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NOAA to Release Hurricane Forecast Thursday

MIAMI (AP) - U.S. government forecasters are set to release their prediction for how many hurricanes and tropical storms they expect to form over Atlantic and Caribbean waters in the next six months.

The six-month Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters will release their storm season outlook Thursday at the agency's aircraft operations center in Lakeland, Florida. That facility is the base for NOAA's "hurricane hunter" aircraft that fly into storms to collect data used in storm forecasts.

NOAA predicted that 2017 would be an above-average season, and it certainly was: A trio of devastating hurricanes - Harvey, Irma and Maria - ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and many Caribbean islands. Overall, last year saw 17 named storms, including 10 hurricanes.


GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Trade Jabs at Clemson Debate

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Republicans vying to become South Carolina's next governor have given voters their first real-time opportunity to compare their positions on the state's multi-billion dollar nuclear plant debacle and issues such as abortion and streamlining government.

The four challengers seeking to unseat Gov. Henry McMaster have met in previous forums, but Wednesday night's gathering at Clemson University was the first time McMaster joined them as he seeks election to his first full term.

McMaster opened the evening by reminding voters of his connection to President Donald Trump, who has endorsed him in this race and appeared at a fundraiser for him last year.

"He's helping me, and I appreciate it," McMaster said. "He and I see things a lot alike."

McMaster was the first statewide elected official to endorse Trump's candidacy in early 2016, before he moved up from lieutenant governor when Gov. Nikki Haley became Trump's U.N. Ambassador.

Former state public health chief Catherine Templeton also reminded voters of her relationship with Trump, saying the transition team called her "a triple threat" while vetting her for a possible administration slot, which she turned down to run for governor.

Candidates first faced off on how to handle the multi-billion dollar failure of the V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project, a debacle for which hundreds of thousands of the state's utility customers have together been billed more than $2 billion. State and federal authorities are probing the failure, and lawmakers are trying to hash out legislative fixes.

Templeton pledged to get ratepayers' money back. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant blamed the failure on "government involvement" and suggested more consumer choices for power are needed. Greenville businessman John Warren suggested hiring an investment bank to conduct a forensic audit "to know where the money went."

Warren also would remove the utilities' board members, which McMaster called a good idea "if you want to ruin a company."

As for infrastructure spending priorities, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill called for more auditing to track how public money is being spent, particularly at the state Department of Transportation: "There needs to be transparency and let the public know exactly what's going on." Warren proposed a five-year strategic plan addressing all of the state's roads and bridges.

Hours before the debate, McMaster called for an independent review of state records about a Charleston-area bridge causing major traffic problems. Inspectors found a snapped support cable and partially closed it while repairs are made.

The liveliest exchange came as the Republicans challenged each other on abortion. Bryant said an executive order McMaster signed last year wasn't tough enough on "evil organizations like Planned Parenthood," and he promoted his own credentials as being "part of every pro-life piece of legislation that's gotten through the General Assembly."

McMaster's order directs state agencies not to allocate state and federal money to health care providers affiliated in any way with abortion clinics, and also directs the state's Medicaid agency to seek federal permission to exclude abortion clinics from its Medicaid provider network. Calling Planned Parenthood "an abomination," McMaster said the organization needs to be ousted from the state.

As the only woman in the debate, Templeton referred to the twins she carried. "As a mother with a huge heart, not as a candidate for governor, I will protect the lives of children all over this state," she said.

With less than three weeks to go until the June 12 primaries, the three Democrats vying for their party's nomination face off at Clemson on Thursday night. The parties have another set of back-to-back debates at the University of South Carolina on June 4 and 5.


Fox Carolina: Williford Fire Chief Saves Child from Drowning

ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) - A two-year-old is alive after a near drowning at an Upstate swimming pool. And it's all thanks to the first person who arrived on scene to help, who just happened to be a local fire chief and trained EMT.

The emergency unfolded at the Hartwell Villas pool Tuesday around 5 p.m.  But luckily, that was the same time a hero happened to be nearby and heard the call for help.

Randy Bratcher is the Chief at Anderson City Fire Department as well as Williford Volunteer Fire and Rescue, which serves the Lake Hartwell area.

He was heading home when he heard the call come across, asking for assistance at a possible drowning at Hartwell Villas.  He thought he'd be arriving to a busy emergency scene, but when he pulled up, the parking lot was empty and all he saw was two frightened young women holding their two-year-old cousin, who the chief described as lifeless.

"At the time you pull up and no one else is on scene ,you go back to your training and what you've been trained to do over the years. Basic skills save a lot of lives." 

