• Technology is wonderful, but there are a few things in the world that should remain the way they've always been. One is a gondola ride on the canals of Venice, Italy, but it appears that, too, is giving in to modernity. GPS will be introduced, along with an electronic traffic control system. In fairness, there have been severe accidents lately in which gondolas have been hit by larger boats, but this change makes us a bit wistful.
It's no secret that American young people are lagging their counterparts in many other countries in academic performance. For several years, we've been bombarded with news stories about the problems kids are facing in a competitive world. Now comes word that it's not only American youths who aren't able to compete, but adults in the workplace, too. And it's disturbing.
If the initial days of government healthcare enrollment are any indication of the quality of care that people are going to receive, there are going to be a lot of very ill people in this country. The healthcare.gov web site was beset by technological glitches that left people frustrated and angry, and the explanation provided by the person in charge was pitiful. When the site failed to work because lots of people tried to access it, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park said, "These bugs were functions of volume. Take away the volume and it works." That's ...
• We offer a tip of the Chronicle-Independent hat to Bill Byars of Camden, who's stepping down as director of the S.C. Department of Corrections, one in a string of government jobs he's held. Byars practiced law for many years in Camden before being elected a family court judge and then moving to the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, a troubled agency which he helped turn around. He's "retired" several times but don't bet on his sitting on the sidelines even after this one.
It's good to see that Camden High School is teaming with an organization called Arrive Alive, sponsored by UNITE International, to graphically demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving, whether it involves drinking, texting or talking on a cell phone. Using high-tech screens and simulators, Arrive Alive allows students to experience what it's like when their reactions are slowed through alcohol use, or how many distractions they are subjecting themselves to when they drive while talking on their phones -- or even worse -- texting. We'll add, by the way, that South Carolina is one of the few states that ...
It has been a frustrating year for all Kershaw Countians and Americans who believe that compromise is the building block of decent government, as our divided officials in Washington have had blinders on and have refused to acknowledge any position but their own. And now we find ourselves in a government shutdown that benefits nobody. (By the time you read this, perhaps the stalemate will have been broken, but it could go on for an extended period of time.)
• President Obama's approval rating is at its lowest point since he took office, and positive public opinion of Congress is barely a blip on the screen, yet Democrats and Republicans continue to hold the country hostage in their political game of one-upsmanship. The term "crying shame" isn't used much anymore but is appropriate in this case.
Insurance companies in the United States are, in increasing numbers, cancelling the homeowners' policies of people who keep aggressive breeds of dogs. Industry statistics say that about one-third of insurance claims arise from dog bites, and companies are starting to tell people they won't insure them if they insist on having breeds that are known for their volatile nature. We don't blame the companies.
We have lost count now of the number of times Congress has come to the brink of shutting the government down. We now find ourselves in the same situation we have on other occasions, with dysfunctional Republicans and incompetent Democrats heaving insults back and forth at each other in Washington while American voters shake their heads in dismay.
• Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State pedophile who was found guilty of molesting many boys who were under his care in various programs, has never admitted guilt despite overwhelming evidence and the unanimous guilty verdict of a jury. His lawyer continues to ask for a new trial for the former coach. Sandusky is serving up to 60 years after losing on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Behind bars is exactly where he needs to be unless a bombshell of new evidence turns up.
One of the offshoots of our politically divided nation is a similarly divided Supreme Court. We would all like to think that justices ponder every case on its own merits without letting political philosophy jaundice their thinking, but that is not the case. And most justices appointed in recent years can be reliably predicted to come down on a particular side of an issue; that often revolves around so-called liberal or conservative doctrine. The "swing vote" justice is becoming a rare breed, indeed.
Most people here in Kershaw County -- and across the country, for that matter -- would have a ready answer if they were asked where most of the tax breaks in the United States go. They'd probably answer that large corporations get them, at the expense of individuals. But a recent study compiled by a national publication reveals that more than 90 percent of all tax breaks go to individuals, and that personal tax breaks have risen seven times faster than corporate breaks, to the point that such tax "payments" now amount to nearly $1.2 trillion a year.
• Betty White is one of the funniest women in the entertainment business, and at 91 she has set a record for having the longest television career of any woman. Starting in 1939, when TV was still a novelty, White has starred in a number of shows and never fails to bring laughs to her audience. She's been at it for 74 years, and we wish her many more.
In a business landscape that changes in the blink of an eye, it's not unusual to see companies come and go. Some that have been around for decades can't keep up with the new marketplace, and they die. Start-ups come wheeling into existence and in a matter of a few months become worth billions of dollars in market capitalization. Few people are surprised when long-standing corporations become "buggy whip companies," the original term given to companies that were overtaken by time and technology.
Kershaw County Council was scheduled last night to hear presentations from 18 different candidates who wish to serve on the board of directors of KershawHealth, and then to question those candidates. What just a few years ago was a fairly humdrum appointment -- important, of course, but without a lot of fanfare -- has morphed into a visible process because of recent controversy at the hospital.
• As the C-I continues to report on the Briana Rabon murder, there is a lot of speculation about how she and her accused killer, Stephen Ross Kelly, knew each other. Officials have, so far, only said that they both attended Lugoff-Elgin High School and were acquaintances, but not involved in a romantic relationship. Rumors abound, however, which we always check out but rarely get confirmation for publication. That's fine. Frankly, it's best that rumors stay out of the newspaper as we let the investigative and judicial processes take whatever time is needed to bring justice for Briana and ...
The last couple weeks have brought astounding new developments in treatment of babies born with AIDS, raising for the first time the hope that perhaps a treatment has been found that will eradicate the disease in newborns who are born to mothers infected by the HIV virus. The first such case was reported last year, but there was skepticism among many in the scientific community. Earlier this week, a second similar case was reported. The first child, dubbed the "Mississippi baby," is now 3 years old and still virus-free; the second one shows no signs of HIV nine months after ...
We aren't very keen on so-called super PACS, those political organizations which spend limitless money promoting one viewpoint or another. They buy huge blocks of television and radio time, along with newspaper ads, to launch attack ads against candidates, with much of the material in the ads questionable at best. Super PACS are a sad sign of what our political process has become.
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