The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 1, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Paris, the French Government had fired Marshal Alphonse Juin this date from the nation's top two military strategy posts, and it appeared likely that he would also lose his NATO job as commander of land, sea and air forces in Central Europe. Since the French Government had nominated him for his NATO post, it was generally considered that it would have no choice but to ask the NATO Council and the supreme commander in Europe, U.S. General Alfred Gruenther, to dismiss him. He was dismissed by the French Cabinet because he had ignored Premier Joseph Laniel's summons to explain his public criticism the previous weekend of the proposed European Defense Community, the proposed united European army to be comprised of divisions from West Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries. The firing had touched off a furor in France comparable to that in the U.S. following former President Truman's dismissal of General MacArthur in 1951. Opponents in Parliament of the EDC led the critics of the French Government action.

The U.S. Government disclosed this date the details of the world's first hydrogen explosion, on November 1, 1952, by release of a film of the detonation on Eniwetok atoll. The film, somewhat censored, was released by the Civil Defense Administration, which indicated it was necessary for the American public to know the facts about the destructiveness of nuclear weapons. Originally, it was to have been held until the following Wednesday for release, but some stories had reached print ahead of time and so the Civil Defense Administration decided to release it this date. (The editors note on the editorial page that it was a column written by Drew Pearson, which had appeared in some morning newspapers this date, which had prompted the early release.) The report proceeds to indicate some of the things the film showed.

A report on the filmed blast of 1952 indicates that military men said it was not a "bomb" in their sense of the word, but that there were real hydrogen bombs presently. A "bomb" was something which could be delivered to a target, and the device used in the 1952 detonation had been an experimental contrivance akin to a whole laboratory. There is a series of three still pictures of the explosion—regardless of what you might call its source. Probably better not to go near that one, even if it was not a "bomb". Anything which goes ka-boom is a bomb in our book.

The Senate Investigations subcommittee this date appointed Samuel Sears, a Boston lawyer, as special counsel for the investigation of the dispute between Senator McCarthy and high Army officials. Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, temporary chairman of the subcommittee, told a press conference that he had broken a logjam and would permit a start of the inquiry within ten days, that Mr. Sears would start work the following Monday. He said that the vote was unanimous by the six remaining members of the subcommittee, not including Senator McCarthy, who had renounced, for the time being, his ability to vote on the subcommittee.

In Washington, the NLRB ordered this date that a new bargaining rights election be held between the two rival longshoremen's unions in New York, the International Longshoremen's Association and the AFL-ILA, the latter formed after the AFL had banned the ILA because it had not cleaned out its racketeering elements. The order was based on the recommendation of the NLRB fact-finder who had examined the election and found that because violence had been used by the ILA on the election day the prior December, the vote should be nullified, giving the AFL-ILA another opportunity to win the vote for representation of the longshoremen, which apparently it had lost in December. The ILA had officially gone on strike because of a court injunction directed to it to end its initial wildcat walkout, with the members upset that the order was not also directed to the AFL-ILA.

In Raleigh, Governor William B. Umstead denied that a recent change in State building policy had any connection with the Senatorial primary campaign, between former Governor Kerr Scott and interim incumbent Senator Alton Lennon, appointed by Governor Umstead the prior summer, following the death of Senator Willis Smith in late June. An article in the Raleigh News & Observer had said that reports had been moving around in building circles the previous day that the building contractors had told the Governor that they would not lend financial support to Senator Lennon unless he ordered the change in State building policy. The Governor said that during a meeting with the contractors regarding the policy, the Senatorial campaign had not been mentioned. He said that he was supporting Senator Lennon in the upcoming primary election, but did not intend to mix the campaign with the affairs of the State. The policy change had to do with the question of penalizing contractors who lagged behind in completing State building jobs.

In Charlotte, Dick Young of The News indicates that Mayor Philip Van Every would propose to the City Council the following Wednesday a survey to determine the necessity and visibility for a general extension of the city limits. That is going to be exciting, and you will not wish to miss it.

On the editorial page, "A Central Fact of Our Lives" indicates that with the three syndicated columns of the date all being concerned with the hydrogen bomb, readers might be bombarded with more than they wanted to know about the subject. It indicates that the editors were tempted to include on the page the full text of the remarks at the President's press conference the previous day by Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss, but since it had been amply covered in the news columns, it only needed brief attention.

