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Thursday
Apr192018

S.C. Legislators Want to Ban Drones Near Prisons, Bases

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers want to ban drones from airspace near military bases or prisons.

A House subcommittee voted unanimously Thursday for legislation to make flying drones within a certain distance of the facilities a misdemeanor which could cost up to $500 or 30 days in jail.

Authorized drones registered by the Federal Aviation Administration for monitoring or drones approved by military officials or Department of Corrections would be exempt.

Camden Sen. Vincent Sheheen says the legislation is timely after the Lee Correctional Institution fight that left seven dead and 22 injured. Officials say that fight was started over gang territories and contraband.

The bills passed the Senate in February.

Thursday
Apr192018

S.C. First State to Codify Definition of Antisemitism

From Jerusalme Post

South Carolina will soon become the first U.S. state to codify a universal definition of antisemitism, after its Senate and House of Representatives reconcile different wording next week in a landmark bill that is set to be the model for states across America and countries around the world.

Despite its small Jewish population, South Carolina was the first US state to pass a bill outlawing boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel, versions of which have now passed in half the 50 states and are expected to pass in six more by the end of the year. Israel Allies Caucuses are now working on passing similar anti-BDS legislation in their countries.

South Carolina Rep. Alan Clemmons, who authored both bills, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he is aiming for similar success with the antisemitism legislation, when he “takes the bill on the road.”

“Jewish students on campus are the point of the antisemitism spear in the US,” Clemmons said. “By giving a clear and uniform definition of antisemitism to university administrators and mandating its use, we are protecting the rights of Jewish students and all students on campus. No longer will reports of antisemitism be swept under the administrative rug.”

That definition of antisemitism is taken from a US State Department decision in 2010 and an accompanying fact sheet that singles out demonizing, delegitimizing and having a double-standard for Israel.

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” the definition said. “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The fact sheet added blaming Israel for all interreligious or political tensions, applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, and denying the Jewish people its right to self-determination, and Israel the right to exist. But it also said that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

Once the text reconciliation happens, the bill will be included in the South Carolina state budget proposal that will be signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster in a few weeks and will take effect in July.

The legislation does not address BDS directly and if there was an anti-Israel protest on a campus that called for boycotting Israel, that would be legal due to free speech laws. But if vandalism occurs or the protest turned violent, that illegal activity would have to be seen through the prism of antisemitism and university administrators would have to deal with the victims as victims of illegal discrimination.

After passing in the South Carolina House of Representatives, the antisemitism bill was stalled in the state Senate for several months, but it finally passed on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

South Carolina state Sen. Larry Grooms, who shepherded it through the Senate, said the bill was important, because he saw too many cases of antisemitism, in particular on college campuses.

“Antisemitism is on the rise, and we had an opportunity to say we won’t tolerate that in South Carolina,” said Grooms, who like Clemmons is a Republican. “We are proud to be the first state that passes an anti-discrimination law that defines antisemitism. Our faith ties with Israel and its people run deep in South Carolina, and I’m proud ours is the first state to step up and say what antisemitism is and to demand that it end on our campuses.”

State Sen. Darrell Jackson, who is a democrat and an African-American pastor, said he helped pass the bill, because it was important to send a bipartisan message on such a key issue.

“Any type of discrimination is horrible, and history has shown us that when facing discrimination, you cannot be neutral or silent,” Jackson said. “When you are, people suffer. We had to send a message that we in South Carolina will not be a part of that. This is beyond partisan politics. It’s about doing the right thing.”

Thursday
Apr192018

Opioid Prescriptions Dropped in Every State Last Year

From Forbes Health

The number of prescriptions of opioid painkillers dropped 10.2% in 2017, according to the IQVIA Institute, an arm of the clinical research giant that collects data on pharmaceutical prescriptions from retail pharmacies.

Prescriptions of high-potency opiates dropped even more – 16.1%. And when a measure called morphine milligram equivalents, which measures both the number of prescriptions and the strength of the drugs provided, the resulting 12% drop is the largest in 25 years, IQVIA says.

"We're seeing declines across every state," says Murray Aitken, executive director of the IQVIA Institute. "The states that have the highest per capita consumption are also the states with the highest decline." But Aitken also offers a cautionary note: though opioid prescriptions have been dropping since 2011, they are still about six times higher than they were in 1992.

