The Charlotte News

Monday, December 20, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Paris, French Premier Pierre Mendes-France had told the National Assembly this date that the U.S. would contribute about 400 million dollars in 1955 to the economic and military buildup of South Vietnam, while pleading with the deputies to support him in a vote of confidence later in the day on his policy toward Indo-China. He indicated that in talks the previous weekend with Secretary of State Dulles, they had ironed out many details of cooperation between the two countries regarding the Far East. The vote on Indo-China policy was expected to pass by a narrow majority and had delayed start of the debate on the disputed Paris treaties to rearm West Germany. Countering criticism that France often seemed to follow blindly the U.S. lead in Indo-China, the Premier said that he and Secretary Dulles had agreed that the two nations would consult with one another before making decisions and that their representatives in the field henceforth would coordinate activities. He believed that the SEATO treaty signed in Manila in September provided a guarantee against a new outbreak of hostilities in Indo-China, and assured the deputies that the South Vietnamese Army was being trained to take over the job of maintaining internal security, permitting France gradually to withdraw its troops, eventuating in greater security at home to build up its European defenses. Replying to criticism by some deputies, he defended the armistice made the prior July at Geneva regarding Indo-China, saying that he had been left an "impossible" military situation by the prior Government, that when he had taken office the prior July, French forces were facing "a real catastrophe" as the French lines "were cracking everywhere". He said that French losses during the first six months of 1954 had been triple those of the previous six-month period, and while French military strength was decreasing, the power of the Vietminh had been increasing.

Secretary Dulles returned to Washington this date from the NATO Council meeting in Paris, saying that "very important decisions" had been reached unanimously and in good spirit. The session had been called primarily to review NATO defense build-up during the previous six months, and its principal decision had been to include nuclear weapons in Western European defense, although reserving a decision on the responsibility for putting such plans into effect.

In Stockholm, U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold said the previous night, following a meeting with Communist China's ambassador to Sweden, that he planned to depart for Peiping to meet with Communist Chinese Premier and Foreign Minister Chou En-lai on December 26, intending to negotiate the release of the 11 U.S. airmen who had been shot down during the Korean War while flying a mission for the U.N. Command, sentenced to prison by the Communists on the allegation that they had been engaged in espionage. The U.N. had passed a resolution indicating that it should undertake all positive efforts to obtain their release, as the men were being held in violation of the Korean Armistice of July, 1953, requiring that all prisoners of war be repatriated to their country of choice.

A special five-member committee chaired by Representative Carroll Reece of Tennessee, which had studied philanthropic foundations, issued a three-member majority report, signed by all three Republicans, indicating that the tax-free organizations were promoting "socialism" which constituted a "far greater menace" at home than did Communism. It contended that because of their tax-exempt status, the foundations were operating at the expense of the taxpayers. It said that the foundations' effect was being amplified through many intermediate organizations, such as information clearinghouses and professional societies, with the professional foundation administrators rather than the big-name trustees wielding the actual power and that they were having a profound impact on the way the country thought. Democratic members of the committee, Representatives Wayne Hays of Ohio and Gracie Pfost of Idaho, issued a strong dissent attacking the majority report as containing a "crackpot" view of persons suffering from "fear sickness", a view formed from a biased attitude by the majority since the outset of the hearings, with the chairman having abruptly canceled the hearings after only one witness had appeared on behalf of the foundations. Mr. Reece countered that the reason the hearings had been stopped was because of the "obstructive and harassing" tactics of Mr. Hays. The latter indicated that the new Congress should therefore hold brief hearings to hear from the foundations.

