Wednesday, February 26, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Bonds approved for universities' buildings, other projects
The full House of Representatives and a Senate committee approved Tuesday borrowing for capital improvements at Mississippi's institutions of higher learning and other projects. The House cleared $92.4 million in bonds. The legislation allocates money to all eight Mississippi public universities. The largest single expenditure is $30.5 million for the new school of medicine at University of Mississippi Medical Center. The House version authorizes bonds for general repair and maintenance of facilities on most of the campuses. At Mississippi State and Mississippi University for Women, the bonds will fund renovations and expansions to each school's library.
 
Mississippi State holds university birthday celebration
Mississippi State University will celebrate the university's 136th anniversary on Friday. The celebration will last from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bull Ring near Colvard Student Union and is open to the public for free. Cake, ice cream and drinks will be served while supplies last. The celebration will be given by the university's alumni association.
 
MSU Offers Alternative Route for Teachers
Mississippi State offers three online alternate routes to teacher certification for prospective Magnolia State teachers who already hold bachelor's degrees. The university's College of Education features the programs, which include a master's in teaching-middle level education, or MAT-M, and a master's in teaching-secondary level education, or MAT-S. Both require 36 credit hours of coursework via 12 classes. The third option involves the completion of 15 credit hours -- or, three classes -- to earn the Teach Mississippi Institute, or TMI, certification in special education. "Our primary recruiting tool is word of mouth," said Dekota Cheatham, the college's outreach coordinator.
 
With farm bill done, major issues remain for ag
With the farm bill a done deal except for implementation, other issues remain on the Capitol Hill stove -- some getting Congressional attention, says John Anderson, others relegated to the back burners. Anderson, deputy senior economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, spoke at the annual Mississippi State University Producer Advisory Council meeting for north Mississippi farmers. Overhanging all these issues, Anderson says, are this year's mid-term elections. "Many, or all, of these issues may get subsumed by the back-and-forth arguing that goes on relative to the elections. Everything that happens this year in Congress is going to be against the backdrop of these elections, and that will dictate a lot of what gets done or doesn't get done."
 
MSU makes top three in cybersecurity education ranking
According to a Hewlett Packard-sponsored survey by the Ponemon Institute, Mississippi State University's cybersecurity courses and degree programs rank among the top three for academic excellence and practical relevance. Dave Dampier, MSU professor of computer science and engineering, said, "Our computer science and engineering department benefits greatly from the cybersecurity program by attracting quality students from all over the country. We are especially proud of the increase in the percentage of women participants that we have seen in recent years."
 
College cybersecurity program at Mississippi State ranks 3rd in country
The Mississippi State University cybersecurity program and courses helped the university gain national recognition in a survey released by the Ponemon Institute on Monday. According to the survey, the college ranked among the top three universities for academic excellence and practical relevance in its cybersecurity degree programs. MSU officials say the university was in part recognized for its Center for Computer Security Research, National Forensics Training Center and Critical Infrastructure Protection Center, which provide real-world and hypothetical studies of the latest issues facing cybersecurity professionals. Officials said the undergraduate and graduate programs provide hands-on learning on a range of cybersecurity skills, including reverse engineering of software such as viruses, Trojan horses and other types of malware.
 
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Underway
Maintaining your weight is essential to a healthy life style but there are some who take extreme measures to control their weight, even putting their lives at risk. Eating Disorder Awareness is being recognized across the nation this week. The most diagnosed eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. Kim Kavalsky is the coordinator of Mental Health Outreach at Mississippi State. She says though all eating disorders are unhealthy, anorexia is the most deadly because people are starving themselves.
 
Pascagoula hires Scruggs as city planner
Donovan Scruggs has been hired as Pascagoula's new city planner. Scruggs has more than 15 years of experience in town planning and development, and has worked as a planner for other cities, including Ocean Springs, Hattiesburg and Meridian. He attended Mississippi State University where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in history and a master of public policy and administration degree.
 
