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Monday
Apr272015

Meals on Wheels Needs Drivers, Kitchen Assistants

Meals on Wheels-Anderson is in need of volunteers.

Drivers are specifically needed for the Powdersville and Piedmont areas, as well as Sandy Springs on Fridays. Divers for Powdersville, Piedmont and Sandy Springs will meet at a “drop off” point in each area, respectively, to deliver meals to recipients in those areas. Driving a delivery route typically takes less than two hours. 

Kitchen assistants to help package the meals are needed Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays. Kitchen assistants will arrive at 8 a.m. at the Meals on Wheels office at 105 South Fant Street in Anderson. They are usually done with their duties by 10 a.m.

More than 600 elderly and disabled homebound residents throughout Anderson County rely on Meals on Wheels to provide a daily hot meal to them. Without volunteers, the program cannot reach all of those in need. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization.

Call Meals on Wheels at 864-225-6800 or email info@acmow.org for more information on volunteering.

Monday
Apr272015

More Than 3,700 Dead in Nepal Earthquake

The death toll from Saturday's 7.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks in Nepal has climbed to over 3,726 people and is rising by the hour, officials say. Rescue workers also shared fears that some areas have suffered "near total destruction."

"Some of the initial surveys that we're hearing of from the zones closer to the epicenter talk about total or near total destruction," Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for USAID, told CNN.

The capital of Kathmandu has suffered heavy damage, with reports of people still buried inside the wreckage of their homes, and hospitals overflowing with patients and running short on medical supplies. Rescue workers have been helped on Monday by improved weather conditions, after efforts had been hampered repeatedly over the weekend.

Officials said the death toll is likely to keep rising, however, with information about the damage to more rural settlements across the country hard to come by because of blocked roads and unreliable communications.

At least 6,500 additional people are believed to have been injured in what is the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in over 80 years.

"Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides, and it's not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls," said Matt Darvas, spokesman for Christian aid group World Vision.

Udav Prashad Timalsin, a senior official in Gorkha district near the earthquake's epicenter, told The Associated Press that close to 70 percent of the houses in the area have been destroyed.

"Things are really bad in the district, especially in remote mountain villages," Timalsin said. "There are people who are not getting food and shelter."

Full Story Here

Monday
Apr272015

GOP Hopefuls Court Evangelical Vote

Republican presidential hopefuls in Iowa and elsewhere have recently begun sounding a call to arms to Christian conservatives, describing what they say is an urgent threat to religious liberty.

Citing high-profile dust-ups over religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas, the contenders are painting a vivid picture of faith under fire.

“In the past month, we have seen religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said on Saturday at a forum sponsored by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition outside Des Moines.

In both Indiana and Arkansas, bills aimed at protecting religious liberty were modified after critics, including a number of corporations, asserted the laws would allow discrimination against lesbians and gays.

On the campaign trail, Republican hopefuls are blasting the modifications.

“Corporate America needs to be careful,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said on Saturday.

“We’ve got legislation in Louisiana to protect people of faith and of conscience. … Corporate America is not going to bully the governor of Louisiana,” he said, drawing loud applause.

Iowa traditionally draws early and intense campaigning by presidential aspirants because it is the first electoral contest in the long primary season. But candidates face a dilemma there: Do they emphasize the socially conservative principles that play well with Iowa’s more conservative Republican electorate? Or do they stress a more mainstream conservatism that might play better later in the campaign?

Gay marriage is a particularly thorny issue, especially with the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments this week in a legal challenge to laws prohibiting same-sex unions.

Overall, 50 percent of Americans now support gay marriage, according to data from Reuters/Ipsos, with 34 percent opposing it and 16 percent unsure. Still, according to polling from the Pew Research Center, nearly 70 percent of white evangelicals oppose gay marriage, and in 2012, about 57 percent of Republican voters in the Iowa caucuses described themselves as evangelical Christians.

Full Story Here

Sunday
Apr262015

Federal Government Provides Most S.C. Roads Money

Most of the money that will be spent this year on South Carolina's roads and bridges doesn't come from the state's gas tax.

It comes from the federal government. And South Carolina does better than most states at grabbing every available federal transportation dollar, state Department of Transportation officials told The Greenville News.

