Monday, September 15, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State student's nonprofit inspired by officer's death
A charity that provides medical kits to help prevent injured police officers from bleeding to death began with a high-school English project that was sparked by a northwest Louisiana policeman's fatal shooting. Mississippi State University sophomore Kellie Abbott's nonprofit organization, Blue Forever, has given law enforcement agencies in north Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania hundreds of kits designed to stop hemorrhaging when officers or others are injured. It's important for police to have such kits because they're often the first people to arrive at scenes where minutes make the difference between life and death, said Jerome Hauer, commissioner of New York State's Department of Homeland Security.
 
A conversation with Mississippi State's Bob Brzuszek
Bob Brzuszek is a native of suburban Detroit whose love for plants began with an undergraduate degree in horticulture from Michigan State University. Today, he is an extension professor in the landscape architecture program at Mississippi State University in Starkville, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ecology, planting design and landscape management. His book, "The Crosby Arboretum: A Sustainable Regional Landscape," was released by LSU Press in April. Brzuszek will sign copies at Lemuria Books in Jackson at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
 
New MSU-Meridian Kinesiology Program Underway
MSU-Meridian has started its new kinesiology program. An $11 million grant from the Riley Foundation made this new program possible. MSU-Meridian says this further strengthens its relationship with the city and the community. There are already 12 students enrolled in the program without any sort of advertising. "Our particular program focuses on clinical exercise physiology," Dr. Ben Wax explains.
 
Euripedes' ancient play still holds true
With no other lighting than the sun, Shackouls Honors College students will recreate a classic Greek tragedy the way it was originally performed -- outside. The Mississippi State University Shackouls Honors College presents "Medea," the Greek tragedy by Euripides, Sept. 24-25 at 5:30 p.m. on the Griffis Hall patio in Zacharias Village on campus. Admission is free. The presentation is offered as part of the Mississippi State University Lyceum Series season. The production, which runs about an hour, will follow a short production of "Jason and the Argonauts," a farce. All students involved in the production of the ancient Greek play are members of the Shackouls Honors College.
 
Five scariest things in the Mississippi woods
While Mississippi has a beauty all its own and abundant wildlife to enjoy, a recent, non-scientific poll on The Clarion-Ledger Outdoors Facebook page indicated there are several things out there that folks would rather not run into, including wild hogs. Like most other wildlife, a hog's typical reaction to human contact is to run away. But if it feels threatened or cornered, the outcome could become quite different. "Any large mammal like that, when it feels threatened, it's going to make a run at you," Bronson Strickland, Mississippi State University Extension wildlife specialist, said. "They are going to try to eat you alive if they're cornered."
 
Record yield expected for Mississippi corn
Farmers in Mississippi may have a record year for corn. Mississippi State University analysts say ample rains helped bring the yield for dryland corn close that for irrigated land, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting record yield of 180 bushels per acre. Extension Service agricultural economist Brian Williams says that's four bushels higher than last year and two bushels above last month's estimate. Extension Service corn specialist Erick Larson says that with prices down, lower production costs are a bonus.
 
Mississippi State hosts 9/11 survivor, guide dog on Thursday
Michael Hingson will soon visit Mississippi State University to explain how the human-animal bond saved his life during the terrorist attacks in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. Hingson and his guide dog, Roselle, were among those working in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Through trust and teamwork, Hingson and Roselle escaped from the 78th floor of Tower One moments before it collapsed. The MSU College of Veterinary Medicine will host Hingson and his guide dog as part of the Nestle-Purina Human-Animal Bond series. Hingson will speak at 12 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the Wise Center's auditorium on MSU's main campus in Starkville. The event is free and open to the entire community.
 
Starkville 5K spreads awareness of ovarian cancer
The eighth annual Kimberly C. Gee 5K was Saturday morning on Mississippi State University's campus in Starkville. The event also included a one mile fun run for children. The race is held in honor of Kim Gee, a former Mississippi State student and nurse at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. Gee passed away in 2006 from ovarian cancer at the age of 37.
 
