So, what to make the Washington, DC, lobbyist interested in introducing legislation that would ban openly gay athletes from playing in the National Football League?

Last week lobbyist Jack Burkman released a draft text of what he has named “The American Decency Act of 2014,” which would not only ban openly gay athletes from playing earning a living in the NFL but would levy multi-million dollar fees on teams that dared to violate the act, were it to be enacted.

Initially, one might simply shrug off the announcement as the ranting of a publicity-seeking jackass.

Yes, it’s hard to believe someone who earns a living from political lobbying would stoop to such a low maneuver, but things like this have been known to happen.

Magnanimously, the bill would exempt teams that build separate locker facilities so that gay and straight players may shower apart. Ah, good. I was so hoping we would find some way to reintroduce Separate but Equal; it was such a hit the first time around.

“I truly believe NFL team owners and coaches do not want openly gay players on their teams because of the issues that will cause and I think they may tell you that if they answered honestly,” Burkman said in a press release. “The morals in this country have dropped so low that it’s sad that a bill like this is even needed.”

Fortunately, because Burkman is a lobbyist he cannot introduce legislation, which must be done by a member of Congress. He claims his proposal has the support of several members of Congress, however.

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school lunch

Officials at a private school in Northern California came under fire earlier this month after attempting to celebrate Black History Month by putting fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon on the lunch menu.

Students at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord, Calif., wanted to come up with ways to observe the occasion during a lunchtime celebration Friday, but it appears that school officials devised the menu choices as their idea of recognizing Black History Month.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t go over well with many parents.

As a result, the items were taken off the menu, a letter of apology was sent home to parents and, of course, the school principal announced the requisite diversity assembly for students and faculty, according to the Associated Press.

My question: If the students didn’t come up with the idea of putting fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon on the menu, why should they have to sit through a diversity assembly?

I’m certain that students in California have been to more diversity assemblies by the time they reach high school then they can possibly remember.

Also, many folks – me included – have a keen hankering for all three of the above food items.

While I certainly wouldn’t be so culturally tone deaf as to attempt to pass them off as part of a Black History Month celebration, can students at Carondelet effectively kiss off any hopes of ever seeing fried chicken or cornbread on the menu again as school officials cower in the diversity corner for all eternity?

(HT: Waldo Lydecker’s Journal)

Ben Tillman Statue

Earlier this month a Charleston writer took out a full-page advertisement in The State, the daily newspaper of Columbia, SC, calling for the removal of a statue of former governor and US senator Ben Tillman from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.

Will Moredock has long advocated for the removal of the imposing statue of Tillman, an unabashed racist who perhaps more than anyone else in South Carolina came to embody the evils of post-Reconstruction racism.

Pitchfork Ben Tillman never hid his hatred for blacks or his efforts to maintain white supremacy.

“We have done our level best [to prevent blacks from voting] … we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them,” he said in 1900. “We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it.”

Tillman’s populist rabble-rousing and first class demagoguery got him elected governor in 1890, turning out the conservative Bourbons, and he was re-elected two years later.

In 1894, he was appointed to the US Senate, where he served until his death in 1918, and he never missed a chance to voice his narrow-minded sentiments.

Tillman is said to have pioneered the use of race to mobilize white voters, and historian James M. McPherson has claimed that Tillman “created the model for two generations of Southern ‘demagogues.’”

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George Stinney 1Ten days after the Allies landed at Normandy, a 14-year-old black youth was executed for the murder of an 11-year-old white girl.

At just 5-foot-1 and 90 pounds, George Stinney is said to have had to use the Bible he carried to the execution chamber at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia, SC, as a booster seat when he was positioned in the electric chair on the evening of June 16, 1944.

Stinney had been found guilty by an all-white jury in the death of Betty June Binnicker, who, along with Mary Emma Thames, 7, had been killed in Clarendon County, SC. Both had been beaten with a railroad spike and left in a ditch in a rural part of the county.

The girls were killed in late March 1944; Stinney was tried and convicted of Binnicker’s death a month later. He would have the ignominious fate of being the youngest individual executed in the US in the 20th century.

Next month, however, attorneys representing relatives of Stinney will take the first step in what they hope will result in a new trial for George Stinney, according to The State newspaper.

At a hearing in Sumter, SC, Stinney family attorney Steven McKenzie is expected to present witnesses who will give evidence that he hopes will convince the judge to grant a new trial.

“In a legal brief, McKenzie has said his new evidence includes affidavits by surviving Stinney siblings who didn’t testify at his 1944 trial,” according to The State.

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white moose

A trio of hunters in Nova Scotia managed to enrage a good portion of the region’s indigenous population recently by shooting a rare white bull moose.

The killing of the white moose, considered to be a “spirit animal” by the Mi’kmaq communities that inhabit Atlantic Canada, was met with disbelief, but the hunters claim they were unaware of its significance.