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, 66, dies
Shock and grief enveloped the city of Jackson on Tuesday as friends and coworkers of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba dealt with the death of a man they described as a passionate leader who had positioned the city on "the verge of greatness." Friends and city leaders said they were taken aback at the mayor's death, even though he had recently been ill. Lumumba experienced chest pains before arriving at St. Dominic Hospital, said Ward 1 City Councilman Quinton Whitwell. "There were all kinds of complications going on, but ultimately, it was heart failure," Whitwell said of Lumumba, 66.
 
State's politicians question Hagel's proposal; Mississippi military takes wait-and-see approach
The reaction of Mississippians to Defense Secretary's Chuck Hagel's preview of the president's fiscal-year 2015 defense budget plan has been pretty uniform. Mississippi Republicans have come out against the changes, and representatives for various Mississippi military installations have said their commands are taking a wait-and-see approach. Area military installations are waiting to see what changes actually happens. Lt. Col. (Ret.) Tim Powell, Mississippi National Guard director of public affairs, said it would be premature to comment on the proposals, which include a 5 percent cut in the Reserve and Guard forces. Similarly, Keesler public affairs officer Jerry Taranto said the base's officials are keeping tabs on what's going on in Washington.
 
Embezzlement bill passes committee, moves to full House
Legislation to prohibit government agencies hiring or continuing employment of someone convicted of stealing public money moved closer to law Tuesday when a House committee passed the Senate bill. The House Judiciary A Committee passed SB2547. It now goes to the full House for consideration. The Senate bill tweaks legislation approved last year to crack down on corrupt government officials. The legislation last year came after articles in The Clarion-Ledger, looking at numerous cases, showed public officials tend to get off easy when they're caught with their hands in the till.
 
House rejects K-12 funding increase
The House Republican leadership defeated efforts Tuesday to increase funding for public education. The House voted 66-53 to send the $2.1 billion budget for kindergarten through 12th grade education to the Senate at least $265 million short of full funding under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula. The bill is for the school year that starts July 1. Education funding advocates had expressed optimism that there would be enough Republican members breaking ranks with the leadership to pass an amendment to increase funding.
 
Parents, advocates push for special-needs vouchers
Supporters of a school voucher for special-needs children rallied Tuesday at the state Capitol, where two bills await legislative action. "This is about the children, and they need to be educated appropriately," said Ken Bartosek of Clinton, one of several parents of special-needs students who spoke at a morning press conference urging passage of the bills. Parents and advocates also testified before a joint committee hearing on the legislation that afternoon. Some lawmakers openly supported the proposal while others questioned its potential to improve the educational outcome of children with special needs.
 
Senate candidate visits: McDaniel talks to local Tea Party
Second term state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, is campaigning to influence Mississippi's Tea Party to vote for him in his bid to defeat U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the June 3 Republican primary. The party met Monday at State Bank in downtown Brookhaven to hear from McDaniel. He said that "our country is in trouble financially and spiritually, but the great delusion of our time is that the government can solve your problems. We do not need big government running our lives."
 
Big Data Comes to the Farm, Sowing Mistrust
Big agricultural companies say the next revolution on the farm will come from feeding data gathered by tractors and other machinery into computers that tell farmers how to increase their output of crops like corn and soybeans. Monsanto Co., DuPont Co. and other companies are racing to roll out "prescriptive planting" technology to farmers across the U.S. who know from years of experience that tiny adjustments in planting depth or the distance between crop rows can make a big difference in revenue at harvest time. Some farmers are leery about the new technology. They worry their data might be sold to commodities traders, wind up in the hands of rival farmers or give more leverage to giant seed companies that are among the most enthusiastic sellers of data-driven planting advice. The companies vow not to misuse the information.
 
Exclusive: New thesis on how Stuxnet infiltrated Iran nuclear facility
One enduring mystery about Stuxnet, the first cyberweapon the world has known, is this: Just how did that "digital missile" infiltrate Iran's secret Natanz nuclear fuel-enrichment facility in the first place? A new thesis about that, to be outlined Tuesday at a security conference in San Francisco, points to a vulnerability in the Iranian facility's supply chain -- and may hold lessons for owners of critical infrastructure in the U.S. concerning how to guard their own industrial equipment against cyberattack. Presented by Critical Intelligence, a cyber security firm based in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the tale of cyber infiltration comes nearly four years after the covert operation was discovered.
 
