Category : State Government

South Carolina lawmakers considering allowing teens to get protection orders tied to dating violence

Lawmakers are considering allowing teenagers as young as 16 to get court orders of protection — without parental consent — when they are victims of domestic violence.

A proposed bill would also require teen-dating violence education in public schools and would increase penalties for those convicted of associated crimes.

Students from Ridge View High School in Columbia recently testified before a Statehouse panel supporting legislation that better defines teen dating violence.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, State Government, Teens / Youth, Violence

Responses to the Washington Supreme Court Ruling (2): Jacob Lupfer

The plain truth is that the Washington religious liberty case is going to be resolved in favor of the proprietor of the business, as it should be.

We need to be as deferential as we can to the rights of conscience, especially as they pertain to small/family businesses. I wouldn’t want the state to harshly fine me if I declined to arrange flowers for the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual banquet.

Progressives are fighting a losing battle, and the optics of financially ruining a 72-year-old grandmother are terrible. If progressives are on the right side of history and we are just moments away from same sex unions being celebrated as marriages by virtually everyone of every faith, then find another florist and leave this poor lady alone.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Lethal opioid ”˜China white’ cases on the rise in South Carolina

South Carolina had a larger number of cases than its neighboring states involving an increasingly popular synthetic drug that in its purest form can kill someone by just touching it.

There were 90 cases involving seized fentanyl in South Carolina in 2015, according to a recently released report by a congressional commission that monitors and investigates the national security implications of the trade and economic relationship between China and United States.

The report singled out China as the United States’ primary source of fentanyl, which was referred to as a “cheap, synthetically produced opioid” ”“ a painkiller that is about 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article132464299.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

A Prayer for an Election from the American Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States…[and of my community[ in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Spirituality/Prayer, State Government, Theology

(BI) U.S. public pension plans are headed for a disaster on the current trajectory

The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.

This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders ”” a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.

While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan ”” which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 ”” represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Stock Market, Theology

(NYT) A Somber Charleston, South Carolina, Reflects on Race as 2 Murder Trials Begin

CHARLESTON, S.C. ”” Seventy-four days separated the fatal bursts of gunfire: the eight rounds a white police officer fired at Walter L. Scott, a black man in North Charleston, and then the shots that killed nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church here.

And now, seven days will separate the trials of the officer, Michael T. Slager, and of Dylann S. Roof, the white supremacist accused of carrying out the church killings.

Jury selection in the state trial of Mr. Slager, who was fired after the shooting, will begin on Monday; one week later, the same process is scheduled to begin in the federal case of Mr. Roof. Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Roof, rebuffed his offer to plead guilty.

The proceedings ”” unusual in a country where, for different reasons, few police officers or mass killers stand trial ”” will draw renewed attention to, and more reflection within, the Charleston area, where many residents still struggle with killings that rattled the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Violence

(PAW) Lesley McAllister confronts the challenge of assisted suicide and a right to die Law

McAllister is adamant that taking drugs to end her life would not be suicide. “In suicide,” she says, “you’re choosing between life and death. With the End of Life Option Act, you’re choosing the time and manner of your death, knowing that it is inevitably coming within a short period of time. The law allows you to have a little bit of control over when, where, and how.” She would rather die at home, with an opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends, than in a hospital.

Advocates of right-to-die laws say control, or at least the sense of it, is important to the terminally ill. What people seem to want is the comfort of knowing that they have a way out if pain becomes unbearable or their condition deteriorates too far….

Professor Robert George, who has written extensively on philosophy and ethics, argues that statutes such as California’s diminish respect for the sanctity of life. “Opposition to medicalized killing” is “grounded in a recognition of … the idea that no one has ”˜a life unworthy of life,’ or is ”˜better off dead’ or a ”˜useless eater,’ ” he writes in an email. “It reflects the belief that nothing should be done that gives credit to or encourages the adoption of these beliefs, even by those suffering pain and tempted to despair.” George rebuts those who argue that individuals should be free to determine their own fates, calling medical assistance in dying “a policy question that implicates many aspects of the common good of our civil society and legal order.” Many who end their lives, he says, are driven by fear and depression. He urges that people facing terminal illness be provided with palliative care and counseling to help make their last months comfortable and peaceful.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Theology

South Carolina losing when it comes to Education Lottery scholarships

Some high-achieving college students are winners when it comes to the South Carolina Education Lottery, but one of the losers is the Palmetto State, which has had to subsidize those awards with more than $1 billion during the past 14 years.

Thousands of college students who started school last week will pay for their educations partly with the merit-based scholarships, which range from $2,800 to $10,000 per year for South Carolina students who meet certain academic criteria and attend a public or private college in state.

But much of the money to pay for those awards doesn’t come from lottery proceeds. Instead, it comes from taxpayers through the state’s operating budget.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

Charleston, Folly Beach consider curbing plastic bag use; could bring national fight to SC

Isle of Palms became the first town in South Carolina to ban plastic bags last year, and now Charleston and Folly Beach are looking to curb consumption of the single-use bags, possibly by banning them or imposing a fee at checkout counters.

In doing so they could bring the nationwide fight over plastic bags to South Carolina, which happens to be the headquarters of one of the largest packaging manufacturers in North America, a company leading the fight against such restrictions.