The animal was shot last week in Belle Cote, Nova Scotia, part of Cape Breton Island, and brought to Hnatiuk’s Hunting & Fishing Ltd. in the town of Lantz, which snapped a photo of the carcass and posted it on its Facebook page, according to the Cape Breton Post.

The page received 10,000 hits within three days as news of the animal’s death went viral, with online postings berating the hunters as “idiots” and “ignorant” with “no respect or common sense.”

Clifford Paul, moose management coordinator with the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, said the white moose is not something they would not harvest.

“We would just observe and let it go on its merry way,” he said.

The Mi’kmaq put a great deal of stock in the white moose as a spirit animal.

“It could be one of our ancestors,” Mi’kmaq elder and traditional hunter Danny Paul told the Post. We are to follow them and they will lead us to the herd, or lead us to medicines, or other teachings that we as people need.”

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Calhoun County 9-1-2013 001

A trip to the tiny town of Lone Star, SC, is a journey not so much into the past, but into oblivion.

The unincorporated community, located in Calhoun County just a few miles from Lake Marion, is just a few notches above ghost town status.

Its downtown, once a bustling small-town locale, now features four abandoned buildings: An old freight depot, a general store and two old-style gas stations. Nearby is an active African Methodist Church. A few homes and cotton farms can be seen in the surrounding area.

Lone Star was on the old Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, between Rimini and Creston, another pair of communities that are all but gone.

The railroad line, now owned by CSX, still runs through the town, but there’s no longer any need to stop in Lone Star.

It’s apparent that the freight depot at some point was pulled away from the tracks and relocated on the other side of the road that runs through the town.

It sits silent, padlocked, with a sign that warns visitors that “Hunting, fishing, trapping or trespassing for any purpose is strictly forbidden,” and that violators will be prosecuted.

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congo free state slavery

For just the seventh time in its 183-year history, the small European nation of Belgium has ushered in a new king, Philippe, who replaced his ailing father Albert II on Sunday.

If history is any indication, Philippe can expect a lengthy reign.

Of his six predecessors formally installed as monarchs since Belgium declared its independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830, all have reigned at least 17 years.

The longest-tenured was a rather detestable individual named Leopold II, who took over in 1865 and ruled until his death in 1909.

Under Leopold’s rule, Belgium exploited the Congo Free State for decades, resulting in the deaths of millions of native Africans in a harrowing bit of colonialism that is all but forgotten today.

Leopold was envious of the colonial empires of other European nations and spent 20 years trying to acquire territory to satiate his desire for a far-flung realm.

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Katie Supreme Court 026

Water in several South Carolina rivers remains high after flooding reached levels unseen in a quarter-century.

A combination of a wet spring and heavy rains earlier this month pushed several rivers over their banks, including the Broad River, which had risen at least 15 feet when I visited it last week.

Normally, in the scene shown above, rocks are visible, turtles, river otter and fish are readily evident, and the foundations of a train bridge destroyed during the War Between the States can be seen.

However, flooding, exacerbated by heavy rains in the northern part of the state, had pushed the river over its banks to a degree that metal picnic tables normally far out of reach of the river were barely above water.

Even more fascinating was an area approximately a mile to the west, the location of an abandoned rail bridge converted into a walking path over the past half decade.

For 98 percent of the year, a small stream approximately four feet across and a foot deep flows under the bridge, which is about 750 feet across.

On this day, the entire area under the bridge was flooded, up to 20 feet deep in places, and water was moving toward the Broad River, rather than simply being backed up by river overflow.

There’s something awe-inspiring about flooding, particularly when the water is on the move. Massive amounts of water cruising past at enhanced speeds can’t help but impress, especially when it’s laden with flotsam such as fallen trees.

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To see the rest, click here.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this was not put together by the typical Facebook user.

100_5441My younger girls were taken aback when they recently learned that movie theaters once were stand-alone structures with but a single screen, rather than multi-screen monstrosities that today often accompany major malls and show eight or more movies at a time.

They were also flabbergasted to learn that theaters like the above, the old Saluda Theater in Saluda, SC, once charged kids as little as a dime for admission, particularly when some of today’s shows cost $10 or more.

The Saluda Theater was built in 1936 and operated as a regular movie theater until 1981. It’s been listed on the National Historical Register since 1993.

Designed by Charles B. Thompson, the two-story, stuccoed masonry building sits on the Saluda town square. Although like many small Southern towns, Saluda has been in decline for decades, the theater served as a focal point for entertainment in the community during the 1930s and 1940s.

“The crisp simple lines of the façade the geometric designs of the interior wall finishes and lighting features reveal the influences of the Art Deco style,” according to the National Register of Historical Places registration form.

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