The Charlotte News

Monday, December 21, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Panmunjom, the U.N. Command this day prepared a last-minute broadcast appeal to the 22 Americans resisting repatriation, even as the allied Far East supreme commander, General John Hull, stated that hope had been abandoned that any of the men would change their mind and return home. The Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission had announced that it had approved an allied request to broadcast to the prisoners on Wednesday, hours before the deadline for the explanations, seeking a change of mind by the prisoners who had refused repatriation. The Commission ruled that the prisoners had to accept a letter from the allies, which urged them to return home. The Communists had resumed their explanations program this date, following a 34-day delay, and sought an extension of the time for the interviews beyond December 23, a request which the U.N. Command rejected. The Communists were able to convince 33 out of a group of 250 Chinese, the greatest percentage of prisoners in any one day agreeing to return home, about triple the previous percentage of such prisoners in any one day. On October 31, 21 of 459 North Koreans had elected to return home, the previous high. The best previous record with Chinese prisoners had been 10 out of 430, on October 17. In eight days of interviewing, the Communists had talked to 2,681 prisoners and had won back 104 or 3.9 percent.

The White House announced this date that the Soviets had agreed to join the U.S. in secret negotiations on the proposal of the President for an international sharing pool of atomic knowledge and materials, under the supervision of the U.N. The President had outlined the plan to the U.N. General Assembly on December 8, proposing that Russia join with the U.S. and other nations which possessed atomic materials to create an international atomic energy agency for peaceful development.

The Commerce Department reported that foreign aid statistics showed exports to Communist China from non-Communist nations to be 18.5 million dollars in July and 19.3 million in August, whereas the monthly average during the first half of the year had been 27.1 million. Senator Joseph McCarthy had denounced all such deals as "blood trade" based on the fact that American soldiers were still being held prisoner by the Communists in Korea. He urged denying U.S. aid to countries trading with Communist China. The Administration contended, however, that the U.S. should not try to dictate trade policy to its allies once they promised not to send strategic goods to China. The recent decline in trade with China had been attributed to a diminishing demand among the Chinese for antibiotics, perhaps the result of the end of the fighting in Korea. Britain ranked fifth in shipments to China for the first half of the year, and British experts predicted that the amount of trade for the whole year would be 17.4 million dollars worth, most of which would be in wool, chemicals, textiles and textile machinery. Japan had previously sold about a third of its exports to China, but the previous year had shipped only $522,000 worth, the major item being edible seaweed. French and German steel shipments to China had increased the previous year and had climbed even faster at the beginning of 1953, but French leaders, when they had been in Washington the previous March, had promised to halt the trade, and West Germany had followed suit early in the fall. The previous year, Pakistan had been the second largest exporter to China, selling nearly 84 million dollars worth of goods, largely cotton, but during 1953, its trade had fallen well below that level. Ceylon, which received no U.S. aid, had exported about 26 million dollars worth of merchandise to China in 1952, almost all of it strategic rubber, and the rate of those shipments had nearly doubled in the first part of the year and were still continuing.

In Versailles, the National Assembly again failed to elect a new president of the French Republic, in the ninth ballot taken since the previous Thursday, never having previously gone beyond two ballots. Premier Joseph Laniel remained the top contender, receiving 413 votes, 17 fewer than he had received on the eighth ballot, still not reaching the requisite majority of 462.

In Iceland, a ground rescue team was believed to have reached the wreckage of the U.S. Navy bomber which had crashed the prior Thursday on a glacier, but no word had come as to whether any of the nine aboard was still alive. The rescue parties had to withstand blizzard conditions to reach the site. U.S. authorities had said the previous night that there was little hope that any of the crew members had survived the crash or the fierce storms, though it had previously been stated, based on a report from a spotter plane, that at least three members of the crew had survived.

In Washington, the head of the International Longshoremen's Association said this date that if the ILA won a collective bargaining election on the New York waterfront, he would favor affiliating the union with the United Mine Workers union, which would effectively make John L. Lewis the labor boss of the New York waterfront, as well as the miners' union. The ILA had been excluded from the AFL on grounds that it was rife with criminal elements. About 25,000 dockworkers were eligible to vote in the election. A court injunction temporarily restraining a threatened ILA strike, would expire on Christmas Eve, but the head of the union said that it would be up to the union's Atlantic coast committee to determine whether a strike would then proceed. He said that they expected to have a Merry Christmas.

In Detroit, city and State police searched for five fugitives from the Southern Michigan prison, believed to be hiding out somewhere in Detroit's residential areas. The five men were described as being among the most dangerous ever sent to the prison. They had escaped the previous Saturday night, cutting through a steel grate of a sewage tunnel. Eight others who had participated in the break had been recaptured, and two female hostages had been freed unharmed after being held for eleven and a half hours by one of the groups of fugitives. Police were particularly anxious to capture one of the five fugitives, described as a sociopath who might have sought freedom for the purpose of exacting revenge. He had been sentenced to life in prison for a 1943 Detroit barroom slaying. A special prosecutor in the original trial had been removed from Detroit for his safety. The prison warden said that the escape had been the result of someone's negligence and that an investigation would transpire. A late bulletin indicates that police had captured three of the five fugitives, but not the one police considered most dangerous.

In Logan, O., three persons were charged with breaking into a prison honor camp, one of whom was a former inmate released about a month earlier. One of the men had been spotted by a guard leaving the camp with an armful of clothing, and the three men were then intercepted by police.

Near Richmond, Va., five persons were killed in a three-car collision on U.S. 1 near Carmel Church, four of the five having been passengers in one of the vehicles.

In London, the cold, gray fog turned deep purple this date, with the weatherman describing it as "royal purple", saying it was the result of refraction of light through suspended water particles.

Also in London, Prime Minister Churchill's burned left hand, suffered the previous Friday when a box of matches had ignited as he tried to strike one, was doing "very well", according to a Government spokesman this date.

Also in London, Tailor and Cutter, considered an authoritative journal on men's sartorial fashion, stated this date that properly dressed gentlemen would wear a cummerbund rather than a fancy vest. The magazine said that its virtue was that it covered "the ugly wrinkled gap between shirt and top of trousers."

In Somerville, Mass., a man obtained his sight again after being blind for 15 years, following two successful operations on dense cataracts on both eyes. He was able to see for the first time the woman he had married three years earlier, finding that she was beautiful. He was a wholesale trucker. He had originally been told that he could not be helped, but could see after bandages were removed following the second operation. He was also able to see his children for the first time in 15 years, one of whom had not been born when he became blind.

In Chicago, the National Safety Council estimated that the holiday weekend would take the lives of 510 Americans, between 6:00 p.m. on Thursday and midnight on Sunday. The president of the Council said that if motorists would heed the spirit of Christmas as they drove, then as many as 110 potential victims might be saved. He suggested for precautions, not to drive if the weather was inclement, to start early, take it easy and allow for extra time, always give the other fellow a break, and not to drink while driving, watching out for others who might not be as wise.

On the editorial page, "Solicitor Handed Tough Assignment" indicates that Solicitor Basil Whitener had a tough job ahead in dealing with the five presentments made by the grand jury regarding police corruption in the community, four of the presentments being returned against Police Chief Frank Littlejohn. The investigation had stemmed from charges made by Drew Pearson in his column and on his radio show, contending that payoffs had been made to police officers to keep gambling operations going in the community. The grand jury had not finished its work and would recommend that the new grand jury, to be appointed in January, follow up.

The piece indicates that the grand jury had worked hard and conscientiously, and had performed a public service. But it was still impossible to say whether the facts justified the charges, as the facts on which the presentments were based had not yet been made public. Under state law, Mr. Whitener would have to provide dates, places, names and reasons for indictments for the conduct. Recently, the State Supreme Court had reversed the conviction of a man charged with attempting to bribe a State Highway Patrolman, after the evidence showed that he had mailed the Patrolman $100, the Court finding that the indictment was invalid for not explaining why he had attempted to bribe the Patrolman. At present, it finds that the presentments were too vague for anyone to draw any conclusions from them. The case would also be complicated by the fact that there was no provision for stenographic services before grand juries, and so it was difficult to punish any witnesses for perjury. The Solicitor would have to do much of the basic fact-finding and would, according to a canon of ethics of the State Bar, have to pursue the matter in an unbiased manner "to see that justice is done", while not concealing any evidence or witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused.

It indicates that the laws governing grand juries in the state were antiquated, permitting grand juries to meet only during the terms of court, which, in many districts, were infrequent and irregular. They not only had no stenographic services but were provided no counsel, and consequently often were ineffective. It finds that the value, however, of the grand jury, composed of a group of 18 laymen, was one of the bulwarks of liberty, as was shown in the investigation into the police department. It favors amending the State statutes to follow the Federal statutes, which provided for grand juries serving for six months and being supplied with counsel and stenographic services.

"A Suggestion for Mecklenburg Doctors" indicates that doctors of the County ought consider seriously a recent suggestion by the AMA's Council on Medical Service that more medical grievance committees be formed at the county level. About half of the nation's county medical societies had some method for handling complaints of patients. According to a Council survey, the majority of grievance committees had been set up since 1949, with a few of them including one or more laymen, but most consisting only of doctors. A majority of the complaints dealt with fees, inadequate service or general misunderstandings. Most of the committees had authority to arbitrate cases or to report them to a disciplinary body, and in about half the number of complaints handled, the physician was sustained in his or her conduct.

North Carolina had a grievance committee at the state level, but there were only a few local committees. It indicates that if such a committee were formed locally, it would have to put up with complaints from psychopaths and crackpots, but would also hear valid complaints. Overall, it finds that such a committee would perform a beneficial service, even if not handling any complaints, as it would demonstrate the medical profession's willingness to discuss problems of medical care with the public, and would afford a means for the profession to explain to the public how the practice of medicine worked.

"Nothing To Boast About" indicates that in 1920, North Carolina had become the first Southern state to abolish the poll tax, followed eventually by Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Tennessee had abolished its poll tax in 1953. The previous week, Alabama voters voted in favor of an amendment to the State Constitution which limited back payment of poll taxes to $3, two year's worth of the $1.50 annual tax, whereas the deficiency limit had been $36. Alabama, however, retained the tax. Only Arkansas, Mississippi, Virginia and Texas otherwise still retained poll taxes.

It remarks that while Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama were backward states, it was surprising that Texas and Virginia maintained the tax, as the residents of those states liked to boast about the merits of their state.

A piece from the Kansas City Times, titled "Progress in Popcorn", indicates that the St. Joseph News-Press had announced at the annual Popcorn Industries' convention in Chicago that five new flavorings of popcorn would soon be on the market, including cinnamon, peppermint, licorice, orange and banana. It wonders what would be next, garlic, kraut juice, or rhubarb-flavored popcorn. It advises the popcorn industry to give up the "old crank case type of lubricant" it presently used on popcorn and return to real butter, producing a novel product, popcorn which tasted like popcorn.

Drew Pearson tells of the President having held two emergency Cabinet meetings plus a regular Cabinet meeting to get his legislative program into shape before meeting with Republican Congressional leaders the prior Friday through Sunday. The program which came out of the Cabinet meetings was surprisingly liberal, some finding it more akin to the New Deal than that for which the Republican Party stood, the chief reason for its clashing with the Old Guard Republican leaders. The program was flexible and the advisers to the President went into the meetings with the Republican Congressional leaders prepared to negotiate. Mr. Pearson provides a summary of what the Administration proposed, with Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson producing a three-year program for reducing the defense budget, including drastic reductions, but not so drastic as had been the case under Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, Secretary in 1949 through September, 1950. The budget was not to be balanced during 1954, with Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey accepting that there would be a nine billion dollar deficit. The tax cuts scheduled to go into effect in January would occur and no effort would be made to stop them, though it was the only way to balance the budget. There would be no attempt to propose a national sales tax, even in the form of a manufacturers' tax. The President's economic advisers had set up a public-works program not unlike the New Deal, in case the business economy turned sour. Price supports continued automatically by law into the following year, but Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson proposed flexible price supports on different commodities and greater effort to sell farm surplus abroad. Congressional leaders did not like the idea of flexible supports. Some of the President's advisers favored Federal aid to education to alleviate the desperate problem of overcrowded schools and the final outcome would depend on the Congressional leaders. Trade and tariff changes would be put off until after a commission on the matter reported in March. Revision of Taft-Hartley would be proposed, but would not go nearly far enough to please labor leaders.

The British had resented the warning of Secretary of State Dulles that the U.S. would stop all military aid to Europe unless the French approved the European Defense Community, entailing a unified army, with Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden attempting to get Secretary Dulles to soften his rhetoric, the Secretary refusing on the basis that he had talked tough to show Congress that he would not stand for further stalling by the French.

A group of Midwestern industrialists were planning to create a foundation to promote the adoption of the Bricker amendment to the Constitution, to change the treaty-making power to require that executive agreements formed by the President were subject to the same ratification requirements as treaties. Mr. Pearson indicates that it was a direct slap at the President, Adlai Stevenson and Secretary Dulles, and if passed, would throw the whole of foreign relations into a state of chaos.

