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Energy expert Elwyn Roberts says that “business as usual” is not going to cut it as the U.S. tries to move toward energy security and sustainability in the coming decades.
People tell Courtland Thomas they see him almost everywhere — including, these days, on YouTube.
A stolen water buffalo skull was returned to its place in a Devine Street home decor store Wednesday.
Preparing and filing tax returns just doesn’t come easily for all people, and not everyone can afford to pay a professional to do it for them — but some USC law students are here to help.
Commission votes on 2 private dormitories
South Carolina’s Democratic Party may have its first African-American state chairman in May, given voters’ support.Jaime Harrison, a Washington lobbyist and former executive director of the U.S. House Democratic Caucus, announced Monday his intentions to run for the position, The State reported. “I think I can take the party to the next level,” Harrison told The State. “This is a watershed year for Democrats.”Harrison represents USC, South Carolina Ports Authority, Boeing and Michelin for the Podesta Group lobbying firm, according to The State. The 37-year-old previously worked for U.S. Rep. James Clyburn for six years, including as his floor director.An Orangeburg, S.C., native, Harrison graduated from Yale University and Georgetown University’s law school.Outgoing Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, who said Monday that he will not seek re-election after spending seven years leading the state Democratic party during two stints, voiced his support for Harrison.“He is the right man at the right time,” Harpootlian told The State.—Sarah Ellis, Assistant News Editor
The Carolina Alert Emergency Notification System will undergo its spring testing at an unannounced time between today and Friday.
The computer hacking scandal that rocked the South Carolina Department of Revenue late last year finally has a name on whom to place some of the blame.Former Computer Chief Mike Garon said Thursday before a special House committee investigating the security breach that he is “accountable for some element” of the hacking, The State reported.Garon said he was not the sole cause of the administrative breakdowns responsible for the data breach that leaked millions of Social Security numbers and payment card records from the Department of Revenue’s website.Department leadership failed to follow Garon’s suggestions to make security a priority, Garon told the House committee. Instead, he said, leaders — including former Revenue Director Jim Etter — set their own list of priorities for projects that put the agency’s computer security at risk, according to The State.Garon acknowledged to the committee that he and other employees should have quickly noticed the amount of data being uploaded from their systems.“I was amazed we did not discover it on our logs,” Garon told The State.— Sarah Ellis, Assistant News Editor
On-campus housing room selections for upperclass Honors College students begin tomorrow.Returning students approved for residence in any of the other living and learning communities, including business, Capstone Scholars, green and international, have already begun to select their room assignments by appointment, according to Housing Director Joe Fortune. That process will continue until March 1.From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, the first round of Honors students who have been approved for residence in the Honors learning community will choose their rooms for next fall on the Horseshoe and in the Honors Residence Hall. Selection appointments were assigned by a lottery conducted by the Honors College and will be held at the housing office in Patterson Hall.Fortune said a specific day was set aside for Honors students to select their rooms because they are the largest group of returning students seeking on-campus housing. About 325 students Honors students are expected to select their rooms Saturday, Fortune said.There are about 160 beds available for Honors students in the coveted Horseshoe apartment residences, Fortune said. He said students with selection appointments later in the day may be less likely to receive their top choice of rooms.Students approved for housing in all living and learning communities were notified by email by February 1 that they had been accepted, followed by emails informing them of their selection time slot.A second round of emails will be sent on Monday to additional Honors students, inviting them to select from rooms that are left over in the Horseshoe apartments and in the Honors Residence Hall, Fortune said.“We’ve worked really hard to communicate with students and their parents about the process,” Fortune said.More than 2,500 returning students requested on-campus housing overall, but just 1,000 beds are reserved for upperclassmen in the fall, Fortune said.About 1,500 students are on a waiting list, and they will be notified if rooms become available due to other students declining their room assignment offers. Fortune said some students have already declined their invitation for on-campus housing in favor of off-campus alternatives.On-campus housing for upperclassmen has decreased from about 1,800 beds available last fall due in part to the 543 beds that will be lost when the Women’s Quad is closed for upcoming renovation.“If students have not heard about the process, I’d encourage them to get in touch with the housing office. We’re trying to follow up with students as best we can,” Fortune said. “If we’re unable to serve you, we’re not going to leave you out there alone. We have a great off-campus student housing office that will be there to help you.”
