- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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Nov. 8

The Post and Courier of Charleston on college sexual assault and the Freedom of Information Act:

When a sexual assault happens on a college campus, the students deserve to know where it happened - at the very least. And by withholding that kind of basic information, which goes against the spirit and the letter of the state’s open-records law, the College of Charleston isn’t doing itself, the victim or the public any favors. Clamming up just fosters fear and frustration.

Yes, a sketch of the suspect in the reported Oct. 27 attack is being circulated. But about all we know is that a dark-haired young white male got into one of four dorms on St. Philip Street north of Calhoun Street about 2?a.m., knocked on a door, forced his way in and sexually assaulted a student, according to campus authorities. And, so far, he’s not been caught.

After making a week’s worth of questionable excuses for failing to make a crime report publicly available, the college released a heavily redacted copy Friday - still with no specific location of the crime. The only part of the narrative intact stated the date and time of the assault and that “the victim reported that she was sexually assaulted . SLED was contacted and is the lead investigating agency.” That’s not good enough.

South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act specifies the location of a crime as a matter of public record to be disclosed. Still, the college’s general counsel cited exemptions to the law, saying the precise location could interfere with the investigation and could compromise the victim’s privacy. An attorney for The Post and Courier has pointedly called that “total nonsense.”

A spokesman for the State Law Enforcement Division, which is in charge of the investigation, said he had no objection to releasing the information but deferred to the college in making that decision. The reason SLED was put in charge of the investigation, however, was to comply with a 2007 law aimed at ensuring crimes on campuses are competently investigated. To simplify matters, SLED should proceed with the disclosure of the crime’s location.

As of Tuesday, the college was continuing to insist on a formal Freedom of Information Act request before disclosing the dorm in which the attack occurred. Ironically, that’s just the type of delay the law was meant to eliminate.

Online: http://www.postandcourier.com/

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Nov. 8

The Index-Journal of Greenwood on ‘soft targets’ of mass shootings:

Schools and churches.

Remember when we talked of schools as places where our children would and could learn and develop their minds, and prepare for the future?

Remember too when we thought of them as safe havens for our children?

Remember when churches were where members and visitors went to practice their faith, be spiritually renewed, enjoy fellowship with fellow believers.

Remember too when we thought of them as safe havens for members and visitors?

Thankfully, schools and churches are, for the most part, what we remember, but the sad truth is that they are now referred to by another name - soft targets. They are so named because they are, as Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster noted in a story published on Tuesday’s front page, “largely seen as undefended and people are there for peaceful purposes.”

As our story further noted, what motivates a mass killer to descend upon a church or a school most often has little do with who is inside those buildings, but has everything to do with availability and susceptibility.

And so it is really no surprise to learn that more and more churches are having to allocate funds toward a relatively new line item in their budgets - security. Lakelands churches are no different. Off-duty officers are being hired to be the watchful eye ready to respond while the congregations worship. Moreover, it will not be surprising at all if some church governing bodies allow members who possess a concealed carry permit to carry on premises as well, just for the added protection.

Schools already employ SROs who patrol the halls and help maintain order, but again, it will be no surprise to learn that our schools - public and private - have to find new ways to better ensure the safety of students, teachers and administrators alike. And that too will come at an additional cost.

Churches and schools, as we all well know from the news accounts, are not the only soft targets for mass shootings. Theaters, malls, outdoor concerts - you name it. Wherever large groups of people are gathered, tragedy can strike.

One other thing. We will not be surprised one bit to learn that today’s headlines will result in more people acquiring their concealed weapons permits. Not everyone who supports the Second Amendment thinks he should arm himself, but more and more will likely realize law enforcement cannot protect them 24/7. And they would be correct.

Online: http://www.indexjournal.com/

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Nov. 5

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on the decrease in the number of farmers:

If ever there were so few doing so much for so many, look at farmers. As their numbers decrease, the demand for food and agricultural products increases.

The United States has 3.2 million farmers (operating 2.1 million farms per the 2012 Census of Agriculture). That is less than 10 percent of the U.S. population of more than 323 million.

And the number of farmers is declining. A new Census of Agriculture in 2017 is nearly certain to show fewer farmers and farms.

Some important facts:

- The average age of the principal operator on U.S. farms in 2012 stood at more than 58 years. That is eight years older than in 1982.

- The number of female farmers in 2012 declined by 6 percent from 2007.

- The number of new farmers having been on their current operation less than 10 years was down 20 percent in 2012 from 2007.

Some say technology has contributed to the shrinking agricultural numbers and that fewer farmers are needed. No question, technology on today’s farms is a key player. Modern-day equipment is high tech, with fewer people required to work the farms.

But technology comes with a cost. The equipment is high dollar, requiring farmers to make huge investments while they bank on unpredictable weather and up-and-down markets to determine their fate from year to year.

Fewer people are willing to venture into agriculture as witnessed by the numbers of children of farmers seeking other careers. And farming is nearly impossible as a career option for someone not in a farm family or having ownership or access to significant land. The investment alone is prohibitive.

But farming is not without a future. Our nation must eat, and farmers are the suppliers. They will survive - and must prosper in the process.

Nowhere is the future of agriculture any more important than The T&D; Region. Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties are key producers in nearly every aspect of agriculture in South Carolina.

Some statistics:

- Orangeburg County has 1,056 farms with an average size of 268 acres. The total land farmed is 283,128 acres. The county ranks first in total receipts for crops and livestock in the state.

- Calhoun County has 412 farms with an average size of 287 acres. The total land farmed is 118,382 acres. Calhoun County ranks 16th in total receipts for crops and livestock in the state.

- Bamberg County has 315 farms with an average size of 294 acres. The total land farmed is 92,524 acres. Bamberg County ranks 28th in total receipts for crops and livestock in the state.

The numbers are significant, but there is so much more to the stories of farmers than statistics. In The Times and Democrat’s special section today, “Farming 2017,” Staff Writer Gene Zaleski puts you in touch with the region’s farmers.

They battled back from the disasters of flooding and a hurricane in 2015 and 2016.

They hope that a bountiful year for major crops in 2017 will mean a good year for them despite low commodity prices.

They lament the future of their farms if children or associates do not take up the farming mantel.

And they leave you to read between the lines that many of them would choose no other life and career.

Too many people - even in a rural location such as The T&D; Region - know little about farming. Take a trip through the pages of today’s special section. You’ll find it interesting, informative - and a lesson in appreciation for the few feeding so many.

Online: http://thetandd.com/


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