In Cleveland, O., the jury deliberating the fate of Dr. Samuel Sheppard, accused of first-degree murder in the killing of his wife the prior July 4, remained out after more than 27 hours of actual deliberation over the course of a 74-hour sequestration, since the previous Friday morning. The judge indicated, insofar as the possibility of a hung jury, that if the jury failed to reach a verdict by the current afternoon, he would discuss the matter with counsel for both sides, that he had not made up his mind beyond that what he would do. One of the assistant prosecutors trying the case said that there was no doubt that the defendant would be tried a second time should the jury hang. A false alarm had occurred during the late morning, as an apparent short-circuit occurred in the buzzer indicating that the jury had reached a verdict, causing Dr. Stephen Shepard, brother of the defendant, awaiting the verdict in the courtroom, to exclaim, "Oh, no!" before the courtroom bailiff declared that it was a false alarm. The defendant appeared pale, drawn and weary, though looking rested this date.

In Brinkley, Ark., a 19-year old youth from Alabama had admitted swinging the club which had crushed the skull of a young wife a week earlier, while her husband dozed on the living room couch downstairs in their home, a case, for its similarity to the Sheppard scenario, to which Dr. Sheppard's defense counsel had alluded during closing argument the prior Thursday. The confessed killer said that he had left his 16-year old wife in Alabama and that hunger had driven him into the home of the woman, her husband and two young children, that a sudden sex urge had spurred him to kill her by picking up a four-foot stick of firewood and using it to crush her skull. He said that he had not raped her but had done "a few things", "different things". He said he did not know why he had hit her, that she was asleep at the time and he was sorry. He had been arrested while loitering in a nearby town and brought to Brinkley for questioning, at which point he confessed. One of the children, age 5, had told police that she had seen a man hit her mother. Police had initially suspected that the confessed killer might be mentally ill, but he revealed that he had taken two of five biscuits from the kitchen of the home, and a check revealed that only three biscuits were remaining, prompting police then to accept his story as true.

The President and the First Lady would depart Washington for Augusta, Ga., the following Thursday for the Christmas and New Year holidays, returning to Washington on January 3, during which interim he would work on three messages he would send to the new Democratic Congress in January. The State of the Union message would be delivered in person before a joint session on January 6, the day the new Congress would convene.

In Rome, it was announced that Pope Pius XII, despite his continuing illness, would deliver a brief Christmas message to be broadcast across the world over Vatican radio at noon on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day would appear in the window of his study and bless the gathered crowd below in St. Peter's Square. It would be his third radio message since his collapse on December 2.

On the editorial page, "Why Not Try the American Way?" indicates that Belgian Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak had been designated by the 14 NATO foreign ministers meeting in Paris, to report on their action to the press the prior Saturday, and a reporter had inquired whether unanimous agreement of all members would be required before the atomic warfare plan, which had been agreed upon by the ministers, could be put into effect. Mr. Spaak had shrugged off the question by saying, "Do you suppose the rest of us are going to sit and wait to decide such a question while the telephone is being repaired?"

It indicates that it was not a much-publicized question regarding who would direct the use of atomic weapons in the event of an attack on Western Europe, or how the decision would be reached. It wonders when law was going to replace diplomatic anarchy as the means by which momentous decisions of free world policy were made.

NATO was merely a treaty organization, with each member state maintaining its sovereignty and having absolute veto power over collective action, as well as a secondary veto by which to delay action. But NATO had built up a framework comprised of a Council and permanent secretariat, a general staff with its own commander-in-chief, and combined defense forces, essentially a one-branch government ruled by men rather than law. Clarence Streit had said of it in his book, Freedom Against Itself, that it was a democratic organization only in the sense that all 14 members were represented in its Council and had equal status there, but that such was only "democracy" of national sovereigns, the "democracy" of the divine right of kings meeting in conference in an age of absolute monarchy, that true democratic government was based on citizens as equal sovereigns with proportional representation in the legislature. But within NATO, each nation had the same voting power, regardless of its size, having the effect of one Icelander, for example, being equal to 1,000 Americans, based on the relative difference in populations.

It concludes that NATO obviously could not function effectively on such a basis, as when any nation would exercise veto power, action would be stymied and the organization would lose its effectiveness, as illustrated within the U.N. Security Council, where the five permanent members each had unilateral veto power, rendering progress painfully slow.

