Tuesday, January 24, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Universities 'struggling' with state cuts
Three leaders of higher education in Mississippi warned legislators that continued declines in state funding could cause serious damage to public universities. Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University, and William LaForge, president of Delta State University, joined Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, at the Senate appropriations subcommittee meeting Monday. "Faculty retention is the biggest challenge at MSU," Keenum said. Keenum named Auburn University and the University of Alabama, rivals in athletics, as also competing to win over MSU faculty with their higher salary offers.
District, state graduation rates continue to climb
Recent data shows the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District's graduation rate as 87.5 percent, which is higher than the rate for the entire state of Mississippi. Starkville High School Principal Sean McDonnall said graduation rates for the district have remained high due to efforts to increase interventions for at-risk students, and better tracking of students that drop out or move on to other schools. Due to the tracking the district's rate will not be detracted by students who complete a high school equivalency program or graduate from an out-of-state high school. "We've been going up pretty consistently for a while," McDonnall said.
Attorney Johnny Moore launches Starkville mayoral bid
Three Democrats have now qualified for Starkville's mayoral race after local attorney Johnny Moore filed his qualification paperwork at City Hall Monday. A three-way Democratic Primary between Moore, Sitel human resources recruiter Damion Poe and former Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill will be held May 2, and the winner of that race could become mayor since no Republicans or independents have qualified for the race. If a candidate fails to get more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held May 16. If a Republican or independent candidate emerges, the General Election will be held on June 6. Candidates have until 5 p.m. March 3 to qualify for the municipal election.
Funding debate drives contentious Oktibbeha County supervisors meeting
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors meeting ended contentiously Monday night, with District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery vehemently opposing the board's vote to divide road bond funds based on road miles, as opposed to property assessment value. The Board voted 3-2, with Montgomery and District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard voting against. "Any scenario that gives District 1 less than 20 percent is ridiculous, going by the assessment value," Montgomery said. "The assessed value of District 1 is the same as Districts 2 and 5 combined... We used to go by the assessed value years ago. That's 26 percent." Dividing the $10 million in available funds by road miles would give 19 percent to District 1, while dividing by assessment value would give 26 percent to District 1. District 1 has an assessment value of $99,871,694, with 102.38 road miles. In an interview following the meeting, Board President and District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said he felt the board dividing money that wasn't yet in the county's hands was a contributing factor to the tense discussion.
MAEP good formula, Mississippi House minority leader David Baria says
Democratic Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis, the House minority leader, pointed out Monday that not too long ago nearly every politician in the state supported the full funding of the school funding formula many are now trying to rewrite. "You will recall that (former) Gov. Barbour, Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Reeves and Speaker Gunn have all said at one time or another that MAEP (the Mississippi Adequate Education Program) should be fully funded," Baria said during a Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government/capitol press corps luncheon. "It has only recently become outdated and too complicated." House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves hired New Jersey-based EdBuild to make recommendations on revamping the MAEP. They have said they hope to accomplish the rewrite this session. Gov. Phil Bryant has endorsed the effort.
Mississippi House minority leader says relations improved
Partisan tensions in the Mississippi House have eased a bit this year, the leader of the Democratic minority said Monday. Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis told a luncheon sponsored by the Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol press corps that he and Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn have been holding regular meetings. Baria says Democrats want to cooperate with Republicans when they can to improve education, economic growth and the state's roads and bridges. Baria said he recognizes Democrats will have trouble enacting much of their agenda, but says he's been encouraged by interest in a bill that he authored calling for equal pay for men and women providing the same work. He says Democrats want to see the state provide universal preschool and two tuition-free years of community college.
Local legislator Gary Chism pushes to abolish Mississippi Transportation Commission
A bill has been filed by a local legislator that could bring sweeping changes to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, namely abolishing the elected Mississippi Transportation Commission. State Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, is sponsoring a bill that he says will take the politics out of transportation issues, while providing more legislative oversight. Chism told the SDN on Monday that Mississippi is the only state that elects a transportation commission, but he wants it abolished and power to appoint the executive director of MDOT transferred to the governor's office. MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath said in a statement to the SDN that the commission is the voice of the citizens that elected them to represent their interests in transportation needs for their communities.
