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Gowdy, Graham Express Frustration Over Trump Russian Ties

Two of South Carolina’s most prominent Republicans have expressed frustration over the Trump Administration’s possible Russian connection and the way in which new information keeps surfacing.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, who was tapped to be House oversight chairman last month, appeared on Fox News Tuesday and slammed the Trump administration, accusing those in the “Trump orbit” of having amnesia. 

“Someone close to the president needs to get everyone connected with that campaign in a room and say, ‘From the time you saw ‘Doctor Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single one of those, and we are going to turn them over to the special counsel.’ Because this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration.”

Gowdy, who was born in Greenville and grew up in Spartanburg, is helping lead the House Intelligence Committee's probe of Russia's interference in the election and whether there was any collusion between Moscow and Trump aides.

"If you had a contact with Russia, tell the special counsel about it," Gowdy said Tuesday. "Don't wait until The New York Times figures it out!"

Sen. Lindsey Graham also had a strong reaction after reading Donald Trump Jr.’s email string in which Robert Goldstone, a music publicist, claimed a “Russian government lawyer” had “very high level and sensitive information” that was part of the Russian government’s support for the elder Trump’s candidacy.

“Thanks Rob, I appreciate that,” Trump Jr. replied. “If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.”

Trump Jr. posted the emails on his Twitter feed Tuesday morning after the New York Times had informed him they were set to publish them.

"Anytime you're in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is ‘no,’" Graham told reporters Tuesday.

"So, I don't know what Mr. Trump Jr.'s version of the facts are. Definitely -- he has to testify. That email is disturbing.

“We cannot allow foreign governments to reach out to anybody's campaign and say, ‘We'd like to help you.’ That is a nonstarter."


Kid Angler Hauls in Big Purse at Hartwell Lake

An 11-year-old boy fishing from a South Carolina dock reeled in an unusual catch -- a purse that was thought stolen from a boat in the lake 25 years ago.

April Bolt said she feared her purse had been stolen when she left it on her husband's boat at a Hartwell Lake dock in 1992 when the couple went out to eat with his parents.

"I was devastated, I was crying," Bolt told WHNS-TV. "I knew it was going to be a lot of work trying to cancel all my credit cards and license. The main thing was my little boy was 15 months old and all his pictures were in there."

Bolt recently received some surprising news from a family friend -- her purse was apparently in the lake the whole time.

The friend, Ben Meyers, said he was fishing July 4 with an 11-year-old relative on Lake Hartwell when the child hooked something heavy.

"I get my net and he gets it to the top of the water, all of a sudden I see it's a purse," Myers explained. "I said 'man you ain't caught no fish, you caught a treasure!'"

Meyers recognized Bolt's maiden name, April Deanhardt, from an ID that was among the contents of a wallet inside the purse.

Bolt's daughter, Abby, said the find is a window into another era of her mother's life.

"It's quite humorous, considering the wallet, perfume, lipsticks, numerous credit cards from stores that were open 25 years ago, family pictures, 52 cents in change, a check book, a teasing comb, etc. -- it's a serious time capsule!" Abby Bolt told WYFF-TV.


Hobby Lobby Bought More Smuggled Artifacts Earlier

Arts-and-crafts giant Hobby Lobby was pilloried last week after it agreed to forfeit $1.6 million worth of smuggled Iraqi antiquities it bought in 2010 to promote passion for the Bible. 

It turns out that wasn't the first time the company illegally imported artifacts. 

An attorney for the retailer confirmed to NBC News that the $3 million it will pay the federal government to settle a civil case isn't a fine but a payment to cover unspecified items that were improperly brought to the United States before the 2010 acquisition. 

Hobby Lobby doesn't have those purchases any longer. A stipulation outlining the settlement said they are "dissipated," suggesting they were either sold or donated. 

But the company declined to answer questions about the earlier items, including whether any of them were given to the soon-to-open Museum of the Bible in Washington, which Hobby Lobby helped fund. 

"This shows this is not a one-off. They made these kinds of mistakes repeatedly," said Candida Moss, a professor at Notre Dame and co-author of the forthcoming "Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby." 

"They should definitely be opening up their books." 

Hobby Lobby, which has more than 700 stores across the United States, is owned by billionaire evangelical Christians who began amassing an unparalleled private collection of Bible-related texts and artifacts in 2009. 

Last week, prosecutors in New York announced the chain had signed a civil settlement over hundreds of Mesopotamian-era tablets covered in ancient cuneiform writing and thousands of clay tokens known as bullae that it bought from overseas dealers in 2010.


WHNS: Upstate Couple's App Battles Mental Illness

WHNS - It's a potentially revolutionary step forward in helping those battling mental health issues and it's all thanks to one Upstate couple.  The Spartanburg duo, Robyn Hussa Farrell and Tim Farrell developed an app called Sharpen.

Sharpen utilizes the couple's backgrounds in video production and mental health education, and combines them with professional medical advice to develop personal programs for those looking for support. 

"I've seen it in my own family, as so many of us have, I watched a family member die from an addiction, and just as importantly, how hard it was for my family to understand the problem, to know how to help," Tim Farrell said. 

The application helps all age groups struggling with any mental health battle; whether a teenager struggling with an eating disorder or a veteran trying to overcome PTSD. It provides personalized tools, videos, facts sheets and points of local contact to those using the app. 

It breaks it down into four categories: heal, nourish, thrive, cope. It offers help to those who are trying to support the person in need as well.  

"You'll also find topics on what we call building resistance, managing stress, evolving healthy coping skills, understanding how to communicate through conflict and emotion regulation," Robyn Hussa Farrell said. "There are questions to ask providers, there's literally this world, this universe of material all of which has been tested and is evidence-based."

The couple has filmed experts from all walks of the profession, including Upstate Warrior Solutions' Dr. Craig Burnette.
"Twenty two veterans succeed in suicide a day and that is something that we have to reverse," Robyn said.

She has successfully brought mental health programs to K-12 students and now working together, this Upstate couple, is breaking down more mental health barriers, understanding that time and privacy are important.

"We know it takes people 10 years, on average to reach out for help, for a person to be able to sit on their phone in their in their home, by themselves, and see these resources that are available to them then that may help break that time your cycle," Tim Farrell said. 

Help all with just the touch of a screen is what they hope will change lives and minds here in the Upstate and across the nation.  

"If a tool like that was available at the time, I could've made a difference. It would have for a lot of people. We want to make sure that difference is out there now," Tim Farrell  said.

More Here


Study: "Luminosity" Does Not Boost Brain Performance

Commercial brain training doesn't boost decision making or cognitive function, new research shows.

A new study found people who use commercial brain training aids did get better at the training tasks themselves -- they showed "practice effects" -- but didn't benefit from a broader cognitive performance boost.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted the study to see whether brain training can help people curb impulsive behavior.

An earlier study by Penn researchers showed engaging self-control brain circuits can help people refrain from smoking.

"Our motivation, was that there are enough hints in the literature that cognitive training deserved a real, rigorous, full-scale test," Dr. Joseph Kable, an associate professor of psychology, said in a news release. "Especially given the addiction angle, we're looking for things that will help people make the changes in their lives that they want to make, one of which is being more future-oriented."

To test the effects of brain training, researchers had study participants, two groups of healthy young adults, follow the Lumosity training schedule: completing brain training tasks 30 minutes per day, five days a week, for 10 weeks.

Before and after training, researchers had participants complete decision-making assessments, as well as tests designed to measure general cognitive abilities. Scientists found the training to have no impact on either set of tests.

Despite the latest findings -- detailed this week in the Journal of Neuroscience -- researchers plan on continuing to explore the potential of cognitive training and brain circuit stimulation, which showed promise in curtailing impulsive behavior in previous studies.

Scientists hold out hope that some combination of cognitive training and neural stimulation can help people refrain from smoking and overeating.

"As currently available behavioral and medical treatments for these habitual behaviors are ineffective for most people, there is a critical need to develop innovative approaches to behavior change," researcher Caryn Lerman. "Changing the brain to change behavior is the approach that we are taking."


$500 Reward Offered to Catch Starr-Iva Playground Vandals

A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the individual or individuals who vandalized the playground at the Starr-Iva Walking Track, an area built in honor of fallen Anderson County Deputy Alex Burdette.

The Anderson County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

The playground, located on Bowie Street, was damaged between the hours of 10:15 pm, Monday and 7 am, Today, still closed until repairs can be make. was damaged recently said they found overturned trash, swings wrapped around poles and the rock climbing wall ripped off.

