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Friday
Jun222018

Supreme Court: Warrant Needed to Access Cell Phone Info

In a major win for privacy rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that police must obtain a search warrant in order to get access to cellphone location information.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-to-4 decision, joining the court's four liberals. The majority declared that the Fourth Amendment guarantees an expectation of privacy and that allowing police to obtain moment-by-moment tracking of an individual's cellphone location is a kind of surveillance that the framers of the Constitution did not want to occur without a search warrant.

The chief justice said that this sort of tracking information is akin to wearing an electronic ankle-bracelet monitoring device and that the citizens of the country are protected from that kind of monitoring unless police can show a judge that there is probable cause of a crime that justifies it.

He stressed, however, that this is a narrowly focused opinion that leaves intact other precedents when it comes to dealing with financial information, banking and office records.

Roberts noted that the decision also allows for warrantless cell-tower location information searches in emergencies and for national-security purposes.

The four dissenters were led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was joined by the court's three most conservative members, justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. In a rare move, they each filed separate dissents.

The background

The case arose out of a series of armed robberies in 2010 and 2011 — robberies, ironically, aimed at stealing hundreds of new cellphones and selling them for tens of thousands of dollars.

When police apprehended some members of the ring, the smaller fish implicated the leader of the ring, Timothy Carpenter. Police got a court order to get access to 127 days of cellphone tracking records for Carpenter and other members of the gang.

Lo and behold, Carpenter's general location information matched the robbery locations, and that information was used to help convict him. Carpenter appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, contending that the Constitution required that police first obtain a warrant before getting this location information from a service provider.

Obtaining a warrant would have required the police to show a judge that they had probable cause to believe the phone records contained evidence of a crime. What the police did instead was obtain a court order under the federal Stored Communications Act, which is easier.

Friday
Jun222018

Report: 40 Million Americans Live In Significant Poverty

June 22 (UPI) -- A study for the U.N. Human Rights Council has concluded 40 million people in the United States live in poverty -- and more than half of those live in "extreme" or "absolute" poverty.

The 20-page report by Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, says U.S. policies benefit the rich and exacerbate the poor. 

"The United States has the highest income inequality in the Western world, and this can only be made worse by the massive new tax cuts overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthy," Alston said in a statement about the report.

The report cites vast numbers of middle-class Americans "perched on the edge," with 40 percent of the adult population saying they would be unable to cover an unexpected $400 expense.

Alston criticized the Trump administration for stigmatizing the poor and saying those receiving government benefits are lazy and should be working. The report, though, found just 7 percent of benefits recipients are not working.

"The statistics that are available show that the great majority of people who, for example, are on Medicaid are either working in full-time work -- around half of them -- or they are in school or they are giving full-time care to others," Alston said.

Friday
Jun222018

Home Depot, Lowe's Recalls 78,000 Ladders

June 22 (UPI) -- Werner Ladder issued a recall of 78,000 of its ladders because they pose a falling hazard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday.

"This recall involves five models of aluminum telescoping ladders that can be used in five different positions (twin step ladder, stairway step ladder, extension ladder, wall ladder and as two scaffold bases)," the CPSC said in a statement. "The date code is stamped on the inside of the outer leg of the ladder, beneath the bottom step. The model number is printed on a label located on the side of the ladder rail. The recalled ladders have a load capacity of 375 lbs."

The ladders were sold at Home Depot and Lowe's stores nationwide from April through May 2018 and cost between $180 and $275.

Customers who bought any of the ladders are urgently advised to stop using them and get a refund from the store where they were purchased.

The CPSC said there has been at least one injury related to the hazard.

A full list of the model numbers included in the recall can be found on the CPSC website.

Thursday
Jun212018

Clemson Students Win Top Honors at National Dairy Competition

CLEMSON –A group of Clemson University food science students just returned from a national competition where they earned top honors for their wealth of dairy knowledge.

Food science and human nutrition majors Kay Senn from Lakeland, Florida; Jonathan Dillard of Conway; Madeline Waskiewicz from Fredonia, Wisconsin and Matthew Baxley of Greer competed in the Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest. Students from 16 universities in the United States and Seoul, Korea vied to bring home awards. Clemson placed second place overall.