Legislative bills highlight specific issues
As the 2017 legislative session moves on, local lawmakers are hoping to draw support on bills for a range of issues, from stricter DUI enforcement to criminal justice reform. Local legislators have filed dozens of bills, and while it's highly unlikely that one like District 37 Rep. Gary Chism's (R-Columbus) House Bill 713 will pass, it is hoped that it will draw legislators' attention to a particular issue. HB 713, known as the "Scarlet Letter Driving Under the Influence Act," would require motorists convicted of a second-offense DUI to have a yellow and red license plate that marks them as a repeat offender for one year. House Concurrent Resolution 11, filed by District 41 Rep. Kabir Karriem (D-Columbus), aims to automatically restore suffrage to people convicted of non-violent crimes five years after the completion of their sentence. District 38 Rep. Tyrone Ellis (D-Starkville) filed a similar piece of legislation.
Bills would ease early voting and online voter registration
Proposals to expand access to early voting and to create online registration for first-time voters are advancing at the Mississippi Capitol. So is a plan that could eventually simplify the process of restoring voting rights for people who served time for nonviolent felonies. All three bills passed the House Elections Committee on Monday and move to the full House for more debate. House Bill 228 would allow no-excuses in-person early voting, starting 14 days before an election. Current law only lets people vote early if they will be out of town Election Day. House Bill 373 would authorize online, first-time voter registration for people with a valid Mississippi driver's license. House Bill 1054 would create a group to study restoration of voting rights for people convicted of nonviolent felonies such as forgery or receiving stolen property.
House panel approves early voting, online registration
The House Elections Committee on Monday unanimously passed measures to allow early voting, online voter registration and to create a study committee to come up with clearer rules for restoration of voting rights for convicts. The full House last year overwhelmingly passed similar early voting and online registration measures that died in the Senate. Restoration of voting rights for convicts has been a source of debate in the Legislature for decades -- based on what many call antiquated law -- and is now done on a case-by-case basis, requiring the full Legislature to pass individual suffrage bills. In the past, all three issues were heatedly partisan, with most Republicans opposed to such reform. On Monday, all three bills passed were authored by Republicans and passed by a Republican-led committee.
Fate of dog, cat cruelty bills grim
Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, was hopeful the third time would be the charm for a bill proposing to do something that is common practice in most other states: make aggravated abuse of dogs and cats a first-time felony offense. But recent decisions by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves to double-refer this year's animal cruelty bills do not bode well for passage. Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, and Rep. Carolyn Crawford, R-Pass Christian, also filed animal cruelty bills specific to domesticated dogs and cats. Currently, conviction of abuse of cats and dogs in Mississippi is a misdemeanor.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel blasts 'unhappy liberal women' fueling social media firestorm
A Mississippi state senator has created a firestorm on social media after a post on his Facebook page targeting the Women's March on Washington. Less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump was sworn into office, more than a million people turned out for women's marches all across the country. According the movement's official website, their mission is to protect women's rights, safety, health and families. On Sunday, the day after the march, Senator Chris McDaniel posted to his Facebook page calling out the "unhappy liberal women", asking "if they can afford all those piercings, tattoos, body paintings, signs, and plane tickets, then why do they want us to pay for their birth control?" On Monday, Senator McDaniel posted again to his page in response, saying that "no amount of liberal hell raising will change my opinion. Indeed, as I awake this morning, I have never been more committed to the absolute defunding of Planned Parenthood and the immediate wholesale repeal of Obamacare."
