Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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Jan. 7

The Index-Journal on moving past New Year resolutions:

Have you gotten yourself caught up in the New Year’s resolutions craze?

Surely you’ve noticed the sales pitches aimed at you, aimed at us, aimed at your bank accounts. Seemingly overnight, food stores have turned into nutritionists whose 2020 goal is to help us all eat healthier. However, try to ignore the sales pages and store aisles that tout Christmas sweets and treats at 50% off.

Have you plunked down your pennies for the membership fee and are preparing to pound away at the excess pounds at the gym? Maybe you opted to buy one of those in-home machines that come complete with a monthly payment as high as a car loan.

OK, it sounds as if we’re picking on the sales pitches and gyms, but really they’re doing what they should in responding to what typically follows the Christmas holiday season.

We are a calendar-driven lot when you think about it.

And so it goes that, by and large, we roll into the fall season and begin feasting around Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving then rolls into Christmas, which brings with it more feasting, candies galore — all that accompanies the office parties, parties with friends and family, gift-giving and the unavoidable seasonal flavors, such as peppermint and egg nog ice cream and the like.

We vow it is but a temporary endeavor we are on and that, surely as we will toast the new year we will also begin anew our journey to healthier selves.

So who can blame the food stores, the gyms, the manufacturers of home workout equipment? They are simply responding to the inevitable. Just as our purchasing was influenced during the holidays by what was put before our eyes, we are influenced again as we eat that last morsel of pecan pie, that last serving of sweet potato souffle, look at the scales — if we can read the digits — and ponder the messages telling us we can lose weight and be healthier in the new year.

If we think about it and find yourself caught up in that calendar cycle, we really only have ourselves to blame.

That is why it is good to heed the advice given by the experts in the health industry, and certainly those in the financial world who also recognize a tendency people have to overindulge in spending during the holidays, and much like weight loss, struggle to dig out.

Wanting to change is not enough. The best bet is to set goals and then work toward them by changing habits. It’s fine if we want to do these things as the new year dawns. It’s just that wanting alone will not do it any more than buying a gym membership without going to the gym will result in a better physique.

Happy New Year and whatever your goals for the year, we wish you much success. Heck, we’re preaching to ourselves here too.

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Jan. 6

The Times and Democrat on the Real ID deadline:

In spring 2017, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered that South Carolina comply with the federal government’s Real ID and begin issuing Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards that meet the federal standard.

Not long after, the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles started accepting identity documents for people interested in purchasing the new style of license or ID.

More than a million South Carolinians have obtained a Real ID. But many of more than 3 million licensed drivers in the state have not -- and the clock is ticking.

Effective Oct. 1, 2020, South Carolina residents will need Real ID Act-compliant licenses to fly on airplanes, enter federal buildings or go into military bases.

SCDMV Executive Director Kevin Shwedo continues to warn that people will see long lines amid the scramble to get Real ID. State officials estimate only 40% of the state's eligible population will have the new cards when the deadline hits.

While Real ID is not necessary to drive, vote or apply for federal benefits, the fact is that most people will need a card eventually. The IDs are required under the 2005 federal law enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

To obtain a Real ID at any SCDMV office at a cost of $25, a person needs to provide:

- A government-issued birth certificate or U.S. passport.

- Proof of Social Security number.

- Two proofs of current S.C. address.

- Records of any name changes.

Some people – those with documents on file with DMV -- are eligible to get a Real ID online. Find out if you are one of them at https://www.scdmvonline.com/Public/Transactions/Info.aspx

Getting the new IDs is important. The deadline is approaching. Don’t be among those waiting until they need one in 2020 to board a plane, enter a federal building or go onto a military base.

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Jan. 6

The Post and Courier on safety issues regarding roll-on/roll-off ships:

If not for the heroics of a port pilot who intentionally grounded the capsized 656-foot Golden Ray on Sept. 8, the roll-on/roll-off ship could have shut down the Port of Brunswick indefinitely.

The overturned ship now sits squarely between Jekyll and St. Simons islands just south of the shipping channel, and it could take a year or longer to remove the behemoth piece by piece, not to mention the roughly 4,200 vehicles on its 13 decks.

The State Ports Authority, Charleston port pilots and Longshoremen, whose job it is to lash down vehicles on ro-ro ships, should all take note. Imagine the consequences of Charleston’s shipping channel being blocked.

Even to the untrained eye, it’s easy to see why “ro-ros” are unstable compared to container ships. They’re top-heavy and high-sided, with more freeboard exposed to wind and waves. And because they’re essentially floating parking decks, most don’t have sectional bulkheads to prevent flooding along their length.

They’re heavily ballasted to counteract listing, but that makes the ship’s righting motion forceful and quick – “stiff” some naval architects might say — and those jerky motions can put undue stresses on lashings that hold in place everything from passenger cars to 45-ton truck trailers and even heavier rolling stock like earthmoving equipment.

Large fore and aft cargo doors can malfunction and leak. And because of their vast, open spaces, with thousands of vehicles each containing fuel, ro-ros are susceptible to fires. For these reasons, among others, they’re all Class B ships, whereas most container vessels are Class A ships, according to the International Maritime Organization. (Class A ships generally have fewer openings and more watertight bulkheads, while Class B ships have higher freeboard and fewer bulkheads.)

The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating why the Golden Ray capsized. But, according to the Brunswick News, the accident occurred as the ship was turning right in the shipping channel. First, it listed to the right, then flopped onto its left side. About the same time, a fire broke out, possibly before the capsize. The port pilot then intentionally grounded the ship in about 40 feet of water just outside the channel.

Luckily, no one was killed. Little of the fuel and oil aboard spilled into St. Simons Sound, though oily residue has been found along some 30 miles of coastline. Port traffic in Brunswick, the nation’s second busiest for vehicles, was interrupted for only a few days.

Salvage crews won’t be able to pull the ship onto an even keel because the port side has dug some 20 feet into the soft bottom. About 320,000 gallons of fuel have been removed from the ship, as has its rudder, propeller and shaft. Work crews are expected to use a giant cable saw to start cutting the hull into pieces, which will be hoisted onto barges and scrapped. From an insurance standpoint, it’s been declared a total loss.

The safety of ships is mostly regulated by international organizations. But certainly the SPA should be paying special attention to ro-ros calling on Charleston. The capsize of the Golden Ray in St. Simons Sound was the sixth involving ro-ros this past year. Each had fires.

Before a ro-ro can leave port, the captain has to sign a form that includes a calculation that shows the distribution of cargo is safe and that all rolling stock is secured. The SPA and port pilots should be double checking the math and inspecting the loads, and Longshoreman must ensure all latching and locking mechanisms are in good shape. Even small shifts in loads that cause a ship to list can set off a domino effect, causing a ro-ro to capsize.

The Port of Brunswick was lucky the Golden Ray disaster wasn’t worse. Port authorities here must tilt the odds in their favor by making sure all ro-ros calling on Charleston are as safe as possible.

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