The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 5, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Moscow radio had reported this night that Joseph Stalin's condition was deteriorating, as of 8:00 a.m., EST. It said that he was suffering, in addition to disorder of the important functions of the brain, problems with part of the cardiovascular system, with heavy respiratory inefficiency observed and decreased blood pressure, combined with an acute disorder of blood circulation. Treatment was focused on combating the irregularities in breathing and blood circulation.

There was no indication of the successor to Stalin in the event of his death or incapacity to govern. Many Muscovites attended churches, lit candles and prayed for the Premier's health.

A Tokyo monitoring service indicated this date that Pakistan radio had broadcast a report that V. M. Molotov had been named acting Premier in Russia and that Georgi Malenkov had been named acting Secretary-General. A Japanese Foreign Office spokesman said that they were not certain whether the report was true. The report had also indicated that a permanent successor would be determined at a special meeting of the central Soviet committee, which would be called if either Stalin failed to improve or died.

In fact, the Soviet Premier would die this date.

Top State Department officials discounted chances of any early radical change in Soviet foreign policy under new leadership. The officials indicated that Stalin's removal from power, as stated in official reports of his illness, might paralyze Soviet operations for a time and to a degree during the search for a successor, with many in the Department believing that he was already dead. Officials also believed that in the long run, however, a change might occur in policy.

Allied warplanes engaged in heavy bombing activity over North Korea this date, including a record 1,000-mile round-trip fighter-bomber strike within 50 miles of the Siberian border. U.S. Sabre jets engaged five times with enemy MIG-15s, but no claims of damage were made.

Near Roenne, Denmark, the first Soviet jet fighter plane to fall into Western hands undamaged was landed by a daring Polish refugee on the Danish Baltic island of Bornholm. A Polish Legation spokesman in Copenhagen declared angrily that his Government would demand return of the jet, believed to be a MIG-15. The pilot had immediately sought asylum in Denmark, saying he could not stand the conditions in Poland under Communist domination. A second jet had been spotted shortly after the appearance of the landed jet, and it was speculated that the second plane might have been pursuing the first. Danish sources said that the refugee would be provided political asylum, but that disposition of the plane remained uncertain. A U.S. Embassy official indicated that because the plane belonged to the Polish Air Force, it might be an obsolete model, but would nevertheless be of interest, and that disposition of the plane would be the exclusive decision of Denmark, a member of NATO.

The President said this date at his third press conference that if the investigations led by Senator Joseph McCarthy entered fields which might cause damage or misunderstanding, it would be up to the President to try to improve the situation, but that he would seek to avoid any situation in which he might have to express his views. The statement was in response to a question pertaining to the investigation of the State Department's Voice of America program. The President also stated willingness to meet with whomever would succeed Premier Stalin and to meet that successor halfway between Washington and Moscow. He said that he did not know what might come from the changes imminent in Russia and that the U.S. would remain vigilant of the situation. He further said that it was up to Congress to work out the wording of his suggested resolution condemning Russia for enslaving free peoples, and that there was no rift between the President and Senate Majority Leader Taft regarding proposed changes in the resolution to make it clear that the condemnation of Russia's perversion of the World War II agreements did not imply that Congress was tacitly approving the agreements, themselves. The President also criticized the wave of anti-Semitism extant behind the Iron Curtain as deplorable and heartbreaking.

General James Van Fleet, recently retired as commander of the U.S. Eighth Army in Korea, again testified voluntarily this date before Congress, this time before the Senate Armed Services Committee, having testified before the House counterpart and one other House committee the previous day, stating that the U.S. had to win a military victory to maintain the "prestige, honor and influence" of the nation in world affairs. He said that there had been a serious shortage of ammunition ever since he had been in Korea, with critical shortages at times. He had testified the previous day that there were no serious shortages which had hampered the Eighth Army, calling it the best equipped, best fed, best clothed and best housed and cared for of any Army the country had ever produced. The General testified that he would favor extension of draft service by 6 to 12 months, to make sure that soldiers were better trained for combat, a proposal which the President indicated in his press conference he did not favor. The General also said that the International Red Cross regulations had forced the U.S. Army to provide better food, clothing and shelter to Communist prisoners of war than were being given to South Korean troops and that he had ignored Pentagon planners in building up the South Korean Army to its present strength, six times that initially authorized at the Pentagon.

In Taipeh, Formosa, U.S. Air Force Secretary Harold Talbott had arrived to inspect the Nationalist Chinese Air Force and then conferred with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek this date. It was anticipated that his visit would encourage the acceleration of the buildup of the Nationalist Air Force.

The Government lifted price controls this date from major household appliances, bread and bakery products, automobiles and laundry services. It was the fifth major step in lifting controls since the beginning of the new Administration. A lengthy list of particular items released from controls is provided, in case you are considering going shopping, especially for laundry services and bread in a new car.

In Washington, Dr. Joseph Weinberg was acquitted this date on a charge of perjury, accused of lying before HUAC on May 25, 1949 regarding whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party. The jury deliberated more than seven hours before reaching its verdict of acquittal. Dr. Weinberg had been termed "Scientist X" during the earlier Congressional investigation of atomic spying. HUAC had claimed that the evidence before it showed that Dr. Weinberg had provided atomic secrets to Steve Nelson, a Communist Party functionary, to be passed to Russia. He was charged originally with lying about not being acquainted with Mr. Nelson, but that charge had been dropped during the trial and the case sent to the jury only on whether he had sworn falsely to the Committee that he had never belonged to the Communist Party. The Federal District Court judge stated that he was certain the jurors had approached their task conscientiously, that he respected their decision "even though the court does not approve of your verdict."

In Raleigh, the General Assembly received a bill this date to provide for strict control of milk sold in the state, through appointment of a five-member commission. A Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure which would allow life sentences for persons found guilty of selling dope or marijuana to minors, with the sentence ranging between 10 years to life and a fine of not more than $3,000 for a first or subsequent offense, not allowing courts to suspend the active sentence on probation. Others convicted of violation of the narcotics act would be subject to a term of 3 to 5 years in prison plus a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense and double that fine plus 5 to 10 years in prison for a second offense, an increased fine and 15 years to life for conviction of a third offense, with no possibility of probation on second or subsequent offenses.

In Cleveland, a woman claimed $10,000 in damages in a civil suit filed in court the previous day against a druggist from whom she had purchased a bleach which, she claimed, had caused "permanent impairment of her beauty and attractiveness" by turning her hair a deep green. The druggist, in answer to the complaint, denied that the woman's hair had turned deep green but rather had only a greenish cast, and contended that his clerk had advised the woman not to use the product when she had bought it in January, 1952, because it had a label warning that it had to be used prior to the date of purchase.

You'd be stylish these days.

On the editorial page, "What Now with Russia?" indicates that, with the news of Stalin being seriously ill or possibly dead, the problems always attendant the demise of dictators had arisen. In recent years, Stalin had been deified by his faithful followers, provided an aura of omnipotence, which would handicap his successor or successors, whether Georgi Malenkov or some combination of the latter with V. M. Molotov and/or L. P. Beria.

One school of thought in the country believed that Stalin had not been omnipotent but was a prisoner of the Politburo and its successor, the Presidium—not to be confused with the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, as we learned one dismal Sunday afternoon from reading a book on Soviet government structure for a book report during the fifth grade, the second worse season from time ago—, that the Communist Party hierarchy could thus ride out the loss of the party leader without revolution. Others, however, maintained that the death of Stalin would convulse the dictatorship and permit the Russian people an opportunity to throw off the shackles of Communist dictatorship. But the best informed observers did not know enough about the various likely successors to Stalin and the machinations of Kremlin policy to forecast the probable policies of the ensuing administration, whether they would be more or less shrewd and impetuous than had been Stalin, or more or less cooperative with the West.