Democratic state AGs move to defend consumer watchdog
Attorneys general from 16 states, including Mississippi, and the District of Columbia are seeking to defend a U.S. consumer watchdog agency in court amid speculation that President Donald Trump may fire its director, Richard Cordray. The attorneys general, all Democrats, said in a court filing Monday they have "a vital interest in defending an independent and effective" Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and are seeking to intervene in a case over whether its structure is constitutional. They said it's urgent for them to intervene because Trump as a candidate expressed opposition to the 2010 law that created the CFPB while tightening regulation of the financial industry. The independent agency has been swept up in partisan politics since its creation to protect consumers from harmful banking and lending practices.
IHL Trustee Karen Cummins has died after battle with cancer
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Trustee Karen Cummins has died after a battle with cancer, officials said Monday. "Karen was an example to all of us in the way she took on her illness, her courage and the way that she continued to work through all the pain that certainly she was suffering," says Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of the board of trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. Cummins was appointed to the state College Board in 2012 by Gov. Phil Bryant. Cummins held a bachelor's degree in education from Delta State University and an associate degree in business from Mississippi Delta Community College. Cummins was born in Indianola and spent her childhood in Inverness, where she lived until graduating from college.
College Board member Karen Cummins dies
A state College Board member has died after a long illness, Gov. Phil Bryant said Monday. Karen Cummins died after a lengthy battle with cancer, Bryant wrote in a social media post. Cummins was named one of the 50 leading business women in the state in 2010 by the Mississippi Business Journal. She served on the board of directors for the DeSoto County Economic Development Council and on the Community Advisory Board for Baptist Memorial Hospital. She is also a March of Dimes Volunteer and is a member of DeSoto County Business Women. She was a manager with Atmos Energy.
Private Colleges, including Mississippi's Blue Mountain, Court Community-College Students
Small, private colleges have found a new place to troll for prospective students: At community colleges down the road, or even across the country. Facing dire financial challenges stemming from a reliance on tuition dollars and a leveling population of new high-school graduates, administrators have begun aggressively courting community-college students to join their campuses for the final two years of a bachelor's degree program. Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Miss., set up shop inside Northeast Mississippi Community College about two years ago to help advise students on which classes they'd need to take for a seamless transfer, what kind of financial aid is available and what their job prospects might be upon graduation. The advising office sits alongside similar ones for the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University.
Miss America speaks at Ole Miss
The weekend-long PULSE Leadership Conference for undergraduate students kicked off at Ole Miss on Friday evening with two special guests in town. The current Miss America, Savvy Shields, and the pageant's executive producer (and Ole Miss alumna) Sam Haskell spoke to the crowd of 155 students with positive, inspirational speeches. Shields, 23, talked about her pageant history, her experience with Miss America and causes she supports. Haskell followed Shields on stage and talked about the qualities of a leader. As someone who used to be a top tier agent for the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles, (where he eventually became the Worldwide Head of Television), Haskell had a lot of knowledge to dispense on the students.
In the 2017 Mississippi legislature: Bills to watch
The University of Mississippi could be penalized for not flying Mississippi's state flag if Senate Bill 2057 passes in this year's legislative session. The bill states that all governmental entities that receive state funds -- including public colleges and universities -- must display the state flag Monday through Friday of each week or the state can withhold 25 percent of the monthly salary of the entity's administrative head. Bill 2057 is just one of several bills addressing the controversy surrounding the Mississippi flag. Senate Bill 2081 would change the design of the Mississippi flag to the Magnolia flag, Bill 2737 would provide a statewide referendum for removing the Confederate Battle Flag from the flag's design and Bill 2522 would establish a commission to redesign the flag.
Campus dining locations at UM now accepting block meal plans
While the Student Union is being renovated, the Ole Miss Dining options are adjusting meal plans. To ensure students still receive full benefits from their meal plan, all dining locations' operational hours will be extended. A Chick-fil-A Mobile and POD Mobile have been purchased by the university and will be placed in areas on campus that experience heavy traffic flow during meal times. The Chick-fil-A Mobile will work like a food truck, whereas the POD Mobile is smaller, acting more as a food cart. Other food vendors will not be allowed to park on campus, however. If renovations stay on schedule, dining options in the new Student Union will open in the fall. A fully operational McAllister's and Which Wich will be two new additions to the Union's food options.
William Carey: 'Campus looks a lot better'
Three days after an EF3 tornado struck William Carey University's campus, President Tommy King was feeling upbeat. "Mississippi Power has done a yeoman's job of restoring power," he said. "That's a big step. "We have companies cleaning up buildings and sweeping parking lots for nails and things. We have more than 100 student automobiles that I think are going to be completely totaled. Tow companies are coming in towing the automobiles. The campus looks a lot better than it did yesterday." King was holed up in the campus facilities building, which had minimal damage. The new volleyball facility on County Road was spared, but every other building on campus was damaged in some form or another. King thinks the newest dorms, which were hit the least, could be ready for occupancy in a month. Some of the university's most historic buildings may have to be demolished.
William Carey turns to online learning after tornado
William Carey University says it will use online systems as much as possible to finish winter trimester classes and to teach students during the spring trimester. The school's Hattiesburg campus was heavily damaged by Saturday's tornado in south Mississippi, leading officials to send home 800 students who live on campus and call off classes on Monday for the 3,200 students who study there. Spokeswoman Mia Overton told The Associated Press Monday that William Carey's medical school is likely to offer classes in a former nursing building recently vacated by the University of Southern Mississippi. USM, which was hit by a 2013 tornado, has pledged support to William Carey.
Displaced William Carey students may soon be home
William Carey University students displaced by Saturday's tornado may soon be back on campus. "We're expecting about 150 back within the next few days," said Tommy King, William Carey University president. "We have places for them. We're told by our architect that the four new dorms will be ready to move back in within 30 days. The old dorms will take longer." King said students are being allowed on campus to gather belongings that are salvageable, but only with a university employee. "Hattiesburg is the place you want to be if there's a disaster because the support of the community is just phenomenal," King said. The University of Southern Mississippi is also supporting William Carey by housing international students. Aside from housing, King said USM also offered its old nursing building to William Carey medical students for classes starting as early as Wednesday.
Tornado destroys William Carey's historic gym
Sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes for Mississippi Today: "Clinton Gymnasium at William Carey University in south Hattiesburg survived Hurricanes Camille and Katrina, which destroyed much of south Mississippi. But the 54-year-old gym apparently will not survive the tornado that smashed through Hattiesburg and Petal Saturday. It was never a colossal building by any means, seating only about 1,300. But believe this: Memories far out-numbered seats in the historic arena, which served as home to some outstanding teams, players, coaches and games. ...This one is personal for the writer. I grew up in Hattiesburg where we were often told we were tornado-proof because the city sits at the fork of two rivers, the Leaf and the Bouie. So much for that myth. This past weekend's tornado was the second killer in the last four years for the Hub City area."
Civil rights group to discuss integration of U. of Alabama football at first event
The first event organized by the recently formed Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Task Force will be a panel discussion focusing on the integration of the University of Alabama football team. The event, scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Alberta School of Performing Arts, will feature Frye Gaillard, a writer-in-residence at the University of South Alabama, along with Albany State University President Art Dunning, who in 1967 was one of five black students who were non-scholarship players on the UA football team. The discussion will examine the role legendary coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant and the football program played in integrating the university as a whole. "I hope the panel can tell the story to those who don't know about it," said Tina Jones, one of the founding members of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Task Force.
Legislative committee meets at Auburn to prepare for the coming of self-driving cars
A world where there are almost no speeding tickets, DUI's and 90 percent fewer traffic accidents is not only a possibility, but is inevitable, experts say, thanks to the development of self-driving car technology. An Alabama joint legislative committee on self-driving cars met for the first time Thursday at Auburn University's Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce to hear presentations on the technology and to begin to plan for that future. Chairman of the committee Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, said he wants the committee to propose a new research institution at Auburn University that would partner with other universities to study self-driving cars. Representatives of Auburn University, the University of Alabama and the Global Automakers Association gave presentations to the committee on self-driving cars.
SACS calls for removal of Alabama governor from two-year board; he calls group 'misguided'
Gov. Robert Bentley called a letter from the president of the agency that accredits colleges and universities questioning his influence in serving in dual governance roles over Alabama's two-year college system "misguided and politically motivated." Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) president Belle Wheelan sent a letter dated Jan. 10 to chairs of the education committees in both houses asking them to enact legislation to remove Bentley as chairman of the Alabama Community College System board of trustees due to perceived conflicts in dual roles of governance. Wheelan said U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, suggested she send the letter to lawmakers. In the letter, Wheelan said questions arose after lawmakers enacted legislation in 2015 changing the governance of two-year community colleges from an elected to an appointed board.
U. of Kentucky moving away from merit aid
It's a rare move for a state flagship university: the University of Kentucky is stepping back from the merit-aid rat race. The university recently said it will seek a dramatic shift in its split between what it calls institutional merit aid -- also called non-need-based aid -- and need-based aid. That split is currently 90 percent in favor of non-need-based aid. By 2021, the university hopes to skew it largely the other way, to be 65 percent need-based aid. That move would be a break from trends among many institutions, particularly state flagships, which in recent years have typically thrown financial aid dollars at top students who are viewed as likely to graduate and to bring impressive test scores that may boost ratings -- but are often more likely to be able to afford college on their own. Their effort will likely be watched around the country as demographic projections indicate relatively fewer traditional, wealthy, elite students will be available for universities to recruit in coming years.
Bill filed in Georgia House would limit role universities could play in investigating crimes
University System of Georgia officials are monitoring a state legislative proposal that would limit the role universities and colleges can play in investigating alleged campus rapes and disciplining alleged rapists. House Bill 51, sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs and three other Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Regina Quick, R-Athens, would require any official or employee of a postsecondary institution who receives information that a felony has occurred on campus, or was perpetrated by or against a student, to report the alleged incident to the appropriate local law enforcement agency, including campus police, or to the local district attorney. As written, the law would apply to the state's public colleges and universities and also to a number of private institutions eligible to receive state tuition equalization grants.
Some on U. of Tennessee campus voice opposition to outsourcing plan
Members of the University of Tennessee's student government are the latest group to oppose Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to outsource facilities management across state entities, including public college campuses. The Student Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would reaffirm their opposition to the outsourcing plan, which has already drawn opposition from state lawmakers and members of the union that represents many of Tennessee's college workers. A similar resolution also was passed by the Student Senate last year. In addition, more than 650 people have signed a petition started by UT students on MoveOn.org asking the university to opt out of the governor's outsourcing plan, for which a contract could be awarded within the coming weeks. State officials have estimated the proposal could save the state $35 million annually in facilities management costs by leveraging statewide contracts, but opponents say it could reduce pay and benefits for state workers.
Arkansas Lottery Scholarship Has Evolved Since First Proposal
Bill Halter, a Stanford University graduate and Rhodes scholar, had politics and college costs on his mind. It was late 2005 or early 2006, the North Little Rock native and Catholic High School valedictorian recalled, and he had decided to run for lieutenant governor. His vision was to rally Arkansans to a cause: a lottery to provide money for college scholarships. "First, there was a need for enhanced funding for college scholarships, and that tied into my thoughts on economic development," said Halter, now the CEO of Scenic Hill Solar. "Statistics across the country indicated that income levels were highly correlated to the percentage of the population with higher education. Families were saying that a big impediment was the cost of college." "Using a lottery seemed a universal and fair way to fund higher education," he continued in an interview with Arkansas Business.
Controversial professor Carol Swain to retire from Vanderbilt University
Professor Carol Swain will retire from Vanderbilt University in August, according to an announcement she posted on her website and social media accounts Monday. In the announcement, the outspoken and controversial conservative said her "early retirement" will not be a time of rest. Instead, Swain said, "it will be an opportunity for me to impact more people across the globe." Swain appeared on CNN and wrote several columns for news outlets after coming to Vanderbilt in 1999 to teach law and political science. Her remarks -- about Islam, Black Lives Matter and other hot topics -- regularly sparked controversy. University spokeswoman and Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune said in an email that "we wish Professor Swain well in her retirement from Vanderbilt."
College faculties in Tennessee oppose students carrying guns on campus
Faculty groups from every public university in the state on Friday announced opposition to students carrying guns on campus, a possibility that lawmakers have mulled as part of a broad push to dismantle gun regulations. The announcement came in a statement from the Tennessee University Faculty Senates, which represents more than 10,000 professors across the state. The organization endorsed a resolution opposing students' ability to carry guns on campus "in anticipation of state legislation that may be introduced during the upcoming year," the statement said. Copies of the resolution were sent to state lawmakers who oversee education committees in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Oilman Tim Leach picked to join Texas A&M System regents
Longtime Texas A&M University donor and successful oilman Tim Leach likely will become the newest addition to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that the Midland native would be his pick to replace outgoing regent Judy Morgan of Texarkana, who served a six-year term on the governing board. Leach, a 1982 Aggie graduate, is chairman, CEO and president of Concho Resources, Inc. The petroleum engineering graduate and his wife donated $10 million in 2013 to aid in the construction of Texas A&M's new Zachary Engineering Education Complex, are listed as top donors to the Kyle Field renovation project and have been named the lead donors on the seven-acre Leach Teaching Gardens near the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building.
Missouri officials warn higher education cuts threaten state's economy
Higher education cuts would be felt on a broader scale than just college and university campuses, representatives of those schools told state lawmakers Monday. Cuts to education funding would hurt the state's economy by reducing the number of skilled workers and making Missouri less competitive for attracting businesses, they told members of a House subcommittee on appropriations. The hearing was held in the wake of an announcement by Gov. Eric Greitens calling for cuts in higher education funding, including more than $38 million from the University of Missouri System. Almost $20 million of that comes from MU. Many who testified mentioned Missouri's Big Goal for Higher Education, an initiative to have 60 percent of adults gain a college degree or certificate by 2025. Missouri is currently 10 percent behind its goal, and these cuts to higher education could make that goal harder to reach, they testified.
Experts warn of ethical implications of paying ransom to unlock hacked files
Give us your money, or your files get it. Imagine turning on your computer only to be greeted by that message. The computer has been infected with ransomware, a type of malware that locks users out of their data and threatens to make it unusable -- either by deleting or encrypting it -- unless the college that has been hacked agrees to pay a ransom. The clock is ticking. Do you pay up? Los Angeles Valley College did. In this case, the assessment turned out to be correct. Others have not been so lucky. Information security experts say that's the central risk associated with ransomware, which has been around since the late 1980s but over the last few years has become a more common threat. Even if colleges go through that deliberation process -- weighing the pros and cons of paying the ransom and carefully evaluating the contents of its backed-up files and the effort it would take to restore them -- and conclude that paying is the most sensible option, there is still a larger issue to debate, experts say.
Sen. Chris McDaniel learns how to solicit caustic Facebook comments
The Sun Herald's Paul Hampton writes: "And once again we have a male politician proving how little he understands women -- and the internet. State Sen. Chris McDaniel has become known for tossing the occasional bit of red meat to his Pine Belt constituency on Facebook to watch them gleefully gobble it up. But Sunday he made some pretty sweeping generalizations about women in a post Sunday night. ...Things seemed to start off about the way I believe he had planned. Yay rah, Chris. Go get 'em, etc. Then the world at large noticed. That's rarely a good thing for a Mississippi politician. McDaniel gamely tried to dig himself out... Women, and a lot of men, weren't buying it."