Starr mayor Ed Sokol was at the playground Tuesday helping to clean up trash. Sokol said he is contacting the manufacturer about replacement parts for the things damaged.

Jessica Blanton, an Upstate mom whose son, Jackson, helped raise money to build the new playground, said they saw the damage while visiting the park Tuesday. Blanton said Burdette's family lived near the walking track and after his death in 2005, his wife and daughters put up the playground in his honor.

After several years, the playground had suffered wear so Jackson and a group of friends nicknamed "The Starr Kids" raised money in the community to buy all new equipment.

"Starr is, like I said, a tight-knit community," Sokol said. "I feel like that someone that knows something about it would come forward."

A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. Call 864-352-2138 or the Anderson County Sheriff's Department.


S.C. Sales Tax Holidays Set for Aug. 4-6

South Carolina is the annual Sales Tax Holidays – the state’s popular three-day sales and use tax break on traditional back-to-school purchases - begins is scheduled for Aug. 4-6.
The annual event, which was implemented in 2000, will begin Aug. 4 at 12:01 a.m. and tax-exempt purchases can be made through at midnight. While providing taxpayers with an exemption on the 6 percent statewide sales tax as well as any applicable local taxes, the tax-free weekend also benefits in-state businesses by urging taxpayers to do their back-to-school shopping in South Carolina.
During this time, taxes will not be imposed on clothing, shoes, school supplies, book bags, computers, printers, bedspreads and linens, and more. Nonexempt items during the weekend include the sales of jewelry, cosmetics, eyewear, furniture, or items placed on layaway. Portable devices whose function is primarily used for telephone calls, listening or downloading music, watching videos, or reading books, are not exempt during the tax-free weekend. However, with the growing popularity of computer tablets, portable devices that have computing functions and allow users to access multiple software applications are considered computers and are therefore tax-exempt, provided they do not allow users to make telephone calls. More information on the exemption of computer tablets can be found at
The popularity of the tax-free weekend has made it the third busiest shopping period of the year, surpassed only by the weekends after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, as South Carolina shoppers save approximately $3 million during the tax-free weekend.

Click here for a list of exempt items in South Carolina.


Trump Puts Freeze on Collecting Voting Records

U.S. President Donald Trump's commission to investigate possible election fraud on Monday put a freeze on its effort to collect sensitive voter data from states in the face of growing legal challenges.

In an email, the panel's designated officer, Andrew Kossack, asked state elections officers to "hold on submitting any data," the commission said in court filings. 

Several state elections officials confirmed receiving a letter from the panel stating that it would provide further instructions after a federal judge had ruled on a complaint filed by a watchdog group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which is seeking a temporary restraining order.

Earlier on Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, alleging violations of federal law requiring transparent government.

The bipartisan panel, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, asked the 50 U.S. states for a host of voter data, including birth dates and the last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers. 

Most U.S. states have rejected full compliance, which many called unnecessary and a violation of privacy. 

“This has been a misadventure from the get-go," Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who had refused to give the commission any data, said by phone.


7-11 to Offer Free Slurpees Today

7-Eleven is celebrating its 90th birthday by hosting a free Slurpee Party Today.  Customers are invited to enjoy a free small Slurpee beverage from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday as part of the celebration.

7-Eleven estimates that US stores will give away an estimated 9 million free Slurpees during the birthday party.


July 16 Foodie Fest to Benefit Foothills Alliance

On July 16, the Foothills Alliance is hosting Foodie Fest 2017 at the Anderson County Civic Center.

More than 15 food trucks from the tri-state area will line the perimeter of the event, which will also feature music from the band "Hot as a Pepper," country recording artist Hailey Whitters, and former "Glee" cast member Noah Guthrie.

Tickets are $5, for entry into Foodie Fest 2017 food truck area, and $10 for all events including concerts. Children 12 and unders will be admitted free. Parking is also fee. Non pets allowed. 

The concert schedule is as follows:

"Hot As A Pepper" - 2-3:30 p.m.

Hailey Whitters - 4-5:30p.m.

Noah Guthrie - 6-8:00 p.m.

Profits from Foodie Fest 2017 will benefit Foothills Alliance, a non-profit agency that serves child and adult victims of sexual abuse and sponsors child abuse prevention programs. 


