The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 15, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President, at his press conference this date, said that he would ask the new Congress to postpone the scheduled April 1 cuts of corporate and excise taxes, estimated to reduce revenue by three billion dollars, that the budget deficit made the request necessary. He also expressed confidence that he would have very real cooperation from the Democrats and Republicans on foreign policy, national defense and foreign aid matters in the new Congress. He also anticipated cooperation from Republicans on other matters. He said that the Administration might be considering a further cut in the strength of the armed forces, but did not specify how much or where those cuts might occur. He said that development of long-range bombers and atomic weapons had made it necessary to concentrate first on continental defense and second on preventing strategic areas, such as Western Europe, from falling to an enemy attack. He said that in so doing, the nation could cut back on its active forces as long as it maintained an adequately trained military reserve.

The U.S., it was reported, might act before Christmas to clear 35 Chinese students for return to Communist China, to nullify the Communist Chinese claim, made in a broadcast from Peiping the previous Monday, that the 35 students were being held as hostages for the 11 U.S. airmen imprisoned by Communist China as alleged spies, after having been shot down during the Korean War. The release of the students would also bolster the efforts of the U.N. to obtain release of the airmen, as Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold had offered to go to Peiping to discuss the matter with the Communist Chinese, who had not yet replied. The screening of the 35 cases had been completed and the State Department and the Justice Department only needed to make a joint analysis and render a decision as to their status. They had previously been denied exit to return to Communist China. Allies of the U.S. seeking freedom for the airmen were reported to have urged letting the students leave. The 4,500 Chinese students had originally come to the U.S. to participate in advanced study, prior to the Communist takeover of China in 1949, and most had decided to stay in the U.S., except for 430 who said they wanted to return home, all except 62 of whom having been allowed to leave, with 27 since that time having changed their minds or been cleared to leave, leaving the 35.

In Cleveland, O., both sides had rested their cases this date in the first-degree murder trial of Dr. Samuel Sheppard, accused of killing his wife, Marilyn, the prior July 4. The State had called one brief rebuttal witness, a member of the village police force in the suburb where the doctor and his wife lived. The defense had ended its case with a witness whose testimony had caused Dr. Sheppard to weep openly, as a letter from Mrs. Sheppard, written four days prior to her murder, addressed to her aunt, was read in court by the aunt, Mary Brown. The latter recited events regarding the doctor and his family, meals, plans for social events and Mrs. Sheppard's club activities. It mentioned their seven-year old son, at which point in the recitation the doctor had exhibited tears, frequently holding a handkerchief to his eyes. In the closing portion of the letter, Mrs. Sheppard had informed her relatives that she was expecting another child, having been four months pregnant at the time, saying she had delayed telling them "to make the time seem shorter" while it still seemed long. She indicated she had not told their son yet. Mrs. Brown had said she had known the doctor and Mrs. Sheppard since they were in high school together and had visited with them at their home on numerous occasions, for as much as a week at a time, taking care of their son for long periods while they were away on trips. Not reported in the story, one of the last witnesses to testify, delayed in the order of presentation because he was suffering from laryngitis, was neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Elkins, who examined the doctor on July 4, 5 and 6, and again on August 6. After testifying to several tests he conducted initially to determine whether there was any neurological damage to Dr. Sheppard from his claim of being struck by the intruder on the back of the neck and rendered unconscious, he determined that most of the tests, such as the equal response to light by the pupils, showed no sign of neurological disturbance. But in three instances, he did observe objective indicators of such a disturbance. One indicator he found, which he said could not be simulated by any patient, was the absence of a reflex response in the doctor's left triceps, the muscle which permits a person to lower their left arm. That had caused him to determine that "there was a derangement some place going on in the nervous system," that something was "wrong with the mechanism controlling that reflex". He also found that the doctor lacked a left abdominal reflex, again a symptom which indicated a problem with the nervous system controlling his left side and one which could not be faked. He found on August 6 that the reflex in those muscles had returned but was weaker in both the left triceps and abdominal muscle than in the right. He had found in the initial examination that tickling of the doctor's thigh did not cause a reaction in his scrotum, which he said could be a symptom only of advancing age, but found a weak response when he conducted the same test on August 6. He also found in the initial examination that when he pressed on the area of the doctor's neck where he complained of tenderness, there was a muscle spasm which could not be faked, indicative of an issue in that location, at the second cervical vertebra, another objective sign of injury. He also testified that a blow to that area could cause unconsciousness. He said that in his examination of August 6, he found that the spasm observed in the earlier test had gone away. He had concluded, based on his tests and observations of both the objective indicators and the subjective signs of which Dr. Sheppard had informed him, that he had suffered a bruise of the spinal cord in the area of the second cervical vertebra. All of his findings on August 6 told him that the doctor's condition was improving over that of a month earlier. He also testified during cross-examination that he viewed X-rays on July 4 and 6 which showed a defect which appeared as a fracture to the spinous process of the second cervical vertebra, but that he was not sure of it and suggested that another set of X-rays be taken without the neck brace in place. After another set of X-rays was taken, however, he did not observe on July 7 the apparent fracture which had appeared in the first set. He stated on redirect examination that his conclusion had been reached regarding the bruise to the spinal cord independent of his examination of the X-rays. The prosecutor did not create any inroads to the doctor's observations based on the objective reflex and neck spasm tests. The trial had begun on October 18, followed by two weeks of jury selection, with testimony having begun on November 4. Following jury instructions by the court and final arguments by the State and the defense, the jury was expected to receive the case by Friday.

This was Safe Driving Day across the nation, and as of mid-morning, only six motor vehicle fatalities had been reported, two in Ohio, and one each in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Indiana and South Carolina. In Charlotte, three accidents had occurred before noon, all minor without injuries.

And be especially wary of Dr. Kimble walking beside the road at night. He may not be right in his head. You wouldn't be either under his circumstances. In any event, he seems to favor thumbing a ride along the same highway in the vicinity of San Francisco—or isn't it really Los Angeles?—, repeatedly, regardless of what part of the country he may otherwise be in, suggesting that he is only imagining the scene from a dream. You don't know, with him, what's real and what's not.

On the editorial page, "Loophole in Liability Insurance Law" indicates that a letter writer this date had asked whether North Carolina law required carrying liability insurance for motor vehicles, and if it was the case, why was it not enforced for everyone. It tells of the 1953 General Assembly having passed the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Law, becoming effective at the start of the current year, providing that operators of vehicles involved in accidents resulting in injury or property damage in excess of $100 had to report the accident immediately to a policeman or patrolman and that the driver's license of the operator would be revoked within 60 days of the accident unless he had been released from liability, had been adjudicated not liable for the accident or had provided for satisfaction of claims resulting from the accident, up to $11,000. The law thus encouraged drivers to take out at least $11,000 worth of liability insurance, but did not mandate it.

It favors making liability insurance or otherwise providing financial responsibility mandatory, as in Massachusetts, the only state at the time which did so. Although there were loopholes and shortcomings of the law, there had been no attempt to repeal it in Massachusetts. Governor Thomas Dewey of New York had tried hard, but unsuccessfully, to obtain a compulsory provision in his state, along with a special fund to aid persons injured in accidents involving hit-and-run, stolen vehicles, violators of the law or uninsured out-of-state motorists.

It asserts that the law in North Carolina, while good, did not go far enough, and urges passage of mandatory financial responsibility before an accident occurred, with no car being licensed unless it was covered. It also urges consideration of the special fund, as proposed by Governor Dewey in New York.

"Hodges: A Blow for Majority Rule" finds that the words of Governor Luther Hodges at his press conference in Raleigh had been like a breath of fresh air when he expressed interest in the proper redistricting of the state, as provided by the State Constitution, required every ten years in accordance with the decennial census. He reminded that the 1951 and 1953 sessions of the General Assembly had not complied with the requirement and urged the General Assembly in its 1955 session to do so.

It joins the Governor in urging the Legislature to comply with the State Constitution in that regard, citing several statistics showing the imbalance in representation in the State Senate between the underrepresented larger counties and some of the smaller counties. One Senator, for instance, represented under 50,000 people, while 11 Senators represented fewer than 60,000 people, nine, fewer than 70,000, and ten, fewer than 80,000, finding the condition violative of the fundamental concept upon which constitutional government is founded, indicating that unless the legislators wanted to abandon the principle of majority rule, they would have to abide by the Governor's recommendation and redistrict in 1955.

A piece from the Wrightsville (Ga.) Headlight, titled "Our Treeless Jungles", indicates that some years earlier, it had been the fashion for small towns to want to be as citified as possible, and so began cutting down trees to take advantage of telephone lines, electric lines, and hot pavements. The pleasant old oaks and elms which had dotted the business districts of small towns gave way to progress and the checkers games which had transpired in the shade were discontinued. Progress had brought "the barren look, the parked mortgaged car, the searing asphalt."

