The tragic and senseless shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is just another in a long line of such incidents that occur with too much regularity. The Giffords shooting generated a great deal of publicity because she is a United States representative, but such mass violence has become so common that it's hardly shocking anymore. That's a shame and a sad commentary. When Richard Speck broke into a Chicago apartment in 1966 and murdered eight nurses, this country was shocked and incredulous, just as it was when Charles Whitman climbed a University of Texas tower that same year ...
• Sometimes we just have to wonder, "What were they thinking?" That's the case with Capt. Owen Honors, the highly regarded Navy officer who was recently relieve of his command after inappropriate videos turned up on the Internet. As commander of the USS Enterprise, Honors was popular among the sailors serving under him, and it's difficult to determine what could have motivated him to make videos that were considered lewd. The Navy had no choice but to relieve him because of poor judgment.
Hundreds of people filed into Camden's First Baptist Church earlier this week to witness the swearing-in of Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews, and it was good to see that it took Matthews only a few minutes to sign mutual assistance pacts with the sheriffs of five neighboring counties, signaling a new day of cooperation among the local department and those of surrounding areas. It was appropriate that a large number of law enforcement officials from other departments -- county, state and federal -- attended the ceremony to watch the former DEA agent take the oath and pledge to do "my very ...
Despite the great medical advances of the past half-century, cancer has proved an elusive enemy; for many strains of the disease, survival rates are scarcely better now than they were decades ago. So every new discovery is met with enthusiasm, and that's certainly the case for a new blood test announced earlier this week by Boston scientists, who are teaming with Johnson & Johnson to market a test that will help doctors determine what cancer cells are doing and how best to attack them.
• Country music fans in Kershaw County and across the country might get a special treat in the coming year. Superstar Merle Haggard, who's one of the only country stars who really did serve time in prison, was recently honored at Washington's Kennedy Center with a lifetime achievement award for his work. While there he got together with old buddies Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson and the three are contemplating getting together as a new singing group. There aren't many better than those three, and any work coming out of their collaboration will be a treat.
As the final minutes of 2010 wind toward midnight, there are probably many people in Kershaw County who won't be sad to see the curtain fall on this year. The economy remained stagnant; jobs didn't bounce back as everyone had hoped they would; the housing market is still in the doldrums; and we suffered through one of the most brutal summers in history. Yet there is hope ahead as we move into the second decade of the 21st century.
Warmer weather is on the way for Kershaw County, and there will no doubt be lots of people who are happy about that. Above-normal temperatures could bring this month's averages up enough to avoid this year's being the coldest December on record, but it's been pretty brutal by southern standards, with more nights in the teens this month than we normally see in a couple years. There will no doubt be a great many expressions of disbelief when heating bills arrive. But we in South Carolina can still consider ourselves fortunate; rarely do we experience the kind ...
• The new census brought good news for South Carolina, as the Palmetto State's population growth over the past decade will result in an additional Congressional seat, bringing the state's total to 7. As expected, most states which will pick up seats are in the South and the West, and most which will lose states are in the industrial Midwest and the Northeast. The new Congressional map amounts to an obstacle for national Democrats.
On Christmas Eve, we offer this timeless piece which was first published in The New York Sun in 1897, when editor Francis Church was faced with the following letter from a little girl named Virginia O'Hanlon:
As we near the end of 2010 -- it's almost unfathomable that a full decade has passed since the momentous millennium celebration -- the economy is still struggling to rebound both nationally and right here in Kershaw County. Many small businesses are just hanging on until things get better; real estate agents are not seeing an anticipated turnaround in home sales; and too many people are out of work. At the same time, there is much to celebrate. The Christmas season is the basis of the Christian faith, and a time of reunion; thousands of Kershaw Countians will join with family ...
• It's been much colder than normal here in Kershaw County and many people are ready for an easing of the temperatures. But one friend suggested recently we should be thankful; he had checked weather information on-line, and for a recent week in Fairbanks, Alaska, the high temperature -- the high -- was negative 28 degrees. The low was negative 51. Those readings make our recent nights in the teens seem absolutely balmy.
As we approach a new year, one of the best presents the State of South Carolina could receive from the General Assembly would be a comprehensive tort reform measure that would make the state's business climate friendlier and would spur economic stability. Texas has been a leader in tort reform, and Gov. Rick Perry is pushing a new proposal that would take that state a step further.
Three situations worth watching:
• We're happy to see Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk selected by her peers to serve as chair of the S.C. General Assembly Women's Caucus. We'll agree with Funderburk when she decries the fact that South Carolina is last in the nation in female elected officials, and we'd like to see more women elected to serve not only in Columbia but throughout the state. We're confident she'll do a great job leading the Women's Caucus at the State House.
Voters in Kershaw County and nationwide have been bombarded with news during the past few days regarding the compromise between the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans on tax policy. Democrats in Washington, who for nearly two years have been accusing the GOP of obstructionism, are the people in this instance who are throwing up roadblocks. To listen to them tell it, lower-income Americans are being saddled with a lion's share of the American tax burden while upper-income citizens walk away on April 15 scot-free. So here are a few facts:
• Property rights vs. community pride is a conflict as old as civilization itself. In recent months, we've reported on two attempts to regulate the appearance of properties in an effort to clean up our communities. Back in October, Kershaw County Council rejected, 3-4, third reading of an ordinance which would have given the county authority to demolish uninhabitable dwellings deemed a nuisance to neighbors or the community at large. More recently, Bethune Town Councilman John Fulmer proposed an ordinance which, if passed in December, would fine owners of blighted properties if they don't clean them up after being ...
Lawyers of every political persuasion are lining up in Washington to have their say on the legality or illegality of the plan President Obama intends to implement regarding amnesty for illegal aliens who are in the United States without proper authorization, with one major network saying the president's plan to take the immigration system into his own hands "is a daring test of the limits of presidential power."
Operating under the simple premise that citizens have a right to know as much as they can about how their government officials operate, and how that affects governmental agencies as a whole, we almost always favor laws and regulations which require transparency in government. Transparency, of course, is an overused word, but it basically means that government agencies must operate in a way that allows citizens to observe what's happening, and even to have input about what's taking place.
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