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Friday
Feb242017

JCPenny to Close at Least 130 Stores; List Coming in March

 

Despite delivering a net profit for the first time since 2010, the company's CEO said it needs to take "aggressive action."

"We believe closing stores will also allow us to adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers," CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement posted Friday morning

Over the next few months, that action will include closing two distribution facilities and 130-140 stores. The affected distribution facilities are in Florida and California, but no list of affected stores was provided.

The company said a list of affected stores will be released in March, after the company notifies its employees. Nearly all of the closures are expected to occur in the second quarter of 2017.

JCPenney did say the affected stores represent 13-14 percent of the company's locations, but less than 5 percent of total annual sales.

Approximately 6,000 eligible employees will be offered a voluntary early retirement program, the company said. Because of that program, Ellison expects the company to face a net increase in hiring across the remaining stores.

JCPenney was included on a research company's list of 30 companies that may not survive 2017.

Thursday
Feb232017

S.C. Tourism Industry Tops $20 Billion Mark

Officials say South Carolina's tourism industry surpassed $20 billion for the first time in 2015.

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal (http://bit.ly/2mfvh2d ) reports that Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Duane Parrish announced the milestone Wednesday in Spartanburg during the South Carolina Governor's Conference on Tourism and Travel.

Parrish says tourism generated $20.2 billion in economic activity statewide in 2015, a 6.1 percent increase over 2014, and the fourth straight year of growth. Final numbers for 2016 aren't yet available, but Parrish said it looks like last year was "another great year."

Parrish says tourism is South Carolina's largest industry, supporting one in 10 jobs and generating $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenues.

Thursday
Feb232017

Damaged Bridge on U.S. 29 to Be Examined Today

Bridge inspectors from the South Carolina Department of Transportation will be in Anderson County today to look at a bridge on U.S. 29 North which was shut down after being struck by a truck.

A truck carrying a container slammed into the Hwy 20 bridge connector on Hwy 29 Wednesday afternoon.

No injuries were reported in the crash, bit there is still visible damage to a steel beam on the bridge that will have to be repaired. Officials say detours are in place on Beaver Dam Road until further notice.

Thursday
Feb232017

Winthrop Poll Finds 44 Percent Trump Approval in S.C.

The latest Winthrop Poll results show that 47% of South Carolina residents disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling the nation’s top job, while 44% approve. His approval numbers in South Carolina are higher than his current national approval rating. 

Within his own party, the 45th president has support from 77% of residents who are Republican or lean towards the GOP. Donald Trump received nearly 55% of the November presidential votes cast in South Carolina.

Since his January inauguration, Trump has stirred up varying emotions across the country.

Winthrop Poll respondents were given a range of adjectives to describe Trump, the results of which reflect a wide spectrum. Among the findings were these observations:

-          More than three-quarters of South Carolina Republicans said they are proud of the president, said he’s confident, and stands up for people like them.

-          More than four-fifths of African Americans in SC said the word “safe” inaccurately described how Trump made them feel. Nearly 80% of them disapprove of how Trump is handling his job.

-          Only 39% of residents describe Trump as thoughtful.

CLICK HERE FOR QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.

SC GOVERNOR HENRY MCMASTER AND OTHERS

S.C. Governor Henry McMaster’s approval rating in South Carolina is 44% but more than a 1/3 of residents said that they don’t know whether they approve or disapprove of him. His approval rating is 28 points higher than his disapproval rating. Elected as the lieutenant governor, McMaster took over as governor on Jan. 24 after Trump tapped S.C. Governor Nikki Haley to be the United Nations ambassador.

Meanwhile, Congress received a stamp of approval from one-quarter of respondents and the S.C. General Assembly got a nod from 45% of those polled. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has a 46% disapproval rating. The state’s junior senator, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who is more highly rated among the Republican base, has a 55% approval rating among the general population.

When asked on a scale from 0 (“cool”) to 100 (“warm”), or 50 (neither warm nor cold), how they felt about people, movements or symbols, respondents’ average “feeling thermometer” scores were:

•             Donald Trump, 48

•             Barack Obama, 61

•             Muslims, 59

•             Hispanics, 71

•             Refugees coming to America from other countries, 51

•             Whites or Caucasians, 75

•             Blacks or African Americans, 78

•             The Confederate flag, 41

•             The Police, 74

•             Black Lives Matter movement, 48

The average feeling thermometer score for each item could vary widely by subgroup of respondents.