Murray among pageant top 10; Miss New York wins
Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray was among the top 10 contestants who advanced after the swimsuit and evening gown competitions in the Miss America pageant on Sunday night. Miss New York Kira Kanzatsev won the title. Murray, 22, of Columbus, performed Christina Aguilera's version of "Something's Got a Hold on Me" as part of the talent competition. In Brookhaven, the Mississippi School of the Arts, of which Murray is a graduate, had a watch party in their Student Life Center cafeteria on Sunday. Meanwhile, Mississippi State University, where Murray is a communication major, held a watch party at the Union's Dawghouse.
 
Plus-one insurance policy again up for discussion
Fresh off the heels of a closed-door session last week on Starkville's new plus-one insurance policy, aldermen again will take up the matter during their 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting. Tuesday's agenda shows the matter listed at the end of board business, and the city's e-packet, updated late Friday with the item, includes an affidavit explicitly for couples in domestic partnership -- whether the partnership is comprised of a heterosexual couple that wishes not to marry or a same-sex couple whose formal marriage is not recognized by the state -- to sign for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi health insurance coverage.
 
Overall county millage rate increasing .91 mills for school needs
Oktibbeha County supervisors on Monday are expected to approve an overall 111.88-mill governmental and school ad valorem tax rate, which is almost a mill increase from the current levy. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. at the county courthouse. While overall governmental needs reflect a flat tax request compared to the current fiscal year, Oktibbeha County School District's 55-mill school maintenance levy, up .91 mills from Fiscal Year 2013-2014 levels, will slightly increase the overall rate. OCSD previously approved its increase this summer, and those funds will help renovate two of its campuses in preparation for 2015's state-mandated consolidation with Starkville School District.
 
Poverty education class comes to Starkville
The Starkville non-profit organization Bridges out of Poverty is hosting a day long training session Tuesday. The "One-Day Community Training Class" will seek to inform the middle- and upper-class Golden Triangle residents about the realities behind local poverty. Bridges out of Poverty has a unique view of poverty and how to go about combating it locally. The organization teaches classes to those in poverty in which they refer to those taking the class as "investigators." The idea is that those in poverty are the real poverty experts, said Bridges president John Breazeale. The goal of Tuesday's class is to help share what Bridges has learned about poverty with members of the middle class.
 
Browning named Dispatch managing editor
William Browning has been named managing editor of The Commercial Dispatch. Browning has served as interim managing editor since August and previously as news editor. He joined the staff of The Dispatch in July 2013. The managing editor oversees the newsroom and is responsible for guiding news and sports coverage. Browning will continue to write his Thursday business column and other occasional stories. Browning, 34, is a Greenwood native and 2007 University of Mississippi graduate.
 
GodwinGroup former CEO Danny Mitchell dies
Danny Mitchell, 66, passed away following a heart attack he suffered at his home early Sunday morning. Philip Shirley, the current chairman and CEO of GodwinGroup confirmed this with MSNewsNow on Sunday. Shirley said Mitchell was at his Brandon home when he suffered the heart attack. Mitchell's career with the GodwinGroup spans several decades. He joined the advertising agency in 1983. Mitchell also served as public relations and communications officer for the Jackson Municipal Separate School District. "He was a very strong advocate of public education. It was very important to him," Shirley said. GodwinGroup has offices in downtown Jackson and in Gulfport.
 
Income tax collections drive Mississippi revenue
Mississippi is one of 10 states most reliant on sales taxes as a share of revenue, according to a new Standard & Poor's report that says that such states may be particularly susceptible to an ever-widening income gap dragging down state tax revenues. Analysts with the credit rating agency believe rising inequality is also stunting overall economic growth. State revenue growth in Mississippi has slowed markedly since 2000, the S&P report found, dropping from 7.22 percent annually in the state's boom decade of the 1990s to about 3.5 percent a year since. While state revenue rose 20 percent from the 2010 budget year through the end of the 2013 budget year, much of that was driven by individual and corporate income tax collections, according to the Mississippi Department of Revenue. Sales tax collections have grown more slowly.
 
Hood prepares state defense in Musgrove lawsuit
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says his office is preparing to defend the state against a school funding lawsuit filed by former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a fellow Democrat. As the state's official attorney, part of the job of the attorney general is to defend the state when it is sued. Some had questioned how Hood would feel about defending the state in the Musgrove lawsuit, since like the former governor, the attorney general has been an outspoken advocate for more education funding for local school districts. While he offered few details because of the pending litigation, Hood recently said one area of defense is the fact that he does not believe what one legislature does can bind succeeding legislatures.
 
Bryant voices distrust on Obama administration's refugee program
Gov. Phil Bryant's distrust of President Barack Obama is flaring again. The Republican is once more citing something he fears Washington will do in his decision for Mississippi to stop accepting new entrants to the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program. That program brings refugees younger than 21 to the United States legally and resettles them, providing safe haven for children who might otherwise be marooned in refugee camps. Mississippi has long participated in the program. But Bryant says he believes Obama will take children who have been apprehended crossing the border illegally and try to cram them into the smaller refugee program, resettling some in Mississippi against Bryant's will.
 
3Qs: Andy Gipson, House Judiciary B chairman
Legislation passed during the 2014 session will make major changes to the state's driving under the influence laws, beginning Oct. 1. Under the new law, a person convicted of a DUI charge can continue to drive, but the person will have to have an ignition interlock device installed on all a cars the person might operate. The driver will have to blow into the device, and if the person registers a blood alcohol content of above .02, the vehicle will not start. House Judiciary B Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, answers three questions from Daily Journal capitol reporter Bobby Harrison.
 
Primary types vary across U.S.
The method of electing political party nominees to advance to the November general election varies across the nation. Information compiled by the office of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann for an election study committee he has formed to make a recommendation to the 2015 Legislature reveals that 17 states mandate that a person be registered with a political party to vote in a party primary election. Sixteen states, including Mississippi, have open primaries where any voter can participate in the party primary. "I have looked at all of these," Hosemann said recently. "It is just all over the board."
 
Would a GOP Senate be king of the world?
If the Republicans win the Senate in November, the first thing they'll say is: Finally, we can pass all of our bills and force President Barack Obama to deal with them. The second thing they'll say is: Oh, wait a second. This is the Senate. That tension -- between their desire to bring Obama to his knees and their ability to actually do it -- is the political reality that will determine the Republicans' legislative strategy if they win the Senate majority. No one should underestimate the significance if the GOP captures the Senate in November -- and while by no means a certainty, it is a very real possibility. "It gives us an opportunity to examine everything," said Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who survived a tea party challenge earlier this year and would likely be Appropriations Committee chairman under a Republican majority.
 
Obama push to hire veterans into federal jobs spurs resentment
President Obama's push to hire military veterans for jobs across the government is fueling resentment in federal offices, as longtime civil servants and former troops on the other side of the cubicle increasingly question each other's competence and qualifications. With veterans moving to the head of the hiring queue in the biggest numbers in a generation, there's growing bitterness on both sides, according to dozens of interviews with federal employees. Those who did not serve in the military bristle at times at the preferential hiring of veterans and accuse them of a blind deference to authority. The veterans chafe at what they say is a condescending view of their skills and experience and accuse many non-veterans of lacking a work ethic and sense of mission.
 
International Support Grows for U.S.-led Campaign Against Islamic State
International support for the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State gathered strength with the U.K. vowing to destroy the group after it killed a British aid worker, Arab states agreeing to participate in airstrikes and Australia pledging forces. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday his country will do whatever is needed to combat the threat posed by the extremist group operating in Iraq and Syria, reacting to a video released on Saturday that showed the beheading of Briton David Haines. Leading Middle East countries are prepared to join the U.S. in conducting airstrikes on militant targets in Iraq and Syria, according to senior U.S. and Arab officials.
 
