Open Thread for Monday, October 14, 2013


In the future, every newspaper will be world-famous for 15 minutes.

Some possible topics for this morning:

Girl who was shot in Five Points may be paralyzed — Bond denied for alleged gunman. The city has some difficult conversations ahead of it on how to prevent such horrific events.

Actually, after that, everything else seems less significant…

International Herald Tribune to become International NYT — It happens on Tuesday. The ironic thing about it is, the link has all these pictures of historical figures reading the paper, which attests to the legendary nature of the brand… but they’re dropping it.

Man arrested at Buckingham Palace — He tried to enter the palace with a knife. Meanwhile, in other evidence that the empire has fallen apart, Prince George’s godparents to be commoners

Op-ed by Larry Summers: In shutdown debates, focus should be on growth instead of deficit, he says. This line grabbed me: “…future historians may well see today’s crisis as the turning point at which American democracy was shown to be dysfunctional — an example to be avoided rather than emulated.


55 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, October 14, 2013

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    First, this is an Open Thread, not a Virtual Front Page. The first item is the biggest story locally today, but something people are talking about, hence its suitability for such a “talk amongst yourselves” post.

    The others are things you may or may not have seen, but might wish to talk about. But of course the whole idea of an Open Thread is that you talk about what you want.

    Not seeing anything new on Syria, except that the anti-weapons teams are asking for truces because fighting is keeping them from destroying chemical weapons. And I’m not seeing anything about hunger at the tops of anybody’s websites.

    The top stories that might have been on a VFP, but are not on this because this is not a VFP, are three guys getting the Nobel for economics, markets dropping because of debt deadline, and world leaders urging the U.S. to get its, um, stuff together

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    The BBC story about the UN team wanting a “truce” is extremely ironic.

    Bottom line, all the talk over chemical weapons tends to obscure the fact that conventional fighting continues unabated, and people keep dying. And of course, by quickly agreeing to the chemical weapons thing, Syria and Russia bought time for the fighting to continue. Weird for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to be saying, dammit, we can’t get to the chemical weapons because there’s all this pesky fighting going on. Why didn’t somebody warn us about this, dang it!?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Meanwhile, that Assad is such a card, according to Agence France Presse:

      Beirut — Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has jokingly said that he should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a pro-Damascus Lebanese newspaper reported on Monday.
      The prize, which was given to the global chemical weapons watchdog on Friday, “should have been mine”, Assad said, according to Al-Akhbar newspaper.
      Assad made the remark “jokingly”, the daily said, as he commented on the award on Friday of Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is working in Syria to destroy the Assad regime’s massive chemical arsenal by mid-2014….

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Just being ironic there. That’s not actually the lead story — just a dominant element on the page. I actually didn’t even notice it the first time I looked at the paper this morning because, not being a football fan, I tend to just filter out all those pictures on the front page, and go straight to the news headlines. (It’s part of a promo, which makes it “furniture,” which is easy for editors to ignore — which can be a problem in proofreading.)…

      2. bud

        Not so much Clowney but the Gamecock defense. It’s now an open fight for the SEC east. Will the SEC champion win the national title for the eighth straight year? Or is it Oregon’s turn with their high octane offense?

        Football is a great diversion from the sad state of affairs in American politics. At least The State’s sports page has survived relatively intact.

  3. Phillip

    I wonder if Michael Juan Smith will seek to escape prosecution under the SC Stand Your Ground law, under which another person just had charges dropped, as shooting an innocent bystander is now allowed under the law if you really believe your life is in danger. If I understand the law correctly, that applies whether or not you are at home. Of course there is probably ample videotaped and eyewitness evidence to disprove this in Smith’s case, but it just goes to show you the road down which this all leads.

    Undoubtedly we will hear some proposing that USC undergrads be required to undergo training and be armed themselves in order to matriculate. Anyway, it’s a horrible story, as with all the innocent victims of gun violence here in Columbia, whether the crimes happen in Five Points or out in neighborhoods off Farrow Road or Two Notch Road.