The Capstone Scholars Program is partnering with the Career Center to offer a new benefit to its students.The Capstone Community Internship Program has been recently developed to provide internship opportunities specifically for freshman and sophomore Capstone Scholars.Funded by Capstone and facilitated by Career Center’s services, the program will help scholars prepare for and secure paid summer internships, according to David DeWeil, assistant principal of the Capstone Scholars Program.“I’m really excited for the students. As much as the university talks about outside of the classroom education and experience, this is meeting that need in another way,” DeWeil said. “I think for current Capstone Scholars and for prospective students, it’s another great way to build someone’s employability to make them a strong candidate for when graduate.”According to DeWeil, students will work 240 hours for 12 weeks over the summer, and Capstone will match the employer’s funding for students’ pay to equal at least minimum wage.Depending on Capstone’s funds available for the program, which are still being determined, the program will sponsor internships for a minimum of four students, DeWeil said.Beyond the funding aspect, the Capstone Community Internship Program will operate essentially the same as the Career Center’s general Community Internship Program.“What we’re doing is remarketing this as an exclusive Capstone opportunity,” DeWeil said. “Any student can go to the Career Center and apply for internships. What we’re doing is saying we’re going to carve out a certain number for Capstone Scholars. And marketing it that way, it seems like students take advantage of it more when it’s kind of more of a specialized opportunity.”The Career Center will do most of the “legwork,” DeWeil said, including helping students make employer contacts and prepare for interviews, providing a training session for students after they’ve been hired and before they begin work and providing a follow-up workshop in the fall.Carly Edwards, a graduate student of higher education and student affairs who is helping take the lead on the implementation of the project, said she likes seeing the collaboration between Capstone and the Career Center to cater to the educational needs of the Capstone student population.“Students feel more comfortable accessing and utilizing those resources within a known community,” Edwards said.To be eligible for the Capstone Community Internship Program, students must be freshman or sophomore Capstone Scholars, set up a JobMate profile and attend an information session on Feb. 21. DeWeil and Edwards said Capstone students have already received preliminary information about the program encouraging them to begin the internship-seeking process using JobMate and the Career Center’s preparation resources. Employers will be informed about prospective students by the first week in March, they said, and students can then begin applying for the internships through the Career Center. Students should know of their internship status by mid-April, in time to complete the Career Center’s “Realities and Rewards” training workshop which will prepare them to gain the biggest benefit from their workplace experience.The majority of the funding for all Capstone Scholars programs, including the Community Internship Program, is provided by the $100-per-semester fee that Capstone students pay, DeWeil said.The new internship program will complement special services already being funded by Capstone, including special study abroad and research grants for scholars.“It’s a way to make our Capstone students have more special opportunities just for them,” DeWeil said. “We use our funding to be able to carve out additional grants for Capstone Scholars, because many offices just don’t have the budget to fund as many as we want. So we throw in some money and create a special marketing plan just for Capstone students.”DeWeil said the special grants and programs are draws for potential new students and their parents.“If we just said, ‘Hey, come to USC and live in a building’ — you know, that doesn’t really matter,” DeWeil said. “It’s the educational experience behind it. Making students feel like they belong, that they have someone to talk to no matter what; that’s what makes them attracted to this program alongside the opportunities.”
Igor Stravinsky’s “The Suite Italienne” was being practiced, a pianist accompanying Robert Jesselson’s cello student in a studio in USC’s School of Music. The teacher, with great animation and obvious passion, at turns listened, at turns instructed, at turns demonstrated.The tempo was too quick, he said, and the students accordingly adjusted their play. Jesselson’s own tempo, though, rarely slows.
A 5-year-old Alabama kindergartner was kidnapped from a school bus Tuesday afternoon and, as of Thursday, was still being held hostage, The Washington Post reported.A team of federal, state and local officers had few details on the state of the hostage situation as of Thursday morning.Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, reportedly stopped a Midland City, Ala., school bus Tuesday afternoon and shot its driver four times before carrying away a random boy, identified only as Ethan, to an underground bunker on his property, The Washington Post reported.Officers, led by the FBI, have staked out the perimeter of Dykes’ property and evacuated neighbors.The boy being held reportedly suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, will turn 6 next week.—Sarah Ellis, Assistant News Editor
Alex Ross, a classical music critic for The New Yorker, presented the keynote speech last night at the “Wagner World Wide: America” international symposium.Hosted by the USC College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Music in conjunction with the University of Bayreuth in Germany, the three-day conference has celebrated the 200-year anniversary of Richard Wagner’s birth with concerts, films and performances in the German composer’s honor.The symposium, which has drawn guests from around the country and expert presenters from USC and across the globe, began Sunday with a performance of selected Wagner works by the USC Symphony Orchestra. Wagner was a 19th century composer, theater director and conductor chiefly known for his operas, which include the epic four-opera cycle “The Ring of the Nibelung.”Other events this week have included musical performances and presentations on the significance of Wagner’s works regarding the topics of environment and nature, gender and sexuality, media and film, history and nationalism and globalization and markets.The conference continues through tomorrow, culminating with a public performance of “Das Barbecü,” a comedic spoof on Wagner’s “Ring” presented by the USC Opera.Wagner’s works have incited controversy for various reasons, among them anti-Semitic reflections and socialist interpretations.—Compiled by Sarah Ellis, Assistant News Editor
