The Charlotte News

Monday, February 8, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Berlin at the Big Four foreign ministers conference, the participants met for the first time in secret session this date to see whether they could agree on steps to promote peace settlements in the Far East and for a formula for a world conference on disarmament. Each of the foreign ministers had only three assistants for the meeting, though there were experts standing by if needed, as the meeting was held in a small room adjoining the main conference room where the public sessions had been conducted during the first week of the talks in West Berlin, before shifting to East Berlin for the second week. The Western Big Three ministers were reported to be ready to confront Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov with a three-point program, that they would meet with Communist China only for discussion of such Asian issues as Korea and Indo-China, and only if the Communist Chinese regime demonstrated good faith by cooperating first in a Korean settlement or by discontinuing the arming of the Vietminh rebels in Indo-China, that the Big Four would fix a deadline for discussions on Germany unless Russia was prepared to modify its demands, and that all international attempts to effectuate world disarmament had to be made within the U.N., not, as suggested by Mr. Molotov, through a conference held apart from the U.N. so that Communist China could participate.

In Hanoi, the French conceded this date the loss of Attopeu, a key Laotian village in central Indo-China, while claiming a successful fight far to the north in the Red River Delta, in which 111 of the Vietminh had been killed and 72 captured. A communiqué three days earlier had indicated that the French had withdrawn from Attopeu, long a garrison for French and Laotian troops at an important crossroads, and that a battalion of the Vietminh had occupied it. In the fighting in the north, French mobile groups, spearheaded by tanks, had driven against a Vietminh regiment entrenched in three villages.

In Istanbul, Turkey, it was reported that U.S. and Turkish forces began testing the defense of NATO's furthest eastern front this date, in operation "Turkish Sky", joint maneuvers which would last for four days aimed at coordinating Turkish Army operations with close support from American carrier-based aircraft of the U.S. 6th Fleet.

Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California said this date that the prospects for enactment of a substantial portion of the President's legislative program were looking better all the time. RNC Chairman Leonard Hall, on an NBC television program the previous day, presumably "Meet the Press", had expressed similar optimism about passage of the program, as well as the Republican chances of picking up 15 to 25 additional House seats in the midterm elections, saying that the President's leadership had given the party a tremendous boost. He also said that he considered Senator McCarthy an asset for the party nationally, and that the RNC paid the Senator's expenses on his speaking tours, and so if that constituted an "endorsement", then he would answer yes to the question asked him whether the RNC endorsed the Senator's description of the Democrats as "the party of betrayal". (Sounds like a non-denial denial.) Mr. Hall added that he expected Communism to be an underlying issue in the midterm elections. He also said that when the time came for the President to decide whether he would seek a second term in 1956, there would be a demand which he could not escape. (Sorry, Dick...)

A Senate Banking subcommittee sought the testimony of five leaders of the coffee trade in New York City, seeking to find out whether speculation had played a part in the price increases on coffee to more than a dollar per pound. Senator George Aiken of Vermont asked for quick passage of a bill which would impose Government supervision of trading and speculation in coffee, requiring the Commodity Exchange Authority, an agency of the Agriculture Department, to monitor trading in coffee futures contracts. Spokesmen for coffee producers in Latin America had said that a poor crop and the operation of supply and demand had produced the price increases, and called for action to counter any consumer boycotts of coffee based on the rising prices.

The governors of the 48 states would hold a three-day conference in Washington beginning in April to discuss, with the President and other top Administration officials, various problems.

The Justice Department announced this date the indictment of nine individuals and six corporations on charges of conspiracy to defraud the Government in multi-million dollar deals regarding purchase of surplus ships sold by the Government after World War II. Those indicted included former Democratic member of the House Joseph Casey of Massachusetts, who allegedly headed a group which a Senate committee had charged with making large profits in the tanker deals. Another of those indicted was shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. The indictments had been returned by a Federal grand jury on October 13, 1953, but they had been maintained in sealed status by the Federal District Court pending the surrender of Mr. Onassis, a native of Greece who was presently living in Argentina and had surrendered this date, pleading not guilty to the charges. He was released on $10,000 bond, and ordered not to leave the country. In eight counts alleged against all of the defendants, the charges included conspiracy to violate the false statements statute and to defraud the Government through the filing of false applications and false financial statements with the old Maritime Commission and its successor, the Maritime Administration, in connection with the surplus tanker purchases totaling more than 18 million dollars. The false statements statute carried a potential sentence of five years imprisonment plus up to a $10,000 fine.

