The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 18, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Berlin, at the Big Four foreign ministers conference, agreement was reached this night on plans for a Korean peace conference to begin in Geneva on around April 15, with British officials communicating the fact and indicating that details would be released later during the night. The conference would involve about 20 nations, the 16 U.N. nations which had fought on the allied side in Korea, plus South Korea, North Korea, Russia and Communist China. Western diplomats indicated that the convening of the conference could lead immediately to a conference on ending the war in Indo-China as the Western powers had relaxed their condition that progress in the Korean settlement would have to precede any negotiation on Indo-China. Regarding the conference on Indo-China, Communist China would be considered an interested party, along with Ho Chi Minh's Communist organization, while, obviously, North and South Korea would be excluded.

It appeared to be the only dividend coming out of the conference. Russia had refused to make any concessions on its continued occupation of Austria, blocking a treaty granting independence to Austria, despite the Austrian Foreign Minister, Leopold Figl, trying to effect agreement by meeting the demands of Moscow for indefinite occupation of its troops even after an independence treaty was formed by suggesting that the troops remain only until mid-1955 or that the four diplomatic missions retain certain control of authority, both compromise suggestions refused by Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov.

Also in Berlin, it was reported by Eastern sources that the coup the prior June which had purged L. P. Beria from his position of power as Vice-Premier and head of the secret police, eventuating in his execution the prior December, had been handled personally by five Soviet Army marshals. These sources explained that Mr. Beria had not suspected the coup until it actually occurred, when he was escorted by the five officials from the Polish Embassy in Moscow, where he had been an honored guest, then departed in three cars, the one in which Mr. Beria was riding being driven by a general who had exchanged his uniform for a chauffeur's uniform to fool Mr. Beria, then drove him directly into a prison courtyard where the marshals delivered him to their hand-picked jailers. An eight-man tribunal eventually tried Mr. Beria as an enemy of the state, convicting him and ordering him summarily shot, with many believing that he had actually been killed prior to the time of the announcement on Christmas Eve. The informants indicated that the episode explained in part the unwavering line taken by Mr. Molotov at the Big Four conference regarding military dispositions in Germany and Austria, indicating that Premier Georgi Malenkov had been advised by the Soviet Army that it could not feel safe if its divisions were withdrawn from those forward posts in Europe, with the result that Mr. Malenkov had sent Mr. Molotov to Berlin with instructions to block any troop withdrawals at all costs.

In Hanoi, it was reported that crack rebel Vietminh troops surrounding the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu in northwestern Indo-China had withdrawn further this date to escape French forces seeking to engage them in battle, with the French pushing three to five miles north and west of the fortress without contacting any of the Vietminh units. For several days, the French commander had been sending between 4,000 and 5,000 troops each day on patrols in an attempt to draw out the Vietminh, estimated to number 36,000, surrounding the fortress for the previous three months without attacking. French airmen, flying American-supplied B-26 bombers, had strafed and bombed the Vietminh positions around the fortress for the 62nd consecutive day, dropping napalm on troop concentrations and supply depots. French Army sources indicated that the air attacks made it increasingly unlikely that the Vietminh would engage in a full-fledged attack on Dien Bien Phu.

The number of officially disclosed 1953 Government firings for disloyalty rose to 29 this date as the Administration took steps toward analyzing the 2,200 claimed "security risk" cases. The 29 had occurred within only five large departments whose officials had been questioned about the terminations by the House Appropriations Committee and whose testimony had been made public. The same departments had originally reported 437 "security risk" terminations. The Commerce Department was the most recent to report, indicating that 132 security firings or forced resignations the previous year included 23 persons classified as "cases involving alleged subversion or disloyalty". The Justice Department had previously reported one former Communist among its eight security firings; the Treasury Department, four disloyalty cases among 130 firings; the Agriculture Department, one disloyalty case and an undisclosed number of such firings; and the Post Office Department, no disclosure of the number of disloyalty cases among the total 166 security terminations. The State Department had provided its figures, but the Committee had not yet released them. Reportedly, there were 534 security terminations. The Committee had reportedly received figures indicating 971 security cases in six departments, of which 40 or 41 had involved persons found or suspected to be disloyal. Senator Olin Johnston of South Carolina wanted a complete investigation of the matter, regardless of the disclosures by the Administration.

