The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 24, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Hanoi that the French had launched powerful counterattacks this date against the Vietminh in the northwest corner outpost which the rebels had newly captured in their drive toward the heart of the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu. A French Army spokesman said that the defenders of the fortress had not succeeded in dislodging the deeply entrenched rebels from their grip on the whole northern half of the main airstrip of the fortress, but that the counterattacks had given the French some breathing room in which to establish a new defense line of trenches and fortifications. Brig. General Christian de Castries, commander of the fortress defenders, launched the counterattacks in an effort to take back the outpost captured the previous day by the Vietminh in furious hand-to-hand fighting. The Vietminh, however, introduced overwhelming numbers of troops and the General was forced to withdraw the main body of his forces to the heart of the fortress, though the French claimed that the enemy had suffered heavy losses in this date's fighting. Two Vietminh battalions, numbering about 2,000 men, were said by the French to have been hit severely by fire from tanks and artillery inside the fortress's shrinking perimeter. There was speculation that loyal forces marching northward from the Kingdom of Laos might be on their way to relieve the French defenders, having reached the Nam Ou River curve about 18 miles south of the fortress, but French sources would not disclose the objective of the movement. The French daily communiqué indicated that the previous night had been calm after a day of close-quarters combat. A heavy mist hung over the fortress this date, but the French hoped that the weather would clear before noon to permit new waves of bombers and fighters to blast the enemy. Monsoon rains during the previous week had turned the fortress, comprised of barbed-wire encircled trenches and underground bunkers, into a muddy mire.

In Paris, the French Cabinet this date provided Foreign Minister Georges Bidault a free hand to negotiate for France at the upcoming Geneva peace conference, scheduled to begin in two days. By giving him carte blanche, the Cabinet averted what otherwise might have been a collapse of the Government of Premier Joseph Laniel. Four Gaullist members of the Cabinet, against the policies of the Foreign Minister and the Premier regarding the handling of Indo-China, had caused the threatened collapse. The French delegation would be allowed to operate freely within the context of the policy terms laid down on Indo-China, as outlined by the Premier on March 7 before the National Assembly, approved by the Assembly and drafted largely by M. Bidault, indicating that France would miss no opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement in the war as long as the security and independence of the three French Union Indochinese states, Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos, were not endangered.

The Big Three foreign ministers, Secretary of State Dulles, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, and M. Bidault were winding up four days of private strategy talks this date in Paris, in advance of the start of the Geneva conference, set to have their final meeting this afternoon, before each headed to Geneva.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Nehru, in a statement before the Indian Parliament, called on the U.S., Britain, Russia and Communist China to enter into a pact at Geneva whereby they would agree not to intervene directly or indirectly in Indo-China, part of a five-point program he proposed for ending the war there. He asked that the major powers "desist from further threats and stepping up the war", provide priority at Geneva for a cease-fire, proclaim complete independence for Indo-China, and initiate direct negotiations to end the fighting. He also wanted France to provide assurances at Geneva that it was taking steps to grant full independence to the three Indochinese states.

The Soviet Union severed its diplomatic relations with Australia this date because of the latter's refusal to hand over a fugitive envoy in Canberra, Vladimir Petrov, on charges of embezzlement. The Russians accused Australia of a "large-scale campaign of slander" in its allegations that Mr. Petrov had fled his post as third secretary of the Soviet Embassy at Canberra and provided the Australian Government documents which were said to have exposed a Communist spy ring. The Russians recalled their Ambassador to Australia and announced that their Canberra Embassy would be closed. At the Embassy, staff were busy burning documents and books in a huge bonfire built in a fenced-in yard. The Soviets also accused the Australian Government of kidnaping Mr. Petrov's wife, who was also granted political asylum with her husband. Australia had already refused an earlier demand for the return of the couple.

In Tokyo, the Japanese House of Representatives late this date defeated a no-confidence vote against the pro-American Administration of Prime Minister Sigeru Yoshida, climaxing the nation's greatest postwar political crisis. It was the first time in the 75-year modern political history of Japan that a Prime Minister had fought and won against violent opposition, scandal and nearly solid opposition from the press. More than 20 Progressives, the second conservative party of Japan, had walked out of the House, giving the Liberal party, conservative in its orientation, a majority vote. Shipping scandals had touched off the Government crisis the previous January after disclosures linked Liberal Party and some Progressive Party leaders to wealthy shipbuilders who were obtaining subsidies to restore Japan's war-battered merchant marine. There had been more than 100 arrests, confessions and indictments in the case thus far, with most of the evidence pointing to large-scale kickbacks to party leaders.

Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, acting chairman of the Senate Investigations subcommittee conducting the investigation of the dispute between the Army and Senator McCarthy, said this date that the subcommittee might have to rewrite its "fuzzy" order for seizure of records of telephone calls monitored without the consent of both parties, specifically one of November 7, 1953 between Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens and Senator McCarthy, a transcript of which had been made at the behest of Secretary Stevens without the foreknowledge of Senator McCarthy. The subcommittee was in recess until Monday following the second day of public hearings the previous day, during which the issue came to light when Secretary Stevens disclosed that a call with the Senator was monitored and transcribed. Senator Mundt said that if the matter went to court, he did not want the entire investigation sunk on the basis of a legal technicality. The subcommittee had voted unanimously the previous day to subpoena all memoranda, documents, and notes of monitored conversations between parties to the dispute and all others, provided they were found to be material and relevant to the issues the subcommittee was considering.

Senator McCarthy prepared to deliver a couple of speeches in Milwaukee this date after flying from Washington for the weekend, and reiterated to newsmen that he was insisting that all monitored Army Department statements connected with the case of Private G. David Schine be presented as evidence in the hearings in chronological order, to place matters in the "correct perspective", which he believed would show that the Army had prevented the subcommittee, normally chaired by Senator McCarthy, from exposing the cover-up of the previous 10 to 30 years, and had engaged in effort to get the subcommittee to end its investigation of Communists in the Army.

In Augusta, Ga., the President this date called on U.S. citizens to join on September 17 in a "rededication of the great principles for which this nation stands." The Congress had designated in 1952 that date as "Citizenship Day" in commemoration of the signing of the Constitution on that date in 1787. Perhaps, it would be a good notion to revive that date as cause for celebration, and retire the dark shroud surrounding September 11, after twenty years. The country is stumbling around like a manic depressive, vacillating between morose paranoia on the one hand and cackling insanity as humor on the other. Perhaps somewhere in the middle would be a better place to be, in terms of cultural sanity, standing firm for our Constitution, all of it, not merely a handful of words here or there which are appealing to gun nuts and the like, those in Congress and out.

Rowland Evans, Jr., indicates that Guy Hollyday, recently ousted as Federal Housing commissioner, had taken issue with Justice Department criminal division head, Warren Olney III, and his charge that the FHA felt no responsibility for protecting homeowners from predator repair salesmen, telling the Senate Banking Committee the previous day that FHA was "greatly concerned" over the welfare of homeowners who used Government-insured loans to remodel their homes.

In Jackson, Miss., a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger, Joe Penix, was able to stop a potential suicide by keeping the caller on the telephone the previous night until she could be identified and police sent to her address. Mr. Penix had told the story in the newspaper this date of how he spent 45 minutes talking the woman out of her intent to commit suicide, after she called to say she wanted to report a death, her own. He asked another reporter to have the call traced as she consistently refused to identify herself, saying she was 27, had been married four times and was in ill health. She said that she had attempted suicide previously and had her stomach pumped at a hospital, provided the reporter with her physician's name, which Mr. Penix provided to another reporter who was able to locate the physician, enabling the police and doctor to hurry to the woman's apartment, where, she had informed Mr. Penix, she had turned on the gas, placing the phone receiver nearby so that he could hear it escaping. She told him that she was feeling sleepy and asked him not to hang up, eventually dropping the telephone, whereupon police arrived two minutes later, in time to revive her.

In London, evangelist Billy Graham ended the eighth week of his crusade this night with his voice still strong, after having spoken to about a million persons during more than 70 revival meetings. The crusade still had four more weeks to go at Harringay Arena, before a finale at Wembley Olympic Stadium on May 22, where 100,000 people were expected to attend. Following two days of rest, Rev. Graham would then take his crusade to Paris on May 25, and from then until June 16, would tour U.S. military bases in France and West Germany. He would then tour Scandinavia, with rallies in Helsinki at the Olympic Stadium for two days in mid-June, then at Stockholm's Sports Stadium for two days, finishing in Copenhagen on June 21. He would then speak in Berlin's Olympic Stadium on June 27.

Also in London, real Russian vodka was returning to British bars this date for the first time since the Revolution of 1917, 500 cases of it having arrived the previous day aboard a Soviet freighter, with importers indicating that demand was high and pleading for licenses to bring in more. The Commies are trying to turn you into alcoholics to make it easier to take over.

