Tuesday, October 22, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Leland, Muppets to get new landscaping thanks to grant
The Muppets' Kermit the Frog is famous for singing, "It's not easy being green." Perhaps he is feeling better about that color after a landscape architecture grant awarded to the city of Leland. Mississippi State University was recently recognized by a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant benefiting the city of Leland. Officials with the university's landscape architecture program and John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development collaborated with counterparts in the Washington County municipality and its Jim Henson Museum to apply for an "Our Town" grant.
New farm bill will be 'markedly different' from those of the past
If there is one thing to be said for the new farm bill -- at whatever time it may finally be passed -- it's that it will be markedly different from predecessors, says Keith Coble. Mainstay programs such as direct payments will be no more, while programs such as crop insurance will take on significantly more importance, he said at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Agricultural Economics Association at Mississippi State University. Coble, who is Giles Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University, has been given the opportunity to work for several months as chief economist for the minority staff of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, which Thad Cochran, R-Miss., serves as ranking minority member.
Franklin inducted into American Furniture Hall of Fame
Hassell H. Franklin, the founder, chairman and CEO of Franklin Corp., was among three industry leaders inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame. Franklin launched his Houston-based small, family-owned business in 1970, which now supplies American-made upholstered motion furniture worldwide and has sustained double-digit growth nearly every year. Franklin has served as lead director of BancorpSouth and on boards including the Mississippi Economic Council, North Mississippi Health Services, Journal Publishing Co., Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi, the Community Development Foundation and Mississippi State University's development and athletic foundations. He also established a $1 million endowment at MSU for the Franklin Furniture Institute, a research and training center benefiting the furniture industry.
Keeping our eye on... Keith Kakadia
Currently pursuing a marketing degree at Mississippi State University, Keith Kakadia has already jumped into the deep waters of digital advertising with Starkville-based marketing agency SociallyIn. The company's Facebook page says its "helping appreciable brands grow their business through technology, design, and social media." "We started off as a social media management company and gradually hired more talent and transformed into an agency," Kakadia says, "My job here is to keep operations running smooth, continue to find talent, and steer the agency in the right direction."
Prawns From Farm To Plate
Mississippi is one of the top producers of freshwater prawns. The aqua crop grown locally, like catfish, is beginning to show up more frequently on dinner plates in restaurants. "Somewhere around the end of May when water temperatures is consistently 70 degrees, you put in the juveniles. And then somewhere around the first of October, first half of October when you see temperatures drop down, you have to harvest or you could harvest a little before then if you want to," said Noxubee County farmer Jack Heurkamp. Starkville restaurant owner and chef Ty Thames has been busy crafting tasty prawn dishes similar to those of shrimp. "So far he has gone through one weekend of selling the prawns and he said they just had excellent response from what he had," said Heurkamp.
Panel talks college prep: Changes aim to cut remediation need
A panel of state lawmakers told Mississippi higher education officials Monday that they're working to ensure high school graduates are better prepared for college. "It's a shame that universities and colleges have to provide all the remediation," said Senate Universities and Colleges Chairman John Polk, R-Hattiesburg. "My hope is that that changes within the next four to five years." Polk said state universities last year spent about $10 million on remedial instruction for freshmen who weren't ready for college and state community colleges spent about $27 million. Polk said reading, anti-social promotion and other education reforms passed this year, and implementation of the national Common Core standards should start better preparing high school grads for college.
Security grants aid school districts in region
New Albany Superintendent Jackie Ford said state funds awarded to keep resource officers in his district's schools would help ensure safety and a peace of mind for the parents of students. New Albany received state grants totaling $30,000 to help train and place three school resource officers in its schools. "I'm proud we can place 157 additional trained officers in Mississippi schools to protect the precious lives of children," said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who proposed the legislation after the 2012 Newtown, Conn., school shooting that resulted in the death of 26, including 20 children. Other Northeast Mississippi school districts receiving grants through the program include, among others, Starkville, $10,000 for one officer.
Charter schools unlikely in Mississippi for fall 2014
It's unlikely that students will attend charter schools in Mississippi in August 2014. Members of the new charter school board say there's not enough time to complete applications, approve them and set up schools by next fall. In a meeting Monday, the Charter School Authorizer Board left open the possibility that some well-prepared applicants could be allowed to go ahead. But board members wouldn't vote on applications until early June under a preliminary schedule that was discussed, less than three months before public schools typically open in Mississippi.
