Wednesday, September 6, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU Assistant Professor Neeraj Rai Receives Hefty Award from U.S. Energy Department
Indian American assistant professor at Mississippi State University Neeraj Rai received an Early Career research award from the U.S. Department of Energy's science office. Rai, a professor of chemical engineering, will receive $750,000 in research funding, the university said in an Aug. 28 news release. Rai, whose current research project "Probing Condensed-Phase Structure and Dynamics in Hierarchical Zeolites and Nanosheets for Catalytic Upgradation of Biomass" is one of 38 selected for funding from academic institutions nationwide, was among 59 scientists in the U.S. selected for the award. "We're very proud of Dr. Rai's achievements and contributions to Mississippi State's research community," said David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development, in a statement.
OUR OPINION: Efforts to make state healthier benefit all
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Many agencies, organizations and institutions across the state work every day toward one common goal -- making Mississippi a healthier place. It's no doubt a tall task. ...But that task -- specifically the fight against obesity and chronic disease -- is one that could pay tremendous dividends for our state and its people in so many arenas. ...As featured in an article by the Daily Journal's Ginna Parsons earlier this week, the Mississippi State University Extension Service's Office of Nutrition Education has three regional dietitians throughout the state working with different partners throughout our communities."
As fuel costs rise, Coast residents stock up while powerful Irma inches closer to US
All eyes in the southeastern United States are on Hurricane Irma, as the Category 5 storm continues to churn and strengthen in the Atlantic Ocean. With winds of 180 mph, Irma is predicted to make an impact on the southern tip of Florida and could potentially enter the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend. Irma is slated to be the second major hurricane to make landfall within two weeks. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday. Many South Mississippians are already preparing in case Irma moves into the Gulf of Mexico, and officials say residents should get supplies ready and expect rising fuel prices. Most models have Hurricane Irma making a turn to the north, but there's a possibility it could enter the Gulf, placing South Mississippi at risk.
Mississippi Power's economic development department among Site Selection's Top 10
For the second time since 2008, Mississippi Power Company's Economic Development department has been named one of Site Selection magazine's Top 10 Utility Economic Development Teams in the United States. According to a Mississippi Power press release, the department's "participation in corporate facility projects, job creation and renewable energy projects in south Mississippi were specifically highlighted by the magazine." "It's really a big honor for us," said Brian Useforge, Mississippi Power's economic development director. According to Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough, the utility's economic development team was involved in "the announcement of more than 2,300 jobs and nearly $1 billion in potential capital investment in 2016."
Officials worry lottery might create 'shell game' with funds
The five states studied by a special lottery committee formed by House Speaker Philip Gunn all use a portion of their lottery earnings to fund education. But, according to Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, chairman of the study committee, "A lot of them feel it is just a shell game. If (state earnings from a lottery) goes to education, that just means less money from the general fund" going to education. But Bennett added, "A lot of people feel it makes for a better sale if some of it goes to education." The nine-person lottery study group formed by Gunn met Tuesday to hear reports on lottery operations from the neighboring states of Arkansas and Louisiana; as well as Texas, which operates the largest lottery; Wyoming, the state with the newest lottery; and Nebraska, an example of a well-run lottery, according to state officials.
Mississippi lottery panel examines lotto stats from other states
A special House panel has been looking at other states' experience with lotteries as it works on a study requested by House Speaker Philip Gunn, who opposes a lottery for Mississippi but says he wants the issue thoroughly vetted. Members of the House Lottery Study Working Group -- comprised of lawmakers, state gaming and other officials -- held their second of three meetings at the Capitol on Tuesday. The first meeting in May was described as "lottery 101," on the history of, laws and facts about lotteries. The final meeting is expected sometime in October, and the group hopes to have a final report to the House in November. Tuesday's meeting focused on lotteries in other states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Nebraska and Wyoming. Members recently traveled to neighboring Arkansas and Louisiana to meet with lottery officials and see operations firsthand.
