Tuesday, August 29, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State hosts first-ever education expo in Tupelo
Mississippi State University's College of Education hit the road Monday to bring its first-ever education expo to Tupelo. Representatives from the different departments within MSU's College of Education were on hand to provide information to prospective students about both graduate and undergraduate programs. The event took place Monday afternoon at the Tupelo Public School District's Hancock Leadership Center on the Itawamba Community College Tupelo campus. Richard Blackbourn, College of Education dean, said the expo's goal was to let people know about the degrees in education offered by MSU. Amy Prisock, recruitment coordinator for the College of Education, said the College of Education chose Tupelo as the expo's location because it's centrally located, and the university gets a lot of students from the Tupelo area. The college also works closely with Families First of Mississippi, which has an office in Tupelo.
Invasive stink bugs plaguing soybean farmers in 3 states
The Deep South's nastiest soybean pest is marching north, and Mississippi and Arkansas are facing their worst invasion ever. Two warm winters followed by this year's warm spring have let invasive red-banded stinkbugs spread well beyond south Louisiana, where they've been prevalent since 2000. Mississippi State University extension service entomologist Angus Catchot says farmers are finding red-banded stinkbugs close to the Tennessee line, though in smaller numbers that far north. Experts say it's much worse than 2009, the last time the insects were a big problem in Mississippi and Arkansas.
Hurricane Harvey potential has Mississippi bracing for fallout
While authorities aren't sure just yet exactly what Harvey's impact on Mississippi will be, they are watching closely. In a meeting at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Monday, Gov. Phil Bryant received a briefing from the National Weather Service on a conference call with regional officials, including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Mississippi is already experiencing some heavy rain as a result of Harvey, which forecasters say will end up having dumped up to 50 inches of rain in parts of Texas by the end of its rampage. As Harvey heads back out into the Gulf of Mexico, preparing to make landfall in Texas again, meteorologists are trying to predict where it will track.
Harvey may bring rainstorms, flooding to Forrest, Lamar counties
Forrest and Lamar counties are getting a little bit of rain now, but more rain is expected as Tropical Storm Harvey makes a second landfall Wednesday somewhere near the Texas/Louisiana border. "Around mid-week, the rain and storm chances will go up," said David Cox, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson. "The current forecast has (Harvey) moving inland to western Louisiana around Wednesday afternoon. "There could be 2-4 inches of rain -- maybe a little higher." Cox said even though the storm's center will be near the Texas/Louisiana border, the Hattiesburg area will feel the effects.
Harvey takes aim at Louisiana as Trump plans to survey stricken Texas
The remnants of deadly Hurricane Harvey spun toward Louisiana on Tuesday with more potentially disastrous flooding and emergency evacuations as President Trump planned to survey the ongoing devastation in stricken Texas. Trump's scheduled visits Tuesday to Corpus Christi and Austin, the state capital, come after he pledged swift action by the federal government to provide relief to states affected by Harvey. The trip is also set to occur on the 12th anniversary of the last massive storm to pinwheel in from the Gulf with catastrophic damage: Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005. Forecasters say more than a foot of rain is still expected to fall through Friday over parts of the Texas coast and Louisiana, and the National Weather Service warned Tuesday of potential flooding in southern Mississippi as well as southeastern Louisiana.
Lottery study committee to get back to work
The lottery study committee formed by House Speaker Philip Gunn will hold its second public hearing -- the first since May -- on Sept. 5. The study committee is tasked with providing information for the 2018 legislative session that begins in January. According to a news release from Gunn's office, the Sept. 5 meeting at the state Capitol will be an overview of the lottery in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Wyoming and Nebraska. After the May meeting, members of the study committee visited the neighboring states of Arkansas and Louisiana to learn more about their lottery operations. Rep. Nick Bain, D-Corinth, a member of the committee, said members did not visit the other states that will be discussed at the Sept. 5 meeting.
MDOT critics urge privatizing road maintenance
Privatizing part of the state Department of Transportation is on the table for discussion in addressing crumbling roads and bridges around Mississippi. At a scarcely publicized hearing of the House Transportation Committee at the Capitol on Monday, lawmakers heard from a national trade organization whose members consist of engineering and consulting firms around the country. Rep. Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula, chairman of the committee, said the meeting was designed to educate legislators and transportation officials to the possibilities of outsourcing road maintenance to private companies. Lawmakers who attended the hearing seemed receptive to the proposals, although several raised concerns about contracts going to out-of-state companies and workers.
