Clyburn event brings big days to Santee area

Held the first weekend in August, 6th District Congressman Jim Clyburn’s annual Rudolph Canzater Memorial Classic golf tournament is marking 25 years this weekend. It has come a long way from its roots as an informal gathering of golfing friends.

The golf tournament was inaugurated as the PIC (Palmetto Issues Conference) Classic. PIC was an effort started by the volunteers of Clyburn’s 1978 campaign for South Carolina secretary of state to remain engaged in political activities.

“Candy,” as Rudolph Canzater was affectionately called, was one of those volunteers and an original PIC participant. His efforts helped lay the groundwork for Clyburn’s eventual election to Congress.

Canzater died in 1988 at the age of 49 from a ruptured aorta. The tournament was renamed and played in his memory the following year, as it has been every year since.

This year, the tournament will award scholarships and provide laptops and software packages to more than 100 high school graduates honored as Canzater Scholars. The amount of college support awarded in 2015 totals nearly $400,000. Since the Canzater Classic’s inception, the event has provided more than $4 million in college assistance.

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Medicare at 50: Program vital for aging S.C.

Medicaid was created as a “sleeper” provision when Congress created Medicare 50 years ago in 1965 to cover health care for seniors. Since then, the program has become the health care lifeline for a quarter of the population, covering nearly half of all births, a third of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

Enrollment has soared to more than 70 million people since 2014 when the Affordable Care Act began providing billions to states that chose to expand eligibility to low-income adults under age 65. South Carolina is not among those, making Medicaid a hot topic of controversy in the Palmetto State and elsewhere because states must contribute funding.

Seemingly forgotten is the importance of the Medicare program itself, which is primarily funded by the federal government to provide health care coverage to Americans 65 years and older.

According to new numbers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, more than 55 million Americans are covered by Medicare. Compare that to the 19.1 million covered when the program began 50 years ago to bring coverage to the nearly half of seniors who did not have health insurance.

Today’s enrollment numbers represent a 3 million-person increase during the last three years alone as the Baby Boom generation has started to retire. The program faces serious challenges.

July 30, 2015 3:30 am(0)
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S.C. leaders should expand Medicaid access

Democrats are saying they will push hard for expansion of the Medicaid program in South Carolina in 2016, using the name of slain Sen. Clementa Pinckney to call for an end to Republican rejection of a key Affordable Care Act provision.

The Democratic senator who was among nine people killed by a gunman at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June championed expansion of the Medicaid program that would bring health care coverage to an estimated 200,000 poor South Carolinians presently doing without. The hope is that a spirit of reconciliation and unity following the Charleston church massacre will make this the right time for the state to change its stand on Medicaid and the ACE as whole.

Led by Gov. Nikki Haley, Republican leadership has resisted expansion of the program to provide care to the low-income citizens. The opponents contend South Carolina will not be able to afford the expanded program as federal dollars to pay for it grow less over time.

Thirty states have expanded Medicaid, or plan to do so, to include all adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, currently $16,243 for an individual. More than a dozen have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections, causing some lawmakers concern the added costs will strain their budgets when federal aid begins to scale back in two years.

In states that accepted the program, the federal government is paying 100 percent of the expansion costs through 2016. After that, each state is responsible for 5 percent in 2017, 6 percent in 2018, 7 percent in 2019 and 10 percent from 2020 on.

July 29, 2015 3:30 am(1)
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Shark attacks no comparison to road danger

Reports of a small shark biting a person at Edisto Beach made news Monday -- much more so than the weekly post-weekend report from the S.C. Department of Public Safety about highway deaths.

Some will argue that is a reflection of sensationalism by media, but social media reflects the same, with much more about sharks and shark attacks than the highway death toll.

News judgment by journalists is based on many factors. High among them is weighing the importance of stories as they pertain to threats to human life. Against that measure, the shark attacks along the Atlantic Coast this year are insignificant.

This past weekend was particularly deadly on the state’s roads. SCDPS announced nine people were killed from Friday at 6 p.m. until Sunday at midnight.

While the heavy volume of traffic could lead to the assumption that interstate highways are more deadly this time of year, the weekend deaths reflect danger on all roads. Three fatalities occurred on interstates, four on U.S. routes, S.C. roads and secondary roads, and two on county roads.

