The Charlotte News

Monday, April 5, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Hanoi that the French high command had announced this date that the French Union defenders of the fortress at Dien Bien Phu had killed "more than 1,000" Vietminh troops trying anew to smash their way into the heart of the fortress through its northwest corner. Heavy fighting had raged in that sector of the plain as the Vietminh rebels sought to widen the gap against a strong French counterattack supported by tanks, artillery and warplanes. The high command said that the defenders had plugged every breach caused by the Vietminh in the northwest defenses and that the rebels had left their dead dangling in the barbed wire barricades. Following tank and artillery fire, the French Union infantry clashed in hand-to-hand fighting with the Vietminh, and within two hours, the counterattack had closed the breach and driven the enemy back. According to the French command in Hanoi, the fortress commander, Col. Christian de Castries, had reported consistently that his men's morale was "sky high" and that hopes of eventual victory were mounting. There had been no mention of any attacks by the Vietminh in other areas around the plain. The previous night, the rebels had withdrawn their forces a quarter mile from the heavily assaulted eastern and southeastern defenses of the plain, but a French spokesman said that he doubted the Vietminh could mount another heavy assault within 12 hours, emphasizing that the withdrawal of 400 to 500 yards was not the equivalent of a retreat, but amounted merely to a slackening of the line, probably for regrouping, and that the battle was far from over.

Secretary of State Dulles told the House Foreign Affairs Committee this date that the Chinese Communists were "coming awful close" in Indo-China to the direct aggression which he said might produce "massive retaliation". He said that freshly verified information showed that new Communist radar-controlled 37-mm. antiaircraft guns, which were bringing down French planes over Dien Bien Phu, were "operated by members of the Chinese military establishment", and that a Chinese general, with "nearly a score of Chinese technical advisers", was stationed at staff headquarters of the Vietminh forces, attacking the French fortress. He also provided other examples of Chinese participation, and said numerous other Chinese Communist technical advisers were operating at the division level with the Vietminh forces, in addition to the artillery, ammunition and equipment generally being provided from Communist China. They were also maintaining communication lines for the Vietminh. He said also that air and military buildup was probable in North Korea but that the Neutral Supervisory Commission there was prevented by the Communists from entering North Korea to verify it.

The President would address the nation this night, reportedly to clarify questions raised at home and abroad by disclosure on April 1 of the film on the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb on November 1, 1952, according to Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California after meeting with the President. The speech would be carried by major radio and television networks.

NATO began its sixth year of existence this date with predictions by the President and Secretary Dulles of its continued success.

In London, Prime Minister Churchill declared before Commons this date that the Soviet Union was "very much closer on the heels of the United States" in the development of the hydrogen bomb than they had ever been with the atomic bomb. He refused to intervene against the U.S. hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific, saying that the tests "increase the chance of world peace rather than the chance of world war". He took issue with former Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who had told Commons earlier that development of the hydrogen bomb would not "in itself prevent wars".

The Senate Investigations subcommittee this date scheduled for the following day a showdown meeting to determine whether newly selected special counsel for the Army-McCarthy dispute investigation, Samuel Sears, would be able to perform impartially, given the report that two years earlier he had endorsed the re-election of Senator McCarthy and had said he was doing a good job in hunting down Communists, despite having told the Senators the previous week that he had never committed one way or the other on anything having to do with the Senator or McCarthyism in general. Temporary chairman of the subcommittee during the investigation, Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, said that he had no word from anyone at the Pentagon concerning reports that the Army might protest the appointment of Mr. Sears, and that he had no feeling at all concerning the Army's announcement that it had appointed Joseph Welch, also a Boston lawyer, as was Mr. Sears, as its special counsel in the inquiry. Senator Mundt said the previous night that the subcommittee would not keep Mr. Sears if the Army objected.

A four-year old story out of Wheeling, W. Va., from February 9, 1950, consisting of 110 words, is presented as the first of 10 "broad-picture articles" to refresh the public's mind on Senator McCarthy and his rise to prominence. The story had been published after the Senator had delivered a Lincoln Day speech before the Ohio Women's Republican Club of Wheeling, at which the Senator stated that there were 205 members of the Communist Party within the State Department, and that despite then-Secretary of State Acheson having known of the 205 Communists, they were still "working and shaping the policy" in the Department. (It would subsequently be revealed that the speech topic was not chosen by the Senator, but randomly assigned by the RNC.)

In New York, longshoremen from the rival ILA and AFL-ILA worked alongside one another this date to move huge piles of cargo which had accumulated during the 29-day strike in the port. It was the first day of full-scale operations after the ILA had begun to return to work on Friday, with about 11,000 workers on the job of the 20,000 members. It had been the longest strike in the port's history.

In Blackpool, England, a World War II air raid shelter caved in on two workmen who were demolishing it this date, killing one and seriously injuring the other.

In Cannes, France, actor Robert Mitchum said this date that he would either have to be photographed with a buxom, semi-nude British actress or jump into the Mediterranean. He told newsmen that he had his back to the sea and that there was no place for him to go but in the water the previous Tuesday, during a picnic held in connection with the annual Cannes film festival. He said that if a girl wanted to have her picture made "like that", it was none of his affair. Simone Silva, 25, whose movie credits thus far had been primarily in supporting roles in British films, wore a grass skirt and a scarf top to pose for pictures on the rocks near the sea during the picnic, and Mr. Mitchum had been called over to pose with her, at which point, the photographers got down on their knees to plead with Ms. Silva to take off her top, and she subsequently told newsmen that as long as "sex is box office and I keep my figure, I'm out to be the sexiest thing on two legs," and so she took off the scarf. In the mad scramble which followed, three photographers fell into the Mediterranean, a fourth broke his ankle, and a fifth suffered a fractured elbow. Mr. Mitchum said that he had heard nothing from his studio about the incident and did not expect to hear anything. Ms. Silva, meanwhile, left Cannes a day or two after the picnic and there had been rumors that the festival officials had asked her to take her 37-inch bust elsewhere, but those rumors were denied by Ms. Silva when she arrived in London—presumably still with her 37-inch bust, though the piece does not explain of what the bust represented, whether, for instance, perhaps, Ludwig van Beethoven or Edgar Allan Poe or his raven's Pallas over the door of lost Lenore with its shadow protruding across the floor. Ms. Silva told newsmen that she wanted to go to Hollywood and agreed to the photographers' request for publicity.

On Wednesday, in her weekly "Grocery News" column, Betty Boyer will tell of shortening for only a penny per pound. You'll not want to miss it.

On the editorial page, "More Deficit Spending in Prospect" indicates that one of the stoutest planks in the President's campaign platform had been the promise to balance the budget, to end the deficit spending which had characterized 17 of the 20 years of Democratic rule. While it had struck a chord with the electorate in 1952, others were more cynical about politics, in light of the necessity of large-scale defense spending.

It finds that the President had to be given credit for trying, taking office in the middle of the 1952-53 fiscal year, with a projected deficit of nearly ten billion dollars. For the following fiscal year, spending had been trimmed by 3.1 billion dollars while revenue increased by three billion, leaving a 3.3 billion dollar deficit. The 1954-55 fiscal year was projected by the President to have 65.6 billion dollars in Federal spending, against revenue of 62.7 billion, leaving a 2.9 billion dollar deficit. But several things had occurred to upset that latter estimate. Tax cuts had reduced revenue by 1.1 billion, the business slump was anticipated to cause further decrease in revenue, and the Democrats in the Senate might force some increase in income tax personal exemptions, further reducing revenue. It was thus possible that the deficit for the following fiscal year could rise to as much as 10 to 12 billion dollars.

It indicates that it had to be disheartening to the President, just as it was discouraging to the millions of Americans who had wanted to see a balanced budget. During the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations, it had been fashionable to blame the executive branch for financial irresponsibility, a fair assessment to the extent that the two Presidents had packed their budgets with luxuries. But, under the Constitution, Congress had the power to appropriate and to pass taxes, and so had to receive the blame for an unbalanced budget.

It concludes that it had hoped, with the encouragement of an economy-minded Administration, that Congress would have shown greater concern for a balanced budget, but that nothing had happened thus far to encourage that hope.

"Why Immigration Policy Is a Mess" indicates that hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants surged into the U.S. from Mexico each year, as hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent annually on a program to exclude legal immigrants. It finds that the ludicrous nature of that policy resulted from immigration being a "fouled-up mess". Mexicans wanted jobs and U.S. ranchers wanted cheap labor, resulting in large amounts of illicit traffic in cheap labor along the Rio Grande, with the attendant social and economic problems. The difficulty of patrolling the border made total exclusion impossible. Meanwhile, cumbersome bureaucracy had reduced legal immigration to a mere trickle.

The immigration law, thanks principally to Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada, required that prospective legal immigrants had to be scrutinized for possible ties to subversive organizations in their past. Every country from which a refugee came had to agree to take the immigrant back if immigration officials in the U.S. decided they were unworthy. Most countries were reluctant to sign any such agreement, and if the immigrant turned out to be undesirable, the country of origin did not want them back either.

While many had lauded the country's strict immigration policy as an effective tool against Communism, the reverse in fact was true, and, it urges, it was time to do something about it. It finds it an idiotic policy to permit undesirable immigrants to enter the country en masse from Mexico, while excluding desirable immigrants from all other areas of the world.

"What New Industries Are Looking For" indicates that capitalists were roaming the streets of Southern cities, quietly seeking new locations for plants for their companies. North Carolina was interested in attracting such new plants, and it had been successful in getting many companies to locate in the state. It might be even more successful, it suggests, if it became aware of what the investigators were looking for, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. It had stated that industrial companies were not seeking tax concessions, free plant sites or other artificial inducements, that they wanted to pay their own way, that a large labor pool was not as vital to new plants as it once had been because of increased use of automatic devices decreasing the need for workers and causing housing and municipal services, therefore, not to be so necessary as they once had been. The companies were seeking communities in which the employees would like to live and which were economically good for the company. They checked on the weather, the amount of smoke, dust and gases in the area, wanted good railroad services and rates, as well as a community with long-term planning and zoning in place.

It indicates that applying those priorities to Charlotte meant that the city needed to get busy on cleaning up the unpleasant smell of Sugaw Creek, abating its smoke problem, improving grade crossings, and undertake zoning and community planning.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Neatness Is As Neatness Does", indicates that a Marine Corps memorandum released for publication said that commanding officers would both submit and accept papers intended for internal Marine Corps use, which contained a small number of penned corrections.

It suggests that it might start a trend away from meticulously typed and retyped letters, consuming many work hours, and instead promote neatly penned-in corrections. It wonders how many secretarial hours were wasted and how much paper was consumed unnecessarily in retyping letters, just to eliminate a typographical error. It suggests that neatly typed material, including its own neatly typed editorials, did not necessarily connote good writing or proper expression. The late Josephus Daniels had indited his editorials by hand, such that only one linotype operator at the Raleigh News & Observer could decipher them. It says that it knew of a statesman who wrote all over the margins of his speech manuscripts, but sounded eloquent nevertheless in his delivery. Recently, Representative Sam Rayburn was handed a beautifully typed speech against taxes to read in the House, but he had stumbled over it, mainly because he had never seen it previously.

It concludes: "Well, we'll sticdk to neat typing $* and hope8 for the besd in the bedt of all possibl woorlds."

