Social media and the Internet make it easier to spread “fake news” today, but there are several key factors for judging the reliability of what we hear and see reported locally and nationally, according to John Monk, a writer for The State newspaper since 1997. Monk was Capital Rotary’s Nov. 15 guest speaker, sharing what he’s learned after some 40 years as a journalist in South Carolina. To judge a story’s merits, Monk suggested readers or listeners should: (1) see if the story comes from a major news organization that carefully checks facts before publication; (2) consider the personal reputation and reliability of the reporter; and (3) remember that news is a “continuing conversation” that “hopefully is not the final word.” He told Rotarians that “there is a good deal of evidence that propaganda spreads through fake news.” Monk is a Maryland native, attended Davidson College and spent five years as Washington correspondent for The Charlotte Observer.
South Carolina’s recovery from the economic recession that began in December 2007 has outpaced U.S. growth in some measures since that time, but future forecasts depend on continued consumer confidence and on the politics of issues such as healthcare, fair trade, tax reform and rebuilding infrastructure. That’s according to the University of South Carolina’s Dr. Bob Hartwig (shown with Capital Rotary Club member Chris Myers). Hartwig – clinical associate professor of finance and co-director of USC’s Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management – was Capital Rotary’s Nov. 8 guest speaker. He said that 70 percent of the nation’s economy is tied to consumer spending. Recent polls show public and business confidence in, and optimism about, improving economic conditions. Hartwig earned his doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1993 and speaks frequently on all issues related to insurance markets.
Columbia’s Capital Rotary Club has made donations for two humanitarian causes – one to eradicate polio, the other to provide disaster relief in the U.S. and overseas.
The club raised $882 that will be matched with District Designated Funds to become a donation of $1,764 for the worldwide campaign to eradicate polio. Ending polio has been a mission of Rotary International since 1985. Rotarians have contributed more than $1.7 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries.
Capital Rotary’s contribution – and the resulting match from District 7770 in eastern South Carolina – was made to celebrate World Polio Day/Week. World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Dr. Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis.
The local club’s disaster relief donation totaled $8,000 earmarked for rebuilding lives and communities following hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, plus the September earthquakes in Mexico. “We are coordinating through Rotary for the best way to distribute our funds to make a difference,” said Capital president Blake DuBose.
“Our board voted for this donation because we remember when Columbia was impacted by a 1,000-year flood in 2015 and an outpouring of support came from all parts of the country,” DuBose added. “The greater Columbia area was the beneficiary of an incredible amount of giving then, so we’re doing what we can in the same spirit now.”
Community engagement and educational programs help the SC Philharmonic keep classical music alive, fun and relevant in the Midlands, according to music director Morihiko Nakahara, Capital Rotary’s guest speaker for Nov. 1. Nakahara (shown demonstrating a conductor’s baton signals to the orchestra) has promoted interactive and outreach efforts since joining the Philharmonic in 2008. Some of the most successful include (1) “Conduct the Phil” – an open podium where spectators take their turn leading groups of string players at public events; (2) concerts, youth orchestras and in-school programs to spark students’ passion for music; and (3) a “healing harmonies” project that sends Philharmonic musicians to area healthcare facilities to assist in “soothing the soul while the body mends.” Nakahara says outreach is necessary to “break down the barrier between musicians and the community at large” so the Philharmonic can continue to perform and promote high-quality symphonic music.
Cybercrime costs U.S. business more than $1.3 billion yearly and often takes the form of bogus e-mails, according to Lt. D. Britt Dove, supervisory agent for the S.C. Law Enforcement Division’s (SLED) Computer Crime Center. Dove (at right, talking with Rotarian Tommy Gibbons) was Capital Rotary’s Oct. 18 guest speaker. He said every business connected to the internet is a potential cybercrime victim. Businesses are vulnerable to being scammed by e-mail as criminals expand their ability to steal money directly or to turn stolen data into money. Dove detailed several safeguards that include (1) educate employees to recognize suspicious e-mails; (2) be cautious when e-mails request confidential information or information out of the ordinary; (3) double check e-mail sender details carefully, watching for similar domain names or characters that have been swapped for other letters; (4) forward e-mail responses instead of hitting “reply” so you can type out the genuine e-mail address for the person you wish to communicate with; and (5) confirm details of the e-mail request by contacting the sender using a known phone number. Lt. Dove is a University of South Carolina graduate, a former West Columbia Police Dept. investigator, and is active in the Secret Service Electronic Taskforce, FBI Cyber Taskforce and the S.C. Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.
