Those of us who live in Kershaw County often tend to take for granted the Carolina Cup, which is known across South Carolina and the Southeast as one of the premier sporting and social events of each year. While many natives don't attend the race and might grumble good-naturedly about traffic tie-ups on Cup Saturday, thousands upon thousands of people flock here each year to attend the races, and that is an incalculable benefit for Camden.
Camden City Council is considering two projects that would utilize hospitality tax funding, one which would create a "pocket park" where the former Maxway building -- an eyesore by any measure -- is located in the downtown business district, and the other the creation of a tavern at the Historic Camden campus.
• U.S. airlines, which tout customer service but don't practice it very often, could take a cue from Lufthansa, the German line which flies many routes between the United States and international destinations. Lufthansa offers incentives for medical doctors to let the airline know when they're aboard, and they reserve a particular seat -- it happens to be 36G -- for the physician, so flight attendants always know where they can find help in an emergency. Now that's a nifty plan that serves everyone's interests.
The U.S. Postal Service is losing nearly $16 billion a year, and the attrition of traditional mail continues as people communicate, pay bills and make reservations on the Internet, along with a host of other tasks that used to involve mail. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced recently that Saturday mail delivery would be eliminated; this, of course, isn't everybody's first preference, but it's necessary to try to help stem the flow of red ink. But the post office has always been a political football, and our representatives in Congress -- the same ones who agree on almost ...
A state Senate bill that would allow early voting in South Carolina makes perfect sense and will benefit thousands of Palmetto State voters if it becomes law. Many other states already allow people to cast their ballots several days before an election, but South Carolina voters haven't been allowed to do that unless they were able to provide one of 18 different reasons to cast an absentee ballot. In reality, those wishing to vote early haven't had a problem in doing so by designating one of the basketful of absentee-voting reasons, but it's a needless process. This ...
• There is something comforting about tradition, and the election of a new pope -- with the tell-tale white smoke billowing from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel -- is about as traditional as it gets. With 1.2 billion members, the Catholic church is facing both challenges and opportunities as newly elected pontiff Pope Francis begins his tenure. He has won adherents from the beginning because of his humility, and it will be interesting to see how he takes on the challenges of the church.
Supporters of President Obama say the ratcheting up of a group called Organizing For Action is simply a way for the president to get his message out and pressure Congress to adopt his agenda. Critics say it's a way for big-money donors and special interest groups to buy access to the White House. As the controversy swirls, we are reminded of the Clinton presidency and the brouhaha around "the Lincoln bedroom," which was the practice of allowing large donors to have a sleepover in the White House.
There's an interesting situation working up in Charlotte, where the owners of the Carolina Panthers are asking the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina for more than $200 million to fund stadium renovations at 17-year-old Bank of America Stadium -- a facility, by the way, that was built not with the owners' investment but primarily through the sales of "permanent seat licenses" to those who bought season tickets, along with some funding from the city of Charlotte.
• We note with sadness the death of longtime Camden resident Ed Bracey, who was a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He was also a civil rights pioneer, helping pave the way for the integration of South Carolina's public universities, and he was a tireless advocate -- sometimes through his columns here in the Chronicle-Independent – for justice. He leaves the world a better place.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has been an outspoken critic of the ideological stalemate in Washington, and Graham, who's taken considerable political heat from the right fringes of his own party because of his willingness to reach across the aisle, played a key role in a Wednesday night Washington dinner in which President Obama sat down with GOP leaders to discuss the sequester and the ongoing fight over the budget.
South Carolina has a reasonable concealed weapons policy which allows law-abiding people to carry handguns after going through a relatively simple permitting process, which includes training in the proper way to safely carry firearms. A proposal to scrap that system in favor of one that would allow anyone to carry concealed weapons without any kind of permit has been introduced in the General Assembly. The bill, sponsored by two Republican lawmakers, would be a step backward for the state; present law doesn't infringe upon the constitutional right to bear arms.
• We note with sadness the recent death of Van Cliburn, pianist extraordinaire, who captured the world's attention at age 23 when he won the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, wowing judges and the public alike with his incredible keyboard talent. He was honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York -- back in the days when there really was ticker tape -- and sold countless records before burning out on a commercial career and retreating to a more solitary life.
Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are considering a challenge to the nation's signature voting rights act, which was passed in 1965, during an era when many states did whatever they could to deny the right to vote to blacks. The issues are complex, but the cogent question is whether or not Congress, in reauthorizing certain provisions of the act in 2006, were correct or incorrect in using a formula based on historic practices and voting data from elections that were held decades ago.
Three years ago, President Obama, freshly ensconced in the White House, appointed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to draft a plan to cut the nation's huge deficit. In choosing reasonable men of two parties, Obama left everyone with the impression that he was flexible and ready to deal with fiscal issues in an even-handed way. The men headed a committee that came up with common-sense and workable solutions to reduce the deficit in an even-handed way -- both cutting spending and raising taxes.
• Kudos to the Big Ten conference, which is considering requiring its member schools to stop scheduling "powderpuff" teams; the move comes as resistance increases to the popular practice of schools padding their non-conference schedules with smaller schools which have little football prowess. The practice makes final records look good and it provides a big payday for the small schools, but with ticket prices at high levels, the fans get soaked for watching runaway games.
There are many things we like about Gov. Nikki Haley, chief among them being her determined focus on economic development. Haley has been a tireless campaigner for South Carolina when it comes to attracting business to the Palmetto State, and it's paid off in lots of jobs and significant tax revenue. We also like the fact she's a female of Indian descent who helps the diversity picture in South Carolina.
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