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Secret Service Denies Vetting Trump Jr. Meeting with Russians

The U.S. Secret Service on Sunday denied a suggestion from President Donald Trump's personal lawyer that it had vetted a meeting between the president's son and Russian nationals during the 2016 campaign. 

Donald Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he met in New York with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after he was told she might have damaging information about his father's rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

"Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me," Jay Sekulow, a member of the president's legal team, said on Sunday on the ABC news program "This Week." 

In an emailed response to questions about Sekulow's comments, Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said the younger Trump was not under Secret Service protection at the time of the meeting, which included Trump's son and two senior campaign officials. 

"Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time," the statement said. 

According to emails released by Trump Jr. last week, he eagerly agreed to meet Veselnitskaya, who he was told was a Russian government lawyer. Veselnitskaya has said she is a private lawyer and denies having Kremlin ties.


S.C., 4 Other States, Start Crack Down on Traffic Violations

(AP) — Police in five Southeastern states are launching a weeklong program to reduce summertime wrecks and traffic deaths.

"Operation Southern Shield" starts Monday in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The campaign aims to reduce the number of drivers who are speeding, impaired, distracted and not wearing seat belts, according to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, which oversees grants used for the program.

In South Carolina, Highway Patrol Capt. Bob Beres said drivers can expect to see additional troopers on both interstate highways and back roads through Sunday.

But issuing additional traffic citations isn't the goal, said Harris Blackwood of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Georgia.

"They're not trying to write tickets," he told WSAV-TV. "They're trying to get you to slow down."

Extra patrols are being funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Statistics from the agency show wrecks killed about 35,000 people in the United States in 2015, an increase of 7 percent from 2014.

Traffic fatalities increased in 2015 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Deaths were down slightly in Tennessee.

Operation Southern Shield is being held in July between other major highway safety campaigns to coincide with the larger-than-normal numbers of drivers on roads because of summer travel, Alabama officials said.


S.C. Among Most Dangerous for Motorcyclists

(AP) - South Carolina is one of the country's most dangerous states for motorcyclists, but bikers put the blame on a range of problems from bad roads, inattentive motorists and inexperienced riders.

The Post and Courier reports the 135 motorcyclists who died on South Carolina roads last year were the most this century.

Statistics show South Carolina's average fatality rate in the five years ending in 2015 was second among Southeast states only to Mississippi, which has the least number of registered motorcycles in the region.

But motorcyclists disagree on requiring helmets, which motorcyclists are required to wear only if they're 20 and younger. Nearly three-quarters of motorcyclists who died on South Carolina roads in the past decade were not wearing a helmet.


Study: African Americans Read, Study Bible Most

African-Americans are more engaged with the Bible than any other group, according to the American Bible Society's State of the Bible survey, which found that this group overwhelmingly cites positive beliefs and hope found in the Scriptures.

The study showed that 71 percent of African-Americans are Bible engaged or Bible friendly, compared to 58 percent of all Americans. Only 6 percent of African-Americans have hostile feelings toward the Bible and just 4 percent are skeptical while 19 percent are neutral, the research found.

"African-Americans are much more inclined to recognize the value of reading the Bible," Roy Peterson, president of American Bible Society, said in a statement. "Anyone who devotes time to the Word of God can discover its unique ability to help make sense of life."

For the purpose of the annual study, the researchers defined "Bible-engagement" as having the belief that the Bible is the actual Word of God or inspired word with no errors, coupled with the practise of reading the Bible at least four times each week. Even those who believe that the Bible is "inspired word" with some possible factual errors but read it daily were also considered Bible-engaged.

And "Bible-friendly" are those who believe that the Bible is the actual Word of God or inspired word with no errors but do not read Bible at least four times a week.

The study revealed that when African-Americans sit down to read the Bible, 29 percent read it for an hour or more, which was the leading timeframe for this category. Fifty-one percent cited feeling encouraged and 53 percent said they felt hopeful as a result of reading the Bible.

African-Americans ranked higher than all Americans in six other things. Ninety-five percent own at least one Bible in their homes, 74 percent wish they read the Bible more, 46 percent downloaded or used a Bible app on a smart phone, 33 percent increased Bible reading in the last year, 40 percent listened to audio versions of the Bible, and 27 percent read or listened to the Bible or prayed every day.

Twenty percent of the American population is Bible engaged, and 38 percent are Bible friendly, the study found.

"More often than not, Bible engaged adults are married females from the Baby Boomer generation, are 53 years of age on average, have not been to college, are weekly church attenders, attend Protestant churches, and reside in the South or Midwest," the report said. "Three-quarters of Bible Engaged adults read the Bible every day. More African-Americans can be found in this category than the four other Bible engagement segments."