In fact, about 60 percent of all the money received by DOT in any year comes from the federal government.

"For the most part, those are the dollars that do any of the significant resurfacings, repairs, refurbishments and bridge work," said Jim Warren, deputy secretary of finance for DOT.

This year, DOT budgeted state fuel tax revenues at $458.6 million. The agency estimated federal aid at $890 million.

"We're drawing down all the federal dollars that are available to us," said Christy Hall, DOT's deputy secretary for engineering and former interim state transportation secretary.

The process under which the state obtains federal aid has not always been an easy one. A 2011 cash crunch left DOT struggling to pay its bills and officials worried about making state match requirements for federal funds.

But a streamlining of the cash flow has reduced those worries and the state has taken advantage of annual opportunities to grab federal funds other states lose.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Larry Grooms says federal road money is critical for South Carolina.

"We would not have a functional road system in the state without federal money," he said.

At the same time, he said, lawmakers want to be sure the state is pressing to get all the money it can.

"We certainly want to be sure we get every federal dollar that is available to our state," he said.

The federal money plays a major role in the complex cash flow system that fuels South Carolina's DOT and most DOTs around the nation.

Full Story Here

Sunday
Apr262015

S.C. Senate Moves to Close Loophole that Allows Moped DUI

A South Carolina Senate panel recently moved to close a loophole in the law that allows moped operators to drive while intoxicated.

In South Carolina, a motor vehicle is defined as ‘every vehicle which is self propelled, except mopeds…’

“They’ve always left this exception either through neglect or maybe purposefully,” said Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.

According to Richardson, it’s led to a loophole in the system that prevents mopeds from being subject to any traffic laws, including DUI’s.

“It is impossible in this day in age to get a driving under the influence, if you’re driving a moped,” he said.

Mopeds are often seen as the chosen form of transportation for with alcohol-related offenses, because the state allows people with suspended licenses to operate a moped.

Ray Walkiwicz had his license taken away after three DUI’s. He’s no longer allowed to drive a motor vehicle, instead he rides a moped.

“You’ve got to buy a moped license at the DMV then you’re fine,” said Walkiwicz.

MCPL Shannon Toole with Myrtle Beach Police said he occasionally encounters moped drivers who’ve been drinking. Toole said MBPD responded to approximately 120 moped crashes in 2014. Only one was fatal, but the incident report states the driver was ‘under the influence.’

Still, Toole said the biggest problem with mopeds isn’t drunk drivers.

“It’s the only vehicle in our state that is regulated based on the speed at which it can travel,” said Toole.

In South Carolina, a moped cannot go over 30 mph; however, the speed limit on most major highways is 55-60 mph.

“Any time you have a person driving half of the speed of everyone else, it’s going to be a problem,” said Richardson.

Senator Greg Hembree called mopeds a ‘crisis’ in South Carolina. He said there is a lot of clean up that needs to happen with regard to moped regulation, but it starts with defining them as motor vehicles.

Hembree is currently co-sponsoring the bill that aims to close the loophole. He said the Transportation Committee is hearing testimony on a variety of topics relating to moped safety. Among them, requiring moped drivers to have insurance and registration, wear reflective vests or use strobe lights.

Sunday
Apr262015

Many Bills in S.C. Legislature Face Tight Deadline

South Carolina's House and Senate will be busy this week trying to meet a legislative deadline. Bills that haven't advanced from one chamber to the other by Friday have little chance of becoming law this year.

After the crossover deadline, bills require a two-thirds vote to even be considered by the other chamber for the session that ends June 4. That's a high hurdle for measures that are at all controversial.

So far this session, little has made it into law, and just 18 legislative days remain. However, measures that don't pass this year don't die. Debate can resume in January.

Bills that haven't crossed over yet but are on legislative calendars for potential floor debate this week include those addressing police body cameras, concealed weapon permits and pet tattooing.

Sunday
Apr262015

Two-Year Degrees Can Really Pay Off

Steven Polasck of Corpus Christi, Texas, liked math and science in high school. He considered attending a four-year college but ultimately decided to use his strengths to get a two-year degree in instrumentation from Texas State Technical College. He has not looked back.

"I went to work on the Monday after graduation," said Polasck, 27, who monitors and fixes systems at a Valero Energy Corp refinery. "The first year I made almost $80,000."

An associate's degree has long been considered an inferior alternative to a bachelor's degree. Now that more states are tracking their graduates' incomes, however, it is becoming apparent that some two-year degrees offer much higher earnings than the typical four-year degree - at a fraction of the cost.

Making more students and parents aware of these better-paying options could help ease the college affordability crisis, which has so far led to more than $1 trillion in student loan debt.

The average net annual cost of a community college education - for tuition, fees, room and board, minus financial aid - is just under $6,000, according to the College Board. The average undergraduate at a four-year public college pays twice that amount out of pocket, and most students attending a public school now take five or more years to complete their degrees.

The fact that people still think a bachelor's degree is always the better option is probably due to popular charts that hang in many high school guidance counselor offices, said Michael Bettersworth, vice chancellor and chief policy officer for Texas State Technical College, which has nearly 30,000 enrolled students.

The "chart" is a graphic representation of earnings by educational attainment, using Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing professional degrees at the top, bachelor's degrees in the middle and associate's degrees just above high school diplomas.

Median weekly earnings for those with bachelor's degrees last year reached $1,101, or $57,252 a year, compared to $792, or $41,184 annually, for those with an associate's degree, according to BLS.

But the chart fails to capture the full range of salaries earned by those with two-year degrees, particularly those in technical fields, Bettersworth said.

"It's far more important what you study than how much you study," he said.

While the average starting salary for somebody with a bachelor's degree in Texas is around $40,000 per year, many technical associate's degrees offer first-year pay of more than $70,000, according to College Measures, which tracks earnings and other outcomes for higher education.

Some well-paying jobs require less than two years of study. A line worker certification, a requisite for working on electrical power lines, takes about a year and brings an average starting salary of $70,000, Bettersworth said.

Texas is one of the states that has been gathering income data as a way to gauge and improve the success of its public college graduates. Other states conducting similar studies include Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.

The earnings advantage of some two-year degrees can persist throughout a worker's lifetime. More than one in four people with associate's degrees end up making more than the average of somebody with a bachelor's degree, according to a 2011 report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workplace.

Four of the 30 fastest-growing job categories according to BLS require associate's degrees. The jobs include dental hygienist (median annual earnings of $70,210), diagnostic medical sonographers ($65,860), occupational therapy assistants ($53,240) and physical therapist assistant ($52,160).

Other jobs with strong growth and above-average pay that require two-year degrees are funeral service managers ($66,720), web developers ($62,500), electrical and electronics drafters ($55,700), nuclear technicians ($69,060), radiation therapists ($77,560), respiratory therapists ($55,870), registered nurses ($65,470), cardiovascular technologists and technicians ($52,070), radiologic technologists ($54,620) and magnetic resonance imaging technologists ($65,360).

Full Story Here

Sunday
Apr262015

Obama Presides at Washington's "Nerd Prom"

At the gathering he jokingly called "a night when Washington celebrates itself," U.S. President Barack Obama took light-hearted aim on Saturday at a range of political friends and foes, including the people running to succeed him.

Obama's comedy routine at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner included a sly dig at Hillary Clinton, the current front-runner to be the Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

Noting that some Americans are living in a time of uncertainty, Obama said, "For example, I have one friend just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and she's now living out of a van in Iowa."

Clinton, who as a former secretary of state, former senator and former first lady is one of America's best known figures, traveled around in a van this month in a deliberately low-key trip to the state that holds an early contest in the election primary season.

Obama, now in office for six years, is a polished performer at an event that draws journalists, politicians and celebrities to a cavernous ballroom in the Washington Hilton.

Some of his jokes are stock, including a reference to how much his time as president has aged him. "I look so old," he said this year, "that John Boehner has already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral."

Obama was angered when Boehner, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress last month against a nuclear deal with Iran that the Obama administration was negotiating with other world powers.

The comedian at the dinner, Cecily Strong of NBC show "Saturday Night Live," also fired freely around the audience. Taking a jab at some media coverage of women politicians, she had the audience repeat after her, "I solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary's appearance, because that is not journalism."

