It seems that can our government kicked down the road back on January 1 is upon us in the form of the looming March 1 “sequestration” cliff. One can both admire and be sickened by the hyperbole employed by politicians when discussing these impending “cuts.” President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address (http://goo.gl/SbMBp) described them and their effects as “harsh” and “devastat(ing)” to our “priorities” as well as “jeopardizing” military readiness. Really? So a 5 percent cut is going to jeopardize essential government operations? That’s funny, because the governments own Congressional Budget Office report (http://goo.gl/ftDos) states that “If no additional appropriations are provided by then, nonessential functions of the government will have to cease operations.” The operative word there being “non-essential.” If all the things the President pointed out are truly “priorities” then there should be nothing to worry about as only non-essential items will be cut. Of course this begs the question as to why these “non-essential” things were funded in the first place. Isn’t government only supposed to do what is essential by definition? Claiming that essential programs will be devastated by a 5 percent cut is to claim that the government lacks the common sense of any citizen. If your ability to spend is reduced do you immediately cut back on your food budget in order to keep paying your cable bill?
Best of the Best: Exploring the Southern city of Columbia, South Carolina • Cathy Best, Lifestyle ColumnistSubmitted by editor on Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:58.
I recently traveled to Columbia, the state capital of South Carolina, to host a pre-wedding party, and attend weekend wedding festivities. Home to my college roommate, I’ve become comfortable visiting Columbia over the years; I always enjoy exploring the city and surrounding area. With a little online research, I gathered some interesting facts and added some favorite haunts to give you a sampling of what this “Famously Hot” city has to offer.
“The Capital of Southern Hospitality,” Columbia has a small town vibe, although the population hovers around 130,000. One of the first planned cities, Columbia’s early commissioners planned 400 city blocks with 100-150 foot wide thoroughfares and perimeter streets believing, optimistically, “that dangerous and pesky mosquitos could not fly more than 60 feet without dying of starvation along the way.” Certainly, this theory solicits a lot of questions, but inadvertently 19th century mosquito control paved Columbia’s wide streets for easy navigation, and manageable traffic, in the 21st century.
The city boasts three rivers. The Congaree, created by the confluence of the Broad and Saluda rivers, flows through Columbia and the Congaree National Park, located 20 miles southeast of the city. The park “protects the largest contiguous tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States.” Paddling the rapids, created along the fall line, and hiking through old growth tops the to-do list for a cool weather visit.
Columbia is an easy 160-mile drive due east on I-20 from Madison; you can be in downtown Columbia in two hours, 30 mins. This no-muss-no-fuss travel makes it a great weekend getaway, girls' trip or one-day destination. You’ll discover a wide variety of activities, good food, and nice people. Here’s a smattering of Columbia’s best.
Allegedly – oh, how many of these columns have to begin with that word – Sadie Robinson, 29 of Warrensburg N.Y., tried to blow her boyfriend and his apartment up with a can of exploding lube.
While Peter Moody, Robinson’s boyfriend, slept soundly in the apartment that they share with their 3-month-old and 15-month-old children, Robinson stuck a can of WD-40 lubricant in the oven, cranked the oven to 400 degrees, and abandoned the apartment with the two children. On the way out, she also picked up Moody’s IRS refund card, which was valued at more than $2,500.
Moody’s awakening was accompanied by an aura of smoke, and he was disappointed to find that his loved ones were no longer in the apartment.
Feeling that he should inform the authorities about the recent changes in his surroundings, Moody had the cops dispatched on a (wo)manhunt.
Robinson and crew were found attempting to board a plane headed for Florida, apparently misinformed of the location of WD-40’s headquarters, which are located in San Diego.
That is, I assume she was headed out to pick up more canisters to bake for supper, and who doesn’t like the freshest ingredients?
Although canisters of WD-40 does have a flash point, which could create an explosion under high pressure, that temperature was not reached in the oven of the apartment that day; the residence suffered only minimal damage.
As far as the fate of Robinson, after her arrest she has been charged with arson and grand larceny. Additionally, Robinson is not allowed to be in contact with her children in the near future.
This is the way their home life ended.
Printed in the February 21, 2013 edition
The House voted on 20 bills and resolutions during the fourth week of the session, as our overall pace began to pick up. The committee system is now up to full speed, working on the fiscal 2014 budget and many other bills. We have a lot of interesting matters to consider in the weeks ahead!
Several of the items we saw on the House floor are worthy of note. HB 115 tweaks the rules under which the state Board of Education can consider suspending local board of education members, if their system is at risk of losing accreditation. The primary change was extending the window for holding a hearing on possible suspension from 30 to 90 days. Another change was to protect local board members who had been elected subsequent to a system first being notified of the risk of losing accreditation. I supported the measure, and it passed by 151 to 15.
HB 154 changes elements of how the Worker’s Compensation system operates. The bill would cap the length of time for medical payments on non-catastrophic injuries, and requires more timely and favorable processing of other expenses and possible lump-sum payments in a case. The bill also sets standards to require a good faith effort by an employee to try an alternative job offered to him or her. It passed unanimously.
The Cold War is supposed to be over. The Berlin Wall came down over 20 years ago as the Soviet Union collapsed. But the Russian bear is coming back in more ways than one. It started last July 4th when two Russian Tu-95 Bear H bombers were intercepted by our fighters as they approached our strategic missile defense site at Fort Greely, Alaska. The Tu-95 Bear are strategic bombers equipped with nuclear tipped cruise missiles. Within two weeks, another flight of the strategic bombers was intercepted as it approached our missile defense site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Last week, within hours of President Obama’s state of the union address, two Russian bombers were intercepted as they approached our Air Force Base in Guam.
Not only is the Russian Air Force flexing their muscles, the Russian Navy announced in January that they are sending naval vessels to the Mediterranean Sea near Syria to conduct Naval Exercises.
The Russian Foreign Minister refused to accept phone calls from our new Secretary of State, John Kerry for over two weeks. Russia said that the Foreign Minister was very busy.
The response from the U.S. was announced in President Obama’s state of the union address where he said that he wants to reduce our nuclear arsenal unilaterally.
John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador and former State Department international security undersecretary said this; “Every day brings new evidence that Obama’s ideological obsession with dismantling our nuclear deterrent is dangerous. Our national security is in danger of slipping off the national agenda even as the threats grow.”
And so it has come to pass – nearly 100 years since the post office ceased Sunday mail delivery (dropped in 1912 primarily due to religious and workers rights reasons) the United States Postal Service will cease Saturday mail delivery later this year. This time the reasons are financial rather than ecclesiastical. The Postal Service expects this change to save $2 billion a year – although this barely scratches the surface of a $15.9 billion loss in 2012 (although $11.1 billion of that loss was the result of a Congressional mandate forcing it to pre-fund future retiree health benefits – something it requires of no other federal agency). The Postal Service is a quasi-private entity. It technically receives no funding from Congress, however it’s ability to operate is tightly controlled by Congressional whim. But one area where it does benefit from its governmental relationship is with respect to the “Private Express Statutes” http://goo.gl/sLLUS . These are a set of statutes that confer on the US Postal Service a legal monopoly of letter delivery. This monopoly is enforced by a mandate that any entity delivering “letters” must charge at least 6 times the current rate for the first ounce of a single piece First-Class mail letter. Fortunately “parcels” do not fall under that mandate; otherwise FedEx and UPS would be nothing but big “What Ifs”.