The Charlotte News

Thursday, August 19, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Brussels, French Premier Pierre Mendes-France said this date to the meeting of foreign ministers of France, Italy, West Germany and the Benelux countries, that if his proposals for changing the European Defense Community unified army were rejected, France might develop another crisis and swing to a leftist government similar to the prewar Popular Front, a coalition of Socialists and Radical Socialists headed by Leon Blum, which had a policy of social reform rather than Marxism, but was marked by widespread strikes and disorders. A German source at the meeting had provided the information to newsmen, saying that the Premier had stated that the presently proposed treaty had no chance of ratification by the French National Assembly, which was set to start debating it on August 28, and that his suggested amendments would have the opportunity to salvage it. A French source, when told of the German account of the statement, said that it sounded accurate. Shortly after the Premier had spoken, the Dutch foreign minister stated that the French proposals were not acceptable to the Netherlands. Paul-Henri Spaak, the Belgian representative and president of the conference, had appeared discouraged as the group adjourned after a two-hour meeting, but refused to make any statements to the press, saying that it was too early to know what might develop. Further meetings would take place during the afternoon. The other delegates who attended the talks were reluctant to make comment.

The U.S. this date formally charged the Communist Chinese with holding 15 American airmen as "political prisoners", and a Defense Department statement said that the Chinese admitted at the recent Geneva peace conference that the men were alive, that the fact had been verified by Americans who were former prisoners of war exchanged since the Korean Armistice at the end of July, 1953. The Pentagon announcement said that the Communists had been asked to account for a total of 526 Americans who were either in Communist hands or of whose fate the Communists were aware. The 15 airmen in question were alleged by the Communists to have flown over neutral territory during the Korean War and had been shot down or forced to land in Manchuria on the northern side of the Yalu River. The Armistice had provided that all prisoners desiring repatriation were to be returned to the side of their choice, and the Pentagon statement contended that the 15 airmen had not been given an opportunity to repatriate. The statement also reviewed efforts made to account for 944 Americans who were not exchanged after the Armistice and about whom the allied command had failed to obtain any positive information, the U.N. Command having determined that 418 of those men were dead. Most of the remaining 526 had been presumed dead, though there was no definite information on their fate. The law provided that a presumption of death would occur when more than one year had passed after a person had gone missing, allowing death benefits to the next of kin.

Rowland Evans, Jr., tells of Senate and House confreres having come up with a compromise anti-Communist bill this date by eliminating a provision making mere membership in the Communist Party punishable by fine and imprisonment, substituting for it a clause which said that a person who was a member of a Communist-action group would be subject to the penalties provided in the 1950 Internal Security Act, originally sponsored by Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada, which provided that members of Communist-action groups would be barred from defense plants, from employment by the Federal Government and from obtaining a passport. If they failed to register with the Attorney General as required by law, they were also subject to imprisonment for five years and a fine of $10,000. The compromise measure had passed the Senate this date and was sent to the House for final action.

The House passed and sent to the Senate this date a bill providing for 5.25 billion dollars to run the global military and economic aid program for the present fiscal year. The amount was about 800 million dollars less than requested by the President. The Senate was expected to act soon on the measure.

The U.S. Attorney in Washington said this date that a new perjury indictment would be sought against Owen Lattimore, Far Eastern expert, after two of the seven counts of a December, 1952 grand jury indictment for perjury had been ruled unduly vague by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, including the primary count, that he had lied when he said he had never been a Communist sympathizer or promoter of Communist interests. The U.S. Attorney said that the Government would not appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court, but rather would seek a new indictment by presenting new evidence to a grand jury beginning on September 13. He said the new evidence would include certain parts of Mr. Lattimore's testimony before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee, then chaired by Senator McCarran, in February, 1952, which had not been presented to the grand jury previously. He said that if there were no new indictment, the Government was prepared to proceed on the remaining five counts. Mr. Lattimore had denied vehemently that he had ever been a Communist or sympathizer. His testimony had come from the subcommittee's investigation of the Institute of Pacific Relations, a private research organization. Prior to the indictment, Senator McCarthy had claimed that Mr. Lattimore was the top Soviet espionage agent in the country, to which Mr. Lattimore had responded by calling the charge "pure moonshine".

In New York, it was reported that a dime cut in the price of chain store brands of coffee had swept across the nation this date, with Safeway Stores, Inc., which operated 2,000 stores nationwide and was the second largest grocery chain, having followed the lead of A&P, which operated 4,000 stores, in making the price cuts. The reduction applied to bagged coffee under the brand names of the various chains. Safeway had cut its Airway brand to $1.07 per pound and its Nob Hill brand to $1.09 per pound. Price cuts came after easing of foreign exchange regulations by Brazil.

In Augsburg, Germany, an American sergeant from Wilmington, N.C., was sentenced to death by a U.S. Army court-martial proceeding this date for the July 10 shooting murder of a German cab driver. The killing occurred after a dispute over a fare, and the sergeant had been arrested four days later. He had been AWOL from his unit for several days prior to the incident. The sentence was subject to review.

In Sella Val Sugana, Italy, it was reported that former Italian Premier Alcide de Gasperi, 73, had died this date of a heart attack. It was known that his health was failing, but there had been no public statement that he was seriously ill. He had suffered a heart attack a week earlier. He had stepped down from his leadership role in the moderate Christian Democrat Party, the largest in Italy, a little more than a month earlier. Originally known as a great political compromiser, he later changed to become strongly anti-Communist. He had been a noted anti-Fascist during the reign of Mussolini, and had often been imprisoned during that time. He had first become Premier in December, 1945 and during his first two years in that position, he had sought to work with the Italian Communists and Socialists, but in the spring of 1947, had abandoned that effort, and in the 1948 elections, had inflicted a resounding defeat of the Communists. For five years afterward, he consistently fought against the Communists and for maintaining alliance with the U.S. and the West, advocating the cause of European unity. He had served since the prior April as Foreign Minister.

In Lancaster, Calif., a woman, 25, awaiting a preliminary hearing on charges of robbing a liquor store with a 1902 model pistol which would not shoot, told the press that when one's kids were hungry, one did stupid things. She had three children, the eldest of whom was four. Officers said that she had taken $189 in a liquor store hold-up on Tuesday night. She said that she would not do it again, but that her husband had lost his job, their home had burned up their belongings and illness had beset them. She said she had earned $10 as a part-time waitress the previous week and her husband had heard of job opportunities in Utah, and so she gave him five dollars and he had left the previous Sunday, so that when her money ran out and they had only three cans of milk in the house, supplemented by the neighbors having provided some pears and tomatoes, the only food they had for two days, she resorted to use of the old gun. Police were seeking her husband who was hitchhiking. He had lost a leg in a motorcycle accident six years earlier. They had moved to the desert community in California because their two-year old son had asthma. She had to give up her job when the three children got measles. When their home had burned the previous November, they moved into another house furnished with discards donated by neighbors. But they had to sell all of their tangible assets, including their pet goat, to pay the rent the previous month. She said she had first sought to rob a gas station, but the attendant had just laughed at her, and then she went to the liquor store, where the female clerk handed her the money. She said that after it was over, she wanted to give it back but was afraid that if she walked into the store, she would be shot. She said she was walking to a public telephone to call the store and tell them that she was returning the money, but was then arrested. She said that at least her children had been fed at the sheriff's station.

In Detroit, a woman who had given birth to twin girls the previous July 31, expected to return to the hospital within a few days to give birth to her third child, the first two having been premature in weight but not in time. The couple had six children. The mother had been told that she was making medical history, and she said that it was fine if they wanted to study her case, that she just wanted to have her children.

In Hollywood, the Mexican Film Academy presented an award to Katy Jurado the previous day on the set of a motion picture she was making at 20th Century Fox Studios.

On the editorial page, "Where a King's Right Is Wrong" indicates that times had changed since the theory that the king could do no wrong was the rule of the day, and yet the local government in Charlotte could still not be held adequately accountable for acts of negligence occurring while it performed governmental functions, though the City charter permitted limited liability to the extent of $200 in damages, as long as the victim of the negligence had not committed acts amounting to contributory negligence. But, as the column had pointed out the previous Monday, that was not an adequate amount to cover damages occasioned by accidents with City vehicles and the like.