It suggests that the events in Paris underscored the point made by Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee during an appearance sponsored by the Carolina Forum at UNC earlier in the month, in which he noted the inadequacy of the Atlantic military alliance and then pointed out the failure of the member nations to build a better economic and political framework for the organization. He indicated his intent at the start of the new Congress to initiate action designed to build a workable base for integration of the Atlantic nations' policies, reintroducing the Atlantic Union resolution which he, along with 20 other Senators, had introduced several years earlier. It quotes from that resolution and finds that no member of Congress should object to such a proposal, as it did not commit the country to a federal union of free countries but only would agree to request that the President call a group of Atlantic citizens together to explore the possibility of giving the existing confederation of states a unified central government similar to the United States form of government, under a constitution, and that the President would act in accordance with such a passed resolution.

"'Twas Brillig and the Slithy Toves" tells of a visitor who had found the News sports section the greatest in the world, but wanted to know where he could find the pony, prompting inquiry, followed by the explanation that he needed the pony for the sports page headlines, the decoding chart. It inquired as to what was so complicated about understanding them, to which the visitor had instantly produced a clipping with the headline: "PATS Bother LR in Work for Apps", meaning, it had dutifully explained, that in preparation for a football game with Appalachian State Teachers College, the Lenoir Rhyne College Bears had been concentrating their efforts in practice on making points-after-touchdown, which had been giving them difficulty.

The visitor in need of a pony had presented four other examples of recondite headlines, which it also quotes, and then proceeded to explain to the visitor the first two, while having found itself somewhat stumped on the last two, finally having to admit that it, too, needed a pony to translate: "Burlies Surprise ... Rebs Save GCCA Rep … Rice High on Ladd".

A piece from the Green Bay (Wisc.) Press-Gazette, titled "Pink Stucco Is Okay", indicates that some American interior decorators and designers might feel frustrated by purchasers who ignored the aesthetic in picking out furniture, but reports from Russia indicated that the design of furniture which would not wind up sending the manufacturer to Siberia was not easy.

The Soviet official institute for research in interior decoration had determined that the ultra-modern design in furniture suggested the designer as "an enemy of the national cultural heritage and an ally of cosmopolitanism and the war policy of American imperialism." Gothic architecture was designed "to estrange people from the realities of life and divert the attention of the masses from their class interests, making them docile in the hands of the ruling class." The Renaissance style was "somewhat more human" but Baroque design was "illusory" and Rococo represented "a decline of aristocracy's demand for a carefree life."

It indicates that some furniture owners might have dreamed of utilizing firing squads against the designers of the ultra-functional, which sometimes was not also designed to afford comfort, as well as toward the makers of creaky pseudo-antiques. But it warns that Soviet designers whose chairs were other than "intrinsically socialistic" had better start packing for Siberia, where they would not need any furniture anyway.

Drew Pearson indicates that an important shift had taken place in the clash between the State Department and the Defense Department regarding the question of U.S. armed intervention to protect Nationalist China from invasion by Communist China, the possibility of a preventive war. Army chief of staff General Matthew Ridgway, who had previously sided with the State Department and disagreed with the majority of the Joint Chiefs who favored armed retaliation in the event of a Communist Chinese attack on the Nationalist-held island of Quemoy, had shifted somewhat and was now willing to have American planes and warships defend the Nationalist-held Tachen Islands, also just off the mainland coast, 200 miles north of Quemoy and somewhat easier to defend, as Quemoy was so close to the Communist-held Amoy that a good swimmer could swim between them. The Tachen Islands were 15 miles from the mainland and were presently being used as a guerrilla base for the Nationalists' infrequent attacks on the mainland. But the reason that the Joint Chiefs wanted to defend them was because a low-lying fog hung over the Strait of Formosa in the early morning and would serve as cover for a Communist invasion force seeking to reach Formosa. The extended debate between the Pentagon and the State Department over those islands highlighted the larger debate in Congress and within the Administration regarding the theory of preventive war, bringing the debate back to the same place it had been during the Truman Administration. Secretary of State Dulles took the same position as had Secretary of State Acheson, that the U.S. did not want to become involved in a war with China, Secretary Dulles even having made a special trip to Formosa to urge Chiang Kai-shek to withdraw from the outlying islands, an entreaty which Chiang refused to accept. Thus far, the President had sided with the State Department.

