The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 30, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Indo-China, the Communist Vietminh rebels had tightened their pressure on Dien Bien Phu, the last French fortress in the northwestern region, and French sources speculated that it was the major objective in the current winter campaign of the Communists, perhaps in preparation for another push into the already-invaded kingdom of Laos. At Dien Bien Phu, 300 airline miles to the northwest of Thakhek on the border with Thailand, to which the Vietminh had proceeded the previous week, troops of the Vietminh "Iron Division" had drawn within four miles of the fortress, equipped with plentiful French Union troops and American-supplied arms. A French Army spokesman said that strong French Union patrols had clashed twice with Vietminh troops northwest and southwest of the fortress, and there was a strong indication that the Vietminh might be trying to move striking forces into encircling positions before launching an attack. The fortress had been taken by the French on November 20 and had been steadily reinforced by airlift since that time. The French had been expecting an attack by troops of the "Iron Division", equipped with some of the best and heaviest matériel received from Communist China. French fighters made heavy strafing attacks on the Vietminh as they drew closer to the fortress, 180 miles west of Hanoi, in the heart of the largest rice-producing area of the Thai Mountain country. French Army sources said that if an attack were to be made on Dien Bien Phu, the battle would be hard and heavy, and loss of the fortress would not only lose for France its last major post in the Thai country bordering Communist China but also would open a major invasion route into northern Laos, where the rebels already had forces from the invasion of the prior spring. The ensuing battle for the fortress, lost by the French during the coming spring, would be the crucial turning point in the war in Indo-China, leading to the Geneva peace talks and the eventual withdrawal of the French from Indo-China in 1954, and the division of Vietnam into northern and southern areas, the north to be controlled by the Vietminh, pending planned elections.

Rowland Evans, Jr., tells of an Administration plan for providing more Government defense work in areas of large unemployment having encountered heavy criticism from Southern Democrats this date, foreshadowing trouble for the program when Congress reconvened the following week. Senator Burnet Maybank of South Carolina accused the President of turning his back on his campaign promises. Senators John Sparkman and Lister Hill, both of Alabama, said that the program violated pledges made by the Republican leadership in the Senate the previous July. Senator Sparkman said that the Truman Administration had a "positive and definite program" for letting defense contracts in areas of labor surplus, contradicting White House press secretary James Hagerty, who had said that it was the first time that a national Administration had tried to do something about chronic regional unemployment. Mr. Hagerty had declined comment when asked about an official policy of the Truman Administration, put into effect in 1952, to award defense contracts to other than low bidders, in an effort to counter unemployment in some areas. The Eisenhower Administration policy in that regard differed little from that of the Truman policy, which had been abandoned the prior August. Most criticism of the policy had come from Southerners who argued that it would take away Government business from Southern textile mills and give it to those in New England.

Representative Robert Kean of New Jersey predicted this date that neither the Administration nor Congress would adopt a plan to pay Social Security pensions to almost everyone over 65, as sponsored by Congressman Carl Curtis of Nebraska, chairman of the Ways & Means subcommittee on Social Security.

In Wilmington, Del., it was reported that two oil tankers had crashed in the fog-bound Delaware River early this date, killing at least four members of one of the crews, with five members still missing. The collision occurred as both tankers sought safe anchorage in the river. The collision caused fires on both vessels, though causing little damage. Eleven of the 41 crewmen aboard one of the vessels had been thrown into the river, and one had been rescued. Both tankers were bound for Philadelphia from Texas.

In Paris, it was reported that a French military plane with 11 persons aboard was missing this date on a flight from Algiers to Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France, and that police and military units had begun searching in the Pyrenees this date for the missing plane.

In Pontiac, Mich., a woman was shot to death and two men were wounded in a kitchen duel the previous night. A police detective said that one of the wounded men had told him that he had been acting as a bodyguard for the woman since she and her husband had separated on December 23, that the husband had sought to attempt reconciliation the previous night, and the bodyguard then heard three shots from the kitchen, after which he entered the kitchen and the husband had fired at him, and so he had pulled out his gun and shot back.

In Flint, Mich., a woman was free this date after fatally shooting her former husband on Christmas Day. He had married the woman's sister. She said that she had shot in self-defense and the prosecutor concluded that it was justifiable homicide, declining to issue a warrant. The two sisters agreed on the story. The two sisters and the husband lived together, and the sisters said that the man had ignored their demands that he quit drinking on Christmas, that he had threatened to kill the entire family, then fired two shots at the sister to whom he was currently married and his 13-year old daughter, that the sister who had previously been married to him then grabbed the gun, which then went off, killing him.

A couple of happy Michigan households, full of Christmas cheer and peace on earth, goodwill to men.

In Montréal, the Québec film censorship board banned the showing of the American-made movie, "Martin Luther", providing no reason for its action. The Catholic National Legion of Decency in the U.S. had declared that the movie contained "theological and historical references and interpretations which are unacceptable to Catholics", and Québec was largely inhabited by Catholics. The film, made in West Germany by an American group, starring British actor Niall MacGinnis, depicted the clash between the 16th Century Protestant reformer Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church.

In a poll of Associated Press newspapers and radio stations in North Carolina, the state's top ten news stories for 1953 had been selected, with first-place going to the death the prior June of Senator Willis Smith and the naming of his successor, Alton Lennon, by Governor William B. Umstead, with the second top story having been the inauguration of the new Governor the prior January, shortly after which he had suffered a heart attack. The voted fifth top story was that the FBI had closed the books on Klan activity in the state with the mass arrests of the previous January and November. The ninth top story was the school desegregation arguments being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Each of the other ten top stories is listed.

In Greensboro, N.C., it was reported that Central Prison officials in Raleigh had interfered with an inmate's attempt to communicate with his attorney, from Greensboro. The client had smuggled a note contained in a Christmas card out of the prison, telling of the problem. The prisoner in question had been a fugitive since July, 1942 before being brought back to North Carolina the previous summer after serving eleven years in a New York penitentiary. During a Superior Court hearing in Guilford County the prior November, a judge had rejected the inmate's petition to set aside his unserved sentences of 5 to 7 years and 18 months for robberies. The attorney for the inmate had mailed to the inmate an affidavit for his signature, necessary for a request for review by the North Carolina Supreme Court of the denial of the petition, and a week later, the attorney had received the Christmas card, in which the inmate explained that he had signed the affidavit and delivered it to the postmaster at the prison, who then returned it to him the following day with the notarization torn off the affidavit, explaining that he had done so at the direction of the warden. The attorney said that he had telephoned the Prisons director William Bailey in Raleigh and the director had talked to the warden about the incident, the warden describing it as a "misunderstanding". The warden contended that the inmate had to provide three copies of the petition in his own handwriting, in accordance with prison rules, which the attorney said was false. The warden had told the attorney to send the prisoner another copy of the affidavit, and the signed affidavit was finally returned to the attorney about two weeks before he had to submit it to the Supreme Court.

In Indianapolis, the mayor had refused to hear a plea by an Italian youth for the names of some "charming and sympathetic" American girls interested in matrimony. The youth had written from Gorizia in Italy, saying that American girls made better housewives than did Italian women, but the mayor responded that they were not running a lonely hearts bureau and that the youth would have to "get out and work for a wife", as he had done.

In New York, it was estimated that it would cost around $100 at some of the swankier nightspots in Manhattan for a couple on New Year's Eve. But for a dime, one could buy a beer and watch it on television. It provides a breakdown of the costs for cover charges and drinks at various hotels and nightclubs in Manhattan, in case you plan to go to New York tomorrow to ring in 1954. Tell them you read of their prices in The News.

On the editorial page, "True Defenders of the Constitution" indicates that the sponsors of the Bricker amendment, regarding the treaty-making power and its ratification requirements, probably had been taken aback by the name adopted by the new Committee for Defense of the Constitution by Preserving the Treaty Power, whose statement regarding the amendment is included on the page this date. The sponsors of the amendment had sought to give the impression that they were trying to defend the Constitution against abuses of the treaty-making power. It finds that the statement on the page by the Committee refuted that idea and showed that passage of the amendment would bring about a fundamental and dangerous change in the traditional structure of the Federal Government by vastly expanding the powers of Congress at the expense of the executive branch. It agrees with the Committee's statement that the amendment was unwise and unnecessary and would upset the balance of government.

The Committee was formed by prominent people in the legal profession, business, education and public affairs.

It indicates that the proposed amendment would get its first major test in the coming session of Congress when it would reach the floor of both houses for debate and vote. It was certain that it would fail, with the Administration solidly opposed to it. It indicates that were it to pass, it would hamstring the executive branch in its conduct of foreign affairs and force the nation into a return to disastrous isolationism. It believes that the American people needed to be informed at every opportunity of the true intent and purpose of the proposed amendment and so it welcomes the new Committee.

"Power of Unions in Dispute" indicates that former Governor Guy Tuck of Virginia had told the Alabama Chamber of Commerce recently that the practice of industry-wide bargaining was "the greatest monopoly known to modern civilization." The Richmond News Leader had found that statement sound and had gone on to tell how the consumer bore the cost of higher wages achieved by union collective bargaining, suggesting that labor's gains had been obtained at the expense of other economic groups in the society.

It indicates that a study had been made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which had said that there was good evidence that some unions had held wages down and that if unions were able to raise members' share of the national income by two or three percent, it would be no more than the normal rise in productivity occurring yearly. Thus, despite the rapid growth in productivity since the 1930's, unions had not gained for their members much more than they would have received without unions.

It suggests that Mr. Tuck, the Richmond News Leader and the Chamber of Commerce, sharing a distaste for unions, should put their heads together and decide whether labor unions were "puissant or pusillanimous".

"There's Only One Kind of Fair Poll Tax" indicates that the Arkansas Gazette had come to the "questionable conclusion" that Arkansas had the "fairest poll tax" as a prerequisite for voting, because it was only one dollar and non-cumulative. Texas had a poll tax of $1.75 and Alabama charged $1.50, allowing the tax to accumulate over a period of two years. Mississippi had a two dollar poll tax and counties could exact another dollar. The tax in Virginia was a $1.50, cumulative for three years. While North Carolina retained a poll tax, it did not impact the right of a citizen to vote, which it suggests was the only type of poll tax which could be considered fair or justifiable, though finding it bad for other reasons.

It indicates that Arkansans and citizens of the other poll tax states would be on sounder footing were they to work for abolition of the tax rather than condoning it.

"Time To Recollect" indicates that Foreign Operations administrator Harold Stassen had sent four husband-wife teams to Europe at public expense to check on the distribution of food parcels. One of the wives was a Republican national committeewoman. Each would receive transportation expenses plus $16 per day and $25 per day as a "consultant's fee".

The previous Tuesday, Jerry Kluttz of the Washington Post had reported that high Federal officials had confirmed that the Administration had approved of a plan to appoint a top official in each department to find additional jobs for deserving Republicans and to handle personnel policy matters in general.

It suggests that it was possibly a good time for the Republicans to look at the 1952 convention platform, which had said, under the heading "Corruption", that the Republicans were against favoritism in high places.

A piece from the Twin City Sentinel of Winston-Salem, titled "Society's Decision Correct", indicates that the Forsyth County chapter of the North Carolina Society for Crippled Children and Adults had severed its relationship with the state and national organizations, and would continue its humanitarian and welfare activities in Winston-Salem under a not yet determined new name, as a member of the United Fund. The state and national societies had delivered an ultimatum to local chapters that they could not associate with United Fund or Community Chest organizations, providing until September 1, 1954 either to withdraw from the United Fund or withdraw from the state group. The board of directors of the Winston-Salem chapter had taken the latter course.

It finds it too bad that the local chapter was faced with such a Hobson's choice but believes that it had done the correct thing, in furtherance of the interests of the crippled children and adults whom it served, by making its ties even stronger with the United Fund. It indicates that the local society had done exceptional work among the disabled of the community and that the Children's Center was a remarkable place where children too crippled to attend other types of schools were able to obtain therapeutic and guidance care.

Drew Pearson indicates that the Democratic Senators were treating Senator Russell Long of Louisiana as if he had "political B.O." since he had switched his vote on statehood for Hawaii, causing Senator Earle Clements of Kentucky to become quite angry because statehood for both Alaska and Hawaii would provide two new Senators for each state and the opportunity subsequently for the Democrats to obtain control of the Senate, while allowing statehood only for Hawaii would jeopardize the possibility of Democratic control. Other Democrats were also upset. Senator Long, who had a good reputation in the Senate, had said that no political deal with the Republicans had influenced his vote on the matter, but his vote on the important Insular Affairs Committee probably meant that Hawaii would become a state while Alaska would not. Previously, the Hawaii statehood bill had been blocked in committee by the Democrats, demanding that both Hawaii and Alaska enter the union at the same time, knowing that Alaska would be Democratic while Hawaii would be Republican. Republicans, therefore, favored statehood for Hawaii but not Alaska.

Congressman A. L. Miller of Nebraska, who headed the House Insular Affairs Committee, was not on speaking terms with Senator Hugh Butler of Nebraska, who chaired the equivalent committee in the Senate. At the time of Senator Butler's illness, Mr. Miller had let it be known that he considered himself the logical successor to the Senator, and Senator Butler did not appreciate the idea of Mr. Miller so indicating. Then Senator Butler got well and as a result, relations between the two had been strained. Some members of Congress claimed that if Senator Butler attempted to push through Hawaii statehood, Mr. Miller would block it out of spite.

Mr. Pearson notes that if Hawaii did gain statehood, the Republican Hawaiian delegate, Joe Farrington, would likely become one of the new Senators, fitting for the fact that he had done more for statehood than any other person. But the second Senator might be a Democrat, Henry H. K. Lee, presently a territorial Senator, of Chinese ancestry.

Undersecretary of Defense Roger Kyes had composed his own Christmas greetings, printed on his personal Christmas cards, with the verse: "May your Yule log cast sparks of joy and your new year be lighted with rays of happiness."