Lee Ann Rice (center) is welcomed as Capital Rotary’s newest member by sponsor Katherine Anderson and club president Blake DuBose. Rice, a Greenville native, is the S.C. Human Affairs Commission’s general counsel. She formerly practiced law in Myrtle Beach, where she was a Chicora Rotary member, a Paul Harris Fellow, and was 2011 Rookie Rotarian of the Year. Rice is the mock trial team coach for Brookland Cayce High School and is a Women In Philanthropy member through United Way. She’s also a candidate for the state government’s Certified Public Manager program, Class of 2019. She attended Furman University and the University of South Carolina’s School of Law.
Adding quality members is the key to success for Rotary clubs, and Columbia’s Capital Rotary must continue to apply that formula, according to past president David Boucher. Boucher, now serving as membership director, focused on the importance of growth at the Oct. 11 meeting. Boucher said international membership numbers were fairly flat for the past five years while Capital Rotary added to its ranks, especially among female members. The club’s attrition rate over the last three years – 8.6% – compares favorably with that of Rotary District 7770 at 14.4%. Boucher believes Capital Rotary’s growth assets include (1) outstanding existing membership, (2) quality speakers each week, (3) a convenient meeting time at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, (4) accessible downtown parking, (5) a good meeting venue at the Palmetto Club, (6) improved social media and public relations and (7) a membership “growth culture.” But noting that “complacency is Rotary’s number one enemy,” Boucher warned that “attrition is real” and the need for “growing clubs with quality Rotarians” must be met to ensure future opportunities for service.
As the largest health care system in South Carolina’s midlands, Palmetto Health is focused on improving the physical, emotional and spiritual health of all individuals and communities it serves. That’s according to John Singerling, Palmetto Health president and Capital Rotary’s guest speaker on Oct. 4. Singerling (shown with Rotarians Chris Ray at left and Blake DuBose at right) said the locally owned, not-for-profit system is committed to (1) improving access to health care, (2) making care more affordable, (3) ensuring safety and quality of care, (4) enhancing each patient’s experience, and (5) seeing that no one in need is left behind. Health care challenges include changing demographics, expanding technology, politics, price structures and escalating drug costs. Singerling said many recognize that today’s health care system is dysfunctional and not sustainable. Improvement needs to be built on accessibility – some kind of insurance coverage for all people – and on setting – delivering care in the appropriate local setting at the appropriate time. Singerling has been with Palmetto Health since 1996 and became its president in 2010. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University and a master’s degree in health administration from the University of South Carolina.
Current Capital Rotary president Blake DuBose has been recognized for his achievements and community involvement by Columbia Business Monthly magazine. DuBose, 33, is featured in the magazine’s second annual class of the “Best & Brightest 35 And Under.” The class is composed of 29 young professionals who work for success in the Midlands community. DuBose, a graduate of Newbery College, is president of DuBose Web Group, a website design and development firm he began in 2007. In his Business Monthly biographical summary, DuBose noted that this year’s Rotary International slogan is “Making a Difference.” He said his definition of success includes “selfless acts of kindness, building genuine relationships, doing what you’re passionate about, and making a difference in the lives of others. The bottom line is for all of us to work together to make the world a better place.” (Photo courtesy Columbia Business Monthly)
Capital Rotary members Carol Caulk and John Guignard have tips for Arden Elementary School third-graders on how to use the new paperback dictionaries they received as part of the club’s participation in The Dictionary Project. The project – begun by a non-profit organization in Charleston in 1995 – aims to help students become good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learner. Capital Rotary donated dictionaries to some 850 students in 12 Richland County District One schools for 2017. Over the past 13 years, the club has distributed personal dictionaries to more than 13,000 students in the Columbia area. A number of Rotary clubs in South Carolina and throughout the country are Dictionary Project sponsors. One of Rotary International’s major goals is improving basic education and literacy for adults and young people.