Archive for the ‘South Carolina’ Category

<img src="https://itsinterestingdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/04

The Columbian Mammoth is about to become an official state symbol of South Carolina, but its path to the limelight was long and fraught with controversy.

Here's the text of the bill that made it official:

Section 1-1-712A. The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the ‘Columbian Mammoth’, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.

This is actually the watered-down version of the bill; one version, proposed earlier, made even more explicit references to the role of a divine creator in the mammoth’s history.

This all started when an 8-year-old suggested that the Columbian mammoth become South Carolina’s state fossil. Olivia McConnell had some good reasoning behind her suggestion: Mammoth teeth found in a South Carolina swamp in 1725 were the first vertebrate fossils identified in North America.

Her submission became a bill. The original draft was simple enough: “Section 1-1-691. The Wooly Mammoth is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina.” But almost immediately the proposal ran into trouble. On a practical level: Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler objected strenuously to having any new state symbols enacted in a state that already has a state spider, state beverage and a state hospitality beverage among many others. On a philosophical level: proclaiming a state fossil in a state where there is still intense debate over teaching evolution as fact creates some problems.

From USA Today:

State Sen. Mike Fair, a Greenville Republican who serves on the panel that will decide the science standards, said that natural selection should be taught as theory rather than as scientific fact. He argues that natural selection can make biological changes within species but it can’t explain the whole progression from microbes to humans.

“This whole subject should be taught as a pro and con,” he said.

Last week, Fair had raised his own objection that temporarily killed Olivia’s bill but withdrew it after another senator told him the story of the Lake City girl’s campaign to get an official state fossil.

Fair wasn’t the only one who had objections. Another State Senator, Kevin Bryant started a pushing a change that would add some biblical flair to the otherwise direct language. The New York Times:

But then Senator Kevin Bryant proposed an amendment rooted in the Book of Genesis, imputing God as the creator of the woolly mammoth: “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
Bryant’s version was struck down, but the final version of the bill did include that language about the Mammoth being created on the sixth day.

There was one other addition, too. Frustrated by the amount of time spent discussing state symbols instead of governing, legislators also added an amendment to the bill prohibiting the General Assembly from enacting any new state symbols “until such time as the General Assembly directly by legislative enactment removes this moratorium.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/south-carolinas-state-fossil-creation-controversy-180950474/#4mOTlJmLsprzxrmM.99

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

UtahReducesHomelessness011814

Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

Bower’s tactics were over the top, and so unpopular that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his city’s homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.

•City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.

•Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” The city followed up with a ban on panhandling downtown, and other locations around the city.

•Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.

•Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

It sounds like Utah borrowed a page from Homes Not Handcuffs, the 2009 report by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless. Using a 2004 survey and anecdotal evidence from activists, the report concluded that permanent housing for the homeless is cheaper than criminalization. Housing is not only more human, it’s economical.

http://www.nationofchange.org/utah-ending-homelessness-giving-people-homes-1390056183

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

Alaric-Hunt_2787491b

When the judges of a contest for first-time crime novelists awarded their prize to Cuts Through Bone, they hailed the book for its authenticity.

No one from the Private Eye Writers of America panel, however, deduced that there might be a good reason for its author’s believable voice —he was himself a convicted killer serving a sentence for murder.

“He’s not available. He’s in an institution,” Jade Reed, his cousin, told an interested publisher that called to follow up on his win.

“Will he be out soon?” came the reply. After a pause, Ms Reed said: “Well, he’s there indefinitely.” Alaric Hunt, 44, has lived more than half his life in prison after being convicted of killing Joyce Austin, a 23-year-old graduate student, in Clemson, South Carolina, 1988. He is now in a maximum-security facility 180 miles from the crime scene in Bishopville.

Ms Austin died of smoke inhalation from a fire started by Hunt’s brother, Jason, with a can of petrol and a match to distract emergency services while the two of them robbed a nearby jewellery shop.

The brothers were arrested six weeks later.

They were sentenced to life with no parole for at least 30 years.

Hunt, who works in the prison library, discovered authors such as Ernest Hemingway while locked up. He came upon the idea of writing his own novel after seeing an advertisement for the prize three years ago.

He wrote Cuts Through Bone in nine months in sessions between his prison duties. The story centres on the murder of a woman whose boyfriend, a military veteran, is wrongfully accused of the crime.

Clayton Guthrie, a middle-aged detective, teams up with Rachel Vasquez, the inquisitive teenage daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, to get to the bottom of the case.