In New York, a man was being sought in connection with the slaying of Maxwell Bodenheim, a controversial writer of poetry and "harsh" fiction during the 1920's and 1930's, and his female companion believed to be his wife, both found dead in a cheap furnished room which had been rented three weeks earlier by the suspect. One of the areas in which police were concentrating their search was Greenwich Village, where Mr. Bodenheim had once flourished and then failed. A police detective said that the motive was not robbery, but provided no other motive. The story does not indicate how they had been killed.

Many communities in Missouri and Kansas were facing drought conditions, three years after devastating floods, the drought having lasted since the previous summer, affecting both farmers and city dwellers as the water shortage, which varied town to town, was causing some places to be down to a one-month supply, while one town 20 miles southwest of Kansas City was due to be depleted this date with its reservoir level dropping below the intake pipe, necessitating that trucks haul water from a nearby lake and then from Kansas City when the lake was depleted. There was no immediate relief in sight. Kansas City did not face any problem as it was on the Missouri River. Springfield had begun to seed clouds to produce rain, but without results thus far. The Army had built an emergency pipeline from a lake to a small town after its reservoir had run perilously low. Another small town was getting by on a well which had formerly supplied an ice plant.

In Decatur, Ga., a man was arrested on Saturday afternoon after a deadly shootout with police, suspected of being the burglar who had stolen $317 from students in dormitroies on the campus of Davidson College in the wee hours of the prior Wednesday morning. He told police that he had always been scared of the police and so began shooting when they sought to detain him in connection with the burglaries, was now charged with killing a police officer and attempted murder of another officer, the latter in satisfactory condition, after being shot three times by the man. In addition to the Davidson burglaries, he was charged with having stolen $18 from two students at a dormitory at Clemson, identified by the two students. The man, 30, was an itinerant aircraft mechanic.

In Davidson, N.C., a Davidson College campus policeman was congratulated by College authorities this date for outstanding work which resulted in the arrest of the suspect in Decatur. The nightwatchman had taken down the license plate number of a car he had noticed with its motor running at about the time of the burglaries, after noticing a young man lying asleep on the front seat, then finding the car unoccupied and its motor off about an hour later. The license plate had led to the detention, shootout and arrest. Most of the stolen $317 had been from the treasurer of a fraternity who had fraternity funds on hand.

In Raleigh, former Governor Kerr Scott this date paid his $250 filing fee as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Senate in the May 29 primary against incumbent interim Senator Alton Lennon. Governor Scott, a dairy farmer, joked with newsmen that the filing fee now required "three cows if they are dry, and about 2 1/2 if they are fresh." Seems he was milking the moment for all it was worth.

On the editorial page, "For a Tough Issue, a Compromise" indicates that the newspaper agreed that there ought be one day per week for rest, relaxation and reflection and that Sundays ought be free from commercial encroachment. But it also believed that the law should not intervene to compel such recognition of Sundays and so disagreed with the position put forward by local ministers at the City Council meeting the previous week, seeking to continue a ban on Sunday movies. Theater owners had petitioned the Council to change the law so that they could exhibit films between the hours of 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. on Sunday nights, citing unfair competition from drive-in theaters outside the city limits which had no such restrictions, as well as television stations, restaurants, service stations and many other businesses permitted to operate on Sunday. They argued that the blue law violated the traditional separation of church and state.

The ministers argued that the Council had already passed on the separation issue and that permitting showing of movies during Sunday evenings would be an encroachment on the Sabbath which would invite other such encroachments, that the laws governing Sunday commercialism reflected the majority faith, without violating the rights of the minority.

