The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 10, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Taipeh that, according to an unconfirmed Chinese Nationalist report this date, a new Communist jet air division from Manchuria was being moved to the Formosa Strait area for possible use in an assault on the offshore islands belonging to the Nationalist Chinese. The Defense Ministry, however, said it had not heard about the report. Official Nationalist circles welcomed the speech Tuesday night by Secretary of State Dulles regarding his tour of the Far East, believing that he had made clear that the U.S. would maintain a strong position against Communism in that part of the world and would meet force with force.

Secretary of State Dulles this date was reported to believe that the Chinese Communist leaders did not take at face value the repeated U.S. pledges to defend Formosa, with an anonymous Senator who had attended the briefing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday by Mr. Dulles having stated that the Secretary expressed concern that the Chinese Communists had gotten the impression that the U.S. really did not intend to fight for Formosa and the Pescadores. Communist China was reported to have sharply eased its violent campaign of public threats to capture Formosa and the Pescadores, with U.S. Government officials who studied Chinese propaganda saying that it did not necessarily suggest that the Communists were backing down, but Peiping radio was devoting substantial time to other current propaganda. Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, who had not heard the briefing by Secretary Dulles, said in an interview that the "great danger point is the apparent failure of the Chinese Communist Government to truly appreciate the determination of the United States to defend Formosa." He urged every possible effort by the Administration, through diplomatic channels and other devices of communication, to make it "crystal clear … that we do mean business on Formosa."

The President this date told the country's European allies that the U.S. would maintain its "fair share" of military forces in Europe as long as there was a threat to the area, addressing the pledge in a message to the prime ministers of seven European nations establishing the Western European Union, including a rearmed West Germany. The message was designed to dispel fears in France or other countries that once German power was re-established as part of the Western alliance, the U.S. would withdraw from Europe. The pledge by the President was conditioned on actual formation of the WEU. Among the points he made, was that "any action from whatever quarter which threatens the integrity or unity of the Western European Union" would be regarded as a threat to the security of the parties to NATO and therefore a threat calling for consultation under that treaty.

Before the Senate Banking Committee appeared this date former Federal Reserve Board chairman Marriner Eccles, who testified that there were elements of real danger to the economy from the stock market and housing booms, and thus called for tighter credit in both areas. He asserted that stock margin requirements ought be raised promptly to at least 75 percent, and that if stocks continued to rise in price, requirements ought ultimately be increased to 100 percent, that they should never have been reduced in February, 1953. Presently, margin requirements were at 60 percent, meaning that a purchaser of stock needed to put up 60 percent of the cost in cash and could borrow the other 40 percent from his or her broker. In February, 1953, the Fed reduced the margin requirements from 75 percent to 50 percent, and it was raised to 60 percent the previous January. John J. McCloy, board chairman of Chase National Bank, had earlier testified this date that the Committee's "friendly study" of the stock market was not being viewed with great apprehension in financial circles. He said that the downward trend in the stock market of the previous two days did not portend a general depression because of the otherwise good conditions economically in the country. He said that the U.S. was becoming more economically dependent on its allies as the free world grew stronger, and that other Western countries increasingly needed the support of the U.S. economy at the same time. He found that the impact of foreign participation in the U.S. stock market was not very significant and appeared to be decreasing in recent years, that at the end of 1953, foreign stockholders held no more than 2.9 percent of the total value of stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He expressed doubt of the widespread notion that a minor recession in the U.S. would set in train a downward trend worldwide.

Senate Democrats prepared for a sharp, partisan debate on tax relief this date, with a plan to offset income tax cuts with revenue from other sources. With the House-passed $20 per person tax reduction appearing doomed in the Senate, Senate Democratic leaders unveiled their own tax cut plans the previous day as a substitute measure, to provide 908 million dollars annually in tax relief, nearly all of which would go to low income families, at the rate of $20 for the taxpayer and $10 for each dependent except the spouse. It would repeal other benefits for corporations and higher income taxpayers, which Democrats contended would more than offset the amount of the individual reductions. But chances of passage of the substitute measure did not appear good, as two Southern Democrats on the Finance Committee, Senators Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, the chairman, and Walter George of Georgia, were opposed to the plan. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson said, however, that he believed the substitute measure would appeal to the majority of the Senators.

In Birmingham, the trial continued of Albert Fuller, the former chief deputy sheriff accused of murdering A. L. Patterson, shortly after the latter had won the Democratic primary to become the next State Attorney General of Alabama, after a campaign vowing to clean up vice-ridden Phenix City, with defense attorneys set to provide their final arguments and the jury expected to receive the case late this date or the following day. The prosecutor said that he would ask for the death penalty from the jury, who would determine the penalty. The prosecutor had provided his closing argument the previous day, and would have a chance to rebut the defense argument. Two co-defendants, Arch Ferrell, who had been the district attorney during the wide-open era of vice in Phenix City, and former State Attorney General Si Garrett, would be tried separately for the murder.

In New York, Matthew Henson, a black aide to Robert E. Peary in his 1909 conquest of the North Pole, credited with playing a key role in the conquest, had died the previous day in the hospital at age 88. He had been retired since 1936, but his later years had brought him the recognition and honor which had long been denied him. He had been a porter in a Washington hat store when he first met Admiral Peary in 1886, who then hired him as his valet. During the ensuing 23 years, Mr. Henson accompanied Admiral Peary on eight polar expeditions, culminating in the 1909 expedition, with the Admiral having said that he would not have succeeded but for his faithful aide, Mr. Henson. Despite that statement, Mr. Henson received little other than scorn and criticism from the general public for many years, until sentiment changed toward him, climaxing the previous April 6, on the 45th anniversary of the polar expedition, when President Eisenhower received him at the White House.

Harry Shuford of The News indicates that if Atomic Energy Commission calculations were correct, an atomic cloud had drifted over Charlotte and other sections of North and South Carolina early this date, but without any danger of radiation to the populace. The cloud was the result of a Tuesday morning detonation in Yucca Flat, Nev., with the cloud rising, as usual, to about 40,000 feet and then spreading out. Part of it had drifted over the Pacific and the other part had moved eastward, reaching North Carolina within about 72 hours after detonation. The cloud would have been invisible, however, to the naked eye, according to the Civil Defense director locally and the local weatherman.

Erwin Potts of The News tells of Charlotte residents, in an on-street survey, having solidly supported Governor Luther Hodges in his recommendations to tax tobacco rather than food. Smokers and non-smokers alike expressed the belief that the tobacco tax was preferable, stating that tobacco was a luxury while food was an essential, that people could do without cigarettes but not without food. One of those interviewed for the survey, R. J. Weigand, a book publishing company salesman, said that he did not think the lower classes could afford to pay a tax on food, and that if a tax was necessary, it should be on cigarettes. And so went the insider story… Sorry, tobacco companies.

Julian Scheer of The News reports that the local delegation to the General Assembly in Raleigh had received proposals the previous day from the Mecklenburg County Bar Association to establish a small claims court for claims not in excess of $3,000, with judgments appealable to the Superior Court. Frank McCleneghan, chairman of the Association's legislative committee, sent the measure to State Senator F. J. Blythe, who reviewed it with the delegation caucus the previous day and passed it to the Mecklenburg House members for further study, with the idea that it would be formed into a legislative bill.

In London, reports appeared in the press that Princess Margaret intended to marry a divorced commoner, RAF Group Capt. Peter Townsend, arousing sympathetic support from bellwethers of British public opinion, writers of letters to the editors. Marry whomever you want, even if whomever he is is common and can't even play guitar.

The President was locked out of the White House momentarily this date, after entering the Rose Garden to greet a group of foreign students who were in the country to study atomic energy technology, finding the door had swung shut and locked behind him when he tried to return. Grinning, the President pushed a buzzer button and was admitted. Don't tell the idiots at Fox News about that or they will insist on a posthumous cognitive examination to determine whether Vice-President Nixon should have become President much earlier. It was probably the Vice-President up to some hijinx, locking the door.

On the editorial page, "Charlotte Must Win Its Wings" indicates that a determined group of leaders from the Chamber of Commerce the previous day had made a sound case for ordered airport development to enable the city to take its rightful place in the modern air age. It urges that Charlotte needed the services of a competent professional consultant and a long-range plan for healthy growth and expansion of airport facilities, and that it was the duty of the City Council to answer those needs with as little delay as possible.

It further explains in detail some of the needs, including heliport facilities, in case you are extremely interested in the 1955 status of Charlotte airport facilities and its future needs.

"End Stop-and-Go Defense Planning" quotes General Eisenhower from a speech in Baltimore in September, 1952 that there was need for a new administration which would halt "stop-and-go planning" for defense, an administration which would "not demobilize and then hurriedly re-mobilize."

But it indicates that even with President Eisenhower now in the White House, defense planning had never gotten out of its old mold of stop-and-go planning. The Administration was reducing the armed forces despite added military commitments and growing Soviet strength. There was also indecisiveness, with the Administration first ordering reductions in the Air Force in 1953 and then restoring the reductions in 1954. Now, the Army was being made to bear the brunt of manpower reduction, but with new contradictions arising.

The previous December, the National Security Council reportedly had still been undecided on how large the Army's role should be in defense, with Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson announcing a 100,000-man cut, noting that "the relative danger of immediate war" had decreased, while the following day, Secretary of State Dulles had contradicted Mr. Wilson by saying "… the reductions are not due to the fact that the threat of war has diminished but merely due to the fact that we think we have other ways to cope with the threat." The prior January, Army chief of staff General Matthew Ridgway said that a cut in the size of the Army would "jeopardize security to a degree", while other officials had stated that the realignment of the armed forces team would promote the security of the nation and of the free world.

It finds that the defense question had now become a political football, with both Democrats and Republicans attempting to make an issue out of a problem which could affect the survival of Western democracy, and was thus not a happy situation. It urges that national defense and U.S. foreign policy required bipartisan cooperation and if that were impossible in the highly partisan present times, the Administration ought adopt a uniform, consistent policy and stick to it, with as little internal discord as possible under the circumstances.

"Redistricing: The Game Is Fixed" tells of the shell game within the General Assembly regarding redistricting of the State Senate by population, as required every ten years by the State Constitution in accord with the latest decennial census, but the legislators having played games to avoid it for four years. Now, instead of introducing a bill forthwith to redistrict properly under the 1950 census, State Senator F. J. Blythe had proposed a special commission to study the matter. The strategy had not worked and time in the session was running out, with the commission apparently coming up with no plan. It considers four years to be too long for a continuing shell game.

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "Without Benefit of Claque", tells of Yugoslav cartoonists and artists who drew comic strips having assembled recently, according to a dispatch, and determined unanimously that humor had to be funny, that individuals, as well as collectives, were fit subjects for humor, and that it was not humor unless laughter resulted spontaneously.

The piece pities the cartoonists who faced a harder problem than did comedians performing before an audience, because the consumer who viewed the cartoons and read the bubbles in each frame either found them funny and laughed, or did not and moved on to something else. The person did not laugh in response to crowd laughter or shrug shoulders in response to crowd silence.

Drew Pearson again regards the decision by Attorney General Herbert Brownell to dismiss the case against five Galveston, Texas, grain dealers accused of adulterating wheat with wheat not appropriate for human consumption, and then selling it abroad as if it were fit for human consumption, originally accused in the indictments of defrauding the Government of subsidy money in the process. The Attorney General held a press conference the previous week to explain the dismissals and had the chief of the criminal division, Warren Olney, with him at the time, both claiming that the cases had lacked evidence and that one Government witness had recanted his testimony. Some Senators, however, most of them Republicans, were not satisfied with the explanation, given the damage the wheat adulteration had done to the reputation of the country abroad. Senators Edward Thye of Minnesota and Milton Young of North Dakota both expressed dissatisfaction with the dismissals. Mr. Pearson presents in some further detail their objections, reiterating some of his previous statements from an earlier column about how the wheat came to be adulterated.

Marquis Childs indicates that the chief belief which Secretary of State Dulles had brought back from his tour of the Far East was the need for a firmer stand to prevent the Communists from obtaining large new areas in that part of the world. It was why both inside and outside the Administration, doubts were beginning to grow regarding the reductions in strength both militarily and economically which had been part of the economy program of the Administration.

During the 1952 campaign, General Eisenhower had spoken out against the type of stop-and-start defense program which had proved so costly in the past, both after World War I and after World War II, but there were those presently in official positions who believed that the same thing was now occurring in the wake of the Korean War.

There was an effort to create a military reserve system which would provide a reservoir of trained manpower in the event of a war, as an alternative to maintaining a large standing force in uniform, but that plan was already being scaled back. In the past, the U.S. had months during which to prepare for war after the first firing of the guns, but it was now agreed that there would be no such available time in the event of a war in the nuclear era. There was nevertheless the temptation to revert to the illusion that things would be as they had been in the past. And all of it was happening with the public having little awareness of the implications of the decisions, as increasingly, Congressional committees were hearing vital testimony in executive session. Recently, General Matthew Ridgway, chief of staff of the Army, had begun his testimony regarding his concern about the reductions in the Army and the effect it was having, before the Armed Services Committee had gone into closed session.

Mr. Childs concludes that seldom had there been issues of such import being decided with so little public knowledge and understanding.

Stewart Alsop indicates that about two years hence, the U.S. would likely be ready to launch into space the world's first artificial earth satellite, which would be about the size of a softball and weigh less than 100 pounds. It would be fired into space by a two or three-staged rocket, reaching an escape velocity from the atmosphere of just under eight miles per second during its final stage of thrust. Thereafter, it would orbit the earth at an altitude of 250 miles or more, taking two hours per orbit, and after a period of some weeks, would drift earthward until reaching the atmosphere and then disintegrate.

The satellite would carry instruments which could tell scientists much about space and so it would have scientific value, but would have no military application, which was the reason that no serious effort previously had been made to launch such a satellite, despite the fact that seven or eight years earlier, technicians of the Rand Project of the Air Force had determined that a satellite was technically feasible. Opponents of the project had previously argued that the first priority should be given to the ICBM.

But now, because it appeared that the Russians were developing such a satellite and that reaching an orbit first would have great propaganda value for the Soviet scientists and their technological advancement, it was now being looked at more seriously, especially as there was no reason to divert very much manpower or funding from the ICBM in the process, as the entire satellite project was estimated to cost no more than 20 million dollars.

Launching such a satellite would be considerably easier than launching a guided missile designed to travel 5,000 miles and deliver a nuclear warhead to a precise target. Such a warhead would be considerably heavier than the satellite and scientists had to develop a way for the rocket delivering the warhead to leave the atmosphere and reenter the atmosphere at the other end of its journey without, in the process, burning up, a problem not faced by the developers of the satellite technology.

A letter writer compliments the February 2 editorial titled, "'Give Us Hope'—The Prisoners' Plea", agreeing with the editorialist that the entire prison system needed study and revision, the writer suggesting that a completely new approach to penology perhaps needed to be developed. He disagrees with one idea expressed in the editorial, regarding its indication of there being too much of the Old Testament idea of an eye for an eye in the present prison system, and not enough application of New Testament philosophy and modern rehabilitation techniques. He views the Old Testament principle as not having been vindictive or cruel but rather as deterrent to harsher penalties being inflicted by the populace, designed to regulate procedures of punishment by the public magistrates. He believes the New Testament was not antagonistic to the Old Testament but designed to complete the law rather than change it.

A letter writer tells of a man who had joined the Army at the age of 14 and fought in Korea at the age of 15, then returned home and became involved in the slaying of a cab driver, for which he was executed a few weeks earlier at the age of 18 in Reidsville, Georgia. The writer believes that a life sentence would have satisfied justice and that there was a defect in society for not affording mercy to the defendant. He asserts that under the Eighth Amendment, forbidding cruel and unusual punishment, the death penalty should be abolished as unconstitutional. He finds it immoral and never justified, a relic of jungle law. He urges that the old precept of a life for a life ought be replaced with the Christian rule of charity, precluding the sacrifice of human life on the altar of vengeance.

A letter writer indicates that as a practicing attorney and veteran of more than four years in the Army during World War II, he had been interested in the court-martial of Sgt. Olson recently at Fort Bragg, the sergeant having been found guilty as charged and ordered imprisoned and dishonorably discharged, with forfeiture of pay and allowances. The sergeant had said at his sentencing that he would rather be shot than to receive a dishonorable discharge, and the writer finds that he was sincere in that statement, indicating that during his service, he had known men of high courage, fine loyalty and duty to their country, most of them non-commissioned officers. He finds that the sergeant, having been found guilty of aiding and abetting the Communists, could not be too strongly condemned and that he should be punished, but that the Army had also been too lax in training men and officers in what to expect from the Communists in terms of torture and promises of good treatment. He believes that understanding the circumstances of stress and mental anxiety involved in becoming a prisoner of war should mitigate the sentence imposed on the sergeant, at least to the extent of avoiding a dishonorable discharge after he had put in 20 years of honorable and faithful service.

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