The Charlotte News

Monday, March 29, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Hanoi in Indo-China that the French Union forces had broken out of their besieged fortress at Dien Bien Phu late the previous day and the French high command said that they had killed about 1,000 Vietminh rebels in a counter-attack outside the fringes of the fortress. French Army headquarters said that French tanks, artillery and infantry, under the command of Col. Christian de Castries, had killed all of the Vietminh entrenched in two villages about two miles from the western line of the plain's defenses, while the French forces had incurred only "light losses" of about 20 killed. The French claimed to have smashed a long string of Vietminh anti-aircraft batteries which for the prior two weeks had been firing on the red cross-marked hospital planes carrying the French wounded from Dien Bien Phu. It was the first major French counter-attack since the Vietminh had begun their mass assault on the fortress on March 13. During three days of repeated waves of infantry charges, the French had killed an estimated 2,000 and wounded another 9,000 Vietminh. The rebels had then pulled back to regroup, and since had maintained artillery bombardment from the hills surrounding the plain, while French artillery and aircraft harassed them in response.

In Cairo, Egypt's military Government announced this night that all previous determinations to conduct constituent assembly elections and abolish the ruling Revolution Council in July had been canceled. It assured the military regime's continuation despite opposition by President Mohamed Naguib. The decision was made after two days of heated conflict in the Cabinet and Revolution Council, as anti-Naguib demonstrations took place in Cairo. Instead of the constituent assembly, it was decided that an appointed National Advisory Council would be established, which would include representation from various organizations and professions. An Army officer told newsmen that an Egyptian justice had drawn a pistol and killed two of the demonstrators in Cairo, but a photographer who arrived during the attack said that the two persons were only wounded, and the justice, who was taken to the home of President Naguib, could not be reached for comment. It was not clear as to what the President's fate would be. He had been removed from power by his colleagues on the Council a month earlier and then restored to power after there had been popular pressure exerted in his favor, but now faced the possibility of being removed a second time as a result of the organized demonstrations against his demand for elections and an end of the military regime by July 24. The President had been the front man for the military coup which had ousted King Farouk in 1952.

The Senate investigation of the dispute between Senator McCarthy and the Army remained stalled this date because of failure to obtain agreement on a special counsel for the Investigations subcommittee which would conduct the investigation, temporarily chaired by Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota. Senator Mundt said that he did not see how the hearings would begin before the following week and that he believed that no other subcommittee business should transpire before they were completed, but Senator McCarthy said that he intended to poll the subcommittee members as to whether other hearings should begin on evidence which he said staff members had gathered regarding Communists in defense plants and graft and corruption in Alaskan development projects.

In Madison, Wisc., The Progressive magazine, founded in 1909 by the late Senator Robert LaFollette, Sr., announced that it would devote its April issue to a study of Senator McCarthy, who, it said, had made anti-Communism his political career, contributing "dangerously to strengthening the Communist cause". When the Senator was shown a copy of the magazine in advance of publication, he had no comment.

Senator Robert Hendrickson of New Jersey, chairman of a Senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, said this date that traffic in "insidious filth" had become big business which could net its operators between 100 and 300 million dollars per year. He said that he was not talking about the paperback editions "and the truly salacious literature which frequently adorn our drugstore newsstands" but rather the "growing illicit trade across our nation of filthy and perverted films, books, cartoons, pamphlets, recordings and objects of sex depravity so utterly indecent as to shock every civilized American, were he aware of them." The Senator, speaking on the Senate floor, said that his subcommittee staff had learned that virtually every major city across the country had increasing numbers of complaints concerning such traffic, that the subcommittee had learned of one operator who started with $300 and then amassed $250,000 within two years from dealing in erotic films, priced between $15 and $100 each for a few feet of sadistic color film with sound. One city, he said, had destroyed 400,000 feet of such films in a single year. He was sponsoring a bill which would provide for a mandatory jail sentence of not less than a year for anyone found guilty of a second offense of dealing in lewd, immoral or licentious material, and would authorize a court to permit the prosecutor to confiscate cameras, presses, trucks, automobiles and other such implements used by a convicted person to carry on the traffic, and then auction it off. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators William Langer of North Dakota and Francis Case of South Dakota. Senator Hendrickson said that in addition to the film, there were millions of black-and-white and color photographs which were "almost indescribably pornographic" being peddled by dealers, plus "filthy cartoon books in color displaying sex irregularities" sold by panderers to countless teenagers, and that sex parties were inspired by the panderers to increase their sales.

In Washington, longshoremen, numbering approximately 1,000, picketed the White House in an orderly manner this date in protest of the Government's handling of the dock strike tying up the port of New York. Washington police said that about 1,200 to 1,400 of the men had arrived by bus and other means, mainly from New York, but with their ranks expanded by those they had picked up along the way. They planned to picket the NLRB meeting the following day which would consider an NLRB examiner's recommendation that a December election by the longshoremen for their union representation be voided and a new election held because the winner of the election, the International Longshoremen's Association, which had been banned from the AFL for not cleaning up its racketeering elements, had utilized violence on the day of the election, which was to determine whether the ILA or the newly formed rival AFL-ILA would be the representative union. Among the signs carried by the pickets were: "No Contract, No Work"; "We Served You in 41, Now Serve Us in 54"; "Dewey the Dictator"; and, "NLRB count the votes and give the election to the winner". Did any of the pickets also carry a sign saying, "Ban the Bums, Not Us"?

In Algiers, 1,500 Britons, including 277 women and children and 17 invalid soldiers, were safe ashore this date after being taken from a burning troop ship in one of the largest sea rescues in history, with only four crewmen being fatalities. The survivors had calmly and quickly abandoned the burning transport, which was left adrift as a total loss. The cause of the engine-room explosion which set the fire had not been determined.

In Madrid, a strong earthquake caused minor damage throughout southern Spain this date with no casualties reported.

In St. Paul, Minn., roadblocks were set up in Minnesota and Wisconsin this date as highway patrolmen and sheriff's officers sought five prisoners who had escaped from a county jail after overpowering two jailers with a razor blade fastened to a stick of wood. Late the previous day, police had received a report that the car which the escapees had used to effect their getaway had been observed a few miles north of St. Paul, but a search failed to locate it. The officer said that the men were to be considered dangerous. One of the escapees was accused of a bank robbery and the holdup of a grocery store, the trial of which was to have begun shortly. Another had been convicted the previous week on first-degree robbery charges from a bar holdup and his partner was to have been tried during this week for the same offense.

In Mexico City, the Federal sanitary department was clamping down on markets selling donkey meat under another label, with more than 3,000 pounds of burro having been confiscated the previous day. It had been sold as goat meat, which was very popular.

Well, after the elephant crew had been blamed for all of the violence on the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus train heading north out of Florida a couple of days earlier, it was only fitting, in the truest sense of giving both sides of the story in a democracy a thorough airing, that donkey meat also receive some bad publicity. But it also makes the donkey meat the goat, and, at least as the story was left on the circus, the elephant crew was not the goat, but rather it was the giraffe. Maybe he represented the independents.

Betty Boyer, in Wednesday's weekly "Grocery News" column, will tell of 50 cents worth of free coupons, and so you will not wish to miss that.

On the editorial page, "Hawaiian Red Issue Has Been Distorted" indicates that one of many national issues about which much was said but little was done was Hawaiian statehood, with opponents and advocates alike having long earlier exhausted all of the arguments on both sides, now merely repeating themselves and embellishing on the old arguments. One of those arguments frequently used by some Southern politicians, such as Senator John Eastland of Mississippi, was that admission of Hawaii would "place on the floor of the Senate … two Senators who, if not Communist, would be subject to influence from Moscow." The Georgia commissioner of Agriculture Tom Linder had said that 90 percent of Hawaiians were Communists.

It indicates that the truth was that Senators elected from Hawaii would probably be Republicans, based on the voting history of the territory, and would probably oppose segregation because of Hawaii's traditional disregard for color lines, explaining the insistence of some Southern opposition.