Folly Beach City Council is voting at its Aug. 9 meeting on whether to prevent the island’s merchants from distributing or selling plastic bags, and also Styrofoam coolers. Members of Charleston County and city of Charleston government, environmental groups and nonprofit organizations have joined forces on an online survey to gauge how the public feels about measures to curb plastic bag use.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Animals, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(WSJ) Michael Helfand–In California, qtns about Bending Religious Colleges to Secular Rules

Faith-based colleges””and religious liberty broadly””face an uncertain future in California. State legislators in Sacramento are considering a bill called the Equity in Higher Education Act, ostensibly to prohibit religious schools from discriminating against students. Yet it would actually create legal ambiguity, forcing judges to wade into the murky waters of theology to disentangle true religious belief from discriminatory animus.

The bill will be put before the California state Assembly Appropriations Committee in August. If enacted, it could spark similar efforts around the country. Yet instead of regulating the internal affairs of religious institutions, California could simply require them to be clear about their rules. This compromise would protect religious liberty, avoid dangerous legal ambiguity and prevent discrimination.

Under current California law, religious colleges that receive state funds can be exempt from antidiscrimination laws. Institutions qualify for exemptions if they are “controlled by a religious organization” and if application of antidiscrimination laws “would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization.” This is what allows faith-based colleges to, for example, enforce a code of conduct that bans same-sex relationships.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Young Adults

(CT) Is California on the verge of a precedent that should not be set?

The California legislature is poised to consider legislation that could destroy the ability of numerous faith-based colleges and universities to pursue the mission for which they were created. SB 1146, one of two similar bills recently introduced into the California legislature, would essentially restrict fully faith-based education to seminaries.

As explained in the Biola University news:

If passed as is, this bill would strip California’s faith-based colleges and universities of their religious liberty to educate students according to their faith convictions.

The proposed legislation seeks to narrow a religious exemption in California only to those institutions of higher learning that prepare students for pastoral ministry. This functionally eliminates the religious liberty for students of all California faith-based colleges and universities who integrate spiritual life with the entire campus educational experience.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology

Niall Ferguson–A message from Dostoevsky to the 21st century: Worry About Big Data

In “Notes from Underground,’’ Dostoevsky fired a broadside against all the Victorian do-gooders who dreamt of a perfectly rational society. “You seem certain that man himself will give up erring of his own free will,” he fulminated. He foresaw a ghastly future in which “all human acts will be listed in something like logarithm tables . . . and transferred to a timetable . . . [that] will carry detailed calculations and exact forecasts of everything to come.” In such a world, his utilitarian contemporaries believed, there would be no wrongdoing. It would have been planned, legislated, and regulated out of existence.

We are nearly there. Or so it seems….

I am deeply suspicious of the concerted effort to address all these problems in ways that markedly increase the power of states ”” and not just any states, but specifically the world’s big states ”” at the expense of both small states and the individual. What makes me especially wary is that today, unlike in Dostoevsky’s time, the technology exists to give those big states, along with a few private companies, just the kind of control he dreaded.

Consider some recent encroachments on liberty.

Read it all from the Boston Globe.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, History, Poetry & Literature, Politics in General, Russia, State Government, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WABE) Georgia House Overwhelmingly Passes 'Pastor Protection Act'

The Georgia House of Representatives [last] Thursday passed, in a 161-0 vote, a bill known as the “Pastor Protection Act,” to reassure clergy they will not be forced to perform same-sex weddings. The vote is unlikely to end debate over as many as nine other bills meant to expand religious freedom that are currently pending in the Georgia legislature.

In a rare speech before the chamber, House Speaker David Ralston called for lawmakers to come together.

“It is my hope on an issue of this importance, and charged with such deep emotion, that this bill can be the first productive discussion,” he said.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, Theology

(Local Paper) Houses of worship across the state, Lowcountry stand up for gun control

Less than 24 hours after burying her grandson who was shot to death last week in North Charleston, Carolyn Simmons took a stand against gun violence at a downtown church.

“I want to stop all this,” she said with desperation in her voice. Her grandson, Lamonte Simmons, 19, died Jan. 23, and two teenagers were subsequently charged with murder. “Too many kids are getting killed for no reason.”

Simmons attended the Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church on Bull Street, where one of her relatives, the Rev. Anthony Thompson, asked the congregation to sign petitions in support of gun control that will be sent to state lawmakers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Violence

Walter Russell Mead–Surprise: A new study finds firing bad teachers improves student performance

But a new NBER working paper from economists at Stanford and the University of Virginia suggests that, when done right, one kind of teacher turnover, at least, can be highly effective: programs for aggressively replacing bad teachers. The authors collected data from a unique Washington, D.C. program called IMPACT, which assesses teachers based on student outcomes and ratings from their peers, rewards those who perform well, and replaces those who persistently perform poorly. In a nutshell, it worked: The teachers pushed out for poor performance were consistently replaced with teachers who performed significantly better. “Under a robust system of performance assessment,” the authors write in their conclusion, “the turnover of teachers can generate meaningful gains in student outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged students.”

As we’ve written before, the idea that all teachers must be teachers for life needs to be questioned more often. That’s especially true when one is talking about replacing poorly performing teachers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, City Government, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology