On living life to the fullest, or dying trying

You can still find moonshining going on in every state in the union if you look hard enough, but popular culture will probably always associate the making of white lightning with the South.

In America’s early years, moonshining was a practical enterprise. Farmers could earn extra money by converting excess crops into corn whiskey or apple and peach brandy, and selling it.

Of course, the federal government’s attempt to impose a tax on liquor manufacturing, beginning in the 1790s, didn’t sit well with farmers and other individuals who lived in rural areas where moonshine was considered a commodity. Consider the Whiskey Rebellion.

By the early 20th century, the advent of the automobile gave illegal distillers an effective means to get their product to market. To outrun police and revenuers, moonshiners became adept at souping up their vehicles.

Writer Jack deJarnette grew up in North Georgia and would occasionally ride with a moonshiner named P.J. Puckett on his runs. According to deJarnette, P.J.’s daddy O.J, and his uncles N.J. and M.J. had a moonshine still back in the woods behind their house in Cleveland, Ga., where they produced moonshine of the highest quality possible.

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FFCH snaps up Hilton Head deposits

First Financial Holdings of Charleston announced Wednesday that subsidiary First Federal Savings and Loan Association has signed an agreement to acquire the deposits and some loans of Liberty Savings Bank’s South Carolina offices.

Liberty, which is headquartered in Ohio, has five branches in Hilton Head with total deposits of nearly $110 million. 

As part of the transaction, First Federal will purchase approximately $27 million in loans, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

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‘Self-portrait’ actually van Gogh’s brother

A noted 1887 work by Vincent van Gogh long thought to have been a self-portrait of the famed Dutch painter is in fact a picture of his younger brother Theo, according to art researchers at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum.

“According to current opinion, Vincent van Gogh never painted his brother Theo, on whom he was dependent,” the Van Gogh Museum said in a statement.

But senior researcher Louis van Tilborgh now believed the painting of a man wearing a light-colored hat and a dark blue jacket (above) was actually Van Gogh’s brother Theo, Vincent’s junior by five years, according to new service Agence France-Presse.

“The conclusion is based on a number of obvious differences between the two brothers,” said the museum, pointing out dissimilar features including the neatness of the subject’s beard and his round-shaped ear, “something Vincent did not have.”

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Lost Irish town discovered after 370 years

Archeologists have discovered an Irish town razed by the English 370 years ago.

The discovery of the lost town of Dunluce has been hailed as an “archaeologist’s dream,” according to the BBC.

The town, next to Dunluce Castle (above) in County Antrim, was razed to the ground during the 1641 Irish rebellion.

 Dunluce was abandoned, which means it has remained as a perfectly reserved site, according to UTV.

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Defining ‘most corrupt since Reconstruction’

A recent article by The Nation looking at Gov. Nikki Haley and her first months in office, written by Columbia journalist Corey Hutchins, featured one of the most damning assessments of a Palmetto State politician ever to see the light of day in a mainstream publication.

Besides laying out such items as Haley’s ethics issues, her apparent hypocrisy on the issue of transparency, and her missteps with the legislature and other state officials, Hutchins’ story included a no-holds-barred quote from John Rainey that left little doubt what the longtime Republican power broker thinks of the governor:

“I believe she is the most corrupt person to occupy the governor’s mansion since Reconstruction. I do not know of any person who ran for governor in my lifetime with as many charges against him or her as she has had that went unanswered.”

Consider that statement for a moment: We’re not talking about Vermont or Utah, where one might expect a slightly different daintier version corruption.

This is South Carolina, the state that gave the world Operation Lost Trust, the Barnwell Ring and a lieutenant governor who was found not guilty of murdering the editor of The State paper, despite the fact there were eyewitnesses who saw him pull a gun and shoot the victim in broad daylight in the middle of downtown Columbia.

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Why US flags don’t go on Confederate graves

The intention is likely good, but one wonders what individuals who place American flags on the graves on Confederate soldiers are thinking.

In what is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence, more and more markers for Confederate dead – including those killed in battle – are being festooned with the Stars and Stripes, usually around Memorial Day.

One supposes the thought among some of the more history-challenged is that a veteran is a veteran is a veteran, but there seems something slightly disconcerting about marking the graves of Confederate soldiers with the flag of the nation that invaded their homeland.

This isn’t an isolated incident, either. In cemeteries across South Carolina graves of numerous Confederate veterans are being decorated with American flags.

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Lack of rain hurting US cotton projections

The uncertainties of farming have been made apparent to cotton growers this spring. Cotton prices remain among the highest on record, but a lack of rain is hindering growing conditions and will likely put a crimp in yield.

The US Department of Agriculture recently reduced expected US cotton production by 1 million bales to 17 million bales, due largely to drought conditions across the South.

According to Southeast Farm Press, the reduction is mainly the result of expected higher abandonment resulting from the increased severity of the drought, particularly in Texas.

Exports were reduced 500,000 bales to 13 million bales. Forecast consumption by China was reduced 500,000 bales, as the recent slow pace of imports indicates sluggish demand now and early in the new marketing year, the publication reported.

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