Master of managed messages has earned a chance
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "We live in a snippet world and there's a new Twitterer In Chief. In the abstract, it's an amazing time. Twitter itself is a mere 11 years old. Social media overall is not much older. Haley Barbour was the first Mississippi governor to have someone who followed him around to send out tweets. Few cared. Today, some members of the Mississippi Legislature use social media, but aside from state Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, almost all use the platforms to flatter themselves, which is fine, but quickly gets old for even the most admiring viewers.It is Donald Trump who perfected the art, at least in politics, of both gathering and holding an audience. The world stands poised to find out how President Trump will use this tool of instant global communication. So far we know he will use it to say he didn't say things he said, and blame it on the media."

No. 4 Mississippi State drops heart-breaker to No. 5 South Carolina
One more play. Visiting teams typically need to make two or three more plays than the home team when they're in a hostile environment like Colonial Life Arena. On Monday, though, the No. 4 Mississippi State women's basketball team took didn't let a crowd of 13,120 -- the largest it has seen this season -- stand in its way from creating plenty of chances to knock off No. 5 South Carolina. Although undeterred, MSU wasn't able to make one more play that could have helped it avoid a 64-61 loss in a nationally televised showdown for first place in the Southeastern Conference. Coach Vic Schaefer is confident his players will come through when he puts them in those same positions again. He praised coach Dawn Staley and South Carolina for a great atmosphere and for making plays to win the game. He only wished the Bulldogs would have made one more to change the script.
No. 4 Mississippi State loses heartbreaker at No. 5 South Carolina
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was proud to take part in a showcase game with Mississippi State. She wouldn't be surprised to see one just like it on a much bigger stage in a few months. A'ja Wilson tied her season high with 26 points and the fifth-ranked Gamecocks held off previously undefeated No. 4 Mississippi 64-61 in a Southeastern Conference showdown Monday night. "It was a great game for the SEC. A great game for women's basketball," Staley said. "Two teams fighting it out." And she thinks it's very possible to see a rematch at the Final Four. Earlier Monday, the NCAA Tournament selection committee projected both the Gamecocks and Bulldogs as No. 1 seeds, slotted at No. 3 and No. 4 overall among the 16 teams picked. "I hope I see you in Dallas and we talk about that," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.
Gamecocks survive thriller against Mississippi State
They got lucky or they're just that good? They won, so they're just that good. A'ja Wilson sank two free throws to clinch a 64-61 win over No. 4 Mississippi State on Monday after the Bulldogs missed three shots in the final 18 seconds to tie or lead, delivering No. 5 South Carolina sole possession of first place in the SEC. The Gamecocks (17-1, 7-0 SEC) were undone by the Bulldogs' crisp movement and fundamentals in the first half, but Allisha Gray's second-half resurgence turned the game into the expected seesaw battle between the top two teams in the league. MSU (20-1, 6-1) was dominant on the glass, particularly offensively, turned over USC 14 times, was cleaner, more disciplined and more focused. "I hope that this puts us on edge, because this isn't the end," USC coach Dawn Staley said. "Everybody's still going to give us their best effort."
Mississippi State's Breanna Richardson delivers in loss to South Carolina
The blocked shot could have been a silencer. Unfazed she was giving up four inches to South Carolina's A'ja Wilson, Breanna Richardson made an aggressive move to the basket only to see the 6-foot-5 Wilson block her shot. Instead of letting the play affect her game, Richardson stayed on the offensive in the second quarter and delivered some of her best play as a Bulldog. Richardson scored six of her 12 points and added an assist and had a steal in the period to help the No. 4 Mississippi State women's basketball team open a seven-point halftime lead. Unfortunately, No. 5 South Carolina rallied in the second half and hung on for a 64-61 victory before a crowd of 13,120 at Colonial Life Arena. The loss didn't take away from Richardson's contributions in 29 minutes.
NCAA reveals potential top 16 seeds for NCAA women's hoops
UConn, Baylor, South Carolina and Mississippi State would be the four top seeds if the NCAA women's basketball tournament began Monday. For the second consecutive year, the NCAA provided a snapshot of the tournament field, unveiling the top 16 teams as of Monday, in order. Those schools would potentially host the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 18. "There's a lot of movement that will take place," women's basketball selection committee chair Terry Gawlik said in a phone interview Monday. "It's a snapshot of what it looks like if you developed the bracket today."