Some other takeaways from he annual report on medicine use in the US from IQVIA, which was formerly known as IMS Health before its merger with Quintiles:

  • Drug prices are growing more slowly. The growth in net prices, the amount pocketed by drug companies, was just 0.6% in 2017. Generic drug prices, which seemed to be increasing over the past few years, are down, too.
  • Patients' out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy are down, on average, but a few are paying a lot more. The average price for a branded drug increased 58% from $231 to $364 over the past five years, but the average out-of-pocket cost was flat at $30. Almost 31% of prescriptions cost the patient nothing. One reason: drug companies are using coupons and other mechanisms to cover the co-payments to insurance companies for their drugs.
    But 2.5% of prescriptions cost more than $50. The patients paying for those prescriptions paid 41% of all pharmacy out-of-pocket costs. Interestingly, greater exposure to drug costs has not led people to abandon their medicines at significantly greater rates.
  • A few more interesting stats: Prescriptions for mental health treatments have tripled since 1992, mostly due to the wider use of antidepressants. There are 2,601 experimental drugs in the late stages of testing, of which 748 (29%) are for cancer. IMS expects 40 to 45 new drugs to be approved a year for the next five years. But it also is cutting its forecast for growth in net prices for branded drugs to 1% from 4%. One of the biggest uncertainties: whether there is significant uptake of biosimilars, or generic versions of expensive biotech drugs.
Thursday
Apr192018

Chad Boseman to Deliver Keynote at Howard Commencement

WASHINGTON (AP) - The "Black Panther" is returning to his alma mater to give the commencement address at Howard University.

The university announced Wednesday that Chadwick Boseman will give the keynote address at Howard's 150th commencement ceremony on May 12.

News outlets report Boseman will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, the university's highest honor.

Howard University President Wayne Frederick said his role in the blockbuster "Black Panther" film "reminds us of the excellence found in the African diaspora and how Howard continues to be a gem that produces the next generation of artist-scholars, humanitarians, scientists, engineers and doctors."

The South Carolina native also starred in movies portraying Jackie Robinson, James Brown and fellow Howard graduate Thurgood Marshall.

Thursday
Apr192018

Lawmakers Could Ease S.C. Beachfront Development Rules

In a state battered by hurricanes and rising seas, legislators are siding with oceanfront landowners in a fight against tighter controls on beach development.

The S.C. Senate voted 41-0 on Wednesday for a bill that abandons the state’s 30-year-old policy of retreat, an effort to push new development away from the state's storm-scarred beaches. Senators also agreed to block looming rules that would restrict development near the ocean.

Already approved by the House, the bill needs only a routine final Senate vote before it goes back to the House for its action on Senate-added amendments. It then would go to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who has expressed sympathy for property owners.

One prominent coastal geologist blasted the Senate’s action, saying it will help oceanfront landowners at the public’s expense. Blocking tighter oceanfront building rules could allow for more intense development close to the ocean — and that’s a problem, said Western Carolina University scientist Rob Young.

Buildings constructed on the beach limit public access for vacationers, while putting more pressure on the state to launch expensive, taxpayer-funded renourishment projects to protect the seaside investments, said Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.

Taxpayers also face the cost of bailing out oceanfront property owners after major storms damage homes and hotels.

“It’s a shame the state of South Carolina is not acknowledging the fact that there are portions of the beach where we need to encourage people to take a step back,’’ Young said. “That is what the retreat policy was all about.’’

The legislation, pushed by state Sen. Chip Campsen of Charleston and S.C. Rep. Lee Hewitt of Murrells Inlet, is intended to help property owners upset by new rules that could restrict development on their land. 

State regulators had proposed tougher building restriction lines in areas where beaches are eroding and the ocean is eating away the coast. Those areas included parts of the Grand Strand, Hilton Head Island, and Charleston-area beaches.

 

Wednesday
Apr182018

S.C. Senate Cuts Amount Customers Paying for SCANA Failure

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Senate has approved a proposal to significantly cut the amount a private utility can charge customers to pay for two nuclear plants that were never finished.

The Senate agreed Wednesday to cut the 18 percent SCANA Corp. is charging customers to pay for the failed project down to 5 percent.

But the House completely eliminated the charge, which costs the average South Carolina Electric & Gas customer $27 a month. Gov. Henry McMaster has said he would veto a bill that leaves any of the charges.