Drew Pearson indicates that significant conversations had been taking place between Prime Minister Churchill, U.S. foreign aid administrator Harold Stassen and Lord Charwell, Britain's atomic bomb expert. Mr. Churchill had urged high-level talks with the Russians to discuss the hydrogen bomb threat, and pleaded for closer cooperation between the U.S. and Britain in the entire field of nuclear energy. He told Mr. Stassen that Britain was working on its own hydrogen bomb, thereby duplicating the costly research already completed by U.S. scientists, and that it would be much better if British money and research were devoted to more progress rather than keeping up with the U.S. He promised to make a statement in support of the American hydrogen bomb test to show his good faith, despite growing protests in England against the tests in the Pacific. Mr. Churchill had since fulfilled that promise—as reported this date on the front page. Mr. Stassen made no definite commitments beyond promising to take the matter up with the President.

The scientists' greatest concern regarding the hydrogen bomb was underwater testing, a concern which also extended to the atomic bomb, the reason why underwater tests at Bikini Atoll had been called off three years earlier. The fear was that such an underwater detonation could set off a tidal wave causing serious damage to cities in the U.S. along the Pacific Coast. It could also contaminate fish for miles around and potentially produce a radioactive cloud formation which could be carried for miles inland, perhaps even hitting the Western U.S. Scientists said that if a hydrogen bomb were detonated 500 feet under water in the mid-Pacific, a tidal wave would hit Japan, China and the U.S. Most cities along the Pacific Coast were constructed in such a way that a tidal wave of only 12 inches above high tide would cause serious damage. Damage to Japanese cities would be greater than to those of most countries, but would also extend to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Even greater damage might occur from contamination of the air streams, forming heavy radioactive clouds. Over the Pacific, the air stream invariably flowed from west to east because of the rotation of the earth on its axis, the reason why the Japanese had been able to float balloons 5,000 miles across the Pacific during World War II, some of them landing as far east as Detroit.

White House press secretary James Hagerty, normally cool-headed, let himself be stampeded into premature release of the hydrogen bomb film because the column of Mr. Pearson had described the gist of the film, a column written several days in advance, for publication on April 1. He indicates that some newspapermen had claimed that the column had breached an official release date for April 7, but says that he had been around Washington a long time and did not find it necessary to gather news that way.

What's the big deal? Once you have seen one big ka-boom, you have seen them all.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop discuss the recent public commitment by the President and Secretary of State Dulles to the French Government the prior week regarding "united action", in the words of Secretary Dulles, to win in Indo-China if such action were to become necessary. Some observers, including the Alsops, believed that the reason for the timing of the commitment was that the plan of General Navarre for winning the war in Indo-China was not working. General Paul Ely had just returned from an inspection tour of the war effort, and had told the Joint Chiefs that there was no hope any longer of victory, at least with the means presently at the disposal of the French command, and that therefore the French policy would have to be to secure a negotiated settlement at all costs.

There was no fighting demarcation line in Indo-China as in Korea, as the enemy was everywhere, and if the French were to withdraw, the Communist forces would have absolute predominance over the country, such that any form of negotiated settlement would result in Communist victory, with catastrophic results for all of Southeast Asia.

Thus, with that report from General Ely, Secretary Dulles and Joint Chiefs chairman, Admiral Arthur Radford, had no choice but to face the situation squarely, that aid had to be given to the French to win the war. The question was the extent of the assistance, whether it meant direct U.S. involvement in another Asian war. The Alsops indicate that it might be so, were the French unable to win the war with the means they presently had, but did not necessarily mean such involvement.

During the Berlin Big Four foreign ministers conference in February, Secretary Dulles had several significant private and informal talks with Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov, the Secretary giving him a warning that, while the U.S. did not want to be involved in a war in Indo-China, it would have to fight if the alternative was having Indo-China absorbed into the Communist empire. A result of that warning had been a speech by Chen Yun, a member of the Chinese Politboro, in which he had said that it might be necessary to abandon the Communists in Indo-China to keep the peace in Asia. It was likely, therefore, that the offensive against the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu had been ordered by the Vietminh as a last, desperate effort to win the war before being abandoned by the Chinese.

