Publishing Mein Kampf can be a struggle


Today’s question: Who holds the copyright for Mein Kampf, the combined autobiography/political ideology work Adolf Hitler used to lay out his plan for European domination?

A) Hitler’s heirs;

B) No one, as it’s public domain.

C) The German state of Bavaria.

Oddly, the answer is “C,” as a Polish publisher found out recently when he was convicted of copyright infringement and given him a three-month suspended prison sentence and fined 10,000 zlotys ($3,200).

The man, identified only as Marek S. was sued, in line with Polish privacy laws, by the German state of Bavaria, which holds the rights to the book, according to

The defendant published 20,000 copies of Mein Kampf in 2005 without seeking Bavaria’s permission.

Making the case even more peculiar is that Mein Kampf is banned in Germany and Bavaria is seeking to block it in other countries for fear it fears it could be misused by right-wing extremists.

Apparently, following World War II the Allies confiscated Hitler’s assets, including copyrights of his books, and gave the to Bavaria, where Hitler lived when writing “Mein Kampf.” All rights will expire in Dec. 31, 2015.

(Hat tip: Ludwig von Mises Institute’s blog)

Info released in FFCH deal for NC bank


First Financial Holdings of Charleston has released details of its Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-brokered deal to take over Wilmington, NC-based Cape Fear Bank after the latter was seized in April.

According to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the acquisition consisted of assets with a fair value of $413.2 million, including $274.5 million of loans, $48.4 million of investment securities, $17.2 million of cash and cash equivalents, $7.5 million of foreclosed assets and $3.5 million of Federal Home Loan Bank stock. 

Liabilities with a fair value of $384.3 million were also assumed, including $305.4 million of deposits and $58.9 million of Federal Home Loan Bank advances.

The acquisition also resulted in an $18.8 million deferred tax liability. 

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Analyst upgrades First Financial


First Financial Holdings of Charleston, SC, was upgraded Monday by analyst SunTrust Robinson Humphrey to a “buy” from a “neutral” position.

Stock in First Financial responded by rising 33 cents, to $9.44 a share.

First Financial earned $3.1 million during the quarter ended March 31, despite having to set aside nearly $13 million for potential bad loans.

That compares to a loss of $6.5 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, mostly attributed to the recession and a $2.1 million write-down on three fixed-income investments that had fallen in value, according to The Charleston Post and Courier.

The upgrade by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey comes a little less than two years after the company downgraded First Financial to “neutral.”

Evangelist who got incentives builds big


Inspiration Networks’ chief executive David Cerullo, who moved his ministry to South Carolina after receiving state incentives, has invested about $4 million in a lakefront home under construction in South Carolina, according to The Charlotte Observer.

The religious network leader’s new house includes more than 9,000 heated square feet, along with a 2,000-square-foot screened porch, and sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Greenville in a gated community that overlooks Lake Keowee, according to The Observer.

This is of particular interest to South Carolinians because in 2006 South Carolina offered the broadcaster incentives worth up to $26 million to move his City of Light campus to Lancaster County from Charlotte.

According to The Observer, “Taxpayer advocates question the deal, particularly in light of Cerullo’s salary and real estate holdings. ‘If they’ve got these kinds of assets, does the state really need to offer… tax breaks?’ asked Don Weaver, president of the S.C. Association of Taxpayers.”

In addition, Inspiration is fighting for an exemption from property taxes on its 92-acre site, despite a ruling by the S.C. Department of Revenue that it must pay them.

Cerullo’s fast-growing religious network is drawing scrutiny for the money it collects from donors. The broadcaster has raised tens of millions, largely by telling viewers that God brings financial favor to those who donate, the paper reported.

“As the nonprofit network has grown – with revenues expected to approach $100 million this year – so has Cerullo’s salary.

“With compensation exceeding $1.5 million a year, Cerullo is the best-paid leader of any religious charity tracked by watchdog groups, The Observer reported last month.”

Flogging the past in Little Rhody

Providence Plantations

Here’s a history tidbit for you: The country’s smallest state has the longest official name: “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”

However, that may not be the case for much longer.

A push to drop “Providence Plantations” from that name advanced farther than ever on Thursday when House lawmakers voted 70-3 to let residents decide whether their home should simply be called the “State of Rhode Island,” according to The Associated Press.

That’s a positive for those who believe the formal name conjures up images of slavery, while opponents argue it’s an unnecessary rewriting of history that ignores Rhode Island’s tradition of religious liberty and tolerance.

The bill permitting a statewide referendum on the issue next year now heads to the state Senate.

Rep. Joseph Almeida, an African-American lawmaker who sponsored the bill, said the move is long overdue.

“It’s high time for us to recognize that slavery happened on plantations in Rhode Island and decide that we don’t want that chapter of our history to be a proud part of our name,” he said.

Rhode Island’s unwieldy name reflects its turbulent colonial history, a state that consisted of multiple and sometimes rival settlements populated by dissidents, according to The Associated Press:

Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his unorthodox religious views, minister Roger Williams set out in 1636 and settled at the northern tip of Narragansett Bay, which he called Providence Plantations. Williams founded the first Baptist church in America and became famous for embracing the separation of church and state, a legal principle enshrined in the Bill of Rights a century later.

