Wednesday, February 12, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Wednesday Weather Closings, Delays
Mississippi State University, Starkville campus, will remain closed for campus operations until 5 p.m. on Wednesday. At that time, evening classes will resume along with other campus operations. The MSU-Georgia men's basketball game scheduled for Wednesday night at 8 p.m. will be played. MSU encourages all students, faculty and staff to monitor the media for changing weather information and asks that each person exercise caution and good judgment in making travel decisions.
 
Keenum briefs Rotarians on progress at university
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum visited the Starkville Rotary Club Monday to share an update on the university's goals and accomplishments. The university, Keenum said, continues to excel at its three-tiered mission for learning, service and research. He said the university and its branches and methods of outreach played a crucially-important role throughout Mississippi.
 
Mississippi House passes new road bill honoring Zacharias
The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that, if approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, would honor Donald Zacharias by naming a portion of Hwy. 25 after the long-serving Mississippi State University president. The legislation, HB 615, calls for the portion of the highway that intersects with Old Hwy. 25 to the Oktibbeha County-Winston County line to be renamed the Dr. Donald W. Zacharias Memorial Highway. If adopted, Mississippi Department of Transportation would erect and maintain signage along and approaching the highway leading to Starkville.
 
Berkeley national lab visits MSU, explores research opportunity
A six-member delegation from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Calif., visited Mississippi State University Monday to explore partnership and funding possibilities. The visit was designed to inform MSU researchers about Berkeley's resources, facilities and proposal process and develop a potential project with the personnel. Over 100 MSU researchers met with the delegation.
 
Berkeley Lab reps visit Mississippi State on Monday
Officials from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California visited Mississippi State University Monday to discuss possibilities for collaboration between the two research institutions. MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw said the visit had been in the works for the past two years. He said it was part of MSU's collaboration with U.S. Representative for Mississippi's First District Alan Nunnelee (R-Tupelo) for National Laboratory Day, and so was a fall visit by representatives from Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.
 
S.M.A.R.T. transportation system sees early demand
During the first three days of the 2014 spring semester, buses of the new Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit carried a total of 15,250 riders. S.M.A.R.T. is an expansion of an earlier shuttle system that primarily was focused on the MSU campus. The new service provides campus-to-city service from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, with a couple of routes also operating Saturday. MSU officials said daily ridership continues to increase as the new transportation service works to carry out its mission of more easily linking a growing campus with a growing city.
 
Demolition proposal for Evans Hall awaits approval
The Campus Master Planning and Development Advisory Committee of Mississippi State University awaits approval for the demolition of Evans Hall, expected to begin fall 2014. Bill Broyles, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said this spring's student housing application renewal process will not feature Evans Hall as an option for the fall and spring semesters of 2014-2015.
 
C Spire data center nabs first business customer
Construction of C Spire's data center in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park is still months from completion, but the company announced Tuesday it had already landed the center's first commercial client. Jackson-based Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company has signed an agreement with C Spire to use the data center for business continuity and disaster recovery, according to C Spire Media Relations Manager Dave Miller.
 
Chism, Ellis support Holloway's early transition to conservator
Two Oktibbeha County representatives say they favor the original language of local school consolidation bills that called upon Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway to lead the county school district in July. As originally filed, HB 833 and SB 2813 called for Holloway's early appointment as Oktibbeha County School District conservator and gave him the power to issue notes that would finance school repairs in both districts before state-mandated consolidation occurs in 2015. Two bill substitutes were introduced last week which state the county system shall remain under Mississippi Department of Education control until June 30, 2015, without explicitly calling for a new conservator. Local Reps. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, and Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, both said they support the bills as originally written and Holloway's early appointment.
 
Major Oktibbeha County cocaine ring busted
A major cocaine ring based out of Oktibbeha County has been dismantled, according to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. The investigation, called Operation Queen Bee, focused on a group of Starkville-based cocaine distributors who provided narcotics to the northern half of the state. Five people were arrested and more arrests are expected, according to the MBN. MBN Interim Director Samuel Owens said his agency believes the suspects distributed more than $1 million dollars worth of cocaine throughout the state.
 
Ice biggest concern as potentially 'catastrophic' winter storm makes its way across the South
Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South's business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. The Mid-Atlantic region also was expected to be hit as the storm crawled east.
 
House rejects voter choice on school chiefs
The Mississippi House, which has blocked efforts in recent years to make all school superintendents appointed, defeated a proposal Tuesday to allow people to vote on whether to maintain their elected superintendent. By the vote, a majority of the House -- 66 members -- said they did not want to pass any legislation that could result in reducing the number of elected superintendents in the state while 53 members voted in favor of the legislation. The state currently has a hodgepodge of school district governance, but in general most municipal districts have an appointed school board and superintendent and most county systems have elected superintendents and school boards.
 
