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Anderson K9 Receives Bullet/Stab Protective Vest

Anderson County Sheriff’s Office K9's "Face & Sandro" will receive bullet and stab protective vests thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c(3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests as well as other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.   

The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.   

Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 2,400 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over $2.1 million. Each vest has a value between $1,795 - $2,234 and comes with a five-year warranty. The vests weigh an average of 4-5 lbs.

The program is open to certified dogs actively employed with U.S. law enforcement or related agencies and are at least 20 months old at the time of application.  New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are also eligible to participate in the program. 

The K9 vests will be embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of K9 Ty, California City Police Department.”  Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at or mailed to P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.  The donation required  to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050.00. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call (508) 824-6978.


Editorial: Mercy Chapel Needs Immediate Help for Monday Meals

Editorial/Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Anderson’s South Main Chapel and Mercy Center needs a little mercy right now.

A large baptist church in town which had been providing meals and volunteers on Monday nights at the Mercy Center for nearly three years, is no longer involved at the center, and their departure provides an opportunity for another church, organization, or individual(s) to step up and help.

Mondays are an important time for the church which serves an under-represented congregation of largely economically challenged individuals. 

In addition to the meal, each Monday night, for the past three years, the church has provided a number of free resources including counselors from vocational rehab, counselors from mental health, a nurse from the Anderson Free Clinic (plus another volunteer nurse from the church), a devotional and a recovery group meeting for those with substance abuse issues.

The meal is an added feature to engage those in the community needing services and who could use something to eat. 

The cost to feed the 75-100 who attend the Monday events is approximately $600 per month. 

“We have people who can cook,” said the Rev. Kurt Stutler, pastor and founder of the church. “Or we can work out whatever our new partner or partners have in mind for the meal.”

Stutler said the church, which also offers a Sunday lunch for anyone at the services every week, has many good partners for the Sunday meal, including 10 churches and a number of civic organizations.  Other churches provide financial support for the ministry and other regular financial obligations at the church. 

But Monday night needs sponsor(s) for the meal, and the need is immediate. 

This week, the Mercy Center begins its fourth year. Anderson has always been a giving community, and this is a golden chance to shine again.

Who’s in? To find out how you can help, call the church at 864-437-8298 or email the Observer and we'll put you in touch.

You can also visit to see what else is happening at the church.

This story deserves a rapid happy ending.

CBO: GOP Health Bill Would Raise Rates, Leave 22M Uninsured

The Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, resulting in a backlash that could defeat the bill.

The CBO study estimates that the Better Care Reconciliation Act will leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. It will also cut Medicaid by $772 billion over the next 10 years and reduce tax credits and selected coverage provisions by $408 billion.

"By 2026, among people under age 65, enrollment in Medicaid would fall by about 16 percent and an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law," the CBO analysis states.

The analysis estimates that 15 million people will lose coverage due to the cuts in Medicaid and that most of those people will not purchase private coverage because the costs will be too high.

It will also put a hefty raise in premiums for people 64 and older, a population that is expected to balloon over the next 10 years due to aging Baby Boomers.

Under current health care law, a 64-year-old with an income of $26,500 per year pays an average of $1,700 in premiums. Under the Republican plan, that average cost will inflate to $6,500.

"It's a terrible bill," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said.

Paul is one of four Republican senators who have said they will not vote to allow the bill to move forward. The other three include Susan Collins (R-ME), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

Politico reported that others Republican senators are on the fence, including Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

With 52 Republicans in the Senate, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell(R-Ky.) can't afford to lose more than 2 GOP votes.


Mayors from 250 Cities Announce Renewable Energy Deal

A bipartisan group of mayors from across the country unanimously backed an ambitious commitment for U.S. cities to run entirely on renewable sources such as wind and solar in two decades.

As the U.S. Conference of Mayors wrapped up in Miami Beach on Monday, leaders from more than 250 cities voted on symbolic resolutions pushing back against President Donald Trump on climate change and immigration.

"Mayors have been involved in the frontline of climate and energy issues for so long, but the president's actions have really just ignited the excitement of mayors and citizens who want to get to do a whole lot more," said Steve Benjamin, a Democratic mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, who proposed the resolution with three other mayors.

Most mayors also signed a deal to do their part to uphold the terms of the Paris climate accords, even after the Trump administration pulled out of the agreement. They also strongly rejected plans to increase immigration enforcement and vowed to persuade federal lawmakers to reinstate a popular $3 billion program (Community Development Block Grants) that funds local projects across the country. Trump proposes eliminating the grants.

The clean-energy resolution is one of the many measures that will be sent to Congress and the White House hoping to influence legislation. It was proposed by Democratic mayors in the Republican-dominated states of South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Iowa.

In Washington, Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided over how to deal with climate change. But cities and states are slowly shaping policies to fight floods and add renewable sources of energy. More than 25 U.S. cities such as San Diego and Salt Lake City have already adopted the clean-energy policy, and six smaller cities including Aspen, Colorado, and Burlington, Vermont, have reached goals of generating 100 percent of the energy through renewable sources.