Daylight savings time would go into effect on Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m. in 18 states and the District of Columbia, and so if you live in those areas, be sure to turn your clock ahead one hour, so that you don't fall behind and wind up having lifelong nightmares about missing that class, what was the subject? and not knowing anymore, though once you did, where it is even meeting in the building, and how many book reports you failed to turn in during the semester, when were they due? with only a couple of weeks left before the start of exams, wandering aimlessly, hopelessly from classroom to classroom, trying futilely to awaken a glimmer of recognition and recall, waking with a start in a cold sweat, only to realize, embraced by the soothing warmth of a satisfied grin, that nothing of the kind ever happened, at least not of that particular specie of procrastination.

On the editorial page, "A Senator without a Party" indicates that Senator William Jenner of Indiana had been one of two Senatorial problems for the President in the 1952 campaign, the other having been Senator McCarthy. Both had bitterly attacked General Marshall, who had taken then-Major Eisenhower from obscurity and brought him to Washington, subsequently, as Army chief of staff, appointing him to lead the Allied forces in Europe during the war. General Eisenhower, during the campaign, decided, against his better judgment, to appear with both Senators.

The piece wonders whether Senator Jenner really belonged to the Republican Party, as he had once said that every competent person knew that the "Acheson cease-fire in Korea would be followed by invasion of Southeast Asia", and that the "Acheson hold-overs in the State Department" were able to make U.S. military officials equip half a million men on Formosa "for the wrong ends", and were also able, "through devious channels, to keep Syngman Rhee from getting reserves of gasoline to fly his planes and keep his tanks moving." He had also stated that "the Acheson fifth column in the State Department tied our military security in a knot with nations which were ready to appease the Reds."

Yet, these statements appeared quite contrary to recent statements by the President, the Vice-President, and Secretary of State Dulles, which it quotes, suggesting that Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, as an independent, was not the only man in the Senate without a party.

"A Wise Choice for Librarian" indicates that the President had made a wise choice in appointing L. Quincy Mumford, director of the Cleveland Public Library, as the new Librarian of Congress. Mr. Mumford had a brilliant record in several important positions and held the esteem of his colleagues. His name had been submitted to the President, along with five others, by the American Library Association as being qualified. He was also President-elect of the ALA. Mr. Mumford was a native of Ayden, N.C., and had graduated with high honors from Duke in 1925, receiving a master's degree also from Duke in 1928. He had served in various capacities in the Duke library, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress before going to Cleveland in 1945, first as assistant director, then becoming director in 1950.

The Library of Congress had been established in 1800, with the purchased library of former President Thomas Jefferson ultimately forming its renewed nucleus after the British burned the Capitol in 1814. In 1954, it held nearly ten million books and pamphlets, generally considered to be the largest library in the world. In addition to performing research and other services for members of Congress and other Government departments, the Library was the head of a large inter-library loan system, furnishing to college, state, municipal and other libraries books which they did not possess and could not obtain elsewhere. It was the greatest single resource for broadening the base of American culture.

It congratulates Mr. Mumford for the appointment and praises the President for making it.

"A Small Boy and a Larger Lesson" regards the front-page story of the previous day of the South Carolina boy who had swallowed a plastic pellet from his whistle after hitting a bump while riding his tricycle, extracted from his lung by means of a bronchoscope and an electrically heated cautery inserted through the tube, fusing with the plastic pellet, enabling its safe removal without more complex surgery, accomplished in only seven minutes by two Charlotte laryngologists.

It indicates that such advancements in medicine were constantly taking place across the country in ways thought impossible just a few years earlier, but that newspapers had found it often difficult, because of the physician-patient privilege, to get the doctors to provide information about such techniques.

In New York, on April 22, the President had read to the press a lecture regarding "balanced presentation" of the news, telling newspaper publishers that they should provide emphasis to news which united the American people in an equal volume to that of news which divided them. It finds that he had made a good point and that the constructive deeds and actions of decent, law-abiding people, as well as the aberrant behavior of members of society, should be reported in the newspapers.

It indicates that the medical profession had been willing to use the newspapers in its campaign against "socialized medicine" but had been hesitant to tell the story of its constructive accomplishments, suggests that stories such as that of removing the plastic pellet from the boy's lung did more to inspire public confidence in medicine than all of the political handbills shipped from AMA headquarters in Chicago.

A piece from the Twin City Sentinel of Winston-Salem, titled "Not for Tropic Nights", indicates that the mambo was being blamed for undermining the efficiency of the Philippine Government of President Ramon Magsaysay, who cited the case of an engineer who was taking mambo lessons and danced for hours until he was so tired the next day that he could not do any work. It suggests that many veterans who had spent time during the war in the Philippines would wonder how anyone could do any dance for hours in such tropical heat, finds the engineer to be superhuman, as the best pace for the Philippines was "perhaps an upright crawl, and the best dance the minuet." It suggests that for the sake of the Government, the Filipinos should turn their efforts to other dances, such as the creep, said to be the rage in England, or the junta, popular in the Middle East, or the schmaltz, particularly the Strauss schmaltz, as performed in Vienna and in motion pictures featuring Emperor Franz Joseph and his muttonchop beards.

Drew Pearson indicates that Senator McCarthy had a past record of anti-farm voting, and, in consequence, had sent his investigators to look at the Agriculture Department to ferret out "secret Communists" responsible for "undermining the farm economy". The Senator was already criticizing Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson's flexible price-support plan and was supporting continuation of high, rigid supports, advocating even higher than the current 90 percent parity, going all the way to 100 percent. In the past, however, he had fought for sliding-scale price supports between 75 and 90 percent of parity, the same position taken by the Secretary. He had also voted against the farmer consistently. When the Commodity Credit Corporation wanted to increase its borrowing authority by two billion dollars so that it could make the price support payments, the Senator voted against it. When the Truman Administration wanted to increase storage facilities, he also voted against it, causing, in part, the surplus grain of the farmers to be left rotting on the ground without storage facilities. The Senator had also voted repeatedly to cut vital appropriations for the Agriculture Department. Regarding soil conservation, he had voted six times to sabotage the program. He had 15 opportunities to vote for rural electrification projects, but had voted 12 times against the interests of the farmers. Now, however, he suddenly was posing as the friend of the farmer to root out Communists in the Agriculture Department for purportedly sabotaging farm prices.

Senator John Sparkman of Alabama was now paying the penalty for having accepted the Democratic platform as the vice-presidential nominee of 1952, as the platform contained a civil rights plank which was not popular with some in Alabama. As a result, he was facing a primary fight with Congressman Laurie Battle, and, though the Senator appeared certain to win the primary, the necessity to campaign actively had taken a lot of time away from his Senate duties. He was aware that a large amount of money was being funneled into Alabama from outside the state, much of it from Texas oil tycoons upset with him because he had consistently voted against turning the tidelands oil interests over to the states. Congressman Battle appeared to have plenty of radio and television time, plus paid workers.

Senator John McClellan of Arkansas had nearly come to blows recently with Sam Sears, the Boston attorney who had been kicked out as chief counsel in charge of investigating the dispute between Senator McCarthy and the Army after only a week on the job. Behind closed doors, Senator McClellan had asked why Mr. Sears had lied to the Senate Investigations subcommittee about his past support for Senator McCarthy, having first indicated that he had never stated publicly or privately any opinion on the Senator, until it became public that he had in fact endorsed Senator McCarthy during the 1952 campaign. During the closed-door session, Mr. Sears had responded to Senator McClellan that he had told Senator Henry Jackson of Washington about his past statements regarding Senator McCarthy, to which Senator McClellan shouted: "That's asinine! I was there when you talked to Senator Jackson!" Mr. Sears indicated that he could not remember ever meeting Senator McClellan, but both Senators McClellan and Jackson had spent an hour with him, questioning him about his past, taking him to meet the other members of the subcommittee. Senator McClellan was so furious at the bland denial by Mr. Sears that he had to be restrained from going after him with his fists.

Marquis Childs, in Rome, indicates that the U.S. was about to began a diplomatic offensive during the coming weeks and months which would determine the balance between peace and war in the world, consisting first of obtaining ratification by France and Italy of the European Defense Community, the only two nations not having ratified the treaty among the six participating, with ratification necessary before the summer vacations of the parliaments of each country in mid-July. The second and more difficult step would be to obtain united European and Asian support for continued and successful prosecution of the war in Indo-China.

To obtain Italian cooperation, it had been arranged with Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia that Trieste would be divided with Italy, as the U.S. and Britain were withdrawing their forces from the free state. Tito had just signed with Turkey a defense alliance, and would later execute one with Greece, with the U.S. agreeing that greater economic and military aid would be forthcoming to provide the three-power alliance strength against Communist aggression. If that worked out, U.S. officials were somewhat confident that Italy would ratify the EDC before the recess of its parliament. There was also a growing belief that preliminary assurances had been given to bring action in the French National Assembly as well. The President had given assurances that U.S. troops would remain in Europe as long as there was any threat of danger from any source, and it was believed that Secretary of State Dulles, during his recent trip to Paris, had given assurances that U.S. military power would supplement and, if necessary, supplant the French forces in Indo-China, though such an agreement would at present be officially denied. Vice-President Nixon's recent remarks regarding the sending of U.S. troops to Indo-China should France withdraw, were believed in Europe to be directly related to an effort to prepare American public opinion and Congress for such an effort following the Geneva peace conference. Secretary Dulles had emphasized to the French that before Congress could be approached for U.S. participation, it would be necessary to muster at least token units of powers immediately concerned with the fate of Southeast Asia into the battle line.

