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TOOTING HIS HORN: Local jazz legend Lonnie Hamilton III swooned to holiday classics as his saxophone purred Saturday to the delight of hundreds at the first annual Holiday Parade of Boats viewing party hosted by the Rotary Club of Charleston at the Charleston Maritime Center. Looking on as the 86-year-old Hamilton mesmerized the audience with his soulful vibe are pianist and local leader John Tecklenburg and bassist Roman Pekar. In the background is Bill Schlitt, who periodically led the crowd in Christmas carols as they ate barbecue and waited for the parade. Photo by Andy Brack.



Christmas at Magnolia offers train rides, more

For Charleston Currents
| permalink

DEC. 15, 2014 -- The Christmas Village at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens will serve as a depot for Santa's train, a photo studio for family holiday portraits and a place where children can scamper and hide.

The village consists of a candy factory, Santa's workshop, gingerbread house, Santa's post office, a chapel, general store, elf's bunk house and a school called the "elfementary."

At the village children and their parents will board Santa's train. Mrs. Claus will take up to 34 passengers on short 20-minute excursions on Dec. 20 to Dec. 21.

Santa's helper, photographer Christine Smith, will take family and individual portraits from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 20. Magnolia is paying the sitting fee and families can choose which picture packages to purchase.

In addition to these activities, two choirs will sing Saturday during a Yuletide Gospel and Choral Jubilee. St. John's Parish Church choir and the Choraliers Music Club of Charleston will perform. This presentation of Christmas favorites will feature a variety of singing styles, beginning at 2 p.m. near the Peacock Cafe. The performances will end at 4 p.m.

The Santa train rides and choir performances are free with garden admission.

Time to restore public's confidence in government

Editor and Publisher | permalink

DEC. 15, 2014 -- As state lawmakers gab next year about how to fix failing roads, under-performing schools, rising poverty and more, they need to keep their eyes on something less concrete, but nonetheless important: how to restore the public's confidence in government.

The "easy" answer may be just to stop all of the bickering and focus on things that have real and major impact, such as substantive ethics reform to clean up a culture of corruption or dedicating more funding to pave pothole-plagued roads.

At a national level, the public's trust in government is near an all-time low. Just 24 percent of Americans have confidence in the federal government most of the time, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. That's a remarkable decline from 60 percent in 2001 after the September 11 attacks on the U.S.

In South Carolina in 2012, about a third of state residents said they trusted state government to do what was right most of the time, according to a Winthrop Poll. More than 45 percent said they trusted local government. Interestingly, approval ratings about how the legislature is handling its job actually have been on the increase -- from 33 percent in 2012 to 45 percent last month, polls show.

But you wouldn't know it from listening to people in restaurants, on television or around the water cooler, particularly following the quick downfall of ex-House Speaker Bobby Harrell of Charleston.

So job number one for the General Assembly is to pass comprehensive ethics reform to help reinstill public confidence in government.

"It would be a big step forward, a positive signal for the public, for those legislators who have been stonewalling independent investigation of complaints involving legislators to welcome an effective and fair independent system of oversight," said Lynn Teague of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina.

"Our bleached, packed and segregated political districts that are the nation's least competitive yield no statesmen or even productive politicians, but rather a kabuki dance with trite lines and predictable outcomes."

-- Columbia activist Brett Bursey

But all of the ethics reform in the world may not be enough to repair the damage done by years of glad-handing, back-slapping and knee-jerking around issues that don't really make much of a difference.

"A less partisan, less polarized environment would also be helpful," said College of Charleston political science professor Gibbs Knotts. "When the Republicans took control of the S.C. Senate, there was considerable collaboration between Democrats and Republicans. This has not occurred in recent legislative sessions."

Common Cause of South Carolina's John Crangle suggests the state needs a major whistleblower law to allow public employees to report corruption without retaliation. Passing ethics reform without a whistleblower law would be like having a "boat with a big hole in the bottom," he said. This week, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, introduced a tough whistleblower measure.

