The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 4, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Berlin, at the Big Four foreign ministers conference, the Western Big Three foreign ministers were saving their major ammunition for this date's anticipated new proposal by Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov, who had proposed the previous day a plebiscite among all Germans regarding the question whether they wanted an immediate peace treaty or an alliance with the West, the Western foreign ministers brushing that aside as a trick, contributing nothing to German unity. They believed, however, that the anticipated new proposal this date would have to be taken more seriously than the plebiscite proposal. The West was proposing first free elections, whereas the Soviets had consistently sought first provisional unity of East and West Germany before elections were conducted.

In Saigon, it was reported that the French high command this date conceded the loss of the important military post at Muong Ngoi, guarding the approaches to the royal Laotian capital of Luang Prabang, 65 miles to the northeast, that the Vietminh rebels occupied the post in the Nam Hou River valley as part of their advance along a 60-mile front. In the same drive, the Vietminh had captured two other French posts, one about 60 miles northwest of the capital and the other about 60 miles north, the former considered important because it had an airstrip used by the French as an auxiliary airfield. The Vietminh were reportedly advancing steadily in the jungle despite bombs and napalm being dropped by French aircraft, while scores of refugees from the combat area were streaming toward Luang Prabang. Earlier, the French had lifted their blackout on northern Laos operation to disclose the establishment of an airlift to place men and supplies in Luang Prabang.

In Tokyo, Lt. Col. Yuri Rastovorov, who unofficially was seeking asylum from the U.S. while revealing Russian secrets to U.S. authorities on Okinawa, was revealed this date to be Russia's chief Communist spy in Japan and a youthful protégé to purged and subsequently executed L. P. Beria, the former head of the Soviet secret police. Informed U.S. sources said that Mr. Rastovorov had been trained on the Japan desk of a special Soviet foreign office section, under direct control of the secret police, and had once been a personal courier for Mr. Beria, headed apparently for a brilliant future in that branch. He had changed his mind and decided to defect as a result of being called back to Moscow for his apparent softening toward the Americans. His turning had been characterized by officials in Tokyo as the most brilliant piece of American intelligence work since the start of the cold war and a blow to Soviet espionage in the Far Eastern area. The Army sources indicated that it was equivalent to the intelligence work performed in advance of the Battle of Midway in 1942 and in advance of the Normandy invasion in June, 1944. A report indicated that he had made contact with U.S. Army agents, who had shadowed him continually, at the time of the December 23 execution of Mr. Beria. The Army then moved cautiously until he moved in panic after receipt of the orders to return to Moscow, then asking for political asylum, which the Army had to honor.

The President this date sent to the Senate for confirmation the names of 272 nominees for postmasterships in 40 different states, 17 of whom would succeed postmasters who were being removed from office without explanation. White House press secretary James Hagerty stated in response to a question that they had been selected after recommendation by Republican members of Congress and approval by the RNC. When he was asked why so many such nominations were being submitted at one time, he said that he assumed delay in sending them to Congress had been caused by the Administration wanting first to put forward the various reports sent to Congress by the President in January.

The House Post Office Committee voted this date to raise the cost of mailing first-class letters from three cents to four cents, adding an estimated 159 million dollars per year to postal revenues. It was reported to be favored by a substantial majority in the Committee, but the vote was still subject to reversal after study by the Committee of rates under the entire bill.

Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson said this date that the long decrease in farm income was largely past, and called on Congress, in testimony before the joint Economic Committee, to adopt the President's moderate farm program, saying that the road to economic growth was through expanded production which would find its way into consumption and not Government storage warehouses as surplus, which the President's proposals were designed to accomplish. The program proposed setting aside from commercial channels about 2.5 billion dollars worth of Government-held stocks of produce to relieve the market of surplus which was now depressing prices. He did not agree with the pessimistic outlook of some that the 17 percent drop in farm prices during the previous three years was harbinger of a general depression, that the latest report of the Agriculture Department issued the previous Friday had shown a widespread improvement, averaging four percent increase from mid-November to mid-January, that the price adjustment in agriculture to peacetime conditions was largely in the past and that agricultural prices and incomes would be maintained at a fairly steady rate compared to those of the prior year.

In London, a cousin of Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, Conservative Thomas Iremonger, had been elected as a new member of Parliament from the London suburb of Ilford, defeating Labor Party member Tom Richardson, a schoolmaster by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 in a special election the previous day to fill a Commons seat vacated by Conservative Sir Jeffrey Hutchinson, after his appointment as chairman of the National Assistance Board. That is certainly worthy of front page news in Charlotte.

In Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, firemen blamed a cat for a fire this date which had damaged a midtown drugstore, after, they assumed, the cat had started the fire by sharpening its claws on a box of matches.

In Tokyo, Japanese women were shedding their underwear, in apparent emulation of Marilyn Monroe, after one newspaper ran a large picture of her honeymooning in Tokyo with her new husband, Joe DiMaggio, accompanied by a story in which she said that she wore no underwear, though parrying questions on the subject at a recent news conference.

In Cherryville, N.C., the president of Carolina Freight Carriers Corp., a trucking firm, this date presented a $10,000 check to the March of Dimes, the largest single donation in the history of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. The company president had conceived of the idea the previous Christmas while pondering the company's usual custom of presenting gifts to its customers, this time deciding to provide the contribution for the fight against polio rather than giving individual small gifts to customers. When told of the idea, 200 of the customers wrote back congratulating the company president on the idea, some saying they had not cared too much for their prior Christmas gifts anyway. The largest previous single gift to the Foundation had been $2,500. The company president said that he intended to continue the contribution the following year, though no one in his family had ever been stricken with polio, selecting the organization because he believed it to be a worthwhile cause.

In Charlotte, a robber armed with a pistol quietly moved through three Davidson College dormitories prior to dawn this date, stealing from 22 students' billfolds more than $350, aiming his pistol at two students in one room who were awakened by the entry. He was described as being dressed like a college student, and two seniors said they could positively identify him. One student, a treasurer for a fraternity, reported a loss of $126 in treasury funds, while the other losses were in small amounts.

News reporter Lucien Agniel reports of responses by four Charlotte Central High School seniors, two females and two males, regarding what was wrong with adults, as further elucidated in an editorial below.

On the editorial page, "Prospects Brighter for Fringe Zoning" indicates that the previous year, two separate zoning bills had been proposed, one for the fringe area around the city and one for the whole county, producing confusion in the Legislature, but that a different procedure would be followed in 1954, as the Charlotte Planning Board had decided during the week to stick to its original plan for zoning and subdivision control in the perimeter area only and to recommend to county authorities that they delay until some future date plans for controlling subdivisions or zoning beyond those areas. It indicates that there would thus be no confusion in the 1955 General Assembly, as in 1953, regarding what each bill would do, if only one such bill were presented.

Strong support had developed in two fringe area communities, Providence-Sharon and Madison Park, because of commercial encroachment on residential areas, and the realization by homeowners that their investment in new homes might be jeopardized without regulation of property use.

"Numbers Game—Take Your Choice" addresses the issue of the supposed 1,456 "security risks" who had been dismissed from the Federal Government within the previous year, subsequently increased to 2,200, of whom 306 were supposedly from the State Department, 192 from the Navy Department, and 253 from the Post Office Department and the Veterans Administration. But as it had turned out, only a small number were actually deemed security risks, and those involved cases of drunkenness and the like, not suspected espionage or affiliation with Communism.

Senator Joseph McCarthy had claimed that 90 percent of the 2,200 were "Communists and perverts". Members of the Administration had made similar such statements. The Alsops had reported on the issue two days earlier, explaining the problem, that the claimed security risks were actually persons already resigning or being transferred to other departments who had negative information within their files, used as a pretext for labeling them security risks, with the intent of making it appear that the Administration was undertaking a thorough housecleaning.

Attorney General Herbert Brownell, who had given his first press conference since October, had told reporters that at least one former Communist had been removed from the Justice Department.

It concludes that responsible reporters had found that all or most of the dismissed employees were not subversive, and that the reader could take their choice between some of the official statements and that which had been uncovered by the reporters.

"The Hate Campaign, Georgia Style" indicates that The Georgia Farmers' Market Bulletin, a four-page weekly, the official publication of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, consisting of advertisements for hogs and second-hand machinery, etc., plus editorials, written by the State commissioner of Agriculture and received by The News each week, among the 250,000 copies distributed free to Georgia farmers, contained some interesting editorial commentary, from which it proceeds to quote.

One such item said that Vice-President Nixon was advocating adding Hawaii as the 49th state, suggesting that the population of Hawaii consisted of "the lowest elements from Japan, China, Philippine Islands and the Malay Peninsula, in addition to the native stock", and that 90 percent of them were Communists.