Mr. Strauss had not attempted to minimize the power of the hydrogen bomb detonated on March 1, though correcting the misinformation that it had been "out of control". He said that such an hydrogen bomb could take out any major city in the world, such as New York, London or Moscow. As the Soviets were capable of delivering such a bomb in conventional aircraft, the implications were clear. An atomic war would so devastate the earth that a new kind of society would emerge from the ruins, if society were able to survive at all. The leaders appeared to be saying that the nuclear bombs were so terrible and powerful that their very destructive force served as deterrent to their use. But there was little in the record of history or the nature of humanity to justify such a hope.

Now, the entire U.S. defense program was being based on its stock of atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs, plus the air fleets to deliver them, and that strategy meant nothing unless there was a determination to use the new weapons in the event of a major war.

It finds that the Strauss report had provided one encouraging note at the end, when he said that the U.S. military capability had been increased to the point where the country soon should be free to increase its emphasis on peaceful uses of atomic power at home and abroad. It urges that it should be the policy henceforth, that it would be criminal to do less than the country's utmost in harnessing the atom for peaceful purposes, given its capability for total destruction.

"Welcome to Charlotte, Mr. Stevenson" indicates that North Carolina would have preferred to have welcomed Adlai Stevenson as President rather than as merely the effective and articulate leader of the Democratic Party. But his welcome to Charlotte was nonetheless genuine and generous, and the city was honored to have him the following day for a round of conferences, conversations, banquets and delivery of a major speech. He had provided the nation with a "fine example of responsible minority party leadership" and was filling a difficult role.

He had measurably decreased the differences between Northern and Southern Democrats and had kept abreast of the nation's problems by traveling and studying, providing the people with incisive analyses of current affairs. Through it all, he retained his humor, humanity, and dignity. It indicates that the community appreciated his visit and wished him a pleasurable stay, hoping that he would hurry back.

"A Start at Prisoner Rehabilitation" indicates that there would continue to be recidivism among prisoners in the state until the prisons were divorced from the Highway Department, which would always be more interested in roads than the prisoners, and until the courts and the governing officials awakened to the fact that many crimes resulted from diseases and maladjustment, conditions which were aggravated in the state's prisons, one, for instance, being alcoholism, and also until prison officials and the public, particularly employers, were educated regarding former convicts, such that they would be able to regain employment and some social standing instead of being shunted to the streets where they fell back on criminal ways.

It finds that a good beginning had been made toward accomplishing those goals the previous day in Charlotte at a meeting of local organizations interested in prisoner rehabilitation, where it was decided to attempt to direct short-term prisoners, in jail for between 30 days and a year, to social welfare organizations through the County Welfare Department. It would be necessary to develop records useful to potential employers for job placement, something the prisons did not do, and so would require the services of trained personnel not presently available. There would also need to be follow-up work, without which most of the prisoners would wind up recidivists. After a pilot project with one of the camps, work would need to be done at the camp for black prisoners in the county.

It says that the degree of success would be measured by the amount of aid rendered by social welfare organizations, community groups such as the Jaycees and Alcoholics Anonymous, individual employers, and local government officials who could help or hinder the program through their discretion in granting funds for casework and rehabilitation. Meanwhile, voters, it urges, should consider carefully the views of prospective state legislators, to determine whether they would fight for removal of the State prison system from the Highway Department, the first step toward making a new beginning on rehabilitation.

"Overweight" indicates that the February report of the State Department of Motor Vehicles truck-weighing program showed that trucking companies were not complying with North Carolina's generous load limits. Weighing station attendants, highway patrolmen and license inspectors had caught 1,441 violators out of more than 150,000 trucks weighed during February, collecting fines and costs of more than $121,000. Even one percent of truckers in violation were too many, as the weight limits were based on the strength and resilience of the state's highways, requiring that the truckers abide by the limits to preserve the highways on which they relied for their living.

They need to stop eating so many doughnuts at the truck stops, probably the source of the overweight.

A piece from the Memphis Press-Scimitar, titled "Suspense", tells of a man who, 20 years earlier, had gone to his hometown movie house and at the very climax of the picture, the film had broken and the theater manager had announced that it was mutilated and the picture could not be finished. Recently, the man had turned on television to see the same picture and finally got to see how it ended. The piece thinks that it's the best plug for television, an improvement over the old unreliable nickelodeons.

Drew Pearson, as noted by the editors, had forced the official release of the Atomic Energy Commission film and pictures of the hydrogen bomb blast with the column of this date which had appeared in some morning newspapers. He indicates that on direct orders of the President, the public would get its first glimpse of a hydrogen explosion in a film of the November 1, 1952 detonation, planned to be released the following week. While powerful, it was small compared to the March 1, 1954 detonation. The film would show the feverish preparations for the blast and then the control ship about 35 miles out to sea from Eniwetok atoll where the tower-launched bomb was detonated, an atoll which was obliterated by the blast. He describes in detail what the film would show. It was superimposed over New York City, showing how the center of Manhattan, from Washington Square to Central Park, would be turned into a fiery furnace, and the rest of the city devastated by shock and heat waves. Then would come the fallout from the bomb, pouring radioactive poison over a wider area than that of the initial explosion. The film showed also that the atoll had been obliterated, leaving a 175-foot hole in the ocean bottom, large enough to swallow up 18 Pentagon buildings.

Senator McCarthy had passed out political favors to the millionaire father of Private G. David Schine, interceding to expedite action on a construction permit for a television station in Albany, N.Y., owned by the elder Mr. Schine. In return, the Senator had flown around in Mr. Schine's private airplane and stayed at his fashionable hotels for free.

The State Department had a report more explosive than the Army report on Roy Cohn and young Mr. Schine, giving the lowdown on their adventures during their amateur spy hunt through Europe the previous year on behalf of the Senate Investigations subcommittee, telling how they were taken in by Communist agents. Secretary of State Dulles was saving the report in case Senator McCarthy decided to pick on him.

The biggest mystery in Washington was still why Senator McCarthy appeared deathly afraid of Roy Cohn, 27 years old. On several occasions, the Senator had called Mr. Schine a "Jew boy", a "pest" and a "nuisance", behind the back of Mr. Cohn, while literally begging his listeners not to tell Mr. Cohn about it.

The Progressive magazine of Wisconsin had put out a devastating booklet on the Senator's record, to be published this month.

The Senator was trying to head off the Senate showdown on his dispute with the Army, first trying to convince fellow Senators to fire Mr. Cohn and Army counsel John G. Adams as convenient scapegoats and then dropping the matter. But only Nevada Republican Senator George Malone had been willing to accept such a whitewash. Then, Senator McCarthy had gone to see Brig. General Anthony Biddle, who had been a special trouble-shooter for Army chief of staff General Matthew Ridgway, but General Biddle also refused to accept the Senator's trial balloon.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that according to estimates, the next hydrogen bomb in the current Pacific test series would likely develop a power of around 40 megatons, about 2,000 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb and capable of laying waste to an area of about 1,000 square miles. The test of that bomb had been delayed while the probable power of it was being recalculated and the danger area extended.

According to the President the previous day at his press conference, the scientists had been "surprised and astonished" by the March 1 bomb, which had developed a power of about 14 megatons, almost twice that estimated. The miscalculation, which had been understandable given the complexity of such estimates, almost cost the lives of an American B-36 heavy bomber crew, flying about 18 miles from ground zero, a safe distance based on prior detonations. But the shock wave had been so much greater than anticipated that the plane was turned over on its back in mid-air and the crew was barely able to right the plane and avoid crashing.

Scientists had originally thought that the original atomic bomb could not be increased by much power, but that calculation had proved wrong, as the President had stated that an atomic fission bomb had been developed 25 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. The scientists had been even more wrong about the hydrogen bomb. President Truman had given approval to go ahead with its development despite strong doubts about the project having been expressed by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, Dr. Robert Bacher, and Dr. Vannevar Bush, among others. The primary arguments against it had been technical and scientific, that the hydrogen bomb could derive its power only from man-made tritium, difficult and expensive to produce. Scientists believed that the return on investment, in terms of destructive power, would be far greater through production only of atomic bombs. But the scientists had been wrong. The hydrogen bomb was not tritium-limited, after all, and could be built in large numbers cheaply and easily. Nor was there any theoretical limit to the power of the hydrogen bomb.