Extreme-right groups declining, but 'leaner and meaner,' watchdog says
The number of far-right militias, extremist patriot groups and hate organizations in the U.S. dropped last year for the first time since 1999, but the organizations are becoming "leaner and meaner," the Southern Poverty Law Center reported Tuesday. The center attributed the drop to, among other factors, an improving economy and a gridlocked Congress that made little progress on flash point issues like gun control and immigration. The absorption of some radical-right ideas into mainstream legislative proposals also helped cut down on the number of far-right groups operating in the U.S. "The radical right is growing leaner and meaner," Mark Potok, senior fellow at the center, said in a statement. "The numbers are down somewhat, but the potential for violence remains high."
 
Offshore wind farms can tame hurricanes, study finds
Billions of dollars in U.S. damage from mega-storms Katrina and Sandy might have been avoided with a perhaps surprising device: wind turbines. That's the finding of a ground-breaking study today that says mammoth offshore wind farms can tame hurricanes rather than be destroyed by them. It says a phalanx of tens of thousands of turbines can lower a hurricane's wind speed up to 92 mph and reduce its storm surge up to 79%. Unlike sea walls, which protect cities from storm surges, wind farms pay for themselves by generating pollution-free electricity, says lead author Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University. "The additional hurricane (protection) benefit is free." "This is a pretty neat idea, but it's expensive and borderline feasible," says Stephen Rose, an expert on wind energy at Carnegie Mellon University.
 
USM lecture to feature state energy leader
Patrick Sullivan, president of Mississippi Energy Institute, will speak Friday at the University of Southern Mississippi as part of the 2014 lecture series titled Economic Development and Entrepreneurship in Mississippi's Energy Sector. Sullivan will discuss trends on the horizon for Mississippi's oil and gas industries. His section will be particularly insightful for those interested in energy-related economic development and policy. The lecture will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Thad Cochran Center/R.C. Cook University Union Room B on the USM Hattiesburg Campus.
 
Students, faculty rally for increased community college funding
Community and junior colleges students, faculty and others came to the state Capitol on Tuesday to urge more funding for the schools. The state's community and junior colleges serve about 250,000 students annually, including about 64 percent of all freshmen college students. State Rep. Nolan Mettetal, R-Sardis, who spoke at the news conference, said he supports mid-level funding for community and junior colleges. Sen. John Polk, R- Hattiesburg, said he also is supporter of the colleges. "We appreciate what you do," Polk told the crowd.
 
U. of Alabama symposium to focus on diversity issues
The fifth Discerning Diverse Voices Symposium March 4-5 at the University of Alabama will feature an award-winning author on LGBT issues, two sessions on radio in the civil rights era and student presentations on diversity issues. The symposium opens at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday with a presentation about the work of Paul "Tall Paul" White of WENN radio by Bob Friedman, director of Birmingham's Black Radio Museum Project, in Phifer Hall, Room 222.
 
32 Apply for U. of Arkansas Lobbyist Position
More than 30 people have applied for a position as a lobbyist for the University of Arkansas, a job designed to influence policy to benefit the school's flagship campus in Fayetteville. Many of the 32 people who applied are associated with government, including former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who resigned on Feb. 1 after being fined $11,000 for ethics violations. The job carries the title of vice chancellor for governmental relations and the person hired will be tasked with working to "inform and influence public policy at the county, state and federal levels on issues of interest to higher education and the university." The position is coming open with the retirement of Richard Hudson, who announced in November he would leave as of June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Records show Hudson's salary is $202,000.
 