Southern states create a new face of AIDS
Southern states now have the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses, the largest percentage of people living with the disease, and the most people dying from it, according to Rainey Campbell, executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition, a nonprofit group serving the 16 Southern states and Washington, D.C. Fifty percent of all new HIV cases are in the South. States in the South have the least expansive Medicaid programs and the strictest eligibility requirements to qualify for assistance, which prevents people living with HIV/AIDS from getting care, according to a Southern AIDS Coalition report. Poverty runs deep throughout the South. But it's not just money, or the lack of it, that accounts for the disproportionate number of people living with, and dying from, HIV/AIDS in the Deep South. The escalating HIV rates are the result of a combination of social factors, including poverty, racism, persistent anti-gay attitudes, increasing homelessness and a lack of transportation in rural areas.
 
Pre-diabetes, diabetes rates fuel national health crisis
Americans are getting fatter, and older. These converging trends are putting the USA on the path to an alarming health crisis: Nearly half of adults have either pre-diabetes or diabetes, raising their risk of heart attacks, blindness, amputations and cancer. Federal health statistics show that 12.3% of Americans 20 and older have diabetes, either diagnosed or undiagnosed. Another 37% have pre-diabetes, a condition marked by higher-than-normal blood sugar. "It's bad everywhere," says Philip Kern, director of the Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center at the University of Kentucky. "You almost have the perfect storm of an aging population and a population growing more obese, plus fewer reasons to move and be active, and fast food becoming more prevalent."
 
Higher ed enrollment dips in Mississippi
Preliminary enrollment numbers for Mississippi's higher education systems -- both universities and community colleges -- revealed fewer students are seeking degrees this year, a negative factor in systems that have become increasingly reliant on tuition fees in order to stay above the red line. Student enrollment at the state's community colleges took a dip this fall, reversing a trend over the last few years that saw the state's system grow in attendance. Meanwhile, enrollment at the state's public universities grew slightly.
 
Digging through time: Ole Miss students get hands dirty in Rome
In May and June, a team of classics students from the University of Mississippi spent five weeks in Rome on the front lines of archaeology. "Rome is a very, very old city," said Andersen Marx, a 22-year-old from Buckhead, Ga. "You're walking in ancient footsteps. You even see grooves in the cobblestone roads where chariots would've gone." He noticed those grooves during his time off. Most of his stay in Italy was spent in class, and the class was an excavation site under the sun. The Ole Miss contingent joined people from around the world to explore 2.5 millennia of human history. They dug through time and got their hands dirty.
 
Ole Miss prof, researcher honored for product
Ole Miss professor Charles Hussey has won an Oscar, of sorts. An aluminum plating process developed in the professor's laboratory at the University of Mississippi is one of the most technologically significant products of 2014, according to R&D Magazine. The Portable Aluminum Deposition System, or PADS, is a winner in the publication's 52nd annual R&D 100 Awards -- considered to be the "Oscar" for inventors. The work in Hussey's lab is part of a larger project and carried out in collaboration with Sheng Dai and other scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the United Technologies Research Center.
 
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to present series on USM, higher ed
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) will host a series of programs this fall focusing on the impact the University of Southern Mississippi has on higher education in the state and nation, as well as its contributions to the area's quality of life. Other topics will address general issues associated with higher education. Starting Friday, the presentations, to be given by Southern Miss administrators, will be held from noon-1 p.m. at the institute, located in the Peck House at 3601 Pearl St. just west of the university's Hattiesburg campus. Admission is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch.
 
USM's Eaglepalooza features Icona Pop
The University of Southern Mississippi Student Government Association has announced what artist will be playing at Eaglepalooza. Eaglepalooza will be held on Oct.25 on Main Street in downtown Hattiesburg. The concert has been around for eleven years and the student government association board decided to choose a different genre for this year's performance. Icona Pop will be this year's performer. The Swedish DJ duo is famous for their hit single "I Love it."
 