Traditional energy sources still dominate, with many cities saying they need their states to pass legislation to smooth the transition.


Supreme Court Revives Part of Trump Travel Ban

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by reviving parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries that he said is needed for national security but that opponents decry as discriminatory.

The justices narrowed the scope of lower court rulings that had completely blocked key parts of a March 6 executive order that Trump had said was needed to prevent terrorism in the United States, allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties such as family or business to the United States.

The court issued its order on the last day of its current term and agreed to hear oral arguments during its next term starting in October so it can decide finally whether the ban is lawful in a major test of presidential powers.

In a statement, Trump called the high court's action "a clear victory for our national security," saying the justices allowed the travel suspension to become largely effective.

"As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive," Trump added.

Trump's March 6 order called for a blanket 90-day ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees while the government implemented stronger vetting procedures. The court allowed a limited version of the refugee ban, which had also been blocked by courts, to go into effect.

Trump issued the order amid rising international concern about attacks carried out by Islamist militants like those in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and other cities. But challengers said no one from the affected countries had carried out attacks in the United States.

Federal courts said the travel ban violated federal immigration law and was discriminatory against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Critics called it a discriminatory "Muslim ban.


BMW to Add 1,000 Jobs to Greer Plant

BMW's biggest plant in the world is about to get a little bigger.

The German automaker said Monday it will add another 1,000 jobs and invest $600 million in the plant as part of a plan to boost annual production to as many 450,000 vehicles annually.

"It's a great day for us here in Spartanburg and South Carolina and for the BMW group," said Harald Kruger, chairman of BMW. "The workforce will be well above 10,000 people, which is, in my view, clearly a symbol of success."

BMW's facility in Greer is already the company's largest final assembly plant in the world, employing more than 9,000 workers and building more than 411,000 SUVs and crossovers last year.

Kruger marked the 25th anniversary of announcing plans to build the South Carolina plant by unveiling the newest version of the X3 crossover utility vehicle.

While BMW's investment and plan to hire more workers in South Carolina will be welcomed by President Donald Trump, the move comes just months after the president blasted German automakers as part of a broader complaint about Germany's trade surplus with the U.S.

"You can build cars in the United States, but for every car that comes to the USA, you will pay a 35 percent tax," Trump told the German newspaper Bild earlier this year.

Kruger denies BMW is spending and hiring in South Carolina as a way to placate the president.

"There was already planning before [Trump's election], because we have long-term strategic planning, but also the success of the U.S. market is something that was, for us, important," he said.

Kruger, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, met with Trump in March and he is well aware these are delicate times for automakers in the U.S.

The president is moving to renegotiate NAFTA and many are wondering what type of tariff, if any, could be slapped on autos imported from Mexico and Canada. Last year, those two countries supplied about 20 percent of the 17.5 million vehicles sold in the U.S.


Poll: Half of Americans Pray Before Meals

About half of all Americans say a prayer over their food at least a few times a week which is an unusual commonality in a politically divided nation, according to a new poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Rural and urban Americans, Northerners and Southerners, Catholics and Protestants, Democrats and Republicans, all say grace, though to varying degrees, reveals the poll, which was conducted April 13 to May 1 among a random sample of 1,686 American adults.

Even some Americans who reject organized religion still say grace, the study shows.

"It's a powerful way of reminding yourself that you are not self-sufficient, that you are living by somebody's grace, that plenty of other people who work just as hard as you don't have anything to eat," Tim Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, told The Washington Post.

The poll finds that 48 percent of all Americans say a prayer before meals at least a few times each week. Fifty-one percent say grace in both rural and urban America. In the suburbs, 45 percent pray before meals regularly.

The study also shows that 62 percent of Republicans say grace at least a few times a week, but the percentage decreases to 43 among Democrats and 41 among independents.

About 60 percent of Protestants say grace a few times a week or more, as do 52 percent of Catholics, the poll adds.

The percentage increases to 80 among black Protestants and 74 among white evangelical Protestants.

However, only 31 percent of white Mainline or nonevangelical Protestants report saying grace frequently before meals.

Overall, about 8 in 10 blacks, about 6 in 10 Hispanics and about 4 in 10 whites say grace at least a few times each week.

A study published in the journal Sage Open last year said the number of Americans who pray or say they believe in God hit "an all-time low" in 2014.

That study said that in 2014 five times as many Americans reported that they never prayed when compared with Americans in the early 1980s. Nearly twice as many over the same period also said they did not believe in God.


Supreme Court to Rule on Public Funding for Churches

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on Monday in a closely watched religious rights case involving limits on public funding for churches and other religious entities as the justices issue the final rulings of their current term.

The nine justices are due to rule in six cases, not including their decision expected in the coming days on whether to take up President Donald Trump's bid to revive his ban on travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries in which an emergency appeal is pending.

