The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 7, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Seoul, the Communists had demanded the previous night that North Korean prisoners of war who refused repatriation be held until the Korean peace conference, not yet begun and without a start date, could consider their fate, instead of being released, as intended by the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission and approved by the U.N. Command, on January 23, in accordance with the Armistice provisions that they would be released thirty days after the end of the ninety-day explanations period, which had expired on December 23. The letter, broadcast by Chinese Communist radio, addressed to the chairman of the NNRC, also demanded that the explanations period be resumed. During the explanations period, the Communists had met with only about 2,000 of the 22,000 non-repatriating Chinese and North Korean prisoners in only ten days of interviews. U.S. and South Korean leaders had met separately on Thursday regarding the disposition of the non-repatriating prisoners and apparently had reached at least a temporary agreement on the matter, with the South Korean Foreign Minister dropping his country's threat of violence to free the non-repatriating North Korean prisoners, while "new arrangements" were being tested.

The State Department said this date that the U.S. and Russia would start preliminary talks on the President's atomic sharing pool proposal sometime in the ensuing few days. The two countries had agreed the previous day to begin conversations aimed at setting a time, place and agenda for full-scale negotiations on the proposal, which the President had outlined before the U.N. General Assembly on December 8. Preliminary talks would take place between the Soviet Ambassador to the U.S., Georgi Zarubin, and Secretary of State Dulles, to be arranged at their mutual convenience in the ensuing few days.

The President, in his State of the Union address to Congress this date, said that new tax cuts could and would be made and that the nation's defense plans were geared to use of atomic weapons if they were needed to preserve freedom. He mentioned that there would be a billion-dollar increase in spending for continental defense against enemy air attack. Specifically he said: "We take into full account our great and growing number of nuclear weapons and the most effective means of using them against an aggressor if they are needed to preserve our freedom. Our defense will be stronger if, under appropriate security safeguards, we share with our allies certain knowledge of the tactical use of our nuclear weapons. I urge Congress to provide the needed authority." He also said: "Slowly but surely, the free world gathers strength. Meanwhile from behind the Iron Curtain, there are signs that tyranny is in trouble and reminders that its structure is as brittle as its surface is hard." He predicted a Federal budget of about 66.6 billion dollars for the coming fiscal year of 1954-55, about 12 billion dollars less than the original Truman Administration budget for 1953-54. (He did not say that those were the devil's numbers.) He called for legislation to strip U.S. citizenship from Communists convicted of conspiring against the Government in the future and disclosed that more than 2,200 Federal employees had been fired from their jobs under the Administration's new security program, the previous total, announced the previous October 23, having been 1,456 such employees. He also set forth plans to combat any business recession or depression which might occur, but again declared that the economy was basically sound and that his Administration was determined to keep it growing. He recommended a Constitutional amendment to give Americans eighteen and over the right to vote, instead of the current age limit of twenty-one. He declared that foreign military aid had to be continued, but that economic aid could be cut except in Korea and a few other critical places. He also confirmed that the special farm message he would send to Congress the following Monday would call for a new Government price support program with enough flexibility to attract the production of needed supplies of essential commodities, but freed of price-depressing effects of the present crop surpluses. Under the plan, Government price guarantees would be high in times of shortage to encourage production and low in times of surplus to encourage consumption and discourage over-production, replacing the present mandatory high-level supports which were scheduled to expire at the end of the 1954 crop year. The plan included continuance of the present 90 percent of parity levels for basic commodities through at least one full crop year, with the flexible supports starting in 1955.

Some leaders in Congress had objected to use of flexible price supports the following year on the basis that present surpluses would cause price guarantees for crops such as cotton and wheat possibly to drop as low as 75 percent of parity.

Donald MacDonald of The News indicates that Solicitor Basil Whitener had rushed into Superior Court fifteen minutes late on this morning, explaining that he had run out of gas, with the scheduled preliminary hearing to start on the alleged neglect of duties by Police Chief Frank Littlejohn, the start of the hearing having been delayed an hour, in addition to Mr. Whitener's tardiness, because of the failure of two key witnesses to appear at the start of the hearing. (We once blew an engine out, rushing to court after busting our radiator on a culvert near our home, while looking around to the back seat to make doubly certain we had all of our papers aboard, having eventually, when periodic replenishment of water failed to get us across the bridge, to catch a ride with a generous highway department tow-truck driver who stopped to help and offered the ride the last couple of miles across the bridge to the court, only then to find out, about a minute after the case had been called, that the matter had already been continued to the afternoon because two other co-counsel had not been present on time either, the matter ultimately continued to another date for other reasons. Normally, it would not have been consequential, but the judge before whom we were scheduled to appear had a very strict policy about being on time for hearings, with death or hospitalization normally being the only excuses accepted for tardiness. Our poor car could no longer breathe a sigh of relief, but we could.) Eventually, Mr. Whitener announced that all cases on the docket, with the exception of two assault charges filed against one woman, would be continued until the next term of court.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports that the two missing witnesses from the hearing were charged with gambling violations this date, and the FBI and SBI were asked to help search for them, in aid of the Mecklenburg Sheriff's Department. By noon this date, she reports, the State still had not called the case against the Police Chief, who faced four charges of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance in the conduct of his office, the most serious of which was that he had permitted illegal gambling to take place in Charlotte, to which the two missing witnesses would presumably testify, as they were charged with operating illegal gambling facilities. During the morning, the court had begun hearing evidence against the detective also charged along with the Chief, but only for fornication and adultery. The evidence presented in that salacious case is not detailed, and so you do not have to strain your eyes in search of it. The purpose of the hearing on the evidence against the Chief was to provide the Solicitor with sufficient specificity of the charges to proceed with indictments, as the previous four presentments of the December grand jury had not included enough specificity—a key point if the indictments were to pass muster before Justice Sam Ervin of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

In Bladenboro, N.C., Sandy Grady, Julian Scheer and Ronald Green of the News sports department had been dispatched to the cotton mill town to get at the meat of the story of the Beast of the Big Swamp, as reported the previous day, a cat-like creature which had attacked one person and frightened another. They report that the previous night, a boy had seen a strange, dark animal in the streets of the town, and ninety minutes later, some 300 cars of excited strangers, with their headlights glaring on bare yards, were present at Cotton Mill Hill to try to get a look at the Beast, and an hour later, the Hill was silent and dark, with doors locked, shotguns at the ready, nervous faces peering from windows, and the lonely wail of dogs emanating from the Big Swamp. They all awaited the appearance of "'the thing'", with one resident stating that it would come back as it had every night, provided it was after blood, as previously. A child reported that the Beast made a noise like a crying baby, and a man reported that his two dogs had been horribly mangled by it. The reporters saw "long-nailed tracks in the dust" and observed its latest victim, a domestic rabbit which had been decapitated and was still warm, admitting, despite the carnival -like atmosphere in the town, that it was hard to be skeptical after talking to anxious mill workers and tracing the thing's path of blood. A half dozen theories abounded about what it was, whether a powerful, cunning cat, 3 feet long, 20 inches high and weighing 100 pounds, destroying dogs in a thickly populated, well-lit area, or something else. One woman, who had seen the animal via a porch light, said it looked like a German police dog with a hooked tail, but that it did not move like a big dog, and believed it to be grayish or black, while her husband said it was reddish. The boy to whom they had talked said it appeared as a giant cat with slow, lazy movements, but the couple who saw it in the porch light, and their neighbor, agreed that it took large, leaping steps as it moved, without any evidence of fluid movement. Cries from the Big Swamp bordering the town had been heard which sounded like a woman in pain, according to one man, and the bark of a coyote, according to another. The report presents a poster for "The Big Cat", a movie in Technicolor to be presented all day on the following Saturday at a local theater, as a tie-in to the horror story.

Look to Mars in the moonlight for the answer—not unlike the explanation for the worshipers of Trump who invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021, leaving behind death and destruction in general havoc, all stimulated by the nut in the White House who soon will be gone, but needs to go even before January 20, should have never been there in the first instance, would not have been were it not for our quaint little, elitist holdover from the Eighteenth Century, the electoral college, but for which, also, Wednesday's pointless, anomic havoc would not have occurred.

Because of the death by apparent homicide of the Capitol police officer, it is entirely conceivable that the co-conspirators who entered the Capitol by force could be charged with felony-murder. If so, given the extent of the transgression and the apparent planning toward the end of taking human life, it would not be outside the realm of prosecutorial discretion so to charge the matter. At very least, the perpetrators of the unlawful entry to the Capitol, and especially the parts thereof normally off-limits to the general public, ought be charged with misdemeanor-manslaughter, that is a death occurring during the course of commission of a misdemeanor, caused thereby.

On the editorial page, "For the City Fathers, a Headache" indicates that one of the toughest problems resulting from the fast growth of residential and industrial areas on the fringes of Charlotte was that egress and ingress to the area had been tackled only on a piecemeal basis, the Planning Commission having been working with the city engineer in an effort to widen and straighten Old Sardis road, destined to become a major thoroughfare between the business district and the residential areas beyond the city limits. But that was only one problem, as every major traffic route into and out of the city was similarly congested. It goes on to detail other such routes, indicating that a solution involved more than adoption of a priority list for improving those roads, that the participation of the State Highway Commission should occur, as many of the routes involved State roads, plus there needed to be an internal network of modern express routes to tie together the entry and exit streets. It indicates that the cost would run into the millions of dollars but it would have to be done someday, somehow.

Whether it has been done, with all the entangled superhighway construction in and about the city of Charlotte since the 1950's, you could not prove by our most recent experience in trying to exit an unfamiliar part of that city, which, admittedly, occurred a few years ago, but likely has not changed appreciably in the interim, Charlotte now vying with Mexico City as the worst damn place to get around in an automobile that we have ever experienced, especially on a fogged-in New Year's Eve, trying to find directions from people who barely spoke English. Sorry, but the truth is the truth.

"Parcel Post Rates Should Not Be Cut" indicates that the newspaper had received a communication from the Parcel Post Association pleading for a reduction in parcel post rates, which had more than doubled in the previous three years, desiring that the rate-fixing powers be vested in Congress rather than in the Postmaster General and the Interstate Commerce Commission, contending that parcel post was a public service being priced out of useful existence, and that the limitation on size and weight of such parcels aided the Railway Express and other private transportation organizations.

It indicates that unless the Post Office was to become a subsidized transportation agency, limitations on parcel size and weight were necessary, and that comparative rates did not cause people to abandon the Post Office in favor of Railway Express, citing the relative rates, $1.56 for a twenty-pound package from Charlotte to New York via parcel post, while the same package cost $2.71 by Railway Express. Parcel post rates were inadequate to cover the costs, and Congress had directed the Post Office Department to get out of the freight business and put parcel post on a pay-as-you-go basis, with former President Truman having concurred in that recommendation and the current Postmaster General, Arthur Summerfield, having said that he was seeking to get the Department on a break-even basis. The estimated Post Office deficit, however, for the present fiscal year was 594 million dollars. It concludes therefore that it would be unwise to reverse the pay-as-you-go parcel post trend, thus giving a few shippers the benefit of subsidized transportation at the expense of the taxpayers.

"A Small Decrease, but Meaningful" indicates that any gain in the campaign against death and injury on the highways, however small, represented cause for rejoicing, and so it was a good thing that the 1952 death toll in the state had dropped from 1,115 to 1,105 in 1953. The national death toll had dropped, as of November 1, 1953, to 12,395, from 12,437 for the same ten-month period in 1952. It points out that it was the first time since 1948 that the upward trend in highway deaths had been reversed and that the decreases occurred in the face of heavier traffic, roughly indicated by a seven percent increase in gasoline consumption during the year. It suggests that more vigorous enforcement of highway laws by the State Highway Patrol had led to the decrease in North Carolina, as well from the improvement of primary and secondary roads. It demonstrated, it concludes, that something could be done about the terrible toll taken in traffic accidents.

A piece from the Sanford Herald, titled "Fugitives and Television", indicates that three dangerous criminals who had escaped from the Southern Michigan prison with ten other convicts recently had been captured two days later as they sat in a Detroit home watching television, and a few hours later, the FBI had reduced its list of the ten most wanted by capturing a fugitive with a record of wanton brutality while he also sat watching television in a town in West Virginia.

It suggests that an important key to law enforcement might be contained in those two incidents, that all law enforcement needed to do was to erect a small building, equip it with a television set, surround it, and then rush in when the wanted criminals came to see "Howdy Doody or the wrestling matches". It suggests that such a tv trap could take the place of bloodhounds in rural areas. It foresees, however, certain problems with such a trap, that a wanted person caught while watching "Saturday Night Roundup" might claim cruel and unusual duress, or if lured to a television set when "The Web" was airing, it was conceivable that the caught person would petition the court to be credited with time already served. It doubts, in the end, that the Justice Department would sanction such a trap by television, for if it was not acceptable to tap a suspect's telephone, there could be no justification for interference with "man's inherent and inalienable right to sit before a television screen without anybody bothering him, even if the house burns down".