Delta State's enrollment increases
Mississippi's Institutions of Higher Learning released enrollment figures that indicated an increase of 91 students from the 2013 academic year for Delta State University. There were 3,523 students enrolled in 2013 and the 2014 numbers are 3,614 showing a 2.6 percent increase. Wayne Blansett, Delta State's vice president of student affairs, said, "This means we are making progress in the right direction. More students are living on campus and there is an excitement on campus. More students are more involved in campus activities and things are very positive." According to Blansett, efforts will continue to increase enrollment by recruiting freshmen and putting an added emphasis on recruiting transfer students from community colleges and international students.
 
Rust College hires public relations director
Tommiea Phinee Jackson is the new director of public relations at Rust College in Holly Springs. A native of Marks, Jackson is a former manager of public relations at Jackson State University. She has a master's degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi and a bachelor's in English/journalism from Rust College.
 
Pearl River Community College renewing ROTC program
A new military science program at Pearl River Community College will give students a headstart on a possible career as well as financial benefits. PRCC and the Mississippi Army National Guard are partnering in the Magnolia Gold program to establish an ROTC program at PRCC. Courses will begin in the spring and will be housed in the office portion of Shivers Gym, said Adam Breerwood, vice president for the Poplarville campus and Hancock Center. "We have a very large number of veterans who are here with us now," Breerwood said. "We think we'll have a strong military presence on campus, both current and former."
 
Auburn University journalism department honors Alabama journalists
Auburn University's Journalism Advisory Council celebrated the 10th anniversary of its annual Journalism Awards Luncheon Friday by honoring the event's founder, Auburn alumnus Roy Bain, who died in December. "Roy almost single-handedly nurtured this into a success story," said council chairman Carol Pappas. Bain graduated from Auburn in 1959 and went on to publish the St. Petersburg Times, one of the nation's most renowned newspapers, for nearly two decades. After his tenure at the Times, Bain became deeply involved in the university's Journalism Department and helped found the awards, which recognize the success of Alabama community and rural journalists. University President Jay Gogue, Ph.D., presented Bain's wife, Billie, with a special award in his memory.
 
Lawsuit prompts LSU to plan more oversight of fundraising arms
LSU will publicly release the findings of its probe into a sex scandal at the LSU Alumni Association, and the university's governing board could take action at its meeting next month to provide more oversight of the school's fundraising arms. Longtime Alumni Association leader Charlie Roberts retired from the association last month after a former Alumni Association employee filed a lawsuit claiming that the two had entered into a monetary arrangement so that she would keep their sexual relationship a secret. LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander alluded to the scandal and Roberts' resignation during an LSU Board of Supervisors meeting Friday and said that -- coming off of a record fundraising year -- the university wants to assure its alumni that it's looking into how its outside fundraising groups are run and how their money is spent.
 
Students say U. of Florida campus feels safer with addition of Walk Safe
University of Florida students appreciate the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol when the service performs flawlessly. However, variables such as safety precautions, two completely separate ways of receiving requests for rides and impatient students lead to lengthy wait times. In turn, lengthy wait times lead to frustrated students who would rather risk a night walk alone than stand on a street corner for half an hour. SNAP is a free service dedicated to UF students that provides point-to-point transportation. It saw a sharp spike in popularity following reports of three women who were attacked around campus over a nine-day period.
 
Accused killer goes to trial in death of popular U. of South Carolina professor
The long-awaited trial of Hank Hawes, charged in the brutal 2011 killing of a popular University of South Carolina professor, is set to begin Oct. 6 at the Richland County courthouse. Hawes, 40, has been held without bond in Richland County's Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center since shortly after Jennifer Lee Wilson was found stabbed to death. Wilson's killing is regarded as emblematic of an epidemic of violence against women that pushes South Carolina to the top in deaths by domestic violence. Her death defied stereotypes that domestic violence only affects people in low-income communities. Wilson, 36, was beloved by colleagues and students. After six years at USC, she was a Fulbright scholar and had just been awarded tenure.
 
