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"It's one less planet to memorize."

Quinn Huebner, 15, on the final fate of Pluto. Proving you can't count your planets before they orbit, international astronomers tossed aside suggestions earlier this month that Pluto be given a subplanet category with three other floating rocks and soundly dropped it from the list. And we're down to eight. Source: Reuters
Buist worries head up the ladder ·
The school district's admission practices at Buist Academy, a Calhoun Street magnet school, has had peninsula constituent board members riled up for months. The constituent board suspects parents of providing false addresses to increase their chances of getting into the school, which reserves 10 kindergarten slots out of 40 for District 20 residents. After gripes by a few dozen parents and a recent request for an injunction by the constituent board, someone at the district is finally listening.
On Monday, school board members agreed to forward the county's admission practices for all of its schools to the policy committee to consider necessary revisions., due in large part to the concerns at Buist.
"Certainly we don't want people circumventing the system," says board Chairwoman Nancy Cook.
Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson says addresses for all new admissions were checked using the county's policy of providing at least two forms of verification, but parents say these requirements can be easily circumvented.
Cook suggested the county may consider limiting the allowed documentation to tax bills that show the address as the primary residence.
About a dozen parents and 15 children held up signs on Calhoun Street prior to the meeting to show their concern about Buist admissions.
Constituent board member Henry Copeland says there has already been some behind-the-scenes purging of the admission list, with parents on the waiting list called quickly in the past few days to notify them of last-minute openings.
"Because the spotlight was turned on, something got cleaned up," he says. —GH


That's Gov. Mark Sanford's approval rating according to the latest Survey USA poll. Sixty-two percent of independents said they disapproved of his job as governor. Source:
Taxes: It could be worse ·
Charleston fiscally conservative? Well, apparently yes ... comparatively. A report by the South Carolina Policy Council, a nonpartisan watchdog, looked at South Carolina's local government spending in advance of the state's sweeping property tax reforms. The report looks at millage rate changes since property tax relief in 1995.
"Local governments and school districts are eating up the property tax relief," says Ed McMullen, president of the policy council.
Well, not every local government is eating up the relief. Compared with 28 other counties that also have added 1 cent to the local sales tax to provide additional property tax relief, Charleston is the only county that has actually reduced per capita property tax collections over the last decade. Increased development of once agricultural properties and strong tax and fee collections associated with tourism has likely helped Charleston fend off the tax hikes seen by other counties, says McMullen.
"That won't last forever," he says, noting the state should implement caps on tax rate increases to insure local governments can't grow any faster than the personal income of its residents.
The council plans to continue studies on local government spending to highlight wasteful practices that are proving the government closest to the people doesn't govern best, says McMullen. "What we're seeing is that may have been true in the 18th century," he says. "But fewer and fewer people understand what's happening on the local level until they get the tax bill." —Greg Hambrick


That's Kiawah Island Golf Resort's ranking in Travel + Leisure Golf magazine's list of the world's best golf resorts. Capt. Hook's Adventure Golf in Myrtle Beach didn't make the cut, but it's number one in our hearts. Source: Travel + Leisure Golf
One more question ·

Project Vote Smart, a national political watchdog group, is asking candidates running for federal and statewide offices one question, "Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?"
Apparently, they have a hard time getting candidates to say yes, according to Rachel Pagliocca with Vote Smart.
What are they scared of? Well if they say "yes," then Vote Smart sends out a questionnaire to get the candidates' stand on issues.
"Over the past six years, we've found that both major parties across the country are advising their candidates not to respond to the test for two main reasons: they're afraid of opposition research and they don't want to stray from their carefully constructed campaign messages," Pagliocca says.
The deadline for candidates to respond is today. The group's website is —GH


That's the fine implemented statewide last week for those under 18 caught buying or possessing cigarettes or other tobacco products. Perps can avoid the fine through a smoking cessation program, community service, or eating those candy sticks that look like cigarettes – they're cooler anyway.


That's the age women will need to be to get the morning-after pill (brand name: Plan B) without a prescription. The pill has previously been available to all women as a prescription drug. Source: The Food and Drug Administration

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