It had also contained an item which said that any man who believed in and undertook to bring about "the mixing of the races, non-segregation of the races or amalgamation of the races, is at war with God and is, therefore, allied with the Communists." In that same issue of the prior November 18, it had said that for many years the Republican Party, starting with Abraham Lincoln, had been the "chief advocates of this godless policy" of ending segregation, until more recent years when "the so-called Democratic Party became the chief advocates of godlessness."

In various issues, it had "documented" FDR's progenitors as Jews and opium peddlers, had extolled Nazism, decried that "gang of internationalists and foreigners" who met without any fear of interference from the FBI at the U.N., formed by "that same crowd, led by Alger Hiss".

It indicates that it would not deny anyone the right to speak their views, however distorted or based on plain lies, so long as they remained responsible for the consequences of their actions. It was saddened by the fact that the State of Georgia permitted one of its official publications to be the vehicle for such distortion and lies. It suggests that conscientious Georgians who were distressed by the "woolhat" mentality of many of its citizens—a reference to the followers of the Eugene and Herman Talmadge machine—had to realize that all Georgians were fostering bigotry and hatred via their Department of Agriculture's official, free publication.

It would get even worse in the latter half of the 1960's after the election of Lester Maddox as Governor in 1966.

Nowadays, despite recent evidence of progress being made, they just do it through their elected members of the House.

"As Others See Us" indicates that elsewhere in the newspaper this date was a story which ought help all the old folks mend their ways and operate more efficiently in the atomic age, that in response to a survey of four Central High School seniors by The News, asking what was wrong with adults presently, the students, after making it clear they were not speaking of their parents, indicated generally that the adults were narrow-minded, overly-critical and too inclined to judge, with implicit in the answers the conclusion that whatever was wrong with the younger generation could probably be traced to their elders.

Drew Pearson discusses the rapid increase in coffee prices, above a dollar per pound, indicating that the profits were not going to the farmers in Brazil, most of whom had been seriously harmed by the frost ravaging their crops, precipitating the coffee shortage. Market manipulation by the Brazilian Government, as its Foreign Minister had made clear in a recent letter to the Washington Post, was also not at fault. Instead, distributors, roasters and speculating middlemen dealing in coffee futures were pocketing the profits. He also points out that the greater portion of the large amount of domestic consumer spending on coffee remained in the U.S. A Senate Agriculture subcommittee, chaired by Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa, had heard testimony on the subject four years earlier which might apply to the same situation presently, that having been from the acting chairman of the Pan- American Coffee Bureau, who said that the U.S. annually spent more than two million dollars in coffee trade, of which 62 percent remained in the U.S. and was shared by brokers, importers, roasters, retailers, stevedores, salesmen, etc., with the remaining 38 percent going to the producing countries, including Brazil.

Atomic scientists were more excited about the new "atomic battery", developed by RCA, than anything which had occurred since Hiroshima in August, 1945, giving fresh hope that ultimately mankind could benefit from peaceful uses of atomic power, prompting one scientist to speculate that atomic-powered automobiles and airplanes lay in the future, and could ultimately take man to the moon. He had speculated that hundreds of years hence, children would learn in school about the development of peaceful uses of atomic power in 1954, unless, in the meantime, an atomic war wiped out humanity. David Sarnoff, chairman of RCA, had made the announcement that electricity could be produced directly from radioactive material without use of moving parts, previously produced only through a complex system consisting of an atomic pile, steam, turbines and dynamos. Gut luck...

When the President was really amused, he was "apt to rear back, slap his knee, and let go with a guffaw." Harold Russell, the armless veteran of World War II who had appeared in the 1946 movie "The Best Years of Our Lives", presently an official with the World Veterans Federation, had told the President recently such a knee-slapper, saying that in 1947, when the movie had opened in Washington, there had been a large reception at which he and other stars were supposed to shake hands, but which he had to forgo because of his lack of arms, having an interesting chat, however, with a "very attractive lady" about readjustment problems of returning veterans, a woman to whom he had not been introduced though she was interesting to talk to with or without formal introduction. He had a vague recollection of having seen her picture in the newspapers and later she became famous. He had remarked that one veteran would not forget the men in the ranks of all of the services after the bands stopped playing, and that was General Eisenhower, that he knew of no military leader who had won the respect and affection of so many of the veterans, to which the lady had replied that she knew how he felt, as she was Mrs. Eisenhower. After the President stopped laughing, he said that no military commander should receive praise for showing an understanding of men under him, that it was part of his job.