ECONOMY

More than half of South Carolina residents (59%) said our country’s economy is very good or fairly good, and a majority believes this country’s conditions as a whole are getting better. Two out of three residents think South Carolina is moving in a positive direction, and 70% think the condition of the state’s economy is either very or fairly good.

Nearly 60% described their own financial situation as good or excellent.

S.C. residents said immigration is the most important problem facing the United States, followed by the economy, racism, Donald Trump, and political division. Those surveyed said the most important issues facing the Palmetto State are roads/bridges/infrastructure, jobs or unemployment, education, economy, and racism.  

RACIAL ISSUES 

Half of S.C. African American respondents said their race contributes to their personal identity. About 40% of African Americans rated the country’s race relations as poor, while 57% of whites rated it as either good or only fair. In the Palmetto State, African Americans said that things were a bit better, as 37% rated state race relations as poor, while three-fourths of whites rated it as excellent, good or only fair.

Fewer than half of African American residents (49%) said they were discriminated in the past year because of their race or ethnicity, while only 24% of white residents felt the same way. A majority of both groups, particularly blacks (92%) feel that it is important for people of their race to work together to change laws that are unfair to their race or ethnicity. Sixty percent of blacks said they felt ignored on certain issues because of their race.

MISCELLANEOUS ISSUES 

The Winthrop Poll looked at a series of other issues that Palmetto State residents may be concerned about:

Four of out of five residents favored making it a crime to post online or share sexually explicit pictures without the expressed consent of those in the pictures.

Eighty-one percent of respondents favored requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees unless the employer could demonstrate that the accommodation imposed an undue hardship on the business.

Nearly 70% favored requiring schools to base their curriculum on reproductive health solely on evidence-based research, where “evidence-based” means “programs or interventions supported by credible scientific studies that find associated decreases in risk behaviors or adverse health outcomes.”

Sixty-three percent favored an amendment to the S.C. Constitution to create an Independent Reapportionment Commission that would be in charge of redrawing voter district lines when the population changes.

More than 80% approved of the death penalty for Dylann Roof, the young man who entered the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and shot ten members who were gathered for Bible study in June 2015. Nine of them died. Roof received the death penalty in January.

For this latest Winthrop Poll, callers surveyed 703 South Carolina residents by landline and cell phones between Feb.12-21. Results which use all respondents have a margin of error margin of error of approximately +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence level. Subgroups have higher margins of error.  Margins of error are based on weighted sample size.  

The Winthrop Poll is paid for by Winthrop University with additional support from The West Forum on Politics and Policy at Winthrop University. For additional information, or to set up an interview with Poll Director Scott Huffmon, please contact Judy Longshaw at longshawj@winthrop.edu or 803/323-2404 (office) or 803/984-0586 (cell).

Wednesday
Feb222017

Seven Earthlike Planets Spotted Near Small Star

A huddle of seven worlds, all close in size to Earth, and perhaps warm enough for water and the life it can sustain, has been spotted around a small, faint star in the constellation of Aquarius.

The discovery, which has thrilled astronomers, has raised hopes that the hunt for alien life beyond the solar system could start much sooner than previously thought, with the next generation of telescopes that are due to switch on in the next decade.

It is the first time that so many Earth-sized planets have been found in orbit around the same star, an unexpected haul that suggests the Milky Way may be teeming with worlds that, in size and firmness underfoot at least, resemble our own rocky home.

The planets closely circle a dwarf star named Trappist-1, which at 39 light years away makes the system a prime candidate to search for signs of life. Only marginally larger than Jupiter, the star shines with a feeble light about 2,000 times fainter than our sun.

“The star is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water and maybe life, by extension, on the surface,” said Michaël Gillon, an astrophysicist at the University of Liège in Belgium. Details of the work are reported in Nature.

While the planets have Earth-like dimensions, their sizes ranging from 25% smaller to 10% larger, they could not be more different in other features. Most striking is how compact the planet’s orbits are. Mercury, the innermost planet in the solar system, is six times farther from the sun than the outermost seventh planet is from Trappist-1.