The Senate postponed action on the proposed Bricker amendment to the Constitution regarding the treaty-making power until the following week, after a test vote victory for the Administration, 44 to 43, leaving the impression among the Senators that the only proposed amendment which had a chance of success in the body was the substitute offered by Senator Walter George of Georgia, which would indicate that any treaty or international agreement which conflicted with the Constitution would have no force or effect and that an international agreement other than a treaty would become effective as internal law only by action of Congress. The President was also opposed to the George amendment. A two-thirds vote by the Senators present was required for passage. The test vote approved a clause which would make all treaties signed in the past as well as in the future subject to court review for their constitutionality, a clause supported by the Administration and receiving favorable votes from 38 Republicans and six Democrats.

Republicans appeared to support the nomination of Albert Beeson to the NLRB, and it appeared his nomination would be confirmed by a narrow margin, even though most Democrats indicated they would vote against him, objecting to his being a "company man". Senator Harry F. Byrd said in an interview that he would probably support Mr. Beeson, after being satisfied that the latter had eliminated any conflicts of interest by giving up his pension plan with his former business.

Representative Noah Mason of Illinois this date resigned from the President's Commission on Inter-Governmental Relations, examining the relationship between the Federal and state governments, in protest of the dismissal of Clarence Manion as chairman. Several Republican Senators expressed criticism of the White House treatment of Mr. Manion, former dean of the Notre Dame Law School, who had disclosed the previous day that he had resigned by White House request, after he had spoken out in support of the Bricker amendment limiting the treaty-making powers, an amendment opposed by the President. He said that his resignation had been requested by White House chief of staff Sherman Adams. Mr. Mason criticized Mr. Adams and suggested that the action smacked of "autocratic dictatorship", rendering the Commission helpless without its chairman. He found Mr. Manion big enough and capable enough to be the U.S. President and thus found it a "national calamity" for a man of such caliber to be fired by a Presidential assistant.

Seven task forces on automobile accident prevention this date drafted recommendations for a proposed national campaign aimed at reducing traffic accidents by 40 percent, to be presented later this date to Vice-President Nixon at the final general session of the White House conference on highway safety, which had opened the previous day with nearly 3,000 delegates from all of the states. Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks had told the conference that strict adherence to the accident prevention program in every community could save 15,000 lives and 1.5 billion dollars per year in economic loss.

In Crystal Cave, Ky., some 30 explorers studying virgin passages and canyons were cut off from communication with the outside world for nearly five hours early this date after a break occurred in their telephone lines late the previous night at a point about a mile and a half from the cave entrance, with service restored in the early morning hours by an engineer who was sent into the cave to determine the cause of the trouble, finding that the four lines leading into the cave had been cut by a jagged rock. A school teacher explorer with the expedition had become ill with asthma and had to leave the cave early, experiencing excessive fatigue and dizziness. The party of three cave experts who accompanied her to the surface had been picked because of their ability to assist her through the 1,600-foot crawlway on an uphill slope, with narrow, zig-zagging passageways, deep pits and jagged rocks. The cave was being touted as one of the wonders of the world, but had never been fully explored.

In Woodbridge, N.J., the police chief, who had killed a 14-year old schoolboy in a hit-and-run accident some 12 hours earlier, committed suicide by swallowing a dose of cyanide this date. He was to have been honored by the town this date for his 35 years of service on the force.

In New York, spanking had been eliminated from the Cathedral Choir School at the behest of the parents of the students, after the headmaster at the school had issued a decree to paddle students as a form of discipline, supported by some parents but opposed by many. A 12-year old boy said that he did not understand why the parents had made such a major issue of the matter, that they were the ones getting hit, not their parents. He said that the students preferred the paddling to receipt of demerits, which hung over their heads and were sent home to their parents, where they would then be paddled anyway. He said his father's paddling hurt worse than what he received at school, which just stung for about 90 seconds—not indicating how long his father's paddlings stung. The headmaster's decree had indicated that there would be "two whacks on the seat administered with a large, smooth, light paddle—moderately and reasonably administered." The headmaster said that when he was a boy, he had received his share of paddlings and it had not warped his personality. But you see, some of those boys of tender sensibilities, once whacked, will then try to whack others, and there you are with a massive organized crime problem, all because of choir school.

More snow fell in the Northeast this date, but generally fair and mild winter weather prevailed in most other parts of the country. More than nine inches of snow accumulated at Caribou, Me., since the previous day. Skies cleared over northern New York, after two days of snow and rain had impacted travel and downed power lines. Rain fell on the West Coast from Northern California into Oregon, and snow was reported in sections of the Rockies and in Reno, Nev., the latter receiving three inches.

On the editorial page, "More on the Mess in Minor Courts" again discusses the justice of the peace system in the state, which had been rife with corruption through time, was antiquated and inadequate. Yet thus far, the General Assembly had shown little interest in reforming it, with the legal profession also being apathetic. Abolition of the fee collection system by the justices of the peace was needed to eliminate the temptation to corruption, and checks needed to be established, with a system of basic requirements for becoming a justice of the peace implemented.

The jaypees were prohibited by law from acting in speeding cases, but did so nevertheless because of the extralegal system which had developed in the state from the absence of traffic courts. It indicates that traffic cases belonged in recorder's courts and superior courts, but because those courts convened infrequently, with some counties having no recorder's court, speeding cases were given to the jaypees. The practice was that the justice of the peace accepted a bond to secure the defendant's later appearance and if the motorist from another state could not return for the trial, the defendant pleaded guilty at once, leaving it to the jaypee to send in the collected fine and costs to the appropriate court. The State Attorney General's office had issued an opinion during the week indicating that the system was illegal and that the courts which were using the justices of the peace as agents were violating the law.

It hopes that a test case by a defendant in the system would clear up the problem, and suggests that it was another indication of the "botched-up, topsy-like system of minor court justice in this state."

"A Check on Tar Heels' Memories?" indicates that taxpayers in the state deserved all the solace to be afforded them during the dismal month ahead when taxes would become due. It suggests that an idea proposed by the Governor of Colorado, that states adopt an income tax payroll withholding plan, ought be considered in North Carolina. While the Federal withholding program had its points, a state program would be even better.

In North Carolina, tax returns were audited, but the state was over two years behind in the process, with checks being made with employers to make sure that employees were properly paying their state taxes. A state withholding program would simplify the procedure for both the State Government and the taxpayer.

"Indirect Control Better Than None" indicates that Charlotte City Manager Henry Yancey planned to require buildings in the fringe areas to conform to the City building code, a move already informally approved by the City Council and which would likely receive overwhelming support from builders in the community. Shoddy construction appeared, by the news stories, to be the rule beyond the city limits, when in fact that was not the case but rather the exception to the rule, with reputable builders following sound construction practices regardless of the presence of a code. Occasionally, builders would cut corners where there was no rigorous inspection in place, and the move by Mr. Yancey was aimed at that practice.

It approves of the move and finds it would protect owners or purchasers and minimize problems inherited in future expansion of the city limits.

"On to the Platoon Bassoon Symphony" indicates that after an Arts Council had been recently formed in Charlotte, it had come to light that a cultural development "pregnant with import" had also taken place, football-type recruiting techniques applied to bassoonists and violists.

The Chicago Tribune had reported that a professor had come to Chicago the previous spring to scout for promising brass players but found that they had been taken already by Coe College or Wichita University.

It suggests that the Auditorium should be filled with scouts from North Carolina, Duke, and the Marines, equipped with opera glasses focused on the stage during performances and listening with wire recorders during practices, noting how each performer played their instrument, that good bassoonists ought be riding around campus in new convertibles, as did good quarterbacks. "On with culture, until the day that platoons of bassoon artists play four quarters, and the team struts around at the half."

That was pretty Dame Quickly of the newspaper to be so perspicacious. But it is behind the times on recording, as magnetic tape had replaced wire recorders by now.

A piece from the Shelby Star, titled "New Invention", tells of a Charlotte man having patented an emergency folding stretcher which fit into the trunk of an automobile, finding it distressing, as it believed the inventor probably had in mind use of it in family automobiles in case of a serious accident, venturing that many families probably needed their own ambulance on North Carolina highways.

Drew Pearson indicates that though the Democratic leaders in the Senate were supposed to be among the top-ranking leaders of the party, they had come close to boycotting the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner which was to be held in Miami on March 6, rather than appear on the same platform with Adlai Stevenson. The trio of leaders, Senate Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson, Senate Minority Whip Earle Clements of Kentucky, and Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, the latter being the real power behind the scenes, were secretly grooming their own candidate for the 1956 presidential nomination, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri. Thus, when former Governor Stevenson had accepted an invitation to head the celebrity list at the Miami Beach dinner, the ruling triumvirate seriously debated whether they would attend, as did Senator George Smathers of Florida, who was assigned the duty of introducing Mr. Stevenson, considering turning that duty over to former Senator Claude Pepper of Florida, posing a problem, however, because Mr. Pepper was considering running against Senator Smathers in 1956. After the four Senators considered the matter for four days, they decided that sharing the spotlight with Mr. Stevenson would not necessarily amount to an endorsement of him for the nomination, and so decided to attend and to make the dinner a great show of Democratic unity. Mr. Pearson notes that in the meantime, Stephen Mitchell, the DNC chairman appointed at the request of Governor Stevenson, had been playing up to the conservative Southern wing of the party, deliberately giving the cold shoulder to the liberal elements in the South, and boosting Senator John McClellan of Arkansas, who had backed former Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, in his bolt from the party to form the Dixiecrats, against President Truman in 1948.

State Department security officer Scott McLeod, who had been heavily criticized by Democrats for his remarks in Lincoln Day speeches regarding the supposed number of Communists allowed into the Government during the Democratic Administrations, had also been heavily criticized for some time within the State Department. Some months earlier, he wanted to move his personal furniture from one house to another and drafted two members of the Department security organization to assist on a Saturday afternoon, paying the two men overtime, though not from his own pocket but rather from the public coffers. When Mr. Pearson had inquired of the State Department as to whether such action might be illegal, he received a no-comment in reply. After it was brought to light, Mr. McLeod had asked the two men to refund their payment to the Government and substituted his own personal check. After the incident, however, Mr. McLeod had arranged to give the chief of police of Hanover, N.J., an expensive junket to Europe at taxpayer expense.

A forthcoming American policy move in Pakistan might prove as important as the loss of China to the free world in 1949, with some observers fearing that the military pact with Pakistan would alienate India. Among the latter group was Congressman Emanuel Celler of New York, who was returning from India after an interview with Prime Minister Nehru, in which the latter had warned against the U.S.-Pakistan military pact, suggesting that the U.S. could do a lot more good with the money by providing it as economic rather than military aid, that instead, it would cost India a lot of money and upset the five-year plan of national development, for when Pakistan would build up its army, India would have to build up its army as well to meet the threat. Nehru had indicated that India had an army of about a half million men, as well as the Himalayas for protection from any Russian aggression. Mr. Celler had left the impression with the Prime Minister that the proposed military pact with Pakistan would cause more headaches than realized by Vice-President Nixon, who had strongly recommended the alliance to President Eisenhower.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson was standing firm on his decision to cut the price support for butter and other dairy products, the Alsops finding it politically courageous, given that it would likely renew calls for his resignation, which had somewhat quieted down of late. Senators McCarthy and Milton Young of North Dakota would be among that chorus, as Senator Young had been the first to call for his resignation and Senator McCarthy had been demanding 100 percent of parity support prices.

One of the Alsops had talked to Mr. Benson after the announcement, finding him soft-spoken but with conviction of rectitude in his belief that if allowed to continue without alteration, the farm price-support program would lead to disaster, backed up by economic indicators. For example, it had been estimated that continued 90 percent support for butter and other dairy products would cost the Government 640 million dollars in the current year. While Mr. Benson had not said so, one suspected, given his Mormon background and moral rectitude, that another reason motivating him was a belief that price supports constituted political fraud, that because of the mounting surplus in storage, owned outright by the Government or on which it had liens, there was no longer any storage space available in some areas of the country, having to resort to mothballed World War II tankers and Air Force hangars for the purpose, now considering renting empty motion picture theaters forced out of business by the competition from television. Mr. Benson admitted that even resorting to those efforts would not be enough if there were a fair growing season during the current year, should the 90 percent parity be maintained by Congress as mandatory, predicting that it would collapse of its own weight in that event.

He alluded to the potato support program, which had produced an artificial glut of potatoes which then rotted for the most part in Government warehouses, until Congress finally abolished the potato price supports. Now, potatoes were selling at less than half of parity and the over-expanded potato farmers were rapidly going broke. Mr. Benson believed that the same thing would happen in other price-supported commodities under the 90 percent parity rate, as those commodities were now selling at 80 percent or less in many areas because of the lack of storage space, available storage being necessary before the farmers could receive the Government price support.

Mr. Benson believed that he had the support of the President in battling to reduce price supports and expected the President to use his veto power if necessary against any legislation which maintained rigid mandatory supports. Such a veto would automatically bring into being a flexible support system.

Robert C. Ruark, still in Sydney, Australia, indicates that a jockey had made some disclosures about horseracing in Australia after riding his last race, having revealed that he had helped along some of the horses he had ridden with electric prods and others with injections of dope. Others he would weight down with shoes filled with heavy shot, while on others, he would pull up short in an area where he could not be observed by the judges. If the price was right and he had laid a bet, or the horse had a strong neck or strong devotion to duty, he occasionally would make an honest ride. For his revelations, he had been excommunicated from the racing world. Most of the jockeys who had done the same things were still riding.

Mr. Ruark suggests that he could be wrong, but believes that no race had ever been run which was completely legitimate. He finds that the "wonderful basic dishonesty" of horseracing, whether in Australia or elsewhere, was what made the loss worthwhile in a completely unconquerable sport. He indicates that there was so much larceny in everyone around the racetracks that he would rather bet in a crooked race and have it work out than to see a special match of skill between two fine steeds. He asserts that there were some honest owners and trainers, plus an occasionally honest jockey, but it was hard to get them together at the same time, that only the horse could be relied upon to be honest, and while he could not run faster than his capabilities, he could always run slower if he was not liking his oats.

A letter writer seeks help from the newspaper in getting something done about the mill pond, where recently a little boy had drowned close to the writer's backyard, suggesting that if the newspaper took some pictures of the pond and ran a story about it, some action might be taken. He also indicates that it was an eyesore.

A letter writer comments on the objection by the Charlotte ministers to an exception to the blue law banning of Sunday movies, permitting them during Sunday evening hours, finding that the commentary by other readers on the matter misunderstood the principle of separation of church and state, that if applied literally, Christians could not vote or assert opinions on any political matter. He says that at his church, it had been suggested to members that if they opposed change to the ordinance, they should attend the Council meetings and voice their opposition, or if unable to attend, to sign petitions opposing the change. He suggests that such activity was not any form of church interference in state or local business.

The previous writers in the know were not objecting to the ministers or the citizenry asserting the positions, but rather found that the ordinance was effectively establishing a state religion by prohibiting the operation of certain businesses on Sundays in honor of the Sabbath.

A letter writer from Pittsboro hopes that France would decline further military aid from the U.S., but believes it might already be too late, as some technical personnel were already being sent to Indo-China along with financial aid and equipment. He believes that even such limited use of personnel invited participation by the Chinese Communists in that war, and suggests that the country had gone mad in trying to limit Communism to Russia and China, that it was an impossibility akin to trying to "handcuff the wind". He also wonders what the U.S. gained by inducing Turkey and Pakistan to form an anti-Communist alliance to be implemented with U.S. money and war matériel, while potentially driving India into the Communist orbit. He believes the country was taking over where the Europeans had left off in terms of colonial policies in Asia. When Germany and Japan were defeated in World War II, he finds, the country then proceeded afterward to form a power bloc against Russia in Europe and Asia through use of Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia.

Time passes; things change.

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