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Thursday
Jul062017

National Study: Anderson "Well Being" 382nd of 3,235 Counties 

"By analyzing social media, we can get unexpected, in-depth insights into the processes that drive happiness and illness," said researcher Anneke Buffone.

Anderson County ranks 382nd overall out of 3,235 counties nationwide in overall personality traits effecting well-being, according to a study just released by the University of Pennsylvania. 

 

Among the findings on the good side of the nationwide rankings, Anderson County ranked 31st in High School Graduation Rate, 39th in Median Household Income (although the statistics used are from 2014, and Anderson County has seen a marked increase in wages since that time), 51st in Openness to Experience (intellectually and emotionally curious and open to new things), 57th in Unemployment (althought this ranking is based on statistcs for 2015, the county has certainly moved up since that time with a current rate of 3.4 perccent), 75th in Extraversion ("the degree to which one feels energized by interactions and sociability, 82nd in Trust (believing others mostly good, honest),  85th in Agreeableness (social harmony, compassion, cooperation), 89th in the PERMA scale (Positive emotions-Engagement-Meaning and Accomplishment), and 94th in concientiousness ("the degree one is disciplined and organized rather than impulsive and spontaneous"). 

Anderson 4th lowest in the nation in both Depression and Neuroticism (defined as experiencing "emotional instability or negative emotions").

Compared to other counties in South Carolina, Anderson consistently ranked in near the top in all the postive categories.

The bad news is, in the categories of concern, Anderson County ranked, 32nd in Heart Disease Mortality and 74th in Diabetes Diagnosis.

Compared to other counties in the state, Anderson was in the middle of the pack statewide in each of the negative categories.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania created the new interactive map revealing the well-being and personality traits of communities across the United States.

The map is the culmination of five years of compiling and analyzing Twitter data. Researchers mined more than 37 billion publicly shared, geo-tagged tweets for evidence of personality traits like openness and extraversion.

Researchers reinforced the Twitter analysis with government-reported socioeconomic and health data like rates of unemployment and heart-disease mortality. Scientists organized the information for further analysis and comparisons using county boundaries.

The newly published map is the grand finale of the World Well-Being Project.

"The World Well-Being Project was established on the idea that we can measure psychological states of large populations in real time by analyzing their social media content," said project co-founder Johannes Eichstaedt, a Penn postdoctoral fellow. "To get here, we collected huge data sets, built language-based prediction models, ran those models over tweets and demographic information and extracted language patterns associated with specific traits."

Researchers hope other social scientists, as well as lay people, will use the map to explore and investigate the diversity of personality traits across American communities.

"I hope people will just want to play around with it. If I were considering moving somewhere in the U.S., I would want to know how happy people are there," said Lyle Ungar, project co-founder and Penn professor. "County-level psychological profiles are really, really important. What people are like in different areas affects economic and health outcomes as well as happiness."

The map could help governments, businesses and other organizations more effectively deploy resources to places where they are most needed.

Identifying places were heart disease and diabetes are most concentrated can help policy makers deploy exercise and other health and wellness programs in the right areas.

"We're looking for areas where we, as a country, can do better," said Anneke Buffone, WWBP's lead research scientist. "By analyzing social media, we can get unexpected, in-depth insights into the processes that drive happiness and illness."

Thursday
Jul062017

State: Fire-Hazard School Buses Still on Road in S.C.

Hundreds of fire-hazard school buses will continue to take S.C. students to school this fall.

Midlands school districts have 113 of the dangerous buses – out of more than 1,000 statewide – assigned to bus routes. 

The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature approved spending $20.5 million to replace about 250 of those buses with new ones. 

However, state education officials say they cannot order the new buses because Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed the money. Lawmakers are refusing to come back to Columbia to override the veto. 

South Carolina’s aging buses are proving to be a fire hazard for S.C. students. Seventeen buses have caught fire or dangerously overheated since August 2015. In some cases, children were on board. 

Republican leaders say the S.C. Department of Education could use other money to order buses. 

Surplus money could pay for the new buses “before the start of the school year, if it truly were a priority,” S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, said Tuesday.

But the state’s schools agency says it already has used money set aside for other purposes to buy new school buses in an effort to park the dangerous buses for good.

Meanwhile, some Democrats are pushing for legislators to return to Columbia to approve spending the money to replace the buses, including state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland. 

“The fleet ... is a legitimate concern for the safety of our children riding these buses,” Smith said.

“We have school this fall, and we have a chance to be prepared for that with safer buses,” he said, adding “It’s a long overdue priority.” 

Bus purchases on hold 

Lawmakers have no plans yet to return to Columbia to deal with McMaster’s vetoes of the state budget that started July 1. 

They could wait to consider budget vetoes when the next legislative session starts Jan. 9, 2018. 

“Wasting taxpayer funds and calling the Legislature back into session is not the answer to a problem that has an existing responsible solution,” Lucas, the House speaker, said.

S.C. House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-York, agreed, pointing to $105 million the Department of Education had available last year. 

“This problem is efficiently remedied without holding an expensive special legislative session at additional cost to taxpayers,” Simrill said. 

But the Department of Education disagrees. 

That money already is designated for other uses, including spending at other state agencies and school districts, the agency said. In addition, the money cannot be spent on school buses because lawmakers directed the agency to send those dollars to poor rural school districts that are suing the state. 

S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman also said safety and replacement of the aging S.C. bus fleet has been a top priority since she took office in 2015. 

Spearman said she has used all means available to her to purchase 1,424 new school buses, nearly twice as many as required by the Legislature. 

“We have purchased 156 new buses from fuel and operational savings just in the past few days and will continue to identify and exhaust all options available to ensure students have a safe means of transportation to and from school,” Spearman said.

The Department of Education has spent $2 million out of its budget that began July 1 to purchase new buses, Spearman spokesman Ryan Brown said. After all the buses under order come in, about 900 of the fire-prone buses will remain on the road, he said.

Lottery money at issue 

Gov. McMaster vetoed the school bus money last month, slated to come through a surplus of the state’s education lottery sales. Though often spent on other education expenses, lottery money should be spent solely on the scholarships the lottery was created to fund, McMaster said in his June veto message.

Spending money before it is available “is not a responsible budgeting practice,” he added.

McMaster also said if the lottery makes more money than expected next year, that money should go to pay for future scholarships for S.C. students.

State officials have not yet said how much extra money the state’s education lottery earned in the budget year that ended June 30. 

Last year’s lottery surpluses totaled $59.3 million, state officials said, adding this year’s surplus will be announced late next month or in September.

More at The State Newspaper

Wednesday
Jul052017

Sheriff's Office Hosting Blood Drive Today

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a blood drive today from 10 a.m.=2 p.m.  in the back parking lot of the Law Enforcement Center at 305 Camson Road.

“Blood supplies typically take a dip during the Summer months and this year is no exception,” the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook.

Wednesday
Jul052017

Volvo to Build Only Electric Cars Beginning in 2019

Swedish car maker Volvo says all its new cars from 2019 will have an electric motor, ending altogether the manufacture of automobiles that have only a combustion engine.

Volvo Cars, which describes the decision as "one of the most significant moves by any car maker," says it will have a range of models, including fully electric vehicles and hybrid cars.

CEO Hakan Samuelsson said Wednesday the policy reflects the wishes of customers.

He said: "People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers' current and future needs."

Volvo said that it will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three of them will be Volvo models and two will be electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars' performance car arm.

Wednesday
Jul052017

Mental Health Training Now Required for S.C. Law Enforcement

A new law requires every police officer in South Carolina to be trained in recognizing mental illness and de-escalating confrontations with people who are manic, not malicious.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel says officers increasingly encounter people with mental health issues and need to be able to "see it for what it is."

The now-mandatory course will be part of the additional training officers need every three years to be recertified. The training is already standard for the state's 59 accredited agencies.

But there are nearly 300 law enforcement agencies statewide.

Paton Blough knows firsthand the difference that training makes. The Greenville resident has been arrested six times during psychotic episodes. He now helps educate officers on his "successful arrests" verses violent ones that left him with scars.

Tuesday
Jul042017

The Declaration of Indepence

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday
Jul042017

Americans Celebrate Independence with Fireworks, Gluttony

(Reuters) - Americans will celebrate Independence Day on Tuesday with fireworks, acts of gluttony and escapes to the beach, even for people in New Jersey where legislators brokered a last-minute deal to reopen state parks.