Other settlers made their homes in modern-day Portsmouth and Newporton Aquidneck Island, then known as the Isle of Rhodes.

In 1663, English King Charles II granted a royal charter joining all the settlements into a single colony called “The Colony of Rhode Islandand Providence Plantations.” The name stuck. Rhode Island used that royal charter as its governing document until 1843.

Opponents of the name charge argue that “plantations” was used at the time to describe any farming settlements, regardless of slavery.

Rhode Island merchants did, however, make their fortunes off the slave trade. Slaves helped construct Brown University in Providence, and a prominent slave trader paid half the cost of its first library.

By all means, let’s drop anything that has a politically incorrect association with the past.

That will certainly do wonders for blacks who suffered under the lash of Rhode Island farmers more than 200 years ago and will also show those whites who profited so handsomely from the “peculiar institution,” won’t it?

Georgia hit by two more bank failures


Georgia continues to be beset by bank failures as regulators last Friday shut down two more institutions in the Peach State, bringing to 14 the number of banks in Georgia that have failed since the beginning of last year, more than in any other state.

By comparison, there have been no bank failures in South Carolina during the same period and just two in North Carolina, both in Wilmington.

In all, five banks nationwide were closed last Friday, bringing to 45 the number of failures this year of federally insured banks.

In Georgia, Community Bank of West Georgia, based in Villa Rica, and Neighborhood Community Bank, located in Newnan, were seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Most of the Georgia failures have involved banks in the Atlanta area, where the collapse of the real estate market brought economic dislocation, according to The Associated Press.

Princip, Sarajevo and the twists of history


The course of history has often been determined by confluences of odd events that can be described as nothing less than bizarre.

Consider the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Prinicip on this date, 95 years ago:

In June 1914, Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife had been invited by the governor of the Austrian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina to watch troops on manoeuvres. Ferdinand, according to Wikipedia, knew that the visit would be dangerous, knowing his uncle, Emperor Franz Josef, had been the subject of an assassination attempt by the Serbian nationalist group Black Hand in 1911.

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State’s lapse on Sanford emails inexcusable


Unanswered in the controversy surrounding the mysterious emails sent to The State newspaper detailing SC Gov. Mark Sanford’s affair with an Argentine woman is why the paper didn’t approach the governor himself.

According to the paper, about six months ago The State received copies of e-mail messages from an anonymous source that were supposedly exchanged between Gov. Sanford’s personal e-mail address and a woman named Maria in Argentina.

“Reporters sent e-mails back to the originating e-mail address and to the woman, whose e-mail address was included, in an effort to verify the messages were genuine,” the paper wrote. “They never heard back. A second round of e-mails also failed to get a response, so the paper did not publish them until Wednesday, after Sanford admitted having an affair.”

Remarkably, there’s no mention of whether anyone at the paper approached Sanford regarding the emails. That’s hardly the kind of sleuthing one would expect from a newspaper that once prided itself on its state government coverage.

Now it seems unlikely Sanford would have come clean if The State had bothered to question him about the correspondence, but it’s hard to fathom why the paper didn’t at least make the effort to check the allegations with one of the two individuals who were directly involved.

No one expects The State to have published the emails without verification, but failing to follow up a tip on what’s become the biggest story in South Carolina politics in a long, long time is inexcusable.

Why limiting executive pay is a bad idea


Amid increasing the hue and cry from the Obama Administration for the need to regulate the pay of executives of all financial-services firms – and maybe even of all publicly traded corporations – comes a bit of reason.

In a piece highlighting the dangers of regulating executive pay, George Mason University economics professor Don Boudreaux makes a straightforward case why such action would be wrong:

Proponents of Obama’s proposal suggest that if government limits the pay that banks and brokerage houses offer their executives, these firms will have lower costs. These lower costs will mean better deals for customers, such as lower interest rates for borrowers and lower brokerage fees for ordinary citizens who buy and sell stocks. What can be the downside of such regulation?

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SC no stranger to political controversy


Gov. Mark Sanford’s revelation of an affair with an Argentinian woman certainly doesn’t mark the first time a Palmetto State elected official has found himself in political hot water.

As WIS-TV reports, there have been others over the past couple hundred years whose situations rivaled and even surpassed Sanford’s in terms of notoriety.

Gov. James Henry Hammond, a high-society husband, father and businessman elected in 1842, saw his term mired in controversy as his brother-in-law, Wade Hampton II, accused him of inappropriate activities with the Hampton daughters and his slaves. Gov. Hammond would late separate from his wife but go on to serve in the US Senate.

In 1856 SC Sen. Preston Smith Brooks of South Carolina attacked Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner with a walking cane in the US Senate chambers. Beaten to the floor, the senator survived but Brooks was dead less than a year later of the croup.

In 1903 State newspaper editor NG Gonzales was gunned down by Lt. Gov. James Hammond Tillman in downtown Columbia. Lt. Gov. Tillman was later acquitted by a Lexington County jury.

In 1998 Gov. David Beasley held a press conference to try and quash rumors of an affair with a staffer, the wife a prominent South Carolina attorney.

And, of course, Strom Thurmond had his progeny issues, though they weren’t publicly disclosed until after his death in 2003.