The Charlotte News

Monday, December 28, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Panmunjom, a three-member majority of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission relegated to the U.N. and Communist commands the question of what to do with the more than 22,000 prisoners of war who had refused repatriation. An Indian spokesman for the Commission said that if the two commands could not reach agreement by January 22, then the Commission no longer would have legal rights to hold the prisoners. The majority report was signed by the Indian chairman, and by the representatives of Czechoslovakia and Poland. The representatives of Switzerland and Sweden filed a minority report, indicating that it was "appropriate" for the prisoner problem to be sent back to the two commands but that they did not see the need for a formal report at the present time, thus refusing to sign the majority report. The report also charged that there had been South Korean interference in the compounds housing the non-repatriating allies, and also criticized the U.N. Command. The Armistice provided that non-repatriating prisoners would be freed as civilians 30 days after the end of the 90-day period for explanations, which had expired on December 23. The Communists had insisted that the prisoners remain in custody pending the outcome of the Korean peace conference, originally scheduled to begin by October 28, but which had not been thus far convened.

The U.S., Britain and France were considering a reply to the Soviet proposal to postpone the proposed Big Four foreign ministers conference from January 4 to January 25 or later, because of administrative difficulties encountered by the Russians in arranging attendance at the earlier conference. A British Foreign Office spokesman expressed confidence that the Western powers would accept the change.

The Army was undertaking to carry out the President's order to reduce infantry forces in Korea, withdrawing two of the six Army divisions. The departure of the divisions would be carried out gradually, along the lines of a procedure used in Europe at the end of World War II, whereby men whose overseas duty had been nearing an end had been transferred into a division earmarked for return, while men with shorter service were assigned to an outfit scheduled to remain. The process would take at least several weeks to transact. The goal of Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson was to reduce the present Army strength from about two million men to 1.1 million by July 1, 1955, without impacting combat effectiveness, through reduction of support and service personnel.

In Boston, Selective Service director Lewis Hershey said this date that Americans had to "quit bemoaning" the prospect of military service, that two or three years was not a lifetime or enough of a part of a lifetime to cause everlasting difference. He said that "inaccurate ideas" which many young men had about military service were "discouraging these young men into indifference and indecision, frightening them into ill-considered or hasty decisions about college, the choice of a profession or anything else in their future."

In Augusta, Ga., the President called on two aides to assist in drafting a report to the American people on the Administration's first year in office, to be broadcast nationwide on January 4 via television and radio. He would also outline the legislative agenda for 1954. To try to effect bipartisan unity, the President would provide Democratic Congressional leaders a preview on January 5 of his January 7 State of the Union message. The President and his family were vacationing at the Little White House near the 10th tee of the Augusta National Golf Club. The President had a new office above the pro shop. That way, in between important decisions, he could get in a few pointers from the golf pro on duty and not have to change out of his golf shoes after shooting a couple or three holes to loosen up his gillywogs each morning.

William L. Ryan, Associated Press foreign news analyst, returning from a three-month trip to the Soviet Union, traveling through eight of the republics, provides the first in a series of uncensored articles describing and analyzing post-Stalin Russia. In the first entry, he indicates that there had been a bloodless revolution within the Communist Party, a middle-class revolution, as important as the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and no less powerful because it was non-violent and gradual. A powerful middle class was developing in the Soviet Union and, he observes, one day it might engulf and overwhelm the Communist Party. He had not found revolutionary restlessness but did find evidence of annoyance and irritation with the Soviet bureaucracy. The people expressed boundless confidence that the present was the time for change and that better things were in store with the new boss and a new government. Relief was evident over the fact that the Stalin era was over. He found that there was at least a decade of road-building, home-building, machine production and transport development before the Soviet consumer front could be compared with that of any advanced Western nation, and that the greatest obstacle in the way of it was the bureaucracy which had been built up under Stalin's dictatorship. If Premier Georgi Malenkov were to succeed, he would need to reduce the red tape. Russians in Moscow eagerly bought American magazines to look at the advertisements of consumer goods and dream about having such items, a fact which indicated that the middle class was growing impatient.

In New York, an American freighter rescued 36 of 43 crew members of a Finnish freighter which had split in two in icy, wind-blasted North Atlantic seas the previous day, and other vessels had rescued the remaining seven from two open lifeboats hours afterward.

In Holyoke, Mass., a pre-dawn fire destroyed a block of apartments and stores this date before being brought under control. There had been no deaths, but 30 persons had been taken to the hospital suffering from various degrees of smoke inhalation.

During the 78-hour holiday weekend, there had been 711 accidental deaths, 519 of which had occurred in traffic accidents, with 81 having died in fires and 111 in miscellaneous accidents. The death toll on the highways had exceeded the estimate by the National Safety Council that 510 would die during the holiday weekend, which had extended from 6:00 p.m. on Thursday through midnight Sunday. The number, however, was less than the record established in 1950 for a three-day period, 545. During the four-day holiday period of the previous year, 556 lives had been lost in traffic accidents. The average daily death toll from traffic accidents during the first 11 months of 1953 had been 102. During a pre-holiday 78-hour period during a weekend in early December, there had been 310 traffic fatalities and an overall accident death toll of 432.

