Tuesday, July 28, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
Startup founded by Mississippi State students gets $100,000 boost
A startup business created by a team of students at Mississippi State University is getting a $100,000 investment from a Gulf Coast investor. In a Monday news release, the university said a private investor put up the money in exchange for 10 percent equity in the company, called CampusKnot. CampusKnot is a social media website with about 150 current users. It connects students to MSU academic and campus-life resources.
Starkville city hall on target for November
Starkville's new city hall should be finished by the November 1st deadline if not sooner. Mayor Parker Wiseman says West Brothers Construction has completed almost all the exterior work on the $6 million project. He says as much as 90 percent of work that remains is on the interior. Construction started late last year on the building, which was designed by Briar Jones.
Aldermen to discuss raises for Starkville workers, elected officials
For the second time in two months, Starkville aldermen will discuss setting a minimum $10-per-hour pay raise for city employees and an annual increase for the incoming administration. The city's e-packet shows an agenda item from Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn that ties together the two increases in one motion. How much it would raise elected officials' pay is unknown and not present in the city documents. Tuesday's discussions marks the third time this year the board has considered increasing elected officials' salaries.
Neshoba County Fair political stumping begins this week
The 126th Neshoba County Fair runs through Friday, with traditional stump speaking by local politicians beginning Tuesday and by state politicians on Wednesday and Thursday. The fair began as an agricultural and church-camp meeting. By the late 1890s, cabins began to replace tents and wagons. Today, there are more than 600 cabins, with families gathering every summer for fellowship, food and fun including a midway with concessions and rides, live entertainment, carriage horse races and livestock shows. The fair has provided a political forum for state and national politicians including President Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and John Glenn. This year's political speaking is sure to draw much attention as it comes just days before the Aug. 4 statewide and county primaries. Political columnist Sid Salter, a longtime fairgoer and commentator, recently reported that "the political signs and placards are already nailed or stapled to virtually every flat surface" at the fairgrounds.
State Auditor probe amidst heated race
Both Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering and longtime Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler have been campaigning fiercely in DeSoto County and other points around the state in advance of the hotly contested State Auditor's race, but it's an FBI probe into allegations that Pickering may have misused campaign funds that has both camps exchanging barbs and trading quips. It was similar charges lodged by Pickering against ex-Southaven Mayor Greg Davis that virtually hounded Davis from office two years ago. Pickering said the probe into the vehicle use is politically motivated. In an extended interview with the DeSoto Times-Tribune on Monday, Hawkins-Butler said the people of Mississippi deserve answers from Pickering on the subject.
Google: Emails show Hood, MPAA wanted to smear company
Emails among a Motion Picture Association of America lobbyist and two staff attorneys in Attorney General Jim Hood's office outline a plan to use movie studios' media arms to smear Google, the tech giant said in a court filing. The notice of supplementary evidence submission filed July 23 in federal court in New York is part of Google's effort to force the MPAA to turn over communications that outline its relationship with Hood and other attorneys general. Hood has spent the past couple years investigating Google, claiming the company violates state law, alleging it assists the proliferation of pirated music, that its auto-complete search feature suggests illegal activities and that distributing YouTube ad revenue promotes illegal drug sales.
BP settlement is 'Christmas in July' for Coast cities, counties, schools and attorneys
Federal District Judge Carl Barbier on Monday approved BP's $1 billion settlement with cities, counties and school districts and ordered that all payments be made within 30 days. "It's Christmas in July," said Alan Dedeaux, superintendent of Hancock County School District, which will receive $500,000. Dimming South Mississippi's "Christmas in July" glow from the BP settlement are calls for the gift to be shared throughout the state. Already $400 million is being eyed for a new sewage system for the city of Jackson and for the oil spill settlement to be directed to Mississippi schools. "I'm sure that there will be some spent in other places," said State Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, But he and other Coast legislatures are fighting against that. "I'm of the belief that the money really should be spent in the bottom three counties," he said.
Donald Trump's surge is all about less-educated Americans
In the last few weeks, Americans (and the media) have watched in awe as a New York real estate magnate prone to bellicose behavior and hyperbole has become the GOP's leading candidate for the White House. But how did this come to be? A lot of it has to do with education. Trump's support is strongest with Republicans in the Midwest, conservatives across the country who do not have a college degree and (perhaps not surprisingly) those who report the most negative views of immigration and Mexican immigrants in particular, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week. Trump has certainly distinguished himself as the candidate willing to express outrage and horror about the nation's immigration challenges.