It suggests listening to the experience of former Ambassador to Russia, George Kennan, formerly the chief planner in the State Department, who had developed the Truman Administration policy of containment of Communism. In a speech reprinted on the page, he had advised not to be impatient and not to insist on trying to look too far ahead, that the demise of Stalin would test the Soviet empire but would not end the East-West war, while a policy of calm and unified strength on the part of the free world might divide the Communist sphere during their coming troublesome days.

"A Palliative, Not a Cure" indicates that according to a news story out of Raleigh earlier in the week, the Mecklenburg legislative delegation was giving serious consideration to a plan put forward by Charlotte City Manager Henry Yancey regarding the Firemen's Retirement Fund, a plan worked out by a special committee appointed several weeks earlier by the City Manager on instructions from the City Council. The compromise would advance the age of retirement from 50 to 55, requiring a total contribution of 23.5 percent of the payroll for minimum funding. But to fund the system over a 40-year period would require a contribution of 27 percent. The compromise would fall short of those minimum contributions, as it recommended an increase from the present 11 percent to 16.21 percent contribution by increasing the City's share from 5 percent to 10.21 percent.

It posits that there were only three alternatives, to scale down the benefits, as requested by the City Council the previous day, to increase the firemen's contribution, or to abolish the fund completely and put the firemen under the State retirement system. It indicates that one of those alternatives had to be adopted to provide for adequate retirement of the firemen.

"A Workable Car Inspection Law" favors the proposed new safety and mechanical inspection law for cars, after the first experiment in 1947-48 had failed because of long lines at the State-run inspection lanes. The present law would be an improvement, as it would be limited to license plates, steering, lights, brakes, horn, rearview mirror and the windshield wiper on the driver's side. The inspection would also be performed at private garages instead of State-operated lanes, allowing for quicker performance of the inspections. There was concern that the private inspections would result in favoritism to some individuals and that some garages might find mechanical defects just to generate business, but the small number of items to be checked lessened that possibility. It advocates passage of the new law for the sake of improving safety on the roads.

Louis Graves of the Chapel Hill Weekly tells of it being the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Weekly, and that if he had known it would be such hard work when he began, he was not sure he would do it again. He reflects that he might have, as the alternative was to continue to teach in the classroom, where he believed he had failed to inspire his students. He had not come to run a village newspaper through the usual means of starting at the bottom as a copy boy, but had been exclusively a reporter, first in a large city, and so knew nothing about the ordinary problems of being a newspaper owner. He was convinced that the best way to become an owner-editor was the way it had been done by the two best editors and writers America had produced, Benjamin Franklin and Horace Greeley.

He indicates that on the fifth anniversary of the newspaper, in 1928, he had written that the life of the village agreed with him, that some people were naturally urbanites and others naturally villagers, counting his inclusion in the latter class. On the 16th anniversary, he had written that he was tired of putting out the Weekly, at which point some of his friends had chided him for not showing the proper determined spirit, prompting him to respond that he was only speaking the truth, adding that his feelings about the matter differed at different times, depending on his mood.

George F. Kennan, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union before being called home after being rejected by the Soviets the previous fall, in a speech before the Pennsylvania Bar Association, indicates that the Russian Communists had, since they had seized power in the fall of 1917, been animated by a preconceived hostility to a democratic form of government. Some people observed that the American intervention in Russia in 1918 and 1919, or other acts of American policy during that early period following the Revolution, had created the Soviet hostility to the U.S., but he finds it an incorrect assumption. He posits that the attitude was a subjective one, not reactive to outside reality, and he is confident that, given time, it would wear away and yield to something more healthy, as Providence had a way of punishing those who persisted long and willfully in ignoring great realities—something of which the Trumpies might take note.

Those who believed that the conflict was a cause for war were in the decided minority. Another conceptualization of how to deal with Soviet power was to ignore it and have as little to do with it as possible, one which he endorsed insofar as it was feasible; but the outcome of World War II had made this stance practically impossible, as the country was intimately involved with a number of questions with the Soviets. Yet others believed that the best way to deal with the Soviets was to point out the unhappiness of the various people living under the system's rule and to advocate a policy predicated on the possibility of internal disintegration of Soviet power, promoting that disintegration from within. He cautions that such an approach could become problematic, as its prospects for success were small, with civil disobedience not a great problem in any modern dictatorship, and fraught with the risk of directly interfering with another government.

He recommends being strong on principle, cool-headed and deliberate in dealing with the Soviets, and, while cultivating strength, remaining prepared at all times to negotiate where negotiation was required. He also counsels guarding unity in every respect, as the Communists were aware that the strength of the free world outclassed it at every juncture and would continue to do so, that their policy was premised not on head-on confrontation but in the hope of weakening and dissipating the strength of the free world through promoting disunity. Unity had to occur also at the domestic level, with a change in the tone and temper of public life from that which had occurred in the recent past, particularly with regard to questions of loyalty, bound up with the Communist problem.

He indicates that in his six years of involvement with policy-making in Washington, he could not recall a single major decision on foreign policy in which Communist influence had determined any appreciable part. But he had also seen serious damage done to public confidence and governmental morale by the mishandling of the efforts to counter the problem of Communist penetration of the Government, resulting in an inability to distinguish between questions of loyalty and questions of opinion. The damage, he reckons, had been done by the failure of many people to realize that what was important from the standpoint of personal loyalty was not the actions of 10 to 20 years earlier, proven by hindsight to have been erroneous, but rather what was occurring presently. All that was necessary to keep anyone from public service was the release of a spate of rumors and gossip, followed by demands for investigation.

He concludes that he would recommend, as indicated in the above editorial, not to be impatient, not to insist on looking too far ahead, and leaving the problems of the future to the "vision and wisdom of Divine Providence", a viewpoint which he regards as being useful in present relations with the Soviets.

Drew Pearson indicates that Congressman Leo Allen of Illinois, one of the best-natured members of Congress and chairman of the House Rules Committee, was able to slug it out when the occasion required. He had recently let his fellow Republican Congressman Dan Reed know in no uncertain terms that he was going to continue to block the tax-cut bill sponsored by Mr. Reed and not allow it to come to a vote in the full House, saying that he would be guided by Speaker of the House Joe Martin. The stand took genuine courage, as Mr. Reed was chairman of the Ways & Means Committee and ruled on committee membership. But Mr. Allen had the support not only of the Speaker, but also of the President.

Bernard Baruch had sent a telegram to Senator Homer Capehart of Indiana, railing against Senate secrecy, directed specifically against the hearings on the issue of continuation or not of price-wage controls. But immediately after the telegram, the committee held another secret session, with no minutes kept. Afterward, Senators appeared confused as to what had transpired. During the hearing, Secretary of Treasury George Humphrey had stated that the actual cost of operating the Government could not be cut during the year, saying that the only availability of heavy cuts would be from defense and foreign aid. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson said that no large cuts could come in defense but hoped to reduce by five billion dollars the budget for the ensuing fiscal year. As former head of G.M., he told Senator Irving Ives of New York, in response to a question, that he did not believe that the Government could be run as a business. Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks told the committee that the Government should get out of all business. All three Cabinet members agreed that standby controls should be retained in the event of an emergency, allowing 60 days for Congress to enact more permanent controls. No matter touching on national security was mentioned during the secret hearing.

The proposed tidelands oil law, giving the areas back to the states, would boomerang against the shrimp industry in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, making it impossible to fish for shrimp off the Gulf coast of Mexico. Mexico had claimed territorial rights nine miles into the Gulf and would not allow those three states to fish in waters within that limit. The U.S. had refused to recognize the limitation, insisting that the international limit was three miles. But with the limit of 10.5 miles being proposed for the three states for purposes of tidelands oil, based on territorial rights recognized when the states were admitted to the union, the Mexican argument would be strengthened.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop find it propitious that the situation in Iran had heated up during the week, when rioting was alternately threatening exile of the Shah or the fall of the nationalist Government of Mohammed Mossadegh, as visiting British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden could discuss the situation with Secretary of State Dulles, perhaps leading to agreement on a positive, common policy anent the Middle East.

U.S. Ambassadors throughout the Middle East, and especially in the Arab countries, had begun to despair in their messages to the State Department, for the facts that the Arab-Israeli dispute had dragged on too long and anti-American feeling was on the rise, inflamed the more by the anti-Semitism out of Russia. There were grave dangers involved in the prospect that Russia might send arms to the dictator of Syria, which could lead to another outbreak of large-scale fighting between Arabs and Israelis, as the border war continued interminably. The Soviets might also arm the Iraqi dissidents, or some other irreparable breakdown or government crisis could erupt. The latter could occur even in Egypt, the only place where the trend was hopeful.

Iran had double importance in that picture, as the struggle which had overtaken Premier Mossadegh the prior weekend had been caused in part by a division in power over the army and police, with the Shah having formerly controlled both forces, and the Premier seeking to wrest that control from him, a process which was only halfway complete. With the forces of law and order thus distracted and divided, there was an opportunity for the Communist Tudeh Party to take advantage of the resulting power vacuum, with the Government tottering.

The Premier had actually invited the trouble by behaving like a dictator before he had consolidated his power. The new riots followed on the riots of a year earlier, arising out of the rivalry between the Premier and his former ally, the Ayatollah Kashani, who controlled the Tehran street mobs and ran the Fedayan Islam, a sort of "Murder, Inc." The latter had sought to prevent the Iranian Parliament from granting full powers to the Premier, a challenge which had failed, with the Premier threatening to send Kashani abroad "to study theology". At that point, the Premier moved against the Shah, accusing him of consorting with the Premier's enemies and demanding that he see no one without governmental permission, requested complete control of the armed forces, turning over of royal lands to the Government, and insisted on a detailed accounting of palace expenditures. It had thus been no wonder that the Shah had initially declared his intent to leave the country for health reasons. But because the Shah was genuinely popular while the Premier had of late been losing ground, especially among the powerful merchant class, whose business was not helped by Iran's present condition of bankruptcy following the nationalization of British oil concessions, the situation remained in flux.

Robert C. Ruark, who, the editors note, had been out of touch for so long that they had wondered whether he might have been chopped to pieces by the Mau Mau in Africa, reports from Isiolo, in northern Kenya, that it was a relief to get back to Africa where savages were savages, while only a small strip of the territory was devoted to political murder. He tells of rarely tuning in to the radio, because the news of some friend being chopped up in one of the urban areas, Thomson's Falls, Mweiga, Nyeri or Kinangop, left them feeling helpless to do anything miles deep in the bush.

The natives had mobilized the manpower to stamp out the brutal murders by the Communist-taught African, Jomo Kenyatta, who was being tried for conducting an illegal society instead of for the many murders by his followers. The record of the Mau Mau was clear: they had not attacked the strong or the brutal among the whites, or even the prepared, but rather had preyed on the weak, women, the elderly and kind people. The principal aim was to eliminate the friendships between blacks and whites, as reflected in the fact that it was usual for a Kikuyu houseboy to let the murderers into the house of his white master, and often then participate in chopping up the family to demonstrate his loyalty to the Mau Mau, lest he also be killed by them. The fear instilled by the Mau Mau among the Kikuyu tribesmen was limitless.

He relates of a friend who lived near Nyeri on a ranch in one of the trouble spots in the country, and employed some 150 Kikuyu, whom he regularly locked up at night at gunpoint.

Recently, the Mau Mau had killed a mother, father and young child, alienating the great masses of people and causing certain areas to be declared a no-man's land in which anyone moving about was shot on sight without question. Special commandos had been organized among the whites and among the Kikuyu to counter the Mau Mau and hunt them down.

One of Mr. Ruark's gun bearers had recently volunteered to act as lookout at night, possessed only of a gun and seeking no pay. The native police had to be carefully controlled when they caught a Mau Mau, lest he be ripped to pieces.

He concludes therefore that the conditions were why he had begun his piece by saying it was nice to be back in Africa, where one did not have to sleep with a pistol under his pillow, as was the case in one of the finest hotels in Africa, in Nyeri. He says he had not seen his pistol in days.

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