Greer Mayor Rick Danner says local governments can play a big role in restoring confidence in government by creating efficiencies that lead to better performance, generating more transparency, collaborating with citizens, providing better communication and creating an atmosphere of proactive change.

"We must challenge the conventional role of public service and reawaken public understanding of the critical role thousands of public servants, like ourselves across the state, play in helping us achieve the high standard of living we all expect and deserve," he told a group of local finance officials earlier this year.

Longtime activist Brett Bursey of Columbia urges major fixes to the state's election system, particularly the vast number of non-competitive legislative districts due to gerrymandered redistricting.

"Our bleached, packed and segregated political districts that are the nation's least competitive yield no statesmen or even productive politicians, but rather a kabuki dance with trite lines and predictable outcomes," he said, adding that the best way to fight the complacent system was through building "a progressive coalition of the majority of South Carolinians who are being played for fools and ripped off."

A key solution to better governing, Teague says, is for public officials to just tell the truth -- that there is no free lunch and that we can't keep on scrimping along.

"We need more political courage to discuss difficult issues," she said. "We have gone about as far as we can by moving money from one place to another within the existing budget and shifting responsibility from one place to another.

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Charleston Currents and Statehouse Report. If you have a funny quip about a politician, send it along so we can share it. You can reach Brack at: publisher@charlestoncurrents.com.


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The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Charleston Currents to you at no cost. In today's issue, we shine the spotlight on SCIWAY, South Carolina’s Information Highway. Pronounced “sky-way,” SCIWAY is the largest and most comprehensive directory of South Carolina information on the Internet. It includes thousands of links to other South Carolina Web sites, including Charleston Currents, as well as an amazing collection of maps, charts, articles, photos and other resources.

  • To learn more about this extraordinary information hub that 7 million people visit a year, go to: http://www.SCIWAY.net.

The Battle of Tulifinny Crossroads
By DOUGLAS W. BOSTICK, contributing editor | permalink
Special to Charleston Currents

After multiple failed attempts to sever the Charleston and Savannah Railroad line, including the November 30 Battle of Honey Hill, the Union army decided to muster one more assault. Their mission was to eliminate the use of the railroad as a means to reinforce the Confederates troops in Savannah about to face General William T. Sherman and his army. Sherman sent a telegraph to Washington: "I would like to have [General] Foster break the Charleston-Savannah Railroad about Pocotaligo about the first of December."

Foster assembled 5,000 troops for this attack, including a battalion of U.S. Marines. From December 2 - 4, the Marines trained at Beaufort and Parris Island to prepare for this land battle. At the same time, the entire Corps of Cadets prepared and drilled in Charleston. On December 4, the entire Corps moved from Charleston to Pocotaligo.

On the morning of December 6, Foster and his army landed at Gregorie Point in Jasper County. They captured Gregorie Plantation unopposed and started moving toward the railroad lines near the town of Yemassee through a peninsula bordered by the Tulifinny and Coosawatchie Rivers. At the Old Pocotaligo Road, the Union troops surprised the 5th Georgia Infantry. As the fight ensued, the Cadets could hear the fire and marched at the "double quick" to reinforce the small Confederate force engaged. Even with the arrival of the 343 Cadets, the Confederate troop strength was only 900 troops, facing an army five times their number. The Union troops did not press their advantage, but they hastily constructed entrenchments on the Gregorie Point peninsula.

The Cadets quickly dug in at the bridge that crossed the Tulifinny, calling their position "Camp Tulifinny." On the morning of December 7, a skirmish line of Cadets and three companies from the 5th Georgia Infantry advanced to test the Union position. Joined by the 47th Georgia and a militia unit, the Confederates crossed the road and engaged the entire Union line. The Union troops were driven back several hundred yards but eventually stood firm. During the surprise attack, one Georgia veteran watching the Cadets in action is reported to have said, "Dang, them fellers fight like Hood's Texicans," a great compliment to a group of young men. During the fight the Citadel professors instructed their troops always using their surname preceded by "mister." This amused the Georgia troops who noted, "Them Charleston people is the damnest politest officers to their men I ever struck up with in the army." The remainder of the day and through December 8 was spent by both armies caring for wounded.