Strong also took aim at the Secret Service that protects Obama, which has seen a slew of embarrassing recent bungles. Referring to a series of deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement that have provoked protests around the country, she said, "They're the only law enforcement agency that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot."

Full Story Here

Saturday
Apr252015

Hillary a No-Show as Bernie Sanders Preaches to S.C. Dems

As Democratic leaders and activists gathered here Saturday for their annual state party convention, they chatted in corridors and at coffee stands about Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her campaign staffers buzzed around with clipboards signing up volunteers. To many, the promise of the first female president seemed exhilarating.

But the candidate was missing. In Clinton’s absence, her longtime booster, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, did his duty again. But the response from the 1,000 convention delegates and activists was lukewarm. And when McAuliffe signaled for a video message from Clinton to play, there was a technical snafu. Then silence.

“It’s on her e-mail somewhere,” shouted one man from the back of the convention hall, referring to Clinton’s controversial use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

What soon followed were fresh reminders that although Clinton is as dominant a front-runner for the nomination as any non-incumbent in recent history, the hearts of party activists are not yet hers.

Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont toying with a primary challenge to Clinton, brought Democrats to their feet with a fiery sermon about the hollowed-out middle class and the rise of an “oligarchic form of society” controlled by billionaires.

The reception Sanders received — several delegates called him “electric” — surprised Rep. James E. Clyburn, the state’s most powerful Democrat, who took it all in from the back of the hall.

“I really did not anticipate that from Bernie,” Clyburn said. “It says something about people’s thirst and hunger for a real message.”

Delegates rose again for Martin O’Malley, the ambitious former Maryland governor, after he spoke with rhetorical flourish about the undying American dream and gave a muscular defense of such liberal ideals such as raising wages, expanding Social Security benefits and cracking down on Wall Street banks.

O’Malley, who lately has amped up his attacks on Clinton, took an apparent swipe at his more cautious and calculating rival in his speech: “Leadership is about forming a public opinion, not about chasing after it. It’s not about the polls. It’s about our principles.”

Sanders and O’Malley joined a small parade of lesser-known White House hopefuls who came through Columbia this weekend, seizing opportunities to undermine Clinton and deliver populist pitches constructed to enthral the same activists who fueled an upset eight years ago, when Barack Obama trounced Clinton here, 55 percent to 27 percent.

As O’Malley left the stage, Democrats swarmed him asking for selfies. The scene led one former Obama campaign staffer, Jonathan Metcalf, to remark: “I started with Barack Obama when he was 38 points down in South Carolina. It was supposed to be impossible. Martin O’Malley can do this — he absolutely can.”

Later, when a reporter asked how his message differs from Clinton’s, O’Malley quipped, “Was she here? I guess it was different in every way.”

Lincoln Chafee, a former Rhode Island governor and senator, also addressed the convention, while former Virginia senator Jim Webb was represented by a surrogate.

South Carolinians are proud to hold the South’s first presidential primary and have grown accustomed to face time with candidates. Many delegates said Clinton made a mistake by not attending the convention, the largest annual gathering of local Democratic leaders.

“I’m disappointed that she doesn’t seem to be paying a lot of attention to South Carolina. I think she should be here. That’s one of the reservations with her,” said Bruce Sanders of Columbia, a delegate who works for a flooring company. “As it stands now, I’m probably for Hillary, but I’m willing to think about it a little more.”

Other delegates already had their minds made up. “It’s about time we had a woman, and here’s a very qualified woman,” said Rose Pellatt, 71, a Clinton supporter who works at a community college. “She may not be perfect, but who is? Why can’t we have a female president? I’ve worked too hard not to have this come to pass before I die.”

Full Story Here

Saturday
Apr252015

Scientists Hope Vaccine Can Block Parkinson's Progress

Scientists have raised hopes that they may be able to create a vaccine to block the progress of Parkinson’s disease.

They believe new research provides evidence that an abnormal protein may trigger the condition. If the theory is correct, researchers say it might be possible to prime a person’s immune system – using a special vaccine – so it is ready to attack the rogue protein as it passes through the body. In this way, the protein would be prevented from destroying a person’s dopamine-manufacturing cells, where the disease inflicts its greatest damage.

