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:
Kershaw County voters, like their counterparts throughout the county, should take heart in the fact that Democrats and Republicans finally came together in Washington Monday to forge what looks to be a workable compromise on economic matters. They came up with a measure that will keep income rates at their current pace for another two years and will also extend unemployment taxes; the measure will also reduce the payroll tax on Social Security, instantly putting money into the pockets of working Americans as the country tries to pull out of its long economic tailspin.
• We're glad to see that the U.S. Congress has passed a bill which will prohibit television networks from jacking up the volume when commercials are shown. For decades, viewers have been forced to reach for the remote control device when the sound spurted during ad pitches. We also propose a tongue-in-cheek amendment to the new law: that whenever politicians appear on TV with too much blathering, the volume gets automatically cut down to zero.
With all the scent of change in the air in Washington, D.C., there's still an unpleasant aroma of business as usual in the nation's capital. Despite all the talk about cutting spending and the profligacy of earmarks, the U. S. Senate refused last week to outlaw them. We don't pretend to say banning earmarks would solve the country's deficit problems, but it would be a symbolic first step; Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has referred to them as "the gateway drug to spending addiction."
• 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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