 

In keeping with tradition, cities across the country will launch fireworks after dark, perhaps the most emblematic way to commemorate July 4, 1776, when the American colonies' Declaration of Independence from Britain was adopted.

The document enshrines the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which in many U.S. cities today involves competitions over how many hot dogs and hamburgers people can stuff down their throats in rapid succession.

In Washington, a hamburger restaurant challenges competitors to consume as many sandwiches as possible in 10 minutes, while in New York City, a seaside establishment stages a tournament that tests some of the world's most formidable consumers of frankfurters. 

Americans are expected to flock to beaches, especially in the West where the weather is hot and dry, while the eastern part of the country may see scattered thunderstorms.

In New Jersey, a budget battle halted nonessential services, forcing state beaches and parks to close, but lawmakers on Monday night ended the three-day-old state government shutdown.

On Sunday, while state beaches were still closed, however, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie managed to visit Island Beach State Park, prompting outrage. 

Maine residents are facing a partial government shutdown as well, but its state parks remain open. They are two of nine states to miss deadlines for passing a budget.

An informal peace and love celebration will mark the holiday in Oregon's Malheur National Forest. The annual Rainbow Family Gathering had drawn nearly 12,000 people by Monday, and thousands more were expected for July Fourth, said Ryan Nehl, a forest administrator.

Professing to have no leaders and no organization, the families mark Independence Day with "care-taking of mother earth, nonviolence and living a compassionate and loving life," according to one blog associated with the event.

 

"We don't want any of the groups to potentially surround any of the officers on site," Nehl said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are scheduled to attend a picnic for military families on the South Lawn of the White House and later view an 18-minute fireworks display.

City officials expect almost 700,000 visitors for a range of events in the U.S. capital.

Tuesday
Jul042017

A Quick Reminder on S.C. Fireworks Laws

The arsenal you and your family have acquired for your Fourth of July festivities is nothing to sneeze at, but in order to not bother your freedom-loving neighbors, knowing South Carolina's laws may be your best be in having a fun and safe holiday. 

First thing's first - you must be at least 16 years old to purchase fireworks in the state of South Carolina. 

RELATED: Fireworks may trigger bad memories for vets with PTSD

Moreover, it is illegal in South Carolina to have "fireworks containing pyrotechnic composition in excess of two grains, designed to produce a loud and piercing effect, including: 

  • "ground salutes" or "cherry bombs"
  • M-80's
  • TNT salutes
  • "bulldog salutes"
  • small rockets (not bottle rockets) less than 1/2 inch in diameter and 3 inches long 

Other than that, any other fireworks are permitted in South Carolina - mortars, spinners, bottle rockets, cakes, aerial fireworks, etc. 

Read the full South Carolina fireworks law here.

Here is a list of safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

And let’s not forget the safety of our pets!

  • Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
  • If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
  • Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.
Monday
Jul032017

S.C. Receives Trump Request for Voter Information

South Carolina election officials say they have received a letter requesting voter information from U.S. President Donald Trump's commission investigating voter fraud.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said commissioners will carefully consider the request received Monday. He says they are researching state and federal law.

Trump's commission asked for names, party affiliations, addresses, voting histories, felony convictions, military service and the last four digits of Social Security numbers for registered voters.

Whitmire wrote in an email that the agency collects most of the information requested. He says they can't release any part of Social Security numbers under state law and South Carolina doesn't have party affiliation data.

Some states have refused to comply at all, and none have all the information Trump's commission asked for.

Monday
Jul032017

Court Blocks Some of Trump Roll Back at EPA

A federal appeals court on Monday blocked an effort by the Trump administration to roll back some of the Environmental Protection Agency's climate protections.

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided that President Donald Trump's EPA cannot impose a 2-year suspension of a regulation that limits methane gas and other pollutants.

The court ruled that the administration has the right to reconsider the 2016 regulation, but not nullify it for two years while it rewrites the rules.

"We conclude that EPA lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to stay the rule," the court wrote in its 8-page decision.

The regulation was put on the books by the administration of former President Barack Obama as part of his ambitious climate change agenda. When Trump took office, though, he sought to scale back many of the former president's environmental efforts.