The piece indicates that the good Christian observed Sunday according to the rules of their church and the dictates of individual conscience, not leaning on the law as a crutch, but deciding the matter for him or herself. It indicates that civil law should never be used to enforce religious practices, but that most American cities had placed some restrictions on commercial recreation on Sundays, usually, however, limited to Sunday mornings. It commends to the City Council that limited practice as a compromise and also finds that the Council had passed the buck to the County Commissioners by recommending that they shut down movies outside the city limits to eliminate competition from the drive-ins, though the city attorney had advised them that was beyond the legal authority of the Commissioners.

"Scott Entry Assures Real Battle" indicates that the formal announcement by former Governor Kerr Scott that he would be a candidate in the spring Democratic primary against interim Senator Alton Lennon had not been a surprise, that he would be a formidable opponent in the race, being well known by the state's voters and having produced in his term as Governor between 1949 and 1953 a solid road and school program which had proved to be wise investments. He had been controversial during his term, boldly advocating large-scale programs while appearing to go out of his way to alienate his critics. He did not underestimate the abilities of Senator Lennon as a campaigner, the Senator having gone around the state making speeches shortly after his appointment the previous summer and likely to benefit from the support of the Administration of Governor William B. Umstead.

It posits that it ought to be a good contest, giving the voters a real choice between the candidates, as there would be clearly defined issues, with Senator Lennon a conservative on domestic issues while former Governor Scott was progressive and a strong internationalist on foreign policy. It suggests that the memory remained fresh of the bitter 1950 primary contest between interim Senator Frank Porter Graham and the late Willis Smith, in which race-baiting of the Senator and claims of Communist sympathies had played a large role in the runoff won by Mr. Smith after Senator Graham had won the initial primary with former Senator Robert Rice Reynolds in the race. It hopes that there would be no repeat of that type of campaign the following spring.

"Straight Talk to the GOP" indicates that Vice-President Nixon, Senate Majority Leader William Knowland and House Majority Leader Charles Halleck had picked the right forum, a Republican Lincoln Day dinner in Washington, for their warning that the Democrats would win the 1954 midterm elections unless the Republican Party united behind the leadership of the President. In the audience had been many Republicans in Congress who had not yet joined the Eisenhower team.

Senator Knowland had said that the problem was not a divide-and-conquer strategy by the Democrats because the Republicans were already divided prior to the 1952 convention, and that but for the personal popularity of the President, would have lost the elections for Congress in 1952.

Since the Republicans controlled each house by very narrow margins, a small voter trend away from the party, customary in midterm elections, would give the Democrats control, with such a division of authority possibly producing a legislative stalemate at a time in world history when the U.S. had to act decisively in domestic and foreign affairs.

It concludes that the Republican members of Congress held their future in their own hands and success in the midterm elections would be determined by how united they would be in the meantime in compiling a record of achievement to set before the voters.

A piece from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, titled "Horatio at the Bank", indicates that the Horatio Alger books had taught that the typical bank president was aloof, astute, infallible, unapproachable and completely immune from the baser emotions such as sympathy.

But now, the Missouri State Employment Service was frantically seeking a person to become a bank president in a "small, thriving Missouri community", wherein the president would have to help move furniture into a new building, supervise loans, investments, employees and other tasks which a rural bank president was supposed to supervise. It concludes that in the time since the writing of Mr. Alger's books, either common labor had reached the "striped pants class" or being a bank president had become real labor.

Drew Pearson discusses Dr. Arthur Burns, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, who had recently testified before the joint Committee on the Economic Report, explaining that he had initially wondered whether he should testify at all, finally deciding that since Cabinet officers were expected to testify before Congress, he ought to do so when requested. He also asked, however, that no transcription of his remarks be made, out of concern that he might inadvertently say something which would appear contradictory to the President's economic report, which he did not intend to do, and that it could be taken to mean his disagreement, at which point he would have to resign his post. His request in that regard was granted, though, as it turned out, was unnecessary, as he did not deviate from the President's report, saying that there was a "mild contraction" in the economy but no reason to believe it would become any worse and good reason to believe that there would be a recovery beginning in the late spring or early summer.

