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Study: Peanuts Offer Same Healthy Perks of Other Nuts

Many nutritionists have heralded the nut as an especially healthy source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids with cardioprotective effects -- the small pods like a natural supplement, packed full of vitamins, minerals, and mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

But more expensive tree nuts like almonds, cashews and pistachios get most of the attention. New analysis, however, suggests eaters shouldn't ignore the less expensive but equally healthy peanut -- which is actually a legume.

A survey of peanut consumption studies by public health researchers at Harvard showed that the peanut offers the same heart health and longevity benefits that its pricier counterparts do.

Researchers followed the health results of large populations in both China and the United States, plotting cause of death and nut consumption data. The combined studies included data from 72,000 Americans, ages 40 to 79, and 135,000 men and women living in Shanghai, China, ages 40 to 74. The data was compiled over five years.

Analysis showed high peanut consumption correlated with a 17 percent lower chance of premature death, while high nut consumption was linked with a 21 percent lower chance of dying.

"This confirms what we found a few years ago -- and our results were greeted with intense skepticism," Dr. Meir Stampfer, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Harvard Health Blog. "Botanically, peanuts are not nuts, but nutritionally they are very similar to tree nuts, and other studies have shown their benefits."

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The State: Volvo Plant in S.C. Likely

Volvo soon could drive into South Carolina with a manufacturing plant, likely in the Charleston area, four state legislators told The State on Wednesday.

South Carolina is a finalist for a Volvo plant, which would join BMW as a major automaker in the Palmetto State, the lawmakers said. North Carolina and Kentucky also are pursuing the Swedish carmaker’s plant, according to media reports.

Gov. Nikki Haley returned Wednesday from a four-day economic-development trip to an undisclosed location with state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt.

Her office declined comment Wednesday. The state Commerce Department does not comment on economic-development projects


Ringling Brothers Circus to End Elephant Acts

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts.

The circus' parent company, Feld Entertainment, told The Associated Press exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018. Growing public concern about how the animals are treated led to the decision.

The circus plans to phase out elephant acts by 2018. Feld's 43 elephants will live at the company's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. Twenty-nine animals are already there, and the other 14 will arrive as they are phased out from the circus.

Elephant acts have been showcased by Ringling for more than a century and have often been featured in its posters. The decision is being announced Thursday.


Poll: 55.4 Percent in S.C. Favor Gas Tax for Road Repairs

A majority of South Carolinians, 55.4 percent, support a hike of up to 10 cents in the state's 16.75-cents-a-gallon gas tax as long as the money is used for infrastructure such as repairing roads and bridges, according to a new poll.

Just under 42 percent were opposed, according to the telephone survey released Wednesday by Winthrop University.

Among registered voters, 56.6 percent support a gas tax hike and 41.2 percent oppose.

The results come as state lawmakers struggle to find more money for roads and consider a gas tax hike as one possible way of doing that.

Winthrop said the poll of 1,109 South Carolina residents took place between Feb. 21 and March 1 and has a margin of error of 3 percent, plus or minus.

Here is the question Winthrop posed:

"There is currently a proposal in the South Carolina Legislature to increase the state gas tax by up to 10 cents a gallon. This would increase the cost of gas in the state, but a gallon of gas in South Carolina would still be cheaper than a gallon of gas in North Carolina or Georgia. The money raised would be restricted to use for infrastructure, such as repairing roads and bridges. Would you support or oppose this proposal?"


House Approves Local Funding Formula

The South Carolina House has given key approval to a bill that would alter the formula the state uses to provide money to local governments for things like social services, courts and libraries.

The House on Wednesday passed changes to a 1991 formula that the Legislature has not fully funded in seven years.

Bill supporters say the formula was an antiquated relic, based on money the state collected from the previous budget year.

The new formula is based on the current budget year. But it also gives the fund about what it is paying now, instead of the 4.5 percent of last year's general fund budget mandated by the 1991 law.

Counties opposed the bill, saying they needed all the money promised.

The bill will move to the Senate.


Body Camera Bill Concerns Some in S.C. Law Enforcement

A bill to require all South Carolina police officers to wear body cameras raises privacy and financial concerns, some law officers told a state Senate panel Wednesday.

The legislation would make it mandatory for all law officers in South Carolina to wear cameras that would record all contacts they have with the public. Officers would have to tell people they are wearing the devices, and everything recorded would be retained under existing policies governing law agencies.

Some officers are concerned about the cost. Michael Nunn of the Florence County Sheriff’s Department testified that buying cameras would cost his agency more than $300,000 to cover all 234 officers. But that figure doesn’t include the cost of storing data, which could be as much as $100,000 a year, he said.

Nunn, who serves as the department’s spokesman and legal counsel, said the cameras could raise privacy concerns too, since all the captured material would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“For all the good body-worn cameras can do, we need to understand the limitations to the technology and its effectiveness,” said Nunn, adding that people would be videoed whenever officers came to their homes for any reason, including criminal domestic violence.

Documents reviewed earlier this year by The Associated Press suggest the rush to outfit police officers with body cameras after last summer’s unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, could saddle local governments with steep costs for managing the volumes of footage they must keep for months or even years.

The storage expenses – running into the millions of dollars in some cities – often are overlooked in the debates about using cameras as a way to hold officers accountable and to improve community relations. Booming demand for the devices would accelerate further if Congress adopts President Barack Obama’s budget request for $75 million to help communities buy 50,000 more body cameras.


Target to Cut Thousands of Jobs

Target is planning to cut "several thousand" jobs over the next two years as part of a restructuring to save the retailer $2 billion. No list of stores which will be a part of the layoffs has been released.

The announcement was made Tuesday during a meeting for Target Corporation investors.

The move is part of Target's plan to focus more on online sales.

"Guests who shop Target in stores and online generate three times the sales compared to guests who shop in stores only," a news release from the company said. "Continued enhancements in technology, supply chain and inventory management will create a shopping experience that is rooted in ease and inspiration. This will help spur Target's continued annual growth in digital channel sales of 40 percent, as well as contribute to a total projected sales growth of 2 to 3 percent and comparable sales growth of 1.5 to 2.5 percent in 2015."

The company said it also plans to tailor the shopping experience to enhance local demographics and climate, as well as increase the number of TargetExpress stores in rapidly growing, dense urban areas.


S.C. GOP to Here Education Funding Reform Plan Today

A Republican House member is outlining an education funding reform plan backed by advocates of district administrators and school boards.

Republican Rep. Jenny Horne of Summerville will discuss her proposal Wednesday to fund schools through a new, statewide property tax.

The uniform millage would roll back local property taxes on businesses and vehicles across the state while allowing rural districts with little tax base to benefit from industry elsewhere. Advocates say the proposal provides additional money to 78 school districts and "holds harmless" the three that would otherwise lose money, paid for by reducing sales tax exemptions.

Previous versions of the idea have gone nowhere.

Horne reintroduced it last month as a way to answer last fall's state Supreme Court ruling that lawmakers must fix the state's broken education system.


S.C. Poll: Graham Should not Run for President

While Sen. Lindsey Graham continues to publicly flirt with a run for president, a new Winthrop Poll finds that six in 10 residents of his home state say he shouldn't enter the race.

In the poll, 60 percent of all respondents said the state's Republican senior senator should not run for president in 2016, including 65 percent of registered voters and 57 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents. Respondents expressed greater approval for Graham in his current position, with 46 percent of all respondents, 47 percent of registered voters, and 60 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents saying they approve of the way Graham is handling his job as a U.S. senator.

The Winthrop Poll, conducted by Winthrop University, covers a wide array of political issues and bases its findings on a phone survey of 1,109 South Carolina residents. 


Council Oks Incentives for Coca-Cola HQ in Anderson

On Tuesday night, at 6:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse downtwon, Anderson County Council approved on second reading on tax incentives for a new investment by Coca-Cola, code-named Project Upstate, which will locate a regional headquarters in Anderson County for marketing and sales. Coke will bring a capital investment of $13.5 million and 147 jobs, with average salaries of $19.72 per hour.  If the incentives are approved, Coke would begin operations in 2016 near the Interstate 85/SC 86 Interchange.

Earlier, council heard a presentation from the Trooper Nicholson K9 Fund, which will provide a dog for Anderson County Deputy Dalen Creamer, whose K9 partner “Bolt” died of cancer in December. The dog will be the fifth provided by the group, which was founded in 2009 to honor Trooper Eric Nicholson who died in the line of duty. 

The Trooper Nicholson K9 Fund was founded in late 2009 in anticipation of the 10th anniversary of Trooper Eric Nicholson's death in December 2010. The idea was to raise money and donate a K9 in his memory. The response was overwhelming and within a few weeks we had enough money to donate a second dog. The community and law enforcement response was so positive we decided to continue the K9 Fund and it has grown to what it is today.

The group is also holding a fundraiser March 28, PAWS Enforcing Laws, a motorcycle ride to raise funds and honor the K9 program. For more information visit www.troopernicholsonk9fund.org

During the meeting, Anderson County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd said it is time for the county to raise salaries for county employees, especially law enforcement.

“It’s time we pay our officers a living wage, one they can actually live on,” Floyd said.  “Our officers are leaving us to go elsewhere for more money, and we need to put a stop to that.”

Also on Tuesday night:

Anderson County Councilman J. Mitchell Cole proposed setting up an countywide anti-litter task force to help reduce trash on county roads.

Council approved a resolution regarding coverage under the South Carolina Counties Worker's Compensation Trust for coverage of Volunteer Rescue-Ham Radio Operators and other matters related thereto. Ham radio volunteers would be covered under workman’s compensation during times of disaster recovery. The cost of the coverage would be $1,000 per year.

“These are very much like volunteer firemen,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn. “We need to make sure they are covered.”

“This is just bringing the radio ham people into the fold of those in the county already covered,” said Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper. 


S.C. Plan Would Raise $800 Annually for Roads

A senator who has been studying how to find more money to fix South Carolina roads for two years plans to file a bill that he says could raise up to an additional $800 million a year for state roads.

Sen. Ray Cleary said Tuesday his bill will raise the gas tax 10 cents and index the amount to inflation, raise the sales tax cap on automobile purchases from $300 to $1,400, eliminate dozens of sales tax exemptions and raise the fees for car registrations and drivers' licenses.

The Murrells Inlet Republican would also turn over more than half of the roads maintained by the state to counties and give them about $160 million a year.

The House and governor have presented plans that would raise about $400 million.


House Funds Homeland Security Without Immigration Riders

Congress ended its seven-week impasse on funding the Department of Homeland Security as the House voted Tuesday to pass a $40 billion spending bill that does not derail President Obama's immigration programs.

The 257-167 vote prevents a partial shutdown of the agency, which was set to run out of money at midnight Friday. The bill funds the department through Sept. 30. The Senate approved the bill last week, and Obama is poised to sign it into law.

Immigration hard-liners were angry that the bill did not contain provisions to bar funding to carry out Obama's executive orders to shield about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The House passed a bill in mid-January that would have defunded those orders, which also allow some undocumented immigrants to apply for work permits.

"I believe this is a sad day for America," said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., who called Obama's actions unconstitutional. "If we're not going to fight now, when are we going to fight?"

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told his GOP caucus Tuesday morning that it was clear that Senate Democrats would continue to block the House bill and he did not want to let the Department of Homeland Security shut down.

Republican leaders said during debate on the House floor Tuesday that there was little choice left but to pass the Senate bill.


Amendment Allows S.C. Charities to Hold Raffles

Charities across South Carolina should soon be able to hold raffles to raise money.

The Senate on Tuesday ratified the constitutional amendment allowing the drawings. The House gave its approval to the people's vote last month.

In November, 83 percent of South Carolina voters approved the amendment. There is already a law in place setting the rules including a maximum ticket price of $100 and a limit on the amount of prizes at $250,000.

Nonprofit organizations that are not registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State could still hold a raffle, but it would have to be for a non-cash prize of less than $500.

The law allows the raffles until 2020, unless lawmakers vote to keep them going.