Making healthy eating choices isn’t always easy, especially for many college students whose diets rely on pre-packaged snacks and meals. A new study published last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that food nutrition labels can be confusing for consumers, and a USC professor says that proposed changes to FDA food labeling guidelines could possibly help people make better food assessments and healthier dietary decisions.The FDA study, published in the February edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, concluded that a clear display of the calories and nutrients found in an entire pack of food made it easier for people to assess the nutritional value of products.The study suggests making containers only hold one serving or changing labeling to use a dual-column package label that displays both single-serving and whole package nutrition information. The study concluded that both options result in easier consumer understanding of items’ nutritional value.USC exercise science department head Dr. Teresa Moore agrees with the considered changes — to an extent.“I think it’s confusing to the consumer,” Moore said. “I think a lot of people look at just the total calories, and they don’t really go past that and look at the smaller print above that to see the actual size of the serving.”The current food labels are accurate, Moore said, but the information could be presented more clearly to consumers to reduce the amount of effort put into assessing the nutritional value of their food.Even with changes, though, Moore said it is up to consumers to make healthy choices about what they put in their bodies.“A bag of chips is still a bag of chips; it’s not going to change,” Moore said. “People may be more aware of the calories they’re putting in their bodies, but they still have to make the choice to take in less.”The main benefit of the proposed changes to nutrition labels would be to eliminate the effort of self-education about food labels that many consumers are not going to put in anyway, Moore said.“It would make it a lot easier for people just to glance at the package and know what’s in there, because right now it takes a lot of time to go in and read every single label on every food product that you purchase,” Moore said. “Not everybody’s going to do that. We have to make things a lot clearer.”But Moore said she wishes the FDA would look beyond serving size information in its considered changes to food labels. She would like to see clearer presentation of information about the percentage of nutrient content within food items, and she said the “percent daily value” information on labels is also confusing to many consumers.However, she noted that nutritional labels mean very little to students who rely on prepared meals in restaurants and dining halls. She encouraged students to seek healthy food options in all cases, whether packaged or prepared meals.“The more a student asks for the healthy option, the more students want healthier foods, that’s what the dining halls will be providing,” Moore said. “You know, we vote with our pocketbooks.”
A new economic tool for South Carolina tax policy-makers was revealed Thursday by researchers from the Darla Moore School of Business.Designed for government, business and community leaders, the new online S.C. Tax Tool allows users to calculate the consequences that potential changes in tax laws would have on the state’s revenue.Moore School Dean Hildy Teegen said Thursday that the new tax calculator will allow decision-makers to “focus more on substance and less on the math.”“I know for this community, it comes as no surprise to you that the question of tax policy in South Carolina is one that has gotten us the attention of many in our community,” Teegen said, speaking to a group of legislative leaders and their staff at the Statehouse Thursday. “And we recognize at the Moore School of Business that we have some specialized expertise that we can bring to bear in helping those in the policy community considering a variety of potential changes in our tax policy and our tax regulations.”Moore School researchers Carolina Strobel and Patrick Philipoom spent about one year and between $30,000 and $40,000 in private donations to develop the model, according to Teegen. The calculator displays baseline figures of current state tax revenue based on current taxation rates in a number of tax categories. By manipulating proposed tax changes with the tool, users can immediately see the potential impact that the change will have on the amount of tax revenue collected by the state. The tool keeps a running track of proposed changes and impacts and allows for side-by-side comparison to the baseline figures.“For the very first time, all of you that are interested in tax policy will be able to use an objective, unbiased, neutral tool that takes the hassle of the math out of your decision-making process,” Teegen said.As an example, Teegen used the tool to demonstrate how a hypothetical decrease in the corporate tax rate from 5 percent to 4 percent would result in a $50 million negative implication for total state revenue collected from corporate taxes and fees.Teegen also said the model does not advocate any particular kind of policy change; it is a neutral tool to help policy-makers understand better and more easily the impact of the choices they might make.The baseline information will be updated every time new economic information is made available by the Department of Revenue or the Bureau of Economic advisers, Strobel said.“We believe that this tool is not only robust, comprehensive and very up-to-date in terms of the underlying data, but also quite easy to use,” Teegen said.South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom was in attendance for the demonstration and said the tool would be useful in its design, if only policy-makers will choose to make use of it. He also said that policy-makers at the state level can sometimes be too independent in their attitudes, and he said lawmakers should take advantage of this sort of expertise coming out of the university.“We’re creating these experts, (so) use these experts,” Eckstrom said. “The more we involve experts that our higher (education) institutes are producing, the more likely it is that those experts stay in South Carolina. And we need people that can add quality to the state.”
Lawmakers received recommendations for new ethics rules Monday from Gov. Nikki Haley’s recently appointed ethics commission.Led by former Attorneys General Henry McMaster and Travis Medlock, the commission made 23 suggestions that included requiring lawmakers to disclose all sources of public and private income, raising the amounts of ethics violation fines, speeding response time and lowering costs for Freedom of Information requests, WIS and The State reported.“We are attempting to put South Carolina in a class by herself when it comes to honest government, good ethics rules and the reputation for integrity and honesty in its public officials,” McMaster told WIS.Haley appointed the commission in October after ethics in state politics began drawing much attention. Members of the governor’s commission include former U.S. attorneys, state ethics commission members and media representatives.— Sarah Ellis, Assistant News Editor