Leaders draw battle line over gas tax
As debate over infrastructure funding -- particularly raising the state's 18.4-cent per gallon gas tax -- continues to intensify, legislative leaders are signaling that they have no stomach for that method of funding road projects. The issue could highlight next year's legislative session, still four months away, as Mississippi Department of Transportation officials delay road projects and say they will struggle to adequately maintain the state's roads and bridges under current funding. The day after the Senate hearings ended, at least 11 Republican lawmakers attended a forum hosted by Americans for Prosperity-Mississippi, an advocacy group with a regular presence in the Capitol that organizes dozens of citizens each session in an effort to sway lawmakers their way on issues they deem important.
Cochran, Wicker encourage Mississippi students to apply for Senate Youth Program
he deadline for Mississippi high school students to apply to represent the state at the 2018 United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is quickly approaching, and U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are encouraging interested young people to apply. The USSYP has set an Oct. 13 deadline for applications. Each state sends two delegates, and students selected for the program also receive a $10,000 scholarship. The competitive, merit-based program also includes scholarships and a weeklong trip, March 3-10, 2018, to Washington for each of the 104 delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity. Applications will be accepted from high school seniors or juniors involved in student government, civic or educational organizations.
President Trump: 'All Options' on the Table After North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan
President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning said "all options" remain in play after North Korea fired a missile over Japan's northern island on Monday. "The world has received North Korea's latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior," Trump said in a statement issued more than 12 hours after the launch. "Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world," Trump said. "All options are on the table." Air raid sirens sounded in Japan, but the government there decided against trying to shoot down the missile.
Harvey adds new urgency to climate change debate
Climate scientists looking to assign blame for Hurricane Harvey say that climate change is not likely to be a direct cause of the unprecedented storm. But global warming has undoubtedly played a role in the storm and its historic precipitation, since warmer seas fuel higher-volume storms, scientists say. The attribution question has been at the forefront of numerous major weather events in recent years, including California's drought, Hurricane Sandy and the 2013 polar vortex. But it's taken on a new meaning in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, thanks in large part to President Trump's doubts about climate change science and his historic efforts to roll back nearly every Obama administration policy meant to combat global warming.
For years, engineers have warned that Houston was a flood disaster in the making
Houston is built on what amounts to a massive flood plain, pitted against the tempestuous Gulf of Mexico and routinely hammered by the biggest rainstorms in the nation. It is a combination of malicious climate and unforgiving geology, along with a deficit of zoning and land-use controls, that scientists and engineers say leaves the nation's fourth most populous city vulnerable to devastating floods like the one caused this week by Hurricane Harvey. "Houston is very flat," said Robert Gilbert, a University of Texas at Austin civil engineer who helped investigate the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. "There is no way for the water to drain out." The storm was unprecedented, but the city has been deceiving itself for decades about its vulnerability to flooding, said Robert Bea, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and UC Berkeley emeritus civil engineering professor who has studied hurricane risks along the Gulf Coast.
Religion course open to Lafayette-Oxford-University community
A University of Mississippi professor is opening her fall religion course to people in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community, inviting them to come learn what both the Bible and the Quran teach on several topics. The class, REL 300: Comparative World Religions: Bible and Quran, meets from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays at various religious establishments across Oxford. The course is divided into four themes: sacred stories, ritual and performance, community and ethics, and death and afterlife. Mary Thurlkill, associate professor of religion, will discuss what both religious texts say about these topics. This is the first time Thurlkill has opened the course to the community, but she hopes to try this format more in the future.
Auburn student works toward veterinary degree while fighting cancer
At age 37, Elizabeth Nichols is a non-traditional college student. As someone battling stage four colon cancer while in veterinary school, she is defying the odds. "This was where I wanted to be. I was so devastated by my diagnosis, that I just concentrated all my energy on school," she said. "I'd rather be here, having to run and throw up from being on chemo, vs. being at home, thinking, 'Am I going to die?' I begged the administration here to let me keep coming, no matter what. If I lost my will, then I definitely wouldn't have anything.'" Nichols has three dogs and three cats of her own, and has wanted to be a veterinarian ever since she was a little girl. "I wasn't around enough animals for my liking," she said. "I did not grow up on a farm. But I was always taking in strays and that sort of thing."