Andy Taggart: Changing state flag would put GOP on right side of history
One day after calling on fellow Republicans to support changing the Mississippi state flag, Andy Taggart said the feedback he's received has been supportive -- for the most part. "Remarkably, the messages, calls and comments I've gotten have mostly been more positive than growly," said Taggart, a longtime Republican political operative and commentator. He added: "I'm not on Facebook, and I've been advised (people are) a lot more growly on Facebook." In a memo first published Sept. 4 on the conservative political blog Y'all Politics, Taggart said his party, which holds majorities in the Legislative and controls every statewide elected office except one, should "lead the charge to drop the Confederate battle flag from our state flag." Despite his longtime work as a GOP operative, Taggart said his position on the flag is about what's right and not political expediency.
New bill would limit salary for MDE superintendent
Mississippi finally ranked first in education --- but not necessarily in a good way. The state's Superintendent of Education Carey Wright is the highest paid state school chief in the country. Her salary of over $300,000 a year, according to Education Week, breaks down to about $6,000 a week. Wright pulls in more than twice the salary of Gov. Phil Bryant. With Mississippi consistently ranked near the bottom in education in the country, Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, wants some changes to the next superintendent's salary. "I've written a bill that will come up in the next Legislature in January that will cut the salary back when the next state superintendent takes office," Currie said. "I can't take away what they are making now, but this will be put into place to ensure future superintendents aren't making that salary." In Currie's bill, she cuts the salary down to $250,000 annually to start, and any increase would go before the Legislature for approval.
Trump's DACA decision leaves fate uncertain for 2,800 Mississippians
The fates of more than 2,800 young Mississippi residents are uncertain after President Donald Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered Trump's decision Tuesday, saying the program would be "rescinded." To date, 2,836 people are living in Mississippi under DACA status, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Now, Congress will have to decide how to proceed. Gov. Phil Bryant, an ardent Trump supporter, said he believes immigration decisions lie solely with Congress. "I have always maintained the Obama administration's unilateral creation of the DACA program was illegal," Bryant said in an emailed statement.
Third provost candidate presents his vision for the U. of Mississippi
The third of four planned provost candidate open forums continued Tuesday, with Jeffrey Thompson presenting. Thompson focused on the future of the university, naming teamwork and student success as ways to continue bettering Ole Miss. "You have a great thing going," he said about the university. "You have a wonderful reputation, a fantastic background and a legacy of success from which we can build and continue to move forward." Thompson currently serves as the dean of the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. There, he oversees the departments of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics and the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering. He also runs an active research program in experimental atomic and molecular physics.
Southern Miss, 'MasterChef' alumna Katie Dixon still living a dream
"Like a dream," that's how University of Southern Mississippi alumna Katie Dixon describes her experience as a finalist on Season 7 of the Fox television series "MasterChef." As a wife, mother of two and businesswoman preparing for the opening of the Birdhouse Café, her new restaurant in west Hattiesburg, as well as additional new ventures, it is easy for Dixon to feel like she has still yet to wake up. "I can't believe it, but we recently started construction on the Birdhouse," she said. Dixon brings lessons learned both as a marketing student at Southern Miss and from "MasterChef" into her businesses and the kitchen. As a Southern Miss student, Dixon was also a cheerleader and a member of Kappa Delta Sorority.
JSU president's wife focused on faith, family and service
Deborah Elaine Bynum, wife of Jackson State University President William B. Bynum Jr., is seated at a round conference table inside her husband's office contemplating if there were anything she would change about her life. "No," she says after only a few seconds. "Even the mistakes that you've made should be teachable moments, so you shouldn't have any regrets. My life experiences have prepared me for where I am right now. So, had I not gone through any of that, I wouldn't be where I am today." She was born and raised in Atlanta. Her family became the 10th black family to integrate the first public housing project built in the United States -- Techwood Homes. She dubs her mother and mother-in-law, Ma Chris, now deceased, as "sheroes" because of their shared ability to single-handedly raise large families on modest resources.
Mississippi university ROTC program has first female leader
A Mississippi university has installed its first female commander of the Air Force ROTC program. Lt. Col. Shander Adams is taking over leadership of the program at Jackson State University from retiring commander Lt. Col. Timothy Henderson. Adams was celebrated in an installation ceremony that also included a ribbon-cutting for the ROTC's new location. Adams, a university graduate from Gluckstadt, says she doesn't feel pressured because "God has prepared me for this moment." She hopes to become a role model for other women.
Downtown Tuscaloosa entertainment district to start Colorado State weekend
Starting with the weekend of Alabama's home football game against Colorado State, there will be a new weekend entertainment district in downtown Tuscaloosa. The "Downtown T-Town Fall Entertainment District" gained unanimous support Tuesday night from the Tuscaloosa City Council. Starting Sept. 15 and occurring each Friday and Saturday until Sept. 30, visitors will be allowed to move with an open beverage of alcohol throughout much of the downtown area without running afoul of any laws. The district allows participating alcohol retailers located within -- or immediately adjacent to -- the boundary to serve to-go alcoholic beverages in a designated cup.
Questions raised about company LSU will contract to grow marijuana for medical uses
The loser in the bid to grow medical marijuana for LSU claims the winning company's financial disclosures are full of "red flags" that could invite federal investigation and tarnish the university's reputation, according to a three-page letter released Tuesday. Reports filed by GB Sciences Inc., of Las Vegas, the winner of the LSU contract, with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission show the company's "financial footing is at best shaky." And statements GB Sciences officials have used to raise enough money to fulfill its obligation with LSU "could find a basis for expecting a federal investigation to be imminent," Kenneth L. Perego II wrote to LSU Board of Supervisors. The Alexandria physician chairs CB Medical LLC, which narrowly lost the contest for a contract to produce marijuana for medical purposes in Louisiana. Perego asked the 16-member board that oversees policy at LSU to "consider seriously this information before finalizing the award to GB Sciences."
Kent Fuchs, U. of Florida push back against Trump's DACA move
After learning President Donald Trump will end a program that supports hundreds of thousands of people who came into the country illegally as children, University of Florida administrators and organizations said they will continue to support these students. University of Florida President Kent Fuchs released a statement to students, faculty and staff Tuesday that said the university will urge Congress to "pass a bipartisan legislation to permanently protect" DACA students. Florida has approved about 33,000 applications since the start of the program, not including application renewals, the data shows. This puts Florida at No. 5 for most applications approved, following California, Texas, Illinois and New York. Even though UF doesn't keep track of students with DACA, Fuchs said multiple students have told him their status.
U. of Kentucky creates emergency fund for students affected by Harvey, other disasters
The University of Kentucky has set up an emergency relief fund to help its students affected by Hurricane Harvey or other disasters. The UK Emergency Assistance and Relief Fund will help all students facing financial emergencies or other events which may prevent them from continuing their education, President Eli Capilouto said in a campus-wide message Tuesday. It also will support students, faculty and staff who want to work directly in areas affected by natural disasters and other catastrophes. About 70 UK students are from Houston or other areas affected by Harvey, Capilouto said. "We want to provide members of Big Blue Nation an avenue to provide assistance to those in need," he said. The university will oversee the fund but is not contributing to it directly.
Panel at Bush School's Annenberg Center at Texas A&M discusses issues facing Iraq's future
Even as Iraq continues its fight to push the Islamic State group out of its borders, some familiar with Iraqi politics are already looking forward to where the nation goes next after the job is done. Experts on Iraq and the political climate of the region gathered at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center in College Station on Tuesday to discuss the uncertain future of the Middle Eastern country and the U.S. role in its development. Hosted jointly by the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M and the department of international affairs, the event -- titled "The Future of Iraq: Stability, U.S. Role and the Defeat of ISIS" -- featured former Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily, Philadelphia Inquirer foreign affairs columnist Trudy Rubin, and Raad Alkadiri, a senior director at BCG's Center for Energy Impact.
U. of Missouri System leaders give statement in support of DACA students
Several University of Missouri System administrators on Tuesday issued a statement of support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students after President Donald Trump's order to end the program. UM System President Mun Choi, Columbia campus Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and chancellors at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri- St. Louis signed on to the statement. More than 35 DACA students attend the system campuses, according to a news release. "DACA students are hardworking, bright individuals who have much to contribute to our society in many disciplines, including the sciences, humanities, arts and social sciences," the prepared statement reads. "Many have persevered to attend college to better themselves and contribute to American society. For these reasons, we request a fair and compassionate solution to support the young people who have been placed in desperate situations through no fault of their own."
Trump Will End DACA in 6 Months, Confirming Dreamers' Fears and Putting Onus on Congress
A program that has given some 800,000 undocumented immigrants a chance to attend college, work, and build lives in the United States without fear of immediate deportation will be phased out after a six-month delay to give Congress a chance to come up with a legislative fix, the U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced on Tuesday. The Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which Mr. Sessions referred to as an "open-ended circumvention of immigration laws," confirmed the fears of so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the United States illegally as children and who have gained widespread support as they have fought for the right to remain.
Trump administration announces plans to wind down DACA within six months
The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, through which about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children have gained the right to work and temporary protection against the risk of deportation. The administration said it will phase out the program, which was established by President Obama in 2012, after a six-month period to give Congress a chance to act on legislation that could restore the program. "The decision to end the DACA program without a clear legislative solution in place unquestionably creates great uncertainty for the roughly 800,000 young people currently enrolled," Peter McPherson, the president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said in a statement. "Congress must assuage those concerns by quickly coming together in bipartisan fashion to deliver a legislative solution that ensures, at a minimum, the provisions of the DACA program continue uninterrupted."

Opposite ends of the offensive spectrum for Bulldogs at La Tech
Dan Mullen was proud of his defense during the season opener. Mississippi State manhandled Charleston Southern in a shutout only allowing 33 yards, two first downs, recording two safeties and did not permit the Buccaneers past midfield. However, one area that remains largely untested is MSU's secondary. Charleston Southern only attempted eight passes and that will certainly change this week as the Bulldogs travel to Louisiana Tech. "You're talking about total opposite ends of the spectrum from a wishbone team in Week 1 to one of the teams that leads the nation in passing in Week 2," Mullen said. "We're hitting every end of the spectrum on defense. We didn't spend a lot of time reviewing the game film with the players from the last game because there's not a lot of carry over from the scheme that we're going to see."
Mississippi State preparing for different kind of challenge
Mississippi State is fresh off of one of its best defensive performances in school history. Against the run-first, option attack of Charleston Southern last Saturday, MSU limited the Buccaneers to a school-record 0.7 yards per play as the Bulldogs cruised to a 49-0 win. Was Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen pleased with all that? You bet. What does it mean for this week as State travels to face Louisiana Tech? Not much. Louisiana Tech traditionally has one of the best offensive attacks in the country with much of that success coming through the air. Mullen says it'll be intriguing to see how his defense handles a different kind of challenge than the one his squad saw in the first game. "It'll be interesting," Mullen said. "You're talking about opposite ends of the spectrum."
Mississippi State's Dan Mullen talks up Louisiana Tech
There wasn't a whole lot to be upset about for Dan Mullen and his team this week after their 49-0 thrashing of FCS program Charleston Southern. Among impressive stats from that beatdown was Todd Grantham's defense allowing just 33 total yards and two first downs. The Buccaneers also failed to cross midfield in the game as MSU destroyed their option from start to finish. This week, things are a big different for the Bulldogs. They travel to Ruston, La., to battle another bunch of Bulldogs with a different bark than their first opponent. La Tech renews the series between the two teams that has been rather frequent over the last 10 years. Mullen expects a battle from the home team.