Downtown Dog Park Dedication Ceremony Wednesday

Anderson County’s first off-leash dog park will celebrate with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the site downtonw near the library.

The dog park is 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.

The park is a joint effort of Anderson County, the City of Anderson, AnMed and the Community Foothills Foundation.


Haley: "Everybody Knows Russia Meddled in Our Elections"

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Moscow interfered in last year's US election in order to "save face."

"This is Russia trying to save face, and they can't, they can't," Haley told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" Sunday. "Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections. Everybody knows that they're not just meddling in the United States' election. They're doing this across multiple continents, and they're doing this in a way that they're trying to cause chaos within the countries."

When asked about what happened behind closed doors during Trump and Putin's highly anticipated face-to-face meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday, Haley said Trump wanted to look Putin "in the eye."

"What he did was bring up right away the election meddling, and he did that for a reason," Haley said. "One, he wanted him (Putin) to basically look him in the eye, let him know that, 'Yes, we know you meddled in our elections. Yes we know you did it. Cut it out.' And I think President Putin did exactly what we thought he would do, which is deny it."

Asked why, if everyone knows Russia interfered in the US election, Trump hasn't said so in such an unequivocal way publicly, Haley reiterated that Trump's meeting was confrontational.

"Everybody's trying to nitpick what he says and what he doesn't, but talk is one thing, actions are another," she said. "He confronted President Putin. He made it the first thing that he talked about. And I think we have to now see where it goes from here."

Trump and Putin met for more than two hours Friday afternoon, ending with an agreement on curbing violence in Syria.

Trump also met with Chinese President Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday amid questions about how the two countries will work against the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

Of the meeting, Haley said China "has a choice to make" about what kind of international player it wants to be.

"I think that there are a lot of options on the table when it comes to dealing with China, and now the ball's in their court," she said. "We are pushing for a resolution that has very harsh sanctions on North Korea. And so China has a choice to make. They're either going to go along with us and the rest of the international community and say, 'Yes, we think that what North Korea did was wrong,' or they're not."

Haley added that military action against North Korea is an option, as are increased sanctions "in a way that really presses their hard currency." However, Haley said China would have to go along with the sanctions plan since it is North Korea's largest trading partner.

"If they go along with that, that's fine," she said. "If they don't go along with that, the President has made it clear that he will start looking at trade relations with China."

Trump urged action on North Korea in the brief public portion of his meeting with Xi on Saturday.

"Something has to be done about it," Trump argued ominously.

There will "eventually be a success" against Pyongyang, Trump said. "It may be longer than I like, more than you like, but there will be a success ... one way or the other."


Greenville Zoo Orangutan Escapes, Returns to Enclosure

An orangutan escaped from its enclosure at the Greenville Zoo on Sunday, according to zoo officials.

Jeff Bullock with the Greenville Zoo said the male orangutan was able to break one of the wires that held the enclosure netting together and slipped through the hole around 11:30 a.m. The orangutan then sat on top of the roof holding area, Bullock said.

The zoo was then placed on lock down and all visitors were moved inside of the gift shop and various other safe areas.

Soon after, the orangutan returned to its enclosure through the hole and a curator brought in several pad locks to secure the netting where the hole was created.

Bullock says crew members then used water hoses and fire extinguishers to get the orangutans to retreat into the den area long enough for that crew member to secure the net using the pad locks. This is a tactic also used when animals attack, he said, but that was not an issue on Sunday. The orangutans were just excited, he said.

A dart gun was also present, but was not needed and not used.

The female orangutan did not try to escape.

Greenville Zoo crew members are trained to deal with animal escapes, Bullock said. However, it's something they work to avoid, especially with curious orangutans like Kumar, the one who escaped.

"He is, personality wise, just young and curious. Orangutans are just so smart it’s like a really smart teenager who’s always gotta look for anything they can get into," Bullock said. "Anytime we build anything in the exhibit we have to make sure its locked down tight, the bolts are tight, because they’re just so strong and so smart they take things apart.

Visitors were released from their safe areas within about 30 minutes, Bullock said.

No animals, no crew members and no visitors were harmed. Bullock said no one came into physical contact with the orangutan.

"I'm proud of the way the staff handled it, they did their jobs."