The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 29, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Seoul, South Korean President Syngman Rhee this date, in a New Year's message, called on the allies to halt "futile discussions with the Communists" and join South Korea in "the last great battle to annihilate the Red forces that seek destruction of the free world." He said that a decisive war with the Communists was "eventual and inevitable". A few hours earlier, he had delivered a message to the North Koreans that the South Koreans would come to their rescue as soon as they could. The statements appeared to revive his threats of the previous spring that South Korea would drive to the Yalu River boundary if necessary to reunite the country, should a peace conference failed to do so. President Rhee had agreed to a temporary cessation of his threat, until the peace conference concluded, but had allowed for only 90 days for that process to take place from the scheduled inception date, 90 days after the truce at the end of July. Thus far, the peace conference, which had been scheduled by the Armistice to begin no later than October 28, had not been initiated because of failure of agreement by the Communists to allow the peace conference itself to determine whether neutral nations would be allowed to sit as participants. The U.N. had determined that the conference participants would be limited to the belligerents and to Russia, sitting on the side of the Communists, if the North Koreans and Chinese wanted the Russians, but that no neutral nations would be allowed to participate. President Rhee said that the recent breaking off of negotiations for the establishment of the peace conference by the State Department's chief negotiator could be regarded as final. He said that as long as the Chinese Communists were on Korean soil, there could be no successful conference and no peace for the "suffering country" of Korea.

Secretary of State Dulles hinted at a press conference this date that U.S. naval and air forces would retaliate directly if Communist China were openly to intervene in Indo-China or renew the fighting in Korea. He stressed that while manpower in Korea would be reduced, the other forms of U.S. forces would be increased. He expressed confidence that the available French and native forces in Indo-China would be able to deal effectively with the new Communist drive across Laos. He said that he did not think that the Communist drive presented any present threat to Thailand, a prospect which had been raised by Senator William Knowland and other members of Congress. The Secretary also said that the U.S., Britain and France would accept Russia's proposal that the Big Four foreign ministers conference in Berlin would be held starting January 25 or later, rather than the originally proposed date of January 4. He said that he had planned to take up with Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov at Berlin the arrangements for negotiation on the President's atomic pooling plan of knowledge and materials under supervision of an international body, but that because of the three-week postponement of the conference, some other way of taking up the question had to be found. He also expressed the hope that Israel and Jordan would hold a face-to-face meeting regarding their recent border clashes in Jerusalem.

The President this date created an emergency board to head off a threatened strike of more than a million railroad workers, represented by 15 non-operating unions, involving employees such as clerks and track walkers who did not work on moving trains. The dispute affected 150 railroads across the country. Under the terms of the Railway Labor Act, the appointment of the three-man emergency board would delay any strike for a 60-day cooling off period. The unions were not asking for increased wages but had sought a variety of health-welfare and similar fringe benefits.

In Augusta, Ga., the President began his reply to critics who were contending that business was in decline in the country, by meeting with two key aides, Dr. Gabriel Hauge, the President's personal adviser on economic problems, and Dr. Arthur Burns, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, both of whom having responsibility for averting such a trend. The two had brought with them from Washington a preliminary outline of the economic report which the President would send to the Congress shortly after reconvening on January 6.

The Army planned to take advantage of the manpower reductions to weed out about 20,000 incompetent enlisted men, with directions to commanders having been given the previous week to arrange the discharge of men who had been determined incapable of "absorbing military training to the extent necessary to meet military requirements". An Army spokesman said that the great majority of the "professional privates" who would be impacted by the order had served more than one voluntary enlistment and would be exempted from further service duty. All of the men would be provided honorable discharges and full veterans' benefits in the normal course. Those who had been decorated for valor in combat and who had been wounded would be retained in service.

In Berlin, two Americans held by the Russians for several years had been released to U.S. authorities this date. The Army announced that Private Homer Cox, apparently held by the Russians since his disappearance on September 22, 1949, and merchant seaman Leland Towers, who had disappeared in Finland in 1952 while on shore leave from his ship, had both been released, having been in Russian prison camps since their arrests.

