To the Contrary

Listen to candidates

Voters in South Carolina, thanks to early presidential primaries, will have multiple opportunities to see and hear the many candidates, Democratic and Republican. In fact, because of those early voting dates, voters have already seen and heard more than some would care to.

The "experts" keep saying that the situation in Iraq and indeed the entire war on terror will be the number one issue and will determine who gets elected. That may be one pertinent factor, to be sure, but it is by no means the only issue for voters to consider. There are many, and they should get the attention of everyone who plans to cast a ballot. And, since the presidential politicking got started so early voters have plenty of time to make up their minds. If they don't, they have no excuse.

The average person likely would wilt in the world of the American presidency. The pressures are so enormous they defy description. What the president of the U.S. does affects not only the American people, it touches the world and all its people.

What will the candidates offer? In large part, we can only guess from what they say. That makes listening crucial, whether the candidates are campaigning in South Carolina or somewhere else.

Alligator hunting

The phrase "the right place at the right time" has rarely fit so well as it did Sunday (Sept. 16) when five local nurses just happened to be on the scene after a large alligator bit off a man's arm near his shoulder in Lake Moultrie. And when the General Assembly goes back into session in January, the time should be right for it to finally pass a law establishing an alligator hunting season in South Carolina.

As reported in The Post and Courier, the nurses had gone to the lake as part of a three-day religious celebration. Thus, one of the nurses understandably called "a miracle" their timely presence, roughly 50 yards from where 59-year-old Bill Hedden was attacked while snorkeling at the Short Stay recreation camp. A nurse's discovery of a towel during the emergency also was incredibly fortuitous.

Though Mr. Hedden lost his arm, he didn't lose his life -- thanks to the nurses' decisive actions. ...

When the alligator population rises, as it clearly has in our state over the last two decades, thinning their numbers by creating a hunting season makes sense.

Earlier this year, Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, who has witnessed Lake Moultrie's gator glut first-hand, introduced a bill to do just that. Modeled after Georgia's alligator-hunting season, it passed the Senate before getting hung up at the committee level in the House. Sen. Grooms told us Tuesday that he's confident it will make it all the way through in the next session. ...

The most needed change is for the Legislature to pass Sen. Grooms' bill so that the number of alligators in South Carolina -- and the dangers they present -- can be reduced. Meanwhile, Bill Hedden has ample reason to be thankful for those five nurses who were in the right place at the right time.

On the Net:

(Spartanburg) Herald-Journal on the University of South Carolina Upstate's plan to build a business school, Sept. 19:

The University of South Carolina Upstate's plan to build a business school in downtown Spartanburg would help spur development in the city, expand the school and its presence in the community and provide new assistance to Spartanburg businesses. ...

This project would develop partnerships that could provide a tremendous boost to Spartanburg and the entire Upstate region. A USC Upstate business school would have links to the Moore School of Business at the main USC campus in Columbia. It would offer new opportunities to Upstate students. ...

The plan is in its preliminary stages and will need support to go further.

In the past, USC Upstate has suffered from a lack of political support in Columbia and from infighting among politicians in the Upstate. Those problems must be resolved.

Lawmakers and leaders from across the Upstate, not just from Spartanburg, should support USC Upstate and its plans to support the business community in the region with this planned addition.

USC Upstate officials have been successful in growing the institution from a branch campus into a dynamic full-service school that provides significant benefits to this region. It can do more if it has the help it needs to fulfill these plans.

On the Net: N01

The (Rock Hill) Herald on inspecting fresh produce, Sept. 20:

Even with the wake-up call of last year's E. coli outbreak, Americans still have no real assurance that the produce they buy at the supermarket is safe. A recent review by the Associated Press found that government regulators ignored calls for more inspections of leafy greens after people in 23 states were sickened by tainted spinach last year. During that outbreak, more than 200 people in 23 states were poisoned by E. coli. Three died and 76 others were hospitalized, some with kidney failure.

Even with the large number of people affected, tracing the source of the outbreak was difficult. Weeks passed before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning not to eat fresh spinach. Finally, scientists in New Mexico finally were able to isolate E. coli from an opened bag of spinach from which a patient had eaten before becoming ill. Health officials managed to "fingerprint" the DNA of the E. coli and implicate it as the culprit, tracing the spinach to a producer in Salinas, Cal.

Predictably, this outbreak sparked calls for more oversight by the government and a better inspection system. The best way to prevent another outbreak would be to discover the tainted produce before it ever goes to market. ...

Americans now are in an uproar over recalls of toys from China coated with lead paint. While that represents a real threat, so do the innocent-looking bags of lettuce and spinach in the nation's produce section. And we can't blame the Chinese for that. ...

Both the federal government and the state of California need to stiffen regulations and increase inspections. And lettuce producers, whose livelihood is on the line, ought to be the first in line demanding a better system.

On the Net: