The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 17, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via Robert B. Tuckman, that U.S. Sabre jets had shot down one enemy MIG-15 and damaged another, in the fourth consecutive day of air battles over Korea, with the four-day total having been seven destroyed, five probably destroyed and 16 damaged. Allied fighter-bombers had hit enemy front lines and supply routes.

The tempo of the ground war had increased along the frozen front, as allied soldiers had repulsed an attack by about 175 enemy troops near "Kelly Hill" on the western front, and bloody fights had erupted in eight other clashes.

The President said this date at his first press conference that he believed the Soviets had definitely exploded atomic weapons and had developed a supply on hand, contrary to the doubt expressed recently by President Truman that the Soviets had the technical wherewithal to do so. The President said that he was not considering at the present time either an embargo or a blockade of Communist China, but also said that he supposed the subject had been under consideration in several departments. The President also said that a tax reduction should be deferred until a balanced budget was in sight, and that a tax reduction presently could mean higher taxes later. He said that he had never promised to reduce taxes, but believed it to be an essential objective. He did not indicate that he would veto a bill to reduce personal income taxes, but said that he could not predict what he might do until such a bill actually reached him. He stated that the Administration was studying a means to supply a substitute for the excess profits tax, scheduled to expire on June 30. He said that he would never agree to the elimination of any tax which would result in a reduction of revenue at the present time. He also said that declining farm prices were a serious problem, but expressed confidence that the new Administration would be able to handle it, that the problem was largely inherited from the previous Administration, with farm prices having been in decline for the prior two years. He said the Republicans supported a farm program based on freedom for the farmers. The President had responded to all questions without once saying "no comment". The press conference was held in the old State Department Building across the street from the White House, in a room which was designed to accommodate 215, into which 256 newsmen had gathered. The record attendance for a press conference had been 347 at the first meeting of President Truman with reporters. The President said that he would conduct his press conferences on the same basis as had been done in the prior two Administrations. The President broke tradition at the end by declaring that the conference was over, when typically the senior regular White House correspondent ended the conference by saying, "Thank you, Mr. President."

Despite the new President having said he would conduct press conferences along the same lines as those of the two prior Administrations, he would not, during the first year or throughout his eight years in office, conduct them with the same frequency. During 1953, the President would hold 22 press conferences, roughly one every 17 days, whereas during the last year of the Truman Administration, the President held 36 press conferences, one every ten days, despite long stints without one during the two political conventions of July and between late September and late November, during the President's whistle-stop campaign tour on behalf of the Stevenson-Sparkman ticket and the aftermath of the election. FDR had held press conferences as often as twice per week, with a total of 998 during his 631 weeks as President, the last having been a week before his death in April, 1945. President Truman conducted 324 press conferences during his 406 weeks in office, compared to 193 by President Eisenhower in his 417 weeks in office.

You know, come to think on it, in that one of President Truman that wasn't transcribed, of January 8, 1953, when they claimed that the tape was "incomplete" and "inaudible" in much of it, bet that's where he done talked about the flyin' saucers.

The Senate Appropriations Committee invited Secretary of State Dulles and Mutual Security Agency head Harold Stassen to testify the following day regarding proposed foreign aid spending and general foreign policy. The White House arranged to have Congressional leaders of both parties briefed by General Omar Bradley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and others, anent the world military situation at a conference to be held the following day. Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts proposed that the Senate and House Armed Services Committees sit together on March 4 to hear General James Van Fleet explain his belief that a U.N. general offensive could be successful in Korea presently. The moves to allow Democrats behind the scenes followed fresh criticism by Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, commenting in a speech in Atlantic City the previous night, that the minority had not been consulted and that its past international actions had been "misrepresented" by the President, with regard to the Navy having supposedly been required to serve as a defensive arm of Communist China, in its role in the Formosa Straits since the start of the Korean War. He said that the Navy had allowed the Nationalists during the previous year to make unpublicized guerrilla raids on the mainland. He advised the Republicans to cease distorting history to suit their partisan advantage. Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, disagreed with Senator Douglas that the Democrats had not been taken into the confidence of the Administration.

In Paris, General Curtis LeMay, head of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Command, and Arthur Godfrey, radio and television star, finished a tour of American airbases in Europe this date and began their return to the U.S. General LeMay spoke to the defense college of NATO, and Mr. Godfrey had accompanied him on the tour of bases, which included stops in the Azores, Rabat in Morocco, England and France. Mr. Godfrey said that he made the tours as a Navy Reserve officer every six months or so instead of taking vacations.

In New York, a former Army sergeant, John David Provoo, convicted of treason for joining the Japanese in 1942 after the fall of Corregidor, was given a life sentence by a Federal Judge, who said that he would not impose the death penalty because medical opinions had stated that he was emotionally unstable.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted a stay of execution to March 30 to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, sentenced to death in 1951 after being convicted of providing atomic secrets to the Russians, to permit them to petition the Supreme Court for further review of their case. The U.S. District Court Judge, Irving Kaufman, who had presided over the trial and sentenced the couple to death, had provided a new execution date of March 9 the previous day, after having postponed the earlier January 14 date so that they could seek Presidential clemency, denied by President Eisenhower the prior week. The Court ruled that if the couple filed their petition by March 30, the stay would remain in effect indefinitely until the Supreme Court acted on the petition.

In New York, the superior court refused to order the General Sessions Court judge to open the trial of Mickey Jelke III, accused of hiring out three high-priced prostitutes for his own support pending receipt of his margarine inheritance, the trial having previously been closed to the press and public by the judge for the sake of maintenance of public decency. Five newspapers in New York and two wire services had petitioned the higher court to overturn the order. The court said that the fact of possible injury to the rights of the defendant which might flow from the order could not be considered by the court at that juncture because the defendant had made no complaint, and the judge had not violated any statutory or constitutional right of the newspapers or wire services.

In Baltimore, high winds drove a large fire through a lumber yard on the waterfront this date and into a boatyard, a freight car ferry slip and several warehouses. The fire had apparently started in large piles of stacked lumber. The fire was about 25 blocks southeast of the main business district.

In Baldwin, N.Y., a man went to New York City the previous day to arrange for the funeral of his father, who had died the prior day, leaving his three-year old daughter in the care of her older sister, with their mother away from home on an errand. When the man returned home, he found the younger daughter dead, having drowned in a 12-inch deep fish pond in the backyard while playing.

In West Jefferson, N.C., a North Wilkesboro café operator had been rescued from the snow early the previous day, where he had become trapped while driving his car between Laurel Springs and Glendale Springs on the Blue Ridge Parkway during a heavy snowfall sometime between Saturday night and mid-afternoon on Sunday, the car having apparently entered a slide. The man, unable to get the car back on the road, had walked away from the car to seek help. A snowplow crewman had spotted his body covered with snow as they were clearing the highway the previous day. He was taken to the hospital, showing little or no signs of life, but had awakened this date, asking where he was and what had happened. He remained in serious condition and it was too early to determine how the cold had affected him. Hospital staff said it would be a miracle if he did not lose his feet from gangrene.

In Raleigh, state legislative leaders were strongly considering creation of a special Joint Appropriations subcommittee for further consideration of the State's budget for the ensuing two years. New legislation introduced this date included bills in the Senate to raise the pay of State Supreme Court Justices, from $14,400 to $16,000, Superior Court judges, from $10,000 to $12,000, and solicitors, from $6,500 to $7,150.

In Albuquerque, N.M., someone had been leaving their panties in a garbage can each day for the previous week, until the homeowner finally called the police when nine new pairs appeared. Police collected the panties and tagged them as evidence.

On the editorial page, "Urban Redevelopment Amendment Needed" finds that one amendment to the State Urban Redevelopment Act being recommended by the several city Urban Redevelopment Commissions had special significance by redefining what constituted a "blighted area", to make it easier to redevelop areas so designated by not making exceptions, as under the present law, for single structures which could not be purchased by negotiation or taken through eminent domain, which could stand in the way of an entire redevelopment plan.

Proponents of the amendments believed that the change would serve to prevent possible abuse of power in exercise of eminent domain by redevelopment commissions while enabling them to carry out the purposes of the Federal and State program. The piece agrees and recommends that the Charlotte City Council endorse the change by passing a resolution, and that the Mecklenburg legislative delegation support the amendments when they were presented to the General Assembly.

"Welfare Secrecy Limits Your Rights" regards a bill proposed to the General Assembly by Mecklenburg State Senator Fred McIntyre, which would open the welfare rolls to public inspection, with the goal of getting rid of chiselers and deadbeats. The piece suggests that welfare officials had to be poor investigators if they could not uncover the chiselers themselves, and that without proof, it was unfair to charge that the welfare rolls were cluttered with such deadbeats. It finds it a weak argument for making the welfare rolls public, as it was not supported by facts.

It refers to a piece on the page by John W. Hanes regarding the effects or lack thereof found in other states by publicly exposing welfare recipients.

It favors the bill introduced by Mr. McIntyre and 22 of his State Senate colleagues, but does not base its support on the unproven assumption that it would get rid of chiselers, rather on the principle that the taxpayers had a right to know what was being done with their money.

"Franco Drives a Hard Bargain" indicates that when the President discussed foreign policy, he often used the term "enlightened self-interest", a phrase which appeared to mean one thing when discussing Formosa and something else when applied to Turkey. But if it meant the self-interest of the United States within the framework of an enlightened attitude toward the growing society of free nations, it meant what the piece assumes it to mean. In that vein, it was an excellent measure for military and diplomatic leaders to determine the importance of Spain.

The U.S. wanted air and naval bases in Spain, and the Truman Administration had sought to negotiate for them in return for Spain's receipt of 125 million dollars in U.S. economic and military aid, with the aid earmarked primarily for projects which would directly contribute to the usability of the bases, a point on which negotiations had bogged down the prior fall. Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator, had increased the price for use of the bases, which would include the 125 million dollars in aid without strings attached, a large-scale military program, paid for by the U.S. to modernize the Spanish Army, and a U.S. guarantee of Spanish security, essentially in the form of an alliance. There was no indication that the new Administration would be more generous than had been the Truman Administration in the matter.

It suggests that if obtaining the bases was in the country's "enlightened self-interest", then their value had to be assessed on the basis of what was received from them. There was no reason to beg Sr. Franco for their use, as it was in his self-interest to have the military protection and economic aid for which the original proposal had provided. The Spanish economy was tottering, the army was disintegrating, and the totalitarian regime scarcely qualified for membership in the society of free nations. Thus, he was in no position to extort more than the bases were worth.

"All about Boys" indicates that when it was short for an editorial and in need of sleep, it had turned to the wife and asked her to supply the missing piece, suggesting that it be about dogs, boys or the weather, eventually narrowing it down to boys. As the editor then dozed on the couch, his wife perused background material for the editorial, and two hours and one paragraph later, she had tapped him on the shoulder, saying, "Get up, Tom Sawyer, I'm tired of whitewashing the fence."

Send that one to Dick. He will like it.

A piece from the Hartford Courant, titled "Got a Megabuck?" examines the new word megabuck generated by the Atomic Energy Commission, meaning a million bucks. Thus, the AEC might refer to 15 megabucks as the cost for a new laboratory, meaning that it would cost 15 million dollars. It finds the new word to fill a gap in expressing in shorthand the budget. But it wants such a convenient word also for billion, such as macrobuck. It bemoans, in the end, the fact that a single dollar had become a microbuck.

John W. Hanes, chairman of the Tax Foundation, in a piece reprinted from "Improving Public Assistance", as indicated in the above editorial, examines the effect of permitting inspection of welfare rolls at the state level. By and large, he finds, abandonment of secrecy produced no pointed effect upon caseloads of welfare workers, no widespread weeding out of welfare cheats, but also provided a check on those who were undeserving, increased administrative efficiency, and increased public confidence in welfare. Conclusive data on the results of opening the rolls to public inspection were not yet available. Much of the argument for or against the matter was premised on the psychological effect on welfare recipients from becoming susceptible to public exposure. He concludes, however, that since public inspection had undeniably enhanced public confidence in the integrity of the welfare rolls, it might be the determining factor in ending welfare secrecy.

Drew Pearson indicates that Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson did not yet know it, but the White House was considering firing him if the farm crisis became much worse. His hostile attitude toward price supports, while farm prices were dangerously dropping, had made him the logical target in case the Administration decided it was necessary to appease the farmers. One White House aide had remarked privately that Mr. Benson was "expendable" and might be shifted to a less controversial job, such as ambassador. Farm prices were at a postwar low and were expected to fall another five percent within the ensuing few months, while the cost of marketing farm products had increased, such that the farmer, who had received 54 cents of every dollar spent on food in 1945-46, presently received only 45 cents. Farm exports had dropped by 30 percent during the previous year, leaving the farmers with surpluses, contributing to the downward prices. The Senate was considering an international food reserve to stabilize the international market and shift food from surplus to starvation areas. Because of Mr. Benson's remarks against price supports, some farm-state Republicans were afraid to return home for their Lincoln Day speeches.

What had the farmers especially angered was that their costs were rising while their prices were going down. The basic cause of decreasing farm prices was the drastic drop in agricultural exports, particularly wheat and cotton. To counteract that trend, a group of Senators, led by James Murray of Montana, were studying a proposal to establish an international food reserve. Senator Murray argued that the world problem was not overproduction but underproduction, that there was starvation in some countries while there was a surplus at home, that an international food reserve would stop the shrinking foreign markets and declining farm prices at home.

The farmers were directing their anger at Secretary Benson because of his comments favoring a free market rather than "government bounty", and his description of price supports as "disaster insurance", all of which appeared to renege on President Eisenhower's campaign promise for 100 percent parity price support, as well as extension of price supports to perishable produce. The farmers complained that Mr. Benson had loaded the Agriculture Department with agricultural middlemen, those who farmed the farmers and traditionally fought against price supports in order to keep farm prices low and their own profits high.

The new Capitol Hill Club, built as a Republican refuge near the Capitol, had stirred ministers, who were denouncing it as a "drinking club". He quotes from the Club's prospectus regarding the facilities, which included 30 double bedrooms, some for transients and some for members who might wish to rent them by the year.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that the Administration was considering a very different course in the Far East from the forecasts of a new and bold policy which had followed from the campaign rhetoric. The President and Secretary of State Dulles planned to replace gradually all American fighting men at the front with South Korean divisions. To some degree, that process had already begun under President Truman, as an estimated three U.S. divisions had already been pulled back into reserve in favor of South Korean troops. But General James Van Fleet, who had just retired as Eighth Army commander, had never intended complete replacement of U.S. divisions. The Administration planned to take between 12 and 18 months to conduct the replacement process, and even after U.S. infantry had been replaced, heavy artillery and other special components would necessarily continue to support the South Koreans, who would also continue to receive the same level of air and naval support, as well as substantial new U.S. aid for support of the economy, which would be depleted by the withdrawal of manpower for the military. In the event of a Communist offensive, there would be retained about three divisions of U.S. troops on standby. Some of the replaced soldiers would be brought home and others would be redeployed to Japan.

The new scheme also would aim for the same result in Indo-China, which Secretary Dulles and the President believed was even more strategically important than Korea. Secretary Dulles had discussed the matter with the French Ambassador, Henri Bonnet, and with French leaders while he had been recently in Paris. The French were preparing to recruit and train 50 additional lightly armed Indo-Chinese battalions to be used in mop-up operations and to police territory won back from the Communists, but had not begun training natives to take over combat positions as had taken place with the South Koreans, or developed a method for doing so. Marshal Juin, the Inspector-General of the French Army, was presently en route to Indo-China to see what improvements could be made, and he would visit Korea to examine the methods of training being used.

While the new program did not amount to the strong, assertive effort in the Far East for which many Asia-first Republicans had hoped, and indeed might even present a picture of weakness to the Soviets for the fact of withdrawal of American forces from Korea, it still had three virtues, getting the troops home and reducing the toll of casualties, healing the widening breach in the Western alliance, and producing a new situation which, on balance, might cost the enemy in Korea more than it would cost the U.S., thus potentially prompting the enemy to accept an armistice.

The Congressional Quarterly looks at the investigators at work in the new Congress, compared to the previous Congress, finds that they might outdo the 82nd Congress, as there were probes at work which were brand new, while others continued those begun in earlier Congresses. The Senate Investigations subcommittee, chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy, was calling the State Department to account for missing files and its filing methods. A House Ways & Means subcommittee study of the IRB had returned to examining "tax frauds".

A survey conducted by the Quarterly had determined that during the previous month, about 105 pieces of proposed legislation introduced in the House and the Senate had related to proposed investigations, studies or research to be conducted or directed by Congressional committees. By contrast, during the first month of the 82nd Congress, some 70 similar measures had been introduced.

Of the more than 100 legislative proposals concerning probes which were introduced, about 75 were sponsored by Republicans and about five were sponsored jointly by Republicans and Democrats, the remaining 30 by Democrats. As many as six of the measures concerned the same subject. At least a dozen related to military forces and veterans. About ten related to commerce and industry. Another ten or so regarded education and welfare, and yet another ten or so dealt with natural resources. About eight were concerned with taxes and economic policy. About a half dozen regarded U.S. security and the dangers of Communism. Another half dozen or so were related to agriculture. There were about 40 other measures which related to miscellaneous topics, which it lists.

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