Any life that gained a foothold and the capacity to look up would have a remarkable view from a Trappist-1 world. From the fifth planet, considered the most habitable, the salmon-pink star would loom 10 times larger than the sun in our sky. The other planets would soar overhead as their orbits required, appearing up to twice the size of the moon as seen from Earth. “It would be a beautiful show,” said Amaury Triaud at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University

The researchers hope to know whether there is life on the planets “within a decade,” Amaury added. “I think we’ve made a crucial step in finding out if there’s life out there,” he said. “If life managed to thrive and releases gases in a similar way as on Earth, we will know.”

Astronomers reported last year what looked like three planets in orbit around Trappist-1, a star they named after the Trappist robotic telescope in the Chilean desert that first caught sight of the alien worlds. The telescope did not see the planets directly, but recorded the shadows they cast as they crossed the face of the star.

Any life that gained a foothold and the capacity to look up would have a remarkable view from a Trappist-1 world. From the fifth planet, considered the most habitable, the salmon-pink star would loom 10 times larger than the sun in our sky. Illustration: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

The discovery prompted more sustained observations from the ground and space. Nasa’s Spitzer space telescope peered at the star for 21 days and, with data from other observatories, revealed a total of seven planets circling Trappist-1. The size of each planet was deduced from the amount of starlight it blocked out, while the mass was estimated from the way it was pushed and pulled around by other planets in the system. 

The planets are on such tight orbits that it takes between 1.5 and 20 days for them to whip around the star. At such proximity, most, if not all, will be “tidally locked”, meaning they show only one face to Trappist-1, just as one side of the moon always faces Earth. Some of the planets are thought to be the right temperature to host oceans of water, depending on the makeup of their atmospheres, but on others any hospitable regions may be confined to the bands that separate the light and dark sides of the planets.

Ignas Snellen, an astrophysicist at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands who was not involved in the study, said the findings show that Earth-like planets must be extremely common. “This is really something new,” he said. “When they started this search several years ago, I really thought it was a waste of time. I was very, very wrong.”

Astronomers are now focusing on whether the planets have atmospheres. If they do, they could reveal the first hints of life on the surfaces below. The Hubble telescope could detect methane and water in the alien air, but both can be produced without life. More complex and convincing molecular signatures might be spotted by Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is due to launch next year, and other instruments, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope, a ground-based observatory due to switch on in 2023. But there is only so much that can be done from afar. “We’ll never be 100% sure until we go there,” said Gillon.

Wednesday
Feb222017

Bill Would Revise Opiod Prescriptions Policy in S.C.

Republicans in the state House are filing 10 proposals aimed at curbing South Carolina's rampant prescription painkiller problem.

The bills sponsored by four Republicans are being introduced Wednesday.

One requires doctors to consult a statewide database of patients' medical histories before writing long-term prescriptions for OxyContin and other opioids. A mandate was first recommended in 2013 by Inspector General Patrick Maley, whose report described high-prescribers as either motivated by money or naively helping "doctor shoppers."

The "Good Samaritan" proposal would provide limited immunity from prosecution for people trying to get medical help for someone who's overdosing.

Another bill would make it easier for people to return excess pills. It's designed to get unused drugs out of medicine cabinets and beyond the easy reach of people who shouldn't be taking them.

Wednesday
Feb222017

Medical Marijuana Bill Moves Ahead in S.C. House

A bill legalizing the medical use of marijuana is advancing in the South Carolina House.

A House panel voted 3-0 on Tuesday to after listening to dozens of patients and their family members tell how marijuana can relieve their suffering from chronic pain, severe epilepsy, PTSD and other ailments.

Supporters argue the government shouldn't prevent people from getting relief from a plant, while the synthetic opioids they're otherwise prescribed are killing people.

The bill's opponents include law enforcement agencies.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says the proposal essentially asks the state to endorse a street drug to treat nearly everything. He asked legislators not to "be swayed by those who play upon your sympathies."

The bi-partisan bill heads to the full Medical Military and Municipal Affairs Committee.