This new vision of Parkinson’s has been arousing excitement among researchers. “It has transformed the way we see Parkinson’s,” said Roger Barker, professor of clinical neurosciences at Cambridge University.

Parkinson’s does not usually affect people until they are over 50. However, researchers have uncovered recent evidence that suggests it may be caused by an event occurring 10 to 20 years before its main symptoms – tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement – manifest themselves.

“If you ask Parkinson’s patients if, in the past, they have experienced loss of sense of smell or suffer from disturbed sleep or have problems with their bowels, very often they reply they have,” said Barker, whose work is backed by the charity Parkinson’s UK, whose Parkinson Awareness week ends on Sunday. “Frequently these patients manifest symptoms several years before it becomes apparent they have the disease. We now believe there is a link.”

Barker and many other researchers say toxins get taken up in the bowels of patients and that over the years these are slowly transported to the central nervous system until they become lodged in some of the cells of the brain. There, they ultimately wreak damage to cells of the mid-brain, where dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in motor control, is made.

However, this raises a key question: what is the nature of the toxin? “There is growing evidence to suggest that it is a normal protein that has become altered in shape and this abnormal version causes other proteins of the same type to change their shape as well,” said Barker. “Such abnormal proteins are known as a prions, and we think one of them is critically involved in the development of Parkinson’s.”

Full Story Here

Saturday
Apr252015

Study: Long-Term Exposure to Pollution Causes Brain Damage

A new study confirms that long-term exposure to air pollution -- even at low levels -- can lead to brain damage that precedes other neurological disorders associated with old age.

Investigator Elissa Wilker of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, along with colleagues, published their findings in the journal Stroke.

The team tested the effects of long-term exposure to PM2.5, or fine particles found in the air like dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid that measure less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Between 1995 and 2005, they used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze the brain health of more than 900 healthy adults over the age of 60 living around Boston and New York.

They found that a PM2.5 increase of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, a common level in metropolitan regions, was linked to a 0.32 percent reduction in total brain volume and a 46 percent increased risk of covert brain infarcts, a type of so-called "silent" stroke, which often presents no outward symptoms but increases the risk of future strokes. These covert brain infarcts occur deep within the brain and are linked to poor cognitive function and dementia, Wilker says.

"Long-term exposure to air pollution showed harmful effects on the brain in this study, even at low levels, particularly with older people and even those who are relatively healthy," Wilkersaid in a press release.

The World Health Organization estimates around 7 million people died in 2012 due to air pollution; about 40 percent of those deaths were linked to stroke.

"We now plan to look at more the impact of air pollution over a longer period," said Wilker, "its effects on more MRI sensitive measures, on brain shrinkage over time and other risks including of stroke and dementia."

Saturday
Apr252015

Report: Tourism Off to Strong Start on Grand Strand

The 2015 tourism season is off to a strong start on South Carolina's Grand Strand.

Tourism researchers at Coastal Carolina University say that during the six weeks from March 8 through the middle of April almost 61 percent of the lodging properties the university samples were occupied.

That's up about 6 percent compared with the same period last year. A key indicator of industry health, the amount of revenue per available room, was up more than 18 percent during the period.

Researchers at the university's Brittain Center for Resort Tourism are also predicting that average occupancy this weekend on the Grand Strand will run about 70 percent.

Friday
Apr242015

World Marks 100th Anniversary of Genocide of Turk 1.5 Million Christians

People attend a commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan, Armenia, April 24, 2015

World and faith leaders are marking on Friday the 100th year anniversary of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, one of the largest Christian massacres in history.

"I am grateful to all those who are here to once again confirm your commitment to human values, to say that nothing is forgotten, that after 100 years we remember," Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said at a flower-laying ceremony in Yerevan.

BBC News reported that French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended the same ceremony, and paid their respects to those that were killed.

Hollande said: "I bow down in memory of the victims and I come to tell my Armenian friends that we will never forget the tragedies that your people has endured."

He added that "recognition of the Armenian genocide is an act of peace," and denounced the repression of ethnic minorities and religiously motivated killings anywhere in the world.

Putin insisted that "there cannot be any justification for mass murder of people."

The Russian President added: "We sincerely sympathize with the Armenian people who suffered one of the most awful tragedies in the history of mankind."

Full Story Here