Dominion Energy has said passing the rate cut would likely end its offer to buy SCANA. The Virginia utility is offering SCE&G customers a rebate of up to $1,000 to customers and a promise not to raise rates for three years.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Jim Rodgers

Anderson, SC - James Paul Rodgers, Jr., 84, husband of the late Helen Turner Rodgers, passed away Monday, April 16, 2018. 

Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, he was the son of the late Rev. James Paul Rodgers, Sr., and Sue Rogers Rodgers. He graduated from Stetson University in 1955, served in the U.S. Army, then graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1959. Jim served as Minister of Music at the First Baptist churches of Cedartown, GA, Panama City, FL, and Winter Park, FL, before coming to First Baptist Church in Anderson, SC, where he served from 1968 until his retirement in 1996. 

Survivors include a son, Dr. David Rodgers (Bonnie) of St. Stephen; two daughters, Cherie Swaby (Denny) of Grand Cayman and Celeste Griffith (John) of Anderson; son-in-law, Todd Swann of Deland, FL; eleven grandchildren, Kyle Rodgers and Caleb Rodgers (Codi), Turner and Brinson Swann, Ian, Lindsay, Kate, and Sarah Swaby, Preston, Sammy, and Jake Griffith; two great-grandchildren, Charlotte and Caison Rodgers; and two sisters, Nell Hawk (Richard) of Clemson, and Susan Rodgers (Jay MacCubbin) of Providence, RI.

In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Dianne Rodgers Swann.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 21, at First Baptist Church and conducted by Dr. James R. Thomason. Burial will follow in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. The family will receive friends from 5 until 7 p.m. Friday at Sullivan-King Mortuary. The family is at the home of Celeste and John Griffith. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Stetson University, School of Music, 421 North Woodland Boulevard, Unit 8399, Deland, FL 32723, or First Baptist Church, 307 South Manning Street, Anderson, SC 29624.

Wednesday
Apr182018

S.C. House Moves Sanctuary Bill Forward

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina lawmakers have given key approval to a sanctuary cities bill backed by Gov. Henry McMaster, but not without some changes.

After hours of debate Wednesday, the House gave second reading approval to the bill penalizing local governments for not reporting people in the country without legal permission.

But lawmakers also changed the proposal to allow courts and not the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to determine if local governments aren't reporting people in the country illegally.

Critics say sanctuary cities are already illegal in South Carolina and the bill would solve a problem that does not exist.

Republican Rep. Gary Clary of Central says the debate on sanctuary cities is a political stunt to try and pit one group and race against the other.

Wednesday
Apr182018

S.C. Peach Crop Looks Tasty

It looks like this will be a good year for peach farmers in South Carolina.

Clemson University agent Andy Rollins told The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg that 2018 might be peach farmers' best harvest in a decade.

Rollins says a cold snap or hail could still strike the Upstate, but this looks to be a very good year.

He notes that last year was not a good one for peach growers.

Chesnee grower James Cooley checked on his trees Tuesday morning after the National Weather Service said the temperature dropped to 32 degrees for about two hours.

Cooley says the brief duration of the freezing temperature should mean no significant damage.

The South Carolina Agriculture Department says the state's peach crop is usually valued at $90 million annually.

Information from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/

Wednesday
Apr182018

Opinion: "The Steakhouse" Deserved More Attention 

The Steakhouse, a Tex-Mex restaurant in the old Bojangles building next to Master's Wok on North Main Street has closed.

The only place in Anderson where burgers, great steaks and ribs could be ordered alongside Mexican fare, The Steakhouse was truly deserving of more attenton. But it never got it. No advertising or social media. And the owner did not give it enought time to gain visibilty through word of mouth.

I ate there often, serveral times a week, and took a lot of friends as well. Without exception, they all returned.

Well managed and with service that was as good or better than any place I have ever eaten, it is sad to see such friendly, small restaurants not be given a chance in Anderson.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Annual Dancing for Our Heroes Friday at Civic Center

The 12th Annual Dancing for Our Heroes event will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center of Anderson. Presented by The Rotary Club of Greater Anderson, the event is modeled after the popular ABC TV show, Dancing With the Stars, and is held annually to raise money for eleven local charities, including: the Anderson Free Clinic, Anderson Interfaith Ministries, the Cancer Association of Anderson, Foothills Alliance, Hospice of the Upstate, Meals on Wheels of Anderson and the South Carolina Military Family Care Association, United Way of Anderson County and the Westside Community Center, as well as the PolioPlus initiative of the Rotary Foundation.

The dancers will perform one dance of their choice.  In addition, there will be opportunities for attendees to dance to deejay Ben Phillips’ music after the competition ends.  

The event also features an auction of items and services as part of the fund raising.

Wednesday
Apr182018

Winthrop Poll: Trump Approval Rating 47 Percent in S.C.

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has climbed a little in South Carolina to 46 percent, according to the latest Winthrop Poll. President Trump’s approval rating among adults in South Carolina was 42 percent in February. Congress struggles with an overwhelming 77 percent disapproval rating. 

The 45th president has a disapproval rating of 47 percent among Palmetto State citizens. Among respondents who self-identify as Republican, Trump has retained strong support in this red state and has an 80% approval rate.

Here’s how South Carolinians describe Trump using these adjectives:

·         Honest: Of all respondents, 45 percent said that very or somewhat accurately describes Trump, 38 percent said the term was a very inaccurate description of Trump and 79% of Democratic identifiers said very inaccurate.

·         Capable: 58 perdent of all respondents said that is very or somewhat accurate, 42 percent of Evangelicals (of all races) said that is very accurate, while 29% of all respondents said it was very inaccurate.

·         Christian: 48 perecent of GOP identifiers said that was somewhat accurate, while 39 percent of all respondents said it was inaccurate and 77% of Democratic identifiers said it was very inaccurate.

·         Godly: 47 percent of all respondents said that is very inaccurate and 36 percent of Evangelicals said it was very inaccurate. Of the GOP identifiers, 39% said it was somewhat accurate.

·         Moral: 59 percent of all respondents said it was somewhat or very inaccurate, while 61 percent of GOP identifiers said it was either somewhat or very accurate.

·         Strong: 89 percent of GOP identifiers said that is somewhat or very accurate, while a fourth of all respondents said it was very inaccurate.

·         Stands up for people like me: 43 percent of GOP identifiers and 42 percent of White Evangelicals said this statement is very accurate. Half of all respondents said it was somewhat or very inaccurate.

 “Seventy-five percent of White Evangelicals feel that describing Trump as someone who stands up for them is very or somewhat accurate," said Winthrop Poll director and political scientist, Dr. Scott Huffmon. "Nationally, we have seen White Evangelical support for Trump remain at levels usually only seen among strong partisans. The fact that fewer than half of Evangelicals overall would describe Trump as ‘Godly’ or ‘Moral’ suggests that his strength with these groups comes not from modeling pious behavior, but from them viewing him as a bulwark against a culture that they feel is increasingly hostile to them.”

PROBLEM ISSUES, THE ECONOMY AND STATE GOVERNMENT

S.C. residents said the most important problem facing our country is immigration, followed by racism, and politicians/government. Those surveyed said the most important issues facing the Palmetto State are, and these same issues keep cropping up: education, roads/bridges/infrastructure, and jobs or unemployment.

Nearly three fourths of South Carolina residents said our country’s economy is very good or fairly good, while 67 percent think the condition of the state’s economy is either very or fairly good. Nearly 59 percent described their own financial situation as good or excellent. 

So, who is responsible for helping those in poverty? A majority of Winthrop Poll respondents – whether they identify as Democrat or toward the GOP - said it should be equally government and religious charities. Only 19 percent said it should be primarily government. 

CONGRESS, SC GOVERNOR HENRY MCMASTER AND OTHER POLITICIAN 

S.C. residents consistently do not approve of the way Congress is handling its job, with only 14 percent approving.

The approval rating for S.C. Governor Henry McMaster, who is running for election this year, has remained steady around 46 percent. His disapproval ratings are at 29 percent, with 19 percent not sure. Elected as the lieutenant governor in 2014, McMaster took over as governor on Jan. 24 after Trump tapped S.C. Governor Nikki Haley to be the United Nations ambassador.

“McMaster remains ‘above water’ with regard to approval," Huffmon said. "Notably more South Carolina residents approve than disapprove. The interesting number remains the one-fifth of residents who are still in the process of making up their mind about the governor. However, this is a general population poll and not an election poll, so we expect to have more people who are disengaged from politics compared to a poll of Likely Voters or even Registered Voters.”

The S.C. General Assembly got an approval nod from 44 percent of those polled, while 38 percent disapprove of the job they’re doing.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s approval is nearly evenly split among all South Carolinians. He has a 45 percent approval rating and a 46 percent disapproval rating. His approval among Republicans, and those who lean Republican, is around 50 percent.

Approval ratings for the state’s junior senator, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, have dropped but remain high with the Republican base. He has a 77 percent approval rating among those who identify as Republicans. Scott’s popularity among the general public remains high as well, with 57 percent reporting approval of the job he is doing.

RELIGIOUS VIEWS

Three-fourths of Winthrop Poll respondents said they donated money last year to a church or organized religious organization and that religion is either very or fairly important to their life. Half said they pray several times a day and that they read scripture at least once a week outside of church.

Ninety percent believe in God or a universal spirit, with 83 percent saying they are absolutely certain of this belief.

Almost three-fourths believe in Heaven, but only 65 percent  believe in hell. Two thirds think that the Bible is the word of God, while 27 percent said it is written by men and is not the word of God. Fifty-five percent of those who think it is the word of God said the Bible is to be taken literally, word for word, while 40 percent said not everything is literal in the Bible.

Fifty-five percent said many religions lead to eternal life, while 35 percent said their religion is the one, true faith. Fifty-seven percent said their religion preserves traditional beliefs, while 29 percent said their religion adjusts traditional beliefs.

Concerning church and religious organization, almost half said they focus too much on rules. In another question, half said the groups are too concerned with money and power. Almost half said churches are not too involved with politics, while 44 percent said they are.

More than three-fourths agree that churches and religious organizations protect and strengthen morality in society, while 91 percent said they bring people and communities together.

Other finding from the Winthrop Poll:

·         Half believe all people in the United States have an equal chance to succeed if they work equally, while 44 percent said they do not.

·         Sixty percent said homosexuality should be accepted by our society.

·         Respondents were split 46 percent each on whether government aid does more harm than good in offering assistance.

·         Almost 60 percent said stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost.

·         Sixty percent said humans have evolved over time, while 33 percent said they existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

·         Forty-seven percent of respondents said they own a gun or firearm; 59 percent of respondents reported that they lived in a household with a gun (owned either by themselves or someone else in the household). 

METHODOLOGY

For this latest Winthrop Poll, callers surveyed 789 residents in South Carolina by landline and cell phones between April 7-16. Results which use all respondents have a margin of error of approximately +/- 3.5 percent  at the 95 percent confidence level. Subgroups have higher margins of error. Margins of error are based on weighted sample size and account for design effects. 

Wednesday
Apr182018

White House Apologizes to Nikki Haley on Confusion Comments

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The new White House economic adviser apologized Tuesday to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley after suggesting she was suffering from "momentary confusion" when she announced over the weekend that new sanctions against Russia were imminent.

Haley had fired back at Larry Kudlow, saying, "With all due respect, I don't get confused."

A White House official said Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, called Haley to apologize Tuesday afternoon in an effort to mend fences. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

A striking intra-administration quarrel played out in public when Kudlow told reporters during a briefing in Florida that Haley "got ahead of the curve" when she said the U.S. would be slapping new sanctions on Russia on Monday in retaliation for the country's support for Syria's Assad government after its latest suspected chemical attack.

Kudlow said additional sanctions are under consideration but have yet to be implemented. Of Haley, he said, "There might have been some momentary confusion about that."

Haley had said Sunday during an appearance on "Face the Nation" that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would be announcing new sanctions directed at companies associated with Syria's chemical weapons program on Monday, "if he hasn't already."

But Monday came and went without an announcement.

On Tuesday, following Kudlow's remark that she must have been confused, Haley said in a statement to Fox News: "With all due respect, I don't get confused."

The dispute between Haley's team and the White House had been playing out largely behind the scenes since Haley's initial comments. The White House has been struggling to explain Haley's remarks amid reports that President Donald Trump put the brakes on the new sanctions. Several administration officials have disputed that characterization, saying Haley was out of the loop.

Three senior administration officials said there were several attempts to get Haley to back off or clarify her comments, but she refused.