July 28, 2015 2:30 am(1)
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Immigration system reform is real answer

The murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco — allegedly committed by a much-deported undocumented immigrant — has fueled the immigration debate just as presidential candidate Donald Trump has been fanning some familiar flames.

There are a couple of lessons when it comes to immigration in this tragedy. They just aren't the ones that Trump and other fan-flamers are citing.

Trump, you'll recall, in his candidacy announcement seemed to lump all undocumented immigrants together as criminals Mexico is sending this country — labeling them as rapists and drug dealers, specifically.

And then Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez came along. He is accused of shooting Steinle with a stolen gun on a pier in San Francisco on July 1. He has been deported five times, has a criminal history and, before the shooting, was in jail. Immigration authorities asked local authorities to hold him for yet another deportation, but he was released anyway.

San Francisco, it turns out, is one of those dreaded "sanctuary cities" that will not turn its police force into immigration agents.

July 27, 2015 2:00 am(0)
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Haley taking right approach to spotlight

Haley taking right approach to spotlight

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during a ceremony after she signed the bill removing the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is the South Carolinian Republican in the race for the White House, but Gov. Nikki Haley may yet be the Palmetto State politician on the ballot in November 2016 when the nation elects a new leadership team.

Graham is a respected Washington leader with top-level credentials on foreign policy. He has a solid conservative record while also being known as a politician willing to work across the aisle. As much as that should make him a contender among the electorate as whole, Republican primaries are about conservatism and appeal to the right. At best, the South Carolina leader is a long shot among the 16 contenders for the nomination, presently scoring in the low single digits in polling.

Ironically, Haley is making national headlines as the same type Republican as Graham: conservative and progressive. The difference is she is being cited by politicos as an ideal running mate for the eventual nominee, who will need someone with conservative credentials who can also appeal to moderates and even Democrats.

Haley’s background as an Indian-American who became South Carolina’s first female and first minority governor has given her a national profile since rising from political obscurity to decisive victory in 2010 and being re-elected in 2014. Her response to high-profile crisis has raised the profile to unprecedented heights.

Compassion in promoting unity among South Carolinians and strength in leading the push to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse in the wake of the killing of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June have her being profiled as a leadership model.

July 26, 2015 2:00 am(0)
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‘Interesting election ahead as a nation’

Hillary Clinton is a presumed favorite in the race to become the next U.S. president, but it’s clear a lot of people do not believe she is a lock to win the election a year and a half away.

Already Democrats in Iowa are showing even they are not in lock step with the Clinton machine as it rolls toward nomination as the party’s candidate. Much like Eugene McCarthy in 1968, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is attracting enough attention from the far left that even the Clinton people are worried he could get an uncomfortable level of support in the opening Iowa caucuses and beyond.

And the problem is not just Sanders’ appeal. It is Clinton’s popularity.

Quinnipiac University polling on the presidential candidates after surveys in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia found Clinton is the most unpopular Democrat, with net favorability low enough to rival Donald Trump's on the Republican side.

The GOP is certainly not ready to concede the election to Clinton. As of Tuesday, 16 candidates are vying for the nomination, none with any substantial level of national support -- with the exception of billionaire Trump. He’s leading the polling amid his headline-grabbing words about issues such as immigration, but Trump, according to the same QU polling, is consistently one of the most disliked Republican candidates. Ultimately, he’s unlikely to get very far in the primary process.

July 24, 2015 2:30 am(0)
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U.S. must accept that no military facility is safe

President Barack Obama gave ammunition to his critics in waiting until Tuesday to order flags at the White House lowered to half-staff in memory five U.S. military personnel killed in attacks this past week in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Though Congress and states did not lower flags until the same day, the president will bear the brunt of the criticism as he is already under attack as a commander in chief who does not adequately support the military and does not take the threat from Islamic terrorists seriously enough. Add the nuclear deal with Iran and Obama critics have a wealth of new ammunition.

If controversy about a delay in lowering Old Glory serves to call greater attention to what happened in Tennessee, the importance of steps to guard against future attacks and the complacency in America about terrorism, let’s have more of it.

The words of columnist Armstrong Williams, writing on this page today, are on target:

“For Americans, the threat of terrorism today seems at a comfortable, manageable distance: miles, oceans and armies away. At most, we turn on our TVs to the international news and watch with a tune of sympathy. However, with every night that we lock our doors and go to bed feeling safe from any immediate threats, we are only fooling ourselves and letting a very real threat draw nearer.”

