It is difficult for children in Kershaw County today to even imagine the Jim Crow era, when African-Americans had to use separate bathrooms, couldn't eat in most restaurants, endured poor facilities and often had a difficult time even voting. That was just a bit more than a generation ago, and one of the towering figures who fought such injustices was Matthew Perry, who died earlier this week at age 89.
• TV personality Alex Trebek is well known for asking "answers" on "Jeopardy!" but not as much so for chasing down intruders, which he did last week after someone invaded his hotel room. Alas, Trebek suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while chasing down the violator, and he has undergone surgery. We hope he'll soon be recovered, as we (and legions of other "Jeopardy!" fans in Kershaw County don't want to have to miss him behind the lectern of any episodes.
An anonymous group has sent a letter to Kershaw County Board of School Trustees Chairman Joey Dorton charging that the school district -- its top officials, who make employment decisions -- had decreed who would be hired, or at least which races would be hired, before interviewing began for three principal's positions in the county.
With the country on the brink of a debt default, and with elected officials in Washington locked in combat, it has never been more apparent how fragile the art of compromise is in the nation's capital. Most believe the reason is that for years, members of the Republican and Democratic parties have become more and more polarized, Republicans hewing to the hard right and Democrats to the hard left. There's lots of space to meet in the middle, but Washington pols don't appear interested. This is frustrating to many centrists who believe government shouldn't exist on ...
• Actress Jane Fonda says she's "deeply disappointed that (shopping channel) QVC caved in to insane pressure" and cancelled her recent television appearance. Fonda, as you might recall, straddled a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun during the Vietnam war; she later charged she'd been tricked into the stunt. But people have long memories. Fonda's conduct went far beyond activism and protest, amounting instead to consorting with the enemy, and she must live with the consequences. If QVC made the decision to cancel her appearance because the company thought she would ultimately hurt business, the network had every right to ...
Author Chris Crutcher says he's shocked -- shocked! -- that his book "Angry Management" has been removed from Kershaw County School District libraries and from the district's summer reading list. Imagine that.
Kershaw County resident Reggie Lloyd has had an impressive -- some would say meteoric -- career run in his public life. After practicing law for a prestigious Columbia law firm, he was elected a circuit court judge, and then he became U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, the first African-American to serve in that post since Reconstruction. In 2008 he was appointed by then-Gov. Mark Sanford to head the State Law Enforcement Division.
• The suit filed by former Kershaw County Sheriff Steve McCaskill against present Sheriff Jim Matthews is a messy situation that will cost county taxpayers money. Libel laws are written so that people who hold themselves up to scrutiny -- in other words, almost all elected officials -- have very difficult tasks in winning such suits; they must usually prove there is malice involved, which is difficult to do. At the same time, Matthews has certainly made uncomplimentary comments about McCaskill. This matter could end up being expensive and unpleasant for lots of people.
Business leaders from across the United States -- ranging from Wall Street monarchs to small-town family business owners -- barraged Congress earlier this week with the same message that many Americans would like to send: quit arguing and get something done about the debt ceiling and then the long-term fiscal discipline of this country. News reports indicate that a concerted effort from business people across the spectrum was aimed at Washington -- ironically, much of it toward Republican lawmakers who have benefited from business contributions in the past.
Many Kershaw Countians who are past middle age undoubtedly recall with fondness former First Lady Betty Ford, who died last week at age 93. Her husband, Gerald Ford, became president upon Richard Nixon's resignation following the Watergate scandal; he had earlier been appointed to the vice presidency after Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace.
• President Obama has started tweeting, and he might regret it. The president is now using the social-media Twitter to send out messages, but Republicans aren't letting him get off unscathed, sending in questions about the economy's performance during his administration. The city of Camden has recently undergone its own social media upheaval with its (former) Facebook account, and folks there might advise the president that tweeting might not end up all that it's cracked up to be.
Many Kershaw County residents are no doubt keeping in their minds the most-used cliché in legal circles: you can never predict what a jury's going to do. That certainly proved true again earlier this week, when 12 people found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter. It was a case that had captured public opinion perhaps as no other had since the murder trial of O.J. Simpson many years ago. Both defendants were acquitted despite circumstantial evidence that seemed overwhelming. Both cases also spotlighted Americans' fascination with the legal system and with high-profile crime cases.
Up until recently, someone who mentioned the words "woman" and "presidential candidate" in the same breath probably would have been met with the response, "Sarah Palin." But now, with Palin's star fading -- at least politically -- and with nobody having stepped forward to commandeer the frontrunner's role in the Republican field, Minnesota Congressman Michelle Bachmann is assuming a front-and-center position as a viable candidate to take the GOP nomination. Whether her early poll results will result in another shooting-star phenomenon is yet to be told, but Bachmann is proving herself a more adept campaigner than Palin was.
• Spin is a way of life in Washington, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi carried it to new heights last week. When George Bush was president and Democrats controlled the House, she blamed everything in the world, maybe even including bad weather, on Bush. Now that Barack Obama is president and the economy is still struggling, she blames all the world's woes on Republicans, who have a majority in the house. "They hold the power," Pelosi says. Right.
South Carolina baseball fans have plenty to crow about with the Gamecocks having won their second consecutive national championship, a feat that has been accomplished only a few times prior to this year. In the process, the team swept through the post-season playoffs without a loss, setting a record for consecutive playoff victories. The most exciting part was that USC was not a team that just lined up and mowed down the opposition without pausing; the Gamecocks got themselves into plenty of tight spots along the way and always managed to extricate themselves without major problems occurring. All championship teams ...
• We are comforted when justice is served, and we believe that happened Thursday afternoon when a jury found 33-year-old Willie Thomas Starnes, of Bethune, guilty of armed robbery and murder. The jury found Starnes guilty of deliberately using his vehicle a year ago to knock Alan Thomas Robinson, 67, also of Bethune, off his moped, stealing and loading that moped onto his vehicle and then turning around and running Robinson over. Robinson died the next day. Starnes is then accused of selling the moped for money he used to buy drugs. In fact, Starnes was under the influence of drugs ...
Whenever the subject of guns is brought up, it engenders strong opinion on both sides -- from those who believe in absolute Second Amendment rights, and from those who believe that nobody should be allowed to own a gun in any circumstances. Like most people, we fall somewhere in the middle, solidly on the side of Americans to own firearms but a bit dubious about why it makes sense for people to own Uzis and other automatic weapons that are made with the express purpose of killing people.
We comment on sports issues in this space on a regular basis, because athletics are so ingrained into the culture of Kershaw County and South Carolina. This week marks the kick-off of college football season in the Palmetto State, and several developments highlight the changing culture of the pigskin pastime here.
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