  4. Doug Ross

    On the Five Points shooting, here’s a very informative link that includes the mug shot of the shooter and his lengthy arrest record.

    Four arrests in three years, all charges reduced or dismissed.

    1st Degree Burglary – This charge was reduced to 2nd Degree Burglary by the 5th Circuit Solicitor. Smith pled guilty in March of 2013 before Judge Thomas Cooper. Sentenced to TEN years, suspended in favor of time served and three years of probation. And the probation was set to run concurrent with the probation he was already on when he committed this offense. Grand Larceny – Pled guilty. Sentenced to time served.

    1. Doug Ross

      We need a justice system that doesn’t treat people who pick up guns and use them for criminal purposes as “poor souls who just need some understanding”.

      One of the potential side effects of all the new dorms/apartments opening up downtown might be that students will do their partying “at home” instead of going out to Five Points.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        There have been threats of such home grown parties forever. Some do occur, but most partying students want the thrill of being among new people!

        I don’t get it, personally. My home has cheaper, better drinks, more comfortable chairs and cleaner bathrooms….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes! I believe they flashed this date onto the screen in “The Right Stuff,” just as “Tennessee Waltz” fades out, and the scene shifts to the flightline at Edwards…

      Chuck Yeager: Hey, Ridley, make another note here, would ya? Must be something wrong with this ol’ Mach meter. Jumped plumb off the scale. Gone kinda screwy on me.
      Jack Ridley: You go ahead and bust it, we’ll fix it. Personally, I think you’re seein’ things.
      Chuck Yeager: Yeah, could be. But I’m still goin’ upstairs like a bat outta hell.

  5. Doug Ross

    Cracks in the party ranks on Obamacare… first Jon Stewart, then Ezra Klein, now former press secretary Robert Gibbs who doesn’t spout the talking points:

    Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday described the rollout of Obamacare as “excruciatingly embarrassing” for the Obama administration. “This was bungled badly​,” he said.

    “I hope they’re working day and night to get this done and when they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people who were in charge of making sure this thing was supposed to work,” Gibbs told MSNBC. “This is excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House​ and the Department of Health and Human Services.”

    Gibbs dismissed the administration’s claim that the an influx of traffic has caused the websites’ glitches, and called on the president to fire those responsible for sites’ design.​ “This is not a server problem, like too many people came to the website — this is a website architecture problem,” he said.

  6. Doug Ross

    I missed the fact the the young USC student who was shot was 18 years old. What activities are there in Five Points for an 18 year old at 2:30 in the morning?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      The same as for anyone else. Everything is closed at that time on Sunday morning, except Waffle House and maybe Cookout….

    2. bud

      Wow Doug. She’s an 18 year old college kid having some fun. Were you never 18? Most of them don’t even get started until about 10:30. She’s a victim here not some kind of deginerate.

      1. Doug Ross

        No, bud, I didn’t hang out in places like Five Points at 2:30 in the morning. Not when I was 18 and not when I was 48.

        Any time you want to drop your underage kids or grandkids down there after midnight, be my guest.

        1. Mark Stewart

          I have been at Five Points at 2:30 am as recently as 2011; at 40+. And I stayed out til 2:30 am as an 18 yr old more than a few times. Sometimes til after the sun had come out. I think, at least as an 18 yr old, that I was a typical kid. As an adult, we were definitely the oldest out in 5 Points at closing time.

          Doesn’t mean people out at 2:30 am do not have a reasonable expectation of public safety at that hour – especially in an entertainment district. She was just standing around on the sidewalk with friends, right? Tragic, just tragic.

          1. Silence

            40+ year olds out in 5-points until closing time are just a bunch of pervy old folks cruising for young drunken boys/gilrls, MARK! 😉 Good luck, though!

            It’s dangerous to be out in 5 Points that late. Agreed that people should be safe at all hours, though.

          2. Mark Stewart

            I was with people my own age, Silence, thank you very much. That’s chronological age, the concept that that boneheaded Judge distorted so badly last summer.

          3. Silence

            Well, it’s important to have your wingman (wingpeople) with you when you go cruising for young impressionable ladies….

          4. Kathryn Fenner

            Pervy old folks, like certain legislators….wonder why we don’t get the state level enforcement we need?

        2. bud

          Doug you are probably in the minority as a person who never went out to bars late at night in their youth. Looking back I could have been harmed in same way late at night the same way this young lady was. But part of growing up is to make mistakes and learn from them. I know very few people who haven’t grown away from the craziness of youth to ultimately become mature, sensible middle aged men and women. I’m just not sure this young lady’s behavior warrants condemnation. Rather she deserves compassion. After all if this had happened at 2pm instead of 2am no one would question her behavior. Not sure the time of day should even be a consideration.

          1. Rose

            I’m also in the minority in that I never went out to bars as a college student – or ever.
            She certainly didn’t deserve what happened.
            But nothing good ever happens after midnight, especially in bars or on a city street.
            Kids just don’t think about that.

          2. Doug Ross

            Yes, bud, I am in the minority that I didn’t go out. I also didn’t break the law and drink before age 21 or ever get drunk. I know I missed out on a lot by not doing that but somehow have survived.

            I would encourage you to go around and mentor 18-20 year olds to drink and stay out til dawn. I’m sure they will benefit from that experience and won’t put themselves at risk of any negative consequences. I mean if you can’t get drunk, what fun is there in life?

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        Actually most don’t get started until at least 12:30.

        It is not a “rite of passage” like Rumspringa to get s#%^faced drunk in Five Points. It is a fast ticket to alcoholism, and an even faster ticket to assaults and robberies, not to mention vandalism, public disturbances and the emitting of various bodily secretions, including vomit. It has gotten noticeably worse in recent years, with record numbers of transports to hospitals for severely intoxicated USC students every year…..

        1. Mark Stewart


          That is because of our dysfunctional approach to young adults aged 18-21. We don’t encourage responsibility; we, as a society, actually tacitly promote binge behaviors and continued immaturity…

          We are failing our young by over-protecting them and at the same time hypocritically glossing over out of sight out of mind reactions to the real issues facing the young and impressionable.

          1. Doug Ross

            ” We don’t encourage responsibility; ”

            Most (if not all) of the parents I know do. It’s not society’s responsibility to raise children. It may be society’s responsibility to discourage people from having kids they aren’t capable of raising properly.

          2. Doug Ross

            The “kids” committing the crimes in Five Points are most likely the offspring of single women with no father figure in their lives. That’s the problem that needs fixing.

          3. Mark Stewart


            I think Kathryn was referring to the college kids.

            I am not calling the criminals kids (though they typically are). Still, thugs like these are the result of hopelessness – which is both a societal problem and a personal responsibility problem. Choices have consequences.

  7. susanincola

    Day 10 in my slog through….still no identity verification after verifying with Experian a week ago. The site says to call Experian. Called Experian. They can’t help me without a reference number. Told me to call Called They can’t give me a reference number, and the system (apparently) did not save the one I used originally. Options? Start over, or wait and see if magic happens and fixes it. (“Can you try again late at night or early in the morning?” the person on the phone asked me. Which of course makes no difference whatsoever.)
    So I’ll try again in a week…

    1. Doug Ross

      I tried from scratch again with a new account today. Nope. Failed at the creating a new account step after a lengthy wait. And once you create a profile, I found you can’t edit it to remove children. You have to start all over again.

      Tick, tock. How many people are going to give up after trying many times?

  8. Bryan Caskey

    I don’t think there’s enough time left on the clock to get a deal through the Senate that will raise the debt ceiling unless there is unanimous consent in the Senate. Does anyone here believe that a deal struck between Reid and McConnell is going to get unanimous consent from Senate Republicans? I sure don’t. And don’t forget, even if a deal makes it through the Senate, it then has to make it through the House.

    In other words, I think we’re going to break the 10/17 deadline by at least a little.

    1. Doug Ross

      Will they make the details public to prove that $100K “profit” or do we just accept the statement of the guy in charge as true? The article says they only have to put down a $10K deposit and then $270K after an inspection. How long until the $5.5 million is paid?

