BankMeridian seized; SCBT takes over

One of South Carolina’s newest banks was seized by regulators Friday.

Columbia-based BankMeridian, begun in 2006, was closed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which then appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver, according to an FDIC press release.

The FDIC brokered a deal with Columbia-based SCBT Financial Corp. to assume all of the deposits of BankMeridian.

BankMeridian’s three branches – in Columbia, Spartanburg and Hilton Head – will reopen on Monday as branches of Columbia-based SCBT and BankMeridian depositors will automatically become depositors of SCBT.

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Tomb of St. Philip said to have been located

Recent excavations in the ancient Turkish city of Hierapolis may have uncovered a tomb believed to be that of Saint Philip the Apostle, according to the Turkish news agency Anadulu.

Italian professor Francesco D’Andria said archeologists found the tomb of the biblical figure – one of the 12 original disciples of Jesus – while working on the ruins of a newly unearthed church, the news agency reported Wednesday.

“We have been looking for Saint Philip’s tomb for years,” d’Andria said. “We finally found it in the ruins of a church which we excavated a month ago.”

The structure of the tomb and the writings on the wall proved it belonged to Philip, he added.

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FFCH registers $44 million loss for quarter

Charleston-based First Financial Holdings reported a major loss of $44 million for the three months ended June 30, thanks in large part to additional provisions for loan losses, the company said in a press release Thursday.

The holding company for First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Charleston reported its loss was up sharply from that of a year ago when it posted a $13 million deficit for three-month period.

Earlier this month, First Financial said it would record a loan-loss provision of approximately $73 million for the quarter. The charge is related to the reclassification of some $155 million in loans.

The reclassification is related to the company pursuing potential “loan-sale alternatives that are expected to result in the disposition of these assets by calendar year end,” First Financial reported in SEC filings.

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Swiatek: a man who stood up to the Soviets

Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, a revered figure to Belarusian Catholics due to his heroic resistance of communism, died last week at age 96.

Swiatek bore witness to the entire brutal 70-plus-year rule of communism in the former Soviet Union, being deported with his family to Siberia at age 3, being arrested and sentenced to death by the Soviet secret police in 1941, escaping two months later but being recaptured three years later and sentenced to a decade in the gulag.

After his release in 1954, Swiatek spent the next 30 years ministering in semi-secrecy to a Catholic community in the Belarusian community of Pinsk.

He not only outlasted the Soviet Union, but was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994, the first from Belarus in some 200 years.

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‘Raise My Taxes’ nothing but a vapid cliché

Earlier this week, about 50 people appeared outside US Rep. Kevin Yoder‘s office in downtown Overland Park, Kan., in a bid to sway the Kansas Republican’s view regarding the debt ceiling issue.

Many emphasized that they want higher taxes on the “rich.” One, Mike Miller of Roeland Park, Kan., wanted to get rid of the tax cuts for the “super rich.”

Miller wanted Yoder to take a “balanced approach,” which he explained meant to “raise taxes on those with the ability to pay,” coupled with sensible cuts on military spending and sensible changes to Medicare, according to a report by Earl Glynn of Kansas Watchdog.

“We want him to respond to his constituents,” said Miller and “it’s not in the best interest of his constituents to keep the taxes low on the super-rich. We intend to make an issue out of that in the next campaign.”

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Afghan car dealers cursed by the number ’39’

Being a car salesman would appear to among one of life’s more difficult jobs: rejection comes early and often, and salespeople are often the butt of jokes by late-night television hosts, comedians and any number of other folks looking for a quick laugh.

What’s worse than being a car salesman? Being a car salesman in Afghanistan. One imagines that trying to sell new and used vehicles in one of the poorest and most war-ravaged regions of the globe is certainly not a task for the faint of heart.

And the job can involve even more than just trying to overcome the difficulties of selling cars to a populace with little disposable income.

Apparently, a bizarre Afghan phenomenon that equates the number 39 with prostitution has become a headache for the country’s car-sales industry, as buyers are avoiding vehicles with license plates containing the dreaded number for fear of being ostracized, according to Agence-France Presse.

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Rewriting Harrell’s legacy, minus a few facts

Bobby Harrell may have a few problems telling fact from fiction, but one thing’s for certain: there’s no disputing the devotion of his toadies.

Over the past few months, several Harrell followers have repeatedly deleted information from the S.C. House Speaker’s Wikipedia page that could be construed as negative, sometimes within days or even hours of the information being posted.

At the same time, they’ve been only too eager to misrepresent the speaker’s record on any number of issues, presenting a saccharine-sweet image of Harrell that’s nothing short of a 21st century-cross between Ronald Reagan and Albert Schweitzer. 

Most recently, one “LimpiaPapel” took it upon his or herself to delete an entire section from Harrell’s Wikipedia biography dealing with the speaker’s plan to boost “South Carolina’s Knowledge Economy Strategic Framework,” a command-economy style proposal which features a giant pyramid – as in a pyramid scheme.

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Reporter brings famed relative’s ashes home

NPR has curious first-person report by correspondent Margot Adler about her efforts to return the ashes of her famous grandfather, psychoanalyst Alfred Adler, home to Vienna.

Margot Adler, the lone grandchild of the man best known for devising the concept of the inferiority complex, knew much about her famed ancestor but didn’t know where he was buried.

That’s because he wasn’t buried; in fact, Alfred Adler’s remains had been missing for more than 70 years, since he died of a heart attack in 1937 while lecturing in Aberdeen, Scotland, during a three-week visit to the University of Aberdeen.

“But over the years, a number of psychotherapists started searching,” Margot Adler says in her piece for NPR. “Christine Rosche, the head of the Alfred Adler Institute in Vienna, was one of those people. Over the years she had asked, ‘Where is the grave?’

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Relevancy of SC’s Lt. Governor questioned

Ken Ard’s increasing legal difficulties aren’t the only reason for the growing discussion about whether South Carolina should abolish the position of lieutenant governor, but they’re likely adding a little fuel to the fire, as well.

Ard, barely six months into his first term as the state’s second-highest ranking public office, was charged with more than 100 ethics violations for alleged improper use of campaign money. The State Ethics Commission issued him the second-largest fine in state history.

Earlier this month he agreed to pay a $48,000 fine and $12,500 to cover investigation costs tied to 107 counts of using campaign cash for personal purposes that included a family vacation, iPads, a gaming system and clothing.

In addition, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has called for the state grand jury to review the campaign-spending case against the lieutenant governor.

Partly driven by Ard’s difficulties, and also by the antics of his predecessor, Andre Bauer, there is increasing debate about of whether South Carolina needs a lieutenant governor. In addition to a story yours truly wrote for The Nerve, The State had this piece Sunday and the Columbia Free Times also mentioned the topic.

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A contrarian’s view on the shuttle program

The Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., completing the final mission of the NASA program, originally approved by President Richard Nixon in 1969.

Over the past 30 years since the Space Shuttle Columbia was first launched on April 12, 1981, some 135 shuttle flights were made.

Of course, two ended in disaster: Challenger exploded in 1986 shortly after liftoff; and Columbia disintegrated in 2003, a few minutes before its planned landing. In both cases, all crew members onboard were killed.

While the media has generally hailed the final Atlantis trip as the end of era – and held the space shuttle program out as a success story – not everyone agrees.

David Veksler, writing at the Mises Economics Blogargues that the end of the space shuttle program is long overdue:

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