The Charlotte News

Monday, January 4, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Korea, the U.N. supreme commander, General John Hull, this date blamed the Communists for the breakdown of prisoner explanations, saying that all non-repatriating prisoners of the U.N. would be freed at midnight on January 22. U.S. Marines and engineers began erecting miles of barbed wire fences to channel the prisoners from the demilitarized zone compounds to rail heads. South Korea's Foreign Minister, who, the previous day, had threatened to release the North Korean non-repatriating prisoners unless the head counts by the Indian Command ceased, hailed the announcement by General Hull as the correct position. General Hull criticized the report made by the majority of the five-nation Repatriation Commission, which had accused the U.N. Command of maintaining control over its non-repatriating prisoners, a claim denied by General Hull. He said that the Communist high command had caused the collapse of the explanations by their unreasonable and changing demands for explanation facilities, their refusal to accept reasonable numbers of willing prisoners for explanations each day, and their rejection of available explanation time unless the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission and the Indian custodial troops approved all of their demands, including the use of force, to make the prisoners listen to the explanations.

In Hanoi, it was reported that French fighters and bombers resorted to moonlight attacks early this date, hitting coolie supply lines to the Communist-led Vietminh forces threatening an assault on the French fortified plain of Dien Bien Phu, which was now surrounded by the Vietminh. Dien Bien Phu was the last French stronghold in the mountainous Thai country of northwestern Indo-China. French fighters heavily strafed the Vietminh troop columns and thousands of peasants packing in war supplies on their backs, the coolie convoys having been operating mainly at night in an effort to escape air attack. The Vietminh "iron" division had spread out in a wide encircling movement around Dien Bien Phu and had been reinforced by units from two other divisions. The Communist command had not yet attempted to launch its expected major assault, and French patrols moving out of the fortress area had reported only minor clashes, with one encounter netting only one Vietminh killed. In mop-up operations in the Red River delta around Hanoi, French Vietnamese forces reported killing about 50 Vietminh rebels and capturing 54. To the southeast, in the neighboring kingdom of Laos, French Union troops started a new cleanup of regional Vietminh guerrillas around Muong Khoua, 82 miles north of the royal Laotian capital, Luang Prabang. The French the previous day encountered their first enemy resistance around a fort in central Laos, Seno, when patrols fanning out from the position were harassed, whereras previously, the Vietminh had avoided contact in the area. North of Seno, where the Vietminh had pushed a division through Laos to the Thai border in a Christmas offensive, a French patrol reported a strong Vietminh ambush, and both sides had suffered losses. The first 100 of 297 French Union prisoners of war released by the Vietminh as a Christmas gesture had come into Hanoi the previous day. They were primarily Moroccans, Senegalese, foreign legionnaires and a few French troops, all thin and tired and most of them in need of medical attention. They said they had been freed 40 to 50 miles from the nearest French posts in northern Indo-China. There was no indication as to when the other liberated men would reach French-held territory.

The Big Three Western powers were planning to confront Russia with a three-point German peace program at the Berlin foreign ministers conference, to start January 25, provided the Soviets appeared serious about negotiations. One effect of the proposed program would be to eliminate the Communist East German Government, and therefore would likely be completely unacceptable to the Soviets. The discussions would range beyond German peacemaking to include likely the President's proposal for pooling of atomic materials for peaceful use and Russia's renewed call for a ban on atomic weaponry. It would likely also include discussion of relations with Communist China, which might inevitably lead to consideration of the Korean peace settlement and the war in Indo-China.

The President gave nine Republican Congressional leaders and his Cabinet this date a detailed review of his program for the upcoming session of Congress, and House Speaker Joe Martin of Massachusetts called it "dynamic" and "progressive", believed it would be well received by all parts of the country. This night, the President would provide a nationally televised and radio broadcast speech to discuss what his Administration had accomplished during the previous year and what he would recommend in the State of the Union message the following Thursday. The following day, he would meet with Democratic leaders to discuss the program.

In Nairobi, Kenya, 40 Africans awaiting trial on various minor charges had escaped from a Nairobi prison in an organized break this date, but within 19 minutes had been recaptured and one had been shot fatally by prison guards.

In Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, Jacques Piccard, who teamed up with his father to set a deep-sea diving record of 10,330 feet the previous fall in the Tyrrhenian Sea, said that they hoped to dive even further into the sea the following spring. He was present to supervise repairs on the bathyscafe which he and his father would seek to take to a depth of 13,123 feet.

In the vicinity of Old Orchard Beach, Me., eight young children died in two separate fires, five in their home and three in a cottage 20 miles from the first fire. Both mothers of the children were burned in their futile rescue attempts. No cause of either fire is reported.

In Pottstown, Pa., an explosion followed by a fire had hit the heart of the business district this date, destroying the F. W. Woolworth store and causing an estimated $350,000 in damage, with no one killed or injured and the fire eventually brought under control.

During the 78-hour holiday weekend which had ended at midnight on Sunday, 311 people had died in traffic accidents and another 40 had been killed in fires, with 76 others killed in miscellaneous accidents, for a total of 427, slightly more than the record for a three-day New Year's weekend of 424, set in 1949-50 and equaled the following year. The previous record for traffic deaths was 304, set in 1949-50. The National Safety Council had estimated that 360 persons would die in traffic accidents during the holiday weekend. During a test weekend in early December, 310 had died in traffic accidents, and a total of 432 accidental deaths had been recorded.

In Detroit, a police officer was looking for the owner of a shoe after a stolen pickup truck had smashed into his car outside his home the previous night, and neighbors saw two men fleeing on foot, the officer finding only the loafer left behind.

Ann Sawyer of The News tells of a public hearing having been requested by Solicitor Basil Whitener regarding accusations made against Charlotte Police Chief Frank Littlejohn. Mr. Whitener had asked that a Superior Court judge sit as a committing magistrate to hear any evidence and witnesses against the Chief and a detective, who had also been accused of wrongdoing by the grand jury in December. Four presentments, the most serious of which had been allowing gambling to take place in Charlotte over a long period of time, had been made against the Chief by the grand jury, the term of which had expired in December, just prior to Christmas. A new grand jury was seated this date and a judge informed the new members that he had studied the five presentments and found that they did not contain sufficiently specific information to enable the Solicitor to prepare bills of indictment properly to be submitted to the new grand jury for action. Thus, he had requested the hearing for the purpose of gathering specific evidence in support of the charges.

John Borchert of The News tells of a girl in her first grade classroom having her reading book open but looking at something else, a brown-haired doll sitting in her lap. There were also other dolls, a cowboy shirt and new shoes and other clothing among the young students, indicative of the recency of Christmas, as schools reopened this date. Each of the first three grades had specific days on which the children could bring their Christmas gifts to show off to their friends, but this date was not one of those days. Yet, no one had the heart to take the doll from the little girl. What did the Jewish kids bring to school?

On the editorial page, "Committee Rules Need Changing" indicates that Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa had a valid point when he said that the Senate ought limit Senator McCarthy's Government Operations Committee to its proper role and strip it of engaging in foreign affairs, the province of the Foreign Relations Committee, to which Senator Gillette belonged. It agrees and indicates also that the investigation of subversive activities in the Government ought be the province of the Internal Security Committee, of which Senator William Jenner of Indiana was chairman.

It suggests that the investigative function of Congress was necessary and useful, but could not effectively be carried out except by a responsible group of Congressmen of both parties. Senator McCarthy, during the prior spring, had arbitrarily hired and then fired J. B. Mathews, after he had become controversial following his American Mercury article having surfaced in which he claimed that large numbers of Communists had infiltrated the American clergy. But Senator McCarthy had refused to share his control over hiring and firing of staff with other members of the Committee, prompting the Democrats on the Committee to walk out, after which the Senator had conducted virtually a one-man show. Senator McCarthy's recent investigations, in consequence, had not represented the authority of the Senate.

It posits that no one man should be cloaked with that kind of authority and Senator Gillette's suggestion to limit Senator McCarthy's influence on international affairs was only a partial solution, with a more permanent solution being to change the Senate rules to require the approval of other Senators of both parties before a committee chairman could set hearings, subpoena witnesses, recommend contempt citations and make reports.

"Sentence Them to the Back Seat" indicates that on January 1, the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Law had gone into effect, diminishing the likelihood that a collision would take place with a financially irresponsible driver. Highway hazards would commensurately be decreased.