Texas A&M lab practices under investigation after death of pig
Texas A&M University was cited twice by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for infractions regarding the Animal Welfare Act in July, and now a national animal watchdog organization has filed a complaint against the university, saying negligence by a research lab led to the unnecessary death of a pig. Officials from the USDA, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, will now determine whether the university will be investigated for noncompliance, a spokesperson said by email Friday. During a routine inspection by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in July, Texas A&M was cited for using an unapproved amount of a chemotherapeutic drug on a pig. According to the federal report dated July 31,"this animal subsequently died and it is not definitely known if the unapproved amount of drug administered was related to the death."
 
In Florida Student Assaults, an Added Burden on Accusers
An examination of other cases from recent years shows a pattern to the handling of sexual assault complaints by Florida State students: After an accuser makes a police report and submits to a medical rape exam, the police ask if she wants them to investigate, and if she does not explicitly agree, they drop the case, often calling her uncooperative. The pattern emerges from interviews with prosecutors and victims' advocates, and a review of case files obtained by The New York Times from both the Tallahassee police and the university police, under the state's Freedom of Information Law. The records provide a look at police practices not just locally, but also nationally.
 
NSF data find very low unemployment rates for science, engineering, health Ph.D.s
The 2013 unemployment rate for those with research doctoral degrees in science, engineering and health fields was 2.1 percent, one-third of the rate for the general population aged 25 or older, according to an analysis released by the National Science Foundation on Friday. Ph.D.s in these fields -- who have many career options in and out of higher education -- historically have high employment levels. In 2001, the unemployment rate was only 1.3 percent. But the 2013 rate of 2.1 percent represents a meaningful drop from the 2.4 percent figure that the NSF found in 2010, at the height of the economic downturn that started in 2008.
 
4 Key Questions Experts Are Asking About Obama's College-Ratings Plan
President Obama's proposed federal college-ratings system is set to be released in time for the 2015 academic year, but if the comments from administrators and researchers at a hearing on Friday are anything to go by, the plan appears to be far from complete. The ratings system will examine colleges based on measures of access for low-income and first-generation students, on affordability, and on student outcomes. It remains controversial because the ratings could eventually be tied to colleges' access to federal aid. At the public-comment hearing -- held by the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which will release a report to Congress on the ratings system at the end of the month -- participants repeatedly raised a number of concerns about the plan.
 
As state student aid spending plateaus, need-based grants get a boost
States last year doled out roughly the same amount of student aid money in 2012-13 as they did the previous year, but they increased the share of money flowing to students based on financial need, according to a new survey published Monday. The annual survey, conducted by the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, found that although the top-line number of state aid -- $11.28 billion -- actually declined just slightly from the previous year when adjusting for inflation, states collectively boosted their investment in need-based grant aid. States increased their spending on need-based grant aid by 3.5 percent in the 2012-13 academic year, while non-need-based grant aid declined by 2.1 percent.
 
Soft power: Confucius says
"Harmony is the most valuable of all things," said the Chinese philosopher Confucius two and a half millennia ago. There is little of it in evidence in the frosty relationship between the woman who was the founding director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Oregon, Bryna Goodman, and her fellow historian, Glenn May. Their offices are separated by a ten-second walk, but the scholars do not exchange visits. Their palpable ill feeling reflects growing discord among Western scholars about a decade-old push by China to open government-funded cultural centres in schools and universities abroad. Intended to boost China's "soft power", the centres take the name of the peace-espousing sage. They tap into growing global demand for Chinese-language teaching. But they are also fuelling anxiety about academic freedom.
 
LLOYD GRAY (OPINION): Cristil and the reality of radio
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Lloyd Gray writes: "Much has been written about Jack Cristil this past week, every bit of it deserved. Cristil was an enduring institution whose popularity never waned over an astounding 58 years devoted to Mississippi State athletics. But here's a thought, heretical though it may be: Had his career started in 2013 instead of 1953, he probably wouldn't have had nearly as much staying power. He was too straightforward, too unadorned, not flashy enough. He just called it as he saw it, and let you know in plain yet descriptive language what was happening. He didn't build a 'personal brand.' He didn't assert himself to command attention on social media. Yet people loved listening to him, and not only Mississippi State folks. People who weren't necessarily Bulldog fans would tune in to admire the excellence of a superior craftsman."
 
