Your Virtual Front Page, Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The first VFP of the year! I know y’all are thrilled. Here are your headlines:

  1. First chemical weapons leave Syria (BBC) — Meanwhile, as this cabaret distracts us, the killing continues, and spills into neighboring countries.
  2. In memoir, Gates issues harsh Obama critique (WashPost) — But I told you about that earlier.
  3. Bone-Chilling Cold Snap Envelops Eastern U.S. (WSJ) — You knew this already, but it is a big part of what’s happening today.
  4. Blankets, fosters needed at Pets Inc. shelter, where heat is out ( — Hey, my daughter is already fostering three of their dogs, so my family is doing its bit, but some of the rest of y’all may want to help out the critters…
  5. Jobless Benefit Bill Clears One Hurdle, but More Remain (NYT) — Democrats dodge a filibuster in the Senate, take up their bill by a 60 to 37 vote.
  6. JPMorgan Chase To Pay $1.7 Billion To Madoff Victims (NPR) — This is getting a little old, but it seems front-worthy…
baby puppy

More cute than you can handle: That’s my grandson with one of the puppies my daughter is fostering.

43 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page, Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  1. Phillip

    A smaller, but fascinating item in the NYT: the burglars who broke into an FBI office in Pennsylvania 43 years ago have identified themselves. This group of eight people did indeed break the law, but the documents they obtained in the break-in (and subsequently gave to the news media) most definitely started the investigations into FBI abuses and civil rights violations. Would the FBI “Cointelpro” program, a 15-year program designed not only to spy on, but to “destroy lives and ruin reputations” (in the words of one later investigator) certain Americans on the basis of their political beliefs (in clear violation of American values and constitutional rights), been revealed without this burglary? Maybe, maybe not, probably much later.

    In any case, this story really has resonance for our time in two ways. One is because it raises that question again of whether an illegal act can in the context of history be seen to have led to a greater good for the nation. And the second point of resonance is that it reminds us that use of federal surveillance aimed at domestic targets because of their political beliefs (under the guise of “law-enforcement” or “national security”) is not some far-fetched hypothetical that could never happen here…it’s an established historical fact.

    1. Doug Ross

      Let me guess what Brad’s response will be: “But the burglars didn’t sign a piece of paper saying they would not disclose secret information (that everyone supposedly already knew about)”

    2. Brad Warthen

      Had they been caught, before the statute of limitations ran out, they should have been prosecuted.

      And I’m neither surprised nor horrified at the government keeping tabs on groups with extreme views, from the Weather Underground to the Ku Klux Klan…

      1. Mark Stewart

        I think it was more the J. Edgar Hoover style of intimidation and blackmail that was the real issue. The problem was he was given the opportunity to construct his own kingdom beholden to no one. That sort of power is corrosive to our civic society – as we see all over.

        I think the burglars got lucky; they did something foolish, stupid and illegal – and came up with something of greater value to the nation. I think they were smart enough to realize this; and they would have been wiser still to have never revealed themselves.

        Putting the burglars aside, the FBI is a better institution because of their transgressions. Life is messy like that.

  2. Doug Ross

    Has there been any recent news on the sale of the Palmetto Compress building? According to the news back in October, the deal was supposed to be completed no later than February 7. Is it on track to be done a month from now? Will there be a final accounting of the costs incurred and the funds received?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      They are working on it. I expect the holidays slowed things down, as it seems most everything stops between mid November and mid January around here.

    1. Doug Ross

      Not as easy as it should be. Columbia is the largest city without a minor league team. USC will wield its power to hinder any team from locating here.

        1. Silence

          I’m concerned about the financing aspects of it. A publicly funded stadium would cost about 1-1.5M/year just for the bond service. The only place they could come up with that is from the H-tax money. That’s a BIG chunk of the H-tax money.

        2. Doug Ross


          What’s different about Columbia compared to Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Asheville, Savannah, Augusta, or Greenville?

          Hmmm.. could it be that there’s no local university in the other cities that doesn’t want to give up sports entertainment dollars?

          I remember when Capital City Stadium had some good crowds consistently during the early 90’s. Even the Columbia Blowfish (a low level college all star summer team) gor a couple thousand fans several times over the past summer.

          A nice ballpark in an area surrounded by restaurants and other retail stores would do just fine in Columbia. The baseball interest in the area is strong across all the Midlands.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And that’s what the study commissioned by the city said (although why we needed a study to figure that out, I don’t know — I suppose it was to shut down people making the specious argument that the city couldn’t support another team).

            I was so disappointed when USC refused to share the new park — there was a AAA team interested at the time — but there’s no undoing that. I still think the best spot for a minor-league club would have been down by the river, but now that that’s out, the Bull Street location seems an OK second choice.

            But no better than just OK. It would be better in a location that’s easier to walk to from the heart of downtown. Greenville has that; why shouldn’t we?

