Thursday, July 2, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State dairy plant gets upgrade
Recent upgrades to the Custer Dairy Processing Plant at Mississippi State University are helping ensure the next generation of Bulldogs can enjoy the same quality which MSU cheese connoisseurs have come to appreciate and expect. Julie Wilson, quality control supervisor in the plant, said upgrades were essential. The project included replacing and waterproofing the plant floor and updating the plumbing and electrical systems. Though the upgrade will have long-term benefits, the renovation also is cause for a short-term cheese shortage. Fewer balls of Edam and other cheese products at the MAFES sales store will be available for 2015. "We lost three months of production this past spring," said Troy Weaver, MAFES sales store manager. "We will produce significantly less cheese this year compared to last year."
 
Mississippi State completes upgrades to cheese production facility
Recent upgrades to the Custer Dairy Processing Plant at Mississippi State University mean fewer balls of Edam and other cheese products will be available for 2015. Troy Weaver, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station sales store manager, says production was shut down for three months for the renovations. Weaver is encouraging customers to get their Christmas orders in early. Cheesemakers produce more than a thousand pounds a day, five days a week, all year long except when the university is closed for holidays.
 
Portfolio: Field day to address legal issues
Farmers and producers can learn about the relationship between risk management and insurance during a July 17 field day at the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production Farm near Goodman. Scientists with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Alcorn State University Extension Program, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and other organizations will discuss how to become highly profitable and sustainable on a small family farm. Attendees can discuss plans to expand field days statewide beginning in August to help better support local farmers and gardeners.
 
Myles back to Starkville-Oktibbeha school board despite Wynn's objections
Former Starkville School District Board of Trustees President Eddie Myles rejoined the consolidated school board and will fulfill outgoing President Eric Heiselt's term. Myles, who was not chosen for a third consecutive school board term by aldermen last year, was reappointed Tuesday in a 3-1 vote. Heiselt tendered his resignation letter last week after announcing he and his family will move to Nevada. His resignation became effective at the conclusion of Tuesday's last SSD meeting. Wednesday marked the first day of a unified school system as state-mandated consolidation merged Oktibbeha County School District with SSD. The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and its leaders, Myles said, will work diligently to provide quality education for all schoolchildren.
 
Mississippi to receive $1.5 billion in BP settlement
Gov. Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood this morning in Biloxi announced Mississippi and other states have reached an "agreement in principle" with BP to settle litigation from the 2010 oil disaster. Mississippi would receive about $1.5 billion over 17 years under the settlement, bringing the total for the state including earlier payments to $2.2 billion. BP would pay $18.7 billion total to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi under the agreement announced Thursday. Louisiana would receive $6.8 billion. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear BP's challenge of a federal court judge's ruling that the company could face up to $13.7 billion in fines, likely paving the way for the settlement.
 
BP agrees to pay Mississippi additional $1.5 billion over 17 years
Gov. Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood announced Thursday in Biloxi that Mississippi has reached an agreement with BP to settle claims related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The settlement will bring approximately $1.5 billion in additional relief to Mississippi over the next 17 years, Hood's office said in a press release. Combined with $659 million in early funding, Mississippi is receiving a total of nearly $2.2 billion in compensation. "Today is a victory for Mississippi and a victory for a treasured way of life on the Gulf Coast," Bryant said.
 
Report: Mississippi personal income news not all bad
The Bureau of Economic Analysis' annual real personal income report had good news and bad news for Mississippi. The bad news: The state's RPI shrank 0.1 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the data released Wednesday. The good news: That wasn't nearly as big a drop as New Mexico (0.6 percent) or New York (0.4 percent), the two states with the biggest declines in the period. In Mississippi, RPI actually grew 1.6 percent but was offset by the price of goods and services increasing 1.7 percent. The state fared better in the BEA's measurement of regional price parities. Mississippi did markedly better in this round of BEA data.
 