Chief Bratcher said he regrouped in his mind and focused on doing everything he could to save the little boy.

"I put him on the blanket on the ground, put him in the recovery position, got his lungs cleared, water out of his lungs and started listening for breath sounds and checking for pulse. As time went on, his color started coming back, he became responsive and at that point I got a cry out of him, and that was a blessing, anytime you know, a child is crying they are pretty much out of distress."

The little boy has not been identified but the Chief tells us he’s at Greenville Memorial Hospital. Chief Bratcher says the last time he saw him in the ambulance at the pool, the toddler was alert and seemed to be doing okay

The Chief says he doesn’t consider himself a hero. "It's what we train to do. I was in right place at the right time and God gave me the talent to save that child."


S.C. Lawmakers at Odds on SCANA Rates Compromise

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina lawmakers met again but still haven't reached a compromise on legislation dealing with utility rates and the failed nuclear reactor project in the state.

A conference committee of House members and senators met Wednesday for a third time. This meeting focused solely on temporary rate cuts for utility customers.

House members proposed adopting the Senate's 13 percent rate cut plan. The cut would be effective back to August 2017 when SCANA Corp. abandoned work on the reactors and it would give customers of SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas $300 million in credits. The Public Service Commission would decide how to get the refund to customers.

Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler says he is concerned about the legality of the House's proposal.


Study: Sleeping in on Weekends Can Extend Your Life

Many people complain they do not get enough sleep, and it seems they are right to be concerned. Researchers have found that adults under the age of 65 who get five or fewer hours of sleep for seven days a week have a higher risk of death than those who consistently get six or seven hours’ shut-eye.

However the effect of short sleeps over a few days may be countered by a later lie-in. The research found that individuals who managed just a few hours’ sleep each day during the week but then had a long snooze at weekends had no raised mortality risk, compared with those who consistently stuck to six or seven hours a night.

“Sleep duration is important for longevity,” said Torbjörn Åkerstedt, first author of the study, at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, and Karolinska Institute, also in the Swedish capital.

The study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, is based on data from more than 38,000 adults, collected during a lifestyle and medical survey conducted throughout Sweden in 1997. The fate of participants was followed for up to 13 years, using a national death register.

Åkerstedt said researchers had previously looked at links between sleep duration and mortality but had focused on sleep during the working week. “I suspected there might be some modification if you included also weekend sleep, or day-off sleep.” 

Once factors such as gender, body mass index, smoking, physical activity and shift work, were taken into account, the results revealed that those under the age of 65 who got five hours of sleep or under that amount seven days a week had a 65% higher mortality rate than those getting six or seven hours’ sleep every day. But there was no increased risk of death for those who slept five or fewer hours during the week but then managed eight or more hours’ sleep on weekend days. 

“The assumption in this is that weekend sleep is a catch-up sleep,” said Åkerstedt, though he noted the study did not prove that to be the case.

However, people who slept for eight or more hours, seven days a week, were found to have a 25% higher mortality rate compared with those who kept to six or seven hours a day.

The study also found that the link between sleep patterns and mortality disappeared for those aged 65 or older. That, Åkerstedt said, was perhaps because older individuals got the sleep they needed. 

Average sleep duration at weekends and the percentage of those saying they did not feel rested at waking, did fall with age. Across the week, older people had more consistent and more often sleep over a shorter time span.

While the study did not investigate the link between sleep patterns and mortality rates, Åkerstedt said it was possible little sleep had a negative effect on the body, while consistently lengthy sleep could be a sign of underlying health problems.

The study had limitations; participants were only asked about their sleep patterns at one point in time. But Stuart Peirson, an expert on the human “body clock” but who was not involved in the research, said the study offered a more nuanced view than previous research, which had suggested that both very little or a lot of sleep was bad for health and longevity.

“It fits with what we do know about sleep – that sleep is regulated by the body clock but also regulated by what is called a homeostatic process, which means the longer you are awake the more you need to sleep.”

Peirson, based at the University of Oxford, noted that sleep requirements varied from person to person according to genetics, but he added that “sleep debt” needed to be “paid off”. He said: “You can’t keep burning the candle at both ends. Well, you can, but you won’t live as long.” 


First Woman Confirmed as U.S. Attorney for S.C.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The first woman has been confirmed as the full-time U.S. Attorney in South Carolina.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved the nomination of Sherri Lydon as the chief federal prosecutor for the state.

President Donald Trump nominated Lydon earlier this year. She previously served as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and founded the Lydon Law Firm, which has specialized in defending people in white-collar and public corruption cases.