Drew Pearson indicates that the order to withdraw 21,000 U.S. troops from Korea had caused backstage bitterness at the Pentagon, but was one of the most important policy steps undertaken by the U.S. with regard to future war, completely reversing the old State Department-Pentagon policy against use of the atom bomb and marking the beginning of U.S. reliance on atomic weaponry instead of land armies. Secretary of State Acheson, under President Truman, had been opposed to any use of the atomic bomb in Korea or in neighboring China, as were the Joint Chiefs and their chairman, General Omar Bradley. The Western allies were also opposed to its use, and when President Truman had once stated at a press conference the idea that he was considering use of the atomic bomb, representatives from Britain had rushed to the U.S. to ensure that he would not act on that idea. But Secretary of State Dulles and the civilian heads of the armed forces in the Defense Department had reversed that policy. Admiral Arthur Radford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had argued with Secretary Dulles that if it were to become necessary to stop aggression by the Communists, the U.S. should confine itself to small, limited wars which would not spread, a reversal of position by Admiral Radford, who now favored conventional weapons and outlawing of the atomic bomb. Army chief of staff General Matthew Ridgway was equally skeptical of the new policy, privately stating that the withdrawal of the two divisions from Korea was based on "politics", highly doubtful about substituting atomic warfare for ground troops. The military men were concerned about use of small atomic bombs to combat larger atomic bombs of the Soviets, that once the smaller bombs were used by the U.S., there was nothing to prevent the Soviets from retaliating with hydrogen bombs, a position adopted by the Joint Chiefs. Only General MacArthur and the China lobby had wanted to use atomic weaponry in the Far East.

Mr. Pearson concludes, therefore, that the announcement to withdraw the two divisions in the fall from Korea represented the most radical change in American military and foreign strategy since the beginning of the Eisenhower Administration a year earlier. He notes that General Ridgway was so upset over the cuts ordered to the Army by Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson that he tried not to appear before the National Security Council to defend those cuts, but that when the General sought to arrange a conflicting engagement, Secretary Wilson ordered him to be present to help cut the Army budget. He also notes that Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens had called on the President in person, urging that the Army not be cut so drastically, with the President making no decisions, saying that the matter would be decided by the NSC.

While almost every other member of the Cabinet had placed the strictest censorship on news, Secretary Dulles had gone out of his way to release State Department information, believing that the public could not understand U.S. foreign policy unless it received the full news about that policy.

Congressman George Bender, the Republican candidate for the special election to finish the term of deceased Senator Robert Taft, in the interim replaced by Democrat Thomas Burke, had been given a better chance of winning the race than people realized—as he would in the coming November.

Former Governor Kerr Scott of North Carolina was, predicts Mr. Pearson, a certain bet for becoming the next Senator, set to contest in the spring primary interim Senator Alton Lennon, who had been appointed by Governor William B. Umstead to replace deceased Senator Willis Smith—a prediction which would come true. Mr. Pearson indicates that even opponents of the former Governor agreed that he had been one of the best Governors in recent state history. He notes that Governor Scott had pointed out that his first name was pronounced "Karr", and that in Eastern North Carolina, from which he hailed, "A cur is a yellow dog."

Joseph Alsop, in Paris, indicates that an incident at the early December Bermuda meeting of the Big Three heads of state had provided the best clue to the present situation in Europe, that having been an exchange on the subject of the European Defense Community, constituting the secret prelude to Secretary of State Dulles's promised reappraisal of the U.S. position in Europe should France not soon ratify EDC and the unified army of France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries, a statement perceived in France, as well as in Britain, as an ultimatum, one which had caused deep resentment.

In Bermuda, Prime Minister Churchill, having received reports from Paris that the French National Assembly would not pass the EDC, had begun the discussion by voicing a view that there was no need to be rigid in dealing with the problem of EDC, Britain having cared very little about European federation, backing the EDC only to obtain the West German divisions thereunder as a bulwark against Soviet aggression across the Continent, threatening Britain. The Prime Minister suggested that if the French did not like EDC, then the alternative of German national rearmament within the framework of NATO should be explored. To that, President Eisenhower had replied that the U.S. did not favor independent German rearmament and that the Prime Minister's suggestion would only provoke stronger opposition from the French Chamber of Deputies, that West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was also against unilateral German rearmament, as the European policy which Chancellor Adenauer had followed would soon be reversed by a reconstituted German general staff, the President concluding that there was therefore no viable alternative to EDC. Secretary Dulles then added that the U.S. Congress was convinced that Europe ought to unite and that NATO could not be usefully completed without German divisions, that the large outlays of American aid in Europe and the maintenance of a large contingent of U.S. armed forces were difficult to defend before Congress even in the best of times, that the French had sought guarantees that the U.S. and British forces would remain in Europe for up to 50 years, but ought be more concerned about the potential withdrawal of U.S. divisions from Western Europe at an early date should Congress lose patience with France not ratifying EDC.