Tuesday
Feb212017

Council Provides Updates on Kinder Morgan Spill, Airport Terminal

Cleaning up the Kinder Morgan pipeline spill, resetting emergency services, building a new jail and a proposal for a new airport terminal were the headlines of a busy agenda at the Anderson County Council meeting Tuesday night. 

Anderson County Council Members Cindy Wilson and Ray Graham provided updates on the investigation of the clean up of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline spill of nearly 370,000 gallons of gasoline in the 364-acre site.  Only about 209,000 gallons have  been cleaned up as of January 2017, which has created concern for area residents and other groups.  

Wilson said the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control was working to  set dates to coordinate efforts for Kinder Morgan, DHEC and Anderson County to take samples at the same time to be sent to separate testing facilities for evaluation. 

Wilson said the chemical MTBE has been identified on the spill site. The synthetic chemical called methyl tert-butyl ether, a flammable liquid made from combinations of chemicals like isobutylene and methanol. It was first introduced as an additive for unleaded gasolines in the 1980s to enhance octane ratings. 

“These findings should be of great concern,” Wilson said. “And we will continue monitoring the situation. We are now waiting now on dates from DHEC and are reaching out to federal regulatory agencies” 

“It sounds like this spill had been going on for quite sometime, before the pipeline break,” Graham said. “This is why we need to continue testing on downstream. We hopefully will get some results back to put our mind at ease, or see what we are up against.” 

Graham also updated council on progress of the countywide EMS study, saying that he had met with MedShore and all the chiefs in the county to seek solutions and ideas to make the service better.  

“We also trying to determine some things we can go ahead and implement,” Graham said.  “We are continuing working with Fitch and Associates for solutions and ideas he brings to the table.” 

As chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Graham said that as a result of the meeting last week, Anderson County is considering a study on what can be done on the overcrowding at the county jail, which includes public contributions on what kind of facility Anderson needs. 

Graham said that if the county does not move ahead on a project to reduce overcrowding at the current jail, there is the risk the federal government will step in and build a jail and send Anderson County the bill.

"We're definitely going to have to move forward on finding a way to house inmates," Graham said. "We are looking at options to possibly house some these inmates. Odds are, we are probably going to have to do some temporary housing or facility at the current jail. We need to build the facility we need."

Anderson County Council Chariman Tommy Dunn said the study would help move forward.

"This study shows good fatih and will go a long way with the federal government," Dunn said. 

"It doesn't have to be fancy, but it needs to be safe," said Anderson County Councilman Craig Wooten.

Council also moved forward on the construction of a new airport terminal at Anderson Regional Airport. Proposed Anderson Airport Terminal

Anderson County Councilman Tom Allen, who is on the committee that studied the need for a new terminal, said it was more cost-effective to build a new structure than to refurbish the old building. 

“There is very little grant money available for upgrading, but a lot more more grant money available to build a new terminal,” Allen said. Allen said grants would cover much of the cost of the construction of the new facility.

"We are looking for money to pay the entire cost," said Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns. He said grants and other private sources will hopefully pay all costs of the project.

Allen said the committee also decided to make the design of the new facility a reflection of something important to Anderson - recreation. 

“With Hartwell Lake, the Salada River, all the hunting and fishing here, we know that recreation important to the area, so we wanted it to reflect that outdoorsy look,” Allen said, 

The 68,000 square-foot building is slightly larger than the current terminal, but has a smaller, more efficient footprint. It has space designated for business and corporate travelers, as well as facilities for pilots. 

The external area will feature expanded green space and expanded parking. Current plans are to demolish the current terminal building and to use the space fore a playground and observation area. 

The current goal is to begin construction of the terminal in 2018.

Also on Tuesday night, Seth Riddley, the project manager and web manager for the Anderson County Administrator's Office, presented the county’s new website outlining population projections and trends across the area.

The site, uses updated data to show how each area and municipality in the county is growing, along with projections for population growth for 2020 and 2030.

The complete, interactive report can be found here.

 is Anderson County population is here http://www.andersoncountyprojects.org/population/ 

The report also includes a few “fun facts” from the administrator about Anderson County, including: 

  • it takes the average Anderson County worker 23 minutes to travel to work?
  • 41 percent of Anderson County teenagers of working age are in the labor force? 
  • More than 28 percent of Anderson County residents were born outside of South
  • Carolina, either in another state or abroad (not including kids of U.S. citizens)?
  • there are nearly 15,000 veterans living in Anderson County (WWII: ~800; Korean War: ~1,500; Vietnam War: ~5,600; Persian Gulf War: ~2,200; Iraq/Afghanistan: ~1,300)?
  • 83 percent of Anderson County residents are high school graduates (including GED) Nearly 30 percent possess a college degree (associate’s or higher)?
Tuesday
Feb212017

Discover How to Photograph Eclipse at Clemson Event

People who want to contribute to science by photographing this summer’s total solar eclipse can find out how Thursday at Clemson University.

The Eclipse Across America Awareness Tour, co-sponsored by Google and Multiverse, the education and public outreach arm of the University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, will present a forum from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Brackett Hall Auditorium (Room 100) at 321 Calhoun Drive. The event is free and hosted by the Clemson University physics and astronomy department.

Clemson University is located near the center of the path of totality of the total solar eclipse that will occur on the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21. A total solar eclipse is a rare natural occurrence that allows scientists and observers the unique opportunity to view the Sun’s corona from here on Earth. The Eclipse Across America Awareness Tour serves to recruit members of the community to contribute to an extraordinary compilation of scientific data.

Google is collaborating with Multiverse on the Eclipse Megamovie project through its Making & Science initiative, a crowd-sourced movie and science initiative. The Eclipse Megamovie will create a scientifically valuable movie using the photographs submitted by thousands of eclipse viewers. The forum will cover the specifications required to have submitted images included in the movie.

The forum will feature astronomers from the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab and Clemson physics and astronomy. Astronomers will share ideas and resources for maximizing a safe eclipse viewing experience.

Laura Peticolas, director of Multiverse, stated, “We want everyone to know about the natural wonder, scientific importance and social impact of viewing a live total solar eclipse – it is truly a transformative, life-changing experience and we want to prepare people for that.”

Clemson’s physics and astronomy department is working with campus officials to establish recommended viewing locations around campus where eclipse viewing glasses and other resources will be readily available.

“Total solar eclipses are not only rare and beautiful, but they offer scientists unique opportunities to study our sun’s outer atmosphere and to observe light deflection of background stars predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity,” said Clemson astronomy professor Dieter Hartmann.

Monday
Feb202017

Sheriff Asks Help Finding Missing Easley Man

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is actively searching for Bert Henderson, age 60.  

Mr. Henderson was reported missing earlier this evening from his West Church Road home in Easley.  

Sheriff’s K-9 Tracking Teams are on-scene and Anderson County Technical Rescue is also assisting with the search.  

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Bert Henderson is asked to call their local law enforcement agency at 9-1-1.

Monday
Feb202017

Poll: Amazon Best Reputation Among Consumers: Publix Third

Amazon.com again earned the best reputation among the 100 most visible companies in the United States as Samsung dropped significantly in The Harris Poll.

Amazon.com, the online retailer, earned a reputation quotient of 86.27, ahead of two supermarket chains, Wegmans (85.41) and Publix (82.78) in the poll. Close behind in fourth was Johnson & Johnson at 82.57. Then bunched together were Apple (82.07), UPS (82.05), Wall Disney Co. (82.04) and Google (82.0).

Amazon, claiming the top spot for the second consecutive year, recorded the highest rating by any company during nearly two decades of surveying by Harris.

Apple was No. 2 last year with a score of 83.03.

Samsung fell from third to 49th after its Galaxzy Note 7 was recalled and subsequently removed from the market.

The worst-rated company in the 100 was Takata at 48.70 after massive recalls of its airbags. Wells Fargo, tainted by a fake bank accounts scandal, was 99th and fell 20.6 points -- the largest drop in the 18-year history of the ratings.

Volkswagen, plagued by an emissions scandal, had dropped 20.5 points in 2015. But this year it rebounded 8.7 points to finish 91st. Volkswagen tied with Toyota (80.21, 16th) for the largest increase in 2017.

Other companies showing big declines are Procter & Gamble Co. (-5.3), Chipotle (-4.6) and Bank of America (-4.6).

The Reputation Quotient Ratings are based on an online survey completed by 23,633 adults in the United States. The survey analyzes brand reputation in six areas: social responsibility, vision and leadership, financial performance, products and services, workplace environment and emotional appeal.