The President had received increasingly disturbing reports about the situation in Indo-China from two different sources, the reports being so bad that he was seriously considering sending U.S. troops to train native troops, deemed the only hope of saving Indo-China from the Communists. One report had come from Secretary of State Dulles in Berlin, who said that the French National Assembly was getting closer to the point of pulling out completely, warning that something had to be done quickly or that would occur. The second report had come from Admiral Arthur Radford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who claimed that the solution in Indo-China was the efficient training of the native troops, proposing to send top U.S. military men, with experience in either Greece or Korea, to train them. The Vietminh were receiving much more munitions from Communist China since the end of the Korean War. The Radford plan was reportedly under study by the National Security Council, which believed that something had to be done to prevent a Communist takeover throughout Southeast Asia. But the President remained quite reluctant to send U.S. troops even for training purposes, and thus far there had been no decision.

British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden had reported to Prime Minister Churchill that the Berlin foreign ministers conference might not wind up in a complete flop after all, as Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov had secretly hinted that he wanted to conclude some trade agreements for nonstrategic goods with Britain.

Secretary Dulles could not find anyone to head the overseas library program after Senator McCarthy had begun to sabotage it, as nine people had turned down the post.

The new hydrogen bomb tests to take place early the following month would cost the Government between 80 million and 100 million dollars.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop discuss the recent defection from the defunct Soviet mission in Tokyo of Yuri Rastovorov, after he had been called home to Moscow for being too soft with the Americans. Army intelligence had claimed that they had wooed him through their agents, but the fact was that he simply had become scared that he would be eliminated upon his return, as many in the secret police who were close to executed L. P. Beria, as had been Mr. Rastovorov, had been liquidated as well, as the Soviets sought to diminish the role of the secret police both at home and in the satellites. To that end, they had sent out new viceroys to the satellites, who were among the Communist Party hierarchy.

That reduced role was only one part of a general leveling and equalizing ongoing within the new Soviet regime of Georgi Malenkov, thought now to be only the chairman of a government by committee. For some time, the Soviets had been showing unusual politeness to the British and French Ambassadors to Moscow, suggesting that they were all Europeans and that there were no problems which they could not settle between themselves without the U.S. intervening. The British Ambassador, Sir William Hayter, had reportedly replied that others had friends outside Europe also, Russia having China, for instance, while the French Ambassador, Louis Joxe, received the largest share of the Soviet attentions, granted an interview with Foreign Minister Molotov prior to the Berlin meeting of the foreign ministers. Mr. Hayter was given the special privilege of an interview with Premier Malenkov soon after he reached Moscow to begin his work as Ambassador. At the meeting, Mr. Molotov came close to correcting Mr. Malenkov, suggesting repeatedly, after the latter made statements, what the Prime Minister actually meant. It contrasted with the subservient role which Mr. Molotov had occupied when Stalin had been alive. He now had independence in foreign affairs.

The Alsops point out that Westerners had few insights into the actual workings of the Soviet hierarchy and much tended to be made, therefore, of small incidents, with the whole theory of Premier Malenkov being chairman of a committee resting on that latter recounted incident with Ambassador Hayter. The theory, however, was being confirmed by small amounts of gradually accumulating evidence, such as the fact that Mr. Malenkov was granted no more space in the Government newspapers than the other Soviet leaders, contrasting with the deific praise constantly heaped on Stalin in the Soviet press. The Berlin meeting had also produced such evidence, with Mr. Molotov now able to take the initiative without constantly having to consult Moscow for instructions, as in the past.

They observe that any committee system was likely to produce its own internal tensions and that a struggle for mastery was still likely ongoing. But there was no evidence that the struggle would weaken Soviet power, which had not been affected by the purge and execution of Mr. Beria. Yet, the committee was still transacting Stalin's old policy, much more dangerously, but with much greater skill and flexibility.

Marquis Childs indicates that the Administration's "new look" in military policy had produced a large amount of doubt and criticism from within Congress and at the Pentagon, which would soon make news, and that Secretary of State Dulles had, in his speech just before he left for the foreign ministers conference, set forth the way in which U.S. diplomacy would conform to that new military policy, that aggression anywhere would be met with "instant retaliation" directed at the centers of Communist power. That appeared henceforth to rule out smaller wars, such as Korea, and suggest that the next conflict would be an atomic war.

Certain Senators were planning to debate the new policy at the earliest opportunity, not so much as a challenge but trying to discern the meaning of the Secretary's speech through searching questions regarding the extent of reliance on atomic weaponry. The suspicion remained that the policy had been tailored to meet demands for economy. In recent speeches, both Army chief of staff General Matthew Ridgway and his next in command, General Charles Bolte, had indicated serious doubts about the cutbacks in manpower and had questioned whether atomic firepower could replace manpower on the ground.

There was genuine concern that the public might be encouraged to believe in push-button war to replace traditional warfare, and many Americans believed that a few massive raids by U.S. bombers on enemy centers by atomic weaponry would eliminate all threat of danger and allow the U.S. to live again in isolated peace, conveniently ignoring the retaliatory capability of the Soviet Union, with the ability of two-thirds of its bombers to get through the U.S. continental defense system thus far constructed. The military brass, when heard privately, expressed questions about the quantity of the new weapons presently available or likely to become available, that the public had been led to believe that they were already in full production whereas the number was extremely limited. One doubter of high rank said that they were fantastic in effect and fantastic in cost. A single shell from one of the new type weapons cost $10,000.

Meanwhile, a so-called small war was taking place in Indo-China, ongoing for seven years, and the French wanted to be done with it and its heavy casualties. A new government in France might suddenly decide that it was the problem of the U.S., just as the British abruptly shifted responsibility for Greece onto the Truman Administration. For that reason, some sources were beginning to suggest that U.S. ground troops would soon be sent to Indo-China to save the grave situation there, though ground commanders were violently opposed to any such move, pointing out the handicaps which would be infinitely greater than in Korea, where the U.N. forces had the ocean and the Navy on three sides plus a complete air umbrella. Moreover, if the U.S. committed troops, Communist China would almost certainly retaliate by sending in its forces, which could lead to World War III.

Thus, before the reduced budget was approved in Congress, the members wanted to know more about those matters.

Robert C. Ruark, still in Sydney, Australia, indicates that three or four things remained constant in the country, one being the mutual hostility between Melbourne and Sydney and another being the shark patrol sirens at the beaches, keeping Mr. Ruark from going surfing. A third was the perennial quarrel over drinking hours, and a fourth was the unceasing warfare of the animals, birds and bugs, toward Australians, a war which he believes would eventually be won by the rabbits, birds, sharks, locusts, beetles, emus, wallabies and pigs.

He explores each of those facets, finding that the jealousy between Sydney and Melbourne was unfounded, that each city had its positive side and its negative side, that neither was superior to the other.

He also hopes to be able to go surfing off Sydney without the shark sirens intervening, but complains that every time he decided to try, they sounded off. Recently, an eagle had swooped down and taken a baby away from its mother in Kings Cross, a shark had leaped into a boat and attacked a couple of fishermen, the rabbits were eating the country out of house and home, and the emus, wallabies and kangaroos were kicking down the fences to let in the rabbits. Then, he recounts, the Australians developed myxomatosis, a disease which killed off the rabbits, and were doing fine until the rabbits developed an immunity to it, "and now are breeding a tougher, huskier line of bunny, which carries two pistols and a flame-thrower."

A letter writer indicates that the appearance of an individual before the City Council favoring tighter blue laws in the city saddened and amazed him because he had thought the days of Puritanism had long passed with the Salem witch trials, and that the matter was doing damage to the local clergy by taking advantage of a few businesses, that the setting up of unfair laws was no answer to the problem of empty churches on Sunday night, that it only antagonized potential church members. He regards the answer to be positive action by the churches in an atomic age, rather than attempting to outlaw the competition.

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