Newsmen voted the Korean Armistice of July 26 as the top news story of the year, following 37 months of war in which 25,604 Americans had been killed, 108,718 had been wounded, and 7,955 remained missing. The voted second biggest story of the year had been the death of Stalin on March 5 and the succession of Georgi Malenkov as Premier. The third biggest story of the year had been the September 28 kidnaping and murder of Bobby Greenlease in Kansas City and the subsequent hunt for the kidnapers, both of whom had eventually confessed the crimes and were executed on December 18. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth was voted fourth biggest story of the year, followed in order by the revelations of Attorney General Herbert Brownell regarding the late Harry Dexter White and the Communists in the Government, the inauguration of President Eisenhower, the June executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the death at the end of July of Senator Taft, the ouster and arrest in June of L. P. Beria, Vice-Premier in Russia since the death of Stalin and longtime head of the secret police, followed by his recent secret trial for treason and summary execution, and, finally, in tenth place, the Berlin rioting of mid-June and subsequent food giveaway program in West Berlin to East Germans, arranged by the U.S.

Associated Press newsmen voted the President as the Man of the Year for the second successive year, with Senator Joseph McCarthy coming in as a distant second. The President had also won the title "Man of War" as Allied supreme commander in Europe at the time of the June, 1944 Normandy landings and again in 1945 after the conclusion of the war in Europe. General MacArthur had won the voting in 1950 and 1951, as the supreme commander of the Far Eastern and U.N. forces in Korea. In 1949, Federal Judge Harold Medina, who had presided over the trial of the 11 U.S. Communist Party leaders accused of violation of the Smith Act for teaching and advocating the violent overthrow of the Government, had been chosen Man of the Year. President Truman had won in the voting in 1945, after he became President upon the death of President Roosevelt, and again in 1948, after his re-election following the prediction by the polls that he would lose to Governor Dewey. In 1947, Secretary of State Marshall was chosen after having in June of that year suggested, in a Harvard commencement address, the European rebuilding plan, which became known as the Marshall Plan. John L. Lewis had won the voting in 1946, the year that the UMW had struck for five weeks, and President Roosevelt had won the voting in 1944. Queen Elizabeth was voted Woman of the Year, after her formal coronation, as she had been so named also in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI, and her accession to the throne.

Secretary of State Dulles was chosen in the voting as the outstanding personality in foreign affairs, after having received the same recognition in 1951, when he had been working with the Truman Administration. Next in the voting had been Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Bishop Fulton Sheen was voted the outstanding personality in religion, followed by Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam of the Methodist Church. Henry Ford II was voted the outstanding person in business and industry, also chosen in 1946, 1948 and 1949 in the poll. The previous year, Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, former head of General Motors, had been so chosen. In entertainment, Arthur Godfrey was chosen the outstanding personality, followed by the man he had fired in October from his television program while on the air, singer Julius LaRosa. Dr. Jonas Salk, who was responsible for the polio vaccine, was one of two recipients for the outstanding person in science.

In Atlanta, nine young people between the ages of 14 and 16 had been detained in the county juvenile home by police who said that authorities had smashed a theft gang, whose 15-year old leader had told police that stealing a car was just like smoking a cigarette, that after a couple of minutes, one threw it down and reached for another, driving one car a block or two and then stealing another. The gang members told the police that they stole as many as four cars in a single night for the purpose of joy-riding. Police recovered ten stolen cars, four motor scooters and an assortment of hubcaps and other items.

In Los Angeles, two forest fires in the San Gabriel Mountains, which had been fanned the previous day by high winds, had burned 11,000 acres in two areas 20 miles apart, one of the fires creeping up Mt. Wilson to within 200 yards of the Observatory, which nevertheless remained safe for the present. The other fire in the vicinity of Mt. Baldy had been reported as having been brought under virtual control.