LSU: Tops in diversity
A new analysis shows LSU is leading flagship universities across the country in enrolling more minority students, even as many of the country's elite institutions have failed in affirmative action efforts. LSU President F. King Alexander characterized The New York Times analysis, which compared 100 universities throughout the country, as a strong showing for LSU, which in recent years has touted increasingly diverse student bodies and freshmen classes. "For LSU, I would say we're bucking this trend nationally," he says. "A lot of universities have talked a good game about diversification but have done very little. A lot of those institutions are the richest in the world and have done very little." When comparing SEC schools, LSU remains near the top for diverse student bodies, but trails the University of Mississippi, which has an African-American population of 13%, and Mississippi State University, whose student body is 21% black.
Trial tests U. of Missouri's intellectual property policies
Propylene glycol keeps cars and airplanes running in cold weather. It is also at the center of a long-running patent dispute between the University of Missouri and an engineering professor fired in May after 16 years on the faculty. Testimony began Monday in Boone County Circuit in a lawsuit first filed in 2009 between MU and Galen Suppes, who also has an appeal of his dismissal pending at the Missouri Supreme Court. The university accuses Suppes of refusing to recognize its rights in inventions created in its labs and while he was on the payroll, undermining a deal that could have brought $1.5 million or more in licensing royalties. In a cross-claim, Suppes accuses the university of breach of contract, bad faith and interfering with his business relationships. In his opening statement, MU attorney Russell Jones said Suppes regularly ignored university policies for assigning ownership of inventions and patents.
Missouri professor awarded federal grant to combat tick-born diseases
A University of Missouri professor received almost half a million dollars in federal grant money to develop new ways to combat tick-borne disease affecting cattle. Roger Stich, who specializes in the biology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens, and his team are working on developing a sustainable method to root out anaplasmosis, an infectious blood disease in cattle spread through bacteria transmitted by ticks, according to a news release from MU. Tapping into existing research, the team will seek to replace the current method used to control the disease, which utilizes chemical pesticides and antibiotics and is believed to negatively impact the environment, Stich said in a statement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted Stich $460,000 for the work, according to the release.
Flooding continues to challenge Houston colleges and universities
Heavy rains continued to inundate the Houston area and its colleges and universities on Monday, with officials fearing that the damage brought by Tropical Storm Harvey, which originally hit Texas as a hurricane, could still get worse. Caught in the storm was a group of about 200 Indian students at the University of Houston, who were trapped in an apartment building on Sunday, and evacuated Monday. University officials said over the weekend that about 2,000 of the institution's roughly 8,000 residential students were on campus, which had closed on Friday, and dining halls were still operational. At large, at least five deaths have been attributed to the storm and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that more than 450,000 people are likely to seek federal aid in the storm's aftermath. The National Weather Service has called the flooding catastrophic, and warned that rainfall could reach 50 inches. Other colleges in Houston closing down for some or all of this week include Houston Community College, Rice University and Texas Southern University.
'Keep the flag' sentiment rests on shaky foundations
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "People opposed to changing Mississippi's flag are standing on at least five false premises. Now I know, I know. People are sick of hearing about the flag. Sorry, but it will be a bone of contention for the foreseeable future. It deserves thought, not rage. ...the truth is that the flag is nothing more than a straw man, a focal point for the frustration people feel against a rising tide of people who feel entitled, people who trash history and haven't worked for what they have."

Mississippi State enters season with few question marks
Dan Mullen's press conference Monday lasted a tidy 11 minutes. One reason for the efficiency was because Mullen spoke to the media Wednesday night and the players were given time off since. Another reason is we have a good idea what Mississippi State is and there isn't a whole lot that needs to be questioned. And there's nothing wrong with that if you're Mississippi State. Yes, it's game week in Starkville with Mississippi State hosting Charleston Southern Saturday (3 p.m., SEC Network) to open the season. But if all goes according to plan for the Bulldogs, you shouldn't expect to really learn much about this team until mid-September after Week 3 and MSU hosts LSU. Between then and now the Bulldogs will open their season against Charleston Southern and then visit Louisiana Tech.
Bulldogs learn from last year's opening loss
Mississippi State fans can still vividly remember the shocking way the 2016 season began. South Alabama scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter -- the second to go ahead 21-20 with 57 seconds left. The Bulldogs marched down the field on the ensuing possession to set up a chip shot 28-yard field goal attempt. It clanked -- and the Jaguars celebrated their first victory against an SEC foe. Don't expect Dan Mullen to use that loss as a cautionary tale this week as his team prepares to open the season with Charleston Southern on Saturday. "It's a different team and different everything," Mullen said. "I don't think we played exceptionally well last year but that's on the coaches of us transitioning and making sure we're putting everyone in the right position to go make plays. I haven't thought much into even discussing that."