Marquis Childs addresses the issue of the false reporting by the White House that there had been 2,200 Government employees fired as "security risks" during the previous year since the start of the Administration, prompting a recent evening meeting at the White House among staffers to try to figure out what to do about the matter without losing face. He recapitulates the same ground covered previously by the Alsops, explaining that the files of employees who were resigning or being transferred to other departments had been combed for any derogatory information which could be used to provide them with a "security risk" label, when in fact most employees in the State Department, for instance, had such derogatory information based on hearsay within their files. It turned out that only 29 of the roughly 306 State Department employees who had supposedly been fired had been labeled properly "security risks", and those did not involve any form of espionage or subversive activity but rather such things as being too free with their mouths, drunkenness, or the like.

Ultimately, the scheme had been apparently cooked up by the White House personnel security chief, Scott McLeod, in conjunction with Attorney General Herbert Brownell, with the intent of making it appear that the Administration was doing a thorough housecleaning of suspected subversives, when in fact that was not at all the case.

The White House was now trying to figure out what to do about the embarrassing public relations mess which had resulted.

Robert C. Ruark, still in Sydney, Australia, indicates that Queen Elizabeth had been there this date, on her royal tour, and he wished he could have asked her and the Duke of Edinburgh when their smiles began to wear off, despite their efforts to maintain them. He says that they were a wonderful pair and the best advertisement which England and democracy could export. But he cannot understand how they endured the glad-handing routine repeatedly as part of a rigorous schedule.

He says that the Duke of Edinburgh had been called simply "Phil the Greek" when he was in Australia in the Royal Navy as an ordinary officer, with "a great ginger beard and a taste for fun." He finds that the strain of "being an impeccable consort" probably got him down.

He believes that the people may have overdone the adulation somewhat, to the end of fatiguing the Queen, that it was not good for her, the Duke or the people at large.

Perhaps, when you return to Tanganyika for the next safari in the fall, you can invite them along for relaxation. We understand that she likes to hunt. Whether she will appreciate your other habits, especially the omnipresent beer, remains to be seen.

A letter writer thanks a previous letter writer for his views expressed on modern education, agreeing with a previous writer who had criticized it for being too disposed to extracurricular activities such as pottery-making rather than traditional academic coursework, says that she would like to meet him.

A letter writer indicates that it was disgusting to see and read the publicity on the newest social club in the city, "The Novelteens", for seventh-graders, whom the writer believes should be "playing with dolls, cowboys and Indians, and numerous other children's games that provide a healthy outlet for a normal child." He thinks that in the seventh grade, it was premature to be shoving kids into adult life, such that little boys and girls would try to imitate their eager parents in such practices as smoking, drinking, and late hours.

Wethinks he is equating seventh-graders with first-graders. Who says that mere socializing between boys and girls necessarily leads to smoking, drinking, and "late hours", which we take to be a euphemism for sex? Cowboys and Indians, dolls? That sounds a little perverse for the average 12-13 year old. He apparently has forgotten what it was like in early budding adolescence. They were already, no doubt, quite aware that Marilyn Monroe not only wore no underwear but showed off the results in a nationally distributed magazine.

A letter writer suggests having a crusade to pay off the national debt, that a recent editorial cartoon had quoted a Senator as saying that he was more concerned with getting the Government out of the red than getting the Reds out of the Government, that neither problem should be neglected. He encloses a check for four percent of his weekly earnings, made payable to the U.S. Treasury, to get the crusade going.

The editors respond that his check had been returned with a suggestion that he send it directly to the U.S. Treasurer.

A letter from the district governor for the North Carolina district of Civitan thanks the newspaper for its publicity for the organization.

A letter from Great Falls, S.C., congratulates the newspaper for its stand in its editorial of January 29, "Would VFW Sleuths Recognize a Red?" He says that since Senators McCarthy and William Jenner, and Representative Harold Velde had started investigating Communism and Communists, their methods had created hysteria among many groups, prompting many to wish to become amateur spies or investigators, which could lead to a system such as that in Nazi Germany and that which still existed in Russia. As professional Communists would not willingly expose themselves, no ordinary citizen would be able to detect them and such an effort could only do harm, that sleuthing should be left to the FBI or state investigatory bodies who would conduct the investigation properly. He urges that Senators discourage such tactics.

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