Lydon takes over for Beth Drake, who oversaw the death penalty trial of Dylann Roof for killing nine people in a racist attack on a Charleston church. Drake took over as the state's acting U.S. Attorney after Bill Nettles left the job in the summer of 2016.


SBC Seminary President Replaced after Rape Comments

Paige Patterson, who has been under fire for weeks over his past advice to women concerning marital abuse and rape, has been quietly replaced as president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Patterson has been on the defensive since allegations surfaced that he once counseled women who suffered marital abuse to pray for their husbands. The Washington Post on Tuesday also reported an incident in which Patterson allegedly told a woman who said she had been raped to forgive her assailant rather than report the incident to police.

"After much prayer and a more than 13-hour discussion regarding challenges facing the Institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity, the Board determined to move in the direction of new leadership for the benefit of the future mission of the Seminary," the Board of Trustees said in a statement early Wednesday.

The board said it voted to appoint Patterson as "President Emeritus with compensation, effective immediately, which he accepted." In his place, it appointed D. Jeffrey Bingham, dean of the school of theology at the Fort Worth-based seminary, as interim president.

The decision to remove Patterson, 75, came after an open letter signed by more than 2,000 Southern Baptist women expressing shock over Patterson's statements and warning Southern Baptist Convention leaders not to allow "the biblical view of leadership to be misused in such a way that a leader with an unbiblical view of authority, womanhood, and sexuality be allowed to continue in leadership."

Days after the letter, Patterson issued "An Apology to God's People" saying he was sorry "to every woman who has been wounded by anything I have said that was inappropriate or that lacked clarity."

"We live in a world of hurt and sorrow, and the last thing that I need to do is add to anyone's heartache," Patterson said in the statement. "Please forgive the failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been."

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Prison Reform Bill Aims to Curb Recidivism

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan bill to reform the federal prison system by helping inmates prepare for life after their release and reduce recidivism rates passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, paving the way for it to be considered by the Senate. 

The First Step Act does not contain a broader overhaul favored by some moderate conservatives and progressives seeking changes to mandatory minimum sentencing laws that have kept many low-level offenders behind bars for decades. 

The bill’s top Democratic and Republican sponsors have said such broad reforms should be left out for now as a compromise to get legislation passed by the Senate and signed into law. 

“Folks, this is what legislating looks like,” Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the leading Republican sponsor of the bill, told reporters on Monday. “Sometimes there are disagreements, but you come together and you find compromise.” 

The bill would require the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), a part of the Justice Department, to do risk assessments on which inmates should qualify and earn credits toward completing their sentences in halfway houses or home confinement. 

It would broaden job opportunities for inmates, expand laws on compassionate release of prisoners, prevent the BOP from using restraints on pregnant inmates and allow prisoners to earn early release credits of up to 54 days for good behavior. 

The good behavior provision would allow for the early release of an estimated 4,000 prisoners. 

The House bill contrasts with one in the Senate championed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley. It would lessen prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders. 

How the House bill will fare in the Senate remains to be seen. While some Senate Democrats and Republicans have indicated they will support it in its current form, others may oppose the bill unless sentencing reforms are added to it. 

Adding such provisions could doom the bill because more hard line law-and-order conservatives would then likely oppose it. 

New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the leading Democratic sponsor of the measure, told reporters on Monday that lawmakers should seize the opportunity to pass some criminal justice reforms, even if they don’t go far enough. 


USDA Offers Tips for Summer Food Safety

For many Americans, Memrorial Day kicks off grilling and travel season. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants to make sure you and your family avoid food poisoning this summer. An estimated 128,000 Americans are hospitalized with food poisoning each year, but foodborne illnesses can be prevented during summer months by properly handling perishable foods during travel, and by using a food thermometer when grilling.  

If you’re traveling to your favorite grilling location in a local park, or simply grilling in your backyardperishable food items, including raw meat and poultry, need to be handled safely before they hit the grill. Bacteria grow rapidly in warm temperatures, so perishable foods need to be kept at 40°F or below to reduce bacterial growth. Perishable foods that are held above 40°F for more than two hours should not be consumed. In hot weather (above 90°F), food should be discarded if it sits out for more than one hour.   

The best way to keep food cold during the summer when you’re away from home is to use a cooler. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another cooler. The beverage cooler may be opened frequently, causing the temperature inside of the cooler to fluctuate and become unsafe for perishable foods. Prevent juices from raw meat and poultry from cross-contaminating other items in your cooler by placing raw meats in waterproof containers before placing them in the cooler.    