          2. Doug Ross

            I’ve been to the Greenville stadium a couple times. I don’t get the impression there are many people walking to the stadium.

          3. Silence

            The best location in town would be at the Kline site, at Gervais & Huger. A stadium probably isn’t the best land use their though, and the Vista doesn’t seem to need another catalyst.

          4. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yes! That would have been a good one. Or the old prison site. Better than the condos that have gone up there.

            But since USC built on the river, it seems highly unlikely the community would ever go for another ballpark down there…

          5. Mark Stewart

            The best site for a minor league ballpark – if not inside the Carolina field – would be the S/W/C of Hampton and Huger. Attached to the Columbia Mills building on the old bus barn site.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Remember how he pushed through the PCW, which I supported in lieu of any other option to save it, and Bull Street (because it was too long to wait until the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

  3. Silence

    regarding Pets Inc. The article in The State said that they were able to keep the building at 50 degrees using portable heaters. Having owned some dogs, I can assure them that dogs are perfectly comfortable in 50 degree temperatures. They are wearing a fur coat. They curl up in a warm little ball and are just fine. I used to have a Labrador who would swim in icy water, he’d even bust through the ice to get into the water. Once he’d come out of the water, he’d get icicles on his fur, and didn’t seem to notice. Ask any duck hunter… I’d be a lot more worried if the A/C went out in the summertime and the temperature in the building was 90 degrees.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, but what about puppies?

      Take, for instance, the ones my daughter is caring for.

      She took the twins there just to look at puppies (I take my grandchildren there for the same purpose from time to time — like a short, cheap trip to the zoo), and it was late in the day, and they were about to close, and they said, “Here is a mother and two puppies who don’t have a place to stay tonight. Can you take them?” The story was that the mother’s owners didn’t know she was pregnant, and when she suddenly had puppies, the owners took her and the pups and dumped them on Pets Inc.

      The puppies were one day old. They were just barely there. (Now, they are fine and fat.)

      At first, the mother (who looks like a Papillon, and is about that size) was deeply traumatized, and just lay there looking miserable and cowed by everyone who approached, letting the pups nurse, but taking little interest in food herself.

      Within a few days, though (my daughter’s had them for a month now), she adjusted, and turned out to be something of a social butterfly — running about greeting people, and not spending nearly as much time with the pups.

      When they didn’t have their mother next to them, they trembled — and that’s in a house that’s about 68 degrees. Maybe some of it was fear, but they seemed cold.

      So I worry about the pups…

      1. Silence

        Fox, wolf, coyote, dingo, jackal and wild dog pups seem to have at least an acceptable survival rate in the wild. Of course a papillon and some other modern dog breeds are pretty much a crime against nature – totally reliant on man. Some dogs can’t even reproduce on their own without human intervention because we’ve bred in such deformed characteristics. I’m all for dogs, but it’s pretty sad.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Their mama may be a Papillon or something close to that, but I suspect their daddy of being a good-sized mutt somewhere in the Yaller Dog range. That’s sort of what the one in the picture looks like to me. Its sister has similar features, but is dark grey in color.

          As for the mother, either someone has trained her to do tricks (she walks on her hind legs fairly easily when begging), or that just comes naturally to her.

          The puppies don’t do much but nurse, walk with difficulty, and piddle on the floor…

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      Sure, an outdoor breed, but there are plenty of thin-coated breeds, including the Weims bundled in blankets next to me.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        We’re told that the Mama dog was an outdoor dog to her former owners, even though she has indoor dog written all over her.

        That’s why, supposedly, they didn’t know she was gravid.

        With my allergies, of course, I prefer that dogs be outdoor dogs…

      2. Mark Stewart

        My Weimaraner has to be warm at night – or when sleeping, but otherwise crashes though the snow and will not stay out of the winter water.

        The real issue is how SCANA could find itself instituting rolling blackouts, or brownouts, when the temp drops to 15 degrees. That is a bit nuts. If “normal” area lows in January are around 20 in Cola, I could understand if equipment started having problems below sustained sub zero temps; but I think at 5-7 degrees below the normal range the electric utility simply has a horrible maintenance/management issue brought to everyone’s attention. The hard, uncomfortable way…

        1. Silence

          Utilities almost all have peak demand on very cold winter mornings. Time to fire up every bit of generation capacity, plus pumped storage, etc. It’s not really bad maintenance or management. If the ratepayers want to pay for additional capacity, reserve capacity to be built into the system, and the regulators allow it, the utility will be more than happy to oblige.

        2. Kathryn Fenner

          Henry crashed through the waves this morning, but Lucy hates the water, even in summer.

          1. Rose

            When we were dating, my future husband said he didn’t like indoor dogs or small dogs, and that Mac couldn’t stay on the furniture. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That didn’t last long.
            Our pastor told him “Never get between her and the dog. She’ll choose the dog.”

            I miss that 10 pound bundle of trouble. Haven’t had room in my heart for another yet.

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