Mississippi State's Ben Howland hopes intense practice can cure consecutive losses
Ben Howland called two of his sophomore veterans -- Aric Holman and Quinndary Weatherspoon -- to watch game film with him as Mississippi State traveled home last weekend. The trio watched a half-hearted losing effort against Tennessee where the Bulldogs took poor shots, weren't physical in the post and didn't play aggressive defense. "Bottom line is the No. 1 principal is play hard," Howland said. Howland, in his second year with the program, plans to share the film with the rest of his team prior to Monday's practice as it prepares for a home matchup with Missouri (5-13, 0-6 SEC) on Wednesday (6 p.m., SEC Network).
Mississippi State's Ben Howland holds 'spirited, competitive' practice
Video: Mississippi State coach Ben Howland was not pleased with how his team played in a loss at Tennessee on Saturday. Howland held his weekly press conference on Monday and shared his plans for the Bulldogs' practices with an emphasis on boxing out and rebounding.
'Long journey' paying off for Mississippi State's Xavian Stapleton
Xavian Stapleton was one of the top recruits in the Magnolia State in 2014 out of Madison Central. Despite his abilities and Mississippi State's struggles at the time, Rick Ray and his staff never offered Stapleton. So Stapleton spent his freshman year at Louisiana Tech where he played in all 36 games averaging 6.7 points, finishing second on the team with 23 blocked shots and was named Conference USA Freshman of the Week once. Following his first season in Ruston, MSU made a coaching move bringing in Ben Howland. The change caught Stapleton's attention which caused him to transfer.
Auburn, Bruce Pearl continue fight to raise awareness for cancer with 'AUTLIVE' game
It was August, 2015. The beginning of the fall semester. Blake Fabiani, a sophomore engineering major at Auburn, had begun to feel sick. But by then, the Dothan native was a college guy. "Naturally," he said. "I didn't go to the doctor." Speaking Friday alongside Auburn men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, Fabiani admits he should have. He fought it for a few weeks, but the sickness persisted. So at the end of that month, he finally went to see a doctor. Two days later, he was on a flight to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to begin treatment for leukemia. Stories like Fabiani's are why Auburn's game last Saturday against rival Alabama is so important to Pearl. It was the Tigers' annual AUTLIVE game, which fights to raise awareness for cancer and money for its treatment.
Former Aggie QB Johnny Manziel's Twitter page unavailable for several hours after tweets to President Trump
If there is anyone that knows a thing or two about the abuses of a social media comment section, it's former Texas A&M and Cleveland Brown quarterback Johnny Manziel. Every time he posts a photo on Instagram, it quickly becomes littered with pleas for him to find the straight and narrow path with his life. Monday, he decided to offer a few words of wisdom to President Donald Trump, for his Twitter activity. Just over an hour after the first of Manziel's tweets about Trump posted, his Twitter page became unavailable to view with a message that said the page does not exist. Manziel's account was active again late Monday evening. Manziel took a joking shot at himself and his upcoming Super Bowl autograph appearance in Houston in relation to Trump's tweeting habits.
Kenner man arrested Sunday accused in beating at LSU game that left victim unconscious
A 21-year-old man arrested Sunday is accused of punching a man in the head multiple times at LSU's Parade Grounds an hour before the 6:30 p.m. kickoff of LSU's Sept. 10 football game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Jacob Cassagne, of Kenner, is accused of causing injuries that led the victim to lose consciousness, according an LSU Police arrest report. Cassagne and the victim had met previously, the report says. On the day of the incident, the victim was inside a portable restroom when Cassagne started shaking the structure. When the victim came out of the restroom, Cassagne asked him if he had a problem, and the victim said no, then walked away. Then, Cassagne grabbed the victim around the neck and punched him repeatedly on the right side of the head, on his jaw and temple area, the report says.

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