Four hospitals reinstated, insurer says; Still no formal HMA response to BCBS
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi says it will again recognize four of 10 Mississippi hospitals owned by Health Management Associates as part of its statewide provider network. The insurer said Monday it will treat Woman's Hospital in Flowood, Gilmore Regional Medical Center in Amory, Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in Clarksdale and Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville as network members after a nearly two-month absence and despite what BCBS says was no formal response from HMA to its proposal, issued last week, to reinstate the four facilities. HMA sued BCBS in June, alleging underpayment for medical services at the 10 hospitals. Not long after that, rate negotiations between the two ceased and the insurer sent network termination notices to the hospitals.
Obama Admits Health Website Flaws
President Barack Obama acknowledged Monday that widespread technical problems have prevented many Americans from using the federal government's new online health-insurance marketplaces, and he pledged to resolve the issues. Mr. Obama promised that the website crucial to the success of the health law is "going to get fixed." His comments came as Republican lawmakers began trying to assign blame to the Obama administration. In a letter released Monday, a House committee chairman said the top contractor developing the website cited a Department of Health and Human Services agency as making 11th-hour decisions that led to some of its biggest problems.
McDaniel's battle for Senate seat comes to South Mississippi
Chris McDaniel brought his battle for the Republican Party to a crowd of more than 100 Tea Party supporters in St. Martin on Monday night. It's a battle, he said, that should be waged without compromise. A battle, he said, the Democrats were winning. He said in the government shutdown, only a handful of conservatives fought. The rest, he said, compromised. "Eighteen Republicans said no to the deal in the Senate," he said. Sen. Thad Cochran was nowhere to be found among them, he said, "and he never has been." He said because of the "pork" spending by Cochran and others, the United States was leaving its children "a legacy of debt."
Evangelical Leader Preaches Pullback From Politics, Culture Wars
Since the birth of the Christian-conservative political movement in the late 1970s, no evangelical group has delivered more punch in America's culture wars than the Southern Baptist Convention and its nearly 16 million members. Today, after more than three decades of activism, many in the religious right are stepping back from the front lines. Russell Moore, a 42-year-old political independent and theologian who heads the convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says it is time to tone down the rhetoric and pull back from the political fray, given what he calls a "visceral recoil" among younger evangelicals to the culture wars.
U.S. unemployment rate falls to 7.2 percent in September
U.S. employers added just 148,000 jobs in September, suggesting the job market was weakening before a 16-day partial government shutdown. Still, the September gain was enough to lower the unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey. The Labor Department says the rate fell to 7.2 percent, from 7.3 percent in August and a five-year low. The economy has added an average of 143,000 jobs a month from July through September, down from 182,000 from April through June.
Feeding antibiotics to cows is bad for humans, but Congress won't stop it, new report says
The farm and pharmaceutical lobbies have blocked all meaningful efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in raising livestock in American, a practice that poses major public health risks, a study released Tuesday found. The report says Congress has killed every effort to legislate a ban on feeding farm animals antibiotics that are important in human medicine. Not only that, but regulation of livestock feeding practices has grown weaker under the Obama administration, the study says. The study comes five years after a troubling report on the way livestock is produced. That landmark study, written by a Pew Charitable Trusts commission of top scientists and ethicists working through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, warned that industrial farms that are feeding animals antibiotics for breakfast, lunch and dinner are plumping them up at a terrible cost, making antibiotics ever-less effective in treating human disease as microbes grew more resistant.
How FBI brought down cyber-underworld site Silk Road
Criminals who prowl the cyber-underworld's "darknet" thought law enforcement couldn't crack their anonymous trade in illegal drugs, guns and porn. But a series of arrests this month, including the bust of the black market site Silk Road, shows the G-men have infiltrated the Internet's back alley. Computer experts suspect the government simply beat the cyber-pirates at their own game: hacking.
Nevada school shooting: Teacher killed by 'nice kid' who was bullied, girl says
No one knows why he picked this day, this time, these victims. It was the first day back from fall break at Sparks Middle School. Students milled about, waiting to hear the morning bell. Within moments, two 12-year-old students were wounded. A beloved teacher and military veteran lay dead. And the young shooter -- armed with his parents' gun -- took his own life, silencing any way of understanding what he was thinking.