Of the remaining cases argued during the court's current term, which began in October, the most eagerly awaited one concerns a Missouri church backed by a conservative Christian legal group. The ruling potentially could narrow the separation of church and state.

A decision in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church, located in Columbia, Missouri, set the stage for more public money to go to religious entities. The church sued after being denied state taxpayer funds for a playground improvement project because of a Missouri constitutional provision barring state funding for religious entities.

Trinity Lutheran could be headed for a lopsided win, with two liberal justices joining their conservative colleagues in signaling support during the April oral argument. It was one of the first in which Trump's conservative appointee to the court, Neil Gorsuch, participated.

The dispute pits two provisions of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment against each other: the guarantee of the free exercise of religion and the Establishment Clause requiring the separation of church and state.

A broad ruling backing the church could hearten religious conservatives who favor weakening the wall between church and state, including using taxpayer money to pay for children to attend private religious schools rather than public schools. President Donald Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a leading supporter of such "school choice" plans.

More Here


Gerrymandering in S.C. "Slightly Benefited" GOP

An analysis by The Associated Press shows election lines drawn by South Carolina Republicans after the 2010 Census may have slightly benefited the already dominating party.

The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and 4,700 state House and Assembly elections last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It's designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

According to the "efficiency gap" formula, gerrymandering gave Republicans one excess seat in South Carolina's 170-member Legislature and one extra seat among the state's seven congressmen.

Republicans control both legislative chambers and hold all statewide offices. South Carolina's lone Democrat in Congress represents a district gerrymandered as majority minority.


Mosquitoes in Before County Have West Nile Virus

South Carolina health officials say samples from mosquitoes trapped in Beaufort County have tested positive for the West Nile virus.

Entomologist Chris Evans of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said in a news release that the mosquito carrying this virus is usually active at night, but can also be active at dusk and dawn and in shady areas during the day.

Beaufort County Mosquito Control Director Gregg Hunt said insecticide has been applied where the mosquitoes are most active. Hunt said the insecticide is very effective and was chosen because it is fast-acting.


Federal Judge Stops Deportation of Iraqi Christians

A federal judge in Michigan has ruled that more than 100 Iraqi Christian migrants facing deportation can stay in the United States for at least two more weeks to give the court some more time to determine its jurisdiction.

"The stay shall expire 14 days from today, unless otherwise ordered by the Court," U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said in a written opinion, according to USA Today. "The Court is unsure whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction," the judge added.

"The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq," said the ACLU, which filed for a restraining order to block deportation of 114 Christians, most of whom are from the Chaldean sect.

"They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return," the New York-based group said in a statement. "We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately be sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death."The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested the Christians on June 11, alleging they had criminal backgrounds.

It would be "unconstitutional and unconscionable" to deport the migrants without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate the harm that awaits them in Iraq," the ACLU said.

"My dad is Christian and Donald Trump is sending him back to a place that is not safe whatsoever," said 18-year-old Cynthia Barash after the arrests, speaking of the ongoing slaughter of Christians at the hands of the Islamic State terror group in Iraq.

Her father, 47-year-old Moayad Barash, was one of those seized by ICE agents in Detroit as part of deportation efforts.

"He did something wrong 30 years ago. He didn't do anything today, yesterday, a year ago," she said, noting that her father had been caught with marijuana two or three decades ago.

Detroit-area educational and community leader Nathan Kalasho noted that Iraqi Christians have been designated victims of genocide. "Who could think that this deal could possibly be good?" he asked. "Iraq assumes a few hundred former nationals — some of these people have spent nearly their entire lives here and some have committed minor offenses. They've paid their debt to society."

Watchdog groups and reports have indicated that over 80 percent of Christians have fled Iraq in the last 13 years due to sectarian violence and the rise of the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.

Iraq was home to about 1.5 million Christians in 2003 but now fewer than 300,000 remain


University of South Carolina Raises Tuition Again

The University of South Carolina is raising tuition again, with its president saying the system needs more money from lawmakers to stop driving up the cost of college on families.

Trustees on Friday approved the increase of 3 percent or more across all of the university's campuses.

University President Harris Pastides said in a statement he feels legislators are more willing to consider more money for higher education. But that listening hasn't translated into additional funding for the schools.

South Carolina changed governors this year. Gov. Nikki Haley said for much of her six years in office that colleges and universities needed to spend less and more wisely instead of reflexively raising tuition.

The university says tuition increases over the past seven years have all been below the inflation rate.


Dog Park Needs Volunteers Saturday to Prepare for July Opening

There will be a volunteer cleanup day Saturday at Anderson Downtown Dog Park, which is scheduled to open in July, from 9 a.m.-noon.

Volunteers are needed to clear debris and asked to bring work gloves.

Anderson County’s first off-leash dog park downtown in on county-owned land bordered by North Manning Street, East Society Street, East Orr Street and North Fant Street. The property is located on land near the Anderson County Library.