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Library of Congress Buys Rare Civil War Photos

A Houston housewife who has quietly collected rare Civil War images for 50 years has sold more than 500 early photographs to the Library of Congress.

The library announced the acquisition Sunday and is placing the first 77 images online. On Friday, 87-year-old Robin Stanford delivered the historic stereograph images from her collection to the library.

Some scenes offer a rare glimpse of slave life in the South from images made by Confederate photographers. Most previous photos showed slaves who were recently freed in the North.

Other parts of Stanford's collection show images of South Carolina at the start of the war. Another set depicts President Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession in 1865.

Stanford says the images are like ghosts from the past that reflect part of American history.

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Some Colleges Dumping Health Insurance

The federal health care overhaul is leading some colleges and universities to get out of the health insurance business.

Experts are divided on whether this change will be good or bad for students. Some call it an inevitable result of health care reform and a money-saver for students, since insurance in the marketplace is usually cheaper than the college plans. Others worry that more students will go without health insurance since their premiums won't be folded into the lump sum they pay for school, and they say college health plans offer more coverage for the money than other options.

The main driver of colleges' getting out of the insurance business is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that prevents students from using premium tax subsidies to purchase insurance from their college or university, according to Steven Bloom, director of federal relations for the American Council on Education, a Washington, D.C., group representing the presidents of U.S. colleges and universities.

Add to that the provision that allows young people to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26, plus the expansion of Medicaid in some states and the rising cost of student insurance. The result is cheaper health insurance available for students off campus.

But Bloom worries more schools will drop insurance coverage.

"I've heard of instances where schools are thinking about it, but they are reluctant, particularly in instances where states declined to expand Medicaid," Bloom said.

An administrator who managed the process of dropping student health insurance at William Patterson University in Wayne, N.J., said he originally worried about vulnerable students' not getting health insurance, but changed his mind after more research.

"I actually went into the exchange myself and did a bunch of 'what ifs' to see if this was actually a better deal for them. In many cases, it is," said Stephen Bolyai, the school's vice president for administration and finance.

The change in New Jersey began with advocacy by community college leaders, who said health insurance was getting so expensive students couldn't afford it, Bolyai said.

Richard Simpson, the student health insurance manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, contends, however, that student health plans are a better deal for students.

College plans give students more coverage for their money, they usually have lower deductibles, and they are more flexible than some state plans bought on the exchange, said Simpson, who is also chair of the student health insurance coalition for the American College Health Association, an association of college health officers based in Hanover, Md.

"Student plans provide 'gold' or 'platinum' level coverage at a 'bronze' price," Simpson said. "We believe that in the vast majority of cases, student insurance is the best option."

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Upstate Farmers Prepare for Cold Night

Farmers are making preparations as the temperatures are expected to creep into the 20s, threatening peaches, strawberries and apples in the Upstate and Western North Carolina.

Some farms are worrying tonight that the chill could kill their crops altogether, so they're taking extra steps to keep them safe. "We've been watching the weather almost every hour and just trying to get an idea. We've basically got three main crops we have to protect right now," said Andy Callaham, whose family owns Callaham Orchards in Belton.

He said the three main crops he has to worry about are the tomatoes, the strawberries and the peaches. Callaham said the tomatoes and the strawberries can be covered with blankets as they wait for the cold temperatures.

"Each blanket gives us eight to 12 degrees of protection, and so we're going to put two blankets on both the tomatoes and strawberries. That'll help protect those. With the peaches, we're pretty much at the mercy of mother nature," said Callaham.

But for now, the peaches are hardy and growing as they should.

Callaham said, "If the frost and the cold weather doesn't thin some of the peaches, come the first week of May, we'll have to knock 80 percent of this fruit off."

Callaham said if the temperatures stay in the low 30s it can actually help the peaches because it will thin out the flowers. But for now he's just waiting to see what happens in the morning.


New Drones Look, Move Like Real Butterflies

German robotics company Festo makes robots inspired by nature. Its newest invention, a winged drone, may be its most realistic yet. The eMotionButterflies look, fly and behave like real butterflies.

The company unveiled its latest developments during an online press conference at this week's Hannover Messe 2015, an annual trade fair for industrial technology. As part of their press conference demonstration, several robotic butterflies were unleashed in the lobby of Festo headquarters.

Because the lifelike butterflies are a mere 32 grams -- too light and delicate to handle motion sensors or a complex processing unit -- their visual analysis capabilities must be outsourced.

A series of cameras around the lobby monitored the robots' movements and the system's superior understanding of the space's architecture to instruct each butterfly's maneuvers. The interconnected system allows the group of butterflies to navigate the room without bumping into walls, objects or each other.

"The intelligent networking system creates a guidance and monitoring system, which could be used in the networked factory of the future," Festo claims on their website.

The butterflies aren't for sale. There were developed solely for research purposes.

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U.S. Posts Weak Profits for Q4 of 2014

(Reuters) - U.S. economic growth cooled in the fourth quarter as previously reported and after-tax corporate profits recorded their biggest drop since early 2011, as a strong dollar dented the earnings of multinational corporations.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate last quarter, the Commerce Department said on Friday in its third estimate of GDP. That was unrevised from the forecast last month.

Businesses throttled back on inventory and equipment investment, but robust consumer spending limited the slowdown in the pace of activity in the fourth quarter. The economy grew at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter.

After-tax corporate profits declined $57.1 billion, the biggest fall since the first quarter 2011, after rising $52.4 billion in the third quarter. Corporate profits from outside the United States decreased $36.1 billion after increasing $16.5 billion in the previous quarter.

Multinationals such as technology giant IBM, semiconductor maker Intel Corp, industrial conglomerate Honeywell and Procter & Gamble, the world's largest household products maker, have warned that the dollar will hurt profits this year.

The dollar gained 7.8 percent against the currencies of the main U.S. trading partners between June and December.

Weak profits could undermine business spending on equipment and hiring. For all of 2014, profits fell 8.3 percent, the largest annual drop since 2008.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected fourth-quarter GDP growth would be revised up to a 2.4 percent rate.

U.S. Treasury yields fell after the data, while the U.S. dollar pared gains against the euro and hit a session low against the yen. U.S. stock index futures were trading slightly weaker.

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County to Get $99.000 from Duke for Timmerman Project

Anderson County is among organizations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia chosen to receive $1 million in grants from the Water Resources Fund to improve local water quality.

Anderson's Timmerman Access Project will receive $99,509 to provide a handicapped-accessible kayak launch and shoreline access route at the Timmerman Access along the Saluda River Blue Trail.

The fund is a $10 million, multi-year commitment from Duke Energy to help local nonprofits continue to protect and improve the environment, including the waterways our communities appreciate and use year round across the Carolinas and neighboring states.

"Safeguarding clean water and connecting people with nature are cornerstones of our mission," said Katherine Baer, director of conservation for Triangle Land Conservancy. "Thanks to the generous support of the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund, we will further protect the Stony Creek watershed and prepare Brumley Forest Nature Preserve for its opening to the public in 2016."


Main Civic Center Entrance to Close March 29-April 2

The main entrance road to the Civic Center of Anderson will be repaved from March 29-April 2.

The road will be improved from Camson Road to the Civic Center's Loading Dock.  During this project, access to the Civic Center will be limited. All other Anderson Sports & Entertainment Center facilities will be fully accessible during this time period.


Study: 1 in 4 Americans Don't Believe in God

Barna Group has released its 2015 study on the state of atheism in America, and has revealed that one in four unchurched adults in the country now identify as atheists or agnostics. The study also found that rejection of the Bible and lack of trust in the church are two main reasons why people are turning away from faith.

The study was focused on those who have not attended church within the past six months, and found that the majority of such people identify as non-practicing Christians. One in four, or 25 percent, however, were classed as skeptics, which Barna defines as people who "either do not believe God exists (atheists) or are not sure God exists, but are open to the possibility (agnostics)."

Of that number, nearly one-third said that they have never attended a Christian church service in their lives.

Barna found that the three main reasons people decide not to believe in God stem from rejection of the Bible; lack of trust in the local church; and the "cultural reinforcement of a secular worldview."

"Skeptics dismiss the idea that the Bible is Holy or supernatural in any way. Two-thirds contend that it is simply a book of well-known stories and advice, written by humans and containing the same degree of authority and wisdom as any other self-help book," the report said.

It added that the other one-third believe that the Bible is either a historical document that contains "the unique but not God-inspired accounts of events that happened in the past," or do not really know what to make of the Bible.

David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, said: "The data show that some cities — and younger generations — are more Gospel-resistant than others. It is increasingly common among millennials to dismiss religion, God, churches, authority and tradition. For years, some observers have claimed colleges and universities are a breeding ground for anti-God sentiment. The data does lend support to the notion that college campuses are comfortable places for young people to abandon God and assume control of their own lives."

The group explained that today's skeptics, much like their counterparts two decades ago, are defined by their denial and doubts about God's existence. Their demographics have been changing considerably, however.

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GOP Narrowly Passes Non-Binding Budget Plan

Overcoming internal divisions on defense spending, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly approved a non-binding federal budget plan calling for $5.5 trillion in domestic spending cuts over 10 years.

The vote meant that House Speaker John Boehner avoided what could have been another embarrassing rebuke from his party's right flank. Instead, a complex series of votes engineered by Boehner succeeded and moved the budget issue to the Senate.

Voting there on a similarly non-binding resolution was expected on Thursday. The two chambers' spending blueprints will not become law, but they will likely influence later bills in the budget process and political campaigns.

The Republican-controlled Congress will face a series of tax-and-spending challenges this year, each one testing its ability to get things done since Republicans won full control of Capitol Hill in November's elections.

In the House, Republicans were divided over military spending. Fiscal conservatives who wanted to maintain statutory spending caps had argued for weeks with defense hawks who wanted more money for the military to deal with growing global threats.

Boehner allowed six budget options to come to the floor, including two versions of the House Budget Committee's plan, allowing members to lodge protest votes against provisions they opposed. In the unusual series of runoff votes under "Queen of the Hill" parliamentary rules, Boehner's favored version prevailed by an extremely thin margin, 219-208.

A subsequent 228-199 vote on final passage showed some Republicans who initially opposed Boehner's favored option later flipped their votes to vote for it. All Democrats voted no.

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Georgia Approves Medical Marijuana

Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign a bill legalizing a marijuana derivative after the state House resoundingly passed the measure.

Deal is expected to sign the legislation, dubbed Haleigh's Hope Act, on Friday. The bill passed the House 160-1, putting to rest a two-year struggle by medical marijuana supporters.

The bill began last year, but died on the final day of the 2014 legislative session. As a result, 17 families moved from Georgia to Colorado so their children could access the drug.

"House Bill 1 brings them all home," Rep. Allen Peake, a Republican, the bill's chief sponsor, said. "House Bill 1 provides relief from pain and hope for a lot of citizens in our state."

The bill was inspired by Janea Cox and her daughter, Haleigh, who suffers severe seizures that have been quelled by the use of medical marijuana. Cox and Haleigh were among the families that moved to Colorado so she could have the treatment legally.

"To know that she's not only helping the seizure patients, but she's also helping so many other Georgians with ailments. It's really humbling," Cox said.


Anderson Sheriff's Dept. Aviation Chief to Retire

Larry Gilstrap, Chief Pilot for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office’s Aviation Division, will fly his last assignment on May 14, 2015 when he officially retires from Anderson County.

Gilstrap’s extensive experience with aviation during his years in the army made him the perfect candidate for the Sheriff’s Aviation Division.  After graduating from Liberty High School, Larry entered the United States Army and served in Vietnam, Fort Benning (Georgia) and South Korea as a helicopter crew chief. Most of Larry’s experience in the Army was working on UH1H helicopters, also known as Hueys.

In 1977, after his service in the United States Army, Larry started his career in law enforcement at the Pendleton Police Department. After serving in Pendleton, he went on to become a Shift Sergeant at Patrick B. Harris Hospital for five years. Missing the military life, Gilstrap put law enforcement on hold and served full-time in the Army National Guard from 1990 until 2001. Larry retired from the United States Army in 2001 with 20 years of service.

In 2001, Larry re-entered the law enforcement field as a Litter Control Officer with Anderson County Public Safety and was hired, by then Sheriff David Crenshaw, in 2005 as the Chief Pilot and helicopter mechanic for the Sheriff’s Office. Larry has held that title and position for the last 10 years.

Larry Gilstrap was born and raised in Pickens County and has been married to Karen Porter Gilstrap (of Pendleton) for 36 years. They have one daughter, Krystal, who is a dental assistant, and two sons, Alton and Adam. Adam is currently the Police Chief of the Liberty Police Department and Alton manufactures jets for Honda Jet. Larry and Karen also have another love of their life, Mattie, their blonde labradoodle.      

A graduate of Tri-County Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in Public Service with a major in Criminal Justice, a graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, recipient of the Crew Chief of the Month for the 1st Calvary Division of the US Army and numerous other distinguished awards throughout his career, Larry is not giving up flying entirely. Though he intends to fully enjoy retirement life with his wife, Larry has decided to keep his pilot’s license current and has agreed to assist the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office’s Aviation Division in the event he is ever needed.  


AU to Break Ground on G Ross Anderson Student Center April 8

Anderson University officials will join with community leaders, students, faculty, donors and friends on April 8 at 3:30 pm to officially break ground on the largest single building project in University history – the new G. Ross Anderson Jr. Student Center.

The 86,000-square-foot facility will feature a banquet hall, a new cafeteria, a fitness center, a 400-seat theater and other amenities like retail food kiosks for Chick-fil-A and Einstein’s Bagels.

The groundbreaking will be held at the site, just behind the outfield fence of AU’s current softball stadium and the corner of Calhoun and Kingsley on campus.

A new softball stadium and a new tennis center are nearing completion on the Anderson University Athletic Campus.

Once it begins, construction on the new student center, construction is expected to take approximately 15 months.

The student center, is named to honor of the long-serving federal district court judge and Anderson native G. Ross Anderson Jr., and will be located behind the Abney Athletic Center where the softball field now lies.

Anonymous Sabotaging Islamic State Online Efforts

The Islamic State's use of social media to recruit hires is under fire, thanks to online vigilantes who have come together to sabotage the fighters and fundraisers on Twitter.

The New York Times reported the vigilantes were using screen names like TouchMyTweets, The Doctor and IS Hunting to target suspected IS accounts, blacklist the accounts in question and urge other Twitter users to report the accounts to the social network's violations department.

The group is sometimes associated with hacking organizations like Anonymous. Women hackers who identify themselves as "Anonymisses" also are devoting significant time to hunting down online IS activities and accounts.

Hacking collectives began in 2014 as violent images of IS beheadings and executions grew online. The New York Times reported the Islamic State has grown its following on Twitter and critics, including cyber-security experts, have said Twitter has allowed IS abuse of social media to happen with little intervention.

Author J.M. Berger and data scientist Jonathon Morgan of crowd-data intelligence group Ushahidi, however, have shown Twitter has taken measures to stem the tide IS recruiting on social media – by increasing the organizational costs to the fighters of operating on Twitter.

The researchers said some 18,000 pro-IS Twitter accounts have been suspended by the company, reported DefenseOne. Some 70,000 to 90,000 Twitter accounts are used by the Islamic State, according to The New York Times.

Islamic State supporters on Twitter were identified by their behavior, followings, and other publicly available data. They are more active than the average Twitter user, the researchers said.

In addition to tweeting beheadings and IS propaganda, IS accounts complained frequently about account suspensions.

75 percent of IS supporters tweeted in Arabic and only 20 percent preferred English.

The accounts were most often traced to Saudi Arabia, followed by Syria, Iraq and the United States.

Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, has said the U.S. State Department's protocol on limited communication with the IS on Twitter is an "embarrassment" that provides a legitimizing boost to IS, reported DefenseOne.