Thus, during the opening weeks of the Geneva conference, the U.S. would be working behind the scenes to obtain active support for the war from such powers as the Philippines and Siam. But if Communist China and the Soviets were to agree to withdraw support from Ho Chi Minh and the Communist guerrillas under his control, reducing the war to a mopping-up operation which the French could handle, aided by large-scale help from the U.S., then such a coalition of forces would be unnecessary. But no one believed that it would occur that way.

Doris Fleeson indicates that White House aides were beginning to bustle around the corridors and cloakrooms of Congress in numbers and energy reminiscent of the New Deal, and were obtaining comparable results. As Senators debated the various fixed-price support amendments to the wool bill offered by the farm bloc, word was spread behind the scenes that affirmative votes would be simply wasted effort, as Senators were informed that the President would veto the bill if it came to him with such amendments. That would only cause the wool growers to be angry toward members of Congress in a midterm election year. Thus, it was anticipated that when the amendment sponsors finished their arguments, the Administration would have its way.

Similar pressure was being exerted on behalf of the tax revision bill, with the twin goals of passing it substantially unaltered and defeating the amendment offered by Senator Walter George of Georgia to increase personal income tax exemptions. It was believed that the latter amendment would lose by at least between 8 to 10 votes. The liberal coalition were holding tax seminars and would fight against the Administration bill's major provisions, especially the dividend tax, where some hope of success was possible. But, eventually, the bill, in the main, would likely pass.

Regarding the wiretap bill proposed by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, the House had passed a version which he did not like, requiring a Federal judge to approve of a wiretap rather than allowing the Attorney General to do so, in matters of national security, before the results could be introduced as evidence, and that bill was now being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada was insisting that the Attorney General's authority be carefully circumscribed regarding his ability to use wiretaps. Most Democrats were hoping that the Committee would bottle up the bill so that it would not reach the floor, as they did not wish to have to cast a negative vote on a proposal which essentially was aimed at getting evidence of "treason" into the courts—though the intent of the proposed legislation would have been more accurately described had Ms. Fleeson limited it to espionage or sabotage, as treason is a very limited crime, the only crime specifically defined in the Constitution, requiring either confession or at least two witnesses to the same overt act, which must entail "levying war" against the United States or giving of aid and comfort to a declared enemy in time of war. The Senators, she continues, had no confidence, however, in the Attorney General's self-restraint against making political hay with such a law.

A letter writer from Versailles, France, indicates that she was a young French girl who had sought employment with the U.S. Army at the Hotel Astoria, near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris after leaving school in 1948, and had seen many large photographs hanging on the wall in the vestibule of the hotel, showing "rows of neat white crosses going very far into the distant in a wonderful perspective, the proud flag of America fluttering and watching protectingly over all the American boys who lie silent." Nearby was the Flame of France's Unknown Soldier, burning forever, "making a strong bond with the American graves." Despite time having passed, she indicates her sadness in thinking of the mothers, children and loving women of the soldiers who lay so silently in the graves, was proud and moved to know that they were in the soil of her country. She indicates that sometimes unpleasant words were spoken about France, and that some Frenchmen sometimes spoke unpleasant words about America, but she regards that as meaning nothing before "the silent American boys who died to save us." She calls her letter "bond of blood" because twice America and France had been bonded by the blood of soldiers. She wanted Americans to know that the French did not forget.

A letter from Bob Cherry, Jr., indicates his high personal regard for the publisher, editor and associate editor of the newspaper, but expresses great difference of opinion with their views on U.S. foreign policy, as set forth, for example, the previous Saturday in the editorial, "First the Stick, and Now the Carrot", admonishing Secretary Dulles for using a stick in telling Europe in plain language that unless more support were given for EDC, U.S. aid might be withdrawn, while complimenting the President for soft-pedaling the issue with the carrot, assuring Europe that American troops would remain as long as its security were threatened. He supports the Secretary's method, thinks the President's reassurances were redundant, that the U.S. had done enough to try to make EDC work, resents the continued pressure for more aid. He says that he was tired of reading editorials about Europe's pride and sovereignty, urges writing more about U.S. pride and sovereignty. He favors first using the carrot, but when it failed, thinks resort to the stick was appropriate, as at present.

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