      I’m really interested in seeing how they transform that building into a hotel without major renovations. 100 rooms?

    2. Mark Stewart

      So the plan is to gut the building to the exterior walls and then add additional penthouse apartments above the roof? That type of preservation has a name – Facadomy.

      What really was the City doing risking $5.65 million for this?

      I guess the bidders were smart in that there is no way that the city’s development review boards can hinder or delay the winning bidder’s plans; they will be forced to accept whatever is proposed as long as some red bricks and the faded painted “50,000 Bales” sign are “saved”.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Rosie Craig is the developer. One of the first Vista developers, the DuPree building, former home of M Craig Furniture. She’ll do it right!

    3. Silence

      Kathryn, I read the story and I am left with a few questions. I don’t know this developer, what’s her current business or her partners’ current business? I certainly hope they have the experience and financing to pull the development off successfully!
      How quickly can the deal close? What will the city’s overall rate of return be on their portion of the project? $100,000 on an investment of $5.65 M? 1.76% rate of return? Once you factor in the borrowing costs and fees, will we actually make a profit, or just not lose money?

      I’d settle for not losing money, even…

        1. Silence

          Yes, essentially the carrying costs. The interest paid on the borrowed money and the opportunity cost of what the borrowed money didn’t earn.
          That said, “At the end of the day” this is a pretty satisfactory outcome, all things considered.

          1. Doug Ross

            Have you seen the details yet? I’d hold off until we know for sure there aren’t any incentives, tax breaks, etc.

  9. Doug Ross

    I was finally able to create an account on and get to the point of reviewing plans. for a 52 year old non-smoking male in the Columbia area, the cheapest plan is:

    Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas, Inc. Bronze 100% HMO HSA Eligible Midlands

    Monthly premium $308.32/mo.
    Deductible $6,300
    Out–of–pocket maximum $6,300

    Copayments / Coinsurance
    No Charge After Deductible Primary doctor
    No Charge After Deductible Specialist doctor
    No Charge After Deductible Generic drugs

    So the insurance is $3700 and you are responsible for the first $6300 of payments before actually getting insurance to pay for anything (except mandatory “free” services). I checked and the doctor I use is not on the list of providers.

    The most expensive silver plan is South Carolina Blue Essentials, $545 a month, no deductible, with:
    $20 Copay before deductible/50% Coinsurance after deductible Primary doctor
    $50 Copay before deductible/50% Coinsurance after deductible Specialist doctor
    50% Coinsurance after deductible Generic drugs

    So about $6500 in fixed costs and then 50% coverage of drugs, primary doctor, specialist.

    One of the problems with this system is the number of choices that are presented. For me, there were 23 separate plans each with different prices/deductibles/copays. It would take hours to determine which one is the best one. This is one of the advantages we get with employer paid insurance – someone else does the hard work of winnowing down the choices.

    The right solution, in the absence of single payer, would have been to offer three plans nationwide with the same prices based on age bands and smoking. This monstrosity is going to be a nightmare for people who are unable to do the comparisons themselves.

    1. Doug Ross

      Or just let any American purchase from the same insurance plans offered to their Congressman. I’ve never heard a good explanation of why that wouldn’t be possible.

    2. Doug Ross

      There are eight different Silver plans offered by Blue Cross / Blue Choice that are within $20 of each other per month. Each offers just a small difference either in out of pocket, deductibles, or payments for services. It would be impossible to determine which of those eight would be be the best one.

      What sense does it make to offer so many very similar options when one would have covered the need?

    3. Silence

      Doug, that 308/month will fit nicely into my budget right between my mortgage and my student loan payment!

      1. Doug Ross

        Your’s might be cheaper – since you are younger (and better looking 🙂 ) .. but then if you need a family plan, it’s probably going to be at least double that. AND you’re on the hook for the first $6000 of charges. That’s $500 a month on top of the $308 if you use doctors regularly.

        1. Silence

          My annual insurance cost (just me) for health & dental is $6380 which includes both my portion and my employer’s portion.

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