Recently, Barna Group explored the faith profile of 131 cities to identify the top 10 most Bible-minded cities as well as the least Bible-minded cities in 2017.

Barna's annual Bible-Minded Cities report, in partnership with American Bible Society, found that Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the most Bible-minded city in the U.S. for the second year in a row. The study found that 50 percent of the population of Chattanooga is Bible-minded.

Birmingham, Anniston and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, took the second spot, with 49 percent of the population being Bible-minded.

Albany, Schenectady and Troy, New York, with only about 10 percent of their populations being Bible-minded, were at the top of the least Bible-minded list for the second year in a row. The New England area took the second and third positions, with Boston, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire, at 11 percent.


7.1 Million Pounds of Hot Dogs Recalled

Sabrett has voluntarily recalled more than 7.1 million pounds of hot dogs and sausages after bone and cartilage found was found in some products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Saturday.

New York based Marathon Enterprises Inc., the brand's parent company, reported 7,196,084 pounds of beef and pork hot dogs, sausages and salami are affected, the USDA said in a release.

The USDA confirmed one minor oral injury associated with a Sabrett product.

Sabrett posted on its website "customers reported small pieces of bone and cartilage being found in these products."

"At that time, staff immediately investigated and identified an issue that could have allowed this to occur, and an equipment installation issue was quickly addressed," Sabrett said.

Consumers are urged to throw away the products or return them where they were purchased. Customers can also apply online for a refund.

The recalled products were produced between March 17 and July 4. The affected items are in various sizes and marketed under different brands names, including Western Beef, Stew Leonard, Papaya, 1906 Premium. Also sold institutionally: Katz's Delicatessen salami and Nathan's Private Label.

The products bear establishment number "EST. 8854" inside the USDA mark of inspection with a sell-by date ranging from June 19, 2017 to Oct. 6, 2017.

Customers can call 800-722-7388 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., for information.


Study: Generosity Leads to Happiness

A new study out of Switzerland shows that people who are generous and focus on helping others report feelings of happiness more than those who act on their own self-interests. 

Philippe Tobler and Ernst Fehr from the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich, along with a team of international researchers, conducted an experiment with 50 people in a lab who described their levels of happiness after doing acts of generosity, EurekAlert reported on Tuesday. The team sought to investigate how areas of the brain communicate to produce feelings of happiness.

The study's participants were promised 25 Swiss francs a week for four weeks. Twenty-five of them were asked to spend the money on others; the other 25 were told they could spend it on themselves.

"Doing something nice for another person gives many people a pleasant feeling that behavioral economists call a warm glow," a news release from the University of Zurich states.

The participants consistently reported that giving made them feel good. MRI scans of their brains were done simultaneously and showed that one area of the brain triggers a response in another area that is related to happiness.

"Our study provides behavioral and neural evidence that supports the link between generosity and happiness," the research team explained in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers looked at three areas of the brain, "one linked to altruism and social behaviour, a second to happiness, and a third area involved in decision-making."

Those who said they would give the money away said they were happier than the "self-spenders" even without having moved forward on their commitments to give.

While their brains were being scanned they were asked questions which "evoked scenarios pitting the participants' own interests against those of the beneficiaries of their experimental largesse."

The degree of happiness they had was reportedly not related of the amounts they committed.

The research team also said their findings have all kinds of implications for other realms of culture like public health, education, economics, and politics.

"Generosity and happiness improve individual well-being and can facilitate societal success," they said.

"However, in everyday life, people underestimate the link between generosity and happiness and therefore overlook the benefits of ... spending" on others, they continued.

The brain science behind generosity will not surprise some.

Christian Smith, a University of Notre Dame sociologist and Hilary Davidson, note in the book, The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose, that an accumulating body of research has shown the positive effects of generosity on the brain.

Citing experts in neurobiology, Smith wrote: "Experimental studies have shown that the increasing amounts of oxytocin in people's neurological systems significantly increases their generosity, empathy, and love."

"But the relationship may work both ways: increased feelings of empathy for others and generous practices appear to be capable of increasing the oxytocin released into people's brain systems."

Furthermore, a lack of generosity can have the opposite effect, stimulating negative neurochemical processes. Smith cited a study showing that stingy people have been shown to secrete more cortisol in the brain, a stress hormone that is known for creating "wear and tear" on the body.


Judge Exempts Grandparents from Trump Travel Ban

A federal judge in Hawaii ruled more family members, like grandparents and grandchildren, should be exempt from President Donald Trump's temporary ban on refugees traveling to the United States.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson on Thursday said the government's interpretation of a Supreme Court ruling -- that those with a "credible claim of bona fide relationship" to someone in the United States should be allowed entry -- is too narrow. On June 26, the high court said it would review states' lawsuits against Trump's ban on refugees from six Muslim-majority countries, but that in the meantime, a limited version of the executive order would go into effect.

The U.S. State Department initially defined a "bona fide relationship" as one in which applicants could demonstrate a relationship with a parent, spouse, fiancee, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States. Earlier this month, Watson declined to expandthe list of family relationships exempted from the ban.


Clemson Raises Tuition 2.75 Percent for In-State Undergrads

Clemson University’s board of trustees on Thursday approved a 2.75 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students, or $197 per semester for a full time-student for the academic year that begins in August. The increase is the lowest bump since 1999.

Out-of-state undergraduate tuition will increase by 4.25 percent, or $727 per semester. Starting in the fall of 2017, posted tuition and fees for full-time South Carolina residents will be $7,356 per semester and $17,827 for non-resident students.

Students will also see increases in the cost of housing and dining services in the upcoming year. The university offers a range of housing and dining options with flexibility to suit student needs, but on average, the price of on-campus housing will increase by $158 a semester, while meal plans will increase by, on average $90 a semester. Revenue from these increases will cover inflation, increased dining hours and nutrition options, ongoing maintenance and stewardship, replacement of outdated equipment, utilities and infrastructure.


Anderson Welcomes Leash-Free Dog Park

With tails wagging and lots of smiles, Anderson finally dedicated the long-awaited leash-free dog park on Wednesday. 

The community project officialy opened its gates, with a ribbon cutting, a few comments by community leaders and lots of barking.

The site, located behind the Anderson County Library, features more than three acres, and it a partnership of Anderson County, the City of Anderson, Foothills Foundation and tba (Towards a Better Anderson), the group which made the project happen.

“I can’t wait to see the dogs run and play and interact especially the expressions on the dogs and people’s faces when they come here," said Marshall Meadors, the committee chair for the tba Dog Park.

The park offers separate areas for large and small dogs, and feaures handicap accessiblity to allow all dog owners a chance to lett their dogs run free in a controlled ennvironment.

Security cameras, adequate lighting and a water station for the dogs, are a testament to the efforts which went into making the dog park a reality.

The Anderson Dog Park will be open daily, year around, from daylight to dusk.


Gowdy, Graham Express Frustration Over Trump Russian Ties

Two of South Carolina’s most prominent Republicans have expressed frustration over the Trump Administration’s possible Russian connection and the way in which new information keeps surfacing.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, who was tapped to be House oversight chairman last month, appeared on Fox News Tuesday and slammed the Trump administration, accusing those in the “Trump orbit” of having amnesia. 

“Someone close to the president needs to get everyone connected with that campaign in a room and say, ‘From the time you saw ‘Doctor Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single one of those, and we are going to turn them over to the special counsel.’ Because this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration.”

Gowdy, who was born in Greenville and grew up in Spartanburg, is helping lead the House Intelligence Committee's probe of Russia's interference in the election and whether there was any collusion between Moscow and Trump aides.

"If you had a contact with Russia, tell the special counsel about it," Gowdy said Tuesday. "Don't wait until The New York Times figures it out!"

Sen. Lindsey Graham also had a strong reaction after reading Donald Trump Jr.’s email string in which Robert Goldstone, a music publicist, claimed a “Russian government lawyer” had “very high level and sensitive information” that was part of the Russian government’s support for the elder Trump’s candidacy.

“Thanks Rob, I appreciate that,” Trump Jr. replied. “If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.”

Trump Jr. posted the emails on his Twitter feed Tuesday morning after the New York Times had informed him they were set to publish them.

"Anytime you're in a campaign and you get an offer from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is ‘no,’" Graham told reporters Tuesday.

"So, I don't know what Mr. Trump Jr.'s version of the facts are. Definitely -- he has to testify. That email is disturbing.

“We cannot allow foreign governments to reach out to anybody's campaign and say, ‘We'd like to help you.’ That is a nonstarter."


Kid Angler Hauls in Big Purse at Hartwell Lake

An 11-year-old boy fishing from a South Carolina dock reeled in an unusual catch -- a purse that was thought stolen from a boat in the lake 25 years ago.

