• 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.
Kershaw County residents are getting ready to face what other voters across the country are going to see in the next few months: an onslaught of political ads, many of them nasty in character, and a high percentage of them paid for not by candidates but by special interest groups which have amassed millions upon millions of dollars to spread their messages. And, of course, the bulk of those messages will be negative. These groups are both Democratic and Republican, conservative and liberal. Altogether, according to news reports, such factions are going to buy $2 billion worth of ad time ...
• Friday's report that Amtrak is going to spend the next several months refurbishing Camden's passenger rail station off West DeKalb Street is welcome news. Built in 1937, it has shown its age for decades and never more so than now with holes in the platform's canopy, rotting timbers and other problems that make it a less than desirable place to stop. Amtrak says their No. 1 priority is making the facility Americans with Disabilities Act compliant -- and that's a very good thing -- from the parking lot to the station and onto the platform and train. But ...
We're glad to see that the city of Camden is exploring alternatives for aging Rhame Arena. The building is becoming more dilapidated with each passing year, and something needs to be done, whether it's razing it or restoring it. Of course, money is a factor, just as it is in all government decisions these days. We will say that city officials have overworked the bureaucratic jargon in their appraisal of the situation, saying an "adaptive reuse" could be a possible alternative. We are assuming "adaptive reuse" means repairing the building and making it feasible for some type of ...
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