“This contest may be compared to professional wine tasting in that students are required to evaluate the quality of samples against industry standards,” said Johnny McGregor, team coach and faculty member of the Clemson Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences Department. “It takes a trained palate to distinguish subtle differences in taste, aroma, appearance and texture.”

This was the third consecutive year a Clemson team finished second overall in the contest taking first place in the milk category and placing no lower than third place in five of the six product categories.

In the individual competition, Senn placed second overall, narrowly missing first place in a tiebreaker. She also took first place in the ice cream and yogurt categories, while placing second in the milk category.

Dillard finished seventh overall with a win in the milk category. Waskiewicz had a top-10 finish in the ice cream category.

Two weeks prior to the national competition, the team competed in the Midwest Regional Contest where Dillard finished first and Senn placed third overall, leading the team to a second place finish overall. In the 2017 Midwest contest, Waskiewicz was declared the top cheddar cheese judge.

The Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest is in its 96th year and is sponsored by the dairy and food industry with additional support from the United States Department of Agriculture. Each year this academic competition brings together  students from around the world to determine their ability to evaluate the quality of six different dairy products — milk, vanilla ice cream, cheddar cheese, strawberry yogurt, cottage cheese and butter.

Skills demonstrated in the contest are important to companies looking to hire food science graduates to work on the development of new food products and their quality, said Sara Cothran, also a team coach and faculty member of the Food, Nutrition and Packaging Science Department. Cash and scholarship awards are presented based on each student’s evaluation of samples as compared to those of an expert panel of industry judges.

“We are very proud of our students,” Cothran said. “They exemplify the high caliber character of all students in this department.”

The Clemson team is supported financially by the South Carolina Dairy Association and the ’55 Exchange, Clemson’s student-managed entrepreneurial center that makes and serves Clemson’s famous ice cream.

Thursday
Jun212018

Shakespeare in the Park Presents "Hamlet" Fri-Mon

"To be, or not to be?" For downtown Anderson, the answer is simple.

Anderson will indeed be welcoming the Prince of Denmark beginning tomorrow night as part of the Fourth Annual Shakespeare in the Park, at Carolina Wren Park in downtown Anderson.The cast rehearses a scene from ":Hamlet" at Carolina Wren Park in downtown Anderson. The play will run Friday through Monday, beginning at 8 p.m. each night.

This year's production of "Hamlet," sponsored by the City of Anderson and 24 Hour Musical, Inc.. will run Friday through Monday, with performances beginning at 8 p.m. each night.

Playing the role of Hamlet is Ben Otto Sunderman. Ben is an Anderson native, and graduate of Furman University.  He now works full-time at Clemson University, while staying busy outside of work pursuing community theatre opportunities. 

Rob Homer-Drummond is directing Shakespeare in the Park for the first time, and brings more than 20 years of experience as a professional actor, director and theatre educator.  Rob chose "Hamlet" as a way to shake things up! “Shakespeare in the Park" has featured comedies in years past, so weBen Otto Sunderman is Hamlet in the current production. decided to go in a different direction while maintaining the excitement!” Rob is also casting a new light to the story, bysetting the stage of Hamlet with a 90’s grunge rock flare! 

Diane Lee is embracing her 4th year producing Shakespeare in the Park, with lots of new surprises for "Hamlet."  Diane has years of experience in performing arts including positions with Project Challenge Playhouse, Anderson and Greenville County Schools, The Market Theatre Company, and more.  From enhanced lighting and sound, to bazar sets and costumes, this year’s production is guaranteed to entertain our audience once again! 

Thursday
Jun212018

Warren at Debate: S.C. Trump Supporters Should Vote for Him

Editor's Note: Both Candidates will visit Anderson this morning.

In a heated 60-minute debate at the Newberry Opera House between Gov. Henry McMaster and John Warren, the two candidates traded jabs battling for votes with the race hanging in the balance.

Throughout the night, McMaster positioned himself as an experienced statesman while Warren positioned himself as the outsider promising change. Both men tried to appeal to President Donald Trump's conservative base.

Warren and Henry McMaster began by painting two pictures of the situation in South Carolina. The Governor said the state is on track.

"We've got more people working in South Carolina than ever before," McMaster said. "Our unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since 2000."

But Warren, who surged to the runoff in the final weeks of the primary, begged to differ.