Letters from two Charlotte attorneys in the letters-to-the-editor column of this date pointed out that a State law already existed permitting municipalities to waive governmental immunity to the extent of coverage by liability insurance, and yet Charlotte had not taken advantage of that provision.

It indicates that the City was badly out of step with the times, as both state and Federal governments had eliminated the common law principle of governmental immunity, and the concept no longer fit with modern times. It agrees with both of the attorneys in that regard and urges City officials to obtain the necessary liability insurance so that a waiver of immunity permitted under State law would be effective.

"Why a Health Center Must Be Built" indicates that recently a dentist had gone to work at the City-County Health Department, but had almost not done so as he could not find room to set up his office. He had finally squeezed in with another worker, after a radiator and lavatory were removed from the room. It suggested the problem with the Health Department facilities, that both the County and City had outgrown their physical plant.

Thus, several groups were recommending construction of a new health building, and the grand jury report of the previous day so recommending a new structure to replace the "deplorable" existing facilities, only echoed recommendations previously made by the Mecklenburg County Medical Society, the City and County health boards and the Chamber of Commerce health committee. The recommended new facility would cost about $500,000 and, in view of other urgent community needs, that amount would not easily be raised. But, it finds, it had to be raised and soon, so that the Health Department could keep pace with the rapidly growing community. If it were not done, it would be expected that capable employees would go elsewhere to work and that capable replacements would become hard to find.

"Preparing for 'The Last Reader'" indicates that Lewis Galentiere had told the Metropolitan Museums International Conference of Art History and Museology that there were presently 800 amateur symphony orchestras within the U.S. Fortune magazine had estimated that nearly ten million amateur painters existed in the country. J. Donald Adams reported that more books were available to more people than at any time in the nation's history.

It indicates that while such facts could not be easily brushed aside as not indicative of a new aesthetic awakening in the country, there was a fly in the ointment that in spite of the new trend toward cultural pursuits, Americans were reading less. It posits that the time had passed when man could learn about the world just by living, that instinct alone was not sufficient, that man had to understand so that he might live mentally, and that much of that understanding came from reading books, as they contained the spiritual and intellectual inspiration of the human race. Yet, one college president had predicted that within 50 years, only five percent of the people would be reading. (Oh no, he had that all wrong, as they will be reading Harry Potter books aplenty.)

It suggests that the first warnings of vanishing readers were already being detected, that in a recent poll of American public opinion, people were asked if they were reading a book, with only 17 percent answering in the affirmative, compared to 18 percent in 1952 and 21 percent in 1951. But in England, book readers numbered 55 percent of the population, 34 percent in Australia, and 31 percent in Canada. Another survey had disclosed that only one American college graduate in six was reading a serious book and that over half of college graduates polled could not name a book they wanted to read.

It suggests that the rejection of reading could be attributed to the audio-visual addiction, seeking escape therein from modern life, leading one critic to remark that there was an unconscious movement toward the notion that thought only needed to be faintly or crudely grasped, with facile substitutes being made for thinking. E. B. White suggested that the nation should prepare immediately for the "Last Reader", standing in the same relation to the community as the queen of a colony of bees, that the others should dedicate themselves to that Last Reader's welfare, serving the person special food and building special accommodations, such that from that Reader would be spawned a new race "linked perfectly with the long past by the unbroken chain of the intellect". But Mr. White had warned that the modern hive of bees, "substituting a coaxial cable for spinal fluid, will try to perpetuate the race through audio-visual devices, which ask no discipline of the mind and which are already giving the room the languor of the opium parlor."

It concludes that Sunday painters and enthusiastic amateur musicians could not alone provide the intellectual climate for producing culture in the country, that neither could busy printing presses which turned out great quantities of westerns, mysteries and science fiction thrillers add much to the aesthetic scene, that without serious reading, there could be no genuine cultural revolution in the 20th Century in America, that it would take a reading public to make a cultured public.