Now, no one would linger more than a minute, lest he cook his brains out. Moreover, the younger generation had forgotten what tree-lined streets had been like and "new homes line the approaches to our little towns like sanitary white ovens in a blistering sun." Between April and October, young couples baked in their "FHA havens", never suspecting that it was not illegal to plant a tree.

Drew Pearson tells of it being the 22nd birthday of his column during the week and four years since Senator McCarthy had delivered an hour-long diatribe on the Senate floor demanding that the column be banned by editors and that the sponsor of his weekly radio program, Adam hats, be boycotted. He says that and other incidents with the Senator had been the most painful in his life and he did not recall them with pleasure, nor did he derive satisfaction from the fact that former President Truman, who had once been gleeful over the incidents with the Senator, had since changed his mind, nor that Senator Arthur Watkins of Utah had also changed his since remarking to Senator McCarthy the day after he had hit Mr. Pearson in the men's cloakroom of the Sulgrave Club: "Joe, the newspapers differ as to where you hit him, but I hope both accounts were right." A lot of people, he says, had changed their minds since that time, realizing that the country had suffered at the hands of Senator McCarthy, with innocent people who could not defend themselves being greatly hurt. He indicates that he had been able to defend himself and that most of his editors had stuck by him, though he had lost a radio sponsor. But a lot of other radio stations and sponsors had supported him. Thus, other than some painful and humiliating memories, he had no complaints to make.

He relates, however, of some other people who had been forgotten and pushed aside in Senator McCarthy's rush for bigger and better headlines. One of the first men he had listed as a Communist in the State Department had been Val Lorwin, then a labor adviser, the Senator having included him in February, 1950 when he first charged in Wheeling, West Virginia, that there were "205 card-carrying Communists known to the Secretary of State", changing the figure the following day to 57 and the day after that to 81. Despite General Walter Bedell Smith, Undersecretary of State, having sworn under oath the previous year that not one Communist had been found in the State Department, Mr. Lorwin was indicted for perjury approximately four years earlier when he denied that he was a Communist, causing him to live under a cloud during that period, unable to clear his name or make much of a living. He had no money, but was able to borrow some and a lot of friends had helped him, and Jiggs Donahue, former commissioner of the District of Columbia, had defended him without fee. The Justice Department had gone to court and asked that the case be dismissed as there was no evidence on which to base a prosecution. Mr. Pearson had talked to Mr. Lorwin afterward and found that he was not bitter, despite having been through four years of hell, saying that the experience had shown him how many fine people there were who believed in him and were willing to help.

Mr. Pearson tells of some people having suggested that Senator McCarthy had done a good job cleaning up Communists and so should be forgiven for some of his mistakes, but they had forgotten that the Senator had not begun his crusade against Communism until February, 1950, by which time the Justice Department had already indicted the top Communist leaders in the country, and Mr. Pearson had exposed the Soviet spy ring in Canada in February, 1946, the same year the Senator had been first elected to the Senate. He says that he had warned the State Department about Alger Hiss, also in 1946, and had exposed the Russian blueprint laboratory in a Silver Spring, Maryland, basement.

He goes into some other instances involving Government investigation and prosecution of Communists, apart from any effort of Senator McCarthy. He finds that it would take a long time for the Government to get over its "present Gestapo-NKVD tactics toward its own public servants." It would also take the State Department diplomats a long time to depart from the tactics of writing reports which they believed would read well before a McCarthy committee rather than reporting on what they actually considered to be the truth. If a diplomat knew that a future Senate committee might demand his dismissal because he had written his considered judgment about China as he saw it rather than writing what the politicians at home wanted to hear, preventive war would be a lot more likely. The diplomats were aware that John Paton Davies, John Carter Vincent, and John Service had all been discharged because they reported what they thought in 1945, rather than what the politicians were advocating nine years later.

He concludes that Senator McCarthy had now differed with almost everyone in Washington, from Mr. Pearson to President Eisenhower, and while those personal differences were not important, it was important and unfortunate that it would take the country a long time to get over the impact of the Senator's tactics.