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): Who might run for what and why in 2015
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Keep your wallet in your front pocket and look out for politicians -- state election season is nigh. Golf tournaments and $1,000-a-plate dinners at Bravos abound. War chests are being filled. Trial balloons are being floated as 2015 draws near. I've asked numerous politicos, party folk and potential or probable candidates over the last couple of weeks what buzz they've heard or created. Below are the results of this poll, which probably has the same margin of error as a Ouija board."
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): Nunnelee looks capable of continuing service
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "One bright spot during the visitation and funeral of Mississippi State University radio broadcaster Jack Cristil was the opportunity to see and talk with my old college classmate and friend, U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo. Nunnelee, the Republican former state legislator who is seeking his third term in Congress, has traveled a hard road since our last visit back in March... After hearing of Alan's health struggles, I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw him at Jack's funeral. I was greatly impressed with how well he's doing. Alan's intellect, his humility and his self-deprecating sense of humor remain intact."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State's Prescott displays his all-purpose ability
As the final seconds rolled off the clock, Dak Prescott walked off the sidelines and onto the field. The quarterback migrated toward midfield for the postgame handshakes with 25 seconds remaining until Mississippi State's 35-3 win over South Alabama became official. Official or not, his teammates followed him. The postgame sportsmanship cemented MSU's third win of the season in which Prescott developed a rhythm from taking every offensive snap until the fourth quarter. This week, his teammates will follow him on the road again for the Southeastern Conference opener against LSU, and the stakes will be raised. "We're going from preseason to SEC ball. Everything has to improve," Prescott said. "I have to be a better leader out there and just make sure we're going from the first snap to the last snap."
 
Quick thinking leads to Dak's big day for Mississippi State
For the second time in his career, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott rushed, threw and caught a touchdown pass in the same game. Prescott started his big scoring day with a 15-yard touchdown to Malcolm Johnson in the first quarter then caught a 24-yards pass from Jameon Lewis on a double pass in the second. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior capped off the Bulldogs scoring on the day with a 40-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. "The one thing I noticed Dak did a good job of today was improvising outside of the offense," said MSU coach Dan Mullen.
 
Mississippi State moves to 3-0 with rout of South Alabama
Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott saw a sliver of daylight, and that was all he needed. Capping Mississippi State's fifth scoring drive midway through the third quarter in Saturday afternoon's road game at South Alabama, Prescott sprinted 40 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the year and put the finishing touches on another sterling individual performance and a 35-3 win for the Bulldogs. "I saw a little room to run and I hit the hole," said Prescott. "Once I got through, there was nobody there. It was a good feeling." It was that kind of day for Prescott, who posted 364 total yards and scored a touchdown passing, rushing and receiving for the second time in his career.
 
Mississippi State explodes past Jaguars
Mississippi State exploded for three touchdowns in a five-minute span during the second quarter Saturday afternoon, and the Bulldogs pulled away for a 35-3 victory over South Alabama at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The victory pushed the Bulldogs to 3-0 as they anticipate their SEC opener at LSU. "We did all the things you need to do to win a game on the road," MSU coach Dan Mullen said.
 
Tigers pose first test for Bulldogs
The Mississippi State football team hasn't been challenged three weeks into the season. The Bulldogs opened the campaign with easy victories against Southern Mississippi and Alabama-Birmingham, and the story was no different Saturday, when MSU finished its early season non-conference stretch with a 35-3 victory against Sun Belt Conference member South Alabama. As soon as the clock hit zero in Ladd-Peebles Stadium, MSU's best already were looking forward to the team's Southeastern Conference opener against LSU at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
 
Mississippi State hopes to cut back on penalties against LSU
Mississippi State answered its two biggest questions heading into Ladd-Peebles Stadium to face South Alabama. Coach Dan Mullen calmed concerns surrounding the quarterback rotation by playing Dak Prescott in every snap. The defense silenced critics by not allowing a touchdown for the second time this season. But another concern popped up in its 35-3 win against the Jaguars on Saturday. "Penalties, huge amount of penalties at key moments of the game," Mullen said. "That's a tough environment (to play in), then we get silly stupid penalties, that's even worse." The sixth-year coach thinks a week of practice can cure the penalty problem heading into No. 8 LSU.
 