If Communism were a particular threat in Hawaii, it would be so regardless of whether it became a state, and the Senate Interior & Insular Affairs Committee, headed by conservative Republican Senator Hugh Butler of Nebraska, had heard testimony for and against statehood, noting Communist activity in the territory but concluding that it was "no more of a threat to the present territorial government or the proposed estate government than it is in any of the existing states." That was similar to the view held by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, the Administration generally and the Republican leadership in Congress.

A letter writer this date contended that the press had been silent about Communism in Hawaii, to which the editorial responds that statements could not be considered fact simply because they appeared in the Congressional Record, and that the press did not report the charges made by two witnesses before a committee, the press having dealt primarily with the merger of the statehood bills, the most newsworthy aspect of the issue. The Committee's conclusions seemed logical enough, the Communist threat being recognized in Hawaii as it was elsewhere, but not of sufficient magnitude to preclude the territory from statehood.

"Let Foreigners Read Both Sides" indicates that the country's overseas Information Service libraries were originally intended to help foreigners understand the U.S. and thus come to appreciation for democracy and freedom. But because of Senator McCarthy's attack on the library program, the concept had been narrowed, with extremist and sometimes just controversial books removed from the shelves. Recently, the overseas libraries had refused a request by the Senator to stock copies of his two books, McCarthyism, the Fight for America and America's Retreat from Victory, on the basis that the books were "not suitable reading" for the program's purposes.

Some had contended that there was poetic justice in that refusal, as it was in line with the present directive from the Government, but it was nevertheless saddening, as had been the decision not to put back on the shelves some of the books Senator McCarthy had demanded be removed. Such censorship misrepresented the true America, of which Senator McCarthy was a part, as were those persons he had attacked. It posits that the overseas information program would be more effective were the books of Senator McCarthy, as well as the books of or about his principal targets, Owen Lattimore and General Marshall, still on the shelves.

To present both sides of an issue was the democratic and sensible method, enabling readers to come to their own conclusions, though it was not the McCarthy method. Americans would find it difficult to sell other nations on the value of democracy if they did not practice it in the overseas information program made available to foreign readers.

"Keep 'Em Short" indicates that it would not minimize the serious problems inherent in naming newspaper after mergers, such as the recent one between the Washington Post and the Times-Herald. The New York World-Telegram had merged with the Sun, and in California, the Vallejo Times-Herald had combined with the News-Chronicle, and the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat had joined with the Republican. All now operated under joint banners. It indicates that names of newspapers with an illustrious past were not lightly discarded when they were sold and merged, but if they started to get as long as company names, such as Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane, there would likely be a revolt among the telephone operators and street salesmen.

A piece from the Richmond News-Leader, titled "Pigeons vs. People", finds that spring's surest sign was a flock of pigeons "swirling like a water spout onto a freshly-seeded lawn." Such marked the beginning of three months of war between pigeons and people. One of the writer's neighbors had draped strips of metal foil on strings crisscrossing his yard about a foot off the ground to try to frighten off the pigeons, a method which had proved wholly ineffective as the pigeons walked around the tinfoil display without any hint of trepidation. Another neighbor had set up a box trap in his backyard, but the pigeons never entered the trap unless the neighbor was in the living room. A third friend had been awakened the previous Sunday morning by cooing and chortling, and, gazing outside, was enraged to see a group of pigeons sucking up the seeds he had sown the previous day, prompting him to grab the first ammunition he found, a sack of potatoes, which he then hurled at them.

It indicates having read that long earlier, passenger pigeons had so populated the wilderness that they broke the branches of the trees where they perched, until the white man came along and, within a few years, slaughtered them into extinction. But it wants to know "how in the name of Daniel Boone" they had done it.

Terry's friend up on the roof—he knows.

Drew Pearson tells of some of the backstage reasons why members of HUAC had been in conflict over its operations and why the ranking Republican on the Committee, Congressman Pat Kearney of New York, had recently issued a public statement calling the Committee setup "rotten". Bickering among the highly paid staff, drawing annual salaries of a total of $197,000, was so bitter that some Congressmen on the Committee said privately that its prestige and morale could only be restored by the discovery of "another set of pumpkin papers"—referring to the 1948 microfilm retrieved by Whittaker Chambers from its temporary storage in a pumpkin on his Maryland farm, containing images of secret documents which he claimed had been provided to him by Alger Hiss during the late 1930's when Mr. Hiss had worked for the State Department, provided at the time by Mr. Chambers to Committee investigator Robert Stripling and becoming the symbol for the Chambers-Hiss dispute which wound up with Mr. Hiss's indictment and eventual conviction for perjury.

Committee chairman Harold Velde of Illinois, fighting for re-election in November, was the chief cause of the bickering, as he knew he had to come up with something of note to save face, in the process making repeated mistakes, such as the subpoenaing of former President Truman the previous fall, regarding the Harry Dexter White issue raised anew by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, which had arisen before HUAC in August, 1948, shortly before the death of Mr. White, a former Treasury Department official accused of espionage for the Communists.

Mr. Pearson provides a profile of each of the eleven committee investigators on staff, only six of whom he indicates were conscientious and competent, and one of those had been fired while the Committee was holding hearings in Chicago, because he had refused to cooperate with Committee counsel Robert Kunzig. A couple of others were basically competent but had also caused division on the Committee.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that the President was presently receiving an almost daily briefing on the economic situation, and that when he had stated in his Wednesday press conference that he saw no need for "slam bang" action on the economy, it was based on the best judgment imparted by his advisers who briefed him, chief among whom were the three-man Council of Economic Advisers, his special economic assistant, Dr. Gabriel Hauge, and Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey. They agreed that there was no immediate danger of an economic downtrend getting out of hand. Nevertheless, the President had left open the possibility of action in the future.

If the downtrend continued, the questions arose as to the point at which the Administration would act and what type of action would be employed. If unemployment were to climb to about 8 percent, equating to a bit over five million people, and if other economic factors showed a "net negative drift", strong counter-measures would be in order.

In the President's press conference of February 17, he had stated as his only criterion for strong measures being an increase in unemployment in March, figures on which would not be available until mid-April. The expectation was that there would be a slight increase, but there was no intention to take strong counter-measures until the whole of the economic picture for the spring would become available in late May. Even if unemployment were climbing toward the five million mark by that point, drastic action would not necessarily be undertaken. The economic advisers had pointed out that in 1949, during the Truman Administration, unemployment had almost reached that figure, and the Democrats had taken no strong counter-measures, with the economy then having righted itself naturally even before the beginning of the Korean War at the end of June. But if there were other bad signs also, in addition to rising unemployment, a production dip, or if the current construction boom suddenly decreased or there were sharp reductions in business spending for plants and equipment, then the Administration would act.

The action would fall into three categories, with a first phase being executive action, such as lowering interest rates further and adopting an easy money policy, causing consternation for Secretary Humphrey who believed in hard money; and, if that failed, proposals to Congress would be made for another across-the-board cut to income taxes, probably amounting to 10 percent, but without acceding to the Democrats' proposal of increasing personal exemptions; and a third phase, if the first two did not improve the economy, would consist of a proposal for massive expenditures for public works. The latter would only be done if there was no other way, but if the Administration decided to prime the pump, "the pump will be primed in a way to make Franklin D. Roosevelt look like a piker."

Doris Fleeson indicates that Senator Homer Capehart of Indiana had spoken on the Senate floor as the Senate was preparing to vote on the excise tax reductions passed by the House, not part of the President's program. Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois had offered an amendment to add excise taxes on household appliances to the list of cuts, appliances which were largely manufactured in Indiana, but Senator Capehart complained that he had hardly seen the bill, let alone having had any opportunity to study it, but was being besieged with telegrams in favor of it.

The Senator had spoken eloquently against the effort to unseat Senator Dennis Chavez of New Mexico, taking away valuable Senate time from consideration of more important matters such as the tax reform bill. The move to unseat the Senator had failed when five Republicans joined the Democrats to oppose the effort, as Senator Chavez was not accused of having anything to do with the election irregularities in question and had not been found to have benefited any more from them than had his opponent, Patrick Hurley. The cynical effort by the Republicans was to obtain one more Senate seat, as Senator Chavez, a Democrat, would have been replaced by an appointee of the Republican Governor, presumably appointing a Republican. It was another effort on which the Republicans had been outmaneuvered, that having also occurred on the Bricker amendment and on statehood for Hawaii, the latter tied to Alaskan statehood, almost certainly to cause the bill's defeat, while a substitute Bricker amendment still hung over the heads of Republicans, when the President wanted no amendment to be sent to the people regarding the treaty-making power.

A letter writer says that he subscribed to the newspaper and liked it, but could not agree with everything in it and asks, "Why don't you people wise up?"

A letter writer indicates that some people believed that Senator McCarthy was doing a great job, but says that he did not run across many of them in the contacts he had all across the country. He suggests that if he was doing a good job, he was not doing it for the President, the Republicans, the Protestant clergy or the great majority of the American people who had elected the President, wonders therefore whether he was doing it for selfish motives, asserts that he was doing it for himself and the Democrats.

A letter writer, as indicated in the above editorial, discusses the issue of statehood for Hawaii, cites from the Congressional Record the testimony of two witnesses who had claimed that there were a large number of Communists in Hawaii, and complains that the press said nothing about the matter. She wonders whether the same "left-wing, international press that has consistently misquoted and misinterpreted Sen. McCarthy in his fight against communism, is now more than ever playing the McCarthy theme in the hopes that statehood for Hawaii will sneak through unnoticed".

Nothing worse than a Commie hula dancer.

A letter writer from Spartanburg, S.C., thinks readers were fortunate in Charlotte to have two competitive daily newspapers, as shown in an article by Alistair Cooke in the Saturday Review of March 13, titled "The Press and the Common Man", in which Mr. Cooke had stated that he would have thought it un-American to have so many cities with only one newspaper of a pronounced political bent or where the morning and evening newspapers were owned by the same company, had suggested that the Sherman Act might be utilized to break up such monopolies in the news dissemination business. The writer indicates that local news was often neglected or went unpublished in Charlotte and in many other cities, and radio stations only provided the short shrift on it at the end of the news program. He favors emphasis of local news, indicates that the reason it was not read was because it was not offered adequately. Mr. Cooke had found that American newspapers were unrepresentative of the whole community and were becoming increasingly so, that the editor should be the brains and conscience of the newspaper and that the intrusion of the publisher on editorial policy deranged the proper function of the organ and made it "primarily a business or an annex of partisan political power".

The last two paragraphs of the piece by Mr. Cooke, incidentally, following immediately that quoted by the letter writer, has something vital to say to us today, it would seem:

If our newspapers can remain diverse enough, and cherish even a cantankerous variety of opinion based on the same facts, then there is a good chance that we shall have the freedom to get up off our knees in the year 2000 and feel that our enforced devotion to the century of the common man has not been, after all, a blind surrender of human individuality to the lowest common denominator. In my opinion we are, however, beginning to succumb to this religion and will leave ourselves perilously open to the man or government that could exploit it, if newspapers—as an example—are forced to sacrifice to such secondary and ruinous aims as building a lucrative business, or purchasing a local pulpit, their first purpose: which is the unhampered dissemination of any news a reporter can smell out, and the printing of the widest variety of views about it.

Whether the twentieth-century newspaper is to be big or little, tabloid or telefax, its intelligence, curiosity, and integrity will be no better than the education of the people who write it and read it. The mold of the common man's newspaper will be cast in the public schools. A thought that should give tremendous pause.

A letter writer indicates that she sometimes got very upset with the newspaper, picking up the radio page to see when a morning or early afternoon program aired, remembering that she had to look at the Observer, published in the mornings, because the News, published only in the afternoons, did not list radio programs on Charlotte stations starting prior to 3:00 p.m. She complains that since the newspaper carried the complete television schedule for both of the Charlotte stations, WSOC and WBTV, it should likewise carry the radio schedule, that it appeared the newspaper did not think those who liked radio better than television, as she did, deserved the same consideration.

A letter writer indicates that every day one read that some young boys had committed a crime, causing her to wonder what kind of home life they had. She had heard of a mother visiting a son in prison, throwing her arms around him and crying, only to have him push her away and say that she was to blame for him being in prison as she had never taught him to live right. She wonders how many parents had a Christian home where the Bible was read and prayer was said every night. She urges thought for the children and to live right.

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