House passes plan to pay community college tuition
A plan to pay community college tuition for recent Mississippi high school graduates who are not covered by other financial aid is advancing. Representatives passed House Bill 424 Tuesday by a vote of 115-4. It now goes to the Senate for more debate. The bill would set up a two-year pilot program at all of Mississippi's 15 community colleges. Local governments and private donors are already running such plans in 20 of Mississippi's 82 counties.
 
Autism insurance bill passes House, 120-0
Legislation mandating insurance coverage for autism therapies passed the full House floor in a 120-0 vote on Tuesday, an unprecedented step for a state that has previously rejected such bills despite the skyrocketing rate of autism. "I think everybody over here understands it's a good bill," said its author, state Rep. Steve Massengill, R-Hickory Flat. "We'll see what happens to it over there" in the Senate. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will refer it to one or more committees that will have until March 4 to pass it. If it makes it through committee, it would then head to the full Senate floor for a vote no later than March 12.
 
Bill seeks to address Mississippi teen pregnancy
Mississippi lawmakers could require community colleges and public universities to study ways to prevent unplanned pregnancies among unmarried 18- and 19-year-olds. Senate Bill 2563 passed the Senate 34-11 on Tuesday and eventually will move to the House for more work. It would require the two- and four-year colleges, by this November, to propose pregnancy prevention programs. Information could be provided during student orientation, for example. Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory said that unwanted teen pregnancy is a serious problem, but that the bill doesn't offer a serious solution. He said funding public education and making health care more readily available through Medicaid expansion would be more effective.
 
Mississippi students lag on Advanced Placement exams
Mississippi is not only last among states in its share of high school students scoring well on Advanced Placement exams. It's also falling further behind. A Tuesday report from the College Board, which administers the exams designed to let high school students earn college credit, highlights growth in the number of test-takers nationwide. It also highlights growth in the number of students earning a 3 on the exams' 5-point-scale, the usual threshold for college credit. Nationwide, black students are under-represented among AP exam takers. While Mississippi made progress in reducing the gap between the share of test-takers and overall students, its gap remains about as high as the nation's.
 
Shrimp as Pork Imperils Mississippi Senator in Tea Party Fight
There was a time when it was a good thing for a politician to bring home the bacon, or in the case of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the shrimp. In today's divided Republican Party, it can get you in hot water. That's where Cochran, 76, finds himself as he faces Tea Party-aligned challenger Chris McDaniel, 41, a state senator who has criticized the six-term incumbent's federal spending largess, even as many of the dollars flowed back to Mississippi. The $25 million Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi -- which operates research and education programs and includes shrimp, blue crab and red snapper -- is the sort of beneficiary of federal dollars called into question in a Republican primary that will help show how the party defines itself going forward.
 
House passes clean debt ceiling bill
Democrats, again, saved John Boehner. After a frantic few days, the House voted 221-201 to lift the debt ceiling until March 2015, removing the threat of a default until well after the November midterm election. The bill was supported by 193 Democrats and just 28 Republicans. It's a reversal for Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio), who, in 2011, said that when Congress raises the debt limit, it should also enact budget cuts of equal or greater magnitude. It's also a clear sign of the House Republican Conference's inability to move beyond fiscal fights and lays in plain view the leadership's inability -- or unwillingness -- to corral votes for their priorities.
 
'Soft lobbying' war between sugar, corn syrup shows new tactics in Washington influence
A group called Citizens for Health recently launched a campaign to encourage consumers to reduce high-fructose corn syrup in their diet -- filing a petition with the Food and Drug Administration demanding stricter labeling on food items containing the sweetener. Yet the petition did not disclose that the organization, which bills itself as the "voice of the natural-health consumer," has received the bulk of its funding in the year it launched the effort from sugar companies, which see corn syrup as a threat to their profits. No longer content to rely on traditional lobbyists, companies are investing in other messengers such as nonprofit groups or academicians who can provide expert testimony, shape media coverage and change public opinion in ways that ultimately affect decisions in the nation's capital.
 
Winter weather hits Oxford
Ole Miss students received a temporary relief from classes Tuesday after an early morning snowfall. The Oxford area saw an estimated total snow fall of about .5 inches over the course of the morning. University officials decided to delay opening until noon Tuesday due to road conditions.
 
Renowned Maya archaeologist to speak at Millsaps College
Renowned Maya archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer's Francisco Estrada-Belli will discuss his recent discoveries in Guatemala, including "astounding" giant Maya carvings, in a lecture Wednesday at Millsaps College. The program, 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room 215 of the Academic Complex, is free and open to the public. Estrada-Belli discovered a huge and ancient Maya stucco frieze -- about 26 by 7 feet -- in summer 2013, in the buried Maya city of Holmul while he and his team excavated a tunnel left by looters. The well-preserved, intricately carved frieze was discovered in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid.
 
Look to future, Collins says at JCJC
Maj. Gen. Augustus Collins took a page out of classical mythology Tuesday to convey the significance of Black History Month. To move forward, said the adjutant general of Mississippi, we need to be a little like that strange two-headed god Janus, who had one face to the future and the other looking to the past. "To be successful and to flourish in this country, we have to understand the things that have gone on," Collins told students at the Jones County Junior College Fine Arts Auditorium. "And then use them and make plans for the future in order to be successful." JCJC's Office of Student Affairs hosted the event.
 
Civil rights icon speaks at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
More than 50 years ago, James Meredith -- flanked by thousands of troops and law enforcement officials -- made his way through violent mobs and deadly riots to become the first black man to enroll at a Mississippi university. Tuesday, the 80-year-old man stood before a crowd at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and told them that his work with public education isn't finished just yet. Meredith, who enrolled at the University of Mississippi in October 1962, spoke to students, faculty, staff and visitors in the Fine Arts auditorium on the Jackson County Campus of MGCCC Tuesday morning for a Black History Month event.
 
Stay indoors, U. of Georgia warns students
The University of Georgia's Office of Emergency Preparedness sent out advice to students Tuesday in advance of Wednesday's expected dangerous ice storm, which could bring widespread power outages. First of all, stay indoors, UGA officials advised. Many of UGA's young students have never experienced anything like this expected storm, said UGA spokesman Tom Jackson. UGA officials have an emergency generator stationed near Bolton Hall, so the dining hall will be able to continue serving meals in case the power goes down, he said.
 
LSU names veterinary dean
Dr. Joel Baines has been appointed dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at LSU. LSU stated in a news release that Baines will start work Sept. 1. He has been an associate dean for research and graduate education and the James Law Professor of Virology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. He received a bachelor's degree in microbiology from Kansas State University in 1979 and a veterinarian medicine doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983. He then went on and received a doctorate from Cornell in 1988, studying the molecular virology of feline coronaviruses.
 
Condoleezza Rice to Speak at U. of Arkansas on March 5
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will speak at the University of Arkansas on March 5 as part of the school's Distinguished Lecture Series. Rice will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 5 at Barnhill Arena. The lecture is free and open to the public. The Razorback men's basketball team will play in nearby Bud Walton Arena the same night, so the doors to Barnhill will open at 5:30 for those who want to arrive early. "We are very excited to have Dr. Rice speaking on campus," said Tyler Priest, co-chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series committee.
 
Texas A&M junior to test his skill on 'Jeopardy! College Championship'
Texas A&M junior Tucker Pope has spent the last few years delving into three major subjects: business, medicine and Jeopardy! Pope, 20, has been on a quest to earn a coveted spot in the annual Jeopardy! College Championship since he graduated high school. It took him two years and a mixture of objective and introspective study to find the right combination to make it to the TV studio in Los Angeles. This Thursday, the results of his dogged determination will be broadcast nationwide in a quarterfinal episode of the Jeopardy! College Championship.
 
U. of Missouri celebrates 175th birthday milestone
People started cheering Tuesday as Gary Link walked to the podium in the University of Missouri Student Center to kick off the university's 175th birthday celebration. But it wasn't enough for Link, who is the special assistant to the athletics director. "Come on, Mizzou, you've got to do better than that. This is a birthday party," he said into the microphone. "One hundred and seventy-five years young, and you've never looked better than you do now." A hefty, white cake shaped like Jesse Hall and flanked by the MU Columns, was eaten down to crumbs. Mizzou Forte sang "Old Missouri" a cappella. Mini Mizzou played "Every True Son" and "Fight, Tiger." The Golden Girls, in gold sequins and white go-go boots, danced and chanted, encouraging the crowd to join them. All the hoopla was put on by MU's University Affairs to celebrate the university's founding in 1839.
 
'Real World' creator's gift will establish U. of Missouri documentary journalism program
University of Missouri School of Journalism leaders announced a large gift Tuesday afternoon that will start a new documentary journalism program on campus. The $6.7 million donation comes from Jon Murray, chairman of Bunim/Murray Productions and 1977 MU journalism alumnus, and will establish the Jon Murray Center for Documentary Journalism. Murray helped co-create MTV's "The Real World" and "Road Rules," and has played a part in many other reality television shows including "Keeping up with the Kardashians" and "Project Runway." Murray said he and journalism administrators began aggressively working on this a year ago, collaborating on the idea first and then coming up with how much it would cost to make it happen afterward.
 
