Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on major advance against AIDS:
Scientists from Cornell and Scripps Research Institute have announced a breakthrough in understanding the mechanism HIV uses to infect humans, opening the door to creating an effective AIDS vaccine. It is hard to underestimate the significance of their feat.
AIDS is the most deadly global disease of our time, having killed well over 30 million people around the world since it was first identified in 1981. Another 35 million carry the disease, which also has inflicted an immense economic toll.
AIDS is spread through mother's breast milk, sexual intercourse, contaminated needles and other ways.
Although the death count from AIDS and the new infection rate have declined dramatically in the past eight years, thanks to the widespread availability of anti-AIDS drugs and public health education, there is no way to prevent its spread through human contact. Roughly 2.5 million new cases are reported each year.
More than 20 years of intense research into a vaccine that could inoculate humans against HIV and so prevent AIDS have failed to come up with an answer. This failure has happened in large part because the virus has evolved a complex and elusive protein envelope that allows it to enter cells. Once the HIV virus gets past the cell's immune system, its outer envelope, in effect, falls apart, frustrating laboratory efforts to study its structure.
Two papers in the Nov. 1 issue of Science magazine, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, explain how researchers from Scripps in La Jolla, California, and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, were able to stabilize the HIV envelope protein and subject it to study by different methods that have produced strikingly similar results.
Two studies using cryo-electron microscopy and one using X-ray crystallography produced high-resolution pictures of the molecular structure of the virus's outer envelope.
These studies have allowed researchers at Scripps and Weill Corner to begin identifying sites that could be attacked by a vaccine that would prevent the HIV entry mechanism from functioning. ...
The prospects for success against AIDS have never looked better.
Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, South Carolina, on closed-primary system:
Two Spartanburg County lawmakers plan to push legislation to close political party primaries when the General Assembly returns next year. It's a change that is past due, as long as the parties are willing to foot the bills.
Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Woodruff, and Sen. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, have said they plan to pre-file legislation that would close party primaries, forcing South Carolina voters to register by party and only cast ballots in that party's primary.
An analysis by FairVote.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, shows 17 states, including South Carolina, have open primaries. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have closed primaries, while 12 states have some combination of the two.
Changing to a closed-primary system is an issue that has long been discussed in this state, with previous legislative efforts failing to become law. That led Republicans to seek a resolution in the courts.
In 2009, the S.C. Republican Party and Greenville County Republican Party filed suit, alleging the open-primary system violated the party's constitutional right to free association.
In June, the state party dropped the suit, and in August, a judge dismissed the case, saying the county-level party, because it was part of the larger group, lacked standing to bring the complaint.
Critics of closed primaries say the move will limit voters' options, potentially disenfranchising voters in the minority party — largely Democrats in this state. Proponents argue Democrats can field their own candidates, and residents are free to cast ballots for whomever they like in general elections.
This makes sense. ...
Currently, the General Assembly allocates hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund primaries, meaning taxpayers foot the bill. As long primaries are being funded by public money, any resident has the right to participate.
It's in the best interest of political parties to limit those participating in primaries to party faithful, helping make certain that their chosen representatives are in line with their values and platforms. In exchange for that exclusivity, though, the parties must be willing to pay for events themselves.
The State, Columbia, South Carolina, on restaurant tax ruling should spur change in SC law:
THE BIGGEST problem with the requirement that local restaurant taxes must be used for "tourism-related" spending is that it encourages cities and counties to spend money on festivals and sporting complexes and other things that are nice but not essential, even while they scrimp on police and fire and other essential services.
And because "tourism" isn't directly defined — and even less defined is the mandate that the spending be "tourism-related" — it has provided a huge temptation for local officials to push the envelope. As they do constantly.
What this means is that Richland County and Columbia and the growing list of other cities and counties collecting the tax are not only squandering tax money. They're compromising their integrity, and so further diminishing trust in our government.
Now that a Circuit Court judge has sided with the law-skirters — saying that since the Legislature didn't say whether "tourism-related" meant just for tourists or mostly for locals but maybe occasionally used by tourists, it could mean the latter — things are only going to get worse.
Which is yet another reason our Legislature needs to change the law.
Tourism officials, of course, want to change it to make sure local governments can use the tax revenue only on projects that will draw more tourists to the area. ...
The point that our state legislators never can seem to come to terms with is that city and town and county council members are elected from their communities to serve those communities, and they know better than the Legislature what their communities want.
Instead, we have a situation in which Richland County legislators tell Greenville officials what they can and can't tax, and Charleston County legislators tell Lexington County officials what they can and can't tax, and on and on across the state. If it weren't so tragic, if it weren't doing so much to keep our communities from reaching their potential, it would be laughable that this is the modus operandi for lawmakers who profess to value local control.