The Battle of Tulifinny Crossroads, a mural which hangs in the Citadel library.

On the morning of December 9, Union forces made a final assault on the Confederate position. The battalion of U.S. Marines advanced on the far right of the Union line, placing them on a collision course with the Citadel Cadets. The Marines got within fifty yards of the railroad line when they were turned back by the Cadets. In a brisk firefight, Union troops began a retreat with the Confederates in hot pursuit. The 127th New York Volunteers were positioned on the left of the Marines. When the New York troops faltered in their advance and began to pull back, the Marines were left without support and no cover on their flank. The Citadel Cadets turned back the Marines and pursued them during their retreat.

Though outnumbering the Confederates five to one, the Battle of Tulifinny Crossroads was another Union defeat while trying to break the railroad line. The Union army suffered 300 casualties. Confederate casualties were 200. The Cadets suffered eight casualties with one Cadet killed in action.

The Battle of Tulifinny Crossroads was the only battle in which the entire Corps of Cadets participated. In fact, this was the only time in military history in which an entire student body and their professors of a U.S. college were engaged in battle. The Corps of Cadets received their final orders from the governor on May 9, 1865, from the governor on the courthouse steps in Newberry. They were the last Southern military company to disband east of the Mississippi River.

The Battle of Tulifinny Crossroads was one of the rare times when U.S. Marines fought in combat in the Civil War. And today, the Marines are still training at Parris Island.

Douglas W. Bostick grew up on James Island, and his ancestors in South Carolina date back to colonial America. He is the author of several books and numerous articles that have appeared in historical journals, magazines and national newsletters. A graduate of the College of Charleston, Bostick earned a master's degree from the University of South Carolina. He is a former staff and faculty member of the University of South Carolina and the University of Maryland.

Trident Tech to offer one-night history, landscape classes


Trident Tech to offer one-night classes on Charleston history, landscape and inspiration
You can learn more about Charleston's history, landscape and more during special one-night spring classes offered by Trident Tech's College Division of Continuing Education and Economic Development. Here is the schedule of the 1.5 hour classes; each session costs $25:

  • Slave Dwelling Project. Historian Joseph McGill Jr., who has spent nights in more than 60 slave dwellings in 13 states since 2010, will chronicle his experiences 6 p.m. Jan. 15, 2015, at TTC's downtown Palmer campus.

  • Native plants. Clemson Extension Agent Kimberly Counts will help you explore the potential of native plants in your home garden. More: 6 p.m., Feb. 19, Palmer campus.

  • Piracy. Eric Lavender and Capt. Bob from Charleston Pirate Tours will offer tales on the explosion and politics of piracy in Charleston in days gone by. More: 6 p.m., March 24, Palmer campus.

  • Life on Edisto Island (two parts). In part one (March 26), you'll learn about the people of Edisto Island from the Cusabo Indians to today's inhabitants. In part two (April 23), you'll learn about the creole Gullah language and culture. More: Classes start at 6 p.m. at TTC's St. Paul's Parish site in Hollywood.

  • Avery Research Center. Learn more about the Avery Normal Institute (1865-1954), how it trained students and how it became a research center for African American history and culture. More: 6 p.m., April 14, Palmer campus.

  • MORE. To learn more and register, go online to the college's Web site or contact Daphne Holland at 843.574.6909 for more information.

Here are some other news briefs you may find interesting:

  • Recycle your Christmas tree and greenery. You can recycle your tree by removing all decor and, in many municipalities, putting it by the curbside. Or you can drop off a tree at the Bees Ferry Landing Compost Facility from Jan. 2 to 10 and get a free bag of compost. See this video.

