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News Shorts

Updates and statistics from around the region

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"All of us have to look at it and say that we could be next. We all think that we're not vulnerable to something like that happening, but the fact is this can be a very lonely and isolating place."

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), apparently wishing he had his own lady of the night after the revelation that Louisiana Sen. David Vitter had admitted to hiring a hooker. Source: The Washington Post

Sneak Peek at Deathly Hallows
Forget that Potter movie, that was sooo yesterday. I just got back from a quick visit to the downtown library to get the very first look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the absolutely first, last book in the Harry Potter saga. Author J.K. Rowling is hedging her bet on whether she'll return to Hogwarts for another round in the distant future.

The boxes state very clearly, "Do Not Open Until July 21," but the library received special permission to break them open early for cataloging and such. What happens to Harry? What happens to Voldemort? What happens to the crowds of people that haven't picked up a book in 10 years that didn't have an awkward boy wizard on the cover? Well, we might well have been able to get the answer to at least two of those questions if those sharp-eyed librarians had given me a break.

"The branch libraries must keep the books in a secure environment," according to special instructions on the billing slip (unheard of, except for the Potter books and the last volume of Lemony Snicket). "At no time may the books be handled for any reason other than to process the book for shelving and may not be displayed until 7/21."

Apparently some people can wait for Christmas Day, or Pottermas Day in this case. Julie Thompson, head of the library's acquisitions department, has read the other six books, but says she has no desire to sneak a peek — and she was very nice, so we'll say we believe her. She said she's already ordered her own copy that she'll get on the 21st, the same as everybody else, and I guess we can see the excitement in waiting.

But for those who can't wait, don't even think about a Mission: Impossible-type trip to the library. They'll be keeping the books locked up to "get rid of the temptation for staff members," Thompson said.

While a Saturday release may be good for booksellers, it's awkward for library staff, who will be working odd hours to make sure that the books will be available Saturday morning for those folks who have placed them on hold. That's right. The library will have 160 copies and already has more than 200 holds, so if you're looking to get your Potter book at your local branch, good luck. But Thompson did note that the hold list is down from past Potter books.

"I think most people want to buy this one," she said.

Or maybe they're waiting for the movie. —Greg Hambrick

21,000

That's how many gallons of B100 fuel that Southeast Biodiesel has distributed from their plant at Noisette since the first load shipped on June 22.

Graham Heading to Easy Street
It would be hard to miss the fury with which the radio right has been attacking Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for his impassioned support of the failed immigration reforms (Sen. Grahamnesty is about as clever as they come). There's been a flurry of speculation about who could challenge Graham. But with the GOP's best possible horse, alleged coke addict and friendly distributor Thomas Ravenel, out of the race, the senator may be on easy street.

Washington website Politico ran a story on Graham earlier this month, noting opposition to his stance on immigration but casting doubt to any challengers.

"If Lindsey Graham were as vulnerable as his critics say he is, they'd be lining up to run against him," Republican pollster Whit Ayres told Politico. "So far, there have been zero. Zilch."

Graham has also gotten a little help from a "friend." Sen. Jim DeMint, whose support would be essential to any attempt to unseat Graham, sent letters last week to South Carolina newspapers all but endorsing Graham in '08.

"Lindsey and I have worked closely together in Congress for over eight years and we make a good team for South Carolina," he wrote. "Both of us have been willing to take unpopular stands when we thought we were right, and both of us have gone against the president when we thought he was wrong. We may have different views on how to improve our immigration system, but I have a deep respect for the hard work, conviction, and passion Sen. Graham brings to policy debates. I'm proud to work alongside Lindsey; he's a trusted friend and a true asset to South Carolina and the nation."

Does this mean that Lindsey won't see a GOP challenger? No. There's likely some far-right crazy with higher aspirations than his IQ. But the big dogs who could truly challenge Graham on the GOP ticket don't seem likely to step in the ring. —Greg Hambrick

150 feet

That's the biggest drop on Led Zeppelin: The Ride, the featured attraction at Myrtle Beach's upcoming Hard Rock Park. Set to "Whole Lotta Love," the roller coaster will reach 65 mph and include a 120-foot loop. Sounds like you'll be dazed and confused after riding this stairway to heaven.

Web Radio's Lifeline
The July 16 "D-Day" for Internet radio has passed, and RadioFreeCharleston.com and other sites are still streaming. SoundExchange, the organization behind the Copyright Board rate hikes that would effectively put small webcasters out of business, has said it won't begin pursuing lawsuits against stations as long as "good-faith negotiations" continue. Congress failed to pass a bill establishing a fair rate by the deadline, but lawmakers are considering an emergency bill this week to place a 60-day extension on the rate hike. See www.KurtHanson.com for updated news on web radio's struggle. —Stratton Lawrence

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