LSU mulls annexation into city of Baton Rouge
An LSU official said Tuesday that the university is entertaining conversations about annexing parts of its campus into the city of Baton Rouge, amid the looming possibility of the new city of St. George forming in East Baton Rouge Parish. The main campus of LSU is in Baton Rouge, but Ben Hur Farm and Innovation Park are inside the proposed boundaries of St. George. Interest in LSU’s southern properties fuels speculation the city-parish is trying to annex a pathway to L’Auberge Casino -- one of the three main economic generators for the new city, along with the Mall of Louisiana and Perkins Rowe. LSU System President F. King Alexander first became aware of the issue that LSU’s campus could be split across two cities during a meeting with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and other constituents to discuss a variety of issues, according to Jason Droddy, LSU’s interim vice president of communications.
 
NSA's spying program questioned during UGA forum discussion
The National Security Agency appears to be systematically invading Americans' privacy with a massive digital spying program, but who will care and what should be done about it was the focus of a forum at the University of Georgia Tuesday evening. Americans have certain privacy rights written in the U.S. Constitution, but those protections were written long before email and cyberspace existed, UGA law professor Christina Mulligan said during the forum. Kang Li, a UGA computer science professor and an expert in data security, reinforced a point Mulligan made -- another thing different in today's world is it's easy to gather people's information. Often it's voluntarily shared, such as personal information provided when signing up to play Angry Birds.
 
UGA researchers develop sustainable way to manufacture important drug precursors
Researchers at the University of Georgia have found a new way to manufacture an important molecule used in the pharmaceutical industry to create anticoagulants, a class of drug commonly prescribed to treat or prevent abnormal blood clots that can lead to heart attack, stroke and deep vein thrombosis. The molecule 4 hydroxycoumarin, or 4HC, is currently produced through chemical synthesis using petroleum-based products, which can create harmful residues and, due to the rapid depletion of natural resources, may not suffice as a long-term manufacturing technique. "This biological process we have developed uses no petroleum and it produces no harmful byproducts," said Yuheng Lin, lead author of the paper describing the process in Nature Communications and doctoral candidate in the UGA College of Engineering.
 
Faculty weigh in on dean search, candidates at U. of Florida
This isn't University of Florida law professor Michael Wolf's first rodeo -- if by rodeo you mean the complicated process of vetting a new dean for a college of law. But it's the first time in his 30-plus years in legal academia that he couldn't recall a chance for faculty to privately discuss their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates being put forward. Wolf said that lack of communication made it difficult to form an opinion, even though he said he favored University of Kentucky College of Law Dean David Brennen, in part because the two worked together at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
 
Chancellor Loftin focuses on making U. of Missouri a model land-grant university
When Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin talks about the University of Missouri's future, he is leaning on almost 40 years in higher education. He uses the word "vision" often. He can see in his mind a grander MU years, even decades, down the road -- MU as a model land-grant university in the Association of American Universities. "I think MU's to be commended for saying pretty honestly to its faculty and its supporters, 'Here's where we are and here's where we want to be,'" Loftin said in an interview last week. "That, to me, is a very exciting thing to have, and a pretty clear goal in mind here. It helps you to energize everyone involved to move towards that goal."
 
University power plant embraces new technologies to help meet Missouri's energy needs
At the University of Missouri Power Plant, change is the norm. Every morning, the cost of purchasing renewable energy from other states changes. The amount of energy the university needs to purchase changes, too, based on on-site energy production outlooks for the day. Output from the solar panels and wind turbine on campus also changes regularly. Amid all of these changes, MU Campus Facilities administrators say they hope to continue on a path to make the university more energy-efficient, and they have spent about $70.8 million on getting three major renewable energy generation projects up and running.
 
Missouri College of Education suspends admissions to undergraduate art education program
The University of Missouri College of Education announced this week it will suspend admissions to its undergraduate art education program effective this fall. Current MU sophomores, juniors and seniors will be able to complete the program by May 2016 if they have been accepted into the program and continue to meet or exceed minimum graduation requirements, according to a news release from the College of Education. The art education program has had the smallest number of graduates in all of the college's undergraduate areas throughout the past five years, according to the news release.
 