Following that discussion, at the next session of the meeting in December, Prime Minister Churchill had responded to the statements of the President and Secretary Dulles by saying that he had reflected carefully on those statements and had reached the conclusion that the President was justified in ruling out all alternatives to EDC and so wanted to beseech the French Government and its representatives to ratify EDC at all costs, further stating that in the future, Britain would be forced to order withdrawal of its divisions from Europe at the time any American divisions would begin to withdraw, that Britain, having once before, during World War II, been forced to fight from within its own territory, would do so again if necessary, but that a calamity would occur if the EDC failed to be realized, at that point actually weeping at the conference table. Mr. Alsop indicates that there were those at the conference who saw in his tears signs of weakness from old age, but that "by any sensible test, the Prime Minister's reaction was fully justified by the dangers that now lie ahead."

He suggests that perhaps the policy enunciated at the conference by the President and Secretary Dulles had in it some degree of bluff, to motivate the French to act on EDC, but that if such shock tactics did not work and the bluff was called, the question remained what would then occur. The U.S. Embassy in Paris was only giving even odds to the passage by France of EDC, and if the U.S. then did fulfill its threatened withdrawal, there would be left a military vacuum in Western Europe, followed very possibly by the series of events set forth by Prime Minister Churchill in his emotional statement. Mr. Alsop concludes that the prospect deserved as much attention from U.S. policymakers as their undeniable difficulties with Congress.

James Marlow indicates that the President, in his State of the Union message this date to Congress, could justly claim that relations with Russia appeared somewhat better than a year earlier when he first took office, but only slightly so. Russia had agreed to talk about Germany and control of atomic weaponry under the President's proposed atomic materials sharing pool for peaceful purposes under the auspices of the U.N., and of Russia's acceptance of the Western Big Three invitation to a Big Four foreign ministers conference, to begin on January 25, whereas a year earlier the Soviets could not agree to talk about anything with the U.S. Nevertheless, if the Soviets followed their recent statements, it was unlikely that anything positive would come from that conference. In 1946, the U.S. and Russia had offered different methods of controlling atomic weaponry, with the U.S. arguing that preliminary to any limitations agreement, international inspection would have to be agreed to by each country to prevent cheating, while the Russians refused to accept that concept. The Russians had complained that the President's recent proposal of an atomic sharing pool had not indicated any method by which to control the proliferation of atomic arms, and so proposed their old plan of banning the atomic bomb and limiting other armaments, an apparent return to the standoff regarding inspections.

Premier Georgi Malenkov the previous week had suggested an agreement not to use the bomb as preliminary to getting rid of it, but that suggestion would not prevent proliferation of atomic weaponry in the meantime by both nations, both now possessed of the hydrogen bomb.

A letter writer from Rock Hill, S.C., as had Harry Golden earlier, takes issue with the points raised by a letter writer of December 16 raising the "Arab point of view" in the Arab-Israeli border dispute recently erupting anew in Jerusalem, suggesting that the earlier writer had omitted key points which this writer raises.

A letter writer from Monroe regards the controversial charges of Communist infiltration of a small percentage of Protestant clergymen made in July, 1953 by J. B. Matthews in the American Mercury, shortly before he had been named as an investigator for Senator McCarthy's Investigations subcommittee, then fired by the Senator after the controversy spawned by the Mercury piece, following which the Democratic members of the subcommittee had walked out on the basis that the Senator would not consult with the other subcommittee members regarding hiring and firing of committee staff. This writer agrees with a July 21 News editorial that there were questions regarding whether the civil liberties of Mr. Matthews had been fully protected at the time of his resignation, and also asserts that there had been accusations made similar to those of Mr. Matthews before HUAC, chaired by Congressman Harold Velde, who, the letter writer points out, was a Protestant. He also states that the same charges had been made by Dr. Carl McIntyre, a Protestant clergyman, speaking for the International Council of Christian Churches, and that nowhere in the record was there any accusation made against any member of the Protestant clergy by Senator McCarthy, himself. He finds it difficult to understand, therefore, the motives of those who would try by "insinuation and innuendo" to prove that Senator McCarthy, a Catholic, had been responsible for the assertions and thereby to stimulate "religious strife". He finds that there could be nothing more un-Christian than calumny or more un-American than the attempt to set one religious group against another.

But no one had raised the issue in the context of Catholics versus Protestants, rather finding it absurd to drag Protestant clergymen into disrepute on the basis of their criticism of Senator McCarthy's tactics, labeling them as a result to be indoctrinated by Communism. This writer appears to raise only a straw man to deflect from the point actually in issue, seeing the matter subjectively through the lens of religion rather than having any objective understanding of the disgraceful nature generally of Senator McCarthy and his routine character assassination for personal political gain, and his hiring staff of like mind.

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