Thursday, February 2, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
After Visa Ban, Hints of Hidden Tension on Mississippi Campus
Coming from an Iranian city of around 150,000 people, Amir Rezazadeh felt a little out of place when he arrived at Mississippi State University, more than 100 miles from any metropolitan area and deep in the heart of the Bible Belt. But he soon came to like the quiet surroundings, where there was little to distract him from his horticulture studies, and where there was already a group of Middle Eastern students and professors to make him feel welcome. Ignoring half-serious warnings that he could be converted, he even began spending time at the Baptist Student Union, where he honed his English, discussed Christianity and Islam, played games and watched movies, and forged friendships with some of the Mississippi-born students. That is why he was more than a little taken aback this past week when students told him to his face that they agreed with President Trump's order to temporarily ban visa holders from Iran and six other countries from entering the United States.
 
Campus vigil held following travel ban
More than 200 people attended an on-campus vigil Wednesday night in support of those recently impacted by new restrictions on travel and immigration. Candles were handed out to those in attendance and many brought handmade signs to the Junction on the Mississippi State campus. Earlier this week, MSU president Mark Keenum released a statement saying there are 80 students at MSU who are from the seven countries listed by the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 27. The Religious Diversity Organization organized the vigil, which featured several guest speakers that provided their own perspective on the highly contentious issue. MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter told the SDN that the university values everyone's right to stand up for what they believe in, and will continue to provide a safe forum for free speech.
 
Insitu officials look for growth in Starkville
Insitu executives are visiting Mississippi State University this week and said they are excited about the growth opportunities a partnership with the university provides. The Washington-based company is a Boeing subsidiary that designs unmanned aircraft systems and supporting software for military and commercial use. Last year, Insitu announced it would use space in MSU's Thad Cochran Research and Economic Development Park. This week, executives visited the company's space in the MSU Industrial Partners Building in the research park, and to recruit for two positions at the location.
 
USA Rice on the road in Mississippi, Arkansas
As the 2017 planting season approaches, rice state meetings are in full swing and USA Rice is on the road listening to growers and sharing planned activities and success stories. More than 40 growers filled the Bolivar County-Mississippi State University Extension Office to hear updates from Mississippi State Extension/Research Rice Specialist Bobby Golden who leads a talented team of researchers looking into off-target herbicide drift, planting techniques and progression trends, and other important issues. "We are fortunate to have a great team at Mississippi State of home-grown, world-class researchers," Mississippi Research and Promotion Board Chairman and Mississippi grower Marvin Cochran, said. "We've been losing talent to agribusiness, so I'm encouraged that we now have an excellent crop of scientists working to improve rice in the Delta."
 
Neshoba 4-H'ers compete in roundup with help from MSU Extension horse specialist
The Neshoba County 4-H Horse Judging team recently returned from Denver, Colorado, where they competed in the 2017 Western National Roundup with more than twenty teams from across the United States. The Mississippi teams earned a third place -- High State Overall Award in the Horse Classic -- with the Neshoba team placing sixth in Horse Judging. Madison Alford, Michaela Beason, Reese Craft and Mara Shelton teamed up last summer with the help of their 4H volunteers, Cindy Craft and Vicky Shelton, along with Derrick Huffman, FFA instructor to compete at the Mississippi 4H State Horseshow. After placing first in the state, the team started weekly practices on Monday evenings. Dr. Clay Cavinder, Mississippi State University Associate Professor and Extension Horse Specialist provided graduate student support to coach the team on best practices.
 
Card Skimmers Hit Starkville
Thieves are stealing your money at the gas pump, at the ATM, and at stores -- and most of the time victims never know until they go to the bank. It happened recently in Starkville with card skimming. In a press release this week, the Starkville Police Department said an ATM was the target during the holidays. While skimmers can be difficult to spot, a few extra seconds could save you from being a victim. "Always look before inserting your card or swiping your card in any type of machine. If anything looks out of place reach up feel it and see. Nothing should be loose on the screen or protruding. If you do see something that's suspicious please call law enforcement," said police spokesman Brandon Lovelady.
 
Kemper power plant makes electricity
More than $4 billion over budget and more than two years late, Mississippi Power Co. announced Tuesday that its $7.1 billion Kemper County plant is finally making electricity from gasified lignite coal. "Everybody is very excited at the site and across the company," spokesman Jeff Shepard said. "It's the biggest milestone we've had so far." But the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. said that after achieving the goal Sunday, it must make more modifications. It's pushing back the target date for full commercial operation to Feb. 28, increasing costs by another $78 million. It's the seventh delay for the plant in the past 12 months.
 
Senate passes bill in case of revenue shortfall
Amid months of lagging revenue projections, Mississippi lawmakers are planning ahead for a balanced budget. The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow funds to be transferred to the state's general fund in the event of a revenue shortfall. Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, author of the bill, referred to the legislation as a "placeholder" that would give lawmakers the flexibility to make changes later. "We're not moving any money around (right now)," he said. "But we have to have this vehicle, so when we get to the end of the process we can make the budget balanced." The bill references the state's "rainy day" fund and what's known as the 98 percent rule.
 
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves: Education funding specifics coming
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that he expects to see "some narrowing of ideas" about a new public school funding formula before the end of March. "If we get something done, it will be something that is similar to the student-focused and student-centered formula that has been recommended," Reeves said, referring to a proposal made Jan. 16 by the New Jersey consulting firm EdBuild. The lieutenant governor's comments came after legislators acted Tuesday to ensure a new school funding formula could be instated this year but revealed no details about what it might look like.
 
Internet tax legislation passes House
The Republican House leadership guided to passage Wednesday legislation to tax remote (internet) sales, but not without causing some consternation among members of the House majority. The legislation, which passed 79-38, would use the revenue generated from the tax for road and bridge needs, both on the state level and for counties and municipalities. Those voting against the proposal included 13 Democrats and 25 Republicans. The Republicans were particularly vocal in their opposition to forcing those who make online purchases to pay the same 7 percent tax paid by people shopping in Mississippi stores. "The people of Mississippi did not send a Republican super majority to the Legislature to raise their taxes," said Rep. Joel Bomgar, R-Madison, referring to the three-fifths majority the Republicans garnered in both the House and Senate as a result of the 2015 state elections. But House Ways and Means Vice Chair Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, argued the legislation dose not impose a new tax.
 
Online sales tax bill passes in House
Conservative Republicans in the Mississippi House of Representatives called a bill for online sales taxes "a new tax." The bill, which the House passed Wednesday, would revise definitions in the state's use-tax law to apply sales tax to sales by companies selling $250,000 or more a year through online purchases. But House Bill 480 author Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, said, "It's not a new tax." The bill was debated on the House floor before it passed 79-38. Lamar said it has been on the books in Mississippi since the 1930s that a 7 percent use tax should be collected when $250,000 worth of products are sold in the state. Last month, Amazon announced it would begin collecting and remitting a 7 percent tax on its online sales in Mississippi.
 
Internet sales tax could help with 'raggedy' roads
Mississippians soon may have to start paying sales tax on online purchases besides those with Amazon. The House of Representatives voted 79-38 Wednesday to pass a bill that would require businesses lacking a physical presence in Mississippi that have more than $250,000 in sales to collect state sales tax from customers. Recently, the Mississippi Department of Revenue announced that online retailer Amazon would begin collecting sales tax from Mississippians starting on Feb. 1. Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, in defending the bill, called it a user fee on out-out-state Internet businesses and not a tax increase. Lamar also said it was tantamount to "criminal tax evasion" to not pay sales tax on online purchases.
 
Campaign finance, then, now, and the future
Mississippi politicians faced a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to file their campaign finance reports and by late Wednesday, most of those filed by the deadline were available online. A list of those who missed the deadline is expected Thursday. The reports are the first for statewide and legislative politicians since a push for campaign finance reform in the Legislature and since a special Clarion-Ledger report, "Public Office/Private Gain" showed how the state's lax laws and nonexistent enforcement have created a tax-free second income for many, funded by special interests. Pending legislation would restrict personal spending of campaign money -- as most states and the federal government do -- and prohibit sidestepping reporting of campaign spending by running it through a credit card. Both House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves have vowed to push through reforms.
 
Mississippi breweries thankful for craft beer bill
A bill that would allow craft beer enthusiasts to buy beer from their favorite local craft brewery on site made it over its first hurdle Tuesday in Jackson. The House Ways and Means Committee voted to send House Bill 1322 for consideration by the full House. State law currently prohibits on-site sales. Breweries are only allowed to offer samples after giving tours. Matthew McLaughlin, executive director of the Mississippi Brewers Guild, said the bill is significant for many reasons. "It will make Mississippi breweries more competitive in the rapidly changing and global beer industry, which will translate into capital investment and job creation for our Mississippi communities," he said. At least 14 craft breweries operate in Mississippi, including Water Valley's Yalobusha Brewing Co., owned by Andy O'Bryan, who said while he's happy the bill made it through Ways and Means, there's still work to be done.
 
Perdue's to-do list at Agriculture: Get cracking on staffing, spending, GMO labeling
Since Sonny Perdue was the last Cabinet pick that President Donald Trump made, there's a good chance the full Senate's vote on his nomination will also be last in line. But in the meantime, rules and spending priorities are piling up on the USDA secretary's desk in the Whitten Building. And if Perdue is ultimately approved by the Senate, the most pressing matters for him include filling about 250 political positions and laying out the agency's spending priorities before Congress sets the remainder of fiscal year 2017 funding in April. While there is already a government-wide 60-day freeze on rules that have yet to go into effect, Perdue will have to decide what to do about regulations the Obama administration introduced in its final months. They include measures that would set organic animal welfare standards and make it easier for poultry and other contract farmers to sue the companies that buy their product.
 
How the Senate's once-revered traditions are falling victim to partisan divide
For those outside Washington, government institutions seem equally dysfunctional. Inside the Beltway, however, the Senate occupies a somewhat special place. The upper chamber is often revered -- especially by its own members -- as a more thoughtful, deliberate and collaborative body, where respect for minority viewpoints is baked into cherished rules and precedents. But one by one, those long-standing traditions that have served as a check against extreme legislation or appointments are being tossed aside amid growing partisanship and a closely divided government. Rather than nudging senators to compromise, the rules are now a being used in a procedural arms race that threatens to erode the very culture and practice that made the Senate different than the majority-rules House.
 
As U.S. issues warning to Iran, Persian Gulf cyberwar takes on new meaning
For anyone wondering what cyber warfare might look like, the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia provides an ongoing example. Since 2012, the two nations have been lobbing digital artillery fire at each other in a simmering conflict that began when Iranian hackers destroyed more than 30,000 computers of the Saudi crown jewel, Aramco, the world's biggest energy company. Since then, and as recently as last week, new cyberattacks have unfolded. Just eight days ago, Saudi Arabia issued a cyber-defense alert, the equivalent of an air raid siren in a more conventional conflict. As the Trump administration casts about for a cybersecurity policy, the byte battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia may well be a harbinger for conflicts to come.
 
Quarantine Rules Revised To Give CDC More Power To Stop Outbreaks
Federal health officials may be about to get greatly enhanced powers to quarantine people, as part of an ongoing effort to stop outbreaks of dangerous contagious diseases. The new powers are outlined in a set of regulations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published late last month to update the agency's quarantine authority for the first time since the 1940s. The outlined changes are being welcomed by many health lawyers, bioethicists and public health specialists as providing important tools for protecting the public. But the CDC's increased authority is also raising fears that the rules could be misused in ways that violate civil liberties. The update was finalized at the end of the Obama administration and was scheduled to go into effect Feb. 21. But the Trump administration is reviewing the changes as part of its review of new regulations. So the soonest the changes could go into effect has been pushed to the end of March.
 
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers set record for quantum communications speed
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have set a new world record in superdense coding, a technique by which electrical particles are communicated, that could have far-reaching implications for internet users and cybersecurity. The team of researchers recently transferred 1.67 bits per qubit, or quantum bits, over a fiber optic cable, surpassing the previous record of 1.63 bits per qubit, according to a news release Wednesday from the lab. A qubit is a unit of quantum information that allows for more information to be transferred than the traditional bit, the unit traditionally used by computers. For now, the development is largely experimental, but the group is working on ways to make their research applicable for internet and technology companies, and even the U.S. military.
 
IHL commissioner speaks on future jobs, brain drain
Glenn Boyce's message to the Columbus Rotary Club Tuesday was straight-forward: When it comes to higher education, Mississippi must finish what it starts. As part of Rotary's series on higher education, the club welcomed Boyce, commissioner of the state's Institutions of Higher Learning that governs state-supported universities, during the club's weekly lunch meeting at Lion Hills Center. Boyce, who succeeded Mississippi University for Women President Jim Borsig in April 2015, rattled off statistics to paint the picture of the current landscape of higher education in the state. Of the many topics he touched upon, the need for Mississippians to complete college was a major theme. Educating residents is one thing, though. Keeping them is another important issue, Boyce said.
 
Black history month kicks off at the U. of Mississippi with a celebration
Black History Month may be just for 28 days, but many have spent their entire lives fighting for equality. A celebration at the University of Mississippi honored the work of several local leaders. Judith Meredith, wife of first African American Ole Miss student James Meredith, was the keynote speaker. She spoke to students about appreciating previous leaders and building on their work. The celebration also had an award ceremony. The university will continue to have celebrations throughout February for Black History Month.
 
USM professor: Gorsuch confirmation 'could be a fairly quick process'
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump nominated federal court of appeals judge Neil Gorsuch for a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 49-year-old Colorado native may face a contentious confirmation battle, but Allan McBride, an associate professor of political science at the University of Southern Mississippi, isn't sure Democrats will put up a strong fight. "There's pressure on some Democrats to not support the candidate, because they feel as if this was Obama's appointment," said McBride. "But, there may be indications that some are actually thinking about voting with the majority and if that happens, it could be a fairly quick process."
 
USM named Healthy Campus after insurance enrollment
The University of Southern Mississippi has won the distinction of being named White House Healthy Campus after School of Social Work officials enrolled hundreds of students in the Affordable Care Act. Kathryn Rehner, project director with the school's Mississippi Health Access Collaborative, said she and other School of Social work officials set up a table outside the Southern Miss cafeteria at lunchtime for six weeks to talk to students about their health care options. They were able to enroll more than 300 students in Marketplace coverage, a provision of the Affordable Care Act. As a result of completing the requirements, Rehner was invited to Washington, D.C., with her father, Tim Rehner, School of Social Work director. There, they were congratulated by first lady Michelle Obama, with eight days left in then-President Barack Obama's term.
 
Jackson State settles over mismanaged science grant funds
Jackson State University has agreed to pay the United States $1.17 million to settle allegations that they mismanaged science grant money, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office. U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and Allison Lerner, inspector general at the National Science Foundation, stated in the release that between June 1, 2006, and September 30, 2011, JSU submitted claims and/or expended funds under NSF grants and, in so doing, impliedly certified that those expenditures were supportable, allocable and allowable and that JSU would maintain adequate records to support them. According to a release from Danny Blanton, JSU's interim executive director of University Communications, JSU fully cooperated with the NSF and implemented a corrective action plan beginning in 2013.
 
Health partnership celebrated between hospital and Delta State University
Celebrating its partnership, officials with the O.W. Reily University Health Center at Delta State University and Bolivar Medical Center held a grand opening celebration Tuesday. Both sides said the collaboration has been long overdue. DSU President William LaForge, along with BMC CEO Rob Marshall and the BMC Assistant Administrator Hannah Dreher spoke during the ceremony sharing their excitement about the changes of the health center. "This is a very exciting day for us at Bolivar Medical Center. We are extremely thrilled to open the University Health Center and expand our existing partnerships with Delta State University," Marshall said. BMC is also working with DSU School of Nursing to make it a clinical practice location.
 
U. of Alabama trustees to consider new projects
The University of Alabama System trustees are scheduled to meet Thursday to consider a range of construction projects including a renovation of UA's Aquatic Center, a new retail center and a new alumni building on the Bryce campus. The projects are part of a lengthy agenda for the Physical Properties Committee. The UA System board of trustees will meet at the Hill Center on the UAB campus Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, the Investment, Finance and Audit Risk Compliance committees are also scheduled to meet. After more committee meetings on Friday morning, the full board will meet to consider items approved by the committees.
 
Alabama legislators hear presentations on outcomes-based funding for higher education
Outcomes-based funding is a growing trend more states are using to fund higher education. The Alabama Legislature Joint Legislative Committee on Finances and Budget heard from proponents of outcomes-based funding on Tuesday in the Montgomery. States that use outcomes-based funding for higher education use benchmarks to decide how much money the state gives the school. Currently, Alabama earmarks money for each institution based primarily off of enrollment figures. Mike Krause, head of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, said his state transitioned to outcomes-based funding beginning in 2010. The goal of outcomes-based funding is to increase the number of students who graduate with some type of post-secondary certificate, Krause said. Jimmy Clarke, with the Lumina Foundation, said Alabama has a post-secondary degree obtainment rate of 36.7 percent while the national average is 45.3 percent.
 
UGA analysts: Georgia economy will outpace U.S. in 2017, and Athens will outpace state
Georgia's economic growth will outperform the nation's, and growth in Athens will outperform the state average, analysts from the University of Georgia told a crowd of more than 500 on Wednesday. "The 2017 outlook for the state of Georgia is quite good," said Benjamin Ayers, dean of UGA's Terry College of Business. Jobs will be plentiful, income will rise, and housing prices have recovered to pre-recession levels, if you don't take inflation into account, said Ayers and UGA economic analyst Jeff Humphreys. But the risk of recession has grown -- about a 35 percent chance, up from 25 percent a year ago, Ayers said. A trade war would hit Georgia particularly hard, said Ayers, who did not specifically name China or any other country that might be involved. "We're not predicting that. We're just looking at risk factors," Ayers said.
 
Trump tweet appears on sign outside UGA's Air Force ROTC building
President Donald Trump's tweets are showing up everywhere -- even on University of Georgia buildings. A sign on UGA's Air Force ROTC building last week was an edited version of a 2015 Trump tweet: "When somebody challenges you unfairly fight back be brutal be tough. --- don't take it. It is always important to WIN!" Cadets in the program change the sign weekly, and look for inspirational, motivational quotes, said Lt. Col. Bryan Best, a professor of aerospace studies and commander of the ROTC detachment. Last week's message violated no UGA policies, said UGA spokesman Gregory Trevor. UGA rules are meant to encourage free expression. Attaching temporary signs such as buildings is regulated, but in this case, the sign itself is attached to the building.
 
Texas A&M University's associate vice president for communications announces retirement
Sherylon Carroll, Texas A&M University's associate vice president for communications, is set to leave the university after more than 26 years. Amy B. Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer, said in an announcement shared with university faculty and staff Tuesday that Carroll, a class of '82 A&M graduate, has chosen to retire effective Wednesday. In the email, Smith praised Carroll's contributions to the university and her colleagues. During her time with the university, Carroll has seen the 1999 Bonfire collapse, the renovation and rededication of the Memorial Student Center, the establishment of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum and more. Carroll's retirement from the university follows the announcement that longtime director of news and information services Lane Stephenson would retire at the end of January after 50 years of working at Texas A&M.
 
Triseum gives back to Texas A&M visualization department
The Texas A&M University Department of Visualization is on track to receive its first endowed chair with the help of Bryan-based educational video game company Triseum, a move officials said is expected be a valuable tool in attracting prestigious faculty and helping to further the department's research. Triseum CEO Andre Thomas -- who joined the faculty in the visualization department in 2014 -- said the $1 million, which is set to be donated through the Texas A&M Foundation over the next five years, is one way the company is working to give back. Triseum grew out of the department's Learning Interactive Visualization Experience Lab, "I always like to put my money where my mouth is," Thomas said.
 
Graduate workers at U. of Missouri hold demonstration in support of international students
Graduate student Jo Smiley held up a sign Wednesday that read, "This isn't freedom, this is fear." She was in the middle of a crowd where people were chanting, "Muslim rights are human rights." Smiley came out on a chilly day to show solidarity with international students fearful of the impact of President Donald Trump's new immigration policy. She was one of more than 100 demonstrators rallying against a ban on travel at Speakers Circle on the University of Missouri campus. The rally, organized by the Coalition of Graduate Workers, was one of several events in Columbia sparked by the ban over the last few days. During the rally, the Coalition of Graduate Workers encouraged protesters at Speakers Circle to sign a letter addressed to Interim Chancellor Hank Foley.
 
AAUP says colleges should defend professors targeted for online harassment due to political views
Online harassment of academics, who usually have easily accessible web profiles and email addresses, is nothing new. But with many targeted faculty members sharing their stories in recent months, and with political winds blowing in a decidedly anti-science direction, the American Association of University Professors has released a statement condemning online attacks. "The AAUP does not dispute the First Amendment rights of [politically oriented news and other] organizations, nor does it call for government censorship or sanction against them," reads the statement on targeted online harassment. "It does, however, condemn efforts to intimidate or silence faculty members, and it urges others to do so, as well." AAUP's statement does not refer to scholarly or other criticism that is clearly free speech, but rather repeated harassment and intimidation, Tiede said.
 
Sensing New Threats, Scientists Entertain Political Ambitions
something Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of paleoecology and plant biology at the University of Maine at Orono, thought would happen later in her career -- after she got tenure and built a large body of research. But after President Trump's administration signaled that it would restrict federal agencies' communication with the public, sending scientists across the country into a frenzy, Ms. Gill said a campaign for public office may be in the cards for her sooner than she had imagined. As with many scientists, Ms. Gill's research depends on grants funded by tax dollars. So she's made a point of being as transparent as possible about her work. She publishes a blog about her research and is an active Twitter user, looking to engage not just the scientific community, but anyone who's willing to learn.
 
Researchers download federal data amid concerns over future access
Before a confirmation vote at the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week, Betsy DeVos responded to more than 800 written questions from Democratic members of the committee. Those answers didn't help persuade any Democrats to support her as the next secretary of education -- her nomination advanced to the full Senate on a party-line 12-11 vote -- but one response has stirred concerns among higher education researchers that the Department of Education will not remain committed to maintaining federal data currently published on its website. Those data are critical, researchers say, to studying issues like student debt, student persistence, graduation rates and job placement outcomes. Elise Miller, a higher education data expert and former vice president of research programs at the Access Group, said she began downloading federal data sets this week as a precautionary measure.
 
International Students Continue to Apply to U.S. Colleges
Foreign-student applications to major U.S. colleges for the next academic year are stable or even rising, alleviating some fears that international students wouldn't continue to seek admission to the country's schools in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump. The mood at admissions offices across campuses remains somber, though, after Mr. Trump last week signed an executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, calling it a needed move to keep terrorists from entering the U.S. A Wall Street Journal survey of 12 of the top 20 schools for foreign-student enrollment, including eight of the top 10, found that nearly all received more international applications for freshman admission this year than last year. While admissions officials are expressing relief that prospective students aren't spooked by anti-immigration rhetoric during the presidential campaign, they warn that the true test will come in the fall, when and if foreign students actually show up on campus.
 
Trump Victory Emboldens Colleges' Outright Conservatism
President Donald Trump's decision to tap the president of Liberty University to lead a task force within the U.S. Department of Education reflects two trends: a backlash against liberal policies at American colleges and universities and a hot new brand in higher education -- the conspicuously conservative college. This backlash against liberal universities comes at a time of financial pressure for colleges and universities of all sizes. How are university administrators and trustees dealing with this turbulent new reality? For one thing, many are realizing that individual schools can no longer be all things to all people. Consequently, some of them are attempting to market themselves better by playing to their strengths.
 
In Hillsdale College, a 'Shining City on a Hill' for Conservatives
At first, Hillsdale College seems to resemble dozens of other small liberal arts schools with rich histories. There are statues of Washington and Lincoln, Jefferson and Churchill, and a monument to students who fought for the Union -- a point of pride at a college that was founded by abolitionists, visited by the crusading former slave Frederick Douglass and open to black students and women from its founding in 1844. Cross the quad on what is known as the Liberty Walk, though, and you encounter something different: statues of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Hillsdale, a private college of 1,400 students in southern Michigan that describes itself as "nonsectarian Christian" and dedicated to "civil and religious liberty," is scarcely known in many circles. But among erudite conservatives -- think progeny of William F. Buckley Jr. -- it is considered a hidden gem.
 
In Tweet, Trump Threatens Berkeley With Loss of Federal Funds Over Protests
On Thursday morning, President Donald J. Trump sent a tweet threatening the University of California at Berkeley with a loss of federal funds over violent protests that shut down a speech by the well-known conservative Milo Yiannopoulos on Wednesday. The protests on Wednesday, which included fires, several explosions, and windows being smashed, were carried live on some national-news networks. Mr. Yiannopoulos's planned speech was the final appearance scheduled in a controversial campus tour. President Trump is famous for his stream-of-consciousness online observations in the 6 a.m. hour, and many of his tweets do not end up aligning with federal action. But in one speech during his campaign, Mr. Trump did take on a similar issue.
 
Pressure Mounts on Higher Education to Improve Principal Preparation
Poor. Appalling. Inadequate. It was a scathing assessment of how most of the nation's principals are prepared: in university-based programs too eager to admit candidates and too detached from the realities of the job. And it's a critique that still holds true for some programs despite signs of progress, said Arthur Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, who rendered that harsh evaluation of university-based principal preparation in a 2005 report, Educating School Leaders. More than a decade since -- and despite a mountain of research that makes clear the connection between strong principals and rising student achievement -- the ways in which many university-based programs train future school leaders have not dramatically changed. But pressure has been mounting from both inside and outside the halls of academia to revamp university-based preparation.
 
U. of Michigan video game cache serves as an archive
The University of Michigan collects video games. Lots of them. The Ann Arbor university's Computer and Video Game Archive features over 7,000 titles -- everything from time-honored favorites such as "Pac-Man" and "Frogger" to newer fare, including "Call of Duty" and "Halo" -- on dozens of gaming systems. Now in its 10th year, the CVGA collects video games in the same way that other archives pursue books, journals or historical artifacts. The archive is open to anyone --- students and members of the public alike. Visitors can play on everything from an Atari or a Commodore 64 to a Playstation 4 or an Xbox 360. The archive is funded by the University of Michigan Library System and has a budget to buy games as they're released. It also accepts donations, which account for about half of its holdings.
 
Debate about result of formula might be fruitless
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "A rare disagreement -- albeit a cordial one -- broke out last week among some of the media who work in the Capitol covering the Mississippi Legislature. What was at issue is how much funding would be provided by the state to local school districts under recommendations proposed by New Jersey-based EdBuild compared to how much is supposed to be provided by current law -- the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. ...The only fact that seems clear at this point is that legislative leaders want to move away from a process where they have a formula hanging over their heads saying they are supposed to provide a certain amount of money for public education."
 
Amazon collects 'use tax'
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Amazon now collects tax from online purchases made by its customers in Mississippi, and will remit an estimated $15-$30 million a year to state coffers. The collection is new; the tax is not. When you pay 7 percent more on your Amazon purchases, put some of the blame on Governor Theodore G. Bilbo. At Bilbo's urging, the Mississippi legislature passed what some consider the nation's first general sales tax in 1930. Bilbo encouraged the tax; vetoed revenue bills without the tax; and then refused to sign the tax, allowing it to become law without his approval. ...All Mississippians who order online -- or over the phone, by mailing a form, or yelling across the state line -- and do not pay sales tax already owe use tax and are required to file those taxes with the Department of Revenue. Few do; enforcement is lax; but this is not a new tax."
 
Amazon deal is no tax increase
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Much of the social media reaction in Mississippi to the negotiated decision by online giant Amazon to voluntarily collect and remit Mississippi's 7 percent sales tax -- technically a 'use' tax -- has been steeped in the revisionist history that this represents a Republican-led new tax or tax increase. That is simply not true. Let us take a little stroll down Memory Lane in Mississippi. First, let us stop in 1793 when the invention of the cotton gin allowed the production of cotton to supplant tobacco as the dominant cash crop in America. Even through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the South remained essentially a one-crop economy well into the 20th century."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State football hauls in top 25 class, signs 11 on Wednesday
Mississippi State football closed with one of the Top 25 recruiting classes in America headlined by local blue-chip prospects Kylin Hill and Willie Gay as head coach Dan Mullen announced the signing of 11 National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. Mullen's ninth signing class at MSU was tabbed No. 24 nationally by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com and No. 25 by Scout.com. The rankings include the school-record 13 early enrollees who will go through spring drills when the Bulldogs start practice on March 2. "It's been an exciting day for us, getting a bunch of new guys into our family," Mullen said. "We had a Top 25 recruiting class and hopefully they pan out that way too. Hopefully they end up being a Top 25 football team. We'll see how these guys continue to grow and continue to develop."
 
Mississippi State makes key adds, addresses concerns with 2017 class
With 13 new players already on campus as early-enrollees, Mississippi State's national signing day didn't have "the craziness," as Dan Mullen put it, of previous years, but the Bulldogs certainly aren't complaining with how it turned out. That's not to say MSU's day didn't have its moments. After all, MSU landed its highest-rated commit Wednesday when four-star Starkville linebacker Willie Gay announced his decision in front of a packed crowd at his school. Gay, a Dandy Dozen honoree, chose the Bulldogs because he believes he can play start as a true freshman as an outside linebacker. Mullen agreed, adding that he expects Gay to be part of the rotation by Week 1. The addition of a high-impact defensive player who can contribute immediately altered both the public perception and computer rankings of MSU's class.
 
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen talks 2017 signing class
Video: Mississippi State signed 11 players on Wednesday to go along with 13 early enrollees from last month. Those 24 players makeup the Bulldogs' 2017 class that is ranked 24th nationally and ninth in the SEC according to the 247Sports.com composite. After all of the national letters of intent were faxed in, MSU head coach Dan Mullen spoke about his ninth class in Starkville.
 
Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze says he 'won't forget' schools who engaged in negative recruiting
Ole Miss' 2017 football recruiting class is ranked No. 12 in the SEC and No. 33 nationally, a precipitous drop from last year's lofty rankings. There's a good reason for that. The Rebels' ongoing NCAA case has created uncertainty in recruiting, with a number of top prospects declining to consider Ole Miss. The Rebels signed just two of the Top 10 players in Mississippi in 247 Sports' composite rankings on Wednesday. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said Wednesday that so-called negative recruiting from other schools didn't help the Rebels either. He didn't specify which schools engaged in such tactics, but indicated he wouldn't forget about it. "It was ugly," Freeze said, via Brian Scott Rippee the Daily Mississippian.
 
Bryan Maggard leaving U. of Missouri to become AD at Louisiana
Bryan Maggard, a fixture in the Missouri athletic department for 22 years, is leaving to become the athletic director at Louisiana, the school formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette, which is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The news was first reported by FootballScoop.com. Maggard ended his tenure at Missouri with the title of executive associate athletic director. He oversaw the football program and handled football scheduling. He has served in several other roles at MU, including a stint in charge of the athletic department's academic services. Maggard is the latest protege of former Athletic Director Mike Alden to land an AD job at a Division I school.
 
NLRB general counsel says private college football players are employees
Football players at private institutions in college sports' most competitive level are employees, the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel stated this week, and will be treated as such if they seek protection against unfair labor practices. In a memorandum sent Tuesday to the board's regional directors, the NLRB's general counsel, Richard Griffin, wrote that "scholarship football players in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision private-sector colleges and universities are employees" under the National Labor Relations Act. With the memo, Griffin continues to chip away at the NCAA's amateurism model. Last year, his office issued a similar notice regarding how private institutions govern the ways football players communicate with reporters and on social media. In that memo, he also stated that the athletes are employees.



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