True freshman will help Mississippi State this year
Mississippi State introduced four true freshmen in its season opener this past weekend. Those players -- Tucker Day, Willie Gay Jr., Kylin Hill and Keytaon Thompson -- weren't just thrown onto the field but were instead meticulously chosen to help the Bulldogs in 2017. "There's a lot that goes into whether guys play," coach Dan Mullen said Tuesday. "Are they ready physically? Are they ready mentally? What's the role that they're going to play, the need and how much they're going to play? All of those things go into whether they play as freshmen."
Juggling act: School, athletics left middle-distance runner Brandon McBride exhausted
Brandon McBride's rookie season as a professional middle-distance runner, filled with big expectations, stress and success, quickly became a lesson in how to balance academics and athletics. After graduating from Mississippi State University last year with a bachelor's degree in business administration, McBride enrolled in a master's program in public administration at his alma mater. "I took on too much earlier in the season with my assistantship, internship and my graduate program. It took much more than I thought out of me," McBride, 23, told CBC Sports recently. A season of travel competing on the Diamond League circuit, racing at the Canadian track and field championships and debuting at the world championships left the Windsor, Ont., native mentally and emotionally exhausted and unable to compete for a Diamond League Trophy and $50,000 US in Brussels last Friday. With an eye toward the Commonwealth Games next April, McBride opted to call it a season.
Alcorn State, FIU plan to move football game because of Irma
Alcorn State and Florida International might still play football this weekend, but it will not be in Miami. The schools announced Tuesday night that the game will not be played as scheduled because of the approach of Hurricane Irma. With the Category 5 storm chugging toward South Florida and evacuation orders already in place in some locations, Florida International announced that it is closing its campus on Thursday morning and canceling all weekend activities. That includes Saturday night's football game against Alcorn. The game has not yet been canceled. Both schools said they were exploring options that include playing at a neutral site or postponing it until later in the season.
Hurricane Irma: Decision on U. of Florida football game coming Wednesday
The University of Florida athletic department is monitoring the status of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that is roaring toward the northeast Caribbean on a path toward the U.S. The Gators have several athletic events on the schedule this weekend, including the home-opening football game against Northern Colorado on Saturday night. "Plenty unknown at this point, but we will work closely with UF & government officials to monitor storm," UF athletic director Scott Stricklin wrote on his Twitter account. Then on Tuesday night, Stricklin tweeted that UF will announce a decision Wednesday about the status of the football game after getting updated on the latest forecast for Irma. There has been talk of the kickoff possibly being moved from 7:30 p.m. to noon on Saturday. "Met today w/campus & city officials re: hurricane. Hope is to play game in Gainesville this weekend if possible..." Stricklin wrote.
A look inside Arkansas' $137 million agreement with IMG
As the target audience for college football changes, so has the research into what causes fans to buy -- or not buy -- tickets. Nationwide attendance fell at college football games for the sixth consecutive season in 2016. Arkansas has been one of the outliers to the trend, though, increasing its total home attendance last year for the third consecutive season. Still, Arkansas officials are cognizant of the fact that a number of criteria could change their good fortunes, ranging from a bad season to bad amenities. In an effort to keep up with consumer demands, Arkansas recently signed a 10-year extension to its multimedia rights agreement with IMG. The new contract guarantees Arkansas $137 million over the course of the agreement, but most notably, it also includes a $6 million investment from IMG to install a comprehensive wireless Internet system at the Razorbacks' three largest venues -- Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Bud Walton Arena and Baum Stadium.
Pressure Grows on Kevin Sumlin After Texas A&M's Debacle
Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin answered just one football question on Tuesday before the focus shifted to his job security and comments from a university system regent calling for his firing. Sumlin cut off the reporter before the question was even done, no doubt prepared for it after the Aggies squandered a 34-point third-quarter lead in a loss to U.C.L.A. in their season opener on Sunday night. "People are frustrated," he said. "I'm frustrated about a lot of things. I'm not real happy. I'm sure there's a lot of things being said about this program." That includes what was posted on Facebook by Tony Buzbee, a lawyer based in Houston and a member of the university's board of regents. Sumlin was already on the hot seat entering this season.

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