  • Mount Pleasant woman to be honored. Caroline Walters, who was killed in a car wreck in 2012, will be honored posthumously for giving the "gift of life" to four organ recipients and the gift of sight to another through an artistic floral portrait that will be in Donate Life's 2015 float in the 126th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year's Day. Ms. Walters' family and friends will finish decorating her floragraph at a special 10 a.m. Tuesday ceremony at LifePoint, 3950 Faber Place Drive, Suite 400, North Charleston. The public is invited.

  • Charleston International Jazz Festival set for January. The inaugural festival will be Jan. 22-25, announced Jazz Artists of Charleston. The festival will showcase the Holy City's storied jazz tradition and celebrate its vibrant jazz community today. For events, tickets, artists and more details, go to: CharlestonJazz.com.

Send us your recommendations of sites, books, eateries

An invitation: What Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us a short paragraph review of why you liked a recent visit to a restaurant or a book that you recently read. Send to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com

South Carolina's rivers

Part 1 of 2

South Carolina has an abundance of rivers that originate from within the state or that enter from North Carolina and Georgia and drain land as far away as Virginia. These rivers flow generally from the northwest to the southeast, following the geography from high elevations in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont to the lower elevations of the coastal plain. The Blue Ridge and Piedmont contain narrow drainage divides between river tributaries, some only a few miles wide. The result is a landscape that is almost completely dissected by streams and rivers. Some rivers begin at the base of the Sandhills and cross over the coastal plain to the Atlantic Ocean. Others begin outside of the state and flow into South Carolina, forming three large river systems: the Santee, the Savannah, and the Pee Dee.

The Santee River system is the largest on the east coast. It drains water from North Carolina and carries it through South Carolina through three major rivers (Saluda, Catawba, Broad) and through smaller tributaries (Enoree, Tyger, Reedy). The Broad and the Saluda join at Columbia to form the Congaree River. Geomorphic features of interest on the Congaree floodplain include oxbow lakes and an extensive series of meanders. In the north, the Catawba River enters South Carolina near Rock Hill and is renamed the Wateree as it flows south to form Lake Wateree. Further downstream just above Lake Marion, the Wateree and the Congaree join to form the Santee River, which then flows into the Atlantic Ocean, forming the Santee Delta just south of Georgetown.

During the 1930s and 1940s the Santee River system was dammed in several places to form lakes for flood control, hydroelectric power, and recreation. A major geological and ecological change resulted. The sediment load previously carried by the river water was diverted as the water passed into the lakes. As the river water slowed, the sediments fell and collected on lake bottoms and behind dams, instead of flowing down the river to the coast. After 1942, when the dams and lakes opened, there was a marked decrease in water and sediment flow down the Santee River. This decrease in turn prevented the long-shore ocean currents from moving the sand up and down the coast to nourish the barrier islands, which has resulted in their erosion. Silting of Charleston harbor also became a problem. Since 1985 a rediversion canal has diverted some of the water and sediment back into the Santee River. This has lessened the sedimentation of the harbor.

To be continued ...

-- Excerpted from the entry by Carolyn H. Murphy. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


Nice capitals

These capitals, or topmost parts of columns, are in a familiar place in Charleston, but where? Photo by Michael Kaynard, KaynardPhotography.com.
Send your guess AND your hometown to: editor@charlestoncurrents.com.

Nobody guessed the name of the dog ("Chompers") in the Dalmatian sculpture in last week's issue, but Chris Brooks of Mount Pleasant and Judith Carberry of Charleston both knew it was in front of the fire station at the corner of Meeting and Wentworth streets in downtown Charleston. Congrats!

More photos: If you want to see a neat photo of the rural South, sign up to receive photo emails at: www.BetterSouth.org. And tell your friends too!