In Cincinnati, a used car dealer advertised this date that all purchasers of postwar cars would be provided a week-long vacation free at a Florida hotel.

In Peru, Ind., the engineer on a Chesapeake & Ohio freight train saw a red warning signal flash and stopped his train, but an automobile continued proceeding down the track toward him and did not stop until it had come right up to the locomotive, whereupon the driver emerged and began scolding the engineer for not dimming his headlight. Eventually, the sheriff arrived and arrested the man on charges of drunk driving and public intoxication, and the driver paid fines totaling $129.50 in city court the previous day.

In Newburyport, Mass., a woman, in a divorce suit, charged in probate court the previous day that her soldier husband had ruined her collection of phonograph records by breaking all which she had in the house. The uncontested matter was taken under advisement.

In Rome, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner had the sniffles. Ms. Gardner called Mr. Sinatra "honey", but neither would confirm whether they had patched up their differences. Both had arrived in Rome from Madrid the previous night, after Mr. Sinatra had flown from the U.S. to be with his wife, who was making a movie with Humphrey Bogart.

On the editorial page, "Secrecy Loophole Should Be Closed" indicates that two and a half years earlier, the General Assembly had passed a law which had reduced the notice required for special meetings of county commissions in the state, inadvertently omitting in the process a prior provision that all meetings of the commissioners would be open to all persons. The previous week, the new Hanover County Commissioners took advantage of the omission and held a secret session.

It indicates that such secret sessions were as unwarranted and undesirable as executive sessions of the legislative committees passing on budgetary matters, as had been allowed under a new law passed by the 1953 General Assembly. But the latter had been enacted as spite against the public and press for protesting of an executive session regarding budgetary matters, prior to the law having been changed, while the 1951 law had simply been the result of an oversight, omitting the prior provision barring executive sessions of county commissions. It hopes that the omission would be corrected and that in the meantime, county commissioners would object to holding secret sessions. It also hopes that the Assembly would likewise abrogate the 1953 law regarding secret sessions on budgetary matters.

"Percentage Rule Is an Improvement" finds that the new property tax assessment plan, as provided on the front page the previous day, whereunder a ten percent assessment of the value of owned real estate would serve as the estimated value of personal property. State law provided that tax authorities had to hear any protest against application of the rule and lower the assessment if the actual facts showed the value to be less. Tax authorities could also raise the amount if they believed the percentage basis rendered the value too low.

The percentage varied among the counties of the state, with the highest figure being 20 percent, while others used 15 or 10 percent, and so the percentage adopted by the County Commissioners was within the range established elsewhere. Specialized procedures had to be adopted for renters and in the case of residents in multi-unit apartment houses. It finds the program worthwhile and credits the County Commission for implementing it, but suggests that it would be better to abolish the listing and assessment of personal property with the exception of automobiles, requiring an amendment to the State Constitution

"Was This Killing Necessary?" wonders at the killing of a drunken Asheville man by a Charlotte policeman the prior Sunday night, while recognizing the hazards of dealing with drunks. The officer said that he had frisked the man, who was black, while he was slumped over a counter at a grill and, finding no gun on him, awakened him and asked him to leave, whereupon the man grappled with the officer, who then sought help, and three officers had arrived by the time the man pulled a knife after leaving the restaurant, approaching the officers with it, prompting the officers to shoot twice in the direction of the man's hands. One of the officers also hit the man in the head with the butt of his gun before a third shot was fired which was aimed at his chest, killing him.

It suggests that a more careful search of the man would have revealed a knife. It questions whether the more usual circumstance in dealing with drunks was to take them to the police station rather than simply asking them to leave the establishment. It also wonders whether there had been some method by which trained police officers could have disarmed the man without killing him and that if it had been necessary to shoot at him, whether they could have aimed at a less vital area. Police Chief Frank Littlejohn had told the newspaper that he had investigated the incident and that he was satisfied with the account provided by the officers, but had reiterated to all members of the Department his standing rule that no force was to be used unless absolutely necessary, and that he had suspended officers in the past for violation of the rule.