Senator McCarthy was now hunting for Communists on his own staff, indicating to two friends of the Chicago Tribune that he had discovered a serious leak in the staff and was worried that the Communists may have sought to plant a spy. Army agents had discovered that Communists had secretly engineered Senator McCarthy's investigation of Fort Monmouth in the hopes of disrupting the secret radar work being performed there. Though it was likely not a Communist plot, it had the same effect, as the scientists at Fort Monmouth were completely demoralized by the Senator's investigation.

Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield had become upset recently at Civil Service chairman Philip Young when the latter objected to the way Mr. Summerfield was shuffling Civil Service employees around, with Mr. Summerfield stating angrily that he was running the Post Office Department and if Mr. Young did not like it, he should take the matter up with the President.

Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson was having more trouble with his old firm, General Motors, than with any other major defense contractor, as hundreds of huge Army trucks had been sent back to G.M. because they stuck in low gear, and the Secretary wanted G.M. treated the same as any other contractor.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Floete had assigned Army and Navy engineers to review the Air Force's construction program, but the Air Force was not allowed to double check Army and Navy construction.

The Committee for Defense of the Constitution by Preserving the Treaty Power, as indicated in the above editorial, presents its "Statement of Position on the Bricker Amendment", the proposed amendment to alter the ratification requirements of treaties by including executive agreements, among other things. The Committee, headed by 1924 Democratic presidential nominee John W. Davis and General Lucius Clay, former military commander of the U.S. occupation zone in Germany before the creation of the civilian high command, opposed the amendment. It states that the amendment, by requiring implementation of any ratified treaty only through the normal process of legislation, would prove unduly burdensome and unnecessary, as the Senate had always performed its function of ratification of treaties very stingily.

It would also limit the power to make treaties to those subjects on which Congress could legislate under the powers otherwise delegated to it by the Constitution and would thereby necessitate that the 48 state legislatures approve of such vital international agreements as the traditional treaties of friendship, commerce and navigation, narcotics control conventions and possible arrangements for international control of atomic energy.

The proposed amendment would also give Congress the power to regulate executive and other international agreements, impairing if not destroying the independence of the executive branch in the conduct of foreign affairs.

It also provided that any treaty provision which conflicted with the Constitution would have no force or effect, unnecessary because that was already the law.

It indicates that the cumulative effect of the three changes under the proposed amendment would be calamitous to the international position and prospects of the country, and it fully endorses the stand of both Secretary of State Dulles and the President in opposition to it, quoting from each.

Robert C. Ruark asserts that General Lewis Hershey, head of Selective Service, had gotten it right in lifting the mental standards for draftees, changing the emphasis from protecting the smarter young men while sending those not so smart to war. While it did not take great minds to wage war, as was proved by some generals and officers of lower rank, it was also neither wise nor fair to let the brawn shoulder the greatest burden of fighting a war, while those with college educations and higher mental scores stayed home.

He indicates that the draft had never been implemented in such a way to provide equality among classes of people, and those with low physical and mental scores had been rejected routinely. The inequities had been unavoidable in many instances, but also avoidable in many others. It was, he concludes, just as bad to send the smartest men to fight as it was to send all of the less bright men to die while the brighter remained at home.

James Marlow looks at Congress in the coming year, after indicating that the most memorable event of 1953 regarding the Government had been touched off by Attorney General Herbert Brownell's charge that the Truman Administration had been soft on Communists in the Government, prompting a reply from the former President, concentrating on Mr. Brownell and also mentioning Senator McCarthy, who then denounced the former President, criticized the Eisenhower Administration and was rebuked by Secretary of State Dulles, and, indirectly, by President Eisenhower.

After the President's January 4 broadcast to the nation regarding the first year of his Administration and the prospective agenda for 1954, and then the January 7 State of the Union message, the President would send to Congress his economic report, as many private economists were predicting a year ahead of mild depression and an expensive budget. January would be devoted primarily to talking, while Congressional committees began hearings on legislation. Appropriations subcommittees would, as usual, begin looking at Administration requests for money and would not finish their work on that subject until the middle of the following summer. During the morning sessions, the members would take part in committee hearings and on most afternoons, they would make speeches on the floor of the respective chambers. They would also make statements at public meetings and to reporters, many of those statements being an effort to disseminate their opinions to the public and constituents back home. Because of the 1954 midterm elections, there would be a great attempt to make political hay for that purpose.

He concludes that, as always, it would be in the usually dreary but long days of committee hearings in which Congress did its substantive work, formulating legislation for debate and vote.

The Congressional Quiz provides a brief history and the past chairmen of HUAC.

Sixth Day of Christmas: Six contested states incontestable—contestants confusing fraud with Freud.

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