Marquis Childs tells of the President having bent over backwards to win over Republican leaders in Congress through friendly persuasion, repeatedly inviting them to breakfasts, lunches and dinners during the prior eleven months. In many instances, they had accepted the hospitality and then turned around and voted against the President's program. But now, members of the White House staff were suggesting that things would be different, that the President would summon members of his party to follow him if they wanted to win support from the American people for re-election in 1954. Whether Republicans, conditioned to the role of the opposition, would follow that new leadership remained to be seen.

The President was conducting a moderate program, with a broad extension of Social Security benefits and an increase in the minimum wage, designed to appeal to moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats.

Grassroots discontent within the farm organizations was causing the Administration to modify its program on public power versus private power, with less emphasis on the latter. One of the most effective champions in Congress for the private utilities was not going to run for re-election. Representative William Miller of New York—to become, in 1964, the vice-presidential nominee under Senator Barry Goldwater—had sponsored the bill, which had passed the House, to turn over to five private utilities a major power site on the Niagara River. Governor Dewey had wanted the site developed by the New York State Power Authority. He had gone to Washington and used all of his influence to try to block the Miller bill in the Senate, despite having given Mr. Miller his start in politics. Mr. Miller had given a speech in which he said that he was tired of hearing Congress complain about being hamstrung by pressure groups. His friends said that he needed to return to his private law practice to make money, but those who had fought him on the power issue believed that opposition to his stand had caused him to withdraw.

The Northeast Electric Power Consumers' Committee had been formed in Albany the previous December 5, with representatives present from the REA co-ops, the State Farm Bureau federations, the Farmers' Union, and CIO and AFL from New York and New England. They had been told that while the area had one of the highest power rates in the country, development by the Federal or State government or both could produce one of the lowest rates. They laid the groundwork for a campaign to obtain approval for the public project.

Such efforts had influenced the Eisenhower program which he would seek to push through Congress. Republican conservatives would find it distasteful, but it embodied that which the President and his advisers believed to be essential both for the Republican Party and the country.

Robert C. Ruark, in Kenya, tells of a man who was organizing a safari with 15 women. Mr. Ruark pities him, and he explains at length why.

"He will have to answer at least 15,000 questions, such as what is that tree and why is a dik-dik little instead of big and what is a whistling thorn and why is a hyena and when do we go back to Nairobi so I can get this horrid hair waved?"

A letter writer indicates parentage of a high school student, who recently had discovered cigarettes, which the school had discovered and suspended the student for a period of three days. The writer, remaining anonymous, indicates that the schools had permitted students to smoke at designated places and times, outside the building, constituting an open invitation to the students to smoke. The parent had called the principal to try to obtain a modification of the punishment, but the principal had taken what the parent regards as an arbitrary stand and refused the request. The parent had written to the superintendent of the City schools and his reply had been acceptable, saying that the suspension might be too arbitrary and inflexible, that in some cases, other and more effective means might be utilized to deal with such a problem. A conference was then held between the parent, the principal, and the superintendent. The parent hopes that all parents of students in the school system would write to the newspaper expressing their feelings on whether a principal's punishment for an infraction of the rules should be subject to modification, especially when parents assumed responsibility for disciplinary action of the student. The parent was planning to appear before the Board of School Commissioners to try to obtain reconsideration of the question of smoking on school grounds and whether disciplinary action against students breaking the rules was justified.

You let those little wastrels get started on the smokes and the next you know, they're young punk drunks, then to mainlining hard drugs and learning to steal, not to mention other things, to support their habit.

A letter from Charles Crutchfield, head of the Jefferson Standard Broadcasting Co., WBTV and WBT radio, comments on the 65th anniversary of The News on December 11, congratulating the staff for reaching that milestone. He praises the newspaper for upholding through time fundamental rights, including freedom of the press.

A letter writer indicates that he had appeared before the grand jury investigating the police department, and had been listed as a witness for the returned presentment which found that Chief Littlejohn had been unlawfully allowing gambling to flourish in the community, indicates that the statement that he had been a witness on that count was false, and that he had been under the impression that a citizen's name and the information conveyed to the grand jury would be held in confidence unless the witness subsequently were called to testify in open court. He indicates that he would be appreciative if his name were not connected with any future parts of the investigation.

A letter writer from Dillon, S.C., indicates that in the "How's Your I.Q.?" column of December 17, the New York Yankees were listed as the answer to the question: "From what major league team did Babe Ruth retire at the close of his baseball career?" He asks whether in fact it was not the Boston Braves, to which the editors respond that he was correct.

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