided three years earlier to combine their resources to develop peacetime atomic energy, had already built a plant in Geneva and were constructing an atom-smasher about a dozen times more powerful than anything in the U.S. As the President realized that the days were numbered when the U.S. would be the preeminent atomic power in the world, it was only natural to suggest a world pool of atomic energy under U.N. supervision.

Former Senator Harry Darby of Kansas had told friends that Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson and Undersecretary True D. Morse were so "high and mighty they can't understand the farm picture", but that the President believed them and Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas, who did not understand the farm picture, could not persuade the President otherwise.

At a meeting of the Democratic state committee in New York, more men had shown up with private airplanes than at any time since 1948, as in the interim, most of the private airplane owners among Democrats had switched to President Eisenhower. Johnny Cahill, who received a big lift up the ladder to his lush law practice through the New Deal, had returned to the Democratic fold at the recent New York meeting, though most of his clients were Wall Street Republicans.

James Marlow indicates that the President, a firm believer in free enterprise, had said during the 1952 campaign that he was convinced that farmers would rather earn their fair share than receive a Government handout in the form of price supports. Secretary of Agriculture Benson had later stated that less Government control and more self-reliance for farmers were consistent with the President's views and those of the Secretary.

The previous day, the cotton and peanut farmers had been asked to vote essentially on whether they wanted to be unrestricted or have the Government bail them out when they overproduced, and they had voted overwhelmingly for continuation of Government controls and help when open market prices fell too low, the same result when the same question had been put to the wheat farmers in mid-August. When the cotton farmers had last voted, in December, 1949, 89.4 percent had voted for controls, and on this occasion in 1953, the vote had been 94 percent.

The Congress passed the Agriculture Adjustment Act in 1938, having two purposes, to protect producers of certain basic crops, including wheat, cotton and peanuts, in the event open market prices dropped too much because of overproduction or natural conditions, and to try to prevent overproduction in the first instance. A parity price was established to enable the farmer to receive a fair return on what he had sold in relation to the price of that which he had to buy. Once the parity price was established theoretically, the Government guaranteed the farmer protection up to a particular percentage of the parity price, which was established at 90 percent, the support price. If prices were to fall because of overproduction, farmers would be selling so much of a given commodity to the Government that the latter's warehouses would be bursting and so to discourage overproduction, the farmer, in order to receive support prices, had to agree that the Government would limit the acreage of production and control the farmers' marketing of the crop produced.

Thus, Mr. Marlow further explains, the vote of the previous day by the cotton and peanut farmers essentially was a vote to control production to a specific number of acres and sales to a corresponding quota in return for 90 percent parity support prices on the crop thus produced. A vote against controls was essentially for unlimited production with low support prices, at 50 percent of parity.

Dick Shull tells of Dr. Rolla M. Harger, inventor of the drunkometer to test the blood-alcohol level by sampling breath—more modern versions now known as a breathalyzer or intoximeter—, having taken to task columnist Robert C. Ruark after he had taken issue, in his November 28 column, with the New York City Police Department for its use of the drunkometer. Mr. Shull indicates that Mr. Ruark, in his criticism of the device, taking the stance that it was "each man to his own capacity", had joined "the misinformed medicos, jackleg lawyers and other critics of chemical tests on drunkenness."

"Columnist Ruark, long a self-confessed admirer of the tall and frosty, carped that Dr. Harger's drunkometer wouldn't give a seasoned drinker a fair shake, since the drunkometer determines the amount of alcohol sizzing through the suspect's veins, without the least consideration whether the subject had been embalming himself for the past 20 years or just set lip to his first scupper of suds." Mr. Ruark had also criticized the New York law which gave the suspected intoxicated driver the choice between submitting to the tests or surrendering his driver's license.

Seventeen years earlier, the AMA and the National Safety Council had run a series of tests to determine what level of blood-alcohol constituted impairment and agreed that two shots of whiskey or less did not significantly impair a person's driving ability, that imbibing between two and six shots of whiskey might cause the driver to be tipsy, depending on whether he was an habitual drinker or light drinker, and at more than six shots of whiskey, the driver was definitely impaired. More than 70 high court decisions in 22 states and the District of Columbia had supported that three-level scale of impairment, with most judges leaning toward the defendant in doubtful cases in the middle range, unless there was substantial subjective evidence of drunkenness, such as slurred speech or inability to walk a straight line, to support the charge.

Dr. Harger, who was a professor of toxicology at Indiana University School of Medicine, a member of the National Safety Council's Committee on Tests for Intoxication, and an internationally recognized authority on chemical tests for impairment, had responded to Mr. Ruark that if a person carried his liquor unusually well, the present New York law would permit him to drive with six shots of whiskey, "which should satisfy most good columnists." He went on to say that many people would advise Mr. Ruark not to drive when "pleasantly exhilarated" because it usually meant warped judgment and some loss of normal caution. He said that Mr. Ruark's claim that some people drove more cautiously when they were inebriated had been thoroughly tested and debunked, that tests had shown that the impaired person always believed they were doing much better on the tests than when they were sober. Investigations, he continued, by the Northwestern University Traffic Institute some years earlier and studies more recently conducted at Toronto University had shown that a driver in the top impairment level had increased their chances of an accident by a factor of 10 to 50. The quoted material from the professor concludes: "This potential killer should not be encouraged by misinformation from the pen of a clever columnist."

It might be noted that six shots of whiskey or six beers, imbibed over a six-hour period, depending on physical size, would roughly equate to a .12 percent blood-alcohol level, at least two drinks above the legal level now present in most states for the last 30 to 40 years, .08, or four such drinks over a four-hour period, with each hour without alcohol roughly equivalent to a decline of .02, such that after six drinks, one would need abstain for more than two hours to be able legally to drive, again always dependent on physical size and the period of time over which the drinks were consumed, the faster the consumption, the more time being necessary for dissipation. The blood-alcohol limit is lower than .08 for younger drivers in many states. If in doubt, especially if you cannot recall how many or over what period of time you had them, stay put, walk or have someone else drive you to your destination. Mr. Ruark, be forewarned, drank himself to death, dying at age 49, 12 years hence.

The Supreme Court, incidentally, would, in 2016, take up the issue of the constitutional validity under the Fourth Amendment of a warrantless search involving the choice to take a breath or blood test or lose one's license, which Mr. Ruark had opined was unconstitutional, neglecting to account for implied consent laws under which every driver, when obtaining a license to operate a motor vehicle, agrees to consent to take, upon the lawful request of a peace officer, a test to determine impairment, usually with the choice of testing blood, breath or urine, and that refusal of same is a criminal offense. The Supreme Court held in Birchfield v. North Dakota that while, absent exigent circumstances, it was constitutionally impermissible to regard a decline of consent to a blood test, in a case where only a blood test was offered, to be a refusal, with its state law attendant consequences, it was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment to regard decline of consent to a breath test as an actionable refusal, the distinction being the intrusive nature of the blood test versus the non-intrusive nature of the breath test, and that affording the option of a breath test would have served the same state interest as a blood test in determining impairment.

Schmerber v. California, decided by the Supreme Court in 1966, held that blood tests for blood-alcohol content taken at the direction of a police officer and administered by a physician at a hospital, without consent or warrant, did not violate the Fourth or Fifth Amendments, as exigent circumstances might justify the necessity for such a warrantless search to preserve evidence; but the Court was careful to limit its holding to its specific facts and suggested that a different result might be reached where the officer or some other non-medical personnel conducted the blood test, making it more intrusive, or where there were found to be no such exigent circumstances justifying the warrantless search.

A letter writer comments on a December 1 letter which had purported to cite "The Arab-Israeli Record" of the Palestine problem, but finds that the letter had distorted or completely ignored principal facts of the problem, especially those relating to the Arab point of view, which he seeks to correct, at great length—which you may read for yourself.

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