"We have lost $4 billion with Santee Cooper we are 50th in education. We are overtaxed and the ones bearing the burden of that are the small business owners and the hard-working South Carolinians across the state."

The wide-ranging debate covered the VC Summer Nuclear debacle, with each candidate casting blame about who's at fault, and what they have done or will do to refund ratepayers.  

Warren described how he would reform state government, vowing to unseat longtime politician Senate Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman calling him the "biggest problem our state has seen in 30 years" and blasting what he described as a culture of corruption in the State House. McMaster said it's important for the Governor to have a good working relationship with the legislature.

But as expected, the real dynamics centered on President Trump who will arrive in South Carolina Monday to campaign for Governor McMaster. With the President's 90% approval rating among Republicans in our state, each candidate sought to align themselves with Trump's voters.

In a heated exchange, Warren appeared to make the argument that as a businessman, he has more in common with President Trump than Governor McMaster does as an incumbent Governor.

McMaster countered,  "I know Donald Trump. He's a friend of mine. You're a good man, but you're not Donald Trump, and you were nowhere to be found during the Trump campaign."

Warren supported Ted Cruz in the primaries before supporting Trump in the General Election, while McMaster supported Lindsey Graham briefly before throwing all of his support behind Trump just as the primaries began. President Trump endorsed McMaster in the Governors race, earlier this year.

Each supports President Trump's executive order to keep migrant families together in detention who illegally cross the US / Mexico border.

Warren said, "We have to protect the border. I support building the wall. I said yesterday President Trump is going to find a solution to that complex problem, and today he did. I applaud him for that."

Backstage, the candidates gave a preview of what to expect in the contentious final days of the campaign. McMaster is grateful for a Presidential visit, hoping it will put him over the top to head off Warren's momentum.

"The president always says he always loves the people of South Carolina," McMaster said. "He knows we played an integral role in winning in the nomination for president, and I know he's gonna be very happy to be here."

Warren acknowledged President Trump's popularity, saying the President is "very popular here in South Carolina" but added "If people drew the connection that Henry McMaster is Donald Trump he wouldn't have had 42% in last weeks election. I'm very confident the Donald Trump supporters will be John Warren supporters."

Thursday
Jun212018

Summer Officially Arrives Today

Today marks the astronomical start of summer for everyone in the United States. The summer solstice happens sometime between June 20 and June 22 every year for those in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year it’s set to happen Thursday for people in the United States.

The summer solstice marks when the sun reaches the most northern point in the sky all year in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, it reaches its southernmost point on this day. The exact time when the solstice occurs varies depending on location. On Thursday, it was set to happen at 6:07 a.m. EDT, which would be 3:07 a.m. PDT.

The day the sun reaches this northern point coincides with the longest day of sunlight for the year. This happens because, on the day of the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is as tilted in the direction of the sun as it gets, so it receives the most sunlight on that day.

In New York City, there will be a little more than 15 hours of daylight on Thursday. To the south, in Miami, there will be closer to 13 hours and 44 minutes of sunlight throughout the day because it is closer to the equator.

Conversely, the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is the day of the year with the shortest amount of daylight there. During the winter solstice, there are only about nine hours of sunlight in New York City. The exact date of the solstice varies each year due to the wobble of the Earth on its axis, the gravitational pull from the moon and the planets, and also because of leap year. The date skips back and compensates for the Gregorian calendar, cutting the year short by about a quarter of a day each year.

The word “solstice” itself means “sun stands still” in Latin and the celebrations of the solstices date back thousands of years. Some think the fact that the iconic historic site Stonehenge lines up with the sun on the solstice indicates that it was built to celebrate the sun or the changing of the seasons. Each year, a celebration is held at the site, as it has been for thousands of years.

Thursday
Jun212018

Executive Order Leaves Legal Questions for Kids Already in Custody

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed down and abandoned his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents on the U.S.-Mexico border, after images of youngsters in cages sparked outrage at home and abroad. 

Trump signed an executive order requiring immigrant families be detained together when they are caught entering the country illegally for as long as their criminal proceedings take. 

While that may end a policy that drew a rebuke from Pope Francis and everyone else from human rights advocates to business leaders, it may also mean immigrant children remain in custody indefinitely. 