Earnings Disparity Grows Between Young Workers With and Without Degrees
The median annual earnings of today's young workers are similar to what earlier generations made at the same age. But underneath those figures, the disparity between young workers with and without bachelor's degrees has grown. That's one main finding in a report released on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. The report, "The Rising Cost of Not Going to College," uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau along with a new survey to capture the employment outcomes of young workers over the generations. The report compares today's young workers, the millennials, to Generation X, early and late baby boomers, and the so-called Silent Generation. It uses census data from 2013 for the millennials and looks at only those ages 25 to 32, to eliminate younger millennials who would probably still be in college.
 
Donors gave $34 billion to colleges in 2013
Donors gave about $34 billion to North American colleges in 2013, according to an annual survey by the Council for Aid to Education. That's more than $3 billion more than the year before, and the most ever raised in a single year -- topping the $31.6 billion from pre-recession 2008. The 9 percent increase in overall donations coincided with an upswing in financial markets that encouraged the giving and increased the value of gifts that came in the form of stocks. The same bull markets also fueled higher investment returns for endowment funds, according to another recent survey.
 
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): Mississippi's lawsuit ecosystem
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "The Institute for Legal reform, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently released a report on 'areas of litigation abuse of most concern to the business community.' The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players 'dissects the trends of the litigious culture that sustains big ticket litigation, the players that drive it, and how those players try to manipulate or change the law to their favor.' The report contends these lawsuits usually bring the most benefit to the plaintiff lawyers while defending against these actions drains businesses of economic expansion and job creation resources. Mississippians understand the troubles of lawsuit abuse. Before tort reform measures were enacted here, our state was used by trial lawyers across the country as a harvest field for large verdicts."
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): As UAW push continues, all eyes are on VW in Chattanooga
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Over in Chattanooga, Tennessee, there are billboards reading: 'Detroit. Brought to you by the UAW.' There's a reason for that. The full court press by the United Auto Workers to unionize a foreign-owned auto manufacturing plant in the South continues -- and all eyes are on Chattanooga, Tenn., and the Volkswagen plant there. ...To survive, the UAW must abandon the ruins of old Detroit and infiltrate the foreign-owned automakers in "Detroit South." That's why the UAW has targeted Nissan in Canton and why the VW vote in Chattanooga is drawing international attention. ...But the fact of the matter is the UAW can't win the argument in Mississippi based on economics. The average wage at Nissan is $23.22 an hour or $48,297 per year. And that's in a state with a median household income of a lowest-in-the-nation $37,095."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State remains home for SEC contest with Georgia
Georgia men's basketball coach Mark Fox says he doesn't like to and won't play much zone defense. Mississippi State coach Rick Ray isn't buying that story. In his coaching tenure at Nevada and Georgia, Fox's defensive style has been defined by the man-to-man technique with long, athletic defenders. This strategy would certainly be accepted by the home team in Humphrey Coliseum when MSU (13-10, 3-7 in Southeastern Conference) hosts Georgia for a 8 p.m. tip.
 
Winter storm adds travel drama for Georgia team
Georgia is following through with its travel plans to Starkville, Miss., for Wednesday night's game at Mississippi State, but only after some last-minute changes caused by the winter storm covering much of the South. On Tuesday morning, Georgia officials announced plans for the team to travel by bus when it appeared a flight would not be possible due to the predictions for snow and ice in Atlanta and Mississippi. According to Georgia spokesman Tim Hix, about 20 minutes into the bus ride Delta gave the go-ahead for the flight from Atlanta to Columbus, Miss. The bus then headed to the Atlanta airport instead of Interstate 20. Georgia coach Mark Fox said Tuesday he was determined to make it to Starkville, even "if we have to hitchhike."
 
Now healthy, Bracewell ready to contribute to Mississippi State baseball team
In front of at least 100 fathers and sons at a fall baseball camp, Ben Bracewell found himself making a promise to Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson. In a joking way, Bracewell committed himself to pitch 100 innings in the 2014 season, a feat he hasn't come close to in his five-year MSU career on the mound. "It's become a running joke around the locker room that here I am standing in front of hundreds of father and sons saying I'm going to do this," Bracewell said. "That's a lot of innings for anybody but we'll have a really good season if I can just make every start I'm supposed to." The 6-foot right-hander is hoping to be a Saturday innings eater in the starting rotation for the 2014 Bulldogs club heading into his final year of eligibility.



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