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© 2008-2014, Statehouse Report LLC. All rights reserved. Charleston Currents is published every Monday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.

Issue 7.07 | Monday, Dec. 15, 2014
Counting down the days for holidays

Christmas at Magnolia offers fun

Restore confidence in government

Battle of Tulifinny Crossroads

Trident Tech's one-day classes, more

South Carolina's rivers




Send us your letters

Nobody named the dog

Why to buy local

Gift of life


This week ... and next

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Why you should buy local

Here are 10 reasons to buy local, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and recently published by Lowcountry Local First:

1. Local character and prosperity. In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.

2. Community well-being. Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.

3. Local decision-making. Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will fell the impacts of those decisions.

4. Keeping dollars in the local economy. Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.

5. Job and wages. Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6. Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship fuels America's economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7. Public benefits and costs. Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8. Environmental sustainability. Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9. Competition. A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10. Product diversity. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.


Gift of life

"While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die -- whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness."

-- Gilda Radner



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(NEW) Predatory lending workshop: 2 p.m., Dec. 16, Trident United Way's Summerville Prosperity Center, 222 Old Trolley Road, Summerville. Learn what predatory lending is, how to avoid check-cashing fees, what to watch out for and more in this two-hour workshop that will help you preserve some of your money. More.

(NEW) Medal of Honor Bowl: 2:30 p.m., Jan. 10, 2015, at Johnson Hagood Stadium, The Citadel, Charleston. You can support the second-annual event by purchasing a ticket for just $15 and, if you show up, you'll have a chance to win a brand new Mercedes sedan. Read more from our recent story.
Learn more online at: MOHBowl.com.

(NEW) Storytelling contest. The Charleston County Public Library will host a free three-day workshop featuring the internationally-renowned Center for Digital Storytelling to help people learn to use today's technology to preserve stories. The Jan. 22-24 workshop will include scriptwriting, image preparation, voiceover recording and editing. Because of limited space, individuals or pairs who want to enter have to submit a video or written essay on why they want to participate. Applications are due by Dec. 31. Learn more here.


Yule choirs at Magnolia. Three choirs will sing 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Yuletide Gospel and Choral Jubilee at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Performances are free with garden admission to hear the St. John's Parish Church choir, the Choraliers Music Club of Charleston and the Mount Zion Spiritual Singers at Mount Zion AME Church. More.

Charleston Christmas Special: Through Dec. 21, Charleston Music Hall, John Street, Charleston. This show is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit with former Broadway performers entertaining with holiday classics, comedy and more. Tickets are $60 and include a three-course dinner. Learn more and get tickets here.

A Christmas Carol: Through Dec. 21, Dock Street Theatre, Charleston. Charleston Stage will present a new production of the Dickens classic with special effects, new scenery, new costumes and new music. The show will feature a cast of 29 performers. Tickets range from $38.50 to $57.50 with senior, student and military discounts. More: CharlestonStage.com


Bird walks: 8:30 a.m. to noon, every Wednesday and Saturday. This is the time of year that a great variety of migrating birds fly through the Lowcountry so what better time to take part in one of the regular early morning bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel. Pre-registration is suggested. Cost is $5. Walks also are conducted on James Island and Folly Beach.Learn more online.


12/8: McQueeney: MOH Bowl
12/1: Arnoldi: Girl entrepreneurs

11/24: Skardon, Quenga: signupSC
11/17: Cannon: Downtown schools
11/10: Lesesne: More Wi-Fi in parks
11/3: Denaux: One80 Place

10/27: Reynolds: Festival of Lights
10/20: Sabine: Halloween favorites
10/13: Charleston Jazz Jam
10/6: Nuovo Cinema Italiano

9/29: Smith: West Ashley
9/22: Haynes: Hurricane Hugo
9/15: ECCO's 25th
9/8: Riley on responsibilities
9/1: Sabine: RiverDogs' photo essay