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot indicates that a dispatch from New Orleans dealing with the DNC meeting the prior week had quoted former chairman Stephen Mitchell as announcing "the idea of requiring a personal pledge of convention delegates to support the national nominees—a move that threatened to split the party in 1952—had been abandoned…" It quoted Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, who had led the loyalty oath fight at the 1952 convention, as saying that "any such pledge is out". It referred also to the obvious victory for the Southern wing of the party, which had balked at committing itself to any candidate in advance of the choice by the convention.

It indicates that the resolution which had been introduced as the loyalty oath at the 1952 convention had three paragraphs, the first of which said that the temporary rules of the convention would be those of 1948, standard language, while the second paragraph contained the key section which said that the convention believed in the principle of majority rule, that no delegate would be seated unless providing assurance to the credentials committee that he would "exert every honorable means available to him in any official capacity he may have to provide that the nominees" of the party would appear on the election ballot under the heading, name or designation of the Democratic Party, and that the chairman of each delegation would provide such assurance to the credentials committee prior to its report to the convention, an assurance which would not be binding upon the delegates so indicating. The third paragraph provided that for that convention only, the assurance would not be in contravention of the existing law of the state or of the instructions of the state Democratic governing bodies. Thus, it was a watered-down pledge to "exert every honorable means" to have the nominees for the presidency and vice-presidency on the official ballot under the Democratic Party.

It indicates that to call that a loyalty oath, in the sense of binding delegates in advance to support party nominees, was to disregard the actual words of the resolution.

It relates that the law of Virginia already mandated that party nominees appear on the official ballot as such and that simple decency and fair play demanded as much.

It wonders how long the apparent unity within the Democratic Party would last, but finds that if the so-called "loyalty oath" of 1952 was to be buried, then it should be so and the myth not perpetuated, as it was not a loyalty oath in the conventional sense of that phrase. It did not require the Southern wing of the party to commit itself to any candidate in advance of the choice at the actual convention.

The Congressional Quarterly indicates that Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey had acknowledged on December 6 that the Administration could not balance the budget for the fiscal year 1955-56, quickly raising the ire of Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, urging that it was time that the Administration and the Congress face the reality of the fiscal situation. Senator Byrd, who would be chairman of the Finance Committee in the coming Congress, said that it meant that the country would start the 23rd deficit year of the previous 26 years, and that since deficit spending had begun, the Federal debt had increased from 16 billion dollars to approximately 280 billion.

The statutory debt ceiling was temporarily raised to 281 billion dollars the prior August, but would revert to 275 billion at the end of the current fiscal year unless Congress intervened. Present prospects of getting under the old debt limit were dim, with Secretary Humphrey having already estimated a deficit of 4.7 billion dollars for the current fiscal year, with the debt standing at 278.3 billion as of December 3. The debt had jumped nearly four billion within the first three months after the August temporary increase to the ceiling. Senator Byrd had consistently opposed any permanent increase to the 275 billion debt limit and had only gone along with the temporary six billion increase with great reluctance.

Representative Jere Cooper of Tennessee, who would head the House Ways & Means Committee in the new Congress, had said in mid-August that there was justifiable ground for considerable doubt about whether the boost in the budget ceiling was necessary, and he believed it would eventually become a permanent one.

A number of Democrats were predicting that the new Congress would deal with some major tax-cutting legislation. Representative John Dingell of Michigan had said he would introduce a bill to provide a $100 increase in personal income tax exemptions, equating to an annual revenue loss of more than two billion dollars.

The Administration had been faced with the problem of rising debt threatening to break through the ceiling. At the end of the fiscal year in 1952-53, the debt subject to the legal limit stood at 265.5 billion dollars, while the gross public debt, including amounts not subject to the limit, totaled 266 billion, and a month later, the President asked Congress to raise the ceiling by 15 billion to provide the Government a "safe working balance", after which the Republican House approved the request, but the Republican Senate did not act on it.

By the end of fiscal year 1953-54, the debt subject to limitation had risen to 270.8 billion and the gross debt, to 271.3 billion. The prior August, the Administration had requested a ten billion dollar increase in the debt ceiling, half of which would have expired at the end of fiscal year 1954-55, leaving a permanent debt limit of 280 billion. Instead, Congress passed the temporary increase to 281 billion. When the President signed that bill at the end of August, he said that the government would try to operate under the temporary ceiling, although it might "prove inadequate".

Spotlight, published by the National Federation of Independent Business, urges driving safely, as it might save a life and prevent an accident.

A letter writer, as indicated in the above editorial, inquires about the liability insurance requirement in North Carolina, and the editors respond by referring her to the above editorial.

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