Mississippi State prepares for the unknown in Charleston Southern
This week feels little bit different for fans around the South and their college football teams. It's game week in the Southeastern Conference and that meant Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen taking to the podium to discuss preparations for the first game of the season. The Bulldogs' ninth-year head coach has enjoyed plenty of success in non-conference play, but last year was an exception. The Bulldogs started the season on a sour note against South Alabama as Mullen watched an extra point clank off an upright and fall innocently to the turf in a 21-20 loss. That's made this year's game all the more important for the Bulldogs who are hoping to start things off right against Charleston Southern at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Starkville.
MSU Notebook: To play, or not to play Keytaon Thompson
Dan Mullen is certain Keytaon Thompson is Mississippi State's No. 2 quarterback. What Mullen isn't sure about yet is whether he will play the prized true freshman this season. Thompson will receive plenty of reps as Nick Fitzgerald's backup this week and will dress out for Saturday's season opener against Charleston Southern. "It's whether or not we want to play him," Mullen said. "Right now he's our second string quarterback but whether or not he plays remains the question." The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Thompson was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana last season and was also an early high school graduate. He enrolled at MSU in January and went through spring drills as the Bulldogs' back-up signal caller.
New Orleans ready to put on a Texas show with LSU-BYU game
LSU players were kept in the dark, much like everyone else. As of 1:30 p.m. Monday, they didn't know where they'd play their season opener Saturday against BYU. They didn't know the stadium or the city or the state. They did have a good idea of where they wanted to play, though. "New Orleans!" shouted cornerback Donte Jackson, a Riverdale product. "Superdome! I'd love to be out there in front of the 504!" Hey, 504, here come the Tigers. LSU and BYU will meet at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Saturday night, ESPN announced Monday afternoon about four hours after Jackson's comments, bringing to a close the search for a site to host the Tigers' season opener. Kickoff remains at its scheduled time of 8:30 p.m., and it will be aired, as scheduled, on ESPN.
Auburn University issues new statement regarding ESPN softball report
Auburn University has released a new statement in the wake of an ESPN report alleging abusive treatment from the softball coaching staff, sexual harassment and an attempted cover-up published Saturday. ESPN has written an important story about our softball team. It's a serious matter. As a university that cares deeply about our student-athletes, we have taken this seriously since the first concerns were raised," the statement reads. The statement indicates changes to the coaching staff, which thus far have been just the resignation of associate head coach Corey Myers in March and the sudden retirement of head coach Clint Myers on Wednesday. Public records requests made to Auburn under the Freedom of Information Act by the Opelika-Auburn News regarding the situation have not yet been answered.
Road work won't affect U. of Alabama football traffic
State transportation officials said Monday that the planned Lurleen Wallace Boulevard upgrades are not expected to affect traffic during the upcoming college football season. Next year, though, could be different. "It's going to mess up one football season, I can tell you that," said David Kemp, pre-construction engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation's West Central Region. Kemp's warning came during the monthly meeting of the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission, which was formed to govern the spending of portions of the revenue generated by the 2015 re-allocation of Tuscaloosa County's sales tax distribution. The $23.2 million in upgrades for Lurleen Wallace Boulevard is a joint effort by the city of Tuscaloosa and ALDOT that are expected to take about 18 months to complete.
An N.C.A.A. for Japan? Mark Emmert Heads Abroad, Offering Advice
The N.C.A.A., a multibillion-dollar organization alternately respected and ridiculed for its stewardship of college sports in the United States, has found a prominent new international admirer: Japan. This week, the N.C.A.A. president, Mark Emmert, is traveling to Tokyo to consult with government officials, sports industry leaders and at least 20 university presidents about Japan's desire to form its own collegiate athletics association. Japanese colleges are considering modeling their new system after one that has served as the regulatory body in the United States for more than a century. If successful, Japan would become one of the few countries outside the United States to establish an N.C.A.A.-type governing body for college athletics.
NFL making $40 million available for medical research
A year after the NFL pledged $100 million in support of independent medical research and engineering advancements, a huge chunk of that soon will be awarded to such research, primarily dedicated to neuroscience. A Scientific Advisory Board assembled by the NFL is set to launch its program to solicit and evaluate research proposals for funding. "There have been significant learnings in recent years that have changed the way we look at traumatic brain injury, notably CTE," says Dr. Allen Sills, who came aboard this year as the league's chief medical officer. The league has embarked on what it calls "The Engineering Roadmap," a $60 million program designed to improve head protection equipment.

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