Sometimes, those repeatedly responsible for accidents which caused damage or death were sentenced to prison, but were usually paroled quickly. It cites a recent Montana case in which a judge had indicated that sending the young driver before him to prison on his manslaughter conviction might tend to make him a criminal before it would do any good, and so suspended the sentence on condition that the defendant would not drive any vehicle for his probationary term of five years. It suggests that the forbearance thus shown by the judge was in the same vein as had been applied to pilots' licenses by the Civil Aeronautics Authority, and suggests a similar practice be applied to drivers in North Carolina.

"Hoffman's Quest Gets Our Vote" indicates that Congressman Clare Hoffman of Michigan, chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, was seeking to expose the practice of members of Congress who were traveling in foreign countries receiving foreign aid and entitled to draw unlimited expenses from the public coffers without the accounting usually required of Government officials. As indicated in the Congressional Quarterly piece on the page this date, many of the Congressmen not only charged legitimate expenses, but also frills and luxuries. It indicates that if Mr. Hoffman exposed the practice, he would be doing a real service for the people.

"Why They Went Red" asks why 20 Americans, who had been prisoners of the Communists during the Korean War, had refused repatriation. The Boston Globe had made hometown surveys of the formative years of the soldiers' lives and had found that all of them had come from lower socio-economic strata, that many had come from broken homes, that many had left school early and none had gone to college, and that only one had a background deeply influenced by religious training.

It suggests that no firm conclusion could be drawn from those facts because there were so few soldiers involved, but that their case histories suggested that educators, ministers, and social workers were mortal enemies to Communists, and that those who hurled unwarranted charges at those functionaries undermined the bulwark of freedom.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Eureka!" indicates that the Bell Telephone Co. was running experiments on a telephone booth equipped with a built-in loudspeaker and microphone, and no obvious receiver. The piece thinks it would become one of the most popular innovations since the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. It indicates that a number of ladies known by the author of the piece could not hold a conversation without gesticulation over the phone. One such lady had broken her wrist and was speechless for weeks. "Think how much sooner the little woman will finish her conversation, out of sheer manual exhaustion, and let you get to the 'phone!"

The Congressional Quarterly, as indicated above, looks at Congressman Clare Hoffman's proposal to make members accountable for their expenditures while traveling in foreign nations receiving U.S. aid.

Drew Pearson indicates that the President, in his State of the Union message on Thursday, would move to the left, proposing a $10 across-the-board monthly increase in old-age pensions, a proposal which would likely win Democratic support but bring a host of criticism from the right-wing of the Republican Party, particularly from Congressman Carl Curtis of Nebraska and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The details of the increase had not been determined but the $10 would be paid generally by expanding the taxpayer's salary base, with the $3,600 salary limit from which one and a half percent was deducted for Social Security to be increased to $4,600 or $4,800. The payroll deduction for Social Security payments for employers would also be dropped under the plan. Many Republicans in Congress believed the plan was reminiscent of the New Deal, but, with increased prices, retirees had a hard time making ends meet.

Congressman Dan Reed of New York, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, had chilly relations with the White House, having ducked out on the recent legislative conferences with Republican Congressional leaders, irritating the White House, and so was omitted from a list of Democrats and Republicans to be invited to a bipartisan meeting at the White House the following day. His Committee, however, not only wrote taxes but also would have to approve the Social Security increase and the reciprocal trade program, such that the President's program could hardly move forward without Mr. Reed's approval.

Some advisers of the President wanted him to withdraw the name of Robert E. Lee as an appointee to the FCC and avoid thereby a nasty fight with the Democrats, who were upset over Mr. Lee's appointment after they had shown his strange activities on behalf of Senator McCarthy in the Maryland Senatorial election of 1950, involving incumbent Democratic Senator Millard Tydings, who lost the election to John Butler. Democrats believed that they could defeat Mr. Lee's confirmation. But White House chief of staff Sherman Adams believed the appointment should go forward even if it meant defeat of the confirmation. Mr. Adams had indicated that a deal had been made to appease Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire and Congressman John Taber of New York, chairmen, respectively, of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, who wanted Mr. Lee to be appointed Comptroller General, one of the most important posts in the Government, an appointment for a 14-year term, not subject to removal by the President, with the duties of scrutinizing all Government expenditures, a post presently held by Lindsay Warren of North Carolina, who had saved the taxpayers millions of dollars. Mr. Warren, not in good health, was not averse to resigning the post, but did not want to have a McCarthy man succeed him. He favored his able assistant, Frank Weitzel, as his successor. So to accord the desires of Senator Bridges and Congressman Taber, the White House had appointed Mr. Lee to the FCC, where, said Mr. Adams, they believed he would be "less dangerous". Democrats in the Senate, however, did not wish Mr. Lee to be appointed to any post unless he was qualified, and his chief qualification for the FCC was that he had been a producer on a television program, "Facts Forum", featuring Senator McCarthy, funded by Texas oilman H. L. Hunt. He had also handled a check for $5,000 in the campaign by Senator McCarthy against Senator Tydings, and had used the money to mail 300,000 postcards to Maryland voters. He had not properly recorded the check, however, and a Senate committee focused such attention on various campaign operations that a court convicted Jon Jonkel, campaign manager for the Republican opponent, Senator Butler. Attorney General Herbert Brownell, however, had let the statute of limitations run on any Federal crimes which might have been involved in the case.

Senate Democrats would caucus on three issues when Congress convened on Wednesday, strategy on the confirmation fight against Mr. Lee, alleged illegal firing of postmasters with civil service status, and an increase in the number of Democrats on Senate committees, now that the Democrats had a nominal majority, 48 to 47—though Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, who had switched from being a Republican to independent in the fall of 1952, had agreed to vote with the Republicans for organizational purposes and to establish a tie whenever Democrats would otherwise have a one-vote majority, allowing Vice-President Nixon to break the tie.

James Marlow indicates that the President, in his nationwide broadcast over television and radio this night, previewing the upcoming year and reviewing his first year in office, would effectively begin his second year, after 1953 had been one of preparation, with the public regarding him with high esteem and patient expectation, waiting while he postponed action on major issues. The current year would have to be one of action, in which he would present his program to Congress, one for which he would have to fight because of the wide divergence of opinions on it among members.

Allan Nevins, an historian, had recently indicated in Nation's Business, a magazine published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that every true national leader needed to adopt the motto that they did not wish to be liked but rather to be esteemed, as the best Presidential Administrations had been quite unpopular in wide circles, referring particularly to Presidents Lincoln, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson and both Roosevelts. He found that if President Eisenhower had a salient weakness, it was that he wished too much to be liked, while most people admired a President most for the enemies he made. Mr. Marlow observes that the statement might be accurate within certain bounds, but a course of action which made enemies of the mass of people was guaranteed to render a President and his Administration "dead ducks". But he could also wind up the same way by being too anxious to please everyone through compromises which pleased no one.

Thus far, President Eisenhower, he observes, had appeared to make few, if any, enemies, but the opinion of Mr. Nevins that he wanted too much to be liked would get even more of a test in the coming year. He had practical reasons for maintaining patience, restraint and mildness with Congress, because of its even numerical division between the parties, realizing that he needed both sides to get his program passed. Nothing would have harmed his early popularity as quickly as fights with a politician. Mr. Marlow thinks it possible that the President could pursue the same attitude through all four years and get his program passed as he wanted it, while making no enemies and thus having to endure no personal attacks, but that such a course was not likely.

Frederick C. Othman tells of the second session of the 83rd Congress about to convene two days hence, with the Senate Office Building having been equipped since the August recess with a new air raid siren, which the House still lacked. Electricians had installed alternating current for the first time in the Capitol, previously operating on direct current, meaning that electric gadgets such as toasters could not be used within its confines.

The monorail system had been overhauled, and the bottles of black sand, used by each Senator traditionally to blot ink, because George Washington reputedly had used the sand for that purpose, had been brought in from Arabia to fill salt shakers for the purpose. Snuff boxes, one for each party, were on hand, but Mr. Othman indicates that he had never seen a Senator dip into them. And the old pipes, which had been installed in the S.O.B. nearly 40 years earlier and had begun to leak, had been replaced with brass pipes—almost assuredly copper. Thus, he points out, Senators did not need any longer to fear leaks onto their heads from cold water.

The Vice-President apparently had developed a neurotic fear of same, as would become evident after he became President in 1969.

A Pome appears from the Atlanta Journal, "In Which Is Given A Modicum Of Advice Concerning One Element Of Success:

"If you show a lot of class
You may join the upper brass."

But if you show a lot of copper,
You may wind up in the hopper.

Eleventh Day of Christmas: Eleven Trumper plumbers leaking.

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