Ensure you have all the tools and utensils you may need for grilling before heading out to the grill. Grab these items to help ensure a safe grilling experience:  

Food thermometer 

Paper towels or moist towelettes  

Two sets of cooking utensils (tongs, spatulas, forks, etc.)Use the first set to handle raw items 

and the other for cooked foods. 

Plates or containers for cooked items. Never place cooked foods on the same plate or container 

that held raw meat or poultry.  

Before eating any meat or poultry you have grilled, verify any potential illness-causing bacteria has been 

destroyed by using a food thermometer. Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your 

meat and poultry to ensure they are done: 

Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145°F (63°C) with a three-minute rest time 

Ground meats: 160°F (71°C)  

Whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry: 165°F (74°C) 

Once finished, make sure all leftovers are refrigerated or put on ice within two hours after cooking, or 

one hour if the temperature is above 90°F. Leftovers should be consumed within three to four days when 


Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (1-888-674-6854) 

Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or email or chat at  


EPA to Visit Pendleton Oil Mill Site Next Week

Updated 2  p.m.

The United States Environment Protection Agency will be returning to the Pendleton Oil Site on May 30-31 to complete assessment sampling of surface soil at the property. The agency has attempted to contact John Sitton, the owner of the site, without success.

Last year Sitton was ordered to cleanup the crumbling buildings on the 6-acre site, and a judge ordered the property to be sold to pay debts/liens against the property.

Pendleton Mayor Frank Crenshaw said he has been in communication with the EPA and hopes eventually the site will be cleared.

Crenshaw also said he is dubious there would be many buyers for the land because the the cost of cleaning it up and hauling off the debris. He said if federal funds and other help becomes available, the land might be useful to the community.

The mill has produced fertilizer and cotton seed oil over the years, and EPA's visit next week wil help determine what, if any, other cleanup is required at the site.


16 Arrested at S.C. Rally for Poor People

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A week after police made 16 arrests at a rally in support of poor people, protesters are back for a second week of mobilization and more arrests in South Carolina.

Nearly 60 people gathered Monday at the African American Monument on the Statehouse grounds for the Poor People's Campaign, an initiative inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s movement to empower those living in poverty. Police made over a dozen arrests Monday.

Organizers said the purpose of this week's rally was to connect the importance of voting rights and democracy to issues of poverty and economic justice.

Event coordinator Kerry Taylor says South Carolina has election problems, including gerrymandering and a lack of opponents to run against incumbents.

Organizers plan another four weeks of mobilization.


Clemson to Host Community Memorial Day Event

The Clemson Corps will host a community-wide service honoring America’s military dead from all wars on Sunday at Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor Memorial. Retired Army Chaplain (Col.) Dave West will speak at the ceremony, which begins at 4 p.m.

The memorial service will feature the placing of a wreath, the playing of “Taps” and the dedication of two new stones on the Scroll of Honor Memorial. The stones represent Lawrence N. Meadors, Class of 1954, and John B. Mitchell, Class of 1949, who lost their lives while serving on active duty in the United States Air Force. The dedication of stones engraved with the names of these men will bring to 493 the number of heroes memorialized on the Scroll of Honor.

Limited seating will be provided, so participants are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be canceled.

Chaplain West began his Army career as a private, enlisting in the South Carolina National Guard in 1976. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1979 and went on to serve in various command and staff positions, including overseas assignments.

After leaving active duty in 1992, West earned a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and became a chaplain in the Army Reserve. In 2002, West was recalled to active duty and served as Operations Chaplain, United States Central Command. In this assignment, he was responsible for the religious care for over 2.5 million service men and women throughout the Middle East and in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following his promotion to colonel, West was assigned as the Command Chaplain, U.S. Special Operations Command Central, where he had religious support responsibility for all Special Operations forces throughout 27 countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

A decorated veteran, West is an alumnus of Anderson University and lives in Seneca with his wife, the former Faye Moore.


S.C. Considers eLearning for Teachers/Students

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina education panel has approved preliminary guidelines for a pilot eLearning program for teachers and students to use to stay on track with school work while outside of the classroom because of to bad weather.

Members of an education oversight committee met Monday to discuss the eLearning standards in preparation for the upcoming school year in August. Members said they want guidelines in place before the General Assembly approves the state's budget in June.

Republican Sen. Greg Hembree of Little River said he's intrigued by the program but said ensuring access for students could pose a challenge for school districts.

The Education Oversight Committee suggests no more than 5 schools participate in the pilot program, and that interested school districts must submit an application and fulfill certain requirements.