Independence Day fires up spending
The Fourth of July holiday weekend kicks off the busiest half of the year for retailing, and Americans are opening their wallets and their stomachs. The National Retail Federation expects 156 million people to take part in the Independence Day holiday by attending a cookout, picnic or barbecue, spending an average of $71.23 per household, up from $68.16 last year. Total spending for the hot dogs, burgers, ribs and other food and liquid refreshments should hit about $6.6 billion. IBISWorld expects food spending to be closer to $6.7 billion. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the price of most grilling foods has risen from a year ago. The largest price increases include ground beef, hot dogs and chicken breasts. Beer prices and potato chips also have gone up. But food isn't all that Americans are buying. They're also spending money on fireworks, decorations and apparel.
 
Nissan sets June sales record
Nissan Group reported Wednesday that its June sales set a record for the month. All told, the automaker sold a total of 124,2228 Nissan and Infiniti vehicles combined. That's an increase of 13.3 percent over June 2014. The Nissan Division was responsible for 114,243 of those, also a June record. "Consumer demand for crossovers continues to gain momentum as strong sales gains from Rogue and Murano drove Nissan to a record June," Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Nissan sales and marketing and operations in the U.S., said. It was a good month for Canton-built models overall. Toyota's U.S. division also grew its June sales year over. The company, which builds the compact Corolla sedan in Blue Springs, reported 183,791 units sold in June, an increase of 3.1 percent for the month.
 
Economic dean: 'architect' of Nissan John Wallace retiring
Considered the architect of Nissan in Madison County and the dean of economic development here for the last four decades, Canton Municipal Utilities General Manager John Wallace is hanging up his hard hat. Wallace has devoted 38 years to economic development -- and is retiring from CMU for the second time. The Central Mississippi Industrial Park at Gluckstadt was just a pasture when Levi Strauss & Co was considering building a distribution facility 35 years ago, and it was Wallace who had the vision and obtained funding to run utilities the 10 miles or so from Canton to seal the deal. Much of Wallace's impact on Madison County can be traced to his decision to accept the position of general manager at CMU after moving to Canton in 1977. "We landed the largest automotive facility in the world built from the ground up," said Blake Wilson, president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council. He explained that Wallace fought for the industrial park when many believed it was nothing but a pipe dream.
 
Volvo opens new distribution center in Mississippi
Volvo has opened a new 1-million-square-foot central distribution center in Byhalia in northwest Mississippi. The Swedish truck maker closed its regional parts depot in Memphis and consolidated in the larger building located in a sprawling industrial park in Marshall County, Mississippi. The Commercial Appeal reports the new center employs about 250 and is a $70 million investment by the company.
 
Bryant tells court it should affirm same-sex marriage ruling
Gov. Phil Bryant remains opposed to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, but he's stopping his court fight against it. In a letter Wednesday, Bryant's lawyer asks the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to return a Mississippi gay marriage lawsuit to U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in Jackson. That would allow Reeves to enter a final ruling aligned with the Supreme Court decision. Reeves overturned Mississippi's gay marriage ban last year, but put his ruling on hold. The appeals court also put a hold on Reeves' ruling.
 
Court lifts stay; clerks will issue same-sex licenses
A group of Mississippi circuit clerks said they'll be issuing same-sex marriage licenses after meeting with Gov. Phil Bryant and a lawyer with the attorney general's office and receiving some "clarity." And the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday lifted a stay that had caused confusion over whether Mississippi could begin allowing same-sex marriages. Seven circuit clerks, from DeSoto, Jasper, Jones, Newton, Pontotoc, Simpson and Yalobusha counties, traveled to Jackson on Thursday, asking for some guidance on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. All but one, from DeSoto County, said they had refrained from issuing any same-sex marriage licenses since Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling. They said they were confused over directives from Attorney General Jim Hood, and had some concerns over the state license form, which includes boxes for "groom" and "bride."
 
Mr. Kelly goes to Washington
A small town lawyer who rose to local acclaim as a district attorney and prosecutor and returning Iraqi war veteran has only been at his new post for a few weeks, but U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly has hit the ground running. "I'm proud to be your Congressman," Kelly told members of the Rotary Club of Olive Branch on Tuesday. "It's a privilege to represent the people of the 1st Congressional District. Being a representative is the one form of government that truly represents the people. I'm not a politician. My family was never involved in politics. I know where my roots are and where I came from." Kelly said the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.
 
Confederate emblems 'treason,' says head of rights group
The national president of a civil-rights group says Confederate symbols represent "treason" and should be removed from public objects, including the Mississippi state flag. Charles Steele Jr., head of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said Wednesday at the Mississippi Capitol that Confederate names should disappear from streets and structures. Debate about the prominence of Old South symbols reignited after the June 17 massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. "The Confederacy and what it stands for is treason," Steele said. Greg Stewart, a longtime member of the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he believes politicians are latching onto the Charleston shootings as an excuse to change Confederate symbols and distract attention from other issues.
 
Majority of Americans say rebel flag a symbol of pride, not racism
As debate rages in South Carolina over the Confederate flag on its statehouse property, a majority of Americans see the rebel flag as a symbol of Southern pride, not a reminder of racism, according to a new CNN/ORC poll out Thursday. Public opinion is about where it stood 15 years ago, when the Palmetto State removed the rebel St. Andrew's cross from the Capitol dome. But there is a stark racial divide on how the banner is perceived and what should be done about references to the Confederacy. Among all 1,017 adults participating, 57 percent said it's a symbol of Southern pride, 33 percent called it more a symbol of racism and 5 percent said it's both equally. Among whites, 66 percent said it symbolizes pride, while just 17 percent of African-Americans responded that way.
 
Conservative overreach may explain liberal victories in Supreme Court
The Supreme Court term that ended this week will be remembered for the landmark ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, but it will also go down as a year when a fractured conservative bloc resulted in a surprising number of liberal wins. That doesn't mean the court has shifted left, as some have suggested. Instead, perhaps the biggest dynamic driving this term was overreaching by the court's most conservative justices. "The lineup of cases this term explains the results, and not a shift in anyone's general legal philosophy," said Irving Gornstein, who directs the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University's law school. Court scholars on the right and left cautioned against reading too much into the recent outcomes.
 
How Supreme Court ruling could jump-start political innovation
A Supreme Court ruling this week gives voters a green light to take the drawing of political maps out of the hands of partisan majorities, but bringing those efforts to fruition is going to be a "pretty heavy lift," activists say. On Monday, the court upheld Arizona's voter-approved, independent and bipartisan commission that draws congressional voting districts. That job is typically done by state legislatures, but about a dozen states now allow some form of commission input in the process. The panels are seen as a way to avoid the highly partisan, self-serving maps drawn by legislators every 10 years after a census is taken. Early evidence suggests that the political reform works.
 
Republicans Aiming to Register Voters at NASCAR
Reince Priebus won't be behind the wheel of a stock car, but the Republican National Committee is going to Daytona International Speedway. Spectators at this weekend's NASCAR races in Florida will be encouraged to register to vote. You might say the party's staff and volunteers will be "at the races" -- literally. It's part of the kickoff of the RNC's new drive to register potential supporters and build a ground game earlier in the cycle, with operations in key states across the country over the July Fourth weekend in what the RNC is calling a "National Day of Action." With a base in the South, NASCAR has generally attracted a more conservative audience that's receptive to the Republican message.
 
Nascar Track Will Offer to Swap Confederate Flag at Daytona -- Not Ban It
Days after Nascar Chairman Brian France said the Confederate flag should be eliminated at future events, Daytona International Speedway announced it would conduct a flag exchange at this weekend's race. Fans will be offered the opportunity to trade Confederate flags for U.S. flags ahead of Sunday's Coke Zero 400. If fans choose not to switch, they will be allowed to fly their Confederate flags. "We want to have an event open and inclusive of everyone," Daytona President Joie Chitwood said. "Celebrating our nation's birthday, we thought this was the best thing to do." For more than a decade, Nascar has prevented the Confederate flag from appearing on any official materials or race cars. But it hasn't taken steps to stop fans from raising the flag above campsites and motor homes in the infield of racetracks near places like Darlington, S.C., Talladega, Ala., and Atlanta.
 
Economy adds 223,000 jobs in June; unemployment rate drops to 5.3 percent
The U.S. labor market added a solid 223,000 jobs in June, according to fresh government data released Thursday morning, signaling an economy that is regaining some stability after a sputtering start to the year. The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, the lowest mark in the long recovery from the Great Recession. The latest jobs data from the Department of Labor comes amid a convulsion in Europe that has caused a spike in global economic volatility. Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy, unable to pay back key loans and awaiting a national referendum on whether to accept European bailout terms that its government denounces.
 
US Army Seeks Leap-Ahead Cyber Defense Tech
The US Army is seeking to equip its cyber warriors with cutting-edge networking hardware, and it is going outside the traditional acquisitions system to do it. The easily transportable "fly-away" kit of hardware and software would travel with the Army's cyber protection teams, whose job involves hunting inside the military's networks for intrusions and fighting off cyber attacks. The Army issued a presolicitation notice June 19 for the equipment, called a deployable defensive cyberspace operations infrastructure capability, which would provide commanders with tools for "quick reaction, cyber defense reinforcement, and security enhancement capabilities," the notice said. The presolicitation is for an industry and innovation challenge meant to take advantage of cutting-edge technology outside the traditional federal acquisition system.
 
Dalai Lama shares philosophy of happiness in Dallas, reunites with George W. Bush
In the eyes of the Dalai Lama, every person of faith has the same goal of finding happiness. Sometimes they just wear different hats. The Tibetan spiritual leader stepped out onto the stage at Southern Methodist University's Moody Coliseum on Wednesday, slipped on a red SMU Mustangs ball cap and looked out on a sold-out audience of more than 5,200 dotted with hijabs, yarmulkes, traditional Tibetan head wraps and cowboy hats. His visit to Dallas to discuss religious commonalities, universal love and understanding was part of an 80th birthday celebration through the George W. Bush Presidential Center. His Holiness said he was excited to reunite with the 43rd president -- who had a front-row seat with former First Lady Laura Bush -- ahead of their shared July 6 birthday. The Bush-Dalai Lama relationship started with a "heart-to-heart" when they met almost 10 years ago, and that friendship has sustained itself through five separate meetings in the U.S.
 
Episcopalians OK allowing gay marriage in churches
The Episcopal Church has completed its embrace of gay rights, changing church law to allow same-sex religious marriages throughout the denomination, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. The new policy won overwhelming approval from the top Episcopal legislative body Wednesday, following decades of debate and conflict. It came 12 years after the denomination blazed a trail by electing the first openly gay bishop. The measures take effect the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29. The new law eliminates gender-specific language on marriage so same-sex couples could have religious weddings. Clergy can decline to perform the ceremonies.
 
USM professor weighs in on new U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations
A professor at The University of Southern Mississippi who recently spent time in Cuba is reacting to the Obama administration's announcement that the United States and Cuba are restoring diplomatic relations. Matthew Casey said it is important because of the increasing number of American travelers and investors in Cuba. Casey teaches history and has traveled to Cuba many times. In May, he and about two dozen other professors and students spent two weeks there. Casey said he is not sure how the new relationship between the two countries will affect Cuban politics. "It's not clear how this is going to change the Cuban political landscape," he said. "On the surface, if it does, it's only going to be one small piece in a much larger transformation."
 
LSU breaks silence on fired professor, says verbal abuse, intimidation reasons for firing
LSU broke its silence Wednesday about the June 19 firing of associate professor Teresa Buchanan, saying she was fired not only for isolated incidents of using curse words and making sexually themed jokes but also because of "documented evidence of a history of inappropriate behavior that included verbal abuse, intimidation and harassment of our students." In a written statement, LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard on Wednesday said the university is belatedly speaking out because news reports on the firing of Buchanan "have not been entirely factual." In firing Buchanan, LSU is ensuring the university continues to be a "harassment-free environment," Ballard wrote.
 