This problem was nothing new, as W. J. Cash had commented on it on The News book page back in 1936, prior to the age of television, which, of course, only made the tendency to escape that much easier, stimulating the imagination the less, supplanting a reader's necessary input intellectually with all of the scenery and stress and nuance on given words and dialogue, while massaging the viewer into believing that he or she was being completely informed and educated, so that the sponsor could properly sell their widget during the commercial breaks. Then came the books born of television, not literary creativity, designed to whet the appetite for more tv, not more intellectual stimulation. That is not to say that television and radio did not have some place in the informational input of the age, but it has gone far too far over the decades, until most serious reading is looked upon as almost sinister and comical, the pastime of intellectual buffoons who have not really any understanding of the modern world and its problems, by those who never bothered to read a serious book cover to cover in the entirety of their lives and yet fancy themselves as practically omniscient, including their understanding of their deity and his desire that they know only what they know and do only what they do, a return to a virtual primitive state of deliberate ignorance, accounting for the current morons who reject being vaccinated for the worst pandemic in the nation's history, even now eclipsing the death toll of the 1918 flu epidemic, when medical science and the general understanding of it by the populace was archaic by comparison to the present time.

Serious books are not those one finds on the grocery store checkout stand or even in the chain bookstores, for the most part, certainly not the vanity books of tv or movie or sports personalities, trying to tell you more extensively the prattle which they could not adequately express in between the commercials while trying to tell you what to think, not in any manner how to think in a reasonable form, deducing logically one inference in chain from certain facts which are accepted based on agreement by acknowledged sources of the moment, the reasonable challenge to any such factual basis then factored into a changing conclusion without one thereby being labeled a "liar" for merely adjusting a position logically from the changed circumstances or changed factors leading logically to previous deductions, that nothing is ever, in a changing world, a fixed deduction for all time, save the basic principles of deduction themselves. Such garbage one finds with all the answers for everyone or how this or that person came no longer to be an unenlightened fool and now has all the answers is, at best, suited to the average ten-year old, who, probably, must read a few such books finally to realize that they would not go far in improving the intellectual grasp of the student or the understanding of his or her world around them, even if providing some input necessary as a stage of reading development to pass on to more serious works of literature, science, history and other forms of academic discipline. Such garbage as Harry Potter books are best placed where they belong, along with the doggie droppings, outside to fertilize the lawn. They are utterly as worthless to the literary diet of a person, regardless of age, as is stale bread. Some sugar, in limited quantities, is good, but, as with the physical diet, if taken to excess, leads to becoming as fat-headed as one becomes in physical girth after consuming primarily sweets and carbohydrates.

A piece from the Chicago Daily Tribune, titled "Big Operators", indicates that whereas it used to be a boy's ambition to grow up to be a man, now there appeared to be something one step more sublime, to become an operator. Instead of bus drivers, there were bus operators, cabbies were taxicab operators, elevator men, elevator operators, etc.

It suggests that with the trend, aldermen would become counsel operators and Congressmen would become legislative operators, but by then, the bus operator would have become the transit technician and the cycle would begin anew.

Drew Pearson indicates that the bitter farm debate was now over as far as Congress was concerned, but that it promised to reverberate across the farm belt for many months to come, and that its outcome might determine which party would control the next Congress. The Farmers Union radio program in Minnesota had been putting forth the familiar quote of General Eisenhower made during the 1952 campaign, uttered before the national plowing contest in Minnesota, that he would favor 100 percent of parity price supports, in contrast to the Administration having now pushed the flexible price support program to the point of passage by the Congress, with only minor details to be worked out in conference before it would be signed into law by the President. Realizing the potential dynamite of that resurrected 1952 speech, Republican Senator George Aiken of Vermont had said on the Senate floor the previous week that the President had not promised 100 percent of parity, that he had not promised to continue fixed-price supports. During the speech, Senator Francis Case of South Dakota, also a Republican, interrupted to say that he wondered whether Senator Aiken would make reference to a speech General Eisenhower had made at Brookings, S.D., on October 4, 1952, in which he said that the Republicans were pledged to sustain 90 percent fixed parity price supports and that they would help the farmer obtain full parity, with the guarantee of price supports at 90 percent. Senator Aiken said he had not planned to reference that speech, indicating that it was an extemporaneous speech. He then quoted from Democratic campaign literature from 1952, showing that the Democrats had known all along that General Eisenhower did not mean what he had said when he promised continued fixed price supports, but, indicates Mr. Pearson, Senator Aiken had not pointed out that both General Eisenhower and Senator Nixon during the campaign had denounced that Democratic literature, saying that the Democrats were wrong in claiming that the General had not meant what he said at the national plowing contest. Mr. Nixon had called the Democratic handbook "malicious". The General had indicated that the DNC had published "deliberate falsehoods" designed to frighten farmers into believing that an Eisenhower administration would "pull the rug out from under them". But the debate of some Midwestern Republicans, such as Senators Case and Milton Young of the Dakotas, and Representative Clifford Hope of Kansas, asserted that it was what the Administration had done.

Various backstage discussions had been occurring inside the Senate Investigations subcommittee with the aim of watering down the censure of Senator McCarthy to the point where they could obtain an unanimous report on the Army-McCarthy hearings. Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, a close friend of Senator McCarthy, was the primary advocate of that position. Mr. Dirksen primarily objected to criticism of Senator McCarthy for non-feasance, his failure to curb Roy Cohn in his efforts to get the Army to provide preferential treatment to his friend, Private G. David Schine, a former unpaid aide of the McCarthy Investigating subcommittee. The six other members of the subcommittee agreed that the Senator could be criticized for failure to restrain Mr. Cohn, though were willing to excuse the Senator's intervention with the Army to try to obtain an officer's commission for Private Schine prior to his draft the previous fall. They also agreed that Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens and Army chief counsel John Adams had been remiss in yielding to the pressure of Mr. Cohn, having allegedly threatened that unless his demands were met, the subcommittee would ratchet up its investigations of subversion within the Army. Generally, the subcommittee was at present prepared to vote 6 to 1 against Senator McCarthy in the matter, Senator Dirksen being the only member supportive of the McCarthy position.

The President's action in raising the tariff on Swiss watches had already impacted U.S. watchmaking, as Hamilton would produce a special wristwatch for left-handed people, Elgin was designing a watch which would tell the time by means of a miniature Dick Tracy radio receiver which picked up radio time signals, and also had designed a wrist-sized Geiger counter which would warn if there was too much radioactivity in the air.

Marquis Childs, in Tunis, again tells of the task of French Premier Pierre Mendes-France in providing independence to Tunisia through a smooth transition, without undue interference with the French businessmen who had invested large amounts of money over time in Tunisia. The businessmen, however, had realized that the new Premier had no choice except to offer the Tunisians an independent government with control over internal affairs, after freedom had been repeatedly offered by previous French regimes only to come to nothing, as the prior government had followed a policy of widespread repression, jailing and exiling of the Neo-Destourian leaders in Tunisia, resulting in terrorism and counter-terrorism in recent weeks, making it plain that another such cycle would only end in disastrous explosion.

The situation in Tunisia echoed much the same transition taking place around the world. French planters sounded like the Southerner in the U.S., in that he expressed like and understanding of the Arabs, as they worked on the plantations, with the planters being kind to them, giving them medicine and food beyond the wages they received, and commenting that if only the politicians in Tunis and Paris would leave them alone, everything would be all right. It was a pattern played out in India, Burma and Indonesia. The planters said that the natives were not ready for self-government, but that given time over 10 or 15 years, they might be. But Premier Mendes-France understood that it was too late for gradualism, that such a solution might have worked 25 years earlier but that the nationalistic mood and the effort to suppress it had aroused too much hatred and resentment to try to hold off independence any longer.

In the previous wave of repression two years earlier, hundreds of independence leaders had been put in prison camps, held under house arrest or exiled to remote French islands. The new Premier, before flying to Tunis, had brought Habib Bourguiba, the exiled Neo-Destourian leader, back to France for consultation. The most extreme member of the new government was one of the three ministers of state, Mongi Slim, who would negotiate the basic agreement with France. He had spent 5 1/2 years in the worst jail in France, in Marseilles. Mr. Slim talked frankly of the part played even by the bandits in using violence as a deliberate instrument to bring awareness to the French that change had to come. He also assured that Communism had nothing to do with the independence movement.

