US cotton production estimates reduced

Estimated US cotton production for 2010 has been lowered by nearly half a million bales, a move that comes as cotton prices remain at near-record levels.

The US Department of Agriculture has reduced its estimate for US cotton by 455,000 bales, to 18.4 million, due to lower expected yields for Texas, according to Southeast Farm Press. Nationwide, yields are expected to average 821 pounds per acre, up 44 pounds from last year, the publication added.

Cotton prices have skyrocketed this year, with futures prices topping $1.50 a pound. Over the past few days, cotton has backed off some from all-time highs reached earlier this month, but are still above $1.30 a pound.

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Britain rejects pardon for Breaker Morant

The British Government has torpedoed an attempt to gain a royal pardon for Harry “Breaker” Morant, the Australian soldier who was shot along with fellow Lieutenant Peter Handcock for the summary execution of several Boer prisoners in 1902.

The death by firing squad of Morant and Handcock at the tail end of the Boer War was one of the most controversial events in Australia’s military history.

A third soldier, Lieutenant George Witton, also from the largely Australian Bushveldt Carbineers, was sentenced to death but that was commuted to life imprisonment and he was freed in 1904. He died in 1942.

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Easley bank is ‘critically undercapitalized’

The troubles just keep a coming for CommunitySouth Financial Corp.

The Easley-based company’s subsidiary, CommunitySouth Bank and Trust, has been deemed “critically undercapitalized,” which means regulators may initiate additional enforcement actions against it, including placing the bank under conservatorship or into receivership, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Anna Karenina: A master’s masterpiece

One hundred years ago this month Leo Tolstoy died in a western Russian train station at age 82. The author of masterpieces War and Piece, Anna Karenina and The Death of Ivan Ilyich, among many other fine works, Tolstoy was also an essayist, dramatist, and educational reformer.

Born into nobility, he became a Christian anarchist and pacifist, and his view on nonviolent resistance are said to have had a profound impact on such influential figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of his death, this blog will episodically reprint brief excerpts from his works over the next few weeks.

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Looking back at Secession as it happened

While there continues to be debate among historians and non-historians alike about slavery’s role in the onset of the War Between the States, few dispute South Carolina’s importance in the formation of the Confederacy.

The day after Abraham Lincoln’s election on Nov. 6, 1860, revolutionary fever broke out in the Palmetto State and nearly all the state’s federal officials resigned.

The state legislature quickly passed a bill authorizing a state convention to meet on Dec. 20 to consider, and if it desired, to authorize, secession from the Union.

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‘… bigotry will never want a pretence’

Is unlimited immigration a wise course for any nation? Probably not, but xenophobes and bigots have a way of twisting circumstances to fit their arguments about keeping down the number of outsiders that are admitted legally and restricting the rights of those that are already here.

This is nothing new, as shown by a speech British historian and politician Thomas Babington Macaulay made in the House of Commons on April 17, 1833, regarding the extension of benefits and privileges of full citizenship to Jews:

When the question was about Catholic emancipation, the cry was, “See how restless, how versatile, how encroaching, how insinuating, is the spirit of the Church of Rome. See how her priests compass earth and sea to make one proselyte, how indefatigably they toil, how attentively they study the weak and strong parts of every character, how skillfully they employ literature, arts, sciences, as engines for the propagation of their faith. You find them in every region and under every disguise, collating manuscripts in the Bodleian, fixing telescopes in the observatory of Peking, teaching the use of the plough and the spinning-wheel to the savages of Paraguay. Will you give power to the members of a church so busy, so aggressive, so insatiable?”

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Black Civil War veteran honored in SC

A white gravestone for a black Union Civil War veteran was dedicated Thursday, nearly a century after his death.

Henry Benjamin Noisette, whose military past was not discovered until recently by a researcher with the African American Historical Alliance, was honored during a Veterans Day ceremony at a small black cemetery in Charleston.

The African American Historical Alliance is a nonprofit group formed in 2006 to highlight the contributions of more than 200,000 black soldiers and sailors during the Civil War.

Noisette was an escaped slave from Charleston who joined the US Navy in 1862. He served on the USS Huron, a lightly armed wooden ship that intercepted blockade runners and often tested Confederate defenses along the Lowcountry’s rivers.

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