Before the case went to court, Trump's EPA and the oil industry argued that the 2-year suspension of the rule was not subject to judicial review.

"Just because you provide a time for implementation or compliance that's longer doesn't mean that you're going to necessarily reverse or redirect the rule," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told The Washington Post.

Monday
Jul032017

Report: Teen Birth Rate Down Dramatically in 2016

In the United States, teenage moms are increasingly rare. In 2016, the teen birth rate dropped 9 percent compared to the previous year, a government report found.

This record low for teens having babies continues a long-term trend.

The birth rate among teen girls has dropped 67 percent since 1991, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which presented preliminary data for 2016 based on a majority (99.9 percent) of births.

In 2016, the number of U.S. births totaled 3,941,109, a decline of 1 percent compared to 2015. The fertility rate of 62 births per 1,000 women is a record low for the nation.

The teen rate is a “phenomenal decline,” said Dr. Elise Berlan, a physician in the section of adolescent medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Berlan, who did not conduct this research.

The reason she’s so excited is “because we know that the vast majority of teen births are unintended.”

What’s fueling the declines?

“Data [from previous years] really suggests it is access to contraceptives and use of contraceptives that has really led to these kind of changes,” said Berlan, who noted “most teens are using some form of birth control” and the top method is “the condom, followed by withdrawal and the pill.”

On the flip side, the increase in births to older moms is also important, Martin said.

For women between the ages of 30 and 34, the birth rate increased by 1 percent over 2015 — the highest rate for this age group since 1964.

The birth rate for women who are between 35 and 39 is up 2 percent over 2015, representing the highest rate since 1962.

Even older women, those between the ages of 40 and 44, showed a swelling increase of 4 percent over 2015 — the highest rate for this group since 1966, according to the statisticians, while the rate of birth for women who are older than 45 is also a record high though the number of births remains essentially unchanged compared to last year.

Joyce A. Martin, a co-author of the report and lead statistician, also noted the declining rate of nonmarital births — births to people who aren’t legally married — in 2016, which fell 3 percent compared to the previous year.

Monday
Jul032017

Commercial Trucking Pollution Close to That of Coal

If nothing is done, trucks used to ship goods by road will produce as much pollution as coal used in the power and industrial sectors combined, a report found.

A report published Monday by the International Energy Agency found that if no improvements are made to the global fleet of heavy trucks, oil demand from the sector will account for about 40 percent of the projected 2050 total demand growth.

The sector already accounts for about 30 percent of total transport-related carbon emissions and about 20 percent of total emissions of nitrogen oxides, the primary components of air pollution. Demand growth means that road freight will by 2050 produce the equivalent emissions of carbon dioxide as is expected for coal use in the power and industrial sectors combined.

"For far too long there has been a lack of policy focus on truck fuel efficiency," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. "Given they are now the dominant driver of global oil demand, the issue can no longer be ignored if we are to meet our energy and environmental objectives."

By improving freight logistics, aerodynamics and finding alternative fuels, the IEA said energy use from road freight could decline by 50 percent and emissions could move lower by 75 percent by 2050.

Including passenger vehicles, the entire transportation sector accounts for the bulk of total energy used. Only four countries have energy-efficiency standards for heavy trucks, compared with 40 countries with standards for passenger vehicles.

Sunday
Jul022017

Dog Owners Urged to Watch Pets During Fourth

Besides taking extra caution on the roadways this holiday weekend, you are also urged to be mindful of your pets when enjoying fireworks.

The Fourth of July is a time of celebration but for pet owners, the days before should be a time of preparation.

"Celebrations are not fun for animals. This is the number one holiday for animals to get lost," said Katie Morrell, with Paws Humane.

Morrell says preparation should begin before the fireworks start.

“Bring them into a safe place. Make sure windows and doors are locked. Turn on the TV with a movie or music,” Morrell says.

If your dog is more anxious than most, a new jacket could be just what they need this holiday weekend.

“Thunder shirts are designed to help animals. It is a snug tight wrap that goes around the animal’s core. It is like a hug,” Morrell says.

If you are looking for a furry friend to spend the dog days of summer with, PAWS is running a special through July 14 offering $4 dog adoptions.