July 23, 2015 2:00 am(1)
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Trump won’t be president but won’t go away

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was blunt in assessing presidential rival Donald Trump during an appearance Tuesday on “CBS This Morning”: "Run for president … but don't be the world's biggest jackass."

Trump knows how to get attention by being outrageous. Anyone familiar with him and reality TV should not be surprised the billionaire is making headlines as a Republican presidential candidate.

First, there was the reaction to the Trump’s comments about illegal immigration and Mexicans in this country being prisoners and rapists.

Then came his shot at close Graham ally and Arizona Sen. John McCain. Trump this past weekend dismissed McCain's reputation as a war hero, saying of the senator who was once a prisoner in Vietnam, "I like people who weren't captured."

Perhaps it took Graham and the other GOP candidates (16, including Trump, as of Tuesday) awhile to respond because they realized attacking Trump feeds the fire that has him drawing audiences, getting headlines and climbing in the polls. Plus, it’s understandable that in trying to carve out a niche of support to win key early primaries, no GOP candidate has wanted to overtly attack Trump.

July 22, 2015 2:00 am(2)
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Emanuel Nine gag order is out of order

If ever there was a case that illustrates why freedom of information is important, it’s that of the Emanuel Nine.

Throughout the country, observers have followed the story of the nine people murdered at Emanuel AME Church as they studied the Bible. They have read about each victim, his career, family and faith.

But 9th Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson has put a gag order on any information related to the prosecution of their alleged killer, Dylann Roof. That includes recordings of 911 calls, reports of the medical examiner and coroner, investigative reports, statements of witnesses and the suspect’s medical and mental health records.

The Post and Courier, the S.C. Press Association, The Associated Press and others are appealing his order, saying it is inconsistent with the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Of course it is.

Jay Bender, press freedom lawyer for The Post and Courier and the press association, said Judge Nicholson does not have the authority to tell the city and county law enforcement agencies what information to release.

July 21, 2015 3:30 am(1)
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Warnings about mercury in fish not to be ignored

Warnings about mercury in fish not to be ignored

“Whether you have a passion for deep sea sports fishing or enjoy casting your lure into freshwater lakes brimming with trophy catches, South Carolina offers world-class salt water and clear water fishing,” according to the S.C. Department of Parks and Tourism.

Most any South Carolinian will agree. And summer is a time when natives and thousands of tourists find “wetting a line” something they just have to do. That makes the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s issuance this past week of fish-consumption advisories particularly timely.

The DHEC report has been what is in effect an annual warning for more than two decades since 1994: Limit the amount of fish being eaten from many bodies of water in South Carolina. The leading risk is mercury poisoning.

The cause of elevated mercury levels in certain fish remains an official mystery. Some mercury occurs naturally, but coal-burning industries, chlorine manufacturers and waste incinerators also contribute to high mercury levels in the air and water.

The fact that mercury has been found should be enough to prompt public compliance. Consumed in large enough amounts, methylmercury can cause nervous system damage, particularly in infants. The consumption advisories suggest safe amounts of fish meals, with a meal being a half-pound (or 8-ounce) serving.

July 20, 2015 5:00 am(0)
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Schools cannot honor request for new holiday

The absence of religion and religious observances in public schools is often criticized in the Christian context of removing the Bible from education and not allowing school prayer.

A diverse society with a constitutional foundation in religious freedom based on no government sanction nor prohibition regarding any faith supports the argument that public schools not openly favor majority Christians any more than they do minority Muslims, Hindus, Jews, agnostics, atheists, etc.

Though individuals are allowed to pray in school as freedom of religion should always allow, holding officially sanctioned prayers ultimately will favor one religion over another. The same can be said of recognizing religious-based holidays.

Once, Good Friday was a holiday for public schools as were “Christmas holidays,” and as much as both days are often time away from school now as part of “spring break” and “winter holidays,” a request being made by Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, is an example of where officially recognizing and observing religious holidays could lead.

In a July 14 press release, Zed is calling on South Carolina schools, public as well as private, “which have significant number of Hindu pupils,” to include Diwali, the most popular Hindu holy day, as a school holiday in their 2015-16 school calendars and beyond.

July 19, 2015 2:30 am(0)
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S.C. in need of emphasis on hospitality

“Wow. South Carolina has really been in the news a lot lately.”

The comment from one out-of-state caller sums up 2015, with the Palmetto State under a national and even international microscope for a police shooting and church massacre that prompted emphasis on racism and the Confederate flag.

The latest major story hit even closure to home with the mysterious shooting deaths of four people at a rural residence near Holly Hill.

The horrific incidents and accompanying scrutiny have many South Carolinians ready to see the state again make news for being an ideal location for retirement and vacations, and not the home of tragedy and controversy.

Tourism as a mainstay of the state’s economy is ready to see new headlines and “normal” times that mean $18.1 billion an impact annually for an industry accounting for one in every 10 jobs in the state.

July 17, 2015 3:30 am(3)
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Better to have pact with Iran than alternative

The agreement announced Tuesday to limit Iran’s nuclear program is a step forward.

The criticism by leaders such as South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is cause for concern but is not reason to undermine the accord reached by the United States and six other world powers with Iran over the Islamic nation’s nuclear program.

Republicans in particular are critical of the deal secured by the Obama administration as a necessity in making nuclear conflict less likely and finding solutions to turmoil in the Middle East.

Graham called the agreement "a terrible idea,” saying on NBC’s “Today” show, "Anybody could have done better.”

The South Carolina senator said it is a fantasy to believe that when the Iranians chant "Death to Israel," they are "just kidding." He said the United States is "taking the largest state sponsor of terrorism" and giving them more weapons.

July 16, 2015 3:30 am(1)
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Solicitor will make right call in Combs case

First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe is facing another decision regarding the prosecution of former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs on a murder charge related to the May 2011 shooting death of Bernard Bailey in a dispute outside town hall.

After two mistrials, one in Orangeburg County and another in Richland, during which juries could not reach unanimous verdicts, the logical question is: Should there be a third trial?

The answer is “yes” if the solicitor continues to believe a murder charge is the only path to justice. Going to trial means three possible outcomes: a murder conviction, a manslaughter conviction should the jury decide on guilt without malice, or a not-guilty verdict, though a plea bargain in the case would not be surprising at this point.

Some question Pascoe’s motives in the prosecution. In Sunday’s edition of The Times and Democrat, Ronald T. Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, an organization that says it “supports law enforcement officers, like Rick Combs, who are unfairly accused of crimes in the performance of their official duties,” writes:

“The second mistrial in the case of former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs should bring an end to the politically motivated prosecution …”

July 15, 2015 3:30 am(1)
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School closes after venomous spiders found for a 3rd time

MERCERSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania school district has closed one of its elementary schools due to an infestation of venomous spiders.

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Cops: Man buys car after taking $150,000 left by ATM workers

Cops: Man buys car after taking $150,000 left by ATM workers

MAHWAH, N.J. (AP) — One of two men suspected of making off with a bag containing $150,000 in cash that was mistakenly left behind by ATM worke…

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Aggressive cobra found at Houston high-rise apartments

HOUSTON (AP) — An aggressive 2-foot-long cobra captured at a luxury high-rise apartment complex in downtown Houston has been euthanized.

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Texas businessman finds cellphone that fell from plane

Texas businessman finds cellphone that fell from plane

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) — A Texas businessman used an app to find his iPhone in a rural pasture after it fell about 9,300 feet during a flig…

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Cops: Man impersonated brother to avoid $7K in unpaid tolls

FORT LEE, N.J. (AP) — Authorities say a New Jersey motorist assumed his brother's identity to avoid $7,500 in unpaid tolls after he was stoppe…

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Chicken, beer a bad recipe for home burglar who fell asleep

LAKE WORTH, Fla. (AP) — Chicken and beer make for a bad burglary.

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Michigan taxidermist recreates football rivalry

Michigan taxidermist recreates football rivalry

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Wandering turkey causes stir at University of Michigan

Wandering turkey causes stir at University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A wandering turkey is causing a stir at the University of Michigan.

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Great white shark thwarts marathon swim in San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A great white shark thwarted a Northern California man's quest to become the first person to swim from the Golden Gate Br…

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Man wearing ninja mask robs pharmacy with sword

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July 30, 2015 11:31 am(0)

US court says drug-sniffing dog fails the smell test

US court says drug-sniffing dog fails the smell test

CHICAGO (AP) — Lex the police dog from central Illinois is far from top dog in drug-sniffing skills.

July 29, 2015 8:56 pm(0)