Provosts, business leaders disagree on graduates' career readiness
If provosts could grade themselves on how well they're preparing students for success in the work force, they'd give themselves an A+. They did, sort of, in Inside Higher Ed's 2014 survey of chief academic officers. Ninety-six percent said they were doing a good job -- but they may have been grading on a curve. In a new survey by Gallup measuring how business leaders and the American public view the state and value of higher education, just 14 percent of Americans -- and only 11 percent of business leaders -- strongly agreed that graduates have the necessary skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace. "It's such a shocking gap, it's just hard to even say what's going on here," Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, said in an interview before the survey's release Tuesday.
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): Hurricane Katrina and the Tea Party: Introductions are indeed in order
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Seems uncertainty reared its head in Mississippi's Republican U.S. Senate primary this week. But the depth and degree of uncertainty -- if one wants to call it that -- between the two candidates really defines the race and points up the choices facing Mississippi voters. ...While Cochran was passing perhaps the most important piece of federal legislation in Mississippi's history in 2005, the Mississippi Tea Party had yet to be founded -- so Cochran couldn't ask them if they approved of the help he led the federal government to provide Gulf Coast residents. The questions confronting Mississippi voters is whether they want a senator who knows destruction and devastation when he sees it and actually has both the power and the influence to bring unprecedented aid and help with all deliberate speed -- and most importantly, does he have the willingness to do so?"


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State offense breaks out
At Starkville, Mississippi State returned to the form Tuesday that helped it land in the College World Series finals last year. The Bulldogs excelled in all three facets of the game in a drubbing of Mount Saint Mary's. MSU's offense exploded for seven runs in the fourth inning to break the game open. Mississippi State (5-4) held a 2-1 lead prior to the offensive onslaught. On the mound, Ben Bracewell continued to be Mississippi State's best option. The senior threw seven innings and allowed one run on six hits. He struck out eight, setting a new career-high for the second straight start.
 
Bulldogs break out
No. 18 Mississippi State got back into the win column in a big way Tuesday, downing Mount St. Mary's 13-1. The Diamond Dogs (5-4) used a seven-run fifth inning to help snap a two-game losing streak. MSU had six consecutive two-out RBI singles in the big inning at the plate. John Cohen's club had with 13 hits, led by Jake Vickerson's 2 for 2 effort – two singles and an RBI. The two teams meet again at 4 p.m. this afternoon, weather permitting.
 
Mississippi State's Ray goes with different rotation vs. Arkansas
Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Ray said there's no need to explain to sophomore guard Fred Thomas why he didn't play Saturday in a 73-69 loss to Arkansas. Based on Arkansas' style of play and the constant evaluation of his program, Ray wanted to experiment with a new lineup at Humphrey Coliseum. Ray believed MSU (13-14, 3-11 Southeastern Conference) was at its peak in terms of depth, so it was the perfect time to reward walk-on Tevin Moore. "I wanted to give Tevin a look there and see how productive he can be," Ray said. "My thoughts were if Tevin wasn't productive then we'll go with Fred as the next substitution, but I thought Tevin did some nice things." The Arkansas game marked the first time in Thomas' 58-game career he didn't play.
 
Bulldogs fighting to escape SEC standings' cellar
Last year, Mississippi State was able to end a 13-game losing streak and finish the regular season on a high note. The Bulldogs are hoping for similar results this time around with four regular season games remaining. MSU is reeling after nine consecutive losses but want to reverse that trend tonight, taking on Tennessee at 7 p.m. "We've just got to keep on grinding out there," said MSU forward Colin Borchert.
 
Full-Court Press: Mississippi State vs. Tennessee
Mississippi State has lost nine in a row. It hasn't won a game in February since 2012. Yet Tennessee isn't looking past its trip to Starkville today. "There's no such thing as overlooking an opponent. That's a league opponent. That's how you look at it," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. The Volunteers are one of seven teams tied for fourth in the SEC. The top four teams in the league receive a double-bye in the postseason conference tournament. Tennessee is 1-3 in their last four. MSU could play a role in the seeding. It faces Missouri on Saturday, who is also in fourth.



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