8/25: Friedman, Moredock: New station
8/18: No pets, kids in hot cars
8/11: Ruff: County's greenbelt plan
8/4: Holling: Watkins's book

7/28: Fordham: Literacy program
7/21: Troy: Dolphin's new owner
7/14: Waronsky: Message focus
7/7: Devaney: Winning poster prize
7/1: Dodge: Take 5 campaign

6/16: Pritchard: Anti-cruelty effort
6/9: Wentworth: Palmetto Poem
6/2: Mullins: Play on bishop's murder


11/17: Battle of Honey Hill
10/13: Yellow fever epidemic
9/8: The "Immortal 600"
8/11: The inhuman threat
7/14: Nearly impregnable
6/9: Prisoners to Charleston
5/12: Change of command
4/14: Charleston capture?
2/10: Attack of the Hunley
1/27/14: Bleak conditions


12/8: Win a boat for holidays
12/1: Travel tips from Fla. weekend

11/24: Promise zones
11/17: Gerrymandered districts
11/10: Lesson on governing
11/3: Ballot box won't fix board

10/27: On the work ethic
10/20: Find the liberal
10/13: New station needed
10/6: Sheheen uses flag

9/29: On panhandling
9/22: Why we vote on Tuesdays
9/15: Watkins offers romp on Trace
9/8: DaPore on putting people first
9/1: On finding column topics

8/25: End of 2nd Reconstruction
8/18: Humor and politics
8/11: Gov's race interesting
8/4: Letters to a camper

7/28: Writer says S.C. like Africa
7/21: Problem with chamber
7/14: On being fair
7/7: Do more on civil rights
7/1: Great trip to Wyoming

6/16: All about chiggers
6/9: Hollywood drama at capitol
6/2: D is for dysfunctional


12/1: Being more open in helping
10/6: Honoring aging
8/4: There's an app for that
6/2: It takes a virtual village
5/19: Common IRA traps to avoid
4/7: Medication check-up
3/3: Read your deed
2/3/2014: Driving and being older

12/2: On the Personal Property Memo
11/4: Your time: great gift for seniors
10/7: Let's celebrate aging
9/3: Medicaid and your future
8/5: More on estates, wills
7/1: Estate planning myths
6/3: Pensions for wartime vets
5/6: Revocable Living Trusts
3/4: Resources to help seniors cope
2/4: On life estates
1/7: Next step in health care


11/24: Community investments
10/27: Silicon Harbor
9/29: On personal happiness
8/25: S.C. Inland Port
7/28: Your digital assets
7/1: Tax credits, deductions
5/26: Social Security conversation
4/29: Community ag/fisheries
3/24: Let's invest in Charleston
2/24: Getting beyond jitters
1/27/14: Financial independence

12/23: And now there is hope
12/2: The "thanks" of Thanksgiving
10/28: Impact of rising bond market
9/30: What happens when rates rise


11/17: Holiday fun for all
10/20: Sabine: Halloween favorites
9/15: Great run/walks for family
8/18: Edisto day trip
7/21: Great reading places
6/16: Picking berries, making jam
5/26: Art and music for kids
4/21: ArtFields for kids
3/17: Spring break ideas in S.C.
2/17: Four great outings for limited times
1/20: Upstate wonders

12/16: More holiday fun
11/18: Winter activities to do
10/14: Four ways to preserve history
9/16: It's harvest time
8/19: Kids giving back

7/15: Childrens' museums
6/17: Interactive adventures
5/20: Birds, bees, butterflies
4/15: Signs of spring abound
3/18: Great local parks
2/18: What's new in Charleston is old
1/21: Blaze a trail in 2013
12/10: Great holiday adventure


12/1: Foley: Shine on
11/3: Harris: Accidentals
10/6: Meyers: back from the woods ...
9/1: Hagerty: Twinzilla Wormhole
8/4: Lamkin: A rose for my mother
7/7: Amaker: Out of breath
6/9: Wentworth: Path to the Beach

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