The Trump administration still faces legal challenges because of a court order that put a 20-day cap on how long immigration authorities may detain minors, and trigger fresh criticism of Trump’s hardline immigration policies, which were central to his 2016 election campaign and now his presidency. 

Administration officials were unable to clarify whether family separations would end immediately or when and how families now separated would be reunited. 

“It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter,” Brian Marriott, a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Children and Families. “Reunification is always the ultimate goal of those entrusted with the care of” unaccompanied children and “the administration is working towards that” for those in custody. 

The Trump order, an unusual reversal by him, moves parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings but it does not end a 10-week-old “zero tolerance” policy that calls for prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally under the country’s criminal entry statute. 

“It’s about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border,” Trump said as he signed the order in a hastily arranged Oval Office gathering. 

Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked anger as the images were broadcast worldwide. 

Governments from Central America and Mexico welcomed Trump’s decision on Wednesday, but said they would remain vigilant to ensure the rights of their citizens were respected. 

An avid viewer of cable television news, Trump recognized that the family separation issue was a growing political problem, White House sources said.

Wednesday
Jun202018

Study: Parents Use of Smartphones Could Make Cranky Kids

Parents who take refuge in their smartphones when their kids throw a tantrum may, in the long run, make matters worse, a new study suggests.

The study, of 183 couples with young children, found that stressed-out parents often turned to their electronic devices when dealing with their kids. And when that was a pattern, their kids' behavior typically worsened over the next several months.

Researchers said the findings do not prove smartphones are to blame.

But they also said the study raises concerns about what some researchers call "technoference" -- where parents are less present for their children because digital devices are constantly vying for their attention.

"Young children can be hard to 'read' as it is," said researcher Dr. Jenny Radesky. "It's really difficult to read them when you're distracted by something else. In general, when you're toggling between different things, you're not as good at any of them."

Children, in turn, get frustrated when mom and dad appear to be withdrawing from them into a device. "They may learn that they have to act out to get attention," said Radesky, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School, in Ann Arbor.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean smartphones and other devices are the root of the problem, according to Yamalis Diaz, a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, in New York City.

Parents who are having trouble managing their children's behavior -- for various reasons -- may be the ones most likely to constantly check their phones, said Diaz, who was not involved in the study.

Device use, she explained, may be a "symptom" of a broader issue.

That said, there are reasons to be concerned about today's mobile technology.

Wednesday
Jun202018

Warren, McMaster to Debate Tonight in Newberry

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Voters are getting their last chance to compare side-by-side the Republicans vying for South Carolina's gubernatorial nomination.

Gov. Henry McMaster and Greenville businessman John Warren meet for a debate Wednesday night at the Newberry Opera House.

McMaster was the top vote getter in the June 12 primary but fell short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Warren got 28 percent, then snagged endorsements from the third- and fourth-place finishers, former state public health chief Catherine Templeton and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are set to make campaign visits for McMaster in the coming days, while Warren is welcoming Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. The winner of the June 26 GOP runoff faces Democratic state Rep. James Smith in November.

Tuesday
Jun192018

Trump Coming to S.C. to Campaign for McMaster

WASHINGTON — President Trump intends to campaign Monday for Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina, according to Republican officials familiar with the plan, putting his presidential prestige on the line for one of his earliest supporters a day before the state’s closely contested Republican runoff election.

In a gamble that he can lift Mr. McMaster to the nomination at the 11th hour, Mr. Trump intends to join Mr. McMaster for a rally in the Columbia area hours before the polls open in the state.

And this Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence will campaign with Mr. McMaster, who is locked in a close race for the Republican nomination with John Warren, a former Marine and political newcomer.

The White House’s last-minute intervention amounts to political payback for the governor, who was among the first statewide Republican elected officials to support Mr. Trump. Mr. McMaster has been an outspoken ally of the president ever since. He has argued that Mr. Trump should receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiations with North Korea, and this week he defended Mr. Trump’s hard line on immigration and the separation of children from their families at the border.

Mr. McMaster talked by telephone with Mr. Trump on Monday and asked him to come to the state, according to Republican officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss plans that have not yet been made public. They said the president felt he needed to demonstrate his loyalty to the governor.