U. of Florida's medical amnesty program saving lives, officials say
During the fall 2010 semester, five University of Florida students made sick from drinking too much alcohol were taken to area hospitals. The next year, five times as many students were carted off campus with alcohol-related problems. The difference was credited to the newly initiated medical amnesty program that waives discipline proceedings for students who seek medical help related to drug or alcohol abuse. "We think we save lives through that program," said Dave Kratzer, UF vice president for student affairs during the biannual meeting of the Alcohol Coalition, a task force of university, police and city officials aiming to reduce underage and excessive drinking.
 
Former Texas A&M President Elsa Murano hopeful of relations between U.S., Cuba
Elsa Murano left Cuba before she turned 2 years old as her family tried to get away from Fidel Castro's socialist rule. That was almost 54 years ago, and she hasn't been back since. As the U.S. and Cuba work to renew diplomatic ties, the former Texas A&M University president said she holds Cuba "near to my heart" and hopes to someday return, but not until the current regime is out of power. She is hopeful that the two countries can normalize the relationship. "This means that freedoms must be in place," she wrote in an email from Washington, D.C., where she is attending meetings this week. "The ability to speak freely, to go about as you please, to pursue happiness without fear or intimidation are inalienable rights of every human. This is normal."
 
U. of Missouri to cut graduate tuition waiver, increase stipends
Some current University of Missouri graduate assistants will see an increase in their stipends this fall, but in fall 2016, incoming graduate assistants will receive less of a tuition discount under new rules. MU Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies Leona Rubin said students with a full stipend, or 20-hour appointment, will receive a full tuition waiver, and students with half of a stipend, or a 10-hour appointment, will receive half of a tuition waiver starting in 2016. Currently, full tuition waivers are given for all assistantships. "Essentially, the student is working for the university 10 hours a week, and for that we are giving them a full ride. And a student who works 20 hours a week is also getting the full ride. So they are both getting the same full ride, but they are not working the same amount," Rubin said.
 
Canceling Clery? Sen. McCaskill suggests 'removing' campus crime disclosure law
Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, suggested last week that she was in favor of "removing" the Clery Act, the law that requires colleges to provide and publicize information about campus crimes. In a statement late Wednesday night, though, she softened her language, saying through a spokeswoman that she had been referring only to the campus security law's reporting requirements. While McCaskill -- who has promoted legislation that would toughen oversight of colleges on sexual assault -- has long been critical of the Clery Act, her statements last week were especially condemnatory. The comments, which came during McCaskill's keynote address at last week's Campus Safety National Forum, elicited cheers from campus law enforcement officials and concern from campus safety groups. "I don't need to tell you it's flawed," McCaskill said to the gathering of college security officials on Thursday.
 
What's at stake when universities raise their minimum wage?
More and more colleges and universities are hiking their minimum wage above what's required by their states and the federal government. The increases -- often motivated by concerns about equitable pay for all employees, changes in local ordinances or pressure from advocates for low-wage worker -- can cost millions. Yet many colleges that are raising pay say they have an obligation to do so. As more states and cities consider hiking their minimum wage, universities can find themselves in the midst of an often passionate debate. When municipalities increase their minimum wage, private institutions must comply with the new laws. But mandated increases have put public institutions in a tough spot.
 
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): Political speaking set for Neshoba County Fair
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "The Neshoba County Fair released this year's political speaking line-up which provides three days of fan waving, sawdust stomping, cheers, jeers and news reporting a mere days before the August 4 primary elections. From constable to governor and all offices in between, the sheer number of candidates requires an additional day of speaking during the statewide election cycle... The utility polls will be posted with signs; lapels will be covered by stickers; kids will be running around in campaign t-shirts; reporters will be recording, taking notes and tweeting; and voters will be listening and -- despite the planned and coordinated pageantry -- deciding."
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): Lethal injection ruling may swing death penalty status
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "On its face, the Supreme Court's narrow 5-4 ruling that allows Oklahoma and other states to continue to use a three-drug 'cocktail' for lethal injections that includes the drug midazolam appears a victory for proponents of the death penalty. The reality is that the ruling may signal the beginning of the end of capital punishment in the U.S. The narrow legal issue in the Glossip case is whether the particular drug that Oklahoma wants to use in executions -- midazolam -- sufficiently eases an inmate's pain caused by the remainder of the state's drug cocktail. If not, death row inmates argued, that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. But the ruling -- and the dissents -- seem to go well past that very narrow legal question."


SPORTS
 
Five first-year Bulldogs primed to break out this fall
Mississippi State lost some of its most valuable pieces from last year. Its two best defenders -- Benardrick McKinney and Preston Smith -- are both in the NFL. Josh Robinson, who gained more than 1,500 yards of offense, is with the Indianapolis Colts. The Bulldogs have developed talent within the program to fill those holes. But they'll also need help from first-year players. Here are fresh faces that are primed to become household names in 2015.
 
Former Mississippi State golfer Ally McDonald wins first pro tourney
Ally McDonald isn't having any trouble adjust from college to professional golf. The former Mississippi State golfer won her first professional tournament in her first attempt on Wednesday. She shot 5-under at the 2015 Michigan PGA Women's Open. The Fulton native and former three-time WGCA All-American capped off the three-round event with a 2-under par 70. She was one of two players to shoot under par on Wednesday. McDonald's 69-72-70-211 put her two shots ahead of second-place finisher Kendal Martindale, a former All-SEC First Team standout from Vanderbilt.
 
Former Bulldog Ally McDonald earns first professional win
Ally McDonald, the Mississippi State All-American golfer from Fulton, played in her first professional event this week -- and won. McDonald wrapped up a two-stroke victory on Wednesday at the 2015 Michigan PGA Women's Open in Thompsonville, Michigan. One of two players to shoot below par in the final round, McDonald's 69-72-70-211 total handed her a victory over runner-up Kendal Martindale, a former Vanderbilt standout, who shot 67-74-72-213. "I guess it hasn't quite set in yet," she said. "This is my first time playing for money, but I wasn't trying to focus on that. I was just doing what I've always tried to do, focus on one shot at a time and see where it falls from there." McDonald won $6,000.
 
Starkville Academy names former Bulldog Jarrod Parks new baseball coach
Former Mississippi State baseball player Jarrod Parks is returning to Starkville. Parks has been named the new head baseball coach at Starkville Academy. Parks played at MSU until 2011, mainly at third base. He spent the past couple of seasons as an assistant at East Mississippi Community College.
 
Ole Miss' Tunsil's alleged ride with agents is violation, likely not major
Lindsey Miller, the stepfather of Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil, told Lafayette County Sheriff's Department deputies that Tunsil was "riding around with football agents" at the time of the incident that led to Tunsil's arrest. The allegations would constitute an NCAA violation. But not a major one, an Ole Miss spokesperson told The Clarion-Ledger on Wednesday. The spokesperson added that the school is still looking into Miller's allegations. The NCAA did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Clarion-Ledger.
 
Global brands unite as U. of Tennessee completes move to Nike
A mid-summer change in apparel contract gave Tennessee athletics the opportunity on Wednesday to grab the spotlight for Nike and itself without the formality of a sporting contest. Tennessee's athletics department ended a 17-year relationship with adidas on Tuesday and began its new eight-year, $35 million apparel contract with Nike on Wednesday with an elaborately produced hour-long webcast entitled "Swoosh" and hosted by former Tennessee football player Charles Davis and ESPN analyst Maria Taylor. In between runway shots were interviews live and recorded with Vols coaches, players and officials as well as the Nike designers and executives who put together the UT line. All of them pushed the same message, that Tennessee has upgraded its branding power by joining with the industry leader in U.S. athletic apparel.



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