In Charlotte, a man in his early thirties had pulled a pistol on the manager of a midtown men's store shortly after noon this date and escaped with approximately $2,200 in cash. The manager of the store said that the man kicked him in the stomach and ran from the store, heading south along Tryon Street. Police were alerted at 12:22 p.m. and an all-car alarm was sounded. The man was white and nicely dressed. Be on the lookout. The hold-up was the third to occur in the city within the previous three weeks.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports that the County Commissioners had approved this date a new system of personal property taxation, whereby a minimum personal property listing of ten percent of the listed value of the house and lot where the person resided would be made.

On the editorial page, "'Public Business Is the Public's Business'" indicates that sponsors of the Freedom of Information Conference to be held in Raleigh on January 14 had created the phrase of the title, which stated much in a very few words. It suggests that public officials often forgot that they were servants of the people and not masters, sometimes forgetting their roles and beginning to think that they were judges of what the people could be told about public business.

The 1953 General Assembly had changed state law, which previously had prevented executive sessions of committees regarding budgetary matters, enabling instead such committees to consider such legislation out of the public eye.

The conference would deal instead with two subjects, relations between the judiciary and the media, and relations between law enforcement agencies and the media, with each subject being discussed by a panel of ten people, after a keynote address by Governor William B. Umstead, plus a luncheon address by J. Russell Wiggins, managing editor of the Washington Post and chairman of the Freedom of Information Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Press and radio were cooperating in the effort to examine objectively the problems of gathering and disseminating public information about the courts and law enforcement agencies. Invitations had been sent to judges, solicitors, police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors and city managers all over the state, plus representatives of other interested groups.

It concludes that the conference held great promise for improving the dissemination of public knowledge in the state.

"'Sardis Road' Has Too Many Names" indicates that the following day, the City Planning Board and other City officials would discuss the proposed rerouting and widening of old Sardis Road, and it hopes that they would find merit in the proposal and supply the funds with which to make the changes as traffic on the road had become increasingly heavy with the buildup of the Cotswold and Sharon-Amity areas. It provides further detail, should you be interested. It points out that the several names applied to the road suggested the need for more civic planning and cooperation between the City and County planning boards, or their consolidation.

"Shun the Car—Take the Family Walking" indicates that The Journal of the American Association for Health & Recreation had reported that two U.S. doctors had conducted muscular fitness tests among thousands of American and European youths, of similar ages, from both urban and suburban communities, finding that the Americans had failed 78.3 percent of the tests while the Europeans had failed only 8.3 percent.

It indicates that its first reaction was that the American lack of physical fitness had resulted from too much television watching. But the doctors saw the conclusion in a broader context, that European children did not have the benefit of a highly mechanized society, not using cars, school buses, elevators or other such labor-saving devices, their recreation consisting largely of use of their own bodies, walking or riding their bikes to school, for instance.

It prescribes as an antidote to such lassitude as displayed by Americans, getting out of the easy chair, taking a walk instead of a drive, and working in the yard.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, titled "Negroes Who Don't Want Integration", indicates that one of the primary arguments of the NAACP in seeking abolition of segregation in the public schools had been that blacks were solidly in favor of the end of that system.

Two reporters from the Times-Dispatch had gone to Prince Edward County and interviewed 19 members of the black families whose names were listed among the plaintiffs in the Virginia school case out of Prince Edward County, subsumed under Brown v. Board of Education—which had been re-argued before the Supreme Court on December 7 and 8, a re-argument ordered before the death of Chief Justice Fred Vinson on September 8, with the Justices having asked for additional briefing on the issue of whether the Court, if it abolished segregation, could do so gradually.

The resulting Times-Dispatch interviews, while not useful in the legal case, showed that the members of the families were not unanimous in wanting their children to attend integrated public schools. At the outset of the case, it had become clear, many of the parents had become plaintiffs because they wanted to force the school board to provide a high school equal to that attended by the white children, not to achieve integration. It concludes, therefore, that a great many blacks in Virginia would be unhappy if the NAACP were to succeed in its efforts to abolish segregation.

Drew Pearson indicates that IRS director Coleman Andrews had been sharply criticized in Congress for impropriety in handling Senator McCarthy's tax case. At the same time three of his agents had been investigating the Senator's income tax returns, Mr. Andrews was lavishly entertaining the Senator in Richmond and had later introduced him to a banquet audience as "one of the great Americans of our age". One member of the Senate Elections Committee had forewarned Mr. Andrews that it would be improper to engage in such informal activity while the IRS investigated Senator McCarthy. But Mr. Andrews eschewed the advice and went ahead with the planned banquet, notwithstanding the fact that Senator McCarthy had sought to embarrass him at the White House. Mr. Pearson indicates that the real reason for the entertainment was that Senator McCarthy was chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee which allotted funding to the IRS.