April Bolt said she feared her purse had been stolen when she left it on her husband's boat at a Hartwell Lake dock in 1992 when the couple went out to eat with his parents.

"I was devastated, I was crying," Bolt told WHNS-TV. "I knew it was going to be a lot of work trying to cancel all my credit cards and license. The main thing was my little boy was 15 months old and all his pictures were in there."

Bolt recently received some surprising news from a family friend -- her purse was apparently in the lake the whole time.

The friend, Ben Meyers, said he was fishing July 4 with an 11-year-old relative on Lake Hartwell when the child hooked something heavy.

"I get my net and he gets it to the top of the water, all of a sudden I see it's a purse," Myers explained. "I said 'man you ain't caught no fish, you caught a treasure!'"

Meyers recognized Bolt's maiden name, April Deanhardt, from an ID that was among the contents of a wallet inside the purse.

Bolt's daughter, Abby, said the find is a window into another era of her mother's life.

"It's quite humorous, considering the wallet, perfume, lipsticks, numerous credit cards from stores that were open 25 years ago, family pictures, 52 cents in change, a check book, a teasing comb, etc. -- it's a serious time capsule!" Abby Bolt told WYFF-TV.


Hobby Lobby Bought More Smuggled Artifacts Earlier

Arts-and-crafts giant Hobby Lobby was pilloried last week after it agreed to forfeit $1.6 million worth of smuggled Iraqi antiquities it bought in 2010 to promote passion for the Bible. 

It turns out that wasn't the first time the company illegally imported artifacts. 

An attorney for the retailer confirmed to NBC News that the $3 million it will pay the federal government to settle a civil case isn't a fine but a payment to cover unspecified items that were improperly brought to the United States before the 2010 acquisition. 

Hobby Lobby doesn't have those purchases any longer. A stipulation outlining the settlement said they are "dissipated," suggesting they were either sold or donated. 

But the company declined to answer questions about the earlier items, including whether any of them were given to the soon-to-open Museum of the Bible in Washington, which Hobby Lobby helped fund. 

"This shows this is not a one-off. They made these kinds of mistakes repeatedly," said Candida Moss, a professor at Notre Dame and co-author of the forthcoming "Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby." 

"They should definitely be opening up their books." 

Hobby Lobby, which has more than 700 stores across the United States, is owned by billionaire evangelical Christians who began amassing an unparalleled private collection of Bible-related texts and artifacts in 2009. 

Last week, prosecutors in New York announced the chain had signed a civil settlement over hundreds of Mesopotamian-era tablets covered in ancient cuneiform writing and thousands of clay tokens known as bullae that it bought from overseas dealers in 2010.


WHNS: Upstate Couple's App Battles Mental Illness

WHNS - It's a potentially revolutionary step forward in helping those battling mental health issues and it's all thanks to one Upstate couple.  The Spartanburg duo, Robyn Hussa Farrell and Tim Farrell developed an app called Sharpen.

Sharpen utilizes the couple's backgrounds in video production and mental health education, and combines them with professional medical advice to develop personal programs for those looking for support. 

"I've seen it in my own family, as so many of us have, I watched a family member die from an addiction, and just as importantly, how hard it was for my family to understand the problem, to know how to help," Tim Farrell said. 

The application helps all age groups struggling with any mental health battle; whether a teenager struggling with an eating disorder or a veteran trying to overcome PTSD. It provides personalized tools, videos, facts sheets and points of local contact to those using the app. 

It breaks it down into four categories: heal, nourish, thrive, cope. It offers help to those who are trying to support the person in need as well.  

"You'll also find topics on what we call building resistance, managing stress, evolving healthy coping skills, understanding how to communicate through conflict and emotion regulation," Robyn Hussa Farrell said. "There are questions to ask providers, there's literally this world, this universe of material all of which has been tested and is evidence-based."

The couple has filmed experts from all walks of the profession, including Upstate Warrior Solutions' Dr. Craig Burnette.
"Twenty two veterans succeed in suicide a day and that is something that we have to reverse," Robyn said.

She has successfully brought mental health programs to K-12 students and now working together, this Upstate couple, is breaking down more mental health barriers, understanding that time and privacy are important.

"We know it takes people 10 years, on average to reach out for help, for a person to be able to sit on their phone in their in their home, by themselves, and see these resources that are available to them then that may help break that time your cycle," Tim Farrell said. 

Help all with just the touch of a screen is what they hope will change lives and minds here in the Upstate and across the nation.  

"If a tool like that was available at the time, I could've made a difference. It would have for a lot of people. We want to make sure that difference is out there now," Tim Farrell  said.

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