By the statement of "united action", Secretary Dulles had altered the outlook for the approaching peace conference at Geneva, scheduled to start April 26, regarding peace in Korea and in Indo-China, with the chance that the conference could result in an acceptable solution of the Indo-China war. If the Russians and Chinese refused to cease support of the Vietminh, a French surrender of Indo-China would be unlikely, and, at that point, the actual meaning of "united action" would have to be made clear.

James Marlow indicates that in the wake of the hydrogen bomb test by the U.S. in the Pacific, the Big Four would again meet at the U.N. to talk about banning nuclear weapons and reduction of armaments generally. But, since nothing had come of such talks since the end of World War II, despite having broached the issue several times, it was unlikely this round of talks would get anywhere. Since there had been a much greater buildup of atomic weaponry, now coupled with the hydrogen bomb, since the end of the war, there was even more reason for the Big Four to reach agreement, but it was also likely to be harder than ever before, as there was so much more invested in preparing for war if it should come.

The U.S. and its allies had rearmed during the previous eight years and had established NATO as a mutual security pact organization against Russian attack in the West, and the U.S. had ringed Russia with airbases. The West, however, had lost China to the Communists in the meantime, in 1949, and so while Russia had raced to match the West in development of new weapons, it had acquired an almost endless supply of manpower from its alliance with China, which the West could never hope to match. Thus, the West had to rely on technical superiority of its weapons.

Now that Russia and the West could destroy each other with atomic weapons, it would seem better to reach an agreement on control of those weapons. But the increased strength had made that prospect difficult. It was not clear what would occur in terms of Soviet aggression if such arms limitation was reached. Korea had been a lesson to the West, and especially the U.S., such that the U.S. would not now break up its alliances or give up its weapon easily. Russia also had not shown any signs of changing its mind after having rejected previous U.S. proposals for international inspections.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that someone had introduced a bill to make it illegal for restaurant owners in New York to deny entrance to men not wearing coats and jackets, something he applauded, as he believed there had been enough suffering under "olde worlde" clothing regulations. Many men had worn shorts in the city the previous summer and it seemed to catch on.

He says that he had been to most of the hot spots of the world, from Africa to India to the Malay States, from Egypt to the Persian Gulf, and that none were so hot, muggy and miserable as any city on the Eastern seaboard or in the Midwest during summer. He finds that New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Dallas made Singapore before the monsoons a "delightful, breezy dream." The only difference was that in the tropical climes of the U.S., men still had to wear coats, neckties and long pants, whereas in Calcutta or Aden, they wore shorts and open-necked shirts without incurring any social disapproval, even in the best hotels and restaurants. In America, such attire would get the person thrown out.

He finds that women, by contrast, had done away with such formal dress in summer. During a hot political convention in Philadelphia, he and another fellow were honored by a woman inviting them to lunch, at which she said to them, seeing that they were sweating in their formal dress, "Men, poor, dear fools." That stung Mr. Ruark and so the following day he appeared in a Cuban sport shirt and an open collar, with his tails outside his pants, then had gone into some dive to eat, and was promptly asked to leave, unless he wanted to don a spare waiter's jacket and necktie for a dollar, kept on the premises for the purpose. He agreed, though the necktie had more grease spots on it than "Al Weill's vest", and went on to lunch, echoing to himself the remark which the woman had said to him and his friend in Philadelphia.

A letter writer from Davidson indicates his appreciation for the series of articles on education in the state by Lucien Agniel of the newspaper, published two weeks earlier, finds it to have been a straightforward attempt to bring to light and consider some of the more perplexing aspects of the school problem. He suggests that it was the responsibility of parents to learn what school officials were doing for the children and then appraise that process in the light of common sense, after which, if finding things amiss, having the duty to protest.

Query whether Herblock augured, with his caricature of "Creeping Localism" and the two creeps breaking into TVA with their Stillson wrenches, another type of creep.

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