But the area destroyed by a bomb did not increase in direct proportion to its power. The forthcoming 40-megaton bomb, although to be 2,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, would have only slightly more than ten times the radius of destruction, 16 miles versus 1.5 miles. The area destroyed also increased more slowly as the bomb became more powerful, until finally there was no increase at all, a phenomenon known as "the limit of blow-out". Scientists believed that the limit would be reached at about 50 megatons, and so the forthcoming bomb would be approaching that limit, provided, the Alsops indicate, that the scientists had not underestimated yet again.

Doris Fleeson also discusses the hydrogen bomb, indicates that its political and diplomatic impact appeared to be as feeble in Washington as its physical impact was frightening.

She suggests that if the President expected to meet the new challenge with diplomatic moves, the Congress had not been so informed. The speech the prior Monday by Secretary of State Dulles indicated that he was following, not leading, Congress on policy toward the potential enemy.

The Civil Defense Administration was staffed, as under former President Truman, by able and conscientious people, but the budget they had promulgated, as under President Truman, appeared headed for the same fate as earlier in the Appropriations Committees of each house, not even making pretense any longer of taking civil defense seriously. Congressional leaders complained that the President had not told them what they ought to do in this regard, and the public was apparently uninterested, believing, it would seem, that it was useless to worry about the bomb or showing that they did not think of it at all.

The astute politicians in Congress did not anticipate any change in the situation prior to the midterm elections, expecting a campaign waged entirely on domestic issues, unless moves by the Soviets occurred which were at present unforeseen. Their attitude was that if the President did not move the hydrogen bomb to the fore, they would not. Even the liberal forces of the nation appeared mesmerized by Senator McCarthy, preferring to make him the issue.

A letter writer from Lansdowne, Pa., replies to a short letter by a writer who had said that he agreed with most of the newspaper's content, but not all of it, and wondered when the newspaper would "wise up", this writer saying that The News was read, even in the North, and that "only a nut" expected everybody to agree with them 100 percent of the time.

A letter writer comments on the same short letter, indicates that because the writer did not agree with the newspaper on everything did not mean that the editors should have to "wise up". She thinks that some of the readers should wise up to the fact that they were lucky in Charlotte to have two newspapers which printed two sides to every story and enabled readers to form their own opinions, commends the newspaper for its truths communicated in its editorials and says that the editors were not so dumb, after all.

A letter writer from Cheraw, S.C., says that the people needed price cuts on the things they had to buy, such as coffee. He says that there was a news commentator in North Carolina every morning who appeared to hate anything the Democratic Party tried to do for the people, but that he could stop trying to poison the minds against the party which put the South on its feet, as the people would never forget it.

A letter writer congratulates News reporter Lucien Agniel for his series of five articles two weeks earlier on education in the state. She recommends reading the current series of articles in Collier's by Howard Whitman, titled "The Struggle for Our Children's Minds—Speak Out, Silent People", in the February 5 issue, and "Our Schools—Afraid To Teach?", in the March 19 issue, informs that other such articles by Mr. Whitman would follow—even into 1955.

A letter writer urges that no one should misconstrue or be hoodwinked by Senator McCarthy, that since the beginning of the republic, there had unfortunately been an occasional crackpot politician elected to high office, but that the Senator deserved the Oscar. He says that the Senator's record, as a judge, a Marine and as a "so-called senator" was repugnant.

A letter writer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., notes a letter from Bob Cherry, Jr., strongly supportive of Senator McCarthy, suggesting that Mr. Cherry read Drew Pearson's column regarding the Senator's deposits of large cash sums in a Washington bank, far more than his $12,500 per year Senate salary would support. He suggests that anyone else would probably be in jail along with other tax violators. He also expresses concern over the fallout from the recent hydrogen bomb blast in the Pacific, which had burned a group of Japanese fishermen 80 miles away, and wonders how far high winds could carry the same fallout, whether it could blow for thousands of miles across the world. He suggests that such monstrous weapons should not continue to be built when the Government would not have the guts to use them militarily because of the dangers to the country, itself. He cites the large stock of nerve gas created during World War II by every Allied power and which was never used because it was too deadly to use even on the enemy. He likens the atomic arms race to a confirmed gambler, that the more one lost, the more one gambled, and the more one gambled, the more one lost, and the less one had of value in the end.

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