The president may be feeling confident about his clout among South Carolina’s Republican voters, who ousted a vocal critic of his, Representative Mark Sanford, in the primary last week. Mr. Trump attacked Mr. Sanford and endorsed his opponent, Katie Arrington, in a Primary Day Twitter post.

Yet by flying into South Carolina the day before an uncertain vote, Mr. Trump is also risking embarrassment in a state that he carried by 14 points in 2016.

Mr. McMaster, 71, fell short of winning a majority in the primary this month, in part because he is identified with a political status quo at the State Capitol that has become an easy target amid an open corruption investigation that has led to a series of indictments of Republican lawmakers. And in Mr. Warren, a 39-year-old businessman, the governor is facing an opponent with no voting record to pick apart.

Mr. McMaster has scrambled to slow Mr. Warren during the two-week runoff, reminding voters of his support from Mr. Trump, but Mr. Warren has received endorsements from the other two leading Republicans who also ran in the primary race.

Tuesday
Jun192018

Council Approves 1-Mill Tax Increase in New Budget

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

On Tuesday night, Anderson County Council gave final approval to the $194.6 million budget for fiscal year 2018-2018, which includes a 1-mill tax increase. The increase would mean an annual tax hike of $4 on a house assessed at $100,000. 

Between Monday’s special public budget meeting and Tuesday night, council cut an additional $685,585 from the proposed budget before third reading, avoiding the the 2-mill increase in the previous budget. 

The one-mill increase will be used primarily for capital projects, most notably $2.5 million to provide a level funding for the county vehicle fleet to repair and keep viable vehicles on the road. Providing a constant source of revenue could create potential savings in the future as the county signs contracts and purchases of vehicles in the future. The county currently spends $1.2 million annually to purchase vehicles, and anticipates substantial savings from allowing low-term planning and purchases. The current budget includes seven vehicles for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, one for Parks & Recreation, and one for maintenance. 

Capital funds are also needed $250,000 to repair roofs at the county’s Clyde Stone building and the McCants Meals on Wheels building. The expectation is $35,000 will be left over from these repairs, with the plan in place to repair A major roof repair at the new courthouse will be paid for out of the current year’s budget. 

Seven additional full-time School Resource Officers for public schools in Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, plus an officer for Anderson University are also funded in partnership with school districts as part of the new budget. (Anderson County School District 3 has a contract with the Iva Police Department to provide SROs.)

A plan to increase each council member’s recreation account to $35,000, an increase of $5,000, failed. Anderson County Councilman Ray Graham, who led opposition to the move, said the recreation fund was in reality a “slush fund” and was often used for things which had nothing to do with recreation. 

Anderson County Councilman Tom Allen said the budget plan to boost county employee salaries is the result of consultant’s study of equivalent positions in comparable counties and private industry. 

“In most cases, it found the county pays less than comparable jobs in other places,” Allen said. 

New job classifications and revised employee evaluations will also be a part of the new employee salary increase plan. The raises will be phases in over two years, and begin July 1.

Anderson County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd’s proposal amendment to give employees the proposed raises all in one year, was defeated. 

Anderson County Finance Manager Rita Davis said to provide raises all in one year would require an additional 2-mill tax increase.

Anderson County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson said the budget also includes roads funding.

"We'll have $3.4 million for roads, which we have not had in some time," Wilson said.

"Tonight, we're making our best effort to take care of our people," said Anderson County Councilman Craig Wooten. "This school safety thing has to be a priority. This budget is going to help the Sheriff's Department, and that's important to me." 

"I am not for a tax increase, that should be one of the last things we do," said Anderson County Councilman Ray Graham. "But we had no option in this budget to avoid going up 1 mill in this budget."

"It's very important to note that while the SROs are being paid for by the school districts, the county has to provide the vehicles, training and other things." Graham said. "It's very important that we partner with the school districts and provide support."

Graham also said the salary adjustments have nothing to do with cost of living increases which Anderson County employees will already receive.

Tuesday
Jun192018

President Vows to Sign Any GOP Immigration Bill House Passes

U.S. President Donald Trump told Republican members of Congress on Tuesday he would sign any Republican immigration bill the House of Representatives passes without seeking any changes, Representative Carlos Curbelo told reporters. 

“It has a chance but it will be difficult,” Curbelo said of the chances of a bill passing in the divided chamber where pressure to act is being driven by an outcry over the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.