News Blips 

"It was a bunch of lies. ... I don't want to be like those people."

Fourth-grader Sydney Rieckhoff, who has been covering the election for Scholastic Media. When Chelsea Clinton told her that she couldn't answer questions because the girl was with the media, FOX News pounced on the story, calling out the former first daughter. Rieckhoff says that she was happy with Chelsea's response because the girl wanted to be treated as a journalist. After the exaggerated FOX coverage, she says she's rethinking career plans. Source: The New York Times

Boilerplate Greenies (Kinder Morgan gets cuddly)

Google the phrase, "received international recognition for their contributions to wildlife habitat conservation," and a list of stories praising historically-not-so-eco-friendly companies like ExxonMobil, GM, DuPont, Monsanto, and Alcoa appear. The articles, many in local newspapers nationwide, are reprints of press releases from the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), an organization that all of the above organizations belong to. (Their logo includes a smokestack, a fish, and a tree).

Kinder Morgan, the energy-shipping company that's currently hoping to place a 20-acre coal pile along the Cooper River and has a nationwide laundry list of environmental offenses in their 10-year history, sponsored WHC's "The Value of Green" conference this year, where they earned an International Habitat Conservation Award for their work on a one-acre island site in California. Half of that one acre has been restored with brush piles and native shrubs, providing habitat for rabbits, raccoons, and skunks.

"Congratulations to Kinder Morgan for stepping up to meet the challenges of creating a healthy and biodiverse natural world," says WHC President Robert Johnson in the release. "WHC members embrace their role as leaders in environmental stewardship at the local, national, and global level."

Congratulations Kinder Morgan, on preserving half an acre and getting international recognition from a group you give money to. Cough, cough... —Stratton Lawrence

10

That's South Carolina's ranking among growing U.S. states, with 4,407,709 palmetto-adorned residents, according to the latest Census estimates. Number 10 ain't bad, but it's far from the growth numbers in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

239,000

That's the number of Democratic caucus participants in Iowa last week, providing Sen. Barack Obama a solid victory, with former Sen. John Edwards narrowly edging out Sen. Hillary Clinton for second. Source: The New York Times

Hodges Endorses Obama, May Sway Three Voters

Last week, former Gov. Jim Hodges, who largely won on his election focused on the lottery and education funding, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). His support centered on Obama's ambitious $18 billion education plan that includes early childhood education, teacher incentives in struggling schools, and a focus on sharing best practices.

"If we want to make the lives of everyday South Carolinians better — improve our schools, strengthen families, and cover the uninsured — it will take fundamental changes to how business is done in Washington," Hodges says. "Barack Obama has been bringing people together to create change all his life."

It's hard to imagine who will be swayed with Hodges' endorsement. Now running a lobbying agency out of Columbia, his clout in the state has stepped back into the broader crowd of party leaders, several of whom have already backed various horses in this race.

Barack has the ability to put traditionally conservative states in play in November, Hodges says. We're assuming he's talking about some other state because South Carolina turns into a pumpkin on Jan. 27. —Greg Hambrick

19 degrees

That's the low during last week's cold snap — officially starting the six-month countdown to when we start griping about the heat. Source: www.wunderground.com

Smoking Ban Update

Charleston bar owners may not have to wait until their day in court to get the final word on whether the City of Charleston's smoking ban is lawful. The S.C. Supreme Court will hear arguments Jan. 9 on Greenville's smoking ban, which was overturned last year by a lower court.


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