Franco's adaptation of 'As I Lay Dying' screened in Oxford
It was the hardscrabble of 1920s rural Mississippi come to life -- or, rather, to death. James Franco's film adaptation of William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" -- first screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May -- made a visit to Oxford Monday night with showing at The Lyric. The screening of the Millennium Films production was a fundraiser for the Oxford Film Festival, whose 2014 iteration is set for Feb. 6-9. The film was shot on locations in and around Canton. "This is one of the most difficult books Mr. Faulkner had ever written, and some people said it couldn't be made into a movie," said Lee Caplin, executor of the Faulkner Estate and the film's producer. Faulkner wrote "As I Lay Dying" while working nights at the University of Mississippi power plant, and its Oxford screening shared the same venue as the premiere of his 1949 film, "Intruder in the Dust."
In the South, Cake or Pie for Dessert?
Pie or cake: Which better defines the Southern cook's signature dessert? The Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, now in its 16th year, dedicates many hours to debating such searing food topics as this one. (Last year they took on the merits of barbecue competitions.) At this year's symposium at the University of Mississippi, Kim Severson, the Atlanta bureau chief for The New York Times and a former food writer, made the case that cake reigns supreme in Southern kitchens as well as Southern literature. And Kat Kinsman, the managing editor of CNN's food blog Eatocracy, spoke up for pie at their Oct. 5 appearance.
Oxford Drug Enforcement focusing on MDMA
The name may sound innocent, but there is much more to the drug Molly than meets the eye. "I'm aware that it is very accessible to most students on campus who look for it," said Joshua Magruder, staff counselor with The University of Mississippi Counseling Center. "I can't speak directly to the numbers or anything, but qualitatively and through my experience at the counseling center, I know it's readily available, and it's out there." Formally known as MDMA, Molly is a purer form of ecstasy that's gaining popularity in Oxford and at Ole Miss.
Homecoming hubbub: Losses adding up for JSU
Forget the leftover trash and litter from homecoming festivities. Jackson State has a bigger mess to clean up. First on the to-do list is refunding the 11,249 tickets sold for the football game that didn't happen. Saturday's homecoming game was canceled after the Grambling State football team refused to travel to Jackson because of frustrations with its university leaders. JSU spokesman Eric Stringfellow said the university hasn't calculated how much it lost because of Grambling's forfeiture. That figure would come at earliest by the end of the week, when JSU hopes to finish refunding tickets. In ticket sales alone, Jackson State has an estimated loss of at least $200,000. "We took a big hit from this," he said.
Efforts are Underway to Attract More Black Males to College Classrooms
Education experts say one of the leading causes of black males not attending college is lack of financial support. 100 Black Men of Jackson announced yesterday that it is giving $20,000 collectively to the states eight colleges and universities and three other schools to increase enrollment. Don Lewis, president of the organization, said the program is in its 23rd year with a proven track record. In addition to financial challenges, Marcus Chaney, vice president of student life at Jackson State University, says there are a number of other factors contributing to the low enrollment of black males on college campuses. Some he says include negative influences from their environment.
U. of Alabama Student Government Association looking at student attendance at Arkansas game
University of Alabama Student Government Association representatives plan to meet with UA administrators to review student attendance during Saturday's home football game against Arkansas following early departures in the student section. The move comes after SGA President Jimmy Taylor sent an email last week to student organizations -- especially those with block seating -- encouraging them to remind members to remain for all four quarters of Alabama's home football games for the remainder of the season. Taylor warned excessive early departures could lead to organizations losing block seating, noting that organizations with reserved seating had signed agreements to stay until the end of the games.
Confinement, probation for ringleaders of U. of Georgia-based fake ID ring
The masterminds of a sophisticated fake ID manufacturing and distribution operation that sold fraudulent driver's licenses to underage students at the University of Georgia and elsewhere recently pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges. UGA student William Finley Trosclair, 22, and former Gainesville State University student Tyler Andrew Ruby, each last week pleaded guilty to charges they manufactured and distributed false identification documents, and manufactured and distributed false identification documents containing unauthorized government seals. Williamson said the investigation spanned several states, and in July a Clarke County grand jury indicted a total of 21 students, including Trosclair and Ruby. Students from Northwestern University, the University of Alabama and the University of Mississippi also were indicted.
Louisiana college construction funding spiked; maintenance deferred
That's the way it goes when it comes to the Louisiana's construction funding program, known as capital outlay -- too many projects, not enough money. Earlier this year, the Louisiana legislature inserted $76 million into the state's construction budget to help colleges and universities address persistent maintenance issues on Louisiana campuses, from moldy buildings to faulty sewer systems. It was an attempt to put a dent in the estimated $1.8 billion deferred maintenance backlog that has become a safety risk as fire detection systems grow older, sidewalks crumble and schools try to keep up with federal requirements to become fully handicap-accessible.
U. of Florida to become home to Stetson Kennedy's written legacy
Famed author, folklorist and human rights advocate Stetson Kennedy will get a posthumous homecoming Tuesday as the University of Florida marks the acquisition of his papers and writings with a series of events on campus including a panel discussion of his legacy. The papers, donated by the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, will be included with those of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Zora Neale Hurston in the Special Collections at the George A. Smathers Libraries. "This is a moment of extraordinary importance for the University of Florida," said Paul Ortiz, director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at UF, a sponsor of the day's events.
Family of Five Points shooting victim, a U. of South Carolina student, asks for legal changes, shuttle
Eight days after almost dying twice from a .40-caliber gunshot wound, Martha Childress entered an Atlanta rehabilitation center to learn how to live after being paralyzed. The University of South Carolina freshman's mood has swung from hope to fear since she was struck by a stray bullet while waiting at the Five Points fountain for a taxi. Talk about returning to classes by January has been punctured by the 18-year-old's recurring nightmares of hearing the gun blast, her stepfather, Ron Johnson, said Monday in his first interview since the shooting. "This might have taken away Martha's legs, but not her brain or heart," Johnson said in a news conference on the patio of Jake's on Devine in Five Points.
Man arrested for assault on U. of South Carolina campus
The man wanted for last week's assault on his ex-girlfriend on the University of South Carolina campus was arrested Monday. The USC police department announced the arrest, which followed a CrimeStoppers tip, on Twitter. Albert Johnson Kibler is accused of striking the woman, who works at the university, with an unknown object in a parking garage at the corner of Pendleton and Marion streets shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday.
Texas A&M Pursues a Campus in Israel
When Gov. Rick Perry visits Israel this week, he will leave a surprising piece of Texas behind: his alma mater, Texas A&M University. Mr. Perry will join Texas A&M leaders and Israeli officials in Jerusalem on Wednesday to announce the creation of Texas A&M Peace University, a branch campus of the sixth largest university in the United States. It will be built in Nazareth, known as the Arab capital of Israel. Aside from taking part in the announcement on Wednesday, Mr. Perry has largely played a supporting role in the project, although he has offered to help raise money. Evangelical Christians, with whom Mr. Perry has long identified, have been active supporters of Israel, but the main Texas player in the branch campus effort is a Roman Catholic -- John Sharp, the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System and a longtime supporter of Israeli and Jewish causes.
Rick Perry, John Sharp travel to Israel to officially announce Peace Campus
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and Gov. Rick Perry have a vision for peace in the Middle East and their alma mater is the catalyst. The Aggies will join with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Israeli Minister of Education Shai Piron on Wednesday in Jerusalem to officially announce Texas A&M's branch campus in Israel, The Eagle has learned. The branch campus will be located in Nazareth, the Arab capital of Israel and is tentatively, and aptly, titled Texas A&M University at Nazareth-Peace Campus, officials confirmed. The plan, they said, is for it to bring together Christians, Muslims and Jews in an educational setting.
U. of Missouri creating emergency medicine residency
The University of Missouri is creating a program to train doctors specializing in emergency medicine. The university's School of Medicine plans to recruit six to eight residents for the program's first class. It is to begin training those physicians next July. Residency programs provide clinical training for physicians after they graduate from medical school. The Missouri program was granted approval last month from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
Missouri Gov. Nixon pledges more money for public higher education
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon promised a room full of leaders from public universities and colleges across the state Monday that he would increase funding for higher education in his next budget. "My fiscal year 2015 budget will increase funding for public colleges and universities -- and increase it substantially," Nixon said. Nixon declined to put a specific number on the increase. He said his administration would consider the economy's performance and revenue projections before developing a specific proposal. University of Missouri Provost Brian Foster said he was pleased that the governor emphasized the importance of higher education, but he said the conversation was from a "20,000 feet perspective" and more specifics were needed.
R.O.T.C. Making Cuts to Expand Recruiting
When Sarah Short arrived at Tennessee Technological University this summer, she had mapped out her four years of undergraduate study and well beyond: an affordable nursing degree and a commission as an Army officer. But months into her first semester, Ms. Short's plans changed after the Army announced it would close Tennessee Tech's program. It is part of an Army effort to redirect its resources and money to areas where it wants to broaden its recruiting, including major cities. To underwrite the transformation, the Army chose to close R.O.T.C. programs at 13 universities, more than half of them in the South. The changes will come amid a push by the Army to diversify its officer corps.