Mr. Childs concludes that if an agreement could be reached in Paris, the chances were good for peaceful development of a semi-independent Tunisia within the French Union, while the Neo-Destourians made it clear they regarded such a change in status as only transitional to full independence. There would be strong pressure exerted for the next step to occur, with full diplomatic foreign relations and assumption of the burden of defense. While the planters would argue that the natives were not ready for that self-governance, and while that was true, it would have little relation to the situation in which ideology and emotion had been stirred within the narrow confines of an outmoded way of life, colonialism.

Doris Fleeson discusses Representative Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., of New York and his accumulation of 317 delegates from 43 counties, 60 percent of the 510 needed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Carmine DeSapio, the political boss of New York City, had assured Mr. Roosevelt that they needed each other, while Mayor Robert Wagner of New York City was seeking to confer with Senator Herbert Lehman about the situation, with the Senator being understood to prefer the older and more seasoned Averell Harriman to become governor. No one was making any predictions as to how the race would turn out, with Mr. Roosevelt working harder than either Mr. Harriman or Mayor Wagner and proclaiming that he could beat either Governor Dewey or Senator Irving Ives, one of whom would be the Republican nominee, with most indications being that Governor Dewey would not run again, though he continued to provide mixed signals on the matter.

The Roosevelt camp conceded certain handicaps, that James Farley was unfriendly, that New York Catholics would not vote for Mr. Roosevelt because of his divorce and the scandal attaching to his brother, James, in California regarding his alleged womanizing, brought out in the separate maintenance proceedings initiated by his wife, and the reluctance of Mr. DeSapio to throw his support full-bore to Mr. Roosevelt.

But it was also argued that the voters would resent the candidacy of Mayor Wagner after only one year in office, and that Mr. Harriman was a poor campaigner. Meanwhile, Mr. Roosevelt was turning out crowds reminiscent of his father.

New Yorkers agreed that a contest between Mr. Roosevelt and Governor Dewey would be exciting, that the Governor would have a definite advantage by reason of his capable government during his terms. But it was far more probable that Mr. Roosevelt would be apt to get under the Governor's skin and evoke personal drama than it would be for the Governor to get under the skin of Mr. Roosevelt.

A letter writer, as indicated in the above editorial, comments as an attorney on "The King Can Do Wrong", appearing in the Monday edition, agreeing with the editorial's stance and reviewing state law permitting claims up to $8,000 when a State employee caused damage from his or her negligence while acting within the scope of employment. As the above editorial indicates, he also provides the statute which allowed municipalities to waive immunity by securing liability insurance to the extent of the waiver. He informs that Raleigh and Greensboro had so elected to waive immunity and insure their motor vehicles, urges Charlotte to do likewise.

A letter writer, also an attorney, comments on the same editorial, indicates that he had been in the General Assembly during the 1951 session as a representative of Mecklenburg County when the authorization of waiver of immunity provision had been passed. He informs that the current president of the Mecklenburg Bar Association had told him that he had discussed the matter at great length with City officials prior to fixing the year's budget, but had been unable to obtain agreement regarding the City's waiver of immunity and obtaining of liability insurance.

A letter writer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., indicates that the various power monopolies were grabbing the public power facilities of TVA and the Rural Electrification Administration, and other publicly owned power facilities, in fulfillment of a Republican pledge to get Government out of private business. He cites one example of a dam being grabbed by the Georgia Power Company, which was a life-saver for rural residents of Georgia and South Carolina. He indicates that no private power utility had the ability or the desire to get out among the farmers and small users to drum up users for new lines, mills and mines, to put on demonstrations at county fairs, to allow rural dwellers to have a say in what they wanted in the way of power development. He fears that the President had lost the feeling of the common man after becoming President, that he was not viewing the power business in the light he should, that he should not be giving away the fruits of the previous 30 years of power development and public welfare, suggests that had he been present in the mountains around 1925, he would have a different feeling and opinion about TVA and REA. He indicates that many times he had stumbled his way to the barn and hen houses after dark during the Depression, with no electricity and none immediately possible on the farm. He suggests that the President ought try it sometime, that all of the lawmakers ought try it, plus the dragging of a bucket of water up the hill from the spring, breaking ice and thawing out the hand pump to get it. He urges the people of Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia to rise up and stop the give-away of the public's welfare and wealth.

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