Secretary of State Dulles had said the previous week that the peoples under Soviet rule were so discontented that it would be "reckless" for the Russians "to engage in general war". Mr. Pearson indicates that his information confirmed that observation, and refugees and other sources along the Iron Curtain supported it. Thus, the present was the time for fulfillment of a campaign promised by both General Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles during the 1952 election cycle, issuing peace and friendship propaganda behind the Iron Curtain. He posits that one of the simplest ways of doing so was to attach messages to large weather balloons and float them over the Iron Curtain borders. Mr. Pearson had joined with C. D. Jackson, presently the propaganda chief on the White House staff, to effect such an operation in the summer of 1951, floating balloons from West Germany a couple of miles over the border with Czechoslovakia, carrying 11 million leaflets. The effect had been that Premier Zapotocky of Czechoslovakia had delivered a speech on the floor of the parliament denouncing the leaflets as germ-carryng. The people, however, had known better and continued to gather up the leaflets, even tacking them to Communist bulletin boards. The present winter would be rough for the people behind the Iron Curtain, as food and clothing were scarce, and it would be therefore an opportune time for another such drop of balloons.

Democratic Senators returning to Washington for the January Congressional session would find that there were rumblings against the Minority Leader, Senator Lyndon Johnson, for the first time having lost the support of former House Speaker Sam Rayburn, the man who had made him. The Senator, while a young Congressman, had always followed Mr. Rayburn and had it not been for the friendship thus developed, Senator Johnson would be just another member of Congress or perhaps even defeated. The previous summer, Mr. Rayburn had sought to heal the fracture in the Democratic Party, holding $10 per plate dinners all over Texas, but Senator Johnson did not attend. Instead, he made 180 speeches all over Texas, but for himself, rather than the party, causing Mr. Rayburn to be critical in private, but never publicly. Various Senators were wondering how Senator Johnson could lead the Democrats in Washington if he could not lead them in Texas. Senator Johnson was concerned that Republicans and Dixiecrats might form a coalition to try to defeat him when he would run for re-election in 1954.

The Congressional Quarterly examines how newly appointed Senator Thomas Burke of Ohio, the Democratic replacement for deceased Republican Senator Taft, would be able to obtain his allotted two committee assignments under the Reorganization Act of 1946. Senator Burke gave the Democrats a nominal edge in the Senate, 48 to 47, but Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, who had declared himself an independent in the fall of 1952, had agreed to vote with the Republicans, as he had been originally elected as a Republican, to effect a tie vote in otherwise one-vote majority scenarios and to enable organization still by the Republicans, with Vice-President Nixon poised as the tiebreaker. The Quarterly explains the dilemma at length of trying to fit Senator Burke into two committees, without upsetting the Republican majority balance of each committee.

Stewart Alsop tells of Prime Minister Churchill having recently told a visitor that he had known there would be a terrible war as soon as Hitler came to power, but now felt differently, that the Soviets would not bring about a war in a world with atomic weaponry. He had told Commons that he sometimes had "an odd thought that the annihilating character of these agencies may bring an utterly unforeseeable security to mankind." But that security would fail if the U.S. again failed as it had in the 1920's and early 1930's, when it failed to join the League of Nations, leaving it without teeth. Increasingly, informed and responsible officials felt likewise.

There were those who believed the contrary, that Soviet mastery of atomic weapons, coupled with the increasing military-industrial power of both the Soviet Union and China, made war more likely in the near future.

No one believed that there would be a general settlement of the differences between the East and West or that atomic weaponry would soon be brought under control, despite the will to try to do so. But there was an increasing belief that the balance of atomic weaponry would serve to keep both sides in check. A world war had not occurred in eight years, despite the attempted Communist coup in Azerbaijan in northern Iran, the civil war in Greece, the 1948-49 blockade by the Soviets of Berlin, the Communist victory in China, the war in Indo-China, the Yugoslav revolt against Moscow, the Korean War, the Chinese Communist intervention in Korea, etc.

The increasing optimism, cautious though it was, that the probabilities of a new war had diminished was at least a thankful sign "in this season of rejoicing".

Frederick C. Othman provides a review of 1953, in which not a single member of Congress had engaged in a fist fight, establishing a period of peacefulness unmatched in 38 years. The Bureau of Public Roads auctioned off a 1904 Cadillac for $3,500 after it had forgotten that it owned the car. The Post Office Department was considering selling advertising on the sides of its delivery trucks as a way to raise revenue, and whether to convert the trucks to right-handed drive to facilitate ease of delivering the mail. And he goes on…

Fourth Day of Christmas: Four swing states just saying no to more Trumpaganda.

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