Gee returns to lead governor-backed plan to rethink higher education in Ohio
The six-time university chief E. Gordon Gee has a new gig, to answer what he calls "the question of our times" -- how to curb college costs for the state and for students while improving quality. Gee, the recently retired former president of Ohio State University, is expected to come up with answers by next summer as head of a state committee created by Ohio Governor John Kasich. The governor announced the committee and Gee's new role in a Monday speech in Ohio. Kasich, a Republican, said he wants Ohio's 14 universities, 24 branch campuses and 23 community colleges to offer "better quality at lower prices." Gee has a close working relationship with Kasich dating to Gee's first time as Ohio State's president in the 1990s, when Kasich was in Congress. Both men suggested that all options are on the table in Ohio.
Pre-K education gets seat -- in political center
Expanding access to high-quality preschool has joined government dysfunction as a familiar campaign talking point -- with a twist. Though it's an issue traditionally loved by the left, pre-K has recently planted itself solidly in the center with more federal, statewide and local Republican and Democratic candidates extolling its benefits and calling for more on the campaign trail. The issue has permeated races across the country, and it is likely to have at least some kind of role in the 2016 presidential race.
Our view: Ticket refunds right thing to do
The Clarion-Ledger editorializes: "Jackson State University deserves kudos for much of its handling of the Grambling State University football saga that played out over JSU's homecoming weekend. Despite the cancellation of the homecoming game, JSU still enjoyed a great celebration, with a parade, on-campus events, concerts and even a scrimmage for those who wanted to see a little football. Most significantly, JSU officials made the decision to reimburse any ticket-holder who seeks a refund for the price of tickets. While the refunds aren't mandatory, it's the right thing to do."
CHARLIE MITCHELL: 'Other' is the fastest-growing group of college applicants
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "Cheerful news. The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding a thorny case involving race -- and it's not about something Mississippi is or isn't doing. That's pretty rare for this state, where race is often the dominant factor and, if not, at least the subtext in policy issues ranging from staffing the highway patrol to whether a grade school is functioning as it should. The case came from Michigan, one of eight states that affirmatively ban any form of affirmative action in admissions to public colleges and universities. The issue is whether Michigan's ban is constitutional. The reason Mississippi doesn't have a dog in the proverbial hunt is that Mississippi has open admissions at all eight state universities. Any resident who earns a high school or equivalency diploma and takes the American College Test is (for all practical purposes) admitted. There is no additional screening. Sign up. You're in."

Wildcats, Bulldogs have played every season since 1990
When two teams meet on an annual basis, it's only natural that a bit of a rivalry ensues. Mississippi State and Kentucky have met each year since 1990, when the two SEC programs became constant interdivisional opponents. "It seems weird because every year I've been here we've played Kentucky, and that's our East crossover," said MSU coach Dan Mullen. "I know our guys look forward to this game and treat it a little bit as a rivalry game for us."
Mississippi State LBs vying to become SEC's best
When Geoff Collins arrived in Starkville three years ago he issued a black bracelet to each of his linebackers. Engraved within the rubber reads "The BEST LBs in the SEC." "That was one of the first things when he first got here," senior Deontae Skinner said. "He said, 'We're always going to be the best in the SEC.' We kind of wear that everywhere we go. We kind of always keep the mentality that we are the best."
Mississippi State prepares for Kentucky on short week
After its second open date of the season, Mississippi State (3-3, 0-3) seeks to earn its first conference victory when the Kentucky Wildcats visit Starkville on Thursday night. Coach Dan Mullen is a perfect 8-0 against the Wildcats as head coach at MSU and as an assistant at Florida. Mullen said even though the game is scheduled on a short week, the open date last weekend was valuable in preparation. "We get a lot of our plans all in and we get an extra review day for our guys getting ready for Thursday night's game. It's a great challenge for us," he said.
MSU Notebook: Turner's been 'here and there'
Mississippi State assistant David Turner has spent 13 of his 27 years coaching within the SEC, spanning four programs. Turner had stints at Alabama and Vanderbilt as well as two separate opportunities at Mississippi State and Kentucky. He got his first taste of SEC football coaching defensive ends for the Wildcats from 1993-94. He later joined Sylvester Croom's staff in Starkville as defensive line coach for the 2007-08 seasons and stayed on for Dan Mullen's initial season in 2009. Turner traveled back to Lexington to serve on Joker Phillips' staff from 2010-12 as defensive line coach and is now serving in the same capacity again for Mullen this fall. "David has great experience as a defensive line coach," Mullen said. "He's coached here, there and a long time in the Southeastern Conference. He's a veteran guy and knows how to deal with guys."

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