It concludes that unless new facts came to light, it would accept the Chief's statement, but that the question still remained whether the killing was necessary.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Serendipity", indicates that the word had been coined by Horace Walpole, as an allusion to The Three Princes of Serendip, who in their travels always found by chance or sagacity things which they did not seek. It derived from the ancient name for Ceylon, Serendib. It cites instances from the Bible, poetry, as John Keats looking into Chapman's Homer, discoverers in the New World, including Columbus and Cortez, and other examples of serendipity.

We try to find it every day here, and few days pass on which it fails to demonstrate its mysteries.

A piece datelined New York tells of Fortune magazine having asserted, after a survey of political leaders and political reporters in all 48 states, that there had developed no nationwide trend toward Republicanism during the 14 months since the 1952 election, as the Republicans had failed to consolidate the Eisenhower margin into any enduring and reliable Republican strength.

It quotes the article at length, providing a detailed breakdown of what the study had found by regions of the country, that the recent trend did not parallel the 1934 Democratic trend under President Roosevelt after his substantial victory over President Hoover in the 1932 election.

The study indicated that the next session of the 83rd Congress could prove decisive in how the electorate viewed the situation for the midterm elections in 1954. The Democrats would pounce on the Republican leadership whenever it blundered into their hands, and the President could not expect that he would be shown any special consideration, that there would be a new attitude displayed by Democrats vis-à-vis the President, with less deference than they had shown him during 1953, with Democrats now believing that the President could be attacked with impunity.

Drew Pearson indicates that wealthy backer of Senator McCarthy, Texas oilman H. R. Hunt, had just had his wealth made a matter of official public record after being awarded a tv station license at Corpus Christi, having to list his approximate net worth to obtain it, stating that it was in excess of a million dollars per year. While some few people had that income, most in that bracket had to pay taxes between 80 and 90 percent, but Mr. Hunt wound up with a net income in excess of a million dollars, after taxes in each of the years 1951 in 1952. His taxes were lower than those of most people because of his 27.5 percent oil depletion allowance, which theoretically compensated oil drillers for dry wells to encourage oil development. Had he been in a non-preferred industry, his gross income would have to have been above nine million dollars to wind up with a net of a million dollars. By comparison, coal received only a 10 percent depletion allowance, while granite, gravel and marble received only 5 percent. Mr. Hunt used his wealth to back Senator McCarthy and to finance his "Facts Forum" television program, and was also the biggest contributor to "America for Americans", a group of prewar isolationists who contributed money to every campaign in 1952 which had a chance to defeat a liberal Senator. Mr. Pearson lists several persons whom Mr. Hunt featured on his television program, including a pro-fascist and a person on the Attorney General's subversive list. He notes that a member of the FCC, which had granted the television license to Mr. Hunt, had been Robert E. Lee, a follower of Senator McCarthy who had been appointed to the FCC by the President, despite the fact that he had been featured in the Senate report on the unfair 1950 Maryland election, involving the smear campaign against incumbent Senator Millard Tydings, orchestrated by Senator McCarthy.

Ambassador to Italy Clare Boothe Luce had been cabling the State Department that Italy could go to the Communists unless the controversial Trieste question were settled. Some observers believed the reports to be alarmist, but the trend in Italy was, without doubt, toward two different political camps, on the one hand, the fascists, and on the other, the Communists, with the center parties no longer being in control. In France, Ambassador Douglas Dillon had reported to the Department that the stalemate in the French parliamentary election of a new president had caused the right-wing followers of General Charles de Gaulle and other anti-Communists to be so angry at the Communists that they had discussed subduing them by force, based on the report of the Soviet Ambassador having directed French Communist strategy in the presidential voting for the purpose of splitting France.

