John Wayne and the Virus

May 14, 2020

When I was 12 years old, I met John Wayne. He graciously gave me his autograph, which sprawls across an entire page of the red leather autograph book I carried with me to Los Angeles on a family vacation in the late 1950s. It was a time when the Hollywood actor was the embodiment of…

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Domestic abuse in the age of Covid-19

April 17, 2020

Imagine having an abusive partner. Now imagine being confined to your home for weeks on end with your abuser. This is the double menace that domestic violence victims in South Carolina – and everywhere else – face today: a lethal virus outside and a dangerous abuser inside. This is today’s reality in the age of…

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Navigating the Second Wave

March 19, 2020

In 1970, I read the The Feminine Mystique, the blockbuster book published seven years earlier by Betty Friedan that explored the idea of women finding personal fulfillment outside of their traditional roles. That same year, I joined a “consciousnessraising” women’s group in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I was living at the time, and also became…

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Women, Girls, and Climate Change

February 20, 2020

Climate change is all around us. Last week, it was Storm Ciara that tore across the United Kingdom and brought dangerous levels of rain, wind, snow, and ice. People died. Travel chaos reigned for days. Last month, it was hundreds of deadly wildfires in Australia, massive blazes fueled by three years of drought that experts…

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Putting Women in Charge

January 18, 2020

Last month I read an article titled, “The Future Is Young and Female.”  Soon after, I saw a photo of Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin, who is 34 years old.  She was surrounded by the party leaders of her country’s coalition government. All are women, and four of the five are under the age…

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Silence Is Not the Answer

December 20, 2019

“I am 57 years old and I have not begun to get over that day of murder,” says Michael Fechter.   Fechter, who lives in California now, was a high-school classmate of Carlotta Hartness and Tommy Taylor, young teenagers who were randomly murdered in Columbia back in October 1977.  Terrible violence was inflicted upon Carlotta. I…

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I didn’t just lose Carlotta that day

November 14, 2019

It has been 42 years since that October afternoon in 1977 when Carlotta Hartness and her friend Tommy Taylor were shot to death near a baseball park in northeast Columbia. Tommy was 17 years old. Carlotta was just 14. The random, gruesome murders of two innocent teenagers rocked Richland County. “I didn’t just lose Carlotta…

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Inspector Gamache, Je T’aime

October 17, 2019

J’adore Armand Gamache. That would be Chief Inspector Gamache, head of homicide in the Sûreté du Québec, the provincial police force of Québec, Canada. My fictitious love is the leading character in Louise Penny’s murder mystery series, set mostly in the lovely Eastern Townships of Québec. The Canadian author has just released A Better Man,…

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Men and Guns

September 19, 2019

And so, the killings continue apace. In the month of August alone, 53 people died in mass shootings in the United States. The final carnage last month took place in Texas, when, after a traffic stop, a gunman began shooting randomly at cars, killing seven innocent people and injuring 22. Once again, it was a…

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Needed: more leaders who look like me

April 19, 2019

If I lived in Colorado, nearly half my state legislators would look like me. But because I live in South Carolina (and despite our state being 51.5 percent female) only about 16 percent of the lawmakers in the S.C. General Assembly are women. This ranks us a dismal 44th in the country in terms of…

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