The new Majority Leader in the coming Congress, Senator Lyndon Johnson, had been able to keep the Democrats unanimous in their support of censure of Senator McCarthy and was now seeking to cash in on some of the backstage commitments made to obtain that unanimity. One such commitment was to put Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, sometimes called the Southern McCarthy, into the chairmanship of the Internal Security subcommittee, where he could carry on much as had his friend, Senator McCarthy.

Senator Harley Kilgore of West Virginia, however, chairman of the parent Judiciary Committee, was opposed to Senator Eastland's selection and, ordinarily, the opposition by the parent committee chairman was sufficient to deny the choice, but in that case, Senator Johnson was using all of his persuasive charm to force Senator Eastland on Senator Kilgore.

Senator Eastland had not initially agreed about the censure of Senator McCarthy, as had his colleague from Mississippi, Senator John Stennis, who had served on the select committee which had unanimously recommended censure. Senator Eastland, who was not in the mold of the late Senator Theodore Bilbo, an overt racist, but had on his payroll Ralph Baerman, a former representative of the hatemonger, Gerald L. K. Smith, with Mr. Baerman assigned the job of investigating hate groups. When Senator Eastland had begun to show signs that he would vote against censure, Senator Johnson had tried to persuade him not to do so, with Senator Eastland finally having said he would vote for censure if he were assured the chairmanship of the Internal Security subcommittee. Senator Johnson made no definite promise but was now trying to maintain harmony among the Democrats. Meanwhile, Senator Kilgore intended to follow the precedent of the late Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada and serve as chairman of that subcommittee, himself, having become especially firm in that decision since learning of Mr. Baerman being on Senator Eastland's staff.

Senator Johnson, however, had proposed appointing two of the most reactionary members of the Senate to the Judiciary Committee to serve under Senator Kilgore, Senators Price Daniel of Texas and Alan Bible of Nevada, which would have the effect of practically nullifying Senator Kilgore's power as chairman. Both Senators had well-known views on civil rights and civil liberties, with Senator Johnson seeking the while to obtain acceptance of Senator Eastland as the subcommittee chairman.

Norman Cousins, writing in the Saturday Review, indicates that during a recent meeting in St. Louis of scientists, theologians and philosophers, a simple statement had been made which he regards as the most important thing said during their lifetimes, that the U.S. and the Soviet Union possessed more than the number of fission and fusion bombs required to kill off all forms of life on the planet. It was also pointed out that responsible leaders of government had served public notice that nothing would be held back in the event of war. It was not merely an academic statement, as the group had been reminded that some of the highly-placed military men who regarded war as inevitable, and, not wishing to be placed at a disadvantage, had urged that the U.S. initiate nuclear warfare by dropping the first bomb.

Even more horrible, Mr. Cousins suggests, was the possibility that the scientists might be wrong and that humanity might survive the next war, that only 80 or 100 million Americans might lose their lives in such a war out of a total of a billion people across the world, raising the question of what the survivors would use for cities and for food. There were wild guesses posed as to what the effects might be on the human genes from radioactivity, with suggestions of future generations of freaks, something no government could any longer claim to control in the hydrogen and cobalt bomb era. The only thing that was certain would be that all of civilization would be leveled in such an atomic war and it would be left to others to guess whether humanity might survive or not, and, if so, what life would then be like, whether any dignity would be left.

While the rights of the state included the right to sacrifice human life or to take human life in the defense of the nation, it did not include the right, he posits, to strike at the very nature of man, to disfigure the face of man or to toy with the vital balances which made life possible, something contrary to the natural rights of humanity, above the rights of the state and beyond the reach of its authority. "The good society exists to serve and protect these rights. Man has a right to keep himself from being cheapened, debased, or deformed. He has a right to creative growth. He has a right to individual sanctity and sovereignty. He has a right to make life purposeful. If these natural rights should die, though human flesh in some form remain, then the survivors will not be the lucky ones."

He indicates that the threat was not merely a function of Communist Russia, that the danger embraced also the inability of the U.S. to grasp the larger problem, that society would have to champion the natural rights of man in the world and define the working basis of peace and freedom, such that Communism would then have no place in the world.

He suggests that there were only two ages of man, the first age being the period from the beginning of recorded time to the present, the "age of the cave man", the age of war, while the second age, yet to occur, would be the period of civilized man, recognized by man's ability to use his inventiveness for his own good by substituting world law for world anarchy, an age which was still within the reach of the individual in the present time, not a part-time job but rather requiring total awareness and total commitment.

Robert C. Ruark discusses the case of the woman in Oklahoma who had confessed to poisoning four of her prior husbands and accused also of poisoning a fifth plus a handful of other close associates. He finds the case fascinating as a study of womankind, that hemlock in the cup had been a particular province of females since the beginning of history, ranging from the Marquise of Brinvilliers, who had poisoned several hundred bystanders, to a few of the Borgias, an English woman named Cotton, who poisoned 21 persons, and a pleasant lady from Ohio whose name escapes him, having been executed for poisoning.

He finds it especially intriguing that the woman who poisoned always seemed to acquire plenty of husbands to kill, while a woman who was sweet and brought slippers and patted the head of her spouse usually had a difficult time obtaining a second one after she had lost the first one. He suggests that the reason women poisoned men was because they had so much practice in making inferior coffee and warm martinis that they tired of the slow effort and wished to speed up the process. They also had a tendency to be preachy, as the woman in Oklahoma had complained that her husband would "drink that nasty old rotgut whisky", and so she had given him a cure. He says that having drunk some of the Oklahoma moonshine, he would prefer arsenic, as it tasted better going down. There was always a high moral involved, as the woman in Oklahoma claimed to have poisoned the men for their own good, being careful to indicate that she had never poisoned any blood kin, causing her to differ somewhat from the usual poisoner, who would take more pleasure in poisoning a cousin than a stranger.

He also finds it intriguing that the poisoner usually had already dispatched several victims before the police got around to suspecting her. If someone banged a man with a hammer or shot him with a gun, the dragnets would immediately descend, but the demur little ladies with lacy cuffs just continued year after year killing one, then another, collecting the insurance, until they were old enough to be ready for the grave before the gallows could get a shot at them.

He would not say that he had noticed anything funny about the coffee in his home lately or that the ice tasted a touch peculiar, but that he was taking no chances and the next day, would hire a food taster, as the law did not move swiftly enough in those cases to suit him.

A letter from the director of the National Epilepsy League in Chicago indicates that a reader had called to his attention that "Rex Morgan, M.D." appeared in The News, with the current story telling the plight of a man making a fight to overcome epilepsy, and he wishes to express gratitude on behalf of the League to the author of the comic strip and the newspaper for publishing it, as it was the first time that the story of epilepsy had been told dramatically and forcefully to the public, woefully unaware of the truly remarkable medical progress in the field, giving new hope to the 1.5 million people with epilepsy, and their relatives and friends.

A letter writer thanks the newspaper for publishing the predictions of Dr. Charles Laughead, who had just resigned from the Michigan State College hospital and intended to move to a mountaintop in preparation for being among the elect to be transported by someone from Venus or Mars off of the Earth, which he believed would end the following day. The writer says the people needed to be awakened from their lethargy, but that he would not express his own belief as he was about blind anyway.

Well, after reading this date's editorial page, what difference would it make one way or the other? as it appears all of life is going to be eradicated, sooner or later, by a nuclear war, which appears not likely to be stopped by NATO or the U.N. in its current incarnation. It's hopeless. Head to the mountaintops and wait...


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