On the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon had stated that the Committee had no power to summon any judicial officer not under impeachment proceedings, the Committee having summoned a commissioner of the ICC and two former commissioners to testify on why the ICC had ruled a certain way on the D.C. bus and streetcar service. Senator Morse refused to be a party to what he termed the breaking down of the traditional separation of the branches of government. He said that the Senate had no right to question the quasi-judicial authority of the ICC, that they could solicit their views about necessary legislation but could not question their decisions. He also said that the commissioners had no right to volunteer answers to the questions and that a precedent would be set for voiding the separation of powers.

Stewart Alsop asks, while the President was putting the finishing touches on his State of the Union message during his Christmas week vacation in Georgia, what was the state of the President, indicating that those close to him said that he was in good condition and getting better all the time. During his early months in office, there had been reports that he detested Washington and his new job, and there had been some truth to those stories. He had told wife Mamie on Christmas Day that he was not going to be mad at anyone that day as he was so happy to get away from Washington. Mr. Alsop indicates that it was likely the President would never come to love the Presidency as had FDR and President Truman. Those close to him said that he did not easily relax under the weight of the office, that he was a natural worrier.

But he worried less now than he had previously, as he was getting on top of the job and the country was aware of the fact. Those who had participated in the recent conferences with Congressional leaders during a three-day period had indicated that he had done a remarkable job, displaying charm, tact, force and surprising knowledge of the substance of the issues which had been completely unfamiliar to him a few months earlier. He had also displayed shrewdness in keeping the headlines centered on himself. Those who worked with him rated him a first-class administrator. Unlike President Truman, who attended National Security Council meetings only irregularly, President Eisenhower chaired nearly every Council meeting, and in consequence, the Council had nearly displaced the Cabinet as the principal instrument of decision-making on matters of great importance.

It had often been rumored that the President hated to read, would read nothing but Western fiction, and it was true that he read less than did President Truman, who had a fondness for long intelligence reports. President Eisenhower often deferred to his chief of staff, Sherman Adams, or another aide to handle the reading of paperwork, and his aides had learned to brief him concisely and in detail on it, but had also learned to tell him in certain instances that he needed to read a particular report, on which occasions he would comply. According to one of his aides, he was a quick reader who had remarkable recall.

It was also rumored that the President had little to do with his speeches, that he repeated whatever his aides provided for him to read, and it was true that once in awhile he would accept a draft virtually unchanged. More often, however, he would return a draft prepared by C. D. Jackson, Bryce Harlow or another White House ghost-writer, with plentiful editing, such that the completed version would consist almost entirely of his own words. One of his aides remarked that the President once had been a ghost-writer, himself.

It was beginning to be clear that the President was not the amiable compromiser his critics had once thought him to be and was not prepared to have the power of the Presidency eroded during his tenure in office. Mr. Alsop concludes that his enemies on both sides of the political fence might find him a more formidable opponent than they had initially believed.

James Marlow indicates that the President believed in the ideal that Congress would approve his program for 1954, which he had promoted as dynamic and progressive, and that the program would then become the principal issue in the midterm 1954 elections. But by that latter point, even if the Congress passed most of his program, the voters might be influenced by other matters, such as developments in foreign affairs or a business slump. The previous day, a majority of 300 economists at a forum conducted by the American Statistical Association had expressed the belief that the country was not only in a recession but that it would last through 1954.

Senator McCarthy had predicted that the public might become upset over the issue of Communists continuing to be in the government, and believed it would be the major issue in 1954.

The irony for the President was that he could not get his program passed without the help of Democrats, with only narrow majorities in each house, only an effective tie in the Senate. The realization of that fact was likely why he had invited Democratic leaders to the White House on January 5 to discuss his legislative agenda for the coming year. He had imposed confidentiality on Republican leaders during the three-day conferences with them earlier, and because they had honored that agreement, not much was known about that on which there was agreement or disagreement, with views to be made evident only after the President delivered his State of the Union message on January 7.

Fifth Day of Christmas: Five more dismissed delusional lawsuits filed by Trumpy-Dumpy-Dos.

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