The book is set in New York, where Hunt has never been. He said he had pieced together knowledge of the city from watching episodes of Law and Order, a popular American detective drama series set there.

Unlike some other American states, South Carolina has no law barring prisoners to profit from such work. Still, Hunt’s publishers, Minotaur, are keen to stress that his book is not based on his own offence. “He’s not writing a memoir of the crimes and trying to make money off that,” a spokesman told the newspaper.

However, Frances Austin, the mother of the Hunt brothers’ victim, told the New York Times that she was astonished to learn he had written the book. “He caused my daughter’s death, and now he’s writing a book about it,” she said. “I can’t believe this.” The booked received mixed reviews. “Sometimes, a crime novel grabs you on the first page with its plot. Sometimes, it’s the writing. Rarely is it the author’s background. But Alaric Hunt hits the trifecta in his debut,” wrote the critic for the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia.

However, Publishers Weekly said: “Overblown prose (’dawn broke, like an egg yolk bleeding yellow into a dark pan’) doesn’t help an unremarkable plot.” Hunt told The New York Times:“What haunts me is not seeing beyond what I wanted and casually risking others,” Hunt told the newspaper. “That’s the act that defines me — something I didn’t do, but failed to do: consider. I killed Joyce Austin, and I killed my brother and myself. There’s a hole there that can’t ever fill up.”

He hopes to earn parole when he is eligible, in five years. “I’m afraid to choke on wistfulness,” he said. “That has been the fate of many a prisoner. I pass them each day, still shuffling and muttering with their hands full of hope.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10564467/Winner-of-crime-novel-prize-turns-out-to-be-killer.html

The saying lightning never strikes the same place twice apparently does not apply in Alexander Mandón’s case. The 20-year-old Colombian has been struck by lightning four times since September. So to “cure” his electrical attraction, a local indigenous doctor recommended that Mandón be buried alive in an upright position, Spanish-language publication “Noticias Uno” reports.

Burying Mandón allows the surrounding dirt to absorb any inappropriate electrical charges in his body, according to the indigenous healer. The first attempt was unsuccessful, since Mandón was not positioned the correct way. So, residents of Mandón’s native town Sampués, a community more than 300 miles north of Bogotá, tried again. In a video of the burial, several people work to cover Mandón in dirt. Ultimately, the group entombs Mandón’s entire body, except for his head.

Mandón’s faulty “electrical charge” has been a heavy burden on the 20-year-old. He was struck by lightning for the third time while serving in the Colombian military. His commander became concerned about the risk and discharged Mandón, “Colombia Reports” notes. However, the lightning strikes did not stop there. Following his return home to Sampués in northern Colombia, Mandón was struck by a bolt, yet again, outside a cantina where he once worked. Mandón’s fourth lightning strike left him trembling and struggling to walk, leading Mandón to seek out the traditional medicine doctor.

While it would be difficult to determine whether the treatment worked, Mandón plans to stay inside for the foreseeable future.

Lightning strikes, which can contain as many as 100 million electrical volts, can cause cardiac arrest or serious injury, including severe burns and brain damage, National Geographic reports. Though the electrical discharges do kill (in 10 percent of cases), surviving a strike remains more likely.

In 2011, South Carolina resident Melvin Roberts survived his sixth lightning strike.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/alexander-mandon-buried-lightning-strikes_n_2965574.html?ref=topbar

 

High school senior Corbin Russell has his college applications filled out, an upcoming graduation ceremony to attend and what looks to be a promising future ahead of him. Except for one problem: Records show he is dead. The Nebraska teenager, who is in fact very much alive, has repeatedly had college applications rejected due to an incident two years ago when his Social Security number was used in a death benefit claim for a deceased South Carolina man. Credit agencies and other record-keeping institutions show he is dead, and all three major credit reporting companies say documentation is needed to resolve the issue.

http://now.msn.com/money/0503-student-not-dead-college.aspx

New religious/internet icon Sad Stingray Jesus spotted in South Carolina. Via Charleston’s Post and Courier:

It’s not as famous as Grilled Cheesus or Nun Bun, but the image a James Island woman found Friday on the back of a dead cownose ray may be one day.

“I just kind of thought it looked like a bearded homeless man,” said Erica Scheldt, 24. “But when I posted pictures on Instagram, one of my friends was like, ‘That’s Jesus.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God! You’re right!’”

Scheldt also pointed out that she is from Nashville, home of the famous  Nun Bun, a cinnamon roll that bears a strong resemblance to Mother  Teresa.

 

http://www.disinfo.com/2012/04/face-of-jesus-appears-on-stingray/