LSU scouting report: Mississippi State
Many thought this would be the year State, which hasn't defeated LSU since the 20th century (1999), gets the Tigers. State, which is hitting on all cylinders on offense, must believe it has a shot after reaching 3-0 for only the second time since it last beat LSU. Behind Dak Prescott, a triple-threat quarterback who threw for a touchdown, ran for a score and caught one Saturday in a 35-3 blowout of South Alabama, the Bulldogs average 43.7 points and 526.7 total yards. If there is a weakness, it has to be a passing game that has just 53 completions in three games.
 
LSU defense taking shutout streak into SEC play against Mississippi State
LSU cornerback Tre'davious White sees evidence that the Tigers' defense can maintain its recent suffocating form when it opens Southeastern Conference play this Saturday. The eighth-ranked Tigers haven't allowed a point for nearly 10 quarters, posting consecutive shutouts for the first time in nearly three decades. The next test comes against Mississippi State, led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who scored touchdowns rushing, passing and even receiving in a 35-3 rout of South Alabama on Saturday. Prescott accounted for a total of 364 yards of offense in the game.
 
Ferrara, Jainudeen lead Bulldogs to 2-1 win against Louisiana Tech
Goals from Shannen Jainudeen and Morgan Ferrara proved the difference as the Mississippi State soccer team wrapped the pre-SEC slate with a 2-1 win against Louisiana Tech Sunday afternoon at the MSU Soccer Field. Jainudeen netted her team-leading fifth goal of the season in the sixth minute, while Ferrara added the winner, her second goal of the year, in the 57th minute. State handed Louisiana Tech its first loss of the season, while the Bulldogs improved to 3-4 heading into Friday's home SEC opener against Ole Miss.
 
Mississippi State volleyball wins twice in Maroon Classic
For many athletes, it takes months or even years to break records. For Mississippi State's Payton Harris, it only took 11 matches. Saturday night at the final contest of the 2014 Maroon Classic, Harris led the Bulldogs to a five-set victory with 59 digs, breaking a Southeastern Conference record for digs in a match and completing a final-day sweep for MSU. The Bulldogs (4-7) downed Nicholls State (3-6) in three sets to start off the day. MSU capped its tournament with a thrilling five-set victory against Northwestern State (3-6) in front of a raucous crowd at Newell-Grissom. "A great day for us getting two wins and I am especially proud of Payton (Harris) for her play tonight," Bulldog coach Jenny Hazelwood said.
 
Tupelo, MSU alum proposes to girlfriend in Saban's office
Drew Clayton found the perfect place to propose to his girlfriend: Nick Saban's office. Clayton, a Tupelo High School and Mississippi State University graduate, hid in the bathroom of Alabama's football coach before popping the question to Kayla Posey. A story by Alex McDaniel of AL.com details Clayton's creative proposal.
 
NFL's return to Congress
The NFL, after the worst week in its history, plans a variety of steps to try to tamp down rising criticism from Capitol Hill. The league soon will begin announcing the hiring of outside advisers and counselors on domestic violence, similar to the talent surge on player health-and-safety issues, including concussions. The NFL also plans to beef up its in-house staff for compliance and training, and will add domestic-violence awareness to its education programs at the high school and college levels. The league has been interviewing for a new head of its Washington office, and one leading candidate is Cynthia Hogan, a former counsel to Vice President Joe Biden who was his key Senate aide behind the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, signed 20 years ago this weekend.



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