Sunday
Feb192017

Roe v. Wade Plaintiff Dies at 69

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff known as "Jane Roe" in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, died Saturday. She was 69.

Joshua Prager, a journalist working on a book about the case, confirmed her death due to a heart ailment in Katy, Texas, to The Washington Post.

In the 1980s, McCorvey publicly identified herself for the first time as the plaintiff in the case to support the pro-choice movement, but later reversed course and spoke out on behalf of pro-life campaigners.

When she filed the lawsuit in Dallas, Texas, in 1970, she was unwed and poor, and wanted an abortion after becoming pregnant for the third time, Reuters notes.

According to Prager, McCorvey could not afford to travel to any of the six states where abortion was legal at the time: Alaska, California, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, and Washington. However, she never actually had the procedure.

In the 1990s, she converted to Christianity and began speaking out against abortion. She also served at Operation Rescue, a pro-life group.

"I'll be serving the Lord and helping women save their babies. I will hold a pro-life position for the rest of my life," McCorvey, who now sought to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision, had declared. "I think I've always been pro-life. I just didn't know it."

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said he was "saddened" by the loss of McCorvey.

"She spent the better part of the last 25 years working to undo the terrible Supreme Court decision that bears her name. Her work was not in vain," he said. "Norma became an inspiration for so many, and we at Operation Rescue work every day to achieve her goal of ending abortion in America."

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented McCorvey in Roe v. Wade, said in a statement, "Even though at the end of her life Norma thought women should be prevented from having an abortion and that abortion should be criminalized, her legacy will be Roe v. Wade, which has provided millions of women the legal right to choose abortion."(Photo: REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)Pro-life and pro-choice activists gather at the Supreme Court for the National March for Life rally in Washington January 27, 2017.

McCorvey had admitted that she lied in the landmark case.

She claimed that the Roe pregnancy was the result of a rape, but in 1987 she said she had become pregnant "through what I thought was love," the Post notes, adding that the details of her account were legally unimportant in the case. "I told [a doctor] that I wanted an abortion, that I did not want to carry the child for economic reasons," she said at the time.

Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote in the Roe v. Wade ruling that women can abort until the point of viability "free of interference by the State," meaning until the fetus "has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb." The court also recognized a right to abortion after viability if necessary to protect the woman's life or health.

Since the ruling, perhaps 50 million legal abortions have been performed in the United States, although later court decisions and new state and federal laws have imposed restrictions, The New York Times says.

In her 1994 book, I Am Roe: My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice, McCorvey wrote, "I wasn't the wrong person to become Jane Roe. I wasn't the right person to become Jane Roe. I was just the person who became Jane Roe, of Roe v. Wade. And my life story, warts and all, was a little piece of history."

Sunday
Feb192017

U.S. Raises Asylum Bar, Speeds Up Deportations

The Department of Homeland Security has prepared new guidance for immigration agents aimed at speeding up deportations by denying asylum claims earlier in the process.

The new guidelines, contained in a draft memo dated February 17 but not yet sent to field offices, directs agents to only pass applicants who have a good chance of ultimately getting asylum, but does not give specific criteria for establishing credible fear of persecution if sent home.

The guidance instructs asylum officers to "elicit all relevant information" in determining whether an applicant has “credible fear” of persecution if returned home, the first obstacle faced by migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border requesting asylum.

Three sources familiar with the drafting of the guidance said the goal of the new instructions is to raise the bar on initial screening.

The administration's plan is to leave wide discretion to asylum officers by allowing them to determine which applications have a "significant possibility" of being approved by an immigration court, the sources said.

The guidance was first reported and posted on the internet by McClatchy news organization.

In 2015, just 18 percent of asylum applicants whose cases were ruled on by immigration judges were granted asylum, according to the Justice Department. Applicants from countries with a high rate of political persecution have a higher chance of winning their asylum cases.

A tougher approach to asylum seekers would be an element of President Donald Trump's promise to crackdown on immigration and tighten border security, a cornerstone of his election campaign and a top priority of his first month in office.

The DHS declined to comment for this story, referring questions to the White House, which did not respond to a request for comment.