Wired to fail
In September 2011, as the U.S. economy continued to sputter in the shadow of the Great Recession, Jonathan Adelstein offered a bold promise on behalf of a tiny federal agency that had long strived to improve the lives of rural Americans. The administrator of the little-known Rural Utilities Service had just finished announcing $3.5 billion in aid to expand high-speed Internet access to the hardest-to-reach areas of the country. The awards, part of the federal stimulus passed by Congress two years earlier, had been crucial to President Barack Obama's blueprint for a recovery that would ensure farmers and remote businesses could compete in an increasingly global economy. Four years and four directors later, RUS has failed to deliver on Adelstein's promise. A POLITICO investigation has found that roughly half of the nearly 300 projects that RUS approved as part of the 2009 Recovery Act have not yet drawn down the full amounts they were awarded.
Boy Scouts End Ban on Gay Leaders, Over Protests by Mormon Church
The Boy Scouts of America on Monday ended its ban on openly gay adult leaders. But the new policy allows church-sponsored units to choose local unit leaders who share their precepts, even if that means restricting such positions to heterosexual men. Despite this compromise, the Mormon Church said it might leave the organization anyway. Its stance surprised many and raised questions about whether other conservative sponsors, including the Roman Catholic Church, might follow suit. The top Boy Scouts leaders, including Robert M. Gates, the current president and a former defense secretary who pushed for the new policy, did not immediately respond to the Mormon declaration. In previous statements, Mr. Gates expressed the hope that with the exemption for religious groups, the Boy Scouts might avoid a devastating splintering.
Volkswagen surpasses Toyota as world's largest automaker in first half of 2015
Volkswagen surpassed Toyota as the world's largest automaker in the first half of 2015, fulfilling a long-held goal, but the achievement came at a cost. Volkswagen sold 5.04 million vehicles in the first six months of the year, edging Toyota's 5.02 million despite quality slips in the U.S. General Motors, once the world's biggest automaker by a long shot, is now firmly entrenched in the No. 3 slot. It has not yet released its official first-half stats. The title of world's largest automaker means little from a practical perspective, except for bragging rights. But it does serve as an effective gauge of how global strategies are unfolding. It's not a particularly devastating blow to Toyota, which remains immensely profitable and retains strong global market share.
Rocky Mountain resorts race to defend their businesses against climate change
Not everyone arriving in the Rocky Mountain resort town of Aspen, Colorado, steps from a private jet. Ashley Perl bikes or takes the bus into town from her two-bedroom home in a subsidized neighborhood built for year-round workers. She grew up here, raised by parents who ran a modest cafe and socialized with a local folkie, John Denver. For her, Aspen is home and a place to make a living, not an exclusive escape. Like many longtime residents, Perl wishes things were more like they were in the old days. But the changes that worry her the most are not that the wealthy have crushed the spirit of the place, or that preposterous home prices will make it impossible to raise a family. She worries instead about what even the most affluent Aspenite appears unlikely to avoid: climate change.
Ready to cook? MUW offers classes to community
The Culinary Arts Institute at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus now offers cooking classes that do not require MUW enrollment. Each class is offered individually and does not have to be taken in connection with any others. Five classes offered during the upcoming fall semester include Culinary Basics, Meats and Fish, Basics of Entertaining, Pastries and Desserts, and Chocolate and Candy. All meet twice, on two separate Saturdays, with the exception of Chocolate and Candy, which meets once. Prices range from $100 to $275.
Southern Miss Faculty Member Awarded NIH Grant
Dr. Jennifer Lemacks, assistant professor in the University of Southern Mississippi's Department of Nutrition and Food Systems, has landed a National Institutes of Health grant for research focused on examining community-based solutions for health disparities in underserved populations. The three-year, $439,291 grant will support Lemacks' Church Bridge intervention project. "The proposed project will provide an evidence-based and technology supported, health intervention model for Southern, African American, and rural populations who continue to be disparately burdened by obesity and associated chronic disease such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease," said Lemacks.
Dogs Trained in Prison to Protect Lives
Opelika and Lily, yellow Labrador retrievers, are part of the Canine Performance Sciences Program at Auburn University, which breeds and trains dogs to use their powerful sense of smell to keep people safe. After a year of preparation, Opelika will probably be placed with a government agency or a private security firm to sniff out bombs, narcotics or other threats. For about half of that year, she will live in a state prison, where inmates who have earned the right to work with the program's dogs lavish time and attention on them to hone their detection skills and reinforce basic socialization. A couple of miles from the verdant quadrangles of Auburn's main campus sits the Canine Performance Sciences building. Its otherwise humdrum conference room is crowned with the skin of a 13.5-foot python caught in the Florida Everglades, where Auburn dogs stalked invasive snakes.
U. of Georgia will hire 56 new faculty members over the next year
The University of Georgia will spend $4.4 million to hire 56 new faculty members over the next year "to enhance the learning environment" by reducing class sizes, university officials announced Monday. At the same time, the university will add a total of 319 new course sections in 81 majors by the time classes begin for fall semester 2016, a little more than a year from now --- an average of about six courses per new faculty member. Most of those new classes will have fewer than 20 students, according to the university's announcement. University officials peg the cost of hiring the 56 new faculty members at $4.4 million, an average of about $78,571 per new faculty member. Most of the new positions won't be tenure-track jobs -- 16 vs. 40 non-tenure slots.
Judge dismisses UGA prof's lawsuit against attorney general, university officials
A Fulton County State Court judge has dismissed a University of Georgia professor's lawsuit against former UGA President Michael Adams and the university. In a separate lawsuit, a Fulton County Superior Court judge has refused to reconsider his dismissal of another lawsuit the professor filed against state and university officials. Dezso Benedek alleged in the lawsuits that Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, Adams and others at the university conspired to destroy his reputation and academic career during a 2010 tenure revocation proceeding against the comparative literature professor.
Gun fired on U. of Florida campus after argument; two arrested
Two Gainesville residents are in police custody following an argument that escalated to shots fired outside of an occupied University of Florida dormitory early this morning. A group of people in the Midtown bar area got into an argument around 3 a.m. after the bars had closed, said Maj. Brad Barber of the University Police Department. They walked back to their cars, which were in the Murphree Hall parking lot, where the argument turned into a fight. Clay Allen Shanks, 25, is accused of punching the victim in the jaw before the groups separated, Barber said. As the crowd separated, Barber said, Shanks pulled a .380 Ruger out of his girlfriend's purse, fired the handgun once into the ground, dropped the weapon and ran off.
UF researchers win grant to boost voter participation
Juan Gilbert and his human computing team at the University of Florida have been awarded a $35,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to help improve voter participation. "We are going to release our voting technology, Prime III, as open source," said Gilbert, the Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor & Chair of UF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Department. "This will have a huge impact because states will have an affordable, yet secure, usable, and accessible option to conduct elections." Gilbert's electronic voting system allows citizens, including those with disabilities, to cast ballots by actions such as tapping a touchscreen or speaking into a microphone.
In renewed Obama push for higher-ed accountability, echoes of entrenched politics
Education Secretary Arne Duncan's call on Monday for a greater focus on student outcomes at colleges was an effort to pivot away from discussions that he said are focused too narrowly on the burden of student loan debt -- discussions administration officials feel are crowding out the debate over structural flaws in America's higher education system. The refocusing of attention on accountability, though, again exposed contentious political fault lines that tend to emerge when the federal government tries to use its hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of leverage to reward and punish colleges and states, as Duncan proposed. Some of those politics have complicated previous efforts that the Obama administration touted as important accountability measures.
Pell Grants to Be Restored for Prisoners
The Obama administration plans to restore federal funding for prison inmates to take college courses, a potentially controversial move that comes amid a broader push to overhaul the criminal justice system. The plan, set to be unveiled Friday by the secretary of education and the attorney general, would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students. The grants cover up to $5,775 a year in tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. Prisoners received $34 million in Pell grants in 1993, according to figures the Department of Education provided to Congress at the time. But a year later, Congress prohibited state and federal prison inmates from getting Pell grants as part of broad anticrime legislation.
Black Students Are Among the Least-Prepared for College, Report Says
African-American students' college readiness is lagging compared with that of other underrepresented students, according to a new report released on Monday by ACT and the United Negro College Fund. Sixty-two percent of African-American students who graduated from high school in 2014 and took the ACT met none of the organization's four benchmarks that measure college readiness, which was twice the rate for all students. "To help African-American students, we need to improve the quality of education they are receiving," said Jim Larimore, ACT's chief officer for the advancement of underserved learners, in a news release announcing the report.
New NEH funding program hopes to bring more humanities research to general public
For academics, the information in books designed for general consumption can be too basic. On the other hand, academic books aren't exactly appealing to the general public. A new grant program at the National Endowment for the Humanities hopes to bridge that gap. The first recipients of the Public Scholars program are being announced today, in an attempt to present more research in the humanities to the general public. Professors who do serious scholarship are receiving grants to help them on book projects intended for more than just academics. Mark Silver, a senior program officer in the NEH's research division, said the program received 485 applicants and accepted 36 proposals for funding, with an acceptance rate of roughly 7 percent, on par with many of the NEH's other funding programs.

Safe at home? Host team seems to have edge in Egg Bowl
Ole Miss players say their humbling Peach Bowl loss to TCU, capping the 2014 season, won't soon be forgotten. Neither will their convincing win over rival Mississippi State to close the regular season in their preceding game. The Rebels' 31-17 win was the fourth-straight victory for the home team in the series. Since 2003 the visiting team has won just twice and on both occasions was clearly having the better season. "Over the last several years it's been that way. I do think (playing at home) helps," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. When the rivals meet Nov. 28 at Davis-Wade Stadium, Mullen will try to capitalize on location. "It will be important for us this year to protect that home field advantage because that game means so much to the people of Mississippi," he said.
Mississippi State announces non-conference basketball schedule
Mississippi State announced the non-conference portion of its men's basketball schedule on Monday. The Bulldogs open up the 2015-16 season against Eastern Washington, who made the NCAA Tournament last year. MSU's non-conference slate features 12 games, including six at home.
Mississippi State men's basketball unveils non-SEC slate
The Ben Howland era at Mississippi State officially gets underway on Nov. 13 when Eastern Washington visits Humphrey Coliseum for the 2015-16 men's basketball season opener. The Bulldogs' non-conference slate features 12 games, including six at home. They will also play times at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic, two on the road at Missouri-Kansas City (Dec. 12) and Florida State (Dec. 16), and a Dec. 23 date in Jackson against Northern Colorado. "I'm excited about our schedule," Howland said in a statement. "Looking at the schedule, I think it will be rigorous and good for us in preparation for the SEC."
Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody arrested for DUI
Ole Miss senior guard Stefan Moody was arrested and charged early Saturday morning for first-offense DUI. An Ole Miss spokesperson said the school is aware of Moody's arrest, but is still gathering information at this time. Moody, 21, was stopped by the Oxford Police Department near campus at 1:17 a.m. on Saturday for failure to yield, according to an arrest report obtained by The Clarion-Ledger.
Rupp Arena to get $15M in technology upgrades, including LED scoreboard, wi-fi
The Lexington Center Corp. board voted unanimously Monday to approve a $15 million Rupp Arena technology overhaul that includes a new center-hung scoreboard, wireless Internet for fans, and changes to the roof infrastructure so the arena can attract more concerts and major events. The $15 million in upgrades are in addition to $800,000 that Learfield Communications --- which has the contract for advertising for Lexington Center Corp. --- has given the center to install ribbon boards around the second tier of the Rupp Arena bowl. The ribbon boards will be installed by Oct. 2, before the University of Kentucky men's basketball season starts, said Bill Owen, president and CEO of Lexington Center Corp. With ribbon boards, Learfield can sell more advertising. The more advertising it sells, the more money Rupp Arena receives, said Keith Burdette of Learfield.
Sports-Medicine Staffs Report Pressure to Clear Concussed Athletes Prematurely
More than half of the 900 respondents to a 2013 survey of NCAA athletic trainers and team physicians said they had felt pressure to return concussed players to action before the athletes were medically ready. Sixty-four percent of responding clinicians said that the athletes had sought premature clearance to play, while nearly 54 percent of the surveyed medical-staff members had felt pressure from coaches, according to the study, published in the Journal of Athletic Training. Athletic trainers and physicians experienced greater pressure from coaches when their jobs were under the purview of the athletic department rather than an independent medical institution.

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